The Brand of Sacrifice is a prominent symbol in the dark fantasy manga and anime series Berserk, created by Kentaro Miura. It is a mark that signifies those who have been sacrificed for the sake of power, and who are destined to be devoured by evil forces.
In this article, we will explain the meaning, significance, and symbolism of the Brand of Sacrifice tattoo in Berserk.
Meaning of the Brand of Sacrifice Tattoo in Berserk
The Brand of Sacrifice is a mark that resembles a twisted face with an open mouth and a bleeding eye. It is usually located on the body part that is closest to the heart, such as the chest, neck, or forehead. The Brand of Sacrifice has the following meanings:
Symbol of those Sacrificed for Power
The Brand of Sacrifice is given to those who are offered as a sacrifice by someone who wishes to transcend their humanity and become a powerful being. The sacrifice involves a ritual called the Invocation of Doom, in which the sacrificer is chosen by the laws of causality and summoned to a hellish dimension called the Abyss. There, they are presented with a crimson behelit, a mystical egg-shaped object that opens a portal to the God Hand, a group of five demonic entities that grant the sacrificer’s wish in exchange for their most beloved ones. The sacrificer then has to choose whether to sacrifice their loved ones or not. If they choose to do so, they become an apostle, a monstrous creature that serves the God Hand, or a member of the God Hand themselves, if they are part of a special event called the Eclipse that occurs once every 216 years. The sacrificed ones are then branded with the mark of sacrifice and devoured by hordes of demons called apostles.
Anointed for the Invocation of Doom
The Brand of Sacrifice also marks those who are destined to be involved in the Invocation of Doom, either as sacrificers or sacrifices. The brand is activated when the crimson behelit is used, and it causes intense pain and bleeding to the branded ones. The brand also attracts evil spirits and apostles to them, making their lives a constant struggle for survival. The branded ones can only find peace in death, but even then, their souls are dragged to the Abyss, where they suffer for eternity.
Connection to the God Hand
The Brand of Sacrifice also connects the branded ones to the God Hand, as they can sense their presence and influence. The God Hand are the ultimate enemies of the branded ones, as they are responsible for their fate and torment. The God Hand also have their own brands on their bodies, which represent their roles and personalities.
Significance of the Brand of Sacrifice in Berserk
The Brand of Sacrifice is a significant symbol in Berserk, as it represents the following themes:
- Mark of their fate: The Brand of Sacrifice shows that the branded ones have no control over their destiny, as they are bound by the laws of causality that govern the world. They are mere pawns in a grand scheme orchestrated by the God Hand and a mysterious force called the Idea of Evil, which is the source of all evil in the world. The branded ones have no choice but to face their doom, as they cannot escape or change their fate.
- Branded by evil: The Brand of Sacrifice also shows that the branded ones are tainted by evil, as they are exposed to horrors and atrocities that no human can endure. They are constantly hunted by evil forces that want to devour them, and they have to fight for their lives with violence and brutality. They also lose their faith and hope in humanity, as they witness betrayal and corruption among their fellow humans. They become isolated and mistrustful, as they cannot trust anyone or anything.
- Constant reminder of their sacrifice: The Brand of Sacrifice also shows that the branded ones are haunted by their sacrifice, as they have to live with the guilt and grief of losing their loved ones. They also have to face the consequences of their sacrifice, such as losing their humanity or becoming enemies with their former friends. They also have to deal with the resentment and hatred of those who survived or escaped the sacrifice, such as Guts, who vows to kill Griffith for sacrificing his comrades.
Characters with the Brand of Sacrifice in Berserk
The main characters who have been branded with the mark of sacrifice in Berserk are:
- Guts: Guts is the protagonist of Berserk, and a former mercenary who joined Griffith’s Band of the Hawk. He was Griffith’s best friend and right-hand man until Griffith sacrificed him and his comrades during the Eclipse. Guts survived the ordeal with his brand on his neck, and became a lone swordsman who seeks revenge on Griffith and the God Hand. He wields a massive sword called Dragon Slayer, which he uses to slay apostles and demons.
- Griffith: Griffith is the main antagonist of Berserk, and the leader of the Band of the Hawk. He was a charismatic and ambitious man who dreamed of becoming a king. He used his crimson behelit during the Eclipse to sacrifice his comrades and become Femto, the fifth member of the God Hand. He then reincarnated into a human body and formed a new kingdom called Falconia, where he is worshipped as a savior by humans. He is Guts’ archenemy and former friend.
- Casca: Casca is the deuteragonist of Berserk and a former member of the Band of the Hawk. She was Griffith’s second-in-command and Guts’ lover until Griffith sacrificed them during the Eclipse. Casca survived the ordeal with her brand on her chest, but she was raped by Griffith in his Femto form, which caused her to lose her sanity and memory. She became a childlike and mute woman who was protected by Guts until she regained her mind with the help of magic.
Real-World Symbolism of the Brand of Sacrifice in Berserk
The Brand of Sacrifice in Berserk also has some real-world symbolism, such as:
Similarities to real-life brands and markings
The Brand of Sacrifice resembles some real-life brands and markings that have been used to mark people for various reasons, such as slavery, ownership, punishment, identification, or stigma. For example, some ancient cultures branded slaves or criminals with hot irons or knives to mark them as inferior or outcasts. Some Nazi concentration camps tattooed numbers on the prisoners to identify them as disposable. Some religious groups marked their members with symbols or scars to show their devotion or affiliation.
Representation of sacrifice and power in many cultures
The Brand of Sacrifice also represents the concept of sacrifice and power that has been prevalent in many cultures and religions throughout history. Many ancient civilizations practiced human sacrifice as a way to appease their gods, gain their favor, or obtain their power. Some examples are the Aztecs, who sacrificed thousands of people to their sun god; the Celts, who sacrificed people in wicker man effigies to their gods; and the Carthaginians, who sacrificed children to their god Moloch. Some modern cults also practice human sacrifice as a way to achieve spiritual enlightenment or worldly success. Some examples are the Order of the Solar Temple, who committed mass suicide and murder to ascend to a higher plane; the Peoples Temple, who committed mass suicide to escape persecution; and the Heaven’s Gate, who committed mass suicide to join an alien spacecraft.
Connection to other mythical symbols
The Brand of Sacrifice also has some connections to other mythical symbols that have similar meanings or appearances. For example, the Brand of Sacrifice is similar to the Mark of Cain, which is a symbol that God placed on Cain after he killed his brother Abel in the Bible. The Mark of Cain was meant to protect Cain from being killed by others, but also to curse him with wandering and isolation. The Brand of Sacrifice is also similar to the Ouroboros, which is a symbol that depicts a snake or a dragon eating its own tail. The Ouroboros represents the cycle of life and death, creation and destruction, eternity and infinity.