zaterdag 2 november 2013

Tantrism/Orgy/Sex/Sexism/Sexual Symbolism/Romance/Nakedness/Rape


The system of yoni-worship, or female-centered sex-worship, allegedly
founded thousands of years ago in India by women of a secret sect
called Vratyas, forerunners of the devadasis or sacred harlots.1 The
religion was associated with later written scriptures known as Tantras,
therefore it was called Tantrism. The primary object of its adoration
was the lingam-yoni, sign of male and female principles in conjunction
(the god Shiva and the goddess Shakti-Kali). Tantrism is still widely
practiced in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet.2
The basic principle of Tantrism was that women possess more
spiritual energy than men, and a man could achieve realization of the
divinity only through sexual and emotional union with a woman. A
fundamental rite was controlled sexual intercourse, maithuna, Latin
coitus reservatus: sex without male orgasm. The theory was that a man
must store up his vital fluids rather than expending them in ejaculation.
Through Tantric training, he learned to absorb through his penis
the fluid engendered by his partner's orgasm and to prolong sexual
intercourse for many hours. In this way he could become like Shiva, the
God in perpetual union with his Goddess. Theoretically, the vital
fluids thus conserved would be stored in a man's spinal column, mount
through the chakras up to his head, and there flower forth with the
inspiration of divine wisdom. The Tantras explain this and other
practices based on worship of the Goddess, together with the philosophy
underlying the rites.
The most sacred mantra (holy phrase) expressing Tantric worship
was Om mani padme hum, the Jewel (penis) in the Lotus (vulva).
The symbolic lingam-yoni often took the form of an altar, shaped like a
penis in a vulva.3 Remnants of Tantric practice inspired the medieval
European belief that "witches" worshipped at an altar represented by a
female body.
Tantric Buddhism consisted of an uneasy marriage between an
originally ascetic Buddhist cult with ancient sexual disciplines. Like its
Christian offshoot five centuries later, Buddhism was founded on
opposition to the female principle and the belief that men must avoid
women, in order to conserve their souls' vitality by retaining their semen
and concentrating on the Self. Buddhist monks claimed their prophet
ordered them to quell all sexual desire, and never to see or speak to
Like early Christianity, however, Buddhism soon spread out
along a continuum of sects ranging from the austere, puritanical Jains to
exuberantly erotic Tantric Buddhists with principles like "Buddhahood
resides in the vulva."5 All over Indian temples, Buddhist saints
appeared with their voluptuous Shaktis in the divine embrace called
Yab-Yum (Father-Mother), representing everlasting orgasmic bliss the
real cause of the beatific smiles on the faces of the bodhisattvas.
Erotic forms of Tantric Buddhism penetrated all Asia, though
patriarchal sects later suppressed them and denied their historical
existence. Tantric Buddhism flourished in China under the Six Dynasties,
T'ang, and Mongol Yuan, until Confucian patriarchs succeeded
in eliminating it. Japanese Shingon is an attenuated remnant. Tantrism
is no longer mentioned in China or Japan; its art was destroyed;
authorities pretend it was never there at all.6
·The same denial appeared in areas dominated by Islam where Sufi
mystics had perpetuated a form of Tantrism. They emphasized the
discipline of Ema, "rapture," attainable only with a pir (Peri), a fairy
mistress, also known as Fravashi, "Spirit of the Way." 7 Through her,
a man might achieve "the larger full surrender" said to pass beyond
God to realization of the ultimate Void that swallowed even the
Early Gnostic Christians sometimes called their religion synesaktism,
the Way of Shakti, another name for Tantrism.9 These
Christians were influenced by Oriental Tantrism as well as by some of
its western forms, philosophies of Goddess-worship filtered through
Pythagorean and Neoplatonic mystics. Plotinus equated the mind's
progress toward the Ineffable with "the sight of a beautiful lady."
Ascent of the mind toward realization of divinity was divided into six
steps, beginning with perception of woman's beauty, culminating in
contemplation of Universal Beauty. 10
Christians like the Ophites and Montanists apparently practiced
sexual adoration of the feminine life force under the name of Sophia,
the female Holy Spirit, a feminine soul or Shakti of God. Their rite of
"spiritual marriage" was misunderstood by the orthodox, who later
called it a Test of Faith. Certain male and female saints, they said, had
proved their chastity by lying together naked without copulation.
Possibly it was not sexual intercourse per se that such "saints" had
avoided, but only male orgasm. Like Tantric yogis, Gnostic saints
sometimes thought themselves "perfected" by coitus reservatus, so they
could indulge in nakedness and promiscuity without being sinful. 11
These sects were destroyed by the end of the 5th century A.D. and
no more was heard of the famous Test of Faith.12 Orthodox fathers
of the church ruled that sexual intercourse should have no purpose
other than to beget offspring, and sexual pleasure should be altogeth~
er denied to women. 13
While Tantric Christians were condemned as heretics, Islamic
leaders were attacking Sufi cults of love. 14 Sufi mysticism survived
underground, in the hands of troubadours who called themselves
Lovers and adored the female principle as the world-sustaining
power. Sufi yoni-worship influenced European troubadours, who
founded cults of Courtly Love in the centuries following the crusades.
The church called them devil-worshippers because they
"sinfully" loved women instead of God, and women were equated
with the devil by the theological opinion of the time. 15 See Romance.
Heroes of the Courtly Love movement apparently practiced
Tantric maithuna under the name of drudaria, a kind of love
associated with male self-denial, yet not at all chaste. On the contrary, its
poetry was highly erotic. 16 Bardic romance sometimes showed distinct
connections with eastern Tantrism, as when Peredur's mystic
lady-love revealed that she came from India, or when Tristan told his
lady-love Iseult that his name was the syllabically-reversed Tantris.17
Though never officially recognized, Tantric sex has been practiced
throughout history in western nations, either in accordance with a
secret teaching, or as an independent discovery. Medieval Goddess-
worshippers vilified as "witches" apparently knew of it, and may have
used it as a birth-control technique. It was claimed that no woman was
ever made pregnant at the witches' Sabbath. 18
In 1848, maithuna was again publicized by the founder of the
Oneida Creek Community, John Humphrey Noyes, who rediscovered
it while trying to protect his wife from "the horrors and the fear of
involuntary propagation" after she had four disastrous pregnancies. 19
Noyes called his discovery "male continence," or karezza, and trained
members of his community in the technique. Then they engaged in
what Noyes called "complex marriage" with various partners, without
unwanted pregnancies.20 Several occult societies of the 19th and
20th centuries made use of Tantric coitus reservatus for various reasons,
but it was seldom admitted to the "normal" sexual repertoire of the
western male.

"Vulva," the primary Tantric object of worship, symbolized variously
by a triangle, fish, double-pointed oval, horseshoe, egg, fruits, etc.
Personifying the yoni, the Goddess Kali bore the title of Cunti or
Kunda, root of the ubiquitous Indo-European word "cunt" and all its
relatives: cunnus, cunte, cunning, cunctipotent, ken, kin, country.
The Yoni Yantra or triangle was known as the Primordial Image,
representing the Great Mother as source of all life.1 As the genital
focus of her divine energy, the Yantra was adored as a geometrical
symbol, as the cross was adored by Christians.
The ceremony of baptismal rebirth often involved being drawn
bodily through a giant yoni. Those who underwent this ceremony
were styled "twice-born." 2


Tantric tradition said the triangle was the Primordial Image, or the
female Triangle of Life.1 It was known as the Kali Yantra, representing
Kali as Cunti, or else as the Yoni Yantra, or sign of the vulva.2 In
Egypt the triangle was a hieroglyphic sign for "woman," and it carried
the same meaning among the gypsies, who brought it from their
original home in Hindustan. 3 In the Greek sacred alphabet, the delta or
triangle stood for the Holy Door, vulva of the All-Mother Demeter
("Mother Delta").
Most ancient symbol systems recognized the triangle as a sign of
the Goddess's Virgin-Mother-Crone trinity and at the same time as
her genital "holy place," source of all life. The triangle represented the
Virgin Moon Goddess called Men-Nefer, archaic deity of the first
Mother-city of Memphis. 4 The triangle itself was worshipped in much
the same way that modern Christians worship the cross. Concerning
this, Oriental sages said: "The object of the worship of the Yantra is to
attain unity with the Mother of the Universe in Her forms as Mind,
Life, and Matter ... preparatory to Yoga union with Her as She is in
herself as Pure Consciousness." 5
The triangle was everywhere connected with the female trinity,
and a frequent component of monograms of Goddesses. To the
Gnostics, the triangle signified "creative intellect." 6
Kali Yantra


Sanskrit yoga meant to link, join, or unite, like the English derivative
"yoke." It was the term for sexual union between the Tantric sadhu and
his yogini, or Shakti, in imitation of the union between Kali and
Shiva. As Kali's consort, Shiva bore the title of "Lord of Yoga." 1
The practice of yoga was supposed to develop magic powers
collectively called siddhi-in northern Europe, sidh or seidr, "magic."
The fully developed sage could walk on water, change base metals
to gold, understand all languages, heal diseases, cast out demons, and
so on.2 The Moors called such a person a sidi, "hero." In the myth
cycles of Moorish Spain, the title itself became a name of the greatest
known hero, El Cid.3

Yoni Yogini


"Father-Mother," the Tantric coital posture in which gods mated
with the Goddess and men with their Shaktis, especially at the moment
of death when the Eternal Shakti brought everlasting bliss.1 Unlike
western patriarchs, Oriental mystics said the most favorable position for
copulation was not Venus observa (male-superior), but Yab-Yum,
with both partners upright, face to face, and free to move.

Jewel in the Lotus

The Holy Phrase of Tantrism, Om mani padme hum, meaning the
lingam (penis) in the yoni (vulva), or the fructifying male principle
enclosed within the sustaining, birth-giving, enveloping female
principle. Apart from its purely sexual meaning, there were many
corollary ideas, such as: (1) the spark of life, or fetus (bindu)
conceived within the Mother of Creation; (2) the dead body enclosed in
the womb of Mother Earth; (3) the eternal orgasm of Shiva the jewel
and Kali the lotus in their cosmic sexual dance; (4) the sleeping god,
between reincarnations, cradled in the Lotus of his Mother. Another
word for the male "jewel" was vajra, meaning phallus, gem, spark of
life, and bolt of lightning.1


Tantric "Great Rite," the sexual union between the menstruating
Goddess and her chosen bridegroom Shiva the Condemned One, who
died shortly afterward and became Shava, the Corpse. Thus maharutti
was both a hieros gamos and a love-death. See Sex; Tantrism.


Tantric term for coitus reservatus, sexual intercourse performed as
one of the Five Boons given to humanity by Kali. The other four were
madya, wine; mamsa, meat; matsya, fish; and mudra, woman.1
Maithuna was the sexual technique for allowing man to assimilate into
himself the innate magical wisdom of woman. See Tantrism.


Tantric term for (1) "woman," one of the five boons bestowed on
man by the Goddess Kali; (2) "kidney bean," a female-genital symbol
associated with transmigration of souls (see Beans); (3) a mystical
gesture, in temple dancers' hand-sign language.1

Yoni Mudra


Tantric "meditation sign," the graphic or symbolic equivalent of a
mantra. Most important was the Sri Yantra or Great Yantra, a design of
two interlocking triangles representing time cycles and the union of
Goddess and God (see Hexagram).1 Worship of the yantra was meant
to attain "unity with the Mother of the Universe." 2

Yoni Yantra


Vedic name of the so-called Celtic cross, with a wheel in its center,
signifying union of male and female principles. When displayed by
Vishnu, this emblem meant the phallic god's "power to penetrate
heaven and earth." 1 The word was probably related to chakra, the
magic circle of men and women alternating in Tantric worship.
Kiakra was one of the original combinations of cross and circle (wheel or
egg) that gave rise to the so-called Cross of Wotan, ankh of Osiris,
and other male-female symbols of divine union.


Tantric term for the magic circle of worshippers, alternating men and
women after the manner of the egg-and-dart frieze; also, one of the
"rings" or stages of enlightenment, visualized as steps ascending the
spinal column, as the inner serpent goddess Kundalini uncoils from the
pelvis upward to the head. This ascent of the chakras was likened to
different stages of initiatory teaching, each taking place in a magic circle
whose members cooperated in the effort of comprehension.
The chakra was essentially the same as the Sufic halka, "magic
circle," called the heart and basic unit of Sufism.1 The purpose of a
properly conducted chakra was to make each participant feel "as if the
Shakti was their own Mother ~ho had borne them." 2 She was a
mother-bride, compounded of the felt presence of both Goddess and
woman. In the classic chakra, each man had his wife or shakti to his
left, while the Lord of the Chakra with his shakti occupied the center of
the circle.3 European pagan religions maintained the same arrangement,
which eventually became the pattern of the circular folk dance.


Tantric title of the Great Goddess (Kali Ma), realized both as a
sexual partner and as the innermost, animating·soul of man or god, like
the Greek Psyche, Roman Anima, Gnostic Sophia, Cabalistic Shekina,
all based on the Shakti. Jung said she was the figure known as My
Lady Soul: "Every mother and every beloved is forced to become the
carrier and embodiment of this omnipresent and ageless image, which
corresponds to the deepest reality in a man." 1
Shakti is translated "Cosmic Energy." She implies "power, ability,
capacity, faculty, strength, prowess; regal power; the power of composition,
poetic power, genius; the power or signification of a word or
term; the power inherent in cause to produce its necessary effect . ...
[S]hakti is the female organ; shakti is the active power of a deity and is
regarded, mythologically, as his goddess-consort and queen."2 Every
god needed his Shakti, or he was helpless to act. The Tantras say "the
female principle antedates and includes the male principle, and ...
this female principle is the supreme Divinity." 3
Tantric doctrine said mortal women are "life itself," and Goddesslike,
because they embody the principle of Shakti. The sages "hold
women in great esteem and call them Shaktis and to ill-treat a Shakti,
that is, a woman, is a crime." A Tantric synonym for "woman" was
Shaktiman, "Mind of Shakti" or "Possessor of Shakti." 4
A Shakti was also a spirit-wife, or female guardian angel, who
could be incarnate in the earthly wife or mistress, or a wholly
supernatural figure. "An important division of the 'mythology of woman'
is devoted to showing that it is always a feminine being who helps
the hero to conquer immortality or to emerge victorious from his
initiatory ordeals .... Every Teleut shaman has a celestial wife who
lives in the seventh heaven, where he meets her and makes love to her
during his ecstatic journeys." 5
Final union with the Shakti occurred at the moment of death,
according to Tantric mystics. She was both the individual and the
cosmic Goddess, absorbing the soul and body of the dying sage into
herself, an experience of unsurpassable bliss on his part. "The
possession of her, the cosmic Shakti, the living embodiment of the
principle of beauty and youth eternal, is the ultimate quest, the very
highest prize." 6
The Kulacudamani Nigama said not even God could become the
supreme Lord unless Shakti entered into him. All things arose from
their union, but she said, "There is none but Myself Who is the Mother
to create." The Lalita Sahasranamam said "The series of universes
appear and disappear with the opening and shutting of Her eyes." As
the god required her power before he could do anything at all, so her
worshipper on earth required the power of his own Istadevata, Shakti or
The same system was followed by Middle-Eastern mystics like the
Sufis, who deemed the mystic lady-love or fravashi essential to any
man's enlightenment. Early Christian Gnostics also worshipped Shakti
under such names as Sophia, Pneuma, Eide, or Anima. Gnostic
writings show that post-mortem union with one's own soul was perceived
in sexual symbolism, as in the Mandaean Liturgies for the
Dead: the soul or "image" (Eide) embraces and caresses the dead man
like a beloved woman. This Tantric idea came into the west by way
of the Avesta doctrine that, after the death of a believer, his own
conscience would welcome him "in the form of a fair maiden." 8


"Wisdom," a Tantric term for a woman acting as sexual partner of a
man in the magic circle; another epithet of the enlightenment-bringing
Spirit of the Way, or Shakti.


A male worshipper of the Tantric image of the Great Goddess,
Shakti; a man versed in the techniques of Tantric yoga and identified
with the Goddess herself through sexual union with her earthly
representative. A shakta was also known as a sadhaka or sadhu, possible
origin of the "Sadducees" mentioned in the Bible. See Tantrisrn.


Patron Goddess of the Self: a Tantric name of the spiritual Shakti or
individual guardian angel of the enlightened sage; corresponding to the
Greek Psyche, Roman Anima, and other manifestations of man's
"female soul."


"The Way," Chinese version of Tantrism. Men were taught to
reserve their vital forces, which could be dangerously depleted by
ejaculation, and to let their weaker Yang nature absorb the powerful
Yin force engendered by a woman's orgasm. Men were advised to keep
this "key" secret from women, for if women learned to suppress their
own orgasms while bringing men to ecstasy, they would greatly surpass
men in wisdom and spiritual energy. Their already superior Yin
magic would remain in their bodies, while the man's lesser Yang magic
would be added to it.1
Lao-Tse said: "How unfathomable is Tao-like unto the emptiness
of a vessel, yet, as it were, the honored Ancestor of us all. Using
it we find it inexhaustible, deep and unfathomable. Now pure and still is
the Way! I do not know who generated it. It may appear to have
preceded God." 2


Egyptian "Cross of Life" representing union of male and female
sexual symbols: a female oval surmounting a male cross. Its other name
was Key of the Nile, because the sacred marriage between God and
Goddess was supposed to take place at the source of the Nile each year
before the flood. 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. 1
The ankh seems to have evolved from an ancient symbol of the
Goddess in Libya and Phoenicia: a narrow triangle surmounted by
a crossbar and a round or oval head.2
Egyptians regarded the ankh as a universal life-charm. "The life of
every being, divine or human, depended on his or her possession of
it. From first to last the gods are seen carrying it in their right hands, and
they gave life to their kings and servants presenting it to them." 3
Early Christians also used the ankh occasionally as an emblem of
immortality, calling it an ansated cross. They knew the Egyptians had
a certain letter-hieroglyph that "stood for the life to come; and this letter
had the form of a cross." 4 In hieroglyphics the ankh stood simply for
the word "life."5


Sufi word for the magic circle, corresponding to the Trantric chakra.
The circle of worship, alternating men and women, is called "the basic
unit and very heart of active Sufism." 1 Dancing, worshipping, and
other ritual activities performed in a circle of men and women marked
western paganism also, as shown by references to circles or rings of
fairies, witches, mummers, and Maypole dancers. Circles generally
expressed cyclic religions; lines, like the rows of pews in a Christian
church, expressed patriarchal linearity of ideas.


Wandering dervishes from medieval Hindustan who taught Tantric
doctrines in Persia and Arabia. 1 Their cult of the Goddess Kali may
have been the origin of the female-centered Sufi sect which revered
the same feminine Word of Creation (Om, Umm: the Matrix or
Mother-belly), and believed that religious fulfillment for men or
women could be found only in sexual love. 2 See Kali Ma.


"Spirit of the Way," a Sufi title of a sacred harlot trained to teach
sexual mysticism; the Arabic equivalent of Shakti.


This word for a witch's spell had a long history associated with
connotations of the number six-Greek hex, Latin sex, cognate with
Egyptian sexen, "to embrace, to copulate." Six was everywhere the
number of sex, representing the union between the Triple Goddess and
her trident-bearing consort, which is why Christian authorities called
six 'the number of sin." 1 Pythagoreans on the contrary called six the
perfect number, or The Mother. One of its Egyptian forms seshemu,
' sexual intercourse" -shown in hieroglyphics by male and female
genitals in conjunction-survived in the Sufi love-charm designed to
open the "cave" of the Goddess: Open, Sesame.2
To this day, hex signs are hexagonal like the six-pointed Tantric
yantra of love (see Hexagram). The name of the sign is from
German Hexen, "witches," who may have been so named because they
"made the six."
A triple six, 666, was the magic number of Triple Aphrodite (or
lshtar) in the guise of the Fates. The Book of Revelation called it
"the number of the Beast" (Revelation 13: 18), apparently the Beast
with Two Backs, the androgyne of carnal love. Solomon the wizardking
made a sacred marriage with the Goddess and acquired a mystic
666 talents of gold (l Kings 10:14). Christians usually called it
Satan's number, yet the recurrences of this number in esoteric traditions
are often surprising. For example, the maze at Chartres Cathedral
was planned so as to be exactly 666 feet long.3
Egyptians considered 3, 6, and 7 the most sacred numbers. Three
stood for the Triple Goddess; six meant her union with the God;
seven meant the Seven Hathors, seven planetary spheres, seven-gated
holy city, seven-year reigns of kings, etc. Egyptians had an abiding
conviction that the total number of all deities must be exactly 37,
because of this number's magic properties. Not only did it combine
the sacred 3 and 7, but 37 multiplied by any multiple of 3 gave a triple
digit or "trinity": 111, 222, 333, 444, 555, etc. The miraculous
number 666 is a product of 3 X 6 X 37.4


The familiar design of two interlocked triangles is generally supposed
to have represented the Jewish faith since the time of David, or
Solomon; therefore this hexagram is known as Magen David (Shield
of David), or the Star of David, or Solomon's Seal. Actually, the
hexagram had nothing to do with either David or Solomon. It was
not mentioned in Jewish literature until the 12th century A.D., and was
not adopted as a Jewish emblem until the 17th century.1
The real history of the hexagram began with Tantric Hinduism,
where it represented union of the sexes.2 The downward-pointing
triangle was the Female Primordial Image or Yoni Yantra, existing
:xfore the universe. In the course of infinite time, the Goddess
ceived a spark of life within her triangle, the bindu, which was
eventually born and developed into a male, symbolized by the
upward-pointing triangle. He united with his Mother to form the Primal
Androgyne. 3 The sign of this union was the hexagram, called Sri
Yantra or Great Yantra. "The downward-pointing triangle is a female
symbol corresponding to the yoni; it is called 'shakti.' The upwardpointing
triangle is the male, the lingam, and is called 'the fire'
(vahni)." 4
A personification of the Great Yantra was Bindumati, "Mother of
the Bindu," described in myth as a divine harlot. She ruled the forces
of nature. She could command storms by the power of her magic and
halt rivers in their tracks, a miracle copied by several holy men in
Egyptian myth, and later by Moses.
From the Tantric image of the sexual hexagram arose a Jewish
system of sex worship connected with the medieval Cabala, and a
rabbinical tradition that "a picture is supposed to be placed in the ark of
the covenant alongside of the tables of the laws, which shows a man
and a woman in intimate embrace, in the form of a hexagram." 5
The Cabala was developed by the Jews of Moorish Spain after the
crusades brought eastern Goddess worship into their ken. Cabalists
used the hexagram as Tantric yogis used it, to represent the union of
God with his Female Power, Shekina, the Jewish form ofShakti-Kali.
As Shakti was the essential soul of any Hindu god, so Shekina was the
essential soul of the Cabalistic God. As in all religions of the Divine
Marriage, Cabalistic Judaism discovered man and woman to be earthly
images of God and Goddess; and sexual union of mortals naturally
encouraged its like in the supernatural realm. Therefore sexual intercourse
was "a sacramental act in the service of a God and his consort
(or perhaps vice versa: a Goddess and her consort)." 6
The Zohar identified Shekina with Torah, "the law," as the olde1
Gnostic Goddess was identified with her own virgin form Maat, "the
law" or "Truth.'' A man aspiring to mystic wisdom had to become a
"bridegroom of Torah," for the law was embodied in a maiden, like
the enlightening lady-love of contemporary bardic romance, which was
also inspired by eastern Goddess-worship.
For the Torah resembles a beautiful and stately damsel, who is hidden in ~
secluded chamber of her palace. ... She opens the door of her hidden
chamber ever so little, and for a moment reveals her face to her lover, but
hides it again forthwith. ... He alone sees it and he is drawn to her with
his heart and soul and his whole being . ... When he comes to her, she
begins from behind a curtain to speak words in keeping with his
understanding, unt1i very slowly insight comes to him. 7
The hexagram stood for the complete union of the sage with
Shekina-Torah. Attribution of the hexagram to Solomon as the magic
"Solomon's Seal" probably arose from the popular view of Solomon
as enlightened by a sacred marriage, suggested by the erotic love poetry
of Solomon's Song in the Bible.

Hieros Gamos

"Sacred Marriage" in Greek, meaning the union of a king or sacred
king (surrogate for the real king) with his Goddess, usually in the form
of a priestess-queen impersonating the Goddess. The sacred marriage
was once considered essential to the king' s right to rule. (See


From Greek orgia, "secret worship." 1 Most secret worship involved
sexual rites, as in the Sacred Mysteries of Eleusis, Cabiria, Shaktism,
Sufism, Ophite Christianity, etc. Wilkins says, "Even when religion
no longer tends towards the orgiastic as all cults in close touch with
nature do ... it always has its erotic aspect .... The further back one
goes the less possible it is to distinguish between the erotic and the
sacral. And 'the further back' means not only in time, but also into
the depths of experience." 2
Our "holiday" derives from the Holi festivals of the east, described
by a pious western observer as a Saturnalia, featuring "the most
licentious debauchery." 3 The participants invariably saw their "debauchery"
as a holy act, redolent of blessedness. Hindu texts said,
"To have carnal intercourse with the goddess Parvati is a virtue which
destroys all sin."4 The I Ching speaks of the mystical value of sexual
intercourse, which "gives life to all things." 5 According to Iwan Bloch,
"Religion shares with the sexual impulse the unceasing yearning, the
sentiment of everlastingness, the mystic absorption into the depths of
life, the longing for the coalescence of individualities in an eternally
blessed union."6 For such reasons, words like passion, bliss, trance,
ecstasy, glory were interchangeably applied to religious and sexual
Classical paganism used sexual orgia to represent the central
Mystery, which is why Christian ascetics condemned the Great Rite
as "the unnameable rites of the mysteries" or "the whoredoms of
Eleusis." The Goddess promised eternal life to those who "privily
entered the bedchamber," meaning the pastas or bridal chamber where
the hieros gamos between the Goddess and her worshipper was
consummated.7 The same sort of orgia took place among the northern
barbarians. Strabo said the druid enchanters in Ireland practiced
sexual worship "similar to the orgies of Samothrace." 8
Despite the extreme asceticism of its early centuries, Christianity
too became an orgiastic religion in some of its manifestations. An
11th-century Christian community at Orleans met on certain nights of
the year to indulge in promiscuous behavior. A contemporary account
said when the lights were put out, "every man grabs whatever
woman comes to hand, even though she may be his own mother, his
sister, or a nun, without thought of sin; for such tumbling is regarded by
them as holiness and religion." 9 Defining such behavior as a manifestation
of devil-worship was not very effective in preventing it, however.
Communal mating was a standard accompaniment to religious ceremonies
the world over, since before any Bibles were written. It was part
of the surge of group feeling often characterizing the religious
experience. The medieval peasant had long been familiar with the
phenomenon, and liked it well enough to cling to it even if it was
called Satanism. 10
Few orgiasts deliberately viewed themselves as devil worshippers.
As a rule they thought themselves exceptionally holy. Rasputin's sect,
the "Men of God," claimed their naked dances imitated those of the
heavenly angels. After singing and dancing to induce an ecstatic state,
they engaged in sexual orgies which sometimes resulted in the birth of
children, all of whom were said to have been begotten by the Holy
Ghost. 11
A Methodist preacher in Indiana once said, "Religious passion
includes all other passions: you cannot excite one without stirring up
the others." 12 American revivalism certainly proved this, so consistently
that any child born nine months after a revivalist meeting was
generally known as a "camp-meeting child." Outwardly puritanical,
American Protestantism nevertheless "revived" a mode of religious
behavior that would have been perfectly familiar to the ancient Greeks
with their Samothracian orgies and their lecherous satyrs. 13 It just
wasn't called by its real name.


Sexual orgy connected with worship of the Great Mother in medieval
Germany. The same word was known to Scottish witches in the
17th century, according to a Forfar witch's confession that at the
sabbat a "merry" song was sung at a nocturnal churchyard meeting.
The song was called ''Tinkletum Tankletum," close enough to the
German term to show correspondence between them. The Scottish
rites seem to have been fairly innocent. Scottish witches only drank
some beer and danced, and "the devil kissed every one of the women." 1
As a result of such confessions, four women were hanged.


Greek "female soul," corresponding to Hindu Shakti. Classical myth
wedded Psyche to the love-god Eros: a union of soul with body.
Apuleius' s version said Psyche and her bridegroom could come
together only in the dark. When Psyche insisted on seeing Eros by the
light of her lamp, he had to leave her forever. 1 As an allegory, this
said the passion of the soul might banish sexual passion. The original
 story probably arose from a custom like that of ancient Sparta, where
young husbands visited their wives only by night. "Sometimes children
were born before the pair had ever seen each other's faces by day."2
Psyche was incarnate in a butterfly, for the early Greeks believed
human souls could occupy flying insects while passing from one life
to the next. The belief was not forgotten. At Carcassonne in 1329 an
amorous Carmelite monk was accused of witchcraft for hiding love
charms in women's houses. It was charged that he also called up Satan
and sacrificed a butterfly to him, in symbolic offering of the soul.3


One of the titles of the Greek "female soul," also known as Psyche,
in her devouring aspect; literally, a yoni-that which devours the
phallus.1 The same word was applied to the night-moth, as a
mysterious dark sister of the sun-loving butterfly that represented
Psyche's daylight aspect. Phallaina was Psyche paired with Eros.
According to the classical myth, their matings could take place only in
the dark. When Psyche saw her husband in the light, their marriage
was dissolved. 


God of the phallus, a figure with enormous genitals, born of Aphrodite
by either Adonis or Dionysus, the latter perhaps an allegorical
statement that wine begets lust. Priapus was a primitive form of Eros,
based on the wooden ithyphallic idols worshipped in early Greece, later
translated into stone herms or temple phalli for deflowering brides.1
See Firstborn. Some of Priapus's grotesque images lasted through the
Middle Ages, and were even worshipped as saints (see Phallus


Bisexual Greek deity of erotic love, identical with Hindu Kama.
Orphics said Eros was the first god to emerge from the womb of the
primal creatress, Mother Night, "of whom even Zeus stands in
awe." 1 Plato said Eros was the oldest of deities, the most worthy of
honor, the one who gave souls strength to ascend to heaven after
death. 2 In short, Eros was a kind of Savior, before cults of asceticism
began to replace the older worship of sexuality as a primary life-force.


King of Arcadian satyrs, the horned and hoofed woodland god par
excellence. Pan was one of the oldest gods in Greece, associated with
the cult of Dionysus and sometimes identified with him. Pan was said
to have coupled with all the Dionysian Maenads. In addition, he was
mated to Athene, Penelope, Selene, and many archaic forms of the
Great Goddess. 1
Greeks claimed the Egyptian solar god Amon-Ra was the same as
Pan. They called Amon-Ra's holy city Panopolis, "City of Pan,"
saying it was inhabited by "Pans and satyrs." The panoply (ceremonial
dress and decoration) derives from holy processions in the City of
Pan.2 Other words connected with Pan's cult are caper, caprice, and
capriccio, all from Latin caper, the goat. Pan's sacred drama of death
and resurrection was the original "tragedy," from Greek tragoidos,
"Goat Song." 3 The word "panic" was originally the terrible cry of
Pan, who dispersed his enemies with a magic yell that filled them with
fear and took away all their strength.
It may be that Pan's legend began with the Hindu fertility god
Pancika, consort of one of the primal Mother-goddesses, manybreasted
Hariti, who suckled hundreds of pre-Vedic animal spirits as
many-breasted Diana suckled the woodland beasts, whose king Pan
Pan was an important model for medieval pagans' Horned God,
whom the church called Satan. The devil always displayed Pan's
attributes of goat-hoofs, horns, and unremitting lust; sometimes also a
goat head and an attendant throng of satyrs (demons). Yet the new
romanticism of the 19th century laid aside the demonic nature attributed
to Pan only a few centuries previously and made him a gentle
image of the lost Arcadia populated by shepherds and nymphs. Romantic
poets adopted Pan as their wildwood god.
In 1821, Shelley wrote to his friend Thomas J. Hogg: "I am glad
to hear that you do not neglect the rites of the true religion. Your
letter awoke my sleeping devotion, and the same evening I ascended
alone the high mountain behind my house, and suspended a garland,
and raised a small turf-altar to the mountain-walking Pan." Oscar Wilde
wrote wistfully: "0 goat-foot god of Arcady! This modern world hath
need of thee!" 5 Byron wrote a regretful ode on the passing of Pan:
The Gods of old are silent on their shore
Since the great Pan expired, and through the roar
Of the Ionian waters broke a dread
Voice which proclaimed "the mighty Pan is dead."
How much died with him! false or true-the dream
was beauflful which peopled every stream
With more than finny tenants, and adorned
The woods and waters with coy nymphs that scorned
Pursuing Deities, or in the embrace
Of gods brought forth the high heroic race
Whose names are on the hills and o'er the seas. 6
Marginal note:
Pan's name has been
derived from paein,
"pasture"; it was also
the word for "all" and
for "bread," recalling
various All-fathers who
were gods of divine
bread, such as Osiris,
Adonis, and Tammuz.
Like them, Pan
was a sacred king
who died in fertilizing
the earth. The ritual
phrase "Great Pan is
dead" seems to have
been taken from the
rites of Tammuz; it
was also understood as
Thamus Pan-megas
Tethnece, "All-great
Tammuz is dead."

Venus Observa

Technical term for the male-superior sexual position, which Adam
tried and failed to impose on Lilith, and which the Catholic church
designated the only legal position for marital intercourse, since it
afforded the least pleasure to the wife.1 Patriarchal societies generally
opposed such female-superior sexual positions as those favored by the
worshippers of Shiva and Hecate, and by medieval witches who, as the
nursery rhyme says, rode on top of their "cock-horses."
Christian missionaries throughout the world usually insisted that
their native flocks must abandon any sexual variations they might be
accustomed to, and adopt the Venus observa posture exclusively, for
anything else was sinful. Thus it came to be known as the "missionary
position," and native couples often made fun of it in secret.


Female soul, from the roots an, "heavenly," and ma, "mother,"
recalling a time when all souls were supposed to emanate from the
Heavenly Mother.1 In the 16th century A.D. Guillaume Postel said
every soul had male and female halves, the animus and anima. The
male half had been redeemed by Christ, but the female half was still
unredeemed and awaited a female savior. 2 This was a new development
of the old Christian view that only males had any souls at all. The
third canon of the Council of Nantes in 660 A.D. had decided that all
women are "soulless brutes." 3
Alchemists applied the word anima to all "spirits" considered
female: Anima Mercury, Anima Mundi, etc. The Spirit of the World
was connected with the elements of earth and water, like Eleusinian
Demeter, "Mistress of Earth and Sea." One reason alchemists were
suspected of heresy was their notion that the World-Soul was a female
Carl Jung revived the terms animus and anima to describe reasoning
and intuitive parts of the mind (i.e., left and right hemispheres).
Every person's anima is "often symbolically connected with both earth
and water. She is pictured as timeless and profoundly wise .... Each
man's first and formative experience of the anima is with his mother.
Her true function in the mind, according to Jung, is creativity." 4


Latin "Lady Wisdom," corresponding to the Greek Sophia, the
Gnostic Goddess worshipped by Hermetists, alchemists, cabalists, and
medieval "philosophers" whose doctrines were disguised heresies. In
fact Sapientia was sometimes represented as "the Siren of the Philosophers,"
pouring the red-and-white wines of enlightenment from her
breasts, rising from the sea like a crowned Aphrodite. 1
Renaissance mystics depicted Sapientia as the Shakti of God,
identifying her sometimes with the virgin Mary, sometimes with
Mother Nature, sometimes with God's "inner mind" or GoddessWithin
(I-dea). She was described as God's wisdom; indeed, as "all
the wisdom he had." 2 Spenser said Sapientia dwelt in God's bosom, as
his spouse, "the sovereign darling of the Deity, clad like a Queen in
royal robes." She was described as "the basic and primordial foundation
of all things . . . the being, life, and light of intelligible things," and a
Triple Goddess: Sapientia creans, the Creatress; Sapientia disponans,
"who unites all things in harmony"; and Sapientia gubernans, "otherwise
known as Divine Providence." 3
The Christian writer pseudo-Dionysius credited Sapientia with
creation itself, calling her "Thou unbegun and everlasting Wisdom,
the which in thyself art the sovereign-substantial Firsthood, the sovereign
Goddess, and the sovereign Good." 4
Sapientia was the hidden Creatress of medieval thought-the
unofficial Goddess supposedly eliminated from Europe's religions
centuries earlier, but still living fragmented under various names: Mary,
Nature, Luna, Earth, Venus, or Sophia.


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.
Renaissance art made emanations of Cupid into amoretti, "little
loves," shown as winged babies. But ancient talismans of Cupid were
not babies; they were winged phalli of bronze, ivory, or wood, which
gave rise to an Italian slang term for the penis, uccello, "little bird." 1

Valentine, Saint

The original Valentine's Day in the ides of February was Rome's
Lupercalia, a festival of sexual license. Young men chose partners for
erotic games by drawing "billets"-small papers-with women's
names on them. Christians denounced these prototypical valentines as
"heathens' lewd customs." 1 Churchmen tried to substitute saints'
names and short sermons on the billets, but people soon reverted to the
old love-notes.2 February was sacred to Juno Februata, Goddess of
the "fever" (febris) of love. The church replaced her with a mythical
martyr, St. Valentine, who was endowed with several contradictory
biographies. One of them made him a handsome Roman youth,
executed at the very moment when his sweetheart received his billet
of love.3
St. Valentine became a patron of lovers perforce, because the
festival remained dedicated to lovers despite all official efforts to
change it. Even in its Christianized form, the Valentinian festival
involved secret sex worship, called "a rite of spiritual marriage with
angels in a nuptial chamber." 4 Ordinary human beings engaged before
witnesses in an act of sexual intercourse described as the marriage of
Sophia and the Redeemer. A spoken formula said, in part, "Let the seed
of light descend into thy bridal chamber, receive the bridegroom ...
open thine atms to embrace him. Behold, grace has descended upon
thee." 5
During the Middle Ages, St. Valentine was much invoked in love
charms and potions, since he was a sketchily Christianized version of
such love-gods as Eros, Cupid, Kama, Priapus, or Pan.

 Rev. Dr. Joseph Fletcher of the Episcopal Theological School wrote,
"The Christian churches must shoulder much of the blame for the
confusion, ignorance, and guilt which surrounds sex in Western
culture .... [T]he Christian church, from its earliest primitive beginnings,
had been swayed by many Puritanical people, both Catholic
and Protestant, who have viewed sex as inherently evil." 1
Others have been less forgiving, and stated bluntly that Christian
churches must shoulder not just "much of' the blame, but all of it.
R.E.L. Masters declared, "Almost the entire blame for the hideous
nightmare that was the witch mania, and the greatest part of the
blame for poisoning the sexual life of the West, rests squarely on the
Roman Catholic Church." 2 The rest of the blame presumably
devolves upon Protestantism, for there was no institution in western
culture other than Christianity that made any effort to teach human
beings to hate or fear sex.
Christian abhorrence of sex began with the fathers of the church,
who insisted that the kingdom of God couldn't be established until
the human race was allowed to die out through universal celibacy.3
Marcion announced that all propagation must be abandoned at once.
St. Jerome ordered: "Regard everything as poison which bears within it
the seed of sensual pleasure." 4 St. Athanasius declared the great
revelation and blessing brought by Jesus was knowledge of the saving
grace of chastity.5 Tertullian said chastity was "a means whereby a
man will traffic in a mighty substance of sanctity," whereas the sex act
rendered even marriage "obscene." 6
Numenius of Apamea proclaimed that only total cessation of all
sexual activity could bring about the union of the soul with God. 7 St.
Augustine pronounced the doctrine that "concupiscence" is the root of
original sin and the means of transmitting Adam's guilt to all
generations. Thus he sealed the church's commitment to asceticism, at
least in theory, for the next 1600 years.8 Augustine said sexual
intercourse is never sinless, even within marriage.9 Augustine didn't
invent this doctrine. He got it from Gnostic Manicheans, to whose
sect he belonged before his conversion to orthodoxy. Gnostics taught
that souls are entrapped in flesh by "the mystery of love and lust,
through which all the worlds are inflamed." This teaching probably
came ultimately from ascetic Jain Buddhist yogis, who enjoined the
same precept as the First Book of John: "Love not the world, neither
things that are in the world . . . for all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the
Father." 10
These views became more entrenched as time went on. Medieval
theologians said sex "caused the damnation of humanity, which was
on its account put out of Paradise, and for its sake Christ was killed." 11
Officials of the Inquisition taught in their handbooks that women's
"carnal lust" was the cause of witchcraft and Satanism, since God
"allows the devil more power over the venereal act, by which the
original sin is handed down, than over all other human actions ...
because of its natural nastiness." 12
The church promulgated legends about saints so devoted to
chastity that they preferred extreme physical torment to sexual
pleasure. St. Paul the Hermit was tied down by the wicked emperor
Decius and subjected to the lascivious caresses of a harlot. As soon as
he felt his penis ~ise, "having no weapon with which to defend himself,
[he] bit off his tongue and spat it into the face of the lewd woman."
The sainted Pope Leo was so pure that when "a woman kissed his
hand, and aroused in him a violent temptation of the flesh," he cut
his hand off. By singular good fortune it was restored by the Holy Virgin
so he could continue to perform religious ceremonies. 13
The early church attacked most bitterly the many pagan faiths
that made sex a central holy sacrament, enacting union of the Great
Goddess and her phallic consorts. Tertullian denounced "the whoredams
of Eleusis," and Eusebius condemned "the unnameable rites of
the mysteries, adulteries and yet baser lusts." Yet Plato and his
contemporaries had worshipped Eros, god of sexual love, as "the most
venerable of the deities, the most worthy of honor, the most powerful
to grant virtue and blessedness unto mankind both in life and after
death." 14
From the most primitive period, European pagans incorporated
sex into their religion. The word Lust in old Germanic languages
meant "religious joy."15 At their holy feasts, Norsemen sang songs the
Christians called "lewd and shameful," and danced hip-swinging
dances the Christians called "female gyrations."16 The people refused
to give these up, believing them essential to general fertility. When
seasons went awry and crops failed under the first Christianized kings,
the peasants were sure the cause was neglect of the old deities' rites. 17
Sexuality was reverenced in cultures where the female principle
was accorded freedom and honor, as in Egypt, where women chose
and wooed their lovers at will. 18 Egyptians described carnal knowledge
as "knowing a woman perfectly," and regarded it as a joy. Sages
counseled men never to be rude to a mistress or wife, nor to try to order
her about; it would be unseemly in one with whom she shared
"joy."19 This was like the Tantric identification of sexual bliss with the
bliss of the Goddess and God as they continually engendered life in
the universe.20 Hindus said intercourse with any woman is like union
with the Goddess herself. Far from being sinful, "to have carnal
intercourse with the Goddess Parvati is a virtue which destroys all sin."21
But in the Christian view, woman brought death into the world
and sex perpetuated it.22 It was claimed that Adam was made to be
immortal, but he lost both his innocence and his immortality when Eve
taught him about sex. All women were copies of Eve, said Tertullian;
"the unsealer of that Tree," her very existence bringing destruction to
"God's image, man."23 Women were dangerous even when dead.
An early church edict ordered that a male corpse must not be buried
next to a female corpse until the latter was safely decomposed. 24
St. John Chrysostom said a man "cannot endure" looking at a
woman. 25 A biographer of St. Augustine assumed automatically that
"because of his great holiness, he was unwilling to look upon a woman's
face." 26 St. Augustine's doctrine of original sin was destined to
crucify not only Christ but the whole of the western world with its antipleasure,
pro-pain philosophyP Even today it is hardly possible for
anyone brought up in one of the western nations to comprehend the
ancient world's opinion of sex as an experience of divine pleasure or a
preview of heaven, without deliberate, laborious intellectual progress
toward such an opinion.
Not only was Europe crucified by Christian antisexuality but also
much of Oceania, Africa, and the Far East. Wherever Christian
missionaries went-which was everywhere-people were told their
own generally healthy sexual attitudes were wrong and sinful. One
missionary described Bantu harvest festivals as Bacchic feasts: "It is
impossible to witness them without being ashamed. Men and women,
who in ordinary circumstances are modest in behavior and speech,
then abandon themselves to licentiousness." Another missionary
wrote: "I have seen the most indelicate performances in the shape of
dances or theatrical pieces in front of the Badago temples, and on
bearing witness to their wickedness have been told that the god
delighted in them."28
A missionary in Malaya observed that the natives engaged in all of
what he called the carnal sins except one: rape.29 He didn't follow up
the thought to the prevalence of rape in his own society; but today's
psychologists are beginning to understand the leading role played by
sexual repression in developing the kind of woman-hatred that leads to
rape. Western thinkers have only recently caught on to the fact that
cultural suppression of the need for bodily pleasure will inevitably result
in perverted expression through cruelty.30
Cruelty to both women and children was the early Christian
substitute for the affection usually shown them in less ascetic societies.
The Apostolic Constitutions called for severe physical punishment
of children. Fathers (not mothers) were told: "Do not hesitate to
reprove them, chastening them with severity . ...Teach your children
the word of the Lord, straiten them even with stripes and render
them submissive, teaching them from infancy the Holy Scriptures."31
Recent experiments have shown that inhibition of sexual responses
(in animals) is associated with aggressive cruelty, whereas sexual
permissiveness goes with peaceful co-existence. While some investigators
theorized that aggression and lust rise together from a common
source, experiments don't support this belief. Instead, it seems one
alternative inhibits the other.32 Christianity made all Europe a vast
experiment in sexual inhibition, with predictable results. In one of
history's most cruel ages, Thomas Browne spoke of a nearly total
rejection of sex: "I would be content that we might procreate like trees,
without conjunction, or that there were any other way to perpetuate
the World without this trivial and vulgar way of union."33
In 1721 Beaumont ordered the pious to reject any and all
sensual pleasures, even the most subtle or involuntary ones:
If ye perceive a sudden sweet taste in your mouths or feel any warmth in
your breasts, like fire, or any form of pleasure in any part of your body,
or . .. if ye become aware by occasion of pleasure or satis!action derived
from such perception, that your hearts are drawn away from the
contemplation of Jesus Christ and from spiritual exercises ... then this
sensation is very much to be suspected of coming from the Enemy; and
therefore were it ever so wonderful and striking, still renounce it and do
not consent to accept it. 34
Inhibition of sensual impulses was the keynote of western
morality up to and including the 19th century, when Dr. Alcott
authoritatively stated that even marital sex should never be indulged
more than once a month. Any greater frequency was "prostitution of
the matrimonial life." 35 For many centuries the church insisted that
marital sex should be as barren of sensual pleasure as possible, and that
orgasms in women were unseemly or even devilish. The "missionary
position" was the only permitted sexual position, because it afforded the
least pleasure, especially to the wife.
In consequence of such socialization, "good" women were frequently
sex-haters. Bertrand Russell said of his first wife that "she had
been brought up, as American women always were in those days, to
think that sex was beastly, that all women hated it, and that men's
brutal lusts were the chief obstacle to happiness in marriage." 36
A Christian scripture falsely attributed to St. Dionysius, Of the
Names of God, said the name of Love was not suitable for God,
"because one could only honor God, not love Him." 37 Love was left to
the sinful, bearing out Nietzsche's observation that "Christianity gave
Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it but degenerated into a vice." 38
Only recently has it even been suggested that love, or Eros, is
essential to the moral development of a man, in a sense that was never
hinted at by the moralists of the west. A man may rise to "a new
moral plane" by falling in love, a process that cannot be pursued
through any rationally established program. Western society doesn't
understand how to instill a comfortably "instinctive" morality into any
individual, even with the opportunity to work on the problem from
earliest childhood-let alone to improve the moral outlook of an adult.
But a man's emotional commitment to a beloved, if sincere, may
radically alter and improve his whole view of the world, of himself, of
right and wrong, and of the individual's relations with and responsibilities
toward others. 39
Patriarchal religion was devoted to destruction of the sensual
female nature that elicited and responded to such emotional commitments.
Women's sexual desire or pleasure was generally considered
detrimental to the marital relationship.40 A standard Christian work
on sex dedicated to Cardinal d'Este, Sinibaldi's 17th-century Geneanthropeia,
said no woman could conceive if she enjoyed sex.41 Before
the turn of the last century, it was expected that "good" women would
know nothing of sexual pleasure. If they showed an inclination to
learn, they might be cruelly teased. Thomas Branagan's advice to young
men was to test the virtue of a fiancee by trying to seduce her, to
make sure she would react with "becoming abhorrence." If she seemed
too compliant, she must be jilted.42
The name of John Bowdler became a byword for his pious labors
in removing all risque words from the Bible, Shakespeare, etc. He
even objected to any mention of women's traditional care of the sick or
of infants, on moral grounds: "Few women have any idea [Bowdler's
italics] how much men are disgusted by the slightest approach to these
in any female .... By attending the nursery or sick bed, women are
too apt to acquire a habit of conversing on such subjects in language
which men of delicacy are shocked at." 43 Male "delicacy" even
dictated that the books of male and female authors must be kept on
separate bookshelves unless the authors "happen to be married." 44
The Victorian authority on sex was Dr. William Acton, who
couldn't heap too much praise on "all those mysterious sensations
which make up what we call VIRILITY," a quality that "seems
necessary to give a man that consciousness of his dignity, or his
character as head and ruler and of his importance, which is absolutely
essential to the well-being of his family, and through it, of society itself.
It is a power, a privilege, of which the man is, and should be, proud."
But women were permitted no such pride in their sexual nature. "As a
general rule," said Acton, "a modest woman seldom desires any
sexual gratification for herself. She submits to her husband, but only to
please him; and, but for the desire of maternity, would far rather be
relieved of his attentions." Acton admitted however that there were a
few sad exceptions to his rule, who might be found either in the
divorce courts or in lunatic asylums, suffering from "the form of insanity
called nymphomania." 45
Those women labeled nymphomaniacs and imprisoned in Victorian
asylums were frequently women who had somehow stumbled
upon discovery of their own orgasmic capacity and found to their
dismay that men neither knew nor cared anything about it. Even
Freud's view of female sexuality was all wrong. For over fifty years,
doctors slavishly followed Freud's interpretation and wondered why
there were so many "frigid" women, whose sexual readiness was
constantly aroused to no purpose until they rejected sex out of sheer
frustration. "It is remarkable that only recently has Freud's classic theory
on the sexuality of women-the notion of the double orgasm-been
actually tested and found just plain wrong." 46
The 20th century was not much more enlightened than the 19th.
Stall's marriage manual, the ultimate authority at the turn of the
century, blamed women themselves for the sexual ignorance society
imposed on them. If a wife failed to understand her husband's sexual
needs, she was to blame "for her lack of knowledge and consideration."
47 But men's lack of knowledge and consideration was part of
the culture.
The oft-heard complaint directed by women at the clumsiness, crassness,
and incompetence of men in their sexual approaches and in sexual
intercourse itself, men's lack of skill in foreplay and their failure to
understand its meaning, almost certainly substantially reflects the lack
of tactile experience that many males have suffered in childhood. The
roughness with which many men will handle women and children
constitutes yet another evidence of their having been failed in early tactile
experience, for it is diHicult to conceive of anyone who had been
tenderly loved and caressed in infancy not learning to approach a woman
or a child with especial tenderness. The very word "tenderness"
implies softness, delicacy of touch, caring for. The gorilla, that gentle
creature, is the most frequently slandered when women wish to
describe the sexual approaches of the average male. Sex seems to be
regarded as a tension releaser rather than as a profoundly meaningful
act of communication in a deeply involved human relationship. ~8
One modern woman-a rape victim-thus expressed her own view
of sex:
Sex, for men, is totally oriented toward the man's orgasm and isn't
successful unless it involves intercourse and orgasm, which is ridiculous,
because sex to me is a much more sensual, much more emotional
experience. It doesn't involve just one particular spot on the body getting
excited and aroused, and then it's over, and it's either a success or
Men culturally trained not to pay attention to women seldom
understood what women meant by "love," even when they tried to
explain. The celebrated Kinsey reports on American sexual behavior
didn't mention "love" in their index. 50 Certainly there was no such idea
in America as the Tantric karuna, which combined all forms of love
in communion with the female, though modern women sometimes try
to grope toward this concept, unaware that it was elucidated long ago:
Gestation ... is a complex inner process in which sexuality is fed by
everything else a woman has at her disposal, much in the same way that
she might feed a fetus. When there is no fetus, an inclusive kind of sexual
intimacy fills up a comparable inner space. But when sex is separated
from that context, the disparity between a penetration that is no more than
an "action" and a penetration that reaches into complex inner space
can become quite overwhelming . ...
To most men the problem ... does not seem very real. To them the
clearest aim of sex is orgasm, that moment ofintense physical intimacy
and satisfaction which so often serves as a substitute for other kinds of
intimacy. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why men seem to be so
concerned with satisfying women sexually and interpret that satisfaction in
terms of what they think would satisfy them if they were women. It
may also be one of the reasons why men seem to think that many women
can never be completely satisfied sexually. The terrain where a woman
remains forever unsatisfied or even, as they say, "insatiable," is probably
the area where her sexuality borders most closely on that more complex
psycho-sexual area of her being. 51
In Oriental countries where an image of the Goddess was
retained, broader ideas of sexuality were retained also:
Western attitudes . .. look on sexual intercourse as a matter of tension,
appetite and relief . .. according to the simplistic biological conception
which is still current. ... It is well known that the man who, in the Kinsey
Report on the Human Male, recorded a frequency above thirty times a
day for many years became a kind of folk-hero in America. Sexual/ave, in
such a context, becomes at best a matter of frequently happily shared
To the traditional Indian mind this attitude is grotesque and pathetic.
Even the ordinary man recognized that such banality was absurd. ...
Eighteenth-century Indian harlots mocked European men for their
miserable sexual performance, calling them ~'dunghill cocks" for whom
the act was over in a few seconds. Despite recent advances in sexological
knowledge, the West's chosen external explanations of sex, attached as
they are to a provisional and impoverished rationalization of the infinite
complex of human experience, still tend to regard sex as the pursuit of
orgasm. ... Traditional India did not. 52
A mystical or poetic view of sex, like the Indian one, seemed to
jar the puritan consciousness even more than a "dirty" or degraded
view. Dr. Marie Stopes's Married Love was imported from England
in 1918 but banned for obscenity in the U.S., chiefly on account of
such delirious passages as the following:
The half-swooning sense of flux which overtakes the spirit in their eternal
moment at the apex of rapture sweeps into its flaming tides the whole
essence of the man and woman, and as it were, the heat of the contact
vaporizes their consciousness so that it fills the whole of cosmic space.
For the moment they are identified with the divine thoughts, the waves of
eternal force, which to the Mystic often appear in terms of golden
light. 51
Some progress has been made since the sexual obtuseness of
western men made them a laughingstock in India. But recent investigators
found "a view of sex that is as distorted as the Victorian, for it is
still shrouded with the unrealistic expectations and outmoded standards
of gender behavior of the past. Fantasy rather than reality is its
keynote; hostility, anxiety, and guilt are aggravated rather than alleviated."
54 Significantly, a male author characterizes male sexuality as
loveless and death-centered, capable of destroying the foundations of
Contemporary eroticism attempts to free woman sexually but according to
a masculine conception of sexuality . ... The present rehabilita~ion of
the erotic in its purely sexual, loveless aspect is completely at variance with
the truly feminine conception ... an ultimate striving toward dislocation,
destruction, and death- Thanatos-as against Eros, the love-filled
erotic, unifying and conservationist . ... Ultimately, this overemphasis
of the masculine component in Western society threatens to destroy its
foundations. »
To counterbalance the destructiveness of male-dominated society,
nothing could be effective except recognition of the feminine
principle, according to George Sand: "It will be in the female heart
par excellence, as it always has been, that love and devotion, patience
and pity, will find their true home. On woman falls the duty, in a
world of brute passions, of preserving the virtue of charity .... When
woman ceases to play that role, life will be the loser."56 Modern
thinkers also regret the loss of cultural emphasis on the feminine
morality that can integrate sex with affection, tenderness, and sensitivity
toward others' emotional needs. It has been often said that
male-dominated societies tend to burden the sexual impulses of both
women and men with basically unrelated guilts, fears, angers, and their
resulting aggressions. Some forms of"entertainment" for example
take advantage of the new frankness to introduce disturbingly sadistic
elements into mass socialization for sexual adulthood. "Rather than
lament the fact that sexual appetite is now being encouraged, we might
more profitably spend our time trying to ensure that the emotions
that are integrated with it are the ones we approve of." 57
As recently as 1966, an anthropological study of the Irish
islanders of Inis Beag revealed a mini-culture of 19th-century Christian patriarchal
patterns in sexual life. Female orgasm was unknown.
Women were trained to endure rather than enjoy sex. Men habitually
ejaculated within seconds. Modesty was the overwhelming preoccupation
of both sexes; husbands and wives didn't see each other naked.
Sexual foreplay consisted of rough fondling outside the sleeping
garments. No coital position other than Venus observa was used.
Premarital sex was virtually unknown, since young couples were
never alone together. Not even "walking out," the old-fashioned
version of dating, was allowed. Young people received no instruction in
sexual matters. The islanders said after marriage "nature would take
its course" without the embarrassment of discussion.
Though the men were often at sea in small boats, they never
learned to swim, being unwilling to undress in public for this purpose.
"Bathing" in the sea meant wading, fully clothed. The sexes were
rigidly separated for this activity. Men were known to die of disease or
injury rather than to go to a hospital on the mainland, where they
thought their bodies would be bared to the eyes of female nurses.
Even the dogs of Inis Beag were whipped for licking their genitals
or other "obscene" behavior. Imported copies of American magazines
such as Life or Time were denounced from the pulpit as
pornography. Fear of female "mysteries" was overt: women were not
approached sexually for many months after childbirth, or during menstruation,
when men thought them especially dangerous. Predictably,
severe repression exacted a severe toll in quarrelsomeness, alcoholism,
violence, and frequent mental disturbances. 58
Paradoxically, the more sexuality is banned and ignored, the more
fear it seems to engender in men. A patriarchal-ascetic ethic seems to
arrange sexual attitudes according to the way men would like them
arranged, but it doesn't work well even for men. A psychiatrist says,
"In the privacy of our consulting room we do from time to time see
strong men fret, and hear them talk of women with dread and horror
and awe, as if women, far from being timid creatures to be patronized,
were as powerful as the sea and inescapable as fate .... Man, confronted
by woman, does seem to feel, variously, frightened, revolted,
dominated, bewildered, and even, at times, superfluous." 59 One male
author in a revealing passage on men's sexual feelings refers to a woman
as "it," but also admits "general helplessness in the face of her," and a
sense of her "awesomeness and power" -seemingly overblown terms
for an ordinary human female:
We cannot relate to the total object as it [sic] is, and thus we need
standardized definitions of sexual attractiveness. These we get in the
form of"cues" that serve to cut the object down to manageable size: we
look at the breast or the black underwear, which allow us not really to
have to take account of the total person we are relating to . . . . [W]e strip
the partner of awesomeness and power and so overcome our general
helplessness in the face of her. 60
The symbols of "sexiness" are created and instilled by the
society, however odd it may seem to realize that human physiological
responses can actually be keyed to abstract images. "It is now quite
clear that how a person behaves sexually is largely determined not by
inborn factors but by learning."61 The prevailing conventional wisdom
and its influence on the growing child determine whether most
people will enjoy sex or hate it, perceiving their own bodies as heaven
or hell. Western anti-sexuality has created many individuals tending
toward the "hate" or "hell" end of the spectrum, epitomized by a
psychiatric patient who said, "Somehow I always think that sexual
intercourse is a great disgrace for humans." A female patient called
her body an "abhorrent envelope," and said, "I wish I could tear this
skin off. lfl didn't have this stupid body, I would be as pure outside as
I feel inside." 62
Women have an especially difficult time with the body-image in a
society that attaches little value to their complex body-oriented roles
of wife, mother, nurturer, or comforter; and may even cease to play
these roles when they have fully accepted the value system of the
dominant sex. Women don't reject traditional "feminine" roles out of
perversity, nor because of that Freudian absurdity, penis envy. Like
men, most women prefer to do what their society values and rewards. If
the wife-and-mother role is undervalued- or even deprecated, as it
has been throughout the past two millenia in the western worldwomen
can hardly be blamed for seeking valid achievement in other
fields.63 In our society the universal standard of valuation is money, and
the so-called "career" of wife-and-mother earns none at all.
Underevaluation of the mother affects sons as well as daughters,
since the mother's reaction to social expectations of her inevitably
creates a deep impression on her children. "Psychiatric observation
suggests that human sexual behavior is subtly shaped by the nature of
the social attachments formed during a person's development"; and the
mother is the primary social attachment.64 Chodorow says the modern
civilized male "is in the unhappy position of being able to attain
masculine identity almost solely through efforts to distinguish himself
from the person closest to him [the mother], with whom he might most
naturally identify. His efforts commonly take the form of a rather
primitive rejection of all that is 'feminine' in women and in himself." 65
Sexual development is further hampered by conventional religions
which still attach fear and guilt to almost every stage of the process.
Ignoring recent proofs that masturbation is necessary for development
of normal orgasmic capacity in both sexes, Pope Paul VI's 1976
declaration on sexual ethics pronounced masturbation "a grave moral
disorder." Moreover, within the framework of marriage, only the
"finality" of procreation could "ensure the moral goodness" of sex-in
other words, sex must make babies, not pleasure.66 As for premarital
sex, Norman Vincent Peale declared it a dreadful sin even for persons
deeply in love; they cannot be forgiven without prolonged spiritual
"treatment." 67
It is now said that sexual appetites have "little or no relation to
biological or physiological needs .. . . [E]rotic urges stem more from
socio-cultural factors than from those of the strictly physiological nature."
68 Therefore the broad extent of ugly or cruel sexual behavior
patterns in modern society should stimulate serious thought about what
the society is teaching. In 1972, the Chief of the Sex Section of the
Washington D.C. Police Department reported: "The newspapers print
only what they want to. I tell them about little girls of seven or eight
who come up with venereal diseases inflicted on them by male members
of their own families. An appalling number of 11- and
12-year-olds are giving birth after being raped by their own fathers. But
they won't print things like this. They're only heart-breaking and
horrible-not sensationaJ."69
A report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography
concluded: "Failure to talk openly and directly about sex ... overemphasizes
sex, gives it a magical nonnatural quality .... Such failure
makes teaching children and adolescents to become fully and ade-
quately functioning sexual adults a more difficult task. ... The very
foundation of our society rests upon healthy sexual attitudes grounded
in appropriate and accurate sexual information." 70 In other words, the
foundations of society rest on dissemination of precisely the kind of
information that Christian morality insisted on withholding from one
and all-men, women, and children.
Churches today have largely renounced all their responsibility to
establish guidelines for sexual development or sexual behavior, leaving
their congregations in an area of confusion. Theologians stress "the
personal responsibility of the Christian to find God's will for himself."71
In which case, he hardly needs a church.
Sex statue(s) in Thirumayam temple

The Catholic Encyclopedia declares, "The female sex is in some
respects inferior to the male sex, both as regards body and soul." 1 This
is a somewhat modified version of the opinion of St. Thomas
Aquinas, who insisted that every woman is birth-defective, an imperfect
male begotten because her father happened to be ill, weakened, or in
a state of sin at the time of her conception. 2 Knowing nothing of the
human ovum, the church taught the doctrine of Augustine and
Aquinas that a mother contributes nothing to her child's genetic
inheritance, but acts only as "soil" for the male soul-bearing seed.3
Nevertheless, churchmen claimed the birth of a true freak was not the
father's fault, but the result of "the heated and obstinate imagination"
of the mother during sexual intercourse.4
Fathers of the church were earnest woman-haters. St. John Chrysostom
said men suffer "a thousand evils" from having to look at
women; "the beauty of women is the greatest snare." St. Odo of Cluny
refused to be ensnared; he said, "How should we desire to embrace
what is no more than a sack of dung!" According to Walter Map,
"Even the very good woman, who is rarer than the phoenix, cannot
be loved without the loathesome bitterness of fear and worry and
constant unhappiness." A 19th-century Anglican churchman said
women are "intrinsically inferior in excellence, imbecile by sex and
nature, weak in body, inconstant in mind, and imperfect and infirm
in character."5 In the 1890s, the president of a leading theological
seminary declared, "My Bible commands the subjection of women
forever." 6
So it did. Through the centuries, the Bible supported sexist
sentiments which were echoed by all churchmen. St. Paul said: "The
head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man"
(1 Corinthians 11:3). St. Peter said in the Gospel of Thomas:
"Women are not worthy of life." 7 Clement of Alexandria quoted the
words of Christ from the Gospel According to the Egyptians: "I have
come to destroy the works of the female." 8 He added: "Every woman
ought to be filled with shame at the thought that she is a woman."9
Up to the modern era, clergymen continued to appeal to biblical
authority to maintain the political subjection of women. "The clergy
were often in the forefront of the fight against suffrage, dredging up
quotations from the Bible to prove that the natural order of things was
female obedience to man." Simone de Beauvoir says: "For the Jews,
Mohammedans and Christians among others, man is master by divine
right, the fear of God will therefore repress any impulse towards
revolt in the downtrodden female." As late as 1971 an Episcopalian
bishop confirmed these views: "The sexuality of Christ is no accident
nor is his masculinity incidental. This is the divine choice." Feminists
believe that even if the churches should destroy themselves in the
effort, they will cling to their notion of male supremacy to the very end,
for this was their primary foundation in the beginning. 10 Theology's
entire conceptual system was invented by men to serve the interests of
men-and, not incidentally, to restrict and suppress the interests of
Church fathers long ago laid down the principle of woman's guilt
for the existence of death and sin. Augustine blamed the perpetuation
of original sin on the "concupiscence" that united male bodies with
female ones under any circumstances, including marriage. 12 Christianity
was the first religion to announce that it was sinful just to be alive,
on account of having been sexually conceived and born of a woman.
13 St. John Chrysostom commanded every Christian father to instill
into his son "a resolute spirit against womankind .... Let him have
no converse with any woman save only his mother. Let him see no
Sometimes the writings of Christian men revealed an almost
hysterical fear of woman. Her very glance could "infect, entice,
bewitch." Her eyes "poison and intoxicate the mind: yea, her company
induceth impudency, corrupteth virginity, confoundeth and consumeth
the bodies, the goods, and the very souls of men. And finally her
body destroyeth and rotteth the very flesh and bones of man's body."
Vairus said women become witches because "they have such an
unbridled force of fury and concupiscence naturally .... And they
are so troubled with evil humors, that out go their venomous exhalations,
engendered through their illfavored diet, and increased by
means of their pernicious excrements, which they expel." 15
John Aylmer labeled all women "tale-bearers, eavesdroppers, rumor
raisers, evil tongued, worse minded, and in every wise doltified
with the dregs of the Devil's dung hill." 16 Similar opinions have been ·
offered by modern woman-abusers, such as the rapist: "I thought ...
women were trashy, low-down and scummy because that's what I had
been taught." 17
Andrew the Chaplain said woman is "by nature a miser, envious, a
slanderer ... greedy, a slave to her belly, inconstant, fickle ... disobedient
and impatient of restraint, spotted with the sin of pride and
desirous of vainglory, a liar, a drunkard, a babbler, no keeper of
secrets, too much given to wantonness, prone to every evil, and never
loving any man in her heart." 18
John Scotus Erigena taught that human beings were once without
sin and without sexuality; but after they disobeyed God, they were
divided into two sexes. The sinless part was embodied in man, the sinful
part in woman. 19 Other theologians said woman was "the confusion
of man, an insatiable beast, a continuous anxiety, an incessant warfare, a
daily ruin." The church ostensibly made war on the devil, but in
actual practice made war on women. "Woman was the Church's rival,
the temptress, the distraction, the obstacle to holiness, the Devil's
decoy." 20 Official church literature said:
All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman . ... [T]he
natural reason is that she is more carnal than a man, as is clear from her
many carnal abominations. And it should be noted that there was a defect
in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent
rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary
direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an imperfect
animal, she always deceives. 21
Curiously enough, modern genetic research indicates that the
truth may be something like the reverse of this view. The XY chromosome
that produces a male is physiologically an "incomplete" female
chromosome. Some individuals are born with an XYY chromosome
abnormality, making them genetic super-males. They are said to be
tall, below average in intelligence, and strongly disposed to criminal
behavior. 22
This would have surprised men like Orestes Brownson, who
insisted that woman's "ambition and natural love of power" must be
subject to masculine control, otherwise "she is out of her element, and a
social anomaly, sometimes a hideous monster, which men seldom
are, excepting through a woman's influence." 23 Such men never
bothered to notice that their denunciations of women were selfcontradictory;
as in this case, for instance, if woman's love of power was
"natural," then in exercising it she would be in her element, not out
of it.
Martin Luther claimed the physical differences between men and
women demonstrated God's plan for sexism. "Men have broad and
large chests and small and narrow hips and more understanding than
women who have but small and narrow chests and broad hips, to the
end that they should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear and
bring up children." 24 But if their bearing and bringing up children
wore them out, it was no matter, Luther said: "If women get tired and
die of bearing, there is no harm in that; let them die as long as they
bear; they were made for that." 25
Schopenhauer, who detested women, found nothing likeable
about their physical appearance: " It is only the man whose intellect is
clouded by his sexual impulses that could give the name of the fair sex
to that undersized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and shortlegged
race .... [T]he sympathies that exist between them and men are
skin-deep only, and do not touch the mind or the feelings or the
character." 26 Hartley tends to agree that thanks to Christian tradition,
"An extreme outward sex-attraction has come to veil but thinly a
deep inward sex-antipathy, until it seems almost impossible that women
and men can ever really understand one another." 27
Those few Renaissance men who would speak on behalf of
women were outside the church, and usually suspected of heresy, like
Agrippa von Nettesheim, who wrote that women "are treated by the
men as conquered by the conquerors, not by any divine necessity, for
any reason, but according to custom, education, fortune, and the
tyrant's opportunity."
The tyranny of men prevailing over divine right and the laws of nature,
slays by law the liberty of woman, abolishes it by use and custom, and
extinguishes it by education. For the woman, as soon as she is born, is
from her earliest years detained at home in idleness, and as if destitute
of capacity for higher occupations, is permitted to conceive of nothing
beyond needle and thread. Then when she has attained years of
puberty she is delivered over to the jealous empire of a man, or shut up
forever in a shop of vestals. The law also forbids her to fill public
offices. No prudence entitles her to plead in open court. 28
There was sex discrimination even in the penalties imposed for
witchcraft. Female witches were more severely punished than male
witches. A law of 1683 said that for the crime of causing death by
witchcraft, a man may be hanged, but a woman must be burned at the
stake. Men could with impunity kill their wives (e.g., by beating) in
the 1650s, but women were burned for killing their husbands, a crime
defined as "petty treason." 29
A self-perpetuating belief in woman's inferior intellect was fostered
by the almost universal custom of keeping women out of schools, all
but a few aristocratic ladies who could receive an expensive private
education. Queen Elizabeth I of England was unsexed by several
historians who thought she was too clever to be female. They claimed
she died in infancy, and a boy was secretly raised in her place. The
small minority of educated women were seldom accepted as such. On
one occasion a learned lady was presented as a cu~iosity to King
James I, and he was told she was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew.
He only inquired, "But can she spin?" 30
The church controlled most schools, and the church would have
no truck with women unless it was unavoidable. St. Columkille made
a rule that no woman could even be buried in the vicinity of a Christian
church, alleging that this was the custom from Christianity's beginnings.
County Tyrone in Ireland still has a Relig-na-man, "cemetery of
women," located a half-mile from the church where only men were
buried in the churchyard.31 Some churchmen opined that women
didn't even have any souls to save. Ockham claimed women did have
souls, and on that account should be allowed to vote in church councils.
The pope instantly condemned this as heresy. 32
Josephine K. Henry castigated the churches for their consistently
antifemale attitudes over the centuries:
Has the Church ever issued an edict that women must be equal with man
before the canon or the civil law, that her thoughts should be incorporated
in creed or code, that she should own her own body and property in
marriage, or have a legal claim to her children born in wedlock, which
Christianity claims is a "sacrament" and one of the "holy mysteries"? . ..
No institution in modem civilization is so tyrannical and so unjust to
woman as is the Christian Church. It demands everything from her and
gives her nothing in return. The history of the Church does not
contain a single suggestion for the equality of woman .... Through
tyranny and falsehood alone is Christianity able to hold woman in
subjection. 33
Indeed, women were better served by pre-Christian laws nearly
everywhere. Under the ancient Byzantine code, inheritance laws made
no distinction between heirs on the basis of their sex; and although
adulterous men were executed, adulterous women were not.34 After
centuries of Christian revision, the laws freely allowed men to
commit adultery, though their wives could be imprisoned or beaten to
death for it. Unti11857, no English woman could obtain a divorce on
any grounds without a special Act of Parliament, which meant only
upper-class women with plenty of political leverage could even hope
for a divorce.35
In 1835, a Mrs. Caroline Norton left her husband after he
repeatedly subjected her to beatings, mental abuse, and infidelity. He
kept his mistress in the same house with her. A court ruled that the wife
need not return to the house, but the husband was given their three
children because the wife had "condoned his actions" by staying with
him through all his cruelties. In 1839, the Infants' Custody Act
introduced a slight modification. At his own discretion, a judge in equity
could allow separated mothers to keep children under seven years of
age, or to have visiting rights to older children, provided the mother was
not guilty of adultery. 36 Fathers suffered no such restriction, of
Women who refused to submit to the "discipline" of marriage, but
instead played the dangerous game of promising without delivering,
were known as jilts. Such women aroused the most violent outbursts of
sexist sentiment, according to an old pamphlet:
Their tricks and devices are numberless, and not to be para/Jeled by any
thing but their Ingratitude and Inhumanity; there indeed they exceed
themselves; nothing in Nature being so perfectly brutish and cruel as one
of these kind [sic] of Creatures ... a Vermin so ravenous and malicious,
and withal so subtle and designing, so forma/Jy chaste and
hypocritica/Jy virtuous, and yet so scandalously common and impudently
lewd, so proud, and yet so mercenary, and above all, so insolently i/1
natured, that in the short character of a Jilt, are comprehended all the
Vices, Fa/lies and Impertinences of the whole Sex . ... In short, I cannot
but fancy them a Colony of Hell-Cats, planted here by the Devil, as a
mischief to Mankind. 37
Noting that women often refused to play fair in the game for
which men made all the rules, even Freud failed to transcend the sexist
attitudes of his time. He wrote: "One cannot resist the thought that
the level of normal morality is different for women. Their superego
never becomes so unshakeable, so impersonal, so independent of its
affective origins, as we demand it of a man. Critics since time immemorial
have reproached women of certain character traits: that they
exhibit less of a sense of justice than men do; that they are less prepared
to submit to the great necessities of life." Since Freud regarded male
domination as one of the great necessities of life, he should hardly have
been surprised to find women resisting it. Simone de Beauvoir said
every woman knows that "masculine morality, as it concerns her, is a
vast hoax. Man pompously thunders forth his code of virtue and
honor; but in secret he invites her to disobey it, and he even counts on
her disobedience; without it, all that splendid facade behind which he
takes cover would collapse." 38
Since women weren't told the rules of the game, many of them
became losers while they were still too young to figure it out for
themselves. Commenting on Oscar Wilde's homosexuality trial, WT.
Stead remarked, "If Oscar Wilde, instead of indulging in dirty tricks
of indecent familiarity with boys and men, had ruined the lives of half a
dozen innocent simpletons of girls, or had broken up the home of his
friend by corrupting his friend's wife, no one could have laid a finger on
him. The male is sacrosanct: the female is fair game." 39
Though women were scorned for being "simpletons," they were
even more violently scorned when they tried to develop their minds.
Florence Nightingale's popularity inspired many women to seek educations
in medicine, but male students ganged up on them. In 1870 a
group of student doctors formed lines to prevent five women from
entering classes in Surgeons' Hall in London. Medical examiners
tried to embarrass female students with indecent questions. When
women received high marks in examinations, they were passed over,
and scholarships were awarded to the men immediately below their
It was the same in other professions. In 1879, Birmingham
schoolmasters barred women from employment as teachers of small
boys, on the ground that it would encourage "immorality." Lawyers
denied women admission to the Inns of Court. Determined feminist
efforts brought about admission of some women to classes at Queen's
College in 1848; but the Bishop of London excluded women from
Wheatstone's classes on electricity, because they had "congregated too
abundantly" in Sir Charles Lyell's geology classes, keeping more
deserving students (i.e., men) from finding places in the classroom. In
the field of religion, the Church of England found it "unthinkable"
that women should ever be admitted to the ministry.40
The basic fallacy of sexism in employment or education was
pointed out by Christine Pierce: "We need not fear that women will
do what they cannot do." 41 If women were really unable to learn
medicine, law, theology, science, or any other field of endeavor, it
would hardly have been necessary for men to exert such efforts to keep
them from learning. The theory of feminine intellectual inferiority
began to recede from view when women managed to receive education.
But many men still clung to the belief that women must be less able
to think than men.
In 1913 T.E. Reed wrote a book called Sex, Its Origin and
Determination, to prove "scientifically" that women were biologically
inferior to men. The author said coitus during an incoming tide
always conceived boys, while coitus during an outgoing tide con
ceived girls-proving that the female was weaker, born of "waning"
energy. Despite the fact that incoming and outgoing tides differed on
every one of the world's coastlines, and infants conceived inland
couldn't be identified with any tide, the theory proved popular.42
In many ways, sexist thinkers have tried to pretend male dominance
is "natural" or is a divinely ordained biological mandate. Yet as
other mammalian species demonstrate, such an arrangement could
serve no biological purpose.
Any animal species in which males were biologically programmed
to attack and injure the females would be at a disadvantage in terms
of species survival, since mammalian young can't grow to maturity
without healthy, competent mothers.43 Thus it is found that, in most
species, males are biologically inhibited from attacking females, even
under strong provocation. And the one virtually unbreakable male
animal taboo is any kind of interference between a female and the
young she protects.
Karen Horney suggested that men's antagonism may have developed
as a result of sexual envy: "The male is sexually dependent on
the female to a higher degree than the woman is on him, because in
women part of the sexual energy is linked to generative processes.
Could it be that men, therefore, have a vital interest in keeping women
dependent on them?" 44 Judith Antonelli says, "Patriarchy is based
on the 'phallacy' that the male is creator. Man's original awe and envy
of woman becomes, under patriarchy, resentment and hostility. The
only way man can possess female power is through woman, and so he
colonizes her, suppressing her sexuality so that it serves him rather
than being the source of her power. ... Patriarchy is indeed a male

Chastity Belt

Medieval device for locking a woman's potential lovers out of her
body, while her husband was away from home at wars, pilgrimages, or
crusades. The pelvic fetter had small spiked holes through which
urine, feces, and menstrual effi.uents might pass- in theory. In practice,
it would have been impossible to keep clean. Vaginal infections, skin
eruptions, and ulcers would have been inevitable after wearing such a
device for only a short time, let alone months or years.
In 1889 the skeleton of a woman was found in a 15th-century
Austrian graveyard, still wearing the chastity belt that probably caused
her death.1


The de Paors wrote naively of the life of a slave in early Christian
Ireland: "Even if he was a slave he had the advantage of living in a
society which had accepted the teachings of Christianity." 1 This
wasn't much of an advantage, considering that in pagan society he
would not have been a slave at all. The United States in the 19th
century had also accepted the teachings of Christianity, but this was of
little benefit to the slaves on southern plantations.
In effect, the feudalism upheld by the Christian churches was a
slave state. Serfs were at the mercy of their overlords, who held the
power of life and death over them. Serfs could be bought and sold with
the land. Though they were taxed to support the church and the
nobility, they were without legal rights. The "teachings" of Christianity
paid no attention to the plight of the serfs, nor did the churches make
any effort to alleviate their sufferings.
Church fathers were even more concerned to keep women in a
state of subjection throughout all social strata, so that each male even
at the slave level had at least one slave of his own: a wife. St. Augustine
said wives should be slaves to their husbands, and husbands had the
right to beat and abuse them. To a wife who had been beaten he would
say, "It is the duty of servants to obey their masters .... [Y]ou have
made a contract of servitude." 2 St. Thomas Aquinas said a male slave
was superior to a wife, because a male slave was not in subjection
"according to the law of nature," but a wife was "subject to the man on
account of the weakness of her nature, both of mind and body." 3 In
other words, Aquinas believed that might makes right; weakness must be
dominated by strength. Of course this was not always the rule in allmale
relationships, only in male-female ones.
The combination of slavery and sexism in Christian societies made
the lot of female slaves particularly onerous. They were completely
helpless in the hands of their masters, and could be raped, tortured, or
murdered with impunity. Even in "enlightened" 19th-century
America, female slaves were in a singularly unenviable position.
Dr. James Marion Sims, known as the American "father of
gynecology," was famed as the inventor of a surgical technique for
curing vesicovaginal fistula. He also performed hundreds of clitoridectomies
and ovariotomies to cure "sex-related diseases" in women.
What is usually not told about his career is the way he developed his
techniques. Before the Civil War, he kept women slaves in a disused
jailhouse and made them his guinea pigs, performing hundreds of
experimental and exploratory operations on them until they died off
one by one and were replaced by fresh victims.4 Sims's career and
writings bear out what some psychologists have suspected, that early
gynecological surgeons were fundamentally women-haters with a sadistic
In patriarchal societies, said Marx, "Woman's true qualities are
warped to her disadvantage, and all the moral and delicate elements
in her nature become the means for enslaving her and making her
suffer." 5


Patriarchal Persian prophet whose name was affixed to many antifemale
doctrines, such as the rule that no women could enter heaven
except those "submissive to control, who had considered their husbands
lords." 1 Most women, of course, were destined to go to hell.
Along with much else, these sentiments were adopted from Zoroastrian
teaching by the Jews and applied to the laws of Yahweh.

Magen David

"Shield of David," the so-called Star of David or hexagram constructed
of two interlocked triangles, now accepted as a symbol of
Judaism. Actually, it was not associated with Judaism until the late
Middle Ages and was not officially accepted as a Jewish symbol until the
17th century.1
The original source of the Magen David was the Tantric "Great
Yantra," which stood for union of the sexes: the downward-pointing
triangle being female, the upward-pointing one male, the two signifying
the eternal union of God and Goddess.2 Cabalistic sex-worship
brought the Yantra into Jewish tradition, but later puritanical elements
obscured its original meaning.


Jewish-cabalistic version of Shakti; the female soul of God, who
couldn't be perfect until he could be reunited with her. Cabalists said it
was God's loss of his Shekina that brought about all evils. The
Hebrew Sh'kina meant "dwelling-place," a hint that God had no
"home" without her. Like her Tantric counterpart the Shakti, the
Sh'kina was the source of all "soul" in the universe. Gnostic Christians
of the 4th century spoke of the Sh'kina as a "spirit of glory" in whom
Beings of Light lived, as children in their mother's body or house. Mani
referred to the Aeons as sh'kinas, or female spirits of the sacred year.1
Cabalists taught that it was essential to bring male and female
cosmic principles together again, which might be done by sexual
magic, signifying union of the sun (man) and moon (woman). This was
graphically expressed by the hexagram. Philosophy of the Cabala
said the supernal mother Shekina is manifested in the earthly mother,
with whom her husband should lie on the Sabbath, because "all the
six days of the week derive their blessing" from this coupling. Rabbi
Eliahu di Vidas said, "Who has not experienced the force of
passionate love for a woman will never attain to the love of God." 2
Jewish mystics said the "outer garment" of the Shekina is Torah,
"Holy Law." A man became a Bridegroom of Torah by study,
symbolized in erotic imagery. He must court her like a beautiful
maiden. "She begins from behind a curtain to speak words in keeping
with his understanding, until very slowly insight comes to him." The
Shekina as "Indwelling One" might be compared to the Latin I-dea,
or Goddess Within. "She opens the door of her hidden chamber ever so
little, and for a moment reveals her face to her lover, but hides it
again forthwith . ... He alone sees it and he is drawn to her with his
heart and soul and his whole being." 3
As a man required his Shekina for enlightenment, so God required
his Shekina for wisdom and creativity. This crucial tenet of cabalistic
doctrine is seldom emphasized-or even mentioned-today.


The "Way of Shaktism," Gnostic-Christian term for the cult of
"spiritual marriage," or agape, the love-feast: actually a western version
of Tantric sex-worship. Synesaktism flowered in the late Roman
empire, but before the 7th century A.D. it was declared heretical and
outlawed by the orthodox church.1 See Tantrism.

Sophia, Saint

Canonical adaptation of the Gnostic Great Mother: Latin Sapientia,
Greek Sophia, the spirit of Female Wisdom. Symbolized by the Dove
of Aphrodite (later transformed into a sign of the Holy Ghost),
Sophia once represented God's female soul, source of his power, just as
Kali-Shakti served to vitalize the Hindu gods. 1
The Trattato Gnostico said Sophia was God's mother, "the great
revered Virgin in whom the Father was concealed from the beginning
before He had created anything." She was identified with
Isis-Hathor, whose seven emanations gave each Egyptian his seven
souls. Irenaeus said Sophia like Hathor was the mother of the seven
planetary spirits, whose names were listed in Gnostic papyri as the
magic-working secret names of God. 2
The Clementine Homilies called Sophia the All-Maternal Being,
The Queen, Lady Wisdom. Early Gnostic Christians held that, like
Krishna and Shiva, or like Dionysus and Zeus, Christ and God together
merged with Sophia as an androgyne: "The Son of Man agreed with
Sophia, his consort, and revealed himself in a great light as bisexual. His
male nature is called 'the Savior,' the begetter of all things, but his
female, 'Sophia, Mother of All.' " 3
A Gnostic creation myth said Sophia was born from the primordial
female power Sige (Silence). Sophia gave birth to a male spirit,
Christ, and a female spirit, Achamoth. The latter gave life to the
elements and the terrestrial world, then brought forth a new god
named Ildabaoth, Son of Darkness, along witth five planetary spirits later
regarded as emanations of Jehovah: Iao, Sabaoth, Adonai, Eloi, and
Uraeus. These spirits produced archangels, angels, and finally men.
Ildabaoth or Jehovah forbade men to eat the fruit of knowledge,
but his mother Achamoth sent her own spirit to earth in the form of
the serpent Ophis to teach men to disobey the jealous god. The serpent
was also called Christ, who taught Adam to eat the fruit of knowledge
despite the god's prohibition.4
Sophia sent Christ to earth again in the shape of her own totemic
dove, to enter the man Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan. After Jesus
died, Christ left his body and returned to heaven. Sophia gave Jesus a
body of ether, and placed him in heaven to help collect souls.5 Some
said Jesus became Sophia's spouse and his glory depended on this sacred
marriage; for he was only one of the Aeons, a minor spirit, the
"common fruit" of the Pleroma.6
Some said Sophia was also Jesus's mother, for she was. the Virgin
of Light whose spirit entered into the body of Mary to conceive him.
She also entered the body of Elizabeth to conceive John the Baptist.
Some said Sophia was to God as Metis to Zeus: his "mind." But
Sophia wasn't acceptable to the all-male church. Of the three mighty
female powers in the Gnostic creation myth, all preceded Jehovah,
and two of them opposed Jehovah as a tyrant, overruled his taboo, and
saved humanity from ignorance. It was a version that the Pauline
churches found lacking in appeal.
Nevertheless, Sophia was passionately adored by Eastern Christians.
Her greatest shrine was erected in Constantinople during the
6th century A.D., and was one of the wonders of the world: the Church
of Holy Sophia (Hagia Sophia).
Embarrassed by this magnificent monument to the Great Mother,
Roman Christians claimed it was dedicated to a minor "virgin
martyr," St. Sophia, whose phony legend lacked even a date. Despite
her virginity she was the mother of three daughters, also "virgin
martyrs": St. Faith, St. Hope, and St. Charity. The legend may have
arisen in personification of the saying that Wisdom gives birth to
Faith, Hope, and Charity. Hagiographers took it literally, confusing the
three virtues with the three Charites. Catholic scholars now claim the
church of Hagia Sophia was never dedicated to the Great Mother in
any form, not even that of a female saint. They say its name-which
means "Holy Female Wisdom" in plain Greek-really meant "Christ,
the Word of God." 7
Jewish "Wisdom" literature owed much to the cult of Sophia, who
was to reappear in medieval Jewish cabalism as the Shekina of God.
Yet the 8th and 9th chapters of Proverbs demonstrate the early conflict
between followers of Sophia and those of God. The first of these
passages urges the benefits of Sophia's worship; the second belittles her
and her priestesses:
Doth not Sophia cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She
standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in of the
doors. Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.O
ye simple, understand Sophia: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding
heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my
lips shall be right things ... for Sophia is better than rubies; and all the
things that may be desired are not to be compared to her. I Sophia
dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. ...
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding; I have
strength. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes
rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love
me; and those that seek me early shall find me. ... I lead in the way of
righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause
those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. ...
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates,
waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life. ...
But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate
me love death.
This was one side of a public-relations war. The other side was
presented by the following chapter, wherein God scorned the worship
of the Goddess:
Sophia hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: she
hath killed her beasts: she hath mingled her wine: she hath also
furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the
highest places of the city. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither; as for
him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread,
and drink of the wine which I have mingled ... [but] the fear of the
Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is
understanding. For by me [God] thy days shall be multiplied, and the
years of thy life shall be increased. ... A foolish woman is clamorous: she
is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her
house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call passengers who go
right on their ways: whoso is simple, let him turn in hither. ... But he
knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths
of hell.8
The "high places of the city" meant temples, therefore the
"woman" was the Goddess, who met with much resistance from
followers of the God. Yet she was still in evidence during the Middle
Ages, as Sophia-Sapientia, Lady Wisdom, ruling deity of the Gnostic
philosophers who said the World Soul was born of her smile.9


"Graces," heavenly dispensers of charis (Latin caritas), the grace of
Mother Aphrodite, which the Bible translates either "love" or "charity"
( 1 Corinthians 13 ). The Charites were ancient manifestations of the
Triple Goddess. Pausanias said they were worshipped at Orchomenos
as three standing stones.1 The classic myth of their nymph-hood
hardly described them; nor did their Christian form·, the mythical St.
Charity. See Grace; Sophia, Saint.

Faith, Saint

Spurious "virgin martyr," one of the three sisters Saints Faith, Hope,
and Charity, daughters of the equally spurious virgin-mother martyr St.
Sophia. As one personification of these three Virtues, St. Faith really
originated as one of the oldest of pagan Goddesses. Her Roman name
was Bona Fides, "Good Faith." She was invoked in all legal contracts.
Plutarch said her temple was built by the first king of Latium.
Virgil said "hoary Faith and Vesta" were Rome's oldest lawgiving
Goddesses. 1 Bona Fides did have one of Rome's oldest temples, served
by three senior Flamines, the core of the ancient Roman clergy. 2
In her Christianized form, Faith received a crypt in St. Paul's
cathedral in London. Letting their imaginations soar, martyrologists
raved over her famous physical beauty. 3 Perhaps because of this, she
became a popular patroness of romance. English girls used to pray for
a vision of their future husbands, addressing St. Faith after passing a
piece of bread three times through a wedding ring. 4

Hope, Saint

According to Hesiod's fable of Pandora's Vase (or, as it was later
erroneously called, Pandora's Box), the spirit called Hope stood for the
refined cruelty of Father Zeus toward helpless mortals. Zeus sent the
vase full of Spites to plague humanity with vice, madness, sickness, hard
labor, war, famine, and every other ill; he also enclosed Hope, whose
function was to prevent men from killing themselves in despair, to
escape the miseries Zeus decreed for them. 1
Hope was thus presented as a spirit of delusion; her ultimate
purpose was to make men suffer. In Christian scriptures however, she
was combined with Faith and Charity (or Love) as one of the three
essential virtues. Some excessively naive hagiographers even canonized
these three virtues as three fictitious virgin martyrs, all daughters of
the equally fictitious St. Sophia. 2 St. Hope is still listed in the Roman
canon of saints even though scholars have shown that she never existed.


"Silence," Gnostic name for the Creatress, sometimes called the
grandmother of God. Out of her was born the first Word; this was the
Logos of creation. Like Mother Night, she stood at the beginning of
all things and represented the state of chaos or nonexistence before the
universe took form. See Sophia, Saint.


Coitus reservatus; Tantric maithuna; probably the same as drudaria in
medieval poems of courtly love: sexual intercourse without male orgasm.
The object was to increase a man's spiritual powers by keeping
seminal secretions in his body and also absorb the power engendered by
his partner's multiple orgasms. See Tantrism.


Like most forms of affectionate contact, the kiss was an adaptation of
primitive mother-child behavior. The original Sanskrit word was cusati,
"he sucks." Gestures of embrace, of clutching to the bosom, began as
imitations of the nursing mother. Scholars believe kissing originated
with mouth-to-mouth feeding, practiced among ancient Greeks and
others as a form of love play. In Germany and Austria even up to the
19th century A.D. it was common for mothers to premasticate food
and feed it to their infants by "kissing." 1 Kissing was most common in
European countries, where it was supposed to create a bond among
all members of a clan (hence, "kissing cousins"). It was virtually
unknown in northern Asia (Japan, China, Mongolia). Amerindians
and Eskimos did not kiss but rather inhaled the breath of a loved one by
"rubbing noses."


Poets of the Middle Ages kept alive many druidic and other pre-Christian
sacred tales, orally transmitted from generation to generation
in the manner of the Vedas, under the guise of "romances." Earlier
rhyme-makers were priests of the Goddess, who gave them the gift of
inspiration from her magic cauldron, or Holy Grail. 1 A poet was like a
seer or wizard, able to deal in "words of power," to create by the charms
of speech, a blessing of the Muse. Medieval poets were worshippers
of Art and Woman, founders of the cult of courtly love, singers of
mansongr, the "woman-songs" beloved by the Goddess; and they
were mockers of the church.
Poets seem to have regarded themselves as a dispossessed priesthood
of the Goddess Love (Minne), who inspired the church's
hostility. Before the 13th century, poets were denied Christian communion,
and denounced by churchmen as "ministers of Satan." Later,
they won acceptance by using biblical and theological motifs in their
songs, but romantic poetry remained suspiciously heretical. 2
Old romances depicted the clergy as rude, brutish fellows who
mistreated delicate ladies, and even displayed sadistic behavior toward
their own brethren.3 The pagan gods were credited with warmer
personalities. Frithiof's saga suggested that, though Christ despised
lovers, the god Balder did not. Lovers could meet in the temples of
Balder, "the pious god," because "Is not his love for Nanna part of
his own nature, pure and warm?" Romantic heroes generally avoided
the Christian paradise and went to the earthly one, governed by the
Goddess Morgan, or the Fairy Queen.4
According to the Lay of Gudrun, the poet had more magic power
than any priest. Like the poet-savior Orpheus, he could charm birds
and beasts with his music, and even raise the dead. His songs were
better liked than clerical sermons:
Whate'er he might be singing, to no one seemed it long;
Forgotten in the minster were priest and choral song,
Church bells no longer sounded so sweetly as before,
And every one who heard him longed for the minstrel sore. 5
Minstrels' ballads have been praised as works that seem "to have
looked deepest into the human heart," excluding their occasional
Christian moralizing which is always "manifestly a later addition."
Steenstrup calls attention "to what small degree the ecclesiastical, or the
strictly Catholic, element ... gets leave to appear. ... [T]he religious,
the ecclesiastical, the Catholic element has been clapped on later, and
... it is a disturbing and jarring force." 6 The bards invoked not God but
Erda-Mother Earth-and the Goddess Minne, whose name was a
synonym for Love.7
To churchmen, love was "nothing." To play at a game of chance
"for love" was to play for nothing.8 The expression "for love or
money" began with this distinction between pagan and Christian
motivations. The troubadours and minnesingers acted for Minnedienst,
the "service of love."9 Of course, donations were always
The cult of Love rarely included marriage, which was usually
arranged by the couple's elders, for economic reasons. Ladies of the
Courts of Love in southern France said true love couldn't exist between
married people. True love could exist only between a lady and her
chosen knight, who was expected to prove "gallantry" in combat before
he could be a "gallant," or lover. Ladies told their suitors, "It is
necessary that for love of me you should do deeds of chivalry. ... I will
give you all my love as soon as I have seen you fight your first joust."
Chansons de gestes advised warriors to strike their enemies squarely in
the bowels, so as to win the love of "the most beautiful ladies of the
court." 10
This was a curiously mammalian-biological system, in which
women watched men in combat and rewarded the winners with
sexual favors. Bishop Jacques of Vitry complained that knights fought in
tournaments only to gain "the favors of the shameless women whose
tokens they wear." The monk Gildas described the barbarian aristocracy
as "addicted to vice, adulterous, and enemies of God."11
Old ballads and romances depict a society in which men constantly
showed off to excite women's admiration, almost like male birds and
beasts displaying themselves to females. Norse skalds said everything
men did was to impress the ladies. When women were watching,
they spurred their horses to go faster, so "readily will look the ladies and
lasses, as we are passing." 12 Geoffrey of Monmouth said the noble
women were celebrated for their wit, and "esteemed none worthy of
their love, but such as had given proof of their valor in three several
battles." 13
There arose a corollary belief that no man could fight well unless
inspired by the promise of his lady-love. Tristan said a man couldn't
be a warrior unless he was a lover. Lancelot became invincible only
because Elaine gave him her sexual-symbolic love-token, a red silk
sleeve as "sheath" for his "sword." Minnesinger Wolfram von Eschenbach
wrote of the love-trance that made a knight invincible, like a
berserker. Wolfram's Parsifal asserted that for every kind of spiritual aid,
including courage in battle, "it is better to trust a woman than
God." 14
This Germanic Parsifal incorporated no Christian ceremony but
was written as if the church didn't exist. Parsifal's prayers were
addressed to his lady, who magically protected him in battle and gave
him success as if she were a sacred agent of the ancient Lady of
Victory. He fought in a love-trance of communion with her spirit,
which made him virtually superhuman.15
This pagan knight fought his own alter ego, a Christian knight who
fell back before the onslaught of the "heathen man" made invincible
by his lady's love. "The heathen never wearied of love; his heart,
therefore, was great in combat." When he cried the name of his
queen's dwelling place, "his battle strength increased." 16
For a while, certain sects of warriors undertook to defend the
beleaguered rights of women, in the name of the Goddess. From this
period dated romantic stories of knights who rescued "castles of
women" from robber barons who had seized their property. About the
12th century, when the church began to arm its laws with the teeth of
the Inquisition, emphasis shifted from defense of women to defense of
the church. Sir Parsifal, or Perceval, presented a typical example of
the pagan hero who finally turned Christian and renounced women.
At first he was a champion of Love; but later he was "purified,"
and described by an ecclesiastical writer as "one of the men of the
world at that time which most believed in our Lord Jesus Christ, for in
those days there were but few folks who believed in God perfectly."
Perceval set out to rescue "a gentlewoman which is disherited," but
changed his allegiance in mid-adventure, and renounced her as a
seductress and witch. 17
Romantic literature reveals continual conflict between the minstrel's
love-oriented philosophy and the church's anti-love attitude.
Churchmen said lovers became "vile" by forgetting God and making
the beloved woman a divinity. One priest said the bards "sinfully love
women, whom they make into deities," and this was exactly the same as
loving Satan. 18 Professor Huizinga noted that "from the side of
religion, maledictions were poured upon love in all its aspects." Yet the
poets insisted that "Love was a divine visitation, quelling mere animal
lust. ... The lover, whose heart was rendered gentle by the discipline of
his lady, was initiate to a sphere of exalted realizations that no one
who had experienced such could possibly identify (as the church
identified them) with sin." 19
Modern scholars have struggled to define the later stages of the
courtly-love movement, when the Meistersinger school was founded
by men with the title of Frauenlob, "Lover of Women." The obvious
spirituality of the movement led some to interpret it as a sentimental
asceticism inspired by adoration of the virgin Mary. Yet some of the
minstrels' poetry was intensely-even grossly-erotic, focused on a
real female body, not an ethereal vision. Scholars failed to understand
this combination of spirituality and carnality because they failed to
discover its historical root: the penetration of Europe by yet another
wave of Tantric sex-worship.
The most mysterious element in courtly love was the secret
technique of lovemaking known as drudaria, druerie, or karezza. It
can only have been a western version of Tantric maithuna, the sacrament
of coitus reservatus. This alone can explain its blend of erotic
and spiritual ecstasy. Significantly, one of the heroes of courtly love
most revered as a model for poets was Tristan, who had reversed his
name and called himself Tantris for the secret understanding of his ladylove.
20 See Tantrism.
The poets kept their secret but obliquely referred to it when
defending themselves against charges of lechery. They claimed their
aim was not selfish pleasure but only gratification of the lady. Montanhagol
wrote, "A lover should on no account desire what would
dishonor his lady-love," probably meaning an unwelcome pregnancy.
"Desire never had any power over me to make me wish her to whom
I have given myself aught that should not be. I would not reckon that a
pleasure which might debase her." Another poet said, "A true lover
must seek the interest of his beloved a hundred times more than his
own." 21
The poets were angered by certain ignorant men who copied
courtly-love behavior without understanding its basis. Men who
pursued women for their own sexual satisfaction were regarded as
vulgar boors who "confounded everything by their behavior, which is
no better than that of dogs." Men who didn't understand the true
initiation of love "adopted other maxims, which bring about shame."
Marcabru said scornfully, "If they call that drudaria, they lie." Arnaud
Daniel claimed to have renounced the love of wealthy women, who
knew only pleasures of the shameful sort. "From such love as moves me
are debarred those disloyal seekers of women who destroy courtliness."
22 Courtliness was synonymous with Minnedienst, the service of
women who knew how to be served.23
Where did the bards learn of maithuna? Probably from several
sources. The gypsies practiced it, and gypsies infiltrated Europe from
at least the 11th century on. 24 Even more influential was the Moorish-Saracen
tradition emanating from Spain and the Middle East after
the crusades. Yoni-worship was preserved by such sects as the Sufis,
whose "Sufi Way" involved a sexual initiation by a fravashi, an occult
love-priestess like the Tantric shakti. Sufi sages taught that a man can
find spiritual fulfillment only in love, realizing Woman as "a ray of
deity." The word Sufi contained "in enciphered form, the concept of
Love." Deciphered, it reduced by the Arabic numerological system
to three letters: FUQ, meaning "that which is transcendent." 25
Under the same language system, the title of a singer was Ta Ra B,
which picked up the Spanish suffix -ador and became "troubadour."
Thus the troubadours' worship of Love was a synthesis of pagan and
Oriental themes, founded on the idea of Woman as the true source
of benevolence. Troubadour Bernard de Ventadorn wrote to his beloved:
"Noble lady, nothing do I ask of thee but that thou shouldst
take me for thy servant. I would serve as one serves a good lord,
whatever reward I might gain. Behold, I am at thy command: sincere
and humble, gay and courteous. Neither bear nor lion art thou, to kill
me, as I here to thee surrender." 26 Gentleness and sensuality reigned
together in the mythical fairyland visited by Aucassin, a French romantic
hero based on the Arabic "sultan of love," Al-Kasim.27
Minnesingers worshipped their Goddess Minne as Love, but
mocked the syncretism of Christian dogmas. Gottfried von Strassburg
wrote: "The very virtuous Christ is as yielding as a wind-blown sleeve;
he adapts himself and goes along whatever way he is pressed, as
readily and easily as anyone could ask." 28 Wolfram von Eschenbach
parodied the pope as a eunuch named Clinschor ("Clergyman") who
offered his services to the devil. 29 Walther von der Vogelweide reprimanded
the clergy for their condemnation of love:
Whoever says that Love is sin,
Let him consider first and well:
Right many virtues lodge therein
With which we all, by rights, should dwell. 30
Minnesinger Konrad of Megenburg wrote a scathing satire
which he presented in the form of a debate between Lady Church
(Mary-Ecclesia) and her servants, the clergy, who only pretended to
serve her, but actually served her rival, Lady Avarice-and-Vainglory.
Lady Church denounced her servants in most unladylike terms and
called their real mistress "a whore, a wretched nurse of vice, a
superlative evil, a hypocrite."31
Out of the courtly-love movement came one of the oddest of
Christian pseudo-saints: St. Dyrnphna, a corruption of the romantic
poet's name for his lady-love, madonna or ma dompna, "my mistress,
my lady." As an erstwhile patron of the moon-madness that sent the
poet into his love-trance, she is still advertised today as a healer of
"emotional distress." 32
Language and metaphors of romance in general point to disguised
heretical allegories, which also survived in folklore and pagan custom,
drama, children's games, and witchcraft.


"Love," the medieval Aphrodite worshipped by Minnesingers and
Minstrels; perhaps the Moon-goddess Mene or Mana, or the erotic
Fish-goddess Minaksi-Kali of India. Minne often appeared as a
mermaid, like Aphrodite. But the Minnesingers said of her, "She
resembles nothing imaginable. Her name is known; her self, however,
ungrasped . ... She comes never to a false heart." 1
Norse skalds called Minne a Goddess of Memory, like Mnemosyne,
the first of the Muses who gave poets their inspiration.2
Sometimes she was called simply Lofn, "Love." The Edda said she was
a pagan Goddess who gave men and women permission to make
love, as opposed to the Christian church which called lovemaking evil.3
See Romance.


Scandinavian poet-shaman, probably derived from Skadi or Skuld, as
a Goddess of inspiration. A great skald was believed to have words of
power; what he sang or prophesied would come true. He was able to
address the death goddess herself, via funerary ballads, and appeal to her
to treat the deceased well. Norse sagas and eddaic poetry were the
work of skalds who belonged to a priestly class, like druids. See


Tantric sages said one should participate in religious rites "sky clad"
(digambara) or naked, because in the eyes of the Goddess all distinctions
of rank, caste, or class should be put off along with the clothing that
expressed them. 1 The Goddess herself appeared naked, under the name
of Nagna, "Nudity." 2 It was widely recognized that the magic of the
Goddess dwelt more in the reality of her flesh than in her garments,
since creation was a function of the female body, not of any external
accouterments.3 Moreover, it was her nakedness that exerted its mysterious
power over the bodies of men. Images of the Naked Goddess
even decorated churches until 11th and 12th centuries A.D., especially
in the British Isles. Though many were destroyed, some of these
images still survive. 4
By contrast to this earlier emphasis on nakedness, the magic of
men and their gods usually dwelt in their garments. Odin's sayings in
the Havamal show that he gave men clothes by which they would put
on "nobility" -i.e., power-for "the naked man is naught." 5 Patriarchal
societies generally made much of uniforms, vestments, badges of
rank, and other decorations by which men defined themselves.
Perhaps out of this same sense that nakedness enhanced the power
of women and reduced that of men, Christians were usually opposed
to nakedness even when it was practical, as among tropical peoples.
Australian missionaries refused to give food to hungry natives until
they put on clothes. A missionary in the Orinoco regretted that the
natives had not really accepted Christianity, but he confessed himself
"greatly consoled" at having taught native women such modesty that
they would no longer remove their clothes even in bed. 6
Early Christians condemned nakedness because it was characteristic
of worship of the Goddess. The legend of St. Barnabas tells of the
saint's miraculous destruction of the temple of Aphrodite at Paphos,
were he saw "a multitude of men and women celebrating a feast, and
running about naked. So wroth was he that he cursed the temple of
these pagans, and instantly the temple fell in ruins, crushing a large
number of pagans in its fall."7
A 4th-century Christian bishop named Priscillian seems to have
participated in pagan rites. He gave himself to "abominable studies,
and held nightly meetings with immodest women and had been
accustomed to pray stark naked." 8
Medieval books on sorcery taught that spirits can be raised by
ceremonial nudity, but this kind of magic is a degradation which "the
foolish dotage of women is subject to fall into." 9 Women continued to
believe in the power of nakedness. Scottish maidens stripped themselves
naked on the Eve of St. Andrew and recited a prayer "to learn
what sort of husbands they shall have." 10 Pierre de Lancre wrote that
"witches in their accursed assemblies are either entirely naked or en
chemise." 11 Up to the 17th century, ancient fertility rites dictated the
grinding of grain for festival cakes in Ireland with "certain stones," by
girls who had to be completely naked at the time. 12
At the Bulgarian ceremony of the need-fire, "two young men
'whose names must not be spoken' marched in front of the flocks and
herds which were to be driven through the flames, and afterwards
stripped themselves naked and kindled the new fire in a wood." At a
similar ceremony in Serbia, "a naked boy and girl lit the fire by rubbing
rollers of wood together." 13 Even in the present century, Balkan
peasants and gypsies performed ceremonies requiring them to go naked
in moonlight. 14 Witches sometimes maintain the "sky-clad" tradition,
as in the Middle Ages they were often accused of worshipping the
"great Devil" in the form of a large star when they went out naked at
night. Some medieval heretics called "shepherds" insisted on saying
Mass while naked, on the theory that "this was the way our father
Adam sacrificed." The Inquisition condemned them, on the ground
that Adam didn't say Mass at all. 15
St. Jerome established the church's policy on female nakedness by
saying women should be so ashamed of their own bodies that they
should "blush and feel overcome" at the sight of themselves. For this
reason, no "virgin of full age" should bathe. If she was good-looking,
a woman must try to spoil her appearance by "a deliberate squalor" so
she wouldn't distract saintly men from their pure thoughts. 16 Among
medieval nuns therefore, clothing was seldom changed, and dirtiness
was thought next to godliness.
In the 15th century, the Adamites of Bohemia associated naked-
ness with humanity's pristine purity, quoting the Bible (Genesis 3:7)
to prove that garments were worn only after the first sin was committed.
They advocated nudity and free love to liberate the flesh from
sinfulness. Their sect was exterminated in 1421. 17
Nakedness often figured in secret initiations, as advised in a French
mystical book: "The aspirant should become stark naked, should
empty himself completely, should be stripped of all his faculties,
renouncing all his own predilections, his own thoughts, his own
will-in a word, his whole self." 18 Even here the "self" seemed to be
closely identified with the clothes-which, as the world knows,
"make the man."


Greek ekstasis meant "standing forth naked," a word for the state of
mind ensuing in a religious trance when the consciousness was stripped
away, leaving only the essential self. In Greece as in ancient India,
proper worship was sometimes conducted in a state of physical nakedness
(Hindu digambara) to symbolize purification from all
distractions, to concentrate on the ecstatic experience.


Classical mythology abounds in rapes: the rape of the Sabine women,
Zeus's rape of his mother Rhea, Apollo's numerous rapes of nymphs,
even of his sister Artemis. One gets the impression that the Greeks
thought women always had to be forced into sexual relationships, even
with gods. But the word translated "rape" usually meant seduction.
Teiresias, who lived as both a man and a woman, announced his
discovery that a woman's pleasure in sex was nine times that of a
True rape was not common in the ancient world. Like the males
of all other mammalian species, the ancients believed sexual activity
should be initiated by the female. The modern conventional description
of a rapist as an "animal" is a slur on the animal kingdom; animals do
not rape. Only man forces sexual attentions on an unwilling female.
The Bible tells of a Levite who gave up his concubine-wife to a
mob to be gang-raped to death in order to save himself from
molestation, and then cut her to pieces. "All who saw it said, There was
no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel
came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day" (Judges 19:30). A war
was fought over the incident, showing that it was highly unusual.
A change in the attitude toward rape was one of the contrasts
between the ancient world and the medieval one in western Europe.
The Romans and Saxons punished rapists by death. Normans cut off a
rapist's testicles and gouged his eyes out.2 The gypsies' Oriental
heritage demanded the death penalty for a rapist.3 Hindu law said a
rapist must be killed, even if his victim was of the lowest caste, an
Untouchable; and his soul should "never be pardoned."4 The Byzantine
Code decreed that rapists must die and their property must be
given to the victim, even if she was no better than a slave woman.5
Christian laws changed the picture. Serfs' wives, sisters, or daughters
were always sexually available to their overlords under the new
regime.6 Peasant brides were raped by the baron before being turned
over to their bridegrooms-probably to be raped again. The Church
made it illegal for any wife to refuse sexual intercourse unless it was a
holy day when marital sex was prohibited. Therefore, marital rape
was encouraged.
Victorian England almost achieved one of patriarchy's most
sought-after goals: total male control of female sexuality. Until 1884 a
wife could be jailed for trying to deny her husband his "conjugal rights."
She was as much a sexual slave as any inmate of an eastern harem.7
Forced to consent to frequent rape by husbands who neither knew nor
cared about women's sexual enjoyment, 19th-century wives became
predictably indifferent to the delights of the marriage bed, in such
numbers that medical authorities described women as "largely devoid
of sexual pleasure." It was said in a standard marriage manual used for
decades, and translated into 12 languages: "Wives seldom seek the
closer embraces of their husbands. They are generally indifferent; often
absolutely averse. ... God has made the passivity of the wife the
protection of her husband and a source of manifold blessing to their
children." Having thanked God for a world of unamused women, the
author went on: 'There can be little doubt that much marital indifference
upon the part of wives is due to chronic constipation, which is so
prevalent among women."8 The implied assumption would be that
God foresightedly afflicted women with chronic constipation in
addition to the other curses on Eve.
Societies retaining the idea of Goddess-worship seldom demonstrate
marital or extramarital rape; female sexuality is nearly always
fully developed. Sadistic, violent sexual fantasies do not appear in the
imagery of India. 9 The matriarchal Semai held it illegal for a man
even to try to talk to a woman into sexual relations if she said no in the
beginning.10 Anti-rape rules inspired warmer relationships, as G.B.
Shaw said: "The desire to give inspires no affection unless there is also
the power to withhold." 11
The laws of Shaw's culture, however, were designed to deprive
women of the power to withhold. Before 1653, any Englishman
could kidnap and rape a child heiress, after which the law viewed him as
her legal husband. He was rewarded for rape with the acquisition of
the victim's property. In 1653 the law was changed-not to help the
victim, but to cut the government in on the loot. A man could be
imprisoned for raping a young girl for her money, but half the victim's
estate was taken by the government.12
Victorians never held men legally responsible for debauching
adolescent girls, since the legal "age of consent" for females was
twelve. A child under the age of eight was not allowed to give evidence
against a man who violated her, on the ground that she was too
young to understand the legal oath. 13 Yet in the 16th century, authorities
set the "age of consent" at six years. 14 Raping children was a
common enough pastime of Victorian men, who maintained that sexual
intercourse with a virgin child was a sure cure for syphilis. As late as
the 1930s, the madam of a West End whorehouse advertised, "In my
house you can gloat over the cries of the girls with the certainty that
no one will hear them besides yourself." 15
Victorian pornography reflects an obsessive fascination for violence
and rape, often describing sexual partners as "adversaries,"
though they were certainly not evenly matched. One male writer
fantasized a female experience of defloration by a rapist who "quickly
buried his tremendous instrument too far within me to leave me any
chance of escape. He now paid no kind of attention to my sufferings,
but followed up his movements with fury, until the tender texture
altogether gave way to his fierce tearing and rending, and one
merciless, violent thrust broke in and carried all before him, and sent it
imbrued, reeking with blood of my virginity, up to its utmost length
in my body. The piercing shriek I gave proclaimed that I felt it up to the
very quick; in short, his victory was complete." The same male writer
mused complacently: "How magical is the influence of our sex over the
feelings of the softer one." 16
The magic was not apparent to a modern rape victim who,
nevertheless, displayed an almost catatonic acceptance of the victim's
role, in effect giving her attackers the right to abuse her:
They were just taking advantage of me because I was alone and available.
That's just the way men relate to women. If they're alone and available,
well, use them. And it's nothing perverted. It's just their normal way of
relating to a woman . ...
After it was over, I was aware of pain and dirtiness in my body, and I
was hurt in my pride and confused about why they had raped me and
why they were laughing at me and making fun of my body and taunting
me. And I was also very sure that God was watching the whole thing
and shaking his head and saying what a horrible person I was for allowing
myself to get raped. 17
Studies have shown that raped women often were reluctant to
hurt their assailants, e.g. by gouging eyes or twisting testicles, even when
they had a chance. "Women often take the responsibility when men
treat them as prey. This isn't just an odd female quirk. The attitude is
deeply entrenched . ... Women are taught to make themselves attractive
to men. Those who don't are ignored by men or incur their
displeasure. But if they become victims of sexual assault, they are
immediately suspected of collusion. No man is ever guilty." 18
In San Francisco in 1971, a gunpoint rapist was acquitted because
his unmarried victim admitted having a lover. Women picketers
protested the decision in vain, handing out leaflets which said:
When a person is robbed, the robber is put on trial. When someone is
murdered, the murderer is tried. But when a woman is raped, it is the
woman and not the rapist who is put on trial . ... If she can be shown to
have any sexual history, the rapist must be acquitted, for by their
definition it is then no rape at all. For a woman to allow herself to be a sex-
ual person, to enjoy her sexuality in her own way in her own time, is for
her to lose all protection from being forced to commit sexual acts with any
man at any time. 19
Sometimes the culture forces on men a pseudo-rapist stance visa-
vis women, where men in groups gang up on a woman verbally or
symbolically, to injure her sense of self. One young woman wrote:
"When I first started to live in the city, I would walk by the construction
workers having lunch and hear all those horrible comments. I didn't
quite know how to deal with it. I was embarrassed because I had breasts.
I felt it was my fault for having them, and that of course I deserved to
be commented upon. Now I know that's not true. It's they who have to
change, not me." 20 A recent investigator wrote:
The virility mystique ... predisposes men to rape. If women were physically
stronger than men, I do not believe there would be any instances
of female raping male, because female sexual socialization encourages a
woman to integrate sex, affection, and love, and to be sensitive to what
her partner wants. Of course, there are many women who deviate from
this pattern, just as there are men who have managed to reject their
socialization for virility. But cultural trends make these cases exceptional.
If our culture considered it masculine to be gentle and sensitive, to be
responsive to the needs of others, to abhor violence, domination, and
exploitation, to want sex only within a meaningful relationship, to be
attracted by personality and character rather than by physical appearance,
to value lasting rather than casual relationships, then rape would indeed
be a deviant act. ...
Lynching is the ultimate racist act, rape is the ultimate sexist act. It
is an act of physical and psychic oppression . ... [L]ike lynching, it is
cowardly, and like lynching, it is used to keep individual women, as well as
women as a caste, in their place. And finally, as with lynching, the rape
victim is blamed for provocation.
Rape is an abuse of power, and the increase in rape shows that men
are increasingly unable to handle their excessive power over women. ...
Eradicating rape requires getting rid of the power discrepancy between
men and women. 21
From the Inquisition's torturers, who usually raped their victims
first, to Victorian doctors who attacked female genitals with leeches,
many kinds of rape could be traced to what has been called "the
virulent woman-hatred in fundamentalist Christianity." 22 Recent studies
show that most rapists were professed members of a religious sect
and learned to regard sex as evil, in the traditional Christian manner.23
One rapist said, "I've always been brought up that sex was dirty, sex
was not to be practiced." Another said he was "confused about just what
the sex act was and how they went about it." Another was so naive he
didn't know where babies came from, and another was ignorant of the
word "vagina," calling it "virginia" instead. 24 "Sex offenders as a
group were extremely naive about sexual matters, felt inferior, had
suffered in childhood from anxiety and fears about sex ... and had
lacked accurate sex instruction." 25
In some areas, the laws of both church and state actually encouraged
rape until very recently. Up to 1978 in Italy, a rapist could go
unpunished if his victim agreed to marry him. By a combination of
violation and coercion, it was quite possible for a man to force
marriage on a woman who had every reason to fear and hate him. And,
since patriarchal society in effect forbade women to hate men,
especially as wives, once again the victim would be blamed for her


A Hindu myth of the battle of the sexes told of a quarrel between the
Goddess Parvati (Kali) and the God Mahadeva (Shiva) over their rival
claims to the true parenthood of human beings. To decide the
question, each proposed to create a race of people without the aid of the
other. The God, spirit of the lingam or phallus, created the Lingajas,
who were weak and stupid, "dull of intellect, their bodies feeble, their
limbs distorted."
However, the Goddess created.the Yonijas, spirits of the yoni or
vulva, who turned out to be excellent specimens: "well-shaped, with
sweet aspects and fine complexions." 1 The two races fought a war, and
the Yonijas won.
This may have been one of the earliest myths of conflict between
male and female divinities over the matter of who did the creating. It
was still a matriarchal age, as shown by the way the Mother made more
viable people than the Father could make.


Amazons fook the isle of Lesbos and made it one of their "isles of
women," a sacred colony dedicated to worship of the female principle,
as later Christian monasteries were dedicated to worship of the male.1
In the 6th century B.C., Lesbos was ruled by a group of women devoted
to the service of Aphrodite and Artemis, and the practice of charis,
"grace," meaning music, art, dancing, poetry, philosophy, and romantic
"Lesbian" love.
The most famous colonist was the poet Sappho, whose contemporaries
said she was even greater than Homer. Her work didn't survive
the book-burnings of the early Christian era. She was one of the first
classic authors to be attacked because of her homosexual orientation
and her devotion to the Goddess. By the 8th century A.D., nothing
survived of her large corpus of poetry except a few fragments quoted
by other authors.2
Female homosexuality was generally regarded as a virtually
unthinkable threat in patriarchal societies. Christian Europe regarded
lesbianism as "a crime without a name," and sometimes burned
lesbians alive without trial. To this day, female homosexuals are credited
with fearful powers; Frank Caprio said "Lesbianism is capable of
influencing the stability of our social structure." 3 Any phallocentric
society would naturally so regard women indifferent to a phallus.


Poet-priestess of Lesbos, the "isle of women" dedicated to the
Goddess. Once married, mother of a daughter Cleis, Sappho devoted
her later life to the love of women. She was called the Tenth Muse
and revered even above Homer; but only fragments of her work remain
because her books were later burned. See Lesbians.

From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

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