Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality,
By Philip G. Davis
(Spence Publishing Company, Dallas, USA)
Review by Hal Colebatch
In this book Professor Philip G. Davis, a Canadian academic, proves with compelling scholarship that the present-day “goddess” cults have no detectable linkage with any ancient pagan beliefs. Apart from being anti-Christian anyway, they have no association with even the traditions and dignity of classical paganism.
Advocates of “goddess” and other feminist and New Age religions have generally tried to claim some ancientry behind their beliefs. However, on investigation this dissolves. Evidence for the worship of a great or supreme Mother Goddess in the ancient world or in ancient Europe simply does not exist. The story that modern witchcraft cults are the descendants of something sometimes called “the old religion” (which has allegedly been slandered and driven underground by the oppressive forces of Christianity) is false and manufactured.
In fact, this book shows that while these cults generally have the usual heritage of Gnosticism to be found in most Christian heresies, the ideas behind them were concocted by occultists – largely men – mostly in the last couple of centuries. Those responsible included as unsavory a collection of disordered cranks, mountebanks, sexual predators and crooks as might be imagined.
The very best were perhaps little worse than ridiculous. One of the saner and actually less unwholesome examples (compared to some) was the French artist Ganneau. He founded a movement called “Evadism”, combining “Adam” and “Eve,” in its title and styled himself “The Great Mapah,” combining – you guessed it! – “Ma” and “Pa.” As Davis tells it:
“Garbed in a grey felt hat, a smock, and clogs, he preached eloquently of love, human fraternity and sexual equality and wrote condescending letters to the Pope.” Then there were two pioneers of goddess-worship who joined the Alpha and Omega Lodge: “the two feuded, however, and engaged in psychic and magical battles with each other in which cats were strangely prominent. Fortune accused Mrs Mathers of inflicting a plague of cats on her house by occult means and, after fighting one out-of-body battle on the astral plane reported finding cat scratches all over her back.”
This book provides additional evidence for the fact that people who adopt one crank belief tend not to let it go at that, but to gradually adopt the whole spectrum of them, whether they are compatible with one another or not. Fairly innocent, or at least naïve, sandal-wearers and vegetarian cultists could link up with practitioners of full-blown Satanism. The 19th-Century occultist and neo-pagan movements from which modern goddess-worship sprang had links with the origins of both communism and Nazism.
The wicca cult in England, far from being ancient, appears to have been the creation of one Gerald Gardner, who died only in 1964 (typically, claiming a doctorate from the University of Singapore from a date before it existed), and who was an associate of the Satanist Alister Crowley. It was Gardner who concocted the spurious figure of nine million alleged victims of witch-hunts. Much of English wicca actually seems concerned with men getting women to take their clothes off (The late great English satirist Peter Simple created in his Daily Telegraph column gallery of targets a “thoroughly nice” British coven with Satan dropping in for tea and seed-cakes).
Davis points out that these goddess cults have made considerable inroads into the mainstream Christian Churches, including parts of the Catholic Church, particularly in the US and Canada:
“Where God the Father is supplemented by God the Mother, it seems the Mother Goddess is rarely far behind. Her appeal crosses many boundaries. In the larger denominations today, in in not only women in small groups who welcome her. Male theologians with international reputations have spoken up in her cause; some of the more prominent names include the Rev. Matthew Fox of “creation spirituality” fame, and Professor Harvey Cox, the erstwhile secular theologian of Harvard Divinity School.”
Matthew Fox was, of course, invited to speak in Perth not once but twice (at least), by the University of WA. I was assigned to report one of these lectures and was surprised that Perth could produce as many weirdos as were present in the audience.
In 1993 Pope John Paul II warned American Catholic bishops against the sort of gender-polarising feminism which seems to be a first step towards goddess-worship. The “Reimagining” conference held in Minneapolis that year was, Davis says: “an interdenominational assembly of Christians openly bent on destroying the historic Christian religion root and branch, and steering the churches into wholesale neopaganism.”
Davis’s scholarship leaves nothing standing of the notion that goddess-worship is an authentic religion. It is the invention of latter-day crooks, cranks and creeps. This book is both a valuable historical survey of the great currents of occultism which have had more influence of the modern world than is sometimes appreciated, and a valuable mental disinfectant.