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Offerings to the Gods: Cakes & Ale for the Celtic Gods and Goddesses
Gods and Goddesses for Everyone
In paganism, there are hundreds and thousands of gods that one might connect with or choose as a pantheon. It is also even common to switch between gods depending on what you are going through in life. There's a pantheon for every culture and region - Greek, Roman, Celtic, Native American, Meso-American, Inuit, Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Mesopotamian, many African pantheons, Aboriginal, indigenous Filipino, and the list goes on.
We all know that the god and goddess are always there to listen to us, to guide us, and to strengthen us. They do not expect anything from us, because they don't need anything from us. However, many of us still like to give offerings to the god and goddess in order to show our appreciation and dedication. Think of it this way - the more you give, the more you will receive.
In this article, we will learn about specific offerings to the Celtic gods and goddesses that were used in ancient Celtic times and that can be used today. Feel free to modify it to make it right for you and your practice; this is meant to be a guide.
Celtic Goddesses & Associated Offerings
Because the Celtic empire stretched from the East of Europe to the West of Europe at one point in time, there were hundreds of different Celtic goddesses that the people believed in. This means that Celtic Pagans and Wiccans today have many goddesses of the Celtic pantheon to choose from. I have selected some of the Celtic goddesses that I am more familiar with in order to provide you with information of their favorite offerings.
The Morrigan is a Celtic Irish goddess who comes to me quite often, both in my dreams and through symbols in nature. She is a fierce warrior and a powerful magician, but she is also a loving mother. She has sent me gifts in order to give me boosts of warrior strength, usually they come in the form of a crow's call or a random rainbow during a rainstorm. This Samhain I plan on leaving an offering for The Morrigan, just to display my gratitude. The Morrigan will enjoy offerings of food and drink, particularly in the colors red and black. Red wine, pomegranates, red apples, chocolate, cherries, and red meat are all wonderful offerings for The Morrigan. Milk might also be an appropriate offering, as it is said that The Morrigan owns a herd of magical cattle.
Danu is the great mother of Ireland, as she is the mother of the Tuatha de' Danann. A loving, strong, and nurturing mother, Danu is a wonderful goddess to call upon when you need a little encouragement in life. She has been thought of also as a Fairy Queen, though I fear this is just a misinterpretation of the Tuatha's original powers. The great news is that she doesn't ever expect much in return...but if you would like to leave an offering for this delightful Celtic goddess, here are some suggestions: white cake, angel cake, colcannon, mead, white wine, cream, and milk.
Cerridwen is a Welsh Celtic goddess and was rather popular with the Celts. She was said to be the goddess of poetic inspiration, rebirth, reformation, and transformation. Legend says that Cerridwen actually gave life to the poet Taliesin. If you ever watch "Mists of Avalon" or read the book, you will hear her name quite often mentioned by the Lady of the Lake and on the Isle of Avalon. Because Avalon is associated with the sacred fruit of the apple, the offering of apples is an appropriate one for Cerridwen. One of the many stories of Cerridwen tells of her shape-shifting into various animals in order to overtake her servant (who eventually becomes Taliesin), and in the end of the story Cerridwen turns into a hen in order to eat her servant who had become a grain of corn. Obviously corn might be another appropriate offering for Cerridwen. Wine, mead, and beer are also offerings that Cerridwen might enjoy.
Celtic Gods and Associated Offerings
The Great Horned God, the King of the Wood, the Lord of Beasts. Cernunnos is a rather popular deity these days, and back in the day of the Celts he could be seen on many paintings, sculptures, pottery, etc. Today he is seen as a part of the Lord and the Lady in Wiccan belief systems, and many look to him as a representation of the changing of the seasons and cycle of the year. If you would like to leave Cernunnos an offering, base it off of the season. For instance, for Samhain - leave offerings of the last harvest such as apples, pumpkin, squash, herbs, turnips, nuts, wine, and meats. For Imbolc, leave Cernunnos offerings of bread, milk, cream, pears, and potatoes.
Manannan Mac Lir
Manannan is a god of the sea, a psychopomp, and a Celtic god who has a rather endearing sense of humor. He will send seagulls in your path in order to get your attention. They may even run off with your food at the beach! Manannan also enjoys giving gifts to those who are of the right heart and mind. This Celtic god is the patron god of the Isle of Man, and many people believe this island was actually named after him. Offerings for Manannan might include: fishes such as salmon, ham or pork, apples, potatoes, nuts, and mead or wine.
The Irish Celtic god known as Dagda is the Father of the Tuatha peoples. He can also be called upon and viewed as a father god of sorts. There are those who picture Dagda as a protector, a guide through life, and a teacher. Place your offerings to Dagda in a cauldron to represent his own magical cauldron or in a wooden bowl. Offerings for Dagda should also lean towards fruits and meats of the season. As a Father god, think of what your father might enjoy the most and use that as Dagda's offering. Masculine foods such as pork and steak, beer and ale are perfect. Bread and cheese are also appropriate foods to use as offerings.
Other Offerings and When to Dispose of Offerings
If you cannot afford such elaborate food offerings for the gods, what can you do?
Write a poem, a song, or draw a picture if you feel so inclined. Use your imagination and heart and the gods will be sure to like that offering just as much as a meal. Other items you might want to use as offerings could include herbs, incense, a lit candle, perfume, oils, tea, a photo, or pretty much anything that means something to you and your connection with that deity.
Do your research and often you can find inspiration in mythology and folklore on specific offerings for the gods and goddesses. Try different things and see what kind of experience you have after presenting the offerings.
Depending on the kind of offering will determine when to dispose of it or when to change it out. If you have a simple herbal offering in a bowl, you can change it out as often or as little as you feel drawn - weekly or even monthly. If it is a food offering, you'll want to dispose of it before the day is over. Beverages such as wine or coffee can remain on the altar for a little longer than food. Incense can be burned and then the ashes should be disposed of soon after. A special candle dedicated to your deity can be left on the altar and used until it is burned down. Fresh plants and herbs picked from nature should be left out until they wilt (about 24 hours).
© 2012 Nicole Canfield