Showing posts with label Sacrifice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sacrifice. Show all posts

Friday, July 7, 2023

Difference Between A Sacrifice and An Offering

In Hellenism and contemporary Pagan and Polytheism, we are familiar with the terms sacrifice and offering. 

Some people use them interchangeably, and I suppose on the surface it's not really a big deal, as some consider sacrifice to be anything made scared, but I think it's worth discussing that the two are not historically the same thing generally speaking.

A sacrifice is normally something of exceptional cost or worth to you, that you give up to the Gods, and in so doing, make sacred. 

In ancient Greek times, this would have encompassed livestock a lot, because they met the above criteria. Giving up sheep, goats, and cattle was, or could be, very costly to the livelihood of the average person.

Yet that willingness to still risk the loss in order to show love, admiration, and request favor from, the Gods, is what made it a sacrifice and a sacred act. The willingness to go long was believed to have grabbed the Gods' attention more.

Today, of course, it doesn't have to pertain to livestock because most people don't live that kind of life anymore. Now our costly sacrifices would be things like money, valuable properties, and our physical time and labor. Even large portions of food and drink, things that take a lot of effort to put together, would be sacrificial.

An offering, however, is a general gift, such as a votive statue, libation, a valuable, or some appropriate foods. They are things that are more readily available and not as costly; easy for pretty much anyone to obtain.

If I give a fresh bar of soap to Aphrodite for Her baths, a libation of olive oil for Athena, or burn incense to Zeus, those would be offerings. This is a bit contradictory to me, because I have normally called all of my burned offerings sacrifices, but to be more accurate, I should use the term offering: my burned offering.

Then again, if it were a huge portion of incense, it may be able to be called sacrifice, but that would take an almost comical pile. Not something normally done. 

Often these days, I find myself paying more attention to how I term things, especially publicly. In many cases, I felt the term offering had been used in the religious communities almost to the point of being cliche or monotonous, so I didn't really like using it a lot.

But as a Reconstructionist Hellenist, I find myself more and more concerned with historical accuracy and appropriate piety on a regular basis. It's a lifelong learning experience. Do I think the Gods are petty and care about which term you use? Absolutely not. But the properness sets the human mind correctly. 

In the Goodness of the Gods, I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,

Chris Aldridge.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

It's The Size Of Your Devotion, Not Your Altar

It has taken me over a decade to build the beautiful temple and sanctuary that I have today, and I won't pretend for a second that I don't love it. Like anyone, and as the Maxims of Delphi say, I would stand to protect and preserve what is mine. 

But that is certainly not to say that I have always had big and elaborate places of worship. In fact, for most of my Hellenic life up to this point, I've been lucky to have enough space for religious purpose at all. The picture on the left is of my Sphinx Altar, if you will, that I had back in 2018 when I lived in South Beloit, Illinois, only about a year before my wife and I bought the house and land that we have officially built our temple on. 

The altar sat on top of a slim bookcase at the window where sunlight could reach it, and the tools were simply a small brass tripod cup for libation offerings (normally oils), a decorative glass on the far right for digestive libations, a porcelain block for burned sacrifice (normally incense), and a decorative brass plate in the back left for solid offerings like food and valuables. 

It was incredibly small compared to what I have today, and nothing to match any kind of public space. But it was mine, and I made it beautiful with my statues, artworks, and most importantly, my devotion.

There's a wonderful ancient story from Delphi about a very poor man named Hermioneus. Upon his visit to Apollon's altar there, he encountered a very rich man from Thessaly. The rich man showered the God with very expensive and lavish gifts that only the fullest of pockets and bank accounts could accrue, thinking that he surely had the favor of Apollon as a result. 

When Hermioneus came forward to present his gifts, he took from his pouch a mere small portion of field barely and placed it upon the altar. The rich man may have laughed, at least on the inside. But through the Oracle, Apollon spoke, and said that He liked the offering of Hermioneus more.

You see, the rich man was concerned with vanity, whereas the sincere devotion came from Hermioneus. It was nothing for the rich man to give Apollon the best money could buy, because he had all the money. It would be like Jeff Bezos donating ten thousand dollars, knowing that it means absolutely nothing to him. 

But the devotion of Hermioneus meant everything, because it was the best he could give, to do his best, before the Gods. In short, there was character in his sacrifice. It was sincerity not flattery. I highly doubt that Hermineous returned home to a lavish altar or shrine either. You yourself may also raise your hands before a very humble worship space, but remember the story and what it really means to be Hellenic.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
I'll see you at the next Herm down the road,
Chris Aldridge.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Good & Affordable Daily Libations

Since ancient times, the Gods, Spirits, Heroes and Deified Mortals have been given a vast array of libation offerings, as it is one of the simplest and easiest forms of religious practice, and also one that can be done in abundance. Everything from pure water to the best wines, beers and milks have been splashed upon rocky altars and modern shrine blocks and bowls. However, many of us in the Hellenic and Pagan community today don't normally find ourselves able to buy extravagant wines every other day or to release most of the milk in our refrigerator, and yet, we also wish to give something a little nicer than clean water all the time. We want something that tastes good, that can be made in abundance for each day, and that will not break our banks. This is not an illegitimate concern. By getting the most out of something, we will be able to do more of it.

As a priest, I myself am always on the lookout for the many diverse ways possible to honor the Gods. I have found that Crystal Light is one of my favorite materials to create libations with. They are sold in various flavors, and a container can be bought at the dollar store or Walmart for two to three dollars, not expensive at all. Each container holds 6 packets, and one packet alone can create a 2 to 2.6 liter jug of sweet drink. In short, a large abundance of sweet libation supply can be easily and affordably created. Once made in a jug, carton, pitcher or container of some sort, place it in the refrigerator for cooling (it will taste the best this way). Depending on how much you pour out at one time, you will have a long lasting supply for religious practice. You don't have to pour out an entire glass for one Deity. I actually put my libation into a smaller container, like the one you see on the right. From there, a small stream is released for each offering. In doing it this way, I am able, for example, to give an offering to all 12 Olympians plus Hestia without running out. This one small container holds enough for the entire job. If using Crystal Light, or something similar, it will be a very long time before I have to replenish my central supply, and when that times does come, I will be easily able to do so because of how affordable the substance is.

When faced with financial costs in your religious practice, or a limited number of supplies, there are always barriers you can break, and places where you can meet yourself in the middle, if you look hard enough.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.