Blood sacrifices today are simply a stupid idea. Period.
There, I got that out. I'll explain my rationale (Rational Heathen -- get it?) and why I believe that there is no reason people should take an animal's (or person's) life as a sacrifice to the gods.
The Gods Don't Need Your SacrificeAssuming our religion and beliefs aren't just some mass delusion on the part of a number of people, including myself, our gods don't need a sacrifice in any fashion. They've been doing fine without that dead chicken or goat for billions of years, thank you. If they eat, your scrawny attempt at giving them something is laughable. You want favor from a god? Live the way the god or goddess expects you to.
I've never heard of someone being an absolute shit in the stories, making a sacrifice, and having the gods say, "Okay, Bro, you gave us a delicious barbecue pig, we're going to cut you some slack for being a shit all your life and grant you something you wanted." See: The Gods are Not Your Bitches, if you still don't get it.
So, they don't need the blot, whether it's mead, a box of Twinkies (wink), or a chicken. We offer the blot to show our appreciation to the gods and ask (nicely) if they would do us a favor. The gods don't necessarily accept the offering, although it's now gone, so whether it works or not is pretty much immaterial.
Taking a life -- any life -- is serious business. Our ancestors understood that when they slaughtered or butchered animals. In terms of human sacrifice (and I can't BELIEVE I have to talk about this), the sacrifices weren't as clean or as positive as you'd think. More often than not, it was a way to disposed of enemies, or, in the case of the account of sacrificing the slave girl, it was a way to behave barbarically.
Sorry folks, our ancestors weren't always right.
It sounds callous, but I truly believe that sacrificing an animal means nothing to you, other than seeing an animal die. Before you get all pissy, hear me out. Nowadays, most people do not make their living in agriculture or raising herds (or flocks). In fact, I'd bet that even if you sacrificed your own animal, it doesn't really take anything away from you in a serious financial way. Our ancestors sacrificed animals because animals were a form of wealth (Fehu). Sacrificing an animal meant you were showing how serious you were to the gods about your request. You were willing to sacrifice your hard-earned wealth for the favor. Think of it as taking a pile of money and burning it. Yes, that's what it was like.
Now, you may argue with me that you paid a couple hundred dollars for that goat. Okay, yeah. But you invested NOTHING. You didn't help kid it. You didn't raise it and plan on it being a dairy goat. You didn't spend much (if any) time with it. Look, I raise goats, and I don't sacrifice them to the gods on a desperate attempt at getting favor from the gods. Yes, I do slaughter them from time to time, largely because I have wethers (castrated males) who basically are being raised for meat. But these guys have a purpose to feed me. And if I dedicate them to my gods, I do it without ceremony.
If you want to sacrifice something that means something to you to the gods, try an iPhone, your Internet connection, or your car. THEN, you have something that means something to you. Not sure what Thor would do with an iPhone, but hey, it's electric.
Gods help you if you fuck up the slaughter and make a total hash out of it. Remember, you're probably doing it in front of a bunch of folks if this is a ritual. Oh yeah, that would be good.
Is the Animal's Terror Worth it?Slaughter should be done humanely. There, I've said it. Bringing an animal to a ritual is anything but humane. You have taken it away from its environment and stuck it with a bunch of weird looking people who are chanting and praying. Some animals, like goats, are highly intelligent. Many goats I've owned rival dogs in intellect. And you're going to put them through this? Way to go!
No, this is NOT humane.
You may argue that you're eating the animal at a feast. Yeah, how much of the animal are you eating? Who is processing the animal? I'm sorry, but it takes time to properly skin, dress, and butcher an animal. I do it in a few hours, depending on the size of the critter. It's hard, backbreaking work, by the way, to strip all the meat out, choose the roasts and steaks, and grind the hamburger. Then, there is wrapping and freezing it. Do you have an idea how to butcher it?
On Human SacrificeOkay, if you seriously think that human sacrifice is fine, then it is time to check yourself into a mental institution. I don't want to be anywhere near you. And yes, you are fucking nuts.
Alternatives to Blood SacrificesYou want to sacrifice to the gods? Okay, then do something worthwhile and dedicate your work to them. I regularly dedicate my hunting to Tyr and Skadi because the work of hunting often exceeds the payout at the end. If I do take game, I thank the animal, the wights, and the gods so I can eat. If we slaughter an animal, we do the same. Killing is serious business. As a hunter, my goal is always a humane kill. Animals die inhumanely in the wild all the time, so if I can give my meal a good death, then I have done my part.
Don't want to hunt? Try creating a container garden and dedicate the work for that. Maybe you've been trying to learn a musical instrument. Dedicate your practice and performance to the gods of your choice. What about your art, your writing, your work? How about helping out in a cause you believe in? All of these things are good, and the gods will be pleased.
Our ancestors sacrificed many things that were of value to them. Given that most of us have so little time, dedicating our time to something that we do not gain from is one way to give to the gods. And yeah, I'm pretty sure they'd be good with that.