By Diane Karkosh
Who in our socially “sophisticated” country would not be appalled at the thought of the pagan ritual of child sacrifice? Most of us in the postmodern world view ancient customs of ceremonial murder as barbaric, and those who perpetuate such things as uneducated, naïve, and evil, or at least superstitious. But have we as a culture evolved to such an advanced and worldly-wise people that we could no longer commit such acts? One wonders, because of the emphasis on tolerance for other’s beliefs, which has lately become a highly touted virtue. Is it possible that amongst America’s highly-educated, technologically advanced, and freedom-loving people, there exists a remnant of an archaic belief that time, exposure to the best of the west, and yes, evolution has not removed? These are some of the questions that will be getting answered here.
Let’s start with a definition of the word “sophisticated,” used to describe our refined society to determine if it is a badge to wear proudly. The word comes from the Middle English word, sophiste which comes from Latin as sophista, from Greek as sophizesthai, “to become wise,” and finally, from sophos, clever. Plato coined the term “Sophist as a group of professional fifth-century B.C. Greek philosophers and teachers who speculated on theology, metaphysics, and the sciences, and who were later characterized by Plato as superficial manipulators of rhetoric and dialectic.” A closer examination of past belief shows parallels in today’s culture and suggests that our beliefs and attitudes are just a re-working of them, and that there isn’t really anything new under the sun.
In the ancient North African culture of Carthage, which fell to the Romans during the third Punic War in 146 B.C., archeological expeditions produced the remains of hundreds of burial urns filled with the cremated bones of infants, mostly newborns, but also children age four and older. The site of this holocaust is called the Tophet, which is a word that has become synonymous with “hell” itself. The word tophet is thought to be derived from the Hebrew word, taph=drums, or troph=to burn. This barbaric ritual required that drums be played very loudly in order to drown out the screams and cries of the mothers, and perhaps also, the victims. A similar site has been found east of the Jordan River in Israel, which is called the Valley of Hinnom, or as Jesus called it, “Gehenna” or hell on earth.
The religious practices of the Carthaginians were a carry over from their ancestors, the Canaanites, who also practiced child sacrifice. Canaanites who emigrated seaward after they were conquored by the Israelites between 1200-1100 B.C. settled on the coastal region of North Africa. Perhaps because they were looking to increase their numbers and build the successful society which they did, they sought the Phoenician gods, whom they believed had the ability to grant fertility and good fortune. The spirits of these gods needed to be invoked, which was done through drink sacrifices, or libations of which they also imbibed, and through the sexual acts that naturally followed their intoxication. Promiscuity, temple prostitution, and drunken orgies were the acts of Pagan worship to the fertility gods of Baal-Hammon and his wife Tanit, the Phoenician goddess, also known as Astarte, or the “face of Baal.” She is known by the Greeks as Aphrodite and to the Egyptians as Isis, and referred to in the Old Testament as Asherah.
As Carthaginians succumbed deeper into this form of worship their self-abasement grew, along with the population, and thus, babies were plentiful. One could surmise that the gods rewarded their worship. This worship, however, gradually turned to child sacrificing, especially when times were tough, in order to appease the gods Molech and Ashteroth, the darker and more sinister gods – who demanded human sacrifice in order to grant the community “health and well being.” It started with sacrificing the firstborn, but it appears that the gods grew greedier and greedier. Eventually, and as times got tougher, i.e. during famines and disasters, they practiced massive annual sacrifices of thousands of babies and children, in order to invoke greater blessings and prosperity. It is believed that this civilization became quite sophisticated, under the caste system, and the noble class sometimes practiced substitution for their firstborns through the “ladies of the sanctuary,” or temple prostitution in order to fulfill their mandatory quotas of children for the gods.
When a mother, willingly or not, released her infant onto the down-stretched arms of Moloch’s bronze statue, the baby consequently rolled off the arms and fell headlong onto a fire-y brazier pit. Burial monuments found in Carthage and other places were inscribed with the Tanit symbol, in honor of the Phoenician goddess.
The Carthaginians were hated, and perhaps envied by other contemporary cultures for their practice of child sacrifice, and respectively their riches. Chief among their enemy was the Romans. Ironically, Rome conquered Carthage, yet the Romans later practiced infanticide themselves as well as other tortures for sport, like killing Christians. Is there some kind of progression here for doomed civilizations?
The gods Asherah, Baal, Molech and Ashteroth had also been a stumbling block for the Israelites, when they possessed the “promise land” east of the Jordan River, or Canaan. Ironically, they purged the Canaanites out, who practiced child sacrifice, and yet they too in time did the same thing. Disobeying God’s commands to purge out the idols and religious practices of the Canaanites and the Ammonites, they eventually came to commit these same spiritually adulterous and idolatrous practices. They set up the “grove,” a group of trees with graven images carved into them near the altar of Jehovah. The prophets soundly condemned the grove, and practicing the heathen religions and warned of coming judgment. Judgment did fall in Jerusalem, when the temple and the whole city was completely destroyed by the Babylonians and the kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity in 587 BC.
Twenty first century Americans are following after the wayward Israelites. Few can contend that our country’s first pilgrims settled here for spiritual refuge, and our lady liberty stands proudly saluting the notion of freedom. One of America’s greatest assaults, however has roots in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, perhaps best known by the slogan “make love, not war” and gradually, with the cultural acceptance of birth control and condoms, sexual promiscuity and co-habitation have became the norm. Decades later, sexually transmitted diseases and welfare caseloads are burgeoning our social and healthcare systems and census figures show there is a price to pay for such “freedom;” an overburdened government and continual breakdown of marriage and family. Fewer couples are marrying and std’s are epidemic.
One of the first steps in transforming attitudes in society is achieved by changing the vocabulary used to talk about things that used to be called sin. As shown in the book, WHO BROKE THE BABY Jean Garton explained how semantics served to de-humanize the “baby” or “child” by replacing them with scientific words like embryo and fetus. We have come to view unplanned pregnancies, as “products of conception” and menstruation “interruptions.” Consider the statements of two women separated by 100 years to see the difference:
1873: “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton, organizer of the first Women’s Convention, Seneca Falls, N.Y.,
1973: “We really need to get over this love affair with the fetus…” — Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former U. S. Surgeon General
Such de-association resulted in codifying Roe v. Wade in 1973. It’s sister act, Doe v. Bolton, became the stamp of approval on the “right” to kill by dismemberment, a million babies a year, for any reason construed as “health of the mother.” Killing of innocent life in Biblical times, including cutting open a pregnant woman by sword deserved death. In America, we think nothing of doing the same thing but with a surgical instrument instead of a sword, so it doesn’t leave a superficial scar, and is far less painful for the mother, and is socially acceptable because it is done medically — by doctors, and is legal.
The ancient and barbaric “rite” of child sacrifice and our obsession with the woman’s “right” to choose is one and the same. Both serve a perceived “higher” purpose, in order to mentally justify them, but neither recognize the one, true God; the only God who, by His very nature, makes no error in judgment when he creates life.
How is the sacrifice of innocent children for the health and well-being of the community different from the sacrifice of innocent children for the health and well being of women? The well accepted theory of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs defines the pinnacle as “self-actualization,” or “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming.” People who have everything can maximize their potential. “Everything,” however, does not include motherhood. The “right to choose” to kill your baby if it is in the way of maximizing your potential is fine. The demand to choose murder is fiercely defended under the guise of our sacred “choice.” America has stubbornly refused to consider the right of a poor, defenseless child by placing him or her on the incapable arms of the goddess’s “self-actualization.” How far off can captivity be?
Let’s look at the goddess up close: She’s young and beautiful, and very socially active. She succumbed to passion during a wine-drenched romantic tryst one night, but had convinced herself she was “madly in love.” Six weeks later she finds herself staring to two little pink lines on a urine test. “What now?” she asks herself, and then remembers… the last time she went to church she saw that local woman’s clinic advertised on the bulletin board. She calls the pastor’s office to get the phone number. The pastor is a woman and understands her dilemma totally, and even offers to pray for her while she undergoes the procedure. The visit was a cinch, and before two days are over the sensuous, pleasure goddess is back, and life goes on. This is hedonism at its best. Hedonism is another word for paganism.
The “Aware Women Center for Choice,” a non-profit religious co-op of Florida, meet outside their abortion facility and encourage other Wiccan groups across the country to do the same, in order to gather their spiritual energy to “keep abortion a woman’s choice.” While it is true that modern day witches claim they are not Satanists, since they don’t believe in the Bible, it would be naïve to say that they have no desire to evolve to greater and “Higher Wisdom.”
From an article by Jay Rogers, called “Child Sacrifice in the New Age: Salem’s Witch Cult and America’s Abortion Industry” he writes:
History tells us that neo-Paganism has experienced sporadic revivals, but also that the Church has had great success in openly confronting witchcraft and the practice of child sacrifice. But whenever the Church has compromised with pagan culture, she herself has become paganized eventually committing the same practices that she was commissioned to destroy. Pagan cultures that have worshipped false gods and practiced human sacrifice — Canaanites, Carthage, the Celtic tribes, and Nazi Germany faced destruction…. We now have laws that make it a federal felony for Christians to peacefully blockade an abortion clinic and are on the verge of making “mercy killing” legal.
It should be noted that the last statement on mercy killing was written prior to Terri Schiavo’s death. Now the precedent is set for those who have no voice and are the weak and innocent in our society. They are doomed, unless those of us who are capable can learn from history, and beg for the one true God’s mercy to help us turn things around.