Thursday, June 24, 2010

Diana Agorio


If Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens are The Four Horsemen; then, Diana Agorio is The Whore of Babylon.  She is an unabashed anti-theist with a peculiar interest in ancient Babylon.  She began her studies of West Asia as a conservative Christian kid in Alaska. After living in Israel; then, traveling and studying ancient history for the last 25+ years, she ended up a liberal atheist. But, unlike many other atheist critics of religion, Diana knows and loves the ancient cultures which invented the Abrahamic faiths. No theist can accuse her of reading the Bible like a fundamentalist. She has an in depth knowledge of the political and economic environment which shaped the minds of the Biblical authors. The first rule of historical research is to “know thy author.” The Four Horsemen make valid criticisms of religion in general; but, they lack the expertise to produce an expose of the ancient origins of the Bible.

Diana graduated magna cum laude with a BS in History. Her primary fascination is with the cultures of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Levant. But, she is a generalist with historical interests ranging from Sumer, to Anatolia, to Egypt, to Greece, and Rome. Her methodology is based on meme theory, following changes in cultures as fashions, avoiding racial descriptions. This method provides a powerful new understanding of ancient peoples, describing their evolution in dynamic terms, rather than as static ethnicities. Diana makes extensive use of primary source material and cites experts in the fields of archaeology, theological studies, and Art History in scholarly journals and peer reviewed books.

Her goal with Sex Rites is to provide atheists with a sophisticated understanding of how the Abrahamic religions developed. She hopes to dispel the atheist notion that the Bible is Bronze Age mythology. Actually, it is Hellenistic Period mythology, which was significantly different from Bronze Age religious notions. The Bible was not the product of “the people” of the Levant. It was produced by priests with particular political and economic ambitions. Diana’s description of changes in the religious rituals and myths which led up to Christianity is far more damning than the typical atheist critique. In paritcular, it describes the outrageous suffering of children at the hands of ancient religious leaders. She also highlights positive aspects of ancient cultures, which were the origins of Humanism and secular government. Readers, atheist and religious, will feel better and more secure in their modern ethics, after exploring the world of their ancient ancestors with Sex Rites.





(Ishtar Gate photo by Deutsche Fotothek, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Excerpt from Chapter 13: The Starlight Gospel

The oldest known gospel story exposes the origin of Christianity in the Palestinian rituals of sex, drugs, and human sacrifice. And, it is a star story. The last words of Mark give instructions for how to read the book:

And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:20)
The signs which confirmed the word were constellations.
The author of Mark recreated the star chart on land, envisioning the Sea of Galilee as the center of the chart, with its shoreline following the circle of the zodiac. The Galilee was chosen by the author of Mark as the setting for his story because of the region’s reputation in the 1st century CE as an Eden. The region is naturally very beautiful and it was quite wild at the time of Mark. The story opens with Jesus coming from Nazareth to the Jordan. There is no evidence of a 1st century CE town or village called Nazareth in the Galilee. A recent excavation at the site later dubbed Nazareth, turned up a 1st century CE tiny village; but, no indication of its name. Regardless of an earthly Nazareth, the term had meaning in the stars. “Nazareth” means “the Guarded One.” The guarded one in the sky was the Cargo Boat constellation of Dumuzi, beneath Sagittarius. The savior god’s little boat was guarded by Pabilsag and Scorpio. The boat was the typical launch site of savior myths. In myth, the little boat always headed for the watery spring quarter of the sky chart, occupied by Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Jesus arrived at the river Jordan, in Pisces. The river was the Euphrates in the Babylonian version of the constellation (White, Pisces - Babylonian Star Lore 2009). John the Baptist played the part of the fish on the short arm of Pisces. John (the fishy Oannes/Anunitum) refers back to the Joshua myth, with the savior as the son of Nun. The myth survived in Jewish Midrash (Midrash Genesis 97:3), stating: “The son of him whose name was as the name of a fish would lead them [the Israelites] into the land."

Excerpt from Chapter 4: The Working Mother


It wasn’t only the priests in Egypt who caught the entrepreneurial spirit. Opportunity abounded for priests to turn a profit on the divine during this period of economic prosperity, particularly in the coastal cities of the Levant. There is plenty of archaeological evidence of Greek traders, as well as prosperous Phoenicians, along the Levantine coast. The Phoenicians were also the Persian Navy; so, the Levant was chock full of sailors, as well as soldiers inland. Take a wild guess at how temples dedicated to the Love Goddess could profit in such an environment of soldiers, sailors, and traveling salesmen.


PHOTO: National Maritime Museum, Israel - Terracotta Figurines. Second half of the second millenium BC.

Photo by Deror Avi, Wikimedia Commons

Excerpt from Chapter 6: Roman Sexual Omnivores


Think about the sexual morality valued by Roman society: The relationships which were the most proscribed and frowned upon were consensual sex between members of the citizen class. It was perfectly fine for a man to have sex with a slave child; but, not with a man of his own rank and certainly not with someone else’s wife or daughter. The ideal elite marriage was based on financial and political considerations. However, there is evidence of marriages of choice and women’s rights in marriage improved over the course of the Roman Empire. Women enjoyed the greatest freedom just prior to the advancement of the Catholic Church. Women’s rights deteriorated again under Christian dominion.
A large percentage of the people who were the most abused in ancient society were children. Most obviously, the human sacrifice rites (discussed in a later section) involved children. But, many of the males and females used in sacred sex rites and profane prostitution were also children. The ubiquitous slaves in ancient households usually entered slavery as children. Slaves were the sexual property of their owners. Both slave boys and slave girls were regularly used sexually by their masters and it was publicly accepted. Also, the sanctified pederasty, idealized by philosophers, involved a sexual initiation ritual between boys and men.

PHOTO: The Warren Cup. Silver, Roman artwork, middle of the 1st century CE. Said to be from Bittir (ancient Bethther), near Jerusalem.  (This cup is not only contemporary with the first Christians, it is from their neighborhood.)

Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen (Jastrow) Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Figure 1: The Babylonian Star Chart




The star chart is based on the reconstruction by Gavin White. For his fully illustrated depiction of the Babylonian Star Chart, visit:
http://solaria-publications.com/map_2_full_reconstruction_of_the_babylonian_star-map

Figure 2: The Cosmic Wheel




The best artistic representation of the wheel is from the Assyrian 9th century BCE Sippar Tablet. The tablet commemorated king Nabu-apal-iddin’s building of a temple at Sippar for the solar deity, Shamash. The solar disk on the tablet features a star-like cross, superimposed on an X of wavy lines, representing water. In the sky, the cross marked the solstice and equinox periods. The ribbons of water corresponded with Aquarius, Gemini, Leo, and Sagittarius.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sex Rites describes the evolution of religious rituals involving sex, drugs, and human sacrifice as the foundation of Christian myth and ritual. This story begins with the oldest known religious sexual concepts in Sumer, modern day Iraq. It reconnects Christianity with its’ ancient roots in Palestine, Egypt, Anatolia, Greece, and Rome. Religious changes are described in historical context, identifying political and economic conditions as driving forces. Ancient myths, including Bible stories, are illuminated by tracing their path through the sky, as rediscovered in the star lore of ancient astrologers. These myths were used by ancient priests, including Christian clergy, to justify their rituals. These rituals included raping, mutilating, drugging, and killing children. The myths remain part of Christian theology to this day.