Subject: The Seamier Side of Paleo-paganism Date: 3 Apr 90 15:13:53 GMT With all due respe

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From: loren@sunlight.llnl.gov (Loren Petrich) Subject: The Seamier Side of Paleo-paganism Date: 3 Apr 90 15:13:53 GMT With all due respect to all you neo-pagans, it really must be said that there was a rather seamy side to paleo-paganism. Animal sacrifices were common; it was thought that the gods would find the offering of a sacrificed animal _very_ impressive. I doubt if any of you people would want to do that, however. There was even human sacrifice, practiced among some of the earlier ones. Consider the ancient Celts. There was a "bog man" discovered in a northern European bog a couple years ago who was a ritually sacrificed Druid priest. He had been dispatched in the three ways prescribed for each of three major deities -- strangled, drowned, and bludgeoned. He was a young man, an aristocrat who never had to work very hard. He was one of a priestly committee who drew lots to see who will be the human sacrifice. And consider the ancient Canaanites and Phoenicians and their sacrifices of babies to the great god Moloch, who might not make the grain grow unless he was properly appeased. The worship of Moloch got a lot of vilification from the writers of the Old Testament, but the OT writers did not complain about the human-sacrifice angle ("passing children through the fire") but about how Moloch was not the One True God of Israel. The OT writers gave worship of other old-time gods much the same treatment -- they denounced wailing for the dying and resurrected vegetation-god Tammuz and also putting out cakes for the Queen of Heaven -- Ishtar/Ashtoreth/Astarte (her Babylonian/Hebrew/Greek name). There was a curious twist to the Moloch story. The Phoenicians founded several Mediterranean colonies, including Carthage, the biggest of them all. Carthage got involved in a series of wars with Rome, with the city doing very badly towards the end. The Romans were on the march against the city, while its people had realized that they had committed a certain laxity in the worship of Moloch. The better-off families were sacrificing not their own children, but those of lower-class ones instead. Seeing how badly they were doing, they returned to that old-time religion and dutifully sacrificed even the most aristocratic of children. But that was not enough -- the Romans conquered Carthage, leveled the city, slaughtered many of its citizens and enslaved the rest, and poured salt on the surrounding fields so no one could grow food there. Another paleo-pagan thing that we can all do without is the idea of rule by divine monarchs. I think monarchs are OK as figureheads, but as actual rulers, they leave a lot to be desired. It is amusing to note that many of the closest approaches to god-kinghood in modern times have been pulled off by Communists, who officially proclaim that they are above anything that smacks of the "opium of the people", as they refer to religion. Consider the personality cult of Stalin, who was practically worshipped as a god while he was leader there. There is still a similar personality cult of Lenin; my mother compared it to the Catholic cult of saints. The recently deposed leader of Rumania, Nicolae Ceausescu also promoted himself as a Communist god-king. Apparently, Kim Il-sung of North Korea still portrays himself as one of these; he hopes to be succeeded by his son, as Ceausescu had hoped. On a lighter note, I note the sex lives of the Greek gods, who were certainly imagined in the likeness of their worshippers. Many of the male deities were irresistably horny, while many of the female ones were professional virgins. Not only were several legendary heroes considered offspring of the gods, but even some historical figures, like Pythagoras, Plato, and Alexander the Great (the first two: Apollo; Great Alex: Zeus) I think that that kind of duality between the sexes is a bit out of date. Any comments? ^ Loren Petrich, the Master Blaster \ ^ / loren@sunlight.llnl.gov \ ^ / One may need to route through any of: \^/ <<<<<<<<+>>>>>>>> lll-lcc.llnl.gov /v\ lll-crg.llnl.gov / v \ star.stanford.edu / v \ v "I'm supposed to keep my mouth shut" -- Madonna

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