I practice Hellenismos, the reconstructed worship of the gods of ancient Greece, or Hellas. While the variations within that tradition are incredibly diverse, I think it’s safe to say that kharis is universally Hellenic.
“Men live by the hope of reciprocal favour, charis. ‘It is good to give fitting gifts to the immortals’ — they show their gratitude.”
This is not a quid pro quo deal, where I pay a god a particular price and get a favor in return. In fact, one day not so long ago I found myself thinking in that fashion, bargaining with a particular deity that I would make a certain offering if a particular event took place as I desired, and I brought myself up short, and then apologized profusely. I vowed to make the stated offering regardless.
The event I was desirous of did indeed occur as I had hoped, and that’s an important point. I do not pay my gods for favors, I make them offerings out of devotion or love, or both. Do we feed and clothe our children to guarantee a nice nursing home placement, or because we love them? It may seem like a distinction without a difference, but to the gods, it’s written plainly on our faces.
When I approach my gods with offerings and ask nothing in return, I am much more likely to receive the blessings I need, rather than those I want. Those blessings do come, and they come powerfully, when I pay honor in this way. It’s a simple system, and it works.