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20 Ancient Cults With Gruesome Rituals That Wouldn’t Ever Fly Today

Throughout history, wherever there have been cults, there have been rituals. But certain groups of the past took their rituals to the extreme. We’re not just talking about your average sacrifices, either. Think playing ball games to the death, using internal organs to predict the future, and hanging human limbs from trees. As it turns out, human history is littered with gruesome rites and ceremonies that would be totally unacceptable in today’s world. Here are the most fascinating.

1. Viking “blót” sacrifices

The Vikings wanted to keep their deities happy: they felt offering them sacrifices was a good way to do that. Such offerings were known as blót, which was thought of as a sort of exchange. Basically, if they sacrificed something, they thought they’d get something positive back, be it something like good weather or a bit of luck during a conflict.

Sinister offerings

The blót offerings could be any number of things. They might give up a weapon, for instance, or maybe some tools or jewels. But in a more sinister turn, animals and even people might be in the running. Records show they would have been suspended from trees in sites considered sacred.

2. Animal sacrifice at the Kaali Crater

Saaremaa, an island off the coast of Estonia, is home to a fascinating site. The Kaali Meteorite Crater Field is exactly as it sounds — an area shaped by a meteorite crash-landing there long ago. Because it broke up as it hurtled down to Earth, the object from space left many craters on the island. The largest is Kaali, which seems to have taken on a sort of religious importance for the people who once inhabited the area.

Cult around the crater

Archaeologists have been interested in a wall around the Kaali crater, which seems to have been constructed by a cult. Within the boundaries set by this wall, a significant amount of animal bones have been discovered. This suggests people were sacrificing animals here, at this site of cosmic significance.