I posted this over on my Livejournal, but wanted to share it here as well. It’s a paragraph from an essay I’m working on for an anthology:
Too often pagans have the tendency to take and take from the spirits and other beings who help us; too often we forget offerings. Or if we do make offerings, they’re rote and prescribed, and offer little practical aid to the spirits. While there’s nothing inherently wrong, for example, with leaving a place for the genius loci at the table at a feast to celebrate the harvest, this does nothing to relieve the actual soil that grew the food at that feast. We offer the spirits the “spiritual essence” of what we have benefited from, but we do nothing physical to help the physical phenomena that these spirits are attached to. In that, these sorts of offerings are somewhat of an empty gesture if we take both spiritually and physically, but only give back spiritually.*
* Yes, some people like to leave out food from the feast for wild animals as an “offering”. I fail to see how encouraging wild animals to do something mutually dangerous like associate humans with food is an offering, especially when it was the soil and not the animals that made the crops grow.