We can never have a truly egalitarian culture, in which women and men are considered to be equal in our economics and politics, until women and men are considered to be fundamentally equal in our religion.
One of the primary themes of The Intentioneer’s Bible is the partnership of women and men in the alternative or parallel culture, as opposed to the dominant culture’s patriarchal society. While a few anthropologists and archeologists have written that at least some early human societies began with a form of partnership between women and men―not a matriarchy, instead a partnership―nearly all egalitarian cultures were replaced by patriarchy along with the rise of monetary economics. Yet today and through the future partnership culture is returning and one of the methods of its return is intended to be with the aid of The Intentioneer’s Bible.
This is the first in a series of posts or articles on the theme, “Women and Men in Partnership.” This post, and the others to come, includes excerpts from The Intentioneer’s Bible. For this post the focus is upon the idea of merging Christianity with women’s spirituality, to arrive at an expression of Partnership Spirituality as a step toward its development through the future.
The term “partnership” assumes the synergistic combination of at least two entities, for example a woman and a man, although a partnership could also involve two people of the same gender, or more than two people of any gender. In the same way, on the level of ideas and beliefs, Partnership Spirituality seeks to marry patriarchal, revelatory religion with the intuitive nature of women’s spirituality.
While Christianity affirms that the source of spiritual truth and grace is through a process called “transcendence,” involving a spiritual entity giving to humans revealed truth, women’s or feminist spirituality affirms a different source for spiritual truth and grace coming to the individual through personal insight and intuition, called “immanence.”
Intuition can be thought of as a function of immanence, as it comes through our physical being, and by extension it comes through the Earth as the source of our physical bodies, which is generally considered to be a feminine trait and therefore associated with the feminine Goddess, while revelation is considered to originate from a transcendent source, and therefore associated with the masculine God.
The idea of Partnership Spirituality is to balance male and female aspects in one spiritual or religious tradition, which Rianne Eisler writes in her book, “The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future,” was characteristic of pre-historic societies in Europe and the Near East. The best such example is Minoan Culture from 2,500 to 1,400 B.C. on the Isle of Crete. Margaret Starbird takes up the concept of reclaiming the balance of feminine and masculine forms of spirituality, using the term “partnership paradigm” in, “The Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine.” (p. 153)
Blending women’s spirituality with the patriarchal Judeo-Christian tradition has become a popular concept, with a number of different books developing this spiritual tradition, which is not new as it has a long series of historical antecedents. Besides the two books mentioned above, there is also: “Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians” by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy; “Embracing Jesus and the Goddess: A Radical Call for Spiritual Sanity” by Carl McColman; “Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel” by William Dever; “The Hebrew Goddess” by Raphael Patai; “Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God” by Caitlin Matthews; and “ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path” by Joyce and River Higginbotham. These and other books inform a growing network of email lists and blogs on the Internet, using many different names to describe this spiritual path.
In “ChristoPaganism” (2009, p. 277) the authors reprint Nancy Chandler Pittman’s list of terms used by various people for the blended path in her book, “Christian Wicca: The Trinitarian Tradition.” (2003, p. 13) These are: “Trinitarian Wiccans, Christo Wiccans, Goddess Christianity, Eco-Christianity, Green Christianity, Eclectic Christianity, Kabalistic Wiccans, Gnostic Christianity, Gnostic Wiccans, Grail Priests, WicCatholics, EpiscoPagans, Pagans for Jesus, Jewitches, Christian Craft Practitioners, and Christian Witches.”
Creating a new spiritual tradition of Partnership Spirituality may be nothing more than simply affirming a tradition that has already benefited by much development in our society. This ideal is actually poised for flowering in thousands of small groups dedicated to Earth-based spirituality around the country and around the world. And if or when brick and mortar facilities are needed, there are established churches that will likely be made available. In the late 1980s the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) developed within itself an Earth-based, women’s spirituality tradition called the “Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans” (CUUPs), and the UUA, along with Theosophy and some of the New Thought churches (within which the term “New Age” developed) like Unity Church, may continue to provide essential foundations and strengths for the growth of Partnership Spirituality.
While there may be no gender in the spiritual world, since gender exists for sexual reproduction during our material existence, there may be other differences in the spiritual world that align with gender in the physical world. This would be immanence or intuition aligned with the female gender, and transcendence or revelation aligned with the male gender.
In creating or recreating Partnership Spirituality the process begins with identifying how Christianity and women’s spirituality may integrate with one-another to create a 21st century partnership religion. As explained in some detail in The Intentioneer’s Bible, Christianity drew many aspects of its concept and practice of faith from pre-existing Pagan, Gnostic, Stoic, Persian, and Jewish religions, a process called “syncretism.” Reclaiming the partnership religion by combining aspects of Christianity with what is known about ancient forms of women’s spirituality essentially furthers the syncretic nature of Christianity now and through the 21st century.
The place to begin in merging aspects of women’s spirituality with appropriate parts of Christianity is with the correlation involving both religion’s expressions of their nature through their use of triple aspects. In Christianity this is the Holy Trinity, or Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while the Trinitarian theology is also seen in women’s spirituality as involving the three major stages of a woman’s life being, Maiden, Mother, and Crone or Grandmother. In some of the ancient Goddess traditions a different patron goddess ruled over each of the three stages of women’s lives, while in other traditions the stages of a woman’s life involved different aspects of the same Goddess.
Syncretizing the Judeo-Christian tradition with women’s spirituality in Partnership Spirituality involves marrying the three aspects of both, which is illustrated in the graphic accompanying this article. First, the Maiden, symbolized by the waxing crescent moon in the Partnership Spirituality graphic, is joined with the cross as the union of Mary of Magdala with Jesus of Nazareth, in Heaven if not on Earth. Second, the Mother is symbolized by the full moon representing Mary, mother of Jesus, with the Holy Spirit. In the Partnership Spirituality graphic, any number of images can be displayed within the image of the full moon. The graphic at the beginning of this article displays within the full moon the Taoist Taijitu or “yin-yang” symbol, partly to suggest the union of Eastern and Western forms of spirituality, yet also because the Taijitu is a beautiful representation of the dynamic relationship and interdependence of opposites, including: spirit and matter, male and female, and the syncretizing of patriarchal and of feminist spirituality, all in partnership for an egalitarian culture. Third, the Crone or grandmother symbolized by the waning crescent moon is joined with the Jewish Star-of-David to represent the union of God, Yahweh, or El with the feminine forms of divinity as Sophia, Shekinah, and Asherah. Thus is created the Marriage of the Trinities.
While Marrying the Trinities involves six aspects, or three sets of pairs, remember that there is in essence only two primary aspects, whether one prefers to call them intuition and revelation, or immanence and transcendence, or female and male. The result is the creation of a Binarian monotheism for the Partnership Spirituality tradition as opposed to the Trinitarian monotheism of the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition. Since Christianity is considered to be a monotheistic religion even though it defines itself as being comprised of three aspects, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (i.e., Trinitarian monotheism), so also can Partnership Spirituality consider itself to be a monotheistic religion while affirming the six aspects of three pairs of corresponding attributes of Christianity and women’s spirituality (i.e., Binarian monotheism).
In affirming the Binarian monotheism of Partnership Spirituality the question soon arises as to which of the two trinities was developed first, and did either one borrow the idea from the other?
It is generally known from where Trinitarian Christianity originated, as it is documented as being accepted into Orthodox Christianity at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. in opposition to Arian Christianity. (See The Intentioneer’s Bible for a discussion of the Orthodox and Arian Christian conflict.)
Determining from where the Triple Goddess concept originated is more difficult, although there is good evidence that it is very ancient, potentially originating during the late Neolithic Stone Age, if not earlier.
Following is an excerpt from The Intentioneer’s Bible explaining the source of the Triple Goddess concept as coming to us through an ancient teacher whom some of those reading this may have heard of, named “Pythagoras.”
*Beginning of excerpt:
“Pythagoras offered equal opportunity to women in his school and society, as Plato also did 200 years later in his Academy in Athens, following Pythagoras’ model. (Durant, 1939, p. 162)
“[H]e gave his women pupils considerable training in philosophy and literature, but he had them instructed as well in maternal and domestic arts, so that “Pythagorean Women” were honored by antiquity as the highest feminine type that Greece ever produced. (Durant, 1939, p. 162)
“The Pythagoreans developed a range of innovations in several branches of science including astronomy, anticipating that the earth is round, in geometry with the Pythagorean theorem, in mathematics with the classification of numbers between odd or even and prime or factorable, and in music with discovery of the arithmetical ratios governing musical intervals. Marcus Tullius Cicero’s “Discussions at Tusculum” states that Heraclides of Pontus, one of Plato’s pupils, credits Pythagoras with originating the words “philosopher” and “philosophy” from the Greek words which together mean the “love of wisdom.” (Durant, 1939, p. 164; Freke & Gandy, pp. 23, 219 n.84)
“From the Orphic mysteries through Pythagoreanism comes the love of Sophia, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Pythagoras’ name was derived from that of the Delphic Pythia, from whom he received his feminist ethics. (Eisler, p. 112; Schmidt, 2010, p. 40)
“Pythagoras traveled to many of the great centers of learning around the Mediterranean Sea, including Egypt and Babylon, and “Jewish scholars were even mentioned by Hermippus as being among Pythagoras’ teachers.” (Schmidt, 2010, p. 47) Pythagoras also received ethical and moral training from Themistoclea (sometimes spelled “Aristokleia,” Lipsey, p. 128), a priestess of the Oracle at Delphi, the Greek center of divine revelation and prophetic wisdom, originally dedicated to Goddess worship. (Eisler, pp. 70, 112)
“Pythagoras returned from his travels to his home on Samos where he started a school, then later left the island because of the oppressive tyranny of its ruler. He then founded his Pythagorean Society at Crotone in south Italy about 530 B.C., as a … mystery religion worshiping the feminine principle and inspiring the founding of many other religious communities around the Mediterranean. (Freke & Gandy, p. n.229; Eisler, p. 112; Schmidt, 2008, pp. 47-8, 54-5)
“Surprisingly, there is record of at least one thing that Themistoclea evidently taught to Pythagoras. Jane Harrison writes in her 1903 book, “Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion” (the word “prolegomena” meaning prologue or critical introduction to a larger work) that the goddesses reflect the lives of women, not the other way around, and a particular goddess rules over each stage of a woman’s life. (Harrison, 1903, p. 262)
“It is to Pythagoras … that we owe the fertile suggestion that in the figures of the women-goddesses we have the counterpart of the successive stages of a woman’s life as Maiden, Bride and Mother. (Harrison, 1903, p. 647)
“In other contexts the three stages of a woman’s life are portrayed as: maid, mother, and crone (or grandmother). Presumably, Themistoclea taught Pythagoras the concept of what Jane Harrison calls “Women-Trinities” as an ancient goddess tradition practiced before the change to patriarchal culture. Harrison notes that patriarchal marriage was instituted so that people would know who their fathers were. Thus, the Jewish Levite priests were not the only ones concerned about children’s inheritances. The Jewish people may have been the first to adopt the patriarchal cultural system, yet most cultures did eventually. (Harrison, 1903, p. 262)
“The ancient tradition of goddess Women-Trinities may have been preserved at the temple and oracle of Delphi from when it was originally practiced, perhaps in the late Stone Age, Neolithic era or “Golden Age.” Women’s spirituality was practiced at Delphi when the temple and oracle were originally probably dedicated to Gaia, or to another Greek Earth Mother goddess, later preserved by the priestesses even after the temple and oracle were re-dedicated to the male god Apollo. Themistoclea’s teaching of women’s spiritual traditions to Pythagoras helped enable the concept of Women-Trinities to survive into 21st century feminist spirituality as the “Triple Goddess.”
“Although it is unlikely that Christians in 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea adopted Trinitarianism as the foundation of Christianity in order to counter the Women-Trinity, in the 20th and 21st centuries the Women-Trinity has been suggested as a counter-point to the Christian Holy Trinity. …
“The name [Pythagoras] means “mouthpiece of the Pythian” oracle at Delphi. (Durant, 1939, p. 161)”
*End of excerpt from The Intentioneer’s Bible.
Clearly, the origin of the Women-Trinities concept is much older than the Christian Trinity, and there is no evidence that Christianity took the idea of spiritual trinities from women’s spirituality. Coming from totally different sources and traditions the two Trinitarian spiritual concepts are then merged into a new religion named by the present author, “Partnership Spirituality.”
Religion is not something that is set in stone; it changes with time as human culture changes. It is possible, then, to affirm the type of society in which we most want to live, by making the religion we practice consistent with that form of spirituality which best characterizes our beliefs. In this way, religion and spirituality can lead the way toward a partnership culture in which balance in all things is valued, not just in the relations between the genders, yet in all cultural dilemmas, such as between individualism or self-interest and collectivism or social responsibility, between natural law and positive law, between public and private, and between liberalism and conservatism. Partnership culture does not resolve these dualities, it serves to put them in the context of dynamic strengths rather than of debilitating conflicts, enabling each to contribute to the vitality of the whole. This is the intent of Partnership Spirituality.
The Love of Gifting and Sharing is the Root of Happiness! —The Intentioneer’s Bible