A few days past the full of the moon last week, I finally, finally went before my altar and made offerings. At the new moon and the full I should do this – it grates on me that things keep coming up, I put it aside – because this is my practice, and how am I going to develop if I don’t *do?* it?
So I went before those Powers to whom I Call and gave honor and offering, as it is their right to receive.
I offered to Herne the Hunter first. This is the first time I’ve formally offered to Him before my altar, for all that I have for years whispered His name in the shadow-dappled woods and listened intently for the baying of His hounds on the Changewinds of Autumn. I have finally come to realize that He is definitely a deity who wants to develop a relationship with me, and I am no longer turning away from this.
I held aloft a bottle of beer and spoke my apology for waiting so long to come to Him, then recited words of praise and honor. Suddenly I thought ‘have a sip,‘ but I didn’t because it would be rude, gauche to imbibe even a tiny bit of an offering meant for another. But the though kept nagging, tapping at the back of my brain. ‘Sip, drink. Share in the beer. Drink!‘
And so I did, just a little sip of brown beer before the altar at the tail end of Summer.
I felt a surge of energy, the same feeling I sometimes get where I want to rush out into the night and run. I laughed, poured some of the beer out into my hand, lapped it up and smeared my face and throat with it. I raised it higher and called out to the Hunter, Stag-Hooded Man, Half alive and half ghost – traveler of the Ways between the Worlds, Rider on the Autumn Storm! Laughing still, I flicked drops of beer over the altar, over the shrine shelves (where my Hound figurines looked back with pale, shining eyes in the candle light, and seemed to whisper hunt with us! Take us with you when you ride at Yule), and I said Yes, loves, I will. We will ride out and Hunt.
I realized that the feeling of wild energy, the urge to run out into the night woods, to growl and slaver like a beast and laugh, comes over me most often when I’ve been drinking beer or red wine. I understood at last that intoxication was a way in which I should commune with the Hunter, that drinking of wine or beer or ale would be a gate to knowledge and to closeness. Beer or ale, maybe cider as well, are pleasing offerings to Him. I also know that the next time the beast-feeling comes over me, I should follow it – lest whatever gifts it brings grow less through my refusal to explore them.
Beer, ale, wine – they are legitimate entheogens after all, and brewing is one of the old magics discovered by our distant ancestors. Something from the dawn of the world, when the Hunter likely walked as a mortal man.
I am glad of the gift of understanding that I was given. It seemed at once wholly unexpected, yet like something that I knew already in my heart of hearts.
Hail the Hunter, Hart’s Horn Crowned!