The Works of Venus, Ritual of Renewal


by Abraham Van Luik.

A book I recently finished was called "The Mystical Marriage," by Gerhard
Wehr, (Crucible, 1990). Wehr reconstructs the union of the male and the female in
marriage as the creative reflection on Earth of the Hieros gamos archetype. He
runs through the Old and New Testaments, Gnostic and Kabbalistic mysteries,
Alchemy, Rosicrucians, modern examples and psychoanalysis (Jungian in

In one place he disappointed me: the story of Sara, later called Sarah, wife
of Abram, later called Abraham, in the Old Testament. Sarah, and later her
daughter, were classic textbook examples of the Naditu Priestesses described in
the Law of Hammurapi. Savina J. Teubal ("Sarah The Priestess, The First
Matriarch of Genesis." Swallow Press, 1984) makes the case very well for Sara
and Rebecca being priestesses who were childless because they were dedicated to
the goddess. Sarah followed the law of her homeland and gave her husband
someone with whom he could raise up seed unto her (yes! Unto HER, not him!
{But don't think this was a matriarchal society, the rest of the Code of Hammurapi
makes it plain that women were expected to very scrupulously obey their menfolk,
except in the case of this one exceptional class of holy women who served kings in
this holy ritual of renewal.}

She, Sara, functioned in her priestly offices with Pharaoh, and with
Abimelech, with the results noted (end of the famine, fertility restored through the
land), and in addition was herself restored to fertility by the latter encounter, and
thus herself begat Isaac thereby ending her priestly career. The Genesis account is,
if these things are true, a doctored one with fantastic changes to supplant the
matriarchal deity with Abraham's patriarchal one.

Sarah is involved in ritual that clearly belongs to the cult of the goddess,
and must have had recognized credentials as a priestess of that goddess. The
almost comical dwelling of the storytellers on her legendary beauty and the lusts of the kings as being the only reasons for these enigmatic dramas, are possibly the
author's decoys to keep the real priestly position of Sarah under wraps and reserve
all of the glory for the patriarch and his God. Sarah seems to be a qualified person
to stand in for the Queen of Heaven as she prepares to receive the earth-god's
representative on the lion-couch/marriage bed.

I do believe this version of the story makes historical sense and evidences
the transition in religion and the replacement of the Goddess and her consort Gods
with the one (male) God. It documents a transition that took a large part of the
world away from a view of the Divine that included the female. The poem of
Inanna's mating with the shepherd King Dumuzi, and her blessing him and his land afterward, that is likely the ritual that Sarah and Rebeccah were taking part in: 3
times it happened to them! Their beauty and the desires of kings explain this?
When there was a famine in the land? Give me a break: the disease was named
(famine) and the prescribed cure was applied (the Hieros Gamos) in keeping with
the customs and religious practices of the time and place. It is the simpler, more
credible explanation!

Did I make all this up? No. Graves and Patai {Graves, Robert, and Raphael
Patai, "Hebrew Myths, The Book of Genesis," (Greenwich House, New York,
1983) p. 144.} connect section l46 of the Code of Hammurabi with Sarah, and
note that the "naditum", or hierodule, is a priestess or temple servant that is
forbidden to have children. Hence the provision for a second wife to bear children.
The "naditum" apparently played a central part in an annual rite in which she
represented the Goddess of fertility. By having intercourse with her, successfully,
and pleasing her, a king would renew his kingly authority, renew his health and
vigor, renew the fertility of his land and people, and guarantee the prosperity of his nation. In turn, the king would bestow lavish gifts upon the Goddess.

This yearly rite, which begins with sacrifices and culminates in this sacred
marriage or "hieros gamos", is delicately and sketchily described by Geoffrey
Parrinder {"World Religions from Ancient History to the Present," (Facts on File
Publications, New York, 1983), pp. 125-128} who observes that the king acted as
the successor to Dumuzi, lover and husband of Inanna. In re-enacting the
love-feast of these two deities that assured fertility: "The part of the goddess was
given to a selected priestess." Parrinder notes that entry to the higher classes of
priesthood was by patronage, so that society's physically and intellectually favored were selected.

A highly readable account of the sacred marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi, giving
full and glowing details of their lovemaking and subsequent exchange of gifts has
recently been published. This work describes the results of the sacred union in
terms of establishing the authority and throne of the king, granting him a favorable
and glorious reign and an enduring crown, fertile fields, sheep, vegetation, grain,
birds, and produce in abundance {Wolkstein, Diane, and Samuel N. Kramer,
"Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer"
(Harper & Row, N.Y., 1983), pp. 146-147}.

Some citations from Wolkstein and Kramer are a perfect way to develop an
appreciation for this ancient religious tradition. Much of the book is poetry from
the Divine Marriage between the Goddess Inanna (Venus) and her Shepherd lover,
Dumuzi ( king of Uruk in ancient Sumer, about 4,000 years ago). Spring, renewal,
and a bright Venus in the sky will help you recall this poetry in the future. It is not
easily forgotten.

The next selection (if you want more, buy the book!) is a very sweet
understatement describing these two lovers entering "the bed that rejoices the

Of course that which follows next suggests there was little sleeping involved in all
this hand to hand and heart to heart stuff. It is beautiful poetry:

So now, the Queen of heaven, Inanna, Venus, First Daughter of the Moon, decrees
Dumuzi's fate ( he was a good guy, after all, finishing last)  [See an alternative interpretation below, however]:

She then says lots of stuff about his being fit for kingship, and blesses likewise his
warrior qualifications, but the gist of it is that this was a very beautifully written
description of the Mystical Marriage, the Hieros Gamos, of ancient times, the
annual spring ritual between the king and a Priestess representing the Goddess
who looked on brightly, beaming her approval from the night sky. And if she was
well pleased? Well, crops, babies, and the spoils of war would be plentiful.

Do you feel the calling to take upon yourself this priesthood and become
priestesses and priests, queens and kings? If so, be mindful, next opportunity, to
take upon ourselves the weighty task of properly pleasing our mates and blessing
them so that crops and babies may be plentiful and healthy! To your duties, oh
Goddesses and Shepherd Kings, the world needs continual renewal!

OK, that was fun.  But then I received this email that suggests that I did not read the ritual in its entirety and should have, because something very interesting is occurring with Dumuzi.  Here is what that email said,

"He opened wide his arms to the holy priestess of heaven.
We rejoiced together.
He took his pleasure of me.
He laid me down on the fragrant honey-bed
My sweet love, lying by my heart,
Tongue-playing, one by one,
My fair Dumuzi did so fifty times.
Now, my sweet love is sated.
  At the climax of the ceremony (or should I say, climaxes, fifty times, wow!) the populous would cheer and shout their approval and appreciation."  (emphasis added)  Thus, apparently as part of this ancient ritual (this Sumerian version being the most ancient of all), the king or the king-apparent was required to sexually fulfill the Dumuzi role just as given in the poem used as the ritual's script.  Thus, he was expected to orgasm "fifty times" before the ritual was considered successfully concluded.

Brent Myers cites several Sumerologists who conclude as he does that the literal meaning of this passage is that Dumizi made love to her 50 times before he (not her) was sated.  My own non-expert opinion is that it is not really necessary to take every nuance in the text literally.  I suspect the number 50 is symbolic and that the claim to a multiple climaxing ability may have been a way of showing the man was of the semi-divine lineage fit to be king.  He was no mere mortal, no commoner.

Brent strongly disagrees with my toying with the interpretations that the last line's "my sweet love" did not mean Dumuzi at all, but meant the internal satifaction of Inanna, which then led her to bless Dumuzi in the extravagant way that she did.  He disagrees strongly with that interpretation, because this is not the only place this myth is related, and in the other instance of it it is even more unmistakably stated that it is Dumuzi who makes love to Inanna 50 times, "exhaustedly waiting for her, as she trembled underneath him" with here speechless (click here for the quote he provided to make this point--it does say that).

Of course my untrained eye again sees an opportunity for a perverse reading here, with Dumuzi getting exhausted keeping Inanna in a speechless trembling state until she finally has her fill of pleasure, I just can't get over the fact that the ritual is all about the Goddess being so satisfied that she blesses the king.  But whatever the meaning of Inanna being exhausted and speechless under Dumuzi, it is clear in these 'older' versions that Dumuzi did make love to her 50 times!  That is totally amazing!

This is a link Brent Myers suggested I peruse to see the ritual discussed in greater detail (there is material here unsuitable for children and unstable persons of any age):  

And this is where Brent Myers discusses the possibility of multiple orgasms in males (with references to journals that may be available online or at your local library):

As with everything else in life, you make your own decision.  

As for me, I am once again proven to be naught but a peasant.  Sorry, Venus.

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