The Rational Heathen is at it again. This is an earlier post, cleaned up and “offered” to those who haven’t read it. Check out my blog at The Rational Heathen.
I’ve been talking to one of my peeps and he asked me my opinion on sacrificing animals to the gods. Now, before anyone gets their panties in a wad, let’s review my background a wee bit. I am a hunter and I raise animals for my food. Yes, that means I have killed animals. So, I am not an animal rights person by any stretch. So, let’s continue:
Blood sacrifices today are simply a stupid idea. Period.
There, I got that out. I’ll explain my rationale (Rational Heathen — get it?) and why I believe that there is no reason people should take an animal’s (or person’s) life as a sacrifice to the gods.
The Gods Don’t Need Your Sacrifice
Assuming our religion and beliefs aren’t just some mass delusion on the part of a number of people, including myself, our gods don’t need a sacrifice in any fashion. They’ve been doing fine without that dead chicken or goat for billions of years, thank you. If they eat, your scrawny attempt at giving them something is laughable. Do you want a favor from a god? Live the way the god or goddess expects you to.
I’ve never heard of someone being an absolute shit in the stories, making a sacrifice, and having the gods say, “Okay, Bro, you gave us a delicious barbecue pig, we’re going to cut you some slack for being a shit all your life and grant you something you wanted.” See: The Gods are Not Your Bitches, if you still don’t get it.
So, they don’t need the blót, whether it’s mead, a box of Twinkies (wink), or a chicken. We offer the blót to show our appreciation to the gods and ask nicely if they would do us a favor. The gods don’t necessarily accept the offering, although it’s now gone, so whether it works or not is pretty much immaterial.
Taking a life — any life — is serious business. Our ancestors understood that when they slaughtered or butchered animals. In terms of human sacrifice (and I can’t BELIEVE I have to talk about this**), the sacrifices weren’t as clean or as positive as you’d think. More often than not, it was a way to dispose of enemies, or, in the case of the account of sacrificing the slave girl, it was a way to behave barbarically.
Sorry folks, our ancestors weren’t always right.
It Means Nothing to You
It sounds callous, but I truly believe that sacrificing an animal means nothing to you, other than seeing an animal die. Before you get all pissy, hear me out. Nowadays, most people do not make their living in agriculture or raising herds (or flocks). In fact, I’d bet that even if you sacrificed your own animal, it doesn’t really take anything away from you in a serious financial way. Our ancestors sacrificed animals because animals were a form of wealth (Fehu). Sacrificing an animal meant you were showing how serious you were to the gods about your request. You were willing to sacrifice your hard-earned wealth for the favor. Think of it as taking a pile of money and burning it. Yes, that’s what it was like.
Now, you may argue with me that you paid a couple hundred dollars for that goat. Okay, yeah. But you invested NOTHING. You didn’t help kid it. You didn’t raise it and plan on it being a dairy goat. You didn’t spend much (if any) time with it. Look, I raise goats, and I don’t sacrifice them to the gods on a desperate attempt at getting favor from the gods. Yes, I do slaughter them from time to time, largely because I have wethers (castrated males) who basically are being raised for meat. But these guys have a purpose to feed me. And if I dedicate them to my gods, I do it without ceremony.
If you want to sacrifice something that means something to you to the gods, try an iPhone, your Internet connection, or your car. THEN, you have something that means something to you. Not sure what Thor would do with an iPhone, but hey, it’s electric.
Do You Really Know How to Kill an Animal Correctly?
Some of you would know how to slaughter animals humanely, but most of you I’d bet have never killed an animal for food in your life. Sorry, that’s a fact of life and our era. Most people get squeamish in Biology class, let alone seeing a real animal get killed. As a hunter and one who has slaughtered animals, I can truly say that the results are often less than stellar. Goats, for example, are the hardest critters to kill. You get a lot of thrashing, even if you put bullets in their brain. I’ve shot heads off of birds and the body goes through spasms even if there is no input from the brain any longer. The saying “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” is apropos, even if I’ve never seen them “run.”
Gods help you if you fuck up the slaughter and make a total hash out of it. Remember, you’re probably doing it in front of a bunch of folks if this is a ritual. Oh yeah, that would be good.
Is the Animal’s Terror Worth it?
Slaughter should be done humanely. There, I’ve said it. Bringing an animal to a ritual is anything but humane. You have taken it away from its environment and stuck it with a bunch of weird looking people who are chanting and praying. Some animals, like goats, are highly intelligent. Many goats I’ve owned rival dogs in intellect. And you’re going to put them through this? Way to go!
No, this is NOT humane.
You’re Wasting an Animal’s Life
You may argue that you’re eating the animal at a feast. Yeah, how much of the animal are you eating? Who is processing the animal? I’m sorry, but it takes time to properly skin, dress, and butcher an animal. I do it in a few hours, depending on the size of the critter. It’s hard, backbreaking work, by the way, to strip all the meat out, choose the roasts and steaks, and grind the hamburger. Then, there is wrapping and freezing it. Do you have an idea how to butcher it?
Alternatives to Blood Sacrifices
You want to sacrifice to the gods? Okay, then do something worthwhile and dedicate your work to them. I regularly dedicate my hunting to Tyr and Skadi because the work of hunting often exceeds the payout at the end. If I do take game, I thank the animal, the wights, and the gods so I can eat. If we slaughter an animal, we do the same. Killing is serious business. As a hunter, my goal is always a humane kill. Animals die inhumanely in the wild all the time, so if I can give my meal a good death, then I have done my part.
Don’t want to hunt? Try creating a container garden and dedicate the work for that. Maybe you’ve been trying to learn a musical instrument. Dedicate your practice and performance to the gods of your choice. What about your art, your writing, your work? How about helping out in a cause you believe in? All of these things are good, and the gods will be pleased.
Our ancestors sacrificed many things that were of value to them. Given that most of us have so little time, dedicating our time to something that we do not gain from is one way to give to the gods. And yeah, I’m pretty sure they’d be good with that.
**On Human Sacrifice
Okay, if you seriously think that human sacrifice is fine, then it is time to check yourself into a mental institution. I don’t want to be anywhere near you. And yes, you are fucking nuts.