The color red - bright, memorable and often shocking. In the ‘ancient’ religions, the colors of mankind were blue for the spirit, yellow for the mind and red for the body. These colors corresponded to the blue of heaven, the yellow of the earth and the red of hell.
In the Greek Mysteries, red was taken to signify the 'irrational, where consciousness was enslaved by lust and the passion of lower nature'.
The Greek Mysteries
In the times of the early Christian Church, red stood for suffering and the death of Christ.
In the Americas, the Zuni culture considered the red feather as associated with death.
In Aztec religion, there were 4 'Directions of the Aztec Gods', the East (associated with the rising of the sun) was created by the god Red Tezcatlipoca. Even in secular society, emotions are linked with color - 'red with rage' (see post: The Colors of Faith).
Besides the sunset and, perhaps, fire, human beings, in their ceremonies and rituals, focus on the red of blood. In fact, the ritual of blood sacrifice is probably the oldest ritual in the world.
Sacrifice of a human being for the purpose of his/her blood, including the ritual of self injury in order to cause blood loss has been the primary domain of worship of the Mother Goddess for nearly ten thousand years.
Some blood rituals involve two or more parties cutting themselves or each other followed by consumption of the blood. The participants may regard the release or consumption of blood as producing energy useful as a sexual, healing, or mental stimulus. In other cases, blood is a primary component as the sacrifice, or material component for a spell. Human beings (and their blood) were essential in many of the early religions of the middle east:
Ancient ceremony celebrated blood as the food of the gods or as the seat of the soul, the source of wisdom and duty and, at times, opportunity for atonement.
One of the oldest beliefs is one in which the Mother Goddess was thought to fertilize the lands and life. In return, she would be nourished by the sacrificed pure blood of innocents.
In Greek mythology, the word ambrosia is used in replacement for blood. There are however, numerous stories in which fresh living blood from a slain innocent is deemed necessary as an offering to the goddess in order to maintain her favour.
In the case of Cybele, (the goddess often depicted as the black meteorite) is an example of ancient religions trying to make sense of disaster and death, in Cybele's case, caused by 'heavenly fire' (see post: Calamity (from Space) in the Holy Records)
One of the secret mysteries in many Eastern and Western religions there exist beliefs that blood, especially the blood of a recently slain victim contains the seat of their soul and the source of their wisdom.
Ambrosia-the Food of the Gods
Some beliefs hold that the fresh blood of innocent victims is an elixer that can return youth to those who consume it. In Rome, the day for the worship of Attis (also known as the 'Good Sheperd') as the son of Cybele, the Queen of Heaven (also known as Magna Mater) was called Dies Sanguinis (the Day of Blood). This event took place on or around March 25, nine months before the festival of his birth on the winter solstice, December 25
Cybele, also called Magna Mater ("Great Mother"), was an eastern goddess of nature and fertility. Cybele was the a goddess of victory, from Pessina, Asia Minor,brought to Rome in 204 BCE from Pessina, Asia Minor. Cybele was revered in association with a large black meteorite and she quickly became the Protector of Rome. But along with Cybele, came the ceremonies and rituals of her shepherd son, Attis as well.
Of all the ceremonies and festivals associated with Attis, the most important was known as Black Friday and Dies Sanguinis (the Day of Blood) on or around the 25th of March, nine months before the solstice festival of his birth on 25th December. On Black Friday, Attis, the saviour god died from self-castration, was buried, descended into the underworld and then, on the third day (Sunday), rose from the dead. The worshippers of Attis were taught: 'The god is saved; and for you also will come salvation from your trials.'
Christians ever afterward kept Easter Sunday with carnival processions derived from the mysteries of Attis. Like Christ, Attis arose when "the sun makes the day for the first time longer than the night."
In the Roman version, on the Day of Blood, the High Priest playing the part of Attis would draw blood from his arm and offer it as a substitute for a human sacrifice. Initiates were baptized in bull's blood at the to wash away their sins whereupon they were 'born again'. They then became ecstatic and frenzied and these recruits to the priesthood would castrate themselves in imitation of the god. Those who castrated themselves became Galli—cocks—dressed in women's clothes and wore perfumed oils.
Ancient Nordic Blood Brothers
The term 'blood brother' has been used in reference to one of two circumstances: a male related by birth, or two or more men not related by birth but who have sworn loyalty to each other. This swearing of loyalty is usually done in a ceremony, known as a blood oath, where the blood of each man is mingled with the blood of the others. The point of the process is to provide each participant with a heightened symbolic sense of attachment with the other participants.
Among the Scythians, the participants would allow their blood to drip into a cup. The blood was subsequently mixed with wine and drunk by both participants.
Scythians Shooting with Bows
Each man was limited to having at most three blood brotherhoods at any one time, lest his loyalties be distrusted. Because of this,blood brotherhood was highly sought after and often preceded by a lengthy period of affiliation and friendship.
In Romania, the haiducs had a similar ceremony, though the wine was often replaced with milk so that the blood would be more visible.
In Asian cultures, the ceremony of becoming blood brothers was generally seen as a tribal relationship, bringing about alliance between tribes.
Blood alliances were practiced most commonly among the Mongols and early Chinese.
Blood brothers were also common in ancient Mediterranean Europe where, for example, whole companies of Greek soldiers would swear an alliance and fight as one family. The tradition of intertwining arms and drinking wine in Greece and elsewhere is believed to be a representation of becoming blood brothers.
This ritual was most prevalent in the Balkan Peninsula during the Ottoman era, providing a sense of tribal unity which helped the oppressed people to fight the enemy more effectively. Blood brothers were also common in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania and Bulgaria.
Christianity also recognized sworn brotherhood in a ceremony known as adelphopoiesis (in the Eastern Orthodox church).
Adelphopoiesis (adelphopoiia) from the Greek, literally 'brother-making' is a ceremony practiced historically in some eastern Christian traditions to unite together two people of the same sex (normally men) in church-recognized friendship. Thsi practice is well documented in Byzantine manuscripts from the ninth to the fifteenth centuries, prayers established participants as 'spiritual brothers' (pneumatikous adelphous) and contained references to sainted pairs, including Sergius and Bacchus, who were famous for their friendship.
Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus
A similar ritual was followed in the Roman Catholic Church called fratres faciendum.
In modern times, a common blood-brother ceremony, often among members of a gang, includes having each person make a small cut, usually on a finger, hand or the forearm, and then the two cuts are pressed together and bound, the idea being that each person's blood now flows in the other participant's veins.
Native American Sun Dance
Blood rituals frequently involve a symbolic death and rebirth. This thought to reflect the real bleeding which takes place at the 'beginning of life' during literal bodily birth. Blood is typically seen as very powerful, and sometimes as unclean. Blood sacrifice is sometimes considered by the practitioners of prayer, ritual magic, and spell casting to intensify the power of such activities. The Native American Sun Dance is often accompanied by blood sacrifice (see post: Rituals of Blood - In the Ancient Americas).