“When we come before the gods, it is wise not to come empty-handed.” -Ceisiwr Serith (5)
What is prayer? What is the purpose of prayer, and why does sacrifice so often fail to come into the equation in our modern times? Why should we pray? These are questions that can produce very simplistic answers, but ones that can also prompt detailed and lengthy treatises. Personally I think the answers fall somewhere in between… in “the shadows between” for lack of better words. And as often is the case, the shadows are where the juicy nuggets of knowledge are often left by the Horned God. He dares us to search and explore. Tempts us. Whispers to us, if we are inclined to listen. All of the Gods do. Prayer is essentially a divine conversation, and we often forget that conversation entails both speaking and listening.
Prayer should be a conduit, a two way highway where we step out of space and time to commune. We convey our intentions to the gods in words, writing, and our thoughts. Prayer is intimate and should not be just a vehicle used to express our desires and wants. It is not just a time to “take”… it is also a time to “give.” People pray for various reasons and the most common purposes to me seem to be to demand or beseech protection, gifts, good luck, or other items favorable to circumstance. Even those offered prayers that are espoused to be for the purpose of thanksgiving often have fear of retribution or intent for gain as underlying motivations, and the petitioner is focused only on the asking and determining if there has been receipt. There is nothing wrong with any of this though… as long as the other elements are also incorporated – the listening and the sacrifice.
The gods do indeed work in mysterious ways. They often tell us things and convey knowledge in inconspicuous ways. On the wind, through the chirping of crickets, or the croaking of frogs. The ways they manifest are myriad. If we do not listen, we will not hear… and if we do not hear we loose valuable insight and are not privy to the secrets of the divine. We are not searching the shadows where the Goat God lurks.
Sacrifice is an important component of prayer. Gaining knowledge requires giving something in turn. Whether it be time, valuable property, or just ordinary items holding great symbolic significance. Modern man has fallen into a rut where they expect everything to be given to them on a silver platter with the least amount of time or resources expended. This cheapens the experience of prayer. If we must give something of value we are showing both the gods and ourselves that we are capable of transcending attachments and thereby opening ourselves up to the divine. Even a whore gives something in return, and because of this she (or he) is further ahead of those who profess themselves as religious pundits and evangelical saviors of man… at least in my eyes. Look to the shadows my friends. Listen and offer sacrifice when you pray to the gods.