Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Brief Note on Sacred Animals (We aren't Hindus)

So, I have stumbled onto a couple of posts, most recently this one (to save you the pain of reading it TL;DR Deers are a symbol of Artemis. I'm not eating them.) which basically go 'Oh, an animal/animals are sacred to this or that God! I shan't eat them any longer!'

Not exactly the best conclusion.
Just because an animal is 'sacred' does not mean that we cannot consume it or that we shouldn't consume it. Bulls were sacred to Zeus, and they were sacrificed to him, goats to Pan, rams to Hermes, it goes on. As with most Greek sacrifices, these animals were not (usually, the exception being holocaust offerings) just killed and left to rot or just utterly destroyed. No, they were consumed. Likewise, a hunter might pray or make offerings to Artemis to help him find, kill, and eat a stag. 'Sacred' has a lot of loaded connotations that we may unnecessarily carry over into our conclusions of things. So, if sacred animals aren't necessarily to be treated with extra reverence in the form of not eating them, what makes them sacred?
They act as symbols or representations of a God or Goddess and their power or aspects. Owls held a wisdom connotation, and so they were associated with Athena, sparrows were lascivious little birds so an Aphrodite association developed. Bulls are virile, strong, fertile, so they represent Zeus. It goes on and on, the 'sacredness' of an animal is not an order (usually) not to kill or eat it, rather it is a way for us to look at an animal and be reminded of the strength, beauty, majesty, and power of our Gods.

Of course, Aldridge and whoever else are allowed to draw whatever conclusions they want. I just think it might be beneficial to remember that we aren't Hindus. Sacred does not equal do not eat.

(Of course. . .this isn't going into the Mystery traditions or the various schools like Pythagorianism and Orphisim. Take this post for what it is worth, brief and general!)

Flight of Europa taken by cliff1066 on Flickr

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A young man living in North Texas. He is an actor, a Hellenistos, and a proud member of Hellenion.