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Sacrifice


Moonsmith
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What is sacrifice in the Pagan world?

What does it achieve?

Who or what initiates it?

How do you decide what to sacrifice/do/give?

Stuff like that!

[Blame Ellinas]

image.gif

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Blame me, why don't you.  Didn't hold a gun to your head, did I...?

Anyhow...

What is sacrifice in the Pagan world?

A lot less colourful and gory than it used to be.  I rather suspect that most of us would equate it with making an offering.  The concepts are connected, I do not doubt - though the idea of sacrificing a slice of pizza doesn't quite have the ring of authenticity that would attach to a sharp knife and sheep.

More generally, it is what the word implies - "making sacred", i.e. cutting something off from the everyday and devoting it to deity in some way.

That's not to say that there is no mileage in ideas such as work or art as a sacrificial act, though in reality I'd prefer the shade of meaning found in the word "devotional".

What does it achieve?

At worst, nothing.

Often, a warm fuzzy feeling of having done something, however bizarre, for one's deity (bearing in mind that no deity actually needs any of the physical things devoted to them).

But is that all...?

When my father was dying, I made a small offering and asked for his speedy passing (he was in quite a pitiful state).  I later discovered that he died, as far as I can tell, contemporaneously to that offering.  And, I have to say, the offering seemed rather too small for the issue involved - which is why I was not entirely surprised when I lost my wedding ring the next day.

When my wife was ill, I also made an offering/sacrifice - an antique pocket watch.  It still exists.  I know precisely where it is.  I will never again wear it, nor profit from any sale.  Eventually it will pass to the custody of my son - and he will be entirely free to do with it as he sees fit.  But to me, it is something devoted to a particular goddess.

And that's the point, I think.  It is an act of giving. That is it's importance.  The value of what is given is of limited importance - but can become more important when linked to an issue of sufficient weight.  It's not an issue of usefulness to deity, but of cost to the giver.  It is a mark of respect and an indication of willingness to bear a cost.  It achieves whatever the giver seeks to achieve, by and large.

Who or what initiates it?

The giver.  Who else could do so?

How do you decide what to sacrifice/do/give?

Depends.  Often, it's a matter of practicality.  A small pack of sesame seeds pured onto the ground in some bushes is unobtrusive and harmless for marking an acknowledgement of one's deity.  For weightier matters, whatever seems of sufficient value or has the appropriate symbolism.  I do not hold to the idea of any rules or objective requirements, however.  I very much doubt, personally, that deities have any greater preference for specific substances than they have use for them.  The question is the association in the mind of the giver.

Stuff like that!

Can you be more specific?

Edited by Ellinas
Because I can't spell
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On 13/02/2018 at 1:49 AM, Moonsmith said:

The deity in question?

When the recipient initiates a gift of something that the recipient does not actually need, it's time to start analyzing a relationship.

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I have made offerings even though I don't have a relationship with deities.  For me, it was purely symbolic of gratitude and usually consisted of some small token.  What does it achieve?  For me it serves as a reminder to be grateful when things go right or I am lucky.  It just felt right at the time.  

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On 11/02/2018 at 9:19 PM, Moonsmith said:

What is sacrifice in the Pagan world?

What does it achieve?

Who or what initiates it?

How do you decide what to sacrifice/do/give?

Stuff like that!

[Blame Ellinas]

image.gif

For me, it’s part of the “do ut es”. I give that you might give. It’s transactional.  Sometimes it’s payment, sometimes it’s a gift. The offering depends on the deity and the agreement we come to. 

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6 hours ago, Pomona said:

For me, it’s part of the “do ut es”. I give that you might give. It’s transactional.  Sometimes it’s payment, sometimes it’s a gift. The offering depends on the deity and the agreement we come to. 

To what extent is the WAY you give or behave generally in ritual/liturgy a sacrifice of effort in its own right/rite?  

We Pagans have it pretty cushy when it comes to obligation to our deities but perhaps Religio Romana work a bit harder at it?

Edited by Moonsmith
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I have made small offerings in a similar way to Fortuna as a simple expression of gratitude. I have left small gifts in places that seem significant, sometimes the urge to do it is mixed up with wanting help or luck with something but I don't tend to ask anyone particular for something just pour some of how I'm feeling and mixed up thoughts into the leaving of the gift.

sacrifice in the more modern sense of giving something up I do regularly to try help the environment and live in harmony with the earth (that's the main moral in my personal religion) things like being vegetarian, walking instead of getting a lift, making do and mending rather than buying new, the kinds of cleaning products I use, spending money on vats of bird food. No pesticides: Sacrificing my plants to catapillars and snails because my priority is making a space for wildlife in the garden.

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I feel gratitude several times a day and simply say "thank you".  The simple fact of being able to do some things makes me grateful as can a view or an experience.

Where I feel the need to make a special gesture, a sacrifice in the broadest sense of the word, I do so in a tune.  The advantage [to me] in that form of statement is that every time I play in free pentatonic mode the tune is new, unique. 

Veggie, you are suggesting that lifestyle can be a sacrifice.  I like the idea that life itself can be, to some extent, a sacrificial dedication.  [Don't tell Ellinas or you'll find yourself with a religion :o_poke:]

In parallel to the old saw: virtue is its own reward, does a sacrifice, in part, work to our own gratification?

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On 11/02/2018 at 9:19 PM, Moonsmith said:

What is sacrifice in the Pagan world?image.gif

Something offered to the gods, wights or ancestors.

Quote

What does it achieve?

'A gift for a gift' as we Heathens say. :)  If I want something, then I will give something in return.

However, I often offer something simply to show appreciation, without asking for anything in return.

Quote

Who or what initiates it?

Me

 

Quote

How do you decide what to sacrifice/do/give?

I ask. You know: "do you want a coffee? Or do you prefer tea? or can I get you something else?" sort of thing.

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A thought.

I have described my statement of gratitude expressed in a tune but is it a sacrifice?

It's something that I do frequently and for pleasure in any case.  Its  a way that I naturally express myself.  Sometimes I focus on gratitude while I'm doing it.

Shouldn't sacrifice require an effort above the norm, an expenditure that goes beyond the usually affordable, an emotional or physical effort?  

Or am I off that particular hook?

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When you think that the word means “to make holy” then it really doesn’t matter whether it costs you anything. However the word has come to mean giving up something that is important to you and that’s the meaning I tend to ascribe to it.  So I give up something that is of value: time, money, effort...

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Sacrifice is, ultimately, a form of gift, nothing more or less.

A gift generally involves some form of expense to the giver.

Expense above the norm?  Why?

I suppose the level of the expense may be linked to the purpose of the gift - just like you may spend more for someone's golden wedding anniversary than for yet another pair of Christmas socks,

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https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sacrifice

Sorry for this ^^^^^^^  but it reflects both definition and common usage.

A friend, a wooden flute maker, would only throw his best flute onto a campfire rather than anything that he thought inferior.  In terms of time and effort it beats my tune.  I have no gauge as to effect.

 

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On 27/02/2018 at 10:53 AM, Moonsmith said:

Veggie, you are suggesting that lifestyle can be a sacrifice.  I like the idea that life itself can be, to some extent, a sacrificial dedication.  [Don't tell Ellinas or you'll find yourself with a religion :o_poke:]

In parallel to the old saw: virtue is its own reward, does a sacrifice, in part, work to our own gratification?

He he. I might just!

Yes I think in many ways sacrifice does work to our own gratification. And virtue often is its own reward. 

I don't think that really takes away from the effort though. If you do something for the good of others it doesn't necessarily have to mean you have to suffer for it for it to be worth something.

i think it's probably worth remembering to check with ourselves the reasons behind doing something. If we are doing something for selfish reasons we should just admit that or that part of it. 

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Ooh, you, you, you religionist you...!

Pardon me while I take a few moments to lie down in a darkened room...

:o_baeh:

Right...

Lifestyle as a sacrifice could be an interesting line to take.  But, it strikes me that it needs to have a "handle with care" warning,  That way, potentially, lies some fairly strict asceticism.  And, whilst each to his own, asceticism is something with which I have little personal sympathy.

What it could mean (handled with care) is a life that is attuned to one's concept of honouring deity.  Arguably, a medical career, or having a good laugh whilst manning the counter in a charity shop, or just buying a coffee for someone in distress, are all examples along the way of a life lived in this way.

However, it's hardly the dictionary definition of sacrifice.  Anyone got a chicken and a sharp knife?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not sure if this counts in the context others are describing but I see sacrifice as giving thanks for what you have and also for what is to come, I always give thanks before a hunt ,not for the food which may or may not grace my oven afterwards but because I can, because of the bounty and freedom given me by this act,  and if successful I offer up the plucks of said bounty (heart ,lungs ,liver ect ).....and nature always accepts it , every time....I in return get a feed, as do the lurchers,I get a sense of complete freedom, I get to see nature in the full and most important of all I get to take my place amongst nature as man was before so called civilised society turned us all into cattle....

Edited by nappadog
Stupidity
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  • 1 month later...

Sacrifice in modern thought is far different than in ancient times when most commonly the concept was enacted in a rite geared around the Community and formed a magic that attempted to divert ill or evil away from the people.Within these rites there is evidence that both sacrifice of humans as well as animals was employed.

Anoher form of these old  rites was the Apotropaeic expulsion rites which are often confused with the Sacrificial version.The apotropaeic paradigm involved five stages:Selection,Consecration,Investiture,Transference and Expulsion.This was a Community rite using a substitute(Pharmakos)to take away sin from an endangered group.The sacrificial rite did not employ any substitute for the Community nor did it bear their defilement,curses or sin.The victim here was a pure undefiled offering.

 

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    • Moonsmith
      I’ve posted a link (in links) to a BBC article in today’s news just to illustrate a bit of the colourful side of Paganism.  Perhaps it will do something to balance my prosaic take on the subject. i know little of Witchcraft but I enjoyed the article and like her approach.  
    • Ellinas
      👍 It's as good a position as any and better than quite a few.  
    • Stonehugger
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