More Attacks on Sacrifice

I’ve seen quite a few articles over the last couple of days pointing to attacks on our right to sacrifice. In many cases, these articles aren’t just targeting us (or perhaps aren’t even targeting us at all) but are going after Hindu practitioners or ATR practitioners, as well as Jews and Muslims (1). This is still significant, not only because of any precedent that might be set, but because sooner or later we will be targeted, or a large scale ban on sacrifice will end up including us by default. This happened just this past year with Denmark.

Sacrifice is, to many polytheisms (including my own Heathenry and cultus deorum), the holiest of religious rites. More than anything else it is the ritual that cements and consistently renews our connection to our Gods, our relationship with Them, and the reciprocity that flows from a well-tended relationship. It is that which keeps our communities and our traditions vital, powerful, and alive. It was the first thing Christians targeted when they were coming to power, and it is the thing that is really the litmus test for the health of our communities today. I have seen groups and communities torn apart because half were attuned to the traditions and practices of their ancestral ways and half were children of modernity, sure that they were smarter and more evolved than our ancestors, and sure that they knew best what the Gods might want. This is one of those things wherein there is no compromise possible.

I’ve been a blòt priest since roughly 1996. I began doing sacrifices for my kindred very early on, having received basic training from a local farmer. I also, later, had the privilege of spending several years as part of a Theod. This was exceptionally beneficial to my understanding of the raw holiness of the sacrificial process. More than any other denomination of Heathenry, I think Theodism has done the most to restore the proper rite of blòt. This is what we call a ritual where animal sacrifice takes place. (2) I simply do not think it is possible to practice our polytheisms adequately without rites of sacrifice. This is not, of course, to say that everyone must be actively doing sacrifice. That was never the case. Like many other roles, the role of sacrificial priest is that of a specialist. There is training both in ritual work and in the art of butchery required. There are also mysteries here that both the priest and community must understand. Sacrifice is a ritual steeped in raw, primal βíoς. That has consequences. If not handled properly, that primal power can cause damage. This is why the community is such an important part of the scaffolding for such a rite. I would go so far as to say that without sacrifice, we have restored nothing. It is that which enables our traditions to grow.

So needless to say, it is quite concerning to see attacks by the ignorant and impious on this holy rite.

I won’t post the link, partly because it sickens me and partly because I don’t want to give it traffic, but there is a substantial petition being circulated demanding that the EU ban animal sacrifice in all of its constituent countries. Never mind about religious freedom. Never mind that EU provisions guarantee freedom to practice one’s religion in those self-same constituent countries.

Then there was this article, about a sacrifice at Soma Yaga that has resulted in a clear desire by local politicians to eradicate the practice…nevermind protecting their indigenous traditions, never mind respecting their Gods.

Then there are the animal rights terrorist groups. (3) They’ve already had two victories this year: Denmark and Nepal. We need to come together and work together to make sure they do not have another.

This is our holiest sacrament. There is no substitution for it.

I am worried. I think there are too many people who have bought into the myth of “progress” (i.e. abandoning our traditions for some deviation of western secularism) and are hell-bent on destroying our traditions. I understand that people don’t want animals to suffer (neither do we) but a sacrifice done well is a kind and painless death, especially compared to factory farming. I also think that there is a prolonged and insidious war on polytheistic traditions. Hinduism has long known this and cries for religious equality and tolerance never seem to include leaving indigenous Hindus alone to practice their religion – the religion native to India—unimpeded. Polytheists always seem to be expected to compromise their devotion to accommodate monotheists or secularists and I think it’s time we stopped doing either.

I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know how to roll back this tide but I do know we need to protect our traditions. So let’s talk about this, and let’s talk across traditions, and maybe let’s see what we can do in our individual locales to raise awareness, protect our farmers (an important piece in this), and secure our rite to practice.

 

Notes:

  1. ATR refers to “African Traditional Religions” like Lukumi, Ifa, Candomble, Voudoun, etc.
  2. It has its ritual analogs amongst other polytheists as well, but for the purposes of this article, I’m just going to focus on the rite of blòt and then only tangentially.
  3. And yes, this is how they’re classified, as an elder recently pointed out, by the government.
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Posted on May 8, 2016, in Heathenry, hellenic things, Hindu things, Polytheism, Roman Things, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. FlatlinedGamer

    Well then, I’m early for once.I recently found out that ARM plagiarized part of an ATR site. Palo Mayombe and the site by the same name to be specific. I was looking something up for someone the other day and found it. Then found the site they pulled it from, which was what I was actually looking for.

    Animal rights groups scare the crap out of me. I never know when I’m going to end up going head to head with them. ALF is of particular concern since they HAVE caused a ton of damage in the past and PeTA is willing to fund it. They’ve burned a few buildings down and killed all of the animals inside.

    What’s even more terrifying is the fact that bleeding hearts that don’t actually care enough to do research are supporting them. This could not only have serious implications on our religious practices, but also our right to choose how and where we obtain meat. If we even get to keep that choice. Be it by rite or butcher, animals that are raised for food by small farmers, homesteaders, and the like live far better lives. Lives that any Pagan should be proud to offer to their gods.

    The sad truth is that these groups are the enemy of all people that care about the way animals live and die. They’re the enemy of all pet owners. They’re the enemy of anyone with half a heart.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Someone please explain to me how killing my own animals is made any different by dedicating the act to a deity other than my own stomach. What the flying fuck.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Because *clearly* the animal should be transported in a cramped truck to an industrial death factory where it is sedated and killed and butchered by people who probably don’t really care about the individual lives and values of the animals they kill and butcher. You know, it has to be *humane*. *rolls eyes*

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I think these people have idea what sacrifice actually is, how it happens or what becomes of the animal body afterwards. Hollywood and crazed ministers have fed them tales of terrified animals (often pets stolen from neighbors) being beaten and having their throats slit, then their bodies being dumped in a ditch somewhere.

    Likely they are confusing how they treat their own people with how we treat our sacrifices. If they would treat people in so cruel a manner, they have no concept of us treating animals any better.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It’s important to remember that the animal terrorists often have ties to human extinction movements. They do not see us as part of nature, but rather as an invasive species that has no place in the ecosystems of the world. They similarly view those species most closely allied with us, hence their willingness to exterminate dogs, cats, etc. at rates far higher than real humane societies can stomach.

    While they come at it from an aspiritual place, many farmers and animal breeders are natural allies against the animal terrorists and their “legitimate” front groups like HSUS.

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  5. I recognize the need to defend humane animal sacrifice as an act of religious freedom. However, I feel it should be pointed out that there are genuinely polytheistic traditions which reject the practice of animal sacrifice within their own communities, and not out of notions of modernity, but out of beliefs peculiar to those traditions stretching back in time just as far as those traditions which do embrace animal sacrifice. Thus a distinction should be made when referring specifically to the action of sacrificing an animal, instead of the sacrifice of, say, first fruits from a harvest or especially expensive perfumes and incenses. Because of that, for the sake of clarity, some type of distinction should also be made between polytheists who reject animal sacrifice and those who embrace the practice, instead of implicitly stating that animal sacrifice is vital and inseparable from the practice of any polytheistic tradition, because that is simply not the case, and those polytheists who reject the practice of animal sacrifice in their own traditions usually don’t wish to be lumped in with those who do, whether unintentional or not.

    There are too many polytheistic traditions in practice today with differing views on what makes a fit sacrifice within their own communities to make a generalized statement such as, “I simply do not think it is possible to practice our polytheisms adequately without rites of sacrifice.” While that quote does not refer to animal sacrifice explicitly in wording, the context indicates that is what is implied. Not all polytheists or polytheistic traditions agree that animal sacrifice is appropriate, and it is best that those polytheisms not be generalized in with those who do practice animal sacrifice.

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    • ganglerisgrove

      I disagree. there were polytheistic “denominations” if you will that rejected sacrifice (certain schools of philosophy for instance advocated against it) but they must be placed against the larger context as deviations within religions that otherwise recognized its importance. Likewise, not all Gods require it, but many do and the offering of first fruits is an offering, not a sacrifice. nothing wrong with that, but let’s be clear about terminology.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I do not think it is appropriate, in this context, to compare those traditions which reject animal sacrifice to those who do and say that they should be recognized as deviations within the overarching cultures which they originated from in ancient times, because we’re not really talking about an objective anthropological or sociological study of expressions of religious devotion in this instance. Especially considering that, while they may have been deviations within the cultures they originated in (in ancient times), because of their systemic suppression over the past couple millennia, both traditions which embrace animal sacrifice and those who don’t have developed reasonably equal power bases apart from each other and into completely legitimate, but separate, branches of the same cultures they sprouted from centuries ago. Both exist, in the Western world, in cultures which are ambivalent or hostile to both. They have the very same roots and often exactly the same pantheons, but they developed separately from each other, if not in the outward skeletal expression then in the underlying ideologies to some degree. So, I am not quite convinced considering the non-animal sacrifice traditions as deviations of animal sacrificing traditions as they are manifested today, after so much time of both being suppressed, is appropriate. For clarity, if we are speaking of how they originated, then yes, deviation would be a more than accurate word, but both have done much shifting and changing since then, they both stand as self-sufficient systems in their own right today. I think instead we would have to look at the ethical and philosophical systems of each tradition separately, without comparing them, in today’s time.

        Also, forgive me if I am mistaken, but I believe it is only in Latin that a distinction is made between sacrifice (meaning animal sacrifice) and offerings, sacrificium for the former and oblatio for the latter, and this was more from a context which arose with particular usage over the course of the language’s development and not from any inherent etymological connotations. I do know that the Greek word is θυσία, and it was used to refer to both blood sacrifices and bloodless offerings. I speak with limited knowledge concerning Hindu practices, but yajna literally means a “sacrifice, devotion, or offering,” and refers to any ritual performed in front of sacred fire. Basically, I don’t see a reason to make a distinction between a sacrifice and an offering, when both require the expenditure of personal effort and/or earned money and then giving up the thing made or bought totally to a deity to a deities.

        (my apologies for the length and for any incoherence in the reply! I’ve been pretty woozy the past couple days.)

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  6. ganglerisgrove

    In contemporary polytheisms several traditions differentiate between blood sacrifice and other offerings, not just cultus deorum. Heathenry and its related denominations, for instance, also do so.

    I am, however, curious as to why you are coming on my blog apparently an apologist for non-animal sacrifice.

    Unless the Gods have specifically indicated that They do not want animal sacrifice from their modern adherents (with respect to Gadhimai, her devotee negotiated down to animal sacrifice), then yes, I do consider these modern equivalents to be sad derivations.

    This is not in any way to say the one should not make non-blood offerings. of *course* one should do these things. I consider them very, very important, but animal sacrifice is a special sacrament.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ganglerisgrove

    this, by the way, is part of the problem. In established traditions, like the ATR, when these terrorist groups start attacking their right to sacrifice, they come together to defend and protect, to ensure that the law continues to protect their rights and rites. what do we do? we bitch and whine and moan about how “MY traditions don’t give animals.”

    THIS right here is precisely the problem with our “communities.”

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  8. We should be more open as a community about what animal sacrifice is and is not. A great many people were fed horror stories of Satanists or Voodooists torturing neighborhood cats to death as a ‘sacrifice’ to the Devil, and have no other concept than that. We need to show people that we aren’t savages tormenting animals simply for entertainment the way the yellow journalists would have them believe.

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  9. I do know that Elaion, a reconstructionist/polytheistic organization here in the US and possibly abroad, does not endorse animal sacrifice. I believe that they are focused on Orphic and Pythagorean traditions, which were a fringe element. Some have even made non-eusebic Comments that the Gods who originally wanted sacrifice no longer do. Personally, I think it very hubristic to try to speak for any God. Hellenion does not reject animal sacrifice but does allow people who have a sincere aversion to it that they need not do it. I do know one follower of Artemis who did learn how to sacrifice a lamb or kid (the farm was owned by a follower of Asatru). He taught her how to do it humanely and she was able to offer Artemis the sacrifice of a spotless animal. Many, many years ago when my late Grandparents had pigs (not in my life-time), they asked a neighbour who had emigrated from Poland to do the slaughter because he had been properly taught. Both of them had never learned how to humanely slaughter the bigger animals when they were growing up in Imperial Russia, though my Grandmother did slaughter chickens and roosters (this WAS during my childhood and early adolescence). However, I was never taught. I do believe that people who wish to be sacrificial priests should be taught how it is done as well as the removal of the liver for the haruspicy following the sacrifice.

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