Some of the most powerful and vibrant goddesses are the seductresses: Inanna who
morphed into Ishtar, Astarte, Aphrodite, Venus and her many sisters throughout
the world. In Egypt, she is Hathor, goddess of grain and fertility. The Celts
celebrated Branwen. To the Aztecs, Xochiquetzal was the Goddess of All Women,
patroness of marriage and sacred harlots, dance, spinning, weaving, changes and
transformations, magic and art. She is also Artimpaasa, Scythian love
goddess who ruled the moon, Anat, Ugarit virgin warrior and wanton temptress.
Erzulie, the Haitian goddess of love, luxury, refinement. Rati, the Balinese
goddess of erotic delight.
While this may seem like "weak feminine wiles," temple prostitutes in ancient
times were man's connection to the divine. Knowledge of one's body was a source
of empowerment and intuition about the natural world. And, as below, it could be
a powerful weapon.
The Book of Judith
13 So Bagoas left the presence of Holofernes, and approached her and said, ‘Let
this pretty girl not hesitate to come to my lord to be honoured in his presence,
and to enjoy drinking wine with us, and to become today like one of the Assyrian
women who serve in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar.’
14 Judith replied, ‘Who am I to refuse my lord? Whatever pleases him I will do
at once, and it will be a joy to me until the day of my death.’
15 So she proceeded to dress herself in all her woman’s finery. Her maid went
ahead and spread for her on the ground before Holofernes the lambskins she had
received from Bagoas for her daily use in reclining.
16 Then Judith came in and lay down. Holofernes’ heart was ravished with her
and his passion was aroused, for he had been waiting for an opportunity to
seduce her from the day he first saw her.
17 So Holofernes said to her, ‘Have a drink and be merry with us!’
18 Judith said, ‘I will gladly drink, my lord, because today is the greatest
day in my whole life.’
19 Then she took what her maid had prepared and ate and drank before him.
20 Holofernes was greatly pleased with her, and drank a great quantity of wine,
much more than he had ever drunk in any one day since he was born.
1 When evening came, his slaves quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from
outside and shut out the attendants from his master’s presence. They went to
bed, for they all were weary because the banquet had lasted so long.
2 But Judith was left alone in the tent, with Holofernes stretched out on his
bed, for he was dead drunk.
3 Now Judith had told her maid to stand outside the bedchamber and to wait for
her to come out, as she did on the other days; for she said she would be going
out for her prayers. She had said the same thing to Bagoas.
4 So everyone went out, and no one, either small or great, was left in the
bedchamber. Then Judith, standing beside his bed, said in her heart, "O Lord God
of all might, look in this hour on the work of my hands for the exaltation of
5 Now indeed is the time to help your heritage and to carry out my design to
destroy the enemies who have risen up against us."
6 She went up to the bedpost near Holofernes’ head, and took down his sword
that hung there.
7 She came close to his bed, took hold of the hair of his head, and said, ‘Give
me strength today, O Lord God of Israel!’
8 Then she struck his neck twice with all her might, and cut off his head.