Is Cannibalism a Religious Experience?
From the time of Moses till the time of the prophet Hezekiah, a period of seven hundred years or more, the Hebrews were idolaters, as their records show. The serpent was reverenced as the Healer of the Nation; they worshipped a bull called Apis, as did the Egyptians; they worshipped the sun, moon, stars, and all the hosts of heaven; they worshipped fire, and kept it burning on an altar, as did the Persians and other nations; they worshipped stones, revered an oak-tree, and bowed down to images; they worshipped a virgin mother and child; they worshipped Baal, Moloch, and Chemosh (names given to the sun), and offered up human sacrifices to them, after which, in some instances, they ate the victims.
Sarah Titcomb, Aryan Sun Myths (1889)
As repulsive as the notion may seem, it is a fact that "theophagy"--the technical term for the consumption of a god's body and blood--has been considered a religious experience worldwide for thousands of years. While certain cults/religions may think that they invented the concept of the Eucharist, and that the Eucharist has nothing whatsoever to do with cannibalism, the ritual of sacrificing a god or goddess and sharing his or her blood and body as a sacrament is an act found throughout the ancient world. The only thing so-called modern religion has done is to maintain the form of the Eucharist in a symbolic rather than literal sense, and for that perhaps we should be grateful.
"He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him," so the alleged founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, purportedly said (Jn. 6:55). It may seem abhorrent to the Christians of today that one of their most precious rituals actually has its roots in the cannibalistic sacrifice and consumption of their deity. This origin, however, is the fact.
Far from being a Christian invention, the ritual of the Eucharist has been practiced for millennia by various cults and sects around the globe. Initially, thousands of years before the Christian myth was established, an actual human being, acting as proxy for the deity worshipped, was sacrificed and eaten by the cult's followers. In some cases, more than one person was killed and consumed in this matter. This nauseating behavior went on throughout the ancient world, and the words regarding this act--"For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." (Jn. 6:55), etc.--spuriously attributed to the mythical Jesus were generally part of the ritual. As can be seen in the Hebraicized texts now called the Old Testament, an animal or animals were often substituted in place of a human. Apparently, some peoples eventually found the ritual murder of their king or other representative to be repugnant, yet human sacrifice was practiced by the Jews until the time of the Romans, who sought to put an end to it. As we know, in Christianity the theophagous act is now purely symbolic, but it was not always this way in the predecessor religions that contributed to the formation of Christianity. Also, the sacrifice of animals as a religious rite still goes on in various parts of the world, as, indeed, does human sacrifice.
No matter how far away from it we wish to get, theophagy used to signify the actual dismemberment and consumption of a human being. The Eucharist was a cannibalistic act, plain and simple. Just remember that every time you go to church and drink that wine and eat that bread.
Cannibalism in the Bible
That cannibalism is a favored act of atonement can also be shown in the Old Testament at Deuteronomy 28:53-57, where "God" exacts "his" punishment against "his" stiff-necked "chosen people," who have made the fatal mistake of not serving "the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart" (Deut. 28:47). The "Lord" punishes the Hebrews by causing their enemies to besiege them in all their towns, leaving the Hebrews to eat their offspring. In this passage, "God" is so perturbed with his chosen ones that he forces them into starvation so that they have only their children to eat, which they apparently do. The evident motivation for "the Lord" to compel "his chosen" to do this bizarre and revolting act is so that they will "fear this glorious and awful name, the Lord your God" (Deut. 28:58). If the chosen do not obey the Lord, he will further cause them and their offspring "extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sickness grievous and lasting" (Deut. 28:59).
All this from the "loving" God of the Bible! And remember, the Hebrews got into this trouble in the first place because they did not serve such an abominable and vile god with joyfulness and gladness of heart! But how could they not know that they were supposed to do that when at Deut. 10:20 they are told to "fear the Lord your God" and at Deut. 11:1 they are to "therefore love the Lord your God." It would seem to civilized human beings that it is impossible to fear and love anything or anyone at the same time, but these are the commandments that the chosen people are supposed to follow or else they will be forced to eat their children.
Or how about the following beautiful story from 2 Kings 6:26-30? After invading Samaria, the Israelites are attacked by the Syrians, such that a famine occurs:
Now as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, "Help, my lord, O king!" And he said, "If the Lord will not help you, whence shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the wine press?" And the king asked her, "What is your trouble?" She answered, "This woman said to me, 'Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.' So we boiled my son, and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, 'Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son." When the king heard the words of the woman he rent his clothes... And while [Elisha] was still speaking with them, the king came down to him and said, "This trouble is from the Lord!..."
The good Lord is forever playing sadistic games with his chosen people, who always seem to be messing up at his direction, after which he gets to punish them. These examples serve to illustrate how pathological is the notion that there is one entity directing everything and that every event is caused by him. The Israelites' enemies also believed this, such that their interpretation of what happened would be equally ethnocentric, with their particular god favoring them in the end. In order to keep up the impression that the Lord is always with them, and could not be with their enemies, despite such horrendous circumstances as desperate famine that causes them to eat their own children, the religiously minded and God-centric must continuously come up with reasons for their suffering and with complex remedies and rituals to propitiate the wrathful Lord that utterly evade the issue, which is that they are war-like people who cannot expect but like in return. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword." Etc.
Ancient Jews were thus known to practice cannibalism, to the extent that they have been called "horrible cannibals" by the eminent Christian scholar Lord Kingsborough. In Antiquities of Mexico, Lord Kingsborough writes:
In nothing did the Mexicans more resemble the Jews than in the multitude of their sacrifices...
It was customary amongst the Jews to eat a portion of the flesh of sacrifices, and to burn the rest; and Peter Martyr in allusion to that custom says in the fourth chapter in his fifth Decad, that, "As the Jews sometimes eate [sic] the lambs which were sacrificed by the old law, so do they eat mans [sic] flesh, casting only away the hands, feet, and bowels."
Kingsborough also says:
All the Spanish authors agree that no suffering from famine could induce the Mexicans, when closely besieged by Cortes, to eat the flesh of their country men who had been killed: whence it must be inferred that they only ate the flesh of sacrificed and devoted victims. The Jews were less able to withstand the torments of hunger.
In support of this contention, Kingsborough cites biblical passages, including 2 Kings 6, as noted above, in which a woman confesses to the king of Israel to have eaten her own son, during a siege by the king of Syria. Kingsborough notes that the woman is Samaritan, i.e., northern Israelite, rather than Judean; however, Judeans have also been represented as practicing cannibalism, both in the Bible (e.g., Deut. 28:53-57, Micah 3) and by other writers, such as Appion and Strabo. Micah 3, in fact, represents God chastising the "heads of Jacob" and "rulers of the house of Israel" for flaying and eating His people:
And I said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?--you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people, and their flesh from off their bones; who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron.
Of course, biblical literalists have no place to go with this scripture. From the description, it certainly sounds as if the writer has witnessed such grotesque events firsthand. Since this description is nearly identical to rituals performed in Mexico, such a rite certainly was practiced by humans at some point and in some era. It does not surprise us then that, along with the pervasive general human sacrifice, this grisly ritual also took place in Palestine. In any case, that the Jewish priesthood committed human sacrifice, as did that of so many other cultures, cannot be denied. As Kingsborough further says:
We have...the highest authority--that of the Scriptures--for affirming that the Jews did frequently perform human sacrifices...
He then cites Garcia's Origin of the Indians for scriptural authority regarding Jewish human sacrifice. Concerning the priests of Quetzalcoatl, Kingsborough also states:
We must further observe that as amongst the Jews it was customary for the priests to flay the victims, and afterwards take their skins--as may be proved from the following texts of Scriptures...
His Lordship proceeds to name 2 Chron. 20, Lev. 7 and Num. 25, the latter of which demonstrates the construction of a charnel house for the heads, much as could be found in Mesoamerica. Kingsborough describes the Mexican human sacrifice thus:
The Mexicans were accustomed to break the legs of a crucified person on one of their most solemn festivals, and to leave him to die on the cross.
Like the Semites, the Mexicans also engaged in theophagy, or god eating; indeed, one such communion occurred at the winter solstice, when the Aztecs, as Frazer relates, "killed" the god Huitzilopochtli "in effigy," after which they ate him. Presumably, the effigy was a human proxy. Preceding this ceremony, a man-shaped image of the god was created with dough made of assorted seeds and the blood of children.
Frazer further relates that, according to the Franciscan monk Sahagun, who was "our best authority on the Aztec religion," another human sacrifice was committed at the vernal equinox, i.e., Easter, the precise time when the archetypical Christian Son of God was put to death. As it was in so many places, the Mexican Easter ritual was practiced doubtlessly for the purpose of fertility and the resurrection of life during the spring.
Human Sacrifice and Murderous Rampages
Of course, the above instances are not the only places in the Bible--which as we know from all the "good Christians" is a book of great moral character that should be taught in all our schools--where "the Lord" is interested in human sacrifice. We know that much earlier in the story "the Lord" tries to blackmail Abraham into murdering his own son in order to demonstrate loyalty and devotion to "the Lord." Of course, if the Lord were a person behaving in this manner, he would be considered a great villain. Naturally, the Lord's ways are mysterious, and we cannot know them, so when he behaves like a Mafioso, it must be something good.
Yet, the Lord is not satisfied with the sacrifice of animals or mere mortals. Eventually, the world cannot be saved unless God's very own son is brutally abused and crucified, an act which somehow makes sense to an awful lot of people who blithely accept it as somehow being able to redeem their own souls, no matter what heinous deeds they might do. How this action purportedly taken by one man thousands of years ago has anything to do with our souls of today is apparently understood by these folks, who must be very clever indeed to see the connection. And what can be said of such a plan by "God" to save men's souls? Is this truly the best the creator of this vast and astounding cosmos could come up with, getting himself (as his son) crucified by a bunch of low-tech Roman mortals on a miniscule and dinky orb far off to the side of one of infinite galaxies?
All throughout the Judeo-Christian bible--God's infallible word, remember--the Lord is very interested in punishing, torturing, murdering and pillaging. In fact, it is the mark of a good religious person to take out at least a couple of towns, slaughtering every man, woman and child, and stealing their booty. The Lord seems to love to exact retribution for indiscretions made by lowly human beings who could not possibly harm the Creator of the Universe, but somehow these foolish little humans who dare to transgress the Lord's laws are a big threat to the almighty God.
Moral Behavior of God's "Chosen"
One shining example of a God-fearing man can be found at Judges 19:22-30, the story of the Levite's concubine. The Levites, one must remember, are the high priests of the chosen people, God's favored sons, and they are rewarded for their saintly behavior by being given the best lodging, food, drink, loot and women in any town they enter. They are also, naturally, exempt from the wars that they may cause "in the Lord's name." The Levites are the upholders of God's law, and as such they are to be protected and esteemed no matter what. In the story of the Levite's concubine--which must be taken literally because everything in the Bible is literally true--the lowly and base men of the town want to "know" the Levite who has just entered into one of the town's more "righteous" homes. The pious man of the house beseeches the village sodomites not to take the Levite to do "this vile thing" but instead offers his virgin daughter and the Levite's concubine. (Remember, good "God-fearing" men are allowed to have concubines, i.e., prostitutes. It's all in the name of religion.) Luckily for the daughter, the man only has to toss out the concubine in order to satisfy the wicked men, who are apparently bisexual. The lusty men rape and batter the concubine, who is then left on the righteous doorstep, dead. When the Levite sees her there, brutally beaten and violated, he compassionately yells, "Get up, let us be going." (Judges 19:28)
When the murdered concubine fails to rise, the pious Levite then mercifully throws her upon his ass, returns to the house for a knife, cuts her into 12 pieces and sends her body parts to various destinations in Israel. Now, we cannot take this story as being symbolic because the Word of God is literal fact, so we must assume that the Levite's actions are true and that they are in accordance with the Lord's wishes, because the Levite is the Lord's earthly representative.
The "Good" Patriarchs
Other men of high moral character who are held up to be God-fearing and representatives of the Lord on Earth can be found at Genesis 12:13, where Abram tells his wife, Sarai, to lie about being his wife, and at Genesis 20:2, where Abram, now called Abraham for his just actions, himself lies about "Sarah" being his wife. When Abraham is caught in his fib regarding Sarah not being his wife, he continues the lie and doesn't even bat an eye at the incestuous implications, as he tells the king of Gerar--who, thinking Sarah is Abraham's sister, has nearly had sex with her--that Sarah is both Abraham's wife and his sister, but not by the same father. And at Genesis 16:3, Abram continues his godly behavior and commits adultery and bigamy with Hagar the Egyptian (not to mention treason, since Egypt is an enemy of the Lord's chosen). Remember, this is the behavior of one of the Lord's greatest prophets.
As John Remsburg says:
Who was Abraham? An insane barbarian patriarch who married his sister, denied his wife, and seduced her handmaid; who drove one child into the desert to starve, and made preparations to butcher the other.
The pious prophet's son, Isaac, has also learned his father's trick of lying, and he too plays it upon the king of Gerar at Genesis 26:7. The king finds him out when he catches Isaac fondling his wife, but Isaac, not as good a liar as his papa, tells him the truth. For his high moral character, Isaac is eventually made very wealthy by the Lord.
Of course, Abraham is not the only pious person who displays behavior which would be unacceptable by today's moral standards but which is considered perfectly fine and virtuous because it is committed by a biblical character. At Genesis 20:32-36, the divinely chosen Lot is made drunk and then seduced by his daughters. This immoral act is done, one assumes, with the blessings of the Lord, because it serves to continue the Hebraic lineage.
The list of unpious behavior by "great" biblical heroes and exemplars of the Lord's will goes on:
Noah gets plastered and exposes himself. (Gen. 9:20-23)
King David also vulgarly exposes himself to a crowd. (2 Samuel 6:20)
David possibly has a love affair with Jonathan. (1 Samuel 18-20)
"Wise" and "moral" King Solomon has "seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines." (1 Kings 11:3)
Concerning such "great" biblical characters, Remsburg states:
Who was Jacob? Another patriarch, who won God's love by deceiving his father, cheating his uncle, robbing his brother, practicing bigamy with two of his cousins, and committing fornication with two of his housemaids.
Who was Moses? A model of meekness; a man who boasted of his own humility; a man who murdered an Egyptian and hid his body in the sand; a man who exterminated whole nations to secure the spoils of war, a man who butchered in cold blood thousands of captive widows, a man who tore dimpled babes from the breasts of dying mothers and put them to a cruel death; a man who made orphans of thirty-two thousand innocent girls, and turned sixteen thousand of them over to the brutal lusts of a savage soldiery.
Who was David? "A man after God's own heart." A vulgar braggadocio, using language to a woman the mere quoting of which would send me to prison; a traitor, desiring to lead an enemy's troops against his own countrymen; a thief and robber, plundering the country on every side; a liar, uttering wholesale falsehoods to screen himself from justice; a red-handed butcher, torturing and slaughtering thousands of men, women, and children, making them pass through burning brick-kilns, carving them up with saws and axes, and tearing them into pieces under harrows of iron; a polygamist, with a harem of wives and concubines; a drunken debauchee, dancing half-naked before the maids of his household; a lecherous old libertine, abducting and ravishing the wife of a faithful soldier; a murderer, having his faithful soldier put to death after desolating his home; a hoary-headed fiend, foaming with vengeance on his dying bed, demanding with his last breath the deaths of two aged men, one of whom had most contributed to make his kingdom what it was, the other a man to whom he had promised protection.
And so on and so on throughout the "Holy" Bible. (Which should be taught in every school but definitely wouldn't make it to our movies screens or would be V-chipped out of our TVs.)
What Does God Do with All the Foreskins?
And what to make of the obsession with the foreskin and circumcision found within the pages of "God's Word?" In the Old Testament, in order to please his future father-in-law, David enthusiastically abides by the man's request that David slay 100 hundred Philistines and bring the father-in-law their foreskins in exchange for the hand of his daughter! (1 Samuel 27) Indeed, the eager David brings Saul 200 foreskins! In the New Testament, circumcision is dwelt upon repeatedly by Paul and others--so critical is it to the lascivious Lord, who obviously screwed up in the first place by putting foreskins on men.
The Good Book - Does it Produce Morality?
Cannibalism, rape, mutilation, murder--these are neverending themes of the book that "should be taught in every school" and that forms the moral basis of many societies. What is going on here?
Considering that "the Lord" seems well pleased with wars and massacres; rape; theft; deceit; trickery; adultery; cruelty to men, women, children and animals; tyranny; murder; and cannibalism, it is surprising that those who engage in such behavior today are not rewarded for it but are actually punished. No doubt Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer, et al. were taught the "Good" Book in Sunday school and were just acting it out.
Is the New Testament Exempt from Moral Turpitude?
But wait, blind believers may cry, that is the Old Testament. The New Testament reveals a loving God. So, we might respond, the "infallible" God changes halfway through the story, eh? Perhaps he got sick of himself and decided to reform his evil ways? Hmmm. Some God. Besides, we won't even go into the atrocities of the New Testament, such as constant exhortations for slaves to obey their masters in all ways, or followers to cut off their nuts for the Lord, or women to be submissive to their husbands, etc., or even the whole concept of cannibalistic ritual somehow being "spiritual" or that the torture and crucifixion of a "scapegod" somehow redeems the rest of us. But don't believe us--read your Bible! If you can stomach it.... Be sure to check with your pastor first, though, to make sure it's got a PG rating.
Sources: The Bible, The X-Rated Bible, The Bible Handbook, The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read, Antiquities of Mexico
© Acharya S
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