Describe why we make Praise Offerings, how they are made, when they are made, and who they are made to. Be sure to describe this in both solitary practice and in two or more Groves’ practices. (300 words min.)
In ADF, we make Praise Offerings for a couple different reasons. The first and foremost is to offer a gift to the Gods in order to develop a reciprocal relationship with them. We also give offerings as a bribe to outsiders to encourage them to leave our work in peace. We give offerings to also encourage blessings from the Shining Ones and as a symbol of peace and respect to our fellow Nature Spirits, and as a remembrance to our Ancestors. These types of offerings are usually made in some sort of ritual, whether during a High Day or in our personal devotions, or even in passing when thankful for something on the go. In our High Day Rites, we give offerings after we have invited our deities and opened the gates between the worlds. Afterwards we see if these offerings have been accepted through an omen, and if so, we take in any blessings the begins have to offering through the Waters of Life.
The being of intent differs depending on the type of ritual, whether it is a High Day or personal devotion, or whether you are giving to the primary deities or to something like the Earth Mother. Personally in my morning devotions I offer to Athena always in order to keep the thread of our relationship strong, and usually my offerings are meat, olive oil, or service in her name. An example of this type of service would be writing hymns to her and also donating to an Owl Sanctuary in her honor. During High Rites at my Grove, I will offer to the Deities of the Occasion out of respect, despite always keeping Athena in the front of my spiritual practice.
Praise Offerings are a way of offering a sacrifice. To make something sacred and offer it to another being in order to develop a positive *ghosti- relationship with them. They are most important when the offering is something significant to us that is meaningful to let go of, but more simple offerings are acceptable as well such as incense or oil.
In CedarLight, our Praise Offering portion of ritual is mitigated by the Chief Liturgist, where anyone is allowed to come up and offer praise. We discourage oaths being given, since we strongly believe the energy of oaths are tied into the participants of the ritual and should not be sprung on us unknowingly. But offerings to the Deities of the Occasion are always accepted, as they are between the individual and the Gods, not to us.
At Trillium 2012, I got to witness how Three Cranes organized their praise offering portion for that Rite. They asked that any spoken offerings be known ahead of them so they could acknowledge when they were to happen, but the main praise offering portions were done silently while the Chief Bard sang music. I liked this method for the most part because when you are in large circles, praise offerings can really run long-winded. This way the offerings stay at an acceptable level, but is still a personal interaction between the individual and the targeted receiver of the offering.
In the end though, offerings are a sacred gift with a purpose. Whether it is in thanks, or to receive a blessing, we give so that we may receive.
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