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Author Topic: Human sacrifice  (Read 38680 times)
Collinsky
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« Reply #45: September 08, 2010, 05:17:37 pm »

*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.

I kind of agree -- from a hard polytheist semi-reconstructionist POV it makes sense... you can see changes in the lore over time sometimes which can indicate a few things: either people are making it up and so what they invent changes with their changing human needs; OR people misinterpret the gods and project changes onto Them, even though the gods don't actually change - which IMO calls into question the relationship between people and the gods, and brings us back to people just making it all up - the lore not the gods; OR the gods do change. Probably some other possibilities exist but that's what occurs to me now, and since everything in the known universe does change over time, including stars and planets and galaxies, I personally feel comfortable with gods that adapt and change over millenia.
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« Reply #46: September 08, 2010, 08:55:49 pm »

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.

Makes sense.   Smiley
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« Reply #47: September 08, 2010, 09:58:16 pm »

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.

An offering up of life as a sacrifice to me is not the same thing as dying to transition to life after death, and I don't know whether a willingness or lack thereof would define it as sacrifice so much as intent of the act itself.  I would look for more evidence before I come to a conclusion.  While alive the Nisut was a demigod, who attained divine status after death having gone through the Duat, defeating the guardians, and arriving at Ra's boat to fight by his side in a state of purity.  I don't have anymore information...this wasn't exactly my area of expertise.  Smiley  I just had not seen the assertion anywhere else that there were Kemetic "blood sacrifices" so I was curious as to where you got that information.
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« Reply #48: September 09, 2010, 03:57:57 pm »

An offering up of life as a sacrifice to me is not the same thing as dying to transition to life after death, and I don't know whether a willingness or lack thereof would define it as sacrifice so much as intent of the act itself.  I would look for more evidence before I come to a conclusion.  While alive the Nisut was a demigod, who attained divine status after death having gone through the Duat, defeating the guardians, and arriving at Ra's boat to fight by his side in a state of purity.  I don't have anymore information...this wasn't exactly my area of expertise.  Smiley  I just had not seen the assertion anywhere else that there were Kemetic "blood sacrifices" so I was curious as to where you got that information.

Aiie, I don't  know half of those terms.
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« Reply #49: September 09, 2010, 05:02:36 pm »

Aiie, I don't  know half of those terms.

 Shocked

Sorry.

Nisut: loosely translated, spiritual leader, or King.  The Kemetic term whose equivalent is the Greek "Pharaoh."
Duat: again loosely translated, underworld.  It was to the west of the Nile, the dawn between night and day, a realm that is outside of the earth rather than "under" it.  There is where we get the Book of the Dead's name: Coming forth by day, which references the dawn.

Erm, not sure what other words you have a problem with.  If you need me to explain further...?
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« Reply #50: September 10, 2010, 02:26:23 pm »

Shocked

Sorry.

Nisut: loosely translated, spiritual leader, or King.  The Kemetic term whose equivalent is the Greek "Pharaoh."
Duat: again loosely translated, underworld.  It was to the west of the Nile, the dawn between night and day, a realm that is outside of the earth rather than "under" it.  There is where we get the Book of the Dead's name: Coming forth by day, which references the dawn.

Erm, not sure what other words you have a problem with.  If you need me to explain further...?

No! Those are precisely the ones I was confused about.  Thank you so much. Smiley
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« Reply #51: September 10, 2010, 03:33:43 pm »

No! Those are precisely the ones I was confused about.  Thank you so much. Smiley

*thumbs up*  Wink
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Vella Malachite
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« Reply #52: September 12, 2010, 08:41:24 pm »

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.

Yes, definitely - and I think that that still fits in with what I said earlier - if an individual is brought up to believe that human sacrifice is Right and that it causes the gods to look kindly on them, and perhaps that being sacrificed is an honour that the gods will respect, then yes, they will certainly be more willing to be a sacrifice themselves.

But on the flipside, that means that a culture like ours will baulk at the concept, because we are brought up to believe that the gods do not require human sacrifice, and that they like us to live for them, rather than die for them.

Again, what someone believes is between them and the gods, and yes, society will dramatically affect those ideas and decisions.

Also, tangent: What about cultures who sacrificed their defeated enemies?  Does that change people's opinions?  Or were there none of those, and I've drawn that idea from the Ether of Misinformation and Mislaid Concepts?
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« Reply #53: September 12, 2010, 08:43:01 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. 

Actually, IIRC, I was at a museum where they'd done scans on the remains of a mummified cat that showed that the neck had been broken, which suggested that the cat had been killed to be mummified with its owner.
I don't know whether that's right or not, but that's what I recall being told on that particular tour.
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« Reply #54: September 12, 2010, 08:50:27 pm »

Actually, IIRC, I was at a museum where they'd done scans on the remains of a mummified cat that showed that the neck had been broken, which suggested that the cat had been killed to be mummified with its owner.
I don't know whether that's right or not, but that's what I recall being told on that particular tour.

Do you remember which time period the cat was mummified?  That might make a difference.
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« Reply #55: September 12, 2010, 11:13:42 pm »

...a culture like ours will baulk at the concept, because we are brought up to believe that the gods do not require human sacrifice, and that they like us to live for them, rather than die for them. ...

Is that really what we were brought up to believe? It seems to me that the primary belief around death and dying in contemporary Australian culture (including the responses of many self-described athiests) is that there is nothing worse than death, that if we just spend enough on medicine, gyms and therapies and make anthing 'dangerous' illegal that we can somehow avoid it and that there is likely to be something terrible after it (even if it's just nothing).
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« Reply #56: September 13, 2010, 12:24:07 pm »


Also, tangent: What about cultures who sacrificed their defeated enemies?  Does that change people's opinions?  Or were there none of those, and I've drawn that idea from the Ether of Misinformation and Mislaid Concepts?

This was an interesting bit about the South American cultures that practiced human sacrifice.  Their modes of warfare were specifically geared towards bringing in live captures.  They also practiced a form of warfare that was designed not to wipe out an opposing village but to keep them weakened, politically subjugated and to harvest their resources in the long term.

The enemies they were defeating for the greater part, were also from cultures that practiced human sacrifice.  In many cases, the scarificee was also of the belief that they would have an exalted afterlife. 

I think the shock and horror part comes from pop culture, where it is unpleasant to follow the tangent of what would happen should a person from outside that culture unknowingly stumble into the position of being sacrificed, but for the most part once the ball got rolling to that effect, the groups that practiced the spirituality that required it, followed a model that allowed it's continuation with a moderate degree of informed consent and the groups that wanted no part of it took steps to stay outside of the range and avoid interacting with the cultures that practiced human sacrifice.


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Vella Malachite
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« Reply #57: September 16, 2010, 03:41:56 am »

Is that really what we were brought up to believe? It seems to me that the primary belief around death and dying in contemporary Australian culture (including the responses of many self-described athiests) is that there is nothing worse than death, that if we just spend enough on medicine, gyms and therapies and make anthing 'dangerous' illegal that we can somehow avoid it and that there is likely to be something terrible after it (even if it's just nothing).

Hrm.  Let me try to explain this out, mostly for myself.

I think what we may baulk at in our society, in relation to human sacrifice, is the concept that someone would want to die for a deity (please forgive my generalisation, and probable incorrectness).  IIRC, the Bible (again, assuming the culture I grew up in, which is a predominantly Christian culture) states that suicide is a sin.  The two things I've heard to explain this is that God wants us to live for him, and that killing yourself is deciding when you will die, which is 'playing God' and therefore blasphemy.  Both kind of imply that God would prefer us to live for longer than we would if we committed suicide.  From my exposure to the culture, the idea is that God would like us to live for him, and live lives 'in tune with His will'.

Which makes it a little weird for us that someone else's God would require death from us, because we see no real use in being dead - the idea that we help God to do His will while in life means that once we die, we have no more opportunity to do so.

As for the idea that we are terrified of death and it is perceived as worse than life, is that not natural?  "Mankind fears what he doesn't understand" (no idea where the quote is from, but not me.  Also, paraphrased).  But that doesn't mean that we see death as a horrible place.  At the funerals of my great-grandparents, the main message was that they had gone to a better place - especially for my great-grandmother who had been sick for almost 20 years.  The message there was that "she's gone somewhere where she doesn't have to be sick anymore".  The idea of an afterlife gives us hope, and once people are dead, it is what we turn to in order for ourselves to heal.  Most people I know believe in some form of afterlife, whether it is reincarnation, some persuasion of Heaven, or whatever, but it is usually a hopeful belief.
Personally, I think the fear of death stems, not from the fact that we are afraid that it will be horrible afterwards, but because we empathise with the people around us, and it's essentially a fear of leaving behind what we have here.  We don't want to be separated from our friends and family, and we don't want them to be sad on our account.  I would say that that's more the root of our obsession with safety and health than some belief that the afterlife is an inherently bad place.

I hope that made sense, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
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« Reply #58: September 16, 2010, 03:42:43 am »

Do you remember which time period the cat was mummified?  That might make a difference.

Ah, fair enough.  I don't exactly, but that clears up my confusion, at least.
Thanks.
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« Reply #59: September 16, 2010, 02:11:12 pm »

Do you remember which time period the cat was mummified?  That might make a difference.

What would make the difference, and who would have changed things? The Romans? Or Greeks?  It still would have been Egyptians doing it, even though they'd have had a bit of a "makeover" to say the least in their beliefs... I'm not clear as to the difference in it, and you seem really, really well read where I'm definitely not.  Grin So I'd love to know.

(I can imagine it's something like the Celts' religious makeover when the Romans came, or the Christians... )
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