Sacrifice in Satanism
This article will explore the role of Sacrifice in Satanism, from a Satanic perspective. The word sacrifice is derived from "sacer" meaning sacred1. A sacrifice may be a part of a religious ritual or rite that is meant to honor a god, or the spirits of the departed. For those that do practice it for a religious purpose, sacrifice of animals is protected according to the US Constitution, as long as the sacrificed animal is not tortured and the animal is consumed afterward.
Ancient Cults and their Beliefs
Religous sacrifice has a long history. In ancient times, sacrifice was accepted as a part of daily life. For example, many cultures have used sacrifice as a way to appease the gods or to pay tribute to their religion. It was something that had been practiced around the world by many cultures, sometimes with brutal consequences. For instance, the ancient Canaanites believed that their Bull-Headed Sun god, Moloch demanded many sacrifices. Once a year parents would line up with their firstborns to offer them as a sacrifice to the Bull-Headed god. The statue was built to look like huge bull man. Sacrifices were placed in the hands of the god statue and raised to the mouth, where they fell into the burning fires inside the statue. People danced around below the statue, and played flutes and tambourines to drown out the sounds of screaming. To them it was honorable to sacrifice to their god2, but for us in our modern society acts like this seem violent.
Santeria and it's Modern Influence
A religion today using the rite of animal sacrifice is Santeria. The word Santeria means 'Way of the Saints'. This is a traditional tribal Afro-Caribbean religion based on elements of Catholicism. Sacrifice of small animals such as chickens are a part of their religious rites or initiations. Those who practice Santeria claim to treat their sacrifice in a humane manner.
The beliefs of Santeria are based on the 'Oriesha' who must continually be fed through ritual sacrifice. The Orisha spirits represent the Santeria version of God. Since Santeria uses elements from Christianity, they claim that sacrifices to God have been practiced for many centuries. The Santeria religion is protected and allowed to Sacrifice during ritual according to the US and Canadian constitution3.
Unfortunately, religions like Santeria are all too often labeled as 'Satanic' when they have nothing to do with Satanism. Many times it has been investigated as a possible Satanic sacrifice when the two are not related.
The Myth of Satanic Sacrifice
Why is sacrifice so often related to Satanism? To explore this you have to understand the impact that Satanic panic has had over people for centuries. Ever since Christianity became the favored religion in any society, those who are not part of the Christian cult are often labeled as evil, and associated with acts like sacrifice.
The main focus of the Satanic panic of the 80's was based on the activities of supposed Satanic cults. Speculation and lies heightened the fears of the public, and raised a false awareness about cults, and Satanism in general. All to often when these types of cases are investigated it is found that there is no evidence to any real connection to Satanism. It provides a scapegoat for those who want to act out in anti-social ways and for those who are mentally unstable, who blame it on Satanism as a convenient way to explain their behaviors.
Those who are Satanists today would generally agree, that ritual sacrifice is not a part of Satanic practices. Many Satanists will cite the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, written by Anton LaVey, which state explicitly "Do not kill any non-human animal except for food"4. Although I am not a LaVeyan Satanist, I agree with these words in the Satanic Bible. Most Satanists who are law-abiding citizens would agree with this statement. A practicing Satanist, knowing that these things are against humanity and that they are illegal, would not participate in these 'occult crimes'.
With the general Christian perception that Sacrifice is common in Satanism it is not unusual for those who are uneducated on the history of Satanism to follow along with a Christian view on what Satanists practice. This is unfortuate as it feeds into what Christians say about us, and it really has nothing to do with Satanism at all.
While sacrifice is practiced by some religions, it is shunned by others. I do not see a need for sacrifice in my ritual work, or as a part of my
religious beliefs. I love and respect nature, and energy that is needed or created for ritual or magick comes from the will. Even in
the act of sacrificing something, it is the intention and the focus of energy which is most important.
© Venus Satanas
1. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sacrifice c.1250, from O.Fr. sacrifise (12c.), from L. sacrificium, from sacrificus "performing priestly functions or sacrifices," from sacra "sacred rites" (prop. neut. pl. of sacer "sacred," see sacred)[accessed 9/25/08]
2. The Jewish Encyclopedia, Search "Moloch"
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=718&letter=M&search=moloch [accessed 9/25/08]
3. Santaria http://www.religioustolerance.org/santeri1.htm [accessed 9/25/08]
4. From the Eleven Satanic rules of the earth, Anton Szandor LaVey "do not kill any non-human animal uness for food"
http://www.churchofsatan.com/Pages/Eleven.html [accessed 9/25/08]