Skoptsy

skoptsy

The Skoptsy [skopt-see] were a secret sect in imperial Russia best known for practicing castration of men and the mastectomy of women in accordance with their teachings against sexual lust. They were persecuted by the imperial government and later by the Soviet Union, but enjoyed substantial growth before fading into obscurity by the mid-twentieth century. The name ‘Skoptsy’ is a plural of ‘skopets,’ an archaic word meaning ‘castrated one’ in the Russian language.

As their title indicates, the main feature of the sect was castration. They believed that after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had the halves of the forbidden fruit grafted onto their bodies forming testicles and breasts. Thus, the removal of these sexual organs restored the Skoptsy to the pristine state before the Original Sin. Men who had underwent the ‘greater seal’ (removal of the penis and testicles) used a cow-horn when urinating.

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