Religious cult - History of religion

Religious cult

Antique authors, the rituals of the Germans seemed excessively rude and cruel. Sources agreed to testify about human sacrifices of the Germans. The Greek geographer and historian Strabo (about 64/63 BC - about 23/24 AD) described human sacrifices in the camp of the Cimbri. Tacitus notes that the Germans consider it proper, according to certain days, to sacrifice people to Mercury, apparently to Wotan, who was honored in these rituals as a god of war and death. Tacitus also mentions the sacrifice of animals . Wotan-Odin was sacrificed by wolves, who were hung on poles. Obviously, such rituals were sent as propitiatory rites that were part of the military cults.

The military cults of the Germans included rites of consecration of enemies to the god of war - the enemies of the spell were doomed to perish as a victim. Thus, Tacitus reports that the war between the Germanic tribes "for the Germundurs was successful, for the Hutts - disastrous, since both sides had previously dedicated, if they win, Mars and Mercury the enemy's army, and this vow is subject to extermination at the defeated horses, people and all living things ". On the eve of the battle the Germans performed the ritual chant - barditis, which roused their fighting spirit and served as a sign of the outcome of the battle: singing was sharp and powerful - it was a sure sign of victory.

To the propitiatory rites, addressed to the terrible god-patron saint of the tribal alliance, is the ritual of the Semitic German, described by Tacitus. "On a given day, representatives of all the blood-related nationalities converge in the forest, which they regard as sacred, because in them their prophets were given prophecies and since ancient times it has inspired them with a pious thrill, and, beginning with the slaughter of the human sacrifice, in the name of the entire tribe solemnly send the eerie mysteries of their barbaric rite. " Tacitus knew that the "eerie ordinances" were associated with the idea that "here it was the beginning of their tribe, that here the seat of the reigning over all god."

With beliefs in all-powerful gods and destiny, the German rites fortune-telling are connected. "There is no one who would be imbued with the same faith in signs and fortune telling by lot, like they, "Tacitus maintains. - They take out lots without lots. Cut off a branch from a fruit tree they cut into dice and, putting on them special signs, then pour out, as it is necessary, on a snow-white cloth. After this, if the divination is done for public purposes, the priest of the tribe, if private, is the head of the family, praying to the gods and looking up to the sky, takes out one plate three times and interprets the foregoing in accordance with the signs scraped off beforehand. The signs mentioned by Tacitus are apparently the runes - a letter from the ancient Germans.

The ancient German mantle did not limit itself to the lot. Germans were wondering at the voices and the flight of birds. They kept the custom of guessing the horse's behavior widespread among the Indo-European peoples. For such divination used specially grown in sacred groves of white horses. When you send a ritual harnessed to a sacred chariot, the horses "accompany the priest with the king or leader of the tribe and watch their neighing and snorting". For the Germans, the neighing and snorting of the sacred horses was the most faithful omen, for they believed that horses were the mediators of the gods. The origins of this faith are the ancient European cult of the horse.

Strabo witnessed the divination by the blood and the innards of the human sacrifice. "Sedovlassy priestesses-prophetesses Cimbri at the ritual cauldron cut the throat of the victim and "on the sticking into the blood vessel some priestesses made fortune-telling, and others, cutting the corpses, examined the interior of the victim and for them predicted victory for their tribe".

A huge role in the mantle of the Germans was played by Spiritualism. Tacitus testifies to the visionary experience of the continental Germans, pointing out that the prophecy is predominantly the occupation of women, the Germans "do not ignore the submitted by their advice and do not neglect their divinations. " Völpuspension from the "Elder Edda", "Gulwey's Vision" from the "Younger Edda" - bright monuments of the visionary experience of the island Germans, long after the baptism of the tradition that preserved the archaic spirit. The image of Odin, honey of poetry and many other elements of Scandinavian legends bear a seal of ecstatic practices close to shamanistic visionary trances. The idea of ​​the "honey of poetry", a drink of unusual inspiration, revealing the innermost secrets of the world, undoubtedly has at its sources a ritual hallucinogenic composition used in archaic practices of collective or individual trance.

Germanic military and shamanic initiations rose to a deep archaic. About the rituals of the military initiation of young men, including the delivery of shields and frescos, Tacitus mentions. Described in the Elder Edda the story of the torment of Odin, pierced by a spear and hanging for nine days on the tree of Yggdrasil, is strongly reminiscent of shamanistic initiations - after passing through trials, Odin receives sacred honey and runes.

The veneration of the goddess Nerty, the goddess of fertility, was associated with the ritual of solemn meetings of the goddess. In the sacred grove of the goddess was a special covered wagon. In a special period of time, Nerta, as the swans believed, was concealed from the mortal's eyes under the canopy, after which a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by a priest went to the villages where the inhabitants greeted it with great jubilation. At the end of the bypass ceremony, cleansing rituals were performed and it was put in place.

The funeral ritual usually involved cremation of the body. Sometimes, especially with the burial of a nobleman, the dead was burned in a boat. Together with the ashes in the grave left weapons, the horse of the deceased, but in general the funeral inventory of German burial was modest enough. Sometimes the funeral rite was accompanied by human sacrifices. The relic of the ancient funeral rite is imprinted by the "Younger Edda" in the burial scene of the son of Odin - asa Baldra.

Widespread were in the German environment magical rituals. Germans believed in the power of magical techniques of werewolves, in disastrous or, on the contrary, healing spell power. For protection from harmful magic, they used amulets, to increase strength - special magic items, amulets. On the belief in the power of magical objects, legends about the mythical "power belt" the god Thor and the "Treasures of the Asses", made by the Zvergs. According to the beliefs of the Germans, the power of witchcraft is quite commensurate with the might of the gods, and maybe even higher. The magism of the worldview of the Germans explains why in the Eddic tales Odin is a prisoner of Hreidmar, a man who is "pretty versed in witchcraft".

Collective rites were sent, as a rule, in the open air, most often in groves dedicated to a certain deity. In the sacred groves sacrificial offerings were made on the altars, prayers were offered, in the shade of the trees were arranged, often - at night, ritual feasts and merrymaking. Here there were tribal meetings. Special temples in such sanctuaries the Germans, at least in the early period, did not erect.

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