At 6:05 p. m. on Wednesday, August 1, 2007, the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis collapsed. Thirteen people were killed.
Thirteen. On Lammas Eve.
Of many rivers, it is said that they require a life every year. The Mississippi, our “strong brown god” (Tom Eliot) takes many more than that. Last year, here in the metro alone, it was 17.
In the old days, they say, they used to offer to rivers. Nowadays, we mostly don't. But the sacrifices continue, as they will while ever the world endures. Willing or unwilling, they offer themselves, because sacrifice is in the nature of things.
Blót-monað, the ancestors called it: Sacrifice-Month.* Or one could say (as the ancestors did, in their pragmatic way) Blood-month. It still goes on.
Deer-hunting begins this weekend here in Minnesota. Hunting opener is generally the first full weekend of November. (Just coincidence, I'm sure. Yeah, right.) Blood on the leaves.
It's the season of the Dead, yes, but let us not forget what the witches in their wisdom have always remembered: it's also the time of the Rut.** The fawns that Old Green Eyes sires right now will be born about Bealtaine, sure. Blood and spooge: Old Craft in the nutshell.
Now that I've obtained a bigger basket, let's talk about about sacrifice. Over forty dollars a week is now going into this work, and I'm definitely feeling the pinch. I've got to think twice about choosing a slice of pizza over preparing a sandwich at home. Not only isn't there as much money for little treats like that, I can't make shopping decisions on the fly like I did a few months ago. If I need kitty litter, I can't just grab a bag when I'm in the neighborhood, because it costs as much as my weekly savings nut (I get the wheat-based litter, because trust me, clay may be cheap but it's far more costly to us all). Instead, I must plan ahead, budget for cat litter, and watch for sales.
This is the toughest part of intentional spending for me -- planning ahead. Letting go of the impulse, rather than acting upon it. Looking to the future, instead of living in the moment.
Up to now my blog posts here have been mostly about research I've done - information about Minoan deities and spiritual practices, with a few notes from my own practice thrown in for good measure. Today I'm sharing something very different with you. Something very personal.
I've spent a lot of time meditating and doing shamanic journeywork to piece together what I can of Minoan religious practice. Usually I get a few glimpses of something they might have done in the big temples or at the little shrines in their homes. A few days ago I got something I hadn't bargained for - a full-blown vision of an oracular priestess doing her thing. It has taken me some time to process this experience and reach the point that I can comfortably share it with you.
French Inquisitor Pierre de Lancre wrote that at the Basque Sabbats the Devil himself presided at mass. At the moment of Consecration, he would cry out: This is my body! Then he would lift the Host, which was black, round, and stamped with the Devil's image (de Lancre specifies that he lifts it “on his horns”), and those present would fall down in adoration and cry out, twice repeated, a mysterious four-word phrase, which has rung down the history of witchcraft ever since.
In his account of the Basque trials, de Lancre transcribes the Basque words as:
Yesterday I got an interesting question from a reader named Wendy, who has allowed me to print part of her e-mail and my response to her so as to accomodate others who might be struggling with this question. It went as follows:
"Hi Elani, I read your blog a lot and saw that you wrote that sometimes sacrifices were burned fully, and sometimes they were only partly sacrificed and partly eaten. I think the difference is in who the sacrifice is to, but I have trouble deciding who should get what type of offering. Is there a list or something I can use? Thanks! Wendy."