Nearly everything in life is an opportunity to learn. Often enough, the lessons we learn aren’t always the ones people were wanting us to learn. For example, Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in an attempt to spark a communist revolt over how workers were treated in the slaughter house industry.
Instead, what he indeed up doing was reforming the Slaughter House industry to run a cleaner, healthier way. I think it also is what led to the formation of the FDA. Hardly the lesson the author intended.
I think much the same has happened for me, and maybe others, when it comes to this debate about animal sacrifice. Those protesting it are arguing that it is inhumane, cruel, and backwards, often getting very moralistic and even vicious in their attempts to teach those who do believe or practice animal sacrifice that they are doing the wrong thing.
Instead, even in just a few articles and a few related stories, what I have learned is that many in the anti-sacrifice camp are a bit hypocritical, a lot morally high-horsed, and rather dogmatic and irrational. According to others, they have become rather classist and racist, but to that I do not know. To them, there is not valid argument for why people should kill animals in private rituals, and that the act of sanctifying the death of the animal is meaningless.
For the latter, I wonder how a group of people who hold to a religious path that teaches everything is sacred, can say that acknowledging the sacred doesn’t matter, when the foundation of nearly all Pagan and Heathen paths is the acknowledgment of the sacred. These same critics apparently are more willing to attack small groups doing their own killing than take on massive industrial complexes that show no compassion in their slaughter of thousands of animals. I guess it’s easier to feel like you’re doing something if you just attack small groups and look like you can win.
Of course, the irony amongst all this is that scientists have started to discover that plants can feel “pain” and “suffering.” So even those who claim that they aren’t being hypocrites about animal killing by being Vegan are, in fact, responsible for even more deaths and suffering than those who kill and eat an animal. After all, to equal one steaks worth of protein, how many beans and other higher protein vegetables to you have to eat? I’m certain you just killed more than one plant in order to get that amount of protein.
There are out there a number of ethical arguments for killing. Beyond the metaphysical aspects I explained in yesterday’s post, there exists the physical and ethical reasons why we kill animals. Survival, need, to keep people alive. When say one boar can feed a village for a week, or a family for months, but one field can only do a fraction of that, it is a more efficient uses of a family or village’s resources to hunt in addition to farming, than mere farming alone. Chances of starvation are much lower by killing and eating animals, preserving human life.
We live in a world of pleanty. Grocery stores will throw out more food than most places used to even grow, or still can grow in places in the world. I think those that argue against animal sacrifice or killing have lived lies most often of plenty. While many pagans are not much above poverty level, even those of us who are desperately poor still can manage to find food all over the place. But there are those who do not live in cities, or who are even worse off than we poor Pagans, who do live closer to a substance lifestyle where the issue of needing resources such as meat is a very real issue, not just a “Religious rite from far long ago that needs to be ditched.”
And as for the fact that it was an ancient practice that we don’t need to do anymore…give me one arguement for why we should leave behind that act, but keep any of the others. Either we bring back the old ways, and honor the Old Gods in their own ways, or we might as well still be Christians or Atheists. If you will not have the fury, and you will not have the fun, then you might as well walk away now. Because (and I’ve heard this accusation thrown around) if those who do practice animal sacrifice aren’t real pagans, when that is what real pagans did, then you who do not do these things certainly are not real pagans as you do not do as the Pagans did.
I don’t participate in animal sacrifice mostly because I don’t feel the need to, but the act itself isn’t something I’m morally opposed to. I actually eat more meat than grain due to needing a high protein diet, so I find the reasoning in your post pretty solid. I think what a person sacrifices to the Gods is a personal/kindred matter, and sacrificing or not sacrificing animals has nothing to do with being a “real” Pagan.
The only line I’m opposed to in this post is “Either we bring back the old ways and honor the Old Gods in their own ways, or we might as well still be Christians or Atheists.” I disagree with this – the Gods change over time, and the paths we walk for them change as well – Gods are not immutable beings, and pursuing the same path walked a millennium ago is counterproductive.
Learning from the past is good; seeing how our ancestors lived and what they lived through can teach us a lot, as can pursuing ancient knowledge. But somewhere the past must intertwine with the present because to walk an ancient path without an eye to the current times is, arguably, more Christian in nature than Pagan. The archaic books of the Bible, still quoted and adhered to today, are proof enough of that.
So yes, let’s keep in mind the past that lies behind us, but I’d say it’s vital that we not get so entangled in the pursuit of ancient knowledge that we forget to look to the times around us and miss the way the Gods themselves are changing.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
I will actually give you the disagreement you have, for the most part. The Gods change, I’ve experienced it myself, lol. The reason I said that was partially because of the metaphysical stuff I discussed in my last post, and partially because while the Gods do change, throwing out everything from the past is foolish. Your friends change, but do you throw out everything they told you five years ago because they may have changed on one or two things? It was kinda like that. 🙂
Thanks for the comment, your words are wise.
Thanks for the compliment, and I have a counter question for the question in your comment: Do you think any person can claim the same identity today as they could five years ago? Consider your own life – how much has changed for you in five years and how much of your personality has shifted to something new. Change is the only constant there is. I do agree that looking to the past is useful, but only for learning – I’m personally of the opinion that the paths we walk we construct with our Gods, and that with the intent to live for them, how we walk that path doesn’t matter all that much (except for the few instances when it does). Look, now you have me thinking about metaphysics, and I haven’t even eaten breakfast yet 😛
Rev. Dragon's Eye said:
Let’s see. To “sacrifice” is to “make sacred”. (IE: L – “sacrificium”, etc.). Funny how we, today, consider “sacrificing” something as the same as killing or destroying it. When, in the past, “blessing” something or someone would have been considered “making sacred” that which we blessed. – So, somewhere our language has (forcefully?) changed yet the meaning of another word to something completely different from what it once meant. (Was this also courtesy of the “church”?)
As for the ritual killing of animals, etc. – If I remembered some of my ancient history studies: Most of the “sacrificially-killed” animals, etc. were also fed to those in need, so that they may still partake of the culture they were in. Take a closer look into the anuual Running of the Bulls, and the lead-ups to the Bull Fights. Everything is prepared and planned out. – When a Bull is killed in the ring (almost as if in a ceremony), it is fed to the poor! (Something that most of the over-irrational animal-rights “anti-bullfighting” crowd seem to neglect to mention.)
So you see,
I have a problem when it involves wasting AND disrespecting Nature (which I whole-heartedly agree with about the industrialized slaughterhouse operations)! There again, the corporatization of just about anything becomes wasteful in the shadow of its own greed. The “church” did much, in the name of its “gods”, that led to the wanton “ritualized” mass-slaughter of innocents, all supposedly to force conversion of these peoples to their predatory religious systems. – What a huge waste!
So, I think where I could make a more positive contribution to a discussion like this one (even though I do not engage so much in ritual slaughter as a religious practice), I would think of the respect issue of the animal being offered up. I have no idea how to prevent or relieve the temporary suffering of a plant being sacrificed (as “science” says they can “feel” pain and discomfort -? ). However, I would try to make the animal feel as comfortable as possible, and reduce the amount of pain and discomfort towards it as death has its way with it. (Even though, Nature may not be so kind, I try my best to be so.) – May seem a bit “flowery” to some, but I think it is still worthy of thought.
BTW: As for the “borrowing” of another animal’s power, I rather would the live animal work as a partner with me – so that our energies work in tandem.
A very thoughful post.
– Rev. Dragon’s Eye