The very oldest example of religion that we have documented is in the form of a voluntary amputation found in a Polish archeological site dating back about 30,000 years — Blake wrote about this for BME back in 2003. Even today there are African, Australian, and other indigenous cultures that practice small digit amputations as a way of coping with mourning and the loss of a loved one. There’s something very instinctual about it in the human experience.
A friend of mine, an experienced cross-spectrum practitioner, recently did this amputation on a customer who had lost his mother, and wanted to do this amputation as a tribute or memorial to her. The procedure was fairly simple, although not as simple as the hammer-and-chisel that many people resort to. He used a number 11 scalpel to peel back the skin, leaving enough skin so that when he removed the bones there would be enough left over to create a flap to cover the wound to speed up the healing. Doing the procedure this way also leaves a more comfortable result, because the amputated finger has a little more “padding” on the end.