On animal sacrifice

This is a very good blog post against doing animal sacrifice, which I agree with wholeheartedly.
This is a comment post to the above post, also worth a read.

When trying to reconstruct an old religion, like the old Norse one, it’s not necessary in our day and age to do everything my Norse ancestors did.

So, they practised sacrificing animals. So, what? This isn’t necessary today, to have a proper relationship with the Gods.

My ancestors practised human sacrifice, too, but no-one in their right mind would revive such a custom.

There are so many ways we can dedicate our time, attention and devotion to our Gods.
We can be creative: we can sing, dance, draw or paint, write stories or poems, or craft something for Them.
We can give of our time or money to worthy causes, in Their name.

It’s not important, IMO, to do exactly as the old Norse did. This is one of the reasons why I’m not a reconstructionist Heathen, but a devotional polytheist. I’m finding my own path with the Gods, and I don’t think it’s any less valid than the customs of my ancestors, just because it’s different.

What is important is to give the Gods gifts out of love, to give Them of our time and attention.

About Amber Drake

AKA Darkamber.
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16 Responses to On animal sacrifice

  1. Thank you for the link to my post: it led me to what promises to be some very good reading in your blog!

    “What is important is to give the Gods gifts out of love, to give Them of our time and attention.


  2. Lokakisa says:

    I have mixed feelings about the issue. But tbh, my thing is, if you’re going to present an argument, don’t launch into a teenage-emo rant as if you’re trying to sound like a white rapper in order to look cool. “Oh look at me, throwing the word ‘fuck’ around, I’m such a badass and everyone should get on board.” I called her out for being rude and condescending to her readers, which ruined all chances for meaningful dialogue. Here I was innocently reading in an attempt to be open-minded, and all I get is “fuck you’s” undeservedly thrown at my face. Of course she didn’t allow my comment. Her attitude undermined any respectability she has, and good luck trying to take the fight to the political arena if she’s going to act her shoe size instead of her age. I can’t take her points seriously, and dragging other religions into it isn’t going to help her agenda either (with her snotty comments of “go bother the Santeros and Hindus”). When she downplayed human sacrifice in the comments, I was like “that’s it, you don’t even know what you’re talking about.” I haven’t seen Kemetics or Hellenics try to revive this practice, and they’re just as much or even more reconstructionist than Heathenism is, or whatever the hell path she follows. In Kemetic Orthodoxy, it is one thing they DON’T condone despite the legitimacy of “the ancients did it.”

    • Dawn says:

      Okay, well, Hellenics of the Hellenismos path may not do, but others in the Greek Reconstrucionism may. And that is with utmost respect to how it is done with respect to the animal and such. But, I’m going to give Amber a longer comment below on that.

  3. Dawn says:

    Here are my thoughts on this, I don’t personally do life sacrifices of animals, but I do flesh and blood offerings, which are different. I’ll get into that in a moment. But there are some sects of some reconstructionist paths that do, some even in some of the quieter Greek paths that I know of. Here’s the the thing, if you are reconstructing that path correctly (I cannot speak for Heathenry), there is no suffering intended for the animal. It is meant to be a calm and painless death with no suffering. Less fear and suffering than a kosher slaughter. The animal is then used in its entirety. Nothing is wasted.

    In the large festivals of ancient Greece (unless the sacrifice was meant to make up for having wronged a god, but from what I understand, these are rare now) only certain portions of the animal was given to the god/gods, the rest were taken, cooked and shared among the celebrants because meat was not to be wasted. The hide, the bones… are collected, cleaned and used for other purposes later. Nothing wasted. There is a story about how Prometheus tricked Zeus into agreeing to the least desirable parts of the animal were ideal for the gods in sacrifice.

    I, personally, would rather not. Though, if necessary… I have enough field vermin outside I dispatch of anyway. That’s a sad reality. Instead, if what I’m doing required some sort of flesh offering… I purchase livers and blood from the butcher for those purposes. Gizzards and other things. They don’t ask questions. They don’t care.

    If *I* have personal amends to make for my wrong, the only blood I’m offering is my own. That’s how I handle it. But my life has been devoted to a god who doesn’t tolerate bullshit. There is not much cuddling my pantheon unless one is dealing with the erotes in a good mood. They are downright terrifying when in a bad mood.

    • Amber Drake says:

      I’ve never been asked to do flesh or blood offerings by Loki. He seems quite happy to get alcoholic drinks and sweets, and candles and incense.

      If the animal is killed as quickly and painlessly as possible, I’m not against animal sacrifice. I just think that it isn’t necessary to do animal sacrifice to be a proper Heathen. There are many paths and not just one.

  4. Redfaery says:

    I agree that recon religionsshould not practice animal sacrifice. The context is gone. How is killing that chicken a sacrifice of you in any way when you can still go to KFC and buy a bucket of wings for $6?

    That said, I’m curious about your thoughts on traditions that *do regularly* include animal sacrifice, because they never died out and thus aren’t being “revived.” I’m thinking of African Diaspora religions as those of indigenous peoples around the world.

    Your thoughts?

    • Dawn says:

      Depending on the person and the path, that’s not the same at all. Going to KFC and putting a bucket of mass slaughtered, somewhat cruelly -mind you, deep fried and wholly unhealthy on your table for ritualistic purpose is not the same as taking and preparing the creature with your hands… whether you’ve killed that animal or not.

      Some folk I know that worship Artemis consider their main ritualistic sacrifice deer hunting season, the bowhunt. They hunt and tag their deer, they then gut the animal of its bowels, drain the blood, keep the hide and prepare the meat for their families… as would have been done in ages past. How is that irresponsible?

      It isn’t? What happens is that we are looking at this through Hollywood eyes of a goat on a concrete slab with its throat cut and bleating to the sky while its blood is collected in a silver chalice. Which is not really how those things were done in most societies and is not how I know of any responsible pagan sects practicing.

      • ubenmaat says:

        “What happens is that we are looking at this through Hollywood eyes of a goat on a concrete slab with its throat cut and bleating to the sky while its blood is collected in a silver chalice. Which is not really how those things were done in most societies and is not how I know of any responsible pagan sects practicing.”

        Man, are you ever right about that one. But then, that image is brought about by the same “other” fear that, 20 or so years ago, determined that Dungeons and Dragons would cause devil worship and human sacrifice.

        • Dawn says:

          It’s misinformation and fear, all of it. I fully understand and respect folk that are apalled by the notion because of their personal principles and ethics. Especially if those same folk are vegans in their everyday life. But I find it rather hypocritical to be willing to go to the grocer and buy meat that was slaughtered (or even the local butcher), because no matter how one might look at it.. that animal died to feed you, and then talk about how taking a life to support another is cruel. Those that due the actual life sacrifice, do it as humanely as possible and the life is what is being given to the gods, and the rest of the creature is for them to use…. is a HUGE portion of the cases.

          But… again.. misinformation spreads like wildfire in these situations and I’m not even one that does life sacrifice of animals in practice.

          • Amber Drake says:

            I have problems with animal sacrifices where the animal is burnt after being killed, where nothing of the animal is used.

          • ubenmaat says:

            That’s the thing, isn’t it? The factory farming industry treats animals just… just horrifically, but most of us buy their meat just fine. Throw the word “sacrifice” in front of the killing, though, and suddenly it’s awful(er).

            I dislike the killing of animals in any context, while also recognizing its current necessity in some cases (medical research comes to mind). The animal one is killing for “sacrifice,” assuming one is going to then eat that animal (and why wouldn’t you?) probably a longer, better life than the cow or chicken that came from the factory farm.

      • Redfaery says:

        Thank you. That was very insightful.

    • Amber Drake says:

      Animal sacrifice in traditions that never died out is sort of a different thing than animal sacrifice in Heathenry.
      If it is done properly, as fast and painless as possible, I’m not against animal sacrifice in unbroken traditions. I just don’t think it’s necessary to do animal sacrifice to be a proper Heathen. Many Heathens don’t have access to animals to sacrifice either. Some think that if you don’t do animal sacrifice, you’re not a proper and pious Heathen, and I strongly disagree with this opinion.

  5. Redfaery says:

    Full Disclosure: I’m not a vegan/vegetarian. And I’m actually not against animal sacrifice.

    My problem is, as I said before – the societal context to those past practices in historical heathenry is largely gone. My remark about the KFC bucket was not about the appropriateness of fast food as a sacrifice, it was about the fact that eating meat is pretty much taken for granted by modern Westerners, when even just a couple of centuries ago, this was totally not the case.

    Many people today can afford to raise chickens in their backyard, even. But they won’t starve to death if the birds die, or if the hens stop laying. Because, like I said, they can go to the grocery store and buy a pack of boneless, skinless breasts really cheap. They don’t *need* those birds like our ancestors did.

    If you want to practice animal sacrifice, fine. I think it should just be acknowledged that the sacrifice is coming from a different world view, a modern world view…not the “historical” one.

    • Amber Drake says:

      An animal sacrifice would’ve been a much bigger deal to my Norse ancestors than to modern Heathens.
      I don’t know enough about my ancestor’s ways to know what they did with the carcass after killing the animal. Did they eat it? I don’t know. I know that in modern Heathenry, the brand that Galina Krasskova does, they sometimes burn the animal carcass and don’t use it, and that I think is a waste.

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