Friday, February 02, 2007

Women's Prophetic Drumming Tradition: Ancient and Contemporary Female Shamanism in Biblical Traditions

Artist Phil Blank's illustration of the Jewish Deborah/Bee Goddesses, a possibly ecstatic group of women who played drums and were related to a bee cult that stretched from Egypt to Greece to India in the olden days. In this piece the artist contemplates mystic, ecstatic, musical, religious traditions connected to bees. According to Phil, this tradition was widespread across the Mediterranean and Asia Minor and may have included the Israelites via the prophetess Deborah (who's name, in Hebrew, is Bee). Text here is adapted from the Teruah-JewishMusic Blog by Jack Zaientz

Abstract: Through a combination of newly excavated artifacts and biblical textual evidence, scholars are reconstructing an ancient tradition of women’s spirituality known as “drum, dance, and song.” Mormon women are heirs to a tradition that stretches from the Bee Priestesses of Neolithic Anatolia and Crete to the later Bee Priestesses of ancient Israel and on through Mary Magdalene and early Christian sects. Mormonism contains a highly developed theology and practice of embodied spirituality, and the arts are an important aspect of the Restoration, inextricably intertwined with the Sacred Feminine.

Respondent DOE DAUGHTREY, M.A., doctoral candidate, religious studies, Arizona State University; member, Sunstone board of directors.

To download this session (MP3), or listen online - where you can also hear the response from Doe Daughtrey, M.A. (as well as Q and A from the audience) go to:

To hear the sound of a frame-drum: turn on your speakers and right-click on this link to open a new window -

More frame drum sounds: right-click and select "open a new tab" here

To see the actual survival of this ancient female shamanic tradition caught on film
(for the first and only time in history), watch FREE online, "Mystic Iran: The Unseen World," or order from

This session was opened with the music of the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble's Ancient Echoes: Music from the Time of Jesus and the Second Temple. (Listen to the full album, free, online):

Click on the pictures (below) to ENLARGE

Women’s Prophetic Drumming Tradition
Elizabeth Quick
Copyright 2006
All Rights Reserved

The Biblical record contains a well-developed musical lexicon demonstrating the importance of music to Biblical peoples.[1] “Artifacts and ancient texts reveal that the people of ancient Israel wove music into nearly every aspect of society.”[2] Instruments were used in various cultural contexts such as sacrifices, prophetic activity, celebration of victorious battles, and the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant.[3] Both male and female musicians were highly esteemed and music was an integral part of temple worship.[4]

The Book of Genesis credits Jubal with the invention of musical instruments, specifically the kinnor (a member of the harp family) and the ugav (a pipe, or wind instrument).[5] The first mention of music after the Deluge is Jacob’s run-in with Laban.[6] Laban complains to Jacob that if he had known that Jacob was leaving, “I would have sent you off with festive music, timbrel and lyre.”[7] Dr. Eliyahu Schleifer, of Jerusalem’s Hebrew Union College, says that this passage suggests “a farewell ceremony which was probably common among the ancient nomadic tribes.” He notes that the patriarchal period does not mention liturgical music, but that only “family and folk celebrations are described as a means to invoke divine inspiration.”[8]

Professor Schleifer observes that the patriarch Laban mentions two instruments: a tof (or frame drum) and a kinnor (sometimes translated as lyre). These two instruments along with the ugav, a pipe or wind instrument, “constituted the main musical instruments of the patriarchal period.” The ugav and the kinnor were probably considered men’s instruments. The tof, however, “was associated with women's dance songs (mecholot), such as Miriam's song at the Red Sea,” a topic which we will be returning to shortly.[9]

’s Bible Dictionary states that the golden age of Hebrew music arose during the classical period of Samuel, David, and Solomon. A class of professional singers arose during this period. For the first time music was “systematically cultivated. It was an essential part of training in the schools of the prophets.” It was in the temple, however, where the great school of music was to be found. “In the conducting of its services large bands of trained singers and players on instruments were constantly employed” [10]

Interestingly, Mormon scholars have been telling us for years[11] that, “music has a strong ritual, and symbolic meaning, closely tied to the creation and the temple,”[12] that the earliest forms of drama, dance and song originated in ancient temple ceremonies, commemorating both that great shout for joy at the divine council[13] where the creation of the earth was planned, as well as, “the time when the angels shouted praises unto the Holy One of Israel at the creation, when they both sang and gave the Hosanna shout.”[14]

If the Israelites were a musical people then surely they must have been a dancing people. The Old Testament confirms that eleven Hebrew roots are used to describe the various characteristics of dance and most of these roots occur only in intensive forms “pointing out the nature and character of sacred dance.”[15]

In his 1923 book, The Sacred Dance, the Vicar of St. Albans and Doctor of Divinity W.O.E. Oesterley, notes “the universal presence” of religious or ritual dance, its origins coming down to us from “pre-historic times.” Oesterley claimed that “sacred dance” could (in spite of local variations in ritual and mythology) be found amongst so many cultures and time periods “with extraordinary uniformity” that it was either descended from “an ultimately identical tradition” or was perhaps just an inherent part of human biology.[16] “That the sacred dance originated in pre-historic times goes without saying.”[17]

Contrary to popular belief the Israelites were not so different from other cultures.[18] When Oesterley classified these dances, not according to their “outward form,” but according to their intent and purpose, he found that “the Old Testament offers evidence of the existence amongst the ancient Israelites of most of the typical sacred dances of antiquity.”[19]

In contemporary times we tend to think of dance as a recreational or spontaneous activity but historically dance has been a powerful form of religious expression.[20]

Oesterley sees ritual dance as honoring a supernatural power or diety and taking that power upon oneself in a process of imitative magic or personification of diety that leads to mystical union with the divine.[21]

It was among some of the early prophets of the Hebrew Bible that “the most interesting kind of sacred dance, the ecstatic dance, was in vogue.” In this they were no different “from certain classes of holy men” or the spiritual leaders of the world’s cultures. “The earliest prophets,” says Oesterley, “believed that this sacred dance was the means whereby the divine spirit came upon them.”[22]

Naturally, the significance of song and dance continued on into the times of Christ and beyond. In Aramaic, the Semitic language spoken by Jesus, rejoice and dance are the same word, so the New English Bible translates Jesus in Luke 6:23, as saying: “rejoice and dance for joy.”[23] Jesus refers to Wisdom’s dance in Matthew 11:17 and19.

In Matthew 11:16 Jesus asks, “But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, we have piped unto you and ye have not danced.”[24]

Hugh Nibley pointed out that:
The Greek and Russian Orthodox churches still preserve the ring dance around the altar in that most conservative of rites, the wedding ceremony, when bride, groom, and priest all join hands and circle the altar three times; H. Leisegang connects this definitely with the old prayer circle. At the coronation of the Byzantine emperor, everyone danced around the emperor's table three times. The most common representations of ritual dancing in early Christian art show pious damsels dancing around the throne of King David. And the Jewish apocryphal writings often depict a situation best described at the opening of the Book of Mormon, where Lehi sees God on his throne "surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God" (1 Nephi 1:8). Surrounding concourses are concentric circles, and the singing and praising are never static: it is a dynamic picture with everything in motion, as Lehi sees it, and as the cosmic pattern of the thing requires. The prayer circle is often called the chorus of the apostles, and it is the meaning of chorus which can be a choir, but is originally a ring dance, as Pulver designates it in the title of his study. The prayer was a song such as Paul prayed and sang in the darkness of a prison [in Acts 16:25]: “About midnight they prayed a hymn to God.” And if they sang in chorus, would they not dance? Philo says that the true initiate during the rites moves "in the circuit of heaven, and is borne around in a circle with the dances of the planets and stars in accordance with the laws of perfect music"--the music of the spheres.[25]

Nibley defined the chorus as not only a ring dance, but a circle, which comes from the Latin word, curvus, “going around.” Referring to the Greeks he said:
The chorus sings, and the chorus of the muses sings the poiema, the creation song. Remember, the blind muses? Each one is in charge of describing and studying one department of the creation. So they all get together. When they sing together, it's the poiema, the song of the creation. It's a glorious thing. It's a round dance like the Egyptian maypole. And it's the music of the spheres and those things we have heard about in literature.[26]
Mormon researcher Kevin Christensen says, “The very early Infancy Gospel of James depicts Mary as a ‘little girl in the temple, dancing before the high priest … exactly how Wisdom is described in Proverbs 8, playing and dancing before the creator.’”[27]
I can’t help but think of the cherubic Shirley Temple when I read:

“The priest received her and “set her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God gave grace to her; and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her.”[28]

As for our topic today, one of the most significant Biblical passages of interest to be found is Exodus 15:20, “a recounting of an important women’s dance ritual:”[29]

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand;
and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances.
And Miriam answered them,
Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider has he thrown into the sea.
-- Exodus 15:20[30]

“The phrase “the women went out after her’ tells us it was a female rite,”[31] according to dance scholar Iris Stewart, and Oesterley says, “These dances, with accompanying music, were performed by women, even restricted to women.”[32] Miriam’s dance became “one of the climactic ceremonies” of the Passover festival, celebrating the Exodus. It is [also] prophesied in the Hebrew tradition, “that at the great banquet in the time of the Messiah, Miriam will dance before the righteous.”[33]
Recent archaeological discoveries are illuminating a forgotten aspect of women’s spiritual heritage. Terracottas depicting female drum players and figurines depicting other types of musicians, both male and female, have been found in Judah, Israel, Phoenicia and Cyprus. Plaques made from molds, about 4-6 inches in height, depicting women with frame drums have been excavated at Meggido, Beth-Shean, and Tel √¶Ira, mostly dating to the Iron Age (1200-586 B.C.E.). Some of the finest pieces, depicting female drummers, are figurines in the round. They were discovered in Cyprus and several coastal cities of Israel/Palestine (Shikmona and Achzib). Archeomusicologist, Theodore Burgh, a post-doctoral fellow at Notre Dame asserts, “These figurines, and the Biblical record, clearly demonstrate that hand drums were used primarily by women.”[34]

The Book of Isaiah (30:32) paints the vivid image of a drum as an instrument used in spiritual warfare.[35] The transliteration of the Hebrew word for drum is toph, or tof, and is often archaically translated as timbrel, tabret, or tambourine. This is a play on words with the word tophet, which has the same etymological root as toph, and in the following verse (Isaiah 30:33)[36] represents a place of punishment. The word ‘tof’ is onomatopoeic meaning “the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it.”[37] Musician Daniel Bingamon emphasizes, “The term 'tof' implies the word 'tophet' which means ‘to smite,’ which is how you play the tof.”[38]
The history of the frame drum stretches back to the ancient Middle East.[39] Drummer Layne Redmond says it is, “one of the oldest known sacred ritual instruments and that, “It first appears painted on a shrine room wall in ancient Anatolia, present-day Turkey from the sixth millennium B.C.” Redmond elaborates, “Female performance ensembles of musicians, singers, and dancers appear in some of the earliest representations of religious rituals. The frame drum was at the musical and psychic center of these rituals.”[40] She continues:
The frame drum is the world's oldest known drum and for thousands of years was the primary trance inducing technology for religious and ecstatic rituals. It is the oldest means for altering states of consciousness for spiritual purposes through transformative sound. When played with hand and finger techniques, the frame drum has a long, clear, ringing tone with many audible harmonics. These overtones create a chord of magical and alluring sounds with every stroke.[41]
“These disciplines for transforming consciousness were transmitted and administered by the bee priestesses of Aphrodite, Cybelle, Demeter, Persephone, and the old goddesses of Crete – Rhea and Ariadne.”[42] Classical scholar, Jane Ellen Harrison states, “They are in a word Mellisae, honey priestesses, inspired by a honey intoxicant, they are bees…the priestesses of Artemis at Ephesus were ‘Bees,’ but also those of Demeter, and still more significantly, the Delphic priestess herself was a Bee.”[43] Interestingly, James Hastings translates the name of Israelite prophetess Deborah as “bee”[44] and Barbara Walker, author of The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, boldly titles her “the Jewish Queen Deborah, priestess of Asherah, whose name also meant ‘Bee.’”[45]
There are some interesting associations between the frame drum, the tree of life and the great mother goddess. When the Sumerian Goddess Inanna[46] descended to the underworld she asked her priestess to help her return through the beating of a drum, “the traditional shamanic path between worlds.”[47] Redmond elucidates:
In most historical forms of shamanism, the sound of the frame drum generates the trance state in which the shaman travels back and forth among the three realms – the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. The interconnectedness of these realms is universally represented by the Tree of Life, which is rooted in the underworld, bears fruit on earth, and reaches its topmost branches into the heavens…it also represented the spinal column, the channel through which divine energy traveled in consciousness raising techniques. The continuing beat of the shaman’s drum maintains the link with everyday reality so the shaman can safely return to the earth realm of the living.[48]
Redmond acknowledges, “This central image of shamanism figures prominently in the myths of Inanna, great Mother Goddess of Sumer.”[49] L.D.S. scholar, C. Wilford Griggs elaborates:
“Gilgamesh… appears on an Akkadian tablet containing a translation of the Sumerian legend, which tells… the story of a tree of life in the creation of the universe. Here the goddess Ishtar [the Babylonian counterpart of the Sumerian goddess Inanna] gives Gilgamesh a magical drum and drumstick made from the tree of life, which she has planted in her garden. Gilgamesh loses them to the netherworld—the world of the dead—and cannot retrieve them.”[50]

Like Inanna, the goddesses of the Hebrew Bible, Wisdom and Asherah, are both associated with a sacred tree. Quoting Proverbs 3:18, Old Testament scholar, Margaret Barker, identifies Proverbs’ personified Wisdom as a goddess and states that her symbol is the Tree of Life.[51] At a speech given at B.Y.U., Barker said, “The Book of Proverbs describes Wisdom as the Tree of Life and those who are devoted to her are happy, a wordplay which sounds like the name for Asherah.” She argues that the Menorah in the first temple was a stylized Tree of Life, and a symbol of “the Lady Asherah,” who was removed from the first temple during Josiah’s purge.[52]

L.D.S. scholar Daniel Peterson documents that Asherah is Wisdom, an anthropomorphic goddess as well as a tree, and that Proverbs 1-9 presents the personified Wisdom as the wife of God. Peterson’s paper, Nephi and His Asherah, highlights “two authentically pre-exilic religious symbols (Asherah and Wisdom)” found in the Book of Mormon. In it he cites I Nephi, chapter 11, where an angel asks Nephi if he knows the meaning of the tree that his father Lehi saw in a vision. “It was only when she appeared with a baby and was identified as ‘the mother of the Son of God,’ that Nephi grasped the tree’s meaning.” Peterson believes, “that Nephi’s vision reflects a meaning of the “sacred tree” that is unique to the ancient Near East.” Nephi identifies Mary with the Tree of Life.[53] Layne Redmond underscores the association between the frame drum and the Great Mother Goddess, “The drum is moon-shaped [and] the wood of the frame represents the Tree of Life.”[54]

Intriguingly, the name Magdalene is also associated with both the tree of life and sacred dance. Some scholars claim that the word Magdalene is cognate with the word amygdal, meaning almond.[55] Numerous scholars maintain that the menorah in the first and second Israelite temples represents a stylized almond tree.[56] Leon Yarden, “argues that the archaic Greek name of the almond (amygdale, reflected in its contemporary botanical designation as Amygdalis communis), almost certainly not a native Greek word, is most likely derived from the Hebrew em gedolah, meaning ‘Great Mother.’”[57]

The elements of music and dance in the legends about Magdalene have proliferated since the Middle Ages, some of the earliest legends about Magdalene's life, influenced painting and literature. She often appears as a dancer in mystery plays.[58] The Dictionary of the Dance states that Magdalene was a ritual dancer in the tradition of Delilah. Iris Stewart states that the almond is a significant religious symbol and is connected to women and their ritual dances. A European folk-dance, the Allemande, was “descended from the ritual dance for the festival of Al-monde…the dance was originally the dance of the almond,”[59] a dance connected to women’s fertility,”[60] now celebrated at the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. The almond shape was a female symbol from ancient times and the almond tree a symbol of new life, being the first flower to appear after winter.[61] In light of this, Stewart says, “it is perhaps no coincidence that Magdalene was with Jesus for his spring equinox resurrection,” and points out that in fifteenth-century France, “a ceremonial dance called Marie Magdaleine was still performed on Easter Monday, recounting the meeting with Mary and Jesus.” Despite persecution “the dance was still in full force at Ste. Marie Magdaleine’s Church, performed in the nave in rainy weather, until 1662. Even after the custom ceased in the church, it was perfomed outside. It was eventually turned into a hymn, ‘Hail Festal Day,’ as the choir circled the cloister three times.”[62]

The frame drum is still “one of the primary percussion instruments throughout the Middle East and other parts of Asia.”[63] Surprisingly, the tof has survived, virtually unchanged, into our very own day. Several significant musical traditions of the ancient Israelites[64] can be observed amongst Iraqi Jews. “The Iraqi Jewish community prides itself on the fact that it is the most ancient people in the Diaspora,” observes Galia Ben-Mordechai. They remained in Babylon for 2500 years preserving some of the most ancient traditions. One such tradition is the daqqaqat troupe, a small group of female entertainers (from about three to eight) who sing and play drums known as daff.[65]
The frame-drum still survives in a very broad region maintaining the same etymological roots as tof. Iranian percussionist, Peyman Nasehpour, notes, that the “similarity of the names of frame drums in these regions shows the common history of these drums.”
The tef can be found in Turkey. In Armenia, the dap, or duff, is a medium to large-sized frame drum mainly used in folk and classical music. The daf is also one of the most ancient frame drums in Asia and North Africa. In Egypt and Arab countries it is called the duff, daf, deff, and taf, a large diameter frame drum used to provide bass rhythm accompaniment. Persia’s ancient daf is considered a Sufi instrument, played at Kanghah-s (temple of dervishes) during Zikr (spiritual chanting) ceremony and having recently become very popular, it has been successfully integrated into Persian music. Even in India one of their frame drums is called a daf, dapphu, or daffali, and is played with drumsticks; it is quite large, about 2 feet across and commonly used in folk music but rarely heard in other styles.[66]
The tof has both survived and is being revived. The San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble, also known as S.A.V.A.E., spent several years researching ancient Middle Eastern instruments, languages, musical styles and rare musical manuscripts and then recorded an album entitled Ancient Echoes, complete with a female tof player.[67] “The music itself has been reconstructed from ancient melodic themes as catalogued by Jewish musicologist A.Z. Idelsohn.[68] Dr. Theodore Burgh, declares the project to be, “well researched.”[69]

S.A.V.A.E. asserts that the music of the second temple period “is believed to have shaped chant and other early Christian music.” Co-founder of the band, Christopher Moroney says, “Christianity today has many faces. But there has been a large European cultural influence. If you go back to the Aramaic, using Middle Eastern instruments, it becomes very clear that the roots of Christianity are Middle Eastern and that Jesus was a Jew until the day he died.”[70]

For...Moroney, the project has deepened and enriched his understanding of faith. He particularly likes [the song] “Abwoon,” [pronounced av-woon] the Aramaic Lord's Prayer, because of the depth and richness of images it conveys. Taken from the Peshitta (the Aramaic term used for the Bible), the opening lines of the prayer in English are translated to read: “Oh Birth-er! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, focus your light within us. Create your reign of unity now. Your one desire then acts with ours, as in all light, so in all forms.”

“'Abwoon' is a word describing ‘the male-female, creative essence of God,’" Moroney said. "It's not male. It's father-mother combined. It can be a huge difference in how that prayer is understood. For centuries, there has been a patriarchal influence, not only in the Western church, but in all of Western culture. If you look at this prayer, it's not patriarchal. If you look at the other translations of that prayer, the meanings are very deep and very mystical and very accessible.’”[71]

Moroney, says that the songs range from meditative to danceable and claims that much of the material can be integrated into modern worship. “Especially where you would have liturgical dancers,” he said. “We've done several concerts now where we've had liturgical dancers dancing to this music. We are also performing this music at synagogues. There's both the Christian tradition and the Jewish tradition. There is a place for this music.”[72]

Modern scholarship is shedding new light on an ancient feminine tradition. Harvard’s Semitic Museum website states that female drummers in Israel “provided rhythms for singing and dancing at family and community celebrations,” and according to Psalm 68, their music was incorporated into the ceremonies of the Temple,[73] “Your processions, God, are for all to see, the processions of my God, of my king, to the sanctuary; singers ahead, musicians behind, in the middle come girls, beating their drums.”[74]

From the earliest times music has been associated with the feminine divine. The English word, “music” is ultimately derived from a Greek word for “muse.”[75] Hugh Nibley states:
The business of the Muses at the temple was to sing the creation song with the morning stars. Naturally because they were dramatizing the story of the creation, too, the hymn was sung to music (some scholars derive the first writing from musical notation). The singing was performed in a sacred circle or chorus, so that poetry, music and dance go together. (Lucian’s famous essay on the ancient dance, among the earliest accounts, takes it back to the round dance in the temple, like the prayer circle that Jesus used to hold with the apostles and their wives…some have referred to this as a dance; it is definitely a chorus). So poetry, music and dance go out in the world from the temple – called by the Greeks the Mouseion, the shrine of the Muses.[76]
Carol Meyers, of Duke University, believes that there was actually a “female prophetic tradition” that “was grounded in musical performance.” According to Meyers, Miriam is the first of five women in the Hebrew Bible to be designated by the term “neviyah,” (prophetess in Hebrew.)[77] Meyers points to a recent discovery amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls, which show at least seven additional lines to the original Song of Miriam in the Book of Exodus. She asserts that “Miriam’s song was part of a broader tradition of ‘drum, dance and song’ in the Hebrew Bible, a genre exclusively associated with women.”

Meyers notes that none of the recent discoveries of ancient art depicts men playing the hand drum, only women, implying that men have not always dominated musical life:

"The women’s songs are, in a sense a product of the Divine Spirit. They represent theological statements about God's power to save. If the consensus that the poetry preserved in the Song of Miriam and the Song of Deborah and the others are among the oldest biblical texts, and that their attribution to women is authentic, then my radical claim would be that the first biblical theologians may in fact have been women."[78]

In a prophecy concerning the coming of Zion, a future society of peace to be established in the latter-days, the prophet Jeremiah personifies Israel as a female drummer, “I will build you firmly again, O maiden of Israel! Again you shall take up your timbrels and go forth to the rhythm of the dancers.”[79] The Jewish Study Bible notes that this oracle “draws upon the image of Miriam leading the women of Israel in dancing with timbrels at the Red Sea.”[80]

The use of percussion instruments fell out of use in western congregations until the Salvation Army revived the use of drums for praise and worship in the late 1800’s. “They formed Timbrel Brigades devoted to learning and playing the timbrel, especially during their outreach ministry, and they continue to this day,” write Vicky Rains and Paula Hitte. The two women run a religious ministry entitled, “A Call to Worship,” dedicated to the tof. They declare that divine creativity is reviving the arts in the Western religious tradition. They are dedicated to the revival of “drum, dance and song,” being used once again to praise God, “The Lord says in Jeremiah 31:4 that Israel will be rebuilt and that the original version of the tabret, which has been hidden from us, will be brought back in the last days. The tabret we use today is symbolic of this ancient instrument of praise, and is a forerunner of that which the Lord will restore to us. They are waved before the Lord in worship and praise to His name.”[81]

Women worldwide are reconnecting with their ancient heritage. Glenn Velez, a Grammy Award-winning percussionist, studied ancient materials and Biblical references and is applying his discoveries to modern day settings. Working with ancient visual images has inspired him to explore aspects of frame drumming, such as holding positions for the instruments as well as the incorporation of movement with sound. Glenn’s research led him to consider the role of women in drumming, He says, “In the majority of cases women were the frame drummers in ancient times. This is very different from our era when men are most often the drummers. I feel the re-emergence of frame drumming is connected with a re-emergence of an aspect of women’s nature and their power as drummers.”[82]

Here, in closing, are the additional lines of the Song of Miriam, found in the Dead Sea Scrolls:

You have put to shame.
For You are clothed in majesty;
Great are You, savior are You,
The enemy's hope has perished, and he is forgotten;
They have been lost in the mighty water, the enemy;
Praise to the heights; You gave and took;
Who does gloriously.[83]

PART 2 in this series: Emma Smith as Shaman
PART 3 in this series: The Once and Future Bee Priestess

PowerPoint illustration credits, in order of appearance:
Dore, Gustave. Jephthah Met By His Daughter, engraving, 1891, The Dore Gallery of Bible Illustrations, vol. 3.
Tiziano, Vecellio. Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple, Oil on canvas, 1539, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice.
Uccello, Paolo. Mary's Presentation in the Temple, fresco, 1435, Prato Cathedral, Duomo, Italy.
Dore, Gustave. Jephthah Met By His Daughter, engraving, 1891, The Dore Gallery of Bible Illustrations, vol. 3.
Harvard Semitic Museum, terracotta figurine of a woman playing a hand-drum. 8th - 7th centuries B.C.E., The Houses of Ancient Israel: Domestic, Royal, Divine, Early Greek Jewelry from the Rhodes Necropolis Decorated with the Bee Goddess Melissa, Giclee print of a gold plaque from Rhodes, Greece, 7th Century B.C.E.
Reuters/STR/Iran, Photo of two Iranian women playing the daf, at Iran's first women's music festival, in Tehran, August 28, 2001.
Terracotta #2, female drummer and male pipe player. Source unknown. Please email me if you know the source for this photo.
Poynter, Edward. Miriam, relief print on paper, 1864, Dalziel's Bible Gallery, The Tate Collection.


[1] The Semitic Museum at Harvard University, “Houses of Ancient Israel: Domestic, Royal, Divine.”
[2] Theodore Burgh, “Music and Musical Instruments in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel/Palestine,” Archaeomusicology, University of Notre Dame,
[3] Burgh, “Music and Musical Instruments in the Hebrew Bible.”
[4] The Semitic Museum at Harvard, “Houses of Ancient Israel.”
[5] M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Thomas Nelson, 1897), s.v. “music,” “instrumental music,”
[6] Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, s.v. “music.”
[7] Genesis 31.27 (The Jewish Study Bible). Eliyahu Schleifer, “Jewish Liturgical Music From the Bible to Hasidims,” Sacred Sound and Social Change: Liturgical Music in Jewish and Christian Experience, (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992),
[8] Schleifer, “Jewish Liturgical Music.”
[9] Schleifer, “Jewish Liturgical Music.”
[10] Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, s.v. “music.”
[11] Hugh Nibley certainly led the pack on this one.
[12] James L. Carol, The Temple: Music, Circles and the Creation,
[13] An excellent source of non-mormon scholarship on the divine council can be found at the website of Michael S. Heiser, Ph.D.,
[14] Carol, The Temple: Music, Circles and the Creation.
[15] W.O.E. Oesterley, The Sacred Dance: A Study in Comparative Folklore (New York: The Macmillan Co. 1923), 44.
[16] Oesterley, The Sacred Dance, 2.
[17] Ibid., 8.
[18] Ibid, 31.
[19] Ibid, 8.
[20] Ibid, 20.
[21] Ibid, 22-24.
[22] Ibid, 31.
[23] Iris J. Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2000), 61.
[24] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 63.
[25] Hugh W. Nibley, Morminism and Early Christianity, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1987), 53 – 54, quoted in James L. Carol, The Temple: Music, Circles and the Creation,
[26] Hugh W. Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, p.2, quoted in James L. Carol, The Temple: Music, Circles and the Creation,
[27] Kevin Christensen, "Plain and Precious Things Restored: Margaret Barker and the Queen of Heaven," Meridian Magazine, 2005.
[28] Willis Barnstone, The Other Bible, 387.
[29] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 61.
[30] King James version.
[31] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 61.
[32] Oesterley, The Sacred Dance, 173-4.
[33] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 61.
[34] Burgh, “Music and Musical Instruments in the Hebrew Bible.”
[35] Vicky Rains and Paula Hitte, A Call to Worship,
[36] This wordplay was located in the original Hebrew using The Stone Edition, Tanach: The Torah/Prophets/Writings - The Twenty-Four Books of the Bible Newly Translated and Annotated (The Artscroll Series).
[37] Merriam-Webster Online, s.v. “onomatopoeic,”
[38] Daniel Bingamon, “The Tof: Hebrew Drum or Tambourine,” Biblical Instrument Series, May 28, 2001,
[39] Glenn Velez, “Ancient Voices of Frame Drums,” The Glenn Velez Website: The World of Frame Drums, (2004),
[40] Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm, (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997), 10.
[41] Layne Redmond’s Official Website,
[42] Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women,118.
[43] Jane Ellen Harrison, Prolegma to the Study of the Greek Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968), 442-443, quoted in Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm, (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997), 196.
[44] James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (New York: Charles Scribner’s sons, 1963) quoted in Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm, (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997), 196.
[45] Barbara G. Walker, The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983), 407, quoted in Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm, (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1997), 196.
[46] Inanna came to be identified with Ishtar and Ishtar is the Akkadian counterpart of the West Semitic goddess Astarte. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Premium Service, s.v. "Ishtar," Some scholars believe that the Hebrew goddess Asherah is related to the Assyrian goddess Ishtar, (see Hadley p. 8), they may have had a common origin in antiquity (see Hadley p.14, 16), Judith M. Hadley, The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). Astarte may be a variant of Asherah, see Judith E. McKinlay, “Gazing at Huldah,” The Bible and Critical Theory 1, no. 3 (2005), endnote 11, DOI:10.2104/bc050015.
[47] Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women, 143.
[48] Ibid, 39-40.
[49] Ibid, 39.
[50] C. Wilfred Griggs, “The Tree of Life in Ancient Cultures,” Ensign, June 1988, p. 28
[51] Margaret Barker, Temple Theology: An Introduction, (London: Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 77, 88, 90.
[52] Margaret Barker, "What Did Josiah Reform? The Earlier Religion of Israel," BYU Speeches, May 6, 2003.
[53] Daniel C. Peterson, “Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9, no. 2 (2000), 16–25.
[54] Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women, 40.
[55] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 70. Raffe, W. G., comp. Dictionary of the Dance. New York: A. S. Barnes, 1964, 21.
[56] Carol L. Meyers, The Tabernacle Menorah: A Synthetic Study of a Symbol from the Biblical Cult (Gorgias Press, 2003). Robert Graves, The White Goddess, (New York: The Noonday Press, 1997), 263.
[57] Leon Yarden, The Tree of Light: A Study of the Menorah, the Seven-Branched Lampstand (Uppsala, Sweden: Skriv Service AB, 1972), 44–47, 103–6, quoted in Daniel C. Peterson, “Nephi and His Asherah,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9, no. 2 (2000), 16–25.
[58] H. Colin Slim, “Mary Magdalene: Musician and Dancer,” Early Music, Volume 8, No. 4 (October 1980): 460-473.
[59] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 70.
[60] "Everyone Dances, From the Angels on Down." Rebecca Jones, Park Ranger, National Park Service. From Contra Conversations #1, March 8, 2001
[61] Stewart, Sacred Woman, Sacred Dance, 70.
[62] Ibid, 70-71.
[63] Redmond website,
[64] Dating back to the time of ancient Babylon, after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E.
[65] Galia Ben-Mordechai, “The Musical Culture of Iraqi Jewry: Three Countries and Two Continents,” Canadian Journal for Traditional Music (1992),
[66] Peyman Nasehpour, “Daf and Other Frame Drums in Asia, North Africa and East Europe,” Drum Dojo, 2002,
[67] Cecile Holmes, “Temple Tunes: Restoring Ancient Jewish Music,” Religion News Service via The Baptist Standard, February 24, 2003,
[68] S.A.V.A.E. founders, Covita & Christopher Moroney,
[69] Cecile Holmes, “Temple Tunes.”
[70] Ibid.
[71] Ibid.
[72] Ibid.
[73] The Semitic Museum at Harvard, “Houses of Ancient Israel.”
[74] Psalm 68.24-25, (New Jerusalem Bible).
[75] Carol L. Meyers, “Mother to Muse: An Archeomusicological study of Women’s Performance in Ancient Israel.” in Recycling Biblical Figures: Papers Read at a NOSTER Colloquium in Amsterdam 12-13 May 1997, Ed. Athalya Brenner and Jan Willem van Henten (Leiden: Deo Publishing, 1999), 50.
[76] Hugh Nibley, Temple and Cosmos (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1992), 22-23.
[77] The feminine form of the Hebrew word for prophet (nebiah) is used to describe five women in the Old Testment (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Noadiah and the wife of Isaiah).Two of those women (Miriam and Deborah are described as cult singers (Ex. 15:20 & Judges 5:12). From, And Sarah Laughed: The Status of Woman in the Old Testament by John H. Otwell Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1977, quoted in,
[78] Cynthia Ramsay, “Miriam, Music, Miracles,” The Western Jewish Bulletin, March 21, 2003,
[79] Jeremiah 31.4 (Jewish Study Bible).
[80] Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, eds., The Jewish Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 988.
[81] Rains and Hitte, A Call to Worship.
[82] Glenn Velez, “Ancient Voices of Frame Drums,” The Glenn Velez Website: The World of Frame Drums, (2004)
[83] Cantor Elihu Feldman, “Cantorial Comments,”

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