I just spent a long weekend at a coastal retreat with seven other devotees of Dionysos (amongst many other gods). It was an incredible experience and there is much to process, but one thing that stood out for me was how amazing it felt to be surrounded by people making offerings to their gods. Building up shrines of found materials for Hermes. Pouring entire bottles of wine into the waves for Dionysos. Giving thanks to the spirits of place with stones and flowers and, yes, more wine. And not only our collective offerings, but those that were done by individuals quietly, privately, off to the side, just glimpsed on the way to something else I was doing.
When I came back home, I found myself energized by this and wanting to make even *more* offerings. Pouring out the last of my wine for Dionysos instead of drinking it all. Picking some tiny wildflowers and setting them before His shrine. Thanking Hermes for the smooth and safe journey with some coins.
Sure, I make offerings fairly often, but I hadn’t noticed that a bit of lethargy had seeped into my practice in this one area, and it felt so amazing to be revitalized in my desire to give more and more to my gods. It’s not just that the gods are deserving, are awe-inspiring, which of course They are… and it’s not just that I want to keep up my end of the kharis built between us, though of course I do. This is just pure unadulterated giving, giving because I need to express my devotion and love.
And I noticed, too, not for the first time, how much more present the gods feel when we give to Them tangibly, visibly. When we surround ourselves with offerings to Them. Part of that may be the very real effect of Them drawing closer to receive the gifts. Another aspect, I suspect, is the psychological one – by laying out physical items for Them, we reaffirm to our subconscious that They are real, just as real as the objects we are giving to Them.
Give to your gods.
Give Them everything you can.
Give Them tangible offerings.
Give when you are feeling enraptured by Their presence.
Give when you are not feeling Their presence at all.
Give when you need, and give to show gratitude, and give for no reason at all.
Give big, as big as you can, as often as you can.
Give together with others who know your gods, and be inspired by the gifts of others.
Give alone, just you and Them, where no one else will see.