Sacrifice is not an act one can ever do alone. From the highest, most structured and public ADF rite we could devise; to the most humble solitary ADF member doing his first ritual alone, having never met another Pagan in the flesh, all of us, when we make sacrifice, are part of a larger community.
Sacrifice is, at its root, about community. No matter why we make sacrifice, whether it is for a sick friend, to offer thanks, or even to gain wealth for ourselves, we are doing so in a way that builds community.
In ancient times, a sacrifice was done primarily as a shared meal with the gods: an animal might be sacrificed, the inedible parts burned for the sustenance of the gods, and the edible parts distributed to the folk. In this way, sacrifice brought the community together, and every member of the community benefited.
The sacrifice would also maintain the order of the cosmos, strengthening it and revitalizing it by following the same procedures used to create the cosmos initially. Every human benefits strongly from an ordered, maintained cosmos.
By offering a sacrifice, we feed the Gods. We remind the Ancestors that we remember them. We show respect and love for the Spirits of Nature. As a result, the Kindreds are able to better provide for all of us, our entire community. Even if the sacrifice is done alone by a solitary person, they have provided a stronger, more vibrant cosmos for each other person to partake of.
Through the simple act of participation in a sacrificial process, whether it is done by you or by another person on your behalf, you have entered a community-building process with your fellow humans. When we re-create and revitalize the cosmos, we do so not only for ourselves, but for all beings within it. When we offer food to the gods that they might remain strong, we do so not only in return for the blessings they give to us, but so that they may continue to give blessings to all of humankind. Even the act of paying a priest to sacrifice on your behalf is an act of community: by supporting the priest in his or her role in society, we are perpetuating the order of the cosmos and ensuring that the priest you have paid will be available for the next member of society who may need one.
All persons, no matter how alone they may feel where they are, are important in the cosmos. All persons, no matter how connected they are in the profane world, are a vital part of the community in the realm of the sacred. All persons, no matter how unimportant they feel, how insignificant they imagine themselves to be, or how unpracticed and unpolished they may perceive themselves, play a starring role in the creation of something amazing that benefits us all.
“No one makes sacrifice alone.”
-Rev. Michael J Dangler