Sunday, September 23, 2007

Buzz Coil: September

Happy Equinox all! As Summer ends in the Northern Hemisphere, perhaps in deference to the crickets’ leg-rubbing song, we should call this month's buzzing, chirping:

Radical Goddess Thealogy: Blogger Athana gives us a three-part series on Sept 15 and 16: "Want Utopia, Get the Goddess,"summarizing her weblog’s outlook:
Part I presents evidence, some of it science-based, pointing to a "causal relationship" between Goddess and "utopian" societies.
Part II discusses modern Goddess societies, plus backlash and counter-backlash about the "neolithic Goddess utopia."
Part III presents the "best evidence" of the relationship between Goddess-centered cultures and peaceful, egalitarian social systems.

Evoking the Goddess: In a Sept 18 post, blogger Paul tells how "Patriarchy will be the end of us all" as he connects the dots that lead from insufficient honouring of women and "the Mother" to current environmental catastrophes, rape, abuse of women, and other violence.

Pagan Godspell: Sara Sutterfield Winn continues her series with "Pagan Inquisition Part 4: Ritual" in an Aug. 29 post in which she explores ritual basics, and the role of "stories," healing, and possible dangers.

Branches Up, Roots Down: In her Sept 10 post, "a moral compass," Deborah Oak shares her thoughts on spiritual authority, ethics, and community from the perspective of a Reclaiming Feri Witch.

Doire Musings: In a Sept 1 post,"Dark Night of the Soul?" blogger mdiv94 questions the interpretation of some RC clergy that Mother Teresa’s "50 years of spiritual desert, absence of faith," somehow is further evidence of the presence of God in the nun's life, and of her sanctity.

Mother of Willows: In a Sept. 20 post, "Why Kuan Yin?" Peter Schogol tries to answer his own question:"Why do I return to Kuan Yin even when I’m not sure if she is a just a figment of my imagination?"

Hecate: In a Sept. 12 post, "We Shall Overcome, Someday," blogger Hecate tells of a magical working a few blocks from the U. S. Capitol on Sept. 11's Dark Moon, in preparation for the next weekend’s march to end the Iraq War.

Raihndrops: On Sept. 19, Blogger Lisa in Australia writes about "10.02 p.m. - Blessed Ostara."

The Wild Hunt: Jason Pitzl-Waters' Sept. 23 post, "Happy Autumnal Equinox" explains various observances of this holiday. His Sept. 15 post , "Susan Sarandon Out of Broom Closet?,"speculates about whether Sarandon is Wiccan? Pagan? "Goddess worshipper"?

At Brigid’s Forge: Lunaea Weatherstone writes about making Goddess rosaries in her Sept 9 post ,"Autumn Rosary Update Number One." With one pic and links to others.

Did we miss an item you think is important? We’d like to know about it, so please leave it as a comment.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Little Goddess Education

by Sheryll Alexander, guest blogger

Our Little Goddess Juliet (four years old) is coming along swimmingly well in her Goddess education. She has been to The Goddess Temple of Orange County's main Sunday service perhaps 4-5 times now since this spring. She talks about all the Goddess Women constantly. She sings songs and asks questions about The Goddess. She loves to sing the "Oh, Great Goddess" song. She knows it by heart. Her favorite Goddess is Dana. She likes the Queenly Crown of Sovereignty on her head most of all.

She has learned the four-fold Goddess by coming to The Temple and "doing" the altars each time. I instill this at home by asking her questions too: "What color is the Maiden altar?" I say. At first, she didn't remember. Now, she can say something like: "Maiden altar. White. Mother altar. Red. Queen Altar. Gold. Crone Altar. Black." (She always has a hard time remembering the word crone though.)

From the first time she came to The Temple, she started creating her "pink sparkly bedroom" altar in the back left corner of the Maiden altar. Also, from her very first time at the Mother altar, she has anointed herself with red ochre, which she calls "Her Power." So, we have rituals before coming to The Temple about adding more magic and intent to Her altar annex. And, we have rituals before Temple with the altars. And, she knows how to light the pink candle and ask for affirmative prayer/energy from the women in regards Her Desire for a fantastic new bedroom. All wonderful!!

She seems to have culminated this first part of her Goddess Journey by creating her first home altar, carefully placing objects on it such as a sleeping star statute (for better sleep, I hope!), the statue of a little girl, a white candle (gifted to her as her first altar candle), a box with her special stones inside, a birthday invitation with a picture of Tinkerbell on it, a Princess Diana purple beanie baby bear (she doesn't know about the ten year anniversary or anything), a get-well card for me, and a drawing to herself with a scary green monster that reads: Scary Dreams Go Away!

She requested what she self-titled a "Little Goddess Party" to commemorate her very own auspicious occasion. We planned a simple party in the front yard, she picked out some games and she made individual invitations. Three Goddess Women showed up to her party and one very impish and sweet three-year-old girl. It was so much fun. She got hand-picked, altar-minded presents and we danced, we played, we ate and we had general merriment. We all witnessed as she powerfully lit her own white altar candle and created her own healing and magical intent. We all talked about her altar pieces and what they mean to her. She continues to "play" with her altar every day, but it pretty much looks the same, which is amazing for her because she usually destroys most things with her fiery Leo energy.

Little Juliet is well on her way to becoming a powerful Goddess Woman because of YOU! (You know who you are!)


P.S. We were watching the TV the other night and a woman said, quite suddenly, "It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty." After the first one, Juliet immediately perked up and said, "I know. I know. That's from the Goddess Temple. It is finished in beauty. She said it." She seemed genuinely excited that someone on the TV knew this and was using it in a real-life situation. I was fascinated by this.


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Priestessing Goddess Onto the World Stage

We Can No Longer Afford to be Invisible
by Rev. Karen Tate, guest blogger

As the Media Director of Temple of the Goddess in Pasadena,California I recently accompanied its Founder and Director, Judy Tatum aka Xia, to a presentation hosted by Charter Media, a cable television network in Southern California. Charter put out a call to a diverse range of religious organizations inviting them to participate in a new cable program they were initiating called Faith On Charter. As we sat there listening to the intention of Charter to bring spiritually uplifting messages to the airwaves from all religious corners of southern California, we realized our dream and vision, years in the making, might soon be a reality. But are we, collectively and individually, really ready to fully step into the public spotlight?

Some in the women's community snickered and others were fearful for me when I first named my ministerial path as Emissary Priestess of Isis. Yet I sensed, even in those early days, that it was up to us to priestess Goddess back onto the world stage. I believed we could no longer afford to be invisible. We had to share our spirituality with the rest of the world and reclaim our rightful place alongside the recognized traditional religions on the globe. Having discovered the importance and empowerment for both women and men obtained through knowledge of Goddess - spiritually, politically and culturally – I wanted to be one of the many needed ambassadors in Her rebirthing into the mainstream world. I truly believed the Sacred Feminine, long-missing in the spiritual and political equation, caused our world to sink to the low point we now experience everyday. Fortunately there were others that supported my vision. In those early days, Lady Olivia Robertson, one of the founders of the international Fellowship of Isis, invited me to Clonegal Castle in Ireland to be ordained. In the ensuing years, myself and Judy Tatum, who most of you know as Xia, continually visioned and dreamed of temples of Goddess in our neighborhoods across the country. We both felt called to do what we could in our lifetime to make that a reality. We could no longer be content to practice our spirituality underground. That inner voice was loud and pushed us forward to dare to be visible. Xia calls it, "following the divine breadcrumbs."

As the years passed, the urgency felt all the more great. Mostly our paths overlapped. When I founded The Isis Ancient Cultures Society, a non-profit educational organization built on partnership ideals espoused by Riane Eisler, Xia was a facilitator and on the Advisory Board. I went on to write Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations, a book that has provided me with a vehicle to teach and lecture about Goddess in the mainstream world, opening doors to radio, television, and in print media that otherwise may have remained closed tight. My second book, Walking An Ancient Path, a guide for the mainstream novice to incorporate Goddess Spirituality into their spiritual paradigm, will be in bookstores the summer of 2008. During this time, I co-founded Sacred Sundays, inter-faith services rooted in the Sacred Feminine and complemented by the Divine Masculine.

In the last several years, under Xia’s careful vision and tutelage, Temple of the Goddess, one of the few legally recognized Goddess churches in existence today, has grown and thrived. Today, I serve Goddess and community there as a facilitator and as the Media Director of Temple of Goddess. With TOG as a vehicle, Xia and I both have come to understand we have the opportunity to do what we have believed for years must be done. Not only would TOG provide a bridge where our beloved sisters and brothers with their covens and pointed hats can find common ground with new Goddess Advocates, but it is also providing a safe haven where, through sacred liturgy and ritual theater, those of more traditional faiths might come to understand and embrace the importance and relevance of earth-based spirituality.

Taking things a step farther, Temple of the Goddess now has the opportunity to have a public platform - with a microphone to the world The Temple has been invited to bring our spirituality to television where we might once and for all dispel the propaganda and myths instilled within mainstream psyches about the Sacred Feminine. We have the chance to define ourselves and our beliefs, rather than let those who would demean and dismiss the Divine Feminine set the agenda and the tone as they continue to mass produce fear and misinformation, whether through intent or ignorance. Yes, Charter Media, with its newly forming Faith program has invited Temple of the Goddess to participate, along with other traditional and non-traditional faiths, to have their voices heard across the airwaves. Xia and I believe it is time for us to step up, be heard, and cast aside fear. We must step up and shout to the world that our principles are as valid and credible as any commandments. Our liturgy and myths are as uplifting, substantial, and as much a roadmap for living as any other religion. Perhaps even more, because we seek the balance of the feminine in a world too long bereft of Her presence. We no longer want to be children of divorce where the Mother has been cast out of the garden, pulled away from her divine family by man-made dogma. We must certainly use this opportunity to re-educate those who have been spoon-fed lies. We can no longer let patriarchal religions that worked so feverishly for thousands of years to remove Goddess from the world stage continue to publicly define who we are.

As I am out giving lectures about the Sacred Feminine, I continually come up against this toxic propaganda and have to encourage a rethinking of the Divine; the Sacred Feminine alongside the Divine Masculine. Men come to understand embracing Goddess does not mean women want to take over the world. Both genders realize feminism is not a dirty word, but a vehicle for equality and it will not unravel societies if both wings of the bird are equal in strength. I have to constantly remind people that Satan and the Devil are not creations of Paganism. Imagine a world where these are no longer even talking points or wedge issues. Mother and Father together again feels pretty natural and right to most people when they take a moment to think and challenge the programming.

What I do see out there in the mainstream world are people who, when hearing what a world embracing the Feminine would look like, they say, "Yes, I could do that...I want that...Tell me more What books do I read?" Similarly, when Xia penned an article, "Out of the Closet and Into the Fire", it was met with overwhelmingly positive response as people came up to her saying, "I had no idea I was a Pagan." Yes, people are starved to restore the sacred within their lives - and that sacred must be about balance, harmony, compassion, and wisdom. Sacred Sunday services grew from a handful of people to standing room only in a few short months. Likewise for Temple of the Goddess rituals held four times a year.

Mainstream people are responding to the message of the Mother. The days for domination, power over, and control are coming to an end.Yes, in the long ago past, we could be killed for our beliefs. I know women who still hoard books for fear one day there will again be book burnings. Yes, many of us have had to hide who we were for the sake of keeping custody of our kids or keeping a job to pay the bills. But if not us, then who, and if not now, then when? Time is running short. More than ever, the religion of environmentalism needs to be a top priority. Liberty, equality, integrity, and love must be what our leaders walk and talk. That along with tolerance, diversity, wisdom, compassion, and strength, just some of the fundamentals and ideals of the Sacred Feminine, must be learned and taught to our sons and daughters. Over the next few decades we must educate and inspire a shift from a dominator culture to one where we all strive for partnership and we measure ourselves not by our bank balance but by how we serve humanity.

It bears repeating, people today are literally starving for the sacred. Traditional religion alone no longer works for the masses. Humanity needs to once again be held in the embrace of the Mother and know Her love, strength, and acceptance. Let those of us who know Her best stand shoulder to shoulder and together rebirth her onto the world stage. It is time for us to set the agenda. It is time for our voices to be heard. It is time for us to make a difference in the world, not just for ourselves and for our children, but for our beloved Mother who has been patiently waiting for us to return to our sanity. To conclude, we are in the process of dialoging with Charter Media about Temple of the Goddess’ participation in their Faith On Charter program. We hope you are as excited about this potential opportunity as we are.



Sunday, September 09, 2007

Events Coil: Sept. 11 - Nov. 3

We are bolding the links to events that last more than one day because you often need to make plans well ahead of time for those. As far as we know, all events we list are open functions; but some may be limited to women or to adults. Please check the websites for group policies. If no country is given, the event is in the USA. All times are local. When listing events for the same date, we have tried to list those occurring first, taking into account time zone differences. If there is a difference between our listings and the listings on the web page linked to, assume their web page is correct, as it may have changed since we listed from it.

The next Events Coil is planned for early to mid October and will include events listed here that haven't yet happened, plus new events for about the next 6 weeks. If you have an event you want listed in future Events Coils, please leave info a comment. See the end of this Coil for what info we need for listings.

Sept. 11, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m. New Moon Women's Mysteries, "Envisioning Peace," Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Sept 11, 7:30 p.m.,
The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 12, 11 a.m.
Rosh Hashanah/New Moon, Miskhkan Shekhinah, San Francisco CA

Sept. 12, 7 p.m., New Moon Drumming, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 13, gather 7 p.m., Service 7:30 p.m. "Jewitch's Rosh Hashanah," Hyattsville MD

Sept. 14-16, "Earth Spirit, Earth Action" with Starhawk, Amsterdam NEDERLAND

Sept. 15, arrive 6:45 p.m., ritual 7: 30 p.m.,
Fall Equinox, Temple of the Goddess, Pasadena CA

Sept. 16, 14.00 uur,
Herfst Equinox, Avalon-Mystic, Hillegom NEDERLAND

Sept. 20 Kl19-21,
Skordefesten - Mabon, Guddine Templet, Soderhamm SVERIGE (Sweden)

Sept. 21, 7 p.m.
Fall Equinox Celebration, The Women's Well, Concord MA

Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.
Autumn Equinox Ceremony, Glastonbury Goddess Temple, Glastonbury ENGLAND

Sept. 21,
Celebrate Fall Equinox, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), San Francisco CA

Sept. 22-23, Harvest Thanksgiving Feast, ritual, workshops, etc., Circle Sanctuary,
Mt. Horeb WI

Sept. 22, 10 a.m. -4 p.m.
Yom Kippur/Day of Reflection; Intentions; Memorial/Ancestor Reverence, Mishkan Shekhinah, San Francisco CA

Sept. 22, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m., Autumn Equinox with Laura Janesdaughter, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 23, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 p.m.
Fall Equinox, ConnectDC, Rose Park, Washington DC

Sept. 23, gather 12:30 p.m., ritual 1 p.m., Equinox/Mabon (Reclaiming), Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA

Sept. 23, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m. Autumn Equinox, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Sept. 25, wine-tasting 6 p.m., drumming 7 p.m. Full Moon Drumming - Harvest moon -Wine Harvest
, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Sept. 26, gather 7 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m. Full Moon, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs, NV

Sept. 27-30,
Daughters of Diana Gathering (Dianic), Temple of Diana, Monona WI

Sept. 28-30,
"The Sirens' Song" , Anima Mundi with Starhawk, Godrano, Sicily, ITALIA

Sept. 30, 11 a.m., Sunday Service with guest priestess Trish Sharpe, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 7, 11 a.m. Service with guest priestess Kathy Sandoval, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. The Craft Connection, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 11, gather 7 p.m., ritaul 7:30 p.m. New Moon Women's Mysteries, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sehkmet, Indian Springs NV

Oct. 11, gather 7:30 p.m., Celebrate Rhiannon, Daughters of the Goddess (Dianic), San Francisco CA

Oct. 19-21, Hallows Gathering, RCG-I, Wisconsin Dells WI

Oct. 19, time tba,
Welcoming the Shekhinah, Mishkan Shekhinah, San Francisco CA

Oct. 20, time tba,
Havdalah:"Pronouncing Our Gateways," Mishkan Shekhinah, San Francisco, CA

Oct. 26-28, Samhain Festival, Circle Sanctuary, Mt. Horeb, WI

Oct. 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Z Budapest, "The Healing Hug of a Woman," Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 26, gather 7 p.m. , event 7:30 p.m., Broom Making, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Oct. 26, gather 7:30 p.m.,
Hallomas Spiral Dance (Dianic), Daughters of the Goddess, San Francisco, CA

Oct. 27, 7 p.m.,
Hallows Ritual & Feast (Dianic), Daughters of Diana, Madison WI

Oct. 27, doors open 6 p.m., ritual 7:30 p.m.
Samhain Spiral Dance (Reclaiming), San Francisco CA

Oct. 28, time tba,
Samhain, ConnectDC, Washington DC

Oct. 28, 11 a.m.,
Halloween Costume Party with Z Budapest and Mary Melkonian, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 31, doors open 6:30 p.m., ritual 7 p.m.,
Hallows Ritual with guest priestess Dr. Barbara Ardinger, Goddess Temple of Orange County, Irvine CA

Oct. 31, gather 7 p.m. , ritual 7:30 p.m.
Samhain, Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet, Indian Springs NV

Nov. 3, arrive 6:45 p.m.; ritual 7:30 p.m. Hallows Eve, Temple of the Goddess, Pasadena CA


Canberra, 10 a.m.most Saturday mornings, Meditation. The Goddess Shrine, Temple of Lunation Magick
(White Gum Valley): Mondays, 6 p.m.,
Chalice Ceremony, Daughters of Ishtar.

Sudbury: 1st Friday (Sept.-June) 7:30 p.m.,
Sudbury Women's Circle.
Hamilton: Saturdays, 4-6 p.m.
Open Classes ; gather 6:30-7 p.m. Open Circles , Hamilton Temple, Wiccan Church of Canada.

Soderhamn, Mondays, 7-9 p.m.,
meditation prayer, conversation, Gudinne Templet.

Arlington VA: 3rd Sunday of month, gather 12:45 p.m., ritual 1 p.m. Moonfire CUUPS.
Baltimore MD
: Sundays 10 a.m., Rites of Cafeina,
Cedar Light Grove (ADF)
Geyersville CA: Sunday Services 2-4 p.m. Temple of Isis
Houston TX: Sundays, 10 a.m. Magdalene Community, Rothko Chapel; Mondays at Noon, Christian feminist theology study group ; 1st &3rd Fridays at Noon, Group studying Gospel of Mary, Brigid's Place, Christ Church Cathedral.
Irvine CA: Sunday Services: 1st Service at 9:30 a.m. inward, meditative; 2nd service at 11 a.m., dancing, drumming, singing; see dates for guest speakers.
Goddess Temple of Orange County,
Mt. Horeb WI: Goddess Circle, Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m.,
Circle Sanctuary.
Portland OR: Rituals at new and full moons, quarters and cross-quarters.
Full Circle Temple , Tuesdays-Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m. "Open to all self-identified women and girls."
Rockville MD: night before new moon,
Dark Moon Book Group, Spiral Heart (Reclaiming).
San Francisco CA: Wednesdays,
Christian Goddess Rosary, Ebenezer Lutheran Church; 1st Fridays, evenings at various locations, Woman's Spirituality group.
San Francisco CA: New Moon and Full Moon observances,
Maa Batakali Cultural Mission.
West Concord MA: 1st Monday, 7-9 p.m.
Women's Circles; other ongoing groups include Demeter & Persephone's Circle for mothers and daughters; Council of Mother Bears; Menopause As Spiritual Journey; Menarche, for mothers and Daughter, at Women's Well.

We'll be happy to add your Goddess and spiritual feminist events (and those you know about that are open to the public) no matter where in the world they are. Leave a comment with your event, giving: Name of event, sponsoring organization (if any), town, date, time (if known), and, required: url of website where person can get more info. (Do NOT give street addresses, phone numbers or email addresses. People should go to the website to get that info.) We plan to publish an Events Coil every month.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

REVIEW:John Lash's Book about Sophia Mythos

Not In His Image: Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief
by John Lamb Lash, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2006, 430 pages

This fascinating, well-written book about gnosis is scholarly yet understandable, while it contains more than one theory that some may find stretches credulity. John Lamb Lash’s research includes more respectful attention to Goddess materials than is common in many academic books, yet the central gnostic Sophia mythos Lash presents may not be entirely pleasing to Goddess feminists.

If you think that gnosticism is an early form of Christianity, think again! Lash sees the Gnostic view as growing out of classical Paganism, particularly in Greece and Egypt, and fed by earlier Paganism stretching back to the Neolithic. His Goddess and spiritual feminist sources include Riane Eisler, Marija Gimbutas. Barbara Walker, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Raphael Patai, and Merlin Stone. Of Gimbutas’ Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe (1974), Lash writes:

This single book provides the most complete and reliable framework for tracing the rise of patriarchy, and presents solid archeological evidence of widespread existence of human-scale Goddess-based societies millennia before the rise of urban civilization.
(p. 350)

Not in His Image will be especially appealing to ecofeminists and to people highly critical of Abrahamic doctrines and actions that suppressed (and still suppress) Goddess worship. Lash says that his primary reason for writing this book is that

Gnosis, taken as a path of experimental mysticism, and Sophianic vision, taken as a guiding narrative for coevolution, can provide a spiritual dimension for deep ecology independently of the three mainstream religions derived from the Abrahamic tradition.

Lash begins with the story of the murder in 415 CE of Hypatia, one of many highly educated Alexandrian Pagan noblewoman, but one of the few who drove her own chariot. Said to be beautiful and intelligent, she was a civic official who didn’t oppose prosecuting Christians who viciously attacked Pagan doctrines. One day in March, as she drove her chariot through the public square, a crowd of Christian converts, led by a fellow called Peter the Reader, blocked her path. Calling Hypatia a heretic and witch, the mob used her robes and scarf to pulled her down. The Christian crowd then pelted her with tiles, stripped her, beat her to death, tore off her limbs and continued beating her dead body, then scraped the flesh from her bones with oyster shells and burned her bones to ashes. Hypatia, head of the university mathematics department and also known for her expertise in philosophy, theurgy, and applied science (she invented to prototype of the astrolabe) is considered the last known teacher in Mystery Schools, which Lash says were sources of gnostic learning about the Sophia mythos. Lash writes that "historians have long regarded her death as the event that defined the end of classical civilization in Mediterranean Europe. It signaled the end of Paganism and the dawn of the Dark Ages." Lash defines Paganism as "the generic term for pantheistic religion in the Western classical world." (p. 5)

The ‘Redeemer Complex’
Lash maintains that Abrahamic faiths are based on the "redeemer complex," which has four components:

creation of the world by a father-god independent of a female counterpart;
the trial and testing (conceived as a historical drama) of the righteous few or "Chosen People";
the mission of the creator god’s son (the messiah) to save the world);
and the final apocalyptic judgment delivered by the father and son upon humanity.
(pp. 403-404)

These constructs, Lash says, result in a "victim-perpetrator bond" in society and comparable to the psycho-social family pattern in which abuse is perpetuated by those who have been abused.
According to Lash, the redeemer complex originated with a small extremist group of Jews that he traces back to the time of Abraham and calls the Zaddikim (or sometimes, Zaddikite). It should be noted (as he does) that this is his term, which he derives from the Hebrew zaddik, which is usually a complimentary term and means righteous or upright. (The -im is a Hebrew masculine plural ending.) It’s here that I started raising my eyebrows because as far as I know, there isn’t just one extremist group (he intimates this is, at least partially, a secret group) that can be identified beginning with Abraham’s time – although there may well be several different oppressive groups among the early Hebrews, Israelites, and Judeans. Certainly one of them can be identified as the Deuteronomists, whose suppression of Goddess culture is described in the biblical Deuteronomy. But this is a much later time historically than Abraham.

Lash also doesn’t hold back in his criticism of Christianity, whose (to him, destructive) salvationist doctrine he claims grew out of the Jewish Zaddikim views. Lash is no friend of Jesus, who he sees as a Zaddikim leader. But his criticism of Judaism is so strong that he apparently felt the need to devote a later chapter to telling us that it shouldn’t be taken as anti-semitic. I want to believe him, and I sympathize with the difficulty of expressing justified criticism of a persecuted group. This tenuous position makes it even more important that our facts be as pristine as possible. I will come back to this further down, but first I want to point out what I consider the strong points of this book, which include his clear explanation of the redeemer complex and victim-perpetrator bond, his clear explanation and distinction between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library, and last but certainly not least, his clear and extensive explanation of the Sophia mythos.

Lash explains that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in Hebrew and Aramaic on treated leather between 250 BCE and 70 CE by the "Zaddikite" (whom others call the Essenes). The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were concerned with what later grew into the Christian doctrine of salvationism and, consistent with the third and forth elements of the "redeemer complex," presented an apocalyptic program of final retribution. The scrolls were found in the ruins of a monastery at Khirat Qumran, about 30 miles east of Jerusalem, in 1948. Lash writes:

The Zaddikite sect of the Dead Sea presents the larval form of the global terrorist syndrome of today.
In contrast, the Nag Hammadi Library (NHL) has 13 leather-bound volumes containing 52 documents written mostly in Coptic by various sects between 150 and 350 CE. They were discovered in a red clay jar in a cave in the cliffs of Egypt in 1945. Lash disagrees with the common assumption that NHL is early Christian literature. He takes issue with Elaine Pagels’ calling them (in the title of her book) "Gnostic Gospels." Lash argues that the New Testament Gospels are written in a form called "Hellenistic romance, a novella full of miracles, supernatural signs, cameo scenes with stock characters plus aphorisms..." The the material in the NHL is not written in this form, rather the collection is written in various forms that are "wildly diverse, often presenting contradictory elements jumbled into a single document" and further, most of the documents reject and refute "the salvationist message of the ruthless and often lacerating terms." (pp. 107-109)

The Sophia Mythos
Sophia is Greek for Wisdom. Lash writes:

The Universe already exists when Sophia’s story begins, and it has never not been there...nor will there ever be a moment when it ceases to be.
(p. 167)
His use of the term "singularity" in explaining the central gnostic mythos, or sacred story, is not the same as the singularity at the big bang. In gnosis, its meaning is closer to "emanation," which I wish he had used because using "singularity" is confusing, especially since he tries to tie in much of what he is propounding with science.

The central gnostic mythos, or sacred story, tells how the deity Sophia (deities are called Aeons in gnosticism), becomes the Earth. Lash feels this myth connects strongly with contemporary Gaia theory. Here is a summary of the 9 episodes of the Sophia Mythos, with parts of particular concern to spiritual feminists bolded:

(1) A singularity arises within the Divine that carries the potential for novelty in the Universe. It is called Anthropos and eventually includes humans.
(2) Aeons Sophia (Wisdom) and Christos (the Anointed One) configure the singularity. Lash explains the difference between Jesus Christ and the gnostic Christos:

..the hybrid God-man Jesus Christ is not a genuine Gnostic teaching and can never have been one....In Mystery teaching, the Christos is not a divine redeemer for humanity, but an intermediary whose intercessory act affects all the animal kingdoms on earth, not the human species exclusively.
Lash emphasizes that the gnostic Christos doesn’t incarnate in human form
(3) The singularity emanates from the Divine as a whole (called the Pleroma) into the realm of "outer chaos" so that it can unfold in emerging worlds.
(4) Sophia becomes fascinated with what might happen as Anthropos emerges into a world of its own. She is drawn into "dreaming," the cosmic process of emanation, which results in creation. But she is alone, without a male counterpart, in this creation process. In gnosis, this is inconsistent with the cosmic law of polarity. Consequently, dreaming Sophia drifts away from the cosmic center (Divine) and plunges into the outside realm of external chaos.
(5) Sophia’s fall from "the Godhead" unexpectedly produces inorganic beings called Archons, considered deviant entities that can hinder human development. The Archons gather around their central "deity," called the Demiurge, who mistakenly believes he is the creator of the Universe. He builds a "celestial habitat" for himself and the other Archons, which consists of all planets in the solar system, other than Earth.
(Lash and many other gnostics identify the Demiurge with the Abrahamic father-god.)
(6) Sophia challenges the Demiurge, telling him that the Anthropos (including humans) will be smarter than the Archons because Anthropos emanates from the Divine (whereas the Archons arose outside of the Divine cosmic core). The Sun, which has been part of the realm of the Demiurge, chooses to align instead with Sophia against the Archons. Sophia, whom Lash calls, "the fallen goddess," produces from herself "in her own likeness," the life force Zoe (the Moon), who unites with the Sun, now considered the "mother star" of our planetary system.
(7) Sophia becomes Gaia, aka the planet the Earth, which, though it’s organic is captured in the "inorganic system" of the Demiurge, which includes all the other planets in the solar system.
(8) Sophia’s emotions (grief, fear, and confusion) transform the Earth and biosphere; life arises on Earth. But Sophia is unable to manage the various species. The deities sense her difficulties and send the Aeon Christos to help her. In what is known as the "Christic intercession," he brings order to Sophia’s world, leaving "a kind of radiant afterimage in the biosphere, then recedes from Earth" and returns to the realm of other Divine beings.
(9) Sophia remains in the Earth she has "dreamed," as humanity emerges. As Gaia, she is synonymous with, and immanent in, the Earth. The goal, however, is reorientation of Sophia/Gaia to the "cosmic center"–that is reunion with other Divine beings. Whether this is successful may depend on how humans live out their "novelty." The story of Sophia is ongoing and she co-evolves with humanity.

Lash says that the Sophia mythos was central to the Greater Mysteries celebrated in autumn in the Near East, Egypt, Greece and elsewhere in Europe. The exact details of the Mysteries have long been considered, well, a mystery, but we do know that they included worship of various goddesses, and Great Mothers, emphasizing their identity with nature. In the period Lash is discussing, c. 320-30 BCE, he says the primary deity in the Mysteries was Sophia/Gaia and the initiation which occurred included the information that Sophia’s "primary body" is light and her "planetary body is Earth." Lash writes: "The practice of Gnosis was full-body illumination in the presence of Sacred Nature clothed in animated currents of white light."During the Mysteries, initiates received instruction from (or in) light, also referred to as Organic Light, Supernal light, Mystery light, Divine light, etc.

How does this sound to you? A female deity at the center of gnosis that is immanent in the Earth (making Earth literally a living being, similar to the contemporary Gaia hypothesis), who "co-evolves" with humanity. Sounds pretty good?

Perhaps it is "pretty good," but it could be better. First we need to understand that this mythos apparently emerged about 2000-2500 years ago during an era when patriarchy had established itself not only in Abrahamic faiths but in Pagan religions as well. The Ancient Near East, Greek and Roman myths of this time are full of goddesses whose power has diminished from earlier times to the point that it is derived from male gods, rather than there being an equal male-female pairing or, as in some cultures 3500 or more years ago, the female deity being primary. Some examples: In Greek mythology, we have Athena springing from the brow of Zeus, a reversal of the birth process. In what is generally considered the
earliest written myth, the Bronze Age Sumerian Inanna -Eriskegal myth ,the male god Enki must intervene before the Goddess Inanna can be rescued from the Inanna’s sister Goddess Eriskegal, Queen of the Underworld, and this is only accomplished when Inanna’s consort, Dumuzi, agrees to take her place in the Underworld for half the year. The mother-daughter bond in myth of Demeter/Persephone (Kore) was central to the the Eleusinian Mysteries. The best known version of this myth, in which the male god Hades rules the Underworld, involves abduction and rape of the Daughter. This apparently is a rewriting of an earlier myth, which doesn't contain abduction and rape, and in which both the Mother-Daughter bond, as well as the individual Goddesses, are stronger (See, for example, Christine Spretnak’s, "The Myth of Demeter and Persephone" in Weaving the Visions, ed. by Plaskow and Christ (1989). These mythologies are all from a time when cultures had undergone changes in which goddesses who once were primary even if they had consorts, transitioned to being goddesses who were required to share their power, and continued changing to goddesses whose derived their power from gods.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that although the Sophia mythos retains a Goddess and may remain close to nature, patriarchal assumptions have crept in. Do you see them?

If not, let me help ;-). In much earlier creation myths, including those involving Wisdom goddesses, female deities created parthenogenically, no problem! No one complained that they were bad girls because they hadn’t bothered to get a male partner before creating the Earth, the world, the Universe. It was logical to everyone that the initial creation would "emanate" from solely the Great Mother. (See, Asphodel P. Long’s In a Chariot Drawn by Lions.) In the Sophia mythos, Sophia gets so distracted by the "dreaming," (a creation process that doesn’t originate with her but rather from a "Godhead" or larger Divine, of which she is part) that she becomes part of the process, part of the "dreaming." She doesn’t bother to stop to get her male counterpart, Christos, with whom she earlier planned certain outcomes. Because she has the ovaries to continue the process on her own, she is separated from the whole of Divinity and "plunges" or "falls" into chaos. The bad guys of the Universe, the Archons, result from Sophia’s uppity activity and are led by the baddest guy of all, the Demiurge, who falsely asserts he created the Universe. (The existence of the Demiurge is also a result of Sophia’s creating without her mate.) Sophia continues to fall and becomes the Earth, and so paradoxically, if Sophia hadn’t illegitimately created on her own, the Earth would not be home to immanent divinity. Yet problems persist with Sophia/Gaia’s creation because she is overly emotional. Sophia recruits the Sun and creates the Moon, who are seen as female/feminine, to help her get it together, but she is still unable to properly direct what she has created. It’s not until Sophia’s male mate, Christos, intercedes that the species behave properly and humans emerge. After Christos straightens things out, he goes back to the Divine core, but Sophia remains immanent in the Earth as Gaia. Will she ever return to the Divine Core with the rest of the Aeons? Stay tuned for the rest of eternity to see. And remember, at least part of the results up to us humans, as we now co-evolve with Gaia/Sophia.

People familiar with Jewish Kabbalah and the later Hermetic Qabalah may see similarities between some of kabbalistic mythology and the Sophia mythos. Perhaps this is because Jewish Kabbalah developed in the same era as gnostic Sophia. It’s certainly not far-fetched, in fact I think likely, that there was some cross-pollination between gnosis and kabbalah. Or perhaps it occurred as part of
Jewish gnosticism (See Gershom Scholem , Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition,1965). Centuries later, participants in (non-Jewish) Hermetic Qabalah were acquainted with gnosticism as well as many other forms of mysticism. Lash mentions Kabbalah a few times, but oddly doesn’t mention these similarities and issues:

Shekhinah is synonymous with the emanation (sefirah in Hebrew) called Malkut in Jewish Kabbalah. Malkut is the sefirah closest to Earth and is considered the feminine part of the Godhead. The Shekhinah separated from the rest of the Godhead to dwell on Earth with humans and to accompany and protect Jews whenever they go into exile. Through a process called in Hebrew, tikkun olam, humans are supposed to take part in the repair of the Earth which also repairs the rift between the Shekhinah and the rest of the Godhead (or sometimes just the masculine part of God, or sometimes specifically the masculine sefirah called Tifaret, considered Shekhinah's mate in some versions of Kabbalah.) To me, Shekhinah and the gnostic Sophia have much in common. Both are part of a more extensive "Godhead," both separate from that Godhead, Shekhinah to dwell on Earth with humans, Sophia to be immanent in the Earth; both are involved with humans in repairing a cosmic catastrophe.

In Jewish mysticism, this "catastrophe" is perhaps best described in the doctrine of "Breaking of the Vessels" in Lurianic Kabbalah, a form of Kabbalah that emerged in the 16th century, and in which the 10 containers for the emanations (sefirot in Hebrew) are
seen as feminine because they are receptive and because they are located in the "cosmic womb." At the first attempt of creation (or first phase of creation, depending on your point of view) only the highest sefirah, Keter, is able to contain the emanation(s). The rest shatter and fall into the world of creation. This catastrophic event changes creation and creates the Adam Kadmon (primordial man). At a second attempt (or phase) of creation, bolstered by the Adam Kadmon, the first three vessels (Keter, Hokmah, Binah) are able to contain the emanations, but the vessels between Binah and Malkut (the lowest vessel) completely break. Malkut only partially breaks. (See also Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, pp. 137-141). To me, this is reminiscent of the catastrophe that occurs when Sophia enters the dreaming (creative emanation). In the Sophia mythos, Sophia falls into chaos and then is unable to control what she has helped create on Earth. In Lurianic Kabbalah, the feminine vessels are inadequate to hold the emanations but do better when bolstered by the masculine Adam Kadmon. In the Sophia Mythos, Christos rescues creation when Sophia is unable to control it. In both the female/feminine is source of cosmic catastrophe.

Hermetic Qabalah coalesced in the late 19th century from Christian, Jewish, Egyptian, Greek and other metaphysical sources. In Europe, the foremost advocates of Qabalah were members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (GD), centered in Britain. In the GD rituals, the biblical Eve was often referred to as "Mother of all" and "the Great Goddess."
In the GD version of Qabalah, Eve is seen as "shirking" her duty to support pillars holding the sefirot when she is diverted by the serpent and apple. Eve’s diversion brings about "the Fall " (See R.G. Torrens, The Secret Rituals of the Golden Dawn, 1973.), in the Christian sense, original sin and the separation of humans (and the natural world) from the divine. This is a more familiar, more literal, and probably even more misogynistic version of the "female brings disaster" story we see in Lurianic Kabbalah and earlier in the Sophia mythos.

Other Questions & Quibbles
As long as we’re talking about Kabbalah/Qabalah (both different transliterations of the same Hebrew word), let me mention more about Hokmah, which is Hebrew for Wisdom and thus the equivalent of the Greek Sophia. Although Lash discusses Kabbalah briefly and mentions the sefirah Hokmah, I find it curious that he doesn’t mention what is to me the oddest aspect of Hokmah in Kabbalah: after being personified as female for centuries, including in the Hebrew scriptures, in Kabbalah Hokmah is personified as male! (For more about this and a full analysis of gender in Jewish and Hermetic Qabalah, see Judith Laura: Goddess Spirituality for the 21st Century).

Backtracking to the Shekhinah, in another oddity, Lash maintains that the Shekhinah was "excised from Judaism" (p. 145). I believe this is misleading. Though she wasn’t a Goddess in antiquity, Shekhinah has been a part of Judaism to the present day. In the bible the Shekhinah is understood to be the "presence" of God," sometimes described as a cloud or chariot. This "presence" is understood to be with the Jews whenever they are in exile, including the exile from Egypt in Exodus 26-28, where the
Shekhinah is called "glory." The description of Shekhinah as the "feminine face of God," or the "feminine aspect of God" is post-biblical, apparently beginning in the early centuries CE. Today, most Jews are familiar with the Shekhinah as the Sabbath Queen, for whom the doors of the synagogue are symbolically opened during the Friday night sabbath service and who is welcomed with the Hebrew song, "L’cha Dodi," written by a 16th century kabbalist.

But perhaps the most outrageous statement that Lash makes about Judaism is the first sentence of chapter 17: "Monotheism begins with a god who hates trees." Many Jews, who consider their religion to be very tree-friendly, are sure to take umbrage at this. The quote that Lash uses from Deut. 12, shows not a god who hates trees, but rather a god who hates the use of trees to represent the Goddess Asherah. Do you get the difference? The biblical God (whether you consider him a legit deity or the Demiurge), and more specifically, his priests and other representatives, order trees destroyed because they feel the trees and places where they grow have been sullied by Goddess worship; they hope that by removing the sites where Goddess worship occur, they will put an end to it.

Some example of Jewish tree-loving activities that persist to this day:
The New Year of the Trees : In Hebrew, this holiday is called Tu B’Shevat. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which falls in late January to early February in the Roman calendar (yes, around the same time as Brigid/Candlemas.) Originally it marked the fiscal year for tree taxes, but later developed into a day to honor trees. Beginnning in the 20th century, this was a day to plant trees, especially in the emerging State of Israel. More recently, particularly in the US, it has become a holiday with a wider environmental focus.

Menorah: In another misleading statement, Lash says that the "Jews invented the menorah to replace what they destroyed" (the trees and groves dedicated to Asherah). He calls the menorah a "schematic abstraction from nature," that distances it from the natural world it represents.(pp. 229-230). Yet we find that the original instructions for making the menorah in Exodus 25:31-40 speak of representing branches, flowers, and almonds. This, to me makes it questionable that the intent was to distance the menorah’s branched candelabra from nature. Today it is common to find the branches of the menorah, especially the Hanukah menorah, made as tree branches. (I was going to give you links for this, but there are so many I’m just going to advise you to click on "images" on Google and search for "menorah+tree".) What probably was intended was the retention of the tree symbol without the Goddess, with which it had previously been associated. Again, what we have is not a separation from Nature, but a separation from the Goddess Asherah and the use of trees to represent her.

Kabbalah: The central symbol of Kabbalah is the Tree of Life, a symbol also used non-kabbalistically in Judaism. Further, kabbalists at least as far back as the 16th century met in a grove of trees. This doesn’t sound like a tree-hating religion to me. But it does sound like a religion that has separated the original Tree symbol from the Goddess.

The Goddess community some years ago separated itself from substituting blaming Jews for "killing" Goddess for blaming Jews for "killing Christ." (See, for example, "On Not Blaming the Jews for the Death of the Goddess" in Carol P. Christ, Laughter of Aphrodite, 1987.) Did the Jews, or their forbears, suppress Goddess worship? Most certainly some Jews, especially those in power, did. We have a very clear picture of this in the Hebrew scriptures. But it’s because we have such a clear record of this suppression in the Bible that we know about it, not because the Israelites were the only culture – or even the first culture – to suppress Goddess worship. By now scholars have established that Goddess veneration was also being suppressed in many different cultures across at least the Middle East and Europe (see The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, and the works of Marija Gimbutas.) Although Lash alludes to the Zaddikim being a small, extremist Jewish group, he doesn’t tell us what the rest of the ancestors of the Jews believed or practiced. A better approach to assessing what went on in the Ancient Near East (ANE) in general, and among Hebrews, Judeans, and Israelites, in particular, is to see them as among several indigenous ANE religions, and to understand that the traditions within this particular indigenous religion were varied. For example, the approach taken by
William Dever, whose work Lash references in other contexts, points out that the Goddess-suppressing described in Deuteronomy and elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures, was carried out by about 1 percent of the people, who were participants in the "state" or "book" religion, while the other 99 percent were pursuing a "folk religion" that included Asherah worship (Dever, Did God Have a Wife? pp.69-73). Raphael Patai, whom Lash also references, points out that a statute of Asherah was "present in the Temple for no less than 236 years, two-thirds of the time the Solomonic temple stood in Jerusalem."(Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, 1990 [and earlier editions], p. 38) I think that Lash’s work could benefit from taking into consideration Patai’s and Dever’s approaches, allowing us to acknowledge that some of the practices of the 99% of the folks, such as closeness to nature in general and trees in particular, and the inclusion of feminine or female aspects of the divine, were brought forward into laterJewish practice and continue in Jewish practice today.

I am more convinced by Dever’s distinction between folk and state (or book) religion than I am by Lash’s assertion of a secret extremist sect going back before Abraham and forward to Solomon’s time or later.

In making his case for there being the secret Zaddikim sect, Lash discusses what he calls an enigmatic priesthood that included Melchizedek, the priest who "recruited the first patriarch [Abraham] and conferred on the community of Israel its identity as a ‘chosen people’," and Zadok (or the priest of Zadok) who was called to anoint Solomon. Lash maintains that neither of them belong to the "hereditary priesthoods of Benjamin, Aaron, and Levi." (p. 64) Since my biblical scholarship has its limitations, I consulted
Rabbi Jill Hammer ,who said she was not aware of a hereditary priesthood of Benjamin, and that the tribes of Aaron and Levi and are considered to be the only tribes that had hereditary priesthoods. Rabbi Hammer writes:
"Zadok is the high priest at the time of David, founder of a line of priests – this line is endorsed by the book of Samuel as the only proper line for the high priest, because Zadok was faithful to David during an attempted coup. (see II Sam. 20)." Rabbi Hammer points out that Zadok is considered to be in the line of the Aaron. Rabbi Hammer agrees that "Melchitzedek is somewhat mysterious: he is a priest who blesses Abraham; obviously not a Jewish priest, but a priest of El Elyon (God Most High) who is the priest-king of Salem (Jerusalem). He seems to have spiritual authority over Abraham but it's not clear why (see Gen. 14). The text does suggest that Abraham, like Moses, is tutored by spiritual leaders from other traditions."

And So I Conclude
As you can see, there is quite a bit of meat in this book. I’ve covered here just some of what I scribbled notes about, and I want to bring this to an end before those still reading this require eye doctor appointments.

Because of the misogyny inherent in a view that holds a Goddess responsible for messing up creation (or evolution), asserts that this "fall" is caused by her independence, and portrays her as needing rescuing by the male Aeon Christos, the Sophia mythos may not present a view that many of today’s Goddess feminists would want to adopt in its entirety. Nevertheless, In His Image is valuable for its clear explanation of gnosis in general and in particular of the metaphysical basis of gnosis as growing out of earlier Pagan thought, including Goddess traditions. It is also useful in giving us a picture of how one Goddess figure was incorporated into a tradition already changed by patriarchy and for pointing out the similarities between the Sophia mythos and Gaia theory. So if these things interest you, yes, I would recommend that you read this book.

For more about John Lamb Lash's views about gnosis, visit his website at

UPDATE, Sept. 8: See author John Lamb Lash's reply to this review in the "comments" below.
UPDATE, Sept. 10: See scholar Max Dashu's reply in the "comments" below. (To avoid confusion, the correct url for the the article on "Khokhmah and Sophia" that Dashu mentions in her comment is


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