I should have anticipated this, given Roderick’s emphasis on a sacrificial nature of Lughnassadh yesterday. His discussion of the meaning of Lammas is entirely centered on the concept of sacrifice. I initially found this disconcerting, but we aren’t talking about a God’s sacrifice quite yet. Instead, we’re getting a lot closer to what I think of when I think of Lughnassadh, and that is thanksgiving: becoming conscious of the sacrifices made by our foodstuffs and expressing gratitude for that sacrifice.
Therefore, the definition of sacrifice we’re working with here is “something giving of itself for the sake of others” or “one form of energy giving itself up so that it can transform into something else.” Food, in this case, sacrifices its energy so that it can become our bodies. Life feeding upon life is something that many humans struggle with, and things like eating animals or killing plants in order to eat them does–in fact–look as though it counters our Rede: Harm none. We are, in fact, causing individual harm when we eat practically anything other than fruit, for we take a life. On the flip side, there is no life on this planet that can truly exist independent from other forms of life. We’re all tied up in dozens of interacting communities and ecosystems, and from a larger perspective, there’s no real harm–just a transfer of energy. On the one hand there is harm, on the other, no harm.
It’s a mystery, and one that requires reverence and an awakening to conscious living–we need to understand our part in our ecosystem, to recognize we owe our lives to the sacrifices of other organisms and that one day, we too will be called on to make that sacrifice. We need to express gratitude.
Practice: Pagan Grace
Today, before each meal, consider teh substances that are about to sacrifice themselves so that they can become your own body, your own life force. Instead of thanking some notion of a divinity, thank the animal or plant that has given its life so that it can become you. With each mouthful, open your heart in thanksgiving.
- Did this practice change anything internally for you? If so, what changed?
- Is thanking the animal or plant that gives its life any different than thanking a god or goddess? How?