Saturday, November 30, 2013

Intentions Behind Making Offerings {Part 2}

This is a follow up to a post I did a few days ago Intentions Behind Making Offerings; there has been quite a bit of discussion over at Tumblr in response to the post over there, which showed me that there was a need for me to clarify a few things, which I am doing over here as well. You can see the discussion over at Tumblr here.
 I have read all the responses and comments so far to my initial post, and I appreciate all the feedback. Before I respond to other people’s thoughts, I will reiterate that everything that I am writing here is just my own opinion, I am not representing any group or stating that these are the opinions of those who share a similar faith as my own {although I would be especially curious to hear what other Gaelic Polytheists and Celtic Reconstructionists feel on this topic}.
After reading the responses I have gotten and re-reading my initial post, I feel that I was not thorough enough to begin with and made some assumptions that others who would be reading my post would already know my overall position on making offerings and have a general feel of my position when it comes to relationships with deities, ancestors and spirits. To save some time in completely repeating myself, I welcome people to read the other post I had linked to here. I will however be going into further detail as necessary.
Something else I failed to be clear on in my initial post was what types of Pagans, polytheists and magical practitioners I was originally talking about, which were those who feel they practice some “Celtic” based or inspired faith. I have tried to find the original article that I had alluded to and unfortunately have not been able to find it on Tumblr anymore. It was called something like “Offerings Celtic Style” and was originally posted on Tumblr around July or August. If anyone remembers that post and it is still around, please feel free to share it.
There are people from different traditions and faiths that have responded to this, most notably people from a Kemetic path {a timely discussion is going on right now, which I recommend other people read, as it is quite interesting, which can be seen here}. I will not pretend to have even the slightest clue what it is like to deal with the Gods of people from a completely different spiritual path than my own, and it could very well be that what I consider to be bribes is perfectly acceptable to their Gods and their value-system. I am comfortable saying though that I do not think that this approach is acceptable with the deities that I have a relationship with nor is this an approach that fits into my own world view.
Some folks have mentioned the idea of a “gift for a gift” and someone had also used the word “reciprocity”, which I feel both encapsulate what I am trying to get at here. The spirit in which I see these terms is in complete opposition to some people who think that they can take without giving back or only give something to manipulate someone to get what they want.
Someone mentioned if we don’t get something back from the Gods then what is the point? Indeed. There is something I feel I get back including guidance, protection, wisdom. I may ask for something that I feel I need or ask on behalf of someone else, that does not however mean that my Gods are here to fulfill my every whim and demand.
Long before I start asking for things, while I am still in the early stages of developing a relationship with a deity or spirit, I will make offerings, take actions to demonstrate my intentions, to show hospitality. If and when a relationship is established, then I may ask for something.
While I do not pretend to be “equal”, I do espouse to treat my Gods, Ancestors and the Spirits I work with as I would someone who is dear to me. They are not here for me to use. That said, I do of course get something back for having a relationship with them. If I did not, much like a one-sided friendship, eventually ties would be severed.
It is difficult for me to clearly define how I see my deities, although, at least in part, I see them as mentors and kindred. If I were to have a wise person in my life teaching and guiding me, there would be an automatic amount of respect that I would have for them; anyone who I feel is my kindred, I have an automatic amount of respect for them.
Besides what I already get out of a relationship with a mentor or kindred, I may ask that person for a favour. The may agree to grant that favour, or they may not. I would still respect them either way and I would try to avoid manipulating them, giving them ultimatums, or bribing them as I see these things as disrespectful.
For me offerings are made with a generous heart; they are just one expression of the values that I see as sacred, the values that I try to uphold in every day life.
I hope that I have somewhat clarified my position and I welcome further comments and discussion, whether you agree or disagree.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Intentions Behind Making Offerings

I will preface this post by stating that what is written here is just my own point of view, which can either be taken or left.

Over the past few months I have been noticing an increased amount of Pagans, polytheists and magical practitioners talking about making offerings as a part of their practice. Many folks are talking about the research they are doing to find out what type of offerings to make, the quality of the offerings and so forth. All great. Fantastic even. There is however a trend that has irked me, and this is the spirit in which the offerings are sometimes made.
One article in particular really got under my skin, which was an "offerings 101" type thing advising people to make offerings to get what they want. The whole tone of the article was one of commanding spirits and "using" deities to get ahead in life, a spiritual view that is completely foreign to me and perhaps even dangerous.
To me the act of making an offering is a sign of hospitality; it is the giving of a gift out of gratitude, friendship, respect. Offerings are a part of sacred devotion and reverence.  The act of giving to get what you want is bribery, something that dirty policy-makers do. Surely there is nothing sacred nor hospitable about that.
In other words, bribes are not offerings.  The intention behind making an offering is equally important--if not more so--as the act and effort behind it.
For a wee bit more on making offerings, you can check out a previous post here. I welcome thoughts and comments, including ones in opposition to me own.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Signs of An Cailleach

It may be more of a kiss from Her rather than a thump of Her hammer or a blast from Her wand, but She is near nonetheless. ;)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hospitality for My Ancestors & An Cailleach

I finally found the time and energy to properly welcome my Ancestors & An Cailleach and to celebrate the season. Offerings of baked apples, pumpkin muffins, roasted pumpkin seeds, whiskey and tea were made. The house has been sained, along with some other timely workings and divination.

When my ritual and workings were over, I went outside and not only was it snowing, but there were a bunch of small white moths flying around. Moths are often seen as messengers from the Otherworld. I feel both the Storm Hag and my Ancestors near.
May you all be reaping the blessings of this time!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Táim Sínte ar do Thuama {I am Stretched on Your Grave}

I took this photo of my family cemetery a couple of years ago, and it reminds me of a 17th century Irish poem Táim Sínte ar do Thuama {in English I am Stretched on Your Grave}.
Here is the poem in Gaeilge:
Táim sínte ar do thuama agus gheobhair ann de shíor mé.
Dá mbeadh barra do dhá láimh agam, ní scarfainn leat choíche.
A phlúirín is an tsearc sé ann domsa luí leat.
Mar tá boladh fuar na cré uait, dath na gréine is na gaoithe.

Is nuair is dóigh le mo mhuintir go mbímse ar mo leabaigh.
Is ar do thuama sea a bhím sínte ó oíche go maidin.
Ag cur síos ar mo chruatan is ag cruaghol go daingean.
Sí mo chailín chiúin, stuama do ghluais liom ina leanbh.

Is tá na sagairt is na bráithre gach lá liomsa i bhfearg.
D'fhonn a bheith i ngrá leat a stórmhnaoi is tú marbh.
Dhéanfainn foithnín ón ngaoth duit, is díon díot ón bhfearthainn.
Agus brón ar mo chroíse tú a bheith thíos ins an talamh.

Is an gcuimhin leatsa an oíche úd a bhíosa agus tusa.
Fé bhun an chrann draighnigh, is bhí an oíche ag cur cuisne.
Céad moladh le hÍosa nár dheineamar an milleadh.
Is go bhfuil an choróin Mhaighdein mar chrann soilse inár gcoinne.

Is tabhair mo mhallacht dod' mháithrín is ní áirímse d'athair.
Is a maireann de do chairde gach lá faid a mhaireann.
Nár lig dom tú a phósadh is tú beo agam i do bheathaigh
Mar nach n-iarrfainn mar spré leat ach luí leat sa leabaigh.

Is tá brón ar mo chroíse atá líonta le grá dhuit.
Is an londubh taobh thíos dó atá chomh dubh leis na háirne.
Sara dtiocfaidh aon ní orm is go gcloífidh an bás mé
Ó béadsa i mo shí gaoithe romhat thíos ar na bántaibh.
Here is an English translation:
I am stretched on your grave
And I'll lie there forever
If your hands were in mine
I'd be sure they could not sever
My apple tree, my brightness
It's time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather.
When my family thinks
That I'm safely in my bed
From morn until night
I am stretched out at your head
Calling out to the earth
With tears hot and wild
My grief for the girl
That I loved as a child.
Do you remember the night we were lost
In the shade of the blackthorn
And the chill of frost
And thanks be to Jesus
We did all that was right
And your maiden head still
Is your pillar of light.
The priests and the friars
They approach me in dread
Because I still love you
My love and you're dead
I still would be your shelter
Through rain and through storm
And with you in your cold grave
I cannot sleep warm.
So I am stretched on your grave
And will lie there forever
If your hands were in mine
I'd be sure they could not sever
My apple tree, my brightness
It's time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather.
Here is a video of the Gaeilge version beautifully sung by Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin: