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'Ice Pinnacles'
Discovering the Inca Maiden: My Adventures on Ampato by John Reinhard, 1998, National Geographic Society

I am currently looking into sacrifice for a number of projects, predominantly Masculine Axis and my fantasy novel, Beyond the Pale, about savant in a very catholic world.

Discovering the Inca Maiden was an early example of creeping political correctness and is edited as something of a children's book. It is well worth the half-hour it took me to read it at the dentist's office. The modern anthropologists refused to make any harsh observations of the Inca practice of marching a young virgin to 17,000-plus feet, drugging her, and then knocking a hole in her forehead with a hammer or mace of bronze or stone. In fact, the author went to great pains to obscure the methodology of the sacrifice—the very thing that made it deadly and therefore sacred. I suppose this comes down to modern inability to frame the idea of sacrifice in our mind, in a society in which the need for sacrifice of any kind is seen as a social disorder that must be addressed.

Some fascinating aspects of the mission to rescue a dislodged ancient mummy from the crater it fell into, revealed numerous fascinating facts about the hostile environment the Incas brought their messengers beyond to:

-The mountaintop craters in the Andes are sometimes filled with ice pinnacles that seem like battlefield obstacles laid by some austere deity.

-These pinnacles only thaw when they are covered with volcanic ash, which absorbs the sun's heat.

-Two of the three mummies were struck by lightning, remaining nothing but charred bone within their fine wool garments. This squares with the Inca belief that the gods hurled lightning earthward.

-Grass was transported from below the arctic zone for flooring and remains 500 years later.

-Andean artifacts survive looting better than lowland artifacts due to simple inaccessibility.

It struck this reader that the climb itself to the roof of the world had a sacrificial aspect, especially in light of the author's assertion that shaman took to the mountain peaks of the Andes to divine and prophesize, in my view the likely pre-sacrificial, primal origin of the practice of high altitude sacrifice.

By the Wine Dark Sea

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