This is another huge stumbling block for me: The idea of sacrifice. It makes me think of primitive humans, killing their best animals – or even other humans – and presenting the corpses as sacrifices to appease the gods. There’s a dynamic of “You give me this, and I’ll give you that.” How many of us as children made those kinds of promises to God? “God, if you make Mark ask me to the prom, I’ll do my homework without complaining for a whole year.” These kinds of sacrifices are a bargaining tool. I want this. You won’t give me this until I pay for it. Here’s something I value very much. Take it, and give me what I want.
That’s not the kind of sacrifice I’m talking about, although the difference is subtle. If the purpose of ritual is transformation, there are often things (sometimes things that we value very much) that we have to give up or move on from, in order to receive the transformational power of transpersonal energy. What does this look like, in real-world terms? One of the often-used metaphors is the life cycle of a butterfly. The butterfly has to give up being a caterpillar in order to move on to the next stage of its existence. In human terms, it could be giving up a relationship that’s holding you back from personal growth… or giving up a self-destructive (but enjoyable) habit, in order to move into physical or emotional health.
In my own life I’ve had to make many painful sacrifices in order to grow into a new life. One of the most poignant was giving up a business I loved very much, with clients I adored, in order to move to a brand new city, be closer to the man I loved, and begin some new studies.
Has life ever asked you to make sacrifices in order to grow? Did you cooperate with those choices, or resist them as long as possible?
Art journal spread Now, July 2006. Wax crayon, ink and collage on paper.