Hieros gamos, comes from the Greek hieros (ἱερός) meaning “holy” or “sacred” and gamos (γάμος) meaning marriage, or Hierogamy, which is a “sacred marriage” that plays out between a god and a goddess, and often a ritual played out between two human beings, as man and woman. This term is reflected throughout cultures showing up in alchemy which is Arabic in its root but which have other roots in China and is explicit in Hindu yogic practice and can find threads in Tantra. Additionally, in my own journey I found that this same practice was at play in ancient Babylon for instance. But what did I know of Babylon, really? Very little. So I dug into it and found that yes, the culture was rich with this heirodouloi as it is called in the Assyrian. It has a number of inventions down through time that eventually centers around a shepherd king Demuzzi and his consort Innana in later periods.

The hieros gamos as a royal ritual is the creation of early city-states built on the wealth provided by agriculture. Far from putting an end to the “primitive” village cults, they expanded and stylized them with forms that were derived from, and were variations of, earlier symbolism. One of these is the sexual union of the king and a “priestess” as an episode in the lengthy Babylonian Akitu (New Year) festival. The model for this rite is already given in Sumerian myths and temple customs. It is true that existing knowledge of religious practices among the common people of the ancient Mesopotamian world is inadequate, but it is known that in this world the main ritual procedures for the entire populace were carried out through the mediation of rulers and religious specialists of various kinds. Around 2100 bce King Gudea had a temple built for the god Ningirsu. Among the rites performed in the new temple was the sacred wedding ceremony of the god and his consort Baba, lasting seven days. Apparently such a marriage was an expected part in the liturgy for each one of the important deities already present in Sumerian culture, as it was later in Babylonian cults, and still later throughout Assyrian and also West Semitic cults.


In Western regions of Europe the concept of a god and goddess go way back to earliest antiquity. The Arthurian legend was itself likely an echo of this same concept, but leaving out the goddess, instead the king being fed and nourished and made whole once nature was itself also set right (a ghost of the feminine presence most likely-the role of Christian monks who sought to defang the deeper origins of this kind of story). Earlier rites were those performed at Beltane which was said to involve the people involved in sex in the fields. This idea goes way bath to Neolithic times and the idea of nude as well as clothed women imparting fertility to nature as a fixture to some traditions.

It bears mentioning that next to a sexual union between heaven and earth, of the type of Ouranos and Gaia in Hesiod’s Theogony and Dyaus and Prthivi in the Vedic texts, there exists documentation of supreme beings that are often called “bisexual.” Such a being is both one and two, male and female at the same time. Being two in one, divinities of this type are more properly called “androgynous” than “bisexual.” The ancient Mexican supreme being is Ometecuhtli-Omecihuatl (“father-mother”). These will show up in the Gnostic mythos as a teaching tool for how to reach the Christ (more on that later).

In yet another instance I was shown in the early days of my awakening a strange structure by a guide who explained that a large group of people, perhaps, I guessed from the looks of it, a dozen people who were involved in in a ritual in which they stood on a large circular stone with clear incised lines cut into it, resembling something like a pizza. At the time this image which showed up in my inner vision in the Spring of 2008 (and its very short explanation) made little sense to me at the time except for the fact that it involved a group who had merged ritually and spiritually into what I thought was the stone itself. This was something that was akin to a very oblique reference to something that I would then see later, a kind of cosmic breadcrumb having to do with how souls move into a deep form of relationship (my guide said nothing about how it might show up later which is something of a hallmark of his that may have to do with not wanting to spoil the discovery or to make me too expectant of the outcome, which seems to always involve the element of surprise). Then, over a decade later, I would see this very object in a documentary on treasure of the Dacian Kingdom who once ruled in an area now known as Romania (being overtaken by Rome in the first century C.E.). After seeing the ritual complex where this stone was lain I had a flood of memories that involved someone who I know today. While details were little on this memory, it seems that I was one of the people, ten total, who engaged in a ritual of union that as best as I can tell was done in order to unite the regional chiefs and their spiritual consorts, which would amount to priestesses who had been prepared for this role. My hope is that more memories surrounding this life will emerge in time since so little is known about these people (Constantine does show the same hats that the Dacians were shown to wear on his Arch which sits adjacent to the Colosseum in Rome which are also the same hats that the Magi wear in the earliest depictions of them). This particular form as it appears in the photo below doesn’t show up in any other ritual complex anywhere in the ancient world. Because of how remote the region was where the Dacians lived, it is likely that while they did get around through trade they were able to develop their own rituals as they saw fit, and this form, as unusual as it is, was one of them. If you look at it you will see that there is a walkway to the platform where one single person could walk, in line, one at a time. Sometimes I do wonder whether this was the origin of the concept of the round table, and if not, then how coincidental it is in its use.

Everywhere and everywhen there was this effort to connect humans with the gods and goddesses, to establish a link to a higher or more expansive sense of existence. Pharaohs did this, insisting that they were descended of the gods. Kings and Queens in Europe had their “divine right” which was another nod to the magic of the divine realm and their unique connection to it. Over and over, rituals exist that help to cement this notion while also helping to aggregate and cement the power of ancient leaders. While this in many ways became institutionalized through the royal lines, the truth has always been that the higher self exists within each person and this divine line can be traced back through the soul in every person. Even the death of Jesus, which was more pagan than Judaic, has echos of how the death of the god, the shedding of his blood will renew the land, or in this case, the souls of his followers. One receives the special divine juice through their connection with the man who also is a god as well. In many ways the Christian god-man is out of place as a Judaic invention, for it does not exist anywhere in their tradition but instead does exist within Roman myth. Romulus (750 BC), the founder of Rome was himself born of a virgin and on the last day of his life, ascended into heaven. He returned three days later to explain why he had disappeared in the midst of a storm. Very pagan. Always was. Ezekiel 8:14 is one of the texts in the tradition of Israel that strongly opposed most of the religious customs connected with the hieros gamos; it tells of women who (ritually) bewailed the fate of Tammuz (Dumuzi) at the gates of the temple.

In Babylonian religion, the rule of the supreme god Marduk, just like that of his divine partner Ishtar (the Akkadian name of Inanna), is not limited to one area. Although the goddess’s myth shows her as not altogether successful in her journey to the netherworld, she does return and her rule is emphatically presented as universal. In contrast, in the earliest myths, Dumuzi remains associated with pastoral life, and the impression is given that rule on earth has its limits; this same impression is also given in later times. Such rule, however, must have its basis in the hieros gamos.

That the certainty of rule over the land and its well-being is of the utmost concern is borne out by the king’s determination of destiny. Just as the god Marduk’s rule was established when he received the “tablets of fate” (in the Enuma elish), the king shows himself as king in fixing the rules and regulations that keep the universe functioning properly. The ritual by which he does so is complex, but it is related to the Akitu festival, and the sacred marriage itself is to be regarded as a “third form for the determination of destiny” (Pallis, 1926). Clearly, the union with the goddess is of paramount importance for rule on earth.

Priestess in Egypt were said to have intercourse with men in an effort to educate them about how to cultivate their own inner power. For this they were called temple prostitutes, sadly (but it is possible that in their day they were in fact revered for their work helping to ‘wed heaven to earth’ with the pejorative term coming along later by those who didn’t understand the ritual or the importance of the work as is so often the case with the “great unwashed”). In one instance, I had a memory of watching an initiation ritual whereby women assembled in a darkened room who were presented with a presence that whipped through the room which had the look of a spiritual fire that moved into each priestess in turn. This energy elevated the priestesses to a new consciousness. What I was witnessing, I suspected, was their union with the sun god Ra since the presence presented as masculine energy (again, a balancing of energies). While this could be attributed to a flight of fancy, two other people observed something similar to what I saw, and then many years later I read an account of a woman who had been regressed to a life in Egypt where she described the same thing I had seen two decades prior (everyone lined up facing a large black wall with these small slots cut in them and this was where the presence of the god came). In this case, instead of union with the god in human form, these women had a direct line to some source energy that was made active or through which they were made aware (perhaps through years of training). By being in touch with the god they were also in touch with the goddess (as physical representatives on earth). It was through the interplay of these two energies that one became aware of the greater reality of the creative at a cosmological level. Numerous cultures saw this union as a way of helping with the crops and also balancing events in the world for favor from the gods.

I think that the culture that got these concepts in their most egalitarian strands are found in Mahayana Buddhism where the grace of the feminine and her love serves as the bridge to the divine, but also in how the divine union is seen as the two in one (as exemplified in the Mayan god-goddess mentioned earlier), which is an androgyne, which is similar to the early Christian Gnostics who wrote of the syzygy, the result of innermost union of the two opposites which they saw as feminine and masculine within us all. Out of this union, they insisted, flowed the Christ consciousness, and it was through their both ritual and inner practices that they managed to reach this deeper realization (which the works clearly show). This also shows up in alchemy quite clearly most notably in the book The Chymical Marriage. All of this has captured the imaginations of those who are “twins” of the soul as twin souls or twin flames. Numerous other myths are tapped by them giving them the sense of antiquity and legitimacy (which tends to gloss over the real reason for the connective, which is to date, always karma).

My observation from the beginning of all of this (awakening via kundalini) has been that physiologically these opposites are rooted in our neurophysiology of the left and right brains. Far from masculine or feminine, they are enough of opposites like man and woman that people try to wrap mythologies around them as we have done for centuries in the form of “divine masculine” and “divine feminine.” The truth lies deeper still and represents an end to this duality in favor of the realization of who we are in these vehicles of flesh on an adventure both in body as well as in mind. I think that the myth isn’t necessary in order to understand the forces at play and to understand ones relationship to the universe, but we do love our myths! It is my sense that the beginning of enlightenment involves understanding things as they are, and while the mythos of the divine pair continues to be all the rage it wont be alla mode to consider what is really at work under the skin. I think that if people did pull back the curtain on this, it would instead reveal truths that most are unwilling normally to see or acknowledge. It will however in my estimation reveal how we are built for divine union and that this is all an inside job. And who do we find when we go there? At first it is like a God but as the experience matures we find paradoxically that the seed that is “God” (take your pick which one) was always inside of you and that when the union happens in its fullness no one will be able to discern where the God ends and the human begins, and here is one important clue about our relationship with the divine (which many are loathe to admit). In this is the secret, which most regard as a mystery (until it is known). Yes, the sky will light in sacred flames as the last of the sacred cows goes up in flames. Our myths are themselves like rafts that get us across conceptual hurdles which are then destroyed once we get to the deeper truth seeded within them. And what then? A sweet silence, and in that silence the secret of all creation which is that the opposites never were opposite but were always one….just as we all are one. And yet, we go about it all wanting to make it out to be more than it is through the clever trick of myth-making. It is more than the myth, but it has always been that. When we grasp, though, we invariably reach a corpse. Look not to your conceptions but consider that those have always been projections of consciousness which in its most limited of ways, shows us imperfectly the way, perhaps like how a metaphor helps us to see the truth, not directly, but by way of something else. We usually wind up worshipping the metaphor instead of something else. So what else is left?

If you must still play at the gamos game then recognize that you have everything that you need inside of you.ere the light of your awareness joins with another light, different from you and yet seeded with the same truth as you. It is possible though that in so doing you can also rob the relationship of its polarized charge (but also put to an end the war of the sexes in a traditional female/male relationship). It is possible though to attain to a still greater light if those so engaged are brave enough to travel to the next greater height (where there is still another greater summit and so on endlessly). This is the hardest one to get, for it involves what the ancients called “righteousness” (alignment with the divine will). As this unfolds, or blooms, karma is shed and the desire resolves into greater and greater levels of bliss which itself turns to a stillness with supreme fecundity, not unlike the notion of the Tao, which exists in such stillness and yet brings all into being. This is the essence or core of the supreme consciousness. Like a frozen explosion, ever expanding but without expansion, a grand paradox lying at the heart of all creative energy. It is the primordial seed lying within each of us. The primary union always is inside of us, and when we place such importance on the outward expression, it will always fall short because how poorly our expectations are usually constructed. And yet, even in them lie the seeds of greater realization.

These highly ritualized forms of inner knowledge which come to us from antiquity serve to show us that we have been aware of certain elements in our consciousness which became codified as a feminine and masculine dynamic, a quality that existed in each person most certainly, but got played out in grand rituals of union. These unions, I insist reflect a folk-ways understanding of qualities that can lead us to an enlightened state, and with our knowledge of our neurophysiology we can begin to see the source of this material. By doing so this does not lessen the power of these forces that are within us all, but instead helps us to fashion ways to get at this duality that is brought into greater unity, with the reward being the enlightened state. Some traditions described this union within in more direct terms, but still dressed in imagery and belief. Without a clear understanding that this may have all arose as a result of a union of left and right brain mediated by meditation practices whereby the habitual need to rely on one hemisphere over the other was overcome in order for a deep and abiding unity within to be known. This unity was itself transformative, resulting in a changed person and a renewed consciousness. This isn’t to say that the old rituals didn’t work, for they were likely close enough that they did the job, but our knowledge and understanding does evolve and now we can see how all of this served to advance consciousness albeit in a somewhat elitist fashion, and is now something available to all people if they are willing to do the work. Yes, sacred cows will evaporate, ideas will change, and certain mythologies will be seen for what they are, but in so doing we can begin to face who we are in order to better understand how to bring greater change on the Earth. This transformation of consciousness has the power to improve our world because when everything is seen as One, we naturally want to preserve and care for that unity as though it is ourselves, which it certainly is.

Post Script: It is useful to recognize that in nearly all traditions that have detailed explanations of the enlightened state that there is always an acknowledgement of a union of opposites within the person who experiences this state. These opposites are described in various ways but often tend toward a masculine and feminine quality. This is true in the Indian schools of thought most notably when describing kundalini as a masculine and feminine (solar or lunar) force that merges together from two energetic channels called the ida and pengali into the central channel where the effulgent experience of cosmic mind happens: the shushumna nadi or channel. Here in the central channel, the deeper and more accelerated state is known and it is in this place in consciousness that the two are not seen as separate as all duality has merged into a oneness of being and awareness. Likewise, in the gnostic texts of early Christianity they describe how two opposites merge into a new unity which they describe as a divine syzygy, which is often referred to as an androgynous state. Additionally, in the writings of the European alchemists they describe and chart out the progress to an ascended state as the mixing of masculine and feminine qualities in consciousness until it births a new form of consciousness, which is dependent on the synthesis of these two opposites. This has always been an inside job and the union of opposites always happens within consciousness. For all the talk of the divine feminine and the divine masculine, the real union happens in a personal way before the light of a greater awareness is known. This doesn’t stop people from ritualizing this union by working out the story or process between women and men throughout history. it is an important nod toward understanding the first principles of this larger realm of awareness. These ritualized methods can misdirect the mind to a certain extent if the person takes things literally. At the same time, it can also serve to bring the horse to the water, too.