Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice

“I believe in the search of the fawn,
the forest creatures wild, but so am I.
The bloody noses, the broken arms,
lessons learned well in mythology.”
~”Radiology” by Lovedrug

Myth is visceral. Raw. Primal. Both a reflection of human life, and a model for it, taken to the extremes where a moment of hiding becomes a mad run and leap from a cliff, and a knife in the chest can sometimes be as simple as a hello, how are you?

My god, Zagreus, was castrated, dismembered, and eaten in myth. I was, in some versions, raped and drowned. But for those of us who are tied into mythology, things do not always stay so remote as the telling of a story: we live it, again and again.

I am not saying that I make a habit of physically going for a pleasant evening run off a cliff, or that my significant other is currently in the other room being made into a stew. It does not play out on a physical scale so much as during the course of spiritwork: dreams, visions,  raw feeling.

It is hard to describe to someone who has not engaged in similar spiritwork how utterly real it feels. How something that happens in a different realm can be so intricately tied to this one to the point that it can engage physical sensations here. How you can go through something in a dream or a vision that you have never gone through in a physical sense, but later do and are stunned by just how much they are the same.

My patterns and path deal with the visceral. Ripping hearts from chests and swallowing them. Having flesh scraped away from bone, and watching blood be soaked into soil. Water filling lungs and stealing breath; fire rippling over and consuming skin; being crushed and smothered by burial in damp earth. Sometimes in the throes of sexual ecstasy; sometimes in the harrowing loneliness that seeps into the very marrow of bone. But it is always about the same thing. It is all about connection: gaining it, having it, losing it.

It is painful. It is also beautiful, delving into the deepest fibers of being, and shredding anything that prevents complete union. It appears obscene, but to those who live it, it is sacred, whole, honest, and utterly pure.

I now live in a society that is rarely honest. Sex and violence are only acceptable if they are extreme and detached from emotion, in which case they permeate everything. The second you give either meaning, you are suddenly morbid and in need of a psychiatrist. I was raised with meat that came in styrofoam and cling-wrap, and to point out its true origins was to make other family members lose their appetites. Fur was considered disgusting, but leather boots were all the rage – so few remember that leather is skin.

I watched a documentary recently that indicated cannibalism occurred in ancient Minoan society, as part of a religious rite. But the way it was presented painted the act as being beyond ghastly and savage, meanwhile painting the Greeks as the epitome of civilized. This infuriated me.

I see nothing inherently wrong with human sacrifice or cannibalism. I cannot say definitively that I myself would not engage in it. I believe it is one of those things I cannot know unless it comes up, and I very highly doubt it ever will in a physical sense. But I also think there is a right and a wrong way to do it.

Sacrificing war criminals, kicking and screaming, to one’s gods is not the right way. It is an insult to both the person being forced against their will in an entirely foreign culture, and an insult to the god – what are their people giving up? Nothing that would be an actual sacrifice. This is, of course, my very biased opinion.

The right way is for a person who feels it to their core that being sacrificed to their god is somehow their path, to give themselves up. The outer circumstances may give them no choice, but to yield and comply and find meaning in that brings meaning not only to them, but to others as well.

I live in a culture where everything I have written so far for this post would unsettle the majority of people, and yet many of those same people follow a religion that has their savior telling them to consume his body on a regular basis. For some people, that is very literal. It can be a moving experience, when not sterilized. You take away the rawness of it, and you rip away its meaning.

The path I walk is not for everyone. But I need it. And I think that others who walk a similar path will probably agree with me that there is beauty in the harshness.

About Reconstructing the Labyrinth

Hello! My name is Bri, and I run the blog Reconstructing the Labyrinth. I am a pagan who works primarily with the Minoan pantheon, of which I believe myself to be an incarnate member. I am also genderqueer, pansexual, and demisexual. I have a wonderful, loving partner. I am a mixed-media artist and writer with a great fondness for plaid and amaretto-flavored coffee.
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4 Responses to Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice

  1. Jack says:

    This is gorgeous. Thank you for saying it.

  2. hexeengel says:

    Wonderful. So many Pagans today gloss over the fact that their ancestors, whether biological or spiritual, likely performed ritual sacrifice, even of other humans. You embrace it, and that is a beautiful thing.

    Because I adore etymology, I’ll add here that “sacrifice” linguistically, shares a root with “sacred.” So to sacrifice something/-one is to make it/them sacred, consecrate it/them to the Gods and elevate it/them to the level of worship (which, incidentally, stems from “Wyrd-shape,” to affect one’s fate with the help of one’s Gods).

    • I am very glad you think it is a beautiful thing. It frustrates me how many people do not.

      I am also a huge etymology fan; some of my planned PBP posts are basically delving into the etymology of words (like my post on bravery). I did not think of the connection between “sacrifice” and “sacred”. It seems kind of obvious in hindsight. Thank you so much for bringing it up! It is fascinating and I want to look more into it.

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