One of the most common questions asked by beginner Heathens is, “What kind of offerings should I give?” Many people have a preconceived notion of what makes a “good” offering, and sometimes, they think “good” means expensive or rare. This is a topic of debate among Heathens, and one can find blog posts arguing both sides on the Internet. Here at The Longship, we believe that if an offering has historic precedence, it is a good offering no matter how inexpensive or easily accessible it might be in modern times. In fact, here are a few cheap, bulk items that make great offerings, especially for Heathens living on a tight budget.

Loose grains

Numerous archaeological excavations have shown that the pre-Christian Germanic peoples cultivated barley, rye, oat, millet, and wheat, though barley and rye were the most commonly available grains. [1] These were used to make breads, cakes, cookies, and beer, all of which were customary offerings to the gods. [2] [3] While these items make excellent offerings on their own, the budget-conscious Heathen can give offerings of the grains used to make such foods and drink instead.

Loose grains can be purchased in most grocery stores. For stores in the United States, oats can be found in the breakfast aisle, while other loose grains are usually sold in bulk at a set price per pound.

Salt

In modern times, salt is so ubiquitous and cheap, a staple in homes all across the world, that the budget-conscious Heathen might be surprised to find it listed here as a suggested offering. However, salt has a long history of being one of the most coveted and valuable commodities; indeed, its history is as long as civilization is old. As Mark Kurlansky writes in his bestselling book, Salt: A World History:

“Almost no place on earth is without salt. But this was not clear until revealed by modern geology, and so for all of history until the twentieth century, salt was desperately searched for, traded for, and fought over. For millennia, salt represented wealth. Caribbean salt merchants stockpiled it in the basements of their homes. The Chinese, the Romans, the French, the Venetians, the Hapsburgs, and numerous other governments taxed it to raise money for wars. Soldiers and sometimes workers were paid in salt. It was often used as money.” [4]

The ancient Germanic peoples were no strangers to using salt in cooking and food preservation — an indication that they, too, understood its value. To offer salt to the gods, ancestors, and wights would be to acknowledge that value which salt has possessed for millennia.

Milk

In the Prose Edda‘s “Gylfaginning,” Snorri Sturluson recounts during the creation of the worlds that “as the icy rime [within Ginnungagap] dripped, the cow called Auðumbla was formed. Four rivers of milk ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir.” [5] The myth continues to explain that Odin, Vili, and Ve sacrificed Ymir to create Midgard with this body. From this, one can assert the holy quality of milk as the sustenance of the world. Milk, therefore, is a suggested offering due to its mythological importance. Other dairy products may be offered as well, though for Heathens on a budget, they may not be affordable options.

Bibliography

  1. “Viking Foods,” The Viking Answer Lady, last modified March 30, 2019,
    http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/food.shtml.
  2. Faith Wallis, Bede: The Reckoning of Time (Liverpool University Press, 1999), 54.
  3. Gro Steinsland, Norrøn religion: Myter, riter, samfunn (Pax Forlag, 2005), 276.
  4. Mark Kurlansky, Salt: A World History (Penguin Books, 2003), 12, Kindle.
  5. Jesse L. Byock, The Prose Edda (Penguin Books, 2005), loc. 575, Kindle.
Categories: Beginner Heathenry

Angelica

Angelica is a Norse and Anglo-Saxon Heathen who specializes in rituals, death work, and promoting the normalization of polytheism. She is the owner and admin of the Discord server Skíðblaðnir, and she is a moderator of the r/heathenry subreddit. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, reading, writing, and cooking.

1 Comment

Rosa · April 18, 2019 at 7:55 am

I can’t believe I’ve never thought of salt before — that’s clever!

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