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Ggantija Human Sacrifice - Salina, a thirteen-year old Virgin was about to be offered on the Altar to the Goddess of Fertility
Ggantija Human sacrifice - Sacrifice was part of the culture of the people of those days. They believed in the fundamental need to recompense the Goddess of Fertility for all the good things that She bestowed upon them regarding their crops and the fertility of their womenfolk.
Headless fat lady of Ggantija
They used to slaughter their best animals as blood sacrifices. They copied the Cycle of Nature – Life-- Death-- Rebirth – and therefore to renew Life there must first be Death. Besides, the Goddess suffered from so much loss of blood during the delivery of their babies that it was necessary to pay her back by sacrificial bloodshed.
Ggantija Human Sacrifice - At the time of the winter solstice, that is at midnight of the 21th December of each year, it was the custom to sacrifice a young virgin to their Goddess so that She would send them plentiful rain to revive their land.
On that fateful night, all the virgin girls of 13 and over would be huddled together like lambs behind a low wall, trembling with fear, their heads bowed and with hot tears streaming down their cheeks. One of the Temple priests would stand with his back to this wall, his eyes fixed on the Goddess chanting and praying in a loud monotonous voice while with his hands he moulded a small ball of red powder.
From the watching crowd there was not a sound, everyone was staring fixedly at the priest waiting for his next move, that of lobbing the ball backwards to see on whose head it would drop – who the unfortunate girl would be.
Sacrificial Altar at Ggantija Temples, Gozo
Ggantija human sacrifice - The virgin was chosen. And that year it was Salina’s turn, the only daughter of Gelend the sculptor. She was his sole possession in this world. His heart would burst as he watched his daughter so forlorn, her head and dress stained with the cursed red powder slowly walking towards the altar of sacrifice accompanied by two men, one on each side of her. There was nothing he could do besides crying softly. It was the wish of the Goddess. Salina was the one She had chosen.
It was 10 minutes to midnight when Salina ascended the 2 altar steps and came face to face with 5 other men who were waiting for her. They turned her to face the crowd and the chief priest began cleaning her face and preparing her for the sacrifice.
Ggantija human sacrifice - Then he bade his henchmen to lift her onto the altar slab. Salina was out of her senses with fright and hardly knew what was going on. She felt herself being lifted off the floor and then; a voice loud and clear broke the utter stillness of the temple,” Wait, I will DIE in her place”.
A loud murmur arose from the crowd. It was Meelsah , the daughter of Maxhim , the chieftain of the village. Meelsah was so much against this sort of sacrifice that she preferred dying to having to bear witness to it year after year. Maxhim protested and sent his guards to bring her back but it was all in vain because his daughter, all poise and personality strode over to the altar, hugged and kissed Salina and sent her to rejoin her father. Then she ordered the priests to put HER on the altar stone.
The sound of the drums had now increased in sound and rhythm. Outside it was raining heavily and flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder continued to add to the tragic atmosphere of the moment.
High Priest about to slaughter the victim
Salina could be heard lamenting the loss of poor Meelsah who was going to be sacrificed in her place.
The chief priest poised his cruel flint knife high above his head and Meelsah, her eyes tightly closed prayed and waited for the fatal thrust.
But the blow never fell for at that moment a blinding flash of lightning followed by a deafening thunder bolt mysteriously tore the sacrificial tool out of the priest’s hand and hurled him to the ground writhing in pain.
Meelsah, although still very young, already possessed the character traits of a leader within her and grasping the opportunity she rose quickly to her feet on the altar stone and addressed the now confused congregation in her clear voice,”Cannot you now see, the Fat Lady does not want this bloodshed any more and it is certain that She will continue to send us plenty of rain for our crops".
From that day on, the people of Xaghra, Gozo never again offered another human sacrifice within the walls of the Ggantija temples.
Note: This is a fiction story from beginning to end. There is no concrete proof yet that any human sacrifice was ever performed within the Ggantija Temples, although it was common in many places around the world long centuries after the temple people.
You can also read the story in MALTESE
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The letters of the Maltese alphabet resemble those of the English alphabet but are pronounced differently. The Maltese alphabet does not contain the 'y' but has 5 other letters, namely the ċ, ġ, ħ, għ and the ż.
You may hear the pronounciation of the Maltese letters in this video.
There are about 12 more archaelogical sites in Gozo, among them the Xaghra Circle. The megalithic temples of Gozo are somehow connected to the Legend of Atlantis.
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