Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians
A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.
The Ancient Link Between Religion and Sex
When mature theologians study the question without pubescent embarrassment, it is clear that there is a point at which female Goddess worship is inseparable from pornography. Try as we might to separate the sacred from the profane, and to tease out the purely biological facts of procreation from the universal hormonal urge to have a good time, we are continually faced with areas in which they become the same thing. To most spiritual Pagans, the congress of vulva and phallus is sacred - a celebration of the life-rhythms of the universe.
To deny the sacred method by which Nature propagates life, is to insult and demean the Great Mother Goddess Herself. And this is exactly what the male-dominated Abrahamic religions sought to accomplish.
It starts in the Book of Genesis. Though God refers to Himself as "We," it is clear that He is a Male persona and that He creates the universe totally out of His own completeness. When He establishes man and woman in the Garden of Eden, the awareness of sex is kept secret from them. Although they are equipped with complementary sexual organs - in common, we assume, with all of the other animals in the Garden - neither they nor the others have any need to use those organs. No new individuals need to be brought forth, because everyone is immortal. In such a paradise, nobody dies and nobody needs to be replaced.
Moreover, since the attraction of sex goes far beyond the simple need to propagate, it seems that no hormones have been activated in anyone's body, either.
Sexual awareness is hidden in the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and it is obvious that sex is evil. Sex brings pain into the world - the pain of childbirth, the pain of having to labor to make a living, and the ultimate pain of death. Once the fruit is eaten, everyone ceases to be immortal.
God tries to warn Adam and Eve, but the (inferior) female is susceptible to the arguments of the serpent. This personage (equated in the Bible with Satan, but identified in other traditions with figures like Prometheus) knows that the human race has the potential to understand the secrets of the universe in like manner to God, but that achieving such a potential will require a terrible sacrifice - the acceptance of suffering and death. On the plus side, it will open humans to the incredibly pleasurable experiences of sex!
If it had been put to a vote, with all of the facts clearly revealed ahead of time, which alternate existence would Adam and Eve have chosen for themselves - eternal life without sex, or a limited life with it? That is the sixty-four dollar question.
An analytical person in the 21st Century might openly question why God created sexual differences in the first place, if He didn't mean for His creations to employ them at some point. But In The Beginning nobody had been around long enough to know what questions were. Suffice it to say that the lady fell and the man supported her, and they both shared the consequent mutual delights and regrets with which we are all familiar today.
As history unfolded, Judaism gave birth to Christianity, which in turn paved the way for Islam - both of the newer faiths having their roots in the same Old Testament. In all three religions, therefore, women are seen as necessary to the structures of family and home, but are deemed inferior to men in spiritual understanding and worthiness. This is because women are controlled by their earthy biological sexuality.
(After all, dude, women got us tossed out of Eden; that's why we band together and tell each other, "Bros before hoes." Right?
Wrong! Any man worthy of the name knows how grateful he is to the woman who allows him into her bed! The real expression should be, "My woman before anything else!" It doesn't rhyme, but it doesn't have to.)
In the letters of the Jewish theologian Paul to the first Christian churches, women are denied men's rights to speak in the temple, to discuss religious doctrines, and to vote in matters of importance to the religious and civil community. These taboos are upheld in the Koran. This is said to be the just response to the weakness of Eve and all members of her sex.
This argument is supported by further denouncements of the female psyche, including Kabalistic references to Lilith. (Oh-ho, maybe Eve wasn't the first woman after all! Maybe this model had a mind of its own from the day it came off the assembly line!)
Another question we are unafraid to ask in the 21st Century, is this: If an independently-minded woman was destined to cause so many problems for poor men, why didn't Almighty God create a female companion for man who didn't have a mind of her own and different opinions from his? Or was God, in truth, not so almighty after all? Was there a primordial Feminine Intelligence already in existence, which God Himself could not control? It is questions like this which the Abrahamic religions consider sheer anathema.
Let us go back to a time preceding the writing of Genesis, to parts of the world where religions were forming with a different attitude toward sex. As humans observed the interplay between male and female, they formed the impression that the forces of Nature seemed to perform in masculine and feminine ways, just as the beasts of the field and men and women themselves. Concepts evolved such as Yin and Yang, Moon and Sun, Mother and Father, Shakti and Shiva - not God alone, but Goddess and God. As the Hindu sage Jnaneshwar wrote in The Union of Shiva and Shakti:
Thus have I paid my homage to the God and Goddess who are the limitless primal parents of the universe.
Out of deep longing they swallow each other, and again emit each other because they like to be two.
It is through God that the other is Goddess and without her the Lord is nowhere. As a matter of fact their existence is due to each other.
Her form is the cause of God and His glory manifested in the process of the world. But Her form itself is created by Him out of Himself.
She is His form while Her beauty is due to Him who is Her lover. They are enjoying the feast by intermingling with each other.
(From Be Love Now by Ram Dass, chapter nine.)
Attend and listen, all followers of the faiths that stem from the Book of Genesis: the Bible denounces as idol-worshipping these religions of Mother and Father, and their followers as worshippers of false gods! These religions' honest embracing of sexuality made the Old Testament prophets inveigh against Dancing girls, Queen Jezebel, Delilah, and Sodom and Gomorrah.
I am not denying the need for morals in society. Unbridled sexual license can destroy the foundations of a social order, and cultures have legitimate reasons for adopting standards of responsibility. But it is hypocritical to pretend that basic human nature isn't sexual. We come by it honestly; the Universe itself was created by an act of Cosmic Sex!
Yes, the Big Bang sprang from a point of omniscient Oneness; but that Oneness contained equal parts Mother and Father, Yin and Yang, Shakti and Shiva. The act of Creation really was a Big Bang!!!
Hebrew men had a real problem: they found sex irresistible, but their Sacred Text told them that sex was evil. Therefore, the women who tempted them so badly must be sources of Evil themselves.
The lust of King David for Bathsheba prompted the one shameful act of his career, the murder of her husband so that David could enjoy the widow himself. (Though it should be noted that one result of that union was Solomon; so God couldn't have been completely opposed to it, after all.)
It was the equating of sex with Evil that made Herod Antipas an object of scorn when he promised Salome any boon she asked in exchange for her sensuous dancing - and she asked for the head of John the Baptist. The little bitch!
Because of the identification of sex with Evil, the myth was developed that the Son of God could not have been conceived by normal means. If his mother was a mortal woman, there had to be something different about her which separated her from the taint of Eve. She had to be virtuous; she could not have allowed a man to have had his fleshly way with her.
It would tie everything up in a neat little bow, if the Biblical faiths were the only ones which discriminated against women and looked upon sex as unwholesome. But, confusingly, this is not the case! Hinduism displays the same repressive attitude towards women that Judaism and Islam do! The Hindu woman has as little right to be heard in the temple, and is deemed just as inferior to men in spiritual understanding and worthiness. If a Hindu wife or daughter should disgrace the family through an act of sexual impropriety, her punishment may still be death - just as in the most primitive scriptures of the other faiths.
Furthermore, Krishna and the Buddha were said to have been born of virgin mothers also, just like Christ only thousands of years before! So it's obvious that the human psyche has had a split personality about sex for a long, long time. We westerners don't have a corner on that market.
Is it possible to find a link between the Hindu religion and the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam?
Yes, I think there is: They all have histories of Male domination and control.
The first people who committed sacred teachings to writing were almost certainly male. When succeeding generations needed to transcribe those texts, that task was entrusted to male monks. It was a man who wrote about the male God of Genesis. And a man wrote the Hindu epic Ramayana, in which the active heroes are Rama, Hanuman and Lakshman, but Divine Sita is passive and has no control over what happens to her.
There is a well-known saying that history is written by the victors. Similarly, spiritual events which befell both men and women were interpreted for the written record solely by men. Even hymns to the Hindu Goddesses were written through the eyes of their male devotees!
World religions successfully promoted the myth that women can't govern their base impulses. That myth was fabricated by men!
The truth is that the nightly news is full of rapes, abductions and murders committed by men who could not control themselves. They are far more numerous in that regard than women are.
It is likely that men gave women that bad rap defensively, out of their own shame and guilt. Men have been overwhelmingly Victorian in the way they present themselves to the world: self-righteous in their public lives but libertines when they think nobody is watching. Men have always demanded faithfulness from their legally wed wives, while they themselves entertained the raunchiest fantasies. "Good" girls were proper wife material, but "bad" girls were ones you could have fun with. It was natural for boys to sow their wild oats (i.e., get girls pregnant) but it was not okay for girls to give in to them!
Authoritarian men viciously attacked "bad" women for being sexual. But most of those women had been sexually abused, as young girls, by authoritarian men. The double standard of male-dominated society was sickeningly hypocritical.
Thank God and Goddess for the sexual revolution of the 1960's, which forced our society to acknowledge reality: we are all sexual beings. You can have fun with your girlfriends or boyfriends and eventually marry the right one!
Society didn't have to crumble, after all; it just had to adopt a more realistic paradigm.
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