The villagers were making an offering to this mysterious powerful being, hoping that their god might be pleased with this sacrifice and return the favor by giving them a bountiful harvest. The altar provided a table for the god to enjoy his banquet of blood that was sprinkled on it from the sacrificed animals. Humans have always wanted reassurance that the gods would not be angry with them, so a blood sacrifice was routinely required. A ﬁre was always kept burning upon the altar, just in case it might be needed. They didn’t want to be punished if the gods became unhappy with them, even if the gods were acting like complete a-holes. Most of the time, the gods would bring droughts, wildfires, famines and floods to their village for no apparent reason. It didn’t stop there as they would also go around stealing, raping, torturing, or killing pretty much anyone that they wanted at any time they decided to do this. The gods would hold grudges, so if you pissed them off once, you were completely screwed.
When the people of this village decided that a sacrifice was necessary, they would grab a sacrificial goat and walk in a circular procession singing their praises to the gods as they made their way up to the alter. The high priest always wore his special golden robe being the mediator between the people and the gods on this Day of Atonement. The high priest would get high on peyote buttons, as a way of becoming closer to the gods. When he reached the alter, the priest would ask the god to look down from heaven and give them a symbol to guarantee that this sacrifice was acceptable. Usually this was done by the fire flaring up, as the flames suddenly become larger, or this could be accomplished by the sound of thunder being heard in the background. The high priest was always able to interpret the signals that were sent by the gods.
Written for Sadje at Keep It Alive What Do You See #150, where the Image credit comes from Robert Lukeman at Unsplash.