Full Frontal Nerdity, Vol. 18

Posted by: MetAnotherFrog Admin    Tags:  ,     Posted date:  October 13, 2011  |  No comment


Religion and sex.

Were they always so divorced from one another? These days religion seems to set out to limit sexual experience to a type (missionary) or a union (marriage). Has this always been the case?

We’ve investigated the Kama Sutra (here, here and here) and how this collection of texts were written about an art considered not quite holy as such, but certainly one that was needed to keep an individual  in balance with himself, and God as a broader entity. Now it’s simply seen as a collection of smutty pictures for bewildered teenagers to look at and/or the cause of middle aged couples pulling a variety of muscles while attempting to spice up their love lives.

There are religions where sex was not just a function or an element, but the core practice of worship. Ishtar (pictured above) being one of the predominant goddess cults among these religions. This dates back to Babylonian practices and some of the earliest coins found by archeologists were believed to be currency for paying the temple prostitutes. They are even mentioned in the Bible as being found outside the Hebrew temple.  However, while Ishtar is recorded as a Goddess of pleasure, love, sexuality as well as the mother goddess figure – there is conflicting evidence on the existence of the temple prostitutes. Whether the act was performed for money or for a form of offering – sex given freely by a woman to a stranger under the auspices of a religious event or setting.

(By freely I mean without force or drugs – there is NO mention anywhere that these often fertility-based rites were done while under the influence or with the use of coercion.)

There are other examples of a feminine gift of sex to a stranger as a religious offering across western cultures: interestingly all have been found in instances of Goddess worship where the Goddess ruled in her own right. Not as a consort or daughter etc., but as a free standing, independent member of the pantheon.

The Aphrodite Temple in Greece appears to have girls serving as prostitutes, and the Northern European and British tribes had a February festival in honour of Brighid where men would be judged based on how well they were pleasing their women… (sound a little like Valentine’s Day?!)

The exact purpose and meaning behind these many traditions are murky, as much of the more contemporary sources or translations have been completed with a modern bias. These don’t just record the past, but judge it based on current events. When you view the temple girls against modern examples like the current Devadasi in India – you can’t help but be horrified. These are girls with no choice in their future, originally the Devadasi were high caste artisans honoured in society. Not children condemned to futures as prostitutes. Perhaps the former was more where the Temple girls sat, honoured and gifted in society, as well as by those who chose to worship their Goddess in a very physical and all encompassing manner. Something more compelling than many forms of half-hearted worship given today.

Of course, you could also judge it against the example of the Phoenix Goddess temple where last month the “practitioners” were arrested for prostitution. Watching the news feed of crazy eyed hippies talking about chakras, realigning energies and tantric healing does lead me to wonder about my own bias. I have a romantic ideal of the act in antiquity where the girls were spiritual and free; but faced with the reality of that in frizzy haired HD – it’s a little too real for this worshipper.