The Goddess and Christianity

The Great Goddess, worshipped by all of the many nations across the ancient European/Mediterranean/Asiatic world for thousands of years, gave birth to Christianity, in full awareness that her power would be eclipsed for the duration of an astrological age as the male gods took over the heavens. Her avatar, Jesus, knew this too, and spoke of her eventual return as the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, whom he said would ‘teach all things, shall bring all things to your remembrance’. We have been told to regard Christianity as an outgrowth from Judaism, but this is not the whole story.

Lost on the modern world but certainly obvious to everybody in ancient times, the significance of Mary’s virginity was not that she had not had sex with a man, but that she was a holy priestess of the Goddess, probably Artemis, whose temple at Ephesus, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, and not far from Palestine, had been a huge centre of worship for thousands of years. It was to Ephesus that Mary retired to live after Jesus’ crucifixion.

It was also at Ephesus, after the temple had been destroyed by Christians, that a Church gathering of 250 bishops in 431 CE declared Mary ‘theotokos‘, the Mother of God, thereby opening the way for the devotional love that the populace across the Empire had long felt for the various Goddesses – such as Cybele, Isis, Artemis/Diana, Aphrodite/Venus – to be channelled into Marian shrines and kept within the Church, while at the same time it affirmed the divinity of Christ. Sacred imagery of a mother goddess and human son was nothing new to the ancient world, it was a very common motif from Cybele (who gave birth to Attis, later her lover), to Isis (mother of Horus), to Aphrodite (who was mother to many male gods, including Eros, Priapus, Hermaphroditus and the feminine male Dionysus), to Venus (mother to Aeneas, ancestor of the Roman people).

Jesus was born among the Jewish people, who had a thousand years previously marked themselves out as different from the other tribes of the region by rejecting Goddess reverence and making their Father God the one and only supreme being. The Christian Church regarded Judaism as its forerunner and shared its patriarchal attitudes, for example apopting the Hebrew creation myth, one of many that were told at the time, but the only one which put the woman firmly in her place as the servant of man. Most creation myths of the Middle East gave the prime place to the Creatrix Mother. But actually Jewish mythology also tells of Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who was thrown out of the garden of Eden because she refused to surrender to his will. Second time round Adam’s primacy was affirmed by claiming Eve had been made from his body, the opposite to the reality of childbirth.

The Genesis story of Eden would have been understood differently to ancient peoples than to most of us today, just like the Gospel’s tale of virgin birth. The snake was one of the most prominent images of the Goddess-centred pagan faiths, packed with symbolism, including sexual. The Genesis story is saying that, once again as with Lilith, the female lands them in trouble, this time because she has let the pagan faith lead her astray.

At the time of the birth of Jesus however the Goddess power was still in full sway. Cybele, the most ancient Mother worshipped since at least 6000 BCE in Anatolia, eastern Turkey, and known to the Greeks as the Mother of the Gods (that phrase again!), had been adopted as the Magna Mater of the Roman Empire two hundred years earlier. Her worship united the world from Britain to Turkey, and it was spread through the Empire by her itinerant, queer or transgender Gallae priest/esses, whose flamboyant, loud, erotic and bloody rituals were hated by the Church Fathers, not least because, for the first 300 years of Christianity, the Roman citizens were happy to go hear a Christian preacher in the afternoon then attend an orgy at the Cybele temple in the evening.

All the holy priesthoods of the ancient Goddess featured both virgin females and transgender or gay malesThe Old Testament tells of repeated efforts over 400 years by Hebrew kings to stop their people sacrificing and building phallic poles to Asherah, their local version of Ishtar, Goddess of the region since 10000 BCE, also known as Inanna and Astarte. There were some kings who were more tolerant, such as Solomon, whose many wives came from many cultures, bringing their ways with them to his famous temple. The OT tells also of the Hebrew kings’ efforts to eradicate the Qedesha, translated into English bibles as ‘sodomites’ or, nowadays, ‘male shrine prostitutes’, but whose name meant in fact the ‘Anointed’ or ‘Holy Ones’.

The title of Mother of God moved from Cybele to Mary as the Christians set to wiping out Goddess culture once it had become established as the only official religion of Rome in the late 4th century. This move to name Mary Theotokos (as opposed to Christokos, the Mother of Christ – the heated debates over this at the Council of Ephesus led to a schism between Roman Christianity and some, mainly Persian, churches that was only finally addressed and healed in 1994) was a conscious act taken in full awareness that people everywhere held the Divine Feminine in the highest regard, taken because this would enable them to dismantle the worship of other female forms and bring more people into the new faith.

The Church was also busy changing the gender of the Holy Spirit from female to male, the means being the Greek language. In Hebrew ‘ruach’, the word for spirit, was feminine, also in Syriac ‘rucha’, and writers in those languages used maternal imagery to describe the third member of the Trinity. In Greek however, the words used were of either male or neutral gender, and this has of course fed into other translations. Most Christian writings today about the Holy Spirit use He pronouns, but there are some churches that do see a She, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Unity Church, whose founder Charles Fillmore said of the Holy Spirit, “love is always feminine”. What the Church declared and what people believed have not always met of course, and while European art of the Middle Ages depicted the Holy Spirit as male, there is one surviving fresco in Urschalling, Germany, in a church of St Jakobus, that shows her female.

Jesus also said that people will know the Comforter when they come because the Holy Spirit already “dwelleth with you”. The Goddess in Judaism had been channelled into the concept of shekhinah, referring to invisible, divine presence, regarded and experienced as feminine. Yahweh was above the world, shekhinah was divinity moving through the world in all things – just as the Hindus see male Shiva as the overseeing Father and female Shakti as the Divine present in manifestation.

Note that Shiva is regarded actually as half male-half female, as he contains all within him, and this reflects the totally disregarded description of the Hebrew God in Genesis as being both male and female (which should in fact be clear from the Genesis verses that say he made humans male and female ‘in his image’). Arabic has the word sakina, translated usually as tranquility/peace but which actually indicates so much more, as is clear from its similarity to shekhinah.

In its efforts to evangelise the Roman Empire the Church also took on traits of the Goddess priesthood – such as the wearing of robes, its insistence on celibacy for priests (people were simply not used to holy servants having spouses and families, they were not ready to accept it) and of course built churches at pagan sites (eg St Pauls Cathedral in London at a site where Diana was worshipped) and the timing of Christian feasts to fit and replace the pagan calendar. The Archgallus of Rome, head of the genderqueer servants of Cybele, became the Pope, complete with the same style of headgear, the mitre.

The association of trans/queer people with the Goddess temples and rituals goes way back into pre-history, but from those times we have some myths that suggest we were created by the Goddess for that very purpose. A hero named Asushunamir, who was both male and female, was sent into the Underworld to rescue Goddess Inanna, a task they fulfilled, but not without suffering a curse from Inanna’s dark sister Ereshkigel, which was that they (and their kind) would be hated and feared by the world. Inanna could not remove the curse but appointed the queer/transgender people (known variously as kurgurru, assinnu, galatur at different times in the long history of Mesopotamia) to be her special, beloved servants, and promised a time when the curse would hold no more and they be recognised in their holiness again.

Jesus was aware of all this. The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus saying that there are those who chose to become eunuchs ‘for the sake of the kingdom of God’. In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas he speaks of uniting/transcending the male/female in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The future for transsexuality is also referred to by Isaiah in the Old Testament, who predicts, for those eunuchs who serve the lord faithfully, an ‘everlasting name’, ‘ better than that of sons and daughters’. Those joining the Gallae priest/esses of Cybele undertook public self-castration during a frenzied ritual on the Day of Blood, where Attis, the dying (through botched self-castration) lover of Cybele, was remembered. The ritual involved carrying an effigy of Attis tied to a pine tree through the streets raising the ecstatic energy and the next day celebrating his resurrection. This ritual predated Christianity by a very long time, and of course the Christian Church Fathers hated this ceremony, so timed the Easter festivities to replace it.

The Catholic Church encouraged the channelling of devotional feelings for the Goddess into the honouring of Mary, but of course throughout the Middle Ages the populace of Europe were not so quick to let go of their love of other versions of the divine feminine. Diana worship, which was especially associated with nature and the night, with the moon, continued among the country folk for centuries. It was generally Her that witches went to meet at their night time Sabbats, though the Inquisition and later the witch trials would use torture to force prisoners to say they were meeting with the devil.

For English female mystic Julian of Norwich in the late 14th/early 15th century Jesus himself became the Mother. She lived as an anchoress, living a life of prayer in an enclosed space, through a slit in the wall she would dispense advice and wisdom. She was very highly regarded but the nuns of her order kept her writing about the Motherhood of Christ secret for centuries after her death. ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ is now regarded as one of the finest works of medieval mysticism.

Protestantism, from the 16th century, regarded Catholic veneration of Mary and the saints as no better than pagan cult practice, and pushed the divine feminine further into the background. It shared the Catholic fear of witches however and the peak of the witch hunt craze came in the 17th century.

Then reason and rationalism rose to the fore, and religion gradually lost its dominant grip on our lives, but it has yet to release its power over our souls, for so much of the taboos it enforced were carried forward into the rational age – not least the prejudice against gay, lesbian, bi, queer and trans people, which is still far from dismantled as we progress into the 21st century. Religions still influence the attitudes of a large percentage of the world’s population, but without real historical knowledge of how faith was in the pre-Christian world, people today do not see much of the underlying significance of the stories in the holy books on which they base their faith, nor do they understand where their religiously justified, irrational and stubborn prejudices stem from. The long told story of Christianity’s ‘Triumph’ over paganism hides the fact that the religion was born from the Goddess-centred faiths of that past time as much as from the Judaic prophecy of the Messiah.

But the Goddess isn’t worried. She has never gone anywhere. Anyone who has felt the presence of expanded, vibrant, high vibrational, peacefully embracing love has met Her, even if they called it ‘Him’. The shakti-shekinah-sakina is present in all matter, in both ‘he’ and ‘she’.

Jesus came to do a job, his inspirational life kicked off a stream of growth for humanity that has unfortunately utterly severed our connection to the actual presence of the divine in the world, except for rare, magical moments that become the highlights of our lives. To heal our disconnection from the planet, from love, from the god and goddess within ourselves, we need – as a species, but each of us individually can help that day come – to reconnect to the light-giving, loving, teaching, compassionate and comforting Divine Mother Presence in everything- the shekhinah, shakti, sakina: the Great Holy Goddess Spirit.

Jesus and the Mysteries

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The Jesus story is a mythological map demonstrating the stages of the path of initiation into God-Consciousness, into the place where ‘The Father and I are One’.  We should bear in mind that Jesus was born into the intensely patriarchal Jewish tribe that only permitted talk of God in the masculine gender, unlike just about all other religions at the time, but we can bear in mind that God is both Mother and Father when we hear his words.

Mystery Schools both before and since his time have been places where souls who were called were able to explore the initatory path with others. That is why the Jesus story echoes so many older myths, they are all trying to tell us what is possible for us here on planet Earth. But to understand this we have to look deeply into the mysticism of the story, dedicate ourselves to the task and use our own consciousness as a vehicle of exploration.

The key mystical points on the Jesus way, Death and Resurrection, are two advanced steps on this path, coming after Birth (of the awakened spiritual heart – the Christ child within), Baptism (into the realm of elemental and astral presence and blessing) and Transfiguration (release of ego and growth into light body) but they are not the end of the story, as that other mystical wisdom tradition, astrology, shows us every year at Samhain. Dying to the limited ego self to discover the ecstasy of liberation, finding union with the divine Self, the holy spirit that opens our consciousness to the limitless possibilities of the multiverse, is the goal of eastern religion and western mysticism and paganism.

It is also what the shamans and witches of the old peoples around the entire world do (or used to) on a daily basis, surrendering into trance and possession to channel the energies of spirit for the benefit of the community.  It is there in the practice of renunciation taken when leaving the world to become a monk, in whatever faith, and the purpose behind medieval monastic communities in Christian Europe – but loving brotherhood was a principle taken a little too far for some and was stamped down by the dissolution of the monasteries and the buggery act under Henry VIII, though in other parts of the world, particularly in Buddhist and Hindu cultures homosexuality was considered a monastic norm and privilege.

The achievement of union with the divine is absolutely not the goal of monotheistic religions which teach that Heaven is only achievable after death.

From the Gnostic groups of early Christianity, and among the heretics of the Middle Ages such as the ‘Free Spirit’ movements that embraced the possibility of union with God and approved of achieving that through sexual, including homosexual, means. Once the soul was united with the Higher Self, these movements believed, the individual could no longer sin. Life was to be enjoyed. Far too pagan for the Catholic/State establishment, these ideas were wiped out during the Inquisition.

Easter 2017. A Roman Catholic university in Kansas, USA bans yoga, saying….

“It is a mind and body practice developed under Hinduism, the goal of which is spiritual purification that will lead to a higher level of understanding and eventually union with the divine,” said Rev John Riley, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, to the Wichita Eagle.

“It is for these reasons that Catholics are alerted to the dangers of the practice of yoga and are encouraged to look for other exercise alternatives that do not incorporate a spiritual dimension.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/catholic-university-yoga-ban-eastern-mysticism-benedictine-college-in-kansas-lifestyle-fitness-a7682796.html

They do have a point in one sense. The journey of initiation into divine consciousness, even if it starts with a stretch on a yoga mat, does change us. It will strip away all illusions about who we are, challenge us to embrace dichotomies and impossibilities… it will break down all our inner resistance and challenge us to rise like a phoenix every time that we end up burnt to a crisp by the power of Kali’s love, until we embody the light and power of our own souls at their fullest.

As someone who woke up to the Path of Initiation in the mid 1990s I can say… There is no better ride. But I read many posts by intelligent, educated people who have got stuck in the paradigm of science vs spirit – when they discuss the possibility of the existence of a creator god it is usually as something ‘out there’, separate. The existence of mystery paths of initiation into the divine Self on this planet is so well hidden.

AMONG GAY PEOPLE ARE MANY CARRIERS OF THE CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS (which is called other things by other paths) PLAYING THE ROLE JESUS PLAYED 2000 YEARS AGO. When the LGBTQ community catches on to the awakening game, human evolution will accelerate.

Us 1990s awakeners were the third wave of souls coming to awareness of the path since the 1960s. I quickly learnt that the roots for this awakening had been laid in the UK since the late 19th century by the Theosophists, and before that by the Elizabethan mystics John Dee and the Rosicrucians, and long before that by Arthur and Merlin at Camelot.

The 21st century is bringing the next wave of awakening, the one that will eventually touch the whole world.  Awakeners need to remember that all the stories, from Jesus to the Pleiadians, Buddha to the Ascended Masters, are there to wake us up, and learn from all the ones that speak to us.  Also to remember that waking up is not a momentary thing! It is a path of dedication, initiation, mystery, tests, trials, opportunities, ecstasies and agonies as we shift from the material to the spiritual paradigm.

There are many ways and stages of awakening. Once we discover the path we have to learn how to walk on it! We best listen to the teachings that speak most clearly to our own soul and keep out what offends it. Let our habits evolve and adapt. Keep company that supports our ongoing discoveries. And importantly, affirm to ourselves that we are on the path of awakening to our greater, holier, older Self that has already existed many times in many places. This will keep our trials and the world’s challenges in perspective and help us to hold the peace during this time of massive change.

Jesus said “I am the Way” – or that’s how it is translated.  What he was really telling us is that the ‘I AM’ is the Way, and as manifestations of the I AM we are all on it.  There are in fact many paths that we can take along the way, and if we feel drawn at all to Christianity, then the Jesus story itself is best approached as a road map to self-realisation.

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Read more on the Path of Initiation:http://www.shareintl.org/archives/AgelessWisdom/aw_bcgospel.htm