Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Miami Animal Sacrifices?

It's generally well-known that Miami, Florida is home to a substantial population that practices Afro-Caribbean religions such as Santeria and Voudon. One of the issues involved when living in such an area is that occasionally the remains of animal sacrifices are discovered. This last weekend, the remains of a goat and several chickens were found in a bag floating near a South Beach luxury condominium complex. Investigators suspect that the animals were sacrificed as part of a religious ritual.

"I was looking in the water, and I see this blue bag and it looked like a leg of a goat coming out and some feathers," Floridian condo security guard Karim Mora, who made the grisly discovery, told NBC6. “So right there, I knew what it was."

The Miami Beach Police department declined to investigate because the apparent sacrifice didn't appear to target an individual, spokesman Bobby Hernandez told the Miami Herald. "Unfortunately, this kind of thing does happen around here with all of the different cultures," he said.

CBS Miami reports that after examining the carcasses, animal abuse activist Richard Couto of the Animal Recovery Mission suggested the animals may have been been killed in a rite for Santeria or Palo Mayombe, an even more obscure religion with Cuban origins. Police officer Nelson Reyes, who teaches a law enforcement course in Afro-Caribbean religious practices, suggested it might have been related to Haitian Voodoo.


While police note that whoever killed the goat and chickens did not dispose of them properly, it should also be pointed out that it was not so many years ago that a discovery like this would have prompted a full-on moral panic and quite possibly a substantial criminal investigation. Remember the film The Believers, which pretty much skewered Santeria practitioners as a bunch of murderous cultists? That came out in 1987. In less than twenty years its actually pretty remarkable the extent to which opinions have shifted with regard to religions that are out of what is generally considered the cultural mainstream.

All that being said, my understanding is that the usual practice with animal sacrifices is to butcher and eat said animals after the rite. Simply dumping them in the ocean is something to be avoided, both for reasons of public health and public perception.

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3 comments:

Frater.Barrabbas said...

If the sacrifice is for a cleansing, jynx removal or a kind of exclusive payment to the Lwe, then it would be completely wrong to eat it. So, it depends on the purpose of the sacrificial offering. My .02, of course.

Scott Stenwick said...

That's good to know. Still, I remain convinced that better disposal options exist than simply dumping the remains in the ocean.

Davezilla said...

The ocean is often where the sacrifice is supposed to be delivered, depending on what divination (diloggun) called for. Unlike Western traditions, the divination of African-based faiths not onlyinstruct us on what, when and how to sacrifice, but also what to do with it afterwards. Nine times out of ten, it goes in the garbage. If the sacrifice was Santeria, then the aladimu ("hot sacrifice") would be delivered to Yemoja (she owns the euphotic layer of the oceans) or Olok├║n (he owns the depths of the seas). This Santero's 2¢…