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Thread: Human Sacrifice for Halloween

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    Post Human Sacrifice for Halloween

    by Karleen E. Page


    There is a debate among scholars as to whether human sacrifices were performed during Druid/Celtic celebrations of Halloween. Of course modern druids will say that they were not. They say that the only evidence that this custom was practiced is a reference in an ancient Roman document by Julius Caesar (see below). We do know that human sacrifice was practiced in this part of the world in ancient times because of several "bog men", mummies preserved in the peat bogs that show signs of ritual killing. Of course, there would be no remains of any humans that were sacrificed in the fire. At any rate, the word "bonfire" comes from a compound of the Middle English words bon (bone) and fir (fire) ... meaning a fire kindled upon bones.

    Merle Severy, "The Celts," National Geographic (May 1977), pages 625-626, describes "the eve of Samhain... the start of the Celtic new year:

    "According to the Dinshenchas, a medieval collection of "the lore of prominent places," firstborn children were sacrificed before a great idol to ensure fertility of cattle and crops. Samhain eve was a night of dread and danger. At this juncture of the old year and the new, our world and the otherworld opened up to each other. The dead returned, ghosts and demons were abroad, and the future could be seen.. . . Behind such Halloween games as bobbing for apples lie Celtic divination arts to discern who would marry, thrive, or die in the coming year. Behind the masks and mischief, the jack-o'lanterns and food offerings, lurk the fear of malevolent spirits and the rites to propitiate them."
    Page 601 gives additional insight:

    "Tacitus tells us of the bloodstained Druid altars of Anglesey in Wales."

    Julius Caesar on Celtic Sacrifices

    The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow so to do, employing the druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man's life a man's life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind. Others use figures of immense size whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails they resort to the execution even of the innocent.

    The classical author Diodorus Siculus also reported scenes of human sacrifice [by the Druids].

    'When they attempt divination upon important matters they practice a strange and incredible custom, for they kill a man by a knife-stab in the region above his midriff.' After the sacrificial victim fell dead...'they foretell the future by the convulsions of his limbs and the pouring of his blood." [Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books), pages 17-19.]

    The 1984 discovery of a sacrificial victim in Cheshire, England, helps validate the reality of ritualistic human sacrifice. The well-preserved young man had apparently belonged to an elite social class in the second century BC. After two sharp blows to the head, he had been strangled. Then, like the countless sacrifices to Aztec and Mayan gods, his body had been drained of the human blood needed to please and appease their god(s).

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    The Caesar document is well known to be wartime propaganda and not a reliable historical account. Caesar was a tyrannical megalomaniac who was not one to talk about the bloodshed inflicted by others. It's a shame he didn't get what he had coming earlier...

    Where did Tacitus get his information? He seems to have relied upon second- and third-hand reports from frontier military outposts. I doubt he actually set foot in either Celtic Britain or Germanic territory north/east of the Rhine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stríbog
    The Caesar document is well known to be wartime propaganda and not a reliable historical account. Caesar was a tyrannical megalomaniac who was not one to talk about the bloodshed inflicted by others. It's a shame he didn't get what he had coming earlier...

    Where did Tacitus get his information? He seems to have relied upon second- and third-hand reports from frontier military outposts. I doubt he actually set foot in either Celtic Britain or Germanic territory north/east of the Rhine.
    It may well have been propoganda and hearsay respectively, although there is no way to prove that, so it is simply speculation.
    The Dinshenchas are native in origin, adapted from an oral Celtic source and there is also the finds of the mummies, both of which seem to support Caesar and Tacitus's claims.

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    Ritualized Human Sacrifice

    Hail brothers and sisters! Long time lurker, and this is now my second post. Thanks for all of the excellent reading material in the past, and thank you for the opportunity to ask this question.

    I brought up this question on the message board of an American Asatru group, and they got extraordinarily offended that someone should be so "stupid" as to ask the question, but it's still something that I feel is worth exploring. And I hope that you won't mind if I ask the question here and if we can explore it in good faith.

    Assuming for a moment that certain tales about our ancestors were not fabrications, and that at Uppsala there were 9 year blots that featured ritualized human sacrifice, why is it that we no longer see this as a religious obligation?

    If we are religious/spiritual people looking to follow the pathways of our ancestors, how can we ignore this aspect of it?

    Please don't misunderstand me: I'm not advocating for human sacrifice! But my question is: By what right are we allowed to ignore this seemingly important part of our past?

    Is there anyone here that's comfortable with the idea of human sacrifice? Is it ridiculous or even "blasphemous" to suggest that things like abortions or the death penalty could be seen as a kind of modern human sacrifice?

    Quite eager to hearing everyone's thoughts on this. And thanks again for everything!

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    I assume it's because of the change from "barbarians" to "civilization" and the influence of Christianity. Human life is thought to be sacred. It's the same why the death penalty has been disappearing in many countries, although Christians had sacrifice and death penalty too. Maybe liberalism is a reason too.

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    reply to sacrifice

    A blood sacrifice is the highest ideal of a personnel offering one makes to the nordic god Odinn and its a gift in which one offers oneself up to the diety power itself.
    In this religion we fear not death and when our life is offered up for sacrifice the spirit of the female Valkeria who work within us and protects and guides us are our mediators In a sacrifice to die they carry our souls to Asgard the ether where we embrace the power of Odinn and we connect to him and his divine power within the cosmos as we are re incarnated back into life in another form of a tribal human being in which we carry the aspect of that godly power into the next life in which that god power expresses itself in a new form in which then effects world evolution. Nine is the number of destiny, and the 9 aspects of the number of Odinn which is vision. knowledge, word power, ancestral comunication, wisdom, creativity, inspiration, love, spiritual enlightenment. When these powers incarnate it is so the birth of a new civilisation can manifests itself. The driving power of such a action is stimulated by the planet valkerie which inturn effects the land mass in which that offering has been made and this effects the folksouls of the people in which the positive karma works through to complete its mission for those people which are Guided by the spirits of the Asatru and Vanir gods and goddess which are energies that work within nature and the cosmos. Smaller offerings of animals was also regularly done to honor the gods and the eating of the dead animal was the sharing of the life force power between the men and the gods and goddess. Which represents the divine power of the cosmos and there future incarnation on the earth Mitgard.

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    dwarvenmorning, you are welcome to ask your questions here.

    I agree with what Guðrún said meaning it's because of Christianity in our culture.

    But sacrifice and death penalty aren't the same.
    Sacrifice was voluntary too.
    When slaves wanted to accompany their masters in death or when influential men offered their offspring.
    The way death was seen was different than we do today.
    It was honorable to sacrifice yourself to the gods.
    Death penalty was punishment for the worst of the worst.

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    For Germanics the answer is quite simple namely Christianity. But it could that in time that the number of human sacrifices would have become less and even disappeared all together.

    The same thing happened with the Romans, who outlawed the practice.

    The death penalty is a different issue all together. You do not kill a criminal to honor the gods, but because he violated certain laws.

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    A very interesting batch of responses. Much better than what I'm used to.

    More interesting (to me!) is the fact that my thoughts are so corroded by Christianity as to equate sacrifice with punishment. When I think of dying, or more properly being killed, my default thought is something along the lines of a Jehovian blood-atonement situation, where people have to die because they've been condemned, or in order to rectify some situation.

    So all of these answers that quite rightly point out the likelihood that the sacrifices in question were voluntary are things that I had never previously considered. So thank you very much for that.

    If, then, these sacrifices were voluntary, is there any place in the modern world for a person to make a blood sacrifice to the Gods? Or does the cyclical nature of reality mandate that things like human sacrifice must simply fade away until a new cycle begins? Or are human sacrifices forever more useless?

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    The Battlefield is the only viable place where one can sacrifice yourself to the ‘Gods’, Folk and Culture…
    Although the word "Commando" was wrongly used to describe all Boer soldiers, a commando was a unit formed from a particular district. None of the units was organized in regular companies, battalions or squadrons. The Boer commandos were individualists who were difficult to control, resented formal discipline or orders, and earned a British jibe that"every Boer was his own general".

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