SacrificeSacrifice is the practice of offering food, or the lives of animals or people to the gods, as an act of propitiation or worship. The term is also used metaphorically to describe selfless good deeds for others.
The theology of sacrifice, at least as it regards animal sacrifice and human sacrifice, remains an issue, not only for religions that continue to practice rituals of sacrifice, but also for those religions that have animal sacrifice in their scriptures, traditions, or histories, even if sacrifice is no longer made. It is not immediately obvious why a powerful supernatural being needs followers to offer the lives of lesser creatures on its behalf. Some explanations that have been ventured include:
- Gods need sacrifice to sustain themselves and their power, without which they are diminished.
- Sacrificed goods are used to make a bargain with the god, who has promised some favour in return for the sacrifice.
- The lives or blood of sacrificial victims contains mana or some other supernatural power whose offering pleases the god.
- The sacrificial victim is offered as a scapegoat, a target for the wrath of a god, which otherwise would be visited on the followers.
- Sacrifice deprives the followers of food and other useful commodities, and as such constitutes an ascetic discipline.
- Sacrificed goods actually become part of a religious organisation's revenue; it is a part of the economic base of support that compensates priests and supports temples.
- The sacrifice is actually a part of a festival and is ultimately consumed by the followers themselves.
Some occasions for human sacrifice found in multiple cultures on multiple continents include:
- Human sacrifice to accompany the dedication of a new temple or bridge.
- Sacrifice of people upon the death of a king, high priest or great leader; the sacrified were supposed to serve or accompany the deceased leader in the next life.
- Human sacrifice in times of natural disaster. Droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions etc were seen as a sign of anger or displeasure by deities, and sacrifices were supposed to lessen the divine ire.
Human sacrifice still happens today as an underground practice in some traditional religions, for example in muti killings. Human sacrifice is no longer officially condoned in any country, and these cases are regarded as murder.
Spiritual "Principles" are independent of brand name religions, they are discriptions of cosmic laws. In principal sacrifice is to make sacred, to elevate from the mundane world to the super mundane, it is to exchange a lower value to a higher value (in spirit), nothing can be created and nothing destroyed, only transformed. The path of the renounciant exchanges (sacrifices) lower desires, passing thoughts, glamour’s, material objects, social prestige, and so forth for a higher ethereal state or value, it is simple an exchange in the spiritual transformative arts. Voluntary loss is really a fuel for transformation, sacrafice is only valid due to its voluntary nature, never by external socio-religious compulsion, and sacrafice must be voluntary, in this way the personal ego dies and is reformed into it’s spiritual equivalent, if the work of sacrafice is complete.
- child sacrifice
- Greek mythology
- Norse mythology
- Celts and human sacrifice
- Ritual murder
- Human Sacrifice: In History and Today, by Nigel Davies; Dorset Press, 1981 ISBN: 0-88029-211-3