If the people in the past knew there would come a time when the major religions would be monolithic, they would probably not see the need for senseless human sacrifices. Human sacrifices were widespread all over the globe and varied in magnitude. Furthermore, the manner in which they were carried out was chilling and not for the faint of heart.
10. The Thugs of India
The thugs of India were commonly referred to as “thugee”, which is the Indian word for “deceiver”. This group was spread across India and varied in numbers from single digits to hundreds. The thugs would usually pose as travelers and offer companionship or protection to other travelers. They would then carefully observe their victims for days or even weeks, waiting for the time when they were most vulnerable to strike.
They carried out their human sacrifices in the most ritualistic fashion; they believed that no blood should be spilled, so they either strangled or poisoned their victims. The thugs of India are estimated to have killed over a million people between 1740 and 1840, and several mass graves have been discovered which are believed to have been of the thugee’s ritualistic sacrifices to their goddess Kali.
9. The Wicker Man Sacrifices
This type of ritualistic sacrifice was done by the Celts, as accounted by Julius Caesar, and was basically the mass burning of animals and people in a structure that was shaped like a giant human being. The sacrifices were made to their pagan gods so as to ensure that they had a fruitful year, or that they may be favored in war and other ventures. The Celts would first put animals in the wicker man — if there weren’t enough animals, they would put prisoners and even innocent people in the straw and wood structure and set it ablaze.
Some people believe that the wicker man was a fabrication by Caesar to depict his enemies in the most barbaric manner and to rally political support. Either way, the wicker man was, and still remains, a frightening form of human sacrifice.
8. The Mayan Sinkhole Sacrifices
The Mayans are well known to have carried out all manner of ritualistic sacrifices. They believed that offering live human sacrifices was a vital part of religious practice. One such sacrifice was the sinkhole sacrifices where they would jump into sinkholes. The Mayans believed that sinkholes and cenotes were portals to the underworld and they would appease the dead spirits by offering sacrifices to them. They believed that if the spirits of the dead were not appeased, theywould bring misfortunes such as droughts, diseases and invasions on the land. For these reasons they often forced people to jump into the sinkholes and others voluntarily did so. Explorers have discovered many sinkholes in south America that have been littered by thousands of human bones, a clear evidence of the magnitude and extent to which the Mayans practiced and upheld religious human sacrifices.
7. Building Sacrifices
One of humanity’s most ghastly practices ever is the custom of burying people in the foundations of a building in order to strengthen it. This practice was carried out in parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas. They believed that the bigger the building, the greater the sacrifice needed to be. These sacrifices ranged from small animals to hundreds of people. For example, the crown prince of Tsai in China was sacrificed in order to strengthen a dam.
Other corpses have been found in the hundreds in the foundation of palace ruins and mega structures. It is believed that two thousand infants were sold to Russia as human sacrifices for the successful completion of the Siberian railway. They were purchased from poor people at a low price, sold to the Russians, and then buried in the roadbed in order to strengthen it.
6. Aztec Human Sacrifices
The Aztecs believed that sacrifices were necessary in order to keep the Sun moving — this implied that thousands of people were sacrificed every year. They had a huge pyramid-like structure, with steps leading up to the top where there was a sacrificial table. The victims would then be held down, and their hearts would be ripped out of their chests and held up to the Sun. The body would then be rolled down the steps to a cheering crowd, who would then dispose of the body however they wanted. Many of the bodies were fed to animals, others were hung on trees and posts like prizes, and there were even reports of cannibalism.
Aside from the pyramid sacrifices, they also burned their human sacrifices, shot them with arrows, or let them kill each other gladiator style.
5. African Albino Sacrifices
What’s scary about African albino sacrifices is that they are still commonly practiced in Africa today. Some Africans still believe that the body parts of an albino are powerful occult objects, useful in witchcraft. They are hunted down, and various parts of their bodies are “harvested” for their occult value. For instance, the hands are believed to bring financial success, the tongue is believed to bring good fortune, and their genitals are believed to cure impotency.
Belief in the magical potency of albino body parts have led to the killing of thousands, adults and children alike. Many of them go into hiding because they fear for their lives.
4. Incan Children Sacrifices
The Incas were a tribe in South America. The culture of the Incas was heavily influenced by their religious practices, which involved the offering of human sacrifices. Unlike other tribes and cultures that offered slaves, prisoners, or their enemies as sacrifices, the Incas believed that the sacrifices needed to be valuable. For this reason, the Incas offered the children of high-ranking individuals in the community, such as priests, leaders, and medicine men, as sacrifices. The children would be prepared several months in advance — they were fattened up and cleaned daily — and they would be provided workers who were employed to cater to their every whim and desire. When they were ready, they were sent up the Andes with backpacks of food and drink. At the top of the mountain was a temple where the children would be beheaded and sacrificed.
3. The Lafkenches Tribe
In 1960, the strongest earthquake ever recorded on the moment magnitude scale hit Chile. Consequently, a devastating tsunami hit the Chilean coast, killing thousands of people and destroying many homes and properties. This earthquake became known as the great Chilean earthquake and led to widespread fear and speculation among the people of Chile in regards to its cause. They came to the conclusion that the god of the sea was angry with them, and so they decided to offer him a sacrifice.
They chose a five-year-old child, and sacrificed him in the most horrific manner: they cut off his arms and legs and stuck him on a pole on the beach facing the sea so that the waters would be calmed. This wasn’t a one-time thing either — the Lafkenchestribe was known to be superstitious and have offered many similar sacrifices to their gods in exchange for prosperity and good fortune.
2. Child Sacrifice in Carthage
Child sacrifices were very popular in the ancient cultures, probably because they believed children possessed innocent souls and therefore were acceptable forms of sacrifices to their gods. The Carthaginians would have a sacrificial fire pit where children would be thrown into by their parents. The practice became distasteful to Carthaginian parents though, who became tired of killing their young ones. In response, they decided to buy children from neighboring poor tribes, or care for their servant’s children who would be offered as sacrifice.
During calamities like war, drought, disease or famine, the priests demanded that even the youth be offered as sacrifice. In such times of calamities, up to 500 children would be offered as sacrifice. The sacrifices were carried out on a moonlit night, the children would be killed mercifully, and their bodies would be tossed into the fiery pit amidst much singing and dancing.
1. Joshua Milton Blahyi: the Naked, Cannibalistic Liberian Warlord
Liberia is a country in Africa that has experienced decades of civil unrest. The country has been in civil war for a number of political reasons, and this has seen the emergence of several militia groups fighting to protect their interests. It is not uncommon that witchcraft and superstition would surround their guerrilla tactics: one interesting case is that of Joshua Milton Blahyi, a warlord who believed that fighting naked would somehow make him bulletproof. His craziness didn’t end there — he also indulged in many forms of human sacrifices. He was a well-known cannibal, and would eat prisoners of war by slow-roasting them over an open fire or boiling their flesh. Moreover, he believed that eating the hearts of children would make him a braver fighter, so whenever his army raided a village, he stole children to “harvest” their hearts.