This post is, obviously, about offerings. I’m using kind of a question/answer type format, because I thought it would be easier to write about that way.
Do you give offerings? Of what type? How often? Is it “Traditional” or based on UPG? To whom do you offer? Do any of them get jealous or upset if you give to one and not to others?
The giving of offerings is an extremely important factor in Roman reconstructionism: in fact, the phrase do ut des, which has been in the minds of scholars and cultores deorum alike for years and years is a good sum of Roman reconstructionism. What it means is “I give so that you might give.” Essentially, the religio Romana is a religion of reciprocity between gods and humans.
In keeping with the “reconstructionist” portion of the religio, I try and offer things that would have been available and offered in ancient times. Note the word try: some things I cannot or do not offer (such as live bulls for slaughter and the offering of incense – but I’ll get into that later), and there are some things that I offer as UPG that some of the gods seem to like but were not available back then (chocolate, for example).
As far as how often I give offerings, well…ideally every morning and/or night I’ll pour out a libation, though this doesn’t always happen. On festival days I’ll give an offering to the deity(s) who are to be honored, and if I ask for help with something I’ll give offerings as well – do ut des, after all!
I offer to any and all of the gods of the Roman pantheon. Though it must be said that some are easier to offer to than others, I have never had an issue with deities becoming jealous or upset if they do not receive an offering that another had.
If you give offerings of say food or drink, – do you leave the food there for a couple of hours or a couple of days? Do you ever consume the offerings yourself?
It depends on the offering and how much time I have to clean up. Generally this is anywhere from a quarter hour to several hours for perishable offerings, but it might be a day or two for trinkets and other things (like seashells or coins). If it’s food or drink, I’ll take a bite or a sip so I can share the offering.
Have you ever had an offering rejected?
Yes. This hasn’t happened often, but I have had offerings rejected. When the gods don’t approve, they will let you know. In the religio, this means performing a piaculum, or a sort of extra offering for atonement. I should make a glossary of Latin terms, shouldn’t I? There’s an idea!
What is your mentality about offerings? Are they given because they must, because it is tradition, out of love, or to bargain for something…help in a situation, love, money, etc? Do you ever attempt to “trade” offerings for services from your deities? Do they ever ask for payment for services?
This…is a good question. Offerings, in my opinion, are given for several reasons: tradition (the mos maiorum, or way of the ancestors, was a huge part of Roman religion, and is essentially tradition), for the purpose of honoring, for fulfilling vows, or to bargain (do ut des again!). While the Roman deities are believed to be benevolent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will do things for free, and I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to do so.
How do you feel about animal sacrifices?
I don’t live on a farm, I don’t raise my own livestock, and I’ve never done (or even been to) a sacrifice, but I think that, so long as the animal is treated humanely, it’s ok.
Is there a difference between a sacrifice and an offering? If so, have you ever given a sacrifice? What kind? Would you consider going without specific luxuries or necessities (as many do for Lent) to be a “sacrifice”?
At the base level, a sacrifice and an offering are the same thing. A sacrifice is making something sacer, or sacred, to the gods. It does not necessarily have to be an animal sacrifice, but this is what I think of when I hear the word sacrifice: I usually use the word offering instead.