Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Sacrifices We Make...

I was at work the other night and during the course of our conversation, my
boss started telling me about this TV show she had stayed up watching that
morning after work. It was "History's Mysteries", a show that I have watched and
enjoyed myself. One time it talked about how the shootout at the OK Corrall
actually started (Doc Holliday's fault...mentioned in an earlier post) and who
actually shot down the Red Baron (some unknown gunner who probably never even
knew what he's done). The show that Nancy saw was about the Aztecs and the
human sacrifices that they were famous for. She was telling me all about it
and it fascinated me so I dug a bit online and found this article written by PJ
Gladnick. This is truly disturbing...unless you're an Indiana Jones fan...

"It is estimated that approximately 20,000 people per year were sacrificed
by the Aztec royalty. Captives were taken to the top of pyramids where, upon
a ritual flat stone table, they had their chests cut upon and their hearts
ripped out [Mola Ram Suda Ram...]. Then the bodies of the victims were tossed
down the steps of the pyramids. [Nancy mentioned that these victims were
required to walk up at least 12 flights of steep steps to the altar where they would
be sacrificed. If it were me, I'd be begging for death by the 7th flight at
"Critical to understanding the motivation behind the ritual sacrifices is
the concept of tonalli, which means animating spirit. The tonalli in humans was
believed to be located in the blood, which concentrates in the heart when one
becomes frightened. This explains the gods hunger for the heart. Without this
sacrifice, all motion stops, even the movement of the sun. So when the Aztecs
made their sacrifices, as far as they were concerned, they were keeping the
sun from halting in its orbit. [So, we apparently have the Aztecs to thank for
keeping this world turning.]
"Particularly thirsty for blood was the war god, Huitzilopochtli. On the
other hand, Quetzalcoatl was a kinder, gentler god. Quetzalcoatl only demanded
the sacrifice of animals such as snakes and butterflies. [How do you sacrifice
a butterfly? Did Quetzalcoatl ask for the butterfly's heart as well?
Wouldn't that be hard??]
"The victims of these ritual slaughters were usually warriors captured by
the Aztecs in battles or tributes from vassal states in the form of humans
offered up for sacrifice. This is why the Aztecs never fully conquered many of
the surrounding states. They needed a steady supply of ritual sacrifice victims.
If they used their own people for sacrifice then it could cause an uprising.
"There was another reason for these ritual sacrifices---cannibalism. After
the hearts were removed and the bodies tossed down the temple steps, the
limbs were removed and later cooked. As repugnant as cannibalism is to us today,
back then to the Aztecs, cooked human bodies were looked upon as great
delicacies which explains why only Aztec royalty, not the common people, were allowed
to engage in cannibalism. The favorite parts for the Aztecs to munch on were
the hands and thighs. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, was reported to have been
partial to cooked thighs served with tomatoes and chili pepper sauce. [That
could be Martha Stewart's first show from prison...]

So...there's your history lesson for today. The next time I wish I could go
back and see what it was like back then, I'll remember this!

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