The boys hopped into the car after school yesterday.
“Hey, guys! How was your day?!” I enthusiastically queried, as usual.
“Fine,” was the collective answer, not so enthusiastically.
“What did you do today!?” I was following a 10-year-old script.
“Nothing,” came the rote response.
I rolled my eyes. “Come on,” I pressed, “tell me the coolest thing you learned today.”
“Well, in history today we learned about human sacrifice in Aztec culture,” the thirteen-year-old chimed.
“Hmmm,” I responded.
“Yeah – they dragged a person up to the top of the pyramid, cut out the heart, and then threw him or her to the bottom of the stairs so everyone else could eat him or her.”
“Ooh,” I cringed, “I think I learned about that in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
Morbid curiosity got the better of me when we arrived home. I am familiar with primitive human sacrifice, but not intimately (thanks, God), so I googled “Aztec sacrificial rituals” to ascertain how well he was listening in class. Ugh. Unfortunately no ADD today. You think you’re having a bad day? Read on… You will never, ever consider another day “bad.”
According to a Pacific Lutheran Website:
“The captives were dragged up the Templo Mayor steps and were laid across the sacrificial stone where four priests took hold of the captives’ feet and arms holding him firmly so he couldn't escape. Then a fifth priest with a sharp obsidian blade in hand would slice open the captive's chest and would take out the captive's heart. Some have even witnessed the heart still beating. Then after having ripping out the heart the priest would offer it to the God. The hearts were placed in a vessel called a Choc Mool, much like the one below that was dedicated to Tlaloc, The God of Rain and Fertility (Lopez Lujan 2000).
Then after being placed in the vessel the heart would be burned to hopefully satisfied the gods and the world would continue. When the priests had finished with the victim they would throw them down the temple steps. The temple steps had that steep incline for just this purpose.
Next the Quaquacuiltin would take the deceased back to the captive's calpulli compound where the family would divide the body up and cook it in a stew with chilies.”
Yuck. See? Not a bad day when your coffee spills in your car.
Thinking perhaps that Pacific Lutheran got it wrong or perhaps exaggerated (who isn’t prone to hyperbole every so often?), I kept googling and came across validating information at this Minnesota State website:
“The most common form of sacrifice was performed outside, on the top of a great pyramid. The victim was spread-eagled on a round stone, with his back arched. His limbs were held, while a priest used an obsidian knife to cut under the rib cage and remove his heart. This method was used when honoring the sun god, Huitzilopochtli. Each god apparently preferred a different form of sacrifice. For the fertility god Xipe Totec, the person was tied to a post and shot full of arrows. His blood flowing out represented the cool spring rains (Meyer & Sherman:69). The fire god required a newly wed couple. They were thrown into the god's altars and allowed to burn and at the last minute they were taken out and had their hearts removed as a second offering (Hogg :48). The earth mother goddess, Teteoinnan, was extremely important. At harvest time, a female victim was flayed and her skin was carried ceremoniously to one of the temples. Her skin was worn by an officiating priest who then symbolized the goddess herself (Meyer & Sherman:44 Human sacrifices were seen in many different cultures in Latin American, such as Olmecs, Mayans and the Moche.”
Bleah. Not such a bad day when your kid throws a tantrum in the grocery store…
Check out these drawings from a Missouri State website...
There really isn’t much to say in summary, for those of you who aren’t in the bathroom hurling, except 1) count your blessings. The human sacrifice victim’s day sucked much worse than your worst day…It’s all relative! and 2) I get tired of people saying how society today has evolved to be much more violent than it used to be…I think, much to the contrary, life is much more civilized these days than it was in earlier civilizations throughout the world. Aztec culture is just one example: “Aztec laws were simple and harsh. Almost every crime, from adultery to stealing, was punished by death and other offenses usually involved severe corporal punishment or mutilation (the penalty for slander, for instance, was the loss of one's lips).” (http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/CIVAMRCA/AZTECS.HTM). We’re all familiar with other societal atrocities: Hammurabi’s code, drawing and quartering as a punishment in earlier Europe, witch hunts and burning at the stake even in America. I don’t think society is more violent than it used to be at all…
The funny thing is (if there is a funny thing) that I heard, on satellite radio channel “80s on 8” this morning, a long-lost 1983 song which made me giggle. I hadn’t heard it in a long time and had forgotten all about its existence: “I eat cannibals.” Remember that song? I eat cannibals. It’s incredible. It brings out the animal.. in me.. I eat cannibals. God is up there chuckling, I just know it.