The Sacrificial Dagger
The importance placed on ritual sacrifice is constant in religious cult practice. Propitiating the gods is a theme common to many religions; the Old Testament affords many examples. Primitive polytheistic belief systems integrate sacrifice in their rituals as part of the recurrent process of reaffirmation and, naturally enough, group cohesion. The members of the social and religious community come together
in an act of purification and atonement.
It would be erroneous to imagine the act of human sacrifice, linking priest, offering and god (Manzetti, “Stone Cults”), as anything less than a vital focussing of the group’s faith.
The act also ensures the continuing appeasement of the god, but only if practised by a recognized officiating priest using the appropriate instrument.
Studies made concerning primitive religious groups bear witness to the central role of sacrifice in living ritual.
My own work in the field of ethno-psychology brought me into contact with a sorcerer living in the region of Arkham. He introduced me to the “rite of steel”, linked to a ceremony known as “Adoring the
Black Goat of the Woods with a thousand youngs.” The god being adored is known as the Vagabond.
Here, the dagger’s role, which allows the life-breath to pass from one dimension to another, is essential.
The Vagabond is a frightening figure, being able to move where he wants and to kill those who have displeased the goat-god for whom he acts as go-between. The goat is clearly a fertility god. The priest, having spoken the invocation, must choose the appropriate dagger for the sacrifice.
The knife with the sinusoidal blade that must be dipped seven times, on nights when the moon is full, in water that has been distilled a hundred times, will be laid aside, since it would send the Vagabond back into his own dimension (see illustration).
The priest will rather choose the dagger with the curved blade that is more appropriate for slitting of the lamb’s throat. This act transfigures the sorcerer-priest and plunges the assembled worshippers into a divine trance.