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A Modern Pagan View of Sacrifice

By John Beckett

[Snip] Sacrifice has two separate but related meanings. If we are to understand sacrifice, much less practice it effectively, we need to understand both.

The common meaning of sacrifice is “to give up.” We pour a libation, giving up the opportunity to drink the wine in order to give it to the gods. We give money to worthy causes, giving up the opportunity to spend it on ourselves. We spend time running and lifting weights, giving up the opportunity to read or watch TV in order to improve our physical fitness. No doubt you can think of many more examples in many aspects of life where we give up personal gain for some greater good. Sacrifice in this regard is a tangible expression of unselfishness or of long term thinking or both.

The older meaning of sacrifice is “to make sacred.” By dedicating something to the gods through ritual and ceremony it becomes sacred – it takes on some of the essence of the gods. Some of that divine essence then returns to us.

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