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Liturgy Practicum 2, Requirement 1.4

Explain why it is important to include physical offerings in ritual. (Minimum 150 words)

Ceisiwr Serith offers a wonderful discussion of this on p. 8-12 of A Book of Pagan Prayer. There, he offers several reasons that we ought to give things physical.
  1. There is no sharp line to be drawn between the material and the physical.
  2. Offering material gifts ensures sincerity.
  3. Material gifts take part in the way of nature.
  4. The deities long for these offerings.
  5. It is an extension of hospitality.

Reason 1 above deals directly with the notion that things which are material are not base, but are sacred. Things worked with our own hands have value, and that value can be recognized by the Kindreds.

Reason 2 above deals in the way humans value words and objects: humans often break promises, go back on their word, and "speak from both sides of their mouths." Putting something of value on the table and giving it up puts force behind those words, because they are automatically backed up by action. Just as words without action are hard for us to accept, prayers without sacrifice are lacking in force. It is not wrong for us to think that the deities might also tire of promises without action.

Reason 3 gets to the mystery of reciprocity, where bonds are formed over the giving of goods and exchanging of gifts. It is not binary, zero-sum system where everything must eventually even out, but a relationship where we engage in giving because we want to and we hope that they will give in turn because they want to.

Reason 4 speaks back to the value mentioned in reason 1: the things we do have value, and the Kindreds recognize that. As a result, they wish to engage in this relationship, and even long to do so. This may partially be a function of the length of time they have been unworshiped, but it is more likely a function of the fact that they like to receive things of value, as does everyone.

Reason 5 covers all the previous reasons: these things have value, this value is recognized, and they introduce us to relationships of reciprocity. Hospitaltiy is founded on these notions, and so the giving of offerings becomes the basis for our own guest-host relationship with the Kindreds. In ritual, we play host to the Kindreds, and so we must offer to them: this is part of our job as host, and they will return the gifts we give with gifts of their own.


  • Serith, Ceisiwr. A Book of Pagan Prayer. Red Wheel/Weiser : York Beach, ME. 2002. Print.


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