Community of Sacred Loving

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5 Jan 2005
by Kelevh Qadesh

I had gone into Polyamory and other alternative lifestyles innocently, naively, and idealistically only to be disappointed by feet of clay. Some of those clay feet belonged to others. Sometimes my own feet were made of the stuff. They were bound beyond all reason to the sanctity and emotional safety of the familiar.

The Star of Astarte was one of Hope. It beckoned to a new perspective and brighter day. Priestesses and priests of sacred loving or sacred sexuality had been among those who served Her in antiquity. The same was true in the modern world. It was not long before I realized how loaded a term "sacred sexuality" could be.

Some folks thought the priesthood was "all about sex." Others felt it was airy-fairy and "spiritual," but not at all about sex. The two-word phrase "sacred sexuality" seemed a stumbling block, because either the sacred or sexual aspect would be overly or under emphasized or simply omitted.

Others still were swift to equat the practice of the qadishti with tantra (or neo-tantra, if you prefer). There were certainly some crossovers. I am quick to admit all that I owe of my spiritual methodology to Margo Anand the brillian author of The Art of Sexual Ecstasy and The Art of Sexual Magic.

I sensed there were differences. The qadishti path impressed me as being very earthy. It also carried a distinctly Middle Easter flavor. The historical connections explained this to an extent. The priesthood was found in Canaan. Variations were found throughout the Levant and Mesopotamia (Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria). It would also emerge in Greek and Roman areas, including Sicily.

The Sanctuary of Venus Erycina of the Romans had been the Santuary of Aphrodite of Mount Eryx of the Greeks, but began as the Sanctuary of Astarte of the Phoenicians. Part of the Sanctuary is still visible in Erice in Sicily. Much more is apparently buried beneath a castle on the site that dates from the Middle Ages.

The modern priesthood also impressed me as being extremely malleable. It could be whatever we chose to make of it. I chose to use it as a means by which to democratize sacred sexuality, to make the practice available to anyone who wanted to experience it.

I also recognized the potential of such spiritual practices to be more overtly erotic than what I had read in many modern tantric and neo-tantric texts. Its ceremony seemed logically derived from the hieros gamos or sacred marriage rite in which participants "drew down" (channeled or otherwise associated with the energy) of deity and through lovemaking entered into a state of unparalleled Holy Communion.

And so, when asked, I could say of qadishti in all honesty that we facilitate connections with the divine, celebrate life and love, and seek to heal the wounded hearts of individuals and communities. Our gifts include gentle hearts, open ears and minds, the written and spoken words, and healing touches.

The qadishti or "holy ones" the so-called temple prostitutes of antiquity were in all likelihood priestesses and priests whose spiritual practices included the celebration of some form of the hieros gamos or sacred marriage rite. Our spiritual forebears understood that sharing sexual intimacy was a sacrament. Modern qadishti seek to share the gift of sacred loving with intent and renewed purpose.

I was inspired by the possibility of conscious loving. I witnessed it in the Outer Court Ritual of the New Temple of Astarte. The sensation was new and different. Everyone in the circle was equal. No one was excluded. Everyone was cooperative. There was no jealousy, insecurity, instability, or fear. There was peace and love.

Could these experiences transcend the bounds of sacred space or were we merely looking at "shadows of things that might be only?" There is something funny about sacred space. It exists out of time. It exists out of space. Not everything that is possible there can make the jump to the "real" world either, at least not yet.