For all that Poseidon is only recently gaining in popularity within the modern pagan community, He was a Big Deal in the past. Anyone to whom ruined temples survive was a big deal, frankly, and we have a few of His. The offerings given varied from place to place, but in the Hellenic scheme of things, if there was an altar involved, there was animal sacrifice. The gods were also given votive offerings, non-blood offerings, libations. If you want to read about the historical offerings and sacrifices given to Poseidon, seriously go check out theoi.com.
I’d rather talk about modern offerings. More to the point, I’d rather talk about the offerings I give my god. The offerings I give to Him are not better or worse than the offerings other modern day pagans or polytheists might give to Him, and those He asks of me He may not ask of others — I’m not trying to play any sort of one-upmanship game here. I simply can only speak to my experience, and I hope in sharing this, other people will be encouraged to make the giving of offerings be a personal experience for them. Or, I hope it encourages people to allow the experience to be what it is to be, without looking toward outside expectations.
The offerings I give Him easily fall into two distinct categories. There are the offerings I give because they are something I think He’ll like, or because they made me think of Him. These are things that, bottom line, I have selected to give to Him. The vast, vast majority of offerings that are rooted in the physical are these sorts of offerings. In no particular order:
Tea. When I’m having tea in the morning, which is most of the year, Poseidon receives a portion. (Eight teaspoons worth, to be exact). The rules for this are, it has to be out of my mug, not poured separately, and it has to be already made up as I’m going to drink it, not before I put the milk in, so as to make the clean up that much easier. He seems rather indifferent about the milk, but I will say that, unlike Odin, Poseidon has a sweet tooth, and sometimes He thinks maybe I should put more sugar in than I do.
Incense. I’m highly sensitive to scent, so the type of incense is generally pretty simple. Nag Champa is our current favorite, but I do love myrrh when we have it. (Beth’s incense sticks are especially nice.) I burn candles, too, but incense is my go-to in the morning, and lighting it and saying my morning prayers (which often sound a bit like mnnnnnnng; articulation first thing is not one of my superpowers) is my “opening up the shrine” routine, even without the tea offering.
Flowers. Not as often as it used to happen, because I have some issues with killing plants just to place them upon the shrine. Once upon a time I had a rose of jerricho, and I’d like to keep a live plant indoors for Him again. Still, sometimes it’s hard to resist the arrangements our local florists have out, and He’ll wind up with flowers upon the shrine. I’ve learned the hard way that, though He is partial to pink on clothing on women, He does not care for pink flowers upon His shrine. Three times I gave Him some with pink, and each time the pink was dead and dried before the rest of the bouquet. Lesson learned, Sir.
Food. In this He really doesn’t seem to have any dislikes or taboos, though He does encourage less meat and more veg. Fruit is a big deal. Cheese, too. Figs. Olives. He has an appreciation for Mediterranean fare, for certain. Seafood is a funny thing — I don’t give Him offerings of sea food. For a long while, I did not eat sea food, but for a variety of reasons, some has been reintroduced into my diet. Even still, it’s never been an offering source I’ve been comfortable giving Him. I am too aware of, and too aware of His being aware of, the depletion of the ocean life do to our over-fishing and pollution.
These are all very nice. They’re important. I enjoy being able to give Him things, and I enjoy that He enjoys receiving these things. There is a real, tangible benefit to sharing bits of mortal life with Him. It binds u/Us more closely together. It’s important. But these are not, as it where, the important offerings I give Him. Except for the sharing of the morning tea — which is a physical act signifying the sharing of my day with my Beloved — these are none of them the heart of the offering act. The heart of the offering resides in the offerings He demands from me. One might argue that, if they are demanded of me they are not properly offerings. I don’t agree. In the end, these things are given to Him, and willingly. Just, not always happily or comfortably or graciously.
An Open Heart. That is, He demands that I feel. That I feel and experience the full range of human emotion, without censure, and that I not hid it from Him. More, He demands that I share this with the world. Emotions are tricky. They’re no stable, they’re mercurial, and as such they are maybe not the best thing to build upon, so there’s a certain amount of detachment that He’s helped me develop when it comes to them. Even still, they are not meant to be denied or hidden or repressed.
Being Seen. This is a huge one, and He’s demanded this from the first day He moved in. I am not allowed to hide who I am. I’m not allowed to pretend to be other than I am. He has pressed this by making me go to places I otherwise might not, to interact with people rather than falling into the background. Because of this I’ve gone to meditation retreats, I’ve played leading roles in public rituals, I’ve adopted a veiling practice, I’ve done yoga in public. Because of this I have a blog, and because of this I’m not trying to keep Pagan Jo and Author Jo separate. I’m a devotee of Poseidon’s in this day and age, and I’m not allowed to really have compartments in my life. At least, I’m allowed minimal compartments, at best.
In essence, my life. In my example, this bit is pretty formalized. I gave Poseidon marriage vows. I have a family, but my family is built around this vow, and my partner likewise gave marriage vows to her Husband. I haven’t changed completely — and this took a while for me to realize, that I did not have o completely change once I gave Him those vows, that He was interested in me and my interests mattered to Him. My writing, my storytelling, my passion for storytelling, did not have to be set aside so that I could become a scholarly expert on Poseidon’s ancient cultus. He wanted, He wants, to be a part of my life. He wants to share the entire thing with me. He wants me to put my strengths into my devotion, and into my being seen and into my having an open heart. Edited to add: I don’t believe that one must do this the way I have, or even close, in order to have a God or Power be in the center of how you live your life. I don’t believe that you have to forgo a “normal” life in order for the gods to be a priority in your life. Not all devotion or dedication looks the same and people do not need to be able to look at your life and see your devotion to Whomever clear as day in order for your dedication to be real, authentic, or valid. Not all paths look the same or even similar. One of my things is being seen. If Poseidon or Whomever does not demand that of you, that’s just as authentic and valid as what I’m doing.
Awareness. Compassion. Healing. In whatever forms those take, those are the offerings He demands of me. These are the things that matter, more than the fruit and flowers, more than the incense. More than the things. He wants the heart. Things are nice, and the sharing of these things are wonderful. The exchange, the mystery of Gebo is important, and we’re physical, right? So physical things matter to us — and they should. But those come after. If I’m not giving Him these three things He demands of me, all the incense in the world is not going to trick Him into thinking I am.