Phoenix Goddess Temple Raided by Police

The Phoenix Goddess Temple in Arizona, a neo-tantric religious organization that defines itself as “a sacred place to know the secret inner wisdom of the Cosmic Mother,” was raided by police on Wednesday. Eleven women and five men were taken in for questioning, and made to do a “perp walk” for the cameras, but police would not say, exactly, what the raid was looking for.

“CBS 5 News has also learned this was part of a long term investigation that spanned from the Valley to Sedona. Police served three additional search warrants in the Sedona area and detained several more people for questioning at those locations. […] [Sgt. Steve] Martos would not confirm the nature of the investigation, saying investigators would be working well into the night and more details would be available tomorrow.”

It was revealed that police also raided Sedona Goddess Temple, an affiliate of the Phoenix Goddess Temple. It’s plainly obvious that this is a raid looking for proof of prostitution, though previous sting operations have turned up empty-handed. Why else do a highly publicized raid and perp-walk? So far, there are no reports of actual charges being made, and Phoenix Goddess Temple has released no statement regarding these events. If Phoenix Goddess Temple was simply a house of prostitution with a veneer of religion painted over it, wouldn’t they have been closed down by now? Earlier this year the Phoenix New Times called the temple’s activities “New Age prostitution,” though the men and women at the temple insist that they are engaged in a higher calling.

But despite the obvious eyebrow-raisers at the temple, [Temple founder Tracy] Elise says she’s doing nothing wrong. “The temple is really a church for us,” she says. “We open ourselves with love as an empty channel, and that’s the authority by which I heal. I don’t get my credentials on the ground level. I get my calling and I am under the jurisdiction of the most high.”

Even if no charges are brought from this current investigation, the writing is on the wall. It’s obvious the police are looking for any excuse to shut these temples down. The question now is, should they be able to? Even if some sessions end in “happy endings” aren’t their activities protected by law so long as they don’t directly charge money for sex? If they took this matter to court, would they be able win broader protections since they are religiously sincere in their activities? How should the broader Pagan community engage with sacred sexuality practitioners?

Like Patheos Pagan on Facebook!


What Does the Growth of Unitarian Universalism Mean?
Sick Day
Pagan Psychotherapist Celebrates Conversion Therapy Ban in California
Being a Religious Minority (in Public Schools)
About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The broader Pagan community should be united in defending the rights of the Phoenix Goddess Temple to be free of police harassment as long as they are not violating any laws, and to have an un-sensationalized trial (perhaps by change of venue) if they are charged under an actual statute.

    Even Pagans who do not do and have never done sex magick are under potential threat if the cops can raid a peaceful religious assembly because the police chief doesn’t like the cut of their jib.

  • Astral Fox

    They are violating the law. They are asking for “donations”. As in, you had to donate to these people to have sex. If they were so worried about “healing” people, I don’t think they would care if they could donate or not.

    You can teach sexual healing to couples with your clothing on instead of charging them for sex. This day in age the practice is illegal and has been for a long time. Why would you put your own body at risk by sleeping with someone in order to “heal” them? You aren’t doing yourself a favor as a healer by getting an STD.

    When people are making money this way as a church, it is the government’s business. They do not have to pay taxes because the government says so. It shows that our government supports and allows sexual acts to be paid for if they do not raid businesses like this.

    As a massage therapist, I know many people think it is okay to go to these businesses that pretend to be massage parlors and have sex. Some people seriously believe that is what massage therapy is. It is embarrassing to tell people what my job is because of it. Even though, I am a professional and do not engage in sexual acts with my clients… some people still treat me like trash.

    These people are giving a bad name to real healers and the Pagan community needs to stop them. Not support them.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    They are asking for “donations”. As in, you had to donate to these people to have sex. If they were so worried about “healing” people, I don’t think they would care if they could donate or not.

    Actually, they don’t care if some-one can’t make a donation, but a temple still has bills and rent and so forth — Christians keep their churches running on the church’s bills paid on tithe; asking for some sort of donation from those who certainly can afford it, just to keep the water running, is not evidence of a lacking spirituality or lack of caring for people. Temples have always accepted donations, since at least the pre-Christian Mediterranean.

    You can teach sexual healing to couples with your clothing on instead of charging them for sex.

    Clearly you’ve ignored the comments from people in this thread who’ve explained that they’ve been to the Phoenix Goddess Temple and that they’ve been a part of completely chaste interactions.

    It shows that our government supports and allows sexual acts to be paid for if they do not raid businesses like this.

    You say that as if it’s something wrong?

    These people are giving a bad name to real healers and the Pagan community needs to stop them. Not support them.

    No they don’t, they give a bad name to the Puritanical mores that you yourself espouse, in that there’s nothing at all wrong with the sacred brothel, indeed, there is an historical precedent for it, and the sad part is you don’t even realise how much you’re the real part of the problem, not PGT.

  • Astral Fox

    Yes, there is a problem with the government supporting this. What these people are doing isn’t Tantra, Yoga, Life Counseling… and it is NOT religion. What religion did this Temple even claim to be? They were using practices of Hindu… but they are not acting Hindu at all. T.T

    From what I understand from every article, you HAD to give them donations. That is not what a donation is. They used donations as an term for payment.

    Brothels haven’t been allowed in the United States in a long time. If they want to sell sex, they need to go to another country. So, I suppose since everything in the past was good and great we should also go back to women being treated as dogs, hunting animals with our bare hands, and racism?

    Their rights were not violated. They violated the law. Even if these are religious practices, they are against the United States law and therefore this Temple is not protected by the First Amendment.

    There is no reason in supporting them because they are all going to jail. They broke the law.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    It is not your place, mine or the law’s to declare that what the Temple was doing is not religion.

    As I do not wish to repeat myself, I refer you to the discussions under the other, later posts on this board on this topic about their legal position. It’s as much about whether the law is appropriate as whether the Temple’s actions are appropriate.

  • Astral Fox

    I am also Pagan, a healer, and a yogi. What the temple was doing was not religious. It also was not healing and it wasn’t Tantra. I have done both. I know that these practices could have been performed with clothing on. The term religion has a meaning. If they were not following the meaning of the term ‘religion’, it is simply not a religion. Someone has to put their foot down somewhere.

    Read the FAQs on their website. There are people asking for illegal sexual services and asking how much it will cost. And they always reply with how much the person has to pay for the “treatment”.

    Their website is just like many of the other sex trade websites. The terms they use are slightly different for the girls and the johns.

    It seems odd to me that a church would never admit their religion on their website. They actually jump around from mentioning many different Goddesses from different cultures and religions.

    Lastly, they are in America. As American citizens they agreed to follow the laws just by living here. Sacred brothels have never been part of the American culture. If they wanted to open something like this, it should have been in a country that allows it. America doesn’t and it never has. Yes, we have rights. But we also need to have enough respect for the other people in the country and not impose our culture and different beliefs upon them. If the laws changed, you realize that prostitutes on the street would just say it is their ‘religion’. All prostitution would have to be legal.

    Police went undercover in this temple for six months. I am sure they know just what was going on in there. I am guess many of you do not realize how a prostitution ring works. They only sleep with clients that ask for sex. They only charge for sex when the client asks for it. If you went to this temple and didn’t ask for sexual services, obviously you didn’t get them and didn’t have to pay for them.

    I encourage you to read the FAQs on their website. I was very shocked that they would leave such evidence of their illegal actions on their website.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Repeating your claim that what the Temple does is not religious, does not elevate by one whit your (non-existent) authority to proclaim whether what another group does is religious.

    I lived through the Civil Rights Movement and I can assure you that obeying all the laws is not part of the American contract of citizenship.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    Lastly, they are in America. As American citizens they agreed to follow the laws just by living here. Sacred brothels have never been part of the American culture.
    And until 1967, interracial marriages weren’t a part of U$ culture. Until the 1950s, Paganism was not a part of Amerikan culture.

    You’re really not making a good argument here.

    ….and really, do you have any idea what the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s-1970s actually involved? How many people got arrested? You might as well have just said Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were uppity negroes who should just use the Coloured seats and facilities like The Law at the time said they should.

    Maybe you should look up what Civil disobedience actually means.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    Brothels haven’t been allowed in the United States in a long time. If they want to sell sex, they need to go to another country.


    So, I suppose since everything in the past was good and great we should also go back to women being treated as dogs, hunting animals with our bare hands, and racism?

    Er… Honey, racism still exists, so does hunting animals with one’s bare hands, and plenty of men still treat women as lower than their dogs. Oh, and before you try to back-pedal by mentioning it, slavery still exists, too. You say all this as if these are problems of the human condition that just went away. My guess is that you’re a middle class white kid who’s never had any real problems in her life, and so you are of the false belief that prostitution is some great evil.

    Even if these are religious practices, they are against the United States law

    No, they violated Arizona law; there are three counties and one independent city in Nevada where PGT would have been left completely alone.

    There is no reason in supporting them because they are all going to jail. They broke the law.

    Do you have any IDEA how much is wrong with that statement and the ideals it supports? By the very logic of that statement, well, ancient Paganism was against the law in Greece until 2006, so there is no reason for Greek nationals to support pagans (at least prior to decriminalisation), and if the Dominionists ever get their way in the U$ (which is a laugh and a half, but say hypothetically it were plausible), well, then there’s no reason to support any Paganism in the United $tates, as it would be breaking the law! Hey, and there was no reason to support mixed-race couples in the United $tates until 1967, when the United $tates Congress ruled anti-miscegenation laws (which prevented interracial marriages) to be unconstitutional — and there was no reason until 2003 to support same-sex couples, cos it wasn’t until then that the last of the anti-sodomy laws were struck down! Oh, and look up how long it took for spousal rape to finally be declared a crime in the U$ — I mean, there’s no reason to support the women who ever fought back, sometimes even killing their husbands and executed, cos they were breaking the law by trying to deny the poor men some legally-guaranteed poonany!

    Gods below, can you really show your privilege any more obviously? I’m genuinely curious, at this point.

    Unjust laws need to be broken, their breakers supported, and the laws in question SMASHED DOWN. Otherwise, you’re basically supporting a lot of things you seem to think are horrible.

    Oh, and also what Baruch Dreamstalker said, cos he said it well enough that I don’t have to.

  • AnonGuest

    I object to you saying “err… honey” in a way that sounds like you’re being rude to another person. And WHY when accusations of privilege always so condescending and pointless they’re still considered appropriate angles for debate?

    Talk toward the issues, rather than attacking personally, okay?

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    As a massage therapist, your professional standing is not menaced by the raid. As a Pagan, I’m concerned that the symbols of my religion can be brushed aside by police hot to make a collar. We are not in the same situation relative to this raid, and thus may come to quite different conclusions.

  • Astral Fox

    The government decides what is and is not an official religion. I never saw sacred sex on that list. To be considered a religion officially they must meet certain requirements. The government obviously decided what they were doing was not religious, as they were all arrested and the church is pending removal.

    So yeah, anything can be a religion. Just not one accepted officially by the government. If you aren’t accepted as an official religion, you do not get the religious rights as the religion seen as official by the government.

    Excuse me. I meant living in American and being free to have all your rights and not live in a cell means you have to follow law.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    The government decides what is and is not an official religion. I never saw sacred sex on that list.

    There was once a time that Wicca and Tantra and all sorts of others were not on any sort of list of recognised religions in the United $tates.

    Oh, yeah, see, there’s no such thing as an “official” religion in the U$.

    You really don’t know as much as you think you do.

  • Astral Fox

    Erm… you don’t know as much as you think either Ruadhan… actually read the state religion article you sent. Very first sentence.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    Yes dear, I have — do you know what “endorse” means? Like, in law, do you realise what it means? Did you look at the graph in that article? See, there’s no such thing as an “official religion” in the United $tates — the First Amendment kind of confirms this.

    What you speak of are recognised religions, not “official religions”. And the U$ does not only recognise religions that apply for tax-exempt status, but it makes a religious body’s recognition in court and other places far easier, and it gives the members of that religion a sense of validation.

    And hell, “Jedi religion” is recognised in the U$ — do you seriously want to get into an argument of “it’s not recognised, therefore it’s not a real religion”? I really don’t think you do.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “Native American” is one of the Five Faiths officially recognized by the California Dept of Corrections. It used to be only four but CA was taken to court and this was the result. These things are not fixed in stone, and they change from the bottom up.

  • dragonflyshadowolf

    “So yeah, anything can be a religion. Just not one accepted officially by the government. If you aren’t accepted as an official religion, you do not get the religious rights as the religion seen as official by the government.”

    In case you haven’t heard, there is a case in Federal court right now to determine whether or not Paganism can be protected under the First Amendment with the argument that it is not a religion. Just Sayin’

  • Astral Fox

    Also this will be my final reply to you. It is obvious that you are just looking for a fight. You have had something negative to say about every comment on this page. Every opinion, but your own is obviously incorrect. So, I am sorry I wasted your time with mine. Seeing as my morals are so confused because I think people should actually know each other before having sex and I don’t support prostitution, “sacred” or otherwise.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    Legislating morals tends to lend itself well to theocracies, not religious freedom.

  • Astral Fox

    Both of you have attacked and belittled every poster. Every single one.

    You have attacked typos, small details, and only brought “evidence” that has nothing to do with the issue.

    Ruadhan, I am talking about the present point in time. I am sure you will take whatever I say out of context in order to try to make me look stupid. I am sorry I am having a hard time getting through you.

    Prostitution has been in the “history” of one state. If you can call, the 1900’s even history. My point, which I apparently can’t get through to you (despite repeating myself as Baruch so kindly pointed out) is that the country has never had “SACRED” brothels.

    That isn’t even the point. You people keep getting off track. I made a statement which was correct. What the Goddess Temple was doing IS illegal. Stop defending them. You both act as if you worked for them. Sheesh. Chill out. You are bringing up things that do not even relate to the issue.

    This was an illegal ring. No matter what you say, you cannot change that. These practices that they say they did, they obviously didn’t. Even a Tantra teacher is going against them. I have practiced some of these practices for years and I can tell you in honesty that isn’t what they were doing. You can tell from the website they had no idea how to properly teach those practices. And yes, I am aware that the owner has spoken at Expos. Then again, she was the just owner and not an employee.

    I am not a middle class white girl, thank you very much. Not that you are being sexist or racist. I guess I was wrong. It IS still in the world yet. I have seen just as many hard times as the next person. Thank you for judging me and showing me respect.

    You need to stop attacking people. You need to chill out. You need to think about what you are making the entire community look like. Do you realize how it will look for the entire Pagan community protects a TRUE prostitution ring? You need to realize that this wasn’t even a Pagan issue. This is a legal issue.

    You don’t even know what religion these people claimed to be! How can you sit there and preach about saving these poor innocent people? You haven’t researched what is important. The actual case.

    You know, neither of us can make the choice. We can see who is right and let the courts decide. I am sure you are now going to tell me the court are full of Christians and they are corrupt. But I really don’t want to hear it. So, save your time. This stupid “middle class white girl” doesn’t have time to debate about this anymore. It is pointless.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Astral Fox, the opinion that you have repeatedly expressed here has drawn agreement elsewhere in the sheaf of posts on this topic — this one and later ones. Were you to accept the invitation earlier offered to go there, you would find kindred souls to reinforce and be reinforced by you.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    Both of you have attacked and belittled every poster. Every single one.

    Are you and I reading the same thread?

    You have attacked typos, small details, and only brought “evidence” that has nothing to do with the issue.

    Patently untrue.

    Ruadhan, I am talking about the present point in time.

    And I am talking about how laws are clearly not absolutes written in stone. Laws are mutable, they change with the times and whenever deemed necessary. Clearly you can see that in every example I’ve brought up, non?

    Prostitution has been in the “history” of one state. If you can call, the 1900’s even history.

    Not so, either. Prostitution was generally legal during the U$ War of Independence, and many military generals encouraged their men to be with prostitutes for morale. Into the 19th Century (that’s the 1800s), street prostitution was illegal under vagrancy laws, though by the mid-Victorian, brothels became criminalised, as well, though seldom enforced until Prohibition.

    (despite repeating myself as Baruch so kindly pointed out)

    Oh no, dear, we understand your point — we’re just explaining to you why you’re wrong. You’re the one who seems unable to “get it”.

    is that the country has never had “SACRED” brothels.

    So? At one time, the U$ never had interracial marriages between Blacks and whites, never had same-sex marriage, and at one time marijuana was completely legal and unregulated. At one time, there was no such crime as spousal rape, and at one time it was unthinkable that women would be able to vote. So there has never been a history of sacred prostitution in the U$? So what? That doesn’t prove anything.

    You people keep getting off track. I made a statement which was correct. What the Goddess Temple was doing IS illegal. Stop defending them.

    Why? Because it’s allegedly illegal? Tell me, child, have there ever been any Civil Rights activists you’ve looked up to? Just because doing a thing is “illegal” doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Susan B Anthony voted when it was still illegal for women, and she got arrested, and guess what? EVENTUALLY, though over fifteen years after she had died, women were finally allowed to vote legally.

    You’re REALLY going to pull that “because it’s illegal, it’s wrong” BS at me? I’m sure from your ivory tower, you’d be surprised at how much in this world was illegal, but became decriminalised, and even legalised and regulated, long before you were born — and I’m sure some of the legal things, both historical and that still are on the books in the US, especially, would surprise you. Just because a thing is legal or criminalised doesn’t make it right or wrong, ethically.

    You are bringing up things that do not even relate to the issue.

    No I’m not. The fact that you can’t see it really shows your privilege and how it’s made you blind.

    I have practiced some of these practices for years and I can tell you in honesty that isn’t what they were doing.

    And? All you’ve made a valid argument for is terminology, not whether their actions are ethically right or wrong.

  • Astral Fox

    In your opinion, how is the United States benefiting from including sacred brothels in our legal system?

    And I am being dead serious. I want your opinion. It isn’t fair that I cannot state my opinion because it is my “morals” that I am somehow opposing. Are you not doing the same thing?

    Marriage between races is different. Women are made victims by prostitution everyday. Ask anyone who works to help these women. I have known two prostitutes in my lifetime. In fact, I lived with one of them. (Remember me saying I wasn’t a middle class kid?)

    Most women do not want to be prostitutes, sacred or not. Most women given the chance would regret prostitution from becoming legal.

    Yes, I realize there are males also and they suffer just as much. I just cannot speak for them as I am not male. There is also far fewer males who do this in America.

    I agree that sex can be sacred and holy. But why are charging money for it? It has so much more meaning and energy when you love the person you are doing it with. That creation of positive energy is what makes it holy and sacred.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t be so against this if I knew the world could deal with it. The Goddess Temple wasn’t sacred. You can tell from the information they sent out themselves. From the image they gave out.

    A sacred brothel despite not being some terrible thing would not work in the United States. Too many laws would have to be changed and even then, we couldn’t protect everyone from creating more fake sacred brothels.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    “In your opinion, how is the United States benefiting from including sacred brothels in our legal system?”

    Last I checked, religions don’t need to prove themselves beneficial.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    In your opinion, how is the United States benefiting from including sacred brothels in our legal system?

    How would it not benefit people to have their life calling decriminalised?

    And I am being dead serious. I want your opinion. It isn’t fair that I cannot state my opinion because it is my “morals” that I am somehow opposing. Are you not doing the same thing?

    I’m not preaching morals. Outside of the practical slavery of over 90% of street prostitution, Prostitution and brothels are victimless crimes, and if Nevada and Amsterdam, Germany, Eastern Australian and NZ have taught people nothing else about prostitution, it’s taught people that it can be safe, when regulated. My own personal morals, whatever they may be, are not at all a part of this; it’s logic, reason, and ethics.

    Marriage between races is different. Women are made victims by prostitution everyday. Ask anyone who works to help these women.

    And if you were to ask the average white person in North Amerika 100 years if miscegenation was victimless, you might be surprised by your answer. And yes, I have known prostitutes –both street-workers and also employees of legal, regulated brothels. My best friend has worked on and off at a brothel in Queensland, Australia, and she most certainly not a victim. The grim picture you paint, while true of a fraction of prostitution that varies in size by one’s location, is still one very far from the whole picture — indeed, it is a picture very far from the truth. To say my best friend is victimised by her choice to work at a place where she earns more than the prime minister, and has ultimate choice in which clients she will and won’t work with, is the epitome of sexism, as it implies that she’s too stupid to know what she “really feels” about her own life and circumstances.

    I have known two prostitutes in my lifetime. In fact, I lived with one of them. (Remember me saying I wasn’t a middle class kid?)

    That doesn’t mean anything; plenty of college girls do it for a time, for various reasons, and it really says nothing about her class background.

    Most women do not want to be prostitutes, sacred or not.

    Most people don’t want to be morticians or garbage collectors, either — are you suggesting that we should criminalise those professions, as well?

    Most women given the chance would regret prostitution from becoming legal.

    Really? What are you basing this on? Second-wave anti-sex “feminist” rhetoric? It’s legal and regulated in Queensland, and most of the women there seem to be getting along just fine. It’s legal and unregulated in India, and most women there live in greater fear of cholera and leprosy than the Prostitution Boogeyman that exists only in the realm of Second Wave scare propaganda.

    Yes, I realize there are males also and they suffer just as much.

    I suffered during my time as a sex worker? That’s news to me.

    I agree that sex can be sacred and holy. But why are charging money for it? It has so much more meaning and energy when you love the person you are doing it with. That creation of positive energy is what makes it holy and sacred.

    I disagree. I’ve had incredibly unfulfilling sex with people I was in love with, and incredibly fulfiling and gratifying sex with people when money was involved. I’ve also had it the other way around. Sex is a gift of Eros, true, and that alone gives it a holy veneer, especially to those who worship Him, but this veneer is not guaranteed to intensify when love, or hate, or any other emotional attachment is involved. Sometimes it intensifies with stronger emotions, sometimes when you ask Eros for His presence, and sometimes just when the spirits decide it should. Sex is no more predictable than any other human interaction.

    And temples need money to keep their roofs overhead and their hearths burning — how that money is obtained will vary by temple. It has always been this way.

    Lastly, I wouldn’t be so against this if I knew the world could deal with it. The Goddess Temple wasn’t sacred. You can tell from the information they sent out themselves. From the image they gave out.

    No, you cannot. While that may be your opinion, and while some others may share it, that does not make it absolute fact.

    A sacred brothel despite not being some terrible thing would not work in the United States. Too many laws would have to be changed and even then, we couldn’t protect everyone from creating more fake sacred brothels.

    I doubt you have an all-seeing ability to know what would and would not work, and I also have severe doubts that it is within your abilities at all to decide if another’s spirituality is “fake” or not, and whether or not it’s something that one needs “protecting from”.

    No matter what laws exist, there are going to be disingenuous people who exploit certain apparent loopholes — so yeah, in this instance, the safest move may be to decriminalise and regulate all prostitution, while extending tax-exempt status to brothels and sacred prostitutes affiliated with specific recognised temples. Whether those temples are genuine in their spirituality or not is not for outsiders to judge — and it’s not like there aren’t already “religious institutions”, even ones that have obtained 501(c)3 tax-exemption by their respective $tates, that have more evidence of being bogus tax-scams than PGT does; Scientology is a good and prominent example, yet at the same time, there are people who get something genuine out of Scientology outside of the well-documented tax-scam that is the Church of Scientology.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Every opinion of mine that you’ve seen is negative because you keep repeating the same opinion and I continue to disagree with you. Why don’t you check out other posts on this blog and see the actual range of my comments.

  • Ed Hubbard

    This is not the first time a temple with a sacred sexuality basis has come under fire. My fear has always been that this type of activity will be taken as criminal (and it is not) and that they can use it preemptively for all manner of classes, groups, and future temples from forming.

  • kenneth

    The Christian Mutaween is at it again…..

  • Norse Alchemist

    It’s not just the Christians. It’s everyone at this point, black, white, gay, Muslim, etc…

    How long will it be before we’re hauled into courts because we speak against a Monotheistic belief system? Many a Heathen already faces charges of racism just because we walk/pray/live with the Norse/Teutonic gods. If people can be arrested for singing “Kung Fu Fighting” or for simply saying they don’t understand what their classmates are saying when they speak a foreign language, how much more so we who protest against the tyranny of YHVH, Christ, and Allah?

    Our speech, our actions, our religions, our way of life. They all offend someone. How long until it is we who are hauled off for the pipe, or the mead horn, or being skyclad, or teaching our religion to our children (many of whom have already been stolen away simply because Pagan Parents wished to pass on Pagan Beliefs)?

  • BlackJar72

    That may be true — but I for one am sure its the Christians, fanatical and nominal, that are ultimately to blame — they see there ways as the only ways (though I suspect Muslims aren’t much better).

  • Lady Greenflame

    If it’s considered legal by constitution to behead a chicken or other animal in the name of your religion, it ought to be considered legal to have adult, consensual sex in the name of your religion.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Uh, didn’t we just have an article here about it being illegal to behead a chicken?

  • Lori F – MN

    Only illegal because chicken was within city limits. and within business [health issue]. Not illegal to behead, outside city limits and for religious reason. But there are probably exceptions to those laws too.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The US Supreme Court struck down, iirc in the 1980s, a law banning animal sacrifice alone. Ie, not a broader ban on killing livestock for any purpose within city limits. The city was Hialeah, FL.

  • Fanny Fae

    Non profit organizations or not for profit entities still have offices. Churches have offices. Using the language of “religious donation” in the context that it is being presented by the media does make it sound as if the Temple is in fact trying to run the ragged edge of legality. Any time there is a discussion of the exchange of money, especially in connection with sex or what the dominant culture finds “threatening”, you are going to have issues. Now, whether all of this s simply a media and police slant vs. what is really the mission of the religious organization itself will be interesting to see. It is going to be a fine line to walk in either case, one mis-step by either side will make or break their case.

  • Bex Van Koot

    It’s not like other churches don’t accept money… heck, if you ask me, it’s a great deal more ethical to charge money for sex than it is to charge money for salvation!

  • Norse Alchemist

    And there were the sacred prostitutes in the temples back in the day. So it’s not like there isn’t religious precedent.

  • Fanny Fae

    I completely agree with you, Bex – however, in this particular case, and within this particular news story, “religious donation” is being used as a form of weasel word to at least infer disingenuous use of language to get around the laws against prostitution. The press can claim objectivity and yet use language that is meant to incite a specific reaction from the viewership. Really, just how many of these people who are coming for “sexual healing” are actually members of the temple, (or even Pagan at all) versus how many are just simply johns that want something on the side and would break the law by paying a street walker?

    Let’s face it, it’s a common practice when there is an agenda – which in this particular case, in the dominant culture definitely has one, to remove so-called “undesirables” in a sort of NIMBY mentality. Everyone says that they are live and let live and tout freedom of religion until they find something that someone else is doing that goes against their own mores going on right in their back yard.

  • AnonGuest

    NIMBY is a completely reasonable reaction – someone with a family living in a home is not likely to want dirtbag johns and pimps/madams coming around their neighborhoods. This is why there are red-light districts, and in ancient times, still it was areas of the cities where that was acceptable and appropriate.

    If someone’s renaming their prostitution payments as donations for services and changing their decor and house name after deities, it’s nothing to me but yes, there’s places appropriate for that.

  • Bex Van Koot

    Except that in ancient times, areas that were “acceptable and appropriate” were the taverns and churches.

  • AnonGuest

    In many places taverns and churches involve zoning and regulation, particularly in regard to liquor licensing. And if a business plan causes or will cause problems with its immediate neighbors, those few Board directors who aren’t completely corrupt and in developer pockets are supposed to oppose approval of said businesses in the interest of the public good. ( Which is determined by their opinion)

    Generally the compromise made is to create areas that have the sort of controversial businesses in a clump or a particular district.

  • Cara

    The idea of Sacred Temple Sex Priestesses has been blown all out of proportion. This was not a common practice in any time period in any area of the Middle East or Med (which is where people usually claims these temples existed) There was possibly one, ONE, temple that had these type of practices and really, we aren’t 100% sure about that temple either.

    But yeah – you could find some company at a tavern. Usually a slave who had been born to slavery or was sold into slavery and having sex with whomever, and the attendant diseases, was not something they enjoyed.

  • Babalonian80

    There WERE a lot of Sacred Temples where Sacred Prostitution was practiced in the Ancient times Cara, I have heard people say that there weren’t…I live in the Mediterranean area, I should know

  • Cara

    This reply is Babalonian80 –
    show me the proof of these temples. If there were “lots” of them, it should be easy to show archeaological proof. Correct?

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    There WERE a lot of Sacred Temples where Sacred Prostitution was practiced in the Ancient times Cara, I have heard people say that there weren’t…I live in the Mediterranean area, I should know

    I think this is one of those extraordinary claims that requires extraordinary evidence. Also “I live here, so I should know” is not really a claim of authority. I know people from Michigan’s Upper Peninmsula who have no idea why they’re a part of Michigan, and if asked, will often give a half-true or completely made-up answer –often attempting to legitimise it with “I’m from the UP, and that’s what my teachers told me, so trust me, it’s true”, when, in reality, the real story behind Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is well-documented and says something very different.

    People who are native to, live in, or merely frequent a certain place can often believe a lot of unsubstantiated things, and also a lot of very false things about that place. Oral history is really no more reliable than journalism, and its only chauvinism that leads one to believe differently.

  • AnonGuest

    NIMBY is a completely reasonable reaction – someone with a family living in a home is not likely to want dirtbag johns and pimps/madams coming around their neighborhoods. This is why there are red-light districts, and in ancient times, still it was areas of the cities where that was acceptable and appropriate.

    If someone’s renaming their prostitution payments as donations for services and changing their decor and house name after deities, it’s nothing to me but yes, there’s places appropriate for that.

  • Ronald B

    The temple of the Astarte were temple prostitutes were a gift was left for the Goddess… Freedom of religion is a (^%$##$% ) when The majority are Christains or Muslims… Think about all the Tea party folks running for president are they running for president of the USA or Preacher at the Weeping Willow fundamentalist Baptist church in By-Pass NC. I escaped from a Fundie Baptist church and let me Tell Y’all this, these are Scary people. You would see Gay’s and Witches and Roman Catholic’s killed again if they were in power .. forget ever having a Drink or smoke a cigerette or wear a 2 pc’s Bathing suiet .. cealberating Christmas .. and Holloween, get the stake a firewood out. if you go after one group you can go after any Group

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    …to at least infer

    I think you mean imply.

  • WhiteBirch

    As for “religious donations” aren’t these common in just about every kind of church? As far as I know if you want to be married in most Christian churches you can expect to pay a set amount of ‘donation’ for both the building and the priest’s/minister’s services.

  • Ursyl

    Interesting that the news called the raid odd.

    I want to ask that officer if they’re planning to raid all the Christian churches that have offices too. If having an office makes your organization a business, then every Christian church in the country is a business. Probably every synagogue too, and the Hindu temples. Are there any religious organizations that don’t have an office?

  • David Carron

    Perhaps we should call the cops about all the underage drinking going on in the Churches…

  • AnonGuest

    That’s legal

  • AQ

    Please provide proof of this. Last I checked, it was illegal to furnish alcohol to minors in all the 50 States.

  • Athallia

    3. for religious purposes in 31 states

    Example: drinking wine during a church ceremony

  • AnonGuest

    Thank you!

  • Hbuchy

    maybe they ought to consider relocating to nevada. Looking at their site I can’t really say I am surprised they got a visit, and I am from one of the more sex positive orders of the craft. I’d be hard pressed to come out in support or their defence. They charge fees and not one counsellor/pratictioner has any credentials or affiliations with any type of yoga or sex counciling organisations.

  • Bex Van Koot

    “not one counsellor/pratictioner has any credentials or affiliations with any type of yoga or sex counciling organisations”

    Ummm. I beg to differ.

    Just looking at the website, I can see that Krishna has worked in several temples and trained at the Body Mind College. Magdalena trained as an “Associate Practitioner with the Divine Feminine Institute under the direction of Dr. Joan Heartfield”. Robert Eris, the church minister, “is a professional spiritual practitioner, counselor and healer” who “trained in spiritual sciences for six years at the Agape International Spiritual Center”. Leila Swan is a Reika III practitioner. Yemaya is a registered nurse. Several others appear to either have completed or be in training at the Pheonix or Sedona temples.

  • Hbuchy

    okay I stand corrected 3 out 15 that I looked at so far have some credentials. But c’mon, you can’t tell me that most of the introductions sound like spiels from a phone sex line.The site looks like a dating sevice lol.
    I’m just saying , it’s no wonder they got a visit.

  • Anonymous

    I’d have to agree that their web site is ill constructed, and puts forth a perception similar to a dating site. And I could see why if LEOs only looked at the site, why they’d jump to a raid.

  • Bex Van Koot

    I count five names in my post above.

  • Bex Van Koot

    How many people on the Board of Directors or Managing Committee or Outreach Programs or Feed the Homeless endeavors have gone to seminary school?

  • Alan Salmi

    Are you suggesting that the only legitimate clergy that Pagans should have are graduates of Seminaries? While I support increased education and seminary graduates have contributed greatly to the modern movement, its rather elitest to imply that legitimacy is grounded in a seminary education, especially in Pagan faiths.

  • Skullster

    To Alan Salmi- I could be wrong but I think Bex Van Koot was saying that not everyone who does great things, such as the jobs Bex listed, have credentials that say they should be involved in doing so. And nor should they need to.

  • Hbuchy

    They aren’t filed under 501 c 3 as ‘churches’, nor do boards have to have the credentials unless they are in direct practice of counseling or therapy. even clergy are required to have some credentials in counselling.

  • Hbuchy

    yes you did, nursing and reiki aren’t related to yoga or sex councilling, and are pretty explicit in their codes of ethics in regards to sexual contact, and abiding by law. They don’t meet requirements for sexual therapy, which is pretty much what this organization claims to be engaged in. It’s really that simple, if one is going to publicly promote and advertize sexual counselling for a fee or even a donation one should have the proper credentials. Unless of course one wants to promote that religious privilege grants immunity to any law or regulation.

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    Q: How many of the priests who have been caught in the ongoing sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church are “credentialed”?

    A: All of ’em.

    And not only that, but all of the higher-ups who have carried out the systematic cover-up are highly educated and thoroughly trained.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    …nursing … aren’t related to yoga or sex counselling…

    How many nurses do you know?

  • Guest

    Reiki levels are usually given out in weekend seminars

  • Norse Alchemist

    I don’t think the point is about agreeing with what they’re doing. The point is standing up to stop discrimination against a “pagan religious organization.” After all, the easiest targets are the ones some might not agree with, and once a governing body gets the ability to say “We can stop this” it isn’t long before the start edging for greater and greater control by removing more “unwanted” groups until they have gained enough control to start taking on larger targets.

    After all, who is next? The Dianics? The Asatru Folk Assembly? The Gardnarian Wiccans? Those who publicly practice their religion and offend those that do not believe as we do, all in the name of “public order and decency?” Or perhaps those who practice in secret, for “Being subversive.”

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    For once I agree with Norse Alchemist. The erosion of liberty begins at the vulnerable fringe and works its way in.

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    Well, here is one that Norse Alchemist, Baruch Dreamstalker, Apuleius Platonicus, and Ron Paul can all agree on.

    Also, I think there is nothing wrong with having a default reaction of solidarity with fellow Pagans. Especially considering the sacred principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

    In the interests of full disclosure I also sincerely believe that Larry Craig was a victim of entrapment.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    I agree as well, for what that’s worth.

  • Anonymous

    “innocent until proven guilty.”

    pffft, this is America, you’re guilty. period.
    even after proven innocent you are guilty.

  • AnonGuest

    Yes, you don’t generally get your legal expenses and any damages reimbursed when you are declared innocent.

  • Galenthor

    Seems to me that this has happened repeatedly throughout history… the first witch trials, the christer holy crusade, etc… when does this kind of garbage end?

  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Don’t do the actual great rite, then ask for funding for your charity… or you too might be on the six o’clock news.

  • Daniel Kestral

    And, of course, in Celtic Myth, when, on Samhuinne, the Dagda performs the sacred rite of union (the Heiros Giamos) with the Morrighan, to procure Her favor against the Fomhorian powers in the Second Battle of Moytura.

  • Ronald B

    AS a Hack for over 30 yrs one of the Most stand up group in The joint were The Norse heathenism or Asatru You guy’s stood strong and rightous … That’s all I have to say …

  • MissAnnThrope

    I have to agree with you. Not one is a certified sexual surrogate. No one is a licensed counselor. Body Mind College was mainly a massage school. It closed its doors last year. I’m having a lot of trouble finding anyone on that site who has a degree from an accredited school concerning counseling. Compare the website to certified sexual surrogates websites. Then compare it to an escort site. Especially the photo galleries.

    I have no issues with prostitution. I do have issues with being disingenuous about running a house of prostitution. Tantra is about far more than sexual massage, just as yoga is more than exercise.

    Keep in mind, even escorts who make it clear that you’re paying for their time, not the sex are busted for exchanging money for sex. It doesn’t matter how you phrase it. Whether you’re calling it a girl friend experience or a tantric massage, it boils down to the same thing. Sex in exchange for “donations”. Which tends to be escort language.

  • Fanny Fae

    You bring up a very important point, MissAnnThrope. I completely agree with you. There are ever increasing numbers of states that have laws on the books that say, when you call yourself a “counselor” religious or otherwise, you had best be licensed or you are afoul of the law, period, point END of discussion. That has nothing to do with religious discrimination, that means ALL religious clergy if they call themselves counselors in that state have to have some sort of license.

    Also, many states have licensing for massage therapists to have a “license to touch”. The loopholes are being closed for the very reason that criminals have used such disingenuous language as you have aptly cited in order to get around the laws and religion argument. Many times, it is no less than a dodge. I seem to remember the Pagan community being similarly outraged when people did use the religious argument along with the symbols and wording of a Pagan belief system in order to somehow being a means to try to get out of serious sexual predator charges for example. It should piss off Pagans equally if not more that someone would use our symbolism and beliefs to do something that is illegal.

  • Bex Van Koot

    “You can do whatever you are skilled at doing…. so long as you have enough money to pay for the right ‘training’ program.”

  • Blue Heron

    “I seem to remember the Pagan community being similarly outraged when people did use the religious argument along with the symbols and wording of a Pagan belief system in order to somehow being a means to try to get out of serious sexual predator charges for example. It should piss off Pagans equally if not more that someone would use our symbolism and beliefs to do something that is illegal. ”


    These people are not Pagans or allies of Pagans. This was not a raid of a “Pagan Temple”. It was the raid of a prostitution ring that cloaked itself in new age imagery to avoid prosecution. It didn’t work, and NeoPagans who leap to their defense have fallen for the ruse.

    People engaged in human trafficking who hide behind religious imagery are *exploiting* the religions and spiritual traditions they rip off. This group is exploiting Goddess worshippers, traditional Tantrics, Taoists, etc. just as they are exploiting women who couldn’t find a better job, and lonely people who can’t find a partner.

    I know NeoPagan women who have been prostituted and exploited by these types of groups. They always defend what they’re doing at the time, then when they get out they describe how much it messed them up to be sexual with strangers for pay.

    Have great, consensual sex. Have sex with someone that wants *you*, not your money. Don’t support the sad practice that is prostitution. It has never been a victimless crime and it still isn’t.

    The Pagan community is diverse. Many of us are not at all interested in being associated with new agers who jack people off for money.

  • Blue Heron

    (There seem to be two of us with this screen name. The other comments on the Blue Heron disqua profile are not mine.)

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I’m glad you wound up by saying the Pagan community is diverse, because not all of it shares your “take” on this. We don’t know the motives of these women and men. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt; you lead with suspicion. I guess the community needs both our viewpoints.

  • peaceful man

    I find your judgement and moral outrage interesting. You obviously “know” all there is to know…. a veritable Solomon. Have any of you pagans (or is Pagans? – I seem to remember another thread where someone was upset about that) actually bothered to go to the Goddess Temple? No? Well, then certainly you have at least spoken to these people, in that you have so accurately ascertained their intentions… Ummm… No? Then, I suppose that every word you have typed is more a reflection of your dark side and fear and uncertainty about who and what you are. While I have seen a great many intelligent writers on this blog, Baruch is the only one wise enough to understand that he doesn’t “know”, and his persistent use of “whore” and “brothel” tip his relatively benign judgement (compared to some of the vicious attacks cast). Reading some of these posts, I am beginning to wonder if I didn’t accidentally wander into a Fox News website. And I might offer to all of you: at some point, if you ever wish to be relevant to anyone except each other, you will have to start actually DOING something. Take a stand for something you believe in, not just talk about how stupid, or evil, or not goddess-y enough, or not tantric enough other people are. I have things to DO, in the service of other people, people whose beliefs that I personally do not share, but whom I KNOW to be sincere, people whom I KNOW are not prostitutes, regardless of your narrow and protectionist point of veiw. I wish you all well, and I shall not bother any of you for support for other people again. Good luck.

  • Faoladh

    That’s not really productive, is it?

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    I seem to remember the Pagan community being similarly outraged when people did use the religious argument along with the symbols and wording of a Pagan belief system in order to somehow being a means to try to get out of serious sexual predator charges for example. It should piss off Pagans equally if not more that someone would use our symbolism and beliefs to do something that is illegal.
    Tell me you did NOT just say that potential prostitution is more outrageous than sexual predation — cos that sure as hell looks like what you said.

  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Okay, so, they use taxpayer money to sit in a school and learn bogus psychology, in order to charge fees to have sex with willing people… that makes it okay… but, if they simply have sex with willing people, and ask for donations, that makes it wrong? Cut me a break!

  • Bex Van Koot

    I highly doubt that all of their services involve sex. Many coach couples who have sex with each other, or facilitate experiences that don’t involve any kind of actual sex at all.

  • Skullster

    Their site isn’t working so I can’t check it out, and I’m very curious now.

  • C4G

    This is harassment & discrimination of wimmin. Plain & simple. They were doing nothing against the laws & there was NO PROOF otherwise. cufk the patriarchy.

  • Norse Alchemist

    yes, completely ignore the men who were arrested. I would say this more a discrimination of religious and sexual practices than it is a patriarchal discrimination of women. or Wimmin, for those with spelling issues and a lack of word processor. 😉

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Alchemist, I took a different meaning from C4G’s words.

    If Phoenix Goddess Temple is indeed a house of prostitution, it may well be one in which the women involved are in control of their own fates. This contrasts sharply with the usual prostitution scene, which always includes a slave subculture when women’s bodies are commodities under the control of others in a reverse stud service. My defense of the Temple does not extend to that.

    You can bet your bippy that the cops who went on that raid drove right past examples of that kind of prositution to bust this one. That’s patriarchy in action.

  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Not to mention driving right past Catholic priests who were having sex with unwilling minor children.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Ah, excellent point, Baruch. I will agree the cops probably did pass real forms of the slave style of prostitution to do this raid. I’m not sure the reasons they skipped were because of patriarchy though. Perhaps religious reasons, like I think this was about, or possibly even racial reasons. However, you said your point well, much better that C4G’s rather obscure and somewhat blatantly sexist way. Thank you for pointing out the alternative interpretation 😀

  • Blue Heron

    The Johns should be arrested.

    I believe prostitution is sad, but that prostituted people should be helped with job training, housing and drug treatment, not prison.

    But if prostituted women are going to be arrested, I think it’s a nice change of pace for the cops to drive past the poverty-stricken people selling their bodies for survival and arrest the people raking in the dough for the same services.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    If I were less of a sexual libertarian I would staunchly support your social-work approach to prostitution itself — social workers have been some of my favorite people — if not your law and order leavening.

    But I regard prostitution as not just an economic phenomenon but a manifestation of the same patriarchy that brought us fornication laws and sodomy laws. Illegal status is a key element of this patriarchal institution. I’m a radical in this area; I would strike a blow at the root.

  • Grimmorrigan

    Awwww a second wave surfer. How nostalgic. I’ll have to thank Prof. Peabody for letting me us the Wayback machine.

  • Rhondda Wilson

    I guess you took the blue pill. Check out Phoenix Magazine March 2010. There is an article by Jason Best. Also Phoenix New times Feb 17 2011; an article by Niki D’Andrea. Since when is it kosher for a ‘practicioner’ to stick his fingers in a woman’s vagina and call it bridging and then in her anus and call it letting the anger out? I would really like to know.
    Also when is it kosher to seduce a lonely man and call it spiritual. I sort of think it is called seduction. I took the red pill.

  • Faoladh

    I’m not sure what Judaism’s spiritual purity laws would say about the matter (I suspect that any anal sexual activity is defined as issur, but I could easily be wrong), but I would think that it is more important to look at what the religious system of the Temple in question says.

  • AnonGuest

    I lol’d. It’s not only not kosher, but that’s also way too stupid to have been inspired by Firefly Companions, or by Tantra, even by most of the worst-written Wiccan-style books.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    This is harassment & discrimination of wimmin.
    Yep, only women are prostitutes — from ancient Hellas to now. The four men arrested in this raid? Clearly, they are truly just very butch women.

  • Taliba Pathstrider

    I believe as long as no laws have been broken that pagans should be allowed to practice their beliefs freely. However, it is important for us pagans to keep in mind that there are those within the community who would do evil and/or break laws just as there are in all different paths. It just looks a great deal worse in the media if there are pagans doing such things.

  • Lori F – MN

    glad to see news persons confused by the raid. shows they have their heads on straight, not up their … you know….

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I was glad to see that perp walkers didn’t cringe for the cameras. It would only have fed the beast to suggest shame in their posture while they were put through this.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll need to remember to skip merrily if I ever get paraded..

  • Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

    …Root chakras? 😉

  • Hffw

    All thinking people should leave Arizona/New Mexico. The Christian Fascists have taken over down there.

  • Faoladh

    That’s exactly why thinking people should stay and fight. Don’t cede the ground.

  • Lori F – MN

    went to their web site. they have sunday brunches with interesting sounding teachings following. how bad could that be? wonder if they’ll have a brunch this week…
    wishing I could be there

  • Ivy

    Prostitution is a victimless crime, especially when it’s done in the name of something divine. (Trafficking is, of course, a different matter.) As Pagans, we have a much more liberal set of sexual standards. Choosing not to support sexual healing through Goddess worship is tantamount to accepting that the morality police have every right to tell us when, where, and how to have sex.

  • Norse Alchemist

    I think you better define Prostitution before calling it a victimless crime…there’s plenty of women forced into prostitution (And boy have a read horror stories).

  • The Bony Man

    I think we can presume that Ivy means completely consensual, non-force-based prostitution.

  • AnonGuest

    If the person doing it isn’t single or in a poly relationship, or if there’s disease, it’s still not necessarily victimless

  • AQ

    She did make the proviso that trafficking is another matter entirely. It doesn’t take much brainpower to figure that she clearly meant that mutually consensual prostitution is victimless.

  • Norse Alchemist

    except she didn’t say “consensual prostitution” she said “prostitution’ and tacked on “trafficking” without saying where there was a line between the two, and i can think of many instances of “consensual prostitution” that certainly are not “victimless crimes.” 😛

  • Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

    And victimless crimes SHOULD be seen as oxymorons. No victim, no crime. It’s not a hard concept. If you don’t hurt somebody, then you didn’t hurt anybody. Round ball is round.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Well, there are some crimes that are “victimless” (one I’ve read says no giving oral in your car while in the driveway of your house). There’s a bunch of stupid laws out there that are all about power and less about “morality” or preventing “harm.”

    Still, I’d be very, very careful before labeling something like prostitution or many other crimes as “victimless.”

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    “High class” prostitution in legal brothels is victimless — but most street prostitutes are abused by johns and pimps alike, and while I guess *technically*, that’d be assault, in some $tates, it’s still not — you can beat up as many hookers as you like, the only crime you *might* get charged with is either picking up hookers or pimping out hookers. Hell, even into the 1980s, you could murder a prostitute in some $tates, and the crime would be marked as “wreckless use of a deadly weapon, no humans involved”.

    It’s pretty much always been this way, the two classes of sexual service worker; you have the educated companions, the hetarae and the modern brothel girls, who are in it by choice, usually headstrong women who enjoy doing it. Then there are the slaves, and to call their predicament “victimless” is either awfully naïve, or awfully cold-hearted. Only when the situation is just right is prostitution “victimless”.

  • Susan Thornton

    Why is it that anyone who uses the word, “Pagan, Goddess, etc.” automatically (seemingly, from these posts) gets a pass from the “Pagan” community? Sure, a sexually oriented business, as long as they’re operating under the requisite laws, is the private business of the participants. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to get all up in arms about protecting their “religious” liberties just because they utilize some of our words and symbols. If they’re exchanging sex for money, they’re a sexually oriented business, no matter what they’re calling themselves. And on a personal note, eeewwww.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Taking your “eeewwww” as a given, and stipulating that their use of Pagan/Goddess language may be wholly utilitarian and superficial, it is still a danger to all of our religious freedom if those symbols of our religion — *if only as symbols* — can be disrespected and brushed aside by the law. To cite that deep philosopher Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the army you’ve got, not the army you want.

  • Susan Thornton


  • AnonGuest

    Only quote from Rumsfeld I still want to read is “I really hate prison”.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker


  • AnonGuest

    I don’t care if they do have a house of prostitution or what decor and name they want to give it, but since they do it where that’s illegal, it’s not surprising the cops were interested

  • Genuine

    This is soooo wrong.. Thank you Baruch.. I couldnt agree more.. Disturbing.

  • Kebechet

    Personally, and as a pagan, I feel that these people should have been more careful to research legalities involving what they were doing. Either that, or that they were deliberately walking the edge of what is legal in any form of “erotic service” business.

    None of these people are graduates of any accredited and respected counciling program, fees were payed for services, whether in the form of “donations” or not, and some of those services involved sexual stimulation. Whether they intended to or not, “donations” for services, is often used in situations of prostitution, and because of that, what they were doing was likely illegal.

    Regardless of how we may feel about whether or not prostitution should be illegal, the bottom line is that due to their business practices, their business was found to be legally questionable at best. If it turns out that they are charged with prostitution, or running a house of prostitution, I won’t be surprised, and as far as the law is concerned, they violated it.

  • Kilmrnock

    I tend to agree w/ other posts here . If this is prostitution thinly and falsly vieled as a pagan group , by all means go after them . But as i understand it if this is a sexually unencombered pagan group , we need to defend them . I can’t remember her name , the governor out there is a wackadoodle . She is one of our slightly crazy tea bagger freinds and is quite anti pagan.If this is indeed a pagan group, altho a fringe one, the raid is politically/ religoiusly motivated.I am goung to show my age ——Gods i havn’t heard ” bet your bibby” since Rowan and Martins laugh in . The 60’s was a strange time to grow up in folks Kilm

  • Bex Van Koot

    Why can’t it be both?

  • Kilmrnock

    or “bet your bippy” dont remember how it was spelled Kilm

  • Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Let me first state that I don’t think prostitution should be illegal. Instead, it should be legal and heavily regulated like it is in Nevada. Otherwise, you wind up with the human trafficking nightmare that is Amsterdam’s Red Light district at the moment and the Dutch are in the awkward position of needing to untangle and fix that now.

    This “temple” seems to be going with the idea popularized in the TV series and Movie Firefly/Serenity of “Companions.” I think the idea of a companion is a good and healthy idea – someone you can be open with, not just for pastoral counseling but sexually as well while being able to keep them sufficiently distant to bounce ideas off of, while close enough that they know you intimately and can provide practical custom advice for you. I believe in these contexts, sex can be used as a therapeutic tool. I come to this conclusion knowing that sex can be a weapon and tool of oppression, so why not the opposite?

    If that’s where the temple is going, cool. Put up the good fight and let us know if y’all need help.

    However, reading the newspaper article – they are portrayed as being a little quick with the happy endings and light on the whole counseling idea. I mean it’s not even 70% counseling, 30% sex, the article portrayed it as if their solution to a hard day at work is a happy ending. Not going to pretend the newspaper is impartial or fully accurate – but where was the scream of “that’s inaccurate!” back then?

    Like was commented earlier, erosion happens at the edges.

    I know there’s a LOT of Pagans in the Phoenix area, be useful to hear their local insights into this.

  • Bex Van Koot

    Sacred sex is sacred sex. It doesn’t need to be draped in the guise of “healing” to be a spiritual experience.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    That’s liberal sex-talk. Liberals are more comfortable talking about health than sex. Conservatives are more comfortable talking about crime than sex.

  • Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    The most sexually forward women I’ve been with are conservatives.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    In my experience, it’s Pagans.

  • Anonymous

    In my experience, it’s never the one I talk to at the bar. XD

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    So does that make me a socio-political Discordian? I’d rather talk about sex than health or crime.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Probably makes you a Pagan. 😉

  • Norse Alchemist

    I think everyone’s day would be better if we got “happy endings” after hard days of work 😀

  • Crystal Kendrick


  • Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

    That made me literally laugh out loud. And really, no matter what your religion, if you think about it seriously and honestly, it’s true.

  • Tonja

    <emLet me first state that I don't think prostitution should be illegal. Instead, it should be legal and heavily regulated like it is in Nevada.
    I disagree. I think prostitution should be decriminalized. Decriminalization affirms a prostitute’s agency and sovereignty of self. Legalization simply turns the state into her pimp.

    Otherwise, you wind up with the human trafficking nightmare that is Amsterdam’s Red Light district at the moment and the Dutch are in the awkward position of needing to untangle and fix that now.
    No, you end up with a success story like New Zealand.

  • Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast
  • Tonja

    The link you provided neglects to add the US report and the data that supports the claim that underage girls are being trafficked. The real problem, I suspect, is that the US frequently conflates trafficking with consensual prostitution. To my knowledge, despite thousands of dollars poured into sting operations, LEOs have yet to uncover widespread trafficking. Just because the US says there is trafficking, doesn’t make it so.

    A study from New Zealand’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Victoria University’s Crime and Justice Research Centre showed now links between NZ’s sex workers and human trafficking. It is summarized in this news report from the Herald:

    The full report can be found here:

    But a good summary can be found here:

    You may also want to check out Maggie McNeil’s blog on the subject of prostitution at:

    She has addressed the subject far more eloquently than I am able; bonus points for personal experience as a working girl.

  • John Thomas

    Since when does having “Goddess” in the title of your whorehouse make it a Pagan issue?

  • Faoladh

    This comment pretty much sums up the answer to your question. However, I’d also add that you, and the police, have yet to show that the Temple was a “whorehouse” at all. In the US, there is a principle expressed as “innocent until proven guilty”. That gets forgotten at times in the media circus surrounding some issues of legal question, but it is still a fundamental and important principle.

  • John Thomas

    You’re entirely correct. Only a trial in which evidence is brought forth to justify the arrests can determine whether this whorehouse was a whorehouse or a sacred temple dedicated to the Goddess. So why is nearly everyone on this thread jumping to the conclusion that Pagans are being persecuted and we should all mobilize to support our poor, suffering bretheren? Other than some vague New Age blather on the place’s web site there’s no reason at all to think that this group is in any way Pagan. Shut up and let the courts decide.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    John, let’s stipulate that our actions make a difference, otherwise why discuss them?

    The pivotal discernment, imho, is to pick the action that does the least damage if it’s a mistake.

    If we erroneously side with the police, we are helping them unjustificably bury our persecuted brethern. If we erroneously side with the Temple we are mistakenly defending a whorehouse.

    I submit that erroneously defending a whorehouse a lesser mistake than erroneously helping bury a temple of the Goddess.

  • The Bony Man

    Very much agreed. Because if you defend a whorehouse, as long as there is no human trafficking or forced sex, then you’re just defending people who are willingly having sex with other people.

    Contrariwise, if we support the destruction of a temple, we are supporting our own possible downfall…

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    “I submit that erroneously defending a whorehouse a lesser mistake than erroneously helping bury a temple of the Goddess. ”

    Well played.

    One could go further and insist that defending a whorehouse is in itself a worthwhile cause. However, publicly defending a whorehouse in the name of Paganism would probably do neither the whorehouse nor Paganism any good.

  • Norse Alchemist

    I’d rather defend a whore house wrongly than attack them wrongly.

  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Like there aren’t enough illegal aliens and drug smuggling in Arizona… hey, let’s go after Pagans that are having lots of great sex! Com’on, police, how’bout you arrest the REAL criminals, if you please.

  • Norse Alchemist

    They can’t. They’ll be called Racists.

  • Kebechet

    I’ve compiled an entire post about my thoughts on this here –

  • Praxidike

    It’s not prostitution if you don’t charge money for it, is it? Maybe they were looking for brown people to hassle.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Considering most of those arrested looked white, maybe they were looking for white people to hassle because hassling brown people gets you charged with racism and hate crimes?

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    No, you see, Arizona has it on the books that cops can hassle anybody who looks or acts “foreign”, and I’ll bet you money that they aren’t hassling French or German tourists.

  • Kebechet

    It appears that there was an undercover investigation that took place for six months before they did the raid. They found people exchanging money for sexual services, and practicing massage without a license.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Sounds like there could be a case for Religious discrimination and profiling there to me. Just because people exchanged money doesn’t mean the “temple” did. Or that “exchange” could have been the donations, who knows. I might understand the “massage without a license” thing since someone could be hurt, but that sounds like treading rather thin territory. Maybe a fine, but I don’t see arrest as being entirely appropriate to the charge unless someone had been physically injured.

    I smell rats in this.

  • AnonGuest

    Was this an actual investigation or were they being johns – what about it would take six months??

  • observer of the bizarre

    These people, these Goddesses or whatever they call themselves, are a disgrace to tantra, to religion and even to straight old honest prostitutes.

  • Crick

    “How should the broader Pagan community engage with sacred sexuality practitioners?”

    The Pagan community will contiue on as it has for centuries, minding it’s own business. The Neo Pagan community will wallow in the apathy that defines it un-cohesive ways. This may sound harsh, but then reality generally does to those who chose to ignore it…

  • Joel Monka

    About ten years ago a gung-ho prosecutor kept trying to bust a private swing club here in town. “Public Nuisance” was laughed out of court- they had never had a police run as result of a complaint; the bar down the street had 45 calls in the previous month- even the Burger King had 3, but the swing club had none. They made three different flying raids looking for excise violations and drugs. There were none; the place forbade alcohol and drugs. They tried prostitution busts- no good; the only money involved was shared expenses for utilities and cleaning services… although not filed as a not for profit, it was run as one and despite another raid freezing their bank account and taking their records, no improprieties were found.

    Finally, the prosecutor got male and female police officers, both black, to pose as a married couple. They walked in and started demanding people sleep with them- when they were thrown out for not being members and ill mannered on top, the prosecutor had all he needed; they were busted on a civil rights charge, racial discrimination. By now the club was out of resources and couldn’t fight; it was shut down.

    That’s how far they’re willing to go over sex in an election year.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    That’s pure insanity. What a waste of taxpayer dollars and time that could be spent busting actual crime.

  • Tonja

    That’s a typical vice department in any city or town.

  • Susan Thornton

    I’m old enough to remember “you bet your bippy,” and I’ve been around the block enough times to know that if you want respect for your beliefs, you don’t make a laughingstock of them. If you want to stand up for your religious beliefs, treat people gently and with love and they will want to accept you, whether they agree with your religion or not. Myself, I would never stand up for anyone who denigrates the name of Goddess.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure I’m comfortable with required donations. That’s the only real beef I have. Temple prostitution should still be legal, IMO, if it is truly designed to be a mystical experience first and foremost. No doubt in my mind that sex can be a mystical experience, but of course I also believe that it is a mystical experience best found through sex when love and devotion are also present. Judeo-Christian morality rules the day…can’t have a challenge to that in broad daylight.

  • Crystal Kendrick

    “Judeo-Christian morality rules the day…can’t have a challenge to that in broad daylight.” I think that’s the real issue here, as Norse stated above. Sex is going on and someone somewhere is enjoying it. Break out the warrants.

  • Apuleius Platonicus


    And the sad fact is that those who don’t get this are really the people most in need of the services provided by the Goddess Temple.

  • Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

    Oh my Lord…You mean there are Godless Pagans…out there somewhere…Having FUN!? Shouldn’t they be getting saved and hating people who aren’t as holy and stuff? What’s WRONG with them!?

  • Norse Alchemist

    They min/maxed for pleasure and made Int their dump stat?

    Hel if I know, but then i’m all for the Godly or Godless having of fun. My entire religion is about keeping your word, kicking copious amounts of @$$, and having a blast with your friends. 😀

    But then, I’ve long been accused of being “Capital E” Evil, so along with all the other evil things i do, being labeled evil for having fun isn’t really much of a problem, it’s up there with being called a racist for standing up for Pagan/Heathen, gay, and women’s rights. -shrug-

  • Tonja
  • Tara

    Prostitution should be legalized.

  • AnonGuest

    True. keeping drugs and prostitution illegal hasn’t done anything to prevent them, it just means they’re unregulated and financially strengthens the criminal elements.

  • Tara


  • Anonymous

    “Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit. This is the fine point on which all legal professionals throughout history have based their job security.” –Frank Herbert

  • Jason Mankey

    They have 10,000 square feet. What kind of Pagan group can afford a 10,000 square foot temple? While I might feel that prostitution between two consenting adults should be legal, it’s not. I could smoke weed in the name of Pan, and sell it to others, but it would still be illegal.

    I have a feeling that the services of this temple were not directed towards Pagans, they were directed towards the public at large. No matter the intentions of the people involved, it looks like prostitution to me. How else could they afford all that space? If they were doing it from the goodness in their heart that Temple would have had a line a mile long out the door.

    I’m sorry, I just can’t find a lot of sympathy here and I don’t think this is a matter of religious intolerance, it’s a matter of being a public nuisance. Most police departments will turn a blind eye to the world’s oldest profession as long as those doing it are discreet. When it’s flaunted in the face of a community problems arise. If the people involved in this Temple want to do this for a living they should move to Nevada.

  • Faoladh

    Interesting comparison between marijuana and the Temple. In some cases, smoking marijuana is legal, or at least decriminalized. Similarly, in some cases having sex in the context of a financial transaction is legal (see sexual surrogacy; though that is by no means the main activity, or even a prominent one, among sexual surrogates it is still a part of what they can legally do). Just because money changes hands and sexual activity occurs does not mean that it is prostitution, in a legal sense, no matter how much it might look that way to non-lawyers.

    “If they were doing it from the goodness in their heart that Temple would have had a line a mile long out the door.”

    So, what you’re saying is that, if it were (or proves to be) a noncriminal service, you’d definitely be taking advantage of their services? From that, you are extending your preferences for sex with someone to whom you do not have an emotional relationship to all people? Or are you just assuming that everyone but you wants that? Your assumptions are interesting either way, and I’d like to clarify exactly what they are.

  • Guest

    Rastafarians do smoke weed with religious protection as do indians take Peyote. You are missing the point

  • Norse Alchemist

    One that found a way to earn donations without being hypocritical like the televangelist Christians?

    Would also depend on where that 10,000 square feet was located.

  • Babalonian80

    I consider it as a tentative experiment to try to get the temples where there was Sacred Prostitution. Of course not all the people who went there were Pagan or viewed the experience as Sacred and Healing.
    What makes an experience Sacred?
    It’s the consciousness of the people who were running it that matters, if in their intent the service to the Goddess was included, then it was a step in the right direction toward a more equalitarian society.

    This is another win for patriarchy unfortunately, a double win, because there are women like me that condemn these other women basing themselves on the morals of patriarchy that wants women not not have control and pleasure with their bodies. The patriarchy that wants women to not view material acts of pleasure between consenting adults as healthy, sacred and healing no matter whether money is involved or not.

    Why is it ok to pay money to a counsellor to have a psychological healing experience and it is not considered ok to pay money to a prostitute for sexual healing? This is real denigration of the body, this and the shame of the women especially the feminists who buy these biblical morals.

    There is a book which is particularly illuminating on this issue: A Woman whose calling is men: the memoirs of a priestess-identified prostitute by Aphrodite Phoenix.

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    “To the moralist prostitution does not consist so much in the fact that the woman sells her body, but rather that she sells it out of wedlock.”
    Emma Goldmann

    “Marriage is for woman the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.”
    Bertrand Russell

    “What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many?”
    Angela Carter

    “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.”

  • Guest

    Many people here seem to be missing the point. What matters most, no matter how we feel about the other issues involved, is that a Pagan temple has been desecrated by a police raid. No matter how fringe these folks are, they still identify as Pagan. They are also not alone in the Pagan community in considering that sex is a sacrament. What is next, raids on any Wiccan groups that practice The Great Rite explicitly, merely because they also accept offerings?

    This entire mess raises serious “Freedom of Religion” issues. If we as a community allow courts to set precident that sexuality as a sacrament in any form is illegal in any church that accepts donations in any form, then this is merely the beginning of a new witch hunt.

    I have done a little investigating and it turns out that the Sedona Temple is completely independent from the Phoenix Goddess temple. They merely share similar views about sexuality. The police used the probable cause they gained for the Phoenix Goddess temple in order to raid and desecrate a SECOND Pagan temple by lying about them being a common business.

    These are serious issues that have far reaching implications for the entire Pagan community

  • Norse Alchemist

    Wait, they hit two unrelated temples? O.o

  • Guest

    Yep. In addition to Phoenix Goddess Temple, they also raided Sedona Temple owned by an unrelated guy named Nichols. They also raided the parsonage of the Sedona church as well a private home belonging to a Sedona Pagan.

    Now, here is where things get even more interesting.

    aWhen police (apparently withouny real probable cause) raided the Sedona Temple, what they found inside what the media is calling a “Pagan Brothel” or “sex church” were a group of Native Americans performing a traditional ceremony for a Swedish film crew!

    In media interviews this morning you can find on Google news, arrested “practitioners” claim that they were not engaging in prostitution nor any legal activity, but this this is about the freedom of sexual expression as part of their religious beliefs. One female practitioner added that she practices “Earth based religion.”

    The new witch hunt is on, it seems. Is YOUR church ATF approved?

  • Anonda

    the reason they raided the sedona temple is because people involved with the Goddess temple were involved with the location in sedona….so, it became a joint investigation

    tracy elise, the founder of the Goddess temple had already faced similar charges in seattle (suspected brother), this temple was shut down by the police….

    lots of news for arizona, lately…

  • Laurel

    Yet another reason to decriminalize {i.e. such as New South Wales, Australia and New Zealand} consenting adult prostitution.

  • TBRock

    yeah, they posted ads for spiritual massages that were 204 dollars an hour. I would be pissed off if that didn’t include the laying of hands above and beyond the scope of a theraputic accredited practitioner’s massage. Hell, I’d say at least a private vestibule and a one on one private confessional would be in order so that I might leave without the burden of all this sin that I’ve been holding up inside me Knowing full well that She has taken it on herself. Im not saying there needs to be a long drawn out ritual with candles and incense where we get down and pray till we’re blue in the but maybe just get down till we feel a little bit of the rapture. for the $303 9o min jobby I expect the second coming.

    And really, no, I wouldn’t go there myself, plenty of closer rub’n’tugs without the hooey fakenpagan pretension. but that doesn’t mean I think they are doing something wrong. Sex should be something of a religious experience. Its not going to be at at the hands of an overpaid piece of chewed Naugahyde of negotiable religious zeal, but the argument for the church is there.

    Hell we allow Those ridiculous idiots with the piercing and the bodily mutilation or alteration or whatever. What the hell? its bad enough that no one loved those people enough to rip out their titty rings before they went too far but to hit your later 20s, thirties and midlife you’re so invested that to avoid ridicule and deny self loathing you call it religion. now im a bad person for pointing out that the only reason a man stretches inch wide holes in his ears is to give his boyfriend another place to put it. And people are indoctrinating their kids into this bull shit. at least they can leave other churches. Hell at least at the goddess temple, that guys never gonna convert the wife and kids. Its not a growing blight on society’s religious landscape. I mean what the hell there are only so much smoke shop and AmPm jobs out there, where is you’re pincushion of a doodle pad child going to work?

    I say, let the house of ill repute and worship be. men will always find somewhere to put it and besides its better than another LDS temple.

  • Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Ooooo-kaaaay. Another country heard from.

  • Acidqueen

    Can you provide proof of these ads? I’d like to see it for myself.

    And don’t ask me to do your homework for you.

  • Starr
  • AnonGuest

    This probably took you a few minutes, why would cops need six months use of paid time to investigate?

  • Starr

    I’m sure it wasn’t their highest priority but they likely knew that the Religious Freedom rights would come up, without a doubt in court. If I had my guess I’d say that they probably investigated it thoroughly so the possibility of using that argument could pretty much be eliminated based on a substantial amount of evidence.

  • Guest

    Of course the defence would use anything they can – that doesn’t change. But if their motivation was to end a public nuisance or danger then it was inappropriate to delay six months.
    And it also hurts their case.

    I remember reading of a case in Jessup, MD where cops spent many hours and months investigating a local massage parlour. They went and got many, many massages for thousands of public dollars while on duty before bringing it to court. After proving through video they did sensual massage, the case still got thrown out partly because nobody could take seriously their motivation was just to be sure the law was being observed.

  • AnonGuest
  • Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Thanks for spending the time to find this.

  • Starr Price

    No problem at all Dave, I assumed it appeared by the question posed that some may have believed that the ads didn’t exist.

    I found the ads to be more than enough for me to see exactly why they were investigated and imo I doubt it had anything to do with them being Goddess Worshipers.

  • peaceful man

    I am not a part of the pagan community. In fact, although I attended Jesuit school, and sang in the choir of my local Episcopal church, I am totally and entirely Atheist. I believe that science and nature are beautiful and wondrous in and of themselves and require no deification. I do, however, have a great love for people and all freedom, and believe we are all connected by the superconscious, some may call that “God.” I know Tracy, and many of the goddesses, and have attended several rituals at the temple, as well as having attended the Daka – Dakini Conference in Sedona 2 years ago. The event was attended by Practitioners from around the globe, and I have had the opportunity to experience these people, meet them where they live, on their terms, in a non-judgemental environment of acceptance. I agree that from a legal, mechanistic veiwpoint, their setup exposed them to legal intervention. Interesting that some in this community have expressed skepticism and judgement about what their “real” motivations were, or about what they “should” or “shouldn’t” be allowed to do, considering that you and I, for different reasons, lie far outside the mainstream. I know from firsthand experience what Tracy and the goddesses’ intentions were, and it is simply this: to spread love and connection to others, to make the world a more whole and peaceful place. To them, it IS a legitimate religion. Upon opening in their present location, they extended an invitation to the mayor of Phoenix, as well as the city council. They gave many TV, radio, and print interveiws, operating in a signed, clean, well-lit building on a major thoroughfare about 3 miles from city hall. They are most certainly not “disguised”, and if anything, their downfall is rooted in being TOO visible. I call upon those of you with courage and love for freedom and people to be of support to these women, who practiced and operated in love and good faith. I, for one, am chilled to the bone at the sight of masked, bodyarmored, helmeted, police militias armed with assault weapons and batterring rams storming into a church filled with women in chiffon, armed with nothing more than candles and incense. How long will it be before those heavily armed government agents come for you and yours, because your beliefs fall outside of the traditional judeo-christian ethic?

  • Starr

    “How long will it be before those heavily armed government agents come for you and yours, because your beliefs fall outside of the traditional judeo-christian ethic?”

    They were not raided because they’re Pagan or Goddess Worshipers, they were raided and arrested because it appeared (very publicly) that they were running a brothel – prostitution ring. Pagans are very visible all over the place and we’re not arrested for being Pagan, so the hide under your bed and be afraid because your Pagan concept does not work for me as I’ve been highly visible and public for years without any issue. The way the police were attired and carrying weapons while serving of a search warrant with that many indictments in hand was protocol for a raid and for their protection. The police are not going to change standard protocol so they can appear to make the experience more peaceful & pleasant for someone they believe is committing a crime. Besides, none of them appeared to be harmed at all, I don’t see any signs that they were beaten or abused during the raid.

    It seems like some are trying to turn this into a Witch Hunt when in my opinion it was not – it was an arrest for suspected illegal activity. It’s no different than the thousands of other people who are arrested daily (even nice people) for committing crimes, the only difference with this is that they utilized a Goddess Worship slant to it.

    Here’s some other rings that were busted recently for prostitution rings, so, law enforcement is not just on the prowl for Pagans.

    New York

    Phoenix a few weeks ago

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I can’t diametrically argue with anything you’ve said here, Starr, but I repeat a couple points I made earlier.

    Use of our symbols put those symbols in the way of law enforcement. We have to be alert that they not become a premise for short-circuiting justice or a trial in the headlines, which would set baleful precedents. If we don’t look out for the umbra that could be case on our rights, who will?

    It is the lesser mistake to erroneously defend a whorehouse than to erroneously help bury a temple of the Goddess. As this story develops the latter looks less probable but imho it’s still possible enough to include in our concerns.

  • Starr Price

    Thank you for your reply, I understand what you are saying to a degree but I do not feel if someone is committing an act that is against the law that they should be given a special pass for doing such acts.

    Pagan’s are constantly saying that they want to be treated as equals in respect to the laws, and with that we should accept that same treatment when it comes to criminal laws as well.

    As for being a part of burying their temple; let’s possibly place the blame where it’s due. If they did what they are accused of doing then no one buried them but themselves.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I certainly don’t propose that Pagans be treated other than equals under the law. But 50 years of tracking and activism on issues has showed me that sometimes the law is wrong and merits change.

    What I don’t hear in all this conversation is any notion of legally challenging the presumption of prostitution when sacred sexuality is involved and money changes hands. Whether this would be a good test case is uncertain.

    But that idea should not go away. Religious exceptions have been carved out in drug policy, and our society’s sexual attitudes have trended to liberalization since the “Ulysses” decision. It might eventually be possible.

  • Anonymous

    Like you, I’m unsure if this would be a good test case, it would likely heavily depend on the type of evidence they have against them. Yet, from another standpoint I do not believe all the public adult ads they had out there are going to help their case for setting precedence. The reason I say this is that I believe (not sure), Religious exceptions normally apply when it’s kept within ones religion and between their followers. imo I highly doubt that many who visited the Temple were Pagans or Goddess Worshipers in the normal sense of the word possibly needed to define it as a Religious Exception, although I’m not sure what it takes to define such.

    I do believe they would have a stronger case for such had their ads etc. been focused more toward the community they imply they are a part of (Goddess Worshipers – Pagans Etc., instead of general public adult section ads). So, I’m unsure if this is the type of case one can set precedence with but I guess we will soon see how this unfolds based on the evidence they have.

    On another note and a bit unrelated, I find it a bit difficult to believe that given the past prostitution troubles that the founder was completely unaware of the fact that what they were doing was likely not considered legal. I believe, the responsible thing for her to have done prior to opening her doors in Phoenix – would be to assure the legality of it and if not, to challenge the laws beforehand prior to bringing others into it causing them the potential risk of incarceration for illegal activity while believing it was legal (although they’re adults and very capable of researching the law as well but when something is open and public it most likely gives the appearance of being legal).

    It appears based on the information out there if that is correct that they were certainly bringing in enough money to easily hire attorneys and with divulging as many supporters as they said they had it should have been attainable to possibly get something going in regards to the future of their business. In failing to do so based on past legal issues, it could make one think that she simply tried to out-slick the law and it backfired. Another safe alternative would have been to do this in Nevada where it’s regulated and legal and it does not open anyone up to being arrested, while fighting for changes in the state they wished to relocate to (Arizona).

    I signed up for an account, which is why my replies might appear a little differently from my former ones. Thanks for your reply.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Starrprice, I hate this skinny-column reply-to-myself mode. I’m going to start a fresh thread for my reply.

  • Misty

    It appears, STARR that you have been suckered in to the lies that were brought forth by the media and the accusations shot towards the PGT. You would know this if you yourself have visited this Temple and met the people who donate their time there or even if you knew enough about the practice itself.
    You would also know about the alters dedicated to the Goddess there and the many statues they had of different Goddesses. How the ones who taught there gave their hearts to help others and accepted only donations and sometimes someone could not make a donation/offering, yet they were never refused (such as myself once for a class).
    You would also have seen some of them become teary eyed with bright faces and open hearts when they spoke of the Goddess and/or spoke of overcoming their own personal sufferings in life.
    You would see just how much this place and their beliefs meant to them.
    For those of us who KNOW, this is truly heartbreaking and it is just another persecution to overcome in our faith/religion.

  • Anonymous

    As I already stated, this issue is not about how good or nice the people working there may be (many nice, caring people are arrested everyday), the issue is that what they are accused of doing – prostitution (if true) is illegal. I will take this a little further, if they had 30+ indictments (I believe that was the number) resulting from a 6 month investigation it’s very slim of a chance that they were arrested without any actual evidence of committing the crime of prostitution. Do you really believe the state is going to risk that kind of multiple lawsuit (which it very well could be if this was all made up) and exposure without having any evidence? I’m just looking at this from more of a common sense perspective and I did my research as well, so I’m not blindly following media hype. I was the one who linked to their adult ads in this discussion when someone asked to see them. When I reviewed the ads I was not surprised that they were investigated. I’m glad you had a great experience there, but that doesn’t negate that if they did what they are accused of it’s still illegal.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry for the 2 replies but in case you’re unaware of what my previous post was referencing relating to the links: here are the links I spoke of – there’s many more but these are a few of them (You must be 18 to view the links). I research things based on information from both sides before drawing conclusions, I’ve been in the community a long time and I don’t buy into media hype anymore than I do Pagan hype.

    And maybe you should review the ad that was placed up to recruit new Trainees (Sacred Sexual Healers), stating they will make about $500 for a 6-7 hour shift and their top healers make double that (according to their ad below).

  • Patrick O’Malley

    The Catholic church raped thousands of children and moved known pedophile priests to positions where they raped other children.

    Why doesn’t the FBI investigate every Catholic church?

  • Starr

    The FBI doesn’t investigate every Pagan place either based on the actions of a few and The Catholic Church did not rape children, some of their priest’s did and many Priests have been arrested. I’m trying to understand your argument. Is it somehow different or acceptable for us to support a Pagan who possibly commits a criminal act?

  • Ruadhán J McElroy

    While many paedophile priests have been arrested, many were at large for a long time, and some still are, because the Vatican preferred to cover it up than bring them to justice, and local authorities’ hands were or still are tied because of Catholicism’s Perpetrator Relocation Program.

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    The FBI would probably be doing a lot more investigating if the official hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t so good at covering up the truth. Of course, considering the history of the Roman Catholic Church, it should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that they are masters of deception. And it is essential to emphasize that when we talk about the cover-up we are not talking about a tiny minority of rogue priests, we are talking about the leadership of the Church itself.

  • Goddessage

    The law of the land is the law. If the Goddess Temple is breaking it, and it is proven, and it is given the punishment for breaking the law, justice has been served.
    We may belive that “sacred sexuality” is just that. The law may or may not recognize “sacred sexuality” is just that. It may INTERPRET what goes on at the Temple as “against the law”.
    But, I am of the opinion that Prostitution should be legal as it would serve its purposes without leading to dens of thieves, gang leadership, intrigue, and threats to those who participate. There would be much less death and beatings. Prostitutes and their participants could be kept clean.
    But, I am broader minded that 98 percent of the population because I have no Judeo-Christian-Muslim dogma that preaches Hell to those who do or don’t do certain things.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker


    I am no lawyer but I don’t think any but a spiritually-self-identified working brothel can raise the challenge to applying prostitution law to sacred sex when money changes hands. People who just want to get into the business probably wouldn’t have standing to sue. Trying to change the law legislatively means dealing with legislatures rather than courts, and the courts have been the cutting edge on all these liberal sexual issues. A plaintiff in addition, imho, needs to be a going business as a practical matter; the ACLU is unlikely to pick this up, and Pagan organizations have other priorities.

    A few days ago someone directed me to www(dot)peyoteway(dot)org where I learned that some states don’t demand that only Native Americans may use peyote. They do demand a religous setting. If the same permission could be secured for sacred sex with fees — ie, not everyone need be a committed Pagan but the setting must be religious — I’d call that a smashing victory and a great first step.

    Even if the brothel gets convicted: One early obscenity decision convicted the “pornographer” but set limits on what could be prosecuted. I’d take that and call it a modest victory and still a great first step.

    As I said, as this story develops I find the chance of a gold nugget in this pan increasingly slim, but I continue to look for potential progress.

    Thanks for your reply.

  • Ronald B

    Wicca is a legal religion .. according to the US Government … The US military Has a Hand book for Chapalins who Have Wicca service members.. In thier Command … This religion Pre -dates even the Jewish faith as a matter of fact Yaweh /El was one of the Gods in The Canaanite religion … Asherah, is the Goddess of love and feritility the consort of Ball/Hadad. The Goddess herself say’s “All acts of Love and pleasure are My rituals”

  • Ronald B

    also you Values of The Nine Noble Virtues Courage , truth, honor Fidellity, discipline, Hospitality Industriousness, self -reliance and perseverance.. alot of Christains should adapt them.

  • Misty

    If you go to their website and look at their calendar of events you can see all of the classes they have to offer. It is not all about tantric sex healing sessions.
    They also celebrate Ostara and other sacred “holidays”.
    I have personally been to this Temple myself and have taken Goddess Within type classes. There was no nudity or sex activities of any kind.
    The accusations brought upon these people is absurd and it breaks my heart!

  • Karen A. Scofield

    There is so much more to the task of protecting religious rights, in this case, than informing courts about what sacred sex is (while simultaneously addressing differences between things orthopraxic filters and filters of entrenched social and/or religious dogma).

    Given the laws of the land, outside of personal consensual relations, sacred sex does not belong in any religious organization or doings that involve exchange of funds…any exchange of funds. If there are overlaps between what is sacred sex to some and what can possibly be construed as prostitution, courts will most likely rule in favor of throwing the book at any supposed acts of prostitution.

    It’s a near universal human tendency that when faced with two different paradigms, people tend to either reconcile them to some significant degree or rule in favor of the familiar (what they can wrap their heads around).

    It’s the very rare bird that’s really good at somewhat skeptic, well informed comparative religion to the point that they’re qualified to exercise good judgment when judging such dilemmas and their contexts, when in the position of power to do so. Generally, not only do most people have a poor education regarding their own religion, but comparative religion is not something most people or well versed in.

    Until that changes, stories like this will likely remain fodder for sensationalism while journalism’s main purpose will remain profit based and poorly motivated by the more altruistic goals of informing and advocating for religious equal rights.

  • Kilmrnock

    The catholic church w/ it,s strange ideas about human sexualy , put hese men and women in a position to have to deny or hide normal human needs /urges.This is why nuns are so mean and priests raped children. My main concern is not only were children abused , the church covered all this stuff up and at first denied it all .Catholic church leadership moved bad priests to another parish , were he could start abusing all over again .And we have all heard the stories , some have personnal experience , of dealing w/ mean nuns . As afore mentioned the Catholic church has long history of lying and cover ups , so none of this should be a surprise. But getting back to the origonal subject , from all i’ve read we need to defend these folks .Our religious freedom may be the next one brought into question. altho this is a fringe group at best,this type of thing has a habit of snowballing into something bigger.The local cops , DA may start looking to rid thier area of anything pagan related , thinking all pagan groups are like the goddess temple .this type of persicution can be very dangerous . Kilm

  • Anonymous

    First off, what was actually going on here? Where is the harm? Nobody was being coerced. I see, alas, in some of the comments here, the tired old conflation of consensual sexual acts and slavery. where slavery exists, and I acknowledge it does, then it must be condemned and prosecuted as such. Equating it in some sort of lazy shorthand with consensual acts between adults does not advance the debate one iota.

    Some also have remarked the practitioners here are not registered or qualified. Where exactly are the bodies that can register or qualify someone in sacred sexuality and/or sexual healing? How could they avoid similar charges of exchanging sex for money during the training, which must after all be hands-on?

    As someone who has been involved in the founding of two Goddess Temples in Europe I am aware that the issue of sacred sexuality is fraught with difficulty. We are born into a society which, however secular our upbringing, is steeped in an Abrahamic ethos in which sex is inextricably linked with sin. It is hard, quite frankly, for many to envisage sex without sin, shame and guilt. Is this not something that should be challenged and moved beyond, rather than be reinforced by a New Puritanism.

    I do not know the details of what went on in Phoenix, but am saddened that so many of the commenters here seem to react in the same way as the local Evangelical church or Catholic priest would. What went on may well be not the best way forward – I am not qualified to judge – but in any new exploration (which the search for sacred sexuality must be) there are bound to be blind alleys and wrong turnings. As long as no-one is hurt in the process, and in this case no-one appears to have been, I ask again – Where is the harm?

  • Sara A

    On the surface I agree, sexual acts in exchange for money is a victimless crime. What two consenting adults do shouldn’t be anyone’s business, and so what if it was done for ‘spiritual services’. By the way, Thanks Starr for posting those ads, especially the one that is trying to ‘recruit “Goddesses” (’. That says a lot to me about what kind of org this really is.

    Personally, I think prostitution should be legal and regulated. However, it’s not in the U.S.A., and it’s up to any church or temple to make sure they are on the right side of the law. There are plenty of ways to offer spiritual sexual healing that doesn’t require the laying on of hands… or the laying of anything/anyone. It’s not about being prudish, it’s about staying above board. Being Pagan, or being of any spiritual faith (be it mainstream or not), doesn’t mean you can do whatever the hell you want in the name of your religion. If they were offering their services for free, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. This isn’t about not being allowed to express your spirituality through sex, it’s about exchanging money for sex. Considering they don’t seem to be hiding what they were doing, I’m hardly surprised they got busted. As to their guilt or innocence, I’ll leave that up to the courts.

  • Anonymous

    I do not deny that what was happening may, and I emphasise may, have been contrary to the law. If so, then I would hope, but do not fully trust, that there will be a fair trial.

    My original comment was not, however, about the legal issue here. i know how sick society is about all things sexual and the raid does not surprise me in the least. What disturbed me was the moral outrage I detected in some of the previous comments on this thread.

    It is, after all, not that long ago that consensual sexual acts between men were illegal here in the UK. My own experiments as a young man could well have landed me before the courts – certainly a couple of my partners as older men could have ended up there. I was not harmed in any way by them – in fact they were positive experiences on my way to a sexual life that has since been exclusively hetero in practice.

    You say that there are methods of sexual healing that do not involve physical contact. I agree. But there are also methods that do. Some people may respond to one or the other, or both. So surely, each should be available. Different strokes for different folks. I do not see how anything other than prudery can privilege the non-physical over the physical. After all, sex is a physical act with physical sensations and, often, physical blocks. and the Goddess, as I understand Her, is immanent in our physical body as well as suffused throughout all being (for want of a better way of expressing it – it is rather late here).

    I do not see it as a question of claiming immunity for actions because they are committed in the name of a particular spirituality – that would be absurd. But neither do I see that goddess spirituality should feel it necessary to replicate within itself the spirit/body split that has proved so catastrophic over the last few millennia. If I thought so, i might as well have remained a Christian. Life would be in many ways easier.

    When Inanna went to the garden she gazed upon her wondrous vulva and applauded herself. When Eve ate the apple, she was ashamed and covered herself. It is, as i see it, in these two stories that healthy and unhealthy attitudes to sexuality are most simply stated. I know which I prefer and I know which attitude seems to be more nearly expressed in the Phoenix Temple.

  • Apuleius Platonicus

    Screw the law. Being a Pagan has been a crime for most of the last 2000 years, and it still is in many places on earth.

  • Synergyluna

    I know priestess elise personally, and know her to be genuine in her spiritual intentions and effects.

  • Tanja Diamond

    I know her personally as well and I do not agree at all.

  • Owl_shadow

    Wow, this is great news! I’m so glad that nothing violent or sinister, like say child trafficking or government sanctioned costra nostra gun running, or rogue law enforcement agencies declaring martial law in small towns is happening in Arizona (Quartzite, Az).

    Thank The Gods we’ve got things so sewn up that we have the time and money to persecute a couple dozen people on the off chance we can prove they’re selling handjobs. THAT’S THE SORT OF THING THAT WE MUST STOP!

    Hey guys, its your money. And we all know law enforcement has plenty of it to spare, right? IF you think this is what they should be doing with it, if you support this sort of thing;
    Well, sure you might end up with a police state riddled with militant drug gangs, child sex slaves and rampant poverty, but at least we’ll be safe from paid for orgasms in the name of the Goddess.

  • Awareness

    I notice with amazement how attached we are here towards our personal preferences and inclinations, our stories and fabrications. We assume and blame one another and judge, pretending not to do just that. All forms of tantra seems to be evolving into drama these days and that maybe because people have not done their spiritual work properly and investigate their likes too much without creating a proper balance which includes also the embrace of dislikes. Actually drama is not tantra. Tantra may do all kinds of exercises with the internal channels to produce a blissful union with the Divine Formless expansive creative space (sexuality is only a minute part of these exercises) -but ultimately things become really simple… non-dual union with no past, no future, no present, no moment – only flow with no wanting.. and it is easiest is to develop that simple skill all alone. No drama – no suffering – nobody gets hurt. The problem with the tantric community of all inclination is that many still thrive on drama and attachment of being right. That makes it hard for tantra to evolve further. Hence, the true tantra maybe for a few people only on the planet, those who overcame attraction and aversion and balanced their preferences into acting for the good and benefit of all.

    May people keep the good and benefit of all in mind in their explorations – peace!