In ancient Mesopotamia, the Priestess of Inanna was symbolically married to the King to ensure the blessings of the Goddess on his rule. I have heard tell that similar rituals were celebrated among Celtic Kings as well, but documentation is scant.
The celebration of the Hieros Gamos is often associated with agricultural fertility. It may involve the symbolic recreation of a wedding procession and feast and might include symbolic or actual intercourse.
The term specifically refers to the union of Zeus and Hera but also has been used to describe the union of Demeter and Iasion and the many unions between mortals and Gods that produced heroes and demi-gods.
In modern NeoPaganism, Sacred Marriage rituals are often incorporated into Beltane or Midsummer celebrations and some traditions perform them more frequently as part of regular esbat observances. Tools representing the male and female principle are often used in lieu of actual intercourse, with the cauldron or chalice representing the female principle and the athame or wand or sword or staff representing the male principle. It is referred to among Wiccans as The Great Rite.
Hierogamy is also an alchemical concept, exploring the union of opposites.
Read More Online
- Hieros Gamos]] at newworldencyclopedia.org
- Hieros gamos at Wikipedia
- Hieros Gamos - The Great Rite at Mother Wheel Blog
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