Tree Worship: What's Sex Got To Do With It?
So what's the connection between tree worship and sex?
Trees were worshiped by the Canaanites because they either represented Asherah as The Mother Goddess/The Goddess of Fertility or they were a means to that end. But Asherah was also worshiped in various other ways, including ritual sex orgies. Remember, she was believed to be both Baal's mother and his wife/mistress. The Canaanites believed they could influence the actions of their gods by engaging in the same behavior they wished their gods to engage in. To put it bluntly, they believed that they could manipulate the sexual union of Baal and Asherah by engaging in a massive orgy. Baal was worshiped as both "The God of Fertility" and "The God of Rain and Storm. Baal was often pictured with thunderbolts in his hand(s). The way the Canaanites looked at things, whenever it rained, Baal was having a massive orgasm, which produced a fertile crop and a bountiful harvest. And it seemed to be working, because the Bible itself describes the land of Canaan as "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8).
What Is The Etymology Of The Word "Orgy"?
The word "orgy" connotes something depraved and degenerate to most modern people, especially devout Christians. Certainly the Bible forbids the use of orgies among his people as an idolatrous means of worshiping fertility gods. Nevertheless, in ancient times, to engage in an orgy meant to engage in an act of secret worship. In fact, the word "orgy," which comes from "orgia," is a Greek word which means "secret worship." Secret worship among the pagans often involved sexual orgies as an act of worship, beginning in Old Testament times and continuing through New Testament times.
Many ancient religions worshiped trees in sacred groves. They believed spirits inhabited them. Perhaps it was because trees are rooted in the earth and reach toward the sky. The phenomenon of a sacred tree, particularly one associated with a sacred site, is well known in a variety of cultures. A distinguished tree, especially one of great antiquity, might be looked upon as the "tree of life" or as being "cosmic," its stump symbolizing the "navel of the earth" and its top representing heaven. In this sense, it is a bridge between the human and the divine spheres, and it becomes an arena of divine-human encounter, an ideal medium of oracles and revelation. Trees may have also symbolized the protection or fertility the worshiper hoped to receive from a deity. Fertility cults flourished in connection with such trees, and this form of paganism proved attractive to many Israelites.
What Does Cult Prostitution Have To Do With A Bountiful Harvest?
The Canaanites made a whole religion out of sex. No wonder it was so popular. But not only did they engage in massive orgies to insure a bountiful harvest time, sex for them was also an act of worship. This became a basis for cult prostitution (1 Kings 14:23-24). The priest or a male member of the community was also a male cult prostitute who represented Baal. The priestess or a female member of the community became a female cult prostitute who represented Asherah. For the Canaanites, engaging in sex with a cult prostitute was a magical, mystical means of communicating with the gods.