Ancient Pagan Sacrifice: The Wicker Man Explained
Human Sacrifice in Modern Times?
Something that many people believe still occurs in modern society is the grisly practice of human sacrifice. While most believe this cruel and evil deed is only done by "Satanists", there are some who believe it is every type of Pagan who partakes in human sacrifice, and it all gets attributed back to ancient practices of Celtic belief systems and witchcraft. Many fearmongers even bring up the story of the Wicker Man.
I would like to set the record straight about modern day Pagans and the fact that they do not practice nor condone any form of human sacrifice. In order to fully explain the facts, we have to travel back to ancient Celtic times and look into the story of the Wicker Man.
- Celtic History's Boudicca: A Strong Celtic Warrior Q...
Boudicca was a strong and revered queen of the Celts in Britain in the first century before Christ. She was ruler of the Iceni Celtic tribe that resided in the Southern part of Britain, then known as East Anglia.
The Wicker Man Story
The idea behind modern day Pagans performing human sacrifice in their rituals probably goes back to ancient Celtic times and the Wicker Man. The Wicker Man story is not fully accurate, and one has to remember that history has always been written by the winners. So you can bet your bottom dollar that the Wicker Man story was not written in stone by the Celtic people or by their priests and priestesses, the Druids. This story of torturous human sacrifice was actually written by the Celts' enemies - the Romans. And guess which Roman wrote of this practice? None other than the fabulous Julius Caesar.
According to Julius Caesar, the Celts were barbarians and would sacrifice hundreds of people in one fell swoop. They would build a large figure of a man made out of wood/wicker, and then pile the innocents inside only to light the entire effigy on fire, killing everyone inside. Some accounts said that the Celts would mostly sacrifice criminals to the gods but sometimes would use innocent men if no criminals were to be found at that time. But how much of this Wicker Man story is truth? How can we trust that Julius Caesar's account of this grisly practice wasn't elaborated or spun up?
The Wicker Man Hype (Spoilers Ahead)
The Wicker Man story has only been exaggerated in modern times all in the name of entertainment. Hollywood stepped in and used the idea of Celtic human sacrifice to spin up an intriguing yet misled tale. The film "The Wicker Man" was first aired in the 1970s, and it was just re-made in 2006 starring Nicholas Cage. The movie basically centers around a man who follows his heart to an unknown island off the western coast of the United States.
There the man finds his daughter, but also finds out that the quiet people living on the island are actually cruel and ruthless modern day Pagans. Their whole purpose with getting him to their island is to use him in their annual Wicker Man festival. They literally burn him alive at the end of the movie in order to assure for a good crop the next harvest. So as you can see, the media tends to take stories from history (written by the winners) and uses them to its advantage. It's the same for the idea of witchcraft and how it is used in movies and on TV shows these days (but that's a whole other hub).
Were the Druids That Barbaric?
So what if the Celts and their priests actually performed human sacrifices in efforts to appease their ancient gods? Let's not lie to ourselves and say that the Celts never sacrificed other human beings in order to partake in ancient festivals; however, let's put that thought into perspective. The ancient Celtic people were no different than the hundreds of other cultures and religions of ancient times who also practiced human sacrifice. Those cultures include the ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Aztecs, and even the Jewish.
Before Rome became a Christian empire, they were also Pagan in nature meaning they worshiped many gods. They also killed men for sport and for entertainment, hence the gladiators of the Coliseum. And even after Rome became a Catholic empire, more killing ensued but this time the killing was to eradicate anyone who stood in their way of ruling the known world...including the Celts. At this point too, the Celts were not Christian so the idea that the Celts were barbaric Pagans who sacrificed humans was just another purpose behind killing them off and allowing the Romans to rule all.
So were the Druids that barbaric? They were no more ruthless or barbaric than any of the other ancient people who sacrificed humans to appease their gods...human sacrifice is even mentioned in the Old Testament of the King James Version Bible. Remember that chapter in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son? Is it possible that the Wicker Man of ancient Celtic times actually held no humans at all? And if it was used as a means to appease the gods, what's the difference in sacrificing criminals to the gods and capital punishment today? Killing is killing is killing, in the end.
Wicker Man Used Today
In spite of all of the negative theories and beliefs behind the Wicker Man, many modern day pagans and festivals still use the image of the Wicker Man in their festivities...minus the innocent humans piled inside, of course. The idea behind burning the Wicker Man can be attributed to the ancient Pagan reverence for the element of fire and ensuring a bountiful harvest. Also, the idea that destruction is sometimes necessary in order for re-birth to occur.
If you plan on using a wicker man in your practice, just make sure not to make a big spectacle of it in your front yard...the neighbors might think you're sacrificing a baby. And of course, leave the human sacrificing to the Christians. (sarcasm)
Written and copyright © by Kitty the Dreamer (May Canfield), 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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