Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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While Waiting for the Sacrificial Procession to Begin



This conversation could have taken place before any sacrificial procession in antiquity.

In fact, it happened last week at the 2021 Midwest Grand Sabbat.


Why do we cover our heads when making sacrifice?

That's an interesting question, R___. Let me tell you both what I know, and what I infer.

The custom of covering the head while sacrificing is so old that everyone simply takes it for granted. I've never heard even one story explaining why we do it; by all authorities, the practice is simply assumed.

This, of course, is in itself odd: religious practices tend to accrete explanatory stories around them.

As a show of respect? Well, that's the reason sometimes given, though it's worth asking why a covered head should be considered more respectful than an uncovered one.

So let me speak instead out of my own experience: I can give you two good reasons, and both are to do with focus.

The first is the focus of the officiant. When offering, your entire focus needs to be on the act you are performing. Draping the head cuts off the peripheral vision and damps down the hearing, preventing—or at least lessening—the chance of distraction.

The second is the focus of those in attendance. As human beings, we automatically look to one another's faces. The act of draping the head de-emphasizes the face, and says: Look not at me, but at what I am doing; which, of course, is exactly the point in ritual.

Ah, the horns. Here we go. Remember, keep the spacing even.

Let the procession begin.


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