Page images
PDF
EPUB

the Jagas or priests in Quilombo only marked with spears the children brought in, instead of running them through;1 or when in Greece a few drops of human blood had come to stand instead of the earlier and more barbaric human sacrifice;2 or when in our own time and under our own rule a Vishnuite who has inadvertently killed a monkey, a garuda, or a cobra, may expiate Iris offence by a mock sacrifice, in which a human victim is wounded in the thigh, pretends to die, and goes through the farce of resuscitation, his drawn blood serving as substitute for his life.3 One of the most noteworthy cases of the survival of such formal bloodshed within modern memory in Europe must be classed as not Aryan but Turanian, belonging as it does to the folklore of Esthonia. The sacrificer had to draw drops of blood from his forefinger, and therewith to pray this prayer, which was taken down verbatim from one who remembered it:—" I name thee with my blood and betroth thee with my blood, and point thee out my buildings to be blessed, stables and cattle-pens and hen-roosts ; let them be blessed through my blood and thy might!" "Be my joy, thou Almighty, upholder of my forefathers, my protector and guardian of my life! I beseech thee by strength of flesh and blood ; receive the food that I bring thee to thy sustenance and the joy of my body; keep me as thy good child, and I will thank and praise thee. By the help of the Almighty, my own God, hearken to me! What through negligence I have done imperfectly toward thee, do thou forget! But keep it truly in remembrance, that I have honestly paid my gifts to my parent's honour and joy and requital. Moreover falling down I thrice kiss the earth. Be with me quick in doing, and peace be with thee hitherto!"4 These various rites of finger-cutting, hair-cutting, and blood-letting, have required mention here from the special point of view of their

1 Bastian, 'Mensch,' vol. iii. p. 113 (sue other details).

2 Fausan. viii. 23; ix. 8.

* 'Encyc. Brit.' art . 'Brahma.' See 'Asiat. Res.' vol . ix. p. 387.

4 Boeder, 'Ehsten Aberglaiibische Gebrauche,' etc., p. i.

connexion with sacrifice. They helong to an extensive series of practices, due to various and often obscure motives, which come under the general heading of ceremonial mutilations.

When a life is given for a life, it is still possible to offer a life less valued than the life in danger. When in Peru the Inca or some great lord fell sick, he would offer to the deity one of his sons, imploring him to take this victim in his stead.1 The Greeks found it sufficient to offer to the gods criminals or captives;2 and the like was the practice of the heathen tribes of northern Europe, to whom indeed Christian dealers were accused of selling slaves for sacrificial purposes.3 Among such accounts, the typical story belongs to Punic history. The Carthaginians had been overcome and hard pressed in the war with Agathokles, and they set down the defeat to divine wrath. Kronos (Moloch) had in former times received his sacrifice of the chosen of their sons, but of late they had put him off with children bought and nourished for the purpose. In fact they had obeyed the sacrificer's natural tendency to substitution, but now in time of misfortune the reaction set in. To balance the account and condone the parsimonious fraud, a monstrous sacrifice was celebrated. Two hundred children, of the noblest of the land, were brought to the idol of Moloch. "For there was among them a brazen statue of Kronos, holding out his hands sloping downward, so that the child placed on them rolled off and fell into a certain chasm full of fire."4 Next, it will help us to realize how the sacrifice of an animal may atone for a human life, if we notice in South Africa how a Zulu will redeem a lost child from the finder by a bullock, or a Kimbunda will expiate the blood of a slave by the offering of an ox, whose blood will w ash away

1 Rivero and Tsehudi, p. 196. Seo ' Rites of Yncas,' p. 79.

2 Bastian, p. 112, etc. ; Smith's 'Die. of Gr. ami Rom. Ant.' art. 'Sacrificium.'

3 Grimm, 'Deutsche Myth,'p. 40.

4 Diodor. Sic. xx. 14.

the other. For instances of the animal substituted for man in sacrifice the following may serve. Among the Khonds of Orissa, when Colonel Macpherson was engaged in putting down the sacrifice of human victims by the sect of the Earth-goddess, they at once began to discuss the plan of sacrificing cattle by way of substitutes. Now there is some reason to think that this same course of ceremonial change may account for the following sacrificial practice in the other Khond sect. It appears that those who worship the Light-god hold a festival in his honour, when they slaughter a buffalo in commemoration of the time when, as they say, the Earth-goddess was prevailing on men to offer human sacrifices to her, but the Light-god sent a tribedeity who crushed the bloody-minded Earth-goddess under a mountain, and dragged a buffalo out of the jungle, saying, Liberate the man, and sacrifice the buffalo !" It looks as though this legend, divested of its mythic garb, may really record a historical substitution of animal for human sacrifice. In Ceylon, the exorcist will demand the name of the demon possessing a demoniac, and the patient in frenzy answers, giving the demon's name, “ I am So-and-so, I de. mand a human sacrifice and will not go out without!” The victim is promised, the patient comes to from the fit, and a few weeks later the sacrifice is made, but instead of a man they offer a fowl.3 Classic examples of substitution of this sort may be found in the sacrifice of a doe for a virgin to Artemis in Laodicæa, a goat for a boy to Dionysos at Potniæ, There appears to be Semitic connexion here, as there clearly is in the story of the Æolians of Tenedos sacrificing to Melikertes (Melkarth) instead of a new-born child a newborn.calf, shoeing it with buskins and tending the mothercow as if a human mother.*

One step more in the course of substitution leads the

[ocr errors]

worshipper to make his sacrifice by effigy. An instructive example of the way in which this kind of substitution arises may be found in the rites of ancient Mexico. At the yearly festival of the water-gods and mountain-gods, certain actual sacrifices of human victims took place in the temples. At the same time, in the houses of the people, there was celebrated an unequivocal but harmless imitation of this bloody rite. They made paste images, adored them, and in due pretence of sacrifice cut them open at the breast, took out their hearts, cut off their heads, divided and devoured their limbs.1 In the classic religions of Greece and Rome, the desire to keep up the consecrated rites of ages more barbarie, more bloodthirsty, or more profuse, worked itself out in many a compromise of this class, such as the brazen statues offered for human victims, the cakes of dough or wax in the figure of the beasts for which they were presented as symbolic substitutes.2 Not for economy, but to avoid taking life, Brahmanic sacrifice has been known to be brought down to offering models of the victim-animals in meal and butter.3 The modern Chinese, whose satisfaction in this kind of make-believe is so well shown by their dispatching paper figures to serve as attendants for the dead, work out in the same fanciful way the idea of the sacrificial effigy, in propitiating the presiding deity of the year for the cure of a sick man. The rude figure of a man is drawn on or cut out of a piece of paper, pasted on a slip of bamboo, and stuck upright in a packet of mock money. With proper exorcism, this representative is carried out into the street with the disease, the priest squirts water from his mouth over patient, image, and mock-money, the two latter are burnt, and the company eat up the little feast

1 Clavigcro, 'Jlessico,'vol. ii. p. 82; Torqnemada, 'Monarquia Indiana,' x. c. 29 ; J. G. Jliiller, pp. 502, 640, See also ibid. p. 379 (Peru) ; 'Kitea and Laws of Yncas,' pp. 46, 54.

» Grote, vol . v. p. 3C6. Schmidt in Smith's ' Die of Gr. and Rom. Ant.' art. 'Sacrificium.' Bastian, 1 c.

* Bastian, 'Ocstl. Asien,' vol . iii. p. 601.

laid out for the year-deity.1 There is curious historical significance in the custom at the inundation of the Nile at Cairo, of setting up a conical pillar of earth which the flood washes away as it rises. This is called the aruseh or bride, and appears to be a substitute introduced under humaner Moslem influence, for the young virgin in gay apparel who in older time was thrown into the river, a sacrifice to obtain a plentiful inundation.2 Again, the patient's offering the model of his diseased limb is distinctly of the nature of a sacrifice, whether it be propitiatory offering before cure, or thank-offering after. On the one hand, the ex-voto models of arms and ears dedicated in ancient Egyptian temples are thought to be grateful memorials,3 as seems to have been the case with metal models of faces, breasts, hands, &c. in Boeotian temples.4 On the other hand, there are cases where the model and, as it were, substitute of the diseased part is given to obtain a cure; thus in early Christian times in Germany protest was made against the heathen custom of hanging up carved wooden limbs to a helpful idol for relief,5 and in modern India the pilgrim coming for cure will deposit in the temple the image of his diseased limb, in gold or silver or copper according to his means.6

If now we look for the sacrificial idea within the range of modern Christendom, we shall find it in two ways not obscurely manifest. It survives in traditional folklore, and it holds a place in established religion. One of its most remarkable survivals may be seen in Bulgaria, where sacrifice of live victims is to this day one of the accepted rites of the land. They sacrifice a lamb on St. George's day, telling to account for the custom a legend which combines the episodes of the offering of Isaac and the miracle of the Three Children.

1 Doolittle, 'Chinese,' vol. i. p. 152.

3 Lone, 'Modern Eg.' vol. ii. p. 262. lleiners, vol. ii. p. 85. » Wilkinson, 'Ancient Eg.' vol. iii. p. 385 ; and in Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. ii. p. 137. See 1. Sam. vi. i.

* Grimm, 'Deutsche Myth.'p. 1131. » Ibid.

• Bastian, vol. iii. p. 116.

« PreviousContinue »