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SACRIFICING AND FEASTING.
of the means of subsistence, was taken up by some foreigners, brought to this place, and shut up. They gave me to understand, that the Jews had a custom among them, once a year, upon a certain day prefixed, to seize upon a Grecian stranger, and when they had kept him fattening one whole year, to take him into a wood, and offer him up for a sacrifice according to their own form, taking a taste of his blood, with a horrid oath to live and die sworn enemies to the Greeks." Baseless as was this charge against the Jews, its very framing indicates the existence in the East, possibly among the Phoenicians,-in days prior to the Christian era, as well as in pre-historic times in the West, of the custom of seeking inter-communion with God, or with the gods, by the tasting of the blood of a substitute human victim, offered in sacrifice to God, or to the gods.
At the two extremes of the world, to-day, among the primitive Bed'ween of the Desert of Arabia, and among the primitive Indians of the prairies of North America, there lingers a trace of this world-wide idea, that the body of an offering covenanted to God by its blood, can be a means of inter-communion with God in its eating. Both the Bed'ween and the Indians connect in their minds the fact of sacrificing and of feasting; and they speak of the two things interchangeably. 1 Contra Apionem, II., 7.
An Arab, when he makes a feast, speaks of sacrificing the animal which is the main feature of that feast. I saw an Arab wedding at Castle Nakhl, on the Arabian Desert. The bridegroom sacrificed a young dromedary in honor of the occasion, and to furnish, as it were, the sacramental feast. The blood of the victim was poured out unto the Lord, by being buried in the earth-as the Chinese bury the blood of their sacrifices in the Temple of Heaven. Portions of the dromedary were eaten by all the guests, and a portion was sent to the stranger encamping near them. And that is the common method of Arab sacrificing and feasting.
There is much of similarity in the ways of the Arabs and of the Indians. The Indian feasts are largely feasts of inter-communion with the gods. Whether it were the human victim, of former times, whose blood was drunk and whose heart was eaten, as preliminary to the feasting on his entire remains;' or, whether it be the preserved hearts and tongues of the buffaloes, which now form the basis of some of the sacred feasts of the Indians; 2-the idea of divine-human intercommunion was and is inseparable from the idea of the feast. The first portion of the feast is always proffered to the spirits, in order to make it, in a pecu
1 See pages 105 f., 132, supra.
2 See Clark's Indian Sign Language, s. v.,
ONLY EDIBLE ANIMALS SACRIFICED.
liar sense, a sacred feast. Then, each person having a part in the feast is expected to eat the full share assigned to him;1 unless indeed he be permitted to carry a remainder of it away "as sacred food" for the benefit of the others.2
And so the common root-idea shows itself, in lesser or in larger degree, all the world over, and in all the ages. It is practically universal.
One of the many proofs that the idea of a bloodcovenanting sacrifice is that of a loving inter-communion between man and God, or the gods, is the fact that the animals offered in sacrifice are always those animals which are suitable for eating, whether their eating is allowed at other times than when sacrificed, or not. "Animals offered in sacrifice [at the Temple of Heaven, in China]," says Dr. Edkins, “must be those in use for human food. There is no trace in China of any distinction between clean and unclean animals, as furnishing a principle in selecting them for
1" Should he fail [to eat his portion], the host would be outraged, the community shocked, and the spirits roused to vengeance. Disaster would befall the nation—death, perhaps, the individual." "A feaster unable to do his full part, might, if he could, hire another to aid him; otherwise he must remain in his place till the work was done." (Parkman's Jesuits in No. Am., p. xxxviii.)
2 "At some feasts guests are permitted to take home some small portions for their children as sacred food, especially good for them because it came from a feast." (Clark's Ind. Sign Lang., p. 168.)
sacrifice. That which is good for food is good for sacrifice, is the principle guiding in their selection.”1 The same principle has been already noted as prevailing in the sacrifices of India, Assyria, and Egypt; although in these last named countries many animals which are "good for food" are not “in use for human food" except as they are served up at the table of the gods. In the primitive New World it was the same as in the primitive Old World. Referring to the sacrifices in ancient Peru, Réville says, "It should be noted that they only sacrificed edible animals, which [as he would understand it] is a clear proof that the intention was to feed the gods "; and it certainly seems a clear proof that the intention was to feed the worshipers who shared the sacred food.
That this sharing of the proffered and accepted sacrifice, in divine-human inter-communion, was counted a sharing of the divine nature, by the communicant, seems evident, as widely as the world-wide custom extended. The inter-union was wrought by intermingled blood; the inter-communion gave a common progress to the common nature. The blood gave common life; the flesh gave common nourishment. "Almost everywhere," says Réville, "but especially
1 Edkins's Relig. in China, p. 22, note.
2 See pages 159, 168, 172, supra.
3 Réville's Native Relig. of Mex. and Peru, p. 183.
▲ Ibid., p. 76.
THE BASIS OF CANNIBALISM.
among the Aztecs, we find the notion, that the victim. devoted to a deity, and therefore destined to pass into his substance, and to become by assimilation an integral part of him, is already co-substantial with him, has already become part of him; so that the worshiper in his turn, by himself assimilating a part of the victim's flesh, unites himself in substance with the divine being. And now observe [continues this student in the science of comparative religion] that in all religions the longing, whether grossly or spiritually apprehended, to enter into the closest possible union with the adored being, is fundamental. This longing is inseparable from the religious sentiment itself, and becomes imperious wherever that sentiment is warm; and this consideration is enough to convince us that it is in harmony with the most exalted tendencies of our nature, but may likewise, in times of ignorance, give rise to the most deplorable aberrations." This observation is the more noteworthy, in that it is made by so pronounced a rationalist as Réville.
It would even seem to be indicated, by all the trend of historic facts, that cannibalism-gross, repulsive, inhuman cannibalism-had its basis in man's perversion of this outreaching of his nature (whether that outreaching were first directed by revelation, or by divinely given innate promptings) after inter-union and