KRT: Offerings 101
What do I offer the gods?
Offerings can consist of a wide variety of objects, food stuffs, and actions. I think bread and water are always a safe bet, as these things were both essential to daily life and sacred in AE. Breads came in a huge variety, some savory, some sweet, some simple, and still others elaborate. Other basic food stuffs included honey and figs, both of which were sometimes incporated in to–you guessed it–bread! Milk had divine associations too, thanks to the myths surrounding the sacred cow(s).
My personal recommendation is to offer things that have come from a place of what might be termed modern day Ma’at. Think of the difference between a mass produced slice of chemical laden Wonderbread, versus a simple, hearty loaf you made yourself. Of course the particulars of what you give should be worked out between you and whatever gods you’re trying to honor, but in the absence of a god phone or a patron(s) deity, I think it best to err on the side of caution in this matter. That said, if you don’t have access to what might be termed high end items or you can’t as of yet make anything yourself, a simple offering of water should more than suffice.
As far as actions as offerings go, many gods had associations with wordly, mundane professions and experiences. For example, it was said that Djehuty had a very large hand in or even outright invented writing. In some tellings he was the counterpart of Seshat (sometimes Her consort, sometimes not), who also had a large part to play in writing, science, and history. Therefore, if you’d like to offer something special to say, Seshat, sheets of papyrus could be a wonderful choice. These sheets are reasonably priced on the Internet. Other things that come to mind are learning games of chance (thanks to the story where Djehuty wins days for Nut thanks to a game of chance), writing prayers (especially on papyrus),
How do I determine what to offer?
1). Recon. Looking to texts on AE for inspiration is a great idea. You can choose secular texts which often include an overview of foodstuffs that could still be offered today (beer!), or myths that give clues. For example, a couple of bloggers have mentioned red liquids for Sekhmet thanks to the story where Thoth tricked her in to drinking red beer until she stopped killing indiscriminately. Music for Hathor also comes to mind, as She has been closely associated with singing and musical instruments. Things with a star pattern would likely be great for Nut. I always think of “the imperishable stars” when I think of Her.
2). UPG. If you have a particular deity in mind and you have the ability to communicate with Them, just ask! Nephthys seems to always want chocolate from me. The Morrigan very clearly wanted chocolate with raspberries in a couple of days ago. Go with your impulse. You can also use this method if you don’t have a particular deity in mind, since it’s possible that the multitudes will speak to you and give you a general idea of what to do.
Can I offer without a patron?
Yes! Having a patron is great, but not having one is just as good. You may be a person who works in a limited fashion with many different gods, or no gods at all. Even if you don’t have a godphone, I believe that the worlds beyond still acknowledge and appreciate your offerings.
Do I need to revert my offerings? How do I do that? What if I can’t?
I find this incredibly important. One of the things I love about Kemeticism is the feeling of symbiotic sustenance, that both you and the gods live off the items you offer. I keep it simple. I either share the meal with Nephthys while I am talking or praying to Her, or I hold it up at the end of the ritual, back away a few paces, and take the items away to eat or drink them. You can say some words to underscore the point if you like. I like to say, “take of the spiritual aspects of this offering, and leave for me the physical, so You may live on it, so I may live on it.” However, you can say whatever gets the point across.
As for if you can’t…well I’d advise you don’t offer the Netjeru anything you can’t consume safely. However, it might be acceptable to offer such items if you intend on feeding them to someone who can safely consume them. Blessing ingredients for kitchen witchery comes to mind. You can also offer the items to the earth. I think a compost heap would be wonderful for this, and I suspect Osiris especially would approve of such an arrangement. That said, again, you can always offer water unless your particular sect advises against that for some reason. I have yet to encounter a person who can’t drink water (!) so certainly fall back on that if needed.
You might also consider offerings of essential oils or candles. If you go with essential oils, you could for example anoint your icons with it, then also put that same oil in your wrists or neck. That way you’re sharing the offering without having to ingest anything. That, and scents are very powerful for the human psyche, and after awhile you will likely learn to associate the smell with thoughts of the Netjeru.
Thanks for reading! Do you offer something I haven’t mentioned here? Share in the comments!