Gruesome

Gingerbread_men-human-sacrifice-history

Nothing like a little human sacrifice for the holidays…

It’s widely known that Christmas has its roots in the blood-soaked pagan traditions for the winter solstice. What may be less well known is the origin of the delightful gingerbread people. At a symbolic level, these sugary snacks may be no more than a proxy for human sacrifice. The tradition of backing cookies in human form dates back to the grandfather of modern-day Christmas, the Roman winter celebration of Saturnalia. At this time, Romans honored the god Saturn. His name stems from…

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Sam Tarley, Bull Sacrifice: Rituals too hot for Rome (Pagan Part 2)

This article continues from here and discusses the history behind Sam Tarley’s ritual bath in a bull aurochs’ blood, which is likely based on the Roman taurobolium ritual. In the real world, bull sacrifices occurred first in modern-day Turkey (Asia Minor), Greece, and eventually Rome. From the first century until Pagan worship sputtered out, the Romans sacrificed bulls – in a highly ritualized way  – and dedicated those sacrifices to the Great Mother (also known as Cybele). It’s easy to…

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Pagan Sacrifice: A Glimpse of an Ancient Religion in Game of Thrones

The beating of drums, gushing blood, and acts of courage – is this another Red Wedding or a pagan ritual buried deep in the pages of Game of Thrones? George RR Martin may have based the Faith of the Seven – the new gods that the southern Westerosi worship – on the pagan religion of Ancient Rome. One clue is a throwaway line about Samwell Tarly in the first A Song of Ice and Fire novel that alludes to an ancient…

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Hansel and Gretel: Cannibalism Part II

After a great famine had descended on the land, a starving woodcutter talks over the hardest decision of his life with his wife, the children’s “evil” stepmother. She persuades him to abandon the children; it is either that or starve. The woodcutter takes his two emaciated children, Hansel and Gretel, deep into the forest where he expects they will probably never find their way out. [This article is continued from here.] Hansel and Gretel come upon a gingerbread house where…

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Hey Good Looking, What’s Cooking? Cannibalism in the Middle Ages

In a stomach turning scene, Game of Thrones depicted the Thenn – a hybrid of the A Song of Ice and Fire Skagosi and Thenn – roasting an “arm of Crow”. In Game of Thrones, the Thenn, a free folk who came from the most northern regions beyond the Wall, are cannibalistic. They like to feast on their enemies. Did cannibals exist in the Middle Ages? Yes, they did: both in folklore and in fact. Sawney Bean No doubt the…

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Flaying Update, House Bolton, & Other Types of Skinners (Second Sons)

Flaying update? Just what you wanted, right? (I was relieved not to see Theon in “Two Swords” (last Sunday night) because, frankly, I find the Theon scenes a little hard to watch. With that said, sometimes the gory can be a little fascinating.) A while back, I wrote an article about House Bolton and flaying in the Middle Ages. Here are a few tidbits I’ve learned since then that I thought I’d share with you – these ones are a…

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Dracula: Impalement, Punishment by Proxy of his Brother’s Lover?

What drove Dracula? Vlad the Impaler, commonly known as simply “Dracula,” was a Transylvanian noble man whose atrocities and military escapades were so notoriously savage that his legend lives on today when his contemporaries have been nearly forgotten. During his reign, Vlad killed 80,000 people, including the 20,000 he impaled on stakes at  Târgoviste  and placed in the path of Ottoman leader Mehmed II’s invading  army.   Dracula’s atrocities stood out in a medieval world where life was cheap and…

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Ramsay Snow and Vlad the Impaler

History Behind Game of Thrones reader “BoredMe” suggested that Ramsay Snow and House Bolton may be inspired by Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. In fact, there’s a very entertaining thread on Westeros.org about this theory. Just for kicks, let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the legendary Transylvanian warlord, House Bolton, and Ramsay Snow. Ramsay Snow is, of course, Roose Bolton’s bastard, and he has shown a long-time penchant for torture. Ramsay is a greedy, ambitious, crafty sadist…

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Skinning the Reputation of House Bolton

This article looks at one aspect of House Bolton: their fearsome reputation, which derives from flaying. Note: This article contains some extremely violent and potentially disturbing descriptions. In the books, Roose Bolton evokes fear. His voice is low and small. You have to get closer to hear him. His eyes are pale and lifeless. He is a man with “cold cunning.” Roose Bolton, like his son and ancestors, gives people the chills. In the books, Robb Stark is afraid of…

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Theon, the Castrated Viking

Please note: This article is sexually explicit in ways some readers may find offensive or distasteful. It presents disturbing mental images, which parallel events in the show, and contains mild sexually graphic artifacts. Balon Greyjoy and his daughter Yara (Asha in the books) receive a parcel, a “special gift,” and a mysterious letter, sealed by what looks like piece of skin and House Bolton’s flayed man sigil.1  The message informs Balon that Ramsay Snow is holding Theon hostage. Ramsay warns Balon to…

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