THE TEMPLE OF THE HEBREW GODDESS? That's a new one to me. The Berkeley Daily Planet
reports on a pagan festival:
Pagans on Parade Cavort in Downtown Berkeley
By RICHARD BRENNEMAN (05-18-04)
Bay Area tree-worshippers, Goddess-worshippers, gay and straight wiccans, Shinto devotees and their kindred�many of them clad in lavish costumes�gathered in Berkeley Saturday for the always colorful Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration.
Though paganism was nowhere defined in event literature, a visitor to the affair could have walked away from the festivities with the notion many adherents were polytheist peddlers.
The grassy area of Civic Center Park was encircled by a ring of booths offering crystals, dolls, drinking horns, clothing, jewelry, idols, drawings, prints, ointments, oils, incense, and palm and card readings.
The other dispensers of free things�recruiters for the Covenant of the Goddess and the Temple of the Hebrew Goddess and promoters of gay marriage, immigration rights for same-sex partners, and legalized prostitution (itself a fine old pagan tradition)�were restricted to the elevated plaza around the defunct fountain, an area that attracted few visitors.
The paganisms on offer were distinctly New Age version of ancient traditions. No animals (or humans) were offered up as sacrifices, and the closest thing to ritual scarification on view were tattoos.
There were no temple prostitutes and no orgies, though several costumed males wore the horns of satyrs and the ever-randy Pan, and the only bared female breasts appeared on modern-day replicas of ancient Minoan statues.
And the only equivalent of the All-Seeing Eye was the tripod-mounted video camera run by a red-coated gentleman from atop the tower of old city hall building.
UPDATE: Reader Greg Gershman e-mails:
I did a little Googling on "Temple of the Hebrew Goddess" and came up with the site for the parade you mentioned, which links to a detailed list of the participating organizations:
A bit of the way down the Temple of the Hebrew Goddess is described, including a link to http://www.jamieisman.com/ who appears to be the leader of the group.
This brought to mind a question I had while reading The DaVinci Code (which I recall you have been critical of in the past). The main character made the claim that Solomon's Temple did in fact hold pagan
type rituals, including the temple prostitutes and such. My gut reaction is that this was not true, but I was wondering if you had any information on the subject.
Thanks for the pagan parade info, Greg. As for Solomon's Temple, yes it certainly did hold polytheistic rituals, including prostitution, at some points in its history. King Ahaz had an altar put in the Temple, which he based on a model from Damascus, although it's not clear whether he worshiped Yahweh or other gods on it (2 Kings 16:10-16). King Manasseh set up idolatrous cults in the Temple (2 Kings 21:4-9). And King Josiah cleared idols and houses of male cult-prostitution out of it at the beginning of his reign (2 Kings 23:4-7). The Deuteronomistic History treats the polytheistic stuff as an aberration, but we have very little evidence for what went on in Solomon's Temple and it's hard to tell what was original policy and what was departure from it, either in the direction of worshiping other gods or of insisting on the worship only of Yahweh. After all, Solomon himself is remembered as having a pretty liberal view of the whole matter (1 Kings 11:1-8).