Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/123

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Heine says on the subject: ‘In the Middle Ages the opinion prevailed that when any building was to be erected, something living must be killed, in the blood of which the foundation had to be laid, by which process the building would be secured from falling; and in ballads and traditions the remembrance is still preserved how that children and animals were slaughtered for the purpose of strengthening large buildings with blood.’

We come now to the consideration as to whence came these traditions of human sacrifice — whether to the corn, or the sea; to the river, or to the earth.

There can exist no doubt that the Aryan race did practise human sacrifice. The Greeks, the Latins, the Germans, and Scandinavians, the Celts and the Sclaves all practised these horrible rites. But with all of them, if I mistake not, the notion was the same as with the Semitic — that the offering was made to an offended God, and that it was expiatory.

But with the Dravidians in India, and with those of the primitive race in Europe and in Great Britain, no such a conception probably existed. In fact, those who burnt a lamb or a bull, or refused to enable a drowning man to escape, or who buried an animal