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Blood Sacrifice [long]

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.pagan,alt.satanism
From: Bishop Hatto 
Subject: Blood Sacrifice [long] (Was Re: CHLow: Dark/Light Neopaganism)
Date: 10 Jan 1996 16:42:09 GMT

In article <> Kullervo, writes:
>>I've been following this discussion with great interest.  Now, I don't 
>>for a minute claim to know much about this, but what about South American 
>>culture - the blood sacrifice to the Sun god?

THE BIRTH OF HELL, a chapter from "The Highest Altar" by Patrick Tierney

Hell was born just outside the walls of Jerusalem, in the Valley of Ben
Hinnom. The prophet Jeremiah dubbed this "the Valley of Slaughter"
(Jeremiah 19:6) because so many children were immolated here in a deep
pit known as the Tophet-  "Place of Fire." Even kings of Judah burned
their sons and daughters at this Tophet. Eventually, the sacrifices
ceased. But the memory remained, as the Valley of Ben Hinnom was turned
into Gehenna, the Hebrew word for "Hell," where sinners suffered the
eternal torment of fire.

Having heard so much about Hell in Catholic grade school-  and seen
frightening pictures of children consumed in these flames- I wanted to
see the actual spot where the dreadful notion began. I expected something
awful in "the Valley of Slaughter," so I was taken aback by its
beautiful, deep ravines and verdant olive groves, just outside the white,
turreted walls of Jerusalem's Old City. It looked more like paradise than

"If this is Hell, then Hell is a pretty nice place," archaeologist
Gabriel Barkay told me. Barkay, a professor at Tel Aviv University,
admires the valley for its topography and its rich past. "The valley has
gotten a bad name because of the burning which went on at the Tophet
here," he says. "Jeremiah equated this place with the kind of activity
which goes on in Hell- bodies burning forever. But you have to remember
that those who performed these sacrifices regarded their activities as
wholly innocent."

There's direct Biblical testimony that child sacrifice continued until
the seventh century B.C. at the Tophet in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. The
prophet Jeremiah says, "they have built a shrine of Topheth in the Valley
of Ben Hinnom, at which to burn their sons and daughters" (Jeremiah
7:31). King Ahaz of Judah worshipped at this Tophet. "He also burnt
sacrifices in the Valley of Ben-hinnom; he even burnt his sons in the
fire according to the abominable practice of the nations whom the Lord
had dispossessed in favor of the Israelites. He slaughtered and burnt
sacrifices at the hill-shrines and on the hill- tops and under every
spreading tree"  (2 Chronicles 28:3- 4). King Manasseh likewise "made his
son pass, through the fire" (2 Kings 21:6). According to most Bible
translations , these child immolations were made to the terrible god

Although Moloch has become one of the great demons of Judeo- Christian
literature, there's strong evidence that Moloch was not a demon at all
but simply the name for child sacrifices dedicated to Yahweh. This new
understanding comes from Phoenician settlements in Sicily and North
Africa, where Tophets, like that outside side of Jerusalem, have been
excavated. The Phoenicians were close relatives to the Hebrews-  the
Bible refers to the Phoenician coastal peoples as Canaanites. They spoke
a mutually intelligible language, and the Hebrew alphabet, like all
modern alphabets in the Western world, came from the Phoenicians. So did
the fire sacrifices of the Jerusalem Tophet.

Curiosity about Yahweh's sacrificial Tophet leads one to Carthage, near
the city of Tunis, North Africa. Here there is a pleasant, overgrown
garden, shaded by pomegranate and fig trees, which once served as the
Carthaginian Tophet, the most prolific known place of child sacrifice in
the ancient world. The wild growth of weeds is rivaled by the abundance
of sacrificial stelae, popping up everywhere, with their stick-figure
representations of Baal Hammon and Tanit-Ashtarte. Queen Dido of Tyre
brought these familiar gods from the Phoenician homeland, much of which
is now a part of Israel, when she founded Carthage about 800 B.C.

A UNESCO archaeological team uncovered hundreds of urns filled with the
cremated bones of children and sacrificed animals, often mixed with beads
and good- luck amulets. Many of these jars were buried under the pointed
limestone stelae, with their dedications to Tanit and Baal-Hammon. One
stela records a priest in long, flowing robes, holding a child in the act
of sacrifice.

The Carthaginian Tophet has many layers, the bottom level dating back to
750 B.C. At this earliest period, animal sacrifice was more frequent than
later, although it never constituted more than a third of all ritual
killings here. The most primitive burial urns and stelae show wider
variety in color and design. Later, as the number of human sacrifices
increased along with Carthage's burgeoning population, the burial urns
became a uniform, nondescript orange color, and the stelae were also
standardized. There are some twenty thousand urns in all.

Archaeologists Lawrence Stager and Samuel Wolff concluded that the
Carthaginian Tophet is "the largest cemetery of sacrificed humans ever

But in spite of the many written accounts of child sacrifice at Carthage,
coupled with the physical evidence, some scholars don't admit that child
sacrifice occurred here. The connection between the Jerusalem Tophet and
the Carthaginian Tophet is what makes the issue so controversial. One of
the most disconcerting pieces of zpigraphic evidence is that the
Carthaginian sacrifices were called "mulk offerings." There was no Moloch
god at Carthage or any other Phoenician settlement. The implication is
that the proper translation of _mlk_ (the Hebrew text of the Old
Testament doesn't have vowels, which makes the translation so difficult)
should be "human sacrifice," not a deity named Moloch. If this
translation is accepted- and a large number of Biblical scholars now
favor it-  it would mean similar rituals of child sacrifice took place as
part of orthodox Yahwism, perhaps on a large scale. "A lot of traditional
Bible scholars are getting angry about this," says one of the
anthropologists who excavated the Carthage Tophet. "They don't want to
face the skeleton in Judeo-Christianity's closet."

But the skeleton comes alive and does an ecstatic dance of death in one
of Isaiah's greatest poems, a religious song meant to accompany a human
sacrifice at the Jerusalem Tophet. Isaiah began preaching in Judah at
almost the exact time that the first sacrificial urns were planted in the
Carthaginian Tophet.

_Such shall be your song, as on a night a feast is celebrated with
gladness of heart, as when one marches in procession with the flute, to
enter the mountain of Yahweh, To the Rock of Israel. Yahweh has made
heard the crash of His voice, the down- sweep of His arm he has
displayed, with hot wrath and flame of consuming fire, cloudburst and
flood and hailstones. Yes! At the voice of Yahweh Assyria will cower- 
with His staff He will beat him. Every passage of the rod of His
punishment Which Yahweh will lay upon him will be to the sound of
timbrels and lyres; with battles of offerings He will fight against him.
For his Topheth has long been prepared, He himself is installed as a
victim [molek]. Yahweh has made its fire- pit deep and wide, With fire
and wood in abundance. The breath of Yahweh, like a torrent of sulphur,
sets it ablaze!_ - Isaiah 30:29- 332

What's amazing about Isaiah's song is its explicit ritual content, and
the undeniable authorship of Yahweh in the torture and immolation of the
Assyrian victim, who is probably the great Assyrian conquerer
Sennacherib. The Assyrians were threatening the exist ence of Judah
during Isaiah's lifetime, and they succeeded in annihilating the northern
kingdom of Samaria (Israel proper). These verses served as the
centerpiece of Paul Mosca's Ph.D. thesis at Harvard in 1975, "Child
Sacrifice in Israelite and Canaanite Religion." The translation used
above is borrowed from Mosca, with a few slight changes. It is more
explicit than the New English Bible or any other popular text, because
Mosca translates mlk as molek that is, sacrificial "victim." In most
traditional renderings of these verses, mlk was translated melek- king.
Perhaps Mosca is right in suggesting that Isaiah was creating a
deliberate pun, since, in this nocturnal rite, the victim (molek) is the
Assyrian king (melek). But even if this technical term is rejected,
Isaiah's poem is clearly about a ritual killing. According to Mosca's
analysis of Isaiah's poem, "we begin with the fire- the lightning- of
Yahweh's storm theophany and end with the fire of ritual sacrifice." All
of the mountain god's weather powers- over lightning, thunder, hail,
rain, and wind-  become weapons by which Yahweh conquers Sennacherib and
then sacrifices him. Thus, the roles of storm god, warrior, and
sacrificer converge in this frightening portrait of Yahweh, just as they
do in the mythologies of the fierce Andean mountain gods.

It can be argued that Isaiah is speaking allegorically, that these verses
are really nothing more than a war song. But, given the exact parallels
between Isaiah's war song and the known human-sacrifice rituals of other
Canaanite peoples, it is an allegory the Assyrians would have taken
literally. Isaiah's Tophet sacrifice takes place at night, around a deep
fire-pit, to the sound of music, just as the Phoenician rites did. The
main difference between the Tophet ritual extolled by Isaiah and the
human sacrifices practiced by the Phoenicians is that Isaiah's victim is
offered to Yahweh, whereas the Phoenician victims are given to Tanit and

Significantly, Isaiah didn't criticize his contemporaries, Kings Ahaz or
Manasseh, both of whom sacrificed their children at the Jerusalem Tophet.
Paul Mosca concludes from his study of Isaiah 30:27- 33 that "the rite of
the Jerusalem Tophet- though in hindsight viewed first as unorthodox
(Deuteronomist) and finally as idolatrous (Jeremiah and Ezekiel)- was, in
fact, part of the official Yahwistic cultus. Isaiah himself seems to have
had no particular objection to Yahwistic 'passing into the fire.' "

Isaiah's views of the Tophet and those who sacrificed there are in stark
contrast to the later authors of Chronicles and Kings, who saw Ahaz
following "the abominable practice of the nations." The difference
between Isaiah and Jeremiah is even greater since, while Isaiah praises
the Tophet as Yahweh's liberating weapon against the Assyrians, Jeremiah
blames the Tophet for the fall of Jerusalem, which he ascribes to
Yahweh's anger at idolatrous human sacrifice. Between the time of
Isaiah's ministry in the early seventh century B.C. and Jeremiah's
preaching in the early sixth century B.C., Jewish thinkers radically
redefined Yahwism and suppressed human sacrifice.

Until this time, Yahweh had been worshipped by shaman-prophets on "every
high hill" in Israel. But King Josiah of Judah chose to destroy all the
hill-shrines in one of the most drastic religious reforms in history. "He
brought in all the priests from the cities of Judah and desecrated the
hill-shrines where they had burnt sacrifices, from Geba to Beersheba, and
dismantled the hill-shrines of the demons... He desecrated Topheth in the
Valley of Ben Hinnom, so that no one might make his son or daughter pass
through the fire in honor of Molech" (2 Kings 23:8- 10). Josiah also
razed the hill-shrine at Bethel erected by Abraham, and went throughout
Samaria to slaughter" on the altars all the priests of the hill-shrines"
(2 Kings 23:20).

Apparently this reversal of age-old custom caused great consternation.
When an earlier king, Hezekiah, attempted to suppress some of the
hill-shrines, he was accused of destroying Yahweh's legitimate places of
worship. (Ironically, the Assyrian King Sennacherib made this accusation
against Hezekiah [Isaiah 36:7].) But Hezekiah's grandson, King Josiah,
cleverly rewrote history to make Moses the author of his sweeping
reforms, whose effects were to fill the temple's coffers with
contributions from all over Judah at the expense of the once-independent
local shamans. Obviously, the High Priest was one of the principal
beneficiaries of this centralization. And it was the High Priest Hilkiah
(father of the prophet Jeremiah) himself who, while collecting tribute
from all over Judah and Israel, "discovered the book of the law of the
Lord which had been given through Moses" (2 Chronicles 34:14), which
revolutionized the rules of Hebrew worship.

No one had ever heard of this book of Moses before, so Josiah had to
consult a prophetess about its authenticity. She wisely confirmed the
divine origin of the newly discovered book. Not surprisingly, the High
Priest's book of Mosaic law (perhaps Deuteronomy) supported Josiah's
reforms to the letter. One of the most transparent anachronisms of the
new rules was the requirement that all hill-shrines be destroyed outside
of Jerusalem. Moses built such altars himself, and gave instructions to
Joshua to build more of them. Another anomaly in these new teachings is
Moses' repeated attacks on human sacrifice, although, as we've seen,
Moses attempted to sacrifice his own son, sacrificed a group of leaders
to avert an epidemic, and once offered to sacrifice himself. By the new
"book of Moses," the old Moses was a heretic.

But with the new book of Moses the human-sacrificial rites that once
defined the most sublime degree of piety became abominations. And the
Valley of Ben Hinnom, or Gay ben Hinnom, where the Jerusalem Tophet
received these sacrifices, became a synonym for "Hell," Gehenna, a word
that worked its way into several languages.

Josiah's methods were drastic but effective. With the help of Hilkiah,
Jeremiah, and other reformers, he succeeded in eradicating human
sacrifice for perhaps the first time in history. Animal sacrifices
continued at only one place, the Great Temple on Mount Moriah. Although
this centralized power in the hands of the Jerusalem priesthood, it had
the paradoxical effect of reducing the influence of blood sacrifice
outside of the Great Temple. Instead, a new breed of rabbis, or lay
teachers, arose. At their local synagogues they created the conception of
an ethical God, one bound as much by His covenant as the Jews were bound
to Him. Within a remarkably short time- six or seven centuries- the
wrathful Yahweh of Isaiah, a storm god burning with desire for revenge
and human sacrifice, had become the God of Hillel, whose maxim was "What
is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the entire Law;
the rest is commentary." Human sacrifice was inconceivable for Hillel's

Thus we have a precious still shot of cultural evolution in the making: a
new book is written and ascribed to Moses, and a new path of religious
thought unfolds. The Bible is a portrait of sacrificial thinking in
various stages of growth. Like the Aztecs and the Incas, who both evolved
solar cults to co-opt the local mountain gods, the Hebrews reworked
sacrificial mythology, a conscious adaptation of the oldest rituals to
changing circumstances. No society has existed without some form of
sacrificial myth and ritual. But, whereas both the Incas and the Aztecs
made human sacrifice even more prominent, in the fantastic panoply of the
Incas' empire-wide capacocha offerings and the elaborate mass slayings of
the Aztec state, the Jews made a unique decision to abolish human
sacrifice as the centerpiece of culture. The Romans, Greeks, and Hindus
diminished its importance, replacing it gradually (though never
completely) with symbolic human sacrifices. But the Jews evolved a system
in which the concept of human sacrifice was inherently abhorrent.

Still, these remarkable reforms came at the cost of another type of
violent suppression- an internalization of sacrificial fear. Anyone who
disobeyed the new rules would go to Gehenna, the Hell where they would
burn forever, as the bodies once burned in the Tophet. The prophet
Jeremiah vividly depicted this unquenchable fire, and It became a part of
popular religion. Apparently only a drastic inhibition like this could
free people from the captivity of human sacrifice. Ironically, the means
of liberation was the old method of ritual death itself, projected into a
nightmare: what men had practiced from the beginning of time became a
punishment meted out by God for all eternity.

Gehenna and the burning that went on there became identified with the
demon Moloch. As we've seen, this great demon was also born from changing
attitudes toward the Tophet fire-pit, since the original molek was just a
pious human-sacrifice offering. "Thus, between the Josianic reform and
the closing centuries of the pre- Christian era, we may catch a glimpse
of the rarest of all events the birth of a god- a god whose cult had,
happily, long since been abandoned."

Gehenna burned itself into the Christian Gospels: "It is better to enter
into the kingdom of God with one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown
into Hell [Gehenna], where the devouring worm never dies and the fire is
not quenched" (Mark 9:47- 48). Here we see the Tophet wedded to the
serpent, which Jesus calls the "devouring worm." Originally Moses set up
a bronze effigy of this serpent (Numbers 21:9), which was worshipped
until King Hezekiah tore it down six centuries later (2 Kings 18:4). But
now the serpent has been changed into the devil, just as the Mapuche
leviathan Cai Cai Filu and the Aymara mountain serpent were converted to
"devils" by Christian missionaries. And just as Cai Cai Filu and the
monster snake on Mount Kapia are thought to be ravenously hungry for
human flesh, here, too, the Christian serpent demon is pictured devouring
people. One of the reasons that Aymara shamans can easily adapt satanic
rituals to their own practices of mountain worship is that Satan, "that
serpent of old" (Revelation 12:9), is an ancient relative of their snake
god on Mount Kapia.

In spite of John Milton's vivid picture of the blood- smeared Moloch in
Paradise Lost, there was no demon Moloch, just as there was no Paradise

No serpent spoiled the Garden of Eden.

Eden belonged to that old serpent. And Eden, as the children buried
beneath the lovely, overgrown garden in Carthage know too well, raged
with the fires of Hell. The process by which the fantasy of Eden became
the nightmare of Hell claimed its own victims, too. It's no accident that
the fifth-century theological battles over this man-made Hell took place
near Carthage, spearheaded by Saint Augustine and the African bishops who
followed him. Together they enforced a new doctrine that any infant who
died without baptism would go straight to Hell- a teaching meant to
intimidate pagan parents into surrendering their age-old custom of
dedicating newborn children to Tanit, who by this time was called Dea
Caelestis. Such Tanit dedications were symbolic, though the Church Father
Tertullian claimed that child sacrifice in North Africa secretly
continued well into the Christian era.

Julian of Eclanam, an Italian bishop, ridiculed Augustine's doctrine of
Hell, asking him: "Tell me then, tell me: who is this person who inflicts
such punishment on innocent creatures... You answer: God. God, you say!
God! He Who commended His love to us, Who has loved us, Who has not
spared His own Son for us... He is the persecutor of newborn children; He
it is who sends tiny babies to eternal flames."

Julian's question "Who is this person who inflicts such punishment on
innocent creatures?" is a profound one. Does God send babies to Hell? Or
is Augustine's God, as Julian suggests, really a demon in disguise? Peter
Brown, one of Augustine's biographers, says that, "Augustine had always
believed in the vast power of the Devil: God had shown His omnipotence
most clearly in restraining this superhuman creature."

Julian, however, suspected that Augustine had given this superhuman devil
power so vast that Satan had become more than God's equal. Originally,
Satan was God's messenger, a messenger with the unpleasant job of testing
God's faithful servants, as Satan tests Job, for instance. The Samaritan
folktale about the _milhaj_, or bad angel, testing Abraham through the
sacrifice of Isaac puts an other divine messenger in a similarly
ambiguous position. But Satan's new role as Moloch- king of the eternal
realm of Hell and recipient of burning children- usurped Yahweh's former
position as the warrior-priest who presided over the Jerusalem Tophet and
the immolation of child victims. Not surprisingly, Satan soon acquired
the horns, serpents, and magical staff that were once the possession of
the storm god Yahweh on Mount Sinai. The devil who grew out of these
mythological distortions is a direct descendant of Yahweh the mountain
god, just as the tiu of Illimani springs from the defamed mountain
deities of the Andean past.

As we've seen in the Andes, each new victim of sacrifice becomes another
guardian spirit in the sacrificer's army of spiritual slaves. And since
Satan was capturing all unbaptized souls in his Gehenna- along with a
great many Christian souls as well- his legions were constantly
increasing, and his power, quite naturally, grew to fantastic proportions
in both popular religion and formal theology. Julian of Eclanum accused
Augustine of being a Manichaean heretic- a believer in a divided universe
where the powers of darkness were greater than the powers of light.
Julian contrasts the God "Who has not spared His own Son for us" with the
God who consigns tiny children to flames, as though the two figures were
irreconcilably opposed to each other. But it seems to me that the God who
is willing to sacrifice His own child through the agony of crucifixion is
precisely the same figure who throws the children of others into
Hellfire. Both act as Lords of the Sacrifice, deriving their enormous
powers, like Jephthah or the Inca ruler, from the ritual deaths of

God the Father's sacrifice of Jesus is a divine parallel to King Ahaz's
immolation of his own son in the Jerusalem Tophet. This type of child
sacrifice, outlawed by King Josiah in the seventh century B.C., was
revived as the centerpiece of Christian faith.

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