What to do with offerings?

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What to do with offerings?

Postby T.FLAVIVS IVLIANVS on Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 am


I have a question I asked myself for a very very long time but never actually asked anyone else. I know about the rites but never really found anything about what to do with the offerings after the ritual.

I usually place them outside after a day to be taken by birds because I think that is at least "ok" for me. I can't burn stuff in the house or in the backyard as I live in an appartment in town. What do YOU do after the rituals?

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Postby Aulus Flavius on Wed Apr 04, 2007 2:01 pm

Salve amice,

A majority of Roman citizens, at least in the City itself, lived in appartments. So don't think your situation is unusual in that respect. I tend to offer incense for the most part, or the occassional food and drink. In the case of edible offerings, don't throw them away. If they can not be disposed of in a traditional way, either burying or burning, eating them yourself is acceptable.

As for leaving items for animals to consume I'll leave this to the more learned of our number. There is an answer to your question, considering how many Romans were urban appartment dwellers. It's just a matter of finding what it is.


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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:13 am

Salve Tite Flavi

Burying or burning your offerings would be most proper, in most cases, and whether to bury or burn them could depend on to whom the offerings were made. Beyond that, leaving offerings for birds to take up is a practice that cultores should perform. Birds are considered to carry the souls of the dead to cestial abodes. Birds are also linked with certain deities, acting to carry omens from the Gods or to carry prayers to the Gods. Providing for wild birds, when performed as a religious act, therefore is a means of honoring the Gods and the natural order of things. Also leaving offerings out for cats and dogs could be acceptable. The Lares viales were sometimes identified as the spirits of dogs. And cats tend to be as much a part of a neighborhood as any person, so they could be thought in terms representing Lares compitales. Placing out salt licks for Diana's deer, or tending to other animals, plants, or even stones, could also be in the same category of honoring the Gods and caring for Nature in the same way that Romans would place wreathes of flowers on rivers to honor the genius loci and nymphae.

When you offer something that is accepted by a God, the implication is that the deity has sent down a numen into the offering itself to take up its essence. That which was offered, the essence, therefore becomes holy, i.e. sanctum. What remains would be only religiosum as something dedicated by mortals, but touched by a God. That means that it should not be simply tossed away as trash. Once dedicated to a God it remains the possession of the God. However, if done with due reverence, then disposing of the offering can become a religious act and just about any means of disposal can be acceptable in your private practice.

Another thing to consider is to make non-material offerings. Poems, music, dance can all be offerings as well. Even doing work around the house, when performed as a religious act dedicated to the Gods it can be a type of offering.

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