Sacrifice; Whose Blood?
“…….All save Gar whose heart open to the fire, takes in the flames as he stands with no singing in the great torrent of blood flowing from the dying Damh.
Gar puts his hand upon the Stag and knows in that moment that it was Damh who has hunted him to this moment of being the prey that he never gave thought to being.
The endless day ends and the night comes.
The Ancestral Ones shine in the black sky and sing their songs as they have always and will always.
Gar falls into the blood, again the lone hunter in the night…….”
Sacrifice sets our minds to think on something given up, something we give away for another. The dictionary suggests as a definition of sacrifice;
: An act of offering to a deity something precious; especially the killing of a victim on an altar
: Something offered in sacrifice
: Destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else
: Something given up or lost ie. the sacrifices made by parents
The difficulty with these definitions is the sense of ‘one sidedness’ and the idea that the sacrifice is often repeating requirement.
Sacrifice comes with the notion of appeasement or placation for something greater, be it in power or need and in this that sacrifice is between two separate entities, one in need and weaker, and the other holding power and resources.
In all the definitions there is this allusion to ‘something’; something is killed, something is given up, something is the required victim. So now we have three characters or components to the drama of sacrifice.
“……And then Mac Tire sang to the Two Leggeds of the Time Before, he sang of the running ways of the Forest, the flowing waters and the shining stars. He sang of the family and of the loneliness of the Children of the Earth for the Two Leggeds. And the two Leggeds answered in refrain, “Oh what big eyes, Oh what big teeth!” And some of the children heard and pressed their hands and faces into the soft warm fur of Mac Tire and he remembered his children in the Forest. He began to weep, “Oh what big eyes!” they said and he began to cry, “Oh what big teeth!” they said, and they pulled the children from him.
As the tears of Mac Tire fell to the ground, the Earth trembled in his grief and with each shake the wolf bane grew, but the Two Leggeds trampled it under foot as they rushed upon Mac Tire and pushed him over so that he fell onto four legs. “Oh what big eyes, Oh what big teeth! Oh what big eyes! Oh what big teeth! He is not a Two Legged but a beast from the Dark Forest come to steal our children and bring darkness to our lives”. With this the Two Leggeds fell upon the hapless wolf and cast him flat to the ground.
In fear and desperation they pierced his already breaking heart with a great spear and cut his legs from his body that he could not fool anyone else by walking upon two legs again. They gathered his body and cast it rudely out into the night away from their village and went home to the lighted huts feeling safe from the darkness that they had made……”
In the Sagh’ic tale of the Solar Hunt, Gar the Hunter for the good of the world hunts and slays Damh, the Solar Stag, and yet there is a point in the saga when Gar realizes that he has been killed in order that the hunt can begin again in a new life, again for the needs of the world. Both hunter and prey exchange their roles as sacrifice and sacrificial victim. In this story the roles of the three proponents of the drama are never intrinsically defined, for it seems that the two and the needful ‘world’ are all active exchanging components in the sacrifice.
We might come to understand in this story and the story of the slaying of Mac-Tire, that true sacrifice is an offering of life and not death, hence in both stories there is a rebirth and an undying, and that sacrifice is a continuous event; one might say eternal and once undertaken cannot be undone.
When we return to the definitions of sacrifice, we come back to that notion of the something being ‘killed’, being given up or away. We have come so use to making offerings of death! The offering of flowers on some altar – the flowers cut from the plant are dead or at least dying, that pinch of tobacco; dead leaves, the chicken – dead. If we consider all the ‘items’ and events we call offerings in some way they are ‘dead’ and often we call the ‘victim’ to give its life (however that might present) for that placation and/or appeasement.
True sacrifice requires intention, willingness and the giving of one’s own life, one’s own blood. This goes with the realisation that as victim, officiant, we must also take place of this other in the triune of players. In this we need to step back from our lack of self worth in the world; how can we be worthless if we are the offering of ‘something precious’. Animist belief suggests that divine/spirit/god exists in all things, even those we call inanimate; for an animist there is not such thing, and here we must resist that cult of the self indulgent individual so rife in the world today and understand that we are not god, rather we along with everything else and animations of spirit or ancestors. Therefore in that stepping back or indeed a stepping into our true nature as the animated it is not an action of appeasement or placation rather a re-ordering. Sacrifice brings, or more truer, returns order. It combines chaotic, disenfranchised or forgotten elements into ordered relationship. The moment before sacrifice, one might perceive need, distress, pain, suffering, loss, disorder and at the moment of sacrifice there appears to which can only be described as an ‘ahhh’ whisper of some completion.
That said, we now return to the notion that sacrifice is eternal and that what we call sacrifice is a repeating or re-enactment either as some form of honouring memorial or to calm a doubt of ones value; “if we do not sacrifice, the sun will not rise.” And in this we fall back into appeasement of some external power.
A Jesuit mystic once told me that the crucifixion was not a 3 hour event of history, he knew that the sacrifice of the cross was a continuous event onwards into the future until all humans were ‘saved’, and that as we spoke, Christ was still hanging, bleeding and suffering on that cross. This was devoutly holy man who spoke this with tears in his eyes and hands that shook and trembled at that knowledge he held in his heart.
For many years I pondered this, widening my scope to all that was titled sacrifice. What trapped me was the need to repeat the sacrifice, if The Sacrifice of whatever belief system we have, spiritual or temporal, was a once and for all.
Was/is all sacrifice just a desperate repeating based on the fear the sun will not rise or we will anger some external from ourselves be it a god or a country or a family or a child? If this is true then all acts of sacrifice are acts of fear, which may the reason we offer the dead, fearful that we will not have enough of own life to placate our gods of fear, whom we give power over ourselves and our lives; and suddenly we have the birth of religion, which in my heart I know was never the plan of any God, Spirit or Ancestor, who are pushed aside and replaced by the gods we create in our fearful image and every sacrifice now becomes a demand to satisfy our inadequacy of power and fear which we have deified.
In this is the revelation about sacrificial re-enactment; the re-sacrifice is to counteract the shadows that feed on the despair of the need. The shadows of fear and greed and power are the true curses of life and these curses hide the original sacrifice and the flow of the order maintaining our immersion in this needful despair. And for the Sagh’ic it is this needful despair that the demons feed on. More fear requires more re-enacted sacrifice which fuels more fear and propagates death.
True sacrificial ceremony is an opening in sacrifice to the original sacrifice, not a re-enactment, rather an active, intentional immersion and connection to that continual event. In this ‘event’ we are called at any given moment within it to be officiant and victim, hunter and prey and that it this sacred relationship that remembers the order and unification so that as totemic we can once again be the journey of the Ancestors.
The Sagh’ic Fire Ritual calls that a black bird be sacrificed to the flames to be the Dark Wings that carried the songs of the Two Leggeds above the night to the sun and stars. In the ritual the ‘hunter’ calls the bird to hunt him, so that his soul/song will be the carrier and that he will give his lifeblood to the bird so it can be reborn.
“I flew so high to hunt my prey till my soul stood still so that You would come and hunt me, to which I heard “I have not come to hunt you, I come to love you”
True sacrifice is a remembering of the relationship of love that we have forgotten, hidden in the shadows of fear. It is a surrendering to that relationship regardless of the fear. What is being described is the true essence of martyrdom for this the great suffering of the sacrifice, to be restorer of chaos to order, which requires the holding of this friction within the heart. We note the pretense of fear and shadow, which is the pseudo martyr that holds the sacrifice externally, which maintains disorder and shadow.
For the Sagh’ic along with many traditions, blood is life, it is the fire of the first sacrificial altar; it is the first sacrifice, which brought order (creation) out of chaos. Sacrifice seemingly at so many different levels comes to single notion to be a willing intention of the relationship of love; sacrificial blood (fire/life) can only be live and of our selves, for we are not restoring, rather we are!
Rev Seanair John-Luke Edwards; Sagh’ic Tradition