“You are about to set out on a remarkable journey . . . a journey that perhaps may end in another world; for you are a Seeker of the Light, who has chosen to walk the path of Wicca. So, child of Light, follow me, and I will endeavor to guide you to your destiny.”
Morwyn, Secrets of a Witch's Coven
These words too often seduce those who desire a non-traditional connection that is spiritual in nature. Wicca (witchcraft) is the path many turn to for their spiritual anchor, and my sister, Jo, was no exception. She was a spiritual seeker and as a result found her way into the craft.
Witchcraft offered Jo knowledge and power. These powerful ensigns stood as pillars in her life as she became absorbed in divining her own and others futures. The subtle seduction of these ensigns led her away from the truth of the Scriptures and ultimately to a place where she accepted the lie - she was a goddess with the power to manipulate the universe.
There is a growing interest in the occult and in particular – witchcraft. Wicca’s spiritual foundation is in nature and represented by the goddess (more commonly known as Mother-Earth). This new age spirituality is not only embraced by witchcraft, but also by radical feminism, as well as the liberal church. The New Age which many in the occult world believe is about to dawn upon us, will be a feminine age. Those holding this view believe that this current, masculine age has been an age of destruction and broken relationships among humanity. The New Age with its feminine energies will bring balance to the destructive aspects of the Piscean Age.
Rosemary Radford Ruether in her book, Womanguides: Readings Toward A Feminist Theology, states that "it is to the women that we look for salvation in the healing and restorative waters of Aquarius. It is to such a New Age that we look now with hope as the present age of masculism succeeds in destroying itself." According to Starhawk, a feminist and a practicing witch, "the symbolism of the Goddess is not a parallel structure to the symbolism of God the Father. The Goddess does not rule the world; She is the world." 1
Several years ago, I interviewed a practicing witch and learned about their myth and legend. Linda, a follower of the Dianic tradition, told me that Europe was once ruled by a matriarchal egalitarian religion that emulated the divine feminine before the rise of male-oriented Christianity. According to Linda this Goddess-based culture was eventually overrun and destroyed by male Indo-European invaders. 2
These Indo-European invaders considered themselves to be superior to the peaceful and art-loving Goddess worshippers because of their ability to conquer them. The matriarchal religion of these early settlers was eventually assimilated into the more dominant patriarchal religion of the invaders. As these invaders imposed their patriarchal culture on the conquered peoples, rape 3 and myths about male warriors killing serpents (symbols of the goddess worshippers) appeared for the first time in their history. As the assimilation of cultures continued the Great Mother Goddess became fragmented into many lesser goddesses.
"According to Merlin Stone, author of When God Was a Woman, the dis-enthronement of the Great Goddess, begun by the Indo-European invaders, was finally accomplished by the Hebrew, Christian, and Moslem religions that arose later. 4 The male deity took the prominent place. The female goddesses faded into the background, and women in society followed suit." 5
The Goddess and Witchcraft
In the world of witchcraft, the goddess is the giver of life and considered to be the earth itself. Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., in her book, Goddesses In Everywoman, has this to say about the goddess: "the Great Goddess was worshipped as the feminine life force deeply connected to nature and fertility, responsible both for creating life and for destroying life." 6 Bolen goes on to say that "the Great Goddess was regarded as immortal, changeless, and omnipotent" prior to the coming of Christianity.
Mother Earth or Gaia, as the goddess is known in occult circles, is an evolving being as is all of nature. Starhawk, in her book The Spiral Dance, says, "the model of the Goddess, who is immanent in nature, fosters respect for the sacredness of all living things. Witchcraft can be seen as a religion of ecology. Its goal is harmony with nature, so that life may not just survive, but thrive." 7
The witch views Gaia, or Mother Earth, as a biosystem. She attributes consciousness to earth and believes it to be spiritual as well. In other words, Gaia is a living and evolving being that has a spiritual destiny. Those who practice witchcraft take responsibility for Mother Earth's evolutionary development.
The environmental movement of our day is greatly influenced by those who practice witchcraft or hold neo-pagan beliefs. Witchcraft is an attempt to reintroduce the sacred aspect of the earth that was, according to their belief, destroyed by the Christian world. The goddess is, therefore, a direct affront against the male-dominated religion of the Hebrew God.
Christianity teaches that God is transcendent, is separate from nature, and is represented to humankind through the masculine imagery of a father. Witchcraft holds a pantheistic view of God. God is nature. Therefore God is in all things and all things are a part of God. However, this God is actually a goddess.
The Goddess and Feminism
For many in the feminist world the goddess is an object of worship. Those in the women's spirituality movement "reject what they call the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition, deploring sexist language, predominately masculine imagery and largely male leadership." 8 According to a Wall Street Journal article by Sonia L. Nazario, "women first wanted to apply feminism to political and economic realms, then to their families. Now, they want it in their spiritual lives." 9
To fully understand the implications of the women's spirituality movement one only needs to read the current literature on the subject. The editors of the book Radical Feminism state that "political institutions such as religion, because they are based on philosophies of hierarchical orders and reinforce male oppression of females, must be destroyed."
The radical feminist believes that the traditional church must be dismantled. Naomi Goldenberg in her book Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the end of traditional religions, states that "the feminist movement in Western culture is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and Yahweh . . . It is likely that as we watch Christ and Yahweh tumble to the ground, we will completely outgrow the need for an external God." 10 The deity that many in the feminist camp are searching for takes on the form of a goddess that lies within.
Some in the goddess movement, according to a Wall Street Journal article, "pray for the time when science will make men unnecessary for procreation." 11 The radical feminist sees the goddess movement as a spiritual outlet for their long-held beliefs. Mark Muesse, an assistant professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, agrees that "some feminist Christians push for changes ranging from the ordination of women and the generic, non-sexual terms for God and humanity to overhauling the very theology." 12
Perhaps the most descriptive word for the feminist movement is transformation." Catherine Keller, associate professor of Theology at Xavier University, in her essay Feminism and the New Paradigm, says "the global feminist movement is bringing about the end of patriarchy, the eclipse of the politics of separation, and the beginning of a new era modeled on the dynamic, holistic paradigm. Radical feminists envision that era, and the long process leading toward it, as a comprehensive transformation."
This paradigm-shift is nothing less than the reordering of man's understanding of God, a shift in thinking of God through predominately masculine imagery to seeing and experiencing God as a goddess, the mother of life.
The Goddess and the Occult
A growing number of people in our society are seeking the goddess. This goddess is believed to be resident within the individual and simply needs to be awakened. In other words, the individual is inherently divine. Starhawk, a witch who works with the former Catholic priest Matthew Fox at his Institute of Creation Spirituality, says that an individual can awaken the goddess by invoking, or inviting, her presence. Starhawk tells us that "to invoke the Goddess is to awaken the Goddess within, to become . . . that aspect we invoke. An invocation channels power through a visualized image of Divinity." Starhawk continues, "we are already one with the Goddess--she has been with us from the beginning, so fulfillment becomes . . . a matter of self-awareness. For women, the Goddess is the symbol of the inmost self. She awakens the mind and spirit and emotions." 13
Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, when asked what ails our society, replied, "we suffer from the absence of one half of our spiritual potential--the Goddess." 14 New Age believers teach that the male- dominated religion of this present age has done an injustice to humanity and the ecosystem. The male energies must diminish and the feminine energies must increase in order for the Goddess to empower the individual.
The New Age of occultism promises to be an age of peace, harmony, and tranquillity, whereas the present Dark Age of brokenness and separation continues to bring war, conflict, and disharmony. So it is the Goddess with her feminine aspects of unity, love, and peace that will offer a solution for mankind and circumvent his destruction. For many in our society this appears to be the answer to man's dilemma. However, an occult solution that denies Christ's atonement for sin cannot fully meet a Holy God’s requirement for wholeness.
For the witch the Goddess represents life and all it has to offer. "The Goddess religion is a conscious attempt to reshape culture." 15 This reshaping is nothing less than viewing man and his understanding of reality from a female-centered perspective whose focus is on the Divine as female. Therefore considerable emphasis is placed on feminine attributes, ultimately focusing on eroticism and sexuality.
"Women are clearly the catalyst for the formation of the new spirituality. It is women above all who are in the process of reversing Genesis . . . by validating and freeing their sexuality." 16 A major part of this transformative process is the empowerment of women. The rise of the Goddess is a direct assault on the patriarchal foundation of Christianity. This new spirituality affirms bisexuality, lesbianism, homosexuality, and androgyny through the expression of transvestitism.
As this revival of the Goddess continues a growing lack of distinction between male and female will become the norm. Jungian Psychotherapist John Weir Perry believes that "both current psychology and ancient history point to an emerging transformation in our sense of both society and self, a transformation that includes redefining the notion of what it means to be men and women." 17
The Bible clearly indicates that men and women were created as distinctive beings, male and female. This rising occult influence in our society seeks to undermine the Biblical absolute that gives our culture stability. Once again the Bible rings true as it states, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 18
The Goddess and the Liberal Church
The message of the Goddess has gained a hearing in the church as well. Wiccan philosophy is currently being taught in a growing number of seminaries. The student population is becoming increasingly female, and many of these women have a feminist outlook on life. Mary Daly, who considers herself to be a Christian feminist, says this about traditional Christianity: "To put it bluntly, I propose that Christianity itself should be castrated." 19 The primary aim of this kind of christian feminist is to bring an end to what she perceives as male-dominated religion by removing the male influence from the religion.
Daly continues by saying, "I am suggesting that the idea of salvation uniquely by a male savior perpetuates the problem of patriarchal oppression." 20 Reverend Susan Cady, co-author of Sophia: The Future of Feminist Spirituality and pastor of Emanuel United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, is one example of the direction that Daly and others are taking the church. The authors of Sophia state that "Sophia is a female, goddess-like figure appearing clearly in the Scriptures of the Hebrew tradition."
Wisdom Feast, the authors' latest book, clearly identifies Jesus with Sophia. Sophialogy presents Sophia as a separate goddess and Jesus as her prophet. The book takes liberty with Jesus by replacing Him with the feminine deity Sophia.
A growing number of churches in the United States and around the world are embracing the New Age lie. Many churches have introduced the study of A Course in Miracles, Yoga, Conversations with God, Unity teachings, and metaphysics into their teaching material. Some churches have taken a further step into the New Age by hiring individuals who hold a metaphysical worldview.
Whether the individual seeks the goddess through witchcraft, the feminist movement, the New Age or the liberal church, he or she is beginning a quest to understand and discover the "higher self." The higher self, often referred to as the "god self", is believed to be pure truth, deep wisdom. This truth or wisdom embodies the basic lie of deification. As Christians we must learn to discern every spirit lest we be deceived.
Linda, the practicing witch who followed the lesbian tradition of the Goddess Diana, remained deceived in her wiccan philosophy. However, my sister, Jo, made the great discovery, she trusted Christ for her salvation and accepted His provision for life eternal.
1 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row 1989), 23
2 Elinor W. Gadon, The Once & Future Goddess (New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989), XII,XIII. See also Lynnie Levy, Of A Like Mind (Madison, WI.: OALM, 9991),volume VIII, number 3, pp.2-3.
3 Zsuzsanna Emese Budapest, The Holy Book of Womwn's Mysteries (Oakland, CA.: Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1, 1986), 12.
4 Gadon, The Once & Future Goddess, XIII.
5 Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984), 21
6 Ibid., 20
7 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 25
8 Carlos Vidal Greth, "The Spirit of Women," The Austin American Statesman, March 5, 1991, sec. D4.
9 Sonia L. Nazario, "Is Goddess Worship Finally Going to Put Men in Their Place?," The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 1990, A1.
10 Naomi Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Feminism and the End of Traditional Religions (Boston, MA.: Beacon Press, 1979), 4,25.
11 Nazario, Is Goddess Worship Finally Going to Put Men in Their Place?, A6.
12 Deirdre Donahue, "Dawn of The Goddesses," USA Today, September 26, 1990, D1.
13 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 99.
14 Jean Shinoda Bolen, "The Women's Movement in Transition the Goddess & the Grail," Magical Blend, Jan. 1992, issue 33, 8.
15 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, 11.
16 Donna Steichen, "The Goddess goes to Washington," Fidelity Magazine, (Dec. 1986), 42.
17 John Weir Perry, "Myth, Ritual, and the Decline of Patriarchy," Magical Blend, Jan. 1992, issue 33, 103.
18 2 Timothy 4:3.
19 Alice Hageman, Theology After the Demise of God the Father: A Call for the Castration of Sexist Religion (New York, N.Y.: Association Press, 1974), 132.
20 Alice Hageman, Theology After the Demise of God the Father, 138.