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Author Topic: Value of death  (Read 1006 times)

Anon100

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Value of death
« on: January 21, 2020, 09:29:36 am »
Firstly I wanted to add a couple of disclaimers - Obviously this is talking about death but also touching on ritual death/ sacrifice and the value of human life ( all I would imagine can be TRIGGERS ) so please be warned.

I've placed this here as it didn't quite seem right for history, gods/goddesses or philosophy.

So I've recently come across instances which have made me think about the difference of how we value human death now compared to in the past. These include a documentary I watched about burials at Stonehenge and human sacrifice in the past ( discussing how a sacrifice might have been a contract so to speak with the gods - in exchange for the protection of grain ready for the coming year. ) and something that came up in chatting with a friend about how in Wicca the goddess appears so important as a bringer of life but the god comes across as less so. Now it wasn't mentioned in this chat but I can see how it could appear that the god's main role is to die and so he almost appears as a 'star trek red coat' so to speak and that made me want to start this topic.

Basically I'm thinking that our ancestors views of death ( given both it's significance to their survival, the limited no of people in a group or settlement and the close bonds they must have had to build up ) must have been much rawer and stronger than what we as a culture would have now.
There must have been a certainty that, at times some had to die for others to survive but also a deep knowledge that each life was precious and the death was a major thing not to be taken lightly. So, for instance, the idea of the god in Wicca dying would have had some reflection on the value the death of an individual should have ( thus the death of a god is a vastly significant thing ). There are the gifts gods, like Odin, have brought back by reaching through deaths door.

I know this is all supposition and I'm not very knowledgeable in history or religious thought and so I was wondering what your thoughts on this subject are ( bearing in mind this is still an idea in its basic form )?

Anon100

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Re: Value of death
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2020, 12:11:28 pm »

I know this is all supposition and I'm not very knowledgeable in history or religious thought and so I was wondering what your thoughts on this subject are ( bearing in mind this is still an idea in its basic form )?

Ps. Yes I realise how modern Wicca is but it would still have taken these ideas from other sources, inc. the most famous one which Castus reminded me of recently and which is so easy to forget the significance of, seeing as people wear crucifixes as simple jewelery without necessarily thinking of it more than as a symbol of Christianity ( my first proto ritual came when I felt 'hold on, this symbol is someone still on a cross suffering' ).

Also I'm not saying human sacrifice is good but rather that our first reaction on hearing of it is to back away from it and think it barbaric without taking into account the huge cost the loss of these lives may have been and hence how significant what it felt it worth them dying for must have been. More so how significant a deity doing so must have been..

arete

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Re: Value of death
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2020, 07:02:00 am »
Firstly I wanted to add a couple of disclaimers - Obviously this is talking about death but also touching on ritual death/ sacrifice and the value of human life ( all I would imagine can be TRIGGERS ) so please be warned.

I've placed this here as it didn't quite seem right for history, gods/goddesses or philosophy.

So I've recently come across instances which have made me think about the difference of how we value human death now compared to in the past. These include a documentary I watched about burials at Stonehenge and human sacrifice in the past ( discussing how a sacrifice might have been a contract so to speak with the gods - in exchange for the protection of grain ready for the coming year. ) and something that came up in chatting with a friend about how in Wicca the goddess appears so important as a bringer of life but the god comes across as less so. Now it wasn't mentioned in this chat but I can see how it could appear that the god's main role is to die and so he almost appears as a 'star trek red coat' so to speak and that made me want to start this topic.

Basically I'm thinking that our ancestors views of death ( given both it's significance to their survival, the limited no of people in a group or settlement and the close bonds they must have had to build up ) must have been much rawer and stronger than what we as a culture would have now.
There must have been a certainty that, at times some had to die for others to survive but also a deep knowledge that each life was precious and the death was a major thing not to be taken lightly. So, for instance, the idea of the god in Wicca dying would have had some reflection on the value the death of an individual should have ( thus the death of a god is a vastly significant thing ). There are the gifts gods, like Odin, have brought back by reaching through deaths door.

I know this is all supposition and I'm not very knowledgeable in history or religious thought and so I was wondering what your thoughts on this subject are ( bearing in mind this is still an idea in its basic form )?
In my understanding, all civilizations were disgusted by murder. That was the only bad thing about death, in my opinion.
I pray that religious animosity will end.

Darkhawk

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Re: Value of death
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2020, 11:04:13 am »
Basically I'm thinking that our ancestors views of death ( given both it's significance to their survival, the limited no of people in a group or settlement and the close bonds they must have had to build up ) must have been much rawer and stronger than what we as a culture would have now.

One of these days I will actually find the reference for this, but argh, paraphrasing.

An Egyptology book I read a while back posited that basic attitudes on death in cultures went on a two by two matrix, with the axes being (I forget the terms, theirs were better) "death-denying vs. death-accepting" and the other being "death-as-enemy vs. death-as-natural".  The book noted that their culture of origin (maybe mainstream American? I don't know how it generalizes to the modern West in general) was both death-denying and death-as-enemy: not only is death and the dead hidden from us, with people dying away from their families, etc., and remembrances being sort of furtive in many ways, but the whole process of aging and its consequent approach towards death being things that people try to avoid.

The author described Egyptian culture as death-accepting but death-as-enemy: they considered death to be an unnatural disruption, a wound to be healed, but centred their dead and the dying process heavily in their cultures, with regular remembrances, local shrines, and of course a culture of building large commemorative structures.

Consider as an alternate the (at least pop cultural understanding of) Norse perspective on death: one's dying day is laid out in advance, one cannot bring it closer or postpone it, so there is no reason to not take risks, etc. That is not a death-as-enemy culture.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Micheál

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Re: Value of death
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2020, 11:51:00 am »
Basically I'm thinking that our ancestors views of death ( given both it's significance to their survival, the limited no of people in a group or settlement and the close bonds they must have had to build up ) must have been much rawer and stronger than what we as a culture would have now.
There must have been a certainty that, at times some had to die for others to survive but also a deep knowledge that each life was precious and the death was a major thing not to be taken lightly. So, for instance, the idea of the god in Wicca dying would have had some reflection on the value the death of an individual should have ( thus the death of a god is a vastly significant thing ). There are the gifts gods, like Odin, have brought back by reaching through deaths door.
The "God's" role in Wicca actually has a lot to do with death, but he is death. The Dread Lord of the Shadows and Underworld. The Sabbat mythologies are likely inspired from Frazer, for ritual dramas, when the Lesser Sabbats were adopted. There wasn't actually much written in regards to actual ritual, and it was the Farrars that wrote in the Oak and Holly King.

That sacrificial lore and motif does play well with your topic though. It's apparent in the myths of the cultures' of our ancestors, and evidence for such sacrifices. Here for instance, we have bog men like the Clonycavan, and Cashel men, believed to be kings. Kings had to undergo the ban-fheis ritual to be wedded to the land. In times of war, famine, unfavourable weather(climate change), they were ritually sacrificed for the túath, so I think you're right in thinking they were much more rawer and stronger.

Anon100

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Re: Value of death
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2020, 02:32:47 pm »
One of these days I will actually find the reference for this, but argh, paraphrasing.


I'm quoting Darkhawk but wanted to thank you all for your replies. They helped my thinking a lot :)

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