So, I'm working on an annotated bibliography for the anthropology class I'm taking at Bluegrass College. Because it relates to a story I've been thinking about writing, I chose contemporary examples of animal sacrifice as my subject. That led me, in turn, to an article called "Khanty Communal Reindeer Sacrifice: Belief, Subsistence and Cultural Persistence in Contemporary Siberia" in the journal Arctic Anthropology.
Discovering that there's a journal called Arctic Anthropology is almost worth going back to school for all by itself. But wow! This article is fascinating. Here's just one little bit. Before they perform the sacrifice, the Khanty perform a divination ceremony using fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria). Talking about the mushrooms, a Khanty man told the authors that "the value of the divination depends upon taking the smallest fly agaric mushroom in any stand of mushrooms; one must not gather the older ones 'because old ones lie.'"
I'd make a terrible anthropologist. My field notes would probably read like this: "That is so cool! Wait, did he just say something about a bear cult? Awesome!"