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“Burn the bunny! Burn the bunny!” The chant marked my first foray into ritual sacrifice. Standing in the Arizona desert with my friend from Newcastle, I stoked the bonfire. We were celebrating Guy Fawkes Day, a British ritual in which effigies of a notorious national traitor are burned at the stake. For lack of better planning, we were roasting a stuffed bunny. According to Elizabeth P. Benson and Anita G. Cook, editors of Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru, practically every culture in the world has a myth about human sacrifice and a ritual to accompany it. “Understanding sacrifice is an important means of knowing a culture, its worldview, and its religion,” the authors write in the book’s introduction. They then delve into their specialty: human sacrifice in ancient Peru. In pre-Columbian times, nobody bothered with stuffed bunnies. They sacrificed real humans—and lots of them. Throughout their studies, Benson and Cook seem to revel in the gory details of sacrifice, unearthing numerous trophy heads and skeletons for our viewing pleasure. Check out their collection when they appear at 6 p.m. at the Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. $13. (202) 357-3030. (Felix Gillette)