|Karma Kadgyu Refuge Tree.|
The Tibetan Buddhist image of the Refuge Tree (image) shows the transmission lines of knowledge- knowledge providing the means for spiritual power in this case -and the structures that help preserve it: the monks and saints, the texts and at the base of the tree a ring of fierce Protectors (Mahakala being one) guard the tree.
At the edge of the lake, on the other side from the tree, people bow down, asking for the teachings.
Mythology when dealing with the subject of the primordial forces forgets all about how the power lines work or are preserved; Assyrian, Hittite and Greek myth describe the descent of power in terms of conflict: The titanic forces of earth and sky- the Great Old Ones -are dismembered, broken apart and buried, some of them still alive deep down in Tartarus. Their power now taken by their children the gods.
The Titans are unknowable, unrecognisable, alien and inhuman.
Their children, the gods such as Zeus and Hades are a little more like 'us' but are still alien in their thinking, unknowable and at times, untrustworthy.
Those original children of the Titanic gods have children, and the story lines become harder to untangle: Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, gave birth to more gods fathered by her father, Zeus: Zagreus the child with the horns of a bull, and half light, half dark Melinoe. The children of the children of gods, rarely have a cult center and rarely play much of a role in Greek myth.
They are too much like us..
The next step is The Hero, literally a human/god hybrid. Gilgamesh was the first literary hero- the son of Lugalbanda, king of Uruk, and the goddess Ninsun -many more were to follow:
Theseus and Achilles to name just two.
The king too must access divine power and to represent this there is the idea of 'The mandate of Heaven' or of the need to posses 'The tablet of destiny' for without either of these things, a king cannot rule. A king can only rule with the agreement of the gods. The Tablet of Destiny actually gave the rule of the whole universe to who ever possessed it, therefore it, like 'the mandate' it was not a physical object, rather it is a symbol of kingship that is maintained to this day.
Here, on the border between the unknowable gods and the all too human quest for knowledge and power we find the idea of the Heiros Gamos- the Holy wedding between church and state, believed to have been enacted by the king, and a priestess of The Queen of Heaven, Holy Inanna's representative for that night...In Ancient Sumer the temple fulfilled the role of the state whilst the king's primary function was as a war leader. The temple required sacrifices for the gods and distributed 'the sacrifices' as food for the many. The temple gave work to craftsmen, provided exorcists and scribes. The temple was the place rich fathers could send their daughters to live a celibate life, and the place from where Shamhat was fetched (if Herodotus is to be believed about temple prostitutes).
No one seems very clear on the status of prostitution in old Sumer- which isn't surprising, it was a very long time ago! It is true that there is a concept of sacred sexuality preserved in ancient texts (most of it dismissed as 'symbolic') , it is also true that prostitution is an old institution.
Finally and without doubt the temple needed to make money and the kings of Carthage 'married the Goddess' .
I tend to see an obvious way of monetizing the two by the temple offering a heiros gamos to any man wealthy enough to partake of what had once been a king's right.
Meanwhile, to quote from The New International Version of the bible:
Deuteronomy 23:17-1817.No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. 18 You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute[a] into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both.But without being able to read the original language- who knows if this is actually what the bible says? The term, shrine prostitute indicates that there were 'sacred prostitutes' and that the new religion (that eventually becomes Christianity) isn't keen...
It is extremely difficult to tell if the whole idea of sacred prostitution is a creation of nineteenth century white men's frustrations which eventually finds its true home in the Wiccan Great Rite?
By the time of Ahmose-Nefertari the role of Wife of God had changed; all I can be fairly certain of is that playing the sistrum before the statue of the god was a major role for god's wife- The sistrum induced fertility...in some way- by the time Ahmose-Nefertani married god, it gave her great power in this world.
It is quite easy to see 'the sacred' as a kind of sugar pill, an advertisers' spin, an attempt to sell or hide 'the truth'. The longing for the sacred has an effect, it gets buildings constructed and makes people look for, and experience the spectral light shining in from hidden realms.
But the temples of Sumer were at the heart of civilisation and a balance of power was maintained, or rather the king could be held in check by an institution that depended upon the good will of the people to function correctly.
The Egyptian title, Wife of God, consort to a god shifts love and adoration away from the romantic and centers it on the spiritual; god is something else, not of this world, not even flesh and blood; but can be within flesh and blood...
It is tempting believe that this concept spread into Greece as part of the cult of Dionysos. Dionysos was - the God within - a god of possession and transformation. The sacred wedding of Dionysos took place as a part of the Anthesteria...
Dionysos, Ariadne, Persephone, the cave, the wedding, the wine...no one mentions Hades....because his name means invisible...