Thanks guys, the people of 10th century Benin (now part of Nigeria) did a lot of human sacrificing, mostly of people enslaved for the purpose. The victims were tied on scaffolding supported by a tree, arranged into an X, then a '+' was cut into their belly skin (avoiding the guts) with a spear. They believed the sky spirit wd receive the offering via the feeding birds. The Oba - a priest-king (a pope sort of figure ruling say 2000 people plus slaves) with an admin structure similar to a scaled down Vatican during its militaristic years, had a pendant crucifix as a symbol of office. It looked like a Greek cross (see wiki) and symbolised their cosmology. The horizontal bar denoted the division between the living (below) and the otherworld (above). The vertical represented the Oba's ability to transcend the two and divine the will of the sky-god. It certainly got the respect of the Catholic Portuguese, the first Europeans known to have discovered the tribe. The Oba had a temple complex with church-and-steeple type structures, altars upon which animals were sacrificed, and ancestors honoured, etc. Knowledge from above came down thro a copper snake like a large lightning conductor on the steeple - copper/brass were believed to be the only materials which transmitted the divine wisdom. It all has a strange familiarity!
Whereas the middle eastern snakes are ground-dwelling (on their bellies...) the tree snake is common in the jungle and comes down from above. The concept of knowledge is central to Odinism, the Benin and Genesis - with the Adam and Eve bit cropping up in the Quran as well. There's a possible connection between Odinism and reincarnation as well, but I'll pick that up in a new posting sometime, I need to check a few more details first.
The concept of crucified deities, heroes, saviours, etc. goes back thousands of years, and you can find such stories all over the world. The Sumerians have the story of Inanna, a goddess who was stripped naked and crucified, rose from the dead, and condemned her lover, a shepherd-god, to hell. In fact, the religion devoted to Inanna apparently had some followers in Jerusalem in the 6th century BC, something recorded in the Biblical book of Ezekiel.
We can't really point to any one pagan religion or cult, and clearly say it influenced Christianity's saviour-figure story, of Jesus Christ. But it is true that people have been worshipping crucified gods for centuries, and were doing so in and around Palestine during the time Jesus is said to have lived. Whatever Christianity is, it certainly isn't original.
Odinism has Odin hanging from a tree for nine days with a spear in him. There's one for you.