The Southern Ring Nebula is a shell of gas and dust ejected from a dying star (Credit: Nasa/ESA/CSA/STSCI)
"Our planet, our society, and we ourselves are built of star stuff."—Carl Sagan, Cosmos
One of the most amazing offerings you can offer any spirit or deity is simply, water. Water is so necessary in the creation of life and in maintaining life. When a star is at the end of it’s life, it grows into a red giant star that will eject layers of gas and dust into space in “a beautiful veil of light, which will glow like a neon sign for thousands of years before fading.” Or larger stars may even go supernova in a huge explosion.(1) Water may also have come from within rocks according to cosmochemist Laurette Piani from the Université de Lorraine. She has analyzed specific meteorites called enstatite chondrites, thought to be the same type of rock the earth was formed from, and that contains hydrogen, which mixed with oxygen, creates water. The meteorites were found to match the hydrogen signature of the earth’s mantle. Both meteorites and the earth’s mantle contain oxygen as well which "can be liberated under certain circumstances, and combine with the hydrogen to form actual water — H20. This happens in magma, molten rock containing dissolved water that rises from the mantle to the surface in volcanoes. As the pressure falls, the water vaporizes and explodes into the atmosphere as steam, and later condenses, falling back to Earth to fill our rivers and oceans.” (2)
Water is often taken for granted in countries that have easy and unlimited access to it. But it is an absolutely valuable compound and therefore a precious choice as an offering.
Occasionally I have noticed devotees expressing worry because they do not have access to traditional offerings, due perhaps to their location, or to their financial status. But think about this. Do you only want the same foods all the time? Do you only want things from the country where you were born or do you enjoy food from other cultures? Why might a God not enjoy the same? The most important thing is the thought and care that is put into the offerings. In my own opinion, simple breads and cakes are always nice, and fruits as well. An offering of sesame seeds is inexpensive as well as suitable. Sesame seeds were used in an apotropaic spell to Hekate in the PGM. If you have space to garden you could grow herbs and flowers for Hekate which would be a lovely devotional act.
If you cannot garden, you can share a little of what you may have on hand. Cheese and milk are available to many of us, as well as garlic and onion. Smoked salmon is a traditional food where I live and could be an alternative to mullet. If you are vegan like I am, you can stick to grains (breads and cakes) and local fruits and herbs. I’ve shared below a list from an older blog post from Sorita d’Este (3) of traditional offerings to Hekate. You can use this to help come up with suitable alternatives from your own region. You can also look at aspects of the Goddess and think about what items may correspond with her. That said, if your favourite fruit is a mango, why not offer one to Hekate as well? Lastly, incense is an easy offering, whether you buy it or make it yourself. As well as a feather, rock, shell or even a pretty twig you find outside. And if all else fails and you have nothing else available to offer ... offer water.
A flat cheesecake surrounded by torches (candles)
Food for the restless dead
Both as grain and made into cakes
A type of cake
As she was sometimes shown with a goat-head, goats cheese might be appropriate
Traditionally offered raw, may represent life force
A traditional protection from the restless dead since ancient Egypt
A standard offering to chthonic deities and the restless dead
A type of loaf or cake of unknown shape and type. Bread could be substituted
A standard offering to chthonic deities, again goat milk would be appropriate
Fish were often included as a sacrifice to her, and mullet was particularly sacred
A standard offering to chthonic deities
A traditional apotropaic offering
A sacrificial cake
Seeds used in apotropaic Hekate spell
Fish were often included in her rites as a sacrifice
A standard offering to chthonic deities
A standard offering to chthonic deities (3)
This next part will likely rile up quite a lot of folks, but so be it. Wildlife have always been a really major interest and concern for me for my entire life, and I believe humanity needs to be accountable for their actions that can potentially harm wildlife. It is common for modern devotees of Hekate to leave offerings of food out at crossroads (usually) mainly due to the historical Hekate Suppers (Deipnon). (There were other offerings, sacrifices and 'sweepings' left at crossroads traditionally as well. See Circle for Hekate Vol. 1 by Sorita d'Este, Avalonia 2017 for more information). Speaking specifically as someone who lives on the west coast of Canada, I can explain many reasons why food should NEVER be left out as offerings. At least in North America. If you live anywhere near the countryside bears can be a 'problem' and when they become a 'problem', sadly, they get killed. Usually this is due to people not securing their garbage well enough. Bears are even seen often in towns along with cougars that pass through. Even in the cities there are raccoons which usually exist without too much issues amongst humans. But anywhere food is left accessible to them, such as dumpsters being left open or garbage cans not secured well, they can start to become a nuisance. This never works out well for the animals. It can also simply be harmful for wildlife to learn to associate food with humans. It is in the best interest of wildlife to avoid humans and feeding them creates the opposite affect. For more information on why this is, see the link below. (4) The other harmful aspect is that many foods we eat are toxic to animals, and just because a certain food is toxic to an animal, it doesn't mean they automatically know that or might not try it if they are hungry. I'm not going to list all the foods that are toxic or harmful to pets or wildlife, but some common ones are chocolate, grapes, raisons, caffeine, alcohol, some nuts, avocados, some spices and more. If you absolutely must leave an offering out of doors, then perhaps some sesame seeds sprinkled might be a suitable choice. As far as I know they aren't toxic to any creature and are a common component in bird seed. That said, if you were to leave them at a crossroad, actually ON a road, you are risking the likelihood of a bird or other creature being hit by a car. And if you were to leave them outside near your house too often, you will start to attract mice and rats.
Since Hekate Suppers may have simply been a charitable act - “Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served.”(5) - it makes sense to donate to a food bank or engage in other acts of charity instead of leaving food outside where it may cause harm. As well, depending on where you live, you may be breaking the law by leaving food out that can attract 'dangerous' animals. In British Columbia we do have such a law!. (6) Finally, that brings me back, one last time, to water! Water can be poured onto the ground most anywhere you may be, as an offering which is called a libation (or making a libation). This has deep historical roots and is also popular in modern times.
5) Plutus, Arisotophanes, 380 BCE, trans. anon. 6) https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96488_01#section33.1