In the society of the ancient world, the title of priest was of great importance. Even representatives of the upper classes, such as monarchs, listened to the opinion of these people. Often the priests were very educated and had a great knowledge in the fields of natural sciences, medicine, astrology. Priests could be representatives of all sexes.
What is a priestess: we study the term
It is known that in ancient times there was a cult of nature. People believed that natural phenomena were a consequence of the divine essence. To worship numerous gods and natural phenomena there were priests who, according to a common belief, connected the world of people with the world of the gods. The task of the priests was to conduct rituals and sacrifices in order to win God's patronage.
Priests of Ancient Egypt
The first priests appeared at the very beginning of the development of Ancient Egypt. At first it was believed that only a man could become a priest, but over time archaeologists found more and more evidence of the presence of priestesses in temples erected in honor of female goddesses. High priestesses followed singers and dancers, as well as performed other important tasks. In the kingdom there was a title "henretet" implying priestesses who keep chastity.
The list of duties of priestesses included such tasks:
- Singing ritual songs;
- Reading prayers
- Playing musical instruments;
- participation in the burial process.
There were also "concubines of the gods" who locked themselves in the sanctuary during the big holidays and fell into a trance.
In Babylon, there were "priestesses of love." Herodotus described their actions as follows: once in a lifetime a girl is obliged to surrender to a foreigner for any, even the most insignificant fee. The women stayed in the temple for a while and waited for their "foreigner" until his choice fell on them. It was forbidden to leave the temple without payment, and such a duty existed for absolutely all women, regardless of status.
Priestesses of the Mother Goddess
There were temples of the mother goddess, which occurred from Demeter. They were the most beautiful priestesses, who possess all knowledge in the art of love. Several types of priestesses were singled out:
- Priestesses of the day in red robes and red horse hair woven into their hair;
- Priestesses of the night, leaving the temple only at night and wearing black robes.
Priestesses were not obliged to observe chastity, but were given only to strong men. He who was able to break the clothes of the priestess, made of the strongest horse hair, with his bare hands, was rewarded with the love of the beauty. Weak men were overtaken by punishment: forced castration, or "pleasant meeting" with a knife in the back, stuck by the priestess herself.
In ancient Greece, priestesses worshipped mainly Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. In the temples erected in her honor, there were girls who possessed all the intricacies of love affairs. They were given to men for money, and the received funds were spent on the needs of the sanctuary. The list of responsibilities of girls included training "recruits" in the art of love, making swirling potions and practicing magic.
There were also priestesses of pythia who predicted the future. What any girl could become, more often against her will. In order to enter the trance and make several prophecies, the girls used drugs.
There were also Vestas- girls obliged to keep chastity and keeping the fire of the sanctuary constantly lit. In the case of the girl's fault the sacred fire faded, she was severely beaten by the high priest, and the loss of virginity was punished even more terrible: the girl was buried in the wall with almost no food. Vestalkas were obliged to serve the gods for 30 years, and given the average length of life at that time, the service took a lifetime. The girls had one amazing right: the touch of a vesta to a slave made him a free man.
In Slavic countries priestesses worshipped the goddess Lada. They had remarkable physical strength and, if necessary, could fight back against enemies. Their tasks are to make prophecies, heal, prepare potions and perform pagan rites.