Sponge Cake and Other Offerings

Apparently there’s a bit of a controversy brewing on Lokean tumblrs, and by controversy I mean “opportunity for lolz”. I wasn’t familiar with this controversy, not being on tumblr (I’ve heard stories about tumblr secretly being a portal to Hell) so I decided to use Google-fu to figure out what all the fuss is about.

I found this thread on tumblr, have a read through it, laugh, and come back.

Putting the “appropriate offering” stuff aside for a moment, I had to laugh at the respondent’s position that “If you are not reconstructing an ancient worldview than all you are doing is reenacting (or not heathenry).” So is this person going to then go to Iceland, home of the ásatrúarfélagið, home of the eddas themselves, and tell those people (some of whom are not recon the way we North Americans view recon) and tell them they’re doin’ it wrong? Really? I also love the patronizing way they lecture this person on the meaning of “worship”. Yeah, patronizing people always makes them come around to your way of thinking.

But now we come to the crux of the matter: is sponge cake an appropriate offering for a deity?

Let me tell you what happens on my birthday every year. Every year, I decide to invite a bunch of people over to partake of (Westernized) Chinese food. Sometimes we go see a movie, but honestly, I’m happy with just the food. What do you imagine we have for cake? Do I demand a three-tier chocolate topped with candied flowers and chocolate almonds?

This is the cake I have every year:

Mmmmmm……

This is a McCain Deep ‘n’ Delicious cake. It costs around $1.50 at the grocery store. I love this cake. It’s the best cake in the universe. It’s sweet without being too sweet and chocolately and I want a piece right now….

Why wouldn’t deities be the same way?

Here’s another example: If I invite a friend over, and I know that friend loves grilled cheese sandwiches, why wouldn’t I try to serve them something they liked? If we honour our deities and friends, even, as family (as many Heathens are fond of saying) why wouldn’t we give them stuff they wanted? Because it’s not “traditional”? Because you obviously don’t care about them enough to give them expensive stuff? This kind of thinking is just bullshit! How does it send the message that you don’t care for someone if you cook things that they like? Seriously, that’s like “Comfort Food 101”, and really, if a deity asks, are you going to argue? You do realize you’re arguing with a deity, right? You know, the beings that do unimportant things like running the fucking universe!

Not to long ago, I felt compelled to make an offering to Mani (despite what a certain person told me about Mani not being a god–I’m Lokabrenna in that thread), so I searched in my cupboards for something to give him….

….and I found some marshmallows.

“Huh,” I said. “Well, they’re round and white and suitably moon-like, and they remind me of campfires at night, so okay.” I figured I would write him a poem too. I have no idea if he liked these things, but I know the feeling, the compulsion, went away after that.

But, seriously, fucking marshmallows….

I mean, what are marshmallows made of, anyways? Certainly nothing the people who originally honored Mani would recognize, and yet, if he liked the marshmallows, am I going to argue with him? No, I know where the root of the word “lunacy” comes from, thank you very much.

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7 thoughts on “Sponge Cake and Other Offerings

  1. Love this post. I love where it goes…even if I do feel kinda guilty that I have yet to make an offering to the gods of alcohol that is over 70 proof. I’ve heard that only 80 proof and above is acceptable. So, should I drink all the Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey all by myself?

    Who knows.

    I say, If an offering is given with intent and love, who are we to say it’s not acceptable?

      1. Not all gods want alcohol. Some actually strictly forbid it and would be deeply offended by it! Me? I have a dry house as well and never an offering of alcohol, but that’s just fine with the spirits I work with, because they don’t want it. Perhaps, you should research and find out which gods you are most in tune with lifestyle-wise and focus more on them?

        For example, I don’t drink alcohol, I do drink almost exclusivily water, tea, and milk, I’m a vegetarian, and the main staple of my diet is rice – and I’ve eaten like this for nigh on 40 years. Most of that time I was a Christian, but since childhood I was plagued by dreams of a white robed mute albino with a giant pet anaconda/snake. In my youth I was terrified of him and thought him a ghost, but in my teen years a friend was killed and this guy visiting my dreams each night because a source of comfort as I realized he was some sort of guardian spirit. He didn’t talk so it wasn’t like I could just ask who he was or what he wanted (though that didn’t stop me from asking anyways).

        Well, 15 or so years ago, I was asked by this strange god-being-type person whose identity was still unknown to me, to be his wife. When he finally did talk I realized he didn’t like to talk because he’s got a wicked speech problem and can barely be understood, thus sound a lot like a hissing snake. Well I wanted to know who he was and what he wanted and why me? (He could barely say a word so it was not like he could tell me who he was or what he wanted!) Why was he in my dreams every night? Why did the one time he speak he say I’m to be his wife? I discovered that there are 15,000 religions each with a whole great big set of gods and it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, when all I had to go on was the man was an albino, dressed always in white or green, couldn’t talk, and was always carrying this giant anaconda/snake.

        You’d think that would make it easy to figure out who he was, but pretty much every religion has a snake god, most gods wear white, and mute gods are not quiet as uncommon as they would seem. It took me years of searching to identify his identity (Damballa Weddo).

        Well, I was a Christian at the time and when I researched to find out who this guy was, I freaked out when I discovered he was a Voodoo deity (lwa). I did the whole, no way is that ever going to happen! (Because I held the belief that Voodoo was evil, Satanic, yadda, yadda, yadda). But this lwa continues to visit me in my dreams every night, tells me he’ll wait for me to come to my senses and stop being scared of him, some day I’ll trust him and know that this is the path I’m meant to walk.

        So, I continue on being a good little Christian and avoiding all those “wicked pagan things” including Voodoo, while he keeps showing up in my creams each night and telling me that my life is about to change, and he’ll be right there beside me through it all, and than I’ll understand. Me, I think, I’m going crazy and try telling myself none of this is real, it’s just a dream. He just says “You’ll see”.

        Well, see I did! Suddenly everything went wrong, really wrong, really fast: my grandmother died, my engagement was ended because my future husband decided to become a celibate type priest, my dad went into a coma, a flood took my house, I started rebuilding only to have that house burnt to the ground by vandals, I spent 6 years homeless living under a tarp, my church excommunicated me after 27 years of faithful service, and one day I was sitting at the library trying to figure out what the heck was happening, when I saw this book about Voodoo sitting on a desk opened to a chapter about this particular lwa (Damballa, btw). So I started studying Voodoo and found out it was nothing like I thought it was.

        Well, as I got to researching into this whole thing more, I found out why he was attracted to me. He’s one of those deities, who has a set guideline for the types of folks he’ll come to, and his servants and wives. He’s got several /spirit/lwa wives and hundreds of human wives – apparently he sort of “collects” women servant-spouses the same way Jesus collects bride-nuns, and the same way Jesus demands a strict lifestyle for his brides, Damballa demands a strict lifestyle for his huge bevy of servant women, and do you want to guess what one of the requirements he requires is?

        This: He demands total purity and will only marry a woman who drinks almost exclusivily water, supplemented by tea, pure juice, and milk, he recoils at women who eat meat and demands his wives be vegetarian (though he will allow white meat such as chicken or fish), and the main staple of her diet is rice and white eggs. He forbids alcohol, smoking, and drugs, and puts limits on her sex life, preferring virgins or married women who “waited for marriage” thus have only been with one man. Upon marriage he demands she “purify” herself by wearing white for 40 days, and eating nothing but white rice, white eggs, milk, and water for 40 days. Than for the rest of her life she is expected to devote every Thursday to him, again wearing white and eating only eggs, rice, and milk. He’s more prone to request marriage of a woman who lives this lifestyle before knowing of him.

        I found this out and was like WOW! I already have that diet and lifestyle, no wonder he was “haunting” my dreams for the last 30+ years! He was attracted to me BECAUSE of the lifestyle I lived, because it mirrored very closely to the lifestyle he demands of his servant-wives, thus making me a candidate for being yet another servant-wife to add to his collection.

        The more I research this guy, the more I am starting to understand why he picked me, and the more I find myself moving towards accepting his proposal.

        But anyways, I say all this because, your comment seems to indicate you feel you are not doing things right for having a dry house and no alcoholic offerings. Perhaps it is because you are dealing with a deity that is not quite in tune with you? I believe we virberate towards the deity who’s demands most closely mirror our ability to meet those demands. Perhaps, if you are serving a deity who demands alcohol, but you have a dry house, perhaps that means you are not serving the deity who is most suited to you personally? I don’t know, but that’s how I would look at it if it was me. I would be asking myself “WHY am I serving a god who demands things which are contrary to how I live my life? Maybe I jumped into this too fast, maybe this isn’t the god I’m suppose to be serving.” Well, that’s what I’d be thinking anyways, because personally I don’t think I could whole heartedly serve a god that demanded alcoholic offerings if I did not myself drink alcohol. Does that make sense? Do other folks feel this way or is it just me?

  2. Heh. We have had a Mani possession ritual for the last four years at EtinMoot, and there are usually marshmallows on His altar. We’ve also had Oreos, Mexican wedding cookies, and various chocolate-covered snacks. He’s never shown up and said, “No, no, this won’t do, bring me lutefisk and flatbread instead.” He’s also fond of sambuca, apparently, despite it *gasp* NOT BEING NORSE *dum dum dummmm* Bottom line is, the Holy Ones are not obligated to behave in ways that satisfy the expectations of hardline recons.

    And Tumblr is, in my opinion, a vile cesspool. I read three or four friends’ accounts and ignore the commentary and reblogs of others 😛

  3. Does it matter what we offer the gods?

    On some levels, yes, I think it does. Isn’t the point of leaving offerings, to give the spirit something which they enjoy? It’s a known fact that leaving alcohol and cigars on an altar to Damballa is a sure fire way to keep him away, and may result in his never coming back, EVER, thus why Vodunists always have a separate altar just for Damballa, while other lwa can have all their offerings together on one altar. Likewise when Freda asks for a pink altar cloth and you put out a red one instead, she’s well known to throw a tantrum and ignore you for weeks. Same holds true if a Norse god specifically requests fresh smoked wild game and you come back and give him store bought honeyed ham – he’s going to think you are too lazy to obey orders so why should he bother with you?

    So, you see there are some gods/spirits that demand certain things at certain times and will get upset if you don’t get everything just right, but I’m only aware a very few that’ll go off in a huff over it. Most are willing to accept the fact that you made an effort and accept a substitute realizing that you really did not have any choice. I think in most cases it’s not about the offering itself, so much as it is about the amount of sacrifice and effort you put into the offering.

    Now I can see where substitutions are okay and have their time and place. For example FarDarrig (Welsh) only asks for 2 things: red objects and dairy. Well this leaves the gates wide open and you can leave him anything from simple .99c red ribbons and a bowl of cream to an elborately embroidered red silk jacket and flan, or a slice of cheesecake topped with red cherries, or as I have discovered he loved Swiss Miss tapioca pudding cups with red sugar sprinkles. He doesn’t specifically say what he wants, he just says “red” and “dairy” and let’s you figure out from there what to leave for him.

    I don’t know Loki well, but it was my understanding that he expects sweets and baked goods, well what does that include? Pretty much everything from Halloween candy to sponge cake to ice cream sundaes and cakes, pies, cookies, breads, heck even tuna casseroles and mac&cheese fall under “baked goods”. The complaint that started this discussion was that someone gave Loki a strawberry shortcake for an offering. How is giving him a strawberry shortcake NOT on his list of accepted offerings, when all he asks for is “sweets” and “baked goods” and a strawberry short cake is itself a sweet baked good?

    And than once you find out what they ENJOY, isn’t is best to leave THAT even if it’s not on the “canonized” list of traditional offerings? So what if Loki asks her for strawberry shortcake but tells another not to give him strawberry shortcake? You know what that tells me? It says that Loki is trying to politely tell you “Honey, I like strawberry shortcake, but you suck at making it, so don’t bother giving me any, I’ll go get it from this girl here because she knows how to make it the way I like it.” All that means he expects a different offering from each of his subjects.

    I mean, think about it: wouldn’t YOU get sick of going from one house to the next and being served the EXACT SAME THING EVERY TIME? Let’s imagine you are new to the neighborhood and your first day after moving in 20 neighbors stop by to give you welcome basket and 19 of them made you a tuna casserole and 1 of them made you a strawberry shortcake. You’d be grateful for all the hard work they put into making the tuna casseroles, and you’d accept each with a smile so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings, put will you honestly eat all 19 of them? No. You’ll pick the one that looks and smells the best, and you’ll eat that one with the strawberry shortcake for desert, than secretly donate the other 18 casseroles to the local homeless shelter, because there is no way you can or even would want to eat 18 tuna casseroles before the end of the week.

    I can just see Loki rolling his eyes and saying “Here we go again, yet ANOTHER… oh wait, look at that strawberry shortcake, that’s new! I got to remember this girl, she knows I need some variety in my diet.”

    Now I can see if you are doing a very specific ritual, for a very specific request, than yeah you are going to want to leave very specific items, so he knows what you are asking for, but if you are just leaving a thank you offering or an offering to let him know he’s in your thoughts, than why not give him something extra special, something you think/know he likes? You’d do the same for a friend, how much more should you be doing it for a god?

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