Monday, January 30, 2006

Brevity is the soul of lingerie


Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an American short story writer, poet, critic, and a legendary figure in the New York literary scene. She was a writer of sketches and short stories, and was often published in the The New Yorker. Famous for her wit and cruel humor, her column 'Constant Reader' was highly popular.

Dorothy Parker was born in West End, New Jersey, the fourth and last child of Jacob (Henry) Rothschild, a garment manufacturer, and Annie Eliza (Marston) Rothschild, the daughter of a machinist at Phoenix Armour. Her father remarried in 1900 after Dorothy's mother died in 1898. Dorothy never liked her stepmother, a Roman Catholic. Her stepmother died just three years later; her father died in 1913.

Dorothy was educated at a Catholic school. After graduating, she moved to New York City, where she wrote during the day and earned money at night playing the piano in a dancing school.

After selling some of her poetry to Vogue in 1916, Dorothy was offered an editorial job with the magazine.sold some of her poetry to the editor of Vogue. In 1917 she married Edwin Pond Parker II, a stockbroker, whom she later divorced. Wounded in World War I, Edward was an alcoholic, and also became a morphine addict during the war.

Dorothy worked for Vanity Fair from 1917 to 1920. Frank Crowinshield, the managing editor of the magazine, later recalled that she had "the quickest tongue imaginable, and I need not to say the keenest sense of mockery."

From 1927 and 1933 Dorothy wrote book reviews for The New Yorker, and continued to appear irregularly until 1955. Parker's first collection of poems, Enough Rope, was published in 1926. It contained the often-quoted 'Résumé' on suicide.


Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smell awful;
You might as well live.

During the 1920s Dorothy had several extra-marital affairs. She drank heavily and attempted suicide three times. With her second husband Alan Campbell, she moved to Hollywood and worked as a screenwriter, working on films including A Star is Born and Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur.

Along with Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy helped found the Screen Writers' Guild. She also reported on the Spanish Civil War, and collaborated on several plays. After World War II, Dorothy declared herself a Communist, for which she was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Her last major film project was The Fan (1949), directed by Otto Preminger.

Parker died alone on June 7, 1967, in the New York hotel she called home. She left her estate to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some of her more saucy quotations:

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Breaking the Glass Ceiling


In 1979 women earned 62.5 cents for every dollar that a man yearned. By 1993 they were earning 77.1 cents for every dollar, although it slipped down to 75 cents and is continuing to decline. That’s not a great improvement considering the fact that women are actually getting more education than their male counterparts. The number of women enrolled in college and universities increased from 45.5% to 55% between 1975 and 1991. They also earn more than half of the masters degrees being awarded, yet they still only hold 46.5% of the jobs and less than 8% of senior management positions.


Source: Can Women Break the Glass Ceiling?

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Knights in White Satin


We tend to think that women have just been liberated in the last few decades. When I was a child, I mean, women's role models were nurses and, er, housewives. Nowadays, of course, women can do anything. Always could, I suppose, but now it's commonplace.

One of the last places women became “equal” was on the battlefield. In previous U.S. Wars, a “woman's place” was behind the lines, tending wounds or making beds — riveting stuff — but were seldom in the line of fire. Now — women are on the front lines, and are in positions of command and power.

This recent phenomenon has precedent, though. During the Middle Ages, there were several Orders that included female Knights.

The first known military order of women knights was the Order of the Hatchet, founded in Catalonia in 1149 by Raymond Berenger, count of Barcelona, it died out during the lifetime of its original members. It was organized to honor the women who defended the town of Tortosa against an attack by the Moors. A similar story comes down to us of a woman named Jeanne Hachette, who fought to repel a Burgundian assault on the town of Beauvais in 1472. Some historians think the hatchet symbolism came from her name, even though her story is dated 320 years after the Order of the Hatchet was created.

The hatchet itself has become a symbol for feminism, though because of its “violent” aspects, feminists per se have dropped its symbolic use, while lesbians have made it a pride symbol. The symbol is known as the labrys, from the word labia, because of its lip-like shape.

Elias Ashmole, 17th century chemist and historian (and who, incidentally, was the first known Freemason — the first Freemason whose actual name has been recorded as becoming a Freemason, that is), wrote in 1762 about noble women becoming knights in his The Institution, Laws, and Ceremony of the Most Noble Order of the Garter:
"The example is of the Noble Women of Tortosa in Aragon, and recorded by Josef Micheli Marquez, who plainly calls them Cavalleros or Knights, or may I not rather say Cavalleras, seeing I observe the words Equitissae and Militissae (formed from the Latin Equites and Milites) heretofore applied to Women, and sometimes used to express Madams or Ladies,though now these Titles are not known.

"Don Raymond, last Earl of Barcellona (who by intermarriage with Petronilla, only Daughter and Heir of King Ramiro the Monk, united that principality to the Kingdom of Aragon) having in the year 1149, gained the City of Tortosa from the Moors, they on the 31 of December following, laid a new Siege to that place, for the recovery of it out of the Earls hands. The Inhabitants being a length reduced to gread streights, desired relief of the Earl, but he, being not in a condition to give them any, they entertained some thoughts of making a surrender. Which the Women hearing of, to prevent the disaster threatning their City, themselves, and Children, put on mens Clothes, and by a resolute sally, forced the Moors to raise the Siege.

"The Earl, finding himself obliged, by the gallentry of the action, thought fit to make his acknowlegements [sic] thereof, by granting them several Privileges and Immunities, and to perpetuate the memory of so signal an attempt, instituted an Order, somewhat like a Military Order, into which were admitted only those Brave Women, deriving the honor to their Descendants, and assigned them for a Dadge, a thing like a Fryars Capouche, sharp at the top, after the form of a Torch, and of a crimson colour, to be worn upon their Head-clothes. He also ordained, that at all publick meetings, the women should have precedence of the Men. That they should be exempted from all Taxes, adn that all the Apparel and Jewels, though of never so great value, left by their dead Husbands, should be their own.

"These Women (saith our Author) having thus aquired this Honor by their personal Valour, carried themselves after the Military Knights of those days."

In 1233, nobleman Loderigo d'Andalo of Bologna founded the Order of the Glorious Saint Mary, the first religious order of knights known to grant the rank of militissa to women. In 1261, Pope Alexander IV formally approved of this order; Pope Sixtus V suppressed it in 1558.

In 1441 orders were founded that were open exclusively to women of noble birth. After serving a three-year term of probation, women were made knights (militissae) during a ceremony in front of an altar, with a sword placed upon their shoulder by a male knight.

The Order of the Garter accepted women almost from its founding. Between 1358 and 1488, at least 68 ladies were inducted. Many were of royal blood, of wives of Knights of the Garter, but some women were neither.

The armed Order of Saint John (which later became the Order of Malta) had women attached to it, but they were not knights. They were soeurs hospitalières, who lived in convents, and they were the counterparts of the frères prêtres or priest brothers. These women of the Knights Hospitallers lived under the order's rule, and provided menial and hospitaller duties. Convents were founded in Aragon in Sigena, San Salvador de Isot, Grisén, and Alguaire. In France they were found in Beaulieu (near Cahors), Martel and Fieux. A Knights Hospitaller convent existed in England in the 1500's as well.

Another military order, the Order of Santiago, founded in 1175, admitted married members, and shortly after its inception began to admit unmarried women, organizing them into convents. By the late 13th century, there were six: Santa Eufenia de Cozuelos in northern Castile, San Spiritu de Salamanca, Santos-o-Vello in Portugal, Destriana near Astorga, San Pedro de la Piedra near Lérida, San Vincente de Junqueres. The order of Calatrava also had a convent in San Felices de los Barrios.

There is no evidence that Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) was ever knighted, or that any title was bestowed upon her. She was burned at the stake by the English at the age of 19. Some twenty-four years later Pope Callixtus III reopened the case. The new finding overturned the original conviction. Her piety to the end impressed the retrial court. Pope Benedict XV canonized her on 16 May 1920.

The rest of this article is by François Velde to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for his research.
In 1645, when a Turkish fleet threatened the island of Malta, a French nobleman, Louis d'Arpajon (1601-79), called his vassals, raised an army of 2000 men, found ships and provisions and sailed for Malta. On 27 July 1645, a grateful Grand Master granted to him and his eldest son the right to wear and to bear in his arms a cross of Malta, and to one of his younger sons the right to be admitted as a minor in the order and to be promoted grand cross at the age of 18; furthermore this privilege was to be transmitted to his successors as head of his house, and in case of extinction of the male line it would pass to females.

The male line became extinct with his grandson Louis d'Arpajon, knight of the Golden Fleece, who died in 1736. He left a daughter Anne-Claude-Louise d'Arpajon (1729-94) who married Philippe de Noailles, comte de Noailles, baron de Mouchy (1715-94). She was received Grand-Cross on 13 Dec 1745 in Paris by the ambassador of the Order, and her husband was received 17 Nov 1750 (he was also knight of the St Esprit 1767, knight of the Golden Fleece 1746, and maréchal de France 1775, grandee of Spain 1st class 1741, styled duc de Mouchy 1747.

Their younger son Louis-Marie, vicomte de Noailles (1756-1804) was called to the privilege. He married his cousin the daughter of the duc d'Ayen and had among others a younger son Alfred-Louis-Dominique (1784-1812), baron of the French Empire, whose only daughter by his cousin Charlotte de Noailles de Mouchy was Anne-Charlotte-Cécile (d. 1858). She married Charles-Philippe-Henri de Noailles, duc de Mouchy, and their son Antonin-Just-Léon-Marie (1841-1909) was grand-cross of St. John. The Gotha Français also names his grandson and successor Henry, duc de Mouchy (1890-1947) as grand-cross, but does not say if the privilege continued.

Modern Women Knights

Modern French orders include women, of course, in particular the Légion d'Honneur (Legion of Honor) since the mid-19th c., but they are always called chevaliers. The first documented case is that of Marie-Angélique Duchemin (1772-1859), who fought in the Revolutionary Wars, received a military disability pension in 1798, the rank of 2nd lieutenant in 1822, and the Legion of Honor in 1852.

Traditionally, French women on whom the Légion d'Honneur or other order is conferred use the title "chevalier." However, a recipient of the Ordre National du Mérite recently requested from the order's Chancery the permission to call herself "chevalière" and the request was granted.

The first woman to be granted a knighthood in modern Britain seems to have been H.H. Nawab Sikandar Begum Sahiba, Nawab Begum of Bhopal, who became a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India (GCSI) in 1861, at the foundation of the order. Her daughter received the same honour in 1872, and granddaughter in 1910. The order was open to "princes and chiefs" without distinction of gender.

The first European woman to have been granted an order of knighthood was Queen Mary, when she was made a Knight Grand Commander of the same order, by special statute, in celebration of the Delhi Durbar of 1911. She was also granted a knighthood in 1917, when the Order of the British Empire was created (the first order explicitly open to women). The Royal Victorian Order was opened to women in 1936, the Order of Bath and Saint Michael and Saint George in 1965 and 1971 respectively. Queen consorts have been made Ladies of the Garter since 1901 (Queens Alexandra in 1901, Mary in 1910, Elizabeth in 1937). The first non-Royal woman to be made Lady Companion of the Garter was Lavinia, duchess of Norfolk in 1990, the second was Baroness Thatcher in 1995. On Nov. 30, 1996, Marion Ann Forbes, Lady Fraser was made Lady of the Thistle, the first non-Royal woman.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dan Brown's "The Solomon Key" to blend fact and fancy of Freemasons and Mormons


Reprinted from the Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2006
By Peggy Fletcher Stack

Dan Brown clearly enjoys playing with legends, history, symbols and secrets. And readers' minds. In his best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, Brown wove all these — real and imagined — into a breathless mystery about Christianity, Mary Magdalene and the Divine Feminine that has spawned an industry of de-coders eager to separate fact from fiction.

Now that he has turned his attention to the mysteries of Freemasonry, the centuries-old fraternal order, the new book also might deal with Mormonism.

But rather than announce the Da Vinci sequel in a news release, Brown embedded tantalizing clues to its subject on the book's jacket. Written in typeface that is slightly larger and bolder than the rest (it requires a magnifying glass to find them all) are the words: is there no help for the widows son.

"O Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?" was used historically as a Masonic distress call, but when journalist David Shugarts plugged it into Google, the first hit was a 1974 speech given by an LDS Institute of Religion teacher, Reed C. Durham, at the University of Utah.

Joseph Smith, the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reportedly began to utter the call as he fell from a second story window after being fatally shot by a mob in a Carthage, Ill., jail in 1844, Durham said.

In an electrifying presidential address to the Mormon History Association meeting in Nauvoo, Ill., he traced close parallels between Smith's account of digging gold plates out of a New York hillside and Masonic tales of Enoch and buried treasure. Smith wore a "Jupiter talisman," or what his wife called "his Masonic jewel," and LDS temple ceremonies bear a striking resemblance to Masonic rituals, he said.

The speech was so controversial that Durham's superiors in the LDS Educational System forced him to issue a public apology.

The speech was never published but was surreptitiously taped and has floated around on the Internet for years.

It may have also caught Brown's attention, Shugarts speculates, and may provide one plot twist in Brown's next book, tentatively titled The Solomon Key. Brown confirmed in a speech last year that the book's mystery will be set in Washington, D.C., where many architectural features were drawn from Masonry, and will feature the same lead character, Harvard-professor-turned-detective Robert Langdom.

Getting a jump on the novel's historical context, Shugarts has written Secrets of the Widow's Son: The Mysteries Surrounding the Sequel to The Da Vinci Code.

He provides a broad history of Mormonism, including its brush with Masonry in the 19th century. It also offers nuggets about Masonic history such as these: At least eight signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons, as were 13 U.S. presidents including George Washington. A Freemason released Paul Revere from British custody on the night of his famous ride, after he determined that Revere was a Mason. Mozart's "Magic Flute" and Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King were written as Masonic allegories.

The Washington Monument and a similar monument on Bunker Hill in Boston, were not just coincidentally shaped like an Egyptian obelisks, but intentionally designed to honor Masonic allusions to ancient Egyptian mystical wisdom.

Much of the symbolism is mathematical, even geometrical, which could explain why the fraternity has attracted rationalists such as Voltaire, Goethe, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.

"We've heard from Masons that they feel that [Brown is] going to do them justice," says Dan Burstein, who wrote the introduction to Shugarts' book. "He seems to be favorably disposed to thinking of Masons as an important historical underground movement, pushing the world towards democracy and enlightenment."

Today there are nearly 2 million Masons in the United States, with 2,250 members in 29 Utah lodges.

"We have a lot of Mormons who are Masons in this state, but we don't know exactly how many," says Ridgley Gilmour, Grand Master of Utah Masonic Lodge. "Anyone with a belief in God can petition to join but we don't ask what religion they are."

Gilmour was adamant the Masonry is not a "secret society," but a fraternal order with large-scale charitable giving built on deeply held American values of family, God and country.

"The only secrets we have are little signs and passwords which we use because it's an ancient custom, and, frankly, it's fun," Gilmour says.

It remains to be seen how much Mormon history will feature in the novel (Brown's wife reportedly was raised in the LDS Church), but if the reaction to Durham's 1974 speech is any indication, any link between the two could be controversial in Utah.

For his part, Nicholas S. Literski, an active Mormon and Mason living in Nauvoo, thinks Latter-day Saints misunderstand the similarities. But they are significant.

"Everybody wants to obsess over supposed similarities in ritual," he says. "But that's just one aspect. Everything about Joseph and his family was tied into Masonic legends."

The Mormon connection: Smith's father, Joseph Smith Sr. joined a Masonic lodge when the family moved to Palmyra, N.Y., in 1816. Later, Smith's brother Hyrum also joined. From them, Smith heard the story of a lost sacred word that was engraved upon a triangular plate of pure gold. The word was the name of God.

It makes sense that he would go searching for such treasure in the large American Indian burial mounds near his home, says Literski, author of the forthcoming book, Method Infinite: Freemasonry and the Mormon Restoration.

And when Smith reported finding an ancient record written on plates of gold, he used "distinctively Masonic language to describe the experience," Literski says.

The church, which claimed to restore ancient truths of Christianity lost through the ages, attracted many members of the Masonic fraternity who traced their own roots back centuries and had similar esoteric teachings.

By the 1840s, many Mormon leaders in Nauvoo, including Smith and apostles Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, became Masons and organized a lodge there under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Illinois. It wasn't long before nearly every male member of the church in the area had joined. At the same time, Smith introduced LDS temple rituals that included secret handshakes, signs and symbols like the all-seeing eye, the compass and square (tools of the mason's trade) and the sun, moon and stars that echoed Masonry.

Soon, though, other Masons felt that the Mormons were dominating the fraternity. In 1842, the Nauvoo Lodge was suspended. Many Mormons believed that Masons contributed to the murder of their prophet.

Antagonisms built up between the two groups. In Utah in 1860, Masonic lodges were established but they prohibited Mormons from joining. At the same time, Young forbade Mormons from joining and refused to allow any Mason to hold priesthood leadership positions in the church, Literski says.

It wasn't until 1984 that LDS President Spencer W. Kimball removed the prohibition against Latter-day Saints becoming Freemasons. Later that year, the Grand Lodge of Utah removed its own ban on Mormon membership so that, in the ensuing years, many Latter-day Saint men have returned to this part of their heritage.

In the novelist's mind: Shugarts says it was not his intention to be a plot spoiler for Brown's sequel. He couldn't do that if he wanted. But he did offer a primer on Masonry and Mormonism for those who will want to explore, as they did with Da Vinci, just how much of what Brown writes is really history.

"I had to push out in every direction possible," Shugarts said in a phone interview from his Connecticut home. "I read five books about Mormon history and thousands of Internet Web sites. I tried to be thorough and fair."

Though he only dedicated four or five pages to Mormons in a 200-page book, he's already heard from unhappy Latter-day Saints who accuse him of misreading or a biased approach to LDS history, a charge he rejects.

"Prior to embarking on my research, I had no particular opinion of Joseph Smith or the details of the founding of the [LDS ]Church," he wrote to one critic. "But I had met a few Mormons and they always impressed me as fine people. After delving into the story of Joseph Smith, I understood a lot more about LDS. I remain impressed that Mormons are fine people."

It will be interesting to see if Brown sees them that way as well. Literski isn't worried.

"He'll weave a good conspiracy," Literski says, "but no matter how inventive Dan Brown gets in terms of the connection, he will fall short of just how deep that story does go."

Even in Smith's day, there were Masons who believed the legends were historical truth and saw Freemasonry as a deeply spiritual, mystical quest. Other, more sophisticated members, discounted the old stories, wanting to refocus it along the lines of a charitable and benevolent institution.

The Smiths were about as far into mysticism as you can get, Literski says. "Joseph was rebuilding Solomon's temple with all the legendary baggage that came along with that."

Seeing the relationship between the two groups forces Mormons like Literski to revise his ideas about how God interacts with a prophet.

"You cannot understand what is going on in Joseph's mind unless you can know what he is seeing, hearing, feeling and touching," he says. "That gives me a stronger position of faith than would this idea that revelation is ex nihilo. Joseph was not a puppet."

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Texas Baptists "excommunicate" church for support of gays and female ministers


In a weird move, sort of a cross between McCarthyism and the Albigensian Crusade, Faith Harbor Baptist Church in Baytown, Texas has been kicked out of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for allowing their facilities to be used during off hours by Ekletos, a female-pastored church that supports and welcomes homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgendered people.

Say that again? They kicked a church out of their club because that church let a "heretic" church use their building?

Southern Baptists officially affirm that "God's plan for marriage and sexual intimacy" is "one man, and one woman, for life" and that the Bible condemns homosexuality as sin and is therefore "not a 'valid alternative lifestyle.'"

In explaining the STBC board's decision, chairman Joe Stewart, pastor of First Baptist Church in Littlefield, Texas said, "We took the steps of sitting down with them and trying to do the Matthew 18 thing — to bring some reconciliation — and asked for them to take some steps to do away with this."

The Southern Baptists of Texas began in 1998 and has grown to more than 1700 affiliated churches. It affirms Biblical inerrancy, believes that only males may hold church pastorates and maintains strong ties to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Its rival, the moderate Baptist General Convention of Texas, has grown increasingly distant from the national denomination.

In remarks eerily reminiscent of the Middle Ages, Stewart said there may be a chance for reconcilliation between the Convention and Faith Harbor, if "the church's staff agree[s] to follow the theological guidelines of the denomination."

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

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Photo: Ingrid Bergman as Joan of Arc

Holy Hooters! Priest blesses wing joint!


We're endlessly amused at what people do in the name of religion.

In Waco, Texas (already home to some strange religious goings-on, if we remember the Branch Davidian flame-out of 1993), Baptist minister Greg Brumit led his Kendrick Lane Baptist Church congregation in protests of the construction of a Hooter's restaurant near their church. They failed, and the wing joint recently opened.

At least the Catholic Church recognizes that women — all women, even those in tight shirts and short orange shorts — are Goddesses. They sent a priest to the opening ceremonies to bless the place!

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In dreams, I walk with you


In dreams, I walk with you. — Roy Orbison
Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream
Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream
When I want you in my arms
When I want you and all your charms
Whenever I want you, all I have to do is
Drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream — The Everly Brothers
Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland? — Jimi Hendrix
Don't dream it. Be it. — Rocky Horror Picture Show
I dreamed I saw the bomber jet planes riding shotgun in the sky / Turning into butterflies above our nation. — Joni Mitchell
Dream on. Dream until your dreams come true. — Aerosmith
Reprinted from India Daily

Scientists are slowly finding that we travel in our dreams into parallel universes or oceans of multiverses where different things are happening with us — what and who we know and our environments.

In dreams we migrate to the multiverse and go on an incredible journey. As the world turns, billions of people and perhaps also animals make these interdimensional journeys. These journeys produce traces, be they electrical or of some substance we cannot physically measure. All combined, the traces our journeys make as we pass through billions of parallel universes create a form, a collective shape, giving the multiverse existence.

The similarities in brainwave patterns between waking life and sleep imply that on certain levels the brain may be functioning in similar ways, the most notable similarity being that we are conscious in both states. In both states we are receiving sensory input, though in the case of dreams, the origin of this input and the organs involved in its reception remain cloaked.

We are compelled to dream so that we can be part of this other much greater world which spans and in some way bonds all parallel universes. Researchers have shown that in early childhood — even in the womb — infants have a very high proportion of REM sleep. Perhaps our consciousness originates from this other existence. That may explain why consciousness is the most elusive and ethereal of forms. An understanding of the chemical and electrical processes occurring in the brain does not add up to an understanding of the nature of consciousness. Dream research will produce more data to hypothesize about, but it will never give us an insight into the astounding multiverse of which our dreams form a part.

+ + +

"What's true in our minds is true, whether some people know it or not.... What some folks call impossible, is just stuff they haven't seen before." — Robin Williams, in What Dreams May Come

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Myth of Sophia


"Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around." — Sofia, in the film Vanilla Sky

Sophia is the Greek name for wisdom. She was revered by the Gnostics, and appears in several of the Gnostic books found in the Nag Hammadi library unearthed along the Nile River in 1945.

The following is an excerpt from Gnostic Christianity and the Myth of Sophia, by Bette Stockbauer
Sophia and the Demiurge

"And when she saw (the consequences of) her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash. She cast it away from her, outside that place, that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance. And she surrounded it with a luminous cloud, and she placed a throne in the middle of the cloud that no one might see it except the holy Spirit who is called the mother of the living. And she called his name Yaltabaoth.

"This is the first archon who took a great power from his mother.... And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said: 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."
— The Apocryphon of John (NHL-110/IV,1 10:7-20)

Sophia-Achamoth is a very high spirit, an emanation (along with her consort, the Christ) of her mother, the Elder Sophia. They all live in the spiritual land beyond the earth called the Pleroma. Gazing down into the world of matter, the younger Sophia sees reflected there a transcendent light. Drawn by desire to possess this light and duplicate its image she leaves her heavenly consort, the Christ, and descends into the world of matter.

There she rushes about, hovering to and fro, trying to impart life to the chaotic inert elements. Finally she becomes helplessly immersed in mud, unable to extricate herself. Nevertheless, just by sheer contact with matter, she produces a being -- an odd, lion-faced entity, whom she calls Ildabaoth (Ilda, child; Baoth, chaos). When she sees the imperfection that she has produced, she realizes she has acted in ignorance. She escapes from the lower space and builds a strong barrier, or veil, between the world of spirit and the world of matter. Ildabaoth is, therefore, the "son of darkness" who cannot see that there exists anything above him.

Ildabaoth is ambitious and proud but despite his many imperfections he has captured some of the pure light from his mother Sophia-Achamoth. In his domain he produces seven sons, declaring himself the highest God, demanding they do only his bidding and exalting himself above them.

In his great ambition Ildabaoth decides to create a man after an image he had seen reflected in the waters of space. He employs all the powers of his various creations, but the creature proves a failure, helpless and ignorant and crawling on the ground like a worm. So he is forced to call on the help of his mother who sends him an impulse of divine light. This animates the man and he rises to life.

But seeing the newly made creation soar higher and higher because of the spiritual light from Sophia, Ildabaoth flies into a rage of jealousy. Angrily staring into the deep abyss of matter, his image is reflected back to him and there arises a serpent with eyes flashing red. It is Satan, the Ophiomorphos (having the form of a serpent), an embodiment of envy and cunning. After this Ialdabaoth encases his creations, symbolized in Adam and Eve, in mud to keep them closely tied to the earth. He builds for them the Garden of Paradise, giving them all of the gifts therein. But lest they taste death, he forbids them to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Sophia-Achamoth, from her kingdom above, is always watching over and protecting humanity. Seeing the world that Ialdabaoth has fashioned, she sends her own serpent, the Ophis or Agathodaemon (a divine instructor), who induces Adam and Eve to taste of the forbidden fruit of knowledge. Though they are cast from the Garden of Eden, and do indeed learn the sorrow of death, the divine wisdom stays with them through every trial of worldly life.

In the final act, after watching mankind struggle through aeons of pain and conflict, constantly pursued by Ialdabaoth's cunning, Sophia-Achamoth begs her mother, Sophia the Elder, to send the Christ to help humanity in its unending torment. It is through his crucifixion and resurrection that the kingdom of matter is finally subdued and Ialdabaoth's reign of blindness comes to an end. From his throne in the heavens the Christ continues to reign, collecting all of the souls who have triumphed like him, each one freeing a portion of light encased in the kingdom of matter.

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Jesus© H. Christ©


The head of the world's largest male-dominated church has decided his words are made of gold. The Burning Taper blog reports that the Vatican recently announced that everything the Pope writes will fall under copyright law, including encyclicals like the one expected later this week. Not only does this apply to all future writings, but they claim it's retroactive for the last 50 years! Everything written by those Beatle-named Popes (John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI and John XXIII) of the last half-century are included. O-bla-dee O-bla-da!

Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, has been called God's rottweiler. His previous job (1981-2005) in the Vatican was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith... formerly called the Sacred Congregation of the Universal Inquisition. Yes, that Inquisition. The same folks who brought the world roast-heretic and rack-of-man. They just got around to taking the word "Inquisition" out of their gang's name in 1908.

In November, 2005 the new Pope visited a sick child in a Rome hospital, and reportedly scared the bejeebers out of the poor lad. The Vatican played this down, saying the Pope was dressed all in white, that perhaps the child thought he was a doctor. Or maybe the kid thought the Pope was a ghost!

A bill for 15,000 Euros has been sent to a Milan publishing house that printed 30 lines from Pope Benedict XVI's speech to the conclave that elected him. They came up with the figure by demanding 15% of the cover price of the booklets that were sold, plus 3,000 Euros in "legal expenses."

Have Jesus's words — isn't that what the Pope is supposed to be sharing? — become another commodity? I thought Christianity was about finding Christ in your heart. Oh, wait... that was Gnosticism and Catharism, Christian heresies that previous Popes burned people at the stake for talking about. Shhh!

So, maybe, the Pope IS broke... or at least morally bankrupt. I guess he can go back to selling indulgences, too.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Greet the Day with this simple affirmation


I bless Ra, fierce Sun burning bright.
I bless Isis — Luna in the night.
I bless the Air, the Horus Hawk.
I bless the Earth on which I walk.

During this "Greet the Day" meditation, visualize white Light in your Crown Chakra — the top of your head — while saying the first line. While saying the second line, visualize this Light illuminating the Chakra in your forehead. While saying the third line, see the Light emanating from your Throat, Heart and Solar Plexus Chakras. During the final line, visualize this Light in your First and Second Chakras, in the genital region.

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Drawing by David Calvert-Orange

Kallisti — To the Prettiest One


According to Wikipedia, Eris (Greek Ἒρις, "Strife") is the goddess personifying that quality, her name being translated into Latin as Discordia. Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia.

Encyclopedia Mythica says of Eris: "Eris is the Greek goddess of discord and strife. She is Ares' constant companion and follows him everywhere. Eris is sinister and mean, and her greatest joy is to make trouble. She has a golden apple that is so bright and shiny everybody wants to have it. When she throws it among friends, their friendship come to a rapid end. When she throws it among enemies, war breaks out, for the golden apple of Eris is the Apple of Discord. She did this once during the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, and this act brought about the Trojan War."

Wikipedia continues:
The most famous tale of Eris ('Strife') recounts her initiating the Trojan War. The goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite had been invited along with the rest of Olympus to the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would become the parents of Achilles, but Eris had been snubbed because of her troublemaking inclinations.

She therefore (in a fragment from the Kypria as part of a plan hatched by Zeus and Themis) tossed into the party the Apple of Discord, a golden apple inscribed Kallisti — "For the most beautiful one," or "To the Prettiest One" — provoking the goddesses to begin quarreling about the appropriate recipient. The hapless Paris, Prince of Troy, was appointed to select the most beautiful. Greek mythological morality being what it was, each of the three goddesses immediately attempted to bribe Paris to choose her. Hera offered political power; Athena promised skill in battle; and Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. Paris was a red-blooded young man, and while the length of time he meditated on this problem is not recorded, he did eventually award the apple to Aphrodite.

Modern Discordians hail Eris as their matron deity. Principia Discordia, their Holy Book, tells more of Eris:
What We Know About ERIS (not much)

The Romans left a likeness of Her for posterity — She was shown as a grotesque woman with a pale and ghastly look, Her eyes afire, Her garment ripped and torn, and as concealing a dagger in Her Bosom. Actually, most women look pale and ghastly when concealing a chilly dagger in their bosoms.

Her geneology is from the Greeks and is utterly confused. Either She was the twin of Ares and the daughter of Zeus and Hera; or She was the daughter of Nyx, goddess of night (who was either the daughter or wife of Chaos, or both), and Nyx's brother, Erebus, and whose brothers and sisters include Death, Doom, Mockery, and Friendship. And that She begat Forgetfullness, Quarrels, Lies, and a bunch of gods and goddesses like that.

One day Mal-2 consulted his Pineal Gland* and asked Eris if She really created all of those terrible things. She told him that She had always liked the Old Greeks, but that they cannot be trusted with historic matters. "They were," She added, "victims of indigestion, you know."

Suffice it to say that Eris is not hateful or malicious. But She is mischievous, and does get a little bitchy at times.

*THE PINEAL GLAND is where each and every one of us can talk to Eris. If you have trouble activating your Pineal, then try the appendix which does almost as well. Reference: DOGMA I, METAPHYSICS #3, "The Indoctrine of the Pineal Gland"


— Horace
The story of Eris being snubbed and indirectly starting the Trojan War is recorded in the Principia, and is referred to as the Original Snub.

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Adoration of Eris artwork by

Isis — The Supreme Mother Goddess


As one of the deities of the holy trinity of the Egyptian pantheon, Isis is one of the oldest gods on record. She was the most powerful deity, as well, having tricked the older Egyptian sun god Ra into revealing His name and giving His powers to Her.

Isis taught skills to women, including spinning fibers, grinding corn, and reading. She was the first to use mummification, and restored Her husband Osiris to life, after He was murdered by His jealous brother Set and His body hacked to pieces.

As the daughter of Nut and Geb, She was not only the wife of Osiris, but His sister as well — His female counterpart, equal in all ways and powers. Isis was the mother of Horus, who was the resurrected Osiris.

Her worship spread throughout the world, and was the prototype of Egyptian goddesses that followed, including Hathor, and of Greek, Roman, Babylonian goddesses, including Aphrodite, Venus, Hera, Astarte, Ishtar, Ceres, Persephone, to name but a few. The Virgin Mary and Her son Jesus perhaps are more recent reflections of Isis and Her son Horus. In fact, all Goddesses are expressions of Isis. Isis is the original Widow, and Horus the original Widow's Son.

Isis was also associated with the moon, magick, motherhood, civilization and was the patron to all priestesses.

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