Barbara Walker (877) perceptively comments: &quot;Human or animal, the sacrificial victims of ancient cultures were almost invariably male. Worshippers of Shiva sacrificed only male animals; the god himself ordered that female animals must never be slain.&apos; Males were expendable, for there were always too many for a proper breeding stock. The same was true even of human sacrifices, which were men, not women. &quot;The fertility of a group is determined by the number of its adult women, rather than by its adult men.&quot; Therefore male blood only was poured out on the earliest altars, in imitation of the female blood that gave &quot;life.&quot; That is why totemic animal-ancestors were more often paternal than maternal. The animals&apos;blood and flesh, ingested by women, was thought to beget human offspring; and the rule was &quot;Whatever is killed becomes father.&quot; The victim was also god, and king.&quot; As time went by, ritual substitutes were used who became king for a day and were then sacrificed, as was the case in Babylon. &quot;Amazonian Sacae or Scythians founded the Sacaea festivals of Babylon, where condemned criminals died as sacrificial surrogates for the king, to mitigate the earlier custom of king-killing. The chosen victim was a sacred king, identified with the real king in every possible way. He wore the king&apos;s robes, sat on the king&apos;s throne, lay with the royal concubines, wielded the scepter. After five days he was stripped, scourged, then hanged or impaled &quot;between heaven and earth,&quot; in a prototype of the crucifixion ceremony later extended to sacred kings of the Jews. The object of scourging and piercing was to make the pseudo-king shed tears and blood for fertility magic.&apos; Babylonian scriptures said, &quot;if the king does not weep when struck, the omen is bad for the year.&quot; The king or pseudo-king &quot;became God&quot; as soon as he was dead. He ascended into heaven and united himself with the Heavenly Father, i.e., the original totem father, or first victim ... When ritual murder of kings or human king-surrogates came to be considered crude and uncivilized, then animal victims took their place. ... The Jews retained a custom of human sacrifice, for special occasions, longer than any other people in the sphere of influence of the Roman empire. Out of this tradition arose the figure of the dying Christos in Jerusalem.&quot; (Walker 877)
My hometown :
What’s in a name ?
There is no certainty about the meaning of the name "Aalst“.
Amongst the many explications, two seem to make more sense :
1. "Alusoth" = germanic for "bunch of elm trees" : quite a lot of
the names of neighbouring places got their names from the
German tribes who settled here after crossing the river Rhine
and defeating the Romans.
E.g. "Nederhasselt", where I live, means "neder - hasluth“ or :
“one of two places in the neighbourhood where hazlenut-trees
An important argument in favour of this explication is that there
is no mention of the name prior to the year 868, and hence rather
insignificant until the germanics settled here.
Some people however claim a different orgine : "Al Ost" =
Celtic for "place near the water" : When the german tribes
invaded these parts, they argue, the place may already have had
enough importance to keep it's original name.
An argument in favour of this explication is that in other places
called "Aalst" in Holland and Belgium, the name can be traced
back to it's Celtic origins, whereas there is no second place
known by this name, that received it's name from the germans.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Aalst was part of Brabant, until captured by the count of
Flanders in 1048. It received town's rights in 1164, a court in
1174, a hospital in 1241. The monastery buildings of the Old
Hospital (13°-16° Century) still exist. Very attractive are the
beautiful inner garden and the small gallery behind the chapel.
The construction of the belfry dates from 1225, which makes it
the eldest belfry in the Netherlands.
Unfortunately, there is little left of the old beguinage, that was
founded in 1261. It was nearly completely demolished in the
1950's. At that time, most beguine-houses were in complete
decay and the town decided to replace them by a modern social
neighbourhood. Today, only the St. Catharine church, a rare
example of classical church building, erected at the end of the
Ancient Regime and the small St Anthony of Padua - chapel,
built in late-classical style, bear witness that this neighbourhood
• In the 10th century, Aalst was sacked several times by
the Danes. The church added a short line at the end of
every prayer : « From the North-men, save us Lord »
Some more history
§ In 1338, 3.600 people live in Aalst. In 1380, the town is almost
completely destroyed by Ghent troops that revolted against the
count of Flanders.
§ When Count Diederik, last count of Aalst, dies without offspring in
1166 Flanders becomes part of Burgundy. Aalst rises from it's
ruins and becomes more prosperous than before.
§ But the tide changes when Emperor Charles dies : Soon after 1560,
his son, Philipe II, declares war to Protestantism. He loses the
Northern Netherlands, that become an independent protestant
state and to which as many as 10% of the Flemish people flee in
search of freedom of religion. In their war against Spain, the
Dutch prevent all access to the ports of the Southern Netherlands :
Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges lose all traffic and pine away. The
country is starved. 100 years later, things will become worse still,
when the French join in and try (again) to conquer Flanders. In
1667 the French attack and demolish the walls and main fortresses
of nearly every Flemish city. Aalst is no exception.
§ Aalst is the city of printer Dirk Martens, priest
Daens and author Louis-Paul Boon.
§ Dirk Martens was the first to print books in
§ Priest Daens led a social protest against the
exploitation of labourers at the end of the 19th
century. His name is still very well known and
respected throughout Flanders.
§ Louis-Paul-boon was an author of social and
historical novels. He wrote most of his novels
between 1940 and 1975. He has been nominated
several times for the Nobelprice of literature.
When it comes to Carnival, Aalst is the Rio
de Janeiro of Belgium
Three days per year, life is a
party. Hmm ... Preparing for
these 3 days however requires
months of ... work ???
• Aalst is the home of one of the largest corn factory's in the world
• One of the world's largest dredging companies, Jan De Nul, also
has it's seat in Aalst.
• Economically, the city has always been known for it's textile-
manufacturing companies and as a center and marketplace for
• Aalst never really recovered from
the decay of the textile-industry.
Still today, lots of people take the
train everyday to go and work in
offices and factories in the
Brussels and Ghent regions.
city in Belgium
Aalst is a rather small town, with provincial importance (the
town-center counts 40.000 habitants only, counting the
suburbs, there are some 80.000 people living in Aalst).
The region is densely populated, with "the end of Aalst" and
"the beginning of" neighbouring villages (Denderleeuw,
Haaltert, ...) barely more as a name-shield between houses.
The surrounding villages are largely dependant on Aalst for
governmental services (tax-administration, police-court, car-
control, ...), schools, shopping, healthcare (hospitals), fire-
brigade and even social and cultural life.
Made to people’s
Aalst still has a couple of green
places: There is a large park (15 ha),
where you can sport. Next to this
park there is the "Osbroek", the
largest in a series of small nature
reserves that are situated in and
around the city.