The Story of The God/King
I want to begin this post with a word of warning. The story that follows is a true story. It is also a lie. It’s roots are ancients, but it’s branches reach across time to touch us each day as the sun rises anew.
Once upon a time a king was born into the world. His birth was equal parts pain and joy, as all births are. When he entered the world, he did not come alone. With him came light, warmth, growth, and the potential for abundance. As time passed this King grew into the responsibilities that came with his power. He knew that he was tied to the land, as he became ever more fertile, so did it. As he grew to maturity, so to did the plants in the fields. As he grew older, the King also grew wise. He knew that boundless growth was not sustainable, that filling the world with himself in perpetuity left no room for any to come after. At the pinnacle of his power…the King knew that he had to fall. As the heat of summer beat down upon the land, with the fullness of his might just behind him, the King took a wound. Blood splashed across the ground, sealing the Covenant that binds all life on Earth into the same cycle. That which is born must die. That which dies will be born again.
This is a powerful story. Why do we tell it? Why do we celebrate the fall of light, warmth, and wisdom? Stories and allegory have been used by peoples of faith for millennia to impart values, create a sense of community, and to provide support to their people. You might say that they have been manipulating us all along. You would be right, but the manipulation has been benign, rather than malicious.
You see we are human. Made with human brains. We respond to stories and allegory. We have trouble grasping the vagaries of data, and are just cannot wrap our heads around statistics. In fact scientists have entire processes to ensure that we do not conflate anecdotal stories to statistical data.
Humans respond to lessons learned in story. Save today, for a possible tomorrow. Put away food for the winter. It is especially hard to sacrifice personal happiness for the good of the whole community. If presented with data to support such actions, we tend to ignore or try to explain it away. (I’ll be making more money then. It’ll be a short winter. I wont need that much. Someone else will make this sacrifice, it doesn’t have to be me). Stories make us want it to be me. Stories make us want to be better people. We want to be the hero.
A truly good story will have a few components. It will have a sympathetic protagonist. Someone in whom we can see ourselves. It will have a conflict that we can relate to. A world we can see ourselves in. The greater the story, the more we relate to it. It becomes visceral. Immediate. Powerful.
As the hero travels along his journey, we accompany him. As he grows, we grow. We become him. At least in part. As he feels the pull of the world so do we. As he sees his immanent death, so do we. When he connects to the whole community, we do as well. When it comes time in our lives that we must sacrifice, the feeling is familiar. It is not so much of a shock. It is almost a memory.
Just as it is difficult to really understand data, it is difficult to sacrifice the personal to the community. The reward is less tangible. It feels less real. It feels like statistics. So we go through the sacrifice with our Hero. We know the end. We know the benefit. We see the story play out. Then when our time comes we are prepared. Sacrifice our personal good for the good of the group. Take on the extra work. Whatever the situation calls for. We have the feel of the story in our souls. We know the dance of the gods. We see ourselves in their story. We see their dance in our lives.
We celebrate the Sacrificial God, because we need to be able to sacrifice ourselves, when the time comes. We need the story. Because at sometime in our lives it will seem like darkness is closing in, and we have the choice to fight a loosing battle to the detriment of all, or peacefully accept the sacrifice. It will be hard but Lugh has taught us grace. And that is why we celebrate the coming of the darkness, and the seed of the night.