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The Shieldmaiden Blog

Dec - 12

Blood Sacrifice

Yes, the topic I’m writing about today is blood sacrifice. Do I have your attention?

First, I have this to share with you. The Coru Cathubodua (the Morrigan priesthood I serve with) has joined forces with Solar Cross Temple to organize a blood donation effort for the upcoming PantheaCon 2013 Pagan convention, in connection with our Morrigan devotional ritual also planned there. We are encouraging convention participants who are able, to donate blood in the Morrigan’s name as an offering to Her and an act of kinship with our fellow humans who need blood donations. (Or, if you happen not to want to give in Her name, feel free to give in the name of your own deities, or just give.) Blood donors at the convention will receive special badge ribbons so you can proudly display your heroic gift and encourage others to do likewise, such as: “I GAVE HERO’S BLOOD” and “I GAVE BLOOD FOR THE MORRIGAN”.

We are working with Blood Centers of the Pacific as our blood collection agency. For Saturday and Sunday of the convention, a bloodmobile will be on site receiving blood donations raised by this effort. In order to ensure that the Blood Center can allocate enough staff to serve the need, it’s best if donors can sign up in advance for their blood donation appointment. You can sign up online, even with a guess as to what time you want to donate – it’s easy to reschedule your appointment online if you should need to do so when the PantheaCon schedule is announced.

The website is To sign up for a donation appointment for the PantheaCon drive, go to the website and register yourself as a donor. Then go to the ‘Donate Blood’ page, and enter our sponsor code ‘PCon’. You can then select your preferred appointment time for Saturday or Sunday during the Con.

The earlier folks sign up to donate, the more staff capacity the Blood Center will be able to allocate, so please sign up early, even if you expect to have to change your appointment.

Why do this? The simple answer is that blood donation is a medical necessity, and countless lives are saved by donated blood every single day. You may not have money to donate to causes, but you can help your human kin immensely by donating blood.

To delve a little more into the subject of this post, there is a spiritual basis for the act as well. Our initial inspiration for this blood drive came during a creative meeting when the group of us (the Coru Priesthood and Thorn of Solar Cross) were meditating on our theme for the Morrigan devotional ritual at the con. In meditation, the images that kept coming up for me and others were blood and kinship. The Morrigan wants blood, I thought to myself. Surprise, surprise.

Blood and kinship. In some contexts, the two are synonymous. We say that we share blood with someone if we are familially related to them, if we are ‘blood kin’. Sharing blood is also understood as a way to establish kinship where it does not exist from birth: the old blood brotherhood or sisterhood. Why does this work (or to look at it another way), why is it believed to work? Because our blood is the essence of our life – it is the vehicle and condensed liquid form of life force. To share that is to be kin.

In ancient times, blood was also understood by many peoples as the ultimate gift to the Gods. Because, again, blood is life force, and many ancient peoples believed that the Gods needed to be fed life force in order to maintain the kinship bond between human and divine. Thus we see substantial evidence that the Pagan Celts practiced blood sacrifice through the sacralized killing of human and animal victims and offering their life force to the Gods. We moderns like to avert our gaze from this, and often prefer to skim over that aspect of Celtic culture, but it is there. Bodies preserved in peat bogs showing every sign of ritual killing. Altars with traces of blood remaining embedded in the stone. Contemporary accounts by observers pervasively describing the sacrifices.

I feel it’s important to tease out the threads here. I think it is right and good that we have abandoned human sacrifice, but I also think that these ancient religious practices still show us something important about how to feed our kinship with the Gods. Undoubtedly, there are many ways to feed that kinship without spilling blood: libations, prayer and praise, food offerings, acts of dedication, effort in Their names; and endlessly more. And yet, undoubtedly the most intimate of offerings must be the life force of the body. That is the powerful truth I’d like to bring forward from the ancient practice.

We can offer life force to the Gods directly and intimately, without ending the life that gives it, and while upholding our modern ethic that says only the owner of that blood has the right to shed it. And here is one way. Offering your own blood in Her name (or in the name of your own Gods) while giving it to sustain the life of the people. To sacrifice means, literally, ‘to make sacred’. And it also makes kinship.

Note: There are eligibility restrictions on who can give blood. Here is a link to find out if you are eligible. As you may note, there is a very severe restriction listed prohibiting any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. As I understand it, that rule has been applied to anyone who has had sex with such a man as well. Many people feel this is a homophobic and excessive restriction, and a petition will be on site at the donor information table, along with information about how you can help in the effort to change this ruling.

9 comments on Blood Sacrifice

  1. Atlantisheals says:

    Hello…..Enjoyed your wonderful article woven cleverly in a way that supported a cause near and dear to my heart. Also, applaud your courage to write about something society tries to forget. However, I wish to put forth another perspective on the Blood Sacrifice.
    The blood represents our physical world. Containing essential nutrients, carrying precious oxygen to our tissues while removing harmful waste products. Through the blood, antibodies circulate detecting foriegn substances that the white blood cells attack and destroy. Blood coagulates to stop bleeding; regulates core body temperature,and so forth. THe physical life is in the blood.
    Ceremonial blood drawing and auto-sacrifice are symblolic representation providing visual evidence; stimulating strong emotions to a peaked state to intensify feelings of worship for the practioners.
    The human central nervous system has an exquisitely sensitve capacity to differentiate between what is life-supporting and life destructive.
    There are three disticntive of layers of substance and consciousness: the corporal body, soul and spirit. Everything at its’ most basic level exists in the form of energy. If there is an actual physical location within the physical body, where the essence of soul and spirit reside… would be would be within the central nervous system.
    Blood sacrifices have been used within ceremonial magic. Socerers believed that it releases an instaant burst of power which they harnessed; capturing the energy of life force exspelled from the body.
    Animals or people which were offered to gods and demons had to be young and healthy. The more pure the victim, the higher the quality and value of the sacrifice. Thus, yeilding the maximun amount of energy released.
    In the world of physics, this process is called turbulence. When such turbulence occurs in the energy attactor fields of the conciousness, it creates an emotional upset that elevates and spirals to higher levels; unless controlled and brought back into balance.
    Alister Crowley instructs it is best to torture an animal increasing it’s fear before performing the final act.
    So whether you offer your life-force through prayer and praise, or through darker means. The true power lies within the “intention.”

  2. A. Marina Fournier says:

    I tried a few years ago to get the Stanford Blood Center to come, but never got through to the proper person, who seemed to be shifting responsibilities, taking another position, or just not there–congratulations on acheiving this.

    I don’t generally donate with this center, but I will this con, because I usually donate, and try to donate at cons when possible as well.

    I gave blood originally to “repay” those who donated blood for me and for my sister when we were born of Rh-incompatible parents. Since 1968, this hasn’t been a big deal, but in the mid-50’s, it was. We were completely transfused at birth, and probably several times in the first month, to ensure we did not succumb to neo-natal blastosis, common to infants born to Rh- mothers, with an Rh+ father. Since then, yes, it is a sacrifice in service to the Mother.

    I became a registered Marrow Donor, although I have not been called on for that, because I knew too many people who had died, or had, blood cancers.

    You might wish to alert potential donors, on this page, that they should sleep well the night before and eat before the appointment. Drink fluids such as juice or milk and eat iron rich foods such as red meat, nuts or leafy green vegetables to combat anemia. Avoid fatty foods, such as eggs, at breakfast, because they can bind to the iron in blood, and you will be deferred from donation if your iron level is too low. Donation will take approximately one hour, beginning with registration, a mini-physical and health history.

    Thanks again for getting this together.

    1. J'Carlin says:

      Thanks for your helpful suggestions. We will incorporate them in other publicity for the drive at the Con.

    2. Morpheus says:

      Thanks for the extra details, Ms. Fournier! Much appreciated. And thanks for your donations.

      1. A. Marina Fournier says:

        You’re very welcome. I hate getting deferred, so ever since I was told what not to eat, I’ve been making sure to do what I can to allow my hemocrit? to be in the acceptable range.

        I also am not happy with the homophobic policies relating to giving blood, and some of the limitations on those who’ve lived in or visited Europe is just bizarre. I get the reason, but with no evidence in all these years of any one with KJD or BE/mad cow, maybe it’s time to take a different tack.

        1. J'Carlin says:

          Ms. Fournier: As a “Chronic blood donor” with low hematocrit my doctor finally admitted that a few Ferrous Gluconate supplements with food in the weeks before and after donation wouldn’t hurt. They do help me.

          Now, if you have any practical suggestions on how PCon donors can get proper rest and breakfast before their donation please post. ;-) I have found that good rest and proper food a few days prior to a Con works almost as well.

  3. J'Carlin says:

    I am not pagan but I enjoyed the post. The blood and kinship paragraph is one of the best explanations I have heard of why many of us “regulars” donate. We don’t, of course, know the recipients, but the idea of kinship through the sharing of blood is a beautiful concept. I have a fairly rare type that frequently goes to a premie. It is nice to think of all those kinfolk living, loving, and laughing because of my donations. Thank you.

  4. Meliny says:

    Regarding the restriction you mention, last time I talked with an agent of the American Red Cross, the rule was that if a woman had sex within the last 12 months with a man who’d had sex with another man more recently than 1977, the woman’s blood was rejected. (Just to clarify in case that makes more folks eligible.)

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