Sacrifices in the Name of the Gods

When we speak of polytheism, we speak of bringing the Gods into our daily lives, and visa versa. Most of us are okay with this, we feel comfortable as long as the relationship still allows us to live our lives, on our own terms. But what happens when it doesn’t? What do we do when the Gods push us and push us, when They tear down our walls and walk all over our comfort zones? Is this like a bad BDSM relationship where the Dom isn’t listening to us scream the safe word? Or do the Gods know better than us, really know what we need and desire for our lives to be better lived? What happens when the Gods start demanding real sacrifices of us?

The last few months have been rough here in my little world. The balance of mundane and spiritual started to lean heavily towards the mundane. My step-daughter moved in with us full-time, which requires me to be a parent to a teenager 24/7. And when we refer to her as “hyper-verbal”, believe me, that is an understatement. I was initiated and accepted to two different seminaries (yay!) and then discovered, in November, that my job was downsizing and I was being let go. So this has been a very difficult time in the mundane world.

The interesting part of all of this is that, as my stressors multiply in my life, I am forced to confront my deep dark emotions and fears head on. All of them, all at once. And as each one forces me to face it, I am simultaneously struggling with the concept of sacrifice.

Sacrifice comes from Latin and means to make holy or sacred. Sacrifice is not something that we just do or that just happens to us, rather it should not be a passive verb in our lives. When we sacrifice something we make it holy and sacred in the act of the offering. Simultaneously, sacrifice is not something that we can be forced into. When the offering is forced, it remains just an offering. It is the choice behind the action that transforms it into something sacred. That is why even the smallest crumb or tiniest drop of something, when offered from the heart, can become a holy sacrifice to the Divine.

So, how do we decide what to offer up as sacrifice? What suffices?

In my opinion, the gift should be equal to the gift. In short, our sacrifices should hold the same weight as the blessings that we are asking for. Blessings are not payment for sacrifices, rather sacrifices are our acknowledgement at the enormousness of the blessings.

For me, the sacrifice is in aligning myself closer to my Goddess. (This is very personal, all nasty comments will be deleted. This includes anyone who wants to try to advise me to keep fighting. Those comments are just as devastating as any nasty ones could be.) I was diagnosed with infertility a long time ago, not long after I reached adulthood. This information has both devastated and informed my life. Choosing to fight the infertility is one form of sacrifice, that of time and money and resources that could also be used in other aspects of my life. Choosing to give up my dream of birthing a child is another form of sacrifice, one that brings me to my knees even as I know this is my choice. This means that the only child my body has ever help is the one who died in order for me to experience death and become a shaman. This means that the only child I will ever truly parent came into my life fully grown.

But this is my sacrifice, my choice made sacred because it aligns me to my Goddess, She who has only mothered the dead babies, She who nourishes untold legions at her table, She who knows the depth and breadth of grief and chooses to keep going. I choose to give up my dream of a child because fighting against the tide would take resources away from the one I am now responsible for. I choose to give up this dream because the world is a dark place and my being the best shaman I can be means that I bring a little light back into it.

I make this sacrifice because it is mine to make, and the act of making it allows me to transform it into something beautiful, the way Death transforms grief. I make this knowing it alters the course of my life.

Not all of us are called to sacrifice. For some of us, the calling can be the scariest thing ever. For others, it seems like nothing until the weight of the sacrifice is upon us and we are living the reality of our choices. Either way, our constant struggle to align our lives with the Divine is what living is all about.