Posted by: nicanthiel | April 6, 2009

Sacrifice

The topic has been bombarding me the past few days. Galina Krasskova wrote a wonderful article in The Gods’ Mouths about sacrifice and love, and a Vanic and Nerthite colleague has been called to great sacrifices of his own. This period, of all the various sacrificial times in the year, may be the hardest. In the sacrifice of Lammas, there is plenty – the sacrifice is of abundance to renew abundance. Winterfylliþ is about sacrificing in thanksgiving and remembrance. Ȝeohol/Módraniht is the sacrifice of light to appease the dark, that the light may come again. But the period from Eostre to Wealdburganiht is the sacrifice of self, for all else is gone – there is no bounty to offer, no harvest to thank for, no light to give, for it has already been given. There is only the soul, the self. Everything that we don’t want to give up, that we cling to with all our might, saying “Not this, not this. Anything but this” – that is what is demanded.

We often live in our comfortable modern lives, surrounded by our comfortable modern conveniences. And when the sacrifice comes, we all go kicking and screaming because we do not want to give up the poison that is killing us, the walls that are keeping us from our duty, from Them.

I’m no exception to this. I fight daily with the voice that wants me to just have those French fries, or just do this, or just say that. Sometimes I lose. And I know the disappointment, I feel the disapproval, but I can’t stop because it’s just so good not to have to be mindful, to be like everyone else, to be normal. And then it’s over, and there’s the consequences waiting on the other side.

My Owner isn’t an absolutist. She gives me all the rope I demand to hang myself with. Because She knows who I am, that I need the illusion of independence, that I have the choice to define my life. And in some ways, I do. She allows leeway far more than I could ever dream, and will listen to my complaints and my apologies, and only say “You will do better next time.” But there’s always the hook in the worm, drawing me ever closer to Her plan, so that I want what She wants.

She is beautiful and awefull beyond human comprehending. She terrifies me more than dissolution in the Void, than losing my independence, than losing myself. And yet, there is nothing more I wish to do than give myself to Her, imperfect and flawed as I am, to see those eyes burn themselves into my soul as the waters close over me.

Eala Herþa, Erce, Neorun. Þu bist déadlic, ac ic lufie þe. Þu min gást clyster pricþornes ymbsettest ond ic þone þornas clyppe léoflice.

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Responses

  1. I primarily work with Frey as Sacral and Sacrificed King. In fact, while I usually refer to Himself as Frey in my public writing, in my private practice I call Him Ing, or Ingui. The suffix -ing is usually taken to mean “descendant of”. I think “Ing” itself, being one of those words that we don’t really know what it means in the oldest languages, relates to seed, and the sacrifice thereof.

    It says in the Havamal “It is better not to give than to give too much”. When we are claimed by the Gods, we do run a risk of giving too much and being burned out. I went through my very own burnout a few months ago and that set me back. When I was willing to start working past that, to open myself again, and try something different, there was progress by leaps and bounds. The existence of a spirit-worker should not be all drudgery and pain. But it stands to reason that when we are claimed by the Gods, it will involve work, and in our post-modern society we feel entitled to having it all as we want it when we want it. I think the New Age movements have done the greatest damage to our concepts and relationships with Deity. We feel entitled to God. We have to realize it’s not all about us, that the relationship with any Deity whether minor or that of a fulltrui is reciprocal.

    Your average Heathen or Pagan or even your average person in a fulltrui relationship can get away with the holytides, perhaps monthly fainings too and perhaps a daily devotional practice. I think devotion is one of the things most sorely lacking in modern revivals of polytheist religion, eschewed as being “too Christian” or whatever yet we need it in today’s world to stay mindful. That said, those of us who are called to greater service – like us Godaþegn types, as you so brilliantly put it – are called even beyond that. It is no longer “Gee Frey, I think you’re awesome, have this beer I brewed.” In my own case it is propagating His cult, making information accessible, doing rituals for those who want to come connect with Him, and bringing more of Frey into the world. As a Freysgyðja in training, I have to do more than just admire Him from afar and give offerings when the spirit wills. He’s not standing over me cracking a whip. He doesn’t need to. He compels with the beauty that He is.

    To a lesser extent, I serve Nerthus in the same capacity (the word Nerthite made me lol, though). A lot of Heathens will just give Her Earth Day or the Spring Equinox and after that, not care. People dress Her up as the flower maiden, paying lip service while watering Her down and making a mockery of Her cult, and polluting Her land and blaspheming Her body. As I said in my post on Frey and Nerthus, She calls very few people into a fulltrui 24/7 relationship because Her procession is for all. Yet those who co-ordinate the procession and serve as gates and doors between Her and Midgard, have to be in that 24/7 relationship. I am not there, really. Most people shouldn’t want it. Yet She is beautiful in Her terribleness, holy beyond holy, anything She touches is permanently changed, made both more alive and yet a little bit more dead by Her power. She is Earth, She is Land, She is the Greenwoman who unleashes our wildness and the Veiled Lady too lovely to look upon, who drowns us in Her light.

    I love Her. She scares me. But that doesn’t make Her bad, that doesn’t prevent me from coming to Her when She calls.

    When one is called by a Being like that, it’s not about fear or punishment anymore, it’s about something so holy that your very essence is compelled.

    Frey takes after His mom, a lot.

    -Siggy

  2. This post is pretty interesting. There are a lot of people that don’t think in this way about the self-sacrifice (or any other type of sacrifice when the God/Goddesses are implied) or even the relationship with the God/Goddesses.
    We are having a discussion about devotion in a Spanish Heathen forum, and I’m the only one thinking that the God/Goddesses need day-by-day devotions (call it prayers, offerings, sacrifices, or what you want or need); everybody say that this is a Christian point of view, because the actual Northern Heathens don’t use to do it, and everybody seems to think that because we don’t have prayers from the Ancient Times they didn’t do that kind of things, that the Hávamál tells that is better “not offer than offer too much”, that the God/Goddesses know that things and They don’t need this kind of devotion. Even some people say that they do this things because is “something traditional” but they don’t have time to do it everyday because they are very busy. Well, I have a little baby daughter, and I have time to do this kind of things, it’s my daily sacrifice, because I sacrifice my time with her to be with my God/Goddesses and let Them know that I love Them; perhaps some people could think that this is not a properly sacrifice, but I think that it’s one of the biggest that I could do right now.

    I never thought of Ostara/Eostre-Walpurgisnacht time this way. It always seems to me a time of joyful, bright, without related sacrifices… But you are all right with your words.
    Like always, your words (and that of Siggy) are gonna make me think very deeply the next days.

    • Well, I think a person CAN offer too much.

      I think one of the things that gets lost on Heathens eschewing devotional practice is there is a huge difference between a devotional act and a full formal ritual. I think a person can do ritual too much. I find that in terms of formal ritual, the eight holytides and twelve monthly fainings are just about right. But I start to look askance at people who say they “do Blot” daily. First of all, they’re not sacrificing an animal every day so it’s not Blot. :3 But beyond that, I think ritual is something special, and to do it every day kind of cheapens it. IMHO. The caution in the Havamal about giving too much is because a full formal ritual takes time, energy (or at least when I do it, there is a fair amount of energy raised), and resources, and to continually give out can lead to burnout and the feeling of “doing too much”.

      Ritual to me is rending the veil, whereas devotional to me is saying HI! I have a daily devotional practice where I give thanks to Frey, may pull a rune for guidance, and in the evening I do my prayer beads and say good night to Mani. I don’t think this is doing too much, it is just enough to keep my equilibrium. I agree with what you say about spending time with your baby daughter, because the Gods ARE our family and to just completely ignore Them outside of major ritual space is not happymaking.

      And anyone who says prayer is “Christian” should realize the word for pray in Anglo-Saxon is “bede”, which is where we got our modern word “bead”, as in “prayer beads”. We don’t have detailed accounts of what every Heathen did, and I would be willing to venture that some were less religious than others (because people are people and people haven’t changed much over time), and others did pray, even if just to thank the Gods.

      This isn’t meant to disagree with you, by the way, just something you could bring up the next time Heathens say devotional work is “giving too much”. It is really different from a full ritual space. 🙂

      -Siggy

  3. I understand what you say. And this was what I’m trying to explain to them, but they don’t understand my point of view or what I’m trying to say :P.
    Well, like you say, it’s true that a ritual involves a lot of energy and work, and make daily ritual could be a little madness.
    What I do, daily, is make little offerings (drink or food), light a candle and/or incens, and say a little prayer -five or ten minutes long :P. Like you say, it a way to tell Them “Hi!” and share a little time with Them, because They are our Family too (or, at least, that’s the way that I see Them).

    I have to re-arrange my prayer beads -and my related prayers- because I change my mind the last months and I don’t think, feel or do the same devotional things that I do the last year. Until I’ll do it, I don’t use them.


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