Friday, June 9, 2017

Same Sex Behavior at the Dawn of Civilization

Right about the same time that people switched from hunter-gather societies to a more agrarian lifestyle, the rituals of the Paleolithic shamans began to evolve into complex rites of worship, presided over by a priestly class who began to exercise increasing influence (and sometimes authority) within the communities in question.  The myths and rituals of the hunter-gatherers, which involved a mystical contract with the spirits of game animals, gave way to fertility rituals designed to increase the herds and guarantee the abundant harvests that they started to rely upon.

Around this time, a subset of the priestly class developed.  These specialized priests functioned as male cult prostitutes, similar to the transvestite priests encountered by the Spanish conquistadors in Meso-America more than a thousand  years later.  From the earliest Sumerian times, a significant percentage of temple personnel were individuals with homosexual inclinations.  The exclusively homosexual male held a special place within this theological system.  Sumerian records from the middle of the third millennium refer to gala priests, who were said to be created by the god Enki to sing "heart-soothing laments" for the Goddess Inanna.  Their homosexual inclinations are made clear by a Sumerian proverb that goes, "when the gala wiped off his ass, he said, 'I must not arouse that which belongs to my mistress [i.e. Inanna].'"  Even the word gala speaks to this priestly caste's homosexuality.  The word was written using the signs "penis-anus' in their language!

A similar role that often appears in Sumerian mythology and liturgical texts from 2000 B.C.E. onward is that of the kur-gar-ra or kurgarru.  In Babylonian and Assyrian texts the kurgarru usually appears in connection with the assinnu.  The sexual nature of the assinnu is also made obvious by the fact that the noun assinnu has the same root as assinutu, which means to practice intercourse.  The gala priests are also referred to Babylonian and Assyrian rituals, where their roles are even more instrumental than in comparable Sumerian rituals.  These various homosexual priests played a central role in Mesopotamian goddess worship all the way down to Roman times. (Neill, p. 84)

Today, the Gala Tradition of Witchcraft is in the process of reclaiming much of the functions, obligations and powers associated with these ancient goddess worshipping priests.  Naturally, we are not attempting to break any laws of the land, and because our modern society is so hung up on prostitution, we are not engaging in that ancient profession, though we are actively attempting to reintroduce sacred sexuality.  Next time, let's take a look at exactly what these ancient priests did in their cultures and how we might be able to modernize some of those duties.