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The Whores of Babylon...and elsewhere.

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posted on May, 27 2013 @ 10:10 AM
I want to look at a process were a Religious tradition of young girls at around the age of 12, the onset of adolescence, would be given and dedicated to serve within the Temple of a Goddess, and how over time these became the playthings of Royalty, before eventually being thrown to the dogs of the general populace.

How Temples of the Goddess in effect became the most disreputable whore houses within the City, and how this therefore accelerated the decline of such cults into obscurity and as far as the good people were concerned good riddance.

This tradition still continues in India, during May thousands of girls will be dedicated to Temples and they will earn their keep through Prostitution.

Herodotus was aware that the Temple (of Ishtar) in Babylon was famous for the number of Prostitutes within it's precincts;

The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four.

He takes the opportunity to indulge in some dark humour, he was however seemingly unaware that thousands of women would have been dedicated to the Temple as girls, that at a period the religion of Zoroaster had been adopted the cult of Ishtar was approaching its end and was in lowly degraded state.

In effect though this would have been well known to him, as the exact same circumstances prevailed in Greece...

“The temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it employed more than a thousand hetairas,whom both men and women had given to the goddess. Many people visisted the town on account of them, and thus these hetairas contributed to the riches of the town

In 464 BCE, a man named Xenophon, a citizen of Corinth who was an acclaimed runner and winner of pentathlon at the Olympic Games, dedicated one hundred young girls to the temple of the goddess as a sign of thanksgiving.

Herodotus was taking out of context a tradition he would have understood perfectly well in effect to denigrate greater Babylonian society.

The entire process is best seen from the Inidan perspective;

In Hinduism, a devadasi (Sanskrit: servant of deva or devi (god)) is a girl “married” to a deity and dedicated to worship and service of the deity or a temple for the rest of her life. Originally, in addition to taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women learned and practiced Sadir (Bharatanatya), Odissi and other classical Indian artistic traditions and enjoyed a high social status as dance and music were essential part of temple worship.

During British rule in the Indian subcontinent, kings who were the patrons of temples and temple arts became powerless. As a result, devadasis were left without their traditional means of support and patronage.

This simple word, 'devadasi' says Dr. I.S. Gilada, one of India's most prominent AIDS activists and an honorary secretary of the Indian Health Organization, "is a label which condemns 5,000 to 10,000 girls every year into a life of sexual servitude (concubinage) and subsequently into prostitution.

Durgamma walks up to the temple where a priest puts a glittering string of red and white beads strung on saffron colored thread around her neck. No groom, however, comes to meet this bride. Instead Durgamma is wed to the temple goddess, and her life will be spent as a devadasi, a temple prostitute.

References to devadasis, which literally means "god's servants," are found in Hindu scriptures dating back 4,000 years. Then, devadasis cleaned the temples, kept the temple bells, and performed ritual dances to appease the gods and goddesses. The earliest devadasis were virgins who pledged to remain celibate, but over the years the state began supporting devadasis, and the girls became mistresses to the kings.

Sleeping with the Goddess

One finds that the first step in their exploitation was in becoming the property of the King, the 'sacred marriage' tradition, in which the King feels himself worthy to unite with the Goddess.

Though this is seem by many Neo-Pagans as an important aspect of ancient Goddess tradition, it was in reality the first step into decline and degradation, a violation of sanctity...from this point the 'whore of Babylon' was inevitable

An "improbable percentage of the population [of Mesopotamia and Syria-Canaan] must have been either secular or religious prostitutes of some sort," wrote Beatrice Brooks in 1941 She was drawing conclusions from the writings of predominantly male scholars who accepted without question the concept of "sacred, cult, or temple prostitutes." Female temple functionaries, they maintained, regularly engaged in sexual intercourse in return for a payment to their temples.

Female devotees of Inanna/Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of sexuality and love, were "immediately" suspect of such behavior

Tragically," says one contemporary scholar, "scholarship suffered from scholars being unable to imagine any cultic role for women in antiquity that did not involve sexual intercourse"

It's a very tragic story really, and one that continues to this day as seen, the general solution tends to be remove all aspects of Goddess worship from greater society, but were does the real scandal lie....?
edit on 27-5-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 27 2013 @ 10:49 AM
it's difficult to address this in a specific way, what it's really all about?

some will naturally claim this is the worlds oldest profession (prostitution) but we have to focus on this mechanism behind it (these religious, cultural, political forces) ..i see elements of a large-scale 'brainwashing' at work here, for not only these unfortunate women but the men who are also involved in this.

It's a very tragic story really, and one that continues to this day as seen, the general solution tends to be remove all aspects of Goddess worship from greater society, but were does the real scandal lie....?

my response is this;

a king and queen can exert an influence across a realm
a husband and wife can exert an influence within a household
each persons inner 'sun' and 'moon' will influence the way they conduct themselves..

removing the 'goddess' as you say, equates to unbalancing the female polarity also works on a "personal level"
it seems like more people are getting interested in what you're outlying in the topic

i've been posting about similar things here >

posted on May, 27 2013 @ 12:13 PM
reply to post by UNIT76

There is obvious imbalance here, the problem lies in the assumption of Masculine dominance, that any religious institution of a Goddess can only remain inviolate if it is afforded the protection of the Ruling Powers, when that same power is first in the queue for the cherry picking then the institution is degraded and collapses.

It comes down to a question of whether people actually care enough about them, people still flock to those temples in India for festivals, the cults and superstitions are still an aspect of their lives, but do they care enough to support the temple, to see that the girls are instructed in classical arts and protected...nope.

In effect the people don't have the Goddess they don't deserve...which is a sort of balance.

posted on May, 27 2013 @ 02:04 PM
Herodotus Demonized the Babylonians in some of the first examples of early propaganda, in order to promote Greece and her Deities. Because of her aspects of being the Goddess of Love and Sensuality he was linking Inanna to Aphrodite.

Herodotus did this with the Phoenicians as well, it was a common practice, to point out the flaws or despicable practices of worship by a similar Gods of the Greek Pantheon while trying to assimilate that culture. Not much has changed as this is still practiced today look at the pieces written about 12 year old Muslim brides...

The Babylonians had no temples dedicated to Aphrodite only ones devoted to the Worship of Inanna and although I am no expert on the Mesopotamians I know a hit piece when I see one.

The quote starts out with
The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite...

This was designed to invoke feelings of hatred among the more conservative Greeks of the times. Getting them loathe the Babylonians as they appeared to be denigrating their Goddess Aphrodite by acts (albeit even loose by today's standards) the Greeks deemed deplorable. They would see their Goddess represented with acts of prostitution when this wasn't the case.

The practice of Hieros gamos was what Herodotus was trying to denigrate and associate with the prostitution. An act that was most likely performed symbolically instead of actually physically. Often this is created in Dance or movements to symbolize the acts of the Gods in procreation and ecstasy. This is what is still performed in India and something beautiful to see! There is no "Act of Prostitution" in this ceremony (that is whole other argument).

Perhaps the practice as described by Herodotus was falling out of favor since there is little evidence that "Sacred Prostitution" was every actually taking place. What was happening was REAL prostitution under that guise to make it legal since the society was collapsing. Which logic tells me this was propaganda promoting the Greek Pantheon by destroying the practices of a foreign Deity in spiritual warfare that we can still see practiced today...
edit on 27-5-2013 by abeverage because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 27 2013 @ 03:56 PM
reply to post by abeverage

That's pretty much it, the problem as i see it was that Inanna was no power sharer, the King and his Queen ruled through her good grace, once the rulers took it upon themselves to cherry pick the servant girls of her Temple precinct and to conceive of anything as ridiculous as their rule having been established by sacred marriage, through union with her Priestess, Inanna effectively exited the building stage left and also left them to create whatever sorry cultic mess they so wished...the collapse of their rule following shortly afterwards.

By the time of the Greeks, Temples of Ishtar and Aphrodite were nothing but mystical themed. knocking shops were the girls could be bought for a few copper coins, there was nothing sacred about any of this, nor was there any mythological premise for how this was the way it was meant to be...quite the opposite.

But nobody seems to have cared then, nobody seems to care now, and we continue with whatever mess pleases us.

posted on Jun, 1 2013 @ 09:00 AM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

It's a very tragic story really, and one that continues to this day as seen, the general solution tends to be remove all aspects of Goddess worship from greater society, but were does the real scandal lie....?

The scandal lies in that people would worship a mindless chunk of rock and embrace the ridiculous in their own ignorance. Fools walking around talking to their toys.

posted on Jun, 11 2013 @ 08:36 PM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

By the time of the Greeks, Temples of Ishtar and Aphrodite were nothing but mystical themed. knocking shops were the girls could be bought for a few copper coins, there was nothing sacred about any of this, nor was there any mythological premise for how this was the way it was meant to be...quite the opposite.

From my perspective, I think the flaw lies in the city temples themselves. I fail to see how a glimpse of Artemis running barefoot up a wooded hillside with bow in hand can be memorialized in a temple, or how a temple can capture the grandeur of wolves serenading the Moon.

Small forest shrines would seem more appropriate.

Artemis (variants Arktemis, Arktemisa) is most likely related to Greek árktos ‘bear’ (from PIE *h₂ŕ̥tḱos), supported by the bear cult that the goddess had in Attica (Brauronia) and the Neolithic remains at the Arkoudiotissa Cave, as well as the story about Callisto, which was originally about Artemis (Arcadian epithet kallisto).[9]
This cult was a survival of very old totemic and shamanistic rituals and formed part of a larger bear cult found further afield in other Indo-European cultures (e.g., Gaulish Artio). It is believed that a precursor of Artemis was worshiped in Minoan Crete as the goddess of mountains and hunting, Britomartis. While connection with Anatolian names has been suggested

Perhaps if Inanna left the temple, it was to escape the confines and run free elsewhere with a different name.

I'm hopelessly behind everyone else when it comes to Sumerian mythology

posted on Jun, 12 2013 @ 10:18 AM
reply to post by Kantzveldt

t's a very tragic story really, and one that continues to this day as seen, the general solution tends to be remove all aspects of Goddess worship from greater society, but were does the real scandal lie....?

My theory, after having read Stephen Grundy's, Gilgamesh, is that the Epic of Gilgamesh itself marks the transition from Sacred Marriage as the king's duty, a self sacrifice for the good of the city-state, to the king seeking eternal glory for himself through feats and adventures.

Before reading Grundy's retelling, I had considered that Gilgamesh's turning down of Ishtar/Inanna in the Sixth Tablet as somehow a virtuous act. Now it seems rather a seeking of immortality in his own fame at the expense of the city.

(Now) Lady Ishtar espieth the beauty of Gilgamish: (saith she),
“Gilgamish, come, be a bridegroom, to me of the fruit (of thy body)
Grant me largesse: (for) my husband shalt be and I’ll be thy consort.
10.O, but I’ll furnish a chariot for thee, (all) azure and golden,
Golden its wheel, and its yoke precious stones 3, each day to be harness’d
Unto great mules: (O), enter our house with the fragrance of cedar.
15.(So) when thou enterest into our house shall threshold and dais
Kiss thy feet, (and) beneath thee do homage kings, princes, and rulers,
Bringing thee yield of the mountains and plains as a tribute: thy she-goats
Bring forth in plenty, thy ewes shall bear twins, thy asses 4 attaining
20.(Each) to the size of a mule, (and) thy steeds 4 in thy chariot winning
Fame for their gallop: [thy mules 4] in the yoke shall ne’er have a rival.”


[Gilgamish] open’d his mouth in reply, Lady Ishtar [to answer]:
“Aye, but what must I give] thee, (if (?)) I should take thee in marriage?
25.[I must provide thee with oil] for (thy) body, and clothing: (aye, also)
[Give thee (thy)] bread and (thy) victual: (sooth), must be sustenance [ample]
Meet for divinity—[I, (too), must give thee (thy) drink] fit for royalty.
30.. . . . I shall be bound, . . . let us amass (?), . . . clothe with a garment.
[What, then, will be my advantage, supposing) I take thee in marriage?
[Thou’rt but a ruin which giveth no shelter (?) to man] from the weather,
Thou’rt but a back door [not] giving resistance to blast or to windstorm,

p. 33

35.Thou’rt but a palace which dasheth the heroes [within it to pieces],
Thou’rt but a pitfall (which letteth) its covering [give way (all treach’rous)],
Thou art but pitch which [defileth] the man who doth carry it with him,
Thou’rt but a bottle which [leaketh] on him who doth carry it with him,
Thou art but limestone which [letteth] stone ramparts [fall crumbling in ruin].
40.Thou’rt but chalcedony [failing to guard (?)] 1 in an enemy’s country,
Thou’rt but a sandal which causeth its owner [to trip (by the wayside)].
Who was ever [thy] husband [thou faithfully lovedst] for all time?
Who hath been ever thy lord who hath gain’d [over thee the advantage?
Come, and I will unfold thee [the endless tale] of thy husbands.
The Epic of Gilgamesh - Reginald Campbell Thompson Translation

Grundy takes for granted the description of "Sacred Marriage" as described in Stuckey's essay.

For a certain period, the "Sacred Marriage" was an important fertility ritual in Mesopotamia (Frayne 1985:6). As a result of the king's participation, whatever form it took, he became Inanna's consort, sharing "her invaluable fertility power and potency" (Kramer 1969:57), as well as, to some extent, her divinity and that of her bridegroom Dumuzi. Unfortunately, no text tells us what happened in the temple's ritual bedroom, not even whether the participants were human beings or statues (Hooks 1985:29). However, in a persuasive article, Douglas Frayne argues that, at least in early times, the participants were human: the king and the Nin.Dindir/entu (Frayne 1985:14).

In the "Sacred Marriage" material, the female participant is always called Inanna (Sefati 1998:305), so her human identity is obscured. That is not surprising, for I suspect that, during the ritual, the only female present was Inanna. What I am suggesting is that the Nin.Dindir/entu was a medium. Through talent and training, she went into a trance and allowed Inanna to take over her body. Then the goddess could actually be present during the ritual. To a greater or lesser degree, the king could similarly have embodied the god Dumuzi.
"Sacred Prostitutes"

Compare with Grundy's opening:
(to be continued)

posted on Jun, 12 2013 @ 10:35 AM
reply to post by pthena


...It would be a great New Year's celebration indeed: instead of the Sacred Marriage being carried out as it had in the years of her memory, between the En who was Inanna's high priest and the Shamhatu who was the voice of the goddess on earth, young Gilgamesh would take the Ensi's crown in place of his long-dead father Lugalbanda. Tonight the Shamhatu, his mother, would step down from her place to become Rimsat-Ninsun, the Old Woman of Erech, and a maiden would be chosen from among the temple-women to bear the might of the goddess. And at the end of the New Year's Feast, Gilgamesh would become En, as well as Ensi, and he would go in to the new Shamhatu, dedicating his life as an offering to be taken at Inanna's pleasure even as he took the goddess' maidenhead anew, as his father Lugalbanda and his grandfather Dumuzi had done before him.
Stephen Grundy, Gilgamesh, pp1,2

Gilgamesh got cold feet over the idea of dedicating his life as an offering. Instead he spurned his duty in order to seek his own glory. Thus Erech suffered many woes, leading to the city crying out against him.

So, reading the novel pretty much flipped my views of Gilgamesh over.


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