"Blood Rites" will appear in Pentacle Magazine.

UPDATE: Pentacle Magazine hasn't updated its web site since Autumn 2010, and its editor hasn't responded to my query about this piece, so I have withdrawn it and submitted elsewhere.

I'm pleased to announce that my article, "Blood Rites: The Case Against Animal Sacrifice" will appear in a forthcoming issue of Pentacle Magazine. The article is a polemic against the practice of food-based, ritual animal slaughter in Paganism.

For those of you who aren't Pagan, perhaps a bit of explanation is in order. The practice of animal sacrifice in modern Paganism is relatively new and primarily confined to farmers and homesteaders who are members of reconstructionist denominations and their close circles of fellow practitioners. The animal is slaughtered for meat, part of the meat is offered to the Gods and the rest is cooked and consumed in a ritual feast. So we're talking about a very small number of actual sacrifices here.

However, the ideology of animal sacrifice is gaining some traction in parts of the Pagan community as a way to reconnect with authentic, pre-Christian Paganism, and modern Santeria practices are often cited as justification for it. Most of the arguments for this kind of animal sacrifice are rooted in food and make the assertion that sacrificed animals live better and die better than their factory-farmed counterparts. My article removes food from the equation and discusses the spiritual implications of animal sacrifice exclusive to Paganism.

For the record, I find the practice theologically antiquated, in addition to my obvious reservations about it as an ethical vegan. It speaks to a transactional relationship with the divine, where something is given up in order to get something else, a common enough motif among early, animistic peoples who went through periods of privation but problematic for modern Pagans. We should know better now than to kill animals so the Gods will like us better.

The piece itself already has a colorful history, which I'm not prepared to disclose at present, but I will say that I look forward to finally seeing it in print. Afterward, I'll probably make it freely available on my web site.