For today’s post I would like to take a brief look at what it meant to be a priestess to love goddesses in the ancient world! In ancient Greece and Rome, priestesses in honor of Aphrodite and Venus (respectively) were a bit unlike those honoring other Greco-Roman goddesses. Priestesses of Aphrodite-Venus were vessels of the divine, and they expressed this by honoring divine sexuality!
While priestesses honoring Artemis-Diana or Athena-Minerva were expected to be virgins, this was in exact opposition. In fact the story of Medusa is one that exemplifies the what happened to a priestess of Athena when she was no longer a virgin. Medusa began as a very beautiful virgin priestess working in the Parthenon honoring Athena. She caught the attention of Poseidon, and was raped inside the Parthenon. In revenge, Athena turned Medusa into a gorgon, a monstrous woman with snakes for hair who could turn people into stone with her gaze!
In temples devoted to Aphrodite-Venus soldiers going off to war would come to honor the goddess and ask for protection. In honoring the goddess these soldiers would have divine sex with her priestesses! Viewing priestesses as vessels of the divine through pleasure, and honoring beauty seem perfectly suited to a goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality! However, many in the modern day, seem incredibly shocked to learn that in ancient times priestess work to this goddess included acting as courtesans of the goddess.
Priestesses honoring a goddess would work with her by exemplifying important aspects of her divinity. This is why priestesses honoring the virgin goddesses were expected to be virgins themselves. On the opposite end of the spectrum were the priestesses working in honor of love goddesses. Love goddesses believed in honoring divine expressions of love. Sex is one of the most important expressions of love. Practicing this type of love, as with all types of love, truly worked to honor the goddess who was so typified by this most important of human emotions!
I hope that you have enjoyed learning a bit about ancient priestesses and their worship of the divine feminine! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is of priestesses of Aphrodite. I found the image on aphroditemysterypath.com.
- Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus edited by Rebecca Buchanan
- Mythology by Edith Hamilton
- Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch