XXX: Priesthood


To those who may be receiving one of these post-notifications for the first time: This is not a blog; it’s actually part of a book, and will make little sense to you without knowledge of what has come before—which you can easily obtain, along with a goodly amount of satirical theatre as matters progress, by simply entering ttgftyri.org into your web browser, opening the menu, and starting at page one. J.J.


Scene 5

And when all was ready, Gaim has his Official Chair and an adjacent throne for the Queen set up right at the foot of this colossal statue, and then summons all the other priests and priestesses from up and down the valley to the Temple.

“Now then, surely we all agree that there can be but one Ultimate Mother,” he gets right to the point when they’re all gathered before him, “—granted that she has sundry aspects. And so now I’d say it’s time that we organized ourselves around that basic truth.”

“Why, of course there’s but one,” one of the younger priests promptly speaks up, “—and as most of us know by now, she’s the Sky-mother.” And most of his own generation agrees.

“Well, you’ll never convince us,” one of the older, solar priests immediately shakes his head.

“Nor us,” a couple of the lunar ones quickly step forth.

“Nor us,” still others soon join in.

And so it went—until after a moment, it seems to Gaim that his important conference might actually die of old age while everyone just argues on and on about who might really ‘know the Ultimate Mother’!

“Alright, it’s time that you all came to realize,” he finally manages to shout everyone down, “that each of you represents but one factor of a grand, universal priesthood!

“I mean, there’s still going to be enough power, money and so forth for everybody,” he then concludes more calmly.

* * *

And then turning to the sky priests, he calls forth the one with the greatest number of followers, puts his right hand on the man’s shoulder, and places him in charge of all ceremonies focusing on that particular aspect of Nature.

And afterward, suggests that he appoint one of his lesser colleagues to oversee the devotional affairs of the daytime sky, and another of the night.

Who might assign still others to lead the special sky-worship at dawn, and of course the long-traditional prayers at dusk.

* * *

While as for the solar priests, after similarly placing the one with the largest following in charge of that sector, he suggests that he assign others to oversee the worship of the daily, east-west sun and the annual, north-south; of the rising, midday, and setting suns; and then still others to work out a more precise timekeeping system, keep track of all the solstices and equinoxes—especially in light of that odd precession—and so forth.

* * *

After which, he did the same with all the other cults, both natural and cultural—until in the end, he just sat back and gazed with satisfaction upon the whole affair now arrayed all rank and file before him.

While in the end, everyone in the room hurried forth to bend down, kiss his ring, and pledge their eternal allegiance to him as their new High Priest.


At the height of their power, the seven female deities listed below held monumental sway in the hearts and minds of the ancient world from Rome to Baghdad.

But they would be the last to do so.

_________________________

Anahita: ancient Persian deity of rivers and fertility who also came to be associated with learning, wisdom, health, healing, and apparently due to her association with this last, war inasmuch as Persian soldiers would pray to her for their survival before entering battle; among the most popular and widely venerated deities in Persian religion, there were more temples and shrines dedicated to her than to any other deity

1. Anahita

Atargatis: ancient Syrian Great Mother with major cults at Khirbet Tannur, where she was worshipped as the agricultural deity in no less than nine separate variations, and at Khirbet Brak, where she was associated with the sea and dolphins; originally a fertility deity associated with an important lake in northern Syria, over time she came to be regarded as the ancestral Mother and divine protectress of the Syrian royal house, as well as the founder of the country’s social and religious life; as noted previously, the Romans called her Dea Syria, ‘Divine Syria’—as though she and the country were really one and the same

2. Atargatis

Cybele: Phrygia’s national deity, and at least by the time that the ancient Greeks came upon her, its only remaining female deity; originally associated with mountains, fertility, and wild animals—she was commonly portrayed with a pair of mountain lions flanking her throne—her cult was adopted by Greek colonists in Asia Minor and soon afterward spread to mainland Greece, where it was partially assimilated into those of the Greek Earth-mother Gaia and Agriculture-mother Demeter, while she herself came to be evoked as the divine protectress of some of that country’s more important city-states, such as Athens; later, she was adopted by the Romans, in whose land she became widely known as Magna Mater, meaning ‘Great Mother’, while her cult came to be recognized as an important ally in Rome’s military campaigns to establish a hegemony over the Mediterranean world—after which, a new, Romanized version of her cult, now mainly focusing on her as a war-deity, ultimately spread throughout the Roman Empire

3. Cybele

Diana: ancient Roman deity variously associated with the moon, virginity, chastity, fertility, childbirth, wild mountain forests, hunting, and the protection of young animals; when the Romans came to rule Greece, where the ancient Greeks had a similar deity called Artemis, rather than build Diana a local temple such as the one that she had on the Aventine Hill back in Rome—a hill where deities imported from foreign lands were specially concentrated—her cult simply took over Artemis’ great temple at Ephesus: at four hundred fifty feet long by two hundred twenty-five wide and sixty high, with the roof supported by no less than one hundred twenty-seven columns, then regarded as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’

4. Diana

Hathor: early Egyptian cow-deity who ultimately came to be associated with beauty, romance, love, sexuality, fertility, procreation, childbirth, joy, infant care, sycamore trees, the sky, poetry, music, dance, alcohol, and death; often depicted as a cow, she was commonly depicted as a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns, between which sat the solar disk; from the first, she appears to have been one of the deities commonly invoked in private prayers and votive offerings by women wanting children; after gaining the patronage of Old Kingdom rulers, she became one of Egypt’s most important deities, with more temples erected to her than to any other female Egyptian deity; her royal patrons also helped to spread her worship to such foreign lands as Nubia and Canaan, where she became associated with their valuable incense, semiprecious stones, and other desirable goods; durng the New Kingdom, new deities such as Isis and Mut managed to encroach on her royal patronage, but although she increasingly became overshadowed by Isis, she remained one of the most widely worshipped deities and continued to be venerated especially by by women until the complete extinction of ancient Egyptian religion in early Christian times.

5. Hathor

Inanna: ancient Mesopotamian deity associated with sex, war, and political power; originally worshiped as a deity of unrestrained sex in Sumer and later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians under the name Ishtar, she was known throughout these lands as the Queen of Heaven and is the first known deity to have been associated with the planet Venus; her worship is known to go back at least six thousand years, but she appears to have had little in the way of an organized cult prior to the conquest of Sumer by Sargon of Akkad some thirty-five hundred years later, after which she suddenly became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon, with new temples rising all across Mesopotamia; eventually she would appear in more mythic tales than any other Sumerian deity, with many of them involving her taking over the domains of other deities; her cult, reportedly focusing on various sexual rites—possibly including ‘sacred marriages’ symbolized by the sexual acceptance of the king by her high priestess, thereby legitimizing his rule—was especially embraced by the Assyrians, who ultimately elevated her to become the highest deity in their own pantheon, ranking her above their national male deity; Inanna-Ishtar greatly influenced the development of the Phoenecian deity Astoreth, who later influenced that of the Greek goddess Aphrodite; her cult continued to flourish until its gradual decline in the wake of Christianity, although it survived among Assyrian communities in parts of old Upper Mesopotamia until as recently as the eighteenth century

6. Inanna

Isis: ancient Egyptian deity associated with motherhood, child protection, healing, fate, magical powers, spells, mourning, death, and the ultimate overcoming of death; she’s most often represented as a beautiful woman wearing a sheath dress and a headdress consisting of either the hieroglyphic sign of the throne or the solar disk between the horns of a cow, acquired during the last years of the New Kingdom when she dared to take on some of the traits actually belonging to Hathor—the preeminent deity of that era; initially an obscure goddess who lacked a temple of her own, her worship grew in importance as the Age of the old Egyptian kingdoms, with which she’d had some strong links, gave way to the dynastic Age of the Pharaohs; still, there are no references to her in the hieroglyphic record until the Sixth Dynasty, when she’s first mentioned in connection with magical texts and funerary practices as her priests and priestesses are suddenly granted limited roles in royal rituals and temple rites; eventually, she came to be regarded as the mother and divine protectress of the pharaoh, who her priests equated with her divine son Horus and accordingly taught that the pharaoh himself was to be considered divine; her first major temple was built shortly thereafter in the central Nile delta, where she eventually added the protection of seafarers to her divine domain; following the subjugation of Egypt by Greece and later Rome—by which time, having absorbed the more important traits of many other Egyptian deities, she had become the dominant female deity in the country—several more temples were erected to her, mainly in Alexandria; from which her growing cult expanded to Greece and Rome proper, while in the former, many of her new devotees came to accept her priests’ claim that she actually encompassed all the world’s divine powers, or at least those of the female variety, and were satisfied enough to credit her with certain traits that had formerly been ascribed to their own Greek deities, such as the invention of marriage; in the end, her worship spread throughout the Roman Empire, until she was ultimately worshipped from England to Afghanistan, a trend that ended only with the rise of Christianity in that region during the fourth and fifth centuries of the Christian Era—notwithstanding that most scholars believe that at the very least, her worship influenced certain Christian beliefs and practices, such as the veneration of Mary, and that many so-called pagans, albeit mostly feminists, continue to worship her to this day

7. Isis

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Photo Credits

1: Circle of Ancient Iranian Study https://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/Religions/iranian/anahita.htm

2: Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/26317979052645325/?nic_v1=1b967smSLu%2BEgBHgHdjNCVs60EvSYRDwxw%2F2%2BSemeTtq6yxl%2FXbEuFVR%2FLN2zSUgLe

3: Holladay Paganism http://www.holladaypaganism.com/goddesses/cyclopedia/c/CYBELE.HTM

4: Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/lunad19/goddess-diana/

5: Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pin/367254544597078861/?nic_v1=1bdkCkEj7YjYhriEQM%2BxyXfql2eP3%2BudDlQdSiACVWz4J8D8hmX2hTymgkuGzW3BGt

6: Sun Signs https://www.sunsigns.org/god-and-goddess-symbol-meanings-inanna/

7: Encyclopedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/topic/Isis-Egyptian-goddess

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