Sex with Satyrs, Semitic Style.
Va'Yikra 17:7 ויקרא יז: ז
The devil is in the details. But are its horned origins right here in Leviticus? The Horned God, adored, maligned, feared and lusted after since forever, hovers over these chapters like a long lost dream, or perhaps, some people’s nightmare.
A new directive is introduced in chapter 17 - no longer are sacrifices permitted anywhere other than at the Tent of Time, supervised by priests who get their due. Scholars claim that this indicates the relatively late insertion of these passages into the Torah - echoing religious reforms from the 7th Century BCE that made Jerusalem the one and only cult center. But it’s not just the location of the sacrifices that is emphasized but also the recipient. Let’s be totally clear, comes the instruction from YHWH to Moses, on to Aaron and then to the people - your previous religious behavior is forbidden and the price for breaking the new rules is being completely cut off from the community. The prohibition include this surprising confession that lays bare our pagan theological origins:
"They may not offer their sacrifices to the goat-demons after whom they whore. This shall be to them a law for all time, throughout the ages.” (Va 17:7)
The word goat-demons is also translated as demons, devils, hairy goat-gods or satyrs. Most polite translators also prefer ‘gone astray’ instead of ‘whoring’ but there is no doubt the orignial Hebrew is sexual. What is forbidden here are rites and rituals known through the ancient world, erotic and wild, celebrating animalistic divinty and human lust in ways that are sacred in some cultures and suspected, or worse, in others. Hieros Gamos - the sacred union between masculine and feminine was ritually celebrated in many cultures, including the Hebraic. Other variations are found in many fragments and cultural fossils where the celebration of the sacred fused body and soul in ways we know today from so called secular places like clubs and parties. Women were burned at the stake throughout Europe for suspicions that they were in league with the Horned God. The word ‘horny’ is likely a left over from less sex positive vocaularies in our past, mostly castigating males for their excessive drive.
Was it cultural Appropriation and/or religious syncretism that motivated the creators of the Hebraic religion to incorporate the goats in the ritual but reducing them from honored deity to scapegoats and sacrifices? The fear of nature and the supernatural, sex and seduction, wildlife and wildness yielded much of the religious center, conservative approaches and insular traditional attitudes we see in this chapter - and in today’s headlines. But if anything is revealed through this prohibition - it’s that the yearning for the sexual sacred synthesis is far from over, and perhaps the interesting, important challenge is to find the perfect balance between too much not at all - in our private and our public lives.
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