Hades abducting Persephone
Beginner Guides | Myths & Pantheons

Hades Offerings: Chthonic Witchcraft

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Hades is the Greek God of the Underworld who was also known as Pluto. He was the ruler of the underworld and he had power over the dead. He was the son of Cronus and Rhea and brother of Zeus. His mother was Rhea. He married Persephone.

The offerings to Hades are food that would be considered fit for a king. In Greek mythology, Hades was lord of the underworld, so it makes sense that he would want to eat well. The offerings include wine, bread, cheese, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. In particular, offerings of red wine, mint, honey, and garlic are appropriate for Hades.

When you offer something to Hades, you are creating a bond between you and this god. You could use this as an opportunity to ask for help with your situation or to give thanks for all the things in life that you do have.

Illustration of Cerberus, guardian of the underworld. Hades offerings and sacrifices for chthonic deities of the underworld.

Why Offer Sacrifices To Hades

While this may seem strange, you can give offerings to Hades as part of fertility rights. It’s also appropriate to leave offerings to the Lord of the Underworld when working with the dead, or on liminal holidays like Beltane and Samhain.

Hades is a chthonic deity. Chthonic means “underground” or “subterranean.” As such, his domain is dark and mysterious, it is in fact the frightful underworld. Because he rules the dead, he is associated with death and decay. However, there is no reason to fear him because he does not cause harm to humans. He merely rules over their shades.

When you do ancestor work, you invade the realm of Hades. Because of this, it’s a good idea to give him offerings and thank him for allowing the shades of your dead ancestors to work with you.

Other reasons to honor Hades is to ward off evil spirits, to avoid a violent death, and when you’re honoring the death and rebirth cycle inherent in the story of Persephone and her husband Hades.

I also give offerings to Hades any time I go to funeral services, to hopefully ease the soul of the recently dead.

Illustration of Cerberus, guardian of the underworld. Hades offerings and sacrifices for chthonic deities of the underworld.

What Was Traditionally Given To Hades

Traditionally, Hades was worshipped in a kneeling pose. The ancients would pound on the ground with their hands. Hades was also thought to turn a deaf ear to prayers and praise. 

There were few places of worship dedicated to Hades. The city of Elis had some temples to him, but his worship was more private in other parts of the ancient world.

The priest was the only person allowed in the sacred temples of Hades. They were only opened once a year, and other worshippers had to remain outside.

Traditionally, Hades may have had human sacrifice dedicated to him, a practice he shares with the goddess Artemis. When giving offerings, people would avert their eyes from any statues of Hades.

Like other chthonic deities, black animals were sacrificed to him as well.

There was one festival held for Hades. It was only done every 100 years or so, and it was called the Secular Games.

At the Nekromanteion of Hades in Ephyra, those who had come to talk to their dead loved ones would be kept in rooms designed for sensory deprivation and were probably given food with ingredients meant to have hallucinogenic properties.

The Nekromanteion was said to have been full of treasures and gifts from supplicants visiting. Coins, gold, and other treasures were probably left to the God of the Underworld in order to gain his favor when communicating with the dead.

Illustration of Cerberus, guardian of the underworld. Hades offerings and sacrifices for chthonic deities of the underworld.

What Scents Does Hades Like

If you’re offering incense, it’s hard to go wrong with dragons blood. Dragons blood is a red tree resin and is associated with chthonic deities in general.

Other scent offerings include cedarwood, myrrh, lavender, cypress, amber, mint, and jasmine. Any scents that are appropriate for underworld gods in your spiritual path will be appropriate for Pluto, too.

Illustration of Cerberus, guardian of the underworld. Hades offerings and sacrifices for chthonic deities of the underworld.

Food Offerings For Hades

Foods and drinks for Hades will be similar to the foods offered to any chthonic deity. While this will differ depending on your spiritual path, there are some foods that are common amongst most cultures for deities of the underworld.

These include:

  • Dark red wine
  • Whiskey
  • Black coffee
  • Black tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Honey
  • Dark chocolate
  • Rich meats
  • Sharp cheeses
  • Breads or cakes
  • Pomegranates
  • Apples
  • Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Poppy seeds
  • Black narcissus
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
Illustration of Cerberus, guardian of the underworld. Hades offerings and sacrifices for chthonic deities of the underworld.

Orphic Hymn To Hades

Orphic Hymn 18 to Pluton (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.):

“To Plouton (Pluto) [Haides]. Plouton, magnanimous, whose realms profound are fixed beneath the firm and solid ground, in the Tartarean plains remote from sight, and wrapt for ever in the depths of night. Zeus Khthonios (of the Underworld), thy sacred ear incline, and pleased accept these sacred rites divine. Earth’s keys to thee, illustrious king, belong, its secret gates unlocking, deep and strong. ‘Tis thine abundant annual fruits to bear, for needy mortals are thy constant care. To thee, great king, all sovereign earth assigned, the seat of gods and basis of mankind. Thy throne is fixed in Haides’ dismal plains, distant, unknown to the rest, where darkness reigns; where, destitute of breath, pale spectres dwell, in endless, dire, inexorable hell; and in dread Akheron (Acheron), whose depths obscure, earth’s stable roots eternally secure. O mighty Daimon, whose decision dread, the future fate determines of the dead, with Demeter’s girl [Persephone] captive, through grassy plains, drawn in a four-yoked car with loosened reins, rapt over the deep, impelled by love, you flew till Eleusinia’s city rose to view: there, in a wondrous cave obscure and deep, the sacred maid secure from search you keep, the cave of Atthis, whose wide gates display an entrance to the kingdoms void of day. Of works unseen and seen thy power alone to be the great dispending source is known. All-ruling, holy God, with glory bright, thee sacred poets and their hymns delight, propitious to thy mystics’ works incline, rejoicing come, for holy rites are thine.”

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