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invested with all the colours of the rainbow (78). He was represented in the figure of a man, with a dread-inspiring aspect. He was seated on an azure globe over a lofty altar, which was borne in procession during the celebration of the mysteries on a litter of sky-coloured blue; he had a blue forehead, and a blue streak across his nose, as blue was the dominating colour in the Jewish tabernacle, showing an astronomical signification in both cases. We have already seen (42) that Vishnu was painted blue. His right hand grasped a snake, the symbol of life, and representations of this reptile are found on all the temples of Mexico and Peru. Traces of the serpent-worship of the Western world are also found in the States of Ohio and Iowa, where serpent mounds, formed of earth, 1000 feet long or more, are still to be found. The office of Tescalipuca was to punish the sins of men by the infliction of plagues, famine, and pestilence. His anger could only be appeased by human sacrifices—thousands of men were frequently immolated to him in one single day.
86. Cruelty of Mexican Worship.—The temples of Mexico were full of horrible idols, which were all bathed and washed with human blood. The chapel of Vitzliputzli was decorated with the skulls of the wretches that had been slain in sacrifice; the walls and floor were inches thick with blood, and before the image of the god might often be seen the still palpitating hearts of the human victims offered up to him, whose skins served the priests for garments. The revolting custom, as a legend says, arose from the fact that Tozi, the Grand Mother," was of human extraction. Vitzliputzli procured her divine honours by enjoining the Mexicans to demand her of her father for their queen; this being done, they also commanded him to put her to death, afterwards to flay her, and to cover a young man with her skin. It was in this manner she was stripped of her humanity, to be placed among the gods. Another disgusting practice arising from this legend will be mentioned hereafter.
87. Initiation into Mysteries.—The candidate had to undergo all the terrors, sufferings, and penances practised in the Eastern world. He was scourged with knotted cords, his flesh was cut with knives, and reeds put into the wounds, that the blood might be seen to trickle more freely, or they were cauterised with red-hot cinders. Many perished under these trials. The lustrations were performed, not with water, but with blood, and the candidate's habit was not white, but black, and before initiation he was given a drink, which was said to dispel fear, which, indeed, it may have done in some
degree by disturbing the brain. The candidate was then led into the dark caverns of initiation, excavated beneath the foundations of the mighty pyramidal temple of Vitzliputzli in Mexico, and passed through the mysteries which symbolically represented the wanderings of their gods, i.e., the course of the sun through the signs of the zodiac. The caverns were called “the path of the dead." Everything that could appal the imagination and test his courage was made to appear before him. Now he heard shrieks of despair and the groans of the dying; he was led past the dungeons where the human victims, being fattened for sacrifice, were confined, and through caverns slippery with half-congealed blood; anon he met with the quivering frame of the dying man, whose heart had just been torn from his body and offered up to their sanguinary god, and looking up he beheld in the roof the orifice through which the victims had been precipitated, for they were now immediately under the altar of Vitzliputzli. At length, however, he arrived at a narrow chasm or stone fissure, at the end of this extensive range of caverns, through which he was formally protruded, and received by a shouting multitude as a person regenerated or born again. The females, divesting themselves of their little clothing, danced in a state of nudity like the frantic Bacchantes, and having repeated the dance three times, they gave themselves up to unbounded licentiousness.
88. The Greater Mysteries.—But as with Eastern nations, the Mexicans had, besides the general religious doctrines communicated to the initiated, an esoteric doctrine, only attainable by the priests, and not even by them until they had qualified themselves for it by the sacrifice of a human victim. The most ineffable degrees of knowledge were imparted to them at midnight, and under severe obligations, whose disregard entailed death without remission. The real doctrine taught was astronomical, and, like the Eastern nations, they at their great festivals lamented the disappearance of the sun, and rejoiced at its reappearance at the festival of the new fire, as it was called. All fire, even the sacred fire of the temple, having been extinguished, the population of Mexico, with the priests at their head, marched to a hill near the city, where they waited till the Pleiades ascended the middle of the sky, when they sacrificed a human victim. The instrument made use of by the priests to kindle the fire was placed on the wound made in the breast of the prisoner destined to be sacrificed; and, when the fire was kindled, the body was placed on an enormous pile ready prepared,
and this latter set on fire. The new fire, received with joyful shouts, was carried from village to village, where it was deposited in the temple, whence it was distributed to every private dwelling. When the sun appeared on the horizon the acclamations were renewed. The priests were further taught the doctrine of immortality, of a triune deity, of the original population, who-led by the god Vitzliputzli, holding in his hand a rod formed like a serpent, and seated in a square ark—finally settled upon a lake, abounding with the lotus, where they erected their tabernacle. This lake was the lake in the midst of which the city of Mexico originally stood.
89. Human Sacrifices.—No priest was to be fully initiated into the mysteries of the Mexican religion until he had sacrificed a human victim. This horrible rite, which the Spaniards, who conquered the country, often saw performed on their own captive countrymen, was thus performed : The chief priest carried in his hand a large and sharp knife made of flint; another priest carried a collar of wood; the other four priests who assisted arranged themselves adjoining the pyramidal stone, which had a convex top, so that the man to be sacrificed, being laid thereon on his back, was bent in such a manner that the stomach separated upon the slightest incision of the knife. Two priests seized hold of his feet and two more of his hands, whilst the fifth fastened round his neck the collar of wood. The high priest then opened his stomach with the knife, and tearing out his heart, held it up to the sun, and then threw it before the idol in one of the chapels on the top of the great pyramid where the rite was performed. The body was finally cast down the steps that wound all round the building. Forty or fifty victims were thus sacrificed in a few hours. Prisoners of rank or approved courage might escape this horrid death by fighting six Mexican warriors in succession. If they were successful, their lives and liberty were granted to them; but if they fell under the strokes of their adversaries, they were dragged, dead or living, to the sacrificial stone, and their hearts torn out.
90. Clothing in Bloody Skins.—We have already seen that the priests were clothed in the bloody skins of their victims. The same horrid custom was practised on other occasions. On certain festivals they dressed a man in the bloody skin just reeking from the body of a victim. Kings and grandees did not think it derogatory to their dignity to disguise themselves in this manner, and to run up and down
the streets soliciting alms, which were applied to pious purposes. This horrible masquerade continued till the skin began to grow putrid. On another festival they would slay a woman and clothe a man with her skin, who, thus equipped, danced for two days together with the rest of his fellowcitizens.
91. Peruvian Mysteries. The Incas, or rulers of Peru, boasted of their descent from the sun and moon, which therefore were worshipped, as well as the great god PachaCamac, whose very name was so sacred that it was only communicated to the initiated ; it
“ He who sustains or gives life to the universe.” No temples were erected to this deity. They also had an idol they termed Tangatango, meaning “One in three and three in one." Their secret mysteries, of which we know next to nothing, were celebrated on their great annual festival, held on the first day of the September moon, the people watching all night until the rising of the sun; and when he appeared the eastern doors of the great temple of Cuzco were thrown open, so that the sun's radiance could illuminate his image in gold placed opposite. The walls and ceiling of this temple were all covered over with gold plates, and the figure of the sun, representing a round face, surrounded with rays and flames, as modern painters usually draw the sun, was of such a size as almost to cover one side of the wall. It was, moreover, double the thickness of the plates covering the walls. The Virgins of the Sun, who, like the Vestals of ancient Rome, had the keeping of the sacred fire entrusted to them, and were vowed to perpetual celibacy, then walked round the altar, whilst the priests expounded the mild and equitable laws of Peru; for, contrary to the practice of their near neighbours, the Mexicans, the Peruvians had not their sanguinary rites; though some Spanish writers, who, of course, could see no good in non-Catholics and pagans, charged them with sacrificing young children of from four to six years old “in prodigious numbers," and also with slaying virgins. The Spaniards, no doubt, alluded to some ill-understood symbolical rite. But the Peruvians did on rare occasions, to celebrate a great public event, for instance, immolate human beings, a child or young maiden being usually selected. Everywhere we find the priesthood delighting in blood !
92. Quiches Initiation.-In $ 79 we have seen that the people speaking the Maya language had their mysteries. Another tribe of that same people, the Quiches of Xibalba,
in the heart of the mountains of Guatemala, had an initiation of their own. Popol-Vuh, their sacred book, says that the applicant had to pass two rivers, one of mud, and the other of blood, before reaching the four roads leading to the place where the priest awaited him. He was then told to sit down, but the seat was burning hot. In the Dark House he passed the night and underwent two trials; the third he underwent in the House of Spears, where he had to produce flowers without bringing them, and to fight spearmen;
the fourth trial took place in the Ice House, the fifth in the Tiger House, the sixth in the Fiery House, and the seventh in the House of Bats, the House of Camazotz, god of the Bats, where the god himself appeared and beheaded the aspirant if off his guard.