Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sacrifice...not my thing

In spite of being in the same house 24/7 Zach and I rarely have talks unless we leave the house.  Today was one of those days, being an errand day.  We had a nice talk on the way there about spiritual things, one aspect of which was sacrifice.  I mentioned to him the Isaac Bonewits lecture I had listened to on Druidcast and one thing he mentioned was the way they performed sacrifices.  By throwing precious items into a fire to burn up and so please the Gods, I suppose.  Phaedra mentioned that if all you could afford were wilted dandelions, the Gods would be pleased but if you could afford long-stemmed roses and you offered dandelions, they wouldn't be.

I had to mull over that for several days but I am extremely uncomfortable with that concept.  The notion of  "widow's mite" from the New Testament, meaning she gave all she had while the Pharisees only gave a minute portion of what they had was never a comforting scripture for me.  I mean, why on earth would you give all your money away when you didn't have anything else?  To me, that's more along the lines of the penitentials in the early Celtic church.  The more you sacrificed, the more you abased yourself, the more you physically punished yourself, the closer you were to God.  It was so hard as a Christian to hear about how I was supposed to sacrifice my time, my energy, my money to God while others seemed to be getting the blessings.  All I got was broke.

I just don't get why the Gods would be pleased if you spent years working on a project only to throw it in the fire.  Seems a bit arrogant to me...on both sides.  I personally wouldn't want to worship a god who liked it when we destroyed works of art or talents so no one else could enjoy them.  Personally I think of Lugh as a master-craftsman and I can't see him being pleased at all about all that waste.  I also think it's arrogant to think that your efforts must culminate in a bonfire to be appreciated.  As if your sacrifice is more pleasing to the gods than someone who offered those dandelions.  Since you have to announce before the entire group what your sacrifice is, it seems a bit prideful.

The way I understand the Gods is that they are appreciative of our talents and the efforts we make to appreciate them, that they bestow their blessings on those efforts, not in the actual destruction of them.

There are a lot of things I don't get about reconstructionists, but one thing I've noticed is that they all bear a resemblance to aspects of Christianity.  I'm not sure which came first...the chicken or the egg...but those familiarities turn me aside from that path.

I"m not saying reconstructionists are doing it wrong or that they're awful people.  I just don't agree with their views on Deity or the way Deity is to be worshiped.  Well, I will say that christian recons are doing it wrong as they are hellbent on ruining it for the rest of us.  I know...not showing a lot of tolerance there.  But having been the victim of their bile and intentions of turning this into a nation of christian recons, they frighten me.  So I'm not going to tolerate that kind of fear-mongering...or that kind of bigotry and hatred. 

At one time I was uncomfortable critiquing other paths, feeling like that was intolerant and far from unifying.  But that mindset puts me in a prison where I'm not allowed to have opinions about anything.  So I've broken free from that prison.  I would never tell anyone not to follow the path laid out before them, but I will voice my opinion on how that path doesn't work for me.  And why.

Thanks to Nellie and Dark Mother in my last post for offering some wonderful advice that I intend to take.  Slow down, build the foundation before seeking the deeper things, and enjoy the journey.  I keep forgetting that.  Thanks.



  1. One thing I love about the Brython group I'm involved with is that they'll tell it to me like it is. If I'm talking bollocks, that's what they'll tell me. It's not about being intolerant of other people's path, it's more about keeping each other accountable so you don't float off into a fantasy world where most of the pagan world is too afraid to tell you you're barmy incase it seem like you're being intolerant. There's a difference, so I see no problem with you telling it how you see it LOL!

    From my own point of view I think maybe your old Christian understand of sacrifice is colouring things for you, and not in a good way. Christian sacrifice is about going without, giving yourself the harsh treatment etc etc. You get it far better than I do. But in pagan/druid/recon terms it doesn't have the same connotations (IMHO). In the case of burning things it isn't to destroy them but to transform them from the physical to the spiritual level. If you spend months on a piece of beauty as an offering to the gods you want to be able to give it to them right? But they can't take it in its physical form because they are spirit, so the burning changes the form of your gift to them so that they can actually accept the gift. I might have understood the details wrong, but I think that is basically it. Sacrifice though is often about reenacting a primal truth. The Indo-European faiths are all generally built upon the notion that it was sacrifice that created the universe in the first place. Either sacrifice of a god or goddess or of the first man. According to Cesirw Serith in that earliest religion sacrifice maintains the balance of the world and stops chaos overtaking and destroying the world so the rituals of sacrifice (whatever they might have involved as we can only speculate and try to reconstruct something plausible) were performed to keep the forces of chaos from destroying the world by reenacting that first sacrifice. This comes from his book 'Deep Ancestors' but if you take a look at his website you can read the book online for free (highly reccommended! I don't agree with all his thoughts but its a hugely interesting read and has added so much depth to my personal practise). The idea of sacrifice doesn't have to mean going without or destroying something either. The breaking of a loaf and offering it to the gods is a perfectly suitable sacrifice for the 21st century! :D
    I hope I have come across too preachy, Gods know you've had enough of that! Just thought it might be another angle that you might find interesting?
    Blessings my lovely, and I commend you for finding your voice :)
    ~Nellie @abitofgardeningspirit

  2. *HAVEN'T* come across too preachy.

  3. Thanks, Nellie. That helps me understand it much better. It does make sense that way. And you're right that I do have carry overs from Christianity that make it difficult to absorb new meanings for old concepts. I really appreciate the information and you weren't preachy in the least. In fact, I'll use your information in today's blog post.