The Ethics of Offerings

In this post, in the ‘Honoring Land Spirits’ thread, Ferelia talked about avoiding offerings of food, drink or items, as these involve (unneccessary?) consumption of the produce of the earth.

I’m very keen to ensure that any offerings I give are ethical. I look at the processes of producing and shipping food etc., from as many perspectives as possible (from human rights to animal rights to environmental conservation), and this affects what I purchase (or grow or find) as offerings.

But offerings themselves, as an expression of hospitality, are central to my religion. In an ADF context, we give offerings in a spirit of hospitality and reciprocity: “I give so that you may give”. My Gaelic polytheism is similarly based around giving offerings. If the gods are real – and I believe that they are – then they deserve hospitality.

This is often based on sharing my food with them, but I also have a bottle of whisky on hand most of the time that’s mainly for them – I may have a taste, but the gods get the bulk of it. I will sometimes use found items – carefully – or buy things that are just for the gods, and that I wouldn’t have been consuming otherwise.

So, in response to what Ferelia was saying: do you think giving physical offerings of this kind is important? Do you think it can be done ethically? Is it an expression of ethics itself, and if so, how does that reflect on what you give to the gods?

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