Something that’s stuck with me from the Bible is how the Jewish culture began to shift from sacrifice of livestock and crops to more spiritual sacrifices after Solomon’s temple was destroyed. Long before Christians disavowed temple sacrifice altogether, Jewish writers were urging people that what the Lord truly wanted was repentance, fasting, and prayer.
It’s a beautiful sentiment, and one that I believe is extremely valid - firstly it required that one act from the heart, and secondly anyone could do it at any time - rich or poor, able to travel or not, temple or no temple.
Which leads me to my next point: offerings to nature spirits. I’ve seen some of the suggested offerings, and quite frankly they befuddle me. Put yourself in the shoes of a nature spirit for a moment: which would be a more meaningful gesture to you: some tobacco, spare change, and a biscuit - or the removal of human litter from your domain? Personally, I think it would be the latter. Anybody can leave their stuff behind, but too few people are willing to clean up stuff left by other people. Then when you consider that the coin was probably made from metals that were unethically mined, the biscuit from flour that was unsustainably produced, and the tobacco riddled with pesticides, it almost seems insulting to leave these trinkets behind because in essence, you damn the spirits with faint praise.
Or here’s another suggestion - create a compost bin or pile and dedicate it to Mother Nature or whomever. Every time you make sure your refuse is going back to the Earth instead of chucking it into the trash, you’re making an offering of your time and feeding the Earth as well.
Some people suggest planting flowers and such - which is fine and good, but I think there’s a caveat they’re missing - choose plants that will grow without altering the soil and without any more water than what falls in your area. I can’t imagine nature spirits being particularly pleased with a flower or tree that takes more than its fair share of resources.
The bottom line is, when it comes to making offerings to nature spirits, I think we need to ask ourselves what would really matter to them. We’ve already thrown out enough enough beer cans and cigarette butts to give them all the shiny trinkets, alcohol, and tobacco they could ever want.