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To: alt.magick
From: "John B" 
Subject: Question for Gnome D'Plume - re: Ashtoreth/Astarte.
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 10:01:46 -0800

Dear Gnome D' Plume,

     I was reading Van Gennep's text on Rites of Passage, and came across a
brief reference to the priesthood and worship of Astarte. I know that your
organization is self-characterized as Neo-Canaanite (from what I could tell
from your description of "Seasonal Rites of Baal and Astarte & Prince Aqhat
and the Magick Bow")  but I was wondering if you have any further knowledge
about the kedeshim/ot. Van Gennep's statement seems to be counterindicated
by some other documents I have read, and some of the excerpts I have found
in a quick web-search. Do you have any info about this, or word on some good

Here's Van Gennep's comment:

" Among the ancient Jews the kedeshim, men who were dedicated to the deity
and who submitted to passive pederasty, corresponded to the sacred
prostitutes, kedeshot; here again the act was a rite of incorporation."

from the footnote about this statement:

" The kedeshot were priestesses of Ashtoreth, or Astarte, whose worship was
introduced by Solomon; the Kedeshim were their male counterparts, The Old
Testament records the subsequent presence of both groups and the attempts
made to expel and abolish them."

- p.171 Van Gennep, "The Rites of Passage"

Thank you for any information you may feel like sharing on this,

John Bilodeau
Religious Studies community


Some excerpts from documents result from a quick keyword search using

- Hosea

"Regarding the temple prostitute question, temple prostitute might mean
priestess. Given the use of metaphoric language to describe worship of other
gods as a sexual act, translators tend to treat the female form of the word
priest to mean temple prostitute. There is actually no evidence to
substantiate the accusation that there were prostitutes involved in the
fertility cults or ANE worship. In Hosea 4:14 the Hebrew word is kedeshot -
priestess not zonot (prostitutes). The masculine form kedeshim is always
translated priests. Since idolatry is treated metaphorically as adultery,
worshipping through the agency of the priests of other gods is treated
metaphorically as sleeping with the priests of other gods many of whom were
female, but in the metaphoric reality, they need not be female."

- Warning to the Shepherds of Israel

"The Ugaritic tablets of the late fifteenth century B. C. from Ras Shamra
show that animals were sacrificed in the high places of Baal in North Syria.
Always contiguous to the rock altar was a sacred pillar, massebah, being a
sacred pole having phallic associations, capped with a symbol of the ashera,
evidently denoting female fertility. Male prostitutes, kedeshim and sacred
courtesans, kedeshoth (I Kings 14:23, 24; II Kings 23:7) maintained chambers
for cultic prostitution in honor of the heathen deity."

- Homosexuality and the Bible

"In Deut. 23:17-18, I Kings 14:24, 15:12 and 22:46, II Kings 23:7, and in
Job 36:14, there are references to kadesh (singular) or kedeshim (plural),
which literally mean "holy man" and "holy men". Some translations of the
Bible render these terms by the english word sodomite(s). The passage in
Deuteronomy forbids Israelite men to become such, and also forbids an
Israelite woman to become a kedeshah, the same word in the feminine gender.
Modern Bible scholars believe these terms refer to priests and priestesses
of the Canaanite fertility cult, and evidence outside the Bible supports the
inference that both types of worship leaders engage in sexual intercourse
with male worshippers as part of the ritual. A better translation of
kadesh/kedeshim would be "male cult prostitute(s)".

It is important to know this when looking at Leviticus in relation to
homosexuality in the Bible. In Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 the men are not to "lie
with a male as with a woman." It is stated to be to'ebah, generally
translated as abomination and used in the Old Testament to refer to idolatry
and to practices associated with idolatry. The context of Leviticus is an
argument against the Israelites imitating the defiling practices of the
Canaanites (religiously that is) whom they displaced in Palestine. "

- Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk: A Study in Social Evolution

" There is also another passage of Reclus (p. 70) on the duties of the
angakok, which seems to throw considerable light on certain passages in the
Bible referring to the kedeshim and kedeshoth of the Syrian cults, also on
the kosio of the Slave Coast and the early functions of the priesthood in

As soon as the Choupan has moulted into the angakok, the tribe confide to
him the girls most suitable in bodily grace and disposition; he has to
complete their education - he will perfect them in dancing and other
accomplishments, and finally will initiate them into the pleasures of love.
If they display intelligence, they will become seers and medicine-women,
priestesses and prophetesses. The summer kachims (assemblies), which are
closed to the women of the community, will open wide before these. It is
believed that these girls would be unwholesome company if they had not been
purified by commerce with a man of God."

- Homosexuality and Judaism

"Let us examine each of the three concepts mentioned above before proceeding
to the Biblical references regarding homosexuality. The first, homosexual
rape, would be sinful (if not completely evil) even without the word
"homosexual" prefacing the word "rape."

Second, many of the references to men having sex with other men refer to the
Canaanite fertility cult. For instance, some English translations of the
word kedeshim render it "sodomites" when, in reality, it should be "male
temple prostitute."

The final point regards heterosexuals imitating homosexual behavior. This is
probably in place because of not only the Canaanites, but because, to
heterosexuals, homosexual acts would be unnatural. This may also have been
stated because ancient Greek society placed importance on all men taking a
male lover as well as a wife. Since homosexual acts are not unnatural to
homosexuals, this statement does not apply to them. "

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