Almost everything a man does is based on his belief and what he chooses to believe in. Religion, of course, is the primary foundation of all this belief. Little may we notice it and we may not seem to want to accept it, but religion dictates to us the way we live our lives. It tells us what good and bad is—also, which are good and which are bad. It reasons in our hearts though we never question it and that’s probably why we tend to be faithful to it. But disproportionate faithfulness to our beliefs can sometimes bring forth our own destruction. In every religion, there are sacrifices.
The very basic question that one has to answer primarily is what a sacrifice is. Sacrifice came from the Latin word sacrificium: sacer, which means, sacred and facere, which means, to make.  Well, according to an abridged Webster’s Vest Pocket dictionary, the first meaning of the word sacrifice written, is ‘the offering of something precious to a deity or the thing offered’. The second gist, according still to this dictionary, is ‘loss or deprivation’.  Now, let’s focus first on the primary denotation: offering of something precious to a deity or the thing offered.
Another word for an offering is sacrifice while a deity is a supernatural force that is present in all religion. Since these deities’ prowesses are way beyond human limits, people found the need to appease these forces in order for them to have a good and stable life. Herein is where sacrifices came into the picture. Sacrifices are perhaps the most primordial means of honoring divine beings. But how do you honor a being that you believe is by far greater than you are?? Simple…  Pohle, J. (1912). Sacrifice. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.
New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved September 24, 2008 from New Advent: http://www. newadvent. org/cathen/13309a. htm.  Merriam-Webster. (1989). Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts, U. S. A. : Merriam-Webster. Let us now put our concentration on the second meaning given by the dictionary: loss or deprivation. To be at peace with a god, one must give up something that is precious and valuable. One cannot offer something that is of unimportance because, as what they believe tells them, it might upset or even anger the gods.
If we think of what possible gifts or sacrifice a person or even a community can offer to a god, we come up with some theories. The original theory was ‘everyone needs to eat’. Yes, everyone, including the so-called ancestor-gods. In the early times, particularly in Egypt and Mesopotamia, priests would dutifully leave food on altars for the gods to eat. But of course, these beings would never actually even touch the offerings. It was awkward to have all those untouched food sitting around, so in the long run, priests started to do the cutting, burning or bleeding of the sacrifices.
They thought it was a lot better than leaving the victuals to become rancid without having any use. Later on, this original theory of feeding the gods was forgotten and the practice became then a ritual, which was done by the participants just for the sake of offering to their belief-gods. The most primitive sacrifices consisted of crops and meat—basically; these are the subsistence products of the early people. Since these goods are needed for every man’s survival, they are then considered valuables that are worthy to be offered to the gods.
But then, humans always have this tendency to be unsatisfied with what they are giving especially when they know that what they offer would surely be given back to them, if not a hundred, maybe a thousand folds better. These simple sacrifices, then, slowly shifted to animal sacrifice and from there to blood sacrifice. A problem then comes in when people have shifted pass the scheme that they were actually ‘feeding the gods’. The animal hierarchy kicks in, so as to say that a ram is a better sacrifice than a bird, and a cow is a better sacrifice than a ram.
The dilemma with this hierarchy is that it concludes that the best sacrifice of all is man, itself. Humans who sit at the top of the animal hierarchy are the best sacrifice that one can give to the supernatural forces or beings that they worship and believe in. Just about every culture and religion has practiced human sacrifice at some point in their history. There are some kinds of human sacrifice wherein the sacrificed entity does not really have to die but to some extent offer something that is of utmost importance to that individual. An example of this is the traditional human sacrifice in the Middle East.
Their approach of human sacrifice maybe considered as positively more humane compared to some other cultures. Theirs was usually accomplished with a blade and the blood of the sacrifice.  Another of this type of human sacrifice is called the burnt offering, which is very well known among Christians. This burnt offering is based upon the original Hebrew word pronounced as oh-law, meaning ascending, as in going upward in smoke (the word holocaust is based on the same original Hebrew term, a word which in the twentieth century has taken on a much different and far more horrible meaning).
Burnt offerings symbolized the total dedication of the offering unto God (completely consumed by fire so that it was available for nothing else), and the ascending (the rising smoke) of the offering to God in heaven.  We are able to see that, without the latter part meaning given in the twentieth century, a burnt offering is referred to, something or someone, which or who, was utterly dedicated to God. This only means that if a maiden, for example, was dyed-in-the-wool by her family, usually the father as commonly exampled in the bible, she would have to remain untouched forever.
If this was the case, especially with the Jewish people, it would be a very pitiful affair for the young woman because in their culture, bearing children is the primary role and glory of women.  www. rotten. com/library/death/human-sacrifice.  Blank, W. (1998). Burnt Offerings. Retrieved September 27, 2008 from http://www. keyway. ca/htm2000/20000718. htm Enough now with the lenient ground of human sacrifices: methodology of killing could very much vary dramatically depending on some factors. One of them is on geographic regions.
In Northern Europe, victims were frequently killed repeatedly, in a sense that the endowments were exaggeratedly murdered with corpses found stabbed in the back, strangled, with their heads bashed in and finally drowned in a bog.  These carcasses were named ‘bog bodies’. Over the past centuries, these ‘bog bodies’ of men, women and children have come to light during peat cutting activities in Northwestern Europe, especially in Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Northern Germany and Denmark.
The individual bog bodies found show a great degree of variation in their state of preservation: from skeletons, to well-preserved complete bodies, to isolated heads and limbs. A lot of people find it hard to imagine that the dark brown bog bodies were once lightly colored human beings of flesh and blood who lived in timber houses, brought up children, looked after their cattle, grew crops, made clothes, prepared meals and manufactured tools. Facial reconstructions and remains of their hair and clothing give us an idea of how they looked during existence.
According to classical authors, the Roman Iron Age people of Northern Europe offered human sacrifices not only to celebrate military victories and to recover from illnesses but they also used the term ‘human sacrifice’ as addressed to executing people for crimes or perceived social imperfections such as homosexuality.  We can actually see here the vitality and the injustice of human minds towards matters that are contradicting to the dictation of their culture and religion. We all know that Europe is the birthplace of the western culture.
In here, we ought to find a lot of religions with hostile attitudes when it comes to ‘perceived social imperfections’. Actually, it is in point of fact that what wheels  Archaeological Institute of America. (1997). Retrieved December 10, 1997 from www. archaeology. org/online/features/bog/ human minds to distinguish what these social imperfections are, is exactly religion and culture, themselves. Before anything else, ‘bog bodies’ are but one of the many instances of human sacrifice.
There were, and to some extent, there still are many different traditions of human sacrifice practiced on the continent of Africa. One repugnant form is known as the ‘muti’ killing. Muti is sometimes referred to as medicine murder or witchcraft murder. The ‘goal’ of the sacrificer is to take away the precious items of the sacrificee to use it for the sake of others who are suffering from an illness or mainly to benefit oneself. It involves dismemberment and decapitation, removal of the vertebrae and/or genitals and the draining of the blood from the body.
Removed parts may be further scrutinized for some specific uses. The sacrificer/s often performs this while the victim is still alive for the reason that they believed that the screams seem to enhance the power of the medicine. As to what have been mentioned earlier, human sacrifices are still present up till now at this age of time. One of the most disturbing factors about these muti killings is that it seems to be crawling out of its land-origin, Africa. It started in the year 2001, consecutive body parts of children were found in different locations in England.
As a result of the investigations done by the police officers-in-charge with the help of Professor Hendrik Scholtz, a South African pathologist who is an expert in the so-called muti killings, it was confirmed that muti had indeed entered Britain.  Another aspect in the varying methodology of killings in human sacrifice is culture. The top examples of this are the Mexica/Aztec, Mayan and Incan culture. These civilizations are probably the greatest that has ever existed. Though despite of this fact, there are plenty who look  ReligionNewsBlog. 2003). Focus: Muti- The Story of Adam. Retrieved August 4, 2003 from http://www. religionnewsblog. com/3905#tools at these societies with distaste attributable to the fact that they are those who overtly practice the offering of humans especially to their respective gods. Let us start with the Aztec culture. Since we’re trying to explore these people, we might as well call them in their proper name. The term, Aztec, is a startlingly imprecise term to describe the culture that dominated the Valley of Mexico in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Properly speaking, all the Nahua-speaking peoples in the Valley of Mexico were Aztecs, while the culture that dominated the area was a tribe of the Mexica (pronounced “me-shee-ka”) called the Tenochca (“te-noch-ka”).  Sacrifice for the Mexica became a key element in their ritual and worship to many gods. They were said to be constantly at ‘war’ with their neighboring tribes and groups. This constant display of warfare has a political side to it which is very much unfortunate for those who become victims of the battle.
These mock struggles intend to collect live prisoners for future sacrifice. It started with a mutual agreement between the Mexica and the Tlaxcalans, another indigenous group of Nahua ethnicity that inhabited the Kingdom of Tlaxcala.  The Mexica religion is dominated by three key gods and each was said to prefer a different method of offering. First is a war and sun god called Huitzilopochtli, the native and chief god of the Tenochca. The people believed that in order to be sure that the sun will arrive in place each day; a sturdy supply of human hearts had to be offered each holy sacrifice. 9] This type of sacrifice was done outside, if at all possible, on the top of a great pyramid. The sufferer was placed spread-eagled on a round stone, with his back arched. The limbs were held, while a priest used an obsidian knife to cut under the rib cage and remove the still-beating heart. The fertility god, Xipe Totec, however, would favor that the person was tied to a post and shot full of  Hooker, R. (1996). The Mexica/Aztecs. Retrieved June 6, 1999 from http://www. wsu. edu/~dee/CIVAMRCA/AZTECS. HTM. 8] Meyer, M. C. (1995). The Course of Mexican History 5th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University.  Hogg, G. (1966). Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice. New York: The Citadel. arrows. The blood spluttering out was said to represent the cool spring rains. The earth mother goddess, Tenteoinnan, was extremely important. This might just be the reason why the victim that would be offered to her is the least fortunate. At harvest time, a female offering was flayed and her skin was carried ceremoniously to one of the temples.
This then was worn by an officiating priest who then symbolizes the goddess, herself.  Let us now go to the Mayan culture. In here, individuals within the society had their lives dramatically shortened in order that the gods, in particular, the rain god, Chac, would look upon the society with preference. Like the Mexica, the Mayans were keen on the idea of incarcerating captives for sacrifice. Although, not that enthralled by the thought, for the reason that the only detainees that are worth sacrificing for them are those of high status in their own society.
The process of killing found, majority involves severe head injuries before being thrown into a well. It was also stressed that the times of frequent human sacrifice, according to the results of the studies of discovered bodies, were the periods of anxiety of the society, times of drought and/or phases of rigorous pressure from the outside.  The Incas, however, are the topic of interest here. Many have been captivated by how the Inca civilization subsisted. They are those who carry out human sacrifice with utmost extravagance. Capacocha is the sacred Inca ceremony of human sacrifice.
Very little is known about it but with each new archaeological discovery of a sacrificial mummy, things are beginning to solve its puzzle. Like the Mayan, Incan sacrifices were often made during or after a portentous event: an earthquake, an epidemic, a drought, or after the death of an Inca Emperor. These sacrifices often involved the child of a chief, according to an archeologist, Juan Schobinger. He also said that the  Strom, K. M. (1995-2008). Human Sacrifice.  Clark, L. (1996). The Sacrificial Ceremony. Retrieved November 2000 from http://www. pbs. rg/wgbh/nova/peru/worlds/sacrifice2. html sacrificed child was thought of as deity. This was believed as to ensuring a tie between the chief and the emperor, who is thought of as a descendant of the Sun god. The family of the child would also have a lot of benefits awaiting them—they step into a higher status within the society. The honor of sacrifice was bestowed not only on the family, but was forever immortalized in the child. It is believed that the sacrificial children had to be perfect for the gods, without as much as a blemish or irregularity in their physical beauty. 11] Another thing with the Inca is how they perform the ritual on their sacrifices. A lot have been awed by their chic. An example for this is Peru’s Ice Maiden which was discovered by Johan Reinhard of national geographic. He described the girl’s clothes as ‘no less remarkable—richly patterned, dazzling textiles that will serve as the model for future depictions of the way noble Inca women dressed’. Reinhard also quoted that some of the garments that were used appear to be too big for the Ice Maiden, indicating that perhaps the Inca perceived she would exist in the afterlife as an adult.
Also included in the Ice Maiden’s outfit is the lliclla—a bright red-and-white shawl. This, as excerpted by William Conklin, an expert on pre-Columbian textiles at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. , was the finest Inca woman’s textile in the world. The dress of the ladies of Cuzco, Inca’s capital city, is the most graceful and rich that has been seen up to this time in all the Indies, according to Spanish chronicler, Pedro de Cieza de Leon. Reinhard also illustrated what he called, the Ampato Maiden’s last journey.
He wondered how it was for the maiden to be walking towards death. Beyond all these admiration, there is also a glitch in the Inca’s way of offering their sacrifice. It was not at all a clean offering since archeologists who have studied and autopsied the maiden’s body, found fractures on the maiden’s head. This could only mean that either something from the environment had hit the girl’s head after she was dead and buried or the priests or someone from the ceremony did that to kill her immediately. The former was found to be unlikely since the autopsy proved that this was done before she died.
The latter though was found to have an excuse because it was taken into consideration that it was necessary for the ‘killer’ to do that so that the maiden won’t experience much hardship in withstanding the cold atmosphere. This is maybe an act of pity from the killer, not wanting the Ice Maiden to encounter additional hurting than what she was already experiencing.  Human sacrifice is really an intriguing subject matter. It does not only concern the way of how humans are killed, it concerns how each life is cut short, all due to the fact that we follow what our religion states so.
Really, what is the basis for all of this discussion? It is all owed to our beliefs. It is true that man cannot survive without religion, mostly because it prevents us from driving ourselves nuts and partly because religion answers our seemingly most basic but undeniably unanswerable questions. But what if religion is also the cause why some (people who are destined to be sacrificed) had their lives taken away from them for other’s benefit? Another view of that one can make of the human sacrifice is that sometimes, it does not have to hurt or offer something of the physical.
This form of sacrifice is present even now, in our societies. In this kind of sacrifice, the society does not physically tear one’s heart but it certainly breaks them. The society does not behead anyone; it creates the conditions that leave them killing and strangling each other to the ground for the society have left them by no means of any survival. They are slaves and the society is the gladiator; making them work towards death for the society’s development and progress. After all this, the society’s role is to deny its responsibilities and overlook the terrible things that its human sacrifices are experiencing.
There is a saying that ‘one’s garbage is another’s treasure’. An immigrant, for example, crawling along the street, had just escaped from her malevolent masters, will be invisible at first  Reinhard, J. (1996). Peru’s Ice Maidens: Unwrapping the secrets: National Geographic, 189 (6). to passing travelers, until he was dead, just a disposable trash, a sacrifice to maintain the society’s self-image and standard of living. But this trash is someone’s father, someone’s wife, someone’s son; their treasure or breadwinner.  True, how amazing it is that man can come up with such things.
Maybe it’s all due to our very complexity. It is very hard for us to be satisfied, an example of which is the animal hierarchy of sacrifice that was first discussed. We have a propensity to think of ways to complicate and make a profligate something out of something. Having to come up with the conclusion that man may seem to really hate simplicity, many may argue in this. Isn’t it that those who want to live their lives simple, think of solutions that are full of twists and turns just for them to end up in their wanted simplicity? This must really be how human minds work. Some might just come p with a thought that our way of thinking is patterned to our minds’ complex structure. This is a known-fact, actually. Another notion that comes to mind about human sacrifice is that, it is somehow startling and kind of interesting why civil rights movement, consist of course of people with their own religions, has not stepped in to defend the right of devotees to sacrifice as they choose, despite the fact that the West’s most popular religion, Christianity, is based on what arguably was the most spectacular human sacrifice in all of history—which involved the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Disproportionate faithfulness does sometimes lead mankind to its own destruction. Is it okay for the human populace to continue with such practices just because their religion and culture has dictated it? Is it okay for mankind to just accept it? There might be a solution to this when man has thought of, somehow, a way to replace the role of religion and culture without damaging how the society works… BIBLIOGRAPHY  Pohle, J. (1912). Sacrifice. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved September 24, 2008 from New Advent: http://www. ewadvent. org/cathen/13309a. htm.  Merriam-Webster. (1989). Webster’s Vest Pocket Dictionary. Springfield, Massachusetts, U. S. A. : Merriam-Webster.  www. rotten. com/library/death/human-sacrifice.  Blank, W. (1998). Burnt Offerings. Retrieved September 27, 2008 from http://www. keyway. ca/htm2000/20000718. htm  Archaeological Institute of America. (1997). Retrieved December 10, 1997 from www. archaeology. org/online/features/bog/  ReligionNewsBlog. (2003). Focus: Muti- The Story of Adam. Retrieved August 4, 2003 from http://www. religionnewsblog. om/3905#tools  Hooker, R. (1996). The Mexica/Aztecs. Retrieved June 6, 1999 from http://www. wsu. edu/~dee/CIVAMRCA/AZTECS. HTM. [8  Meyer, M. C. (1995). The Course of Mexican History 5th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University.  Hogg, G. (1966). Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice. New York: The Citadel.  Strom, K. M. (1995-2008). Human Sacrifice.  Clark, L. (1996). The Sacrificial Ceremony. Retrieved November 2000 from http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/nova/peru/worlds/sacrifice2. html  Reinhard, J. (1996). Peru’s Ice Maidens: Unwrapping the secrets: National Geographic, 189 (6).