This was an interesting article on the impact of sacrifices to rivers by some members of the Hindu community in the US – mostly new immigrants who have yet to learn our rules or adapt their spiritual practices.
I often think about these things when I choose my offerings. What is the least harmful to the environment? What won’t hurt the nature spirits?
Some of the best offerings are biodegradable – flowers, fruits, vegetables, bird seed, grain, wooden carvings, libations of milk or alcohol.
There are some things I will not give as offerings. Anything made of plastic is a no-no and should be for all Pagans. Candles are best when they are made with organic soy or bees wax. I always avoid chocolate. It would probably burn up in a fire, but I’m always afraid of an animal finding it. Chocolate is toxic to many of our Nature Spirit brothers and sisters. If you feel that I’m preaching to the choir – trust me – I have heard of Pagans giving chocolate. They mean well… but some Pagans have their heads too much in the clouds to the degradation of the physical world.
I do make offerings of fabric but they tend to be burnt or hung on a tree. The felted eggs I made for Ostara were totally meant to be pulled apart by birds looking for nesting materials. I’m interested to see what they look like when I visit the grove for Beltaine.
I think it’s admirable that the leaders of the Hindu Community in Queens encourage cleanup. The interesting thing about this spiritual group is that they are very large. I don’t know of any major Pagan group who makes such large offerings. One flower is fine. Twenty is also, probably, fine (depending on what it is, I guess…) But a hundred? A thousand? I wonder… This is a hurdle we have not had to cross. I guess, in a large ritual, a better offering to our Gods would be to pool money and plant a tree – or do some other sort of group offering filled with everyone’s energy.
As Earth Day approaches, I hope other Pagans visit their holy spots and clean up – no matter who made the mess. The forest near my apartment is a continual uphill battle. Garbage blows in from the streets all the time and idiots leave butane lighters, spray paint cans, and soda bottles around, especially in the summer. It is annoying, but cleaning that mess shows the Nature Spirits how serious you are about forming a bond with them. If you visit nature and never give back, well, shame on you. Trust me – the spirits pay attention and respond when you show respect.