« PreviousContinue »
Dean Stanley has vividly pourtrayed the aspect of the Temple, with the flocks of sheep and droves of cattle crowding its courts, the vast apparatus of slaughter, the huge altar of burnt-offering towering above the people, where the carcases were laid, the drain beneath to carry off the streams of blood. To this historian, in sympathy rather with the spirit of the prophet than the ceremony of the priest, it is a congenial task to dwell upon the great movement in later Judaism to maintain the place of ethical above ceremonial religion. In these times of Hebrew history, the prophets turned with stern rebuke on those who ranked ceremonial ordinance above weightier matters of the law. “I desired mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” “I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats... Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do well.”
Continuing the enquiry into the physical operation ascribed to sacrifice, we turn to a different conception. It is an idea well vouched for in the lower culture, that the deity, while leaving apparently untouched the offering set out before him, may nevertheless partake of or abstract what in a loose way may be described as its essence. The Zulus leave the flesh of the sacrificed bullock all night, and the divine ancestral spirits come and eat, yet next morning everything remains just as it was. Describing this practice, a native Zulu thus naively cominents on it: “ But when we ask, “What do the Amadhlozi eat ? for in the morning we still see all the meat,' the old men say, 'The Amatongo lick it.' And we are unable to contradict them, but are silent, for they are older than we, and tell us all things and we listen; for we are told all things, and assent without seeing clearly whether they are true or not.” Such imagination
· Stanley, "Jewish Church,' 2d Ser. pp. 410, 424. See Kalisch on Leviti. cus; Barry in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' art. “sacrifice.'
Callaway, “Religion of Amazulu,' p. 11 (amadhlozi or amatongo=ancestral spirits).
was familiar to the native religion of the West Indian islands. In Columbus' time, and with particular reference to Hispaniola, Roman Pane describes the native mode of sacrifice. Upon any solemn day, when they provide much to eat, whether fish, fleshi, or any other thing, they put it all into the house of the cemis, that the idol may feed on it. The next day they carry all home, after the cemi has eaten. And God so help them (says the friar), as the cemi eats of that or anything else, they being inanimate stocks or stones. A century and a half later, a similar notion still prevailed in these islands. Nothing could show it more neatly than the fancy of the Caribs that they could hear the spirits in the night moving the vessels and champing the food set out for them, yet next morning there was nothing touched ; it was held that the viands thus partaken of by the spirits had become holy, so that only the old men and considerable people might taste them, and even these required a certain bodily purity.' Islanders of Pulo Aur, though admitting that their banished disease-spirits did not actually consume the grains of rice set out for them, nevertheless believed them to appropriate its essence. In India, among the indigenes of the Garo hills, we hear of the head and blood of the sacrificed animal being placed with some rice under a bamboo arch covered with a white cloth ; the god comes and takes what he wants, and after a time this special offering is dressed for the company with the rest of the animal. The Khond deities live on the flavours and essences drawn from the offerings of their votaries, or from animals or grain which they cause to die or disappear. When the Buraets of Siberia have sacrificed a sheep and boiled the mutton, they set it up on a scaffold for the gods while the shaman is
Roman Pane, ch. xvi. in 'Life of Colon,' in Pinkerton, vol. xii. p. 86. Rochefort, Iles Antilles,' p. 418 ; see Meiners, vol. ii. p. 516 ; J. G. Müller, p. 212.
2 Journ. Ind. Archip.' vol. iv. p. 194.
chanting his song, and then themselves fall to. And thus, in the folklore of mediæval Europe, Domina Abundia would come with her dames into the houses at night, and eat and drink from the vessels left uncovered for their increasegiving visit, yet nothing was consumed.
The extreme animistic view of sacrifice is that the soul of the offered animal or thing is abstracted by or transmitted to the deity. This notion of spirits taking souls is in a somewhat different way exemplified among the Binua of Johore, who hold that the evil River-spirits inflict diseases on man by feeding on the 'semangat,' or unsubstantial body (in ordinary parlance the spirit) in which his life resides, while the Karen demon devours not the body but the “la,” spirit or vital principle; thus when it eats a man's eyes, their material part remains, but they are blind.* Now an idea similar to this furnished the Polynesians with a theory of sacrifice. The priest might send commissions by the sacrificed human victim; spirits of the dead are eaten by the gods or demons;. the spiritual part of the sacrifices is eaten by the spirit of the idol (i. e., the deity dwelling or embodied in the idol) before whom it is presented. Of the Fijians it is observed that of the great offerings of food native belief apportions merely the soul to the gods, who are described as being enormous eaters; the substance is consumed by the worshippers. As in various other districts of the world, human sacrifice is here in fact a meat-offering; cannibalism is a part of the Fijian religion, and the gods are described as delighting in human flesh. Such ideas are explicit among Indian tribes of the American lakes, who consider that offerings, whether abandoned or consumed by the worshippers, go in a spiritual form to the spirit they are devoted to Native legends afford the clearest illustrations. The following is a passage from an Ottawa tale which recounts the adventures of Wassamo, he who was conveyed by the spirit-maiden to the lodge of her father, the Spirit of the Sand Downs, down below the waters of Lake Superior. “Son-in-law," said the Old Spirit, “I am in want of tobacco. You shall return to visit your parents, and can make known my wishes. For it is very seldom that those few who pass these Sand Hills, offer a piece of tobacco. When they do it, it immediately comes to me. Just so," he added, putting his hand out of the side of the lodge, and drawing in several pieces of tobacco, which some one at that moment happened to offer to the Spirit, for a smooth lake and prosperous voyage. “You see,” he said, “every thing offered me on earth, comes immediately to the side of my lodge.” Wassamo saw the women also putting their hands to the side of the lodge, and then handing round something, of which all partook. This he found to be offerings of food made by mortals on earth. The distinctly spiritual nature of this transmission is shown immediately after, for Wassamo cannot eat such mere spirit-food, wherefore his spirit-wife puts out her hand from the lodge and takes in a material fish out of the lake to cook for him. Another Ottawa legend, the already cited nature-myth of the Sun and Moon, is of much interest not only for its display of this special thought, but as showing clearly the motives with which savage animists offer sacrifices to their deities, and consider these deities to accept them. Onowuttokwutto, the Ojibwa youth who has followed the Moon up to the lovely heaven-prairies to be her husband, is taken one day by her brother the Sun to see how he gets his dinner. The two look down together through the hole in the sky upon the earth below, the Sun points out a group of children playing beside a lodge, at the same time throwing a tiny stone to hit a beautiful boy. The child falls, they see him carried into the lodge, they
1 Klemm, •Cultur-Gesch.' vol. iii. p. 114.
5 Bastian, “Mensch,' vol. ii. p. 407. Ellis, ‘Polyn. Res.' vol. i. p. 358. Taylor, ‘New Zealand,' pp. 104, 220.
6 Williams, Fiji,' vol. i. p. 231.
hear the sound of the sheesheegwun (the rattle), and the song and prayer of the medicine-man that the child's life may be spared. To this entreaty of the medicine-man, the Sun makes answer, “ Send me up the white dog.” Then the two spectators above could distinguish on the earth the hurry and bustle of preparation for a feast, a white dog killed and singed, and the people who were called assembling at the lodge. While these things were passing, the Sun addressed himself to Onowuttokwutto, saying, “ There are among you in the lower world some whom you call great medicine-men; but it is because their ears are open, and they hear my voice, when I have struck any one, that they are able to give relief to the sick. They direct the people to send me whatever I call for, and when they have sent it, I remove my hand from those I had made sick.” When he had said this, the white dog was parcelled out in dishes for those that were at the feast; then the medicine-man when they were about to begin to eat, said, “We send thee this, Great Manito.” Immediately the Sun and his Ojibwa companion saw the dog, cooked and ready to be eaten, rising to them through the air-and then and there they dined upon it. How such ideas bear on the meaning of human sacrifice, we may perhaps judge from this prayer of the Iroquois, offering a human victim to the War-god : “ To thee, O Spirit Arieskoi, we slay this sacrifice, that thou mayst feed upon the flesh, and be moved to give us henceforth luck and victory over our enemies !” 2 So among the Aztec prayers, there occurs this one addressed to Tezcatlipoca-Yautl in time of war: “Lord of battles; it is a very certain and sure thing, that a great war is beginning to make, ordain, form, and concert itself; the War-god opens his mouth, hungry to swallow the blood of many who shall die in this war; it seems that the Sun and the Earth-God Tlatecutli desire to rejoice; they desire to give meat and drink to the gods of Heaven and Hades, making them a 1 Tanner’s ‘Narrative,' pp. 286, 318. See also Waitz, vol. iii. p. 207. : J. G. Müller, p. 142; see 282.