Shavuot & Pentecost Eve: Annual Sacred Marriage Holiday


Pentecost / Shavuot:  Feast of First

– Jewish festival of thanksgiving for the first fruits of the grain harvest; originally, loaves of bread were offered to God-Goddess Yahweh (Nehushtan-Asherah). (The Jews originally called this holiday Pentecost and it always occured on the 50th day –thus the word “pente” after Passover. Christians still celebrate it on the 50th day after Easter Sunday)

Shavuot is the Jewish word for the Pentecost holiday.  Christian Pentecost always comes on a Sunday.

50 days after Passover is Jewish Pentecost (Shavuot) and 50 days after Easter is Christian Pentecost.  

Erev Shavuot (“Shavuot Eve”)
aka Pentecost Eve

Pentecost (which means “50th day”) is a nifty holiday because it’s also the Sacred Marriage holiday, the day God and Shekinah’s marriage contract was read out loud in the streets by Jewish qabalists in the early 1500’s. Pentecost Eve, the night before, was when the rite of zivvuga kadisha (sacred marriage) took place. In Chapter 6 of
Sophia Goddess of Wisdom Caitlyn Matthews writes:

The rite of zivvuga kadisha or sacred marriage is the union of the spheres Tiphareth and Malkuth. It was performed by qabalists at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The night of the mystical marriage, celebrated in the Feast of Weeks, the fiftieth day after Passover was spent in prayer and song. The next morning, the marriage contract between the bridegroom (God) and the Virgin (Shekinah or Israel) was read out.

Matthews references a book by G. Scholem,
Kabbalistic Ritual and the Bride
of God
in Scott, W. (ed.), Hermetica (4 vols), Boulder, CO, Hermes house, 1982.

This annual holiday is significant to Esoteric Christians because we honor the Sacred Marriage. It didn’t just come out of the blue, but has historical roots. The Sacred Marriage “doctrine” is vital to western spirituality because it insists on two equal CO-working forces, Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine, flowing thruout and within all things of the universe. Gotta love the balance, the logic, the “perfect fit” and symbolism of this doctrine. And hey, performing the annual rite of the Sacred Marriage is fun! Grab your partner tonight and this coming Saturday night…and perform the rite in remembrance of the sacred union of God & God-ess.

The Sacred Marriage is so crucial in western spirituality that in addition to its annual celebration we celebrate it every week. Friday night, the Eve of the Sabbath/Shabbat is the weekly rite of Union between God and Shekinah-Asherah, co-creator spouses. Qabalists believed that couples could actually help those great co-working forces rejoin (Shekinah was said to be exiled “down here” with us) by performing the marital duty every Friday night around midnight. So if you miss the annual holiday, you can go to it every weekend! Embody those archetypes, merge those opposites, mend the rift in the universe, get the divine juices flowing. (!)

Linda Seekins writes:  Here’s another idea that’s a little more “Pagan”. Sunday is the day of the Sun (male) and Monday is the day of the Moon (female), so how about the midnight between Sunday and Monday? Or, keeping in mind that the days begin at sunset in Judaism which came from earlier Pagan sources, Monday would then begin at sunset on Sunday, so sunset that day would also be good.

Of course there are ways to revere the sacred marriage without re-enacting it. You can put Sacred Marriage symbols on your altar, or trace them on your hand, in the air, even draw them on paper to carry around with you on the special day. (Several sacred marriage symbols are listed below). You can do anything that symbolically represents the merging of opposites. Do something, wear something, sing, read, or write something that honors one of the roles, Bride or Bridegroom. Make a white cake, rent a wedding-themed movie — “The Wedding Date” is great, even my husband enjoyed it (not just a chick-flick, he said!).

Here are several sacred marriage symbols from around the world. Sufi: Key in Lock, Pen on Tablet. Christian: Two fishes, Equal-bar cross. Jewish: Star of David. Sacred Geometry/Pythagorean: Squaring of the Circle (a circle with a square drawn around it). Pre-Christian: Sword in Chalice, Equal-bar cross. Hindu: Star of David with Om symbol drawn in the middle. For Hindus the triangles of the Star of David are Shiva and Shakti in sitting-lovemaking posture. Muslim: Star & Crescent (Star is really Venus, symbol of Allat, the Goddess married to Allah, the moon god). Ancient Chinese Taoism: Yin-Yang symbol.

I bet I’m forgetting some… please
email the ones I left out…

Sir Andreas writes:

Hi! Ariel Golan’s book is particularly interesting [on this topic].

This Jewish holiday celebrated 50 days after Passover (and thus the Jewish equivalent of Beltane) is also known as the Festival of Weeks, the Festival of Revelation and the Festival of Harvest. Two kinds of offerings were made at the Temple: two loaves of bread made from the first harvest of the wheat and seven kinds of first fruits: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. Later this date was identified as the day God gave the Jews the Torah. Weddings which have been delayed during the Counting of the Omer can be celebrated.

The afternoon before the festival is the time for a ritual bath of total immersion. The 16th century Kabbalists stayed awake all night reading the Torah. They considered this to be the ceremony of bedecking the Bride on the night before the Great Wedding of Sinai. The synagogue is decorated with branches of green leaves and in some places roses are placed on the Torah scroll. Lithuanian Jews created a special art form in connection with Shavuot: papercuts called shavuoslech (little Shavuots) or raizelech (little roses). Arthur Waskow speculates that they were developed to replace the branches and flowers used in pagan (May Day) and Christian (Pentecost) customs. It is customary to eat dairy foods (such as cheese blintzes, kugel) on this day. Waskow, Arthur, Seasons of Our Joy, Beacon Press 1982

{347b} Shavuoth combines elements of monotheistic Judaism and certain ancient rites and notions whose origins have been forgotten. These include, for instance, offering of fruit and flowers (in some Jewish communities, flowers are presented to newlyweds on this day), decorating premises with branches, songs about marriage (anciently, maidens sang and danced in circles, and in their songs invited young men to marry them). During this holiday, it is customary to eat farinaceous foods (an attribute of the earth god) and dairy products (milk being associated with the heaven goddess). In ancient Israel, dancing and music accompanied people on their way to the temple during the festival; it was common practice to wear white garments and crown one’s head with a wreath (the color white and the ring being symbolic of the goddess).

_ Prehistoric Religion. Mythology. Symbolism (2003) by Ariel Golan