Shaivism - Concepts and symbols - The High Priestess
Type of Spiritual Experience
Tantric Temple Priest / Priestess Mentoring
A description of the experience
Alain Danielou – Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The traditions of Shiva and Dionysus
In lndia, many girls were dedicated to the temple where they carried out this social and religious duty, which is the gift of love. They received a careful education, including music, dancing and erotic techniques.
The same is found in the Greek world, particularly at Corinth, where [this duty] was considered a kind of divine service. Male and female sacred ‘concubines’ were also known to the Hebrews.
I am a Holy Whore - pre-patriarchal priestess of ancient lore. My body embodies tenderness, passion, sensuality; Makes sex sacred." ~lisasan
Alain Danielou – While the Gods Play
The servants of the Gods – The High priestess
…She is removed from the family, to become part of a new social grouping called the "servants of the gods" (deva-dasi'[s]), whose task it is to perform the arts of love, music, and dance. These servants of the gods have an essential part to play in the transmission of part of the cultural heritage.
The ‘prostitution’ of women allows men to have sensual fulfilment while preserving the family's integrity; it also allows those who have devoted themselves to study and spiritual concerns to maintain their balance without taking on the social obligations and limitations that are part and parcel of marriage. The woman who devotes herself to the arts, to pleasure, or to a spiritual quest finds herself in a similar position to the servant of the gods: her work is incompatible with the reproductive function and therefore with marriage itself. There is always a connection between the erotic pursuits and mystic ecstasy: the paths of love are no obstacle to intellectual or spiritual achievement.
The Dharma, the ethics of these women, is described in the Matsya Purana (see Alain Danielou, La Sculpture erotique hindoue, pp. 71-33). Her obligations include making herself available without payment to wandering ascetics and feeding them. Once the great temples housed these women, who devoted themselves to dance, music, and the erotic arts, often in connection with mystical experience. Even today, the greatest singers, musicians, and dancers belong to this much-honored group, now considerably reduced in numbers by Anglo-Saxon prudishness: the very institution of Deva-dasi was prohibited as immoral, to the very great detriment of the arts. It is not only in India that the theatrical and dancing professions were closely connected to that of the courtesan.
Women who follow the ascetic path, or that of pleasures of the flesh, cannot achieve success unless they renounce procreation.