Goddess Worship
by Russ Wise & Tal Brooke
SCP Newsletter, WINTER 1998/99, Volume 23:2

"The goddess, or Great Mother, has existed since the beginning of time . . . it is out of the primordial depths of her womb that the Universe and all life is born."--Morwyn, Secrets of a Witch's Coven

The goddess has returned. She who brought judgment on the hillsides of apostate Israel--the Ashteroth from Canaan whose altars were condemned by God--is being revered and embraced by today's followers of witchcraft, radical feminism, the occult, and increasingly, those in the liberal church. Neopagans look toward an idealized feminine age to heal the world. To them, the masculine age has been an age of destruction and broken relationships. But "feminine energies" promise to bring balance to the destructive aspects of the Piscean Age--so says this emerging myth.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, in her Book Womanguides: Readings Toward a Feminist Theology, states to whom we must look for salvation in the new creed: "it is to the women that we look for salvation in the healing and restorative waters of Aquarius. It is to such a New Age that we look now with hope as the present age of masculinism succeeds in destroying itself." It is a gynocentric gospel.goddess devotee

According to Starhawk, an author and well known self proclaimed feminist witch living in Berkeley, "the symbolism of the Goddess is not a parallel structure to the symbolism of God the Father. The goddess does not rule the world; She is the world."(1) In order for this feminine age to come into full fruition, a shift in consciousness must take place in the world, a shift in thinking that will bring forth the goddess.(2) Meanwhile, any religion must have a history.

 

 

Historical Myth

According to those who believe in the Great Goddess--and the following narrative illustrates the ongoing revision of history of the goddess camp--Europe was once inhabited by a matriarchal, egalitarian society. Europeans, they claim against all accepted evidence to the contrary, worshipped a matrifocal, sedentary, peaceful, art-loving goddess 5,000 to 25,000 years before the rise of the first male-oriented religion. Finally this egalitarian culture was overrun and destroyed by a semi-nomadic, horse-riding, Indo-European group of invaders who were patrifocal, mobile, warlike, and indifferent to art.(3)

These Indo-European invaders, according to followers of the goddess, subjugated the peaceful and art-loving goddess worshippers through their superior military skills. The matriarchal religion was in turn assimilated into the patriarchal religion of the invaders as the invaders imposed their patriarchal culture on the conquered peoples.(4) Myths about male warriors killing serpents (symbols of the goddess worshippers) now appeared for the first time. As the assimilation of cultures continued, the Great Goddess, we are told, fragmented into many lesser goddesses.

According to Merlin Stone, another advocate of the goddess and author of When God Was a Woman, the unseating of the Great Goddess which had begun by the original Indo-European invaders was later completed by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later.(5) The male deity took the prominent place as goddesses faded into the background, and women in society followed suit.(6) They have been waiting her return ever since.

The Goddess and Witchcraft

Now the goddess is being resurrected by post 1960's women all primed for social change. Leading the charge are the wiccans, practitioners of witchcraft. Salem, Massachusetts is having a recurrence of witchcraft but this time the culture is embracing their revival while it turns against the Christians. The goddess is out in the open.

Wiccans consider the goddess as the giver of life. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., in her book Goddesses in Everywoman, remarks: "The Great Goddess was worshipped as the feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible both for creating life and for destroying life."(7)

Bolen goes on to say that "the Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent," prior to the coming of Christianity.

Starhawk, the Berkeley based witch referred to earlier, says in her bestselling book The Spiral Dance, that "the model of the Goddess, who is immanent in nature, fosters respect for the sacredness of all living things. Indeed, she is Gaia, the earth goddess. Because of that, witchcraft claims itself as a religion of ecology. It claims its goal is harmony with nature so that life may not just survive, but thrive."(8)

And indeed, the environmental movement of our day is greatly influenced by wiccans and those who hold neopagan beliefs. Witchcraft promises to reintroduce the sacred aspect of the earth that was allegedly destroyed by the Christian world. They will heal the earth of all the problems that the biblical God and his followers caused.

If Christianity teaches that God is transcendent and separate from nature, witchcraft holds that the goddess is nature and is in all things. All things are a part of her. Predating the biblical God, as her followers claim, she is the giver of all life. Certainly one can say that the goddess bestows special boons on the women's movement--mountain sized portions of praise and ego building self-esteem. And the leaders of the movement stress this boon:

The importance of the Goddess symbol for women cannot be overstressed. The image of the Goddess inspires us to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy, and our anger as purifying. Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions.(9)

At the International Conference on Women's Spirituality in Austin, Texas, Betty Sue Flowers, a University of Texas English professor, stated that, "the goddess is a metaphor that reminds us of the female side of spirituality. Metaphors are important. You can't know God directly. You can only know images of God, and each image or metaphor is a door. Some doors are open and others are closed. A door that is only male is only half open."(10)

 

The Goddess and Feminism

Those leading the women's spirituality movement, "reject what they call the patriarchal Jewish and Christian tradition, deploring sexist language, predominantly masculine imagery and largely male leadership."(11)

According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sonia L. Nazario, "women first wanted to apply feminism to political and economic realms, then to their families. Now, they want it in their spiritual lives."(12)

To understand fully the implications of the women's spirituality movement, one only needs to read the pivotal literature on the subject. The editors of the book Radical Feminism state that, "political and other institutions such as religion, because they are based on philosophies of hierarchical orders and reinforce male oppression of females, must be destroyed."

For that reason radical feminists believe that the traditional church must be dismantled. Naomi Goldenberg, in her book Changing of the Gods, states that "the feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh. . . . It is likely that as we watch Christ and Yahweh tumble to the ground, we will completely outgrow the need for an external God."(13) This is the language of war, in case you missed it.

Many in the goddess movement, according to a Wall Street Journal article, "pray for the time when science will make men unnecessary for procreation."(14) It is a war on men as well as a war on God. Little wonder that a large lesbian consensus steers the leadership of this movement. Mark Muesse, an assistant professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, sums up what should be obvious: "Some feminist Christians push for changes ranging from the ordination of women and the generic, non-sexual terms for God and humanity to overhauling the very theology."(15)

The feminist movement calls the process "transformation." But it's really war. Catherine Keller, associate professor of theology at Xavier University says in her essay, "Feminism and the New Paradigm" that: "The global feminist movement is bringing about the end of patriarchy, the eclipse of the politics of separation, and the beginning of a new era modeled on the dynamic, holistic paradigm. Radical feminists envision that era, and the long process leading toward it, as a comprehensive transformation."

This transformation mandates the blending of the sexes. Jungian psychotherapist John Weir Perry believes that we must find our individuality by discovering androgyny. He states, "To reach a new consensus, we have to avoid falling back into stereotypes, and that requires truly developing our individuality. It is an ongoing work of self-realization and self-actualization. For men it means growing into their native maleness and balancing it with their femaleness. For women, it's the same--growing into their full womanhood, and that includes their masculine side."(16)

It is a revolution that involves the foundational reordering of man's understanding of God. People must now learn to see God as a goddess, the mother of life. To help this happen she can be invoked. Enter the witches circle.

 

The Occult Twist

The goddess, believed to be resident within, simply needs to be awakened. Indians have been invoking gods with mantras for centuries. So Starhawk, who works with Matthew Fox at his Institute of Creation Spirituality, says that an individual can awaken the goddess by invoking or inviting her presence. "To invoke the Goddess is to awaken the Goddess within, to become . . . that aspect we invoke. An invocation channels power through a visualized image of Divinity."

Starhawk continues, "We are already one with the Goddess--she has been with us from the beginning, so fulfillment becomes . . . a matter of self-awareness. For women, the Goddess is the symbol of the inmost self. She awakens the mind and spirit and emotions."(17)

Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, answered the question, What ails our society? by saying: "We suffer from the absence of one half of our spiritual potential--the Goddess."(18) To repeat, male energies must diminish and the feminine energies must increase in order for the goddess to empower the individual, then the culture.

"The Goddess religion is a conscious attempt to reshape culture."(19) This reshaping is nothing less than viewing man and his understanding of reality from a female-centered perspective, the focus of which is on the Divine as female. Therefore considerable emphasis is placed on feminine attributes, ultimately focusing on eroticism and sexuality. "Women are clearly the catalyst for the formation of the new spirituality. It is women above all who are in the process of reversing Genesis . . . by validating and freeing their sexuality."(20)

Sodom and Babylon are the prototypes of this kind of societal revolution. Jungian psychotherapist John Weir Perry believes that "both current psychology and ancient history point to an emerging transformation in our sense of both society and self, a transformation that includes redefining the notion of what it means to be men and women."(21) The revival of the goddess promises to bring a blunting of distinction between male and female while affirming bisexuality, lesbianism, homosexuality, and androgyny.

If men and women were created as distinctive beings, male and female, according to biblical revelation, the rising occult influence seeks to end this "tyranny" for wild new paradigms. And this will have consequences. Already growing numbers of churches are switching sides. The Bible warns, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."(22) In short, apsotasy.

 

The Goddess and the Church

We have seen the philosophy of the goddess invading the church more and more. Mary Daly, who labels herself a 'Christian feminist,' reveals her desire to destroy traditional Christianity: "To put it bluntly, I propose that Christianity itself should be castrated."(23) The primary aim of this kind of "Christian" feminist is to bring an end to what she perceives as male-dominated religion by castrating the male influence from the religion.

Daly continues, "I am suggesting that the idea of salvation uniquely by a male savior perpetuates the problem of patriarchal oppression."(24)

Susan Cady, pastor of Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Philadelphia and co-author of Sophia: the Future of Feminist Spirituality, illustrates the direction that Daly and others are taking the church. In Sophia Cady and her coauthors state that "Sophia is a female, goddess-like figure appearing clearly in the Scriptures of the Hebrew tradition."

Wisdom Feast, Cady's latest book, presents Sophia as a separate goddess, with Jesus as her prophet, hence replacing Jesus with the feminine deity Sophia.

Another potent way goddess thealogy (feminist spelling for theology) enters the liberal church is through a proliferation of seminars: "Wisdomweaving: Woman Embodied in Faiths," was held at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in February of 1990. Linda Finnell, a wiccan and one of the speakers, spoke on the subject of "Returning to the Goddess Through Dianic Witchcraft." One of the keynote speakers, Sr. Jose Hobday, worked with Matthew Fox and Starhawk at the Institute for Creation Spirituality.

Churches have been embracing the New Age movement for some time now. Many already teach A Course in Miracles, Yoga, Silva Mind Control, Unity teachings, ad infinitum. They are primed to move on to the goddess and have nothing within to resist this movement. And it will not go away.

We are told to 'test every spirit lest we become deceived.' The language of the goddess movement gives it away. It is a militant movement that cannot ever be appeased. It will grow like a contagion, not satisfied till it has excised the Biblical God, His testament and His people off the face of the earth. The rhetoric of this movement belies the various invented myths about its peaceful beginnings. Its proclamations are as bloodthirsty as the goddess Kali dancing on her beheaded victims. Its alters will be no different from those of Moloch in Canaan, where infants were presented to be burned alive. The goddess movement can only bring destruction to men, women, and society. Just listen to the language of Mary Daly and her sisterhood of stunted women turning to a kind of collective spirit of legion, not for healing, but revenge.

Notes

1. Starhawk, the Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row 1989), 23.

2. Elinor W. Gadon, The Once and Future Goddess (New York: HarperCollins, 1989), xiv.

3. Ibid., xii-xiii. See also Lynnie Levy, Of a Like Mind (Madison, Wis.: OALM, 1991), vol. viii, no. 3, pp. 2-3.

4. See also Zsuzsanna Emese Budapest, The Holy Book of Womwn's Mysteries (Oakland, Calif.: Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1, 1986), 12.

5. See also Gadon, The Once and Future Goddess, xiii.

6. Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984), 21.

7. Ibid., 20.

8. Starhawk,The Spiral Dance, 25.

9. Ibid., 24.

10. Carlos Vidal Greth, "The Spirit of Women," The Austin-American Statesman, 5 Mar. 1991, sec. D.

11. Ibid.

12. Sonia L. Nazario, "Is Goddess Worship Finally Going to Put Men in Their Place?" the Wall Street Journal, 7 June 1990, sec. A.

13. Naomi Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), 4, 25.

14. Nazario, "Goddess Worship."

15. Deirdre Donahue, "Dawn of the Goddesses," USA Today, 26 Sept. 1990, sec. D.

16. John Weir Perry, "Myth, Ritual, and the Decline of Patriarchy," Magical Blend 33 (January 1992): 103.

17. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 99.

18. Jean Shinoda Bolen, "The Women's Movement in Transition: The Goddess and the Grail," Magical Blend 33 (January 1992): 8.

19. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 11.

20. Donna Steichen, "The Goddess Goes to Washington," Fidelity Magazine (December 1986): 42.

21. Perry, Decline of Patriarchy, 62.

22. 2 Tim. 4:3.

23. Alice Hageman, Theology after the Demise of God the Father: A Call for the Castration of Sexist Religion (New York: Association Press, 1974), 132.

24. Hageman, Theology, 138.

Coauthor Russ Wise--for 20 years an observer of the occult and cults, has been an associate speaker with Probe Ministries since 1978. He, his wife & Children live in Richardson Texas. Probe is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to reclaim Christian thought and values through media, education, and literature. Probe can be reached at: 214-480-0240.


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