A very avoided subject nowadays, even considered taboo. Still, I want to present this phenomenon as objective as possible in order to help the readers understand what means traditional occult practice.
The idea of animal sacrifice is very misunderstood. Everyone considers this to be just an act of cruelty, an act of stupidity and vandalism. The modern man is not used to the killing of animals (for any purpose) like he was in the past. In the past, killing of animals was a necessity for everyone, especially for those living at farms. It used to be a normal and natural act, was very common and was frequently practiced.
However, the mentality has changed. The killing of an animal is totally misunderstood. Especially when it comes to religious traditions, animal sacrifice was vehemently criticized by the modern man. People don’t know the significance of these practices.
Please allow me to explain my own personal opinion on animal sacrifice, before you get to the wrong conclusions. First of all, I do not practice it and never did. It was not and it is not necessary in the rituals that I practice. Nevertheless, I do consider this act to be something sacred and I shall try to explain why and how it can be considered as such.
People start from the premise that those who sacrifice animals are “heartless”. Nothing more false! It might sound naive, but even those Satanists who practice this tradition respect animals and consider them sacred beings. Of course, not all Satanists agree with animal sacrifice. In fact, very few of them do it. Some do it and some don’t. There are Satanists who do animal sacrifice once a year. They choose to dedicate the animal’s life in the honor of their god(s). It is a tradition practiced since ancient times. Some neo-pagans, wiccans and even modern Satanists ignore this, but it is a tradition that has been practiced by our ancestors for hundreds of years.
It is mainly a pagan tradition. There are many such traditions that have been left out and forgotten because they were too extreme. People of today have the tendency to ignore, dismiss or even modify the traditions that our religions are based on. The modification might not be such a crime as long as the essential is being kept. But they try to change the religions and the gods in order to be better accepted in the world we live in and to fit their personalities better.
Before I get into details, I believe it is important to understand what this act exactly means. Essentially, sacrifice means “to make sacred” (from the latin “sacrificium”: Sacr = sacred + Facere = to make). We must understand that those who choose to sacrifice animals as a religious tradition don’t do it with pleasure. They do it as an offering, a gift. They do it to honor the gods. It is a symbolic act, considered by many as sacred.
Animal sacrifice has been present in almost all religions over time. For the Greeks and Romans, the Aztec and Yoruba, for Christians, Jews and Moslems, animal sacrifice was a very important practice. It is an ancient tradition that has multiple purposes, all according to the belief system.
For the ancient Greeks, animal sacrifice was a ceremony done to calm the spirits from the Underworld, the land of the dead and to honor gods such as Keres and Hekate. They sacrificed and burned the animal and dedicated it to the spirits and the gods.
The animals sacrificed in the ancient world were numerous. The majority of these animals were usually horses, goats, chickens, cows, bulls and pigs. Horses were sacrificed more, and here the best example is the Indian tradition Ashvamedha where the horse is sacrificed, dissected, roasted and then offered to the deities. Another instance of horse sacrifice is the Norse tradition called Blot. The Scandinavians used to sacrifice horses and pigs and dedicate them to the gods, mainly Freyr or Odin.
Bulls have been sacrificed as well, and the best example is the Taurobolium which was practiced by the Romans in honor of Venus. Cattles have also been sacrificed. An example of this is Hecatomb, a Greek sacrifice in which 100 cattles were sacrificed to the gods.
Goats were also sacrificed. People sacrificed goats in honor of Ishtar, Goddess of fertility, in order to have a fertile soil and a good harvest as well as the fertility of women.
There are Hindu temples in India as well as Nepal where goats and chickens are sacrificed. The Hindu way of animal sacrifice is called Jhatka where the head of the animal is severed completely by a single blow of a sword.
Another religion practices animal sacrifice is the Afro-Caribbean religion called Santeria. The word ‘santeria’ is translated as the “Way of the Saints”. Santeria is a tribal religion that combines the traditions of the African Yoruba with Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. It has been brought to the “New World” by the slaves imported to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations. The slaves brought with them various religious traditions, including a tradition of a trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, the practice of sacred drumming and animal sacrifice. Sacrifice of small animals such as chickens are part of their religious rites and initiations. Animal Sacrifice in Santeria is allowed by the US and Canadian constitution.
The Moslems have their own way of ritual slaughter of animals. This method of slaughtering called Dhabihah consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck. The act is preceded by invoking the name of God at the moment of slaughtering.
For the Jews, the sacrifice of an animal is quite different. Instead of burning it, the traditional Jewish sacrifice is followed by a feast in which the animal is cooked and eaten. This is called Kapparos and takes place on the eve of Yom Kippur. According to tradition, a man would have to sacrifice a rooster and a woman would sacrifice a hen.
Korban was a sacrifice of an animal such as a sheep or a bull that underwent Shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter), and was often cooked and eaten. The Shechita is the ritual slaughter of animals according to Jewish dietary Laws. The act is performed by drawing a very sharp knife across the animal’s throat and allowing the blood to drain out.
Christianity is also involved in animal sacrifice and the best example I can give is the Lamb sacrifice on Easter. The pig sacrifice on Christmas is another tradition, but is more folkloric than religious. It is known that God asks for animal sacrifice, as it is stated numerous times in the Bible (Leviticus 1:5 ; 23:12-18 ; 6:6-7 ; 17:11 ; 4:20,26,31,35 ; 5:10,16,18 | Numbers 15:27-28 ; 29:5 ; 18:17-19 | Genesis 4:4 ; 8:20-21 ; 15:9-10 | Exodus 20:24 ; 29:11-37 | Deuteronomy 12:27).
For Satanists, this subject is in great debate. Many Satanists nowadays consider this to be absurd. Those who call themselves LaVeyan Satanists are even against it, as LaVey wrote in the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth “Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.” Others, however, think of it as an important tradition and practice in the Black Arts.
Many sources suggest that sacrifice of animals was a common practice of the witches. Nicholas Remy in his book “Demonolatry” (chapter 11), tells us how witches have, since Ancient Days, made yearly offerings to their Demons and that such Offerings, when they were Animals, must be entirely Black. S.Connolly in her book “Complete Book of Demonolatry” approves of this, saying that it has been, and still is to this day a traditional practice of the sects.
The sacrifice is an yearly offering to the Sect’s Patron Demon. After the sacrifice the animal is consumed. Connolly points out that in the Purswell grimoires all sect members plucked hair from their head and placed them on the altar along with coins, herbal mixtures and other offerings. All the offerings were then tied up in a white cloth and buried at the foot of the altar. This is also stated in Remy’s “Demonolatry” (page 41) (“Some pluck the hair from their heads, or present a straw or a little bird or some such small gift, it may be coins made from ox-hide”).
In his book, Remy brings numerous accounts from people who were either witches or witnesses of witchcraft who tell stories of animal sacrifices by the witches. Dominique Zabella (of Rogeville in the Tendon district, 1583) tells of payments of sacrifice done by witches who have sought exemption from their obligations (presenting themselves at the Sabbath).
When such sacrifices were to be done, a steer or a wether was to be killed. This is confirmed by Didier Finance of Mandray and many others, who freely confessed at Saint-Die on the 14th July 1581, that he was under compulsion to make some such offering to his Demon late in the evening of a certain day, which fell every year about the rising of the Dog Star (a.k.a. Sirius), and that such offering was not acceptable unless it was entirely black. Beatrix of Bayon (Gerbeville, August 1585) says that not even the poor witches, which were the majority of the sect, are immune from such obligatory payments.
As history and tradition come along the way, animal sacrifice has remained a practice to this day. The more learned religionist would know that this practice has a deep meaning, and it’s not the actual killing of the animal that is important. The sacrifice is a sacred thing and must be done with great respect towards the animal and that the victim must be killed in a reasonably humane manner, and afterwards eaten. What I mean by humane manner is that the animal should not be tortured. It is not done for entertainment.
This means that the animal suffers very little, if more preferably not at all. There are many ways of accomplishing this such as beheading in one swift blow, feed it a sleeping aide or something of the effect of being numb or sleeping as these things will easily overdose animals under the size of an average man. Some other more surgical or professional means are injecting air into a vein, which will cause a heart attack or using an electrical currant, which that latter is hard to reproduce or practice without electrical producing machines and general knowledge of amps and milliamperes.
Perhaps decapitation is best. It has the symbolic head detached from the body. Everyone knows the removal of the head is near the closest instant death. The spirit that removed from the body. A snapped neck can cause problems with this kind of creature for it has a large head swivel and you do not want to rip it in half removing the torso from the abdomen and can be a little too gruesome and as well as too much pain. This should be painless. Putting it into the freezer can numb the central nervous system and can cause systemic death.
In some grimoires such as the Key Of Solomon and the Grimorium Verum, the animal is supposed to be killed in a relatively humane manner such as by cutting off its head with only one blow. The Grimorium Verum for example, teaches us that in order to kill a goat, one must cut its throat with a single stroke while pronouncing the name of the Spirit that is to be invoked in the ritual. After killing the animal the practitioner begins skinning it while calling forth the Holy Angels of God, Adonay, Dalmay, Lauday, Anereton and Tetragrammaton. Its skin being used to make parchment.
However not all the grimoires suggest the same. An example is the Grimoire Of Honorius in which the eyes, tongue and heart of a black cock are to be torn out while saying prayers to God. The same grimoire tells us to cut the throat of a male lamb of nine days and cast its tongue and heart into the fire.
Another example is Hygromanteia Salomonis, in which bats, doves, swallows, bulls, horses, cats, etc. are asked for sacrifice. Their blood is used at creating talismans and the rest, such as the organs, hair, nails/claws, etc. are for other uses, such as creating perfumes or parchment (as we find in many classical grimoires). Practices of animal sacrifice can also be found in Liber Juratus Honorii.
* Be careful how you read the grimoires, because many terms can create confusion. An important example is the term “kid”. This is a reference to a young goat, not a child.
This is by no means an act of respect towards the animal. Animals should be respected. More often, we should choose to sacrifice animals who are suffering. The practitioner releases the animal from the pain, and prays to God (if he is a Christian/Jew), Satan (if he is a Satanist) or Eurynomous (if he is a Demonolater, since Eurynomous is said to be the demon of death) to take care of the animal’s soul. As I’ve heard (though I’m not 100% sure of this), American Indians and even Vodou priests used to sacrifice animals and they used to pray for the animal’s forgiveness and soul. A shamanic example of forgiveness from the animal’s soul is the circular dance of the hunters. Again, the solidarity I was speaking of, citing Mircea Eliade, exists in the ‘secrets of the hunters’ communicated to the youth through initiation.
In every second an animal dies so that we may not starve. Every day an animal dies so that another one may survive. Why can’t an animal die once a year in your god’s name ? This is of personal preference. It is an offering that people chose to give to their gods . Of course, this is not the only physical offering we give to our gods. We can also do blood offering, food offering, drink offering (especially red wine or alcoholic beverages) and even semen offering all according to the tradition and magical ideology.
In Satanism and some Demonolatry sects, the animal that is to be sacrificed is mostly a small one, such as a frog, gerbil, rat, mouse, hamster, but most of all chicken because most people choose to cook and eat it at a feast afterwards. As it is stated again in Remy’s “Demonolatry”, people use to give black cocks or hens (stated by Desiree Paray of the district Etival in November 1589). This is a symbolic action. When you consume it, you become one with the animal. When you sacrifice it, you become one with the animal.
I want to state this again: It is a practice of personal preference. It’s up to the individual. I do NOT urge or recommend this to anyone and I highly recommend that if you read this article and wish to sacrifice animals, to be careful with the laws in your country. Although animal sacrifice is legal in some countries, it may not be the case in the country you live in. I advice you to consult a lawyer and find out about it before doing anything. Even if religious sacrifice is legal, I’m not sure if it’s applicable for any religion. It also depends on the way you sacrifice the animal, on the animal, the place where you sacrifice it and in what conditions. So be careful.
As I was saying, Animal Sacrifice is a practice with a deep meaning, and a very difficult thing to do. First of all because it is a highly emotional thing to do. Especially because if you choose to dedicate an animal to the gods, you must treat it with great respect to ‘make it sacred’. You need the animal to get close to you and viceversa, to take care of it and love it with all your heart. You need to have a small animal that will grow and grow to need you. You must feed it, care for it and the whole ten yards. You must treat this animal next to sacred and make it get used to you and love you. You must never get angry with it. The animal must learn to trust you. You must also purify this animal once a month . Thus, this would get to be a very hard thing to do, because it is something dear to you.
According to ONA’s Sinister Tradition, in the past the initiate was constrained to experience many things in reality, and was led into situations that were sometimes dangerous, not to mention difficult. These experiences were meant to take the individual to his limits, teaching him how to face them and exceed them. To learn how to accept and embrace death, injustice, greed.
The same thing with animal sacrifice. It is a lesson that might affect the practitioner in a bad way, making him feel guilty and hunting him for the rest of his life, or in a good way, making him stronger, making him strong enough for the world, making him accept that this world is indeed cruel at times, making him understand and appreciate the value of life.. a life that can be taken so easily. When you sacrifice the animal, you also sacrifice a part of yourself, because it is not an easy thing to do. It is a difficult and emotional thing to do and this it can be considered an act of loyalty and dedication to the gods. Mircea Eliade explains that this natural empathy, this “mystical connection” between the killer and the victim can be found in any form of killing, even in the case of the palaeoanthrope hunters, because “the spilt blood is resembling the human blood” and “the hunt reveals an affinity between human societies and the animal world”. Thus, death unites the two interchangeable parts.
Continuing to talk about the hunters and the mystical relationship with the hunted animal, we’re reminding the fact that in the past there have been beliefs such as the transformation of a human into an animal (still present in folklore or mesoamerican nagualism) or the belief in reincarnation into an animal (like in the Hindu culture).
Using again Eliade as a source, we’ll be talking about the Lord of Animals, that was watching over the hunter so he may not kill more than he needs in order to feed.
“In addition, certain patterns of religious behavior are peculiar to hunting civilizations. For example, killing the animal constitutes a ritual, which implies the belief that the Lord of Wild Beasts takes care that the hunter kills only what he needs as food and that food is not wasted. Then, too, the bones, especially the skull, have a marked ritual value (probably because of the belief that they contain the “soul” or the “life” of the animal and that it is from the skeleton that the Lord of the Wild Beasts will cause a new flesh to grow); this is why the skull and the long bones are exposed on branches or on high places. Finally, among certain peoples the soul of the slain animal is sent to its spiritual home (cf. the “bear festival” among the Ainus and the Giliaks).” – Mircea Eliade, History of Religious Ideas volume I, chapter 1.2, University of Chicago Press, 1981.
Many such rituals and ceremonies can be found throughout history, such as offerings of skulls and long bones, or the painting of the walls and faces with blood.
The deposits of skulls and long bones have been compared with the offering brought at the first hunt in some arctic populations to some Supreme Being, where they were offering the brain and the marrow of the animal, meaning the parts most appreciated by the hunters. However, this theory has been criticized and abandoned by many historians.
The psychological act of taking its life and giving it to a particular god changes the relationship you have. This is proof that nothing is stronger then the bond between you and that god. This creature’s death is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
But, as I said, it is of personal preference. It’s up to the individual, so you can renounce these practices if you don’t find them useful. Animal sacrifice could be placed in a category of practices that remove the ritual’s intention. Not because it doesn’t have a purpose in the ritual, but because it is a difficult thing to do especially for an animal lover and thus the practitioner would start focusing on the pain of the animal rather than the ritual itself. So in this case, if you are not able to do it, don’t. It is a ritual one should not begin until years of devotion, understanding and occult practice before you consider it. Life is precious, and death is simply a cycle of this, but should be honored and respected.
The sacrifice is also a strong tool in magical practice. Stephen Flowers, Ph.D., tells us that the original magical papyri (he was referring especially to the PGM, or Papyri Graecae Magicae) contain many rituals that imply animal sacrifice or the use of substances obtained from dead animals. Flowers explains that at that time (about 1500-2000 years ago) if a magical ritual asked for the “blood of a black ass, it was really no more a rare ingredient than, let’s say, the crank case oil of a black Chevy pickup truck would be today.”
Many grimoires suggest that the sacrifice is an action done to increase the supply of magical power. In occult theory, a living creature is a storehouse of energy and when it is killed most of its energy is suddenly liberated. When this energy is liberated the magician can make use of it by numerous methods, absorbing it, directing it or controlling it.
This energy or force comes from two “parts” of the living creature. The first is the spiritual part. When a living creature dies, there is a discharge of bio-electrical energy very similar to the phenomenon which occurs during profound heightening of emotions such as sexual orgasm, anger, fright, sadness and happiness/love. All of these emotions can be used in magical operations but the bio-electrical energy is a bit different. For example, sexual orgasm can be used to increase magical power and different spiritual conditions (ecstasy/trance).
The second is the physical part. It is an ancient idea that blood is the life-energy of a being. As it is well known, blood is used in ritual practice. It can be used in protection, destruction, offerings etc. If you have stumbled upon the idea of Blood Rites and Blood Offering you might have asked yourself what is the purpose of blood in the ritual.
Blood, sweat, tears, urine, semen.. All of these is said to contain life-energy. They are used in rituals for various purposes. And because we’re talking about sacrifice, we’ll take blood as an example. Blood (including menstrual blood) is used for various purposes in ritual, such as: anointing candles, people, adding to inks or to sign parchments, oleums and drinks.
Another purpose of blood in ritual is to offer it to the spirits and the Demons. It is used by magicians as a proof of loyalty. It represents giving a part of yourself. Also, in a more practical matter, blood is used to offer energy to the spirit.
However, I shall not get into this subject more than I already have. To give an ending to this article, I will respond to your question: Yes, animal sacrifice is a tradition of great importance in many religions and in magic. Yes, it is still practiced today. What you think of this is up to you.