GRAVE OFFERINGS: A how-to guide for leaving offerings in graveyards and cemeteries.

With the arrival of winter, cemeteries become empty of the living, and the dead get lonely. 

From Ostara to Halloween, cemeteries are full of people - pun intended. Flowerpots are filled, dogs get walked along the paths, and you may even see people taking a lunch break. But when the cold comes, so does an eerie silence. We must remember to take care of the dead even when it isn't as convenient for us. 

Grave offerings are an easy and inexpensive way to build a relationship with the other side. This practice can be seen in most cultures and everyone from young children to old women participate. 

A cemetery can be a surprisingly dangerous place for the living. Following the rules below can help keep you safe.

  1. Stay on marked paths when not working with a specific grave, and follow all signs and warnings. 

  2. Be careful when walking across a plot. The earth in cemeteries is loose from constant digging, trapped air, and moisture. Plots can collapse and headstones can fall. When working with a grave, stay to the left or right of it. 

  3. Be respectful of mourners and funerals. Head to a different area or wait until they have gone.

  4. Be respectful of the cemetery in general. Do not litter. Do not damage graves. Do not take anything from the site (if you work with graveyard dirt, follow your general practice).

  5. Know the rules - if they say no glass or candles, listen.

  6. Only visit during scheduled hours. Do not trespass.               

Choosing a grave is a matter of preference.  
  1. The most obvious choice is to visit a family member or friend.

  2. Choose a historical person who you admire, or someone of interest. Usually there is information available at the office of the cemetery, whether inside or on a plaque.

  3. Use your intuition to help you choose. There are an abundance of occupants who have nobody left to visit them. 

Offerings can be given when asking for something (spell-work, etc), but their main purpose is to show your appreciation for the spirits. When you give a gift to a friend, you don't immediately ask for one back.

Again, use sound judgement in this process. Don't offer things that could be harmful to the environment or be dangerous to wildlife. 

  1. Flowers: placing fresh flowers at a grave is a nice way to say hi. Bonus points if you use roses or lilies. Do not plant them.

  2. Coins: these are always appreciated. Money is such a huge part of our lives, show that you are willing to share.

  3. Candles or incense: again, follow the rules. Always stay with both items and never leave them burning.

  4. Food items: some people like the leave chocolate or candy, but I don't like the plastic waste or the potential harm to small animals. Apples, bread or nuts are a good option.

  5. Seashells: these are a popular offering throughout the world, though I wasn't able to find a confirmed source of origin. If anyone knows, please email me. 

  6. Keys: if you work with Hecate, this is a nice way of asking her to protect the spirit of the grave you chose. 

  7. Feathers: these have been used for so many things throughout our history. Ranging from decoration and correspondence, to warmth and comfort, so they will be very appreciated. 

  8. Gemstones or minerals: you can pick based on their magical properties, or based on looks. Sometimes we just need something pretty. 

Did you know there is a difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? 

A cemetery is a larger burial area not associated with a particular faith. A graveyard is smaller and attached to a church.

I would love to hear about your experience with grave offerings. Hit reply to this email and let me know. I read all your emails and really appreciate your feedback, even if I am not able to respond due to volume. 

 XO Claire


  • great content! just in time I will be visiting my grandma tomorrow :)

    Carl Gutierrez
  • coins are a great offering! unless it is a jewish cemetery, do not leave coins on jewish graves, and be mindful that the rocks placed on them are offerings themselves, and not to be moved.

  • Hello! Would rose petals and pennies be a good offering? And where would I leave them

  • Hi there, I work as a tour guide through a cemetery and have noticed that someone has been leaving balls of yarn and what look to be fish tank pebbles in shapes like circles and Ahnks. Is there any symbolism behind this? I’ve searched everywhere.

  • I love your Antique Anatomy deck and the guidebook is amazing. Thank You for helping me deepen my practice.

    Nancy Koch

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