Barbara G. Walker

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This myth wasn't heard in Europe until the 12th century. The real origins of the Holy Grail were not Christian but pagan. The Grail was first Christianized in Spain from a sacred tradition of the Moors. Like the Celts' holy Cauldron of Regeneration, which it resembled, the blood-filled vessel was a womb symbol meaning rebirth in the Oriental or Gnostic sense of reincarnation, lb connotation was feminine, not masculine.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Probing ancient views of the Goddess is instructive. It shows a female figure almost always more powerful than the male. Not only is she his Mother, the author of his being; she is also the deity who infuses all creation with the vital blood of life. Gods prosper only when they partake of her wisdom or adopt her powers, until they commit the ultimate hubris, symbolic matricide, by setting up an all-masculine theology. The strength of the Goddess was harnessed to support new male religions as the strength of women's nurturing, caretaking instinct was harnessed to a patriarchal marriage system supporting men. Even today, scholars tend to call all ancient deities "gods" when they include both male and female; and sometimes the oracular utterances of the Goddess are said to emanate from a "god."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Male writers through the centuries broke the Goddess figure down into innumerable "goddesses," using different titles or names she received from different peoples at different times. If such a system had been applied to the usual concept of God, there would now be a multitude of separate "gods" with names like Almighty, Yahweh, Lord, Holy Ghost, Sun of Righteousness, Christ, Creator, Lawgiver, Jehovah, Providence, Allah, Savior, Redeemer, Paraclete, Heavenly Father, and so on, ad infinitum, each one assigned a particular function in the world pantheon. During the Middle Ages, most of the old names and titles of male deities were amalgamated as "secret names" of the one God, while the names and titles of the Goddess were ever more minutely classified, and some were even masculinized, humanized, or diabolized. Yet such classification tends to disintegrate under deeper study that reveals the same archetypal characteristics in nearly all the "goddesses."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Few words are so revealing of western sexual prejudice as the word Goddess, in contrast to the word God. Modern connotations vastly differ from those of the ancients, to whom the Goddess was a full-fledged cosmic parent figure who created the universe and its laws, ruler of Nature, Fate, Time, Eternity, Truth, Wisdom, Justice, Love. Birth, Death, etc.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Knowledge." Gnosticism was a general term for mystery cults of the early Christian era and for derivative heresies of the medieval period. Their "knowledge" meant secrets of the after-life, spells and words of power required for advantageous placement in heaven, and revelations of the true nature of God. Leading Gnostic sects focused on the Great Mother and her Dying God—e.g., Eleusinian, Orphic, and Osirian mysteries. Angus says Gnosticism was "for over half a millenium the approach to religion for thoughtful minds."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Fearful of death, Gilgamesh journeyed in search of Uta-Napishtim (Noah), the flood hero who was the only immortal man, to learn his secret. After many adventures Gilgamesh found the patriarch, who showed him a magic "rose" of eternal life. Gilgamesh took the plant, but it was stolen from him by a serpent. Thus the serpent became the only immortal creature, capable of shedding its skin and becoming periodically reborn without any sojourn in the land of death.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Greeks assigned to the Titans all the crude religious rites of their ancestors, such as cannibalistic sacraments and dismemberment of divine victims like Dionysus or Zagreus. As archaic earth-deities, the Titans battled the newer Olympian gods in a myth known as the Giants' Revolt, paralleled by Persian, Jewish, and Christian stories of the War in Heaven. One of the mythic reasons given for the war was Zeus's punishment of the Titans for eating Dionysus's flesh; but Zeus, inconsistently, himself devoured Dionysus's heart.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Greeks called the giants Titans, offspring of Mother Earth and Father Sky (Uranus). The heavenly Father was jealous of his children and tried to smother them by clinging too closely to Mother Earth to let them breathe air. Earth gave her son Cronus the moon-sickle and bade him castrate and kill his Father. Later, Cronus married Rhea the Titaness—another incarnation of the same Mother Earth—and feared the same Oedipal fate from the other end. To preserve his own life, he swallowed his children. The mother saved one of them, Zeus, who did indeed attack his father and marry the same Mother Earth under a variety of her names—Hera, Olympia, Rhea, Gaea, or Danae. The Oedipal theme of the father-son rivals almost always appears in connection with the giant-myths.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Appearing in every mythology as a primal Elder Race, giants were obvious projections of every child's earliest perceptions of the adult world. Like grownups seen through the eye of the toddler, giants tended to be fearsome, sometimes bloodthirsty but sometimes benevolent; possessors of an arcane ancient wisdom; and adepts of magic.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

A cognate of "guest," both words rooted in Germanic Geist, originally a spirit of a dead ancestor invited to tribal feasts on such occasions as Samhain (Halloween) and other solemn ceremonies. Many European peoples preserved the heads or skulls of ancestors, which were set up, painted, and decorated, in a prominent position at gatherings of the clan, and were consulted for oracles after being offered their portion of the collation. Hence the "Death's-head at the feast." During later Christian times the custom was discouraged, for the church's doctrine of resurrection of the flesh forbade burial of bodies without heads. Nevertheless, the visiting ghost was an ineradicable belief. Ghosts were supposed to haunt all the scenes of their former lives, especially if they died violently or unhappily, or were buried in unconsecrated ground, or had possessed evil spirits. The earlier, more benevolent type of family ghost is still suggested by the identical pronunciation of "ghost" and "guest" in northern England. The anger of ghosts was most feared by people who refused to honor them as guests.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Throughout the Christian era, garlic was considered a protection against vampires and werewolves, as efficacious as a crucifix if not more so. The source of this belief might be found in pagan tradition, since blood-drinking revenants were simply diabolized versions of pagans who believed they could attain immortality by drinking the blood of gods other than Christ. Garlic and garlic-eaters were taboo in Greco-Roman temples of the Mother of the Gods. Probably the Goddess's dislike of garlic was based on its unsuitability for group contact and sexual worship, which required sweet-smelling breath.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Dark Age had destroyed or forgotten ancient astronomers' knowledge of the solar system. Aristarchus taught about 275 B.C. that the earth is a revolving globe in orbit around the sun. Eratosthenes about 250 B.C. calculated the circumference of the globe at 24,662 miles, less than 300 miles short of the true figure, 24,902. About 240 B.C., Hipparchus calculated the diameter of the moon, and its distance from the earth, within a few miles of the correct figures. But according to Christian authorities, this information was pagan and therefore heretical and wrong.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The first Christian man to achieve visual confirmation of the true motion of heavenly bodies. Before Galileo, all Christendom accepted the church's view that man and his works stood at the center of the universe, on a fixed earth surrounded by "spheres" of sun, moon, planets, and stars. This was the biblical view, supported by such infallibles as Albert the Great, Isidore of Seville, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The angel who brought God's seed to the virgin Mary. The Bible says Gabriel "came in unto her," which meant he had sexual intercourse with her, in King James terminology (Luke 1:28). Gabriel's name means "divine husband." There seems to have been a hidden reference to the ancient custom, whereby temple virgins were impregnated by certain priests designated "fathers of the god," as in Egypt.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Friday used to be the seventh day of the week. It was the Sabbath of the Jewish lunar calendar and is still the Sabbath of Islam. Scandinavian pagans, Hindus, and rural Scots insisted that Friday was the most propitious day for a marriage because it was the day that favored fertility.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Day of the Goddess Freya, called unlucky by Christian monks, because everything associated with female divinity was so called. Friday the 13th was said to be especially unlucky because it combined the Goddess's sacred day with her sacred number, drawn from the 13 months of the pagan lunar year.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Freya had so many incarnations and aspects that the scholars who tried to characterize her by only one of them soon ran into a mass of contradictions. She was called the Goddess of fertility, love, the moon, the sea, the earth, the underworld, death, birth; virgin, mother, ancestress, queen of heaven, ruler of fate, of the stars, of magic; the Great Sow wedded to the sacrificial boar; the Mistress of Cats; the leader of Valkyries; the Saga or "saver" who inspired all sacred poetry. In sum, she was as many-sided as any other version of the Goddess.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Great Goddess of northern Europe, leader of the "primal matriarchs" called Afliae, "powerful ones," or Disir, "divine grandmothers" the same as the Hindu matrikadevis or mother goddesses. Freya was the Vanadis, the Riling ancestress (dis) of the Vanir or elder gods, who ruled before the arrival of Odin and the patriarchal Aesir ("Asians") from the east. Myths said Odin learned everything he knew about magic and divine power from Freya.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

There was an eastern folk tale that allegorized the relationship between God and humanity as between a wizard-shepherd and his flock of remarkably intelligent sheep. Knowing that their master would eventually kill, skin, and eat them, the sheep kept trying to run away, and proved very troublesome. At last the shepherd used his magic power to put his sheep into a hypnotic trance and gave them suggestions that they would internalize as their own beliefs. He told them they were immortal, so death could do them no harm. He told them to trust in their master's goodness no matter what happened to them. Finally, he told them not to think about their fate at all, because it wouldn't happen right away. There was no need to anticipate it. Then the sheep became obedient, and stopped trying to escape. Each one quietly awaited its own death at the master's hand, believing that it had decided to do so of its own free will.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

So troublesome did the doctrine of free will become that some Protestant sects, such as Caivinist Presbyterianism, abandoned it altogether in favor of predestination, stating that every person was already saved or damned from birth by God's unalterable decree. This idea restored God's omniscience, but eroded the incentive to live a godly life.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Old Testament writers copied other details of the ancient flood myth but could not allow their god to be punished by the Great Whore of Babylon, as if he were a naughty child sent to bed without supper by an angry mother. Thus, they transformed Ishtar's rainbow barrier into a "sign of the covenant" voluntarily set in the heavens by God himself (Genesis 9:13).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

According to the original Chaldean account, the flood hero was told by his god. "Build a vessel and finish it. By a deluge I will destroy substance and life. Cause thou to go up into the vessel the substance of all that has life." Technical instructions followed: the ark was to be 600 cubits long by 60 wide, with three times 3600 measures of asphalt on its exterior and the same amount inside. Three times 3600 porters brought chests of provisions, of which 3600 chests were for the hero's immediate family, while "the mariners divided among themselves twice three thousand six hundred chests." It seems that Noah's ark was much smaller than earlier heroic proportions.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The biblical flood story, the "deluge," was a late offshoot of a cycle of flood myths known everywhere in the ancient world. Thousands of years before the Bible was written, an ark was built by Sumerian Ziusudra. In Akkad, the flood hero's name was Atrakhasis. In Babylon he was Uta-Napishtim, the only mortal to become immortal. In Greece he was Deucalion, who repopulated the earth after the waters subsided, with the help of his wife Pyrrha and the advice of the Great Goddess of the waters, Themis. In Armenia, the hero was Xisuthros—a corruption of Sumerian Ziusudra—whose ark landed on Mount Ararat.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The fish symbol of the yonic Goddess was so revered throughout the Roman empire that Christian authorities insisted on taking it over, with extensive revision of myths to deny its earlier female-genital meanings. Some claimed the fish represented Christ because Greek ichthys, "fish," was an acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God." But the Christian fish-sign was the same as that of the Goddess's yoni or Pearly Gate: two crescent moons forming a vesica piscis. Sometimes the Christ child was portrayed inside the vesica, which was superimposed on Mary's belly and obviously represented her womb, just as in the ancient symbolism of the Goddess.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Fish and womb were synonymous in Greek; delphos meant both.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

A world-wide symbol of the Great Mother was the pointed-oval sign of the yoni, known as vesica piscis, Vessel of the Fish. It was associated with the "Fishy Smell" that Hindus made a title of the yonic Goddess herself, because they said women's genitals smelled like fish. The Chinese Great Mother Kwan-yin ("Yoni of yonis") often appeared as a fish-goddess. As the swallower of Shiva's penis, Kali became Minaksi the "fish-eyed" one, just as in Egypt, Isis the swallower of Osiris's penis became Abtu, the Great Fish of the Abyss.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Jesus's rival deity Mithra, whom some called the true Messiah, also was involved with the maternal fig tree. Shortly after his birth from the petra genetrix, and his discovery by adoring shepherds, Mithra was adopted by the fig tree, which provided him with a continuous supply of food (fruit) and clothing (leaves). According to the Book of Genesis, fig leaves were the world's first clothing, donned by Adam and eve as soon as they acquired knowledge. Adoption by a fig tree also figured prominently in the legend of Buddha, protected by the Bodhi Tree, or Tree of Wisdom, ficus religiosa, the Holy Fig, when he received his enlightenment on Full Moon Day in the month of May.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Gospels say Jesus cursed the fig tree and made it forever barren because it refused to produce fruit for him out of its season (Mark 11:13-22). The story probably was intended to express hostility to a well-known Goddess-symbol. The fig was always female, its heart-shaped leaves representing "the conventional form of the yoni." Romans used to celebrate "a rude and curious rite" in connection with the fertilization of Juno Caprotina, Goddess of the Fig Tree, by her lecherous homed goat god.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The All-Seeing Eye of ancient Egypt once belonged to the Goddess of truth and judgment, Maat. The Mother-syllable Maa meant "to see"; in hieroglyphics it was an eye.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Equally destructive to Christian theology would be restoration of books arbitrarily excluded from the canon, such as the Apocalypsc of Adam, in which Adam stated that he and Eve were created together but she was his superior. She brought with her "a glory which she had seen in the aeon from which we had come forth. She taught me a word of knowledge. . . . And we resembled the great eternal angels, for we were higher than the God who had created us."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Actually, churches depend for their very existence on the orthodox myth of Eve. "Take the snake, the fruit-tree, and the woman from the tableau, and we have no fall, no frowning Judge, no Inferno, no everlasting punishment—hence no need of a Savior. Thus the bottom falls out of the whole Christian theology."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Like her prototype Kali Jaganmata, Eve brought forth death as well as life—that is, she brought forth all living forms, all of which were subject to death for the very reason that they were alive. Under patriarchal systems of belief, the fact that every living thing is doomed to die was blamed on the Mother who gave it a finite life. Instead of blaming God for casting Adam out of the paradise where he might have lived forever, the patriarchs blamed Eve for bringing this about. The Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach said evil began with Woman (Eve): "because of her we all die." Fathers of the Christian church said Eve conceived by the serpent and brought forth Death. The seeds of all women already existed in Eve, St. John Chrysostom maintained, so that in her sin "the whole female race transgressed."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Another Gnostic version of the story made God a true villain, who cursed Adam and Eve and expelled them from paradise out of jealousy of their happiness. He also lusted after the Virgin Eve, raped her, and begot her sons Jahveh and Elohim, whose other names were Cain and Abel. Here was one of several myths that made Eve the mother not only of Adam, but also of Jehovah, and of all the elements as well. The myth went on to say the first of Eve's offspring ruled the male elements of fire and air, the second ruled the female elements of earth and water.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The biblical idea was a reversal of older myths in which the Goddess brought forth a primal male ancestor, then made him her mate—the ubiquitous, archetypal divine-incest relationship traceable in every mythology. The reversal was not even original with biblical authors. It was evolved by Aryan patriarchs who called Brahma the primal male ancestor. They claimed their god brought forth the Mother of All Living from his own body, then mated with her, so she gave birth to the rest of the universe. In the Hebraic version, a wombless God made his offspring with his hands, and the actual birth-giving was left to Adam. The Bible as revised by patriarchal scribes said nothing about a divine birth-giving, since the scribes were determined to separate the concepts of "deity" and "mother" insofar as possible.

Gnostic scriptures however reverted to the older tradition and said Eve not only created Adam and obtained his admission to heaven; she was the very soul within him, as Shakti was the soul of every Hindu god and yogi. Adam couldn't live without "power from the Mother," so she descended to earth as "the Good Spirit, the Thought of Light called by him 'Life' (Hawwa)." She entered into Adam as his guiding spirit of conscience: "It is she who works at the creature, exerts herself on him, sets him in his own perfect temple, enlightens him on the origin of his deficiency, and shows him his (way of) ascent." Through her, Adam was able to rise above the ignorance imposed on him by the male God.

By this Gnostic route came the Midrashic assertion that Adam and Eve were originally androgynous, like Shiva and his Shakti. She dwelt in him, and he in her; they were two souls united in one body, which God later tore apart, depriving them of their bliss of union. Cabalists took up the idea and said the paradise of Eden can be regained only when the two sexes are once more united; even God mast be united with his female counterpart, the heavenly Eve called Shekina.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Adam's name meant he was formed of clay moistened with blood, the female magic of adamah or "bloody clay." He didn't produce the Mother of All Living from his rib; in earlier Mesopotamian stories, he was produced from hers. His Babylonian predecessor Adapa (or Adamu) was deprived of eternal life not by the Goddess, but by a hostile God.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Gnostic scriptures said Adam was created by the power of Eve's word, not God's. She said, "Adam, live! Rise up upon the earth!" As soon as she spoke the word, her word became reality. Adam rose up and opened his eyes. "When he saw her, he said, 'You will be called "the mother of the living," because you are the one who gave me life.'"

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Because Jehovah arrogantly pretended to be the sole Creator, Eve was obliged to punish him, according to Gnostic scriptures. Though the Mother of All Living existed before everything, the God forgot she had made him and had given him some of her creative power. "He was even ignorant of his own Mother. . . . It was because he was foolish and ignorant of his Mother that he said, 'I am God; there is none beside me."' Gnostic texts often show the creator reprimanded and punished for his arrogance by a feminine power greater and older than himself.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The original Eve had no spouse except the serpent, a living phallus she created for her own sexual pleasure. Some ancient peoples regarded the Goddess and her serpent as their first parents. Sacred icons showed the Goddess giving life to a man, while her serpent coiled around the apple tree behind her. Deliberate misinterpretation of such icons produced ideas for revised creation myths like the one in Genesis. Some Jewish traditions of the first century B.C., however, identified Jehovah with the se pent deity who accompanied the Mother in her garden. Sometimes she was Eve, sometimes her name was given as Nahemah, Naama, or Namrael, who gave birth to Eve and Adam without the help of any male, even the serpent.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The biblical title of Eve, "Mother of All Living," was a translation of Kali Ma's title Jaganmata. She was also known in India as Jiva or leva, the Creatress of all manifested forms. In Assyrian scriptures she was entitled Mother-Womb, Creatress of Destiny, who made male and female human beings out of clay, "in pairs she completed them." The first of the Bible's two creation myths gives this Assyrian version, significantly changing "she" to "he" (Genesis 1:27).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Star," the Hebrew rendering of Ishtar or Astarte. The biblical Book of Esther is a secularized Elamite myth of Ishtar (Esther) and her consort Marduk (Mordecai), who sacrificed the god Hammon, or Amon (Haman). Yahweh was never mentioned, because the Jews of Elam worshipped Marduk, not Yahweh.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Essenes preached giving away all one's worldly goods upon joining the sect, which meant those who joined gave away everything they owned to their superiors. Dire punishments were meted out to those who lied about their possessions in order to hold something back for themselves or their families.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The doctrines were strikingly similar to those of early Christianity. Essenes anticipated St. Augustine in teaching that immortal souls belonged in heaven, but were drawn down to earth and entrapped in corruptible flesh by the "natural enticement" of sex. The soul's purity might be recovered by ascetic techniques such as mortification of the flesh, fasting, renunciation of sensual pleasures, and by solitary meditation in the wilderness, like the voluntary exiles of John and Jesus.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

An Essenic hierarchy included a chief priest called Christos (Anointed One), "head of the entire Congregation of Israel." There were ordinary priests called "sons of Aaron," and another functionary known as the Messiah of Israel. The latter was also called Teacher of Righteousness. He suffered physical abuse in atonement for the sins of the entire community, enduring "vindictive sentences of scourging and the terrors of painful sicknesses, and vengeance on his fleshly body."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Jewish sect of ascetics, based on sun-worshipping Persian anchorites, who in turn evolved their system from Jain yogis professing to work miracles by living apart from the world and practicing extreme self-denial. Jesus, John the Baptist, and Simon Magus were said to have been trained in Essenic communities, which formed the bulk of the first Christians. Epiphanius said, "They who believed on Christ were called Essenes before they were called Christians."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Hebrew plural word meaning "the goddesses and the gods," though every time it appeared in a Bible text it was translated simply "God." In the original manuscripts of the book of Genesis, Yahweh was only one of the elohim. Sometimes the singular form was taken as a name, e.g. the Phoenician bull-god called simply El, "the god."

Medieval wizards thought Elohim was one of the magical secret names of God; or, at times, it was taken to be the name of a devil.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

General Semitic word or name for a deity, especially in combining forms, as Isra-el, Beth-el, Dani-el, El-ijah. Both El and its plural, elohim, meaning many deities of both sexes, are the Hebrew words rendered "God" by biblical translators. Sometimes "God" is Elias, a Hebraic version of the sun (Greek Helios); this was the "father" Jesus addressed (Matthew 27:47-49). In Phoenicia, El was the Heavenly Bull at the head of the pantheon, spouse of Asherah as Cow-Mother. He usually appeared as a human figure wearing the head or horns of a bull.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Hebrew "Garden of Delight," based on the Persian Heden or primal garden where the first couple were joined together as a bisexual being in the Golden Age. Like all images of the earthly paradise, Eden was located in the far west originally, where the sun went each night. That is why the Bible says known lands lay "cast of Eden" (Genesis 4:16).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Another remnant of the pagan sacred drama was the image of the god buried in his tomb, then withdrawn and said to live again. The church instituted such a custom early in the Middle Ages, apparently in hopes of a reportable miracle. A small sepulchral building having been erected and the consecrated host placed within, a priest was set to watch it from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Then the host was taken out and displayed, and the congregation was told Christ was risen.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Eggs were always symbols of rebirth, which is why Easter eggs were usually colored red—the life-color—especially in eastern Europe.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Like all the church's "movable feasts," Easter shows its pagan origin in a dating system based on the old lunar calendar. It is fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, formerly the "pregnant" phase of Eostre passing into the fertile season. The Christian festival wasn't called Easter until the Goddess's name was given to it in the late Middle Ages.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Saxon poets apparently knew Eostre was the same Goddess as India's Great Mother Kali. Beowulf spoke of "Ganges' waters, whose flood waves ride down into an unknown sea near Eostre's far home." The Easter Bunny was older than Christianity; it was the Moon-hare sacred to the Goddess in both eastern and western nations. Recalling the myths of Hathor-Astarte who laid the Golden Egg of the sun, Germans used to say the hare would lay eggs for good children on Easter Eve.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Springtime sacrificial festival named for the Saxon Goddess Eostre, or Ostara, a northern form of Astarte. Her sacred month was Eastre-monath, the Moon of Eostre.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

As the royal bird of Rome, and the embodiment of deified emperors, the eagle was worshipped by Roman legionaries. Each legion had its sacred eagles, carried into battle like banners. If a legion should lose its eagles, the disgrace was unbearable; another whole expedition might be mounted to recover them.

The Roman imperial emblem was inherited by the Germanic "Holy Roman Empire" and its Kaisers, derived from Caesars. Thus the eagle became a Teutonic symbol of sovereignty.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The eagle was often identified with the fire bird or phoenix, who underwent a baptism of the fire that "burns all sins" and was reborn from his own ashes. The eagle also stood for the soul of Heracles, who passed through fire into heaven at seasonal festivals of Tarsus, and inspired St. Paul's belief in the virtue of giving one's body to be burned (1 Corinthians 13:3). The eagle was the totemic form of Prometheus, who "stole" fire from heaven, like the eastern fire-lightning-sun hero, man, or angel embodied in the Garuda bird. Garuda flew to the mountain of paradise to steal the gods' secret of immortality. Later, he assumed the golden body of the sun. American Indians had a similar hero, the thunderbird or lightning bird.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Classic soul-bird, symbol of apotheosis associated with the sun god, fire, and lightning. Greeks thought eagles so closely akin to the lightning spirit that they nailed eagles to the peaks of temples to serve as magic lightning rods. Hence the name aetoi, "eagles," for the pediments of Greek temples. These were ancient forerunners of the "weathercock" on the rooftree of a barn or house.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

To some extent the mystical reverence for oak trees persists to this day. Many British and American towns have their venerable "Charter Oak" or some superannuated tree where seasonal ceremonies take place. Acorns and oak leaves are still considered appropriate for wreaths and harvest decorations, even if they no longer crown the Goddess's sacred kings.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Druids were attacked by the Christian church for their paganism, but especially for their propensity to include sacred women in their ranks.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Dryadism and druidism were two phases of the same religion, evidently restricted to a female priesthood in the earlier, matriarchal stage, later open to male priests as well. Gaulish and British priests of the oak groves formed a class of bardic wizards, keeping a sacred tradition by memorizing orally transmitted material, the nucleus of medieval sagas, epics, and ballads.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The phrase attributed to Jesus, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16), was no random metaphor but a traditional invocation of the Syrian God and Goddess.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Aphrodite's totem, the bird of sexual passion, symbolically equivalent to the yoni. In India, too, the dove was paravata, the symbol of lust. Joined to her consort the phallic serpent, the Dove-goddess stood for sexual union and "Life."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Not only the Christ figure was supposed to return just before doomsday, but also Antichrist, his adversary, for the final battle between good and evil couldn't take place until all the forces were assembled on either side. According to a German legend, Antichrist could not come to earth as long as the Holy Roman (German) Empire stood. This legend served to keep some of the warring nationlets in line at times, but the Holy Roman Empire was a rather loose, indefinable entity for most of its existence. Antichrist was almost as constantly anticipated as Christ.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Hopeful Christians found that Jesus's generation and many other generations passed without apocalyptic symptoms. Seeking an explanation, theologians discovered the text saying a thousand years were but a day in the sight of God (Psalms 90:4), another borrowing from Oriental sages who said a Day of Brahma lasted a thousand years. On the basis of this scripture it was decided that the world would end in the year 1000 a.d. With the approach of that year, Europe was seized by an apocalyptic mania. Farms and towns were abandoned as fanatics tramped the countryside announcing the Last Days. In some areas, agriculture and commerce came virtually to a standstill. The year passed uneventfully enough, but human society suffered greatly from famines and civil disorders caused by the doomsday belief.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Gospels promised doomsday almost at once. Jesus said it would occur in his own generation: "There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27). Early Christians accordingly expected the world's end so soon that there was no reason to marry and beget children who would never grow up, a major reason for Christianity's renunciation of marriage. Motherhood would only harm women in the convulsions of the last days: "Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days!" (Luke 21:23).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

According to the Gospels, Jesus identified himself with this personage who would be seen "coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven" (Mark 13:26-27). Jesus was not the only Messiah of his time. Josephus said before 70 a.d. there were countless Messiahs and Christs announcing the end of the world.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Savior destined to appear before the world's end had an old form in Buddhist scriptures as Kalki Avatara, the Destroyer of Sin, who would come from heaven to announce doomsday. Persians copied him, changing his title to Son of Man, or Messiah. Before 170 B.C., the Book of Enoch called him Christos, the Anointed One, and announced that he had already come and gone, and that his Second Coming was expected at any moment.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Patriarchal Persians made some alterations in the picture. Their idea of doomsday was as dire as any, with the usual convulsions of the earth, fires, flood, and fallings of heaven; but they denied the subsequent creation of a new world. Their concept was not cyclic, but linear. Creation and doomsday could occur only once. After the great battle Armageddon at the end of the world, "The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness," the heavenly forces of the sun god would prevail. They would divide the sinful from the virtuous and assign them to heaven or hell. The aftermath was not another creation, but eternal stasis, like the Brahman Nirvana.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

After destruction of this nonvirtuous world and its cruel gods, there would be a period of dark nonexistence. Then the Goddess's womb would bring forth a new universe. A new human race would arise from a primal couple, a woman named Life—one of the Semitic names of Eve—and a man named Desirer-of-Life.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Vishnu Purana said the world in its last days reaches a stage where "property confers rank, wealth becomes the only source of virtue, passion the sole bond of union between husband and wife, falsehood the source of success in life, sex the only means of enjoyment, and when outer trappings are confused with inner religion."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The universal idea of the world's end was rooted in ancient Hindu belief in the cyclic alternation of universes, brought about by Kali.

Each successive creation was divided into four yugas or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara, and Kali, the fourth and last marking the age when Mother turns Destroyer because the race of men become violent and sinful, failing to perceive deity in the feminine principle. "Due to the limited intelligence and lust of men in the Kali Yuga, they will be unable to recognize women as manifestations of the Shakti." Only a few may escape spiritual degeneration: those who are devoted "to the lotus of their mothers' feet and to their own wives."

When Kali's doomsday arrived, the gods would slay each other. Earth would be overwhelmed by fire and flood. The Goddess would swallow up everything and un-make it, returning to her primordial state of formless Chaos, as she was before creation. All beings would enter her, because "She devours all existence." After a time that could not be counted because even Time was destroyed. Kali would give birth to a new universe.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Like other carrion eaters - e.g., vultures - dogs, wolves, and jackals were associated with funerary customs. Dogs carried the dead to their Mother.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Orpheus was a third-generation savior, identified with his divine father Dionysus as Dionysus was identified with his divine father Zeus. Seated on the Heavenly Fathers throne, brandishing his lightning-scepter, Dionysus was hailed as King of Kings and God of Gods. He was also the god-begotten, virgin-born Anointed One (Christos) whose mother seems to have been all three forms of the Triple Goddess: the earth mother, Persephone the underworld queen, Semele the moon-maiden. Hints of a hanging or crucifixion ceremony appeared in his sacrificial title Dendrites, "Young Man of the Tree." He was also a Horned God, with such forms as bull, goat, and stag.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In Palestine, Dionysus was identified with Noah, the first biblical patriarch to get drunk (Genesis 9:21).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Dionysus and Jehovah were literally two sides of the same coin in the 5th century B.C., when coins found near Gaza showed Dionysus on one side, and on the other a bearded figure labeled JHWH—Jehovah.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Dionysus is often presented as a rustic wine-god, inventor of viniculture. He was more than that. He was a prototype of Christ, with a cult center at Jerusalem as well as nearly every other major city in the middle east.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Identified with many other savior-gods, Dionysus was also called Bacchus, Zagreus, Sabazius, Adonis, Antheus, Zalmoxis, Pentheus, Pan, Liber Pater, or "the Liberator." His totem was a panther (Panthereos, the Beast of Pan). His emblem was the thyrsus, a phallic scepter tipped with a pine cone. His priestesses were the Maenads, or Bacchantes, who celebrated his orgies with drunkenness, nakedness, and sacramental feasting.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In short: the devil, not Christ, was the true scapegoat who assumed the burden of men's sins.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The devil was essential to the dualistic theology that Christianity copied from Persia. If the world was divided between the forces of good and evil, an evil deity was necessary, otherwise evil would have to be blamed on God. Logically, a god couldn't be both all-good and all-powerful. If God could make a world without evil, and would not, he couldn't be all-good. If God wanted to make a world without evil, and could not, he couldn't be all-powerful. The only solution—not a good one, but the only possible one—was to supply God with an evenly matched adversary, to be responsible for evil. Thus theologians thought it the worst heresy, "contrary to the true faith," to suggest that devils existed only in the ignorant imagination. The devil was so real to Martin Luther that he accosted him one evening and threw an inkpot at him.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Divine and devilish were relative terms, as the primary sense of Hebrew words for "good" and "evil" really meant "beneficial" and "hurtful." Gods did "evil" things if angered; devils could do "good" things if they were pleased. One man's god was his enemy's devil.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The words "devil" and "divinity" grew from the same root, Indo-European devi (Goddess) or deva (God), which became daeva (devil) in Persian. Old English divell (devil) can be traced to the Roman derivative divus, divi: gods. Thus it seems that, from the beginning, gods and devils were often confused with one another.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Animals and people could be "demons," or could harbor demons within their bodies or minds. Sometimes, any alien group of people could be called demons. Europeans often visualized demons as black, like Negroes. On the other hand, dark-skinned people like the Singhalese maintained that demons were white and hairy.'

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Tantric sages spoke of the faraway Golden Age when all men were giants and lived lifetimes of about a thousand years each, because they were nearer in time to the world's creation, when the Goddess's nourishing birth blood was more abundant and the knowledge of her was more intimate among her children. As the Bible said, there were giants in the earth in those days (Genesis 6:4).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In the Secret Book of James, Jesus recommended suicide, remarking that the kingdom of death could only belong to those who put themselves to death, and no one who avoided this duty could be saved.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Material life moves between two poles," Bachofen says. "Its realm is not that of being but that of becoming and passing away, the eternal alternation of two colors, the white of life and the black of death. Only through the equal mixture of the two is the survival of the material world assured. Without death no rejuvenation is possible ... the positive power cannot for one moment exist without the negative power. Death, then, is not the opposite but the helper of life."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Men have usually believed that knowledge of death can only come from those who have experienced it. Hence the initiatory procedures involving mock death, as among Siberian shamans, who experience in trances being torn apart and reduced to bare bones. "By thus seeing himself naked, altogether freed from the perishable and transient flesh and blood, he consecrates himself, in the sacred tongue of the shamans, to his great task, through that part of his body which will longest withstand the action of the sun, wind and weather, after he is dead.... (In certain Central Asian meditations that are Buddhistic and tantric in origin or at least in structure, reduction to the skeleton condition has ... an ascetic and metaphysical value—anticipating the work of time, reducing life by thought to what it really is, an ephemeral illusion in perpetual transformation."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

It has been said that Death came into existence only with the rise of man's consciousness, a roundabout way of saying death is more real for humans than for any other animal, because only humans foresee it. Religions owe their existence to the unique ability of the human animal to understand that it must die.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The most thoroughly Christianized nations hardly began to recover from the church's eclipse of learning until the present century. In Spain for example, the tradition of book-burning became an integral part of the auto-da-fe in 1502. It was against the law for any layman to read any book not approved by the bishops. To own vernacular copies of either Testament of the Bible was punishable by burning at the stake. Reading declined to almost nothing. What few grammar schools existed were only "superficial preparation for the priesthood." Still, many priests were illiterate. General education was attempted only after the revolutions of 1834 and 1855, when the monasteries were suppressed. Yet in 1896, more than two-thirds of the population were still unable to read or write.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The field of natural science was in even worse disorder. Learned books taught that mice do not reproduce like other mammals but are generated spontaneously and asexually from "the putrefaction of the earth"; that wasps produce themselves out of a dead horse and bees out of a dead calf; that a crab deprived of its legs and buried will turn into a scorpion; that some mammals, such as hares, can change from one sex to the other; that a duck dried into powder and placed in water will generate frogs; that a duck baked and buried will generate toads; that asparagus is produced from buried shavings of a ram's horn; that scorpions can be created from garden basil rubbed between two stones; that rain and lightning can be raised by burning a chameleon's liver on a rooftop; that no fleas can breed where a man scatters dust dug up from his right footprint in the place where he heard the first springtime call of a cuckoo. Because the very idea of experimentation to test hypotheses had been replaced by credulous reliance on theological authority, even notions that would have been simple to test remained untested.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Ignorance was helpful to the spread of the faith; so ignorance was fostered. Richard Payne Knight, in his book, A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus, says, "Men are superstitious in proportion as they are ignorant, and ... those who know least of the principles of religion are the most earnest and fervent." In keeping western Europe as ignorant as possible, however, the church lost much of its history. Even contemporary events went inaccurately reported, or altogether unnoted. Events of the past were absurdly garbled. All the public knew of history was provided by bards, who tried to maintain the druidic tradition of rote-learning, with indifferent success.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Fathers of the church seemed cynically aware that public ignorance worked in their favor. Gregory of Nazianzus wrote to St. Jerome thus: "A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose upon the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said, not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Under the Christian emperors, educated citizens were persecuted by the illiterate who claimed their books were witchcraft texts.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The study of medicine was forbidden, on the ground that all diseases were caused by demons and could be cured only be exorcism.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The decline of Roman civilization and the onset of the Dark Age was the period Gilbert Murray characterized as the western world's failure of nerve. It marked the transition of the west from a position of cultural leadership to one of regressed barbarism, and transformed Europe into what is now known as an "undeveloped area." Intellect, taste, and imagination disappeared from art and literature. Rather than broadening the western mind, its church crippled that mind by allowing childish superstitions to flourish in an atmosphere of ignorance and unreason. Suppression of the teaching priestess or alma mater led to an eclipse of education in general.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Conventional histories presented a picture of early Christians as peaceable souls, unjustly persecuted. This picture could only have arisen because historical writing was monopolized by the church for many centuries, and there was no compunction about changing or falsifying records.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Roman society was losing its cohesiveness and discipline, with the usual symptoms of social decline: runaway inflation, shortages, crime, apathy, and a discouraged middle class taxed to the breaking point to support a top-heavy, stagnant bureaucracy.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Western histories have put forth many theories about the fall of Rome and attributed the onset of the Dark Age to a wide variety of causes, except the one cause that may have had more to do with it than any other: Christianity. By denying women's spiritual significance and forbidding Goddess worship, the church alienated both sexes from their pagan sense of unity with the divine through each other.

Christians said one of the diabolic symptoms of the oncoming end of the world was "the spread of knowledge," which they endeavored to check with wholesale book-burnings, destruction of libraries and schools, and opposition to education for laymen. By the end of the 5th century, Christian rulers forcibly abolished the study of philosophy, mathematics, medicine, and geography. Lactantius said no Christian should study astronomy. Pope Gregory the Great denounced all secular education as folly and wickedness, and forbade Christian laymen to read even the Bible. He burned the library of the Palatine Apollo, "lest its secular literature distract the faithful from the contemplation of heaven."

In the church's view, every opinion except its own was heretical and devilish, likely to raise doubts in the minds of believers. Therefore, pagan intellectuals and teachers were persecuted and schools were closed. Christian emperors commanded the burning of all books of the philosophers, as Theodosius said, "for we would not suffer any of those things so much as to come to men's ears, which would tend to provoke God to wrath and offend the minds of the pious." After years of vandalism and destruction, St. John Chrysostom proudly boasted, "Every trace of the old philosophy and literature of the ancient world has vanished from the face of the earth."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Philistine sea god, one of Yahweh's leading enemies (Judges 16:23). He appeared as a merman, fish-man, or serpent-man. He was mated to Atargatis, the Philistine form of Astarte. Since she was a Mistress of Earth and Sea like her Mycenaean twin Demeter, her consort also patronized both farming and fishing. In Canaan, he was the "grain god" Dagan. father of Baal, mated to Anath, the Canaanite version of the same Great Mother. On account of the bad publicity given him in the Bible, he naturally became a leading demon of the Christian hell.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Roman name for the god of erotic love, Greek Eros, Hindu Kama. Cupid was the son of Venus and Mercury (Aphrodite and Hermes), and was therefore a "Herm-Aphrodite," signifying sexual union.

In Christian usage, the ancient significance of sexual desire was confused with desire for money, hence the modern "cupidity," which used to mean "lust" but now means greed. In the same way, Latin caritas was altered from sensual or sexual giving to the modern "charity," giving of money.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Celtic dying god, a son of God, born of a virgin, reincarnated as both Father and Son. It was said of him that he was "begotten by a man that was not a man; his father was reared by his mother as a child, a child which died and did not die." In other words, he was a pre-Christian Christ figure, God-begotten on the "Mother of God," of one substance with his own Father.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In 1209 Pope Innocent II preached a great crusade against the French rebels. This has gone down in history as the Albigensian crusade, one of the bloodiest chapters in Christianity's past. Half of France was exterminated. When the papal legate was asked how heretics were to be distinguished from the faithful, he replied, "Kill them all; God will know his own."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

France were particularly virulent, since these people were prosperous enough to attract plunderers, and bitterly opposed to the Roman church, which they called the Synagogue of Satan.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

It has been estimated that Europe was Christianized at a cost of about 8 million to 10 million lives.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Once the crusading system was established, it was turned on other enemies of the church closer to home and became the standard method for dealing with European heathens and heretics. Between 1236 and 1283 a crusade of extermination was preached against the pagan Prussians by Pope Honorius, and carried out by the Teutonic Knights. The Christian Brethren of the Sword similarly converted Livonia and Courland. Armies of the Christian Dukes of Poland forced the Wends to accept Christian baptism and vassalage. The Lithuanians stubbornly clung to their paganism to the end of the 14th century, but eventually they too were Christianized by the sword.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Pope Urban II tried to solve the problem by initiating crusades in the east, on the pretext of converting the Saracens' possessions in the "Holy Land" into Christian fiefs. In 1095 he instigated the People's Crusade as a combination of penitential pilgrimage and a war of conquest. It was advertised throughout Europe. All who participated were placed above restrictions of law, and promised forgiveness of sins and eternal bliss in heaven without any time spent in purgatory.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Holy wars" designed to wrest property away from the heathen or heretic enemies of orthodox Christianity. Crusades were usually fought by vassals of Christian overlords, including the wealthy clergy. Warriors were promised not only the standard soldiers' spoils, but also indulgences, like instant remission of sins and admission to heaven guaranteed no matter what crimes the crusader may have committed.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Male genitals are still called "the tree of life" by the Arabs, and a cross was one of the oldest diagrammatic images of male genitals.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

No one knows exactly when the cross became associated with Christianity. Early images of Jesus represented him not on a cross, but in the guise of the Osirian or Hermetic "Good Shepherd," carrying a lamb. Later, many different kinds of crosses were used as Christian symbols. They included the Greek cross of equal arms, the X-shaped St. Andrew's cross, the swastika, the Gnostic Maltese cross, the solar cross or Cross of Wotan, and the ansated cross, a development of the Egyptian ankh, also found as the Cross of Venus.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The cross was also a male symbol of the phallic Tree of Life; therefore it often appeared in conjunction with the female-genital circle or oval, to signify the sacred marriage. Male cross and female orb composed the Egyptian "amulet Nefer," or amulet of blessedness, a charm of sexual harmony.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

From very ancient times, an effigy of a man hanging on a cross was set up in fields to protect the crops. The modem scarecrow is a survival of this sacrificial magic, representing the sacred king whose blood was supposed to fertilize the earth. He was never abandoned, even though every farmer knew that no scarecrow ever really scared a crow.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The "Latin" or "Passion" cross, now the primary symbol of Christianity, was not shown in Christian art until six centuries after Christ. But long before the Christian era it was a pagan religious symbol throughout Europe and western Asia. Early Christians even repudiated the cross because it was pagan.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Cuneiform writings showed that the people of Mesopotamia were telling the same story of creation that the Bible told - and telling it thousands of years earlier.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Reasoning on this level - and never noticing anything odd about the many consecutive reigns of 40 years - Archbishop Usher in 1650 placed the date of creation in 4004 B.C. Dr. John Lightfoot, 19th century Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, carried the calculations even further: "Man was created by the Trinity on the twenty-third of October, 4004 B.C., at nine o'clock in the morning.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

As long ago as 1753, Astruc recognized that the Book of Genesis contains at least two mutually contradictory versions of the creation myth. One version the scholars call E, for it speaks of plural creators, elohim, male and female deities. Another version is J, for Jehovah elohim, the God of gods. The two versions disagree in many points:

E: birds and beasts created before man.
J: man created before birds and beasts.

E: birds made of water, along with fishes.
J: birds made of earth, along with beasts.

E: man given dominion over the whole earth.
J: man placed only in the garden, "to dress it and keep it," like the men created to be farmer-slaves in the Sumerian original.

E: man and woman created together, after the beasts: "male and female created he (they) them, and God (elohim, the deities) blessed them."
J: man created alone, before beasts and birds; woman made from his rib.

E: creation took place in six days.
J: creation took place in one day.

E: nothing was said about the Fall, which appeared only in the J narrative.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

[...] Jehovah claimed to be the only God, because he had forgotten the Mother who brought him into being, according to one source. The Mother of Gods was angry that he had impiously sinned against her, and against her other children, the male and female Immortal Ones. These were the elohim of the Book of Genesis. God grouped himself with them, calling the group "us" (Genesis 3:22).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The church since the time of Constantine affords proof that it is not spiritual truth that has triumphed with the spread of Christianity but human power.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

His literary whitewashing began at once. Despite his two wives and numerous concubines, Christian panegyrists said he was "wedded to chastity." Eusebius elevated all the emperor's doings into acts of piety, and invented the legend that Christ had converted him with a holy vision at the Milvian bridge. Later Christian legend claimed Constantine saw the sign of the cross in the sky, with the words in hoc signo vinces (in this sign conquer). However, the holy sign that Constantine placed on his battle flags was not the cross. It was the labarum, a monogram of Mithra and a sign of the sun, already in use by several pagan emperors before Constantine.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Constantine's life was hardly a model of piety. He murdered his eldest son, his second wife, his father-in-law, his brother-in-law, and "many others," a chronicler said.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The "first Christian emperor" (288?-337), honored for establishing Christianity as the official religion of the Roman empire. Actually, Constantine didn't do this in his own lifetime; his bishops did it afterward. Constantine was not so much a worshipper of Christ as he was a worshipper of himself.

Constantine considered himself the incarnation of "the supreme god," a combination of Apollo, Mithra, Jupiter, the sun, and Christ. He called himself "the instrument of the Deity." He said, "I banished and utterly abolished every form of evil then prevailing, in the hope that the human race, enlightened through me, might be called to a proper observance of God's holy laws." He designated for his tomb a spot in the center of the cruciform Church of the Holy Apostles, saying he would lie forever with six apostles at his left hand and six at his right. A contemporary historian said Constantine was "more greedy for praise than it is possible to tell."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Symbolic version of the sacrifice of virility to a deity, as practiced in Egypt, Persia, and the Middle East. Originally an imitation of menstruation, performed at puberty on boys who were dressed up as girls for the occasion. Circumcision came to be regarded as a sacrifice pleasing to a male deity, when it was viewed as a substitute for castration.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Homeric "witch" able to transform men into sacrificial swine: a mythic picture of the transition from human to porcine sacrifices during the Hellenic period. Circe's isle of Aeaea was a funerary shrine. Its name meant "Wailing." Circe herself was the death-bird kirkos, falcon. From the same root came the Latin circus, originally an enclosure for funerary games.

As the circle, or cirque, Circe was identical with Omphale of Lydia with her cosmic spinning wheel: a fate-spinner, weaver of the destinies of men. Homer called her Circe of the Braided Tresses, hinting that, like Oriental goddesses, she manipulated forces of creation and destruction by the knots and braids in her hair. She ruled all the stars that determined men's fates. Pliny said Circe was a Goddess who "commanded all the lights of heaven."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Anointed One," a title of many Middle-Eastern sacrificial gods - Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, Osiris - derived from Oriental cults of the sacred marriage. In the east, the god's lingam or the erect penis of his statue was anointed with holy oil (Greek chrism) for easier penetration of his bride, the Goddess, impersonated by one of the temple virgins. Before anointing with oil, the god's phallus was often reddened to the color of life with pigment, wine, or blood - specifically, the menstrual blood of his bride. Because kingship once depended on the sacred marriage, anointing became the official rite of investiture for surrogate kings as well as real kings. It carried a promise of godhood.

The words of the psalmist. "Thou anointest my head with oil," evolved from the ancient custom of anointing the god-king's penis, for which "head" was a common euphemism. At royal weddings the king's head was crowned with a wreath of flowers, as in the Hindu svayamara ceremony - and flowers, in biblical language, symbolized menstrual blood (Leviticus 15:24). Among the pagans, the temple virgin deflowering herself on the god's carved phallus would place a wreath of flowers on his head at the same time. Eventually the anointing of the phallus was displaced to the head because the marriage rite was omitted from public sacrifices of the Savior, Redeemer, Son of God, etc. Like the New Testament Christ, he was "anointed" only for his burying: the marriage with the earth (John 12:7). Jesus became a Christos when he was christ-ened for burial by Mary, the magdalene or temple maiden (Matthew 26:12), who also announced his resurrection (Mark 15:47).

Among the Essenes, a Christos was a priest, specifically designated Sin Bearer or Redeemer: one who atoned for others' sins. Among the Slavs, Christos or Krstnik meant a sacrificial hero and also an "accursed one," due to the ancient practice of laying a formal curse on the Sin Bearer before he was sacrified.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

For its first three centuries, the Christian church knew no birthday for its savior. During the 4th century there was much argument about adoption of a date. Some favored the popular date of the Koreion, when the divine Virgin gave birth to the new Aeon in Alexandria. Now called Twelfth Night or Epiphany, this date is still the official nativity in Armenian churches, and celebrated with more pomp than Christmas by the Greek Orthodox.

Roman churchmen tended to favor the Mithraic winter-solstice festival called Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Blended with the Greek sun-festival of the Helia by the emperor Aurelian, this December 25 nativity also honored such gods as Attis, Dionysus, Osiris, Syrian Baal, and other versions of the solar Son of Man who bore such titles as Light of the World, Sun of Righteousness, and Savior. Most pagan Mysteries celebrated the birth of the Divine Child at the winter solstice. Norsemen celebrated the birthday of their Lord. Frey, at the nadir of the sun in the darkest days of winter, known to them as Yule. The night of birth. Christmas Eve, was called Modranect, Latin matrum noctem, the Night of the Mother - originally a greater festival than Christmas Day.

Early in the 4th century the Roman church adopted December 25 because the people were used to calling it a god's birthday. But eastern churches refused to honor it until 575 a.d. The fiction that some record existed in the land of Jesus's alleged birth certainly could not be upheld, for the church of Jerusalem continued to ignore the official date until the 7th century.

Trappings such as Yule logs, gifts, lights, mistletoe, holly, carols, feasts, and processions were altogether pagan. They were drawn from worship of the Goddess as mother of the Divine Child. Christmas trees evolved from the pinea silva, pine groves attached to temples of the Great Mother. On the night before a holy day, Roman priests called dendrophori or "tree-bearers" cut one of the sacred pines, decorated it, and carried it into the temple to receive the effigy of Attis. Figures and fetishes attached to such trees in later centuries seem to have represented a whole pantheon of pagan deities on the World Tree.

Christmas celebrations remained so obviously pagan over the years that many churchmen bitterly denounced their "carnal pomp and jollity." Polydor Virgil said: "Dancing, masques, mummeries, stage-plays, and other such Christmas disorders now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalian and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them." Puritans in 17th-century Massachusetts tried to ban Christmas altogether because of its overt heathenism. Inevitably, the attempt failed.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

After destroying shrines to demoralize the pagan clans, Charlemagne imposed vassalage on them and converted them to Christianity by the simple offer of a choice between Christ and immediate death. All who rejected baptism were to be slain at once. In 33 years of constant war, Charlemagne built the Holy Roman Empire, at the cost of so many lives that historians have not even tried to estimate the extent of the slaughter.

Charlemagne's policy of conversion by the sword succeeded so well that the church backed Christian rulers in this kind of military activity ever since.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

He [Charlemagne] was the second Constantine.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Moon worshipper," a common name for Mesopotamian astrologers who studied the movements of the moon in relation to the stars. Because the magic powers of the Chaldeans commanded respect nearly everywhere in the ancient world, biblical writers made Abraham a Chaldean (Genesis 11:28). The same name was still being applied to astrologers and wizards in the 15th century A.D.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Along with the owl, the bat, and the wolf, the animal most commonly associated with witches was the cat. Like everything else associated with witchcraft, this idea dated back to ancient Goddess-worship. [...] Cat worship began in Egypt, where the first domesticated cats descended from a wild ancestor, felis libyca. [...] Cat were so sacred in Egypt that any man who killed one was condemned to death.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Eastern tales of the magic flying carpet evolved from shamanic initiations in which the adept learned to "fly" via the spirit-journey. Novices undergoing initiation in central Asia were carried on a felt carpet by four priests called "sons" of the chief shaman, comparable to the four Sons of Horus carrying the dead man in ancient Egypt. Flying to heaven in trance on the carpet was an integral part of death-and-resurrection ceremonies necessary to the would-be shaman's enlightenment.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In later ages, Cain became a demi-devil, in the view of religious authorities who failed to notice that the true brothers-slayers were Moses's followers. Or, if they did notice, they regarded the killing of three thousand as less important than the killing of one. In folklore, Cain remained attached to the diabolized matriarchal tradition: he was the man in the moon.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Mosaic Yahweh was a volcano-god like this Midianite Baal, or like limping Hephaestus and Latin Vulcanus, gods represented by "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night" (Exodus 13:21-22).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Such comparisons are needed to solve the dilemma of those theologians who, through the centuries, have been helpless to explain God's apparent blunder in protecting Cain from nonexistent enemies, when there were as yet no people in the world but Cain and his parents. Actually, the sacred caste of Cainite smiths worshipped the Goddess and dedicated sacrifices of the Good Shepherd to her as the Earth, who "opened her mouth" for Abel's blood (Genesis 4:11). Cain's myth reflects the patriarchs' hostility toward this caste. Eventually, they drove all the smiths out of their country, and had to send their tools to the Philistines for repair because "there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel" (1 Samuel 13:19). Before the ban on smithcraft, however, they had the famous Tubal-cain, "instructor of every artificer in brass and iron" (Genesis 4:22). The fraternity of smiths was of Midianite origin, and may have inflicted a certain leg injury upon initiates, which could have been the mark of Cain. The Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach, meant "to dance with a limp." The festival of Pesach was associated with the Midianites or Kenites (Cainites, "children of Cain"), who were famed as miners and smiths, and worshipped the Great Mother in the copper mines of Sinai.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Bible story was a Hebraic repetition of the Persian myth of Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, who offered sacrifices to an elder deity, Vayu. Ahriman was declared a traitor and devil when his offering was refused. Indo-Iranian priests used to pray the gods to accept their own sacrifices, and refuse those of other arya (men). Ahriman was the ancestor of those other arya, since his original Hindu name was Aryaman, father of men.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Smith," Mother Eve's firstborn, begotten by the serpent and not by Adam, according to rabbinical tradition. The Bible says Cain's murder of his brother Abel was caused by jealousy, after God accepted Abel's blood sacrifice but rejected Cain's offering of vegetable firstfruits. Fearing to depart from this precedent, the Jews offered blood sacrifices to Yahweh up to the early Christian era.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Sexual union of mortals was thought to create its like on the plane of the divine. Therefore sexual intercourse was a sacramental act helpful to God and the Shekina. "The efflorescence of such beliefs into orgiastic rites suggests itself too readily not to be attempted, and indeed, in the further development of Kabbalistic doctrine, such attempts were made." Generally, however, the cabalist confined his erotic experiments to his legal wife. The first step in his ascent of the Sephiroth or Tree of Knowledge was the female sexual power, Shekina-Malkuth, Queen and Bride, represented by the moon and the spouse. Further steps made use of elaborate systems of numerology, magic, and scriptural allegory, yielding successive revelations of the divine nature.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Medieval Jewish mystical system obviously influenced by Tantrism and Sufism, like the Christian courtly-love movement of the same period. The Cabala's basic premise was that all the world's ills stemmed from God's loss of contact with his female counterpart, the Shekina, a Hebraic version of Shakti. God is fragmented, and only the Shekina has power to "put God back together." Universal harmony must be restored by making God and his Goddess once more one.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Orphic god Dionysus also took the form of a bull; one of his earlier incarnations was the Cretan bull-god Zagreus, "the Goodly Bull," a son and reincarnation of Zeus, and another version of the Minotaur. The god was a bull on earth, and a serpent in his subterranean, regenerating phase. The Orphic formula ran: "The bull is the father of the serpent, and the serpent is the father of the bull." Dionysus was reincarnated over and over, and there were some who identified him with the Persian Messiah. In the Book of Enoch, the Messiah is represented as a white bull.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Egypt's savior Osiris was worshipped in bull form as Apis-Osiris, the Moon-bull of Egypt, annually slain in atonement for the sins of the realm. In the ceremony of his rebirth, he appeared as the Golden Calf, Horus, bom of Isis whose image was a golden cow. The same Golden Calf was adored by the Israelites under Aaron (Exodus 32:4).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The biblical title translated "God" is El, originally the title of the Phoenician bull-god called Father of Men. As the "supreme god of the Semitic pantheon, El was worshipped throughout Syria alongside the local gods, or Ba'als, one of his titles, indeed, being 'the Bull.'" Like Zeus the Bull, consort of Hera-Europa-Io the white Moon-Cow, El married Asherah, the Semitic sacred Cow. He was identified with Elias or Helios, the sun. He was still the Semitic Father of Men in the time of Jesus, who cried to him from the cross, calling him Father (Mark 15:34).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Lacking vaginas, many gods gave birth from their mouths. Priests of Ra claimed their god gave birth to the first couple from his mouth.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In pagan times, women used some fairly effective birth-control devices, ranging from vaginal sponges to abortifacient drugs.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Christian canon omitted the First Book of Adam and Eve, which contradicted the canonical scripture by stating that Eve stuck to the old system of birth control after all. She gave birth to Cain and his twin sister Luluwa, another incarnation of the lilu or "lily" who was also Eve's predecessor Lilith. Then "when the days of nursing the children were ended" - but not until then - "Eve again conceived." She produced Abel and his twin sister. After Abel was killed at the age of 15 years, Eve produced Seth to replace him. "After the birth of these. Eve ceased from childbearing." Thus the entire human race descended from these four: Cain, Seth, and their sisters. According to this version of the story, Eve was not particularly troubled by God's curse.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The bird-soul bom out of the cremated body entered Egyptian mythology as the Phoenix, sometimes a man, sometimes a firebird. The name was Greek, meaning "the Phoenician," a reference to sacrificed sacred kings of Astarte at Byblos, where they were frequently burned. The cult moved to North Africa with Phoenician colonists, and was carried on at Carthage where sacred kings perished in flames to a very late date." Their bird-souls, reborn from the flames and flying to heaven, gave rise to the myth of the Egyptian Phoenix who periodically cremated himself and rose again from his ashes. His worshippers, identified with the god through his sacraments, partook of the same power of heavenly flight. A common expression for death was "flying away."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In Egypt the hawk represented the soul of Horus and of the pharaoh who embodied him. Hawks came to stand for that portion of every soul called the ba, which could come and go at will after death, flying freely in and out of the tomb. Narrow shafts were left open in pit graves for the passage of the ba. Similar shafts in pyramids, sometimes misconstrued as ventilation shafts, were originally intended to let the bird-soul of the deceased fly in and out.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Becoming a bird in a visionary or trance state was a widespread symbol of initiatory death and rebirth.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

One of the erroneous notions that still keep Christian women shackled to their Bible-based "inferior" image is the notion that Christianity was founded on the New Testament, when in fact the early churches had no Gospels but rather created and produced their own. Not only did churchmen falsely pretend an apostolic origin for their scriptures; they also weeded out all references to female authority or participation in Christian origins. Only the forbidden Gnostic Gospels retained hints that Jesus had 12 female disciples corresponding to the 12 male disciples, or that Mary Magdalene was the leader of them all. Even women's scholarship was denied.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Erroneous but traditional views of Bible origins and meanings are doggedly preserved by male chauvinists in particular, since the canonical books were deliberately selected and edited to wipe out all feminine images of divinity and sanction religious suppression of women. Robert Ingersoll pointed out that "As long as woman regards the Bible as the charter of her rights, she will be the slave of man." Josephine Henry grumbled, "The Bible records that God created woman by a method different from that employed in bringing into life any other creature, then cursed her for seeking knowledge." Elizabeth Stanton said there is no escape from the Bible's "degrading teaching" as to the position of women, and advised women to boycott churches.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Obviously the Bible was full of myths and legends, but most orthodox theologians had no idea of their meaning. One reason was that they didn't study the corresponding myths and legends of other cultures - ancient paganism, modem mysticism, the non-Christian beliefs of people both civilized and uncivilized throughout the rest of the world. Christian missionaries thought theirs was the only pipeline to divinity, the deities of all other people throughout the world were devils, and the myths of the Bible were absolutely true whereas all other myths were absolutely false.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The real point was that organized religions had an economic interest in maintaining literal interpretation of biblical myths.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In 1889 the book of biblical essays called Lux Mundi gave up all pretense of the scriptures' historicity or divine inspiration, admitting that the Bible is a confused mass of myth, legend, and garbled history, often contradicting provable facts.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Traditionally, the church forbade not only research but even reading of the Bible by laymen. Throughout the Middle Ages, possession of a Bible written in the vernacular was a crime punished by burning at the stake. With the Reformation came Bible-reading in search of a new basis for faith; but in the process were found many new grounds for skepticism.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

According to the prevailing myth of biblical origins, the Old Testament was supposed to have been translated from Hebrew to Greek by seventy-two translators sent to Ptolemy by Eleazar, a Jewish high priest, in the 3rd century B.C., hence its name, Septuagint. Ptolemy locked the scholars in individual cells on the island Pharos, where each one made his own Greek version in exactly seventy-two days. Each translation agreed exactly, in every word, with the other seventy-one translations.

Of course this never happened. The Bible's real history was far less tidy. A collection appeared in the first century B.C. and again in the first century A.D. to be accepted by the Jews of the Diaspora as sacred, and passed on to Christians. In both Jewish and Christian hands the papyri underwent many changes. In the 4th century A.D., St. Jerome collected some Hebrew manuscripts and edited them to produce the Latin Vulgate, a Bible of considerable inaccuracy, differing markedly from Jerome's stem texts.

The King James Bible relied mostly on a Greek text collected and edited by Erasmus in the I6th century, which in turn relied on a Byzantine collection assembled gradually at Constantinople between the 4th and 8th centuries. A few older texts have been discovered: the Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Chester Beatty papyri. All are fragmentary, all differ from one another and from the King James version. There are no known portions of the Bible older than the 4th century A.D.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The greatest mistake of religious authorities in the western world was their view of the Bible as intrinsically different from other ancient scriptures, in that it was dictated word for word by God, not collected slowly, rewritten and mis-written, revised and worked over by human beings for a long time. The notion that the Bible did not evolve haphazardly, like most other holy writings of the same period, persisted almost up to the present day, even among people who should have known better.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In 418 A.D., a Catholic church council decided that every human child is born demonic as a result of its sexual conception, thus automatically damned unless baptized. During a Catholic baptismal ceremony the priest still addresses the baby, "I exorcise thee, thou unclean spirit. . . .Hear thy doom, O Devil accursed, Satan accursed!" The exorcism is euphemistically described as "a means to remove impediments to grace resulting from the effects of original sin and the power of Satan over fallen nature." But it is obvious from the folk belief still widespread, that the church's teaching was that every newborn infant before baptism belonged to the devil. St. Augustine's doctrine of original sin laid the foundation for this idea, and Tertullian said every baby is born evil; its soul is "unclean" and "actively sinful" before baptism. Medieval theologians held that any infant still in the womb is doomed to eternal damnation. The Oedipal jealousies of men apparently developed these ideas, since few women would have pictured babies screaming in an eternity of torture in hellfire, simply because no priest had sprinkled them with water before they perished.

Indeed, priests refused to baptize a child within forty days of its birth, for both mother and infant were considered impure (hence too dangerous for priests to touch) during that period. "An unbaptized child, as well as a woman between childbirth and churching, was designated as heathen." The real reason for this "heathenism" appears in numerous folk beliefs: it was the birth magic of the ancient Goddess that claimed both women and their infants in the performance of her Mysteries. In the north it is still said that children dying unbaptized go to Frau Holda, or Hel, or Perchta, the underground Mother. In the Hebrides, the Goddess's protective ritual is still used to preserve children during the perilous pre-baptismal period: a torch is daily carried around the cradle as in old pre-Christian custom.9 Some traditional ballads deny the Catholic doctrine that women dying in childbed or infants dying unbaptized must go to hell; they claim, rather, that such individuals pass into a pagan heaven. Mexican peasants still say they go to "a place of delight in the temple of the sun."

Thus, paganism was kinder to infants and their mothers than Christianity, so that theologians often felt called upon to explain God's apparent cruelty in allowing infants to die unbaptized. so condemning them before they had a chance for salvation. In the 16th and 17th centuries, churchmen insisted that God's cruelty was perfectly just. Said Martin Del Rio, S.J.: "If, as is not uncommon, God permits children to be killed before they have been baptized, it is to prevent their committing in later life those sins which would make their damnation more severe. In this, God is neither cruel nor unjust, since, by the mere fact of original sin, the children have already merited death."

It was customary to refuse baptism altogether to those thought to have been conceived out of wedlock, or sinfully. American churchmen often refused to baptize children born on Sunday, because it was thought children were always bom on the same day of the week as their conception, and marital relations on Sunday were forbidden.

Modern theologians have trouble explaining why baptism should be necessary. Few educated parents seriously believe their infants are doomed to eternal torture unless splashed with a little water in a church. The biblical "fall" that provided the original rationale has long since been relegated to the realm of myth. The primitive notion of the public name-giving ritual seems to be all that is left to justify the formalities: no more than an excuse for people to dress up and get together, to celebrate a new life in the clan. Perhaps it should be remembered that this function was once the exclusive concern of mothers and Goddesses.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Bisexual idol or talking head allegedly worshipped by the Knights Templar when they were accused of heresy in the 14th century. Several derivations of the name Baphomet have been suggested. Some said it was Arabic abu-fihamat, "Father of Wisdom," the old title of an oracular head. Some said it was a corruption of Mohammed. Some traced it to Baphe Meteos, "baptism of Metis," that is, of the Gnostic Goddess as Lady of Wisdom. It was a name well known among Gnostic sects in the east. Because Baphomet was supposed to be the object of the Templars' "devil worship," it or he or she was pictured with the common devilish attributes: hoofs, a goat's face, both male and female genitals, etc.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Roman name for the sacrificial god Dionysus; also known as Bacchus Liber, or Father Liber, consort of the Goddess Libera. He was worshipped as the orgiastic deity of wine and vintage-festivals wherever wine grapes were grown throughout the Roman empire. The town of Bacharach in the Rhineland was named for him. Even in the 20th century, his influence was still supposed to ripen the grapes, and omens were taken for the vintage from his ancient stone altar on a river island.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

When ziggurats were abandoned and became ruinous, their mud-brick construction crumbling, later nomadic peoples assumed the gods were angered by the pride of the elder races and broke down their heaven-aspiring constructions. The Babel myth is found all over the world, including India and Mexico. It was familiar in the Greek story of the giants who piled up mountains to reach heaven. Hindus said it was not a tower but a great tree that grew up to heaven, angering Brahma, who cut off its branches and threw them down. From each branch grew a separate wata tree that gave humanity another separate language.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The biblical story of the Tower of Babel "reflects the attitude of nomads entering the fertile plains of the Delta, beholding with wonder and dread the soaring towers of Babylonian cities, and despising the multitudes speaking all the various tongues of the ancient Near East." To the ears of the strangers, diversity of languages was "babble," a word derived from Ba-Bel or its city of Bab-ilani, named after its own man-made Holy Mountain.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Ba-Bel, "God's Gate," was the Babylonian heaven-mountain or ziggurat where the god descended from the sky to the Holy of Holies, the genital locus of his mating with Mother Earth.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Baal became a favorite Christian name for a devil, because biblical writers denounced all the baalim indiscriminately as devils (2 Chronicles 11:15; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Revelation 9:20). Still, the northern European cognate Bal, Bel, Bael, or Balder retained the affection of commoners. Baal was still the patron of the Beltain feast in 18th-century Scotland. To make the crops thrive, Scandinavians burned his effigy at midsummer in "Balder's Balefires" throughout Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Old Testament Jews worshipped many baalim as past or present consorts of the Goddess Zion (Hosea 2:2-8). Yahweh shared these other gods' temples for a long time, until his priesthood managed to isolate his cult and suppress the others. Some of the baalim revered in Israel were: Sin, the moon god of Sinai; Molech (Melek), the "king" and sun god of Tyre; Horus, the Egyptian Golden Calf whose image was made by Aaron; Baal-Peor, a phallic "Lord of the Cleft" (or yoni); Nehushtan, the "fiery flying serpent" of lightning, made by Moses (2 Kings 18:4); Chemosh, the Babylonian sun god Shamash, incarnate in Samson (or Shams-on, the sun); Melchizedek, the god of Salem; Etana, or Ethan, the Canaanite Eytan who "went up to heaven"; Baal-Rimmon, the Lord of the Pomegranate impersonated by Solomon; Baal-Berith, the Canaanites' "God of the Covenant"; El, or Elias, the sun god Helios to whom Jesus called from the cross; Joseph, Jacob, and Israel, who were not men but tribal gods.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"The Lord" among ancient Semites; consort of Mother Astarte, whose favors he shared with Yamm, the Lord of Death (from Hindu Yama). Every god was a Baal. The title was introduced into Ireland via Phoenician colonies in Spain, and became the Irish Bel or Bial, Lord of Beltain.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Christian symbolism made Jesus the sacrificial Lamb of God slain to atone for sin like the paschal lamb. Some early Christian writers insisted that animal sacrifice came first, and human sacrifice was a later, "higher" development: "God is a man-eater. For this reason men are sacrificed to him." Among medieval theologians there was a general opinion that Jesus's sacrifice was not really effective; only "a few" were saved by the Savior's death. St. Thomas Aquinas and others claimed the vast majority of people were still doomed to eternal suffering in hell. Thus the theory of atonement for all time or for all humanity was actually denied by the same church that propounded it as a basis for worldly power.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

As development of the wool industry made it more profitable to keep sheep alive for their fleeces than to kill them for their meat, the goat became a more popular sacrificial victim.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

A ram played the part of Sin Bearer at atonement festivals of Egypt, which is why Aries the Ram is still the zodiacal sign of the New Year that began in March, by ancient reckoning. Egyptians called him Amon the ram god; the Jews assimilated him to the paschal lamb and sacrificed him at Passover.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In ancient Mesopotamia the Day of Atonement corresponded to the beginning of the New Year, when all sins were collectively purged for a new time-cycle.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Pre-Hellenic Titan or earth-god, brother of Prometheus, condemned to carry the world on his back because he took part in the Giants' Revolt against the Olympian gods.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Oriental thinkers were less simplistic about atheism. The more advanced sages taught that non-belief can be more "religious" than belief - indeed, atheism may make better human beings than faith can make.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Study of the stars has been called "the basis of all intellectual culture." It was highly refined by the Chaldeans, who were simultaneously astronomers and astrologers. Unlike modern "Chaldeans," they were moon worshippers, basing their system almost entirely on the movements of the Moon-goddess. Their zodiac was known as Houses of the Moon.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

"Star," Plato's name for Lucifer, the biblical god of the Morning Star. He was perceived as a cyclic deity, attending the sun into the underworld at sunset, and also announcing "He is risen" in the morning.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

European mispronunciation of the Saracenic brotherhood of hashishim, "hashish-takers," who fought Christian crusaders in the Holy Land.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The Hyksos kings of Egypt revived Set's cult int he 2nd millennium B.C., perhaps because their own ass-eared Midas was a similar god-king. The annual alternation of Set and his brother Osiris (or Horus), who murdered each other in perpetual rivalry for the favors of Isis, reflected constant replacement of sacred kings in pre-dynastic times.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Though there was nothing "pure" about either the name or the far-flung mixture of tribes it was supposed to describe, the term "pure Aryan" was revived in Nazi Germany to support a mythological concept of Teutonic stock, the so-called Master Race. Non-Aryans were all the "inferior" strains: Semites, Negroes, gypsies, Slavs, and Latinate or "swarthy" people whose blood was said to be polluting the Nordic superiority of their betters.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

General name for Indo-European peoples, from Sanskrit arya, a man of clay (like Adam), or else a man of ht eland, a farmer or landowner. The ancestral god of "Aryans" was Aryaman, one of the twelve zodiacal sons of the Hindu Great Goddess Aditi. In Persia he became known as Ahriman, the dark earth god, opponent or subterranean alter ego of the solar deity Ormazd (Ahura Mazda). In Celtic Ireland he was Eremon, one of the sacred kings who married the Earth (Tara).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The probably cause of God's change of heart [lost interest in the ark by Jeremiah's time] was a reform movement to purge the temple of sexual symbols. The arks or cistae of the Greeks and Syrians held emblems of the lingam-yoni, such as eggs and serpents, clay or dough models of genitalia. Rabbinical tradition said the ark contained a hexagram representing the sexual union of God and Goddess, the same meaning given to the hexagram in India. Thus the ark was a female container for a male god. Mary, God's consort in her later form, often received the title of "ark."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Virgin-born son of the devil, supposed to appear during the world's Last Days. Christianity never escaped the patterns of dualism, whereby each god had to have an equal and opposite anti-god. Antichrist was the Christian equivalent of Chaldean Aciel, lord of the nether world,counterbalancing the solar god of the heavens.

The coming of Antichrist has been announced and re-announced throughout the entire Christian era, especially in times of political and social stress. His title has been laid on Nero, Attila, Genghis Khan, Merlin, Frederick II, and many others including several popes. More recently, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler were all nominated for the position.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Egyptian "Cross of Life" representing union of male and female sexual symbols: a female oval surmounting a male cross. [...] The Christian version of the Cross of Life, which didn't appear in Christian art until after the 5th century A.D., significantly lacked the feminine oval and kept only the masculine part of the figure.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Biblical angels were "sons of God" who came to earth to beget children on mortal women (Genesis 6:4). Later these were called demons, or incubi, or "fallen" angels. The Book of Enoch blamed women for the angels' fall. Women had "led astray the angels of heaven."

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The earliest angels were heavenly nymphs, like Hindu apsaras, who dispensed sensual bliss to the blessed ones. Vikings called them Valkyries. Greeks called them Horae. Persians called them Houris, or Peris (fairies). A guardian angel was a personal Shakti who watched over a man and took him into her ecstatic embrace at the moment of death.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Magic word interpreted as "let it be" in Hebrew, used to evoke divine response to a prayer. Such words often began as deities' names. This may have originally invoked the Egyptian god Amen, "the Hidden One" - the sun in the belly of his Mother before his rebirth at sunrise. Its hieroglyphic symbol meant a pregnant belly.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Late Islamic masculinization of the Arabian Goddess, Al-Lat or Al-Ilat - the Allatu of the Babylonians - formerly worshipped at the Kaaba in Mecca. It has been shown that "the Allah of Islam" was a male transformation of "the primitive lunar deity of Arabia." Her ancient symbol the crescent moon still appears on Islamic flags, even though modern Moslems no longer admit any feminine symbolism whatever connected with the wholly patriarchal Allah.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

From ad alterum se conferre, "to confer (property) upon another." In the age of matrilineal inheritance, female property owners could leave cast-off husbands destitute by conferring their "matrimony" (wealth) upon another. Patriarchal societies therefore sought to insure wives' sexual fidelity for economic reasons.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Literally, a man made of blood; in pre-biblical myths, a creature formed by the Goddess of Earth from her own clay (adamah), given life by her blood. The idea of Adam's rib was taken from a Sumerian Goddess who formed infants' bones from their mothers' ribs. She was both Lady of the Rib, and Lady of Life. Her name carried both meanings at once.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

This name meaning "Father Brahm" seems to have been a Semitic version of India's patriarchal god Brahma; he was also the Islamic Abrama, founder of Mecca. [...] Sarah, "the Queen," was one of the Goddess's titles, which became a name of Abraham's biblical "wife." Old Testament writers pretended Sarah's alliances with Egyptian princes were only love-affairs arranged by Abraham for his own profit - which unfortunately presented him as a pimp (Genesis 12:16) as well as a would-be murderer of his son (Genesis 22:10).

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In 1869 the church again revised its opinion, tacitly admitting either that God had misinformed his church about his method of instilling the soul into the body, or else that he had decided to alter it. Pope Pius X announced that the soul was received at conception after all.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

In the east, however, abortion was perfectly legal at any time before the fifth month, when "quickening" was felt. After that, according to Brahman scriptures, a woman who destroyed her fetus was held guilty of murder, but before that time the fetus was soulless and could be destroyed with impunity. This opinion was embodied in the Catholic church's Doctrine of Passive Conception, which contradicted Aquinas in order to prove that the soul comes only from God. Up to the late 19th century, the Doctrine of Passive Conception declared that the soul arrives in the fifth month of pregnancy, to quicken the fetus, which was previously soulless.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

The ancients generally viewed abortion as a woman's private business, in which no man had any right to interfere. [...] But with the rise of patriarchal religions - especially among the Greeks - came a belief that a father's semen conveyed the soul to the fetus.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

As a salvation cult, early Christianity based its scheme of redemption on the premise of female wickedness. Salvation was needed because there had been a Fall, brought about by archetypal Woman. Without the myth of Eve's defiance, there would have been no sin, hence no need for salvation or savior. Fathers of the church declared that the original sin was perpetuated through
all generations by every woman, through sexual conception and birth-giving. Woman's mysterious, devilish sexual magnetism seduced men into the "concupiscence" that, even within lawful marriage, transmitted the taint of sin to every man. So said St. Augustine, and the church never altered his opinion.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Though Catholics still worship the Goddess under some of her old pagan titles, such as Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Blessed Virgin and so on, their theologians refuse to admit that she is the old Goddess in a new disguise, and paradoxically insist on her non-divinity.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

Our culture has been deeply penetrated by the notion that "man"-not woman-is created in the image of God. This notion persists, despite the likelihood that the creation goes in the other direction:that God is a human projection of the image of man. No known religion, past or present, ever succeeded in establishing a completely sexless deity. Worship was always accorded either a female or a male, occasionally a sexually united couple or an androgynous symbol of them; but deities had a sex just as people have a sex. The ancient Greek and others whose culture accepted homosexuality naturally worshipped homosexual gods.

Barbara G. Walker / <cite>The Woman&#039;s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets</cite>

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