Cupid is that cherub that represents love and lovers everywhere and the unofficial Valentine's Day ambassador. He is represented by a winged bow and arrow that throws the arrow to the heart of the unwary making them fall in love. Despite his perpetually youthful appearance, Cupid is not a neophyte. History shows that this veteran boyfriend has exercised his trade since antiquity. Myth and legend grew over the millennia, providing him with many names and functions since his first appearance in the cradle of civilization.
During Cupid's transformation into myth and the legend of being the illegitimate child of a corrupt queen to a mischievous love inspiring angel, he had many names and representations. Other Cupid cognates from other parts of the world include Atis, Bacchus, Dionysus, Love, Protogonos, Liber and Kama. Throughout the next millennia and in multiple cultures, names and stories are combined and confused, culminating with the innocent look of the Cupid of today's Valentine's Day celebrations.
Beginning as a lustful shepherd-king, who eloped annually, causing the weeping of women throughout the known world, to an incestuous bearer of life, his surviving tales span eons and entire civilizations with variations in names according to folk traditions. This intertwined story of Cupid and his mother, the traditional mother/son/husband deities of love and sexual desire, may be somewhat concealed today, so the few who pay homage to Cupid with contemporary Valentine rituals include which follow customs and traditions that have come down to us from ancient pagan rites of worship.
Kamadeva, the god of love is perhaps one of the most famous deities of antiquity. As the Indian counterpart to Tammuz or the Sumerian deity Dumuzi, he was the presiding deity of love, desire, and attraction. He is depicted with a parrot and carries a bow made of sugarcane strung with bees, using which he shoot flower-arrows to instill passion among people.
Contrary to the puritanism which was established in post-Vedic India, ancient and medieval India were very expressive of desire. Love as an extension of sex had a deep and important place in ancient India. The various Kama Shastras of Kamasutra, Ratirahasya, Anaṇgaraṇga, Nagar Sarvasva that spans across various periods of history bear witness to this factor. Maithuna is one of the Pancha Makara behind the theory of Indian Tantra.
As a matter of fact, Kamadeva himself was worshiped as a deity in Ancient India, and there were supposedly specific temples dedicated to Kamadeva. People, who did not bear children prayed to Kamadeva to fulfill their desire which was mostly for a loved one. For Instance, The Tamil epic Cīvaka Cintāmaṇi dated to the 10th century, speaks of a princess named Suramañjarī who visits the temple of Kamadeva and prays for attaining the man she desires, the protagonist of the Epic, Jīvaka. The text also refers to the fact that the idol of Kamadeva was made of Gold in that temple.
The 23rd chapter of the original Gayatri Mantra described in detail the rituals pertaining to worshipping Kamadeva, which was rather of pagan origin and does not match the post-Vedic orthodoxy or comes from a previous past of the Vedic period. The current interpretation of this line of Gayatri was probably due to modification by disciples of Chaitanya, in the sixteenth century, who made that prayer directed forced some meaning towards Krishna. But actually, this last verse clearly referred to Kamadeva.
As we could see, worshipping and praying to Kamadeva for the fulfilment of desires was pretty much a common practice in ancient times. However, as it happens, the worship of Kamdev vanished in India as time passed.
With extensive documentation found by archaeologists, cults related to the Dumuzi/Tammuz/Kama can be reconstructed with great precision, whose cult spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean, including Greece, where he took the name of Adonis, married to the goddess of fertility Inanna/Ishtar/Astarte/Rati, whose death and resurrection represented the periodic regeneration of vegetation in the spring.
Still, a form of worship sees him as the child god, Damu, to be connected to the veneration of growers of the fruit trees in the lower Euphrates. The Damu mythology is separated partially from the general Dumuzi, as it does not provide for the rites of marriage but it is particularly important to the rites of the dead god.
Cults and the figure of Dumuzi are closely linked to those of the goddess Inanna or Ishtar. The marriage between the young god and the goddess of love was celebrated and staged sacredly each year. The pair between Inanna and Dumuzi was not celebrated in religious literature as an example of a loving relationship. The central rite in the cult of Dumuzi is the sacred marriage, and the ritual takes on different aspects and meanings for the different communities that celebrated him.
For growers of fruit trees, the marriage represented the fullness of the season, the time of collection, also of what could not be stored during the winter season. For the cattle farmers, the emphasis was rather on the coupling, played by human actors the fertility rites equated the generating power of the divine with the sexual act.
The death of Dumuzi/Tammuz/Kama is common to all the myths but is different in the different texts found. The reasons for the death remain generally vague. He was a mortal, and his marriage to Inanna, the goddess of love, sex, and war guaranteed him the fertility of the earth and the fecundity of the womb. But later, due to Tammuz's unscrupulous behavior towards Inanna, she sends him to the underworld. After the death follow the lamentations and the desperate search, but the return to the life of the god is reported. He is resurrected like the Egyptian Osiris, Baal in the Ugaritic literature, Dionysus, and Adonis.
According to the Babylonian myth, which was later adapted into the Kama and Shiva episode tells the descent of Ishtar to Ereshkigal. During a hunt, Tammuz was kidnapped by Ereshkigal and hide him in his home before Ishtar could find out. Not knowing the truth, Ishtar decided to rescue his beloved. Ereshkigal allowed her entry with the only condition of stripping herself of her clothes, in his home.
As Ishtar became lifeless along with Tammuz, everything began to languish. During that absence, the passion of man and animals disappeared, and they seemed to forget reproduction. Thus, any possible life was threatened with extinction. It was then that Papsukkal visited the gods and asked them to resurrect Ishtar, with food and water of life. Ishtar soon returned to life, but with a price to pay as for the first six months of the year, Tammuz must reside in his prison.
While there, Ishtar mourns his loss and the land freezes. In spring, Tammuz returns with his beloved and everyone is filled with joy.
In Roman mythology, Cupid's mother was Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Venus and Cupid were associated with the pagan feast of the Lupercales, held in the middle of February, the purification and fertility feasts that prefigured modern Valentine's Day. As part of the festivities, half-naked boys muddled with blood from dogs and slaughtered goats ran through the streets flagellating women with strips in the form of a whip cut from the skin of goats. The piercing of the skin of women is believed to induce fertility.
In a similar way, it was believed that Cupid could provoke love or sexual desire by puncturing his victims with gold-tipped arrows. Tales of Cupid and his mother are intertwined throughout history, so it is impossible to do justice to one's story without the other. The story of Cupid is therefore necessarily also the story of his mother. Each has a counterpart in Hellenistic Greek mythology, where Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty, and her son, the young god in the pantheon, is Eros.
Generally, Venus and Aphrodite are considered as the same goddess in different outfits. They share the symbols of white doves and red roses and are generally described as the Queen of Heaven, with an aura or nimbus, a halo, and a crescent moon. They often appear with a young child, an early representation of the Madonna.
As for Eros, one of the earliest documented references is found in the Theogony of Hesiod (700 BC). Hesiod describes Eros as one of the primordial gods, the god of fertility and sensual love, as well as being responsible for the creation of living beings. This Eros is a much more powerful being than the one who later emerges as the son of Aphrodite/Venus, the tender Cupid of modern cards for Valentine's Day.
However, Cupid already existed in previous incarnations. Traveling through antiquity, we find that their personalities were far from being that of helpless babies with tiny wings. When it comes to ancient pagan mythology, stories often intersect and overlap depending on how the gods misrepresent their way through cultures and history as a whole. The story of Cupid and his mother is no exception. According to some ancient tales, Venus, goddess of love, became obsessed with Adonis, who shares a number of common points with Cupid and Eros.
The worship of both Adonis and Eros was taken to Greece from the Near East. The name of Adonis is believed to have arrived in the Greek language with the title of Dumuzi or in Hebrew, Tammuz, one of the most famous gods of Mesopotamia and Sumeria. Like Adonis, and later Eros and Cupid, Tammuz was a young god associated with a female deity whose symbols included white doves, red roses, a crescent moon and a solar disk or nimbus.
This mother-goddess is known by the names of Ishtar, Astarté, and Inanna, as it is stated in the Sumerian account of Inanna's descent into the underworld and the parallel descent of Ishtar. However, his little son, Tammuz, was also his brother and/or consort. This incestuous and confused relationship was not unusual among ancient mythological deities. Existing liturgies and poems of the two are often explicit and openly sexual in nature.
This passage of incest, according to the authors of The Hebrew myths, seems identical to the Ionian myth of Tammuz, whose mother, Smyrna, had made her father King Tiahias of Assyria drunk, and lay with him for twelve nights.
In some tales, Tammuz is killed by a boar like Adonis in a later myth. In Ishtar or the descent of Inanna, Tammuz is forced to descend into the underworld. While he is absent, the vegetation dies and the procreation on the earth ceases. Ishtar, torn by grief, agrees to take her place in the underworld half of each year, releasing him temporarily to the surface of the earth. When Tammuz makes his annual return to the land, fertility is restored and life begins anew.
The relationship between Inanna-Ishtar and Dumuzi-Tammuz was ritualized in the Mesopotamian cult, with sacred marriage with the mating of the king with a prostitute of the sacred temple renewing the forces of nature. The seasonal cycle was seen as a reflection of the annual descent to and from the underworld, a religious element that continued its way.
After a time of mourning, or lamenting for Tammuz, and revered the rising of the sun in the east, devotees celebrate the resurrection of the young shepherd-god of vegetation and fertility with cakes for the Queen of Heaven, eggs and the sacrifice and consumption of a goat or a pig, as well as with fertility rituals to ensure the restoration of the procreation and the renewal of all living beings.
In the symbolism of the ancients, the arrows were a masculine symbol associated with the gods and those of the fertility. On the contrary, the well-known stylized heart is often seen as a feminine symbol and thus is closely related to fertility. Although the traditions and theories about the origin of various symbols vary. However, the story of Cupid extends even beyond Tammuz.
Among the gods of Babylon, none of them achieved more extensive and lasting fame than Tammuz, who was loved by Ishtar, the loving Queen Of Heaven, the beautiful young man who died and was lamented and came back to life. The Babylonian myth of Tammuz, the agonizing God, bears a strong resemblance to the Greek myth of Adonis also linked with the myth of Osiris and that of Indian myth of Kama. Osiris is the Egyptian equivalent of Tammuz. Like Cupid, he was the god of youthful fertility and associated with death and rebirth, with a powerful mother/sister/goddess consort, and with many of the same symbols.
Ishtar, Venus, Rati, and Aphrodite have their Egyptian parallel with the goddess Isis. With different names in different places at different times, it is not surprising that variations of each god and goddess myth abound. Some historians argue that such myths have their origin in human history, simply the stories grew and expanded over time. As an example, in some stories, the arrows of Cupid were made by his father Vulcan, the god of fire.
Kamasutra is an ancient Indian text on human sexual behavior and is widely regarded as one of those world famous books, which many brags to know, but in reality few have taken the trouble to read, especially in full and this article will help you know the Kama Sutra, the original book on eroticism and sex.
A masterpiece of Sanskrit literature, this love manual was written during an unknown period between the first and fourth centuries and the title literally means aphorisms on love. It is believed that the author lived in a time between the first and the sixth century, probably during the Gupta period.
The book of Kama Sutra originally was obviously dedicated to indulging in carnal pleasures. In later classical Indian culture, other four objectives of Artha, Dharma, and Moksha were added in respect of religion, morals, social and economic life. The original work addressed to everyone, men, and women and is recommended especially to girls who are preparing for marriage since they are placed on the same level of both male sexual needs and also female ones.
Generally, in the popular imagination, when we talk about Kamasutra, you think only of sexual positions and bodies locked together in some impossible position. But as we said, in fact, the content of this book is much more varied and complex, because it was born as a manual for teaching the amatory arts, seduction, woman's sexuality and how it is different from that of men.
The book explains sex as not being limited only to the penetration, but it is a complex universe that is to be understood to have a sex life full of satisfaction. Kamasutra talks and analyzes many things, such as how do you kiss a woman, how to seduce, the importance of the foreplay in love, female erogenous zones, orgasm and how to massage.
In short, reading the book of Kama Sutra, one can learn that sexual intercourse is a divine union distant from the concept of sin, that religions have always imposed. That sex has nothing wrong with it, unless it is done with too much frivolity or not consensually. The Kama Sutra contains a total of 64 sexual positions. They have different names, such as those of animals or of the actions of animals. Vatsyayana believed there were eight ways of making love, multiplied by eight positions for each. In the book, these are known as the 64 Arts. The chapter that lists the locations is the most famous and for this reason, it is often mistaken for the whole work.
However, only about 20 percent of the book was devoted to sexual positions as later a guide was added on how to be a good citizen and speaks of relations between men and women. The Kama Sutra provided a description of the customs and sexual practices of India of those times.
The book also dwells with the courtship, ways to win the trust of a virgin girl, the interpretation of the gestures and the girl's signals, the life of a single wife, older wife, younger wife, the women of the harem, the ways to be intimate, the seduction of a married woman, the tactics to get rid of him, ways to get back together with an ex-lover, stimulants of manhood, the ways to rekindle the passion that has gone out, methods to increase the size of the male organ and the unusual techniques in lovemaking.
The Kamasutra, so is nothing but an extraordinary work, a guide to sexual enjoyment that offers tips, in which are revealed the secrets of amatory, where pleasure is seen as something essential to a happy life in harmony with the world, and ourselves, and to have a life in which the senses are satisfied without hesitation.
After all, the attraction and carnal love are a pure and natural instinct, to go along smoothly and without hesitation, as of course to be practiced with the right person.
Well, today you can try to visit Khajuraho, a small town in Madhya Pradesh famous for its temples from 950-1150 AD. Khajuraho in the popular imagination is the Kama Sutra that becomes stone. There are countless sensual sculptures. In all this cacophony of activity, there are also those carnal couples or groups. The largest and in full view are sensual maidens in affectionate or intimate behavior.
The pair of lovers is a symbol of fertility to call to obtain a child or a good marriage relationship. The temple is the representation of the macrocosm, so on the external walls are placed all forms of life on earth, with no contradictions between the sacred and profane of other religions. The temples are a hymn to the enjoyment of life, vilified in periods and religious movements.