An Offering to Asklepios

Asklepios, god of healing and patron of medicine, is among the kindest of the Greek gods. Historically he would accept any offering, no matter how small, and his temples were filled with votives that were inexpensive materially but rich in devotion. Certainly the wealthy gave as was within their own means, gifts of precious metal and stone, but Asklepios was equally pleased with the small clay votives, or the worn sandals, showing the distance the supplicant had traveled to reach the temple, that were a traditional offering to the god.

It was very much traditional for a grateful worshipper to leave a votive offering in the shape of the part of their body that had been healed. Asklepios temples held many models of arms, legs, hands and other body parts (sometimes life-sized!), a testimonial to the god’s goodness and mercy.

asklepios with necklace

Pictured above is my most recent physical offering to Asklepios, a necklace in garnet and carnelian with a silver-toned pendant in the shape of an anatomical heart. (Apologies for the picture quality.)

The last time I gave physical votives to Asklepios, I went with a more traditional version and made small clay plaques. But that was 10 or 12 years ago and I now have a much more crowded Greek altar with many more icons. In other words, no room for anything large.

And unfortunately I don’t have pictures of the clay plaques. But they are pretty easy to make, so I’ll give some basic instructions on what I did.

First, you need some clay. I used air-dry art clay in terra-cotta, because that was the look I wanted; you could also use white clay and then paint it after it dries. Another option would be polymer clay, if you prefer it.

Once you have the clay, make your models. You can make a model of a foot, hand, or other body part and carve into it whatever message of gratitude you like. You can also make a flat rectangular or oval surface, and then either carve an image of the affected body part or system (say, lungs, a spine, or a digestive system) into it or else use more clay to show the part in a raised effect. The plaques may work better if you’re dealing with a larger system rather than a foot or hand.

Then, let it dry. Once it’s dry, you can offer it to the god with whatever words of prayers of thanks you feel appropriate.

Drawn or painted images would also be good media for this sort of offering. I’ve also dedicated writings to Asklepios in thanks for particular gifts of healing. Really, the sky is the limit. Asklepios is kind and good, he accepts all sincerely-made offerings.

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