One of these is that something is being given to the sacred. This is the origin of the word "sacrifice," which means to "make sacred." This is usually seen as giving something up, and that's how we tend to use the word in everyday speech. A religious sacrifice, however, is not so much a giving up as a giving to. It isn't, "Aren't I great for depriving myself," but "isn't it great that the deities are getting what they want?"
The giving by ancient Pagans was not one-sided, however. Just as people gave gifts to the deities, so the deities were expected to give some back.
Something like this on a human scale was found in many societies, such as early Germanic ones. There, warriors gave service to their chieftains, who in turn gave them riches, to the point where "ring-giver" became a kenning for "chieftain." A significant aspect of this is that the socially superior person was expected to give more than he or she received. That was how they maintained their status, and was a form of nobless oblige.
This operated on the divine scale, too. The deities were seen as superior, and were therefore expected to return more than what was offered. [snip]
--- "A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book" by Ceisiwr Serith, pages 33 and 34.
It goes on from there, but that's the relevant bit.
I thought about it, and like I sometimes do, I got a little down on myself, wondering what I do for my deities. But Shao'Kehn stopped that line of thought pretty quickly, saying basically that I already do, without having been asked to do it, all that She at least wants from me: 1. My love. 2. I talk to Her, and about Her. I say Her name. I talk on LJ and DW about Her. So I'm giving Shao'Kehn and my other deities love and attention. Which is all they want.
She also went on at length about how this love an attention is like divine currency. While deities can survive without it, being that they are energy beings, they have more connection to the world and more power within it the more love and attention they get from people, because not only is it currency, it's food; they get stronger and healthier the more loved and doted on they are. And because this love and attention strengthens them, they're glad to help out the people who give them this love and attention.
Shao'Kehn also explained that She was strengthened on this planet by Her wealth of believers on Traipah, and also the fact that I'm an avatar of Her. Humans already have strong magic on their own, and deities can enhance that. But it goes the other way, too; being an avatar of Shao'Kehn, I get more magical power than the average human (I always wondered why magic came so easily to me) and act as more of an anchor for Shao'Kehn, and my love and attention for Her and my other deities has more power behind it for the same reasons.
Shao'Kehn also pointed out that the above quote totally applies to Her; all She needs are love and attention, and She gives me so much more in return. Advice, poignant questions, helps me figure things out, and so much more. She has literally saved my life before, as well. She even talked me down from a panic attack the other day, and got me thinking in a cool, collected, rational ways. She is just so awesomely practical, too. Which reminds me, She has said on many occasions that She is a tool, and enjoys being used. We had a talk, as well, about the period of time where the depression was so bad for me that I rarely talked with Her, and the reasons for that. Basically, I was afraid She wouldn't be able to help, but She pointed out, with a grin, that if I had sought Her help during that time, I probably would have been on social security disability a lot earlier than I was, and who knows how else She could have helped me.
Oh, and She said if it really bothers me so much to feel like I'm not doing enough, that I can always talk about Her and my other deities more on LJ/DW. "Don't go into every single conversation we have," She said, "because that could get boring. But significant conversations like this are great opportunities." Another suggestion was ask for more help. Make appeals not just for myself, but for others. And I already have some ideas for that.
With these thoughts in mind, I thanked Dochrahmahn Tu-rah (Deity of speed and flight) about a dozen times or more today, because Djai1 helped me get on the bus home just in the nick of time; part of that, I noticed, was a stretch about a dozen blocks long where the crosswalk light would turn from red to white a few seconds before I got there. Every time! I didn't even have to slow down. And this was with my mind distracted. :-D
By the way, the sermon gave me a lot to think about, so there will be other posts tonight. :-)
1 = Djai = Traipahni pronoun, like s/he. Posessive: djair. Capitalized for deities.
Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org