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Human Sacrifice rituals to the Gods

Human sacrifices were widely famous amongst the ancient Mesoamerican cultures. So for the Aztec Empire the ritual of sacrificing humans was nothing new to them. For the Aztec people, the ritual of sacrificing humans held great religious significance as well as an intimidation tactic employed against their enemies to instill fear amongst them. The Aztecs believed that the difficult times and natural disasters faced by them were the wrath of gods and to please the gods and to drive them to protect and bestow blessings upon the people, human sacrifices were to be rendered.

Huitzilopochtli was worshipped at the famous Aztec Templo Mayor that dominated the capital city of Tenochtitlan. To please Huitzilopochtli, the sacrifices were laid upon a stone atop Templo Mayor. The victim would then be cut open from the abdomen upwards with his heart pulled out and raised in the sky. The body would then be thrown down the temple, cremated or handed to the warrior who captured the victim as a souvenir.

To please the god of fire; Xiuhtecuhtli, sacrifices would be burned soon after the feast. The victims however would be later pulled from the fire and cut to extract the heart which would then be offered as a sacrifice.

To please the most powerful of gods Tezcatlipoca; the god of night, and the god who sees and knows all, the sacrifices would be allowed to impersonate Tezcatlipoca on Earth and awarded with 4 women until the day of sacrifice. Until then, the sacrifice would roam free and play flute. However, on the day of sacrifice, the victim would break his flute and offer himself to the priests to be cut and sacrificed to Tezcatlipoca. Similarly, different methods of sacrificing were employed depending upon the deity the victim was being sacrificed to.

The Aztec people believed that after every 52 years, the universe was bound to end if the gods weren’t strong enough and to strengthen the gods, sacrifices must be rendered throughout. Upon the ending of each cycle, a ceremony took place in which a human sacrifice would be rendered and if on the next day the sun rose up, it was a sign that the sacrifice had been accepted and that the world had been granted another 52 years. This would go on cycle after cycle.

The Aztecs were a civilization obsessed with blood and sacrificing humans. So much so, that during the re-opening of Templo Mayor in 1487, the event was celebrated with a number of humans being sacrificed. How many to be precise? Some scholars suggest more than 20,000 individuals while others suggest that sacrifices were made in a number of low thousands, sacrificed over the course of just four days. Which is still a lot!

Human Sacrifice rituals in Aztec Culture

Human sacrifices have been a part of ancient cultures since the beginning of time. With the belief that a human sacrifice would please gods and drive them to bestow stability and blessings upon the people of a particular belief. Thousands of victims have been sacrificed throughout history, most of them willingly. Similarly, one such culture famous for its unorthodox rituals of sacrificing humans are the Aztecs. For a long time, the Aztec ritual of human sacrifices was perceived as only a tale. However, recent excavations at the Templo Mayor has unearthed chilling facts about the Aztec Culture.

Standing tall in the Aztec capital, Templo Mayor was significant to the Aztec people since it was dedicated to the god of war (Huitzilopochtl) and the god of rain (Tlaloc).

The two temples held extreme importance for the Aztec religion and its followers, so to please the gods, all rituals of human sacrifices took place atop the Holy Templo Mayor. One of the very first descriptions of the human sacrifice rituals were noted by the Hernan Cortes. Who, when conquering the Aztec Capital, witnessed the bone chilling encounters of victims being cut open at the top of the Temple with their hearts being pulled out and offered as a sacrifice.

Regarded as a myth for a long time, a team of archeologists in 2018 eventually discovered human skulls stacked over each other, ultimately proving the rituals of human sacrifices in the Aztec culture. Moreover, historians suggest that more than 80,000 individuals including men, women and children had been offered to the gods as human sacrifices.

For the Aztec people, sacrificing humans was paramount for their existence. According to them, it was their belief that the god of sun was constantly fighting against the darkness. To keep the god of sun happy and fighting against the darkness, human sacrifices were offered or else the darkness would win and kill all of them. Similarly, apart from pleasing the gods, human sacrifices were also offered to protect against natural disasters and famines. Another important reason why the Aztec people performed human sacrifices was to scare away potential attackers and instill fear into their enemies. The dismembered heads of their enemies were displayed for everyone to see, as an intimidation trick to maintain order and discipline amongst the people.

Spanish manuscripts and stone carvings suggest that the Aztec people were also involved in cannibalism. With some historians suggesting they only did so in cases of famines or starvation. Others suggest that consuming the bodies of sacrificed victims was a matter of honor for the Aztec people as the sacrifices were a holy matter. These bodies were often presented to the high status individuals of the society. So not only was the ritual of sacrificing humans in the Aztec culture considered normal, consuming the bodies might have been an honour.

Black Magic Through the Ages

Tracing its origins back to the medieval times, black magic has been actively used all over the world for thousands of years to attain rather selfish agendas. To put it in simpler words, black magic employs evil or supernatural powers to attain the practitioner’s goal. In the far stretched spectrum of magic, there is a left hand and a right hand approach to magic, with left hand being the negative use of magical powers otherwise termed as black magic. The right hand approach to magic is the good alternative to the black magic employed to attain unselfish goals, otherwise referred to as white magic.

The notable difference between black and white magic lies greatly in the purpose of the magic being employed. Explained beautifully by Robert M Place in his book; Magic and Alchemy – The purpose of employing white magic lies in getting closer to a spiritual being through the use of supernatural powers, meanwhile black magic being the opposite, employs the same supernatural powers, but for a sinister purpose. For a long time, any type of magic that employed supernatural powers was considered evil, regardless of the intent, and was punishable by law. So around the 15th century came ”natural magic,” unlike white or black magic, it used natural powers with techniques such as astrology and botany, amongst others. This was one way to progress the magical rituals without being deemed evil and persecuted. However, today the difference between the two approaches to magic; white and black can be clearly understood on the terms of intended use.

Black magic by majority is linked with Satanism since it employs spirits and negative powers to benefit the user or harm someone. Things required to be done by the practitioner for black magic to work effectively vary from purpose to purpose. Whether one employs it with the intent to harm someone, benefit himself or for someone to die, the practitioner would have to follow rituals unique to each intent. Black magic in other terms is a curse, a curse that is difficult to remove.

Now, in modern times, people often claim black magic to be a scam that is used to benefit from dire circumstances faced by other people. And in a sense that is absolutely correct because while in developed countries the use of black magic is scarce, it’s use in other countries, like India and Africa, is still clearly present with banners and advertisements on roadsides. One wonders how so many people are effectively practicing such an ancient and sinister act. So whether the existence of black magic in the modern times is hundred percent authentic or not, what we know for sure is that in the poorer countries with a high illiteracy rate, it is the perfect place to scam less fortunate and make quick money.

Black Magic

The term black magic seems to freak almost anyone out. It has become a term that is a taboo in our society and rightfully so. Black magic has roots in many cultures – from African cultures to Middle Eastern cultures and can be found in history, as well as all over the world today. The literal meaning of the term black magic refers to magic used for selfish or evil purposes. This entails using magic to harm someone, to take revenge or to generally cause issues and problems for someone.

In the history of black magic, unlike white magic which was done to benefit others, was done to benefit the person practicing it, by harming others. During the Renaissance period most magic was declared black magic and was shunned from society. People who practiced magic or even had attributes that made them similar to those who practiced magic, were killed for being witches and wizards. They were burned on bonfires so that the magic died with them. This inhumane treatment of women (but also men too) is evidence of how negatively the term black magic was taken at the time.

Another common misconception that comes with black magic is the concept of Satanism. Satanism is the worship of the devil instead of a God – the devil is considered their God – and is the practice of invoking evil demons or spirits.

Another main part of black magic, which has now become popular by the influence of popular culture, is voodoo. This is mainly practiced in African countries. This is a type of magic where a figure of the person who you are trying to harm is created and when you harm the doll, the person also feels the pain.

Black Magic has been found in many different religions like Islam, Hinduism, and African cultural-religious philosophies. In Islam the Holy Prophet that the Muslims believe in was affected by black magic which was then resolved through the verses of the Quran. This magic was done by knotting the hair while reading verses of magic. While in Hinduism, black magic plays a huge role. Chathan Seva is a type of magic that is performed by Hindus to please Chathan who is most popularly worshipped in Kerala, India. This is also where the majority of the temples dedicated to this god are located. The ritual they perform is said to either harm or be beneficial to the person whose name is being taken. This is one of the oldest and strongest beliefs in the South Indian region. 

Ghost Festival (China)

About the Ghost Festival

Ghost festival customs in China mainly include ancestor worship, river lanterns, dying souls and burning paper ingots. The Mid-Autumn Festival evolved from the “Half July” farming harvest in ancient times. In the first half of July, the folk festival celebrated the harvest and rewarded the land. There are a number of crops that are mature. People are required to pay tribute to the ancestors using the new rice and other sacrifices.

Ghost festival was originally called “Zhongyuan Festival”, which originates from the of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Taoism believes that July and a half is the birthday of the official. Praying will release all the ghosts allowing the late ancestors to go home for a reunion. That is why the July and Mid-Autumn season is called the “Chinese New Year Festival”. The Chinese Yuan Festival, the Shang Yuan Festival and the Lower Yuan Festival are collectively called the “three yuan.”

What are the taboos during the Ghost Festival?

The Chinese call July the ghost month in the lunar calendar. July 14th is the heaviest day of the ghost month. Legend has it that in the middle of the night, you will see the dead. That’s why it is not advisable to go out on this night. Here are some of the other things that you’re not supposed to do.

1, Avoid drying clothes in the middle of the night

Wet clothes tend to attract electric waves to them, and it is not easy to get out. In the ghost month where ghosts are everywhere, drying clothes in the middle of the night is like setting a trap to catch ghosts.

2, The taboo of the physiological period

Folks believe that female workers are unclean during physical periods. That is why they should not be seen in the field so as not to violate the gods, lead to misfortune or effect the work. Regardless of whether this argument is biased or not, the female workers are really vulnerable to other magnetic fields due to physical instability caused by their physical condition, so it is necessary to be cautious.

3, Avoid saying ghost words

On this day, ghosts are everywhere. Therefore, it is best to be cautious in the middle of the day and avoid saying the word “ghost”, or talking meaninglessly.

4, Taboo on the paper

The sacred paper is a sacrifice for the ghosts. When burning, the ghosts will gather and sneak around. If you are angry when you burn the paper, it is difficult to prevent the ghosts from hindering your actions and it will be bad for you.

5, Avoid tapping on anyone’s shoulders

This taboo is related to folklore. The folks believe that there are three fires in each person, gathered on both shoulders and above your head, which prevents the ghosts from getting close. Therefore, in the middle of the day when there are ghosts everywhere, you should avoid patting people on shoulders and putting out their fire.

The history and culture of Paper Lantern

The flying paper lanterns are one of the most recognizable traditions of the Asian continent. These flying light balloons are widely used to commemorate important events in traditional Chinese culture. Over time, they have also been used for religious and festive reasons, where in many countries they are used as lucky lamps or symbols of fortune.

There are numerous types of globes of light or lamps, but the most famous are the white or red paper, sometimes with traditional Chinese characters painted on. Today, these Chinese lanterns are used almost everywhere to celebrate events, birthdays or any other religious or cultural event.

History of Chinese lanterns

According to some historians and sinologists, Chinese flying lanterns are almost 2,000 years old and had a military and defensive function in ancient times. Despite the enormous beauty of these flying sails, its creation is attributed to the military strategist Zhuge Liang, one of the most important people in the history of China, who used the flying lanterns as an alert in case of enemy approaches. In addition, it is believed that there was a certain communication system depending on the frequency and number of flying lamps that were launched.

Chinese paper lamps are also known as “kongming lamps” as well as “wish lamps”, as many cultures write words or wishes on their paper surfaces before throwing them into the sky.

A very popular tradition in Asia

Despite their military origins, the beauty of these flying paper lanterns has allowed them to be used today in numerous events throughout Asia. Today, China uses these flying lamps to commemorate some of the most traditional events of Chinese culture, such as the Autumn Festival or the Spring Festival, among others. Tens of thousands of flying lamps are launched during these holidays throughout the country. It is also customary for people who fly them to write wishes on these lamps before lighting them and flying them into heaven.

The Chinese paper lights are also very popular in Thailand, where hundreds of thousands are released to celebrate the festival of Yi Peng, during the second full moon of the year, the lunar calendar. This tradition has expanded throughout the country and during these dates the sky will be full of small balloons of light as if they were huge stars.

Precautions for use

Despite their enormous beauty, these flying lanterns can pose some problems for the environment. The main risk when using these Chinese lamps is the risk of fire. Although the design of these lanterns is made to avoid such situations, unexpected bursts of flames or construction failures can cause these lamps to start burning in the sky, there is a notable risk of a fire spreading when the burning lamp reaches the ground. In addition, the construction materials of some flying lanterns are of very poor quality and are not biodegradable, so it is possible that they end up contaminating our land and seas.