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strengthen and enhance the magical power through bloodshed
|“||A sacrifice without love is mere slaughter||”|
One of the hallmarks of Maleficium, the magic practiced by the witches of Salem, is that of harness the energy released by bloodshed, especially that of innocent victims in order to fulfill a witch's misdeeds.
A sacrifice is a voluntary offering of blood made with the aim of obtaining a magical result. Usually the victims are animals with particular qualities or simply readily available as hares, cockerels and mice, or human beings, especially for the most powerful and important rituals such the Grand Rite. Lesser important spells and rituals can also be empowered with the blood of the witch herself, obtained from an incision on the palm. For some spells even a few drops of blood from a fingertip pinched with a hatpin are enough so the magic is realized. Some rituals or circumstances call for the blood of the witch's familiar. Sacrifices are made to seal the success of a ritual, to celebrate a Sabbath, or because blood is a required ingredient in the recipe, as often occured for curses and hexes, resurrection spells or necromancy. However, a sacrifice must never be done lightly and the more the ritual is important the more the sacrificed victim must have value for the witch, because the life that will be suppressed not only will fuel the power of the spell, but also satisfy the greed of demonic spirits, which are well know to deem blood a delicious payment.
Many are the virtues related to blood, whether the methods of spreading it or the quality and origin of the blood itself. Innocent blood is an essential ingredient for the most important and majestic rituals, like the Grand Rite that requires a significant amount of blood to cleanse the land. Innocently, however, does not always mean "free from sin." For victims necessary to the first stage of the Grand Rite, for example, Mary Sibley using her shrewdness has concluded "innocent blood" as innocent of the crimes attributed by court. Since none of the defendants was a witch, they were therefore innocent. The most precious blood, however, is that of the witch itself. Another virtue of the blood is to create an irrefutable sign, reason why is used to sign the first page of a Book of Shadows. Blood, as other body fluids, is also used to create a connection with the victim during curses and enchantments.
Witch Blood and Bloodlines
Besides being an outstanding fuel agent in arousing elements like fire and flames, witch blood is also able to germinate poisonous roots and thorns, as shown on several occasions by Mary Sibley in her enchantments. Moreover, the blood of a witch is an essential ingredient in some rituals of resurrection and necromancy, precisely because of its enhanced quality. No coincidence familiars feed not only of milk, but also of blood through the witch nipple.
Worthy of note are also the bloodlines that date back to the dawn of time, when witchcraft was taught by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Although the most ancient hives have perished and extinguished, some bloodlines survive. Well-known are the one from which John Hale descends and, of course, that of the Countess Von Marburg which also includes her son [[Sebastian Von Marburg]. Anne Hale is descended from both of these dynasties and, according to Tituba, the young witch belongs to the highest and most ancient order. Blood witch, therefore, runs through her veins with the power of many generations.
Legends and folklore are full of witches that kidnap children to devour them or to sacrifice them to the Devil. These stories date back to the early civilizations of the Fertile Crescent, where evil creatures identified with Lilith tore children from the cribs at night to feed on their blood. The traditions of the Italic peoples recounted of how the Stryx, a kind of harpies, did the same. The word stryx is also the basis of today's Italian word "strega", meaning witch. The bloodiest sacrifices, however, were those made by some pre-Christian populations, sacrifices performed to win the favor of the gods and that included as victims sacred animals to specific deities, but in some circumstances even human victims, usually slaves, war prisoners and criminals. The tradition, anyhow, abounds with sacrifices of virgins, as the pure blood seems to be a delicacy for the spirits, which are capable of smell it from far away. We could mention, then, the legend of Baba Yaga or the Giant's at the top of the beanstalk with his "fee fi fo fum" which foreshadowed the cannibalism that was about to take. Both can be considered a survival in a fairytale's form of ancient pagan gods. The Medieval mythology, then, is full of anecdotes that said that the flesh of children was cooked in large cauldrons during the Sabbath, to be the main course at the banquet of the Devil, while the fat extracted was used to make ointments used in potions and rituals. The anthropologist Margaret Murray, citing some of the witch trials in Somerset and Essex, described the habit of witches to donate their children to the Devil, killing them with a pin inserted in the head shortly after birth, in exchange of power. Animal sacrifice, instead, was a common practice which can be traced in the belief that killing and eating certain animals would confer to the witch skills, alleged or real, attributable to that creatures.
Throughout the Salem series
In The Vow, Mary gives to the devil her unborn child, thus becoming a witch. Later, other rotting corpses of unborn children are shown by Isaac to Alden in the woods, and the young man says that are gifts for the devil himself. A dove is also sacrificed during the Sabbath as the starting point of the Ritum Magni.
The greatest sacrifice shown in the series is certainly the mass sacrifice of thirteen innocent victims following the phases of the moon until the thirteenth victim is sacrificed during the Hunter's moon, thus starting the second phase of the Grand Rite, the one that spreads the plague.
During the series, many small animal sacrifices are made, such as the mouse killed by Mary Sibley to pack the cursed doll to give to Anne Hale or that of a turkey to open the secret room's door in Hale's house, when magistrate Hale beheaded the animal with his bare hands.
In From Within, Mary and Tituba take a vow of blood to spy the kidnapper of Corwin and, later, to kill Corwin himself in order to prevent him from speaking. This was made possible by linking the latter to a severed head of a ram, and since like attracts like, everything that has been done to the ram's skull was reflected upon Corwin, leading to his death by exsanguination.
In Book of Shadows, Anne Hale make a blood vow to seal her own grimoire and thus receiving her familiar demon in the shape of a mouse. Having previously tasted a drop of Anne's blood, Mary was able to spy on the contents of her secret journal.
In The Wine Dark Sea, Anne Hale sacrificed her own familiar to cast a enchantment of love on Rev. Cotton Mather, along with other ingredients to win his heart and mind. In the same episode, Mary and Tituba have tried to revive a recently deceased George Sibley also making use of blood sacrifices.
In Midnight Never Come, the most important of all sacrifice is accomplished. The Ritum Magni is completed when John is sacrificed by the witches of Salem and the Von Marburg witches who drown him in the pool of Hell-blood to turn him in the vassel to host the Devil himself. Collected in a consecrated cup, the blood of the witches has shown once again worth as binding agent for extreme and cruel rituals.
In The Man Who Was Thursday Mary and Sebastian lures the Dark Lord into the woods, where the last of the Essex hive waits them. They sacrifice themselves to fuel Mary with the power of sacrifice and make Her able to kill the Dark Lord.
- Mary Sibley (to Anne Hale): The deep magic, the strong and permanent kind, always requires a little blood.
- -- in Book of Shadows
- Tituba: Words without blood are nothing but air.
- -- in Blood Kiss
- Dr. Wainwright: Tell me, Reverend, as a doctor of the soul, would it be a sin to sacrifice one man to save many?
- Rev. Mather: The one must sacrifice himself, like Christ. Otherwise, it is not sacrifice, but murder.
- Dr. Wainwright : And if one murdered a man about to die, is that really a crime?
- Rev. Mather : A crime, perhaps not, but a sin, no doubt.
- Dr. Wainwright: Ah! I can live with that. Question is, can you?
- Rev. Mather : I suppose we'll find out.
- -- in The Beckoning Fair One
- Countess Von Marburg: I do not need to hold him in my hand to have him in my grasp. He will be there waiting at the appointed place and time. Now, you must learn your part. Repeat after me: "By my love, you were made. Now in love to return. By my love, offered up. In love's fire, ever burn."
- Mary Sibley: You would have me speak words of love while you destroy him?
- Countess Von Marburg: A sacrifice without love is mere slaughter. Now, learn the words.
- Mary Sibley: I will not doom my son.
- -- in Midnight Never Come
- Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation ownership. While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering (Latin oblatio) can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts. For offerings of liquids (beverages) by pouring, the term libation is used.
- Almost all spells require a calibrated amount of blood depending on the level of the spell, the greater is the benefit for the Witch and the greater is the sacrifice required.
- Rev. Increase Mather mortifies his body with a cilice, this is a form of penitent sacrifice made in the name of a superior deity.
- Blood is also one of the hallmarks of Von Marburg witches to probe the minds of their victims to steal information, relying on retrocognition abilities through a blood kiss.