Generally speaking, I am glad to be living in the 21st century. While I draw inspiration from the ancient world, I would not want to live there. I like being in a world with many spiritual options, because I believe that no one path is right for everyone.
But there are some aspects of practicing religion in the ancient world that I envy. Things that were only possible because of the many people who honored the gods, who shared a faith in the same deities.
One thing I particularly wish were possible has to do with votive offerings. I love votive offerings, both practically and conceptually. The idea of a physical representation of devotion and thanks is something that resonates with me strongly.
But it’s not something that we are really set up to do.
In ancient times a god’s temple would be filled with votives, figures in rough clay or precious metal, plaques with words of thanks from those who had received the god’s blessing. Visitors to the temple would see before their eyes the amassed evidence of the god’s goodness and mercy. It was a visible sign of the bond between god and mortal, and it’s something that has a beauty far beyond the material worth of the objects.
So I don’t make votive offerings nearly as often as I would like. There are some on my altars, but my altars aren’t all that big, and it’s really not the same thing.
We don’t have great community temples, and even if we did I would be unlikely to visit them (they’d likely be few and far between and I don’t travel well). But wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a place to join with others in devotion? A place to bring or send our offerings where they could be placed with the offerings of others, in a great sign of love and gratitude to the gods?
It’s a pipe dream and an unlikely one, particularly given the fractured nature of the community of worshippers–because to me we are joined by the gods, more than by specifics of practice or tradition–but a lovely one nonetheless.
Categories: Pagan Op Ed