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The Sacred Sex and Death Rites of the Ancient Mystery Groves

The Sacred Sex and Death Rites of the Ancient Mystery Groves


In most of the civilised world, at least as far back as 5,000 years ago, there were women shamans or priestesses who represented the godhead in sacred sex rites and, in ancient Greece, they were known as hierodules.

A hierodule would have skills similar to the shaman in that she could journey, in trance, into other dimensions, and merge with her spirit lover  there.  Part of the hierodule’s role was to spend the night with a newly crowned king or queen, and while embodying her spirit lover, she would transfer the Sovereignty of the Land to the royal personage in sexual initiation.

The Sovereignty of the Land could only be passed on through this sort of inter-dimensional intercourse, and it was a sacred contract that most civilisations honoured until relatively recently. You will find it referred to in alchemical texts as the Divine Marriage, the Alchemical Marriage or the Hieros Gamos.

The latest evidence we can find for the Hieros Gamos is in the teachings of the Mystery Groves – which were a great flowering of Gnostic knowledge and spiritual initiation held in Mediterranean and Mesopotamian countries during the Neolithic period. The Mysteries of Eleusis in Greece were the last to survive, and it’s from these that we’ve gleaned the most information about what actually went on.

Passion plays

It’s here that we begin to discover the real meaning of the term “passion plays”, because it is sexual passion which ignites the alchemical operation of the Divine Marriage.  The passion plays were centred on the goddess Demeter who, in myths, is found wandering the Earth in grief after her daughter, Persephone, is abducted into the Underworld by Hades. The sexual seed was represented by wheat and, at the culmination of the rituals, the hierodule would make love with the high priest, or hierophant.

Demeter and Persephone

Demeter and Persephone celebrating the Eleusinian Mysteries. On the left Demeter, wearing the peplos and holding a scepter in her left hand, presents Triptolemus with sheafs of wheat, for him to give them to humanity. On the right Persephone, wearing the chiton and a cloak and holding a torch, blesses Triptolemus with her left hand. Votive relief. 5th-century BC relief. National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Image source: Wikipedia

Because of the focus on the wheat in the dramatic performances, and the theme of the land remaining barren until Persephone re-emerges in the Spring, some commentators believe that the purpose of fertility rites was to placate the gods in order to get a good harvest and increased yields of cattle. But fertility rites existed long before the agricultural period – perhaps even going back to the Aurignacian era, 45,000 years ago - and so it is obvious that there was a much more profound purpose behind these sacred passion plays than merely material abundance on the Earthly plane.

However, by the last few centuries before the Christian Era, that may have been how the sacred Mysteries were viewed by the masses, who were never given the proper initiation, and so didn’t understand the purpose of the rites. They attended a sort of Mysteries Lite, the Lesser Mysteries, which were held on the Spring Equinox each year, while the Greater Mysteries, at which spiritual initiation took place, was on the Autumn Equinox and only for a select few.

The Lesser Mysteries would end with a water baptism, while the Greater Mysteries climaxed with a fire initiation.

At the Lesser Mysteries, the teachings were given in the form of allegorical stories in which the true meanings were hidden. All of this was to prepare those few who were going forward to the Greater Mysteries, where the inner meanings of the stories would be revealed and the fire initiation would take place.

In other words, it was only at the Greater Mysteries that the initiates were shown that these plays were allegories which had a dual purpose – as both spiritual and astronomical/astrological teaching stories that were a precursor to spiritual initiation. But the students of the Greater Mysteries were also under pain of death never to reveal anything of what they had been taught or seen.

The ancient ruins of Eleusis

The ancient ruins of Eleusis, Greece, where the Greater Mysteries took place. Image source: Wikimedia.

According to Lewis Spence, in The Mysteries of Egypt.

.... the whole purpose of the Mysteries was to attain fellowship or unity with the Divine here and hereafter. This is not achieved by mere doctrine, but by the exercise of the Higher Magic. The outward form of this Magic was expressed by ritual, in actual allegory. It was emblematic, symbolical, for the good reason that in emblem and symbolism and dramatic rite reside the only available human means for outwardly expressing the inward desire for at-one-ment with deity.

...these are after all merely the enacted impulses of the inward thought and belief. The ancient men who established these rites were well aware that a striking and dramatic rehearsal of the process of achieving unity, a material and symbolic representation of what is actually a psychical process, could not but assist it by bringing the mental and bodily parts of man into magical and rhythmic response with this psychic part and thus with the upward movement as whole.

What Lewis Spence is describing are the dramas which were staged at the Lesser Mysteries, and to help people remember the names and qualities of all the various spirits or gods who were portrayed in the plays, their images were moulded into models or statues and their likenesses painted on to pottery.

Mysteries of Eleusis depicted on pottery

Mysteries of Eleusis depicted on pottery, 4 th century BC. Museum of Fine Arts, Lyon, France - Hydrie. Image source: Wikimedia

One of these plays featured a sun god who died and then rose again from the dead three days later, just as the Sun ‘died’, or reached the nadir of its course on its yearly cycle during the winter solstice, and then begins its journey north again three days later.

But because only those few that were deemed ready, were chosen from the crowds at the Lesser Mysteries for the Greater Mysteries, many left the Lesser Mysteries thinking that they’d been revealed the full teachings and that there had been a real person who died and rose again three days later.

The fire initiation and la petit mort

When we look at what initiates have managed to say about the Greater rites, while still keeping their heads, it’s clear that the Lesser rites teachings were allegories for a much deeper spiritual teaching which led to an initiation. 

Cicero said of the Greater rites that they not only taught man how to live, but also how to die. No wonder the French call the orgasm la petit mort. Sex and death are very close together in that they are both initiations into another portal. What men are not receiving through sacred sex magic, they seek for in promiscuity, rape, violence and war... due to a yearning for that portal... and the Masters of War know it.

Plutarch wrote about his initiation:

When a man dies he is like those who are initiated into the Mysteries. Our whole life is a journey by torturous ways without outlet. At the moment of quitting it come terrors, shuddering fear, amazement. Then a light that moves to meet you, pure meadows that receive you, songs and dances and holy apparitions.

Apuleius wrote in The Golden Ass:

I approached the confines of Death, and, having trodden on the threshold of Proserpina, returned, having been carried through all the elements, to the depths of midnight I saw the sun glittering with a splendid light, together with the infernal and supernal gods, and to these divinities approaching, I paid the tribute of devout adoration.

Votive plaque depicting elements of the Eleusinian Mysteries

Votive plaque depicting elements of the Eleusinian Mysteries. National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Image source: Wikimedia.

The Christian Church now only gives the water initiation to the masses, in the form of the baptism, as if their congregations were attendees of the Lesser Mysteries; if the Church ever does give a fire initiation, the rank and file of this religion never get to hear about it. But shreds of what once was practised are visible in the New Testament, if you know what to look for.

In Luke 3:16, we find John the Baptist talking about the water and fire initiation.

....I indeed baptise you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

There’s also the anecdote about Saul/Paul of Tarsus being hit by a blaze of the Holy Ghost’s fire, causing him to fall off his horse. Then there’s the story about the disciples all being gathered in the Upper Room ...

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. “ Acts 2:2-3

These sacred sex rites finally fell out of favour after the Mystery Groves and libraries were destroyed on the orders of the 4 th century Roman Emperor Theodosius.

The violent domination and warring of all three Abrahamic religions has been better served ever since by mass ignorance about the existence of the portal of sex and death.

This article was extracted from The Sacred Sex Rites of Ishtar: Shamanic sexual healing and sex magic, by Ishtar Babilu Dingir, available from Amazon.

Featured image: Henryk Siemiradzki. Phryne in Eleusus (1889). Image source: Wikipedia

By Ishtar Babilu Dingir



I think this is a very important article and I learned a lot. I'd also not seen the "Phryne in Eleusus" painting before, ever. Thank you for posting this.

Caption reads: “On the right Persephone, wearing the chiton and a cloak and holding a torch, blesses Triptolemus with her left hand. Votive relief. 5th-century BC relief. National Archaeological Museum of Athens. 

In fact, the image clearly shows Persephone blessing Triptolemus with her right hand!




I had actually hoped for a bit more info in this article, but it at least gives some info. As for baptim, excavations have uncovered baptismal wells associated with Hebrew rites in Israel that predate John the Baptist.
Fire. If you read the Bible, fire is usually associated with the appearance of God's spirit in the Temple. A burning but not burning up bush was used by YHWH to catch Moses's eye in the Desert. His throne glimmers with it. And it appears that he is more an energy being than a physical one, unlike other ancient 'gods' that were not earthly humans but still physical humanoids (we call them fallen angels or demons nowdays but they were very real and the Sumerians have detailed accounts of them).
YHWH and the prophets and priests of the old testament condemned the groves and worship of the 'other' gods. Groves seemed to also go hand in hand with the 'high places'. But my own question is , isn't a grove more of a garden, what was its special significance. Again, as this article points out, a fertility rite.

All this just made me remember being a small girl and inventing all sorts of nonsense as 'what we do' when we are playing - it seems to me that humanity cannot survive without inventing a story that they then make important and try to make everyone else want to join in with - I remember doing just that when playing on Hampstead Heath in London in the little 'grotto' I had created - 'you can join my gang' stuff !!! It can only be done by those who are well fed, hence it the days when the masses were fighting for a meal, only the wealthier played games like this, only they could invent special behaviors and make something important for others to try to follow. Humanity has been this way since distant times. I think it is inborn in us, but that doesn't make it reality any more than current religions are reality.


Anne Dieu-Le-Veut

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