Blood Ritual Is More Common In Christianity Than Witchcraft

If witchcraft makes you think of bloodletting and baby fat, it may surprise you to know, blood rituals are more common in Christianity than in witchcraft.

What is a blood ritual?  And why does it scare us?

Blood ritual, in this context, refers to the use of blood in a religious or spiritual ceremony.

Obviously, the primal nature of blood, as well as its association with death and injury, make it an unsettling, but psychologically powerful substance.

It’s no surprise, then, that the idea of blood sacrifice and bloodletting has been used to create a sense of fear and misunderstanding around modern witchcraft.

Blood Letting & Witchcraft

But for all the Hollywood trope and impressively scary childhood sermons, blood ritual is actually quite unusual in modern witchcraft.

Let’s look at Wicca. 

Because like it or not, that’s what most people in this country think of when they think of witchcraft.

They don’t care that the terms witchcraft and Wicca aren’t interchangeable.  So, let’s just give that up for a moment.

It’s hard to blame them for what is, after all, just a misunderstanding.  While not representative of all, or even most, forms of witchcraft, Wicca is undeniably the largest witchcraft-incorporating religion in the United States.

Or, at least, the largest religion that acknowledges openly what they do is, technically, witchcraft, as most anthropologists define the term. 

In reality—can I just say this?  Can we, maybe, just for a second, be honest about this? 

In reality, you all practice witchcraft.  All of you. 

(Yeah, even the atheists.  If you’ve never done it, then I’d wager you’ve never been in genuine fear for your life).

If we are defining witchcraft as the use of ritual to influence the outcome of events in our lives, every single major religion in the world employs witchcraft.  So stop being so judgy about it. 

If it makes you feel more graceful, I’ll ask you nicely: 

Please.  Stop being so judgy.  

But back to Wicca and sacrificing babies.  Or whatever crazy shit you people think is involved.

Wicca has no widely recognized rites that require blood or bloodletting.  

A typical moon circle much more often makes sacrifices of wine, flowers, or smoke offerings.

This isn’t to say blood sacrifice never happens.  Because it is so decentralized and wide-ranging in belief and practice, when it comes to modern witchcraft, it is almost always a mistake to say never.

What you hear is true, to some extent.  In folk magic and particularly sympathetic folk magic, some practitioners do occasionally incorporate blood in their rituals.

Most commonly, it involves a pricked finger or a few drops in a spell jar

But it’s probably not the masochistic bloodbath you imagined.  (It’s okay, I agree:  That would be much more interesting).  

Really, it’s no big deal. 

I mean, it is to us, because it’s our private, sacred, spiritual experience.  

And although it is a natural, totally human practice, in a science-based, post-Christian world, for so many of us it has become shameful.  But I don’t mind showing you, or talking about it, because I actually don’t think it’s that weird.

Or, at least, it’s not any weirder than any of the other shit everyone else doing in the name of spiritual experience.

Have you really never, in your whole life, pricked your finger and rubbed it into your childhood friend’s similarly pricked finger to seal your bonds?

What I can say with certainty is that seriously injuring a person or involving them in a ritual against their will is at least as unacceptable in modern witchcraft circles as it is in Christian circles.

Of course, there always is that one crazy guy who bludgeons his family to death and blames your spiritual tradition for all his tragic psychodrama. 

Whenever that happens, prosecutors and the media love to point to the nutty witchcraft community with all our cats and weird herbs. 

But let’s get one thing straight:  Jim Jones and David Koresh were both Christian clergymen, and we don’t paint the whole Christian community with one brush just because a couple of narcissistic yahoos went sailing off the crazy cliff.


Christianity, Blood Ritual & Transubstantiation

And yet blood ritual does take center stage every Sunday at Catholic churches around the world.

According to the Catholic faith, during mass, the Eucharist (that little cracker thing everyone else gets to eat except you) and the wine (the booze everyone gets to drink except you—at a time when let’s face it, you probably need it), become the body and blood of Christ.

That little moment is called transubstantiation.

And although not all practicing Catholics actually believe this, it is the official position of the Roman Catholic church that the transition from bread/wine to flesh/blood is not symbolic, but literal.

That’s right.  Next time your auntie lectures you about the “demonic nature” of witchcraft, just remind yourself she’ll be noshing on the Son of God at the Easter service.

I don’t mean to be irreverent.  Or to make light of a ritual that is, for many, a sacred experience.

For the record, I think (and really, who cares what I think, but for what it’s worth) Mass is a quite beautiful and fascinating ritual.

I’m just saying, according to the very clergy that administers it, and the religious governing body that sanctions it, the Catholic mass is a blood ritual.

It’s no bloody big deal.

Religions around the world have, since forever, regarded blood as a sacred and life-giving substance.

It’s no surprise, then, that the ruby red stuff made its way into sacred rituals of many stripes.

I have a few concerns about it, and they are as follows:

1.  It seems like a good way to spread bloodborne pathogens.  There’s a reason your medical team tosses bloody things into the bin marked biohazard.

2.  People in unbalanced or troubled psychological states could easily take it in the wrong direction.  The old folks called this “self-mutilation.”  Young people call this “self-harm.” 

I’m over here, sitting on my couch, at 2 o’clock in the morning, in my underwear, trying to figure out how we politicized even this, and trying to come up with a way to talk to all of y’all about what WE ALL KNOW is happening in our families, our communities, maybe in our own lives.  You want to call it witchcraft.  You want to blame my community, and my people, for the universal pain of being human?

Fine.  Whatever.  It’s all our fault.

Just please, please help the people you know who are suffering in this way.  Please.  Any way you can.

3.  I personally think blood is icky and I don’t even want to change my own Band-Aid, but that’s truly my problem and not yours. 

(In case you were wondering, the red stuff in the photo is food dye and cocoa powder.  For the photographers in the house, just so you know, the texture is tricky, but it’s doable if you’re not in a time crunch).

What I don’t worry about is my community descending into murder-worship or indulging in blood orgies for kicks.

That sounds ridiculous because it is.

Happy Samhain, everyone!  Wishing you (and all those beyond The Veil) a joyous reunion.

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