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Our Firstborns Belong To The God: Esoteric Faith And The Cult Of Child Sacrifice
The deep history of a terrible idea
The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me. Exodus 22:29-30
The god is hidden, and the secret is hidden with the god.
Esotericism is hidden, secret knowledge. As sociologist Max Weber explained a century ago, secret knowledge creates social and political power for an in-group.
To be admitted to the community, one must first learn and internalize the mysteries of the inner temple. Whatever the in-crowd is, its solidarity will derive from holding on to these hidden truths against outsiders.
Mostly this is harmless. For example, mystery cults of the ancient world inducted youth into the unwritten oral traditions at the core of their culture, and thus into adult society.
However, not all esoteric beliefs are neutral, particularly when they affect the lives of children.
Enacting their literalist belief that the firstborn of everything, plant and animal, belonged to the god, ancient world cults practiced ritual sacrifice of their own children.
Shrouded in myth, this horrifying practice was itself no myth. Contemporary historiography, archaeology, and epigraphy agree on this point. Scholars confine their debates to when and where literal child sacrifice was practiced, not whether.
Today, “gender identity” is an esoteric belief system with remarkable cultural, political, and social power. Genderism marks itself as esotericism with the phrase “educate yourself,” a snide signal that the interlocutor simply lacks the hidden knowledge of the “trans child.”
After all, “they know who they are,” and who are we to question the children of Moloch if they want to sacrifice their sex organs to Him?
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Child sacrifice seems to have been most common in the Phoenician world of the central Mediterranean. As Heath Dewrell observes in Child Sacrifice in Ancient Israel, the 3rd Century BC writer Kleitarchos “says the Phoenicians, and above all the Carthaginians, venerating Kronos, whenever they were eager for a great thing to succeed, made a vow by one of their children. If they would receive the desired things, they would sacrifice it to the god.”
Writing around the turn of the millennium, Philo of Byblos recorded that elite Carthaginians — cultural descendants of the Pheonicians — would also sacrifice their firstborn in times of deep distress to the whole community, such as a siege or famine.
The practice also existed in Canaanite religion, but ended in Israel during the 6th Century BC. Nevertheless, traces remain in biblical text.
According to 2 Kings, when Israelites laid siege to a Moabite city, the king, a man named Misha, sacrificed his firstborn son atop the city gates, so impressing the Yahwists that they withdrew.
This same motif is captured in contemporary Egyptian art and seems to be a regional myth, however, so the biblical account may only be the Israelite take on a regional folktale.
Furthermore, not all mythical or literal motifs of child sacrifice are the same, or belong in a single category of meaning. “I do not believe that it is helpful to discuss child sacrifice as a single type of ritual or even as a collection of rituals that can be subsumed under a common rubric,” Dewrell writes.
Nevertheless, Israelite religion had an argument over child sacrifice after the Babylonian conquest. References appear in the text of Deuteronomy, which calls for the faithful to stop “passing over” their children “in fire” to Yahweh.
The text is explicit on this point. King Josiah is said to have expunged the cult and defiled its altar. Jeremiah called on Jersualemites to stop the practice and the sacrificial consuming fire of brimstone became a metaphor for the death of the soul.
Looking for a way to convince people to stop taking the command of Exodus literally, the Israelite priests turned to the in-grouping heuristic of hidden knowledge.
Child sacrifice? Why, the evil Canaanites did that. It’s in this scroll, you see. We wrote it down. Shall we read it to you?
Dewrell writes that “It was only at the end of a long series of attempts to wrestle with the historical reality of Yahwistic child sacrifice that the solution of linking all such sacrifices to foreign deities emerged.”
This strategy was only possible at a relatively late period, when child sacrifice had fallen out of practice among Israelite Yahwists. Once the reality of child sacrifice had faded into the past, those denying that Yahweh ever desired such a thing were no longer constrained by the reality surrounding such rites and could take the simplest route—condemning all forms of child sacrifice by tying them all to the worship of foreign gods or idols. It was ultimately this final tactic that allowed and even encouraged the Greek translators of the Hebrew Bible to understand למלך as “to Molek,” thereby enabling the creation of the grim and terrifying “Moloch” of Milton and Flaubert.
It helped that the practice seems to have been resurgent right before the conquest, associating child sacrifice with that traumatic event in the minds of survivors. Israel had sinned by ignoring the example of Abraham, whose faith led him to spare his son. This order of development — human sacrifice first, later replaced by animal sacrifices — accords with a gathering consensus within contemporary archaeology.
First, people sacrificed their children. Then, they sacrificed animals instead of children. They did this because the children belonged to the god. Their children were less real to them than the god.
Romans ended the Molech cult forever when they conquered Carthage. During the 19th Century, academic anti-Semitism led some to link the cult with Jews, a variation of the medieval blood libel. This idea has been thoroughly debunked, but it is instructive in how new beliefs, even abhorrent ones, are always stitched together from a patchwork of older ideas.
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby died in 1866, which is strange, because he claimed to have cured his own tuberculosis.
His book, The Truth is the Cure, proposed a kind of “talking cure” for disease. His ideas about gnostic healing were influential on various Christian healing cults that exist right to the present day. Mary Baker Eddy, a former patient of Quimby, later founded “Christian Science” as a distinct church.
This is how it always goes. All religions have sources. The gender religion has sources. As gender denominations emerge, they will have sources.
Supernatural beliefs set ideological boundaries, excluding the unbeliever from the community and creating a sense of solidarity within that community. Note how the alphabetical rainbow religion advertises itself as a “community.”
And of course, no community can thrive for long without children. Yet devout Christian Scientist parents have preferred prayer and faith to medicine so strongly that their own children have died. These episodes have met with public condemnation, but American courts will overturn convictions in these cases because freedom of conscience and belief are core elements of civic religion in the United States.
As a country, we would rather let a child die than punish an act of faith. This is an admirable quality most of the time, but it can also be abused, and children are powerless against abuse.
Modern esoteric conceptions of childhood begin with John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the 18th Century Enlightenment. Children were now conceived as blank slates (tabula rasa) containing all the truths of the universe hidden inside them. In practice, adults project insecurities and anxieties onto the children.
Writing about this “idea that the human mind has no inherent structure and can be inscribed at will by society and ourselves” two decades ago in his book The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker called it “the secular religion of modern intellectual life.”
It is seen as a source of values, so the fact that it is based upon a miracle — a complex mind arising out of nothing — is not held against it. Challenges to the doctrine from skeptics and scientists have plunged some believers into a crisis of faith and have led others to mount the kinds of bitter attacks ordinarily aimed at heretics and infidels.
Pinker did not have a crystal ball to see cancel culture in its pronouns-and-rainbows manifestation, but he described it well. To question the existence of the “trans child” is heresy. Requests for evidence are the mark of the infidel. ‘Cancellation’ is the least punishment we deserve for rejecting the hidden truth of the ‘gender identity.’
Genderism undermines reality. It is gaslighting. Psuedo-spiritualism suffuses the language. The body itself becomes a blank slate that doctors and surgeons can renovate and refashion at will, like magic, as long as you believe hard enough. What genderism lacks is orthodoxy — the beliefs are squishy, and therefore more open to new ideas and expressions, including bad ones.
Transitioning children make TikTok videos and Reddit posts with ritual atmospheres: the rapture of the first day topless at the beach or pool after double mastectomy; the first time wearing a miniskirt in public. When they complain of side effects and botched surgeries, the love-bombing audience tells them to keep going, heaven lies just beyond the pain, you just have to believe hard enough.
“Progressive” educators on TikTok inculcate the esoteric values of Genderism into a generation. Calling the material reality of their bodies into question, invoking latent realities said to exist outside of biology, and inviting students to “explore” this imaginary gap, it is a grooming gang for gender Moloch.
Within Genderism, we have observed a “Cult of Nonbinaries” that believes in the tabula rasa — that is, every child develops their own unique “gender identity” or gendersoul — and a “Church of Hormones” preaching that gender is innate and fixed, requiring medicalization to “save” the gendersoul trapped within. (I have to credit Exulansic for making this observation.)
The latter group would seem to reject the tabula rasa, but it remains an esoteric belief system nonetheless. Esotericism does this a lot. It is only when we believe in angels, and that they can fit on pinheads, that we can we spend our lives arguing over how many angels can fit on one pinhead. One must believe in gendersouls first before arguing whether they are fixed or fluid.
In the meantime, Gendersouls can be either fixed or fluid, or both, as needed, since this is unfalsifiable theology and not actual science at all.
During the 19th Century, Rousseauvian Romanticism was a source for influential philosophers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose ideas still inform the American mind.
By the 20th Century, the very first academic psychologists built on these ideas, starting with William James. Pseudoscience has never been far away from the center of this discourse.
For example, John Money was clearly trying to prove the tabula rasa hypothesis in his sadistic experiments. We also find Rousseau’s idea informing various New Age belief-systems far beyond gender.
One of these is the Indigo Children.
In an essay for The Esoteric Child, an academic work on esotericism published in 2014, Daniel Klein defined the esoteric child as “a gifted child who is the harbinger of the coming new age and possessor of special gifts” within a cultic system of belief. Klein examines the case of the so-called Indigo Children as an example of the esoteric child-construction, and the parallels with Genderism are striking.
Stories of children with unique spiritual gifts, special contact with the divine, powers of a medium, etc. are quite ancient. What modern esotericism shares with ancient esotericism is the magic of innocence — that is, the esoteric power of the child lies in their uncorrupted purity. Moloch wants this innocent blood most of all, for it has the most magic.
The reader can think of a dozen Disney films portraying childhood innocence as power. It is a cultural meme with remarkable currency, which makes it perfect for transmission as salvific narrative: “save the trans kids.” From what? “From transphobia.” Like Peter Pan imploring children to believe in Tinkerbell’s existence, belief itself is salvation, disbelief is death.
Thus Jazz Jennings can elect a path to permanent sterility and surgical mutilations at age four, not in spite of Jazz being innocent of what that portends, but because Jazz has been kept innocent (read: ignorant) of all heresies.
Jeanette Jennings says that she dreamed of having “a little girl who would never grow up,” that is, a sacred feminine innocent. This is the esoteric projection at the heart of a family’s abuse pattern. It has precedents in the Indigo Children, and even shares a key cultural champion.
In 1986, Nancy Ann Tappe published Understanding Your Life Thru Color. It is a distillation of esoteric ideas dating back to the 19th Century American religious laboratory of Spiritualism (i.e. séances), Theosophists, and so-called New Thought philosophers that were transmitted through the hippie generation and advised by its disappointments.
Although she was not the first writer to use color schemes in categorizing personality types, Tappe was the first to claim she could also see auras around people, the color of which revealed their true inner selves.
Among her claims was that some children were appearing in the world with purple, or “indigo,” auras, and that this was a harbinger of Aquarian global transformation. Looming catastrophes (opportunities?) in both the year 2000 and the year 2012 (one a western contrivance, the other a colonial projection) would see these “indigo children” emerge as new world leaders, imbued with magic power to heal the planet and save us all.
One may detect sublimated ecological concerns, as climate change was becoming an issue at the time. With “traditional” religions in retreat, and liberal ones doing even worse, Unitarian Universalist congregations “affirming” the “trans kids” makes perfect sense as a growth strategy.
Now that governments are finally taking notice of the horrific consequences of “affirmation” in pediatric medicine, those congregations have every incentive to follow through and sacralize transition: save the trans kids, so they can save us all.
The underlying assumption is always Cartesian mind-body dualism, a split between flesh and being. The proof of the claim is always subjective. That is definitive of esotericism in the present era.
In the 1990s, Lee Carroll and Jan Tober published The Indigo Children, which further developed Tappe’s pronouncement of a new salvific — and now psychic — generation destined to change the world, save the planet, and fix all the problems.
Better yet, Mr. Carroll could prove the truth of this assertion by channeling the spirit of an ancient being named Kryon who knew the future.
The authors became a media sensation, with opinions both for and against them abounding. Although Kryon seems to have disappeared from their performance, Carroll and Tober are still making money as interpreters of the Indigo Child phenomenon even today.
It pays to look at what this bizarre couple has spent two decades saying about so-called “Indigo Children.” Much as James Randi used to demonstrate that astrological horoscopes were generalized by design, we can see right away that Carroll and Tober discursively constructed a new kind of human being by just sweeping several different personality types into a box with a new label on it.
According to their original work, the identifying characteristics of Indigos are that:
They come into the world with a feeling of royalty (and often act like it)
They have a feeling of “Deserving to be here,” and are surprised when others don’t share that.
Self-worth is not a big issue. They often tell parents “who they are.”
They have difficulty with absolute authority (authority without explanation or choice).
They simply will not do certain things; for example, waiting in line is difficult for them.
They get frustrated with systems that are ritual-oriented and don’t require creative thought.
They see better ways of doing things, both at home and in school, which makes them seem like “system busters” (non-conforming to any system).
They are antisocial unless they are with their own kind. If there are no others of like consciousness around them, they often turn inward, feeling like no other human understands them. School is often difficult for them socially.
They will not respond to “guilt” discipline (“Wait til your father gets home and finds out what you did”).
They are not shy in letting you know what they need.
Replace auras with genders, add puberty blockers. Like the Indigo Child, the trans kid is perhaps autistic, perhaps too nonconforming, perhaps too smart for their classmates, perhaps too weird in their tastes of toy or interest, or perhaps just too much.
Unlike the indigo child, however, the solution for the trans kid is not Rousseau’s paradise of free play and exploration with subtle tutelage in rational thinking, but chemical castration, surgical mutilation, and holy magic pronouns.
This contrast becomes clearer when we see what the indigo kids turned into next.
During the first decade of the 21st Century, American society was deeply concerned with ADD, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and questions about medicalization.
New Age discourse is solidly esoteric in its rejection of pharmaceutical answers for anything. The modern anti-vaccine movement was born out of esoteric anxieties over autism, for example, and at the turn of the century quacks were selling puberty blockers as an esoteric “cure” for autism.
Ritalin became a new suburban scourge, justifiably attacked as an over-easy medicalization of complex problems.
It was in this atmosphere that Doreen Virtue (real name!) published The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children, a collection of pseudo-spiritual writing explicitly connecting the “indigo child” to the “problem child” of her contemporary classroom.
Virtue eventually found Jesus and disowned the indigo child as a New Age innovation, proving that beliefs are malleable where human bodies are not.
Here is Virtue’s list of characteristics distinguishing this special new kind of person, according to her book Contemporary Esotericism.
Born in 1978 or later
Creative, with an artistic flair for music, jewelry making, poetry, etc.
Prone to addictions
An “old soul” as if they’re 13, going on 43
Intuitive or psychic, possibly with a history of seeing angels or deceased people
An Isolationist, either through aggressive acting-out, or through fragile introversion
Independent and proud, even if they’re constantly asking you for money
Posseses a deep desire to help the world in a big way
Wavers between low self-esteem and grandiostiy
Has probably been diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD
Prone to Insomnia, restless sleep, nightmares, or difficulty/fear of falling asleep
Has a history of depression, or even suicidal thoughts or attempts
Looks for real, deep, and lasting friendships
Easily bonds with plants or animals
Note how this seems like a recruiting poster to attract as many teenagers as possible, especially the vulnerable ones who care about other people and nature (because the indigos are going to save us all, natch).
Children with the specific conditions that might indicate Ritalin are explicitly invited to imagine themselves as special people that parents just don’t understand, who don’t need any pills at all, only indulgence.
This is a parenting formula designed to produce delicate narcissists incapable of holding a job. It is also a great way to get on Oprah.
Oprah Winfrey has referred to her career as a “ministry.” In Oprah: Gospel of an Icon, Yale religious scholar Kathryn Lofton notes that “she preaches prosperity gospel, she advocates books as scripture, she offers exegesis, she conducts exculpatory rites, she supplies a bazaar of faithful practices, she propagates missions, both home and foreign.”
In fact, Lofton argues, Oprah has become a key figure in the history of American religion by way of her book club, which often highlights spirtuality and self-help authors.
Oprah is a religious influencer during a time when mainline faiths are diminishing and orthodoxies are unpopular. She “pines repeatedly on the meaning of existence, the seat of the soul, the purpose of your life, and the place of a higher calling,” Lofton says. Yet Oprah “plays religious even as she is, most adamantly (by scholarly classification and by her own), not a religion.”
As a religious leader without a firm religion, Oprah can believe anything she wants. When she met Mattie Stepanek in the late 1990s, it was the largest signal-boost that “indigo children” ever had.
Stepanek, 9 years old at the time, was a child prodigy as a published poet and peace advocate. Born with a rare mitochondrial condition that killed all three older siblings, Stepanek tragically died at just 14.
During the interview, Stepanek told Oprah that “negative energies” can enter his body and make him act out. “When I’m all out of control, that’s not the real me,” he said.
With the supernatural explanation solidified, Oprah asked Stepanek whether he heard voices. A child looking for approval, he agreed, but added “it hasn’t happened to me here, or at the hotel.”
“Well, it’s because we’ve got good vibrations here,” Oprah said. “Do you think? Do you feel the good vibrations here?” Of course he felt them. The priestess without a religion has squeezed validation out of the holy child.
As you can see in Google’s Ngram viewer, after this Oprah appearance, the public discourse about “indigo children” exploded. Indigo children are not real, but Oprah had made them real, because people were talking about them. To use a favorite postmodernist phrase properly, the indigo child had been discursively constructed on national television.
When actress Ellen Page found gender religion, there was no better outlet on the planet to speak in tongues and bear witness than Oprah Winfrey.
Genderism tells families that the material reality of a child’s body is less real or important than the “identity” that is being formed by their relationship to the adults in their life.
Invoking latent realities said to exist outside of biology, and inviting students to “explore” this imaginary gap, the “progressive teacher” seen on Libs of TikTok is grooming young minds to reject their families if their parents don’t agree. I am hardly the first observer to note that cults also do this, or that threats of suicide are a very Jonestown thing to do.
“Trans kids” are not the first discursive construction of a new kind of child serving adult purposes and answering adult anxieties. They are simply the most successful example in view today, since their adult priesthood enjoys official sanction from governments and international human rights organizations, as well as deep pockets to promote the idea that “trans kids” exist.
This belief becomes embedded in a larger set of values, namely a progressive, liberal, left, politics of “kindness.”
The “trans child” is another invented category we can add to the American religious tradition, and to the long human history of child sacrifice. It has inhabited the place where a Judeo-Christian god used to live in progressive American religion, but it is not a forgiving cult, or socially unifying.
Activists will wail at that assertion, but all traditions are invented. Every religious system ever studied has curated a la carte pastiches of whatever traditions and symbols the practitioners preferred. Those can be pronouns and hair colors and an ever-changing flag.
Mostly, the results of this human heuristic are inoffensive and festive: neopagans sacrificing a vegan chocolate bunny on Ostara.
Sometimes the result is a passing fad in the culture: children with special auras.
However, once in a while the results are castrated, mutilated, even dead children.
The one thing always missing is falsifiable evidence of the goodness done or the harms prevented by the sacrifice. Esoteric children exist by faith alone, and by faith in them alone are we saved.
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