Living Sacrifices

Clearly, the gods find grains to be an acceptable substitute, so that is what we will use. For the rest of this book, when I say that an animal is to be sacrificed it can be assumed that what is meant is bread that has been ritually identified with that animal. Those artistically and culinarily gifted may wish to make three-dimensional models of the animals. For the rest of us, a piece of flatbread will do. What is important is that it be named in the ritual as the appropriate animal and treated as if it were that animal. That which is done in a ritual manner is real.

Ceisiwr Serith, “Deep Ancestors”

This morning, blissfully alone and quiet, I sat with my tiny fire and offered to the spirits. I struggle, still, with finding my way in a world where I do not fit, because I cannot seem to express myself in the appropriate, customary ways. Despite my efforts, I remain too much and not enough.

For the most, I am fine with this, except I must also be gainfully employed to provide for my family. I do my best to navigate the days with the help of stoicism, an agenda, and a constructed work personality. But every now and then, especially when I am feeling comfortable, it strikes me how much I do not fit in, and how alone I truly am.

Into the tiny fire, I offered the first slice of freshly baked sourdough bread — a portion for the gods, for the spirits of the land, for the Ancestors, and for myself. A squirrel brought a nut but did not share it, burying it instead in the back garden, and a mouse came to the fire also for a time, before continuing on her way (hopefully not into my house).

This sourdough, the starter gifted to me by another priest, is the basis for many of our offerings here. It is a living sacrifice, carefully tended and cared for, that it may be fit for the gods. Other living creatures, a ginger bug and a kombucha SCOBY, make delicious drinks poured out in offering also, or consumed as the waters of life. Tending these microbes is an act of love and reverence, not only for the microbes themselves, but for the gods and spirits to which we offer them.

Two birds alight in the trees now, one in the cedar and one in the lilac. They chirp at each other, inspect the empty bird feeder, and one sits proudly on the fence, surveying his kingdom.

This is my kingdom, my anchorhold, and perhaps I, too, am a living sacrifice, a substitution for something perfect or enough. What have I given up in exchange for the blessings that come with this life? What do I hold on to that no longer serves me, that takes up space in a life wide-open to potential?

I warm my toes over the coals of the fire, having spent my morning in prayer, hoping that someone will see me and I’ll remember how to talk to them.

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