I am not in the habit of linking to other people's blogs for today's post but this one is really good. It was written by Christos Pandion Panopoulos for his blog and deals with the subject of blood sacrific in modern times. Rathamanthys Madytinos translated the piece into English and the post can be found here.

Blood sacrifice (or animal sacrifice) is a hot button issue in the Hellenic community. We either can't or do not want to practice it, and those who do face both judicial and social obstacles. What I appreciate about Christos' piece is that it highlights something I have been pondering a lot lately as well, that the ancient Hellenes almost solely partook in the eating of meat from scarified animal, and that if we do not sacrifice animals, we--as Hellenists--should thus not eat meat.

I eat meat. I could probably do without if I manage to find food supplements that would support it, but it would mean limiting an already limited diet due to intolerances even more. I eat as little meat as possible, though. Once or twice a week, just to get the necessary nutrients. I used to eat even less meat but had to start again once my intolerances manifested. I dislike it because I dislike the meat industry (even organically raised meat, which is the only meat I eat), and because I am aware that I am breaking tradition; after all, I agree with Christos.

More than this point, I would like to share another point he makes, namely that if we are truly serious about our religion, that if we truly want to reclaim it, we need to start cultivating the conditions in modern society to prepare for a revival of blood sacrifice, as it was one of the fundamental cornerstones of the ancient tradition. These would include: 
  • The drastic reduction in meat consumption for non-religious reasons,
  • The identification and direct link of that consumption with the sacrificial act,
  • The identification and link of the act with its main religious intent and context,
  • The raising and the selection of appropriate animals by polytheists,  which will re-establish the value and respect for life by observing proper animal farming methods.
I don't have a well-defined viewpoint on this. I would be open to bringing animal sacrifice back if we could do it properly: if the sacrifice could be made with enough people to use all of the animal and to make the sacrifice count if we had temples, a Hellenic village square, or another open and accepting environment to conduct these rites, then yes. Yes, I would 100% join in and I have been saying for years I would rather be butchering my own meat for consumption and of course, I would sacrifice the animal to the Theoi.

Practically speaking, though, I live in an apartment complex with people who would very much disagree with the killing of an animal on their lawn. I live hours away from the nearest Hellenist. I am not licensed to butcher an animal, nor do I possess the skill to do so. So it becomes a matter of 'what counts'.

Say a Hellenistic community in Germany started a meat selling business where the guarantee is that every animal they butcher and sell has been sacrificed to the Gods, would that qualify? Is that meat I could in good conscience buy? There is precedence of this in ancient Hellenic practice, so technically the answer should be 'yes', but does it have any more of an impact on my home practice than buying meat at the local butcher? Christos ends with the following:

"In closing, it is well to take note and keep in mind, that it is not desirable to make reductions to the essence of the religion, forcing these alternatives and getting used to and accepting practices which should only be used as temporary substitutes. We must seek to restore the appropriate conditions for the proper expression of our religious beliefs. The same of course applies to anything which forces us to deviate from traditional harmony in the modern world and thus prevents contact with nature and the gods."

I agree with the essence of this, and the fact that it speaks to the notion that we as Hellenists deserve more than to be forced into the predominantly Christian ethical systems prevalent in Western societies. I am, however, not sure how feasible it is, but that, perhaps, is what upcoming debates on this subject should be about.