It’s getting close to the lunar new year and for many people, that means a time of cleansing. For some, this is a time of the year when they take on a dietary cleanse. They try cutting things like sugar and meat out of their diet to see if it works for them. I have been contemplating no sugar but I love my ice cream and cookies too much to actually do that. For others, they start their physical space cleansing, also known as spring cleaning. This is something that I have been doing. Ever since last year, I have been making moves to become more organized and get rid of some of my excess “stuff”. I try to keep my home clean throughout the whole year but there are times when I need to do extra work, like my garage for example, it needs a lot of clean up work right now. For lunar new year in asian countries, it’s customary to not clean the day of the new year to preserve prosperity in the home. On the day after, you clean your whole house top to bottom to welcome in prosperity.
For Imbolc this year, I celebrated both the coming of spring and did some ritual cleansing using full moon water that I set out to charge during that wicked lunar eclipse slash blue supermoon we had on the 31st of January. I used the water to clear my chakras. I haven’t talked much about chakras before but it’s something that I believe in ever since my yoga teacher training in 2015. I am by no means an expert on it but it’s something that I hope to develop more in the coming year.
As for welcoming spring, my covenmates and I poured some cream from a dairy that I grew up with into the garden. I haven’t used a lot of milk in my practice before but I will likely use more this coming year. Milk, eggs, and honey are the only animal products that I feel comfortable making as offerings in my practice at this time. I know that blood, bones, and meat make great offerings but I just haven’t felt the desire to use them. Milk, eggs, and honey are offerings of fertility and life while blood, bones, and meat are more offerings of death. Perhaps, I will use blood, bones, or meat at Samhain this year.
Which brings me to the question of why do pagans make offerings or sacrifices and what do they mean or represent. To get to the root of what sacrifice means, you have to go way back to an age when every single resource, however small, was needed. To make any kind of offering or sacrifice to the spirits or gods was seen as our way of giving back to those who provide to us. Think of it like our way of taking part in the conservation of energy or the circle of life (as explained in The Lion King). Humans are excellent at producing what they need and then over producing for the sake of our economy. Pagans who take that over production and give it back to nature, are helping to recover some of that loss so that it might be used again in the future.
Do the gods or spirits demand sacrifice? You bet they do. The more we take from the land, the more we will one day have to give back. What we have been giving back, plastics, chemical waste, and other ecologically damaging by-products will only harm us and the planet we call home further. There’s going to be a cost that humans will one day have to pay for all that we have taken. While there are things we as the individual can do to help stem off this sacrifice, one day, we will all pay for our devotion to consumerism.
While in Hawai’i, I had a chance to see a volcano in action. Seeing where the beginnings of our planet and the land in which we rely on in action was both inspiring and humbling. Here was the core of creation at work and yet it was destroying at the same time. Looking at the lava in action, I understood why the Hawaiians believed that the volcano was the Goddess, Pele. You could feel her presents there in a way that I have not experienced in my life before. Volcanoes will one day recover our land for us, their lava will spill over all of the destruction we have caused on the surface, drag it deep into the core and bring new life to the surface. Billions of years from now, when our time on the service has long since burned away, Earth will still be here, hurtling through space until the Sun engulfs her and then new energy will be expelled into the universe. That’s our true immortality, in the atoms of our makeup, we are all made of stars.
So on that happy note, hail the coming of spring and the cycle of rebirth of the land!