Saturday, November 28, 2015

Votive Offering to Aphrodite

A votive offering, according to dictionary definition, is an offering made in accordance with a vow, “often as an act of veneration or of gratitude for a favor granted” (Random House). For example, a promise of a specific gift may be made if certain conditions are met (healing or fortune granted, job obtained, etc.). This gift is termed a “votive offering.” In the Roman Catholic definition, a votive offering is seen as a “voluntary” offering as opposed to a mandatory observance; optional. Votive candles specifically were often lit to denote divine presence in either a religious ceremony or a military procession in Ancient Rome (Rev. Saunders History). In the Greek world, votive offerings were gifts given to the Gods either in thanks for blessings already received or in anticipation of “future divine favors” (Univ Penn Greek)—and they could even be given in an effort to appease the Gods after committing a crime (blood-guilt, impiety, breach of religious custom, etc.). These last offerings are different from a piacular offering in that a piacular offering is made to appease the Gods for any missteps that may have accidentally been taken by the celebrants whereas a votive offering of this sort was in exchange for the old world version of “forgiveness.” Votive offerings were typically tangible items that were left on display in the sanctuary of the God for a set period of time and then ritually decommissioned. Typical votive offerings include items made from bronze or terracotta, lamps and vases, armor, weapons, jewelry, and even more costly marble works depending upon the means of the worshippers. For healing purposes, it was also common to offer replicas of the body part one wished to experience healing. (Univ Penn Greek)

In modern terms, it may be necessary for us to dedicate an item and house it on our shrines in honor and respect since our Gods no longer have the luxury of dedicated temples, and many of us do. There are tales of ADF members who have built shrines in thanks for works done for them by a particular entity, statues, abstract art, paintings and sketches, jewelry and statuary, some of which are ritually burned and some of which are given to as a gift to the Being and kept as a sacred object tended in routine prayer and offering cycles. It is from this vantage that I offer the following offering script:

A Votive Offering to Aphrodite in Return for Love
Items needed: Roses, an apple, a gilded/decorative mirror, a sea shell, incense (2), typical three-part hallows.

Prep: Light the Fire and open the Gates, per usual (Gatekeeper suggestion: Iris). Light incense before beginning the work. Once the Gates are opened, light the remaining incense and begin speaking the following:

Sea-foam Maiden, wing-ed dove,
Beauty’s inspiration,
Queen of Love,
Lady, Aphrodite,
Desire’s bright fire
Goddess, hear my prayer!

Hold up the offerings as they are named:
Roses do I bring, for their scent is that of love and devotion.
An apple do I bring, for the apple was gift to you as the fairest of maidens.
A sea shell do I bring, for the magical tale of your birth resonates in the echo of the sea.
And this mirror do I bring, my gift to you, that it may reflect the joy and thanks in my heart,
The reverence and gratitude I openly carry for you
In return for the gift of love in my life.
Lady Aphrodite, beloved of many,
For bringing to me my beloved,
I give you thanks, praise, and honor.
May this mirror I now dedicate to you hold space on my shrine,
Reflecting my offerings to you through the Fires of my piety*.
Lady Aphrodite, accept my offerings!

Place the mirror in a place of permanence on your shrine or on its own shelf, etc., perhaps arranging the shell and a votive holder together with the mirror as a sacred space dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite. 

*You may wish to place a finite amount of time for devotion to the Goddess.