OFFERINGS FOR THE LAND SPIRITS in the northern hemisphere of the Earth

By Ellen Evert Hopman – Tribe of the Oak 

 

Whenever your family or Tribe have a feast or perform a ritual it is polite to make offerings to the Land Spirits,

 

Leave a plate of food or place offerings on the Earth.

 

When going on a hunt or fishing, make an offering of part of the catch as the Earth too must be fed.

 

When planting a tree give it an offering of rosemary and thyme–a good thing to do when planting trees. Any herbs will do.

 

On your Fairy altar make offerings of Mead or Irish whisky and good bread. Mead should be local. Also, please use local healing herbs.

 

The Fairies also appreciate milk with a little honey and/or whiskey added to it and real cooked oatmeal with cream or a pat of butter.

 

On Turtle Island (America) the Land Spirits recognize tobacco, so offer it freely.

 

Bury butter and other offerings at the boundary of your land as you ask for blessings and protection from the Land Spirits.

 

Offerings to Water

 

Healing wells and sacred springs are often decorated with white stones (quartz) and flowers on the holy days. Offerings of cheese, barley cakes or other foods may be left for the Spirits after a well ritual.

 

Offerings to Wells

 

“Appropriate offerings to Holy Wells include; pins, rags, pine cones, coins, keys, bread, cheese, stones, pebbles (especially white quartz), buttons, beads, buckles, pipes, fish hooks, jewelry, religious objects, fruits and flowers. Votives can be made and tied to a nearby tree or left near the Well in thanks for healings that have occurred. Small tin or clay objects resembling body parts can be hung from a tree, the crutches of a healed person can be left near the well, etc.” From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

 

Offerings to Rivers

 

“Every river is under the protective care of a particular Goddess. Offerings of flowers, fruits, silver, and other natural items should be given in thanks to the local River Goddess of your bio-region, yearly (usually at Lúnasdal). The herb Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is considered to be a perfect balance of fire and water and a sacred talisman of protection and defense for the home and barn.” From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

 

Offerings for the Spirits of the Dead

 

Hogboon, Hogboy, HugboyFrom the Old Norse haug-búi a mound-dwarf or guardian Spirit that inhabits a burial mound. While these Spirits are helpful to those who offer them gifts such as wine, ale, or milk, they resent interference with their mounds, for example, children playing on them, or cows grazing on them (not to mention the intrusions of archaeologists and tourists!). They especially resent those who come to steal treasure from a mound.

 

The very best offerings for a Hogboon are the first milk when a cow calves, the first jug of new ale, or the offering of a rooster or a cow from the farmstead. It is very good luck to set up housekeeping near a burial mound, provided the proper offerings are made on a regular basis.

 

Neglect of the local Hogboon can lead to sickness in the cattle, loss of possessions, or a haunted house. A Hogboon that is well respected and cared for will help with the farm chores and even follow the family if they move house.” From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

 

Offerings for the Fairies

 

“The best time to see Fairies is on the eve of a Fire Festival when they move house, from Fairy mound to Fairy mound. It is particularly important to leave offerings on your Fairy Altar at those times (a wooden or stone construction in the garden where food and drink offerings are left), for their refreshment. Fairies appreciate gifts of milk and ale on those nights, and milk and ale are offered to the Fairies at Samhuinn by pouring libations into tombs.” From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

 

“Of course, every farm and homestead must have a section of land that is never plowed and where no human ever goes (The Gudeman’s Croft). Wild weeds and grasses are allowed to grow there undisturbed, as a shelter for the Brownies and other Fairies.”

 

From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Ellen Evert Hopman, Pendraig Publishing)

 

Samhain, Lá Samhna, Calan Gaeof (October 31, November 11 old style)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Make offerings of rosemary (memories) to the fire

 

Leave a dish of the feast for the ancestors

 

Pour red wine, honey, cider or milk in the fields and on the stones

 

Offer ale and oatmeal gruel to the sea, in thanks for the seaweed and the fish

 

Leave a little of the harvest in each field and in the water

 

Leave a blessing for the trees

 

Place an offering into the fire of a bunch of dried herbs and wild plants that have hung on a wall for the previous year. In August and September of each year gather new ones from your herb garden and the roadside, tie them together when dry, and put a new bunch on the wall for the next year.

 

Winter Solstice, Yule, Meán Geimhreadh, Alban Arthan (December 21)

 

Make offerings to and sing to trees, especially apples

 

Hang fruits on the trees for the forest

 

Make offerings of mint or cinnamon for the fire

 

Pour wine, honey, cider or milk in the fields and on stones

 

Recite poetry for the trees

 

On 12th Night toast is hung in the branches of apple trees, and cider from that orchard is poured over the roots to give them a drink. There’s a lot of shouting and noise to wake the spirits up and drive away blight.

 

Imbolc, Oimelc, Lá Fhéile Bride, Calan Gaeaf (February 1-2)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Pour milk offerings on stones

 

Make offerings of fire incense for the fire

 

Place a basket by the hearth or door filled with shortbread cookies, dried fruit, Bridget’s crosses and blue stones

 

Pour port wine, honey, cider or milk in the fields

 

Wake the Earth with your staff

 

Sing or recite poetry to the trees

 

Offer a corn dolly made at Lughnasad to the Earth at Imbolc, burying it in the soil after saying a few words. This then grows to the wheat for my next one the following Lughnasad.

 

Spring Equinox, Meán Earrach, Alban Eilir (March 21)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Offer ale and oatmeal gruel to the sea

 

Pour milk offerings on stones

 

Pour wine, honey, cider or milk on the Earth

 

Bless seeds and plant them in unexpected places

 

Draw your wishes on fertile eggs and bury them in the ground

 

Beltane, May Day, Lá Bealtaine, Calen Mai (May 1, May 12 old style)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Offer butter or milk to rocks

 

Pour milk offerings on stones

 

Make offerings of apples blossoms, rose flowers, savory

 

Pour mead in the fields and on the stones

 

Make and offer incense for the fire

 

Make offerings of flowers, and fruits to water

 

Leave a blessing for the trees

 

Offer May Wine, milk and honey for the land spirits, also berries, flowers or apples.

 

Summer Solstice, Litha, Midsummer, Meán Samhradh, Alban Hefin (June 21)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Pour milk offerings on stones

 

Pour white wine, honey, cider or milk on the Earth

 

Children can welcome the nature spirits at the time of the Summer Solstice, play music and circle dance around an apple tree decorated with crystals as a way to show gratitude, wear their finest fairy garb, and light candles to float in a big tub of water as a beacon to welcome the local spirits.

 

Lughnasad, Lammas, Lunasa, Lá Lúnasa, Calen Awst (End of July to second week of August)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Pour milk offerings on stones

 

Climb a high mountain and leave offerings of quartz, flowers, fruits and grain

 

Offer butter to lakes

 

Flowers, fruits and coins to water

 

Float a wreath down a river

 

Float a small wooden boat with candles and flowers down a river

 

Decorate standing stones with wreaths or garlands of wheat

 

Offer a loaf of the new grain

 

Make offerings of the first harvest; vegetables, basil, herbs

 

Pour stout, honey, cider or milk in the fields and on the stones

 

Make grain dollies, feast of breads, cheese, baked goods, and leave a dish for the land spirits

 

Make offerings to water of fruits and flowers

 

Leave blessings for the trees.

 

Fall Equinox, Meán Fomhair, Alban Elfed (September 21)

 

Make offerings to a sacred fire; dry herbs, whiskey, butter, ghee

 

Pour milk offerings on stones

 

Offer ale and oatmeal gruel to the sea

 

Pour ale, honey, cider or milk on the Earth

 

Make a scarecrow from the new grain and place it in the exact center of your fields. Do not give it clothes. The Spirit of the Grain will inhabit the scarecrow and look out for the welfare of the crops.

 

Gather fresh herbs and hang them on a wall, keep them there until Samhain of the next year when they will be burned in the ritual fire.

 

Fall Equinox is the middle of the harvest; offer the first fruits, roots and grains you gather. The “second harvest” is often hard fruit such as pears and apples, and a lot of vegetables, especially root crops. Have a harvest swap, bake bread, drink cider and a portion of everything can be offered to the spirits.

 

More Offerings

 

Hang cloots or rags with messages, hopes and prayers in the branches of a sacred tree, or hang stones with natural holes in them, or other ‘talismanic’ items for different purposes. Different trees have different properties and relate to different times of the year and indeed they can be altered as the year progresses and as the hopes and thoughts come to fruition, or not. It is an ever changing relationship with Nature and your personal environment. Sometimes they can be done in specific areas of the countryside e.g. where it has been abused. There you can place healing rags or other objects with messages for the spirits of the place.

 

*For more information on sacred trees in a Celtic context please see A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine (Ellen Evert Hopman, Inner Traditions/Healing Arts Press)

 

For information on Wassailing trees please see Blessing the Fields and Orchards 

 

Permission is given to repost as long as the article is kept intact, including the name of the author.

 

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