I’ve been racking my brain about what to write this week. So, naturally, the idea comes to me while I’m feeding my goats and other sundry critters. Heathens do a lot of offerings and blots, but are they the right ones? And can we scientifically talk about “offerings” in the context of a more enlightened age? Actually, I think we can, and I know I’m going to ruffle a few feathers with this, so hang on.
Let’s Talk About Wights
One of the critters we give offerings to are the wights. Wikipedia states:
Wight is an English word, from Old English wiht, and used to describe a creature or living sentient being. It is akin to Old High German wiht, meaning a creature or thing.
Now, granted, the concept of Wights in our beliefs tend to touch on those magical spirits that inhabit homes, land, and other places. Technically, our gods could be considered wights, as well as humans, as the Anglo-Saxon term actually suggested a human being.
I’m rather agnostic when it comes to wights, although I seem to have had what could be construed as possible encounters with them. But for the sake of argument, I’ll talk wights like I believe in them.
Your Car Wight
Okay, with me so far? So, let’s say the wights are the essence of some sort of “thing,” whether it is a tree, stone, a piece of land, or whatever is around us. We can consider animals as part of the “wights,” in my not so humble opinion, and we may be able to consider everyday objects as wights as well.
“Wait a second,” you say. “There aren’t wights when it comes to computers, dishes, or cars.” Oh, I would heartily disagree. If you’ve ever worked on cars, airplanes, computers, or some other mechanical device, or operated them for any length of time, you damn well know each of them have their own distinct personality. You can drive five of the very same model and same year of vehicle and get a different impression of each. Even from the factory.
Now, you may argue that cars obtain their “personality” from the persons who assembled it on a particular day, the flaws in the parts they might have, and the owners they have. Okay, so how is this different from something living? We obtain our basic genetic code and personality from our parents (Mom had something to do with our assembly), the flaws we have (you have arthritis or maybe a healed broken bone?), and the experience and care we receive growing up. Hmmm. That sounds like there are correlations here.
“But my car isn’t sentient!” you say. “It’s a man made construct!” I’d agree with you, only to a point. Everything we see and use has been created from the same natural materials that came from stars. The metal that makes up the car was mined. The fuel it uses is from plants and animals that rotted millions of years ago. Everything in a car — every molecule — came from nature. We did not create the mass, although we can rearrange molecules and change them into different compounds. So, if you subscribe to wights at all, you have to consider your car is a wight.
Does My Car Need Offerings?
This is a silly question, but one that you’ll have to look at seriously. We certainly do make “blots” to our cars. We even have some very prescribed rituals for making sure they are satisfied and will give us a gift in return for our gifts.
Our frequent blots to our cars: we go to the gas station for fuel. We offer our hard-earned tokens that symbolize our energy equation (money) in exchange for other energy (fuel), and we have a special requirement for how to provide the offering (open the fuel cap, prepay at the pump, insert the nozzle, etc.) Less frequent blots: changing the oil, rotating the tires, getting a tune up, etc. Often, these blots occur at a particular seasonal time: change summer tires to winter tires in the fall, change winter tires to summer tires in the spring, tune up the car late spring for summer trips, etc.
We offer these “gifts” in exchange for our car’s gift: transportation. Still don’t believe the car is a wight? People talk to them all the time. They name their cars. They grow attachments to them. Some people trust their cars better than they trust their spouses. I remember back in college friends comparing the top end speed of their Volkswagen Beetles. Same era and virtually the same cars, yet they were very different.
Now, did these wights talk back or go rescue your ass when you got stuck with a bad date? Of course not. That’s not within their operating parameters. But they have quirks and behaviors you can’t ignore (especially when they hate cold weather).
Let’s Take This One Step Further
So, if you’re with me that cars and computers and airplanes can be wights, then it’s not a farfetched conclusion to look at what we give them in return for gifts. We give them something they need in order to perform properly. When I look at my goats, I know I need to feed them hay and minerals plus give them water, and assuming the goat kidded, I will get milk in return. Gift for a gift. Now, let’s look at our nature wights and our gods. This now brings me to the question: if we give offerings, what are we giving the gods and nature Wights that they need?
In other words:
What the fuck does a god or land wight need with mead?
See my problem? We could make up some woo-woo stuff about the essence strengthening the land wight or the god appreciating the sacrifice. But I’m not sure that really works. In fact, I would argue that it may not do anything for the land wight. And a god? If a god is the essence of what he or she represents, I’m wondering if sacrificing things that have no bearing on what the god is would even be appreciated.
Now I may be full of shit here. But I notice that more often than not the gods favor those in particular areas who have made a fair amount of effort toward whatever they look to gain. Sure, there is blind, dumb luck like those who win who play the lottery, but with the exception of maybe the Lokeans, most of us don’t depend on randomness in our lives.
So What Would Be an Appropriate Offering to the Gods and
Wights? (Or would Thor like a Tesla Coil?)
If we take the gods as personified metaphors, then we need to look at their function and see what strengthens their role. Wisdom and creativity are two things that Odin would like. Tyr is obviously the god of laws, so doing something toward upholding law and order is appropriate. But then I start getting silly and seeing within my mind’s eye Thor’s glee at a Tesla coil. Yes, somehow, I think he likes those.
When it comes to wights, the offering should be appropriate to the wight. If we can, we need to understand what makes that wight and that particular environment thrive. That might mean clearing out noxious weeds on a piece of land, or maybe providing water during a drought, but in all honesty, I believe that if there are wights, wights are limited by the physical constructs they cling to. That means that they can only do what is prescribed by their form. A tree wight, for example, can only do things that trees do — in the relation of gifts and giving. It can accept things that the tree can use, and it can provide what the tree can provide. Anything else is asking something beyond it’s reasoning. It’s like asking a dog to explain particle physics to you. Assuming the dog knows particle physics (which, with the exception of a couple I know, don’t), the dog can’t tell us that he knows because he can’t speak our language due to lack of a soft palate, shape of the tongue, and possibly the inability to understand English. (Although most dogs I know have a limited human vocabulary.) So, I suspect is the problem with asking the wrong thing from the wights.
So, Where am I Going with this?
So, am I telling you to stop laying out offerings? No. Am I telling you that my way is the only way? No. Am I thinking that we’re doing blots wrong? Maybe. We got the concept of offerings from our ancestors, who may or may not have had an understanding of what the gods and wights wanted/needed. After all, while there are many good things we learned from our ancestors, our ancestors got shit wrong all the time, especially when it came to science. So they could’ve just anthropomorphized the gods and wights and assumed they wanted things that people want. But do the gods have needs that we as mortals can satisfy?
And then the question remains is, are they at all interested in what we give them? I mean, Odin doesn’t need Twinkies. (Neither do I, but no one sends a package my direction, either.) It may simply be the act of giving the gods something we value that works, and not necessarily the item. I can accept that. But I do ponder the implications of today’s musings and wonder if we’re going down the wrong path with our blots.
Then again, the whole idea is the goats’ fault, since I was feeding them. You can blame them.
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