Hieros Gamos

Masonry is the repository of the highest level of knowledge inherited from the Library of Aleandria in ancient Egypt, Kaballah, the epic of Gilgamesh, Traditions of Ancient Mesopotamia, the Greek and Roman Mythology, Hinduism, the Christian tradition,  Islam, and other rituals and belief system.

bible with s&c

The square and compass, the symbol of Freemasonry have many meanings and interpretations depending upon the consciousness of individual mason and definition varies upon the level of enlightenment as there are no teacher – only guide on every travel. Mine is a different path. Maybe because of the prominence of occult planets in houses of my birth chart having uranus conjunct star sirius in 8th house, retrograde pluto in leo in the 9th house of philosophy , belief and travel (planetary). A sagitarius rising sun in the constellation of sagittarius denotes soul mission journey and the alignment of venus, mars, and north node in the 3rd house of Aquarius.

The square and compass ritual,  as one of the secrets of Freemasonry,  is an allegory of the ancient hieros gamos or the sacred marriage. Following are excepts from other writers – as reference  of my study on the ancient craft masonry and its symbols.

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The Hieros Gamos

http://www.cs.utah.edu/~spiegel/kabbalah/jkm015.htm

The kabbalah holds the secret of holy marriage – hieros gamos the holy union above paralleling that below. That is the union of hochmah with binah, and yesod with malchut. The Soul mate relationship is what we seek in holy matrimony that is G-d the king striving to find the Shechinah his lost princess. We are the king of old and his high priestess joined with G-d and the Shechinah. There are four parties in holy marriage.

Today the egalitarian movement of Judaism has awakened hieros gamos from the ashes. In their Amidah we see references to the G-d(m) of Abraham … and the God(f) of Sarah. There is an improvement to be made. It is Elohai Avraham with Eloah Sarah. Eloah the name of G-d with the gematria 42 is the name of G-d Maker of the Universe. When we recite Hieros Gamos that is the Kedushah in the Amidah: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole land is filled with his Glory’, we are united the heavenly G-d with the feminine Gaia.[1548] Cavodo – glory is His seed and haAretz – the land is her Shechinah. Holiness is the secret of hieros gamos that husband and wife are soulmates in love. The wellbeing of one is the other. The happiness of one is the other. The nachas of one is the other. They are two parts to one soul. This week[1549] the Torah portion is Chaya Sarah – the life of Sarah, priestess of the Shechinah—Abraham’s oracle; and G-d said listen to Sarah that is do what she says. Listen to your soulmate for she is part of You-and-You are part of her. The Kedushah is the prayer par excellence of hiergamos our holiest expression.[1550]

Few things are less understood than the hieros gamos – the “sacred marriage”. Considered to be the “Holy Grail” of sexual rituals, is it within reach of comprehension and explanation?
One of the most intriguing, nebulous and controversial topics of history and magic is the “hieros gamos”, “the sacred marriage”. Believed to incorporate both sex and ritual, it should not come as a surprise that throughout history, it has attracted many – and often, those who should truly well stay clear of it. Its fame has meant that the theme was used by Dan Brown in “The Da Vinci Code”, where he described it as how “man could achieve a climactic instant when his mind went totally blank and he could see God”. Brown is not the only one who has linked the experience with tantrism and the withholding of orgasm. He is, of course, also the man who considered Mary Magdalene’s vulva to be the Holy Grail.
The quest to define the hieros gamos foremost is one of answering the question who and when it was performed. Some – including Dan Brown – link it to temple prostitution, while others see it as the king of the country who marries “the land” – in the form of a high priestess – to rejuvenate it. For the Greeks, it was more abstract. They considered it a marriage between the gods and hence apparently outside of the reach of ordinary human beings. It was only in the Jewish and medieval tradition that the hieros gamos became linked with magic and ritual and it is therefore here that we find the current obsession with it. As such, in 1605, Cesare della Riviera wrote that “in Europe, the tracks of these ancient rituals pass through the Gnostic schools, the alchemical and cabalistic currents of the Middle Ages and Renaissance – where numerous alchemical texts can be read on two levels.”
What is the hieros gamos? At its core, the sacred marriage is more of a sacrament than a ritual. It is a marriage between husband and wife, but is of a sacred nature: it is a marriage blessed by the gods, with active participation of those deities, present in the act of lovemaking between the two humans. Focusing on the king having sexual intercourse with the high priestess is thus largely a misnomer, as the king was equally a high priest, and the queen… a high priestess.
In the 20th century, Carl Gustav Jung studied the hieros gamos through the Rosarium Philosophorum, a series of twenty woodcuts, printed in Frankfurt in 1550. The images have a clear sexual and royal nature: a king and queen are depicted with the sun and the moon, sharing a bed, performing sexual acts, as a result of which they become one, and are transformed. And it is with these woodcuts that we come to the core of the hieros gamos: indeed, the primary purpose of the sacred marriage is that two equals, twin souls, a husband and wife, reunite through the hieros gamos. In short: the hieros gamos, or sacred marriage, was not a marriage of just any human beings, but of twin souls.
The concept of twin souls – more popularly known as soulmates – is as old as civilisation itself. Isis and Osiris were both sister and brother and husband and wife: twins. Rather than seeing this as an incestuous relationship, the ancient Egyptians were using this imagery to portray a complex metaphysical framework.
They – like so many other religions – believed that each human being possessed a soul. That soul was half of one unit, which consisted out of one male and one female half. This meant that for every human being alive, there was a perfect twin soul. The quest in this lifetime was to find that twin soul, and be reunited with it. This was the truest of loves; the greatest quest. If not the Great Work of Alchemy. The alchemist Nicolas Flamel stated that he was only able to accomplish the Great Work while in the presence of his wife Perenelle, but it was equally accepted that the majority of marriages here on earth, was not between twin souls.
Once the twin souls had found themselves, apart from understanding the true depths of love and kinship they shared throughout their many lifetimes together, the hieros gamos would be completed at some point. What was it? It was seen as God personally “attending” a sexual activity, in which the human beings – male and female – each get “infused” by the divine essence of the male and female component of God.
The best-known historical example of such a sacred marriage is between King Solomon and Queen Sheba. The story relates how the Queen of Sheba travelled from her homeland to meet Solomon, to perform the hieros gamos with him.
This story is discussed by Kathleen McGowan in her fact-based novel “Book of Love”. She relates that ancient traditions stipulate God had both a male and female aspect: El and Asherah. Tradition relates that they desired “to experience their great and divine love in a physical form and to share such blessedness with the children they would create. Each soul who was formed was perfectly matched, given a twin made from the same essence. […] Thus the hieros-gamos was created, the sacred marriage of trust and consciousness that unites the beloveds into one flesh.”
Echoes of the sacred marriage can be found in the Song of Songs, directly linked with Solomon and describing lovemaking. The title highlights it was the holiest of all songs, underlining its importance. Margaret Starbird has pointed out that there are strong parallels between the Song of Songs and poems to the Egyptian goddess Isis. Of course, both Solomon and Sheba and Isis and Osiris were twin souls, and hence able to experience the hieros gamos.
The Song of Songs became very important for the Kabbalists, specifically following the Book of the Zohar, which saw the Song of Songs as a prime example of the hieros gamos. It is in the Zoharic Kabbalah that God is represented by a system of ten spheres, each symbolizing a different aspect of God, who is perceived as both male and female. The Shekina was identified with Malchut, which was identified with the woman in the Song of Songs. Her beloved was identified with Yesod, which represents God’s foundation and the phallus or male essence.
Within the Jewish religion, Malchut and Yesod are El, the fatherly creator god, and his consort, Asherah. He was identified with the bull and She with the mother goddess. Indeed, women who have experienced the hieros gamos note that they have experienced this mother goddess energy, some even mentally visiting some of her sanctuaries during the experience. The imagery also reveals how long our ancestors have been familiar with this sacred marriage: the link between the bull and the earth goddess is visible on the walls of Catal Huyuk, built in the 8th millennium BC.
The hieros gamos should therefore be more appropriately labelled the reunion of twin souls, while incarnate in the body, through sexual activity, involving the active participation of the male and female aspect of God: “What God has put together, let no man separate.”
Those who have experienced such union find it largely impossible to describe – “beyond words”. They are, however, capable of breaking down the experience in some components. The man will become one with El, while the female melts with Asherah, the “Queen of Heaven”. During this union, it is entirely possible that Asherah or El is more prominent in one partner than in the other. During these encounters, the sexual activity exceeds – and is different from – a normal orgasm; it is normally more intense, prolonged and multiple, whereby the orgasm itself is more energetic, rather than physical. However, the presence of this divine energy should not be seen as a form of possession; normally, the human sexual energy is equally present, and the sexual experience is a balance and interplay between both energies. To put it crudely: the hieros gamos is a foursome: two human beings, and El and Asherah operating with and through them.
Where does this leave the reputation of the hieros gamos as a form of temple prostitution? Asherah has been linked with the Mesopotamian Ishtar, whose cult did involve sacred prostitutes. However, should we perhaps see in these women initiatrices: women who prepared and taught certain methodologies as to how sacred sexuality should be experienced between partners, so that their union could lead to a sacred marriage?
Interestingly, the world’s oldest poem, “The Epic of Gilgamesh”, relates how when Gilgamesh discovers the wild man Enkidu, he sends him to Shamhat, a priestess of Ishtar. She was instructed to teach Enkidu how to live as a cultural human being, suggesting that our ancestors identified culture specifically with how to make love properly – the hieros gamos way.
These examples, and the example of Solomon and Sheba, make it clear that the quest of the hieros gamos is not open to anyone: it is only the bailiwick of twin souls. It is why Flamel noted that it was only possible to be performed with Perenelle, clearly not only his wife, but also his twin soul. It is also not so much ritual, but total union of body, mind and spirit: the two parts of one soul become united in the body, thus accomplishing in the body what they were at the beginning of time: a unity. The Great Work. And this union was “blessed” by the sacrament of the hieros gamos, in which God themselves, present at the separation of these souls at the beginning of time, reunited and blessed the two lovers.
So even though tantric yoga as such has nothing to do with it, tantrism does know about this state of perfect union and has labelled it Samadhi. It is the state where the respective individualities of each of the participants are completely dissolved in the unity of cosmic consciousness – the two units are reunited. For tantrics, the deities are not El and Asherah, but Shakti and Shiva.
Because it is “restricted” to twin souls, the hieros gamos might not hold the sexual and ritual appeal that many would like to give it. But it is nevertheless the most important sacrament of all, as it was the completion of the quest of the soul in life: to find his twin soul and reunite, and within this love, continue their life, combined.

People who have experienced the hieros gamos agree that this is a unique experience. One person stated that during the hieros gamos, both partners experienced total orgasm, though this was without any physical activity – through a physical connection, the other partner experienced perfectly the sexual stimulation the other person was sending in the mind – in short, the partners were both not only reading the other person’s mind, but interacted within that mind – as one unity of cosmic consciousness. Another person described it as “utter bliss” or what “heaven” must have felt like. The feeling of “heaven on earth” may indeed be what the hieros gamos was all about: the twin souls in heaven, experiencing their divine union on earth. As above, so below?

Become the “inner man with Heart” (tiferet) and she will become “Wisdom” (hochmah).[1551] The princess malchut ascends to hochmah and the prince yesod ascends to tiferet. Tiferet and hochmah is the union of hieros gamos awakening an even higher union of hochmah and binah. To be correct it is really malchut that has awakened hochmah and joined with paternal wisdom who in kind reaches for binah (understanding) and joins with her—opening up knowledge (da’at). Together crowns rest upon their heads and their will ascends to keter and merges with the will of the divine male and female together

Inanna and the “Sacred Marriage”


Couple on terracotta bed, perhaps representing the “Sacred Marriage.” Object could have been bought at the festival. Mesopotamia 3rd. millennium BCE.
© S. Beaulieu, after Teubal 1983: 117.
larger view of image

The king goes with lifted head to the holy lap,
Goes with lifted head to the holy lap of Inanna,
[Dumuzi] beds with her,
He delights in her pure lap.
(Sefati 1998: 105)

The “Sacred Marriage” was “joyously and rapturously” celebrated in the ancient eastern Mediterranean for over two thousand years (Kramer 1969:49). “Sacred Marriage” translates Classical Greek hieros gamos, originally the marriage of Zeus and Hera, but Classicists used the term for alliances between other deities or deities and humans, particularly when marked by ritual. Sir James Frazer (1854-1941), author of The Golden Bough, expanded the term to mean “mythic and ritual sexual acts” connected with fertility (Cooper 1993:82).

Although, for ancient Mesopotamia, the term refers to “the ritual enactment of the marriage of two deities or a human and a deity” (Cooper 1993:82), the participants were understood as deities: usually Inanna-Ishtar and Dumuzi-Tammuz.[1] In historic times, the main aim was “to decree a good fate for the king and his country” (Lapinkivi 2004:7).[2] Nonetheless, as I shall speculate later, early priests could have appropriated to their own ends a rite which, originally, had a very different function.


Uruk Vase, with procession of naked priests carrying gifts to Inanna’s shrine., Inanna greeting them at its door marked by her gateposts. Alabaster. 3′. Uruk, Mesopotamia. Fourth millennium BCE.
© S. Beaulieu, after Gadon 1989:137.

From extant hymns, we can piece together what happened in the ritual (Lapinkivi 2004:47,#29;50,#35). First, Inanna was bathed, perfumed, and adorned, while Dumuzi and his retinue processed towards her shrine. The famous Uruk vase may represent this procession. All the while, temple personnel sang love songs, many of which are extant (Sefati 1998:25,120-364). Resplendent Inanna greeted Dumuzi at the door, which, on the Uruk vase, is flanked by her signature standards (gateposts), and there he presented her with sumptuous gifts. Subsequently, the pair seated themselves on thrones, although sometimes the enthronement took place only after sexual consummation (Jacobsen 1976:38).

The deities entered a chamber fragrant with spices and decorated with costly draperies. Lying down on a ceremonial bed constructed for the occasion (Jacobsen 1976:38), they united in sexual intercourse (Henshaw 1994:238). Afterwards, pleased by and with her lover, Inanna decreed long life and sovereignty for him and fertility and prosperity for the land. She might also have presented him with the ring, rod, and line, emblems of royal power. The ritual over, the people celebrated in a huge festival.

The earliest “detailed direct evidence” of the ritual comes from the time of King Shulgi of Ur (2095-2048), but the first ruler named “beloved of Inanna” reigned in Uruk around 2700 BCE, a hint that the ritual was already occurring by then (Lapinkivi 2004:2; Sefati 1998:30-31).

How do we know that the ritual actually took place? Some consider this question “controversial” considering the paucity of evidence (Henshaw 1994:239). When and how often it occurred is also controversial. However, since a number of poems describe the ritual in detail and some of the details are supported in “important and reliable evidence” such as “royal inscriptions, economic texts, etc.” (Sefati 1998:32), we can assume that Sumerians did celebrate the “Sacred Marriage.”

Did the participants actually engage in sexual intercourse? Again the subject is controversial, some scholars arguing that they did (Frayne 1983, Kramer 1969; see Cooper 1993:87-88), others insisting that the act was “purely symbolic” (Steinkeller 1999:133).


Couple on terracotta bed, perhaps representing the “Sacred Marriage.” Object could have been bought at the festival. Mesopotamia 3rd. millennium BCE.
© S. Beaulieu, after Teubal 1983: 117.

Who, then, were the participants? It appears certain that, at Uruk, the priest-ruler, theen, spent at least one ritual night in the high-priestly residence, the gipar, “during which [period] he consummated the marriage with Inanna” (Steinkeller 1999:132). Further, poems name two historically identifiable kings as participants in the rite, but only for the period 2100-2000 BCE. A king of Sumer could take part only if he held the office of en of Uruk and bore the title “spouse of Inanna” (Steinkeller 1999:130-131). By 2000 BCE, according to some scholars, the monarch of Sumer normally represented Dumuzi in the rite. As a result of the ceremony, he received the authority to manipulate “the natural and human environments for greater productivity and security” (Wakeman 1985:13).

The texts refer to the female participant only as Inanna (Frayne 1985:14), a possible indication that Inanna had incarnated herself in a priestess.[3] The likeliest candidate would be the priestess known as nin-dingir, Sumerian for “Lady Deity” or “Lady Who Is Goddess.”[4]

A man could achieve authority in Inanna’s temple community at Uruk as either her “trusted servant” or her consort or both. Indeed, traditionally, the ruler of Uruk and its goddess co-habited in the gipar. The “Sacred Marriage,” which at first conferred authority temporarily on one man, eventually provided religious sanction for male exercise of power (Wakeman 1985:12).

Around 2900 BCE, Inanna, incarnated in the nin-dingir,[5]chose [Uruk’s] en” (Wakeman 1985:23-my emphasis). By around 2300 BCE, however, the Mesopotamian king had appropriated the right to appoint an en.[6] Eventually, around 2100 BCE, the nin-dingir/entu became merely spouse of the city god she served and/or the consort of Dumuzi. Furthermore, after about 1700 BCE, the title entu disappeared from archival texts (Frayne 1985:22). Concomitantly, the “Sacred Marriage” also altered, until, in its latest form, it probably involved two statues (Cooper 1993:91; Frayne 1985:22).

According to Steinkeller, “the earliest Sumerian pantheon was dominated by female deities,” and a goddess, the divine “owner” of most early cities, “controlled … fertility, procreation, healing, and death.” Paired with each was a god, “a personification of male reproductive power.” Over time, the power of male deities increased, “though never superseding that of goddesses” (1999:113). Perhaps Inanna’s domination of much “Sacred Marriage” material (Jacobsen 1976:39-40) reflects those earliest times, when the “Sacred Marriage” centred on goddesses. Is it possible that the ceremony originally dealt with her concerns alone?


Detail, Uruk Vase, with procession of naked priests carrying gifts to Inanna’s shrine., Inanna greeting them at its door marked by her gateposts. Alabaster. 3′. Uruk, Mesopotamia. Fourth millennium BCE.
© S. Beaulieu, after Gadon 1989:137.
larger view of image

Part of the answer lies, I think, in an exciting theory propounded by Sumerologist Douglas Frayne, who presents a convincing explanation of the evidence.[7] After showing thatnin-dingir and entu refer to the same office, Frayne suggests that this priestess was the Inanna of the “Sacred Marriage” poems. He then re-examines the available evidence and concludes that the ritual was integral to the installation of “new entu priestesses” (Frayne 1985:12ff.,14-18).

In supporting his theory, Frayne discusses what scholars call “year formulae”; the Mesopotamians named a year by its significant event and recorded it on, for instance, building bricks (Cohen 1993:4). One such happening was the installation of an en: for instance, “The year the entu of Nanna was chosen by omens” or “The year Nur-Adad installed the entu of Utu [the sun god]” (Frayne 1985:15). The latter correlates with a passage in a “literary letter of Sin-Iddinam” who describes significant occurrences in the early reign of his father Nur-Adad:

An entu priestess who perfected the immaculate lustration rites, he installed for [Utu] in her gipar. From evening to morning he added [offerings?], and filled it with abundance (Frayne 1985: 15).

The last sentence recalls the ruler’s bringing gifts to Inanna in the “Sacred Marriage.”

Frayne then points to archival texts that “record disbursements of materials that were used to construct cult objects, or were used in ceremonies …” (1985:17). One, almost certainly relating to the installation of an entu, lists as cult objects: “[One] lady’s throne/one bed …” “Sacred Marriage” hymns often describe the setting up of a bed and a throne before the ritual (Frayne 1985:18ff.). Thus, Frayne concludes that the installation of a nin-dingir/entu entailed the celebration of the “Sacred Marriage.”

The question is: Why? The nin-dingir/entu was probably the priestess who, at Uruk, incarnated Inanna, and in other cities she sometimes embodied the female half of the divine couple that protected the city (Steinkeller 1999:123). If her installation necessitated the “Sacred Marriage,” she might also have incarnated Inanna. The Mesopotamians clearly understood Inanna to be closely connected with fecundity. Originally, then, the ritual might have been a fertility rite, a possibility supported by Wakeman’s suggestion that the “Sacred Marriage” was central to an early Urukian harvest festival.[8]


Couple on terracotta bed, perhaps representing the “Sacred Marriage.” Object could have been bought at the festival. Mesopotamia 3rd. millennium BCE.
© S. Beaulieu, after Teubal 1983: 117.
larger view of image

My high field that which is well watered,
My own nakedness, a well-watered, a rising mound–
I, the maiden-who will plough it? . . . .
Young lady, may the king plough it for you,
May Dumuzi, the king, plough it for you!”
(Sefati 1998:225)

The agricultural Sumerians metaphorically equated ploughing of land with sexual intercourse (Jacobsen 1976:46). Therefore, it seems reasonable to theorize that “Goddess on Earth” Inanna, whose body was identified with arable land, would not be able to bring about the land’s fertility until she herself, at least potentially, became fertile. Thus, the “Sacred Marriage” might have been integral to the installation of nin-dingir/entu as Inanna because, I suggest, like the land, she had to be “ploughed” to be fertile and to bring fecundity and prosperity to Sumer.

Possibly, then, the “Sacred Marriage” rite was not originally concerned with king-making at all, but rather with “goddess-making”; perhaps it was a ritual for, as it were, “activating,” making fertile a “Goddess on Earth.” To that end, the ceremony entailed ritual mating between theentu-designate and, say, a temple priest, since, for the Mesopotamians, fertility on earth, as in heaven, resulted from the union of male and female.


Dumuzi (man in net kilt; see Steinkeller 1999: 104-111) approaching Inanna at shrine, procession of naked priests following, with gifts. Reconstruction. Alabaster Vase. 3′. Fourth millennium BCE. Uruk, Mesopotamia.
© S. Beaulieu, after Meador 2000: 59.
larger view of image

The ritual would, I theorize, have confirmed the priestess as Inanna — permanently — and, for a short time, the priest would have incarnated a divine lover. However, to have embodied a deity, if only temporarily, would have set him apart: for a time he had been a god!

At some point, one priest might have seen the advantage of continuing to incarnate the goddess’s lover, of using the role’s charisma to achieve power in the community. Indeed he could have been the first en!

According to Kramer, the “Sacred Marriage” was being celebrated for several generations before the Sumerians associated Dumuzi with it (1969:57-8). Furthermore, Dumuzi occurs in the Sumerian “King List” as an early en of Uruk (Kramer 1969:328). Could it have been this very Dumuzi who appropriated the mating ritual for the validation of kingship? As en, he would have been the main administrative officer of the temple complex and its estates, in effect the ruler of the city (Steinkeller 1999:105; Henshaw 1994:44). Possibly also a talented general, he could slowly have increased the significance of his role through military activity at the city’s need. Nevertheless, he would have remained aware of the importance of continuing his relationship with Inanna and of keeping the title en to indicate that connection.


Inanna holding date frond. Fragment of a relief vessel. Mesopotamia. About 2400 BCE.
© S. Beaulieu, after Gadon 1989:134.

Succeeding male ens, now perhaps also using the title lugal “big man,” could have followed suit, until gradually they became kings in their own right.[9] Steinkeller’s view, that “enship apparently was the original form of Sumerian kingship,” supports this theory (1999:112). However, as many later Mesopotamian kings appear to have done, early en/lugals would still have had to rely on a relationship with Inanna to confirm their kingship. Although eventually Mesopotamian kings ruled without reference to anentu or a “Sacred Marriage” rite, many of them continued to style themselves “beloved” or “spouse” of Inanna or her counterpart Ishtar (Lapinkivi 2004:59-62).

As we saw, Mary Wakeman argues that the “Sacred Marriage” originated in early Uruk to provide religious sanction for male exercise of power. Although this explanation throws light on how an increasingly male-dominated city might have exploited the ritual, it does not explain why the city would have needed to use this particular rite instead of developing another which was less empowering of the goddess. Nor does it really speak to the origin of the ritual. I have hypothesized, however, that the “Sacred Marriage” originated as a ritual for activating a nin-dingir/entu to ensure the fertility of her land. Not only does this suggestion explain the historically attested references to the association of the “Sacred Marriage” with the installation ofentus, but it also illuminates the powerful fertility elements in the ritual.

The inviolability of religious tradition would explain why an increasingly male-dominant society would have been forced to continue to use the time-honoured ritual to achieve its own ends; why the ritual survived for so long; and why, even after the entu had disappeared from archival texts, most kings of Mesopotamia continued to call themselves “spouse/beloved of Inanna-Ishtar.”

Notes

  1. Or a city goddess normally, but not always, identified with Inanna and a city god normally, but not always, identified with Dumuzi (See Steinkeller 1999:130-131).
  2. For a review of interpretations of the ritual, see Lapinkivi 2004:3-13.
  3. Incarnation or spirit possession is a phenomenon of many religions today and in the past. A deity or spirit takes over the body of a medium (often incorrectly called shaman) in order to have direct communication with worshippers (Bowker 1997:884-885,1083-1084). There is no reason to think that Mesopotamian religions were exempt from this practice.
  4. Also see Steinkeller (1999:120-121) for a different interpretation of the role of this religious functionary.
  5. In Sumerian, a non-gendered language, en could be feminine or masculine (Henshaw 1994:44). In gendered Semitic languages, the equivalents of en are enu and entu, the latter meaning nin-dingir, “Goddess on Earth” (Frayne 1985:14; Henshaw 1994:45-51).
  6. For example, Mesopotamian king Sargon (ca. 2300 BCE) appointed his daughter Enheduanna as entu of the god Nanna, protector deity of Ur. See previous column.
  7. Jerrold Cooper disagrees with Frayne’s thesis, as do some other scholars (Cooper 1993:88-89).
  8. Following Jacobsen, Wakeman says that, at Uruk, Dumuzi was “the power inherent in seasonal foods (grain, milk, dates)” and Inanna, in whose temple the produce was deposited, was the power in the storehouse (Wakeman 1985:12; Jacobsen 1976:36).
  9. The Sumerian word lugal eventually came to mean “king.” See Steinkeller 1999:105,112 and following.

Works Cited

  • Bowker, John, ed. 1997. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Oxford: Oxford University.
  • Cohen, Mark E. 1993. The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near East. Bethesda, MY: CDL Press.
  • Cooper, Jerrold S. 1993. “Sacred Marriage and Popular Cult in Early Mesopotamia,” 81-96, in Matushima, E., ed. Official Cult and Popular Religion in the Ancient Near East: Papers of the First Colloquium on the Ancient Near East — The City and its Life held at the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan (Mitake, Tokyo) March 20-22, 1992. Heidelberg: Winter.
  • Frayne, Douglas 1985. “Notes on the Sacred Marriage Rite,” Bibliotheca Orientalis 42:5-22.
  • Gadon, Elinor W. 1989. The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol for Our Time. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
  • Henshaw, Richard A. 1994. Female and Male, the Cultic Personnel: The Bible and the Rest of the Ancient Near East. Allison Park, Pennsylvania: Pickwick.
  • Jacobsen, Thorkild 1976. The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion. New Haven: Yale University.
  • Kramer, Samuel N. 1969. The Sacred Marriage: Aspects of Faith, Myth and Ritual in Ancient Sumer. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University.
  • Lapinkivi, Pirjo 2004. The Sumerian Sacred Marriage in the Light of Comparative Evidence. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, University of Helsinki.
  • Meador, Betty D. S. 2000. Inanna, Lady of Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna. Austin, TX: University of Texas.
  • Sefati, Yitschak 1998. Love Songs in Sumerian Literature: Critical Edition of the Dumuzi-Inanna Songs. Ramat Gan, Israel: Bar-Ilan University.
  • Steinkeller, Piotr 1999. “On Rulers, Priests and Sacred Marriage: Tracing the Evolution of Early Sumerian Kingship,” 103-137, in Priests and Officials in the Ancient Near East: Papers of the Second Colloquium on the Ancient Near East, The Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan, ed. K. Watanabe. Heidelberg: Winter.
  • Teubal, Savina 1983. Sarah the Priestess: The First Matriarch of Genesis. Athens, OH: University of Ohio Swallow.
  • Wakeman, Mary K. 1985. “Ancient Sumer and the Women’s Movement; The Process of Reaching Behind, Encompassing and Going Beyond,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 1/2:7-27.

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