When it comes to pagan religions like Voodoo, Santeria and Palo Mayombe, sacrificing and eating chickens, goats and other livestock is no big deal.
"It's virtually the same thing as having Easter Sunday dinner, only you're killing and preparing the animal yourself instead of buying it," said Eric Lee, co-owner of Mystickal Tymes, an occult store in New Hope.
But it seems that some occultists in Chester County might have taken their celebration too far. According to evidence found by the county's SPCA, their menu may have included dog, a big no-no in the animal-sacrificing community.
Chester County SPCA spokesperson Rich Britton said that investigators found knives, books on witchcraft and skulls that appeared to be canine in the freezer and kitchen of a home in Caln Township Monday night.
One of the skulls was covered in gold flaking and displayed next to a vertebra, which Britton said investigators also believe is canine. Britton said that the exact purpose and origin of the animal remains is still unknown and that no charges will be filed until the whole story is uncovered.
"In my 41 years of practicing the occult, I've never come across any ritual or activity that involves killing dogs or cats," Lee said. "This person sounds more like a sadistic individual that should be heavily sedated than an occult practitioner."
Lee was particularly disturbed by the way the bones were decorated and displayed - the proper protocol is to bury the remains after the ritual, out of respect for the animals.
But what about respect for the law? Isn't sacrificing animals considered cruel? Not exactly, according to George Bengal, the director of law enforcement for the state's SPCA.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that sacrificing animals is legal, as long as they're killed humanely (quick, minimally painful deaths) during the course of a religious ceremony. The problem, according to Bengal, is that the Court never specified which animals are OK to sacrifice.
"It's a gray area," he said. "Personally, I wouldn't have any problem trying to bring someone who sacrificed a dog to court on charges of animal cruelty."