From Skertchly’s 1874 Dahomey as it is (339-340):
The king’s strong names were then called out, the recital occupying nearly an hour. The victims were then placed with their heads bowed to the earth, while the message was delivered. The purport of it was as follows: — “Gelelé sends his compliments to his father, and declares that he would do all things as he had wished his son to do. He has made one Custom for him and now makes another, so that Gézu shall know that his son Gelelé does not forget him.” With a long ting-tang on the gong-gong the message was concluded, and preparations for the fearful consummation commenced. The rum bottle was opened, part poured out on the ground, and the remainder on the heads of the victims. The bunches of cowries were then laid on their heads for an instant, and afterwards placed before them. The cankie was placed in the waist cloths of the poor wretches, and then the executioner made his appearance. [...] He was armed with a long fish-slice-shaped knife, and carried a bunch of horse tails round his neck.
One of the victims was then brought to the front, and his head being bent forward, Bukau with one well-aimed stroke severed it from the body, which then toppled forwards, and the life-blood poured out over the ground.
From Herodotus’s Histories (4:94), in reference to the Getae, “the bravest and most law-abiding of the Thracians” (4:93):
This is the nature of their belief in immortality: they do not think that any one of them dies but that the one who perishes goes to the daimon Salmoxis. There are some among them who call him Gebeleïzis. Once in every five years they send off one of their number, who is chosen by lot, as a messenger to go to Salmoxis. They give him instructions in what they need on each of these occasions, and this is how they send him. Certain of them, who are appointed for it, hold three spears. Others seize the man who is to be sent by his arms and feet, and they throw him aloft so that he falls on the spear points. If he is pierced through and dies, the god, they think, is favorable to them. If he does not die, they blame the messenger, saying that he is a bad man; and once they have laid the blame upon him, they send off another messenger. The instructions they give are given to the man while he is still alive.
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