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Blood Sacrifice and Contemporary Polytheism

By Christos Pandion Panopoulos

Sacrifice and especially the Blood Sacrifice is the central single act of worship within the Hellenic Religion, around which all other acts of worship revolve. Everything from petitions to the Gods, to prayers, thanksgiving and general worship is organized and focused on this single act of Sacrifice. Ceremonies of a communal character which did not involve animal sacrifice were a small minority and had to do with peculiarities of specific cults rendering these to be the exception rather than the rule. The practices and views of some of the mystery cults or philosophies, as per example the Pythagoreans, some Orphics, etc expressed partial or total abstinence from blood sacrifices and the consumption of the sacrifice. However, contrary to current views held in polytheistic circles in recent years, these cults and their practices were at best very limited and not widespread.

It is important to note that, in ancient times, the consumption of meat as sustenance was, if not exclusively, but certainly to a large extent linked to the act of sacrifice. One of the reasons for this was due to the prohibitive expense of meat which rendered the eating of animal flesh limited to days of rituals or other celebrations where sacrifices would take place. It was rare and a treat reserved for special occasions to have a meal of meat in ancient Hellas. Today, despite the general overconsumption of meat, the average person pretends to consider the ‘act’ of blood sacrifice as barbaric, arguing passionately against it, hoping to absolve themselves of the responsibility for the impersonal and disrespectful treatment of the slaughtered animals.

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