Don’t You Mean God’s Husband?

Jason Pitzl-Waters wrote about the recent God’s Wife controversy over at On Faith. As a dude he nailed it, and I suggest you open it in a new tab and read it through before you go further into my rant. Leave a comment and tell him you appreciate what he wrote.

I’ve been avoiding this drama because it cuts too close to the bone. It makes my head begin to buzz like angry honey bees. It makes me clench my fist and grind my teeth. Y’all know I ain’t the Goddessy type. I have no patience for Dianics, for uber-feminists or for anyone to expect me to wax eloquent about the magic of my “wombspace” because that just ain’t me. That does not mean I am not deeply connected to the Goddesses, to the feminine Divine. It’s a connection that has no voice, it’s too deep, rooted in my mitochondria, in my bones and in my very breath. There are no words to describe, only aching sound. I wish I could give it words, but there is no way to convey it to another. My inability to analyze and share this drives me crazy.

Yet other women can express it, and express it well. None so well as the Hebrew women in the book of Jeremiah (I’m stealing the translation Jason used):

“We will not listen to the things you’ve said to us in the name of YHWH. On the contrary, we will certainly do all that we’ve vowed. We will make offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and pour libations to her as we used to do – we and our ancestors, our kings and princes in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem – because then we had plenty of bread and we were satisfied, and suffered no misfortune. But since we ceased making offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by sword and famine. And when we make offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pour libations to her, is it without our husbands’ approval that we make cakes in her likeness and pour libations to her?”
– Jeremiah 44:15-19, translation by Graham Harvey, from the Hebrew text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, excerpted from “The Paganism Reader.”

There is anger in these words, hot and quick. Can you blame them? Thousands of years later they still speak of Asherah as God’s Wife, by a nameless title denoting her sexual position in relation to him. No one calls El or Yahweh Asherah’s Husband.  No one calls him consort, concubine, helpmeet or other term placing him in a subservient role. No one apologizes for Her, explains away Her moods, Her harsh words.

As a teenager I would lie awake at night praying to Yahweh and Jesus with every fiber of my being. I was desperate for God’s love, to be an expression of Divine Grace. I wanted to be God’s Comb, making the tangled straight and smooth. Imagine me, a young girl staring at the ceiling and sobbing out her prayers, because every word of Yahweh tells her she is less, she is incomplete, she is subservient and second-class.

Everything involving discussing gender is so politicized and charged, but for a second forget the rhetoric and imagine God tells you that you are second class. Actually consider that for a moment, that state of being. That you were created to alleviate man’s loneliness and meet his needs. That your God is telling you to “lie back and think of England.” Yeah, that’s extreme but when you’re a bright budding young woman who sees all the women of the Bible (excluding Deborah and Miriam) tainted by sexuality, who reads Saint Paul insist she be silent and considers how Yahweh never even considered creating woman until Adam started to whine, you tend to see things in an extreme light. I spent hours crying and begging for forgiveness for being a woman, just like he made me.

Alienation? Hardly. It’s rejection, spiritual slavery and then being asked to be cheerful about it. No sir, no thanks and I do not want another. I’ll tell you where to stick your alienation. I will not bend to an abusive God who needs excuses made for him, like a violent boyfriend. Oh, he only says I’m sinful when his beer has gone warm. Oh, he only rejects me on the days I don’t have testicles, so it’s all my fault. Really. He doesn’t really mean it when he calls me the origin of death. He loves me. Really. He does…

I’m not a Wiccan because I place the Goddess at the pinnacle of Divine perfection. I am not Wiccan because of the Great Rite, the union of the God and Goddess symbolically re-enacted, because of chalice  and blade. No, I am Wiccan because of the Sword of Power. I rarely hear people talk about this, and it may not be relevant to every Wiccan trad. At Beltane and Samhain, the sword of power passes between the God and Goddess. Each time I catch my breath, lest the priest or priestess be moved by a power-hungry impulse. Yet, each time the representative of Divinity receiving the power insists they cannot wield it alone, and asks for their partner help. That is a theology that I can stake my soul on, that encompasses us all. We cannot do this alone. We have to help each other if we’re going to make it.

I don’t lie awake worrying about whether the Gods love me because I have a vagina or lack a Y chromosome. I don’t believe I was created to be inferior. However, I do think I was created second. Would you like to hear my UPG-modified  Origin of Woman story? Too bad, I’ll tell you anyway:

Zeus had created man, Prometheus “stole” fire from Hephaestus and Hephaestus had gifted them with a few of his arts. Yet all was not well and things were not running smoothly. Man showed disturbing promise yet seemed limited. Zeus had never intended man to have fire, to be able to create like Hephaestus creates, to be so like the Gods.Yet, was that such a bad thing, that Zeus should create a race that is like the Gods in cunning and creativity? So Zeus and Hephaestus came up with a plan that mankind should be as balanced as Godkind. Hephaestus created Pandora, the all-gifted first woman. She was not created to be subservient, to be less. She was showered with all imaginable gifts from both Goddesses and Gods and she was given a jar.

Now Hephaestus kept his hands clean as much as he could. He got into enough trouble with the Gods as it was and the Goddesses might not be pleased with woman, made in their image and a mirror of their fierce cunning and bright beauty. So just as Prometheus “stole” Hephaestus’ fire to give to man, so Hephaestus “warned” Pandora against opening the jar. Yet Hephaestus had made her, molded her calves, ears and heart with his own two hands, created her from his love and appreciation for the Goddesses of Olympus. He knew how to speak to her and knew she was bright, intelligent and wise. I can imagine him saying the words while miming that she should look inside. You see inside this jar was all the darkness man had stored up, all that was making him slow, his thinking constipated, his work rough and unfinished. For man was bound by darkness, primal apes wielding tools, but as yet not truly human. They lacked a Divine spark.

So there he left her, with the jar before her. Pandora carefully tilted the lid back, and out flies fear, insecurity, self-conciousness, fear, doubt, worry and all those dark things that paralyze us. Out flew the dark dumbness of the animal and leaving man’s mind free and open. She let them go, set them free and unburdened the soul of man. Then in the bottom of the jar she sees something bright, something that lights up her lovely face and she quickly closes the lid and seals it shut. She held onto precious hope.

So every man and woman living today is her descendant, and each of us have the ability to let go of the darkness. Each of us carry hope within. Men are not better than women, nor are women better then men. Man didn’t ask for woman but stood proudly on his own. Woman was not created to serve man, but to be the catalyst through which they are both transformed, which still happens through the process of birth, where the male and female combine within woman to become a human child. Those early men were not perfect, though skilled, hardy and clever. Pandora herself was an impossible creature, unlikeable in her perfection, created in the image of the larger-than-life Goddesses. No, the ones worth emulating are their descendants, a perfect blend of the two, our very selves. Together they created a full spectrum of humanity to emulate the diversity found in heaven. Pandora and her many partners gave birth to men, women, straight, gay, bisexual, transgendered, shy, gregarious, analytical, tender-hearted, tall, short and every other kind of human you can imagine. Pandora was a Divine virus set loose among our ancestors, an evolutionary mutation of vast consequence. She is that mitochondrial Eve who lives symbiotically in our DNA, male and female, giving us the ability to let go, move forward and never lose hope.

So let’s set the record straight: Yahweh is Asherah’s Husband, and he’s not the only one. She shared her bed with El first and has many lovers. She is Goddess, and to deny Her is to deny yourself. She is the Queen of Heaven: holy, loving and many Gods are equal to Her brilliance. We are the Children of the Gods, and they live in us, male, female and genderless. They do not reject or deny us. They do not strike us for being who they made us. They do not leave us sobbing in darkness struggling to dent our souls to please them. We are not Second Class, not Helpmeet, not Consort nor Concubine. We are Whole and Wholly Blessed.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Bethy

    Bravo Star!!!!!

  • Bethy

    Bravo Star!!!!!

  • Snowcrashak

    Well said!

  • Snowcrashak

    Well said!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507689165 Traci Laird

    :snap:
    You say it!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507689165 Traci Laird

    :snap:
    You say it!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elaposta Elizabeth LaPosta

    Wow, that was amazing! I would like to know where I can find more info on “The Sword of Power” in myth and ritual.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      In my trad we divide the year into the God half and Goddess half of the year. The coven sword is given to the keeping of the representative of the Goddess at Beltane, and to the representative of the God at Samhain. Each time, instead of merely taking the symbol of power, the representative asks the one relinquishing the sword for their assistance in wielding it.

      I’m sure someone has written something about it out there…

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

        We have essentially the same tradition in my current group. It’s a wonderful thing.

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Hmm…our version of the “lobbing of the scimitar” doesn’t have the Lady/Lord asking for assistance from the other. I should bring it up, and see what people think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elaposta Elizabeth LaPosta

    Wow, that was amazing! I would like to know where I can find more info on “The Sword of Power” in myth and ritual.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      In my trad we divide the year into the God half and Goddess half of the year. The coven sword is given to the keeping of the representative of the Goddess at Beltane, and to the representative of the God at Samhain. Each time, instead of merely taking the symbol of power, the representative asks the one relinquishing the sword for their assistance in wielding it.

      I’m sure someone has written something about it out there…

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

        We have essentially the same tradition in my current group. It’s a wonderful thing.

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Hmm…our version of the “lobbing of the scimitar” doesn’t have the Lady/Lord asking for assistance from the other. I should bring it up, and see what people think.

  • http://korakaos.wordpress.com/ KoraKaos

    “sheer guile, not to be withstood by men”

    “From her is the race of women and female kind:
    of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who
    live amongst mortal men to their great trouble,
    no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.”

    “Zeus… said… ‘I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.’

    So said the father of men and gods, and laughed aloud. And he bade famous Hephaestus make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in her a shameless mind and deceitful nature.”

    Hesiod, Works and Days and Theogony.

    I am thinking that these men like Hesiod who wrote these old myths were just butthurt by their exes and decided to garnish the text a little.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I think a lot of misogyny in older texts comes from butthurt authors.

      If you read Homer, Hera is a shrew even when he admits she’s being cheated on. Like having her man run around on her isn’t cause for complaint?

  • http://korakaos.wordpress.com/ KoraKaos

    “sheer guile, not to be withstood by men”

    “From her is the race of women and female kind:
    of her is the deadly race and tribe of women who
    live amongst mortal men to their great trouble,
    no helpmates in hateful poverty, but only in wealth.”

    “Zeus… said… ‘I will give men as the price for fire an evil thing in which they may all be glad of heart while they embrace their own destruction.’

    So said the father of men and gods, and laughed aloud. And he bade famous Hephaestus make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in her a shameless mind and deceitful nature.”

    Hesiod, Works and Days and Theogony.

    I am thinking that these men like Hesiod who wrote these old myths were just butthurt by their exes and decided to garnish the text a little.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I think a lot of misogyny in older texts comes from butthurt authors.

      If you read Homer, Hera is a shrew even when he admits she’s being cheated on. Like having her man run around on her isn’t cause for complaint?

  • Jamie

    Its amazing that they didn’t just burn all those passages when they sat down and decided which books were going to be in the bible and which ones were going to be destroyed as heretical.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      You are referring, I believe, to the Christian debates over canonicity of scriptures. What many people don’t realize (including, it appears, you) is that the Christian debates–and subsequent destructions–were only about which documents would be included in the New Testament.

      The early Christians simply accepted the Septuagint (a Greek version of the Jewish scriptures) as their Old Testament. The decisions about what documents would be included in the Septuagint had already been made by Jewish rabbis in the diaspora. The Jews in Jerusalem had chosen, on the other hand, to only include in their canon documents that they could determine had originally been written in Hebrew. This distinction between the Hebrew-only Jerusalem canon and the larger Greek canon is the source of the Apocrypha included in many translations of the Bible. The Jews–both in Jerusalem and in the diaspora–didn’t attempt to declare excluded documents heretical or destroy them.

      Does that make it clear why traditional passages such as this made it into the Christian Bible?

  • Jamie

    Its amazing that they didn’t just burn all those passages when they sat down and decided which books were going to be in the bible and which ones were going to be destroyed as heretical.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      You are referring, I believe, to the Christian debates over canonicity of scriptures. What many people don’t realize (including, it appears, you) is that the Christian debates–and subsequent destructions–were only about which documents would be included in the New Testament.

      The early Christians simply accepted the Septuagint (a Greek version of the Jewish scriptures) as their Old Testament. The decisions about what documents would be included in the Septuagint had already been made by Jewish rabbis in the diaspora. The Jews in Jerusalem had chosen, on the other hand, to only include in their canon documents that they could determine had originally been written in Hebrew. This distinction between the Hebrew-only Jerusalem canon and the larger Greek canon is the source of the Apocrypha included in many translations of the Bible. The Jews–both in Jerusalem and in the diaspora–didn’t attempt to declare excluded documents heretical or destroy them.

      Does that make it clear why traditional passages such as this made it into the Christian Bible?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=683540950 Cindy Lewis

    Sometimes eloquence just doesn’t convey the feeling:
    This kicks a$$! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=683540950 Cindy Lewis

    Sometimes eloquence just doesn’t convey the feeling:
    This kicks a$$! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.reynolds.alpert Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

    Brilliant. I am so happy to have found this–it echoes my own feelings unbelievably well. Oddly enough, I just wrote a poem “Before She Was Pandora” that also addresses what you have written. Keep up the excellent work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzanne.reynolds.alpert Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

    Brilliant. I am so happy to have found this–it echoes my own feelings unbelievably well. Oddly enough, I just wrote a poem “Before She Was Pandora” that also addresses what you have written. Keep up the excellent work!

  • Liz

    Star, do you really think that “having no patience for” Pagan women who approach their own relationships to the divine differently than you do is terribly helpful in recognizing women as “Whole and Wholly Blessed”?

    I read Jason’s piece and was impressed by his points about the political and cultural ramifications that would necessarily come along with recognizing female divinity, but I am turned off by the derision in yours and find it to be at odds with the greater themes you discuss. If I might paraphrase you, maybe to deny your sisters is also to deny yourself?

    Thank you for all your work; while I’m not totally on board with you here I do always look forward to seeing what you have to share.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I have no patience for women who put women first and humans second. I expressed the same sentiment in the transgender discussion that swept our community recently.

      • Liz

        See, but that sweeping generalization about “Goddessy types” isn’t at all helpful (or even true).

        I don’t get the impression that you really want to discuss this, so I’ll just conclude by saying that your Paganism is quite obviously influenced by your sincere dissatisfaction with Christianity, and I don’t identify with that (I was never Christian). This is totally fine and I consider it a strength of our community that we are so diverse. But my Paganism is a way to reconcile my feminism with my spirituality, and I find your negative attitude toward that (“uber-feminists” is especially problematic for me as it sounds quite like you’re saying that gender equality is fine as long as we’re not too bitchy about achieving it) really divisive and unnecessary.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          “Goddessy types” or “uber-feminists” say men have no place at the table. If you aren’t aware that they are in issue in Paganism you didn’t pay attention to the transgender debate.

          I work with Christians every day here at Patheos, respect and admire them.

          It’s easy to dismiss people you disagree with. I’m fine with discussing this.

          • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

            I’d say that there is a difference between ‘Goddessy types’ and ‘uber-feminists’ and separatists, or at least that separatists are but a small part of those categories.

          • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

            Most of the folks who aren’t separatists or anti-male don’t seem to feel the need to go Ultra Goddess.

            There’s a difference in degrees, and I’m talking about extremists mainly. Even so, I’m the least Goddess-oriented woman I know. I’m not Goddessy and that’s a fact. Why is it a problem saying that?

          • Liz

            There is no problem with your saying that you are not Goddess-oriented. There is a problem with generalizing Goddess-worshippers in general or Dianics in particular as being “anti-male.” It isn’t true, no matter how many times you say it.

          • http://twitter.com/misha103 Michele Dainiak

            It may not be true in some areas, but since I have yet to meet a Dianic witch or coven that wasn’t hyper in their “anti-male”ness, I’m going to have to agree with Star on this one.

          • Nestis

            Thank you.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            The more militant “uber-feminists” usually come to that from a place of abuse of one kind or another at the hands of men or patriarchal Christianity. It’s understandable why they adopt the stance they do, but it’s not terribly productive. You can’t really fix one kind of imbalance or pathology with another.

          • Liz

            I certainly did pay attention to the transgender debate, I just don’t feel the same way about it as you do. I have no issue with a particular trad specifying the terms of its rituals, even if that means being exclusive. What I do have a problem with is making derisive comments or inaccurate generalizations about other trads and other Pagans as individuals simply because you do not identify with their practices or beliefs. It is fundamentally unhelpful.

          • Callisto

            It’s not my intent to get in the middle of this debate, rather to simply point out that “Dianic” applies to two different traditions. There is “Old Dianic” also known as MacFarlane Dianic which is not the same as the feminist Dianics.

            MacFarlane Dianics has both male and female practitioners and was founded by Morgan MacFarlane and Mark Roberts who were the original High Priestess and High Priest. Some covens opt to be all-female but the tradition itself is inclusive of both men and women (naturally born as and transgendered).

            The latter feminist form is attributed to Z Budapest and Starhawk.

  • Liz

    Star, do you really think that “having no patience for” Pagan women who approach their own relationships to the divine differently than you do is terribly helpful in recognizing women as “Whole and Wholly Blessed”?

    I read Jason’s piece and was impressed by his points about the political and cultural ramifications that would necessarily come along with recognizing female divinity, but I am turned off by the derision in yours and find it to be at odds with the greater themes you discuss. If I might paraphrase you, maybe to deny your sisters is also to deny yourself?

    Thank you for all your work; while I’m not totally on board with you here I do always look forward to seeing what you have to share.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I have no patience for women who put women first and humans second. I expressed the same sentiment in the transgender discussion that swept our community recently.

      • Liz

        See, but that sweeping generalization about “Goddessy types” isn’t at all helpful (or even true).

        I don’t get the impression that you really want to discuss this, so I’ll just conclude by saying that your Paganism is quite obviously influenced by your sincere dissatisfaction with Christianity, and I don’t identify with that (I was never Christian). This is totally fine and I consider it a strength of our community that we are so diverse. But my Paganism is a way to reconcile my feminism with my spirituality, and I find your negative attitude toward that (“uber-feminists” is especially problematic for me as it sounds quite like you’re saying that gender equality is fine as long as we’re not too bitchy about achieving it) really divisive and unnecessary.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          “Goddessy types” or “uber-feminists” say men have no place at the table. If you aren’t aware that they are in issue in Paganism you didn’t pay attention to the transgender debate.

          I work with Christians every day here at Patheos, respect and admire them.

          It’s easy to dismiss people you disagree with. I’m fine with discussing this.

          • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

            I’d say that there is a difference between ‘Goddessy types’ and ‘uber-feminists’ and separatists, or at least that separatists are but a small part of those categories.

          • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

            Most of the folks who aren’t separatists or anti-male don’t seem to feel the need to go Ultra Goddess.

            There’s a difference in degrees, and I’m talking about extremists mainly. Even so, I’m the least Goddess-oriented woman I know. I’m not Goddessy and that’s a fact. Why is it a problem saying that?

          • Liz

            There is no problem with your saying that you are not Goddess-oriented. There is a problem with generalizing Goddess-worshippers in general or Dianics in particular as being “anti-male.” It isn’t true, no matter how many times you say it.

          • http://twitter.com/misha103 Michele Dainiak

            It may not be true in some areas, but since I have yet to meet a Dianic witch or coven that wasn’t hyper in their “anti-male”ness, I’m going to have to agree with Star on this one.

          • Nestis

            Thank you.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

            The more militant “uber-feminists” usually come to that from a place of abuse of one kind or another at the hands of men or patriarchal Christianity. It’s understandable why they adopt the stance they do, but it’s not terribly productive. You can’t really fix one kind of imbalance or pathology with another.

          • Liz

            I certainly did pay attention to the transgender debate, I just don’t feel the same way about it as you do. I have no issue with a particular trad specifying the terms of its rituals, even if that means being exclusive. What I do have a problem with is making derisive comments or inaccurate generalizations about other trads and other Pagans as individuals simply because you do not identify with their practices or beliefs. It is fundamentally unhelpful.

          • Callisto

            It’s not my intent to get in the middle of this debate, rather to simply point out that “Dianic” applies to two different traditions. There is “Old Dianic” also known as MacFarlane Dianic which is not the same as the feminist Dianics.

            MacFarlane Dianics has both male and female practitioners and was founded by Morgan MacFarlane and Mark Roberts who were the original High Priestess and High Priest. Some covens opt to be all-female but the tradition itself is inclusive of both men and women (naturally born as and transgendered).

            The latter feminist form is attributed to Z Budapest and Starhawk.

  • Illiezeulette

    This is…interesting. I never had such a terrible relationship with YHVH. Never. A few bumps, maybe, when YHVH was a bit… insecure sometimes. In fact, I was rather satisfied as a wannabe-Catholic and filled with happy white light, rainbows, and unicorns. (The problem was that Catholicism’s tendency to grovel/beg/plead/self-hate and the realities of my positive and empowering relationship with YHVH didn’t quite match up.) Bible scholarship helps–St. Peter didn’t actually write that nasty stuff about women. That’s a pastoral epistle, which was written 100 years after Peter’s death by people who wanted to “mainstream” Christianity by proving that they were just as misogynistic as the rest of society. They used Peter’s name to fool people into taking their hateful views as legit. This is academic fact.

    There’s scholarship saying that Yeshua/Jesus’ message was radically egalitarian, yet watered down by the authors of the gospels so that it wasn’t so radical and others were more likely to accept it. I find it interesting that you will handwave the “butthurt” authors of Pagan myths yet won’t do the same for the writers of Judeo-Christian ones. (Or am I not reading you right?) I don’t take Judeo-Christian myth literally the same way I don’t take Pagan myth literally. I base my relationship with the gods on my experiences with them, not on stories written by humans with agendas. In no way am I attempting to tell you that your experiences are invalid or didn’t happen, but I’m saying that your relationship with YHVH is not the testimony of the reality of YHVH’s character as a whole.

    My relationship with Shiva was not a good one, but plenty of people love Him dearly. That doesn’t mean that Shiva is inherently abusive, neglectful, overly demanding, (as I experienced Him) or that the people who worship Him are self-deprecating doormats. People seem so eager to bash YHVH, yet think Zeus (who has a reputation of raping people for goodness’ sake!!) is worthy of worship. This baffles me endlessly. There are buttloads of really terrible stories in the Bible, and then there are some superb and inspiring ones. Same goes for Pagan myth. Period.

    To this day I have a stellar relationship with Judeo-Christian deities, especially following the modern Gnostic movements, that does not conflict with my relationships with Pagan deities. And I am the first person to start foaming at the mouth when someone suggests that the God or Goddess is better than the other. My theology is quirky but logically sound. I make it work, and I’m happy with it.

    Heck, Wicca was pretty misogynistic until people started altering the theology and lore. Gardner’s Goddess was only powerful because the God lent her power… Goddess was not inherently powerful, but God was. The Ardanes are filled with “mastering your woman” images, lore of beating women to give them power, etc. When people realized that Gardner was a bit of a d-bag when it came to women, nobody took the lore so literally. Wicca isn’t the same now as it was then. Nobody’s tradition is perfect.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      The difference is myth is not the infallible word of God. What Homer says about Zeus isn’t “gospel truth” yet the Jewish and Christian scriptures are considered the ultimate truth. Viewed as such, Yahweh is a rather nasty character.

      Looking at Christianity as mythology rather than “gospel truth” is liberating, but it’s a difficult approach for anyone to take. I think it requires even more explanation than Paganism.

      It’s true, most of our founders weren’t people I’d have over to dinner. Alex Sanders annoys the crud out of me, and there are some female founders whose manner and actions still rankle.

      • Illiezeulette

        Were you raised Protestant? I think I had an easy relationship with the Bible because the Catholic Church does NOT consider it to be infallible. There’s a lot of shoulder shrugging and “just pray on it,” and it’s okay if you have a conscious objection to a teaching. It’s so true that churches (Catholic too) and pastors/priests/clergy have seriously psychologically harmed people (and themselves) because of a literal interpretation of the Bible. Fun times ahead for the Muslim world after the recent discovery of Qur’an fragments that are inconsistent with the modern version. Scholars are just beginning to treat the Qur’an with historical exegesis that the Bible has had for quite a while.

        I’ve met at least one Pagan “fundie” who literally believes myth. I’m not too sharp on my Norse myth, but one said that she literally believes that a mountain range in Europe was actually made of dead bodies by Odin. Weird stuff.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Southern Baptist. The Bible was infallible, and literal as long as it matched church doctrine. It’s a confusing faith.

          A devotee of Zeus recently said in an interview on the Highway to Hel column something to the effect that going to the myths for information on the Gods is like going to TMZ for information on actors. I find that a delightful concept!

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Looking at Christianity as mythology rather than “gospel truth” is liberating, but it’s a difficult approach for anyone to take.

        It is the standard approach for a lot of liberal mainstream Christians.

    • Callisto

      FWIW, Gardner may have been misogynistic but that’s not quite the same as Wicca being so, the God is the Goddess’ consort. Also, the Ardanes were not introduced until some 10 years after Wicca had been in existence – their appearance subsequent to an increasing rift between Gardner and Doreen Valiente, who had been his HPS. (She and others subsequently leaving.) They do not appear nor are alluded to in any of his previous writings, nor appeared in any of Valiente’s. BTWs tend to view them for what they are and are typically handed down along with their BoS as, essentially, artifacts of unknown (and suspect) origins.

      I agree that no one looks at lore in a literal sense, that’s part of being an orthopraxy. I merely point this out because one thing that does hold true in Wicca is that the religion is not equated with individuals. Wiccans don’t look upon the founders as prophets or demi-gods. They are respected for their contributions, but are recognized for being as flawed and human as the rest of us. Gardner was flawed and embroiled in a disagreement with Valiente who had contributed significantly, many would say just as much if not moreso, to the Craft.

  • Illiezeulette

    This is…interesting. I never had such a terrible relationship with YHVH. Never. A few bumps, maybe, when YHVH was a bit… insecure sometimes. In fact, I was rather satisfied as a wannabe-Catholic and filled with happy white light, rainbows, and unicorns. (The problem was that Catholicism’s tendency to grovel/beg/plead/self-hate and the realities of my positive and empowering relationship with YHVH didn’t quite match up.) Bible scholarship helps–St. Peter didn’t actually write that nasty stuff about women. That’s a pastoral epistle, which was written 100 years after Peter’s death by people who wanted to “mainstream” Christianity by proving that they were just as misogynistic as the rest of society. They used Peter’s name to fool people into taking their hateful views as legit. This is academic fact.

    There’s scholarship saying that Yeshua/Jesus’ message was radically egalitarian, yet watered down by the authors of the gospels so that it wasn’t so radical and others were more likely to accept it. I find it interesting that you will handwave the “butthurt” authors of Pagan myths yet won’t do the same for the writers of Judeo-Christian ones. (Or am I not reading you right?) I don’t take Judeo-Christian myth literally the same way I don’t take Pagan myth literally. I base my relationship with the gods on my experiences with them, not on stories written by humans with agendas. In no way am I attempting to tell you that your experiences are invalid or didn’t happen, but I’m saying that your relationship with YHVH is not the testimony of the reality of YHVH’s character as a whole.

    My relationship with Shiva was not a good one, but plenty of people love Him dearly. That doesn’t mean that Shiva is inherently abusive, neglectful, overly demanding, (as I experienced Him) or that the people who worship Him are self-deprecating doormats. People seem so eager to bash YHVH, yet think Zeus (who has a reputation of raping people for goodness’ sake!!) is worthy of worship. This baffles me endlessly. There are buttloads of really terrible stories in the Bible, and then there are some superb and inspiring ones. Same goes for Pagan myth. Period.

    To this day I have a stellar relationship with Judeo-Christian deities, especially following the modern Gnostic movements, that does not conflict with my relationships with Pagan deities. And I am the first person to start foaming at the mouth when someone suggests that the God or Goddess is better than the other. My theology is quirky but logically sound. I make it work, and I’m happy with it.

    Heck, Wicca was pretty misogynistic until people started altering the theology and lore. Gardner’s Goddess was only powerful because the God lent her power… Goddess was not inherently powerful, but God was. The Ardanes are filled with “mastering your woman” images, lore of beating women to give them power, etc. When people realized that Gardner was a bit of a d-bag when it came to women, nobody took the lore so literally. Wicca isn’t the same now as it was then. Nobody’s tradition is perfect.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      The difference is myth is not the infallible word of God. What Homer says about Zeus isn’t “gospel truth” yet the Jewish and Christian scriptures are considered the ultimate truth. Viewed as such, Yahweh is a rather nasty character.

      Looking at Christianity as mythology rather than “gospel truth” is liberating, but it’s a difficult approach for anyone to take. I think it requires even more explanation than Paganism.

      It’s true, most of our founders weren’t people I’d have over to dinner. Alex Sanders annoys the crud out of me, and there are some female founders whose manner and actions still rankle.

      • Illiezeulette

        Were you raised Protestant? I think I had an easy relationship with the Bible because the Catholic Church does NOT consider it to be infallible. There’s a lot of shoulder shrugging and “just pray on it,” and it’s okay if you have a conscious objection to a teaching. It’s so true that churches (Catholic too) and pastors/priests/clergy have seriously psychologically harmed people (and themselves) because of a literal interpretation of the Bible. Fun times ahead for the Muslim world after the recent discovery of Qur’an fragments that are inconsistent with the modern version. Scholars are just beginning to treat the Qur’an with historical exegesis that the Bible has had for quite a while.

        I’ve met at least one Pagan “fundie” who literally believes myth. I’m not too sharp on my Norse myth, but one said that she literally believes that a mountain range in Europe was actually made of dead bodies by Odin. Weird stuff.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Southern Baptist. The Bible was infallible, and literal as long as it matched church doctrine. It’s a confusing faith.

          A devotee of Zeus recently said in an interview on the Highway to Hel column something to the effect that going to the myths for information on the Gods is like going to TMZ for information on actors. I find that a delightful concept!

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        Looking at Christianity as mythology rather than “gospel truth” is liberating, but it’s a difficult approach for anyone to take.

        It is the standard approach for a lot of liberal mainstream Christians.

    • Callisto

      FWIW, Gardner may have been misogynistic but that’s not quite the same as Wicca being so, the God is the Goddess’ consort. Also, the Ardanes were not introduced until some 10 years after Wicca had been in existence – their appearance subsequent to an increasing rift between Gardner and Doreen Valiente, who had been his HPS. (She and others subsequently leaving.) They do not appear nor are alluded to in any of his previous writings, nor appeared in any of Valiente’s. BTWs tend to view them for what they are and are typically handed down along with their BoS as, essentially, artifacts of unknown (and suspect) origins.

      I agree that no one looks at lore in a literal sense, that’s part of being an orthopraxy. I merely point this out because one thing that does hold true in Wicca is that the religion is not equated with individuals. Wiccans don’t look upon the founders as prophets or demi-gods. They are respected for their contributions, but are recognized for being as flawed and human as the rest of us. Gardner was flawed and embroiled in a disagreement with Valiente who had contributed significantly, many would say just as much if not moreso, to the Craft.

  • http://twitter.com/lysana lysana

    Your attempt to rewrite Hebraic paganism to fit your beliefs could be easily argued as cultural appropriation. Are you sure you want to go there? VERY sure? Modern paganism approaches women as equals (or should). Back then? No. Keep those lines clear. You blurred them. Also, do look up Hebrew Earth spirituality as discussed by Eli Sheva. She could explain a few dozen things to you. Cheers!

    • Illiezeulette

      I’m assuming this is a reply to me.

      I’ve tackled several papers in my college academic career on the subject of cultural appropriation. I think what you mean here is unethical cultural appropriation (I do not believe that it’s inherently bad… unless you want to make the case that Roman Paganism is invalid, and I’d love to hear it). Modern Gnosticism does not take a culturally-centered approach to theology (nor historical Gnosticism to my knowledge), and I haven’t found a compelling case that requires me to interpret Judeo-Christian deities as others do. I’m not obligated to keep any lines clear. My worldview is inherently different, and I have never felt like I *have* to view god-human relationships like certain other people do. I’m not a hard polytheist. Blurred lines are the norm from my experiences.

      Also, I’m not attempting to re-write anything. If a deity chooses to talk to me, here and now, that’s fine by me. I do not see gods as static individuals, and they are subject to evolution of practice and opinion as the rest of us. I’m not saying, “I’m entitled to benefit from the spiritual practices of this culture I am not a part of,” but rather, “Deity X keeps tapping me on the shoulder, I guess I better listen and see what happens.”

      Thanks for the recommendation… I’ll look her up (:

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      You’re right. Modern Pagans should be historically accurate. The first CR to start displaying the heads of their enemies wins a prize.

      I doubt I said anything any devotee of Asherah would take issue with. She was originally El’s consort and there’s no suggestion she was seen as being less than him.

      If you’re not aware that women lost rights and power as Christianity rose in power then I’m not certain which history books you’ve been reading. It’s true that equality between the sexes is very different today, but I think ancient women would take issue with our version of equality. The idea that women pay taxes in this country while being kept from combat positions would offend many ancient women.

      • http://twitter.com/lysana lysana

        You are apparently unaware that women lacked equal rights in early cultures, too. Want historical accuracy? Start there. And if you aren’t sure what Asherah devotees would say about your essay, you clearly haven’t even tried to research it. Snarky remarks about displaying heads, which would be a violation of modern laws, don’t help you look any more intelligent, either.

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          Gay people lacked equal rights as well, but they had more rights and freedom than under Christianity.

          I’m not certain why you are so hostile and taking my words out of context but I’m not indulging your anger any further.

  • http://twitter.com/lysana Brenda/Lysana/either

    Your attempt to rewrite Hebraic paganism to fit your beliefs could be easily argued as cultural appropriation. Are you sure you want to go there? VERY sure? Modern paganism approaches women as equals (or should). Back then? No. Keep those lines clear. You blurred them. Also, do look up Hebrew Earth spirituality as discussed by Eli Sheva. She could explain a few dozen things to you. Cheers!

    • Illiezeulette

      I’m assuming this is a reply to me.

      I’ve tackled several papers in my college academic career on the subject of cultural appropriation. I think what you mean here is unethical cultural appropriation (I do not believe that it’s inherently bad… unless you want to make the case that Roman Paganism is invalid, and I’d love to hear it). Modern Gnosticism does not take a culturally-centered approach to theology (nor historical Gnosticism to my knowledge), and I haven’t found a compelling case that requires me to interpret Judeo-Christian deities as others do. I’m not obligated to keep any lines clear. My worldview is inherently different, and I have never felt like I *have* to view god-human relationships like certain other people do. I’m not a hard polytheist. Blurred lines are the norm from my experiences.

      Also, I’m not attempting to re-write anything. If a deity chooses to talk to me, here and now, that’s fine by me. I do not see gods as static individuals, and they are subject to evolution of practice and opinion as the rest of us. I’m not saying, “I’m entitled to benefit from the spiritual practices of this culture I am not a part of,” but rather, “Deity X keeps tapping me on the shoulder, I guess I better listen and see what happens.”

      Thanks for the recommendation… I’ll look her up (:

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      You’re right. Modern Pagans should be historically accurate. The first CR to start displaying the heads of their enemies wins a prize.

      I doubt I said anything any devotee of Asherah would take issue with. She was originally El’s consort and there’s no suggestion she was seen as being less than him.

      If you’re not aware that women lost rights and power as Christianity rose in power then I’m not certain which history books you’ve been reading. It’s true that equality between the sexes is very different today, but I think ancient women would take issue with our version of equality. The idea that women pay taxes in this country while being kept from combat positions would offend many ancient women.

      • http://twitter.com/lysana Brenda/Lysana/either

        You are apparently unaware that women lacked equal rights in early cultures, too. Want historical accuracy? Start there. And if you aren’t sure what Asherah devotees would say about your essay, you clearly haven’t even tried to research it. Snarky remarks about displaying heads, which would be a violation of modern laws, don’t help you look any more intelligent, either.

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          Gay people lacked equal rights as well, but they had more rights and freedom than under Christianity.

          I’m not certain why you are so hostile and taking my words out of context but I’m not indulging your anger any further.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_A62YWBEVBD4CTA3U5WQXV7LSA4 Bodicea Gateskeeper

    I loved this. Thanks for writing it. This is the best portrayal of Pandora I’ve ever come across, and makes much more sense than the more modern versions talking about her being some creature who spent her days wondering about the jar. I’ve never been into Wicca very much…..but it does sound interesting the way you put it!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_A62YWBEVBD4CTA3U5WQXV7LSA4 Bodicea Gateskeeper

    I loved this. Thanks for writing it. This is the best portrayal of Pandora I’ve ever come across, and makes much more sense than the more modern versions talking about her being some creature who spent her days wondering about the jar. I’ve never been into Wicca very much…..but it does sound interesting the way you put it!

  • Azhurelace

    Wow.. that was amazing wording and perfect in every way!

  • Azhurelace

    Wow.. that was amazing wording and perfect in every way!

  • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

    There is what is described as a “little known myth” where Persephone is actually responsible for the creation of Human kind.

    Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 220 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :

    “When Cura [i.e. Koure, Persephone] was crossing a certain river, she saw some clayey mud. She took it up thoughtfully and began to fashion a man. While she was pondering on what she had done, Jove [Zeus] came up; Cura asked him to give the image life, and Jove readily grant this. When Cura wanted to give it her name, Jove forbade, and said that his name should be given it. But while they were disputing about the name, Tellus [Gaia or Demeter] arose and said that it should have her name, since she had given her own body. They took Saturnus [Kronos] for judge; he seems to have decided for them : Jove, since you gave him life [text missing, presumably he was given control of the fate of men] let her [Persephone] receive his body [after death]; since Cura fashioned him; let her [Gaia] posses him as long as he lives, but since there is controversy about his name, let him be called homo, since he seems to be made from humus.”

    I wrote about my own take on the story at my blog a while back: http://maidtoqueen.blogspot.com/2010/02/persephone-and-creation-of-mankind.html

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      That is charming. I’m totally claiming to be a hummus-based lifeform from now on!

      • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

        mmm, tasty. But for me, only Dearborn MI hummus. Best Ever. Everything else pales in comparison.

    • Nestis

      I can’t thank you enough for bringing my attention to this Persephone-centric creation myth. I’m also in love with your blog and should have delurked earlier to tell you so. :)

      Because above all, I too am a devotee of the Iron Queen. Blessings on you, my sister, in Her holy name.

  • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

    There is what is described as a “little known myth” where Persephone is actually responsible for the creation of Human kind.

    Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 220 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :

    “When Cura [i.e. Koure, Persephone] was crossing a certain river, she saw some clayey mud. She took it up thoughtfully and began to fashion a man. While she was pondering on what she had done, Jove [Zeus] came up; Cura asked him to give the image life, and Jove readily grant this. When Cura wanted to give it her name, Jove forbade, and said that his name should be given it. But while they were disputing about the name, Tellus [Gaia or Demeter] arose and said that it should have her name, since she had given her own body. They took Saturnus [Kronos] for judge; he seems to have decided for them : Jove, since you gave him life [text missing, presumably he was given control of the fate of men] let her [Persephone] receive his body [after death]; since Cura fashioned him; let her [Gaia] posses him as long as he lives, but since there is controversy about his name, let him be called homo, since he seems to be made from humus.”

    I wrote about my own take on the story at my blog a while back: http://maidtoqueen.blogspot.com/2010/02/persephone-and-creation-of-mankind.html

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      That is charming. I’m totally claiming to be a hummus-based lifeform from now on!

      • http://www.maidtoqueen.blogspot.com Laura M. LaVoie

        mmm, tasty. But for me, only Dearborn MI hummus. Best Ever. Everything else pales in comparison.

    • Nestis

      I can’t thank you enough for bringing my attention to this Persephone-centric creation myth. I’m also in love with your blog and should have delurked earlier to tell you so. :)

      Because above all, I too am a devotee of the Iron Queen. Blessings on you, my sister, in Her holy name.

  • Lorenakoran

    I enjoyed reading this, thank you! I wrote something on this order a few months ago. I published in in my FB notes and just now put it in my blog as i had said i would then forgot. If you want to read it here is the link – http://lorenakoran.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/christianity-needs-the-shekinah-glory-back-in-god/?preview=true&preview_id=156&preview_nonce=7a8470cbb2.

  • Lorenakoran

    I enjoyed reading this, thank you! I wrote something on this order a few months ago. I published in in my FB notes and just now put it in my blog as i had said i would then forgot. If you want to read it here is the link – http://lorenakoran.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/christianity-needs-the-shekinah-glory-back-in-god/?preview=true&preview_id=156&preview_nonce=7a8470cbb2.

  • uperc

    Thank you … a perfect way to start the day. :’)

  • uperc

    Thank you … a perfect way to start the day. :’)

  • mariele

    “Telling my life in your song.”
    Thank you.

  • mariele

    “Telling my life in your song.”
    Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dee-Romesburg/684106797 Dee Romesburg

    Wonderful! I like your version of Pandora’s story far better than the one I read as a child. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dee-Romesburg/684106797 Dee Romesburg

    Wonderful! I like your version of Pandora’s story far better than the one I read as a child. ;-)

  • Beast

    It is hard for me to really understand why this subject is always so emotionally charged. The scene you painted Star, crying because you were a girl brought tears to my eyes. I have always been balanced as far as yin yang goes so extremes are just hard for me to get. As a child having strict catholic up bringing I questioned why women had to cover their heads in church and why there were no alter girls; I was 3rd or 4th grade. Those questions did not go over well. By High School the Eve was the cause of being kicked out of the garden was just one of many reasons I had enough of catholic brain washing. I lean more towards the Goddesses for childhood reasons I don’t care to get into. That in spite of the ex leaving me with four children for a younger guy with rich parents. My kids used to give me both Mothers day and Fathers day cards. Yes I was the custodial parent. I have found when in a group of men who are using demeaning terms for women, that asking if they have daughters usually results in silence then a change of subject. Many times I have felt shame for being a man, till I realize this women are second class is not my doing. For me women should not be ahead of or behind me nor above or below me. Women should be beside me as my equal; different but equal. Not everyone agrees with that though. My take with out all the history though that was good too.

  • Beast

    It is hard for me to really understand why this subject is always so emotionally charged. The scene you painted Star, crying because you were a girl brought tears to my eyes. I have always been balanced as far as yin yang goes so extremes are just hard for me to get. As a child having strict catholic up bringing I questioned why women had to cover their heads in church and why there were no alter girls; I was 3rd or 4th grade. Those questions did not go over well. By High School the Eve was the cause of being kicked out of the garden was just one of many reasons I had enough of catholic brain washing. I lean more towards the Goddesses for childhood reasons I don’t care to get into. That in spite of the ex leaving me with four children for a younger guy with rich parents. My kids used to give me both Mothers day and Fathers day cards. Yes I was the custodial parent. I have found when in a group of men who are using demeaning terms for women, that asking if they have daughters usually results in silence then a change of subject. Many times I have felt shame for being a man, till I realize this women are second class is not my doing. For me women should not be ahead of or behind me nor above or below me. Women should be beside me as my equal; different but equal. Not everyone agrees with that though. My take with out all the history though that was good too.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sun.moon.earth.and.stars Theresa Wade

    Wow… just WOW!

  • http://profiles.google.com/sun.moon.earth.and.stars Theresa Wade

    Wow… just WOW!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643444028 Carmit Mizrahi Hartal

    Few corrections:

    1) The “queen of heaven” mentioned in your biblical quote is not Aherah, but her daughter, Astarte. She was the one widely worshiped in ancient Israel.

    2) There is no evidence that the *goddess* Ashera was worshiped among Israelites. They did use a ritual object called asherah (with a small a).

    3) Since Israelites never worshiped Asherah as a goddess, she also was very, very rarely considered Yahweh’s wife. Yahweh did absorb most of Asherah’s husband (El) properties, and one of those properties sometimes was his wife. However, there was no Israelite “divine couple”. That is reinventing history.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      What are your scholarly sources for these claims?

      I am particularly taken aback by the claim that Astarte is Ashera’s daughter. Every source I’ve run across treats those as linguistic cognates.

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

      1) it’s unclear whether the ‘Queen of Heaven’ refers to Asherah or Astarte in the Hebrew Bible.

      2) There’s no reason not to assume that the ritual objects called Asherah in the Hebrew Bible weren’t associated with the worship of the deity Asherah.

      3) At Kuntillat Ajrud an inscription (and depiction) dating to the 8th century BCE was found which calls on YHWH and ‘his Asherah’ for blessing (בירכתי אתכם ליהוה שומרון ולאשרתו)

      Another similar inscription was found at Khirbet el-Kom which read “Blessed be Uriyahu by YHWH and by his Asherah; from his enemies he saved him!”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643444028 Carmit Mizrahi Hartal

        Ian: Of course I have scholarly sources to my claims. See Mark Smith’s The Early History of God as well as The Origins of Biblical Monotheism. Some of Dannis Pardee’s work with Ugrait’s texts. Simon B. Parker’s work with same texts.

        Kauko: 1) Actually it *is* clear that it’s Astarte. It’s clear both from biblical language itself, as well as from external sources (i.e. ancient Cannaanite sources referring to Astarte as such. The only debate regarding this title is weather or not Astarte at this point was already “mixed” in local culture with the Babylonian Ishtar or not. Either way, definitely not Asherah.

        2) Recent studies show differently. See above sources I mentioned for Ian. There are tons of other researches I can quote, but only if you speak Hebrew :)

        3) This finding is one of only two references to Asherah in such a way, compared to doznes (over a hundred perhaps? never counted properly) of other pieces of evidences to the contrary. This is why I wrote “very, very rarely considered”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643444028 Carmit Mizrahi Hartal

    Few corrections:

    1) The “queen of heaven” mentioned in your biblical quote is not Asherah, but her daughter, Astarte. She was the one widely worshiped in ancient Israel.

    2) There is no evidence that the *goddess* Ashera was worshiped among Israelites. They did use a ritual object called asherah (with a small a).

    3) Since Israelites never worshiped Asherah as a goddess, she also was very, very rarely considered Yahweh’s wife. Yahweh did absorb most of Asherah’s husband (El) properties, and one of those properties sometimes was his wife. However, there was no Israelite “divine couple”. That is reinventing history.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      So the Book of Jeremiah is wrong?

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      What are your scholarly sources for these claims?

      I am particularly taken aback by the claim that Astarte is Ashera’s daughter. Every source I’ve run across treats those as linguistic cognates.

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

      1) it’s unclear whether the ‘Queen of Heaven’ refers to Asherah or Astarte in the Hebrew Bible.

      2) There’s no reason not to assume that the ritual objects called Asherah in the Hebrew Bible weren’t associated with the worship of the deity Asherah.

      3) At Kuntillat Ajrud an inscription (and depiction) dating to the 8th century BCE was found which calls on YHWH and ‘his Asherah’ for blessing (בירכתי אתכם ליהוה שומרון ולאשרתו)

      Another similar inscription was found at Khirbet el-Kom which read “Blessed be Uriyahu by YHWH and by his Asherah; from his enemies he saved him!”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643444028 Carmit Mizrahi Hartal

        Ian: Of course I have scholarly sources to my claims. See Mark Smith’s The Early History of God as well as The Origins of Biblical Monotheism. Some of Dannis Pardee’s work with Ugrait’s texts. Simon B. Parker’s work with same texts.

        Kauko: 1) Actually it *is* clear that it’s Astarte. It’s clear both from biblical language itself, as well as from external sources (i.e. ancient Cannaanite sources referring to Astarte as such. The only debate regarding this title is weather or not Astarte at this point was already “mixed” in local culture with the Babylonian Ishtar or not. Either way, definitely not Asherah.

        2) Recent studies show differently. See above sources I mentioned for Ian. There are tons of other researches I can quote, but only if you speak Hebrew :)

        3) This finding is one of only two references to Asherah in such a way, compared to doznes (over a hundred perhaps? never counted properly) of other pieces of evidences to the contrary. This is why I wrote “very, very rarely considered”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362174498 Lillitu Shahar Kunning

    Interesting, Star. Theologically, I believe that men came second, just as they do in the womb. Men are formed from women- as above so below.

    This also fits my tradition’s creation story- all comes from God Herself, including all other gods and goddesses and all of creation. She is the origin, just like in humans here on earth.

    The earlier Greek myths reflected this- it was only after the Hellenic Greeks took over that they flipped the story to be more patriarchal. (Women coming from men).

    I also have huge issues with women who leave men out, as well as try and define for other people what a woman is (and therefore leave out trans women). I am in a trad that has amazingly strong male Witches, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Nestis

      So you consider your theological etiology to be inclusive of trans women?

      • Sara A.

        Our theology is pretty inclusive, period. The creation story in particular depicts gender as a spectrum of transformation, so…yeah.

        • Nestis

          I also consider my thealogy to be inclusive, and I believe that sex/gender is a spectrum (male and female are not oppositional, biologically or socially).

          However, I do agree with the OP that female is the root from which all human life springs, and I think this is supported scientifically as well as thealogically.

          I include not all only all women but all people in my personal thealogy (Dianicism is highly diverse and personalized).

          But my question is of the inclusiveness of all women in your thealogy’s etiology, not the overall inclusiveness of your theology.

          In the recent transwomen vs. Dianic Witchcraft debate I frequently saw a condemnation of any thealogical structure which due to etiological considerations having to do with the womb, acknowleged ciswomanhood as different than transwomenhood, and saw a vehement attack against the idea of mystery religion focused on this etiological (or womb-related) conception of womanhood.

          The OP is someone I remember vocally speaking out against the concept of ciswomen-only ritual space, so I was curious to know how she could, and perhaps why she would, acknowlege the womb mystery as a legitimate basis for a woman-first creation mythos.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1362174498 Lillitu Shahar Kunning

    Interesting, Star. Theologically, I believe that men came second, just as they do in the womb. Men are formed from women- as above so below.

    This also fits my tradition’s creation story- all comes from God Herself, including all other gods and goddesses and all of creation. She is the origin, just like in humans here on earth.

    The earlier Greek myths reflected this- it was only after the Hellenic Greeks took over that they flipped the story to be more patriarchal. (Women coming from men).

    I also have huge issues with women who leave men out, as well as try and define for other people what a woman is (and therefore leave out trans women). I am in a trad that has amazingly strong male Witches, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Nestis

      So you consider your theological etiology to be inclusive of trans women?

      • Sara A.

        Our theology is pretty inclusive, period. The creation story in particular depicts gender as a spectrum of transformation, so…yeah.

        • Nestis

          I also consider my thealogy to be inclusive, and I believe that sex/gender is a spectrum (male and female are not oppositional, biologically or socially).

          However, I do agree with the OP that female is the root from which all human life springs, and I think this is supported scientifically as well as thealogically.

          I include not all only all women but all people in my personal thealogy (Dianicism is highly diverse and personalized).

          But my question is of the inclusiveness of all women in your thealogy’s etiology, not the overall inclusiveness of your theology.

          In the recent transwomen vs. Dianic Witchcraft debate I frequently saw a condemnation of any thealogical structure which due to etiological considerations having to do with the womb, acknowleged ciswomanhood as different than transwomenhood, and saw a vehement attack against the idea of mystery religion focused on this etiological (or womb-related) conception of womanhood.

          The OP is someone I remember vocally speaking out against the concept of ciswomen-only ritual space, so I was curious to know how she could, and perhaps why she would, acknowlege the womb mystery as a legitimate basis for a woman-first creation mythos.

  • Eileendalla

    Thank You!!!

  • Eileendalla

    Thank You!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000082981324 Anathema Herem

    I can remember lying awake at night with tears running down my face, or kneeling for hours by my bed, pleading with God. I remember watching my body round and bleed during my early teenage years, and thinking in a sort of angry despair that God made me for nothing but a baby factory and a dogsbody to my eventual husband, so why bother giving me a quick mind? Why did he not answer me? Was God such a sadist?

    This article hit me hard–not the least because I identify so closely with what you’ve said. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000082981324 Anathema Herem

    I can remember lying awake at night with tears running down my face, or kneeling for hours by my bed, pleading with God. I remember watching my body round and bleed during my early teenage years, and thinking in a sort of angry despair that God made me for nothing but a baby factory and a dogsbody to my eventual husband, so why bother giving me a quick mind? Why did he not answer me? Was God such a sadist?

    This article hit me hard–not the least because I identify so closely with what you’ve said. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Nestis

    I agree with Liz that your lack of patience for Dianic and “Goddessy” type Pagans is deeply saddening.

    I understand your anger and need to distance yourself from Z’s hurtful statements towards transwomen, particularly after you had only recently posted her “Gathering the Goddesses” documentry to this very blog. But as you said recently, and quite eloquently. Pagans have no pope.

    This goes for Dianics too. :)

    But as a Dianic, I feel the need to say that I do not “leave the men out”, I simply refuse to place them in a position of privilege, and to many, because of the dominant culture in which we live, it often feels like the same thing.

    How many of you even know that the Feast of Pan coming up in May is a time when many Dianic women, such as myself, choose to honor the men we love, and the Gods who love us?

    I have even chosen to honor this time by writing a ritual to Pan for my local pan-pagan community for this sacred time of year, and there will be no Goddesses invoked.

    The real problem is I refuse to “scale back” my Goddess veneration just because some view it as unbalanced or unfoundedly “man-hating”. I love my husband. I love all men who truly love women and know us to be as fully and truly human as they are.

    The beauty of Paganism is that there IS room at the table for all, but I won’t do the men’s spiritual work for them. I won’t cater to them the way the Church is kept alive by the blood and sweat of my Christian sisters.

    There is never too much Goddess. There is only too little God because there aren’t as many people interested in doing the work behind it.

    And frankly, among the younger generation of women of which I’m a part, it appears that the passion for Goddess has largely faded.

    Either we are slowly are achieving true egalitarianism, or we are simply backlashing into patriarchal Paganism yet again.

    Only time will tell.

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      I don’t feel a need to distance myself from Z. Budapest or any statements I have made in support of her in the past. Z is and has been a hugely positive influence on modern Paganism. Her work in the 70′s especially should endear her to all of our hearts. She’s a fantastic lady.

      Just because she has said things both in the past and present that I disagree with doesn’t mean I dismiss her anymore than I dismiss Gardner or Sanders for some of the weird stuff they espoused. If we were to write off every Pagan elder that has said something controversial or unkind, not only would we be left with few elders but we would be denying our own humanity’s tendency to screw things up once in awhile.

      When I say I have an issue with uber-feminist, overly Goddessy Pagans, I mean just that. No subtext or reactionary politics involved. I prefer an egalitarian, non-political theology and practice. It won’t become egalitarian by emphasizing the Goddess anymore than ham will become ham by making it taste like chicken. If you believe in gender equality, then practice it. It’s the only way it will become the norm.

      • Nestis

        I apologize if I misunderstood what you meant by a lack of patience.

        I am sorry that I do not understand what you mean by “uber-feminist” or “overly Goddessy Pagans”. Your statement that you “mean just that” does in no way clarify it for me, as I consider myself to be a feminist, and a promoter of gender equality simultainously, something it appears you believe to be incongruous.

        I must say, your argument sounds exactly like the argument used to deny the need for affirmative action. To achieve equality in a deeply unequal society is not so easy a task as you would make it sound.

        I have met wondeful Pagan men who I was proud to circle with. I have met many more whose patriarchal thinking was so ingrained that to engage with Goddess is to simply to sexualize the Other as they have always done. The Great Rite doesn’t help these men at all.

        Unfortunately many Pagan women still see themselves as the Other as well.

        Many women cannot find their own self and own strength in a mixed-gender enviroment, or a God venerating enviroment of any kind, at least not until they’ve realized that they’re fully human and fully divine all on their own. There isn’t a one-size-fits all solution for oppression. Particularly when unwitting oppressor and often unwittingly oppressed are circling together but unallowed to see and acknowlege the elephant in the room.

        And what does egalitarism look like? To me it looks like a world where I can be devoted to my Goddess, and circle with my sisters and have my brothers respect my journey as I respect his. A world where we can come together and circle as equals, but not solely on the terms of the dominant paradigm that’s rallying cry is, “You want equality?! Stop acknowledging that people are different even while they are the same! That’s too confusing!”

        A really good book on the concept of patriarchy and how we all interface with it (and how men aren’t bad guys and how most feminists are misconstrued as saying they are) that you might find profoundly eye-opening is The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy by Allan G. Johnson. There’s nothing scary about radical feminism, as one of the male reviewers so eloquently observes. :D

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001KW03XQ/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1566395194&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=18S0J221357PNSXXAEZS

  • Nestis

    I agree with Liz that your lack of patience for Dianic and “Goddessy” type Pagans is deeply saddening.

    I understand your anger and need to distance yourself from Z’s hurtful statements towards transwomen, particularly after you had only recently posted her “Gathering the Goddesses” documentry to this very blog. But as you said recently, and quite eloquently. Pagans have no pope.

    This goes for Dianics too. :)

    But as a Dianic, I feel the need to say that I do not “leave the men out”, I simply refuse to place them in a position of privilege, and to many, because of the dominant culture in which we live, it often feels like the same thing.

    How many of you even know that the Feast of Pan coming up in May is a time when many Dianic women, such as myself, choose to honor the men we love, and the Gods who love us?

    I have even chosen to honor this time by writing a ritual to Pan for my local pan-pagan community for this sacred time of year, and there will be no Goddesses invoked.

    The real problem is I refuse to “scale back” my Goddess veneration just because some view it as unbalanced or unfoundedly “man-hating”. I love my husband. I love all men who truly love women and know us to be as fully and truly human as they are.

    The beauty of Paganism is that there IS room at the table for all, but I won’t do the men’s spiritual work for them. I won’t cater to them the way the Church is kept alive by the blood and sweat of my Christian sisters.

    There is never too much Goddess. There is only too little God because there aren’t as many people interested in doing the work behind it.

    And frankly, among the younger generation of women of which I’m a part, it appears that the passion for Goddess has largely faded.

    Either we are slowly are achieving true egalitarianism, or we are simply backlashing into patriarchal Paganism yet again.

    Only time will tell.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      I don’t feel a need to distance myself from Z. Budapest or any statements I have made in support of her in the past. Z is and has been a hugely positive influence on modern Paganism. Her work in the 70′s especially should endear her to all of our hearts. She’s a fantastic lady.

      Just because she has said things both in the past and present that I disagree with doesn’t mean I dismiss her anymore than I dismiss Gardner or Sanders for some of the weird stuff they espoused. If we were to write off every Pagan elder that has said something controversial or unkind, not only would we be left with few elders but we would be denying our own humanity’s tendency to screw things up once in awhile.

      When I say I have an issue with uber-feminist, overly Goddessy Pagans, I mean just that. No subtext or reactionary politics involved. I prefer an egalitarian, non-political theology and practice. It won’t become egalitarian by emphasizing the Goddess anymore than ham will become ham by making it taste like chicken. If you believe in gender equality, then practice it. It’s the only way it will become the norm.

      • Nestis

        I apologize if I misunderstood what you meant by a lack of patience.

        I am sorry that I do not understand what you mean by “uber-feminist” or “overly Goddessy Pagans”. Your statement that you “mean just that” does in no way clarify it for me, as I consider myself to be a feminist, and a promoter of gender equality simultainously, something it appears you believe to be incongruous.

        I must say, your argument sounds exactly like the argument used to deny the need for affirmative action. To achieve equality in a deeply unequal society is not so easy a task as you would make it sound.

        I have met wondeful Pagan men who I was proud to circle with. I have met many more whose patriarchal thinking was so ingrained that to engage with Goddess is to simply to sexualize the Other as they have always done. The Great Rite doesn’t help these men at all.

        Unfortunately many Pagan women still see themselves as the Other as well.

        Many women cannot find their own self and own strength in a mixed-gender enviroment, or a God venerating enviroment of any kind, at least not until they’ve realized that they’re fully human and fully divine all on their own. There isn’t a one-size-fits all solution for oppression. Particularly when unwitting oppressor and often unwittingly oppressed are circling together but unallowed to see and acknowlege the elephant in the room.

        And what does egalitarism look like? To me it looks like a world where I can be devoted to my Goddess, and circle with my sisters and have my brothers respect my journey as I respect his. A world where we can come together and circle as equals, but not solely on the terms of the dominant paradigm that’s rallying cry is, “You want equality?! Stop acknowledging that people are different even while they are the same! That’s too confusing!”

        A really good book on the concept of patriarchy and how we all interface with it (and how men aren’t bad guys and how most feminists are misconstrued as saying they are) that you might find profoundly eye-opening is The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy by Allan G. Johnson. There’s nothing scary about radical feminism, as one of the male reviewers so eloquently observes. :D

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001KW03XQ/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1566395194&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=18S0J221357PNSXXAEZS


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