Friday, August 24, 2012

ADF Cosmology part 7

          Rev. Kirk Thomas stated in his paper “The Nature of Sacrifice” that ancient and modern Paganism appears to have five contexts within religious sacrifice. The five contexts consist of maintaining the cosmic order, delivering services through gifts, providing protection, commensality, and mitigating order with chaos.

          Maintaining the cosmic order refers to the act of giving a sacrifice in order to maintain the continuity of the cosmos. This sacrifice is a reenactment of myths that center on the death of a primordial being whose body is used to create the universe. The subject of the original sacrifice to create the cosmos varies. Rev Thomas states in his paper “… the central characters are ‘Man’… and ‘Twin’…, who is often referred to as a king, and they are sometimes accompanied by an ox” (Thomas). This is interesting because the concept of the Man and Twin could be showing the great sacrifice which went into the creation of the cosmos and then the animal becoming the sacrifice which is used to maintain the order of this newly created cosmos. When individuals give sacrifice they are adding material to the flow of the cosmos. This in effect insures that the universe continues to gain matter. The individual then begins to feel more connected with the cosmos. Through this connection there is a since of pride and responsibility for being a part of the great created cosmos and a desire to continue being a part. This also allows the individual to become one with the cosmos. This oneness creates a flow of cosmic power through the body. With this flow of power each individual begins to help shape the reality which surrounds them. This is the very principle of working magic. As reality is shaped, the cosmos moves forward and is maintained. In most cases as each individual works with cosmic energies they become more evolved and enlighten. This results in them becoming a bigger part of the universe around

          The context of sacrifice as the delivery of services through gifts is not a new concept. This idea is that the goal of giving sacrifices is to create a reciprocal relationship with the divine. This reciprocation is part of the Indo-European idea of hospitality. The best way to explain this is through an example of ritual. During ritual we give sacrifices to the Kindred. We give these sacrifices in honoring but we also give them so that our relationship with the Kindred is made stronger, in hopes that when in need the Kindred will give to us in return. This can be simply blessings us with their light and love or helping us with healing, stress, or obstacle we need to overcome. But through the giving back there is an exchanging flow created between the worlds and the realms. This flow is needed to not only maintain and expand the cosmos at large but to also affect the cosmos on the smaller scale. Without the flow and exchange of energy every world and realm would become stagnate. Soon chaos would begin to overwhelm the order of life causing the eventual collapse of everything. As the current flows through the individuals making the sacrifices, they too are maintained and renewed each time they open themselves to the cosmos. This is what allows the spirit to evolve so it can ascend to a higher state. But it also is what allows for spirits to return and be reborn, completing the cycle of maintaining and

          The context of apotropaic offerings for protection is one of those ideas that is always present within religious practice but seems to be overlooked by most people. The idea is that a sacrifice is given up to help divert evil from one’s life. Apotropaic offerings for protection lean themselves too many useful purposes. One would be to give an offering to any unwanted entities to make them go away. I see this as setting up a situation of hospitality with these beings, which if violated gives the one making the offering more power over the offending being, allowing for easier forced removal. An important part of this context is the idea that through sacrifice individuals can remove or cleanse guilt or wrong doing to make the body and soul clean, rising it to a higher state of being. The act of purification through sacrifice is an idea that many of the ancient cultures believed in. In the process of preparing for the Greater Mysteries of Eleusis, initiates took take in a two day long purification process which cleansed them even of crimes of murder. They bathed in salt water, either the ocean or salt lakes. This was done several times, depending on the crimes and confessions of each individual. Each time involved seven submersions into the waters. On the second day initiates took a piglet, which had been purified as well, down to the salt waters where its blood was spilt and sprinkled. When this process was done, the initiate was considered to be a ‘new being’. (Wright, 2003, pp. 50-51) Since live stock was so important to sustaining life, the sacrifice of even one animal was very important. This could have the mental and spiritual effect of allowing an initiate to release their transgressions and adapt a new life through the giving of another beings life.

          The shared meal was a concept in the ancient world that served to bring the people closer to the gods. Through the sacrifice of an animal, the gods received their portion of the animal. The rest was given to the people to feast upon. This allowed a connection with the gods through sympathic connection of the sacrificial animal. The shared meal created a reciprocal relationship with the gods, giving the mortals the right to make requests in return for the sacrifice that was given , but also it places a responsibility on humans to have demands required of them by the gods.. Another important aspect of this meal could be seen that through the shared meal the gods are able to pass on their blessings through the same sympathic connection created through the sacrificial animal. This give and take keeps the flow between the worlds so that stagnation through too much order or instability due too much chaos does not occur. Also through the shared meal humans can feel they are in and of themselves part of the divine, there for they are responsible for maintaining the worlds from their end. This since of inner-connectedness gives hope and purpose to those sharing in the sacred meal.

          The concept of chaos mitigating cosmos is a modern idea based off ancient principles. The idea is that there is a balance between order and lack of order. The idea of chaos mitigating cosmos centers on the thought that if there is too much order things become stagnate and brittle. They will easily break. While if there is too much chaos things tend to fall apart because of a lack of cohesion. It seems to be an ever changing dance where the partners of order and chaos change leads when the other becomes to overbearing. In this way a balance is reached that allows for growth within a structured system. When things in life become routine for humans they tend to get bored. When boredom sets in the passion that was once put into ritual dies and the acts become hollow. As the rituals and rites become hollow they tend to fall to the way side. The spirituality breaks down and people begin to stop all together. People then begin to feel disconnected with their lives, their world, and the cosmos as a whole. When this occurs there are fewer and fewer people working to maintain the cosmic order. The order of the cosmos becomes unbalanced as the order begins to break down and chaos takes over. Through the use of small amounts of chaos, or in other words spontaneity, life can be brought back into rituals and acts of piety. Spontaneity allows for creative ideas to grow and expand the minds and spirits of those involved. This results in new energies being created to send out into the cosmos so that it can continue to flow and expand.


Thomas, R. K. (n.d.). The Nature of Sacrifice. Retrieved December 9, 2011, from http://, D. (2003). The Eleusinian Mysteries &
Rites. Berwick: Ibis Press.
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