Sacred Blood And Its Worship
by Prof. Roland Rotherham
Recently much has been made of the book written by Dan Brown and entitled “The Da Vinci Code”, many have regarded this book as a break-through in contemporary thoughts regarding the very basis of accepted Christian belief but it would appear that one thing has escaped the majority of people reading this book. It is a NOVEL, it is not a reference work and certainly not unique its findings. Indeed, the whole concept of a “Bloodline” supposedly tracing its origins back to the union of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene is no longer considered news at all! In fact it was covered with some intelligence by messr’s Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh over twenty tears ago but due to the fact that Mr Brown has produced a work of fiction and I must reiterate the word fiction, its appeal to a mass audience is assured and thereby its impact has been greater than a work designed for a smaller reading sector.
The basic idea is that Jesus and Mary (Magdalene) were indeed husband and wife and that there was issue from their union in the form of a bonny, bouncing baby. Why not, it happens all the time, well we must remember that the concept of a Saviours offspring is very uncomfortable for the accepted religions and, of course, down right heretical to religious doctrine. The story, however, does not stop there, it is claimed in some areas that Jesus did not die on the cross but was taken down in a catatonic stupor and later revived. I can hear the fires crackling now, this is far more dangerous, no resurrection. Let’s face it, the power of the immortal soul was the main weapon of the Catholic faith for many years and the threat of excommunication was terrible to imagine. No resurrection, no salvation, just an eternity in Hell.
If the resurrection was a ‘Con’ then the threat to the populace was removed, it clearly meant that the church would lose its hold and that would spell disaster to a church not only rich in goods and land but also politically involved in the affairs of state of much of the known medieval world.
This belief was not new even in the Europe of the medieval period, it had existed in some areas for centuries, such as the Languedoc in southern France in the person of the Cathars and their supporters.
In this region we find the village of Rennes Le Chateau, a small village now but at one time a thriving city and a centre of Cathar beliefs until the supposed squashing of its faith at the fortress of Mont Segur by a ‘crusade’ sent by the Pope to finally destroy its centre of faith. This aforementioned village became the living granted to one Berenger Saunier who became its priest and the central figure in many conspiracy theories regarding the mysteries of the Cathars and the supposed worship of The Magdalene.
It’s a strange thing regarding ‘conspiracy theories’, if there weren’t any would it be a conspiracy? Hmm?
My research has shown that the whole concept of ‘Holy Blood’ is nothing new, indeed every major religion in the world has, as its central tenet, a form of blood worship from which it has grown. Even the accepted Christian faith has this blood cult at its core, lets not forget the communion, before the reformation in this country the whole concept of “Transubstantiation”, or the fact that the wine is magically transformed into the actual blood of Christ and the wafer his flesh, was totally believed. This was one of the major bones of contention during the crusades, the Saracen army believed we were all cannibals!
However, the worship of blood goes back to a time that is even more distant than the crucifixion. One of the first mentions of a ‘sacrifice of a saviour’ can be found in ancient Egypt. The land was dominated by a brother/sister-husband/wife duo in the form of Osiris and Isis. They were the divinities who had responsibilties for the fertility of the land and the flooding of the Nile. Osiris was murdered and his body cut into pieces, his distraught partner Isis gathered the pieces but his phallus was missing and so, as she placed all his body parts together, she formed a phallus from wood and placed it in the area of his groin.
She then proceeded to impregnate herself on his renewed phallus and thus she became with child and gave birth to Horus. After this period Osiris is shown as Lord of the dead and Isis as a heavenly mother who is very often shown multi-breasted to illustrate her fecundity.
This is reinforced in carvings found in Karnak that show in hieroglyphs this story as well as mentioning “The bowl from which flows the very blood of the worlds life”, surely the earliest ‘grail’ mention known. In the “Book of the Living”, sometimes called the “Book of the Dead”, there is even an illustration showing one of the attendant deities holding a spear that bleeds from its tip as Anubis prepares a body for burial. This link of blood, cup and spear is far from Christian and evokes much of earlier faiths.
We can even approach the history of the Hebrew people and examine the evidence surrounding the use of the Ark of the Covenant to glean further insight into using sacred or sanctified blood in a religious ritual. We are informed that when it is to be administered to, a goat or lamb is sacrificed before it on an altar and the ensuing blood is collected in a bowl, then the priest, or rather High Priest, dips a brush into the blood and sprinkles the curtains that surround the Ark and even the hem of his robes. It has also been suggested that the remaining blood would then be taken into the area in front of the Tabernacle and sprinkle the remaining blood onto the faithful who assembled outside.
It is said that after the fall of Jerusalem that the ‘Ark’ was smuggled out of the city and started a journey to find a safe place for it to be placed and used in ritual worship. It is believed by many that the country of Ethiopia houses this remarkable object and if you travel there you can see a sacrificial altar thought to have been used in the spilling of blood before the Ark. This altar is in essence a series of bowls into which the flowing blood runs and, it is thought, re-energises as it flows from bowl to bowl before caught in the bowl of the High Priest.
This act of the blood running and flowing to re-energise is also to be found in modern day Glastonbury. When the Chalice Well Gardens were remodelled it was not by accident that the large open area that holds the “Vesica Pisces” pool is fed by a waterfall that flows into a series of connected bowls that are placed in a carefully constructed way to allow the re-energising of the water, which by the way, let us remember flows and stains its surroundings blood red with its deposits. Indeed, it was always known as “The Blood Spring” and it was widely believed that Saint Joseph of Arimathea hid the Holy Grail here in the days before his death. It is very common for visitors to deposit their crystals in this miraculous pool to, indeed, re-energise them for future use.
Let us now travel to South America and look at the sacrifices made by the people in that country in Pre-Columbian times. We now know that during their orgies of human sacrifice a ceremony could contain over 4,000 victims being ritually slaughtered in any one day. The slaughter stones were placed on the apex of step pyramids and the blood had to be seen to literally gush down the steps onto the ground below. A mere ‘run’ of blood would not be enough, it MUST gush, it MUST pour. As with all ritual sacrifice, the use of blood is essential. It is literally the very stuff of life. When an important offering must be made only the most important of elements can be used, the actual water of life itself.
The more important the occasion then the more important the use of the offering. This is one reason why we are told in legend and myth of many of the ‘saviour sacrifices’ we have mentioned earlier. It is my fervent that much of what we read in legend form has a basis in historical fact. I believe that we are, indeed, witnessing stories that are retelling acts and rituals of mortals like you or I, its just that over the centuries or millennia, the rituals and actions as reasons behind the stories have become blurred and even totally forgotten so that only a story remains and it leaves us with the tantalising task of researching them to unearth their original meaning.
Osiris and his dismemberment, Odin and his being impaled to a tree by a spear, Jesus and his crucifixion, all these ‘saviour sacrifices’ and more have come down to us in legend form. Strangely enough, each of those I have just mentioned appear to have ‘risen’ on the third day after their original demise. Hmm, strange that!
Though in our current age we are most used to hearing about the ‘Holy Blood’ of the Christian faith, i.e. the blood of Jesus of Nazareth. There are many sites associated with this phenomena and relic but, perhaps, non more totally beautiful than The Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges in Belgium.
The basilica is situated in the main town square and is divided into two main sections. Above street level is the modern (19th century) chapel built after the destruction of its predecessor by Napoleans forces in the latter years of the French Revolution. Below the street level is the ancient medieval chapel that once served as its central point of worship.
In the more modern chapel stands the present reliquary of the Holy Blood. It is a large silver and gilt edifice representing the Cross on Calvary, within its doors is kept the crystal phial that holds the believed blood of Christ. This is shown in procession every Friday and many of the devout travel to witness the miracle of the blood during this impressive ceremony. There is actually a clue to an earlier belief however if we look at two of the main pillars that stand each side of the entrance to the side chapel where the Blood is kept. On the left we can see St Joseph of Arimathea holding the bowl from the crucifixion and on the right St Mary Magdalene holding her ointment cup. It being the 3rd ‘grail’ she being the possible 4th!
It is downstairs in the lower and more ancient chapel however that we find the real clue as the original belief held by the people in this basilica.
In front of the very simple altar we find two matching Templar tomb stones. Both are unmarked but for the symbol of a cup or ‘grail’ marking their head and in front of them, immediately over the altar, we can see the ancient device of the “Pelican in Her Piety”, that strange image that shows what is meant to be a female pelican pecking her own breast and feeding her young with her own blood. This emblem was meant to be attributed to Mary the Mother who sacrificed, or rather allowed the sacrifice, of her only Son, as well as Jesus as being the ultimate sacrifice and yet further it has also been identified with Mary Magdalene and her sacrifice of her husband and her carrying the Holy Blood.
If you now look to the right of this altar you will see that which I believe is crucial in identifying this chapel as something out of the ordinary. You will see not only a large and painted relief crucifix but also in front of it a literal “Tomb Of Christ” with the body laid out ready to be covered with the shroud and on a canopy over it the emblems or items of the crucifixion, that strange collection of articles that are associated with the earthly demise of Jesus. Items such as the Cross, the nails, the crown of thorns, the spear, etc.
However, to its right and carved into the stone work are barely discernable markings that warrant closer investigation. In front of you, if you look carefully, you will see not only the Cross but each side of it the symbols of the two cruets or small jugs said to have been carried by St Joseph with his bowl of the crucifixion, that were supposed to hold the blood and water from the passion that flowed from the Christ’s side as his body was pierced by the spear carried by St Longinus. In between these ‘cruets is also a carving, that of the spear of destiny itself, a strange emblem indeed and even stranger when you view in context all the imagery that surrounds you in the chapel, certainly a chapel of a Magdalene cult that survived in its present form to this day.
It is impossible to go into depth regarding these issues in a brief article but it is possible to make a statement:
“Saviour Sacrifices” are not new and not news.
“Holy Blood” has existed in all religions since time began.
“Blood Sacrifice” is central to nearly all faiths.
There you have it, as a wise man once said “You pays your money and you makes your choice”. The beauty of it all is, none of us will actually know until our last moment on Earth, or the moments that follow. Anything else is only pure conjecture or educated guess.
As is this!