I read a very thought-provoking post which in turn was a response to a post by a well known author on Polytheism. I think the whole issue really needs to be discussed. Perhaps it’s because of my British sensibilities, but to me there is no need for animal sacrifice.
On the subject of animal rights and consciousness, I fully believe animals are very much aware of what goes on around them. I am fully in support of animal rights, but I do take G’s point about how they are treated by those who slaughter them for food. I understand that when used in sacrifice the animals may, by certain people, be afforded with far more respect and dignity that those in the abattoir. My issue is whether there really needs to be sacrifice at all in this day and age, like JII herself asks.
Give me a moment to explain my thinking: I do not say this because I believe that our ‘modern’ ways are any better or more enlightened than our ancestors, but because we no longer need to hunt for food. Offering up an animal to the Gods in our ancestors’ times was a real sacrifice, as they had no other way of obtaining food than to hunt or rear it themselves. Nowadays very few solely hunt for food or rear their own animals for slaughter; there is no real need to. We have stores and supermarkets, farm shops and butchers who prepare the meat we eat in the vast majority of the Western world.
G cites indigenous cultures, especially those in Africa, and asks whether we would say that they should not sacrifice animals either. Where these practices survive the most is probably in the rural heartlands, the villages and communities less accessible to conveniences. They probably still have to hunt for the majority of their meat, or else rear the animals themselves. For them it is a true sacrifice, as with our ancestors, to give up meat to their Gods or Spirits. This takes it from their own need for sustenance and offers it up in honour of a higher power.
I agree with JII that to truly sacrifice in this day and age when, in the West, the majority have the food we need provided for us, we should instead offer up something that has a deeper meaning. What this may be would vary from person to person, and would also depend on the culture of the country you’re brought up in and live in. Giving up bad habits and addictions, sparing personal time and giving support and donations to specific causes would, in my opinion, be a more personal way to sacrifice to and honour Them in 2015.