Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is sacrifice?

I have been thinking about sacrifice lately. What counts as sacrifice and what doesn't? What is the difference between sacrifice and offering when you are giving something to the gods? If a shot glass of rum or bourbon is an offering, is the whole bottle a sacrifice? A chart would be very handy. I do what seems right. A trickster guide used to hang around, so even doing what feels right and listening for guidance can feel like a trap sometimes. Besides, my understanding of sacrifice comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition, which means an animal, or maybe your own son.

It would be awesome if this post could be "5 Easy Ways to Offer the Right Sacrifice" or a handy dandy how-to guide full of practical tips. We all know that there's no free lunch. A reciprocal relationship is a good thing, but when you're trying to go deeper or move to the next level, it's not always easy to know what to do. There's a lot of misinformation floating around, and everything seems to have a caveat with it. Or what you're supposed to do involves living in a very different geography than I do.

I'm thinking about it because it feels like a season to be quiet and learn. Life has me hemmed in on all sides when it comes to thinking of finding a tradition right now: planning a wedding, my partner's grad school and career path that will almost surely require moving away, and the seeming absence of local groups that are something other than Wiccan or Thelemites. Even if something were here, it seems wrong to enter into a sort of trust with a group, knowing I won't be here long term. That doesn't mean I can't do the groundwork and study we should all do to know the primary sources modern theories and practices are based in.

If you've tried to make it through the 19th c. and earlier grimoires and esoteric writings, you know it's not exactly easy breezy. It's easy to read and not retain when the language and style are so different from our own. Is this sacrifice, this decision to study and learn? I hope so, because reading and rereading until some of it sticks feels like chopping wood and carrying water to learn enlightenment. Is it sacrifice to do the work to prove you're serious about learning something, or is that just the price of admission?

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