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¿Por qué los dioses quieren sacrificios?

Throughout the world and throughout history, religions have emerged where it is well known that the god or gods need something to offend them, preferably still alive. If they are so powerful and really don’t need anything: Why do the gods like sacrifices?

In almost all religions offerings are made; Fruits, flowers, seeds, honey and milk are a good present for the gods. In Japan, Shinto offers the spirits, or Kamis, food, clothing, shelter, means of transportation, tools and objects of entertainment, everything anyone would need.

But not all gods are satisfied with offerings, the vast majority require gulp! sacrifices! Many times sacrifice consists of doing something that requires effort, but the most finicky gods require blood sacrifices. It is a rare culture that has not practiced some type of sacrifice.

The Jains stand out, an Indian religion that prohibits killing even the smallest insect and hates sacrifices, because they also have no gods. Currently, although human sacrifices have not disappeared, they are rare, but in many cultures animal sacrifice is still practiced; Yorubas and Santeros have the ebo,

Orthodox Christians in Greece practice kourbánia and at the 2019 Gadhimai festival in Nepal, 3,203 water buffaloes were sacrificed in addition to other animals. In many cultures, blood has been recognized as the sacred force that gives life and therefore , by offering it, life is also given to the gods.

The Mayans made cuts to collect blood and then burned it so that it would ascend to the gods. The Mayans and Aztecs believed that blood was necessary to nourish the gods and thus ensured the existence of rain, flowers, the Sun, seeds, the entire world and humanity.

Professor Walter Burkert, an expert on Greek religion, proposed that sacrifices arise from the guilt that hunters feel at having to kill animals. During one of the festivities in honor of Zeus, buffoonies were performed where a priest sacrificed an ox with a segur.

Once the act was carried out, the priest fled and the people cried out for justice, the security was tried and convicted of the murder while everyone ate ox. Killing an ox was a capital crime because the animal helped in the cultivation of the land,

But perhaps doing so as a sacrifice alleviated the guilt. Others believe that the sacrifices were not related to hunter-gatherer cultures, but rather to agricultural communities. The Phoenicians had a sacrifice at harvest time to awaken the spirit of wine and another in the winter to restore the spirit of the withered vine…which usually

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Included children. The anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor saw sacrifice as a gift of gratitude: that is why valuable people were offered. Beautiful maidens thrown into cenotes by the Mayans. Or the three minors who were sacrificed about 500 years ago on the Llullaillaco volcano who belonged to the Inca elite.

Although these sacrifices probably also sought the recognition and favor of the gods. For the Phoenician god Baal Hammon, the god of the heavens and all gods, sacrifices were made out of fear of his power and bad temper, Baal was the cause of droughts and plagues and had to be kept happy.

Not everyone passes without huarache, many times the gift was in exchange for something else and not just to keep the gods happy. In the Iliad, Homer relates that Agamemnon had to sacrifice his daughter to obtain the favor of Artemis and thus win the Trojan War.

Theologian Robertson Smith believed that sacrifice was a way to create a bond with god through the eating of the sacrifice. That is, eating the victim. God and the worshipers are united through the flesh and blood of the victim. We could say that the Eucharist is the evolution of the ritual of blood sacrifice.

Religions that believe that Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of man consume his body and blood in the form of bread and wine as a way of communing, that is, being closer to God. But the Nuer, from South Sudan, far from wanting to create a bond, made sacrifices

Of animals to ward off the gods who brought bad luck and diseases. There are also sacrifices to ask for forgiveness. The Jews had the hatta’t where a person who had committed a sin placed their hands on the animal that was to be sacrificed, although the sins were not transferred, the

Animal did represent the sinner and the sacrifice allowed the purification of the person. Something similar to how Christians view the sacrifice of Christ, who died in the name of man’s sins, but not in his place. Ah! In that case, the vision of some West African cultures is more appropriate where it is

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Possible to transfer sins to an animal, so with its sacrifice it is as if the guilty person died and the person is free to start a new life. These reasons seem obvious, but are there others? For Freud, animal sacrifice represented patricide and the ritual was a demonstration

Of remorse and the need for reconciliation… ahem, well, we already know that Freud had problems with his dad. But, beyond the symbolic meaning, sacrifice can fulfill a social function. Some cultures used sacrifice as an excuse to eliminate criminals, slaves, and people with disabilities.

The Greeks believed that in this way they expelled Pharmakos, the incarnation of evil. In Hawaii, transgressors or rebels were sacrificed to eliminate the sins they had caused and purify society. The double intention in these cases is quite obvious. It was also Robertson Smith who observed that sacrifices create a sense of identity

And belonging and that unites people in the community and even helps form societies. The shepherds of Orma, in East Africa, were a strong community that kept their beliefs intact for 300 centuries, despite being in constant contact with Muslims for economic reasons. After several wars with neighboring populations, the Orma community was destroyed.

The Orma regained their economic relations when they began to trade with the coastal Arabs. What did they do to achieve it? Well, they changed their belief system, converted en masse to Islam and performed many animal sacrifices as a way to demonstrate their commitment and thus a strong association was created.

Sacrifices are also a very effective way to demonstrate power. In many cultures sacrifices were limited to those who could afford it and were usually carried out by priests or kings. For example, during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, sacrifices, although they were for the

Ancestors and not for the gods, represented one of the most important tasks of the nobles and were carried out under a system of hierarchy, which strengthened the authority of the class. dominant. The Mexica removed the beating hearts of captive warriors, then took the skull

And made holes in it to mount it on a post along with thousands of other skulls. A structure called tzompantli was formed in front of the Main Temple. Of course the blood of the prisoners was important in the religious aspect, but the political impact was much more important.

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Sacrificing the defeated and showing them off is an effective way to demonstrate power and control both other populations and your own. That is why the Mexica were not the only ones to sacrifice their prisoners of war. In ancient Rome the Ludi were an excellent means of demonstrating power.

Under the pretext of worshiping the gods there were religious celebrations, feasts and plays and sacrifices in the form of races, hunts and gladiatorial fights. Since 366 BC the Ludi were completely sponsored by the state. The sponsor demonstrated his wealth and shared it with the people in order to gain

And maintain his political power. They were such an important way to demonstrate power that there came a time when more than a third of the year was dedicated to the Ludi. We could think of sacrifices as something typical of ancient or very distant cultures,

But they are still present in the practices of current religions where people hurt themselves to ask for forgiveness, or give up something to obtain divine favor. Even if you don’t profess a religion, the notion of sacrificing something for a benefit is deeply embedded in our culture.

The gods do not need sacrifices: we humans are the ones who, feeling that our destiny is at the mercy of their whims, want to look good to them. However, fantasy writer Neil Gaiman proposes a curious idea in his book American Gods: gods are human creations and need our worship to survive.

Sacrifices are the means to achieve: forgiveness, goods, recognition of God or power, and the truth is that, although they were and are made in the name of God, the sacrifices were always for ourselves. Curiously! The god of curiosity also requires a sacrifice.

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Written by d2jma

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