Hygeia - The Serpent Priestesses

The Serpent Priestesses and Ancient Sexual Rites

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Women robed in scarlet sheaths, conducting rituals associated with serpents away from prying eyes, serving Innana, the Goddess of Love, Fertility and War. The color of their clothes was symbolic of their power, but why was blood, particularly their menstrual blood, deemed powerful?  Was it merely in acknowledgement of new life that the womb brings forth? Or were there specific uses for that blood?

Blood has been a part of rites and rituals in many religions, stretching back to the dawn of man. Jesus himself claimed there was power in the blood—but why? What is it about this nutrient rich fluid that held the ancients enthralled?

What Western society has viewed as evil in the form of Woman and the Serpent was once viewed with the utmost veneration, the two bestowing wisdom and longevity on all who partook of their essences. The Priestesses wore robes of scarlet, the color signifying the source of their power, and were titled ‘Hor’ (or in Greek Hierodulai), or ‘beloved ones’, having influence on the Kings and dignitaries in the lands they chose to settle. They did not enter into marriage for life, but rather would have children with different Kings and powerful men, securing alliances and protection for their children. It was perhaps this attitude towards marriage that resulted in the meaning of ‘Hor’ becoming what we know today (Whore) and the association of the color scarlet being associated with sexual licentiousness and sin, as exemplified in the book ‘The Scarlet Letter’. 

Contrary to claims that the priestesses engaged in ritual prostitution, it is more likely that they were in control of their choices of bed-mates along with the high priestess engaging in the ritual re-enactment of the sacred marriage between Dumuzi and Innana with a young man of her choice once a year on the Spring Equinox. The tales of Innana make it very clear she was not shy in picking lovers and promoting them to Kingship and her priestesses would have followed her example.

The marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi, reproduction of a Sumerian sculpture

The marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi, reproduction of a Sumerian sculpture. Public Domain

From Sumer to Cambodia Kings enacted a ritual visitation with a Goddess (in many countries depicted as a serpent or half-fish) with the threat of destruction to the kingdom should the King fail in his duty. This Sacred Marriage also conferred legitimacy on their reign. According to  Samuel Noah Kramer  in The Sacred Marriage Rite,  in late Sumerian history (end of the third millennium) kings established their legitimacy by taking the place of Dumuzi in the temple for one night on the tenth day of the New Year festival.   Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as  Lugalbanda and Damuzi.

One example of a priestess known to us as a ‘whore’ would be Rahab, who held a position of influence in Jericho and brokered an agreement with Joshua that she and her family would be spared. A scarlet thread was tied outside her window so his men would know to spare the occupants of the room. She then became one of the ancestresses of King David.  One gets a sense reading about these women in the Bible that there is a grudging respect afforded them, an acknowledgement of who they were intermingled with the desire to classify them as ‘fallen women’.

Painting depicting Rahab of Jericho and the scarlet thread

Painting depicting Rahab of Jericho and the scarlet thread. 17 th Century. Public Domain

As emissaries of the Serpent Cult, the women certainly held their own in forming alliances with powerful men and establishing lines of descent. But what about within their own society? Why was their blood revered by those who shared the same lineage?  Innana was a member of the Sumerian Pantheon, along with Ninkhursag, Enki, and others identified as part of the Serpent Cult.  So the Priestesses originated within Sumerian or Annunaki society.  There are many books devoted to the subject of the Annunaki and it is possible through them to understand the rituals of the Priestesses and their place in Annunaki society.

A version of the ancient Mesopotamian eight-pointed star symbol of the goddess Ishtar/Inanna

A version of the ancient Mesopotamian eight-pointed star symbol of the goddess Ishtar/Inanna. Public Domain

 The Annunaki were practitioners in hormonal therapy and during battle the soldiers would drink the blood of their fallen comrades, which provided them with a much needed energy boost and rehydration.  Ordinarily the Annunaki imbibed the Priestesses’ menstrual blood which they believed was full of nutrients and contained an essence that not only lengthened their lives but also brought them to a higher state of consciousness.


Just a note on the last paragraph of this last comment.

In Portugal the Templars were never persecuted as they were considered essential by the portuguese kings, their order was just "transformed" into the Order of Christ which took all its assets, castles and other riches, and probably members...

Prince Henry the navigator who started and pursued the early portuguese discoveries was the "Grão Mestre" (grand master) of the Order of Christ and used its wealth to fund the expeditions and discoveries.

So portuguese ships often used this order's cross in their sails.

Also true that Columbus lived is early life in Portugal and married an important navigator's daughter and lived in Porto Santo (Madeira) where his father-in-law was "capitão-donatário" (the governor).

On the other hand since the then king of Portugal refused to fund him, he aproached the Spanish king and queen.

It is my understanding that he used their cross and flags in his ships.

These I think were quite diferent - do not trust later depictions.

Also I believe he had only one portuguese seaman in his historic voyage


As far as knowing how many of what nationality were on Colmubus' ships, I've never seen anyone cite that. If you have a source please post it.

Katrina Sisowath's picture

You are right about Prince Henry being the Grand Master of the Knights of Christ. Baigent and Leigh are not the only authors to claim Christopher Colubus sailed under the Templar Cross, Luis Filipe Oliveiro says the same in The Crusade, An Encyclopedia, though he specifies that when the Templars became the Knights of Christ under the authority of the portuguese king, they altered the cross with minor modifications, but kept the archives and diverted their attention from banking into maritime endeavours.

What gets interesting is the enigma of Columbus himself. In this text you will find evidence that says he was in fact Salvador Fernandes Zarco, grandson of a navigator (also a Knight of Christ, like Columbus's father-in-law) and it was Zarco himself, a Knight of Christ, who was the navigator. This same text says there were Italians aboard as well, two brothers.


(it is a translated document, hence some of the text and grammar being a little odd)

Katrina Sisowath

The nationality of Columbus is in fact a mistery worth of research....

I am not yet convinced by any of the theories, but it is fact that he never used italian in his letters even when contacing his italian bankers....

Also he pretended to be of humble origins but he married a noble woman and that was not aceptable in xvi century Europe.


OK, trying to answer you,

The first time I heard about it was (years ago) from a local expert (or guide... I really cant remember) in the monastery of La Rabida (from where Columbus set) who told it as a curiosity.

Well, you can see a list of the crew here:

http://www.christopher-columbus.eu/ships-crew.htm - this is an abreviated version with no details.

The crew for the first voyage was mainly from Andalusia and Galicia and the only confirmed portuguese (or foreigner as far as I understand) is Juan Arias (in fact João Aires) from Tavira, Algarve.

Researchers sugest that others existed as when Columbus stoped in Lisbon on his way back from America (or Japan as he believed ) - and the reasons why he did it and the consequences of this stop, make for a long story - the portuguese king (D. Joao II) ordered all portuguese sailors members of Columbus crew out of the ships - so there was more than one.

You can read about this in the conference papers CONGRESO INTERNACIONAL - CRISTÓBAL COLÓN, 1506-2006 HISTORIA Y LEYENDA held in 2006 in Huelva Spain and organized by the Universidad de Andalucia.


Sadly this is written in portuguese, but even if it is a PDF you can translate it, as it is in fact a very interesting paper on the three voyages of Columbus, and has a diferent view from the usual, as he focuses on the crews and the relations Portugal/Spain.

If you need further details, just say.


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