Is there a connection between prayer and votive offering?Those familiar with catholic practices will recognize the rows of votive candles. A donation is made, and candles can be lit to support the prayers offered. What is the meaning behind this practice? Is it just one culture or religion, or does the practice of votive offering reach to the far corners of our timeless spiritual practices?
Personally, I always thought that votive was related to the candle, and I had never given thought to the intent behind the action.
The practice of votive offerings dates back to Greek and Roman times. Generally speaking, the idea of votive offerings is to gain the attention and support of some supernatural force.
Those who practice nature-based worship may turn their prayers to father heaven and mother earth.
Those in native cultures will include father heaven and mother earth, and will also include their ancestry. White sage and sweetgrass can also serve as a votive offering, giving the smoke to the heavens, and the ashes to the earth.
Buddhists will turn to Buddha, Christians to God and Jesus, and so on. Our focus now is not intended to catapult one belief system above another, only to show the invisible line of similarities and shared intent.
A Votive Offering are given, without any intent of taking what is offered back, or gaining any use. For example, you wouldn’t make an offering of food to the mother earth, then take it back to eat it yourself. No, that votive offering is given freely and completely.
What about expectations? There is the idea, accredited to western cultures, of waiting till the wish has come true before making any offering. This sounds more like payment that a votive offering. To give with expectations, that’s a deal. To give without expectations, that’s faith. When we give what we value most, without promise, isn’t that a demonstration of our commitment and core desires?
Votive Offerings and Wishes
Are there other examples of votive offerings that are not associated with rituals? How about making a wish and tossing a coin into a wishing well?
What about making a wish and blowing the seeds from a dandelion flower? This practice doesn’t really give anything of ourselves other than a little time and breath. This game-like practice does continue to live on, perhaps as a sign of our faith-driven beliefs.
We could also complicate the idea and talk about breaking a wishbone. The complexity of pitting one person against another, that one will win but the other will lose, all this seems to diminish the idea behind a votive offering. Isn’t it supposed to be about the connection between the human soul and a higher source?
Votive offerings are an ancient ritual that has permeated many faiths and cultures. Is it a powerful tool, or just a ritual with little meaning? We can answer this with a question: Isn’t anything that connects us with our higher power, and brings us into alignment with our own beliefs a good thing? You should not close your eyes to block or hide, instead you should close your eyes so you may see.
Votive Offering and Intuitive Meaning © 2013Kavi Saphala, IntuitiveMeaning.com
Kavi’s greatest love is assisting others shift into the comfort of acceptance and appreciation. This relational, open-hearted energy carries into my many interests: photography, symbiotic gardening, long walks, and enjoying nature. Ready for a shift in your own world? Sessions available by appt.