At Pagan Pride Day this year, I had been wearing a butterfly thing in my hair for Sigyn and I lost it. I was trying to figure out what she might like for me to replace it with, and I got a strong message from her that she wanted real butterflies, not symbols of them. She wanted me to do something for nature, for butterfly conservation. And I thought, well, they all probably would like something that affects the world, right? In addition to what we already do. Not to replace sacrifices and toasts and symbols, but in addition to all that.
I made this list of possible ways to honor the gods through charitable giving and volunteering:
Thor: protect the Earth (Jord is his mother). For this, I am working on the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment, volunteering my writing and editing skills.
Sif: support traditional, non-GMO grain crops and organic agriculture. (Not a charity per se; this is about grocery purchasing decisions.)
Sigyn: support butterfly conservation, such as Monarch Watch.
Freya: help survivors of rape and sexual abuse, such as through RAINN.
I know others have made lists of charities that they propose as places to donate to honor specific gods. I started out to make such a list myself — a complete list for the heathen pantheon as I understand it — but in sharing this project with a few friends online and seeing what they proposed, I realized that all such lists must necessarily be personal lists, because people relate to each god differently.
For example, I can’t really relate to Sigyn as grieving mother, not in the personal way that friends of mine do, because I’ve never been pregnant. I relate to her as caregiver. I relate to her as “victorious woman” (the meaning of her name) in a way that could be describes as the peaceful warrior. I relate to her as butterfly goddess, embodying transformation symbolically and also using literal butterflies as messengers, so that the actual butterfly of nature is sacred to her. “The thing itself” in addition to the butterfly as symbol is hers. Seeing butterflies has always delighted me even when I did not know that, and now it has added significance. So it makes sense for me to honor her by helping butterfly preservation, including planting a butterfly-friendly garden and keeping it free of poisons. It makes sense for my friends who relate to a different aspect of her to honor that aspect.
There is no “incorrect” way to give to charity (unless you happen to give to a scammer, but that’s something one can investigate in a non-religious context.) Giving in the way that has the most personal meaning is giving from the heart, and giving from the soul.
[Erin Lale is the Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press and Damnation Books. Her writing and publishing career began in 1985. She has an extensive list of published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, etc. In the print era she was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine and owned The Science Fiction Store, and she publishes the shared world Time Yarns.]