I never thought that I would be giving thanks to be practicing a Diasporic religion but the past couple of months have clearly shown that there are some perks. I know an awful lot of Heathens look to Scandinavia (including Iceland) as an inspiration to their religious practice, and as the seat of our religions’ history. That shit, to be blunt, needs to stop.
Now I’m no fan of America, Gods know. The general level of education alone (or lack thereof) is enough to make my teeth ache but at least I can do a proper blot here. That’s right. Despite occasional legal challenges to the practice, and because of the hard and dedicated work of the ATR communities in the US, I can perform proper blot, i.e. offering rites that include animal sacrifice. Apparently, that’s no longer the case in Denmark.
The latest out of that particular country (though sadly this is a secular trend that we’re seeing more and more of across Europe) is this. Animal sacrifice is now effectively banned. It is unclear how this ban would affect the slaughter of animals for religious reasons when they are not then being consumed (slaughter and then burnt offering for example) but my impression from what I have read is that this too would be against the law. Were I living in Denmark, I would have to break that law.
Animal sacrifice is an integral part of many polytheistic religions. I have written about this extensively here and here and here before. The UK article notes that Muslim and Jewish communities are up in arms about the new law, but it’s also one that affects polytheists too, and ATR communities: one more chipping away at our right to practice our religion unimpeded…as if Christianity didn’t do enough of that a thousand plus years ago.
The centrality of sacrifice, for instance, to Jewish as well as Polytheist communities was recognized by the Emperor Julian who sought to rebuild this people’s ancestral temple so that they could once again offer sacrifice in the proper, traditional manner, as we read in the Ecclesiastical History of Salamanius Hermias Sozomenus:
“Events proved that this was his real motive; for he sent for some of the chiefs of the race and exhorted them to return to the observance of the laws of Moses and the customs of their fathers. On their replying that because the Temple in Jerusalem was overturned, it was neither lawful nor ancestral to do this in another place than the metropolis out of which they had been cast, he gave them public money, commanded them to rebuild the Temple, and to practice the cult similar to that of their ancestors, by sacrificing after the ancient way. The emperor, the other pagans, and all the Jews, regarded every other undertaking as secondary in importance to this. Although the pagans were not well-disposed towards the Jews, yet they assisted them in this enterprise, because they reckoned upon its ultimate success, and hoped by this means to falsify the prophecies of Christ.”
Further, we have Julian’s own words in his letter to the Jewish community:
“In times past, by far the most burdensome thing in the yoke of your slavery has been the fact that you were subjected to unauthorized ordinances and had to contribute an untold amount of money to the accounts of the treasury. Of this I used to see many instances with my own eyes, and I have learned of more, by finding the records which are preserved against you. Moreover, when a tax was about to be levied on you again I prevented it, and compelled the impiety of such obloquy to cease here; and I threw into the fire the records against you that were stored in my desks; so that it is no longer possible for anyone to aim at you such a reproach of impiety. My brother [cousin] Constantius of honored memory [in whose reign, 337-361, severe laws were enacted against the Jews] was not so much responsible for these wrongs of yours as were the men who used to frequent his table, barbarians in mind, godless in soul. These I seized with my own hands and put them to death by thrusting them into the pit, that not even any memory of their destruction might still linger amongst us.
And since I wish that you should prosper yet more, I have admonished my brother Iulus [Hillel II, d. 365], your most venerable patriarch, that the levy which is said to exist among you [the taxes paid by world Jewry for support of the Palestinian patriarchate] should be prohibited, and that no one is any longer to have the power to oppress the masses of your people by such exactions; so that everywhere, during my reign, you may have security of mind, and in the enjoyment of peace may offer more fervid prayers for my reign to the Most High God, the Creator, who has deigned to crown me with his own immaculate right hand. For it is natural that men who are distracted by any anxiety should be hampered in spirit, and should not have so much confidence in raising their hands to pray; but that those who are in all respects free from care should rejoice with their whole hearts and offer their suppliant prayers on behalf of my imperial office to Mighty God, even to Him who is able to direct my reign to the noblest ends, according to my purpose.
This you ought to do, in order that, when I have successfully concluded the war with Persia, I may rebuild by my own efforts the sacred city of Jerusalem, which for so many years you have longed to see inhabited, and may bring settlers there, and, together with you, may glorify the Most High God therein.”
We should stand in solidarity with all of the Jews, Muslims, ATRs and Polytheists whose free expression of their religion is being impinged by these overreaching and unjust laws. This is oppression and this is precisely why some polytheists are so adamant that polytheism is, among other things, a human rights movement.