I’ve received a lot of questions about offerings for the spirits so this will serve as a bit of an overview or reference that you can come back to at any time as a starting point should you decide you would like to begin making offerings to the spirits to develop your relationships with them.
There are a wide variety of spirits and no single offering for all of them. Offerings can vary, and you should go with research, what’s been revealed to you, and intuition on what will be right. Common offerings include:
- Spring Water
- Items that are representative of the spirit (statues or images or sacred correspondences)
- Handmade items
- Acts of good will or charity
- Cream or milk
If you’re just getting started with spirit work, I recommend beginning with an ancestor altar. Your ancestors love you and want to keep a relationship with you going strong, so it’s a solid place to start because you’re already linked to them. Check out my article on creating an ancestor veneration altar here.
Offerings for house spirits and the fae can include dairy products such as cream (think milk and cookies) and breads. All kind and helpful spirits are welcome in my home, and I consider my ancestors to be part of the fae anyway, so food offerings are always left out overnight for any spirits who need respite whether they’re passing through or whatever.
Saints usually have their own specific physical offerings. Saint Expedite loves pound cake, the colors red and green, red candles, and red flowers. Saint Cyprian usually gets offerings of incense and purple candles and cool occult items, in conjunction with Saint Justina who gets flowers. Saint Mary MacKillop receives offerings in the form of good works and flowers. Saint Joseph will take bread and yellow flowers. I recognize the feast days of the saints I work with as well, so this is something to consider too.
Research the saints you want to work with if this is an avenue you’re interested before setting up their altars. Find out which ones you connect with and begin there. I don’t currently work with any angels but they also have their own offerings, so if they interest you begin researching them.
Most of my offerings to land spirits consist in taking care of the land and being respectful. Picking up trash, beautifying, making my yard a haven for all kinds of birds and animals, planting things, and so on.
The deities I am in relationship with also have their own offerings. I am in relationship with Hekate, The Lady of the Lake, and Loki. Lavender and garlic, pomegranate and baked sweets are typical offerings from me to Hekate, as well as personal issues that I am ready to give up. I give special devotion to Hekate at the dark moon and November 16th specifically. I’ve created spirit beads for Hekate and the Lady of the Lake. I’ve collected sea shells for the Lady of the Lake, and I have another project in the works for the Lady of the Lake as well. Loki gets chocolate and pastries offerings as far as foods go, Cinnamon incense, and I recently purchased a pretty cute t-shirt that I’m totally going to wear that is in honor of him. I don’t personally do alcohol offerings unless outdoors, because we don’t do alcohol in our home, so I do my best with substitutions there.
Spirits appreciate a generous heart and most give generously themselves, so don’t be stingy with your offerings. I’ve said “go with your intuition” above, but with this advice I can’t emphasize enough how important research is. If you want to work with or develop a relationship with a specific spirit you need to know what kind of offerings they like. It’s not OK to decide on an offering substitution without consulting the spirit first and getting their approval. It’s not all about “what’s in your heart,” when it comes to offerings. These spirits are entities separate from us, existing outside of our psyches. They have their own motives, desires, and agency.
If someone does you a favor with an expectation of a certain something in return, you don’t show up with something else to give them without it having been already agreed upon.
For example, if you you ask a spirit a favor and they and expected wine as payment, and you show up with fruit juice because it’s “what you felt was right according to what’s in your heart,” the spirit may never work with you again or even undo the work they did on your behalf. It is not “the thought that counts.” Keep your end of the deal, know what they want and be prepared to deliver it.
Some spirits have specific veneration days (like Saturday for Saint Cyprian and Wednesday for Saint Expedite), so its usually ok to only light their candles and put out water for them on those days every week unless you’re doing an active working with them.
As far as disposing of offerings, specifically food items, the important thing is that you should never consume anything that was given as an offering for a spirit or deity. You can:
- Bury the offering
- Compost it
- Leave it in the woods (after making sure it is safe for local wildlife)
- Other things, such as nonperishable items, can and often should be left on the altar indefinitely.
Featured image via Unsplash