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Flesh and Blood

Interrogating Freud on Human Sacrifice, Real and Imagined

In: Brill Research Perspectives in Religion and Psychology
Author:
Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Israel

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Abstract

Fears and stories about an underground religion devoted to Satan, which demands and carries out child sacrifice, appeared in the United States in the late twentieth century and became the subject of media reports supported by some mental health professionals. Looking at these modern fantasies leads us back to ancient stories which in some cases believers consider the height of religious devotion. Horrifying ideas about human sacrifice, child sacrifice, and the offering to the gods of a beloved only son by his father appear repeatedly in Western traditions, starting with the Greeks and the Hebrews. This publication focuses on rituals of violence tied to religion, both imagined and real. The main question of this work is the meaning of blood and ritual killing in the history of religion. The publication examines the encounter with the idea of child sacrifice in the context of human hopes for salvation.

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