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  • Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain October 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Beach knows that animal sacrifices took place in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. He has even featured and celebrated a few cases himself, but he was much struck by this list. Can anyone add anything to it? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    Mr. Henderson wrote his Folklore of the Northern Counties in 1879, and he says: ‘Not fifteen years ago a herd of cattle in the county of Moray being attacked with murrain, one of them was sacrificed by burying alive as a propitiatory offering for the rest; and I am informed by Professor Morecco that a live ox was burnt near Haltwhistle in Northumberland only twenty years ago with the same intent. A. similar observance has also lingered on among the Celtic population of Cornwall almost, if not quite, to the present day.’ It is somewhat startling to read of an ox being offered as a burnt sacrifice in England in our own times after fifteen or more centuries of Christianity. But Mr. Henderson gives other examples of similar doings. They appear, however, to be commoner in Scotland than in England. The Rev. S. Baring-Gould, as I am informed, has stated that in building a new bridge at Halle, which was completed in 1843, the people wanted to have a child immured in the foundation to ensure its stability, so the idea of even human sacrifices can scarcely be said to be extinct in civilised Europe. Professor J. Y. Simpson, M.D., in his notes on some ‘ Scottish Charm Stones,’ printed in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, states that he knows of two localities in the Lowlands, one near Biggar in Lanarkshire, and the other near Torpichcn in West Lothian, where, within the memory of the past and present generation, living cows have been sacrificed for curative purposes, or under the hope of arresting the murrain in other members of the herd. In both these cases the cow was sacrificed by being buried alive. In the Record Office, vol. ccxxiv., No. 74, under date 1589, is a letter from one Price giving information of gross idolatry in Wales. He says that bullocks were offered to idols, and that he saw a young man drive one through a little porch into the churchyard, and heard him cry out,. ‘Thy half to God and to Beyno [St Beuno]’. This was in the parish of Clynnog, about fifteen miles from Bangor. He represents people as being afraid to cut down trees growing on Beyno’s ground, lest he should kill them.

    It’s all remarkable…


    16 Oct 2012: Kithra writes: I enjoyed reading your blog this morning about “Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain.” While I don’t know about other animal sacrifices cats were sacrificed, up to at least the end of the 18th Century. It was a ceremony known as the Taigheirm. I only came across it recently, and wrote an article about it that, if you’ve not heard of it and you’re interested, you can read on kithraskrystalkave The Invisible: Jim, the ironworker, opens a very long article in the Washington Post on the history of foundation sacrifices, which also discusses modern human and animal foundation sacrifices in the Yukon and an historical account of a young girl being walled up in the ramparts of Copenhagen. Then, mystifyingly, the article veers into an analysis of modern construction fatality statistics and the importance of building worker safety. JIM, the ironworker, talks: “The hoodoo’s off this buildin’. We killed our first man yesterday. I’m sorry for the Italian they crushed, but all the same, I feel better. There’s got to be some good red man blood in the makin’ of every building or the thing’s a hoodoo. But it keeps you nervous until you hear that some other fellow’s blood is spilled. Then you think maybe yours ain’t needed this ilme. Every man gets his call someday. Somethin’,  somewhere, is keeping the time card When the right minute comes one o’ them big iron toothpicks swings round when you’re not lookin’—and over [illegible] More foundation stuff—that’s all. Never heard of human sacrifices in this buildin’ business, eh? Well, look it up, young man. And take it from me, we ain’t got past laying fine young humans  alive in the foundations of the big things we build.  Not by a good deal They did it a thousand years ago We’re doin’ it now all right only we don’t call it by the same name And there’s hell to pay if a man gets caught talking about it. Look it up. You’ll find it mighty interesting. And leave me out of it—understand? I don’t want ‘em to lay me off for bein’ gabby.  Washington Post, 4 February, 1912: p. 42 Christian/Spiritualist religious mania seems to set the scene for many 19th-century “human sacrifices.” SACRIFICE OF A MEDIUM A man whose name is Samuel Cole, residing in Washington County, Ohio, who was made insane by the workings of the spirit-rapping delusion, became possessed of the idea that he must offer, like Abraham of old, a sacrifice to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. He accordingly proceeded to carry his object into execution, by taking off one of his feet, which he succeeded in doing some days since, in a very scientific manner, and with a heroic determination that would compare with the self-sacrificing deeds done in earlier ages. His family fearing that some other of his limbs might be demanded in a like cause, had him conveyed to the Lunatic Asylum at Columbus, where he is now in the enjoyment of as much liberty as the nature of his disease will warrant the superintendent of that institution in granting him. Adams Sentinel, [Gettysburg, PA] 14 March, 1853: p. 5 And, the 1828 Ohio cow burnt to expel witches. I’ve posted this here before [but what the hell, let’t do it again! B]. The annexed report of a case, that came before the court of common pleas in this county, is from the pen of a legal gentleman of high standing. It shows that in our day, the belief in witchcraft has not entirely vanished. Lawrence Common Pleas. Term 1828. At some subsequent time, when defendant was from home, his wife sent for witness and others, to see and find out what was the matter with her cow, in a lot near the house. They found it frantic, running, and pitching at everything which came near. It was their opinion, after observing it considerably, that it had the canine madness [rabies]. The defendant, however, returned before the witness and others left the lot; he inspected the cow with much attention, and gave it as his opinion that they were mistaken as to the true cause of her conduct,—she was not mad, but bewitched; the same which had been in the horse, had transferred itself to the cow. By this time the animal, from exhaustion or other cause, had lain down. The defendant then went into the lot, and requested the persons present to assist in putting a rope about her horns, and then make the other end fast to a tree, where he could burn her. They laughed at the man’s notion, but finally assisted him, seeing she remained quiet—still having no belief that he really intended burning her. This being done, the- defendant piled up logs, brush and other things around, and finally over the poor cow, and then set fire to them. The defendant continued to add fuel, until she was entirely consumed, and afterwards told the witness he had never seen any creature so hard to die; that she continued to moan after most of the flesh had fallen from her bones, and he felt a pity for her, but die she must; that nothing but the witches in her kept her alive so long, and it was his belief they would be so burnt before getting out, that they never would come back. Night having set in before the burning was finished, the defendant and his family set up to ascertain if the witches could be seen about the pile of embers. Late at night, some one of the family called the defendant to the window—the horse being near the place—and pointed to two witches, hopping around, over and across the pile of embers, and now and then seizing a brand and throwing it into the air, and in a short while disappeared. The next morning, on examination, the defendant saw their tracks through the embers in all directions. At a subsequent time, he told the same witness and others, that from that time the witches had wholly disappeared from the neighborhood, and would never return—and to burn the animal alive, in which they were found, was the only way to get clear of them: he had been very fearful they would torment his family. Historical Collections of Ohio, Henry Howe, (Cincinnati, OH: Bradley & Anthony, 1850) p. 291 Continues today in muti murders, and, if you believe the Evangelicals, many people a year are killed by Satanists. And, a warning from the Internet:  YU-GI-YO Leads to human sacrifice! Who knew? [B: I thought this was satire but reading it carefully it seems not]. Thanks Invisible and Kithra!!!