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What is Hieros Gamos: The Union God and Goddess

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Hieros Gamos (Greek: ιερός γάμος) or Hierogamy (ἱερογαμία) is the “sacred (or holy) Marriage” and refers to the union of God and Goddess or the combination of masculine and feminine principles.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Hieros Gamos, a sacred union of God and Goddess, traces its origins to ancient Mesopotamia, where it symbolized the divine marriage between deities like Inanna and Dumuzid.

In modern witchcraft and neopaganism, Hieros Gamos represents the balance of masculine and feminine energies, emphasizing the importance of harmonizing opposing forces.

This union is not limited to heterosexual pairings, as it encompasses diverse gender identities and orientations, reflecting the inclusivity of contemporary witchcraft practices.

Rituals and ceremonies related to Hieros Gamos often involve the use of symbols like the chalice and athame, as well as meditation and visualization techniques.

Origins of this term

The term specifically refers to the union of Zeus and Hera but also has been used to describe the union of Demeter and Iasion and the many unions between mortals and Gods that produced heroes and demi-gods.

The celebration of the Hieros Gamos is often associated with agricultural fertility, but it may have also been a way to legitimize the Gods of invaders by wedding them to the Gods of conquered lands or to legitimize the rule of a human by giving them a divine relative.

In ancient Mesopotamia, the Priestess of Inanna was symbolically married to the King to ensure the blessings of the Goddess on his rule. I have heard tell that similar rituals were celebrated among Celtic Kings as well, but documentation is scant.

Modern days

In modern NeoPaganism, Sacred Marriage rituals are often incorporated into Beltane or Midsummer celebrations and some traditions perform them more frequently as part of regular esbat observances. Tools representing the male and female principles are often used in lieu of actual intercourse, with the cauldron or chalice representing the female principle and the athame or wand or sword or staff representing the male principle. It is referred to among Wiccans as The Great Rite.

Hierogamy is also an alchemical concept, exploring the union of opposites.

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About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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