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Author Topic: Human sacrifice  (Read 38656 times)
gorm_sionnach
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« Reply #27: August 25, 2010, 08:56:52 pm »

...My question is, how MANY of the ancient paths had some sort of blood sacrifice, animal or human?  I know lots of the major ones did; Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Celts, Mesoamericans... It's so very prevalent (and I'm a little ignorant, too, of what other possibilities there are), that I don't know how many blood-free paths based on actual ancient practices are out there for us squeamish folk who feel that recon is important.

That having been said, I know that some of these ancient peoples also used things like poppets and clay figurines in place of real sacrifices... so for me, when worshiping Sequana, if I ever were to ask a favor dealing with the health of my body, I'd potentially do as her ancient followers did, and fashion a clay limb or organ or whatever to put on the altar... 

I think there is a good amount of evidence that the Celts did indeed practice human (and animal) sacrifices. I realize that some are uncomfortable with the idea, that a group like "the druids" who were "paragons of philosophy" could also perform "barbaric rites" like human sacrifice. Peter Berresford Ellis, for example has tried to argue that it is reflective of nothing more than Roman propaganda to legitimize the Gallic wars. However this seems to be for no other reason than "its icky", and people as bright and wonderful as the Celts would NEVER do something like that! But my issues with Ellis's scholarship aside, there is enough evidence to reasonably support the idea that it was a feature of the Celtic peoples at some point.

Now, I mentioned before the cosmological significance of sacrificial offerings. Unfortunately there isn't a surviving version of a Celtic cosmogenic myth; mostly there are possible fragments in existing sources and comparison with other Indo-European cultures myths. As such there is a general theme (with all manner of cultural and regional variation) in which the cosmos are made from the dismemberment of some primordial being (i.e. Ymir in Norse myth) by another force or a group of gods. From the dismembered parts are fashioned the cosmos (ranging from the universe to aspects of the earth, rivers, rocks, plants, etc.), thus with the sacrifice afforded by the primordial being, can existence occur and the world is given shape. Anthropogeny, that is the creation of humans, is often a reversal of this original sacrifice, with humans being made of the recombination of these disparate elements. This later aspect is something which many observe in the so called "seven part adam", a Christian text to be sure, but it entails that Adam was made up of different parts of the world, so the potential for it being a hold over of pre-Christian beliefs is considerable.

As such it has been proposed that since the creation of humanity consumed aspects of the cosmos, that an imbalance was created, which could only be restored with a sacrifice (as a reflection of the primordial sacrifice), entailing a return of the consumed parts, renewing the cosmos. Of course since creation is an ongoing process, regular sacrifices were necessary to continue the cycle.

Of course this is all conjecture, but an example of the cosmogenic underpinnings of human sacrifice.
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