March 24: The Day of Blood

March 24.

The Day of Blood.

Men, cover your testicles and put on black leather jackets, torn jeans, and boots. Look for all the world like not just the stereotype of a biker, but actually like every single biker in America really does look. What in the name of Cybeline priests and ancient rites am I talking about?

Let us return back in time to when worship of the Phrygian goddess Cybele resulted in the re-enactment of the death of Attis, her beloved, in one of the most bizarre and voyeur-rich rituals in the annals of religious cults. This ritual took place on March 24, on the third day of the Attis Festival. Those priests who worshiped the goddess Cybele were known as Galli (or Gulli) and to say that they were your normal, typical, everyday men would be an overstatement of monumental design. What exactly separated the Galli from other Roman men, much less priests? Trust me on this one: prepare yourself, if you are a male, before reading on.

The Attis Festival ritual that took place on the Day of Blood was one that, well, will go down in history as a religious rite that few engaged in out of any mere desire to go along with the crowd. Each of the priests began the Day of Blood by taking a sharp sword to their crotch and castrating themselves. Now, that might be enough to make you go ewwww, right, but it gets even stranger. After all, what’s the use of slicing off your own testicles if you just plan on tossing them into the nearest river? No, after the rite of castration, the Galli (Gulli) priests would then dramatically present the testicles to the goddess Cybele before burying them in shallow graves. Surely, the Day of Blood ended there, right, and this whole nauseating rite came to an end?

Do you think I’d write about it if that was all? No, after the practice of emasculation through self-mutilation, the priests were still heavy into re-enactment mode. They shed their male clothing and attired themselves in traditional female garb. They would also wear female jewelry. Only this part of the Day of Blood rite didn’t end once the Attis Festival came to a conclusion. Hey, if your manhood is gone forever, why carry on the façade, right? No, the Galli (Gulli) would continue to dress and decorate themselves for the rest of their lives. Come the next Attis Festival, they would make the anniversary of their castration by biting into their arms until the blood flowed freely.

It wasn’t called the Day of Blood for nothing.