I don’t feel that people hurt because they are unenlightened. I feel they are unenlightened because they do not hurt.
The Christ Easter story is mirrored in other religions, and it is the ultimate story of destruction and renewal. The pagan rites of kingship are heavily shown in the Celtic world, and this applied in Africa also, though the shamanic views were different from the monotheistic. Basically, it was believed that in order to truly have power over the land, the King had to become one with it. Thus the name ‘Pendragon’ meant Dragon King, and dragons were seen as being the spirit of the land. The same concept was present with the Dragon Emperors of China, but the rites of kingship were rituals performed by the King to acknowledge that the new season was to come. If the King neglected these observances, winter might last too long, or fire might spread beyond the ability to survive. As the King served the people they were believed to need to serve the land also.
Cremation was originated for that purpose. Fire wasn’t seen as evil, but was seen as the alpha and omega elementally. So to burn the dead was to offset the burning of the living. Without that respect being shown, they believed fire would seek to enforce respect.
Could it have been alchemical burnings? Oh, indeed. Alchemy was not anti-animistic, but if anything quite the opposite. One systems elemental spirit was another’s homunculus. The difference being, alchemy saw the state and changes in matter perhaps in a more detailed way, though also they didn’t take the step of hubris science did. They still saw that their working could, and likely would, draw a reaction from nature. The spirits (and we call alcohol a spirit today for this very reason) were seen as the active elements in nature. Any action took place from a knowing agency. So, as this relates to rites of spring, anything you might seek to hold unchanged might have ideas of its own. Even in our scientific era people still speak of things having a mind of their own, even if they won’t admit to actually believing that.
Because forces of nature act upon them? Yes, there are no exceptions. What is commonly unknown is that Mayday, and the early portion of spring, were seen in exactly the same way as Halloween. The barrier between the spirit world and the material was seen to be equally open during spring, and so if you wanted anything to get off on the right foot you had to account for what went before, a sort of atonement/purification.
During autumn it was necessary to remember what you were given, and spring was more of a negotiating agreement between you and the spirits. If you didn’t get their cooperation, as the King needed to also, then your crops wouldn’t flourish, and your work would be unlucky. Even rites of passage, for young people to move into the tribally acknowledged adulthood, were undertaken in spring.
Many times it was not a virgin sacrificed, it was the King if things went badly? Yes, he was considered to have offended the land.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.