Sacrifice bridges the worlds
While these days I consider myself foremost a spirit-worker, I have built my spiritual practice on a strong foundation of devotion. I have always been an ecstatic, a mystic, but without ever neglecting the fundamentals of polytheistic worship, such as prayer, offerings and sacrifice. For one thing, it is a constant reminder that “it’s not about us,” which is important in order to keep the ego in check. And giving to the gods connects us to them, even during those times we can’t feel it (which happen, even for the ecstatics and mystics). Making an offering can be a request for help, a symbol of gratitude, an expression of love, an act of discipline, a reminder of our vows, a pledge, and all these things together at once. But it is also magic.
When we make an offering or sacrifice to the gods, we are in essence parting the veil and connecting the worlds. We offer a piece of Here to the realm of There. The act of dedicating the material to the spiritual creates a channel through which power flows. It creates the very sacred space through which the holy substance of the thing can be transferred to the spirit world, to the gods. Sacrifice literally does make sacred, as its etymology implies.
That arc of wine poured onto the earth in libation is a bridge between the worlds. And for those of us who are witches and shamans and mystics in addition to worshippers, it is a bridge we can tread. We can slip into that opening created by sacrifice to commune and communicate, as we wish, with the gods and spirits. When we see it for what it is, the act of offering itself can alter consciousness. If you consider it, it’s an amazing thing – through intention and ritual (both are important), we take some simple physical thing and hand it to the gods. Even if we can’t see Them take it, even if we can’t feel it, an exchange has taken place, the worlds have briefly touched. And we can, in fact, learn to see and feel it, and take full advantage of that holiness that is created through giving.
(And this adds another consideration to the act of animal sacrifice. To dedicate not just an object but a life to the gods opens a powerful channel, as the process of death itself blurs the boundaries between the worlds and lets a soul pass through. Which is yet another reason – and there are many – that any such sacrifice should be carried out flawlessly, with deep respect to the living creature and solemn dedication to the holy powers, by specialists skilled both in the physical and metaphysical elements. A channel of that magnitude should not be opened carelessly, or improperly, or with any stain of cruelty.)