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Author Topic: Historical human and animal sacrifice  (Read 23095 times)
Nomad of Nowhere
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« Reply #30: March 27, 2011, 03:05:16 am »

Animals get killed everyday, we eat them, I get that. But leaving it as an 'offering' to me is pointless killing. Politically speaking Animal offering is very vague, and the laws vary according to city. a few years ago in my city for example, a lady was arrested because she was sacrificing  goats and leaving them to rot.

Yes, proper disposal of "organic waste" was one of the recommended requirements for animal sacrifice in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah court ruling. Let's take this in a different direction. How do you feel about offering beer? Fruit? What about cooked meat? Suppose someone made an offering of meat once it had already been killed and prepared. At worst, you should think it a waste of food. The sacrifice of doomed livestock does not change the animal's fate. The only difference in outcome exists in terms of food yielded.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2011, 03:17:21 am by Nomad of Nowhere » Logged

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« Reply #31: March 27, 2011, 03:13:35 am »

This is one aspect of paganism that I have a little bit of a hard time figuring out. Obviously, the vast majority of pagans in the modern world do not engage in any kind of murder or animal cruelty, and those that do are usually found to be mentally ill and drawn to these practices for that reason rather than for any particular religious reasons. What I'm curious about is how modern pagans reconcile their current religious practices with historical evidence of human and animal sacrifices, though.

I think someone said this already, but I wanted to reiterate it in this post.  Religious practices change over time, so what certain activities were done then are not necessarily done now. And sacrifice has many definitions, not just animal/human slaughter (might not be the correct term to use here, but bear with me).  For example, if I make an offering of fruit to the Divine, I am still making a sacrifice (leaving it to rot; according to some sources Irish people didn't eat their sacrifices after offering them to the Divine), however, it is something I am comfortable with doing according to my personal beliefs as a l/o vegetarian.

It is also important to mention that no one is forcing you (or really anyone) to practice sacrificing.  That is a personal choice between the practitioner, the animal, and the Deity.

  

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« Reply #32: March 27, 2011, 03:22:03 am »


however, it is something I am comfortable with doing according to my personal beliefs as a l/o vegetarian.

Just wanted to add: I wouldn't consider making an animal sacrifice,  live or purchased from a store because that would go against my personal views on animal rights.  But that doesn't mean I would prohibit someone else who feels they should according to their own beliefs--provided that the sacrifice was legit and not someone using religion as a guise for actual cruelty.
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« Reply #33: March 27, 2011, 03:23:10 am »

In my original post, I was exclusively talking about religions of Europe and the near-east and made no reference to Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian, or other religions based upon indigenous African belief systems. When I say small P "pagan", I am always referring to European and near-eastern, including Egyptian, traditions unless I specifically specify otherwise. In that context, I completely stand by my comments. In recent years there have been individuals arrested for crimes ranging from cruelty to animals to murder who have tried to claim that they were following European or near-eastern religions like Wicca, Satanism, Germanic paganism, traditional witchcraft and so forth. Nearly every time, those individuals have been found to be suffering from mental illnesses to varying degrees. Perhaps this wasn't completely clear from my first post, but you could have asked me to clarify before lashing out at me and accusing me and others of being intolerant and violating the site's rules.

Of religions like Santeria, I have no real opinion one way or the other. I do not like the fact that they conduct sacrifices in general, but I don't make a big deal out of it because I assume those sacrifices are generally humanely done and the remnants of the sacrifice is used for food and other practical purposes. It's worth pointing out that not everyone feels this way and there has been some controversy over these practices from various people and groups. I have no opinion one way or the other about these controversies, though I would have an issue with someone if it was made known that they were treating animals or other human beings cruelly. Otherwise, it's none of my business and I don't get involved.

First of all, while omoyemaya is a Santero, I am not, nor have I ever been. My path that required blood sacrifice had nothing to do with any tradition that was African in origin; in fact, mine was rooted in Aztec (that's Central America, for those following along at home) traditions. While that's not where I am now, I was pagan then too. So you would be incorrect in using the term "pagan" to refer exclusively to European and Near Eastern religions.

Secondly, regarding your expansion of the idea of mental illness linked with animal sacrifice: animal cruelty is different from animal sacrifice.  Those who don't know enough about the practice to understand the difference tend to conflate the two, but that doesn't make it correct. The mindset of animal sacrifice is the same as making offerings out of any other kind of food, or at least it was in my practice: "The gods gave me this animal to eat, so I'm going to give them the choice bits as a thank-you." The mindset is no different from someone who's drinking beer, feels a nudge from his/her deity, and pours a libation for the god in question.
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« Reply #34: March 27, 2011, 04:05:12 am »

***MOD HAT ON***

First of all, I'm asking everyone to calm down, and step away from the thread if you find the discussion is distressing you to where you're having a hard time having a civil discussion on the topic. As in step away NOW. Shadow is away for the weekend, Star's distracted by real life and has limited board time at the moment and Randall is well known to turn into a pumpkin after 8pm or so. I'd like to think we can leave this forum alone for a few hours without then having to issue multiple warnings. So everyone, check your own behavior and make sure to stay not only within the letter, but within the spirit of the rules.

I'm well aware that animal sacrifice is a touchy subject, so please, keep in mind you don't have to respond NOW, you have all the time you need to step away and calm down before responding.

Nick and Gwiwer,



You will notice RandallS has responded to this thread without making any comment about it "fringing (if not breaking) the sites rules". I would assume that, if indeed there were such problems in this thread, I would have been politely reprimanded for it by now. It might also be worth pointing out that attempts by regular users to become backseat moderators and attempt to moderate other users IS in fact a clear violation of the rules of the site.

You are *both* hereby warned for playing mod and telling other posters how to post. If you see rules issues, report it to us and then leave well enough alone. We'll get to it as soon as we can, but again - staff has lives and needs to sleep, so we can't always respond immediately. This does not mean you get to mod yourself.

Shadoworker,

Well actually, animal cruelty is illegal. Sadly because of the nature of the act, most of the times it's not able to get reported. I'm not a god, I'm a human being, i don't need to be a god to know what's wrong and what's right. I'm sure Hitler was offended too when they called him a killer.

You're hereby warned for religion bashing. You're free to disagree with a practice all you want and point out issues. You're not allowed to liken practitioners to Hitler or call them sick. If you can't discuss the issue without resorting to such tactics, back out.

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« Reply #35: March 27, 2011, 06:52:32 am »

You will notice RandallS has responded to this thread without making any comment about it "fringing (if not breaking) the sites rules". I would assume that, if indeed there were such problems in this thread, I would have been politely reprimanded for it by now.

Just as an additional note to what Chabas said:  Do not assume that a lack of response means that it's OK.  Besides needing to sleep and such, we're also human in other ways--sometimes we miss things.  It doesn't mean that there isn't a problem, it just means that we haven't noted it.  This is part of why we provide a means for posters to report problems, to help ensure that someone can bring it to our attention if we do miss it.

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« Reply #36: March 27, 2011, 08:06:37 am »

Well actually, animal cruelty is illegal.

Animal sacrifice does not equal animal cruelty -- it is usually done as humanely as possible, often more humanely than done in many slaughter houses where animals are killed for food. Unless you consider all animal killing as somehow evil, your position on animal sacrifice seems more based on emotion than logic.

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I'm sure Hitler was offended too when they called him a killer.

As I believe Chabas has warned you for statements like this already, I'll just point out that ou are comparing killing an animal to killing intelligent beings and considering them both equally vile? That's your right, but don't expect many people to agree with you.  You are basically saying anyone involved in killing an animal is as bad as Hitler -- and that's an extreme position that few outside of groups like PETA will agree with.
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« Reply #37: March 27, 2011, 08:11:22 am »

They're both killing in the name of 'religion'.

Killing people is far higher on most people's lists of "evil acts" than killing animals. You need to stop comparing people who sacrifice animals to Hitler. Not only is it an ad hominen attack, it makes you look so silly that people will ignore any more rational arguments you might make.
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« Reply #38: March 27, 2011, 12:11:44 pm »

Yes, proper disposal of "organic waste" was one of the recommended requirements for animal sacrifice in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah court ruling. Let's take this in a different direction. How do you feel about offering beer? Fruit? What about cooked meat? Suppose someone made an offering of meat once it had already been killed and prepared. At worst, you should think it a waste of food. The sacrifice of doomed livestock does not change the animal's fate. The only difference in outcome exists in terms of food yielded.
As a semi-atheist I find offerings silly, period. It's not the offering that bothers me. I have no problem with food in general being offered, it's the fact that one is consciously taking an animal's life and giving it to something I believe its only in our head.
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« Reply #39: March 27, 2011, 01:53:15 pm »

As a semi-atheist I find offerings silly, period. It's not the offering that bothers me. I have no problem with food in general being offered, it's the fact that one is consciously taking an animal's life and giving it to something I believe its only in our head.

So killing an animal for food as an act of reverence and respect is worse than killing an animal for food in a slaughterhouse?
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« Reply #40: March 27, 2011, 02:52:11 pm »

So killing an animal for food as an act of reverence and respect is worse than killing an animal for food in a slaughterhouse?
No, slaughterhouses have their faults too, it's too drastic, way more cruel, inhumane, etc, etc, etc, but killing an animal to eat it is part of human nature. Killing an animal out of respect, to me that's a weird ideology, because I'm sure the animal loves to get killed. Specially since religion should be a personal thing. Sacrificing animals might not look like a big deal since we murder millions everyday for human consumption, but doing it a please a god (a concept that might not even be real) plants the seed of 'extending your religions actions beyond yourself'. What if instead of animals offerings we were doing human sacrifices?
Now, someone argued what if you consume the animal afterward. That's when the gray area comes in.
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« Reply #41: March 27, 2011, 03:48:18 pm »

As a semi-atheist I find offerings silly, period. It's not the offering that bothers me. I have no problem with food in general being offered, it's the fact that one is consciously taking an animal's life and giving it to something I believe its only in our head.
See, that's the the gist of the question for me and I'm glad to see someone brought it up here. 

It seems to me that calling animal sacrifice a "waste" if the animal is not consumed makes perfect sense if you don't believe the offering itself is meaningful.  Of course an atheist, or anyone who doesn't believe the gods require or appreciate this kind of offering, might have these issues.  But the people doing the sacrifice obviously believe it is of value - nothing to reconcile.  To me, honoring the gods is of higher moral value than honoring my stomach.

Human sacrifice is another thing altogether.  I don't value animal life at the same level as humans, sorry.  For me to be even a little OK with human sacrifice not only the people performing the sacrifce, but the especially sacrifice himself would have to believe in it's worth.  And in this time and place, I'd have serious questions about the mental health of anyone who held such beliefs.  In other times and places, maybe not.


(Truth in advertising:  I've never been called to offer an animal myself, and am not sure I'd do it if asked - but for practical reasons, only tangentially ethical.  I'm not qualified to humanely butcher anything bigger than, say, an ant.  I do offer other foodstuffs that are not consumed, so "wasted.")
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« Reply #42: March 27, 2011, 04:10:14 pm »

See, that's the the gist of the question for me and I'm glad to see someone brought it up here. 

It seems to me that calling animal sacrifice a "waste" if the animal is not consumed makes perfect sense if you don't believe the offering itself is meaningful.  Of course an atheist, or anyone who doesn't believe the gods require or appreciate this kind of offering, might have these issues.  But the people doing the sacrifice obviously believe it is of value - nothing to reconcile.  To me, honoring the gods is of higher moral value than honoring my stomach.

Human sacrifice is another thing altogether.  I don't value animal life at the same level as humans, sorry.  For me to be even a little OK with human sacrifice not only the people performing the sacrifce, but the especially sacrifice himself would have to believe in it's worth.  And in this time and place, I'd have serious questions about the mental health of anyone who held such beliefs.  In other times and places, maybe not.


(Truth in advertising:  I've never been called to offer an animal myself, and am not sure I'd do it if asked - but for practical reasons, only tangentially ethical.  I'm not qualified to humanely butcher anything bigger than, say, an ant.  I do offer other foodstuffs that are not consumed, so "wasted.")

Yes, thank you. I believe this is the root of the issue.
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« Reply #43: March 27, 2011, 04:52:22 pm »

Animals get killed everyday, we eat them, I get that. But leaving it as an 'offering' to me is pointless killing. Politically speaking Animal offering is very vague, and the laws vary according to city. a few years ago in my city for example, a lady was arrested because she was sacrificing  goats and leaving them to rot.
Seems to me that the "leaving them to rot" part (a potential public health hazard) might have been equally if not more relevant here.

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« Reply #44: March 27, 2011, 07:43:09 pm »


Since people keep coming back to the debate about animals as food in addition to animals as sacrificial offerings, I'm reminded of the curious case of the Inuit who have traditionally believed that all living creatures possess a soul which they call anirniq meaning "breath" that persists after death. To the Inuit mind, killing any living creature is no different than killing a human being. Beyond that, since the souls of a slain animal persists on after it is killed, killing an animal would be a very serious thing since the soul persists on after the animal is dead and could conceivably haunt the killer and bring them all sorts of bad luck. Yet, the Inuit subsist primarily on hunting and fishing, including yearly whale and seal hunts which have caused quite a bit of controversy in the US and Canada in recent years. There's a famous Inuit saying that goes, "The great peril of our existence lies in the fact that our diet consists entirely of souls."

I'm not really sure how that fits into the discussion people are having in this thread, but I thought I'd just mention it because so many people seem to want to make this a black or white matter of you're either fine with killing animals for food and other reasons, or you should become a strict vegetarian and never do anything to directly, or indirectly, harm an animal. The Inuit provide an interesting shade of grey to the spectrum. As far as an Inuit is concerned, killing a moose, cow, chicken, or whatever is no different than killing ANY living creature with a soul, including a human being. Though, since the soul of the slain creature persists on after death, it's up to the person who did the killing to kind of justify their actions and placate the soul of the creature mostly by ensuring that it died a noble death to help provide sustenance for other living things and that the soul of the slain creature will always be treated with deeply reverent thanks and respect for giving up its physical body so that other creatures could sustain themselves. To the Inuit world view, every soul exists in a cooperative balance that requires a tremendous amount of humbleness, thankfulness, and reverence to sustain it.

I'm kind of staying out of the debate in this thread for the most part because I don't really have strong opinions on either side of the matter. It seems best for me to just follow along and watch from the sidelines rather than getting actively involved. I figured I would add this little anecdote about the Inuit though because it's a pretty good example of people whose beliefs about human and animal life are rather complex and don't break down into a simple black or white view of things.
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