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Author Topic: The Ethics of Offerings  (Read 8307 times)
wisdomsbane
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« Reply #15: September 06, 2008, 01:27:59 am »

I doubt Athena would want that. If I were a follower of Ares, however, I could see doing something like that.

That hits the nail on the head.  It depends on the god.  If I were a professional soldier, or even in any profession that required me to kill or be killed (any kind of "warrior"), then I would 1) probably take up worship of a god of war, and 2) offer my kills to such god.

Also, a point I would like to make regarding another's post on offerings of kills.  As I see it, when you offer up a kill to a deity, it is not that you are sending their soul to the deity, it is more along the lines of what I do with my writings as offerings to Athena.  I dedicate the hard work and energy I have put into the writing to the deity.  Thus, if I were to be a soldier, I would be dedicating my hard work and energy, to that god of war.  If this makes any sense.

It is not disresectful of the dead, in fact, it could be considered an honor to have your death dedicated to a deity, because it means that your opponent respected you and felt that you were a worthy adversary.  It is actually a compliment, of sorts, to the "victim's" skill and hardiness in battle.  I'm not sure this is how the ancients felt about this, this is simply my own UPG regarding the matter.  If I were killed in a battle of some sort, then I would consider it an honor for someone to offer my death to their deity.  An easy kill is not something one would offer (for example, a man my husbands size wouldn't offer the kill of a child my baby's size... that would be an insult to any war god, as I see it).  It is only those kills you are proud of having made, or been able to make that would be suitable offerings.

This is along the lines of other sorts of offerings, actually.  If it is something easy to come by, or something free in anyway, then they aren't suitable (except in the case of things sacred to a deity, example being olives are an acceptable offering to Athena, as would be olive oil, these I can get at the local grocery store, but they are very special to her.)
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« Reply #16: September 08, 2008, 01:18:24 pm »



Also, a point I would like to make regarding another's post on offerings of kills.  As I see it, when you offer up a kill to a deity, it is not that you are sending their soul to the deity, it is more along the lines of what I do with my writings as offerings to Athena.  I dedicate the hard work and energy I have put into the writing to the deity.  Thus, if I were to be a soldier, I would be dedicating my hard work and energy, to that god of war.  If this makes any sense.

It is not disresectful of the dead, in fact, it could be considered an honor to have your death dedicated to a deity, because it means that your opponent respected you and felt that you were a worthy adversary.  It is actually a compliment, of sorts, to the "victim's" skill and hardiness in battle.  I'm not sure this is how the ancients felt about this, this is simply my own UPG regarding the matter.  If I were killed in a battle of some sort, then I would consider it an honor for someone to offer my death to their deity.  An easy kill is not something one would offer (for example, a man my husbands size wouldn't offer the kill of a child my baby's size... that would be an insult to any war god, as I see it).  It is only those kills you are proud of having made, or been able to make that would be suitable offerings.



I'm not sure how the ancients felt about it either.  I know that if I were offered up to somebody else's god when I died in combat, I might be pissed.  I guess it would depend on what god it was, and whether it was a diety I got along with. 

I don't believe my soul would go to that god.  I tend to expouse the belief that we go where we believe we're going to go when we die.  Other people's prayers can, perhaps, help our souls on their journey.  An example of that would be when a Buddhist friend of mine died and we read the Tibetan book of the dead at his funeral.  But I don't think that if I died in battle and somebody decided to offer me up to Loki, I'd end up in Valhalla instead of the Duat.  It doesn't make sense to me that others would have more power in determining where I go than I, or the gods, might have.

Still, if I was offered up to some deity that I don't personally get along with, I would see that as disrespectful (this assumes that I was on some level aware of this when it happened).  I don't get along with all gods anymore than I get along with all people.  Here I am, all that I am, and all that I died for...offered up to some entity who doesn't really give a rat's arse about me? Yeah, that would upset me. 

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« Reply #17: September 08, 2008, 04:31:04 pm »

Yeah, that would upset me.

Yeah, but would you expect that to matter to the one who killed you?  And if they were offering you up as food, under the assumption that since they killed you they had that right, would the god consider your differing desire?

I suppose if your god decided to retrieve your soul from being food for another god, it would be up to them to fight it out, but at that point what would your own personal offendedness at the situation accomplish?

If one offers a kill to their god, they are not usually concerned with the kill's own preferences.  It has become an offering, a thing of value, but not a thing of decision-making abilities.  The conquest/kill took care of that option.  The god of one's enemy or one's hunter is unlikely to take the prey's wishes into consideration.

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« Reply #18: September 08, 2008, 04:57:44 pm »

I know that if I were offered up to somebody else's god when I died in combat, I might be pissed.

I suspect that it is the act of taking life that is offered up, rather than the soul of the person killed.
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« Reply #19: September 08, 2008, 05:00:40 pm »

Yeah, but would you expect that to matter to the one who killed you?

At which point the notion of 'it shows respect to the dead' doesn't really apply.  If someone doesn't care about my wishes, than I think it's two-faced of them to claim it shows respect.
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« Reply #20: September 08, 2008, 06:22:46 pm »

At which point the notion of 'it shows respect to the dead' doesn't really apply.  If someone doesn't care about my wishes, than I think it's two-faced of them to claim it shows respect.

Basically, I agree with you.  I don't think it has a lot to do with showing respect to the dead.  It may be showing respect to the god and to the hunter/soldier, but not to the dead.

A lot of hunters talk about showing respect to their prey, honouring it in death, or honouring its death, without ever thinking about its probable wishes (i.e., staying alive) as something to take into account.  It's along the lines of 'well, I'm going to kill you whether you like it or not, but at least I'll say nice things about you and ask my god to look after you afterwards.

In a war-type killing, it is perfectly logical for the winner/killer to believe that by dedicating the loser/victim to his own god, who has obviously proven stronger by the fact of the win, he is doing him greater honour than allowing him to follow his original plans, either of living or of going in death to his own god.

I don't think it really qualifies as 'respect', but I also don't think it is necessarily conscious hypocrisy.   The only real way to respect a kill, as I see it, is to eat it and thoroughly use all its parts.  You still haven't served its wishes, but at least you haven't wasted it.

On a more prosaic note, I respect a lot of people without doing what they want me to.  Respect is not the same as serve.  (I try not to kill them in the process, though)

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« Reply #21: September 09, 2008, 02:26:47 am »

I don't believe my soul would go to that god.  I tend to expouse the belief that we go where we believe we're going to go when we die.  Other people's prayers can, perhaps, help our souls on their journey.  An example of that would be when a Buddhist friend of mine died and we read the Tibetan book of the dead at his funeral.  But I don't think that if I died in battle and somebody decided to offer me up to Loki, I'd end up in Valhalla instead of the Duat.  It doesn't make sense to me that others would have more power in determining where I go than I, or the gods, might have.

That's the thing though.  I don't believe that the soul of the person killed would be offered up.  I'm going to continue with the example I used before of the olives for Athena.  When you give an offering like that, the olive is still sitting on your altar, or what have you.  Athena has taken whatever it may be that she may get from that olive, but to you or I the olive still is there (even if it is as ashes, the olive has simply changed form, thus it is still there).  If I were offering up a kill the person's spirit would not be offered up, it would be more the offering of my gratitude (my own emotions) that, for example, Ares gave me either the strength to defeat a foe as strong as or stronger than I.  You cannot offer another person's spirit, you have no control over it.  But you do have control over your own tenacity, (to a certain extent) your own strength, etc.  This is what you offer up, that you did your best to do glory to the god you worship.

To me, that is the essence of any ritual, offering, sacrifice, etc.  You would not offer Athena a partially eaten, rotten, etc. olive, you would offer to her the best you have or can find.  I give the example of my published writings as offerings I have made to Athena.  They are the best I have yet done.  This shows my respect for her, as well as my appreciation for the talents she has given to me, even if they are only temporary.  I do not physically hand the writings to her, nor do I keep them on an altar to her and secret from everyone else.

I don't really think I'm getting my point across very clearly, I just can't seem to find the right words to explain it.  I'll try to get back to you on this, if I haven't been clear enough.  (And yes, I have had a very dry spell the past couple of years...)
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« Reply #22: September 09, 2008, 05:08:41 am »

Athena.  When you give an offering like that, the olive is still sitting on your altar, or what have you.  Athena has taken whatever it may be that she may get from that olive, but to you or I the olive still is there (even if it is as ashes, the olive has simply changed form, thus it is still there).  If I were offering up a kill the person's spirit would not be offered up, it would be more the offering of my gratitude (my own emotions) that, for example, Ares gave me either the strength to defeat a foe as strong as or stronger than I.  You cannot offer another person's spirit, you have no control over it.  But you do have control over your own tenacity, (to a certain extent) your own strength, etc.  This is what you offer up, that you did your best to do glory to the god you worship.

So when you offer the olive, the god takes something of the olive, it's essence or spirit or whatever, but when you offer a person the god takes something of you, your emotion, rather than of the person, it's essence or spirit or whatever?

The gods would appear to be inconsistent.

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« Reply #23: September 09, 2008, 11:41:56 pm »

I would never offer up my "kills" to any of my gods.  I'm sure the people who I would have to kill would have their own religious beliefs.  It seems very wrong to offer them up to gods who they don't even believe in.  If I ever did have to kill anyone to defend myself, my country or anyone I loved, I'd still feel like it would be important to respect the dead, and their wishes.  Even if they were an axe murderer, who am I to know who they are or what their life has been like?  And they're dead.  They can't hurt me anymore.  What good does it do me to do something disrespectful to them, after the fact? 


There's offering the body/soul of the killed...and there's offering your act of the killing.
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« Reply #24: September 10, 2008, 12:03:02 am »

This is along the lines of other sorts of offerings, actually.  If it is something easy to come by, or something free in anyway, then they aren't suitable (except in the case of things sacred to a deity, example being olives are an acceptable offering to Athena, as would be olive oil, these I can get at the local grocery store, but they are very special to her.)

Why is something not a suitable offering if you didn't have to pay for it or make great effort to get it?

I wouldn't exactly consider a few drops of water an appropriate votive offering for a deity who you're hoping will help you through a massive catastrophe, but I don't know of any who would be offended if one of their devotees saw fit to give them some just because.

I happen to be pretty good at dashing off fairly good poetry and invocations on a few minute's notice without needing to put a lot of thought into it (a talent that comes in useful when someone suddenly gets sick an hour before ritual or never shows up, or when the offerings seem sparse). I certainly wouldn't consider said poetry to be an unworthy offering because it comes easily to me (in a way, I see it as an obligation to produce more- if I've got the ability, then sure as anything, I'm expected to put it to good use in their honor- "Well, kid it's so easy for you, here's some paper, start composing.").

If someone gives me a basket of fruit, I didn't pay for it, but I can't see how it would be inappropriate to give some to the gods- even those that don't govern the growth of fruit.

I guess I just don't understand the thinking. I could see it being inappropriate to just give any old offering *because* it was free or easy to get (though I've heard from folks with experience that free, cheap or easy to get is very appropriate to a particular deity or two), but if there is something that I would sincerely like to give the gods, its being free or easy to get should not stop me from giving it to them. It's like giving a present to a friend...if you're at a yard sale, and you saw a vase for a quarter that you knew your friend Sue would just love, would the fact that it only costs a quarter stop you from giving it to her? (Conversely, you wouldn't just grab it because oh it's her birthday you have to get her something and oh look, it only costs a quarter, right?)
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« Reply #25: September 10, 2008, 12:42:41 am »

So when you offer the olive, the god takes something of the olive, it's essence or spirit or whatever, but when you offer a person the god takes something of you, your emotion, rather than of the person, it's essence or spirit or whatever?

The gods would appear to be inconsistent.

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Heh.  I did happen to mention that I wasn't sure I was being clear.  I was trying to say that, the gods will take what they want of an offering, and honestly I can't see a god taking the spirit of one who doesn't worship them.  What I was pointing out is that the offering (whatever form it happens to be in) is "the best you have to give" that is the actual offering, your best.  Whether it be your best olive, your best work, or, in the case of the topic, your best kill. 

I'm sorry if I'm not coming up with the right words to explain this.  I think I may have too much running around my head right now.  I know what I'm trying to say, but it just doesn't want to come out right...

ETA:  I just thought of a way to phrase this that might make some better sense.  Think of the saying, "It's not the gift that counts, it's the thought."  That is basically what I have been trying to think of.  It isn't the actual item, etc. that really matters, it is that you are giving the best you can give, no matter what that may be...  The gods will take of that gift whatever protion they deem necessary/fit/etc.  But the fact that you hold enough respect for them to give your best, is what makes it count.
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« Reply #26: September 10, 2008, 02:25:21 am »

Ok, there seem to be several points being made here, please let me know if I am following:

1) An offering should be either pleasing to the gods, or difficult to obtain and pleasing.  The main point is pleasing. 

2) Respecting the dead is about offering comfort to the spirit of the deceased, whether they were willing to be killed or not.

3) If offering a kill, it is the death or the act of killing that is being offered, not the soul or spirit of the one killed.  (A possible exception to this being if the dead also believes in your paradigm and is a willing sacrifice, or if the sacrifice is made to a being who likes souls, like Kali or Cthulhu.)  This shows respect to the gods, but not necessarily to the dead.
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« Reply #27: September 15, 2008, 03:00:02 pm »

Do you make offerings? 

Who do you make them to?  (Deities/Spirits/Creatures/Ancestors/Locations Etc.) 

Are there specific rules about how you make offerings (timing/location/presentation) or what you offer?

Are your offerings only pleasing to the recipient, or are they also appealing to you?

Would you offer something that did not appeal to you if asked?

Do you ever make offerings of meat?

Would you ever (or do you) engage in animal sacrifice?

Can an offering be considered ethically "wrong" if the offerant believes it is what their Gods want?

I leave offerings to the five deities I work with.

Timing of the offering? Whenever I get a quiet moment and can remember. I try to leave offerings during full moons and holidays or when I feel the need. Location? I try to leave my offerings by trees facing the North side of my yard. Presentation? I tear the bread into pieces and pour the libation onto the ground by the tree. One thing I will do is save one bite for myself and one drink.

My offerings are appealing to me. Hopefully they understand that.

It would depend on what they asked me to offer to them.

No I never make offerings of meat. I have a dog and my neighbors have dogs, plus I really don't want to leave meat rotting in the yard. At least with the bread the squirrels can take it if they want.

No I would never sacrifice an animal to appease a Deity.

Can an offering be considered ethically "wrong" if the offerant believes it is what their Gods want?

I think it would be considered wrong if the offerent is opposed to the offering they are leaving.

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« Reply #28: September 17, 2008, 05:47:57 am »

Do you make offerings?

 Who do you make them to?  (Deities/Spirits/Creatures/Ancestors/Locations Etc.) 

Are there specific rules about how you make offerings (timing/location/presentation) or what you offer?

Are your offerings only pleasing to the recipient, or are they also appealing to you?

Would you offer something that did not appeal to you if asked?

Do you ever make offerings of meat?

Would you ever (or do you) engage in animal sacrifice?

Do you see a difference between offering purchased meat and animal sacrifice?

Can an offering be considered ethically "wrong" if the offerant believes it is what their Gods want?

What I offer depends on who I offer. For naturespirits I offer simple things like part of my meal. When I have ritual meal part of it goes to the Gods and part to the naturespirits. Ritual meals are special and Ive used much of time and effort for making them. So when using parts of ritual meal as an offering the time and effort is what goes to Gods and the physical part goes to naturespirits. In my culture we have a strong belief on little elfs and every home and place have its own so when working ritual outside I always offer something to these special spirits wich often have much of temper so theyd wellcome there in a future. Together with ritual meal Ive often offered something special to the Gods. Incence or some bit more expencive alcohol are good exsamples. Ofcourse Im also taking account what would please the God or Goddes Im offering to. Dedication is a good offer in opinion. It goes in this time and effort category. When doing physical exercises it can be dedicated to some athletic God. This is ofcourse only one sample cause anything that needs special effort or using special gifts like drawing or writing can be dedicated to Gods like been mentioned before on this thread.

Time and location is not so important itself. Usually the situation is what gives the proper time and place. Naturespirits wont maybe have their share if tyring to do offering in side the house so woods or beach or elsewhere in the nature is more proper. The timing depends on situation too so its usually when offering to Gods I do it with ritual so when and where perfoming it is the right time and place. In some cases planetary corresponces can also been used to find proper timing as also the phases of the moon and solar cycle depending on your religion.
One thing I always prefer is the space and peace to did offerings without hurry or other people that arent involved fuzzying around.

Im trying to please the Gods with my offerings so Id choose something that they like but I want it also to be something that I value myself . If should come situation that I cant find something that both me and the Gods would value the Gods pleasing comes first. But Id also would be thinking that if I am offering to right God and my reasons on offering. This would go also on sacrificing animals. I dont do that but if a specific God wouls ask me to do that Id first be thinking hard and long the reasons and if after that Id find it worth of doing then Id do it. But I also belief that there are alot of other gifts God like so I think it will be nessesery. Also if my ritual meal would be including purchased meat Id give it to Gods like anything else though my feasts dont usually include meat. Well, not at least read meat but for exsample I LOVE fish and I have no reason to be not using it. So, I found fish to very suitable when conserning giving something that I found to be valuable.

I dont think Id offer something that I find unethical even if asked by God. I wouldnt do human sacrifice.
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