Usually I do major sacrifice for the Gods around the two solstices, but this year a windfall came unexpectedly into my lap: one of my colleagues had the opportunity to acquire two four-legged animals (what we tend to call sheep, goats, pigs, etc. -- any large farm animal with --you guessed it--four legs) for half the price they usually would cost. I jumped at it and arranged with that colleague--my friend A.T-- to do the actual offering.
Normally I would do my own sacrificing, but I'm recovering from a shoulder injury (which is seriously problematic when working with larger livestock) and my colleague A.T. is a *much* better sacrificial priest than I. I'm good but I have little to no rapport with animals. He has the gift of serious animal mojo. He can lull the most contentious or frightened animal to calm serenity. His ability to communicate with them is pure magic. For anything larger than a chicken, i am more than happy to cede to him the role of knife-carrier. It's more important to me that the animal not suffer, that the sacrifice be done cleanly, respectfully, and with all necessary protocol than that *I* be the one doing it. A.T. graciously agreed to do both sacrifices asking only that I provide the appropriate prayers and ritual structure, which I gladly did.
So over the past two days, House Sankofa gave one animal to Odin (it was sacrificed Wednesday night with all appropriate prayers and ritual, butchered properly and some of the meat given to the one on whose property the rite occurred. Usually He gets full immolation and nothing is shared, but He didn't require that this time) and today one animal was give to Dionysos.
Both rituals went beautifully (in fact, the one to Odin proceeded with what A.T. termed "almost mathematical efficiency") and the little four legged given to Dionysos today, all on his own accord, decided to nosh on a grape vine on the way to being sacrificed. I took this as a rather good omen given that he was being given to the God of the vine.
Sacrifice is important. It's one of the holiest and most sacred of our rituals. When we engage in sacrifice for our Gods, we are entering into the flow of a very ancient, very, very profound contract We are entering into something tremendously powerful, something that reaches to the very core of our traditions. This is what brings renewal. This is what brings grace and blessing to the community. This is one of the things that nourishes our Gods and in turn nourishes us. It completes a sacred cycle and there is very little if anything that may serve as a truly adequate substitute.
For this reason, I give thanks for those clergy, of all our various traditions who have dedicated themselves to the task of learning and restoring these rituals and protocols. I give thanks to the Gods and ancestors for those who teach and those who do, for those who take up the knife so that our Gods may have the offerings best suited to Their glory. I give thanks for our sacrificial priests (and yes, I am one, but I give thanks to those who taught me, to those from whom I continue to learn, and to the Gods for Their continued patience). I give thanks to the farmers who provide the feast for the Powers. I give thanks to the fire that carries the fullness of the sacrifice away via immolation and I give thanks to those who dress and prepare the sacrifices for feasting, when that is appropriate. I give thanks to the knife and the ones who craft it. I give thanks for the animals and I give thanks for the land that catches the blood as it is spilled. These things are sacred. The hands of the sacrificial priest are sacred, and the process and cycle itself. For these things, I am grateful. I know how they nourish wyrd. I know what it means to restore these rites after two thousand years of our ritual places lying fallow.
So yesterday and today were good days. They were blessed days and that is my wish: that Odin and Dionysos may each be pleased, each be nourished, each be reverenced and that through the process of sacrifice and veneration, Their blessings may flow.