n the ancient times at Eleusis, pilgrims were required to bring offerings for the many different Gods that they met along the way. They would bring a pig with them to be sacrificed to Demeter, as well as many other offerings – money, food, items sacred to the various Gods, art… the offerings were as varied as the Gods themselves.
At Spring Mysteries, you will have the opportunity to make offerings during your journey. During the main ritual, you will have two chances to honor the Great Mother, Demeter, specifically with gifts, as these are Her mysteries. Once at the beginning of the rituals, during the Parade to the Sea, and later during the second part of the Lesser Mysteries.
Think about what you’d like to bring her, and tuck it away in your bags. Also, I can assure you, you will need at least one coin during your travels.
There will be dedication rituals with the Gods, as well as times to visit them within their shrines. Be sure to remember gifts for your Patrons, should you desire to express your love and gratitude for all they do for you throughout the year.
You will also have the opportunity to leave offerings in the shrines of the Gods themselves or to present gifts during shrine scenes when you go to speak to them.
Appropriate gifts can vary depending on what calls you to offer to a God or Goddess – in addition to varying depending on the God or Goddess.
Money is an easy offering, and always appreciated, as all of Gods can use money to serve the people in any number of ways. But, if that doesn’t make you feel in the spirit there are many other options. Baked goods, textiles, harvested fruits, jewelry, hand crafted items, whatever you like, are always appreciated and utilized to their best and highest good. On occasion, offerings are given to a particular priest or priestess in service, and that is fine too. Just be sure to make it obvious, if this is your intention, so that your gift goes to your intended recipient, and not kept in perpetuity for the God or Goddess they were serving.
What happens to the offerings once they’ve been given?
Like many things, it depends on what the offering is.
Many things are sorted on site. If it’s perishable goods, such as baked goods, or other foods, they are shared amongst the Gods and cast members in the cast cabin. If there’s enough for the whole festival, or if it’s uncooked food, it’s taken to the kitchen to be offered up at mealtime. If not used at the festival, it is either redistributed to participants or brought back to the Mother Church.
If the offering isn’t savable or identifiable, such as unwrapped foods, unlabeled vegetation, etc, it is burned at the ritual fire at the end of Spring Mysteries, after all the participants have left.
The things that can be saved are brought back to the Mother Church for evaluation and sorting by clergy.
Money is donated to the Mother Church, to be used to fund the Goddess’ ministries throughout the coming year. If it is a gift to a specific God or Goddess, it is put into the God’s belongings, and returned to the shrines to be kept there throughout the festival.
After festival, all gifts that were given to specific deities become the property of that God and are photographed, recorded, dated, and preserved for future use. Check out the shrines at festival this year – you will probably see that gift you gave last year turn back up on that same God’s altar or that piece of jewelry is being worn by the deity.
Each year, the priests and priestesses chosen to serve each God, are given the items that have been collected in previous years. With reverence, awe, and a good measure of excitement, these items are perused, and then utilized in that priest/esses workings. Each year new items are added, building a sacred collection of belongings to each God that layer the power passed down to the new priest/ess.