The Sacrifice of Blood Interpreted

Buddha teaches the doctrine of a new birth as plainly as Jesus does. Desiring to break with the ancient Mysteries, to which it was impossible to admit the ignorant masses, the Hindu reformer, though generally silent upon more than one secret dogma, clearly states his thought in several passages. Thus, he says: "Some people are born again; evil-doers go to Hell; righteous people go to Heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires enter Nirvana" (Precepts of the Dhammapada, v., 126). Elsewhere Buddha states that "it is better to believe in a future life, in which happiness or misery can be felt; for if the heart believes therein, it will abandon sin and act virtuously; and even if there is no resurrection, such a life will bring a good name and the regard of men. But those who believe in extinction at death will not fail to commit any sin that they may choose, because of their disbelief in a future."!

The Epistle to the Hebrews treats of the sacrifice of blood. "Where a testament is," says the writer, "there must be of necessity the death of the testator. . . . Without the shedding of blood is no remission." Then again: "Christ glorified not himself to be made High Priest; but He that said unto him: Thou art my son; TO-DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE" (Heb. v. 5). This is a very clear inference, that, 1, Jesus was considered only in the light of a high priest, like Melchisedek — another avatar, or incarnation of Christ, according to the Fathers; and, f "Wheel of the Law," p. 54.

2, that the writer thought that Jesus had become a "Son of God" only at the moment of his initiation by water; hence, that he was not born a god, neither was he begotten physically by Him. Every initiate of the "last hour" became, by the very fact of his initiation, a son of God. When Maxime, the Ephesian, initiated the Emperor Julian into the Mithraic Mysteries, he pronounced as the usual formula of the rite, the following: "By this blood, I wash thee from thy sins. The Word of the Highest has entered unto thee, and His Spirit henceforth will rest upon the Newly-Born, the now-begotten of the Highest God. . . . Thou art the son of Mithra." "Thou art the 'Son of God,'" repeated the disciples after Christ's baptism. When Paul shook off the viper into the fire without further injury to himself, the people of Melita said "that he was a god" (Acts xxviii.). "He is the son of God, the Beautiful!" was the term used by the disciples of Simon Magus, for they thought they recognized the "great power of God" in him.

A man can have no god that is not bounded by his own human conceptions. The wider the sweep of his spiritual vision, the mightier will be his deity. But where can we find a better demonstration of Him than in man himself; in the spiritual and divine powers lying dormant in every human being? "The very capacity to imagine the possibility of thaumaturgical powers, is itself evidence that they exist," says the author of Prophecy. "The critic, as well as the skeptic, is generally inferior to the person or subject that he is reviewing, and, therefore, is hardly a competent witness. If there are counterfeits, somewhere there must have been a genuine original."*

Blood begets phantoms, and its emanations furnish certain spirits with the materials required to fashion their temporary appearances. "Blood," says Levi, "is the first incarnation of the universal fluid; it is the materialized vital light. Its birth is the most marvellous of all nature's marvels; it lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it is the universal Proteus. The blood issues from principles where there was none of it before, and it becomes flesh, bones, hair, nails . . . tears, and perspiration. It can be allied neither to corruption nor death; when life is gone, it begins decomposing; if you know how to reanimate it, to infuse into it life by a new magnetization of its globules, life will return to it again. The universal substance, with its double motion, is the great arcanum of being; blood is the great arcanum of life."

"Blood," says the Hindu Ramatsariar, "contains all the mysterious secrets of existence, no living being can exist without. It is profaning the great work of the Creator to eat blood."

In his turn Moses, following the universal and traditional law, forbids eating blood.

Paracelsus writes that with the fumes of blood one is enabled to call forth any spirit we desire to see; for with its emanations it will build itself an appearance, a visible body — only this is sorcery. The hierophants of Baal made deep incisions all over their bodies and produced apparitions,

* A. Wilder, "Ancient and Modern Prophecy."

objective and tangible, with their own blood. The followers of a certain sect in Persia, many of whom may be found around the Russian settlements in Temerchan-Shoura, and Derbent, have their religious mysteries in which they form a large ring, and whirl round in a frantic dance. Their temples are ruined, and they worship in large temporary buildings, securely enclosed, and with the earthen floor deeply strewn with sand. They are all dressed in long white robes, and their heads are bare and closely shaved. Armed with knives, they soon reach a point of furious exaltation, and wound themselves and others until their garments and the sand on the floor are soaked with blood. Before the end of the "Mystery" every man has a companion, who whirls round with him. Sometimes the spectral dancers have hair on their heads, which makes them quite distinct from their unconscious creators. As we have solemnly promised never to divulge the principal details of this terrible ceremony (which we were allowed to witness but once), we must leave the subject.*

In the days of antiquity the sorceresses of Thessaly added sometimes to the blood of a black lamb that of an infant, and by this means evoked the shadows. The priests were taught

* While at Petrovsk (Dhagestan, region of the Caucasus) we had the opportunity of witnessing another such mystery. It was owing to the kindness of Prince Melikoff, the governor-general of Dhagestan, living at Temerchan-Shoura, and especially of Prince Shamsoudine, the ex-reigning Shamchal of Tarchoff, a native Tartar, that during the summer of 1865 we assisted at this ceremonial from the safe distance of a sort of private box, constructed under the ceiling of the temporary building.

the art of calling up the spirits of the dead, as well as those of the elements, but their mode was certainly not that of Thessalian sorceresses.

Among the Yakuts of Siberia there is a tribe dwelling on the very confines of the Transbaikal regions near the river Vitema (eastern Siberia) which practices sorcery as known in the days of the Thessalian witches. Their religious beliefs are curious as a mixture of philosophy and superstition. They have a chief or supreme god Aij-Taion, who did not create, they say, but only presides over the creation of all the worlds. He lives on the ninth heaven, and it is but from the seventh that the other minor gods — his servants — can manifest themselves to their creatures. This ninth heaven, according to the revelation of the minor deities (spirits, we suppose), has three suns and three moons, and the ground of this abode is formed of four lakes (the four cardinal points) of "soft air" (ether), instead of water. While they offer no sacrifices to the Supreme Deity, for he needs none, they do try to propitiate both the good and bad deities, which they respectively term the "white" and the "black" gods. They do it, because neither of the two classes are good or bad through personal merit or demerit. As they are all subject to the Supreme Aij-Taion, and each has to carry on the duty assigned to him from eternity, they are not responsible for either the good or evil they produce in this world. The reason given by the Yakuts for such sacrifices is very curious. Sacrifices, they say, help each class of gods to perform their mission the better, and so please the Supreme; and every mortal that helps either of them in performing his duty must, therefore, please the Supreme as well, for he will have helped justice to take place. As the "black" gods are appointed to bring diseases, evils, and all kinds of calamities to mankind, each of which is a punishment for some transgression, the Yakuts offer to them "bloody" sacrifices of animals; while to the "white" they make pure offerings, consisting generally of an animal consecrated to some special god and taken care of with great ceremony, as having become sacred. According to their ideas the souls of the dead become "shadows," and are doomed to wander on earth, till a certain change takes place either for the better or worse, which the Yakuts do not pretend to explain. The light shadows, i.e., those of good people, become the guardians and protectors of those they loved on earth; the "dark" shadows (the wicked) always seek, on the contrary, to hurt those they knew, by inciting them to crimes, wicked acts, and otherwise injuring mortals. Besides these, like the ancient Chaldees, they reckon seven divine Sheitans (demons) or minor gods. It is during the sacrifices of blood, which take place at night, that the Yakuts call forth the wicked or dark shadows, to inquire of them what they can do to arrest their mischief; hence, blood is necessary, for without its fumes the ghosts could not make themselves clearly visible, and would become, according to their ideas, but the more dangerous, for they would suck it from living persons by their perspiration.* As to the good, light shadows, they need not be called out;

* Does not this afford us a point of comparison with the so-called "materializing mediums"?

besides that, such an act disturbs them; they can make their presence felt, when needed, without any preparation and ceremonies.

The blood-evocation is also practiced, although with a different purpose, in several parts of Bulgaria and Moldavia, especially in districts in the vicinity of Mussulmans. The fearful oppressions and slavery to which these unfortunate Christians have been subjected for centuries has rendered them a thousand-fold more impressible, and at the same time more superstitious, than those who live in civilized countries. On every seventh of May the inhabitants of every Moldavo-Valachian and Bulgarian city or village, have what they term the "feast of the dead." After sunset, immense crowds of women and men, each with a lighted wax taper in hand, resort to the burial places, and pray on the tombs of their departed friends. This ancient and solemn ceremony, called Trizna, is everywhere a reminiscence of primitive Christian rites, but far more solemn yet, while in Mussulman slavery. Every tomb is furnished with a kind of cupboard, about half a yard high, built of four stones, and with hinged double-doors. These closets contain what is termed the household of the defunct: namely, a few wax tapers, some oil and an earthen lamp, which is lighted on that day, and burns for twenty-four hours. Wealthy people have silver lamps richly chiselled, and bejewelled images, which are secure from thieves, for in the burial ground the closets are even left open. Such is the dread of the population (Mussulman and Christian) of the revenge of the dead that a thief bold enough to commit any murder, would never dare touch the property of a dead person. The Bulgarians have a belief that every Saturday, and especially the eve of Easter Sunday, and until Trinity day (about seven weeks) the souls of the dead descend on earth, some to beg forgiveness from those living whom they had wronged; others to protect and commune with their loved ones. Faithfully following the traditional rites of their forefathers, the natives on each Saturday of these seven weeks keep either lamps or tapers lighted. In addition to that, on the seventh of May they drench the tombs with grape wine, and burn incense around them from sunset to sunrise. With the inhabitants of towns, the ceremony is limited to these simple observances. With some of the rustics though, the rite assumes the proportions of a theurgic evocation. On the eve of Ascension Day, Bulgarian women light a quantity of tapers and lamps; the pots are placed upon tripods, and incense perfumes the atmosphere for miles around; while thick white clouds of smoke envelope each tomb, as though a veil had separated it from the others. During the evening, and until a little before midnight, in memory of the deceased, acquaintances and a certain number of mendicants are fed and treated with wine and raki (grape-whiskey), and money is distributed among the poor according to the means of the surviving relatives. When the feast is ended, the guests approaching the tomb and addressing the defunct by name, thank him or her for the bounties received. When all but the nearest relatives are gone, a woman, usually the most aged, remains alone with the dead, and — some say — resorts to the ceremony of invocation.

After fervent prayers, repeated face downward on the grave-mound, more or less drops of blood are drawn from near the left bosom, and allowed to trickle upon the tomb. This gives strength to the invisible spirit which hovers around, to assume for a few instants a visible form, and whisper his instructions to the Christian theurgist — if he has any to offer, or simply to "bless the mourner" and then disappear again till the following year. So firmly rooted is this belief that we have heard, in a case of family difficulty, a Moldavian woman appeal to her sister to put off every decision till Ascension-night, when their dead father would be able to tell them of his will and pleasure in person; to which the sister consented as simply as though their parent were in the next room.

That there are fearful secrets in nature may well be believed when, as we have seen in the case of the Russian Znachar, the sorcerer cannot die until he has passed the word to another, and the hierophants of White Magic rarely do. It seems as if the dread power of the "Word" could only be entrusted to one man of a certain district or body of people at a time. When the Brahmatma was about to lay aside the burden of physical existence, he imparted his secret to his successor, either orally, or by a writing placed in a securely-fastened casket which went into the latter's hands alone. Moses "lays his hands" upon his neophyte, Joshua, in the solitudes of Nebo and passes away forever. Aaron initiates

Eleazar on Mount Hor, and dies. Siddhartha-Buddha promises his mendicants before his death to live in him who shall deserve it, embraces his favorite disciple, whispers in his ear, and dies; and as John's head lies upon the bosom of Jesus, he is told that he shall "tarry" until he shall come. Like signal-fires of the olden times, which, lighted and extinguished by turns upon one hill-top after another, conveyed intelligence along a whole stretch of country, so we see a long line of "wise" men from the beginning of history down to our own times communicating the word of wisdom to their direct successors. Passing from seer to seer, the "Word" flashes out like lightning, and while carrying off the initiator from human sight forever, brings the new initiate into view. Meanwhile, whole nations murder each other in the name of another "Word," an empty substitute accepted literally by each, and misinterpreted by all!

We have met few sects which truly practice sorcery. One such is the Yezidis, considered by some a branch of the Koords, though we believe erroneously. These inhabit chiefly the mountainous and desolate regions of Asiatic Turkey, about Mosul, Armenia, and are found even in Syria,* and

* The Yezidis must number over 200,000 men altogether. The tribes which inhabit the Pashalik of Bagdad, and are scattered over the Sindjar mountains are the most dangerous, as well as the most hated for their evil practices. Their chief Sheik lives constantly near the tomb of their prophet and reformer Adi, but every tribe chooses its own sheik among the most learned in the "black art." This Adi or Ad is a mythic ancestor of theirs, and simply is, Adi — the God of wisdom or the Parsi Ab-ad

Mesopotamia. They are called and known everywhere as devil-worshippers; and most certainly it is not either through ignorance or mental obscuration that they have set up the worship and a regular inter-communication with the lowest and the most malicious of both elementals and elementaries. They recognize the present wickedness of the chief of the "black powers"; but at the same time they dread his power, and so try to conciliate to themselves his favors. He is in an open quarrel with Allah, they say, but a reconciliation can take place between the two at any day; and those who have shown marks of their disrespect to the "black one" now, may suffer for it at some future time, and thus have both God and Devil against them. This is simply a cunning policy that seeks to propitiate his Satanic majesty, who is no other than the great Tcherno-bog (the black god) of the Variagi-Russ, the ancient idolatrous Russians before the days of Vladimir.

Like Wierus, the famous demonographer of the sixteenth century (who in his Pseudomonarchia D^monum describes and enumerates a regular infernal court, which has its dignitaries, princes, dukes, nobles, and officers), the Yezidis have a whole pantheon of devils, and use the Jakshas, aerial spirits, to convey their prayers and respects to Satan their master, and the Afrites of the Desert. During their prayer-meetings, they join hands, and form immense rings, with their Sheik, or an officiating priest in the middle who claps his hands, and intones every verse in honor of Sheitan (Satan). Then they the first ancestor of the human race, or again Adh-Buddha of the Hindus, anthropomorphized and degenerated.

whirl and leap in the air. When the frenzy is at its climax, they often wound and cut themselves with their daggers, occasionally rendering the same service to their next neighbors. But their wounds do not heal and cicatrize as easily as in the case of lamas and holy men; for but too often they fall victims to these self-inflicted wounds. While dancing and flourishing high their daggers without unclasping hands — for this would be considered a sacrilege, and the spell instantly broken, they coax and praise Sheitan, and entreat him to manifest himself in his works by "miracles." As their rites are chiefly accomplished during night, they do not fail to obtain manifestations of various character, the least of which are enormous globes of fire which take the shapes of the most uncouth animals.

Lady Hester Stanhope, whose name was for many years a power among the masonic fraternities of the East, is said to have witnessed, personally, several of these Yezidean ceremonies. We were told by an Ockhal, of the sect of Druses, that after having been present at one of the Yezidis' "Devil's masses," as they are called, this extraordinary lady, so noted for personal courage and daring bravery, fainted, and notwithstanding her usual Emir's male attire, was recalled to life and health with the greatest difficulty. Personally, we regret to say, all our efforts to witness one of these performances failed.

A recent article in a Catholic journal on Nagualism and Voodooism charges Hayti with being the centre of secret societies, with terrible forms of initiation and bloody rites, where human infants are sacrificed and devoured by the adepts (!!). Piron, a French traveller, is quoted at length, describing a most fearful scene witnessed by him in Cuba, in the house of a lady whom he never would have suspected of any connection with so monstrous a sect. "A naked white girl acted as a voodoo priestess, wrought up to frenzy by dances and incantations that followed the sacrifice of a white and a black hen. A serpent, trained to its part, and acted on by the music, coiled round the limbs of the girl, its motions studied by the votaries dancing around or standing to watch its contortions. The spectator fled at last in horror when the poor girl fell writhing in an epileptic fit."

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