“A profound shift is taking place all over the world. Humanity is waking up to the fact that the current system that dominates the planet is failing to provide us with health, happiness or meaning. The dominant paradigm is based on separation, as exemplified by the financial system, and the corporate emphasis of profits before people.” – Occupy Love
Taking a moment to present to you the trailer for a very important documentary currently raising funds for completion. “Occupy Love” is a film looking at the bigger picture of the Occupy movement that made headlines last fall, arguing that the revolution is not only worldwide – the revolution is love.
The Indigogo campaign has raised almost $40,000 of its $50,000 goal, with 6 days left. So if the following video speaks to your heart, as it did to mine, you know what to do.
More from Occupy Love:
“Our headlong rush towards infinite growth is destroying our communities, our ecology, and threatening our very existence. The climate crisis is hitting us with droughts, extreme weather, floods, sea level rise and more, yet corporate lobbyists block any attempts at mitigation. Unemployment is at an all time high, and the gap between the wealthiest 1% and the remaining 99% is growing alarmingly.
People are losing their homes, and the quality of life for the many is plummeting, while the few are raking in absurd profits. Wall Street is making dangerous bets, greed is running rampant, and entire economies are collapsing. Governments have been bought by the corporations, and many of us had lost hope. Until now.
This crisis has become the catalyst for a profound transformation: millions of people are deciding that enough is enough – the time has come to create a new world, a world that works for all life. We have experienced an extraordinary year of change, from the Arab Spring, to the European Summer, and now, erupting into North America: the Occupy Movement.
This is a revolution rooted in compassion, direct democracy, and shared power, as opposed to the “power over” model of the corporate world view. The new story is one of Inter-dependence. Love is the movement. As the Occupy cry goes: “We are unstoppable. Another world is possible!”
‘Sacred sexuality’ isn’t a phrase you hear everyday. Indeed, our porn culture is so dominant that it hardly seems possible to conceive of sex in a spiritual light. One could say this is the result of being brought up in society whose most prominent religions treat sex as dirty and shameful unless for the sole purpose of procreation.
However, the separation of sex from the sacred is a relatively recent (and mostly Western) social norm. A brief study of ancient goddess-worshipping cultures such as Sumer, Babylon, Crete, and Canaan makes it astonishingly clear that in those times, sexuality was at the heart of spirituality and religion. Some archaeologists prefer to use the term ‘fertility cults’ rather then giving these traditions recognition as legitimate religions, yet another reflection of Western bias. These ‘fertility cults’ were widespread across the Near and Middle East for thousands of years in goddess (or should that be Goddess?) worshipping cultures that celebrated and honored the creation of life – namely, sex.
Originating in India, Tantra is another ancient belief system that celebrates sexuality and connects the carnal to the ethereal. These ancient Indian books (over two thousand years old) teach that sexual energy can be harnessed to achieve union with the divine. These traditions show a very ancient connection between sex and religion, sometimes pre-dating the rise of Judaism or Christianity.
Freedom of religion is one of the most frequently cited aspects of the 1st Amendment of the American Constitution. The signing of the Bill of Rights was a landmark in history for the rights of the individual to his or her own spiritual practices, free from prosecution. Those very rights came in question last week when the police raided the Phoenix Goddess Temple in Arizona, leading to the arrests of more than 18 people affiliated with the temple on charges of prostitution. They are still hunting the other 19. Among those arrested was the temple’s Founder and Temple Mother, Tracy Elise.
There have been no shortage of news reports on the raid. Not one has left open the possibility that the interdominational temple’s neo-tantra practices were in earnest; sexual ceremonies and tantric teachings as part of their religious belief system. The idea of sacred sexuality has no place in our society. Instead there are endless puns, jokes and quotation marks around every spiritual term used to describe their sacred sexuality.
Putting aside for the moment the actual temple in question, where in our society do we have room for this ancient tradition? And how could genuine believers in sacred sexuality practice their beliefs without the donations that all religious organizations rely upon to survive being conflated with illegal prostitution?
Nevertheless, the temple remains accused of being a front for a whorehouse.
“They were committing crimes under the guise of religious freedom,” Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos said. “It’s a sad situation when people are trying to hide behind religion and church to commit a crime.”
So let’s take a look at Tracey Elise, the founder of the temple in question. Here we see her being interviewed earlier this year about the Phoenix Goddess Temple. Does this look like a madam covering up her illegal activity? (Excerpt from full interview here.)
No indeed she is adamant, evangelical even, in defense of practicing what she says is perhaps the world’s oldest religion: worship of the Goddess, the female aspect of the divine.
“Our temple is an open source for all who wish to better know the Great Mother and her unique gifts for healing body, mind and soul. We seek to help women, men and couples discover their own divine connection between soul, light body and sacred vessel. We offer group classes and one-on-one teachings and training, play shops and internships, all designed to bring HER wisdom back in this modern era. Our teachings are body centric, emanating from the resonating vessel, which is your own Sacred Self. We see the beauty of every person’s story in every age, body shape, color and gender. Our healing practices make use of the gifts of the Goddess, tools for transformation that have been with humanity since the very beginning.”
Police obtained a search warrant after initiating several undercover deals and determining that the Temple Goddess employees had been trained to use evasive vocabulary. “For example, ‘johns’ were not ‘johns.’ They were called ‘seekers.’ Sexual intercourse was called ‘sacred union,’” Martos said.
So what would have convinced police that these were sacred unions being sought out by seekers, rather than whores being sought by johns? The fact that other activities held at the Phoenix Goddess Temple include yoga classes, study groups, and High Holy Day celebrations? Or the fact that there are people who have testified to receiving healing sessions at the temple regardless of the fact that they couldn’t afford the suggested donation?
Testament to the actual goings on at Phoenix Goddess Temple can be found in the occasional comment left on news reports by those who have experienced temple life first-hand (buried in a sea of abuse left by those who haven’t.) One attendee of the church comments:
“The “donations” are actually donations, left in a basket at the end of a session, not counted and verified, and not required. The Temple also holds many educational events, (also on a donation basis), seminars and trainings, religious services, as well as social events. The vast majority of these stress communication, connection, outward focus, and clarity of intention; rarely do any of these events involve nudity or sex.”
“I know Tracy, and many of the goddesses, and have attended several rituals at the temple, as well as having attended the Daka – Dakini Conference in Sedona 2 years ago. The event was attended by Practitioners from around the globe, and I have had the opportunity to experience these people, meet them where they live, on their terms, in a non-judgemental environment of acceptance…I know from firsthand experience what Tracy and the goddesses’ intentions were, and it is simply this: to spread love and connection to others, to make the world a more whole and peaceful place. To them, it IS a legitimate religion. Upon opening in their present location, they extended an invitation to the mayor of Phoenix, as well as the city council. They gave many TV, radio, and print interviews, operating in a signed, clean, well-lit building on a major thoroughfare about 3 miles from city hall. They are most certainly not “disguised”, and if anything, their downfall is rooted in being TOO visible. I call upon those of you with courage and love for freedom and people to be of support to these women, who practiced and operated in love and good faith. I, for one, am chilled to the bone at the sight of masked, bodyarmored, helmeted, police militias armed with assault weapons and battering rams storming into a church filled with women in chiffon, armed with nothing more than candles and incense. How long will it be before those heavily armed government agents come for you and yours, because your beliefs fall outside of the traditional judeo-christian ethic?”
This case is a landmark in history for the sacred sexuality community in the United States. But it seems to be going unnoticed. In the meantime, Tracy Elise and many others face criminal charges for practicing their religious beliefs. Tracy Elise’s bail has been set at an unprecedented one million dollars.
God Bless America.
~ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ~
Would you like to help Tracy Elise and the others arrested at Phoenix Goddess Temple? Sign this petition to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer:
Click here for the official site to make offerings of love and support to help save The Phoenix Goddess Temple. All proceeds raised go directly towards the legal defense of members of the Temple members who have been wrongly accused. Help in the protection of all civil liberties, including the 1st Amendment: the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble & the right to practice religion without persecution.
You can also visit End The Witch Hunt to file a complaint with the ACLU so they know there is support for this cause.
If you would like to volunteer, contribute or make an offering of support of any kind, please email GoddessBless@GoddessBless.org.
Since the movie’s debut, there’s been a lot of publicity about Avatar viewers who experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after having to return from the movie’s magical world ‘Pandora’, back to our (comparatively) bleak one. Eliezer Sobel of the Huffington Post wrote this very interesting article about escaping into other worlds (whether by entering a 3D virtual reality like Avatar or having a good old-fashioned psychedelic experience). He makes the inspirational point that:
“The alluring world of Pandora is not ‘out there.’ It surrounds us every moment, it is the very atmosphere in which we live and move and have our being. Hell and heaven are separated only by an infinitesimal turn of the mind and inner view.”
“Are drugs the quick and dirty route to insight? I wanted to try the slow route, too. So I have spent more than 20 years training in meditation – not joining any cult or religion but learning the discipline of steadily looking into my own mind.
Gradually, the mind calms, space opens up, self and other become indistinguishable, and desires drop away. It’s an old metaphor, but people often liken the task to climbing a mountain. The drugs can take you up in a helicopter to see what’s there, but you can’t stay.
In the end, you have to climb the mountain yourself – the hard way. Even so, by giving you that first glimpse, the drugs may provide the inspiration to keep climbing.”
As you leave a screening of ‘Avatar’ or the last traces of a chemically-induced buzz wear off, coming back down to social consensus “reality” is often depressing. You want to go back, to retain those feelings and thoughts during your day to day existence. You’ve been taken in for a sneak peak at something incredibly different. Now you feel like you’re back where you started. But you’re not really – the experience you had up there (or in the cinema!) can inspire and drive you to start climbing back the hard way. I believe it’s possible to achieve all kinds of altered states without outside help or stimulation, but it takes a lot more patience, time, and effort.
So why bother? Because in the end most methods of ‘getting high’ still leave you with the inevitable process of coming down. Some descents are bumpier than others and it’s common to find yourself quickly seeking out another escape in order to avoid a crash landing. As Sobel put it:
“There is really not much use in continuously revisiting artificially induced states if it is at the expense of doing the actual work required to integrate the teachings from those selfsame states into one’s life in a meaningful and less transient manner. Philosopher and Zen practitioner Alan Watts compared it to a scientist in a lab who discovers something under the microscope; she doesn’t just keep on repeating the experiment and staring at the result; she takes new actions informed by her discovery. Or, switching metaphors, Watts also said, ‘When you get the message, hang up the phone.’”
In the 1960s, Dr. Richard Alpert (soon to become spiritual teacher Ram Dass) gave the Indian guru Maharaj-ji a massive dose of LSD, and was shocked to find it had no effect on his mind whatsoever. Was he already living in – or beyond – the psychedelic state of consciousness?
Maybe spiritual teachers sell their philosophies all wrong. In this day and age, who wants to go through all that work just to become ‘enlightened’? How about marketing the practice of meditation as a way to achieve powerful natural highs that are entirely under your control – with no hangover! (You won’t believe it’s still legal!)
In all seriousness, it does sound amazing: To depend on nothing and no one else to make you happy. The ability to create your own ecstasy and internal bliss – anytime, anyplace.
Wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out that spirituality was the ultimate high – the greatest escape of them all?
Reading the full version of his article alerted me to an astounding set of statistics:
“A telling review of 10-year media reporting of drug deaths in
Scotland illustrates the distorted media perspective very well
(Forsyth, 2001). During this decade, the likelihood of a newspa-
per reporting a death from paracetamol was in per 250 deaths,
for diazepam it was 1 in 50, whereas for amphetamine it was
1 in 3 and for ecstasy every associated death was reported.”
Talk about distorting perception of danger…
Also at Brainwaving is an excellent review of the movie Avatar by Dr. Ralph Metzner, for anyone who’s interested in looking deeper into this newest cultural phenomenon:
Following up on “Reality As You Know It Does Not Exist”, it’s time to look at the world through a new lens. It seems to me that our great instruments, which we had built to confirm our concept of the world as a machine built out of predictable and understandable parts, have now shown us that the universe is an ethereal, drifting mirage! Nothing is really solid, just slow moving energy. The universe is a seething field of potential.
What is even more astonishing is the realisation that this potential only becomes a ‘reality’ when it is observed by a conscious mind. Quantum physicists found that “the state of all possibilities of any quantum particle collapsed into a set entity as soon as it was observed or a measurement taken.”
When you put this together with the idea that everything (including us) in the universe is part of a dynamic web of interconnected and inseparable energy patterns, that the universe is only a series of relationships, you can see how it makes sense to say that we are all one.
So then the spiritual idea of God ‘creating the world’ would be equivalent to the scientific idea of our individual and collective consciousness actively shaping the world we live in, as it is doing this very moment. Prayer, meditation, and belief are ways of focusing consciousness, and work because we are all part of ‘God’ (rather than praying to some exterior force).
This unity (God, Brahman, Tao, Spirit, Energy, Light, Vibration) is central to all major religions, thus their common moral foundation of “Do unto others as to thyself” – because the other is no different from the self.