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Author Topic: questions on sacrifice.  (Read 627 times)

arete

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questions on sacrifice.
« on: September 28, 2018, 09:28:04 am »
I need help regarding sacrifices in pagan religions. What exactly is a sacrifice? Why practice a sacrifice? What do we gain when we sacrifice? Is a sacrifice necessary? I never understood sacrifices actually, up till now I worship the Gods by lighting candles.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2018, 07:55:05 pm »
I need help regarding sacrifices in pagan religions.

Well, I can give you the Hindu perspective on it. Not necessarily pagan, by this site's definition thereof.

What exactly is a sacrifice?

That's a hard one to answer. There seem to be two ways of thinking about it; some people see sacrifice as *any* offering given to the Gods at one's own expense. Other people see it as specifically an offering that requires pain, blood, or death of a person or animal. I happen to prefer the former definition, but the latter is more common and I'll be using that in this response.

Why practice a sacrifice?

Within Hinduism, there are two main reasons people perform a (blood) sacrifice. The first reason is Vedic ritual, and the second reason is Tantric ritual:

The Vedas are ancient poetic religious texts, written in the Bronze Age, that form the fundamental basis of all Indian religion, and specifically of Hinduism. For many millennia, they were the *only* religious texts within Hinduism, although starting in the late Iron Age, or early Classical Period, other writings began to appear and supplant Vedic rituals with newer ones. It's fair to compare these newer texts, including the Puranas and Upanishads, to the Christian "New Testament," and the older Vedic texts to the Christian "Old Testament."

All Hindus see the Vedas as true and valid, but most Hindus today don't use them anymore, because they believe they were written for an older age, when different Gods had different expectations for mortals. They are respected and studied for theological understanding, but they don't give modern Hindus much direct ritual guidance.

One of the rituals proscribed in the Vedas is animal sacrifice. In the Vedic period, most Hindus were NOT vegetarian, unlike later periods, it was mostly the priesthood who refused to eat meat. Rich Hindus who wanted the Gods to forgive their sins, or who wanted help from the Gods, would show their devotion by giving up a valuable animal and taking it to the temple, where a priest would kill it and give it to the Gods; the Gods don't actually eat meat in Hinduism, animal sacrifice was symbolic, not a food offering.

These types of rituals were done to please violent, ignorant, and capricious Gods like Indra and Agni, and later texts emphasize other Gods. Shiva, Vishnu, and Durga are the Gods most modern Hindus turn too, not Indra, and stories talk about Indra being defeated by Vishnu in combat, and made to bow down to him.

So, it is no longer theologically necessary to sacrifice animals to keep Indra happy, because Indra and other old Vedic gods are no longer in direct control of the universe, instead his role is much more limited.

According to tradition, sacrifice continued even after the Vedic period. People didn't know that those rituals were outdated and harmful, and kept doing them. This is, according to Hindus, why Vishnu manifested himself as the Buddha.

Unlike Indra, Vishnu cares about all life, and encourages kindness to animals, and vegetarianism. The sacrifice of animals offended him, and so he became a mortal man, Siddhartha Gautama, and spread a pacifist, animal loving religion across India, leading to the cessation of most Vedic animal sacrifices.

(As a side note, this is why some Hindus see Buddhism as a Hindu school; we believe the Buddha was one of our Gods in mortal form, and thus that his teachings are inspired, genuine Dharma).

So, that's the first form of sacrifice; why we did it, why we stopped doing it, and the story of it's practice.

The second form of sacrifice in Hinduism is Tantric. Tantra is a specific school of Hinduism that focuses on the self, and upon practical magic with material consequences. It could be compared to Witchcraft in that way, although unlike in the west, it's not suppressed or in conflict (in most cases) with mainstream Dharma.

In Tantra, worshipers focus on male and female divinity, and the different magic associated with the two divine sexes. The powerful, fierce, chaotic forms of Shiva, and especially of the Goddess, are the main focus.

The Tantric worshiper seeks to gain worldly power from their deities by performing magic rituals. Some Gods, who normally don't accept blood sacrifice, are given such as part of Tantric magic.

For example, Shiva would not accept meat in his temples, and most Shiavists are vegetarians, but some Tantric rituals involve slaughtering goats in his name. This is not common, however, and most Tantric sacrifices go to the Goddess.

The Hindu Goddess, or Goddesses, have many forms and many personalities. Think of it like the Christian trinity; there's only one Goddess (at least according to Shakta Hinduism), but she has many different personalities, names, and faces. These different Goddesses act differently and do different things.

Some Hindu goddesses accept meat eating and animal sacrifice in normal temple settings. In Bengal, it's common to see meat in Hindu households, and to see goats being killed in Shakta temples. This is because most of the Hindus in Bengal worship the Goddess.

(It's important to avoid sterotyping here! There are millions of Shakta Hindus who respect animals, and who do not eat meat or perform sacrifices! They allow more meat eating than other Hindus, but it's still less common than it is among Christians or Muslims, for example.

Some Shiavist and Vaishnava Hindus look down on Shaktists as being witches and cannibals, and other bad things, DO NOT buy into that, it's propaganda)!

So, that's the second form of sacrifice in Hinduism. It's still common today for *some* Shaktists to kill animals to please various Goddesses and to assist in magical rituals in modern India. However, even among Shaktists, it's not as common a thing as some outsiders want you to think it is.

NOTE; about human sacrifice:

No Hindu group endorses, or ever has officially endorsed, human sacrifice! It did happen in the British Colonial period among some cults, but even hardcore Tantrics would normally be very offended if you even suggested the idea. Human life is sacred in Hinduism, and despite what Indiana Jones might have you believe, we don't go ripping people's hearts out.

The "Thuggees" were an odd movement; they were a criminal group, who raped and stole and murdered, as well as an anti-colonial political group, and they had cult leanings. They reportedly did sacrifice people and did practice cannibalism, but they were a *criminal cult* and that's important to remember. There were also a lot of Muslims in the Thuggee cult, not just Hindus.

Don't base your views of us on them; they represent us about as well as Jim Jones represents Christianity.

Is a sacrifice necessary? I never understood sacrifices actually, up till now I worship the Gods by lighting candles.

No. According to all modern Hindus, even Tantric Hindus, sacrifice is not necessary at all, and most groups would even say it's actually bad to perform sacrifices.

Keep lighting candles, it my advice!


"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2018, 05:54:00 pm »
I need help regarding sacrifices in pagan religions. What exactly is a sacrifice? Why practice a sacrifice? What do we gain when we sacrifice? Is a sacrifice necessary? I never understood sacrifices actually, up till now I worship the Gods by lighting candles.

This obviously depends on the path.

"Sacrifice" in the sense of animal sacrifice has had a lot of different meanings in religion, historically. Based on my research on Hellenic religion, I can say that in that case, it was primarily about affirming a contract with the gods via a sharing of food: the non-edible parts of the animal were offered to the gods, and the edible parts were consumed by the people who participated in the ritual, and thus the harmony of humanity's relationship with the cosmos and its rulers was confirmed. Obviously there's way more scholarship on it than that, but the important thing here is that it was not a random killing for religious purposes--it was the same as any animal slaughter in that people ate the resulting meat.

In other words, in Hellenic practice, the significance was less about killing the poor doomed beast and more about offering something valuable that could be enjoyed by both the gods and the community. In that regard, it's not actually that different from you lighting candles, which presumably provide light that both you and your gods enjoy.
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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2018, 07:32:19 am »
I need help regarding sacrifices in pagan religions. What exactly is a sacrifice? Why practice a sacrifice? What do we gain when we sacrifice? Is a sacrifice necessary? I never understood sacrifices actually, up till now I worship the Gods by lighting candles.

Speaking from a Mesoamerican perspective, I don't divide everyday offerings from sacrifices. Sacrifices are essentially a westernised view of the concept, and I go with the Indigenous view, which does not categorically distinguish between different forms of offerings in this way. To Mesoamericans, offerings included flowers, incense, dances, poetry, songs, rubber, paper, jewels, crops, seeds, and craft goods. Blood and life were simply an extension of these other offerings.

For me, the principle reason to make offerings is a show of gratitude for the gifts offered to humanity by the gods. Indeed, the Nahuatl word for 'offering/sacrifice' is nextlahualli, which translates to 'debt-payment. This may be the cornerstone belief behind the entire Mesoamerican religious paradigm. Pretty much everything was seen as a gift from the gods, including agriculture, the calendar, warmth, rain, and so on and so on. By making offerings, people showed the gods that they appreciated and valued these gifts. If the gods were not show the appropriate amount of gratitude, they may withdraw their gifts, or worse. If they considered their relationship to be broken, they may become hostile to humanity, even sending disasters to punish them.

Offerings can also be a form of transaction. In this case the offering is used to buy permission to do something. The classic Mesoamerican example is making offerings before preparing a milpa, a traditional farm. However, offerings were also made when constructing buildings, cutting down trees, and hunting animals. I must also note that these two motives are not necessarily separate in practise. Thanking the gods also invited them to continue giving gifts to humanity, and 'buying' the favour of a god or spirit is a good way to show appreciation.

A third reason for an offering is expiation. Basically, offerings can be used to apologise for acting against the gods wishes. This can be seen as 'sin' in the Christian sense, but it isn't exactly the same. Mainly because a transgression may have very little to do with committing a moral wrong. It could (though not always) occur from simple things like accidentally damaging an idol, accidentally damaging the wrong tree, or something similar. An offering acts as an apology to divine beings, and also shows interest in re-establishing a previously existing relationship.

I think that these purposes are broadly similar between various polytheistic faiths, though they may differ in detail. However, there are a few points that are more unique to Mesoamerican religion that emphasise the importance of making offerings. In The Legend of the Suns, the gods create the world through acts of blood sacrifice. The poor god Nanahuatzin jumps into a bonfire to become the 5th sun. In his burning form he is unable to move, and so his heat scorches the land. In response the gods agree to be sacrificed by Quetzalcoatl, to fuel the magic which allows him to blow the sun onto its heavenly course. Later in the myth Quetzalcoatl recovers the bones of humanity from the underworld and takes them to the Cihuacoatl. She pounds the bones into dough, while he provides blood drawn from his penis to act as a binder. In these myths death creates life, and sets the heavens and the earth into their correct order.

Offerings were also seen as nourishing the gods. There is even a Nahuatl proverb that expresses this sentiment: 'We feed the gods, and the gods feed us.' This firmly puts offerings into the realm of a cosmic duty. This is especially true of earth deities. Offerings have a restorative/regenerative property which makes sense for agricultural societies like Mesoamerican nations. Humanity must act to restore the world and return what it has taken from the gods (combining all three of the previous motives). The rituals in which these offerings are made also have important contributions to make, and to be honest the ritual is part of the offering (though the preformative part rather than the material goods offered). Rituals have the effect of returning the earth to a earlier, mythic time, were the original events that created the earth could be reenacted (which was a major point behind many rituals). This allowed the Earth to be restored to a more fertile state, reinforcing the association between offerings and regeneration. An important point to note is that most Mesoamerican gods go through a cycle of death and rebirth, and offerings and rituals can call the gods back from their death states and easy the transition from one state to another, returning them to life.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2018, 09:01:12 am »
Well, I can give you the Hindu perspective on it. Not necessarily pagan, by this site's definition thereof.

That's a hard one to answer. There seem to be two ways of thinking about it; some people see sacrifice as *any* offering given to the Gods at one's own expense. Other people see it as specifically an offering that requires pain, blood, or death of a person or animal. I happen to prefer the former definition, but the latter is more common and I'll be using that in this response.

Within Hinduism, there are two main reasons people perform a (blood) sacrifice. The first reason is Vedic ritual, and the second reason is Tantric ritual:

The Vedas are ancient poetic religious texts, written in the Bronze Age, that form the fundamental basis of all Indian religion, and specifically of Hinduism. For many millennia, they were the *only* religious texts within Hinduism, although starting in the late Iron Age, or early Classical Period, other writings began to appear and supplant Vedic rituals with newer ones. It's fair to compare these newer texts, including the Puranas and Upanishads, to the Christian "New Testament," and the older Vedic texts to the Christian "Old Testament."

All Hindus see the Vedas as true and valid, but most Hindus today don't use them anymore, because they believe they were written for an older age, when different Gods had different expectations for mortals. They are respected and studied for theological understanding, but they don't give modern Hindus much direct ritual guidance.

One of the rituals proscribed in the Vedas is animal sacrifice. In the Vedic period, most Hindus were NOT vegetarian, unlike later periods, it was mostly the priesthood who refused to eat meat. Rich Hindus who wanted the Gods to forgive their sins, or who wanted help from the Gods, would show their devotion by giving up a valuable animal and taking it to the temple, where a priest would kill it and give it to the Gods; the Gods don't actually eat meat in Hinduism, animal sacrifice was symbolic, not a food offering.

These types of rituals were done to please violent, ignorant, and capricious Gods like Indra and Agni, and later texts emphasize other Gods. Shiva, Vishnu, and Durga are the Gods most modern Hindus turn too, not Indra, and stories talk about Indra being defeated by Vishnu in combat, and made to bow down to him.

So, it is no longer theologically necessary to sacrifice animals to keep Indra happy, because Indra and other old Vedic gods are no longer in direct control of the universe, instead his role is much more limited.

According to tradition, sacrifice continued even after the Vedic period. People didn't know that those rituals were outdated and harmful, and kept doing them. This is, according to Hindus, why Vishnu manifested himself as the Buddha.

Unlike Indra, Vishnu cares about all life, and encourages kindness to animals, and vegetarianism. The sacrifice of animals offended him, and so he became a mortal man, Siddhartha Gautama, and spread a pacifist, animal loving religion across India, leading to the cessation of most Vedic animal sacrifices.

(As a side note, this is why some Hindus see Buddhism as a Hindu school; we believe the Buddha was one of our Gods in mortal form, and thus that his teachings are inspired, genuine Dharma).

So, that's the first form of sacrifice; why we did it, why we stopped doing it, and the story of it's practice.

The second form of sacrifice in Hinduism is Tantric. Tantra is a specific school of Hinduism that focuses on the self, and upon practical magic with material consequences. It could be compared to Witchcraft in that way, although unlike in the west, it's not suppressed or in conflict (in most cases) with mainstream Dharma.

In Tantra, worshipers focus on male and female divinity, and the different magic associated with the two divine sexes. The powerful, fierce, chaotic forms of Shiva, and especially of the Goddess, are the main focus.

The Tantric worshiper seeks to gain worldly power from their deities by performing magic rituals. Some Gods, who normally don't accept blood sacrifice, are given such as part of Tantric magic.

For example, Shiva would not accept meat in his temples, and most Shiavists are vegetarians, but some Tantric rituals involve slaughtering goats in his name. This is not common, however, and most Tantric sacrifices go to the Goddess.

The Hindu Goddess, or Goddesses, have many forms and many personalities. Think of it like the Christian trinity; there's only one Goddess (at least according to Shakta Hinduism), but she has many different personalities, names, and faces. These different Goddesses act differently and do different things.

Some Hindu goddesses accept meat eating and animal sacrifice in normal temple settings. In Bengal, it's common to see meat in Hindu households, and to see goats being killed in Shakta temples. This is because most of the Hindus in Bengal worship the Goddess.

(It's important to avoid sterotyping here! There are millions of Shakta Hindus who respect animals, and who do not eat meat or perform sacrifices! They allow more meat eating than other Hindus, but it's still less common than it is among Christians or Muslims, for example.

Some Shiavist and Vaishnava Hindus look down on Shaktists as being witches and cannibals, and other bad things, DO NOT buy into that, it's propaganda)!

So, that's the second form of sacrifice in Hinduism. It's still common today for *some* Shaktists to kill animals to please various Goddesses and to assist in magical rituals in modern India. However, even among Shaktists, it's not as common a thing as some outsiders want you to think it is.

NOTE; about human sacrifice:

No Hindu group endorses, or ever has officially endorsed, human sacrifice! It did happen in the British Colonial period among some cults, but even hardcore Tantrics would normally be very offended if you even suggested the idea. Human life is sacred in Hinduism, and despite what Indiana Jones might have you believe, we don't go ripping people's hearts out.

The "Thuggees" were an odd movement; they were a criminal group, who raped and stole and murdered, as well as an anti-colonial political group, and they had cult leanings. They reportedly did sacrifice people and did practice cannibalism, but they were a *criminal cult* and that's important to remember. There were also a lot of Muslims in the Thuggee cult, not just Hindus.

Don't base your views of us on them; they represent us about as well as Jim Jones represents Christianity.

No. According to all modern Hindus, even Tantric Hindus, sacrifice is not necessary at all, and most groups would even say it's actually bad to perform sacrifices.

Keep lighting candles, it my advice!
Very enlightening. and I am happy that blood sacrifice is unimportant!

arete

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2018, 09:12:38 am »
This obviously depends on the path.

"Sacrifice" in the sense of animal sacrifice has had a lot of different meanings in religion, historically. Based on my research on Hellenic religion, I can say that in that case, it was primarily about affirming a contract with the gods via a sharing of food: the non-edible parts of the animal were offered to the gods, and the edible parts were consumed by the people who participated in the ritual, and thus the harmony of humanity's relationship with the cosmos and its rulers was confirmed. Obviously there's way more scholarship on it than that, but the important thing here is that it was not a random killing for religious purposes--it was the same as any animal slaughter in that people ate the resulting meat.

In other words, in Hellenic practice, the significance was less about killing the poor doomed beast and more about offering something valuable that could be enjoyed by both the gods and the community. In that regard, it's not actually that different from you lighting candles, which presumably provide light that both you and your gods enjoy.
the sacrifice in this occasion is actually sharing food. they sacrifice a goat that was gonna be eaten anyway.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2018, 09:21:26 am »
Speaking from a Mesoamerican perspective, I don't divide everyday offerings from sacrifices. Sacrifices are essentially a westernised view of the concept, and I go with the Indigenous view, which does not categorically distinguish between different forms of offerings in this way. To Mesoamericans, offerings included flowers, incense, dances, poetry, songs, rubber, paper, jewels, crops, seeds, and craft goods. Blood and life were simply an extension of these other offerings.

For me, the principle reason to make offerings is a show of gratitude for the gifts offered to humanity by the gods. Indeed, the Nahuatl word for 'offering/sacrifice' is nextlahualli, which translates to 'debt-payment. This may be the cornerstone belief behind the entire Mesoamerican religious paradigm. Pretty much everything was seen as a gift from the gods, including agriculture, the calendar, warmth, rain, and so on and so on. By making offerings, people showed the gods that they appreciated and valued these gifts. If the gods were not show the appropriate amount of gratitude, they may withdraw their gifts, or worse. If they considered their relationship to be broken, they may become hostile to humanity, even sending disasters to punish them.

Offerings can also be a form of transaction. In this case the offering is used to buy permission to do something. The classic Mesoamerican example is making offerings before preparing a milpa, a traditional farm. However, offerings were also made when constructing buildings, cutting down trees, and hunting animals. I must also note that these two motives are not necessarily separate in practise. Thanking the gods also invited them to continue giving gifts to humanity, and 'buying' the favour of a god or spirit is a good way to show appreciation.

A third reason for an offering is expiation. Basically, offerings can be used to apologise for acting against the gods wishes. This can be seen as 'sin' in the Christian sense, but it isn't exactly the same. Mainly because a transgression may have very little to do with committing a moral wrong. It could (though not always) occur from simple things like accidentally damaging an idol, accidentally damaging the wrong tree, or something similar. An offering acts as an apology to divine beings, and also shows interest in re-establishing a previously existing relationship.

I think that these purposes are broadly similar between various polytheistic faiths, though they may differ in detail. However, there are a few points that are more unique to Mesoamerican religion that emphasise the importance of making offerings. In The Legend of the Suns, the gods create the world through acts of blood sacrifice. The poor god Nanahuatzin jumps into a bonfire to become the 5th sun. In his burning form he is unable to move, and so his heat scorches the land. In response the gods agree to be sacrificed by Quetzalcoatl, to fuel the magic which allows him to blow the sun onto its heavenly course. Later in the myth Quetzalcoatl recovers the bones of humanity from the underworld and takes them to the Cihuacoatl. She pounds the bones into dough, while he provides blood drawn from his penis to act as a binder. In these myths death creates life, and sets the heavens and the earth into their correct order.

Offerings were also seen as nourishing the gods. There is even a Nahuatl proverb that expresses this sentiment: 'We feed the gods, and the gods feed us.' This firmly puts offerings into the realm of a cosmic duty. This is especially true of earth deities. Offerings have a restorative/regenerative property which makes sense for agricultural societies like Mesoamerican nations. Humanity must act to restore the world and return what it has taken from the gods (combining all three of the previous motives). The rituals in which these offerings are made also have important contributions to make, and to be honest the ritual is part of the offering (though the preformative part rather than the material goods offered). Rituals have the effect of returning the earth to a earlier, mythic time, were the original events that created the earth could be reenacted (which was a major point behind many rituals). This allowed the Earth to be restored to a more fertile state, reinforcing the association between offerings and regeneration. An important point to note is that most Mesoamerican gods go through a cycle of death and rebirth, and offerings and rituals can call the gods back from their death states and easy the transition from one state to another, returning them to life.
As I understand it, the Gods are very active in the world and they need feedback from us. Like a duality, one cannot exist without the other. We also take part to the formation of the world, so we sacrifice.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2018, 06:35:56 pm »
"Sacrifice" in the sense of animal sacrifice has had a lot of different meanings in religion, historically.

Gong by this definition, Ancient Egypt didn't really do sacrifices. Food offerings could include cooked meat, but killing the animal wasn't part of the ritual (as far as I know).

Also, the significance of offerings was less about "giving up" something than sharing -- the gods consume the spiritual essence of the offerings, and then leave divine energy in its place, which the human followers receive when they eat the offerings afterwards.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 02:32:47 pm »
Gong by this definition, Ancient Egypt didn't really do sacrifices. Food offerings could include cooked meat, but killing the animal wasn't part of the ritual (as far as I know).

Also, the significance of offerings was less about "giving up" something than sharing -- the gods consume the spiritual essence of the offerings, and then leave divine energy in its place, which the human followers receive when they eat the offerings afterwards.
I like this a lot. It's like blessing the food.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2018, 05:55:08 am »
I need help regarding sacrifices in pagan religions. What exactly is a sacrifice? Why practice a sacrifice? What do we gain when we sacrifice? Is a sacrifice necessary? I never understood sacrifices actually, up till now I worship the Gods by lighting candles.
From an in-religion standpoint, most religions that have historically practised animal sacrifice in some form or another consider the act of sacrificing a form of reciprocity or hospitality. We give, so that They might give in return. It's the continuation of a cycle of giving and receiving, which is why a lot of ancient polytheistic religions are sometimes described as "contractual religions". The ancient Romans, for instance, saw it as the cosmic end of the overall network of patron-client relationships that made Roman society function; the continuation of an established relationship between man and the gods. The concept of pax deorum, the "peace of the gods" was critical to understanding Roman ritual. It was believed that sacrifice, but especially animal sacrifice, maintained this peace.

From an outside standpoint, that of anthropologists attempting to discern how these rituals came about before we developed the terms and concepts to contextualize them, there are several theories. The most widely known and accepted in Classical studies is the "Man the Hunter" theory of Walter Burkert, as outlined in Homo Necans. The gist is that animal sacrifices were/are latter-day reflections of much older hunting rituals. Because humans lacked natural hunting instincts, we turned intra-species aggression outwards towards prey animals; but in doing so, quarry took on the attributes of a near-equal, leading to feelings of guilt that had to be expiated through ritual-- typically offering up the unusable portions of the quarry to the spirits or gods. When we shifted to agriculture, these reasons faded away but the rituals remained and were recontextualized using livestock.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2018, 12:49:36 pm »
From an in-religion standpoint, most religions that have historically practised animal sacrifice in some form or another consider the act of sacrificing a form of reciprocity or hospitality. We give, so that They might give in return. It's the continuation of a cycle of giving and receiving, which is why a lot of ancient polytheistic religions are sometimes described as "contractual religions". The ancient Romans, for instance, saw it as the cosmic end of the overall network of patron-client relationships that made Roman society function; the continuation of an established relationship between man and the gods. The concept of pax deorum, the "peace of the gods" was critical to understanding Roman ritual. It was believed that sacrifice, but especially animal sacrifice, maintained this peace.
we give what? animals? we don't own the animals. poor goat, it gets killed.


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From an outside standpoint, that of anthropologists attempting to discern how these rituals came about before we developed the terms and concepts to contextualize them, there are several theories. The most widely known and accepted in Classical studies is the "Man the Hunter" theory of Walter Burkert, as outlined in Homo Necans. The gist is that animal sacrifices were/are latter-day reflections of much older hunting rituals. Because humans lacked natural hunting instincts, we turned intra-species aggression outwards towards prey animals; but in doing so, quarry took on the attributes of a near-equal, leading to feelings of guilt that had to be expiated through ritual-- typically offering up the unusable portions of the quarry to the spirits or gods. When we shifted to agriculture, these reasons faded away but the rituals remained and were recontextualized using livestock.
when someone is hungry he doesn't feel guilt when he kills to eat  :-\

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2018, 12:54:06 pm »
when someone is hungry he doesn't feel guilt when he kills to eat  :-\


Oh I don't know, I watch a lot of Naked And Afraid and a lot of those people get quite emotional when they make a kill in order to be able to eat.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2018, 12:59:08 pm »

Oh I don't know, I watch a lot of Naked And Afraid and a lot of those people get quite emotional when they make a kill in order to be able to eat.
but when the hunger burns we end up killing the animal.  :-\   

or we eat vegetables  :)
« Last Edit: October 09, 2018, 01:04:12 pm by arete »

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2018, 05:14:29 am »
we don't own the animals.
Uh, yes we do. That's how livestock works.

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when someone is hungry he doesn't feel guilt when he kills to eat  :-\
When you humanize the animal as a sort of equal, as a worthy opponent instead of just meat, you probably would.

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Re: questions on sacrifice.
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2018, 04:20:03 pm »
but when the hunger burns we end up killing the animal.  :-\   

That's why they would need a ritual, I expect: to deal with bad feelings over something they had to do. Dealing with mental conflicts like that is one of the things rituals are good for.

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