On the Concept of Sacrifice, a rant on the age-old practice.


Sacrifice, in a deeper, more profound level, is to give up an object or idea’s original purpose to serve a better one. To abstain from certain actions and emotions, to burn certain object or to engage in bloodletting without getting something out of it is simply a dangerous act of waste.

Aztec Human Sacrifice

Take for example, animal sacrifice in the traditions of the Asatru and the Hebrews. Both are great example of ritual sacrifice. In the Asatru, the liturgical faith of the Nordic Tribes, sacrificial animals are killed “in the name of the gods” by a trained practitioner. The blood, meat and bones of the offering would then be consecrate for ritual use. And the word “Consecrate”, is a very interesting term.

The word “consecrate” came from the Latin “con sacra”, which meant “to bring into holiness”. This illustrates an essential aspect of sacrifice which meant that the consecrated objects, the blood, meat and bones of the offering, have become more than just regular foodstuffs, its initial purpose as food has been “sacrificed” for something greater. That greater purpose, in this example,would be to use the blood as an anointing fluid for the celebrants, talismans and that of the temple, the meat for their feasts in celebration of the gods, and the bones for talismanic use.

A sacrificial ceremony to Thor

On the other hand, the Hebrews would burn the entire offering and leave none for themselves. This practice would seem to go against the definition of proper sacrifice as mentioned at the beginning of this article, doesn’t it? Not exactly, as the rites of sacrifice would release the energies contained in the offering, which could then be directed towards the purpose of the working. In the case of the Hebrews, it would be to feed their national egregore, the one they know to be God.

This would reveal another important aspect of sacrifice, that of Release.

Destroying the vessel to release the potential held within is a very powerful technique, but should be used with much caution and premeditation beforehand as the released energy will always feed something.

The danger from this technique comes in two ways:

An Ill-chosen purpose,usually coming from a lack of insight into the working’s underlying intent, or,
A lack of concentration and skill in directing the released energy.

In the first situation, it’s a matter of “Be Careful of What You Wish For”, because it was born out of a false identification of a need. In the even of a success, the results will be hollow as the want is satisfied and the need is left wanting. This type of type of dysfunctional energy dynamic will result in to feeding of and/or the formation of demons (neuroses), and lead to eventual disaster.

The second would present a very similar outcome, but would stem from energy getting lead astray from the original purpose of the sacrifice. Instead of the sacrifice becoming a suitable offering to the gods (one’s higher nature cosplaying as universal forces), it would become perverted and nourish the unbound demons residing at the depths of one’s soul.

The vigilant must keep an eye on both, as to avoid creating and feeding the demons of pyromania, cruelty and loathing, among others.

Apart from the physical offerings mentioned, there is also a more refined form of it, which is expressed as moral sacrifice.

In pursuit of some higher order or state of being, major religions and philosophies have forbidden their adherents from performing certain actions, emotions and the like, condemning at times those who knowingly partake of “sinful” acts. Most notable among these are the Catholic and Buddhist prohibition about sexuality.

Both have strict prohibitions about engaging in sexual actions, especially when it came to their priesthood. It has been in Catholic tradition that lust or anything sexual is inherently wrong, with it becoming a distraction to holy life only one out of the countless condemnations against it. This type of sexual morality has proven to be disastrous, if society’s double-standard towards it is any indication.

The Only monastery we need is the one in our minds

Buddhist moral sacrifice, however, is closer to the point more than anything else, especially when it came to the morality of sex. Sex in itself is not inherently evil, the same way everything else in this world of illusions is neither good nor evil. It is our tendency to get caught up in the sensations of the perceived physical and emotional gratification lies the danger.

Armed with this piece of understanding do Buddhist monks take up vows of celibacy and poverty, just so they don’t have any distractions on their way to Nirvana.

It is also very possible, however difficult, to attain freedom even as laity who still enjoy a healthy sex and family life. That is, so long as they “sacrifice” the resulting craving for gratification in sex and in mundane matters by realizing the inherent hollowness in all of it. It’s something not so easy to accomplish, and only by intense and faithful training could one achieve such a frame of mind.

But, with such a disciplined frame of mind one could perform the greatest miracles. The Masters of both the Western and Eastern schools of thought both engaged in powerful sexual rites, where they call up and sacrifice lust in the heat of the at, not even the blinding light of orgasm could sway their iron will.

A master once said that craving is the only thing we have to renounce and the discipline of one’s mind is the only monastery one needs.

Review of Yvette Tan’s Waking the Dead


Among one of my most recent book buys is one by a local writer and journalist, Yvette Tan, entitled Waking the Dead, a collection of short stories about humanity’s struggles and horror against both monsters lurking in the dark and those born from an abusive relationship.

Waking the Dead, and other stories – Yvette Tan

Quite in the tradition of such renowned names such as Nick Joaquin, she sets the stories within the Philippines, with its folklore and wonder coming to life in awe-inspiring, and at many times, terrifying, ways into its inhabitants’ lives. But, diverging from tradition, she masterfuly weaves a mythology of her own, but still keeping true to her patently filipino style of writing.

Each story is a panorama of emotions set in a dream-like landscape of child-like awe. Everything is similar to how you remeber them, but still new. Such is looking at the world through a child’s eyes. The sense of wonder springing from discovering how much you really didn’t know.

And the gretest fears also come from not knowing.

It is also interesting to note is one story that put her, the writer, into one of the narratives.I’m not sure if this was a true-to-life account of a supernatural experience, or if it was one of those tall tales people are sometimes fond of teling. I’d be sure to ask her if I ever get the chance.

The characters were all inherently broken inside, whether it is the slow internal erosion caused by a dysfunctional relationship, or mourning over the loss of one’s beloved wife. It moves them into situations resulting in some of the most moving emotional conflicts I’ve read in a long time. Whether or not they are aware of it, they seem to know deep in their hearts that nothing is in the heavens or upon the earth that would save them, maybe except for themselves. Despite that, they still strive and struggle against whatever it is before them, this grim resolution to continue making this book one worth the time to read.

It explores some very sensitive topics like same sex relationships, illegal drugs, murders and child abuse, weaving the awe and horror of the world around them into their own dire situations.

Fade to Nothing, one of the more emotionally intense stories of the lot.

Another theme in particular that got my attention was the treatment it gave to the concept of salvation in two stories in particular, The Child Abandoned and Sidhi. The first explores how the legend of the Sta. Teresa, the child Abandoned, was formed, and how she initiated the Change, the great watery cataclysm that resulted in the cleansing of the Pasig River, destruction of the Black Nazarene and the crossing over of the Fae-folk into our world.

This story in particular treated the concept of salvation as an internal overhaul of destructive actions and habits, using the filthy Pasig River as a metaphor. That in the flushing out the trash and the destruction of long-held dogmas and beliefs, and letting the Change take you with it, and just going with its will, the world will become a more exciting place filled with wonder and awe.

Then, there was Sidhi, meaning Intense in Filipino, a story about Noah, called the Dreamer, a man who can supposedly bring temporary Salvation to those who can find him, and that of Jan the woman from whose point of view the story was told, living in the shadow of the one who can bring man and women to the stars and the depths of the void using his mind. Salvation on Earth.

It was the eve of the Feast of Sta. Teresa, a night where people came to both become cleansed as the Saint did to the river, and wallow in the mire of both human and non-human carnality. It was in many ways, a cautionary tale to accompany the message of The Child Abandoned. That temporary salvation was not salvation at all, as shown in the scene where Jan fled from Noah during the high point of the Dreamer’s spell, where she discovered that Noah’s already sanity has failed along with the steady decline of his health.

All in all, the entire book, in all its simplicity, leads the reader on a dreamy tour of landscapes and cityscapes similar to ours, but with wonder and terror just waiting to be discovered. It was a worthwhile reading and I recommend this book to anyone who wants a good book about night stalkers and fairies, giants kapres who’ve given up smoking, and widowers waking the dead, all while keeping a grim sense of realism and somber social awareness.