Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blueprint of a Goddess...Cybele

So we have discussed some of the goddesses during the old testament times; mainly Inanna and Ishtar. Now we will jump ahead to the new testament times.

I have chosen to discuss the goddess Cybele because of her androgynous beginnings and her very interesting temple rites. When we think of the Greco-Roman world during the times of the new testament the more commonly known gods and goddesses come to mind...Aprodite/Venus, Dionysus/Bacchus, Eros/Cupid etc. While these gods and goddesses were no strangers to orgastic temple rites with sexuality of all kinds it is the myths of Cybele that have intrigued me.

Cybele was known as 'The Great Mother' or 'Great Virgin', guardian of the dead, goddess of fertility and wild life. Her myths actually date back to about 1500BC in Asia Minor{modern day Turkey}; specifically the region of Phrygia{yellow region on map}. In the older original myths Cybele is called Agadistis who possessed both male and female attributes. It was said that this gave rise to such wild and uncontrolled nature that the other gods began to fear her/him. So the gods gave Agadistis a potion to put her/him to sleep. While asleep Dionysus{god of intoxication} put a rope around her/his phallus so that when she/he awoke to get up her/his phallus was riped off. This blood dripped into the ground and a almond tree sprouted.

One day a goddess Nana came along and picked one of the almonds from the tree, put it in her bosom, then became pregnant with the god named Attis. Attis grew up to become the shepherd god and keeper of the flocks.{Just like Tammuz in the last post}. Some time later the castrated Agadistis now called Cybele fell in love with the seed of her phallus who was now the god Attis. Now from here I have found a couple of different stories. One is that Attis was made to marry some other goddess. Cybele shows up at the wedding, makes Attis to go mad, and he cuts off his phallus. The other story is simply that Cybele heard of Attis' infidelities, so in anger she makes him go mad, and he cuts off his phallus. Either way here we have Cybele the castrated 'Great Mother' and her son/lover Attis the castrated shepherd god.

Now, cults of Cybele were well known in Asia Minor for some time. Eventually they made their way to Rome around 200BC. Her temple was in the heart of Rome on the Palatine Hill. In about 100BC the temple was burned down. It was rebuilt again by Augustus in 3AD. The Romans called Cybele Magna Mater meaning Great Mother. Her priestess were known as the galli who were self castrated men that were initiated in a public ceremony called the Taurobolium or Day of Blood. This day was similar to the rites of Inanna and Ishtar in that is was mourning the death/sacrifice of the lover; in this case Attis.

"The most famous rite of Magna Mater{Cybele} introduced by the Romans was the taurobolium, the initiation ceremony in which a candidate took their place in a pit beneath a wooden floor. A bull was sacrificed on the wooden floor so that the blood would run through gaps in the slats and drench the initiate in a symbolic shower of blood. This act was thought to cleanse an initiate of sin as well as signify a 'rebirth'...Later, Cybele's most ecstatic followers were males who ritually castrated themselves, after which they were given women's clothing and assumed female identities...." Wikipedia

"...castrated priests who had long hair and processed in strange costume through the streets to the sound of flutes, pipes and tambourines...It was believed they could {both} bind and release men from spells, and both induce and heal madness." The Myth of the Goddess

The genital were placed on the altar of Cybele as a sexual sacrifice of sorts. Other already emasculated 'priestesses' would self-flagellate and cut their arms during the ceremonies. Their blood dripping into the ground as 'fertilization' of the earth. It was now that the priestesses were 'virgins' just like their great mother Cybele. Again just as with the cult of Inanna and Ishtar 'virgin' did NOT mean that they didn't participate in sexual acts. In the temple of Cybele there was plenty of sexual acts taking place. The catch was that they were between the castrated priestesses{now acting as women} and other men, therefore there could be no conception of birth; meaning they remained 'virgins'. There is also some question on whether the temple of Cybele had actual woman priestesses who would take the male role in sexual acts with certain phallic apparatus{yes folks, they existed back then}.

To say the very least...this new incarnation of the fertility goddess, Cybele, had once again successfully blurred the lines of gender in her temple proceedings. Interestingly enough it was these sexual fertility rites that seemed to focus on the fertility of the earth. For as we have seen the sexual acts would have produced no babies! This was the forerunner of the alchemaic thinking that the earth needed to be rid of the opposite of male and female. That everything needs to be mixed into one. The problem is when you do that it doesn't bring life it ends it. So in the case of Cybele the new onslaught of Greek thinking and philosophy began to permeate in the fertility rites bringing about a new twisted consciousness. The Gnostic believed that all matter was evil, and one must transcend from the world to a spiritual state to be one with the gods. So in this way the cult of Cybele was doing just that. They were using the spiritual act of sex in a way that it would produce no 'earthly' matter{a child} but would produce spiritual oneness androgynously. The Gnostic Naassenes simply stated it like this.

"When you make the male and female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female... then you will enter the Kingdom." Roscoe

So it was this 'sacrifice' of sexuality that was suppose to bring about a new level of spirituality and make them more like the goddess; who in the case of Cybele was androgynous to begin with. But at the same time this vein of thought started to leak into the early church. The sacrifice of sexuality for 'higher spirituality' was celibacy. Many of the celibate church fathers began to demonize ALL sexual acts, even that of a man and a woman. Boasting the celibate life as a 'higher calling'. So now the devil had the attack from both sides!

Now I am not saying that those in the church who chose the celibate life were like the priestesses of Cybele. We know by doctrine that the celibate priests or nuns do not have sex of any kind as a part of their vow. But we also know that in the shadows the spirit of Cybele has reared her ugly head from time to time. So am I saying it's wrong to choose a life of celibacy? No. But according to Matt. 19:10-12 Jesus says that celibacy is a specific and personal calling. By default our biblical mandate from God as men and women is to 'be fruitful and multiply' physically and spiritually. Neither choice is more spiritual than the other and if you think it is that is pride...not God. Furthermore if you are purposely staying 'single' just so you don't have to be accountable to someone in a marriage relationship...that is also pride and not God.

The other thing that must be differentiated is that choosing a celibate life does should NOT mean you sacrifice your gender. You are still a male or a female that is sacrificing marriage and having sex. See the difference? Sacrificing gender is what the followers of Cybele were doing and that is a slander against who God created you to be. We need to be very wary of the trick of the enemy that somehow a sexual sacrifice will bring about spiritual fertility. God made male and female and there is nothing you can do to change that. You maybe able to physically change it as the priestesses of Cybele did, but God made your spirit to match your gender. He did not make any mistakes. Your spirit maybe deceived and in contention with your physical body, but you know that you were born either male or female.  God can bring healing.  God can bring your spirit back in line with His truth.  When you are who God created you to be it will always bring life both physically and spiritually.

Next the goddess Artemis...


  1. Hi Cherie,

    Your dad posted this on FB and I so thankful for people like you who will take the time to research this. Many of the thing remind me so much of India. Recently I was amazed at an article in the newspaper about Wicca which is the same thing. Your article was a real eye opener. There is so much of insight specially to pray here in India. Thanks again.

    Cheryl K YWAM.

  2. Thank You so much. Yes, I have come across the goddess Durga quite a bit in my reading. She seems to fit well with the other goddesses I have discussed. And the Wicca rites too. Sex and warfare definatly go together. And that is what I am hoping to show.

    many blessings...

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