vrijdag 4 oktober 2013

the sacred prostitute

The history of the Temple of Ishtar

In Her Temples in many lands from Egypt to Assyria to Babylon to Crete to India, in Rome and Greece and many Celtic lands, Her Temples had Sacred Priestesses who were also called Prostitutes by those of body denial religions. Her worship was in the arms of the Priestess who embodied and represented The Goddess(s). These worshipers are sometimes known as pagans.
A fundamental difference in the concept of worship is important to note: In the Temples of the old ways people would go to the temple TO BE WORSHIPPED not to worship. Women would go to the temple to serve the Goddess to embody Her, to represent Her, to be worshipped as Her. Women would spend a day, or a week, or a year serving at the Temple as a priestess, as a sacred Prostitute, as a whore in service to the Goddess. There they would be worshipped as the incarnation of the Goddess, as The Goddess Herself.
Men would come to Her Temple TO BE WORSHIPPED. Men would be welcomed and served by the Priestesses and men would represent the divine male principal, the Horned One, the Sacred Bull, The God. Men would come to the temple to give their love and passion to The Goddess, and would receive the passion, love, and affection of The Goddess.
But some three millennia ago there came monotheists who refused Her Worship preferring instead to be diminished in body and spirit. They called Her, "The Whore of Babylon, who leads men into fornication." They called our sacred sexuality "sin," and cast shame on Her sacred Priestesses. They held up a "virgin" as the ideal that women should imitate instead of the sacred Goddess that they had always held as the most sacred image of Woman. This is essentially the state of things in the modern world.
The two principal deities of ancient Babylon were Baal and Ishtar. Baal was the god of war and the elements and Ishtar the goddess of fertility - both human and agricultural. These two deities have roots going back before Babylon to Nimrod at Babel and to Assyria. Through the ages they were imported into other nations and under different names but always retaining the same basic characteristics. Baal was also called Bel, Baalat, Molech, Merodach, Mars and Jupiter, and was frequently represented as a bull. Ishtar was also called Aphrodite, Astarte, Ashtoreth, Cybele or Sybil, Diana, Europa, Isis, Semiramis and Venus.
Ishtar was worshipped via offerings of produce and money as well as though fornication with temple prostitutes. It is this last characteristic that helps make the tie between religious Babylon and kings and merchants. In his book The Secret of Crete, H.G. Wunderlich reports that before marriage, every woman in Babylon was required to go to the temple of Ishtar and lie with a stranger. We have a similar report from Gerhard Herm in his book, The Phoenicians (1) , where women in the Canaanite cities of Tyre, Sidon and Byblos were required to become prostitutes for a day and give themselves to foreign guests during the spring festival. This festival survives today in the name of "Easter", which is derived from the word "Ishtar". Note that the women were to prostitute themselves with strangers or foreigners. In ancient times, the foreigners in these cities were mostly composed of traveling merchants and political dignitaries. In the third century A.D. the historian Eusebius described the patrons of these temples in this way: "It was a school of godlessness for those dissipated men, who had ruined their bodies in the pursuit of luxuriousness. The men were soft and effeminate, were no longer men; they had betrayed the honor of their sex; they believed they must worship their god with impure lust."

 "The Sacred Prostitute" was the priestess of love. In ancient times she was the living face of the Goddess. Where is she now?

Mary Magdalene – High Priestess and Sacred Prostitute

My awareness of the Goddess came to me somewhere in my early 30’s and deciding to seek her out academically many years later has been an awakening, as are all major truths in our lives. To my surprise I discovered that much of the world for millennia lived in a world where their God was female and she was the Goddess – benevolent, fertile and above all sexual. Very sexual! Today we have a profound difficulty in associating the profession of the prostitute with anything vaguely associated with sacredness, but in ancient times these women were held in the highest esteem in the temples of the Great Mother Goddess. The sacred prostitute or temple priestess became the representation of the goddess in physical form and with their bodies entered into sacred sexual rituals with the men who came to worship.
My studies have shown me that long before Christianity (which has only been around 2,000 years) and as far back as stone age times (30,000 plus years), people experienced their surroundings, their heavens and earth and all forms of life in worship of the Great Primordial Mother Goddess. Their crops were grown in cycle with the changing seasons and phases of the moon and both the abundance of the harvest and the winter frosts were all experienced as aspects of her changing face.
As far back as the 4th millennium BCE the practice of sacred sexual intercourse within the temples of Innana and Ishtar in Mesopotamia were yearly rites performed between the King and the Goddess and were understood to reinvigorate the land and people with divine fertile energy. The priestess’ of the temple took the title of “Hierodule of Heaven”[1] which meant ‘servant of the holy’ and it was a great honour to make love within the precinct of the goddess. It is not difficult then to understand that the practice of sacred prostitution became a religious act of worship where sexuality and spirituality became one and the same.


In Babylon there was a hierarchy of prostitutes from the high-ranking priestesses known by various names including Qadishtu, Hereta, Naditu or Entu, right down to the tavern or street whore called harimtu. The Goddess Ishtar did not differentiate in bestowing her blessings and honoured the sexual act howsoever it be performed[2]. “Who will plough my vulva?” calls Inanna in the old hymns…”Who will water the holy lap?”[3] The power of the divine feminine, embodied in the sexuality of all women both made the earth grow and was a power for transformation
So what do we know of Mary Magdalene? There is very little actual historic evidence to draw upon apart from the writings of the New Testament. They tell us that she was a prostitute from whom Jesus cast seven demons and that upon her healing she became a follower of Christ. She is the one who washes his feet and anoints him and who witnesses his death and resurrection. She becomes the woman mentioned most often in the New Testament.
It is known that the Temples of the Goddess existed throughout biblical times and some were still to be found up to the middle ages, amongst them, temples to the Goddess Isis. One well known image shows Mary holding the alabaster jar and wearing around her waist what is known as the ‘Girdle of Isis’ or the Isis knot which was worn by priestesses of Isis. Many authors speak of Mary (or Mari) coming to her first menses and being sent to Egypt and the Temple of Isis to become initiated into the ways of the sacred Priestess. Here, she becomes Qadishtu and is taught the practice of sacred sexuality where she becomes the living vessel for the Goddess to enter in the ancient rite known as ‘hieros gamos’ or ‘sacred marriage’. The Da Vinci Code speaks of this sacred rite where through ritual sex, both parties are able to experience God/dess.


 More raw footage from a new documentary, Path of the Sexual Shaman. More info at http://sexualshaman.com/

The Devil or the Divine Feminine

...Inherent in the dominator model is an adversarial approach to life. To stay in a resistant state is to stay in a patriarchal state. We cannot heal ourselves or the culture with this approach. True healing does not happen within a resistant state.
I feel that blaming problems on the devil is part of this adversarial approach and symptomatic of patriarchy. It is a refusal to go within, which is the realm of the feminine, and instead choosing to blame something outside of ourselves. We have chosen to exist in an ongoing reactive state, perpetuating fundamental imbalances. Instead of going within, we choose to perpetuate the cycle of violence.
I believe that women are the way forward, out of patriarchy and the culture of violence, because the feminine aspect is fundamentally receptive and this is what is required to move forward at this time. As a fundamental archetypal energy, feminine consciousness or lunar consciousness is the energy that is not afraid to descend into the shadows where the energies of true transformation live. This is the world of the Goddess Inanna and The Great Below.
We cannot go forward without going within. To embrace the feminine means we have to think with our hearts, trust the journey, and believe in our inherent goodness.
Women know how to bring forth the future, to birth a new world...

 Prostitutes of God

Some parents in India practice the Devadasi tradition, selling their daughters into a life of prostitution, often around the age of 10.
We traveled to the Indian city of Sangli to meet a group of bolshy sex workers selling their bodies in the name of the Hindu Goddess Yellamma. Local sex worker Anitha invites us for lunch in her brothel; shows us her homemade "sex rooms," and tells us what it's like to be a religious prostitute in modern India.


Like the devadasis of Hindu temples, prostitute-priestesses dispensed
the grace of the Goddess in ancient Middle-Eastern temples. They were often known as Charites or Graces, since they dealt in the
unique combination of beauty and kindness called charis (Latin caritas)
that was later translated "charity." Actually it was like Hindu karuna,
a combination of mother-love, tenderness, comfort, mystical enlightenment,
and sex.
Hesiod said the sensual magic of the sacred whores or Horae
"mellowed the behavior of men."1 Ishtar, the Great Whore of
Babylon, announced, "A prostitute compassionate am 1." 2 Mary Magdalene
said of her sisters in the profession, "Not only are we
compassionate of ourselves, but we are compassionate of all the race of
mankind." 3
Ancient harlots often commanded high social status and were
revered for their learning. 6 As embodiments of the Queen of Heaven,
in Palestine called Qadeshet, the Great Whore, the harlots were
honored like queens at centers of learning in Greece and Asia
Minor.7 Some even became queens. The empress Theodora, wife of
Justinian, began her career as a temple harlot.8 St. Helena, mother of
Constantine, was a harlot before she became an empress-saint.9
In an Egyptian story, a priestess of Bubastis demanded all of a
man's worldly goods for one night of her love. She said, "I am a
hierodule; I am no mean person." 10 Until recently Egypt still had a class
of women called ghazye, "sacred whores," who were greatly honored
in the time of the Mamelukes and prized as brides when their period of
service was ended.
Temple prostitutes were revered as healers of the sick. Their very
secretions were supposed to have medical virtue. A Sufi proverb still
suggests this opinion: "There is healing in a woman's vagina." 12 Even
their spittle could perform cures. Jesus's cure of blindness by spittle
(Mark 8:23) was copied from a matriarchal tradition. A clay tablet from
Nineveh says eye diseases can be cured by a harlot's spittle. 13 Harlots
were also sorceresses, prophets, and seers. The Hebrew word zonah
means both a prostitute and a prophetess. 14
Holy Mothers designated the promiscuous priestess-shamanesses
of Japan, also known as spirit-women. Becoming Brides of God, they
entered the shrine to lie with a priest possessed by the god's spirit. 15
Similar customs distinguished the Indian devadasis, human copies of
the lascivious Heavenly Nymphs.
The profession was popular. Temples of Aphrodite at Eryx,
Corinth, Cyprus, and other sites were served by a thousand sacred
harlots apiece.16 When Hellenic Greeks reduced wives to the status of
servants, the hetaerae or courtesans remained legally and politically
equal to men. Roman matrons of the highest aristocracy prostituted
themselves in the temple of Juno Sospita when a revelation was
needed. 17 Every Babylonian woman prostituted herself in the temple
before marriage.18 By Amorite sacred law, "she who was about to
marry should sit in fornication seven days by the gate (of the temple)."19
Such laws were supposed to appease the Goddess, who disapproved
of monogamy in the era when there was no formal marriage and
children didn't know their fathers.20 In Greek myth, the Great
Mother forbade the Heavenly Father Zeus to make a monogamous
marriage, holding that only her own ancient system of group marriage
was honorable.21
The Tantric word for a sacred harlot was Veshya, probable origin
of the Goddess's oldest names in Greece and Rome, Hestia or Vesta,
the Hearth-mother, served by the V~stal Virgins who were originally
harlot-priestesses.22 "Hearth" and "Earth" both arose from the altar
of the Saxon Goddess Ertha, or Heartha, the northern Hestia-Vesta. In
the matriarchal age, every woman's hearth-fire was her altar.23 The
hearth was also the omphalos, feminine hub of the universe, navel-stone
of the temple, around which the sacred harlots performed their
Dances of Time.
Dancing harlots came to be called Hours: Persian houri, Greek
horae. Egyptian temple-women also were Ladies of the Hour. Each
ruled a certain hour of the night, and protected the solar boat of Ra in
the underworld during his passage through her hour. 24 The Dance of
the Hours began as a pagan ceremony of the Horae (divine "Whores")
who kept the hours of the night by dances, as Christian monks later
kept the hours of the day by prayers. The oldest authentic Hebrew folk
dance is still called hora after the circle dances of the sacred harlots.
The Horae also guarded the gates of heaven, ministered to the souls of
the blessed, and turned the heavenly spheres.25 (See Houri.)
The Hebrew word hor means a hole, cave, or pit, common
synonyms for both a sacred prostitute and the Goddess she served,
whose yoni was represented by a hole, cave, pit, or pool of water in the
heart of the temple.26 A similar Latin term was puteus, a well or pit,
source of the Spanish puta, "whore." Common folk the Romans buried
in puticuh~ "pits," which like all graves used to stand for the womb of
rebirth.27 The common root was Vedic puta, "pure" or "holy," and the
Avestan putika, a mystical lake of the waters of birth. 28 "Lady of the
Lake" was a title of the Great Goddess throughout Eurasia. In Aramaic,
her shrines were Athra qaddisa, "the holy place," literally a "heavenly
harlot-place," or genital pit or lake. 29
"To dive into water means to delve into the mystery of Maya, to
quest after the ultimate secret of life .... [T]he cosmic waters are at
once the immaculate source of all things and dreadful grave." 30 All
Asia called water a female element, the source of creation, the arche of
Stoic philosophy. To dive into such water was a symbol of sexual
intercourse. Communing in this way with a holy whore, man could
realize the spiritual enlightenment called horasis. This word appears
in the New Testament (Acts 2:17), misleadingly translated "visions." 31
A Semitic clan, the Horites of Genesis 36, traced their descent
from the Great Goddess as "Hora." 32 The Jews had cult prostitutes
in the time of King Josiah, when they lived next to the temple and wove
hangings for the sacred grove (2 Kings 23:7). Modern translations of the Bible call them "sodomites," but the original wording meant holy
harlots. 33 Such holy harlots were often "brides of God," set apart to
give birth to Sons of God, i.e., prophets and sometimes sacrificial
victims. 34
Holy whores were called "virgins" because they remained unmarried
(see Virgin Birth). Like medieval nuns, they took veils as a
badge of their office. Ishtar-Asherah-Mari-Anath was not only the Great
Whore but also the Great Virgin (kadesha, holy one). Her Greek
name was Athene, also described as a "virgin" (Parthenia); but Athene's
temple, the Parthenon, was served by promiscuous hierodules like all
other shrines of the Goddess. Later myths rationalized the perpetual
"virginity" of lascivious fertility-goddesses by periodic hymen-renewing
ceremonies such as sea baptism, annual bathing in sacred springs, etc.
The virginity of Great Mother Hera was annually restored by a dip in
the spring of Canathos at Nauplia. Pausanias said the myth was based
on a rite of bathing the Goddess's image.35
Because whores occupied a significant position in paganism, Christians
vilified their profession. Churchmen didn't want to stamp out
prostitution altogether, only amputate its spiritual meanings. St. John
Chrysostom earned high praise from the Patriarch of Constantinople
for robbing temple prostitutes of "the honors paid to them." 36 The triad
of heavenly Horae were mythically virginized as thtee maiden saints
martyred together, Agape, Chionia, and Irene (Love-feast, She of
Chios, and Peace). 37 Real horae were relegated to hora-houses, no
longer temples. The traditional red light of the whorehouse descended
from the houses of Roman venerii who displayed the sign of an erect
phallus, painted blood red. 38
Medieval Germanic law forbade a man to build a horgr, or to call
his house a horgr, on pain of forfeiting every penny he owned;
because horgr meant a pagan shrine, a house of "holy whores" where
priestesses carried on the old religion. Such place names as Horgsholt
in Iceland still identify ancient shrines. 39
In the year l 000 A.D. the Icelanders agreed to become Christian in
name at least, and to be baptized; but all who wished were still legally
permitted to celebrate the rites of their ancestors in private houses called
horgr, for a while, until the church rescinded its promises of tolerance.
40 In earlier centuries, the horgrseems to have been a mons
veneris or omphalos in a sacred grove. 41
Sometimes the alternate word hus (house) carried the same sense
of"a place of worship," because every matriarch once worshipped
the Goddess of her own hearth, which she could share with more than
one hus-band. Hence the word hussy, Lady of the House, by
Christian definition a promiscuous woman.42
Promiscuity was appreciated, rather than deplored, by medieval
minnesingers who worshipped the Goddess under her new name of
Minne, "Love." They objected to commercialized prostitution as a
degradation of their deity: "Love, the queen of all hearts, the freeborn,
the one and only, is put up for public sale! What a shameful
tribute is this that our mastery has required of her! We cultivate Love
with embittered minds, with lies, and with deceit, and then expect from
her joy of body and heart; but instead, she bears only pain, corruption,
evil fruit, and blight-as her soil was sown." 43
Theologians however accepted commercial prostitution as "a lawful
immorality," in St. Thomas Aquinas's self-contradictory phrase.
Aquinas said prostitution was necessary to prevent men from sodomizing
each other: ''Take away prostitutes from the world," he said, "and
you will fill it with sodomy."44 Prostitution enabled man to look upon
promiscuous women as depraved, though their equally promiscuous
clients were seen as helpless victims of compulsion. There was no
recognition of the truth, that most prostitutes acted under a more
telling compulsion than any man's sexuality: the need to earn wherewithal
to keep alive. It was not an easy living. At best the prostitute
was forced to make herself a stranger's abject servant. At worst, she
could become his tormented victim.45
Certain anticlerical writers maintained that prostitutes should be
respected for their willingness to be kind. Lorenzo Valla's 15thcenturY
De Voluptate called for a return to ancient customs, echoing
Horace's Omnia voluptas bona est. Valla wrote: "Whores and
prostitutes deserve more from the human race than do nuns with their
chastity and virginity!" 46 Of course, such sentiments did not prevail.
Two centuries later, English apprentices celebrated each Shrove Tuesday
by breaking into whorehouses and beating the inmates. It also
became customary in England for men to "punish" the whores they
patronized by hamstringing: cutting the sinews of the legs to make
the woman a permanent crippleY One might be reminded of the
Chinese custom of crippling courtesans by footbinding.
God punished the whores in hell even more severely than men
punished them on earth, according to God's spokesmen, whose
asceticism engendered sexual fantasies of astonishing violence.48 Monkish
deprivations and repressions led to secret envy and fierce hatred of
the carnal folk who might be suspected of enjoying sexual activity.49
The hatred poured out in a thousand nasty fantasies of hell. Abbe
Fran~ois Arnoux, canon ofRiez in 1622, provides an example: And the light women, these shall have in their arms a dragon most cruel,
flaming with fire ... who shall bind and enchain their feet and their
legs with his serpent tail and shall clasp their whole body with his cruel
talons, who shall put his beslabbered and reeking mouth upon theirs,
breathing therein flames of fire and sulphur and poison and venom, who
with his nose, glandered and hideous, shall breathe into theirs a breath
most stinking and venomous . .. this dragon shall make them suffer a
thousand agonies, a thousand colics and bitter twistings of the belly, and
all the damned shall howl, and the devils with them, "See the wanton! see
the strumpet! Let her be tortured indeed! To it, to it, ye devils! To it,
ye demons! To it, ye hellish furies! See the harlot! See the trull! Hurl ye
upon this whore and wreak upon her all the torments ye can!" 50 On the wall of the women's section of the Church of St. John
the Baptist in Kastoria, a painting showed God's punishment of a
whore. Bound in hell, the woman had her legs stretched apart by two
demons, while a third demon plunged red-hot irons into her vagina.
Next to the woman punished for being sexually available, another
woman labeled the Vain Coquette was similarly punished for not being
sexually available. 51 Women attending this church might well be
excused for thinking they were damned if they did and damned if they
Churchmen did not distinguish between a professional prostitute
and a woman in love with a lover. Both were "whores." The whole
point of patriarchal morality was that women must not have the right
to pick and choose men. For a woman to fall passionately in love was a
tragedy under the medieval church: to pay for a few stolen hours of
love, both she and her lover were doomed to an eternity of suffering. 52
The point was illustrated by Grunewald's painting The Damnation
of Lovers, showing a sinful pair as emaciated corpses living in hell, with
worms burrowing through their flesh, the woman crowned with a
coiled serpent, her genitals gnawed by a toad. According to a 15thcentury
illustration for St. Augustine's De Civitate Dei, lovers would
be bound together on spits in hell and roasted over coals fanned by
devils. 53
With western religion envisioning such grisly punishments for
sexual enjoyment, it is hardly surprising to find western civilization as
a whole seized by a sick compulsion to destroy all forms of pleasure. 54
Even in the Christian heaven however, whores had their special
protectors, modeled on pagan Roman harlot-goddesses like Venus
and Meretrix. Official Catholic patrons of whores were St. Aphra, St.
Aphrodite, and St. Maudline (Magdalen), simple canonizations of
former titles of the Goddess. 55 Chief protectress of whores was the
virgin Mary. In Antwerp up to the present century, prostitutes spent
certain annual feast days marching in procession to the churches, to
dedicate candles to the Holy Virgin whom they called their own
special deity. 56
An oft-told tale of the Middle Ages said when a nun decided to
run away from her convent, to live as a prostitute for a few days,
Mary assumed the errant nun's appearance and took her place in the
convent, so she wouldn't be missed and pursued. 57 A German variant
of the story said the nun, Beatrix, left the convent to live with her
heathen lover for 15 years. When she returned, she found that Mary
had served as her stand-in all the while. 58
Medieval brothels were not always clearly distinguished from
convents. A trace of the pagan collegia of priestesses still clung to
both institutions. Early "double convents," with men and women
united in one community, sometimes housed consecrated prostitutes.
Several popes maintained "holy brothels" in Rome; Queen Joanna of
Naples founded a religious house of prostitutes called The Abbey in
the papal city of Avignon. In Victorian times, it was still a common
custom to call the madam of a whorehouse "the abbess," though the
historical precedent was forgotten. 59 See Mary Magdalene.
Outside the Judea-Christian tradition, prostitution often became a
fully legitimate lifestyle. Black Africans never fully accepted missionaries'
views on the matter. White men's laws deprived African women
of their property and their monopoly of farming, trading, and crafts
by which they supported their children. African women suffered a
devastating loss of self-respect, for in their society a woman without
her own income was regarded with contempt. On finding that white
men would pay for their sexual favors, many African women took up
prostitution as their last remaining chance to make an honest living.
Africans still regard a successful prostitute as a usefully employed
businesswoman rather than a criminaJ.60
By contrast, Christian society seldom offered women any formal
opportunity to take up prostitution as a career, but half-deliberately
looked the other way as many hundreds of young girls "fell" into it.
Eighteenth-century London swarmed with female children struggling
to keep themselves alive by prostitution, according to a
contemporary pamphlet denouncing "little Creatures piled in Heaps
upon one another, sleeping in the public streets, in the most rigorous •
seasons, and some of them whose Heads will hardly reach above the
Waistband of a Man's Breeches, found to be quick with Child, and
become burdensome to the Parish." Far from extending sympathy to
these little girls, the pamphleteer called them wicked whores, "a most
enormous Sin to lay Snares for the Unwary, and to be the Means of
ruining both Souls and Bodies of so many innocent young
Gentlemen." 61
According to the terminology of the time, a "wench" was a child
of either sex. Dryden's description of a gentleman as one who "eats,
drinks, and wenches abundantly" apparently meant a man who picked
up homeless male or female children in the streets to service his
sexual idiosyncrasies. Later, "wench" came to mean only a lower-class
female, a servant or peasant available for a gentleman's sexual use.62
By the 19th century, thousands of girls under the age of 14 were
listed on English police registers as "common prostitutes." London in
1860 had at least 500 registered prostitutes under the age of 13, and
1500 more under the age of 16. Victorian gentlemen had a taste for
raping child virgins, who commanded the highest prices in whorehouses.
Experienced child whores were taught to imitate the cries
and struggles of a newly deflowered victim, and to insert leeches or
broken glass into their vaginas to produce a convincing flow of
Josephine Butler's investigations of the English system of prostitution
led to legislation to raise the "age of consent" to 14; still, large numbers of younger girls were captured and immured in brothels. "The
law was lax on the matter of abduction, and the punishment for
trafficking in girls was derisory." Male authorities took an interest in
prostitution only after they clearly understood its connection with
rampant venereal disease. Legal regulation of brothels was instituted
then; but this didn't mean closing them. It meant subjecting them to
medical inspections, so they would be safe for male patrons.64
Whores were not considered full-fledged human beings. The
18th-century term for a whore was "a fleshy convenience." 65 The
word "convenience" also meant an outhouse. One might say that from
the revered sacred harlot of antiquity to this was a long road
As Mother of
Harlots, Ishtar was
called the Great
Goddess HAR. Her
high priestess the
Harine was spiritual
ruler of "the city of
Ishtar." 4 HAR was a
cognate of the
Persian houri and the
Greek Hora, also the
origin of "harem,"
which used to mean
a Temple of Women,
or a sanctuary.5 A
similar meaning was
once attached to
seraglio, from Semitic
serai, a shrine of

From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

 Memoirs of a Geisha

In 1929 an impoverished nine-year-old named Chiyo from a fishing village is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto's Gion district and subjected to cruel treatment from the owners and the head geisha Hatsumomo. Her stunning beauty attracts the vindictive jealousy of Hatsumomo, until she is rescued by and taken under the wing of Hatsumomo's bitter rival, Mameha. Under Mameha's mentorship, Chiyo becomes the geisha named Sayuri, trained in all the artistic and social skills a geisha must master in order to survive in her society. As a renowned geisha she enters a society of wealth, privilege, and political intrigue. As World War II looms Japan and the geisha's world are forever changed by the onslaught of history



In a famous New Testament passage, the quality said to be greater
than faith or hope is caritas ( l Corinthians 13), translated sometimes
"charity," sometimes "love." Both translations are inexact. The word
meant "grace," specifically the grace of the Triple Goddess, embodied
in the boon-bestowing Three Graces who dispensed caritas (Latin) or
charis (Greek) and were called the Charites. Julian said their grace was a
gift from heaven: "The threefold gift of the Charites comes to us
from heaven, from the circles of the stars." 1
Romans sometimes called grace venia, the divine correlative of
Venus, bringing visible tokens of the goddess's favor. z Grace meant
the same as Sanskrit karuna, dispensed by the heavenly nymphs and
their earthly copies, the sacred harlots of Hindu temples ( devadasis) .
Their "grace" was a combination of beauty, kindness, mother-love,
tenderness, sensual delight, compassion, and care.
Graces were emanations of the Goddess. They danced in her
shrines. They tended to her adornment. They acted as midwives to
the gods. They were patrons of music, dance, poetry, and art.3 They
were shown over and over in the same classic pose as three naked
women dancing, in attitudes strongly resembling those of the Heavenly
Nymphs on the Temple of Love at Khajuraho in lndia.4
Greek writers called the Graces Aglaia (Brilliant), Thalia (FlowerBringer),
and Euphrosyne (Heart's Joy); but they had older names
inherited from a dim prehistory. Homer knew only one Grace, named
Cale or Kale, perhaps a cognate ofKali.5 The Gnostic author Marcus
also used the word Grace or Charis as a title of the Goddess: "May She
who is before all things, the incomprehensible and indescribable
Grace, fill you within, and increase in you her own knowledge." 6
Christians took the pagan concept of charis and struggled to divest
it of sexual meanings for application to an ascetic creed. "Charity"
became a basic tenet of primitive Christianity, as of Buddhism before it,
on the theory that a sure place in heaven could be won by giving
away one's worldly goods to the poor. Jesus listed the blessings prepared
for those who voluntarily made themselves meek, humble, and poor
on earth (Luke 6:20-30). The church's word for these "Beatitudes" was
macarisma, a word of ancient origin, invoking the Triple Goddess as
Ma (birth), Charis (grace), and Ma (death).7 The cognate word charisma
meant Mother-given grace.
Charis merged with "charity" via ancient precedents equating love
and affection with hospitality and gift-giving, the "maternal virtues."
Homeric literature used the word philein, "lovingness," to mean openhanded
hospitality.8 As re-interpreted by Christian theology, the
"graciousness" that used to mean both liberality and warm physical
affection came to suggest liberality alone, practiced to secure one's
own immortality.


Tantric term for the basic quality of mother-love, directly experienced
in infancy and ramified in adulthood to embrace all forms of love:
touching, tenderness, compassion, sensual enjoyment, and eroticism.
Many centuries before Freudian psychology recognized "infantile sexuality,"
Tantric sages called karuna the essence of religion: a gut
feeling ofloving-kindness, as opposed to the often cruel or useless
verbalizing of theological principles.1 It was understood that karuna
must be learned through physical and sexual contact comfort, by adults
and children alike. Thus the identity of infantile, sexual, warmly
loving, and religious behavior patterns was perceived long ago and is just
now being rediscovered by western civilization.
The ancients well knew the experience of being in love recapitulates
the mother-child relationship in its intimate physical attachment,
trust, and dependence. Recognition of one particular other as a love
object surely evolved from the instinctive mechanism that binds
together individual mothers and offspring. It has been shown even in
the animal realm that adequate sexual functioning in adulthood
depends on satisfactory relations with the mother in infancy.2
In ancient times the Goddess's sacred whores were special teachers
of karuna, which may have been the root of modern Italian carogna,
"whore." Pagan Rome gave the Great Goddess the title of Mater Cara,
"Mother Beloved." 3 She combined all the qualities of sexuality,
motherhood, marital bliss, friendship, generosity and mercy, or caritas,
which the Christian church later purged of its sensual implications
and transformed into "charity," the giving of money to earn points in
the after-life. The Greek version of karuna was embodied in the
Charites or Graces, the naked Triple Goddess, whose quality of"grace"
was also altered in the Christian context. In Babylon, the Great
Mother under the name of Ish tar was also the Great Whore and the
lover of all men, expressing karuna in her self-description, "A
prostitute compassionate am 1." 4
The Christian derivative of Mari-Ish tar was Mary Magdalene,
the sacred harlot who said harlots are "compassionate of all the
race of mankind." 5 Gnostic Gospels mentioned Mary Magdalene as the
original female pope, embodying the true Christian spirit kept secret
from male apostles, while it passed directly from Jesus through
his surpassing love for Mary.6 Significantly, Christian iconographers
often confused Mary the harlot and Mary the mother. See

Motherhood, sensual satisfactions, and kindly feelings were associated
with the spirit of the Goddess under all her names, and especially
with women as her earthly representatives. The integrated idea of
karuna with all its ramifications has virtually disappeared from modern
western society, where it is even difficult to explain its older
meanings. Yet "those modes of perceiving the world and organizing
behavior which are more distinctly 'female' can't be thought of as
having sprung into being in the context of the world we now inhabit.
... We must think in terms of patterns of behaving that developed over
untold centuries, and which were keyed to survival of the human
group in the primitive environment. Such a way of being would have
been predicated upon powerful social bonds, 'bonds of love,' which
would serve to keep otherwise more vulnerable individuals in close
proximity to protectors." Every individual was to some extent in need
of protectors: "It may be that we feel loneliness to be so potentially
annihilating because, to the lone human-and above all, the lone
human infant or child-being alone was death." 7
Western culture began to lose sight of the close relationship
between sensuality and loving-kindness when its theology followed
St. Augustine to his conclusion that every child is born tainted with sin
because of its necessarily sexual conception. 8 Nearly all manifestations
of love fell under theological suspicion because nearly all involved
the feminine principle in some way. (See Romance.) "Men's sexual
drive was unacceptable to them and so it was projected onto women. It
was women whose lust was said to be insatiable .... [V]iewing woman
as seductress and temptress is still evident, as can be seen by the fact
that prostitutes, but seldom their customers, are arraigned, and the
fact that the rape victim is often seen as having 'asked for' her attack by
dressing or behaving seductively."9
In a society that lacks any coherent articulation of the concept of
karuna, women as mothers, lovers, and caretakers "learn early that
they should be ashamed of the very set of qualities which are particularly
theirs. Ironically, at the same time, they are constantly threatened by
the prospect that if they are not affectionate enough and as close and
loving to others as they ought to be, they will have failed in their own
and others' eyes." The result is "a noxious social climate which fosters
too little feeling in men and too much in women." 10
Loss of this all-important concept may create social evils of the
most pervasive sort. "Male public culture gets caught up with
machines and puts emphasis on things that are not alive. The decisionmaking
of males in power tends to happen in a vacuum with little
reference to the needs of life. Paradoxically, the public leaders who are
supposed to help us deny death become increasingly oblivious to life
and show increasing contempt for it. We have a civilization in which
males in high places imitate a male god in heaven-both think
themselves above the petty concerns of simple nurture and delight in
generative life." 11


Aphrodite's celestial nymphs, who performed the Dances of the
Hours, acted as midwives to the gods, and inspired earthly horae (harlotpriestesses)
to train men in the sexual Mysteries. The dance still
called hora was based on the priestesses' imitation of the zodiacal
circling of "hours." Time-keeping is horology because of the systems
devised by these ancient priestesses of the Goddess. See Prostitution.
The Horae were called "fair ones, begetters of all things, who in
appointed order bring on day and night, summer and winter, so as to
make months and years grow full."
In Egypt they were
"Ladies of the Hour,"
in Persia houris, in
Babylon harines; among
Semites they were
the "whores" called hor
(a hole), ancestresses
of the Horites.
Persian-Arabian heavenly nymph, sexual angel, or temple prostitute:
cognate with the Greek hora, Babylonian harine, Semitic harlot or
"whore." Houris were dancing "Ladies of the Hour" who kept time
in heaven and tended the star-souls. See Prostitution
Vestal Virgins
Priestesses of Rome's oldest Goddess-matriarch, Vesta, who was the
same as the Greeks' Hestia. Descendants of an ancient order of holy
women who guarded the public hearth and altar, the Vestals were
entrusted with keeping alight the perpetual fire that was the mystic heart
of the empire.
Vestals were virgines, i.e., women who vowed never to marry
because they were brides of the spirit of Rome, in the same sense that
Christian nuns were brides of Christ. Vestals underwent the same
ceremony that was later applied to nuns, to limit their magic female
powers: they had their hair shaved off.1 In an earlier era, however, they
were not so restricted. Like all other ancient priestesses who ruled by
virtue of magic and motherhood, the Vestals used to be the governing
sisterhood of Latium.
Rhea Silvia or "Rhea of the Woodland" was called the First
Vestal; she was actually the Goddess Rhea transplanted to the Latin
colonies. According to Roman legend; she gave birth to Romulus and
Remus, the founders of Rome. Their midwife, Acca Larentia,
another Vestal described as a "courtesan," gave birth to all the ancestral
spirits the Romans called lares. (See Akka.)
The Vestals were never altogether virginal in the physical sense.
Their marriage to the phallic deity of the Palladium was physically
consummated in Vesta's temple, under conditions of great secrecy. The
ceremony was performed by a priest called the Pontifex Maxim us,
"great maker of the pons/' which meant a bridge, a path, or a way. The
Pontifex Maximus had what Dumezil calls "an obscure, now unknown
duty" toward the Vestal Virgins. 2 One might suppose that his
"way" was something like the Way of eastern sex-sacraments; that is,
he built the "bridge" between Father Heaven and Mother Earth
The office of Pontifex was adopted by Christians, and became a
"pontiff," synonymous with "pope." The Vestals however were
emphatically not adopted by Christians, although several of the details
of their habit and lifestyle passed on to Christian convents. Pagans
revered the Vestals and were horrified by the way they were treated by
Christian regimes in the 4th and 5th centuries. In 382 A.D., the
endowments of all the pagan temples were withdrawn, including that of
Vesta's 600-year-old Mother-hearth. "Worst of all in the opinion of
some traditionalists, the fire on Vesta's hearth was to be permitted to go
out: the Vestal Virgins were to lose their endowments and immunity
from taxation, and all their privileges were to be taken away. The tiny order of six Vestals was particularly hated by the Christians .... Their
Christian enemies feared them as mysterious and magical: they did not
understand them and did not want to do so; they wanted only to see
them destroyed." 3

Virgin Birth

"Holy Virgin" was the title of harlot-priestesses of lshtar, Asherah, or
Aphrodite. The title didn't mean physical virginity; it meant simply
"unmarried." The function of such "holy virgins" was to dispense
the Mother's grace through sexual worship; to heal; to prophesy; to
perform sacred dances; to wail for the dead; and to become Brides of
Children born of such temple women were called by the Semites
bathur, by the Greeks parthenioi, "virgin-born." 1 According to the
Protoevangelium, the Virgin Mary was a kadesha and perhaps married
to one of that class of priests known as "fathers of the god." 2 See
Mary's impregnation was similar to Persephone's. In her Virgin
guise, Persephone sat in a holy cave and began to weave the great
tapestry of the universe, when Zeus appeared as a phallic serpent, to
beget the savior Dionysus on her. 3 Mary sat in the temple and began
to spin a blood-red thread, representing Life in the tapestry of fate,
when the angel Gabriel "came in unto her" (Luke 1:28), the biblical
phrase for sexual intercourse. Gabriel's name means literally "divine
husband." 1
Hebrew Gospels designated Mary by the word almah, mistakenly
translated "virgin," but really meaning "young woman." 5 It was
derived from Persian Al-Mah, the unmated Moon-goddess.6 Another
cognate was Latin alma, "living soul of the world," virtually identical
to Greek psyche, Sanskrit shakti. The Holy Virgins or temple-harlots
were "soul-teachers" or "soul-mothers" -the alma mater.
Christian translators insisted on rendering Mary's title as "virgin,"
which saddled their religion with an embarrassing article of faith.
Even today, theologians like Karl Barth declare that "It is essential to the
true Christian faith to accept the doctrine of the virgin birth" -thus
drastically reducing the number of people who can be called true
Early Christians demanded a virgin birth for their Savior out of
simple imitativeness. All the other Saviors had one, for they were
born of the Goddess incarnate in a chosen "virgin of the temple,"
whose business it was to bear Saviors. The notion that mortal women
were impregnated by gods or spirits was a matter of everyday acceptance
throughout the ancient world. Even the Old Testament says the
archaic "giants" (ancestral heroes) were born of mortal women impregnated
by spirits that came from God (Genesis 6:4).
Zoroaster, Sargon, Perseus, Jason, Miletus, Minos, Asclepius, and
dozens of others were God-begotten and virgin-born. Even Zeus, the
Heavenly Father who begot many other "virgin-born" heroes, was
himself called Zeus Mamas, "Virgin-born Zeus." 8 Plutarch no!ed
among the Egyptians the common belief that the spirit of God was
capable of sexual intercourse with mortal women.9
Heracles was born of another almah, the Virgin Alcmene, whose
name means Power of the Moon.10 Her husband also, like the
biblical Joseph, kept away from her bed during her pregnancy. The
same tale was told of Plato, whose nephew affirmed that he was begotten by the god Apollo, his earthly parents having no sexual
relations until after his birth. 11 Christians believed this, and solemnly
attested that Plato was a virgin-born son of the sun god. 12
After Christianity was established as the official religion of the
Roman empire, however, church fathers tried to discredit all other
virgin births by claiming that the devil had devised them, and maliciously
placed them in a past time, so they would pre-date the real Savior.
Justin Martyr wrote, "When I am told that Perseus was born of a virgin,
I realize that here again is a case in which the serpent and deceiver
has imitated our religion." 13
Despite the efforts of church fathers, the virgin birth of Jesus was
neither the first nor the last such miracle given credence by Christians.
Priapic idols of antiquity, credited with the power to father
children, actually fathered other priapic idols who became saints like
Foutin, Gurtlichon, Gilles, Regnaud, and Guignole; these were credited
with the same power of fertilization and were much adored by
women who desired offspring. 14 Women of Tuscany and Portugal
thought they could become pregnant by eating apples specially
consecrated by a priest. Spaniards remembered the virgin birth of Mars,
and thought any woman could conceive like Mars's mother Juno, by
eating a lily. It was believed that souls could enter a woman's body in
the form of flies, worms, or serpents, to cause impregnation. Cases
were solemnly documented, like that of a Scot named Gillie Downak
Chravolick, conceived when his mother raised her skirts on an old
battlefield and received into her "private member" some ashes from the
burned bones of dead warriors. 15 As impregnation by a god used to be
the "acceptable explanation for pregnancy in most pagan countries
where the sexual act was part of the fertility rites," so Christians
thought impregnation by spirits was still credible, whether the alleged
father was a dead hero, a devil, an incubus, or even-in some sectsthe
Holy Ghost again.l6
Such an untenable belief survived because it was important to
men. The impossible virgin mother was everyman's longed-for resolution
of Oedipal conflicts: pure maternity, never distracted from her
devotion by sexual desires. Churchmen unwittingly showed their
anxiety by denying even the evidence of their own Gospels that Jesus
had brothers and sisters. St. Ambrose insisted that Mary never
conceived again, since God couldn't have chosen for his mother-bride
"a woman who would defile the heavenly chamber with the seed of a
man." 17
Theologians in effect severed the two halves of the pagan Goddess,
whose realiftic femininity combined abundant sexuality and
maternity. One half was labeled harlot and temptress, the other a female
ascetic even in motherhood. The Goddess's old title, Sancta Matrona-
Holy Mother-was added to the canon of saints as a phony St.
Matrona, whose pseudo-biography made her a "hermitess." 18
The primitive naivete of the virgin-birth concept was dressed in
pretentious verbiage, purporting to explain it, while actually hiding it
from prying eyes. "A shadow is formed by light falling upon a body.
The Virgin, as a human being, could not hold the fulness of divinity;
but the power of the most High overshadowed her, while the incorporeal
light of the godhead took a human body within her, and so she was
able to bear God." 19
Churchmen often presented the doctrine of the virgin birth as
"ennobling" to women, since they viewed women's natural sexuality
as degrading. Seldom were female sexuality and motherhood perceived
as component parts of the same whole. Some women were astute
enough to see that the doctrine effectively degraded wal womanhood by
exalting a never-attainable ideal. At the end of the 19th century one
woman wrote:
I think that the doctrine of the Virgin birth as something higher, sweeter,
nobler than ordinary motherhood, is a slur on all the natural motherhood
of the world. ... Out of this doctrine, and that which is akin to it,
have sprung all the monasteries and nuns of the world, which have
disgraced and distorted and demoralized manhood and womanhood for a
thousand years. I place beside this false, monkish, unnatural claim ...
my mother, who was as holy in her motherhood as was Mary herself 20
The temple hierodules
were called
virgines or venerii in
Rome, horae in Greece,
kadishtu, qadesh, or
kadesha in Babylon, Canaan,
and Palestine.
From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets


This became a naughty word in Christian Europe because it was one of
the most sacred titles of the Goddess, Artemis-Diana, leader of the
Scythian alani or "hunting dogs." The Bitch-goddess of antiquity was
known in all Indo-European cultures, beginning with the Great Bitch
Sarama who led the Vedic dogs of death. The Old English word for
a hunting dog, bawd, also became a naughty word because it applied to
the divine Huntress's promiscuous priestesses as well as her dogs. 1
Harlots and "bitches" were identified in the ancient Roman cult of
the Goddess Lupa, the Wolf Bitch, whose priestesses the lupae gave
their name to prostitutes in generaJ.2 Earthly representatives of the Wolf
Bitch ruled the Roman town of Ira Flavia in Spain, as a queen or
series of queens named Lupa.3
In Christian terms, "son of a bitch" was considered insulting not
because it meant a dog, but because it meant a devil-that is, a
spiritual son of the pagan Goddess.
From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets




Greek nymphe, Latin nympha, a bride or a nubile young woman.
The same word was applied to female-genital symbols like the lotus
flower, water lilies, and certain shells. "Nymphs" served as priestesses
in ancient temples of the Goddess, especially in sexual ceremonies,
where they represented the divine principle of flowering fertility and
were sometimes known as Brides of God. See Virgin Birth.
In medieval times the word nymph was applied to either a witch or
a fairy, since both descended from the pre-Christian priestess. As
spirits of nature, the "nymphs" were believed to embed their souls
forever in certain parts of the natural world that the Goddess had
ruled in antiquity: there were water nymphs, tree nymphs, mountain
nymphs, and nymphs who dwelt in the earth, the sea, or Fairyland.
Their ancient connection with sexuality was more or less consistently
maintained. Even now, "nymphomania" connotes sexual obsession,
like the moon-madness supposed to motivate the ancient nymphs in
their seasons of mating.

From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

Mary by Yarre Stooker & Eddie Woods

1 opmerking:

  1. (even) more info about "the sacred prostitute" you'll find here: http://hobbithills.blogspot.be/2013/10/the-sacred-prostitute.html