Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Stephanie Woodfield, author of Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess, Drawing Down the Sun, and the new Dark Goddess Craft.

For those seeking to build a relationship or devotional practice with dark gods, offerings can often be a stumbling block. What do I give as an offering? How should it be given? And how does one dispose of it from their altar?

Some people approach offerings simply as presents. What do I get for the war goddess who has everything? But it’s not quite a present exchange involving gods. When we think of offerings in this way it comes with some of our preconceptions connected to other types of gift giving. Offerings, unlike a birthday gift, aren’t just something that should be plopped on the altar and bam! done, gift exchanged, end of story! No matter what physical item you are offering, the most important part of the offering is the intent and energy behind it. A simple way to imbue your offering is to hold it and see the energy and intent you wish to offer to the gods flow into it. Or you could speak your intent aloud. Sometimes you won’t have access to an ideal kind of offering; you might be traveling or be at work, and may just wish to offer pure energy to deity, or a commonplace item imbued with your intent. Pennies and dimes work well in a pinch, as do condiment packets of honey found at most coffee shops.

We also tend to offer gifts and expect to receive something in turn. With offerings it is important to give without necessarily expecting getting something in return. It’s true that the gods do give us blessings in turn, but when one expects a pay back then we tend to see gods as cosmic vending machines. Leaving an offering when petitioning a deity for help manifesting something is a particular type of offerings and should not be confused with offerings one makes regularly to a shrine or altar for a god/dess.

Another common question is, “What do I do with my offerings?” Unless you are leaving your offering in a natural spot, tossing them into a fire, etc., you are more than likely leaving them on your altar inside your home. Cream, butter, beer—any kind of food or protein is not something you want hanging around indefinitely in your home, especially on your altar. There are a few approaches to deal with this. Generally speaking I leave an offering on the altar for at least 24 hours, or until I feel the deity is done with it. The deity takes the energy of the item and the energy you have put into the offering, essentially leaving just a “husk”—the physical item remains, but the energy of it is gone. Some prefer to dispose of what is left in a special outdoor space, such as below a tree or an area of the yard you use just for disposing of offerings. Others prefer to just throw away what remains of the offers. Since the deity has already taken the energy of the item, it is, in my opinion, not disrespectful to throw the shell that remains in the garbage.

Perhaps one of the most important things about offerings is knowing the deity or spirit to whom you are giving the offering. Read their mythology, know their likes and dislikes, spend some time simply asking the deity what they would like as an offering. As you learn about their mythology you may also learn that certain items are taboo to offer to certain gods, which is useful information. And one should not always assume an offering is something physical. Offerings can be our actions. I know a devotee of Ares who offers their physical training and sweat to the god, and I have often offered the Morrigan acts of courage in my own devotion. A simple acknowledgement is all that is necessary: “I offer this task/challenge to you this day” or something similar with suffice.

Offerings to dark gods don’t have to be gruesome or over the top. We should make offerings often, and in the process we build a connection with our gods and learn how to commune with them. Offer things that you are comfortable with, and don’t forget to be creative.

Our thanks to Stephanie for her guest post! For more from Stephanie Woodfield, read her article, “Devotional Work to the Goddess of the Battlefield.”

Written by Anna
Anna is the Senior Consumer & Online Marketing Specialist, responsible for Llewellyn's New Worlds of Body, Mind & Spirit, the Llewellyn Journal, Llewellyn's monthly email newsletters, and more. In her free time, Anna enjoys reading an absurd number of books; doing crossword puzzles; watching ...