About sacrifice: balance between giving and taking in a magical practice
I regularly get questions about sacrifices and the act of sacrificing in my magical practice. Most queries seem to be about sacrifices of the more outrageous type. I get that. It’s directly related to the idea that magic is always connected to religion. In reality that’s not the case, however. Some magic practitioners adhere to a religion, but there are plenty that don’t. I belong to the latter category.
I think practically all of us are comfortable with the idea that you need to do something to get something or somewhere. Usually it depends on your goal how much effort it takes. The more intricate your purpose, the more you’ll have to invest. The energy and effort it takes to reach your goal is a form of sacrifice as well. It’s always been like this. Even in the dawn of humankind we knew that if we wouldn’t go out there hunting and gathering, we’d die eventually. And in return we’d feed the earth and its inhabitants when we kicked the bucket.
Larger than life goals ask for larger than life sacrifices
Religion takes this whole sacrifice thing a bit further. Our human imagination enabled us to come up with stories to make life seem controllable. Part of these stories were things we’d have to do to satisfy gods and make them work for us rather than against us. Through time we developed theories to make the seeming randomness of it all seem more predictable and even lead to a satisfying end.
These theories dealt with more intangible but oh so valuable goals which required more than a balance between giving and taking. In line with the idea that there should be a balance in giving and taking, we figured that these larger than life goals surely had to ask for larger than life sacrifices. An example of this would be human sacrifice.
From literal human sacrifices to figurative human sacrifices
Nowadays human sacrifice in the literal sense of the word is frowned upon, but many religions do ask for a different form of human sacrifice. Often their followers are required to give up important parts of what make them human in order to sacrifice the god(s).
As said, I myself am not a follower of any religion or any other dogmatic belief system. My connection is not with a deity but with nature and life itself. Because I am not pursuing an elusive goal after my death but just want to be part of the next stage of the cycle, I don’t make the kind of sacrifices that we know from past and present belief systems.
No flowing blood but balance in giving and taking
That doesn’t mean that I never sacrifice anything. I do believe that there should be a balance. Although… the verb believe is not entirely appropriate here. It’s a fact that every action has a reaction. When you take, there is something else that gives. And if there is no balance in that, things will irrevocably go wrong. That’s how it works in magic too. But no blood has to flow for that.
For me it is more of establishing a balance in energy, whether tangible or intangible. The more I ask, the more energy I return. That actually happens automatically because the nature of my rituals change with the goal that I am pursuing. Plus, I make it my business to take good care of those whom I’m connected to. It’s not a tit for tat kind of relationship. We don’t use tallies or scoreboards. It’s a synergy that is maintained in the course of daily life and magical practice. Not that these two are actually separated, but just so you know. It doesn’t really begin or end.