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Author Topic: Human sacrifice  (Read 38727 times)
Nyktipolos
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« Reply #30: August 26, 2010, 02:32:18 am »

The individuals significance was secondary and not really a factor of the sacrifice any more than any other ritual sacrifice - the money analogy is actually a good analogy, although rather than burning it it would be more like using it to pay a bill.  The lights stay on, you have the opportunity to generate more money and the individual properties of that bill aren't all that much different from any other of the same numeric value.

I have to agree that I like the money analogy as well, as well as the idea of using it towards something, rather than burning it. While a portion of a physical blood offering in ancient Greece (and maybe Rome?) was burned and offered to the Gods, most of it went towards other people, whether the temple staff, or people participating in a festival. I think I would be better off donating money towards a charity or a shelter (animal or human), giving money to homeless people, or even to others for doing a craft for me that is dedicated to the gods (I'm thinking jewelery, poetry, or even tattooing). So I may be out anywhere from $20 to $300 dollars, but at least that money is going towards someones food, or bills, or clothing, etc.
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« Reply #31: August 26, 2010, 03:44:56 am »

The fact that you focus on the manner of the dying makes sense taken in this context. The point I suppose I'm trying to make is that the fact that the person will be dead after it, the fact that they will no longer be alive after it, aren't relevant. It is just the manner of the dying. So, what sort of dying is it?

It seems to me that it is a is a death that has been chosen and imbued with purpose, sometimes even by the individual concerned. Certainly by those who perform the sacrifice. It is a way of dying that places the individual apart from the vast majority of other people. Their life has been gifted to a god, or given in service of their family/people (in some ancient societies the boundary was nowhere near as sharp as it tends to be recently); made sacred and set apart from other things.

I think that this really sums up my views on martyrdom - I never found the words before, so thankyou for these ones!

And on that note, and back on the thread of willingness of the sacrifice, I believe that the willingness is what makes human sacrifice acceptable - to be a sacrifice, it must be willingly given, otherwise it's like giving your grandmother a stolen necklace for her birthday - it might be pretty, and exactly what she wanted, but if she knows it was stolen, will she really look at it the same way?
Now I know that's not quite the same, and it may very well be that some gods requested (or still request) human sacrifices whether the subject is willing or not, but I think a willing gift has so much more meaning and power of devotion than the power to force someone to die for their own god.

And as an extension, if I were to live in a society that practiced human sacrifice, if I were to choose to live there, then there is one main question I must ask myself: if it was my turn on the chopping block, would I do it?  As things stand now, I don't think I could.  So what business do I have advocating human sacrifice, if I am not willing to make that sacrifice myself?

I think, as it stands, my views are that there are people who would happily sacrifice themselves for their God, and should they do so, that would be a meaningful sacrifice to them, and that's something between them and their gods.  But for myself, I can't advocate it, nor could I perform it, so perhaps I will offer blood at some point, but not life.
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« Reply #32: August 26, 2010, 03:46:02 pm »


And as an extension, if I were to live in a society that practiced human sacrifice, if I were to choose to live there, then there is one main question I must ask myself: if it was my turn on the chopping block, would I do it?  As things stand now, I don't think I could.  So what business do I have advocating human sacrifice, if I am not willing to make that sacrifice myself?

I think, as it stands, my views are that there are people who would happily sacrifice themselves for their God, and should they do so, that would be a meaningful sacrifice to them, and that's something between them and their gods.  But for myself, I can't advocate it, nor could I perform it, so perhaps I will offer blood at some point, but not life.

And this is why I have a problem with both ancient and modern animal sacrificing... humans can say "Yes. I'd like to be a sacrifice".

Animals can't.
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« Reply #33: August 26, 2010, 07:22:06 pm »


And on that note, and back on the thread of willingness of the sacrifice, I believe that the willingness is what makes human sacrifice acceptable - to be a sacrifice, it must be willingly given, otherwise it's like giving your grandmother a stolen necklace for her birthday - it might be pretty, and exactly what she wanted, but if she knows it was stolen, will she really look at it the same way?
Now I know that's not quite the same, and it may very well be that some gods requested (or still request) human sacrifices whether the subject is willing or not, but I think a willing gift has so much more meaning and power of devotion than the power to force someone to die for their own god.

And as an extension, if I were to live in a society that practiced human sacrifice, if I were to choose to live there, then there is one main question I must ask myself: if it was my turn on the chopping block, would I do it?  As things stand now, I don't think I could.  So what business do I have advocating human sacrifice, if I am not willing to make that sacrifice myself?

I think, as it stands, my views are that there are people who would happily sacrifice themselves for their God, and should they do so, that would be a meaningful sacrifice to them, and that's something between them and their gods.  But for myself, I can't advocate it, nor could I perform it, so perhaps I will offer blood at some point, but not life.

Me again.  I like human sacrificing Cheesy ... well the topic anyways.

Having been exposed to more faiths than just the one that your cultural unit practices, you have the objectivity to say gee, if my god wants me to die, my god might not have my best interest at heart.  The duty of a given faith and the knowledge of being outcast should you not meet those duties, then it might color perspective - especially if it's the only belief in your neck of the woods.

The reference points of any given cultural unit can be remarkably different.  Changing those reference points can be amazingly difficult and I think in examining comparative faiths we come closer to understanding the differences in reference points, but it's still such a long leap to go from paths that have ethical systems that uplift individual will and societal responsibility to the individual versus individual responsibility to systems in which the individual is responsible to uphold the cultural unit.

I spent awhile this morning looking for a story about the Yaqui tribes, their Deer Dance is a good example of honoring the sacrificial pact.  Every life that is taken is meant as a gift to the taker of that life.  I've heard third hand about humans being sacrificed to appease the Deer people when they have been over hunted, but I can't find a good reference for it.    The Deer Dance in it's current form is syncretic, a merger of Catholicism and the Yaqui/Sonora/Sinaloa (Northern Mexica) practices.  The Yaqui share some historical similarities in dress and practice with the Aztecs.

I wrote a story awhile back on this http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=4424.0 when I first encountered the concept, because it really struck me that we still DO sacrifice to the culture.  We give up freedom and individuality to provide security only in different ways.  Eg.  Giving up a career to raise children, or understanding that the stability of a family unit may be more important than an individuals (often immature) dreams of romantic love rather than the good enough stability that keeps the family unit functioning.  The individual in cultures that practice human sacrifice seems to have been raised in a culture that teaches them their duty to their unit is more significant than their thoughts about their own identity.  

Adding...  I would have a harder time understanding or accepting ritual suicide.  That makes less sense to me, since the individual is seeking their god through their own death rather than giving their death to the society that survives them.

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« Reply #34: September 05, 2010, 08:42:11 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...

What Egyptian blood sacrifice are you talking about?
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« Reply #35: September 06, 2010, 11:26:14 pm »

It's even more disturbing to think of the gods (especially today) accepting that sort of gift.

Curious why you think the Gods of today are any different than the Gods of yesterday or hundreds of years ago?  Did the Gods change their views as time marched on or did humans change their views?  In ancients times it was accepted to make sacrifices because they had no laws governing them accept religious practices (seems to me any way), and today killing some one is universally accepted as a "horrific crime".  So what changed, the Gods, or the humans?
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« Reply #36: September 07, 2010, 12:07:08 am »

Curious why you think the Gods of today are any different than the Gods of yesterday or hundreds of years ago?  Did the Gods change their views as time marched on or did humans change their views?  In ancients times it was accepted to make sacrifices because they had no laws governing them accept religious practices (seems to me any way), and today killing some one is universally accepted as a "horrific crime".  So what changed, the Gods, or the humans?

Unfortunately, taking a human life in general is not in any way universally accepted as a horrific crime. If that were true, murder and genocide didn't happen.

I'm of the belief that gods change as much as humans, but then again I view my divine friends very similarly to how I view my human ones. The standards of behavior are pretty much the same for humans and gods, in my book. (This means I take a very loose interpretation of myths and understand them to be some literary, figurative ways to understand the gods.) Not everyone thinks like me, and your mileage may certainly vary.
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« Reply #37: September 07, 2010, 07:18:58 pm »

Unfortunately, taking a human life in general is not in any way universally accepted as a horrific crime. If that were true, murder and genocide didn't happen.

I'm of the belief that gods change as much as humans, but then again I view my divine friends very similarly to how I view my human ones. The standards of behavior are pretty much the same for humans and gods, in my book. (This means I take a very loose interpretation of myths and understand them to be some literary, figurative ways to understand the gods.) Not everyone thinks like me, and your mileage may certainly vary.

Sorry, I fell into the same trap and didn't mean too.  I meant "murdering" someone is.
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« Reply #38: September 07, 2010, 07:24:05 pm »

I'm of the belief that gods change as much as humans, but then again I view my divine friends very similarly to how I view my human ones.

Curious as to how you came to believe that gods change?  (I am not trying to say you are wrong, I want to understand where you are coming from.  I feel that there is something to be learned from everyone, and I want to learn.)
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« Reply #39: September 07, 2010, 08:12:31 pm »

What Egyptian blood sacrifice are you talking about?

Didn't they tend to offer up animals, mummified?

I count that as blood sacrifice, even though it's not human.
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« Reply #40: September 07, 2010, 08:23:13 pm »

Curious as to how you came to believe that gods change?  (I am not trying to say you are wrong, I want to understand where you are coming from.  I feel that there is something to be learned from everyone, and I want to learn.)

*shrugs* I just do. I believe that humans and gods are very similar and that just like humans who change over the course of their lifetime, gods change as well. At the very least, it's a different world than it was thousands of years ago, and it just makes sense to me that creatures adapt to their environments.
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« Reply #41: September 08, 2010, 06:02:34 am »

Didn't they tend to offer up animals, mummified?

I count that as blood sacrifice, even though it's not human.

Where did you get the information that they killed the animals in order to sacrifice them, rather than that they may have mummified them after they died naturally?
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« Reply #42: September 08, 2010, 11:59:31 am »

Where did you get the information that they killed the animals in order to sacrifice them, rather than that they may have mummified them after they died naturally?

I haven't read anything recently, so it's through years of muzzy reading.  I could, however, do more research. Which also makes me ask... didn't the Egyptians, way before instituting the figurine making for the tombs for the Pharoahs, sacrifice the ruler's servants so they could serve him in the afterlife? Or am I remembering that wrong, too?
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« Reply #43: September 08, 2010, 02:16:01 pm »

I haven't read anything recently, so it's through years of muzzy reading.  I could, however, do more research. Which also makes me ask... didn't the Egyptians, way before instituting the figurine making for the tombs for the Pharoahs, sacrifice the ruler's servants so they could serve him in the afterlife? Or am I remembering that wrong, too?

The way I understand it is that since the animals were sacred to the deity, they would mummify them after they died naturally so that they could reside in the Duat.  It's not really the same thing as sacrificing the animal (cutting its life short) for the deity at hand, as did the Greeks.  The Apis bull may be an exception, but I don't know if the drowning of the bull was something they did in antiquity or if it started happening after the syncretism with Greek religion. 

From a quick google search it seems the servants were killed so that they may join their master in the afterlife, but that's not exactly the same thing as "sacrificing" servants.  Sacrifice would imply that the life was offered as a gift to netjer.  The Kemetics seemed to do it more from the viewpoint of ending this life to enter the next. 
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« Reply #44: September 08, 2010, 03:31:40 pm »

The way I understand it is that since the animals were sacred to the deity, they would mummify them after they died naturally so that they could reside in the Duat.  It's not really the same thing as sacrificing the animal (cutting its life short) for the deity at hand, as did the Greeks.  The Apis bull may be an exception, but I don't know if the drowning of the bull was something they did in antiquity or if it started happening after the syncretism with Greek religion. 

From a quick google search it seems the servants were killed so that they may join their master in the afterlife, but that's not exactly the same thing as "sacrificing" servants.  Sacrifice would imply that the life was offered as a gift to netjer.  The Kemetics seemed to do it more from the viewpoint of ending this life to enter the next. 

Re: servants... right, which is why I didn't say that they were for the deities... but the Pharoah was considered a god himself, so it's somewhat implied, right (Was he considered netjer?)  Maybe? Just out of curiosity, is there any information on whether the servants went willingly or not? That'd be interesting to know.
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