Liturgy 1.12 – Discuss your understanding of Sacrifice, and its place in ADF liturgy.

23 07 2017

Discuss your understanding of Sacrifice, and its place in ADF liturgy. (minimum 100 words)

The word sacrifice means “to make sacred.” As Kirk Thomas writes, sacrifice is “to make something set apart from ordinary reality.” When we sacrifice, we are making something holy and giving it to the spirits. Many Indo-European hearth cultures have a creation myth that begins with sacrifice – often a sacrifice by “man” of this “twin” who is then used to create the worlds. In a similar way, when we sacrifice we are remembering and re-enacting this first act of creation, and perhaps even engaging in an act of creation ourselves – sacrificing to enable to universe to continue. Mircea Eliade writes that “every sacrifice repeats the primordial act of creation and guarantees the continuity of the world for the following year.”

The key concept in sacrifice is the idea of Ghosti. It is “I give that you might give” or “a gift for a gift.” It is about hospitality, forming relationships and reciprocity. It is giving something of oneself to others. The sacrifice is the central action of an ADF ritual, and gifts can range from flower, food and drink, to oil, incense and precious metals, to poetry, dance and song. While the ancients engaged in animal and even human sacrifice, these things are rightly forbidden in ADF rituals. In ancient times, we also find many examples of metals items such as weapons given as offerings by being broken and thrown into lakes, bogs and rivers.

There are different types of sacrifices given for a wide range of reasons. First are propitiatory and piacular sacrifices where one is sacrificing out of fear of the wrath of the gods, and apotropaic ones in which people seek to placate unfriendly spirits or avert evil influence and bad luck. There are sacrifices of thanksgiving in which we give offerings to show gratitude to the gods and spirits, and supportive sacrifices to show our love for the deities and spirits, which helps to strengthen them. Isaac Bonewits writes that sacrifice is literally “a feeding of the deities” in which we “feed the gods with as much psychic energy as possible, in order to trigger a return response of divine power.” In other words, when we sacrifice we are sharing a sacred meal with the gods. Sources show that in many older Pagan cultures, the sacrifice was a literal meal in which an animal was burned and some parts were saved for the gods, while others were given to the people to eat. Other examples of sacrifices include sacrifices of the first fruits of the harvest, libation sacrifices in which liquids are poured onto the ground as offerings to chthonic gods, the dead and the spirits at crossroads, or votive sacrifices which are offerings made to fulfil a vow. Ultimately the aim of sacrifice is gain something in return, whether that is receiving divine favour and protection, building and strengthen our relationships with the spirits or each other, or maintaining cosmic order.

Bonewits, Isaac. Neopagan Rites: A Guide to Creating Public Rituals that Work. Minneapolis: Llewellyn Publications, 2007. Print.

ADF. “Standard Liturgical Outline.” ADF. Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Step by Step through A Druid Worship Ceremony.” ADF. Web.

Brooks, Arnold. “A Druidic Ritual Primer.” ADF. Web

Brooks, Arnold. “Goals of Group Ritual.” ADF. Web.

Corrigan, Ian. “The ADF Outline of Worship: A Briefing for Newcomers.” ADF. Web. 

Corrigan, Ian. “The Intentions of Drudic Ritual.” ADF. Web.

Corrigan, Ian. “The Worlds and the Kindreds.” ADF. Web.

Paradox. “Sacred Space, an Exploration of the Triple Center.” ADF. Web.

Thomas, Kirk. “The Nature of Sacrifice.” ADF. Web.




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