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Thread: Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

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    Member GardenOfShadows's Avatar
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    Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

    Simply put, is there any way to practice this tradition without involving animal sacrifice in any way? I know only the priests do such rituals, but surely there are more rituals that don't involve sacrifice? One could be solitary or only go to group rituals when sacrifice is not involved.

    Or, is it so ingrained in the culture that it pretty much comes with the whole package, and to deny the practice would be a form of cultural appropriation (as I heard someone once put it)?

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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

    I don't really know enough about these paths to say whether it's possible or not.

    But it might be helpful to explore your dilemma a bit. How much of a deal breaker is animal sacrifice for you? Are you aware that the animals are usually eaten after they are killed, and that they are usually killed skillfully and humanely? Do you eat meat or are you vegetarian or vegan? How do you feel about using animal parts? I don't know about Santeria and Yoruba, but a lot of the African folk practices that were imported into the Afro-Caribbean religions involve not just animal sacrifice, but also the use of animal bones, horns, claws, skulls and other bits and pieces. If this is a central part of those paths as well, then is this also a problem for you? How strongly are you drawn to the path itself?

    These are all largely rhetorical questions that are just about examining what you believe and whether or not this is something that actually is a problem for you, or just seems like a problem. Lots of people get squeamish about the animal sacrifice part straight away, because they don't understand how it actually works within the culture. If this path is something that you are drawn to, I think it's worth exploring this further. Of course... maybe you've already been through all those questions and know very well why you don't like that aspect, in which case, ignore me lol.

    As far as the cultural appropriation thing goes... usually that is about cherry picking practices, rather than omitting a single practice that you don't agree with. Of course, it does depend on the practice that is omitted. If you adhere to 99% of the practices and omit one little thing that is not a core practice, then that's not cultural appropriation. If you do 99% of the practices but omit a big huge 'essential' aspect, then you aren't really following that path. In which case you need to think carefully about whether you should be following that path, or looking elsewhere. I've never really looked into it in detail, but Santeria is heavily influence by Catholicism, no? And Yoruba is the original African practice, rather than Afro-Caribbean per se? Which actually makes them two different paths, albeit related. So which is it that you are drawn to? Is there a different but related practice that also draws you, whether a Yoruba-derived one or one derived from one of the other African traditions?

    And having said all that, some people don't care about cultural appropriation and feel that you should be able to do whatever you like. It's up to you do decide whether it matters to you or not.

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    Member GardenOfShadows's Avatar
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    Re: Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    I don't really know enough about these paths to say whether it's possible or not.

    But it might be helpful to explore your dilemma a bit. How much of a deal breaker is animal sacrifice for you? Are you aware that the animals are usually eaten after they are killed, and that they are usually killed skillfully and humanely? Do you eat meat or are you vegetarian or vegan? How do you feel about using animal parts? I don't know about Santeria and Yoruba, but a lot of the African folk practices that were imported into the Afro-Caribbean religions involve not just animal sacrifice, but also the use of animal bones, horns, claws, skulls and other bits and pieces. If this is a central part of those paths as well, then is this also a problem for you? How strongly are you drawn to the path itself?
    I don't think it's a deal breaker, per se. My biggest issue is that the animal will be treated cruelly and inhumanely. There have been allegations of animal offerings just being left out to rot in the open, rather than being used of properly. I have no issue with animal bones being used (I think that's interesting, to be honest). I guess my squeamishness comes from my Western/Christian upbringing and from my two years as a practicing Buddhist. That, and the fact I'm surrounded by a bunch of hard science individuals who view this stuff as stupid superstitions.

    As for why I'm drawn to this path? Sacrifice aside, there is just such a deep spiritual element to this path. Just from looking at photos of it, I feel the presence of something greater than myself. It also doesn't help that there are almost literally no other pantheons I feel an attraction towards.


    As far as the cultural appropriation thing goes... usually that is about cherry picking practices, rather than omitting a single practice that you don't agree with. Of course, it does depend on the practice that is omitted. If you adhere to 99% of the practices and omit one little thing that is not a core practice, then that's not cultural appropriation. If you do 99% of the practices but omit a big huge 'essential' aspect, then you aren't really following that path. In which case you need to think carefully about whether you should be following that path, or looking elsewhere. I've never really looked into it in detail, but Santeria is heavily influence by Catholicism, no? And Yoruba is the original African practice, rather than Afro-Caribbean per se? Which actually makes them two different paths, albeit related. So which is it that you are drawn to? Is there a different but related practice that also draws you, whether a Yoruba-derived one or one derived from one of the other African traditions?
    As far as I know, sacrifice is done only at huge rituals and ceremonies (initiations, birthdays of the Gods, etc.). Pretty much all other offerings are things like flowers, fruits, veggies, and candy. Also, as far as I know, Santeria and Yoruba are basically the same. With Santeria having a huge Catholic influence and Yoruba being more "pure", so to speak.

    And having said all that, some people don't care about cultural appropriation and feel that you should be able to do whatever you like. It's up to you do decide whether it matters to you or not.
    Hmm, fair enough.

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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

    Quote Originally Posted by GardenOfShadows View Post
    I don't think it's a deal breaker, per se. My biggest issue is that the animal will be treated cruelly and inhumanely. There have been allegations of animal offerings just being left out to rot in the open, rather than being used of properly. I have no issue with animal bones being used (I think that's interesting, to be honest). I guess my squeamishness comes from my Western/Christian upbringing and from my two years as a practicing Buddhist. That, and the fact I'm surrounded by a bunch of hard science individuals who view this stuff as stupid superstitions.

    As for why I'm drawn to this path? Sacrifice aside, there is just such a deep spiritual element to this path. Just from looking at photos of it, I feel the presence of something greater than myself. It also doesn't help that there are almost literally no other pantheons I feel an attraction towards.
    If that's the case, you should be able to control which sacrifices you are exposed to, or give your support to via your attendance.

    Animal sacrifice doesn't have to be inhumane. As I mentioned before, if it's done skillfully and respectfully then it is actually MORE humane than the commercial meat industry. I don't know if you've ever killed or butchered an animal, or seen it done, but the commercial meat industry doesn't do it prettily. Abattoirs are terrible places full of fear and stress. That's not to say that the dais in front of a large crowd couldn't potentially be full of fear or stress, but it is a much more controllable environment and therefore has less potential for pain and cruelty.

    I watched a Louie Theroux documentary once about traditional religions, in which animal sacrifice played a bit part. I'm fairly sure that in parts of Asia and Africa, animal sacrifices are still performed with things like dogs and cats (and all sorts of other species). I don't recall which country it was, but Louie was present at the sacrifice of a pair of puppies and was having a pretty major ethical dilemma about it. I imagine that the standards in America would be different though... and it might be worth you looking into that. A lot of the horror stories and propaganda surrounding animal sacrifice stems from footage and practices that happen in second and third world countries, where the standards and values are different. There is also the fact that animal sacrifice in a lot of Afro-Caribbean and African diaspora religions in America are during public events, which means that they have to conform to certain standards in order to be able to do it.

    As for being left out to rot... again sometimes perspective is really important here. Personally I believe in respectful sacrifice and utilising the carcass, and probably wouldn't participate in sacrifice that didn't do this. But the commercial meat industry is incredibly wasteful and usually does the 'leaving it out to rot' thing on a HUGE scale. In the UK, there are abattoirs who are actually not legally allowed to sell the hides and horns of cattle that are slaughtered (and this is approved beef cattle, so mad cow disease is not the reason) so it is all incinerated. Yet the leather and clothing industry imports millions of dollars worth of hides (both raw and tanned) and horn from Asia. There are actually cattle farms in Asia who's express purpose is to breed horns for export to the UK... and in those cases the meat is actually the by-product of the horn industry (and yes, I am aware of the difference in Asian cattle breeds and what makes good beef vs dairy vs horn cattle, but this still illustrates my point). Not utilising the carcass fully is not at all unusual in the world of animal-part consumerism.

    In general, what happens in animal sacrifices is not that different to what happens in the meat industry, and in many cases is actually more humane and less wasteful. That may or may not factor into your decision, but it's something that I usually like to bring up when people talk about animal sacrifice, even if just to provide some perspective.

    It may be as simple as just not attending any groups that you feel didn't do a good job at it. Or not attending groups at all, if that's acceptable.

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    Re: Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

    Quote Originally Posted by GardenOfShadows View Post
    Simply put, is there any way to practice this tradition without involving animal sacrifice in any way? I know only the priests do such rituals, but surely there are more rituals that don't involve sacrifice? One could be solitary or only go to group rituals when sacrifice is not involved.

    Or, is it so ingrained in the culture that it pretty much comes with the whole package, and to deny the practice would be a form of cultural appropriation (as I heard someone once put it)?
    Mostly it depends to the way how you are doing your rituals and sacrifices, sometimes you don't have to do sacrifices but just make offerings. It can depend to the power your spirits have because many sacrifices are done for spirits when those spirits just need blood only, i have seen many incidents when you just present the animal to them and get drained its blood without a single cut yet others are offering just grains, fruits etc. But the spirits which takes animal blood are more powerful than those which takes grain that is why people prefer sacrifice than offering.
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    Re: Santeria/Yoruba without animal sacrifice?

    I know very little of Yoruba tradition, but since I am Brazilian I have some contact with it. Different Orixás demand different sacrifices, some of them need only specific palm oil and grainds, others need blood, blood is a way of showing your devotion. You have to kind of feed your link with the sacred realm with good actions and devotion, it yeah, it requires sacrifice. Some houses sacrifice more than others, specially ones dedicated to a Orixá who doesn't demand animal sacrifice tends to be very blood free.

    One thing I have to stress is that ALL animals sacrificed in Yoruba tradition are eaten afterwards, nothing goes to waste, but sacrifice is indivisible from Yoruba religion, it's one of my problems with it.

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