Animal Sacrifice, a Right not Necessarily Guaranteed

Humane Treatment of Animals is Imperative

There are no absolutes when it comes to rights. The legal system in the United States allows for continuous challenge of all and any laws. Therefore, the hard earn right to animal sacrifice that took years and massive resources to be won at the Supreme Court level is and will always be open to challenge.

It is imperative that all practitioners of the Lukumí community and of all other African Traditional Religions are fully aware that their conduct and behavior when performing animal sacrifice will always be under scrutiny and that it affects not only those around their ilés (osha houses) but also the community at large. There is no way to circumvent this reality.

A recent event such as the arrest on July 11, 2011 of Raúl Armenteros, a Cuban porn star who was transporting animals in a van with the windows rolled up and under sweltering conditions in Miami, Florida, sheds a negative light onto our community, not once but with twice the power.

Firstly, his chosen profession is no positive reflection onto our community, but then again, I am sure there is Christian, Jewish and Buddhist porn stars somewhere to be found as well. The issue is they do not get arrested for stupidly transporting animals for a sacrifice focusing undue and detrimental attention to our community. Quite frankly I am disgusted by the negative attention and I think the full weight of the law should fall upon this individual for his lack of judgment.

No right is eternal. If we are to preserve the integrity of our religion, it is fundamental that we continue to have the right to animal sacrifice. No blood, no birth of Orishas, it is as simple as that.

What to do as a community?

Ilés need to have as part of the training to members a serious discussion about the fragility of our rights to Animal Sacrifice. Rights that must be preserved at all cost and the role we all have as responsible practitioners to act with decorum and respect when preparing to conduct and performing animal sacrifice. Part of this is to impart among ilé members clear guidelines as to what is necessary in the process of purchasing, transporting, keeping and sacrificing an animal. However, mere education is not a deterrent for improper handling, ilés should also consider carefully a set of fines if rules are broken as some folks only learn the hard way and the mistakes made by one single individual can and will erode the hard won rights we now brandish thinking them eternal.

Let me repeat this for clarity: No right is eternal.

Here are some key discussion items that should be part of a conversation in any ilé:

1. Selection of animals for sacrifice
2. Handling of fowl and four legged animals
3. Proper selection of vehicles for animal transportation
4. Cages (dimensions must allow the animal to stand comfortably and have proper ventilation)
5. Animals must have access to food and water if they are going to be held in waiting
6. What to do if an agent of the law and order detains a member of the ilé
7. Consideration of community at large and their sensitivities. The fact that Orisha followers practice animal sacrifice and we have the right to do so, does not make it palatable or has to be forced down the throats of other people
8. Practice prudence, caution and don’t flaunt your rights
9. Understand local health and sanitation ordinances
10. Know how to dispose of ritual remains in a manner according to ritual specifications, local law and common sense. Polluting water sources, street corners and public spaces is not an option.

This is a serious call to action to all responsible godparents and to all African Traditional Religion followers out there. It is imperative to take appropriate steps to preserve the rights we have. This is not a matter to be taken lightly and it is certainly something that can’t be swept under a magic rug.

Furthermore, there is an underlying issue that also needs to be addressed and that is the quality of initiates we continue to allow into our ranks. Think of it. We have the right to choose who comes or who does not into our ilés. Certainly the orisha selects heads, but the heads of the priests who perform initiations are not ornaments and money should not be the only criteria of admittance into the orisha ranks. Tell me the company you keep and I will tell you who you are. Likewise, your character will be reflected in the manner in which treat and care for the lives you intend to offer the orisha to placate, initiate or thank them for favors rendered.

There is only one way to do things, the right way and this will preserve our rights. Did I say this before? No right is eternal.

Omimelli
Oní Yemayá Achagbá

Reference to articles:
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/crime/mh-raul-armenteros-animal-cruelty-20110722,0,248367.story
http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/22/2326852_miami-porn-star-jailed-but-not.html#storylink=addthis

About Omimelli

I am a Olosha or Santera and for years I have been at the service of the Orisha and the community. I am initiated to Yemayá and my father in osha is Aganjú. I am also an initiate of Palo Mayombe and hold the title of Yaya Nkisi. As part of my daily devotional I spend time at my bóveda and work with my spirits on regular basis.
This entry was posted in Palo Monte, Santeria, Vodou. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Animal Sacrifice, a Right not Necessarily Guaranteed

  1. Theresa Green says:

    I totally agree with everything you have written. Hopefully people will abide by it!! I for one do not make sacrfices, but to each his own. I have family members who practice the religion..

    I just wanted to say “BRAVO”.. well said..

  2. Omimelli says:

    Hi Theresa,

    Logic needs to be brandished a bit more often in our religious realm, it would save us so much trouble.

    Thank you for your encouraging comment.

    Omimelli

  3. misha says:

    I have read this article with interest…and agree on certain points….if a animal is to be used for sacrifice then it should be honoured…and making money out of animal neglect reflects the nature of their soul…so well done for writing the article…each to their own indeed but with awareness..

    • Omimelli says:

      Hello Misha,

      Thanks for your comments and for visiting the blog. I agree about how treatment of animals intended for sacrifice reflect deeper sides of our personality.

      Good observation.

      Omimelli

  4. Oluwabenga Adebisi says:

    This is a very important post. Good work!

  5. Enox J. Rios says:

    That was well writen. Thank you for putting the word out there.

  6. Tata Nkisi Lucero Vira Mundo says:

    being a city-folk, in a place where finding the remains of a trabajo on a railroad track is enough to stop a train, disposing of an animal in plain sight would be insane – especially given the very large amounts of animal rights people who would instantly brand the finding as the worst in abuse – it takes a lot of planning to dispose of a sacrifice. Having multiple places to alternately go, knowing where to go in the woods, and knowing when trash pickup is for a number of easy to reach (but away from the house) dumpsters is paramount to not raising any suspicion. It ain’t easy – but its doable. Knowing your surroundings, high levels of skill with handling the animals, and a very sharp mbele (to lessen the time it takes for the animal to go) is paramount to not drawing attention to oneself. Even if we are given universal rights to openly practice, it is still bad form to force our ways onto others. We do have to keep others in mind when doing this sort of thing – especially when it is not there way.

    Very good article.

    • Omimelli says:

      Tata Nkisi Lucero Vira Mundo

      Very good insights as well you are sharing. Nothing beats being prepared.

      Thank you

      Omimelli

  7. Baba Akinkugbe Karade says:

    Ashe! I don’t know if the points expressed in this message could be said any better.

  8. David says:

    So glad to have someone of intelligence posting about our tradition.

  9. Sue K. says:

    If this hard-earned privilege to sacrifice animal for religious purposes ends, it will happen bit by bit. Look at how “legal” sales of marijuana was eliminated in certain counties in Colorado. First, the shop owner was required to have armed security. Of course it has to be a real cop. Then demands for a special type of security system costing tens of thousands of dollars, that once purchased, was immediately overridden by a new ordinance for another security system costing even more. The owner walked away from new construction with no business Please do not think about this too concretely. Demands for sanitation systems can easily be required and the resulting costs of litigation would likely not be easily borne by many in our community. Conditions on farms and records of sales can be legislated locally by creative haters and we currently do not have the ability or resources to fight more than one case at a time.

    • Omimelli says:

      Sue

      I am sorry I am not following your conversation or its relevance on this forum. Marihuana and its legal use or not is not something I want debated in this forum.

      Please keep within the subject posted or refrain from posting.

      Omimelli

  10. Sue K. says:

    What I am trying to show is the legal parallels that can occur when there is an activity that is perceived as “unwanted” in a community even though there is an established “right” to engage in the activity. This one happned to be convenient and recent with a difficult outcome. That is what I meant by not getting too concrete in thinking about this kind of issue. We need to think outside the box, creatively, in order to anticipate and not just respond to challenges. There are proactive measures we should take like the ones you have outlined.

    • Omimelli says:

      Sue

      You are correct on the fact that we need to act creatively. This is why we ally ourselves with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which can see the bigger picture on defending one religious right such as ours. If one religious right is chipped away other parts of the Constitution can be easily disputed.

      I simply did not like the Marihuana example because it bears no constitutional grounds, there is no rights to be intoxicated or drugged guaranteed in the Constitution and in my view it cheapens our stand point. Sometimes we do have to be careful on the examples we share in public forums such as this one.

      Thanks for explaining further your point of view.

      Omimelli

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