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The Sacred Fire, by B.Z. Goldberg, [1930], at

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Fire, flame, and frenzied passion;
God of love and desolation


MOLOCH was the mighty, gluttonous god. He bestowed his bounty upon mankind, but he wished a taste of all that he gave. Moloch gave only to be gifted in return. There was no altruistic hypocrisy in his little divine circle. He was not saving the world; he was not serving mankind. He cared for neither the praise nor the glory that others might give him.

Moloch was a fierce, self-satisfied, masculine god. He defied the weaker sex even in love. He had no women himself, nor did he wish his worshippers coming to his temple to trail their women along. He wanted none of their weakness, gentleness, delicacy, or romanticism. He was the god of muscle and belly. If cannibals were looking for a god, none could please them so much as Moloch, and Moloch could wish himself no better class of worshipper.

His temple was out in the open, far from city or village with their polished ways of living. It was an immense, low structure with an enormous figure of Moloch at its end. Like the modern industrial plant with its towering chimney rising to the clouds,. the god himself appeared

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before his worshippers—a colossal giant of a man with a bull's head and tremendous virile power. His arms he held outstretched as if he were forever demanding sacrifices. There were seven huge mouths to his belly, all appropriate receptacles for the offerings that might be brought to him.

The figure of Moloch was cast in bronze and merged with a large furnace that served as its pedestal. Whatever was fed to the god immediately landed in the fiery oven. Moloch the glutton would take no chances with his priests who might put away a sacrifice for themselves or share with him the fat of the land.

As the sun was setting, the worshippers left their homes and wives, and, loaded with sacrifices, they betook themselves to the warm abode of their god. While they were on their way, a huge fire was being prepared in the pit of the furnace, and as they entered the temple, flames reflected through the bronze figure of the divinity. Cold, cruel, and metallic Moloch had become incandescent, aflame with the fire of life. Moloch was the fire that does burn the bush and everything else; he was the fire that devours.

As the tongues of flame shot through the monstrous figure, the worshippers yelled for joy. They danced about it, emitting terrific cries and, in frenzy, hurled whatever they had into the mouths of the fiery god. There may have been products of the soil, fruits of the farm, a calf or a sheep, even a cat or a dog. One may have thrown his own cloak into the gaping mouth when he had nothing else to give.

When the signal was given, the eunuch priests of Moloch marched into the temple and about the radiant figure. They came to serve this cruel, relentless god, as the priestesses paid homage to a goddess more loving and generous.

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[paragraph continues] While the fair sex was excluded, sexual passion persisted and seemed all the more fired because of the absence of women; and beautiful, beardless young men, their bodies soft and fragrant from the use of oils and perfumes, sold themselves to the adorers of their god, depositing on the altar of the idol the money thus earned. Within the temple, too, there were dogs trained for the same purpose and the coins received from the rental or sale of these animals, called the "price of a dog," went to the priests of Moloch.

The eunuch priests constituted a caste or sect with their own rites of initiation. These were held at night in the depths of the forest. There, in the heat of frenzy and stirred by wild music, they gashed their own bodies and ran about with blood streaming from their wounds, falling over each other as they did so.


Women were excluded from this sheer masculine world of Moloch and his tribe. But the wives of the Molochites clamored for a god and for Moloch. The husbands would have none of it, but the high priest of Moloch knew better. He saw additional revenue for the temple with a sect of women doing for themselves what the men had been doing alone.

Thus women, too, came to serve Moloch. They had their priestesses, who prostituted themselves to the women worshippers as the eunuch priests did to the males. The priestesses dwelled in gay colored tents about the temple of Moloch, burning incense, playing soothing music, and preparing love charms and potions.

Both men and women danced about the blazing Moloch,

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two human races with no direct emotional contact, yet not without some influence upon each other. For the frenzied desire of the women for their priestesses reflexively aroused the passions of the men for the objects of their love.

When the women came to offer their sacrifices, they cast into the devouring belly of Moloch whatever there was upon them or within their arms. The greater the sacrifice, the more exaltation the devotee derived. In the heat of her ever-increasing passion, she brought the greatest sacrifice a mother could offer. It was then that Moloch first tasted the flesh and blood of the infants thrown within him by mothers gone mad with desire.

Moloch was the contrary god. he was contrary to all the refinements that human society had developed in its march of civilization. He was contrary to human nature in love and sex. In Moloch, man revolted against his better self. In Moloch, he turned his face on his own humanity. He quickly ran down the ladder up which he had struggled so hard to ascend.

Next: Chapter V. The Dance of the Saktas