Good old Merriam Webster defines the word “sacrifice” as “an act of offering to a deity something precious; destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else; something given up or lost.” There was also some language that includes the concept of killing as an offering, and while that translation has been seen in both past and present times, particularly where religion and/or war are involved, today we attempt to focus on the practice of personal surrender for the sake of something else.
But what could sacrifice possibly have to do with the Leo New Moon? Leo, our solar cardinal king, the ruler of the mid-summer, the benevolent, dramatic, shining, all-encompassing fiery one? Well, it is good that you asked. And while I agree it seems to be a weird theme to start the last cycle of summer with, I think, after some meditation, you might find it an appropriate suggestion.
To start, the solar king has always made the major sacrifices. You can look back to the Egyptian Gods, Ra and Horus, or Mithra and the Christan Jesus. Even in today’s world, where the king of the jungle, the Zimbabwean lion, Cecil, lost his life to a hunter just weeks ago. In the Celtic/Pagan wheel of the year, the entire journey of the sun, is one of birth, growth and sacrifice. The Sun King is born at Winter Solstice, grows ups, thrives, loves, and then as we near autumn equinox, he loses his life to the darkness, sacrificing himself, so that one year may die and the next can be re-born.
It is an archetypal and ancient idea. I was also just writing about the underworld descent of the Goddesses in my last musing. Venus is still in retrograde and therefore, we are all feeling this pull now, from the sun, moon and earth, to open ourselves to the possibility of surrendering for a higher purpose.
In myth and journey, sacrifice is seen as the pivotal step in transformation. When Innana stands at the seven gates and gives away her power, only to arrive in Hell weak, hung up and starved. When Jesus offers himself at the cross. When the Sun God is defeated by darkness and he falls away into the abyss. These are the moments when we know what matters. These are the moments when Grace and humility step in. In the case of all three deities, they are re-born, granted new life and new gifts based on their sacrifice. Even the death of the lion, Cecil, has sparked a revolution of awareness.
It seems quite perfect that the Leo New moon comes in so very close to the end of the Leo sun’s actual reign (Virgo season starts on the 23rd) giving us the waxing phase of the moon with the waning phase of the sun cycle to elaborate and illuminate the sacrifices ready to be made in our lives.
Sacrifice sounds scary. It’s usually not fun to have to give anything up, whether it’s caffeine, a lover or a life. But every tradition I am familiar with teaches us that at some point, there is nothing left to do but let go, particularly if we want to move forward. This practice of surrender to the higher source is beyond terrifying to the ego, but extremely liberating for the soul.
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of carrying some of these ego-ic burdens, things like addictions, resentments, fears, doubts, patterns and regret. They’re not joyful qualities. These are the things that really weigh us down and in truth, we’re very attached to them. These are the things that tell us what we believe, what we like, what we want. But it is a selfish gratification and at this point in the game, authenticity needs to be the goal. Can we begin to surrender all that is not aligned with our authentic self?
It is not an easy question to answer; especially if, like me, you are not exactly sure who or what your authentic self is. This is part of the sacrifice. The willingness to let go of things that no longer serve you with the faith that something more will take its place. It is the quintessential, “leap and the net will appear,” which is challenging at the best of times, but even more so when you are jumping into a metaphorical sacrificial flame or down into the underworld.
August 1st marked the mid-point of the summer. Autumn Equinox is September 23rd. This next month, with the sun still strong and brilliant, with light over-powering dark, is the time for you to make sacred and noble sacrifices. This is the time to tune into Lion-like strength, warmth and support, and open yourself to shedding and offering the “powers” that are holding you back. You must be honest. You must be thorough. You must be fearless.
It is not about asking others to make changes, or about forcing our sacrifice on others, as we see in suicide/homicide extremes. It is a personal and inner journey, to your own underworld, where you give away something you hold “precious,” and you turn it all over to something higher. Even the Sun-King has to trust in something greater than himself. Even the mighty Earth Goddess must acknowledge powers other than her own.
As the new moon aligns with the life-giving sun, turn your face and your heart into its glow. Surround yourself with others who are open to letting go and with all the bravery of Innana, the Solar Kings and the King of the Jungle, set the intent to sacrifice. Many religions do this practice at different times, where they fast or give up a habit for 40 days. It can be something like that, something you actually do in the flesh, or it may be an emotional, mental or spiritual surrender. Write it down and then burn it; speak it out and allow the tears or rage to release it. Hold yourself accountable and be noble.
There are times for filling up and there are times for emptying out. 2015 has been a big year of taking things on. As we slowly start to move away from the sun, it is a good time to start letting go, trusting the process and knowing that more will be revealed. With each layer we remove and offer up, more will be revealed. No sacrifice is ever made in vain if it is done with a pure heart and homage to the divine light.
Many blessings and much gratitude for all that we give away to serve the higher purpose,