On Sacrifice: Contribution to the Southland Pagan Press

It’s autumn and hot. And it’s time to sit with my ancestors. I’ve also been thinking about the turning of the wheel, of life, and in the last few days on a Goddess and God myth. She as the Weaver, as Ma-Mother-Matter. He as the Singer and the song, the light and vibration. My sitting was with my place in the world, in context with this time, that is for me ancestral, and my place within my family both living and dead. I am looking for inspiration in birth, life, and death. In nature, stars, and most poignantly in the lives of those I love. I’m only trying to impress my current jam, what looks like a shared gnosis, regardless of the trappings, that we are all indeed in relationship with the same thing. Earth. Life, and the inevitable passage from matter into spirit.

I find meaning in knowing I am part of the Mysteries of Nature. That I continue on in the rock, stone, and soil. And in the tree and green. And through the ancestral. And even through the connection to the divine however you or I connect to that.

Through these stories and moments of contemplation I feel that I am part of everything I touch and see. I see mind and body as one, and I am in the body of nature. That’s my context as a self-identified Witch and Queer magickal being. For myself, engaging my circle and the seasonal year is the narrative of the rise and fall of the the natured life. Life and death like threads of green and red. And the rise and fall of the sun, a dance of light and dark, the mysteries as they are revealed, are the threads of gold and black that lace this experience we are woven into at birth, through ancestral lines and starry origins.

Juxtaposed with my experience is the dominant cultural narratives. Stories that I personally feel are less relevant to me, but there nonetheless. I see them in movies, I hear them in the news, they are meme’d into the culture. Life, love, valour, heroic sacrifice, redemption and salvation. Among cultural morals, sacrifice is an heroic and noble act.

Noble is an interesting word with a root of gno- “to know,” and from the French “worthy of respect.”

To look again, that’s respect.

Knowing is an intimate for me. In knowing I must taste, feel, and derive a relationship. It is not faith or belief, it is understanding. In knowing I am willing to sacrifice a boundary of comfort. Do I say hello to a stranger? Do I take the trip? Do I try this food? Do I dare vulnerability? Do I speak up? Whatever the relationship it is crossing a liminal threshold. An unknown. A sacrifice.

It is like approaching my ancestors at the altar, with all of my shadow and light, acknowledging the boundary between worlds, and the hedges of my heart space. To reach for knowledge is to make a sacrament of my comfort and in these Hallowed spaces as I reach across space and time to hold hands with ancestors.

Sacrifice is also an intimate for me. It is a little death made sacred with a conscious act of giving. It brings me closer to knowing. Piecemeal offerings I make on the way home… in the end, as Ram Dass once said, “We are all just walking each other home,” it is our approach to death that dictates everything about how we are living. Sacrifice is vulnerable, whatever it is that given in the sacred space has a moment of wide eyed opening as it is taken.

I grew up with culture telling me that if a thing is uncomfortable then it’s best to cover that over with hope, faith, and positivity, and at the minimum, don’t acknowledge it because it’s weak and makes you vulnerable. Because openness is bad, softness is bad. Feeling is bad, especially as men. But it really opens up knowing. And so intimacy, and to be intimate is to be vulnerable. That is to allow ourselves to show up as we are with our scars and tethers, and maybe feeling sometime we forgot to put on pants for the work.

Knowledge for me is an offering and a sacrifice. It is a relational piece of the wheel. To acknowledge limit, in what feels like a limitless space of magick is grounding. To witness the space where the joy and the loss in giving is powerful. It is an autumnal moment on the roll into winter. Especially poignant now in our current climates of weather and politics. And it’s also okay. It’s the part where we make offering of our tender bits, and the Spirits are ready for it. It’s okay to feel. To be open. To sacrifice…

In this season of ancestral connection I bring fresh water to the altar. I leave parts of meals. I bring fresh coffee in the morning and sit and write and dialogue with my ancestors, known and unknown, beloved and… some not so beloved. I am ritually engaging the time as magick, and opening up to lay tender memory on the altar as sacrifice for the liberation that can rise out of the pain and intimacy with the departed.

I offer sacrifice as sacrament, and as practice for now. For everyday along the way home. To come closer to knowing the other parts of the meaning in the turning of my personal wheel. To make life more sensual, full and connected in my magick. To make offering in a real, truthful manner. To provide those Spirits homage to their journey with honesty, witnessing and coming closer together, with the pleasures of things remembered. To offer gifts of the things I keep in shadow that are ready and powerfully able to go to seed and rise like green things as I place them on the altar as offering.

this musing originally appeared on the Southland Pagan Press. You can visit this article and many others at:
https://paganpridelaoc.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/on-sacrifice/

Temple Los Angeles
Contributor: Scott K Smith