If a god asked me to sacrifice my child, one of two things are going to happen:
– I’d tell him I’d already sacrificed plenty of “children” (if you could call them that) by way of 2 abortions and 1 miscarriage, so he better ask someone who has a living child; or
– I’d tell him that would be impossible because I don’t have children nor do I plan on having any. Sucks for him!
This famous story from the Bible where God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is not isolated, nor is the name Abraham devoid of any occult value. As you may have heard in other stories. God sometimes takes the form of fire, like in the burning bush or the flames of the Holy Spirit. This fire is the “shin” (spirit) of God per the Qabalah. Basically, God is invoked to come down and bestow grace (“touched by God”) or speak, and even impregnate (per the story of the Virgin Mary). The Bible also reads as giving instructions for ceremonial magick in worshipping Adonai, i.e. setting up the altars, sacrifices and incense.
Fire in the occult and ceremonial magick is commonly associated with the masculine divine and hence of a phallic nature, and since God is male this makes sense; like warring men, fire kills and destroys everything in its path. Fire also purifies; the smoke of incense is used for meditative and spirit-banishment purposes, the incense burned as a small sacrifice in addition to or replacing blood sacrifice. The god of the Bible is also a very angry and jealous god, so there’s aggression. Based on the accounts, he’s active. But rational? No way. That would come much, much later with the Enlightenment (Age of Reason) and the Deists.
Enter Moloch, an ancient Ammonite god whose name is the Semitic root for “king” (m-l-k). God is also called King, Lord Adonai, and so on. This king, per Qabalistic association, is the ruler of earth. Moloch too demanded child sacrifice, and not a one-off like Jehovah who otherwise sent an angel of death to do his work for him. No, this god demanded appeasement with child sacrifice by being burned alive.
“The bull (Moloch), being symbolic of earthiness, represented his own gross constitution which must be burned up by the fire of his Divinity. The sacrificing ofbeasts, and in some cases human beings, upon the altars of the pagans was the result of their ignorance concerning the fundamental principle underlying sacrifice. They did not realize that their offerings must come from within their own natures in order to be acceptable.”
— Manly P. Hall
Or at least that’s what the Bible said, with the sons of Ammon being an abomination to the Hebrews. It is disputed whether “pass through the fire to Moloch” means literally burning alive or just a purification ritual by flame. To the Hebrews, however, either way it was idolatry, especially since it involved their “seed” who were to ensure immortality of their culture and carry on their traditions (they also forbade the spilling of their seed by the act of masturbation; cf. Lilith myth). And every time they conquered another tribe, the tribe’s gods became their demons in the conquered people’s annihilation – I mean, assimilation:
When one tribe conquered another, it was customary for the pantheon of the defeated people to be incorporated into that of the conquerors. When, however, a nation has reached a monotheistic stage, or is inspired for any other reason by an intense hatred for the religion of the conquered, the gods of the subjected tribe may become demons. (New International Encyclopedia)
I think there is an undefined similarity between Ammon and the god of wealth and greed, Mammon, but at the very least, the Ammonites must have been thought of as greedy. However, if the Hebrews enemies were all evil and greedy by virtue of being enemies and not worshipping God, then invariably that greed must have rubbed off, because: look at the megachurches. Look at the charities that bribe people into converting in exchange for food and other things they need to survive. Or the Pope, if you need just one example of an ostentatious display of wealth. For especial evil, check out the demonization of the Jews as blood-drinking, orgiastic, Satanic baby-killers per various conspiracy theories.
Moloch was a horned god that resembled a man with a bull’s head, seated on a throne and wearing a crown with open arms to welcome the children*. Also:
Milton wrote that Moloch was a frightening and terrible demon covered with mothers’ tears and children’s blood. Rabbis claim [tradition attributed to the Yalkout of Rabbi Simeon] that in the famous statue of Moloch, there were seven kinds of cabinets. The first was for flour, the second for turtle doves, the third for an ewe, the fourth for a ram, the fifth for a calf, the sixth for a beef, and the seventh for a child. It is because of this, Moloch is associated with Mithras and his seven mysterious gates with seven chambers. When a child was sacrificed to Moloch, a fire was lit inside the statue. The priests would then beat loudly on drums and other objects so that the cries would not be heard.
According to ancient Roman accounts:
There stands in their midst a bronze statue of Kronos, its hands extended over a bronze brazier, the flames of which engulf the child. When the flames fall upon the body, the limbs contract and the open mouth seems almost to be laughing until the contracted body slips quietly into the brazier. Thus it is that the ‘grin’ is known as ‘sardonic laughter,’ since they die laughing.
Kronos was a Titan, and Greek tales the Titans (the elder-gods) fought with the gods of Olympia. He castrated his father Uranus to ensure his own power. Since his offspring were the first of the Olympians and hence they posed danger to him, Kronos (Cronus) ate each of his children until Rhea tricked him into swallowing a rock instead, and saved their son Zeus. In Italy Kronos was worshipped as Saturn and the personification of time (Old Father Time) and associated with an ancient corn deity known as the Sower. With time being naturally associated with death, later there appeared the Grim Reaper.
In other pictures I looked up in reference to Moloch, I found Baphomet, who is also related to Pan (the origin of the word panic). Baphomet is presented as androgynous or hermaphroditic, whereas the Horned God Cernunnos (or Pan) is male, with the female presented as the triple Goddess in neopagan religions. To Christians, he is Satan, the Devil**. For the Jews, they sacrificed a goat as a scapegoat for their sins.
Satan is a word that comes from the Hebrew Shaitan, which means the opposer, that which disturbs us; and the Hebraic word, Satanás in Latin, is no more than a corruption of the Sanskrit word Sanatanas, which means eternal, and which even now, in the Hindu tradition, is still attributed to the three persons of Trimurti (Brama, Shiva and Vishnu) and the three feminine divinities which correspond to them.
There is no doubt that the ancient Jews had cultural and commercial contact with the countries of the orient. Through their wanderings and changes, they sought desperately to secure their existence as a tribe along with their cultural heritage. They deeply feared the religions of the more advanced nations they came into contact with, so they instinctively held to themselves that they were nobler and superior to the others. From then on, the word Sanatanas became associated with the idea of an adversary or enemy.
The rejection by the Jews of the Hindu concept of divinity was a political act; and the imposition of their far more vulgar and solitary concept, over the eastern culture was a magickal operation through which the Jewish people even today morally dominate the philosophy and ethics of Europe and the Americas.
Christianity, in the end, is nothing more than a branch, an extension, of Judaism.
– Marcelo Ramos Motta, Astral Attack and Defense
The description for the Devil Atu in the Book of Thoth reads:
The formula of this card is then the complete appreciation of all existing things. He rejoices in the rugged and the barren no less than in the smooth and the fertile. All things equally exalt him. He represents the finding of ecstasy in every phenomenon, however naturally repugnant; he transcends all limitations; he is Pan; he is All.
It is important to notice some other correspondences. The three vowel-consonants of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, Yod, ‘Ayin, these three letters form the sacred name of God, I A 0. These three Atu, IX, 0, and XV, thus offer a threefold explanation of the male creative energy; but this card especially represents the masculine energy at its most masculine. Saturn, the ruler, is Set, the ass-headed god of the Egyptian deserts; he is the god of the south. The name refers to all gods containing these consonants, such as Shaitan, or Satan. (See Magick pp.336-7). Essential to the symbolism are the surroundings – barren places, especially high places. The cult of the mountain is an exact parallel. The Old Testament is full of attacks upon kings who celebrated worship in “high places”; this, although Zion itself was a mountain! This feeling persisted, even to the days of the Witches’ Sabbath, held, if possible, on a desolate summit, but (if none were available) at least in a wild spot, uncontaminated by the artfulness of men.
Note that Shabbathai, the “sphere of Saturn”, is the Sabbath. Historically, the animus against witches pertains to the fear of the Jews; whose rites, supplanted by the Christian forms of Magic, had become mysterious and terrible. Panic suggested that Christian child ren were stolen, sacrificed, and eaten. The belief persists to this day.
In every symbol of this card there is the allusion to the highest things and most remote. Even the horns of the goat are spiral, to represent the movement of the all-pervading energy. Zoroaster defines God as “having a spiral force”. Compare the more recent, if less profound, writings of Einstein.
Speaking of fertility and creation, in Liber AL vel Legis chapter 3 it is written:
43. Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered.
45. Then will I lift her to pinnacles of power: then will I breed from her a child mightier than all the kings of the earth. I will fill her with joy: with my force shall she see & strike at the worship of Nu: she shall achieve Hadit.
Besides the implication that a woman is a whore whether she does or doesn’t, the “harlot” here bears resemblance to the “fallen woman” of the Christians, who falls out of God’s grace. Crowley had been raised as a Christian and was known for his misogyny, where he believed women didn’t have souls; apparently, men already have one because their souls have the inner light of “Hadit” and extend outwards, but women’s souls devolve inwards and are parasitic in nature.
Crowley was also said to have practiced in child sacrifice, but he wrote himself that it was symbolic, as a magickal child. Perhaps his interpretation was another version of “seed” as “child.” Patriarchal interpretation would have it that women’s purpose is to literally create or to be a mere helpmate for a male magickian in order to create a magickal child. Having children, literal or magickal, is a means of ensuring immortality on some level, so killing a child means you are sacrificing your chance at immortality, at least at that point in time unless you can create more children.
Coincidentally, gods having horns signified immortality and fertility (sometimes immortality and fertility go hand-in-hand, by virtue of continually creating life). Goddesses had them too, in the form of a lunar crescent, but art abounds in depicting them with actual horns, as well. Where gods are said to die, they are resurrected or reincarnated – and when they have goddess wives, it was they who had the gift of life to bring them back, such as the story of Osiris and Isis.
But I digress. There is not only Christian, but Egyptian symbolism in Liber AL, Thelema being a syncretic religion. It’s not the “Christ” stuff I have a problem with in the Gnostic sense, but the misogyny. Talk all you want about how people can interpret it in different ways, but the ways that have been interpreted by those I had associated with were used against women. Since many Thelemites were previously Christians, even hardcore fundamentalists, I am wary of ascribing “liberation” to simply changing your belief-system.
Related to this topic of the fire-god and of sacrifice is ichthyos, the fish and in astrology, fish as the sign of Pisces; “The word is a Notariqon of Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter (Jesus Chnst, Son of God, Saviour.)” (Book of Thoth). The popular assocation is with Jesus (who changed loaves of bread into fish and many of his disciples were fishermen) and Christ as fish. Besides this, the early Hebrews had fish totems, the symbolism from which Christianity heavily borrowed. Prior to the Hebrews were the Amorites who fish-god was named Dagon; also, the Hyksos.
Dagon, the fish god. The fish as a symbol of fatherhood, of motherhood, of the perpetuation of life generally, constantly recurs. The letter N. (Nun, N, in Hebrew means Fish) is one of the original hieroglyphs standing for this idea, apparently because of the mental reactions excited in the mind by the continual repetition of this letter. There are thus a number of gods, goddesses, and eponymous heroes, whose legends are functions of the letter N. (With regard to this letter, see Atu XIII.) It is connected with the North, and so with the starry heavens about the Pole Star; also with the North wind; and the reference is to the Watery signs. Hence the letter N. occurs in legends of the Flood and of fish gods. In Hebrew mythology, the hero concerned is Noah. Note also that the symbol of the Fish has been chosen to represent the Redeemer or Phallus, the god through whose virtue man passes through the waters of death. The common name for this god, in southern Italy to-day, and elsewhere, is Ii pesce. So, also, his female counterpart, Kteis, is represented by the Vesica Piscis, the bladder of the fish, and this shape is continually exhibited in many church windows and in the episcopal ring.[…]
NChSh, the Serpent in Eden, has the value 358: 50 also MShICh, Messiah. He is, accordingly, in the secret doctrine, the Redeemer. The thesis may be developed at great length. Later in the Legend, the doctrine reappears in slightly different symbolism as the story of the Flood, elsewhere in this Essay explained. Of course, the Fish is identical in essence with the Serpent; for Fish=NVN=Scorpio=Serpent. Also, Teth, the letter of Leo, means Serpent. But Fish is also the Vesica, or Womb, and Christ~and so on. This symbol resumes the whole Secret Doctrine.
So we have connected the symbolism of the Serpent of knowledge and power (Scorpio associated with power-seeking, death and transformation). Also, a scorpion will kill itself when surrounded b a ring of fire. Pisces is a Mutable sign and its element, water, associated with fertility; Leo and Scorpio are both Fixed signs, meaning they are stubborn and do not like change. They’re all animals, but Leo is a type of beast.
Pisces is a very domineering sign, but always with the illusion of helpfulness, of concern, and most of all love. The leaders of this new Aeon of the Fish presented themselves as shepherds who presided over their flocks. They portrayed themselves as caring leaders who only possessed their position of authority for the good of their subjects who would have been lost without them. Guilt and shame are the tools they used to keep this new flock of believers in compliance. And along with this guilt and shame they presented a new fear with which to command the people: the fear of eternal damnation. Violent punishment in this life was no longer enough – now one would be violently punished for all eternity, in the most horrific ways imaginable, if one did not conform to the new paradigm of the Fish God. The Underworld of the Goddess was now remade into the fiery pit of Hell of the christians. And many of the old Gods – the old foes of Yahweh – were now locked up tight in this Hell as demons whose sole existence was now dedicated to the torture of the unbelievers and the sinners.
The planetary ruler of Pisces is Neptune, which represents illusion: rose-colored glasses, pulling the wool over your eyes, uncertainty, deception, romanticism, masochistic selflessness and suffering as virtue.
In Liber VII chapter 4, verse 51 is a verse that deals with both fish and a fire-god:
They draw their shining God unto the land in nets; they build a fire to the Lord of Fire, and cry unhallowed words, even the dreadful curse Amri maratza, maratza, atman deona lastadza maratza maritza—marán!
“Amri maratza, maratza, atman deona lastadza maratza maritza – maran!”
Crowley commented on what it meant:
“(Forever unlawfully) let him die, let him die, let his soul die without pleasure (lit. orgasm) he shall die, he is dead.”
(translation in Commentaries, p. 344)
Similarly, in the movie “The Wicker Man” the people are all yelling as they burn the man (played by Nicholas Cage) alive: “He must die!” The man played by Cage represented the dying god and was sacrificed to ensure a good harvest, tied up inside a gigantic wicker man.
“We read in the Old Testament of this worship of Baal, and the manner in which sacrifices of men and beasts were offered to appease or pleasure him. The rites were the same in North Britain as in Tophet, the Valley of Slaughter, when the Lord complained they broke his law. The Druids, those all-powerful priests who swayed the people of this country, appointed certain seasons in which to pay their chief most deity homage. These days have remained our national festivals, 1st May, Midsummer, the eve of November, and Yuletide. Besides the white bulls slain in honour of Baal, the Men of the Oaks decreed that a huge wicker cage in the form of a colossal mortal should be woven, and in it were cast a holocaust of human victims. These were not only prisoners, but the worshippers’ hearts’-blood, for parents gave their best beloved.”
— Foiklore in Lowland Scotland, on Baal and tein (fire) as the origin of Beltane
Interestingly, the word victim comes from the Latin victima, which means 1.) animal for sacrifice, or 2. victim, and is said to be akin to the Old High German word wīh, holy. Males and male gods were often depicted as either animals, or half-animal. By being a sacrifice to a god or goddess, a victim was devoted to a specific purpose and served as some sort of savior-hero. The importance of his role was obviously lost on him as something only the villagers could believe and understand as he died tricked and in agony, having walked into his own death-trap.
The description of the Death Atu from the Book of Thoth reads thus:
This card is attributed to the letter Nun, which means a fish; the symbol of life beneath the waters; life travelling through the waters. It refers to the Zodiacal sign of Scorpio, which is ruled by Mars, the planet of fiery energy in its lowest form, which is therefore necessary to provide the impulse. In alchemy, this card explains the idea of putrefaction, the technical name given by its adepts to the series of chemical changes which develops the final form of life from the original latent seed in the Orphic egg.[…]
…the fish (Il pesce, as they call him in Naples and many other places) and the serpent are the two principal objects of worship in cults which taught the doctrines of resurrection or re-incarnation. Thus we have Oannes and Dagon, fish gods, in western Asia; in many other parts of the world are similar cults. Even in Christianity, Christ was represented as a fish. The Greek work IXThUS, “which means fish And very aptly symbolizes Christ”, as Browning reminds one, was supposed to be a notariqon, the initials of a sentence meaning “Jesus Christ Son of God, Saviour”. Nor is it an accident that St. Peter was a fisherman. The Gospels, too, are full of miracles involving fish, and the fish is sacred to Mercury, because of its cold-bloodedness, its swiftness and its brilliance. There is moreover the sexual symbolism. This again recalls the function of Mercury as the guide of the dead, and as the continuing elastic element in nature.
And per the description of the Hanged Man Atu:
It is the card of the Dying God; its importance in the present pack is merely that of the Cenotaph. It says: “If ever things get bad like that again, in the new Dark Ages which appear to threaten, this is the way to put things right.” But if things have to be put right, it shows that they are very wrong. It should be the chiefest aim of the wise to rid mankind of the insolence of self-sacrifice, of the calamity of chastity; faith must be slain by certainty, and chastity by ecstasy.
Redemption is a bad word; it implies a debt. For every star possesses boundless wealth; the only proper way to deal with the ignorant is to bring them to the knowledge of their starry heritage. To do this, it is necessary to behave as must be done in order to get on good terms with animals and children: to treat them with absolute respect; even; in a certain sense, with worship.[…]
The Atu represents the sacrifice of “a male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence”-these words were chosen with the utmost care. The meaning of his attitude has already been described, and of the fact that he is hanged from an Ankh, an equivalent of the Rosy Cross; in some early cards the gallows is a Pylon, or the branch of a Tree, by shape suggesting the letter Daleth (~) Venus, Love.
His background is an unbounded grill of small squares; these are the Elemental Tablets which exhibit the names and sigilla of all the energies of Nature. Through his Work a Child is begotten, as shewn by the Serpent stirring in the Darkness of the Abyss below him.[…]
The legend of the Gospels, dealing with the Greater Mysteries of the Lance and the Cup (those of the god Iacchus lao) as superior to the Lesser Mysteries (those of the God Ion=Noah, and the N- gods in general) in which the Sword slays the god that his head may be offered on a Plate, or Disk, says: And a soldier with a spear pierced his side; and thereforth there came out blood and water. This Wine, collected by the Beloved Disciple and the Virgin-Mother, waiting beneath the Cross or Tree for that purpose, in a Cup or Chalice; this is the Holy Grail or Sangreal (Sangraal) of Monsalvat, the Mountain of Salvation. [Grail (gréal) actually means a dish: O.F. graal, greal, grasal, probably corrupted from late Latin gradale, itself a corrupt form of crater, a bowl.] This Sacrament is exalted in the Zenith in Cancer; see Atu VII.***
Although he was sacrificed as an adult in a movie depiction, I have no reason to doubt that many child and adult sacrifices in ancient times were of male children. The more valuable, the higher the sacrifice, and males were highly valued, and were probably rare or precious – especially in Biblical times or among tribal peoples, fighting in war, though there were also virgin sacrifices of women. The Dying God symbolism, of course, was taken up by the Christians with their Jesus, but they focused on a purely male God and neglected the female role in creation.
Nowadays we don’t see a need to sacrifice anyone to ensure a good harvest, as long as we save up and don’t fuck up by killing the soil. But if times got hard, and push came to shove, groups of people would be perfectly willing to let the sick, the old, and the otherwise-worthless die so that the rest can live – as opposed to everyone suffering. Even resort to cannibalism. Aside from truly desperate situations like accidents or catastrophes, whole tribes have managed to kill themselves off by their own irresponsibility in agriculture, possibly involving slash-and-burn methods. I’m not arguing for human exceptionalism here, but the opposite; maybe peoples have gone extinct precisely because they believed in human exceptionalism, that the earth exists – as we likewise believe of women as the Other – for our exploitation and conquest. I think we need to own up to that.
Treating someone, child or not, as a victim – or victimizing them – necessitates treating them as an enemy and/or as property. As a sacrifice, they also served as a scapegoat to alleviate people’s sins and appease the gods, who apparently fed off terror and utter panic. The veiling of women as “sacred objects” (linked with women being seen as objects of desire, or sex-objects needing protection from their own feminine wiles) is evidence of this, since the path to holiness and piety involves the sacrifice – or giving-up – of human enjoyments like sex and other things deemed evil by the Abrahamic religions, being blamed for their sexuality or nature. And just as we cannot today comprehend sacrificing a child to a deity, so too must sacrifice in the form of “collateral damage” or “dying for a cause” inspire revulsion: scientific/medical experiments, casualties of war (women and children included), prostitution, having a child for selfish reasons. Our modern “civilized” gods are those of greed, power-mongering, war and dominance, and materialism. God/dess names like Saturn and Pandora are now name-brand products for our consumerism, no more than the “faces” representing business corporations. Slaves to wages, we seek relieve in any way we can and one of those is by buying more stuff, no matter what the cost or consequences, who they came from, or what it took to produce them.
The gods in ancient times who were further anthropomorphized and did not have animal parts looked an awful lot like the people did; so too do our gods, religious or not, agree with our beliefs and, I think, reveal themselves as the powerful male elites that rule the world and enforce patriarchal norms. I do not think the Bible can be used as historical reference in any way, because they do not contain literal facts. You know the saying,”History is told by the winners?” Even our official accounts of history as taught in school are incredibly biased and exclusive. To some extent, the way in which enemies are mythologized out of existence means that history is inextricably tied up with mythology, serving as propaganda to make the Other seem savage and brutal. Certainly, the bigotry that exists in society from the dominant classes (racism, sexism, homophobia) is rooted in superstitious prejudice and myths.
* Note that the word doll is a bastardization of the word idol.
** Another description reads:
“…Hades, the spiritual center of Greek paganism, became Hell. The descent into Hades, the core of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and a spiritually required initiation for anyone concerned with soul, was prohibited. By the middle of the fourth century, the Christians had suppressed the Mysteries and installed hell as a place of punishment from which people had to be saved. Where once Pindar had written, “Thrice Blessed are those who have seen these Mysteries for they know the end of life and the beginning”, later Dante was to inscribe, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Similarly, Dionysus, the life god, became Satan, as Adonis, the consort of Aphrodite, was co-opted into Christ. Mary Magdalene the Holy Prostitute was converted and transformed, Aphrodite became Eve became the Virgin Mary. The reversals were absolute. Psyche’s journey toward soul was altered when the ordeals of Aphrodite, the mother of Eros, no longer beckoned the Self.” – From “On the return of the holy prostitute”
*** There is a connection between the grail and the word krater (origin of crater, as in crater of the moon): Krater is an ancient mixing bowl filled with wine. It is also the name that the Cathars used for their chalice or grail, the very image of the Goddess. For Thelemites this cup is the cup of Babalon drunk on the blood of saints.
New International Encyclopedia
Astral Attack and Defense, by Marcelo Ramos Motta
Liber AL vel Legis, The Book of the Law
Liber VII, Liber Liberi vel Lapidis Lazuli
The Book of Thoth
Commentaries on the Holy Books, by Aleister Crowley