by Sunny Ariel
"In any case, when King Manasseh was crowned in 693 B.C., the pendulum swung back to the Goddess... in the inner sanctum... the priests deflowered privileged virgins, winners of a series of "Miss Judah" contests".
Spoon was as shocked as she could be by this talk of fornication in the Holy of Holies. Conch Shell explained to her that the First Temple had teemed with sexual activity from the night of its dedication onward, even, to some extent, when under strict Levite (Yahwist) control. A famous pair of phallic pillars guarded its entrance, and, like almost all the temples of the ancient world, it was financially supported by the earnings of holy prostitutes... "As near as I can determine, Miss Spoon, this business had nothing in common with some sordid grinding in a cheap motel or drunken octopusing in the back seat of a car, such as you might have heard the Jesuits condemn. Why, it was even more exalted than marital congress. This was sacred sex, conducted with ceremony and in full consciousness, meant to mime the act of original Creation, to celebrate life at its most intense and crucial moment. We're not talking the old in-and-out, slip-slap here, Miss Spoon, we're talking the ignition of the divine spark...."
skinny legs and all by Tom Robbins
Bantam books, 1990
I read recently that all women fake orgasms from time to time, and I thought that there must be something wrong with me because I never have. I mean, the orgasm that Meg Ryan faked in that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally... was a a real occurrence for me; I always had what she was having --- only louder. If we were in Jerusalem, Gadi would say they could hear me in Tel Aviv; Manny once suggested that my mother could hear me in Philadelphia! There were times, particularly with Manny, that I could almost go back to a place in time somewhere in Persia or Babylon or Egypt, and feel like people were watching our lovemaking; that it was somehow sacred, and that I was a priestess of love or something. Mind you, I was often stoned when I was with Manny, so I didn't pay much attention to these things. And yet, although nobody was talking or writing about it much, I felt instinctively that sexuality and spirituality were somehow connected.
For thousands of years, Chinese, Indians and Tibetans have apprenticed themselves to the ancient sexual art of tantra by practicing lovemaking as a sacrament. According to Hindu tradition, tantra was first embodied in the god Shiva and goddess Shakti, whose divine lovemaking was a dance they believed kept the world spinning. The word "tantra" in Sanskrit means "expansion" or "weaving" and the word "yoga" means to "join together". Tantric yoga was a partnership practice that focused on health as much as spiritual and sexual intimacy. In the ancient civilizations of Sumeria, Egypt and Greece, sacred sex was a healing act. Those who returned from war were taken first to the temples of the Holy Prostitutes where the soldiers were restored to their sense of self. Brenda Peterson, in her article "The New Eroticism" (New Age Journal, May/June, 1993), writes: "Each maiden in the society was asked to serve at least a day in this temple ritual. These women considered their service a sacred honoring of the goddess; it was a privilege to perform the holy arts of sexual healing. The priestess-prostitutes offered ritual bathing, cleansing, massaging, praying and purification through lovemaking. This holy lovemaking restored health and balance so the soldier could return to daily life after having seen so much bloodshed and violence and death... The ancients recognized sensuality as a life force strong enough to redeem the warrior from death's stranglehold." After I read this article I found the book The Sacred Prostitute by Nancy Qualls-Corbert. Her book begins: "On my first excursion to Israel several years ago, I noticed numerous little clay statues in the small gift shops of the kibbutzim and in the larger antique stores. I was attracted to these figures almost magnetically. Each had the crude form of a woman. Some were delicately molded while others were crudely formed; some depicted the entire body with intricate designs in the gown or headdress, others were simply fragments of a small head with only a suggestion of facial expression. They were not reproductions, they were originals dating back to long before the Common Era (B.C.E.). Excavated from the ruins of many towns and villages of this ancient land, they were images of ancient goddesses."
There was something about this information that had a real resonance deep within my soul, so when I went to see Rand Lee to check out Rachel's past lives during the holocaust, I also asked him if I had any connection to the Holy Prostitute. In trance he told me that I am connected to the High Priestess essence of passion and that I express that part of the divine essence connected to the "Ruach HaKodesh" or the female energy of the Holy Spirit of Passion. In Hebrew, the "Ruach HaKodesh" or the Holy Spirit is indeed feminine. There is also a Hebrew feminine word for sun ("shemesh"), moon ("levana"), and God, or more accurately Divine Presence (Shechina). He said that as the expression of the female energy of expansion, my goal is to recognize what my heart really needs and to give it to myself persistently. Rand continued: "As you know, in Kabalistic thought the 'Ruach HaKodesh' was often seen as a female; not an entity, but a female energy of generation and expansion. And, so, in a way, you represent this. In your cluster of incarnations as the High Priestess essence you have been learning many things --- belief, strategy, harmony, action, support, communication --- but in this incarnation you are learning passion and you are connected to the incarnational essence of the one who enters physical reality to learn to translate her inner dreams into action, acting with proper organization and determination until you get it. You are presently entering a life cycle called 'the World of Strategy cycle' and in this cycle you have been getting in touch with your life purpose, and bringing through information and making contacts and doing networking that would be useful for your life purpose and this is why you have had so much travel, but you are entering into your next seven-year cycle, the cycle called 'the Empress of Harmony'. This is significant because the Empress is the physical aspect of the High Priestess so this is the cycle of your wealth, and of your home, and of your long-term security, and of your feeling that at last your dreams are translating into reality."
This was heady stuff. I had been feeling, for about six months, that my life was about to change, so Rand's words about getting in touch with my life purpose was totally accurate --- could the wealth be far behind? Gadi's death had marked a turning point in my life, but sometimes it seemed that I was doing merely that... turning and turning, trying to catch my tail. When I returned to Philadelphia with Rachel with a promise of emotional and financial support from my parents, I discovered that that support came with conditions; i.e., renting an apartment next door to them, getting back my old position as marketing director of the Jewish Publication Society, having Rachel attend Temple University (my alma mater). So I decided, after Rachel was accepted into the theatre department of the College of Santa Fe, to move to the Southwest with her. I'd recently had a session with an astrologer who told me I'd be living somewhere surrounded by mountains-she actually thought she saw Vancouver, a place I'd never been , but for some reason was very drawn to --- so Santa Fe seemed a good mountainous compromise. I just needed to heal and thought that the return to nature would be beneficial for me, and that I would be close to Rachel whenever she needed me (like when she'd call at midnight from the dorm and ask me to bring her something to eat!). After a year in Santa Fe, the mecca of US "spiritual-materialism", as I would discover, I felt the need to return to my roots in England and to begin to own my life again. It meant separating from Rachel's energy for a while. She was nineteen years old, involved in a loving relationship with Adam, yet still under the influence of my mother, whose judgement of my marching-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer lifestyle was in no way nurturing for any of us. And, although my mother probably doesn't even have the slightest understanding or even interest in reincarnation, the idea that your child in this life is actually your mate from a past life, having returned to give you even more aggravation, would, at the very least, cause her to chuckle. As I was about to leave, a screenwriter friend who was encouraging me to write said, "You know, sometimes you just have to jump off the edge and build your wings on the way down."
In England I was able at least to begin writing. Perhaps being back in the land of my birth helped me to be somewhat more contemplative, perhaps it was the joy of obtaining a Reader's Card from the British Library, or perhaps it was the fact that, as a British citizen, I was eligible for housing benefit and income support so that I could support my habit. The British are logical, thinking people some might call anal-retentive (particularly the men), and yet there are spiritual roots older than Stonehenge itself.
From the time of the First World War people started seeking out spiritualists or mediums to connect with their departed loved ones, and the Celtic tradition extends much further than Ireland itself. Even in Vancouver there is a monthly newspaper called The Celtic Connection. And the crop circles, so prevalent in England, are, according to Barbara Marciniak's Bringers of the Dawn, "phenomenological expressions of consciousness which have come into our reality to show us that the logical mind cannot control all of the data. The crop circles occur to intersect with the coding of consciousness of all human beings."
Whenever reality cannot be explained, a certain niche is opened within consciousness, and the crop circles are completely beyond the logical mind. "There are a number of reasons for the existence of the crop circles. Basically, they exist to force reality to move --- to get you feeling rather than thinking. Most who explore these circles think their way through the circles rather than feel their way through them. Great Britain is having a rash of them because, in general, the British have a very logic-oriented consciousness. However, the land of the British Isles is imprinted with megalithic spirals and stone forms that have intensely imprinted the intuitive faculties of the inhabitants. This phenomenon has no logic to it. It is forcing a logically oriented society to recognize something that makes no sense, and it is being done in a very playful and obvious way without creating a threat to anyone's view of reality. If ships were to land everywhere, people would get upset, When corn lies down in concentric circles and it doesn't even break or die, no one really gets too upset."
My relationship with Daniel, my first relationship post-Gadi, mirrors this. Daniel is a logically oriented British CPA who, through knowing me, has been forced to recognize someone who makes no sense (he calls me "the crazy American") to his logical mind, and yet, he has begun to walk on his own spiritual path. We met when I was looking for an accountant, and in our initial phone conversation he suggested that we meet for dinner. I suggested instead that we spend a Sunday together, as there was a flat for rent in Oxfordshire that I wanted to drive up to see. When he came to pick me up one Sunday afternoon, I was struck by how very much, physically, he reminded me of Manny, and I felt instinctually that his was an old soul I'd known before. The very first question I asked him, as soon as I got into his car, was when his birthday is. It just blurted out, and it had nothing to do with astrology. Of course, he knew nothing about my relationship with Gadi. "Feb. 7," he said, and saw me go pale. Gadi's birthday was February 7! Talk about a cosmic connection, this was the ultimate cosmic joke. Gadi, the snake with the Jeff Bridges body, had sent me Dudley Moore with the compassion of Ghandi!
From the start he called me "cherub" and I called him my "special angel", and in his droll and caring way he helped me to release the demons left by Gadi. I wonder if what Ghandi had and Gadi didn't --- namely the letters "h' and "n" --- stand for help and nurturing --- the very two things that Gadi never gave me and Daniel had an abundant supply of?
Maybe if I'd known then what Rand Lee told me some months later --- that the High Priestess is an archetype connected to the Mother goddesses of my culture and that, in many cultures, the Holy Prostitute has been a High Priestess essence individual because her energy both brings life into the world and buries the dead, both at the same time --- I wouldn't have needed so much help and nurturing from Daniel. After all, wasn't that the total help and nurturing package all rolled up in one archetype? Rand continued his tranced reading,
"And, because you are a high priestess of passion, you must learn that to live fully in your body is as holy a doorway into enlightenment as the spirit is [and for years I'd been duped into thinking sex was just good, clean fun, and all the while I was opening a doorway to enlightenment] and so, it is true that in Babylon you did, indeed, practice as this kind of high priestess and served the Goddess Ishtar at the Ishtar gate. Also, you have served the Goddess Aphrodite in Greece in her earlier, more primitive incarnations, and you have also worked with the Goddess Isis, although we see this as a male entity, not a female; and so, this is true that you have been a holy prostitute and so, if you ask, and call upon the high priestess or the Popess energy and ask it to come and bring back to you the memory of all your lives, exploring the goddess energy, you will have much more information, even for another book!"
Nancy Qualls-Corbett, in her book The Sacred Prostitute, writes that the Babylonian goddess Ishtar was the goddess of love, passion, war and death. Her sexual activity was emphasized through descriptions of her as the "sweet-voiced mistress of the gods", yet she was also known for her cruel and relentless fickleness toward her lovers. Since she was the bringer of love and sexual joy, she also held the power to take them away. "Without this tempting, full-breasted goddess, nothing that concerned the life cycle could come to pass. When Ishtar makes her descent into the Nether World, no passion is felt on earth and sterility overcomes the land. On her return to earth, life and love are awakened once again. " The sacred prostitute expressed her true feminine nature and divinity --- the "Ruach HaKodesh" Rand spoke about --- and her beauty and sensuous body were not used in order to gain security, power or possessions. She did not make love in order to obtain admiration or devotion from the men who came to her, for often she remained veiled and anonymous. She did not require a man to give her a sense of her own identity; this was rooted in her own womanliness. The laws of her feminine nature were harmonious with those of the goddess. By worshipping the goddess in lovemaking, by bringing the goddess love into the human sphere, the union of masculine and feminine, spiritual and physical, the personal was transcended and the divine entered in. As the embodiment of the goddess in the mystical union of the sacred marriage, the sacred prostitute aroused the male and was the receptacle for his passion. As the goddess incarnate she assured the continuity of life and love.
At the time of this reading I knew nothing of "the sacred prostitute". But, as I felt a definite link between sex and healing, I asked Rand if I had used sex for healing. "That is correct", Rand answered. "It was part of sex magic and it was also part of worshipping and celebrating the divinity through the sexual act." I thought this was terrific and had a flash of going into the "Sacred Prostitute business" and so I asked, "Will I be doing that kind of work again?" With my PR background I was already franchising the entire operation in my head, but Rand's answer was a tad less commercial: "We feel that in the work with Daniel you are accomplishing this for yourself. You must understand that through many of your incarnations you have given yourself for others, but you still have to complete healing work on yourself in this area, and the final lesson of the high priestess is to nurture yourself first, and then let the overflow of your self-nurture go to others; so that what you have done for others in the past, in this incarnation we feel that you are asked to do for yourself."
I thought about the myriad of healers, psychics, channellers, chakra-readers, mediums I'd met since leaving Israel and how some, although certainly not all, seemed to be in dire need of healing themselves, and yet were healing others. It seemed truer than true those words I saw on a "New Age" card which said: "To heal the planet you first have to heal yourself"...and perhaps, by healing ourselves, we are in fact already in the process of healing the planet. So, according to the information Rand Lee was conveying to me from the group intelligence, my relationship with Daniel was one of the healing things I was doing to nurture myself. I was learning to look within, past the external trappings of tall, fit, handsome, great buns, or whatever, and find caring, compassion and cuddles. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her inspiring book, Women Who Run With the Wolves, writes: "Within the masculine psyche, there is a creature, an unwounded man, who believes in the good, who has no doubts about life, who is not only wise but who also is not afraid to die. Some would identify this as a warrior self. But it is not that. It is a spirit self, and a young spirit at that, one who regardless of being tormented, wounded, and exiled continues to love, because it is in its own way self-healing, self-mending." This is the man we women are all searching for.
Daniel's faith and belief in me enabled me to build my wings after I had jumped off the edge. Rand ended his reading with a tarot-based description of our relationship: "Your heart chakra is your primary chakra, and the root chakra your secondary chakra. You are the most physical of the high priestesses. Daniel himself is also the spiritual essence of the hanged man essence. He is in the introspection triad, you are in the nurture triad, and as the hanged man of strategy he is very balanced between the physical and the intellectual and his job is to help people find a pathway and a balance in their lives [Daniel's expertise professionally is personal and business insolvency and he has, indeed, helped many people]. The high priestess and the hanged man are often very good as co-partners because the high priestess has the heart and visionary and dreamtime connection, and the hanged man has the connection with channelling as well, but with a specific emphasis of bringing through information that will balance the spiritual with the physical. So the hanged man is good at building bridges from the dream state into the physical which the high priestess is often not good at doing. Are there any final questions?" I had none. Rand had brought my relationship with Daniel into an alignment I had not entirely understood until that moment,
What we had both been dealing with, however, was Gadi's jealousy of our sexual relationship, which he was communicating vehemently about, from the other side!
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