Theistic Satanism: Home > Politics > Animal Sacrifice
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2003, 2005 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
Most Satanists in America today, including most theistic Satanists, do not practice animal sacrifice. However, some do. Those who do should be aware of the legalities.
Animal sacrifice and Satanism
Many Satanists, especially LaVeyans, not only don't practice animal sacrifice themselves but are strongly opposed to it. According to The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey:
The supposed purpose in performing the ritual of sacrifice is to throw the energy provided by the blood of the freshly slaughtered victim into the atmosphere of the magical working, thereby intensifying the magician's chance of success.
The release of this force is NOT effected in the actual spilling of blood, but in the death throes of the living creature! This discharge of bio-electrical energy is the very same phenomenon which occurs during any profound heightening of the emotions, such as sexual orgasm, blind anger, mortal terror, consuming grief, etc. Of these emotions, the easiest entered into of one's own volition are sexual orgasm and anger, with grief running a close third. Remembering that the two most readily available of these three (sexual orgasm and anger) have been burned into man's unconscious as "sinful" by religionists, it is small wonder they are shunned by the "white" magician, who plods along carrying the greatest of all millstones of guilt!
The inhibitive and asinine stupidity of the need to kill an innocent living creature at the high point of a ritual, as practiced by erstwhile "wizards," is obviously their "lesser of the evils" when a discharge of energy is called for. These poor conscience-stricken fools, who have been calling themselves witches and warlocks, would sooner chop the head off a goat or chicken in an attempt to harness its death agony, than have the "blasphemous" bravery to masturbate in full view of the Jehovah whom they claim to deny! The only way these mystical cowards can ritualistically release themselves is through the agony of another's death (actually their own, by proxy) rather than the indulgent force which produces life. The treaders of the path of white light are truly the cold and the dead.! No wonder these tittering pustules of "mystic wisdom" must stand within protective circles and bind "evil" forces in order to keep themselves "safe" from attack -- ONE GOOD ORGASM WOULD PROBABLY KILL THEM!
Under NO circumstances would a Satanist sacrifice an animal or baby! For centuries, propagandists of the right hand path have been prattling over the supposed sacrifices of small children and voluptuous maidens at the hands of diabolists. It would be thought that anyone reading or hearing of these heinous accounts would immediately question their authenticity, taking into account the biased sources of the stories. On the contrary, as with all "holy" lies which are accepted without reservation, this assumed modus operandi of the Satanist persists to this day!
There are sound and logical reasons why the Satanists could not perform such sacrifices. Man, the animal, is the godhead to the Satanist. The purest form of carnal existence reposes in the bodies of animals and human children who have not grown old enough to deny themselves their natural desires. They can perceive things that the average adult human can never hope to. Therefore, the Satanist holds these beings in a sacred regard, knowing that he can learn much from these natural magicians of the world.
( From The Satanic Bible, 1969, Avon Paperback, pp. 87 to 89, in the context of a chapter which okays limited "human sacrifice" in the sense of curses, but not in the sense of actual physical murder.)
Unfortunately, LaVey's comments imply that if you do practice animal sacrifice, you should do so in a deliberately cruel manner, to maximize the animal's "death throes."
But this is not the traditional idea at all, in religions and magical traditions that practice animal sacrifice, including traditional ideas on demon evocation. In traditional 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. Why? Because, traditionally, animal sacrifice is about blood, not "death throes." Therefore, even if you do practice animal sacrifice, there is still no excuse for cruelty to the animal.
I personally don't practice animal sacrifice. Nor do I believe that animal sacrifice serves any valid purpose in the context of Satanism. Yet I don't necessarily have a big problem with people (especially non-Satanists) who do practice anmal sacrifice, as long as the animal is killed in a reasonably humane manner - and preferably eaten afterwards. Furthermore, I don't believe it is in the best interests of Satanists to oppose the religious freedom of people who do practice animal sacrifice. Our own religious freedom, as Satanists, depends on other controversial religious minorities having religious freedom too.
Here in the United States, the main religions that practices animal sacrifice are the African Diaspora religions such as Santeria. Also, Jewish kosher slaughter can in some ways be regarded as practice similar to animal sacrifice (killing animals in a religious setting). And, of course, ancient Judaism practiced full-fledged animal sacrifice, as spelled out in detail in the Old Testament.
Killing animals may seem barbaric to us pampered Americans, who eat meat from animals killed in slaughterhouses rather than from animals we have killed with our own hands. However, not too many generations ago, our ancestors routinely killed their own animals to eat. And, in many parts of the world, people still do.
In a world in which people killed their own animals for food, it was only natural to make a religious ritual of it, at least sometimes, just as many people today still say grace before meals. Killing an animal as part of a ritual and then eating it is not, in itself, any more cruel than just killing the animal and then eating it.
As I said, I personally do not practice animal sacrifice, nor do I endorse it in the context of Satanism. The traditional idea behind animal sacrifice is that it somehow feeds the gods. I do not believe that Satan needs to be "fed." Apparently some other, lesser gods or other spirits do need or want that particular kind of attention. But Satan Himself does not seem hungry for human worship of any kind, let alone sacrificial worship.
As far as I can tell, the vast majority of theistic Satanists do not practice animal sacrifice either. I've run into a few who do, and, so far, I have not been favorably impressed. To be fair, I should mention that the few animal sacrificing theistic Satanists I've spoken to did seem to be motivated by a sincere religious belief and, contrary to popular stereotype, did not seem to me to be just thrill-killers. Nevertheless they seemed to me to be extremely immature, both intellectually and emotionally, and they had an unnerving tendency to emulate the most obnoxious fundamentalist Pentecostal/charismatic-type Christians in many respects. I'm still open to the possibility that I might someday meet an animal sacrificing theistic Satanist whom I can respect, but at this point it seems highly unlikely.
Animal sacrifice doesn't make sense in the context of most forms of theistic Satanism that I'm aware of. But it does make sense in the context of traditional folk religions. And it makes sense for Satanists to favor the religious freedom of traditional folk religions. It makes sense for us to uphold the religious freedom of all who practice animal sacrifice in a reasonably humane manner - even the relatively few Satanists who do so, however misguided the rest of us may think they are.
Animal sacrifice and the law
In 1993 C.E., the Supreme Court decided to strike down a law against animal sacrifice. However, the decision does NOT mean that animal sacrifice is necessarily legal. It forbade laws which single out animal sacrifice in particular. But animal sacrifice can still be prosecuted under other, more general laws, e.g. against cruelty to animals, depending on where you live.
Constitutionally permissible laws which effectively outlaw animal sacrifice are less likely in rural areas (e.g. where hunting is allowed, or where there are still some small family farms where people still kill their own animals for food) than in cities or suburbs. However, even in rural areas, there might still be some relevant local laws, depending on what kind of animal you kill, how you kill it, how you take care of the animal before you kill it, and what you do with the carcass afterwards.
If you do practice animal sacrifice, make sure you find out the relevant laws in your area. These include not only animal cruelty laws and sanitary laws, but also such laws as zoning ordinances (e.g. against the possession, breeding, sale, or slaughter of live fowl or grazing animals in a residential or commercial area). Even if you live out in the boonies, you should still consult a lawyer.
Below are two collections of links. Both collections include both articles written for the general public and articles in law journals and such.
First, some information about the Supreme Court decision itself:
- Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Ritual Animal Sacrifice (July 1993) on the National Drug Strategy Network site
- Animal Sacrifice: US Supreme Court Rules to Defend the Ritual, in Hinduism Today, September 1993.
- Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993), in Supreme Court Decisions on Religious Liberty, in the Agnosticism/Atheism section on About.com
- Supreme Court Ruling on Santeria Animal Sacrifices on the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance site
- Inside the Supreme Court on the Institute for First Amendment Studies site
- Brief Regarding Animal Sacrifice on the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye site
- Brief by various animal-rights groups on Animal Rights Law
- The Supreme Court on Santerķa by Peter Biella
- Church of lukumi Babalu Aye, vs. City of Hialeah on Journey to the One
- Supreme Court Protection Regarding Animal Sacrfice on The Munanso Siete Rayos (Palo Mayombe)
- Church of lukumi Babalu Aye, vs. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993) (complete text of the Supreme Court decision) on FindLaw
- Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (91-948), 508 U.S. 520 (1993). on Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute site.
Second, here are some articles about the ways that animal sacrifice can still be prohibited, plus some other relevant legal issues:
- Animal Sacrifices: Cruel Rituals on the website of the animal rights group PETA
- Five People Charged with Animal Cruelty in Santeria Sacrifice Case (August 23, 2002) on AnimalRights.Net
- Mother Wins Custody of Son, Even Though She Practices Animal Sacrifice (Detroit News, January 20, 1994)
- On the Animal Rights Law site:
- Contradictions Will Out: Animal Rights vs. Animal Saccifice in the Supreme Court (PDF file) by Henry Mark Holzer, in Animal Law Review, Volume 1, 1995
Note: This page provides only an introduction to the relevant legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, for which you should consult a lawyer regarding the laws in your area.