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Earth Goddess A mythological figure universally recognized in indigenous cultures as well as in the Gnostic scenario of the Fallen Goddess.

As far as I know the explicit identification of the Fallen Sophia with Gaia is unique to my presentation of Gnostic teachings in this site and elsewhere. The equation seems more than obvious, however. It is known on the testimony of Hippolytus, who wrote against Paganism, that all Mystery cults, despite their rich diversity, were universally dedicated to the worship of the Magna Mater, the Great Mother (W. W. King, Gnostics and Their Remains, p. 111). This is none other than the planetary Goddess whom we today call by the ancient Greek name for the Earth, Gaia.

Magna Mater was the generic name for the planet we inhabit, considered by ancient peoples of Europa to be a "mother goddess." In Gnostic cosmology, the Aeon Sophia, a divinity from the Pleroma, becomes embodied in the planet Earth. Hence the equation is complete: Magna Mater = Earth Goddess = Gaia.

In many places around the world, especially in third- and fourth-world cultures, the Earth Goddess is still revered by native peoples whose lives depend on a close bond with the environment. (Nepalese custom of revering Dariti Mata by "touching earth".)

    Today, Navajo Indians in the deserts of the American Southwest still speak lovingly in their ancient stories of Changing Woman, one of the Holy People from the primordial era of world creation, who fashioned the first Navajo people from a mixture of cornmeal and shreds of her own epidermis. She is the very embodiment of life's orchestrated diversity and nature's awesome cyclic powers of rebirth and regeneration. In some sense, she is also a reflection of the wondrous, endlessly self-renewing, maternal earth itself, whose form traditional Navajo envision as a woman. Mountains and mesas are the contours of this feminine body, the geological expression of her heart, skull, breast, and internal organs. Fertile soil is her living flesh. Vegetation is her dress. The spinning of the seasons is a visible manifestation of her dynamic be4auty, ecological balance, and vitality. (Suzuki and Knudtsen, Wisdom of the Elders, p. 3)

This beautiful passage is one of dozens that could be cited in support of the belief that the physical Earth is the embodiment of a feminine divinity. This belief is basic to the extension of Deep Ecology under development in Metahistory.org. It is also basic to the Gnostic and Pagan spirituality of Europe, a vast body of ethnic traditions that were exterminated with the rise of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion.

If my thesis that Gnosis was a sophisticated form of Goddess-based shamanism has any truth in it, Gnostics could not possibly have been nature-haters who rejected the sensory world and detested their own bodies, as is so often claimed. At least one scholar confirms my view, albeit obliquely:

    The Mysteries had assumed a terrestrial deficiency that the universal soteriological goddess transformed for her initiates, thereby maintaining an essentially positive view of the cosmos.
    - Luther H. Martin, Hellenistic Religions, p. 134

Translated into plain English this means that initiates in the Mystery Schools, where Gnostics held faculty positions, took the Earth Goddess for their savior and therefore took a positive view of the natural world. Although he asserts the positive view of the Mysteries, Martin says that "a gnostic alternative radically revalued this world as something to be rejected completely and transcended." (Ibid, p. 134) Here he parrots the usual negative hype on Gnosticism, and he is not the only one. Erik Davis, in his otherwise brilliant book TechGnosis, also mindlessly and uncritically repeats the usual negative rap on Gnosticism. It seems that this habit will die hard, if it ever does....

I would argue that the essence of the Mystery religions was a Gnostic vision that embraced the natural world but rejected the misconceived views we impose on it.

Gaia-Sophia Navigator

The "deficiency" (Greek kenoma) of the Goddess Sophia was a handicap due to her separation from the Pleroma, the galactic core, but it was also the occasion for coevolution between Sophia and humanity. The initiates were called telestai (singular telestes) in recognition of their specialist knowledge of the ultimate goal (telos) of human existence: coevolution in service to Gaia-Sophia. Gnosticism was a religious path of experimentation based on directives for coevolution, rather than on dogmas or doctrinal propositions. The directives came from the seers who communed with Sacred Nature in non-ordinary states of reality. (See also below: entheogenic theory of religion.)

Religion can be a complicated business, especially when we get into doctrinal formulations of unverifiable propositions such as virgin birth, resurrection, and the "end of days." However, there is a clear-cut choice of belief between the remote Father God, exclusive of all other divinities, and the Earth Goddess whose presence allows for a plethora of other spirits and deities. I maintain that the most compelling "proof" (if proof is what one needs) of the veracity of believing in the Earth Goddess versus the Sky God Father, is what could be called proof by ethics. Look at the rules for living prescribed for the Sky Father God and transmitted to humanity via his male emissaries (Moses, Jesus, Mohammed), then consider what kind of rules of living (ethical code) could be based on recognition of the Earth Goddess as both a source of physical life and a transcendent link to the Sky Gods of the Pleroma. The choice of beliefs here comes down to a choice between ecological ethics, exemplified in the earth-based morality of indigenous peoples and the Sophianic ethics of Gnosticism, contrasted to the "revealed" moral code of the Sky Father God.

We behave as we behold.

egodeath The experience of momentary dissolution of the personal ego, or fixed and familiar sense of identity, typically undergone in shamanic initiations and trance states induced by meditation, Tantric sex, ecstatic dance, and ingestion of psychoactive plants—or a combination of all the above, if you're up for it.

The joy and the terror of every psychonaut is to die before dying, to undergo the dissolution of personal identity in an altered state. The sensation of egodeath may be so intense as to verge on a sense of actually, physically dying. As the ego melts away, demonic apparitions arise. (Cremation ground guardian. Linrothe and Watt, Demonic Divine, Cat. no. 12, detail.)

What are we to make of the ferocious entities (better said, apparitions) that appear to the person whose ego is dissolving? Here is where belief plays a decisive role in shamanic visionary experience. The apparitions respond to what the psychonaut believes, but they may do so either by conforming to the beliefs held by the experiencer, or by shattering them. If, for instance, the person undergoing egodeath believes that the demonic entities perceived are capable of killing him or her, they may do so. The result would be a self-induced death, but this rarely occurs because the protective demons are benevolent and would not be inclined to force the issue in this way.

Those not prepared to undergo egodeath will be scared away from it, and so the experience itself is protected from interlopers and irresponsible trippers.

In The Psychedelic Experience, three Harvard professors (Richard Alpert, Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner) made a brilliant analogy between egodeath and physical death. They do this by paraphrasing the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a manual to be read to the dying person, or the deceased, to assist them in passing through the bardos (transit-zones) of the afterdeath state. Having experimented clinically with LSD, and taken it themselves, they were aware that the start of the "acid trip" usually involves a distinct sense of mortality. As LSD comes on, the subject begins to think that he or she is going to die. The three shamans from academia realized that the physical death-experience described by stages in the Tibetan manuals also applied to egodeath under the influence of LSD. They wrote The Psychedelic Experience as a guide to dissolution of the ego.

Transegoic instruction is subliminal. The plant-teachers lower the threshold of resistence to the streaming of "information" through the sense-organs. In his spontaneous experience of "cosmic consciousness," German mystic Jacob Boehme described how he was able to" read the signature of all things." (For a discussion of this incident, see visionary trance.)

emanation theory [Linked from Fallen Goddess scenario] Forthcoming.

emotional plague Term proposed by Wilhelm Reich for the psychological syndrome marked by irrational insistence on beliefs and ideas that depend on dissociation of mind from body.

In development...

endowed culture or endowment culture Term suggested by French anthropologist Roger Caillois [1913 — 78] for cultures that view themselves as originating from a primordial ancestor or god who endows them with special knowledge. (The act of endowment by a superhuman being may be called servation.) Contrast to mandate culture.

entheogen Term proposed for psychoactive plants and fungi used in shamanic practices going back into prehistory. Literally, "generating the divine within." "No genuine entheogen is, as far as I know, addictive under any circumstances. All entheogens inspire awe and reverence and possess power for good." (R. Gordon Wasson, Persephone's Quest, p. 30)

Entheogenic theory of religion The theory that the true basis of religious experience (though not of religious doctrines and institutions) is ecstatic rapport with nature, achieved by the ritual ingestion of sacred plants. Practically identical to the Wasson Thesis.

Jesus depicted as lord of Magical Plants.
The Paris Eadwine Psalter, c. 1150 CE.
(Wrongly identified as the Canterbury Psalter)

Psychopharmacologist Jonathan Ott, who along with Wasson and others coined the term entheogen in 1979, signals an "Entheogenic Reformation" that might correct and cure the spiritual ills of humanity. He defines it in these terms:

    The anachronistic 'Archaic Revival' of shamanism and use of shamanic 'Plant-teachers' in the contemporary 'overdeveloped' world; and the simultaneous appearance in several 'underdeveloped' countries of syncretic Neo-Christian religions in which the Placebo Sacrament of the Eucharist is replaced by entheogenic plants traditionally associated with shamanism; such as sacramental use of Peyotl by the Native American Church, similar use of Ayahuasca by Brasilian churchs, and sacramental use of Iboga in the African Bwiti religion. (The Age of Entheogens / The Angels Dictionary, p. 88)

This is a narrow definition of the modern resurgence of entheogenic religion, because it designates the movement by particular cultic activity rather than by the zeitgeist. In a broader sense, Ott's 'Reformation' can be identified as the continuation of the underground drug culture that exploded in the "Psychedelic Revolution" of the Sixties. Another aspect of this movement is the "Archaic Revival" (a term introduced by Terence McKenna), including shamanic experimentation such as ahayuasca tourism, ecopsychology, and the sacramentalism proposed in this site, consistent with the Gaia-Sophia Principle and the visionary message of the Gaia Mythos.

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Eternal Conflict: one of the five master themes of metahistory.

Eternal Conflict is the experiential pattern that emerges when humanity alters its life-sustaining bond with nature. Still deep in prehistory, the human species begins to define itself on its own terms, to form societies, to introduce culture. All this involves differentiation from nature and entails conflict. Social identity develops through conflict ("taking sides") and social power is acquired by mastery of conflict. Now what appears to be conflict in nature, such as the interplay of light and darkness, becomes symbolic of what is developing in humanity, in collective soul-life. Here the human species enters a long experiment that is highly paradoxical, because every conflict challenges it to restore balance, within and without.

The belief that the human species is in conflict with nature, a hostile environment to be dominated in order to survive, conflicts with the belief that civilized societies can exist in harmony with the natural world and other species. Many myths from around the world attest to memories and visions of paradise, an Edenic way of life, and the question of how humanity departed from this condition is much debated. Conflict and competition exist in nature without overwhelming the symbiotic balance that supports all species, but the presence of humanity somehow alters this equation. Eternal Conflict need not be viewed as a superhuman cosmic situation, Good Versus Evil, however. Rather, it is an ongoing dilemma that humankind experiences as it emerges from empathic participation in Sacred Nature.


ethical belief: relates to a way of behaving or prescribes a code of behavior.

Example: The Eightfold Noble Path of Buddhism is a code of ethical beliefs prescribed to those who enter the practice of Buddhism. Eight specific beliefs regarding what is "right" behavior are stated. These beliefs are explicit and textual, not inferred.

Reflex belief applies strongly to ethical beliefs of this kind. For instance, you may adopt these beliefs and in doing so, you are likely to assume a belief toward them as well. You may believe that following the Eightfold Noble Path will help you attain enlightenment. This is a common reflex attached to the beliefs specific to the Eightfold Path, but nothing in the syntax of these simple behavioral guidelines says they will lead the practitioner to enlightenment. Nevertheless, millions of people adopt the behavioral beliefs stated in the Eightfold Path believing that the practice will lead to enlightenment. This demonstrates the leading effect of reflex belief, an effecdt that can often override the specific content of beliefs to which the reflex applies.

Second example: The Golden Rule, usually quoted as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," is certainly the supreme example of ethical belief. Christians who hold to this belief believe that it comes uniquely out of Christianity, a teaching particular to Jesus’ ministry. This reflex belief concerning the origin of the Golden Rule is wrong. In fact the texts of all religions including Confucianism and Taoism contain textually explicit versions of the Golden Rule. Biblical scholars point out that Jesus cites the rule from scripture, probably from the rabbi Hillel, and so he cannot be considered as the author of it.

As an ethical belief, the Golden Rule is syntactically neutral. The stated form of the rule does not describe what happens if one follows the rule. The rule does not say "if you do unto others as they do unto you, things will go well in the world." It simply commands or prescribes this behavior. See also prescriptive belief.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.


ethology The study of animal behavior to determine how instincts works and how learning among animals is transmitted from one generation to the next. Often the insights gained from ethology are applied to human behavior, hence the term human ethology. This is a recent branch of the zoological sciences, considered to have been founded by Baron von Euxkell at the end of the 19th Century.

Ethologists have a special interest in genetically-programmed behaviors known as instincts. Predictable behavioral programs inherited by animals and typical of an entire species are called phylogenetic. Some ethologists compare the phylogenetic patterns evident in non-human species with human behavior in the effort to resolve the difficult question of how instinct operates in the human species.

Europa Suggested name for pre-Christian Europe. The adjective would be “Europan.” Pan-Europan applies for the entire area stretching from the Levant to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and down to the tip of the Iberian peninsula. Europa encompasses the region of Europe from the Orkneys and Hebrides to the Mediterranean coast of Africa, eastward to the borders of Asia Minor and northeastward toward the Ural Mountains. Its heartland was the “Old Europe” of Marija Gimbutas, namely the Balkans and regions of Eastern and southeastern Europe. “Pan-Europan” refers to rites and traditions common to this entire region.

In Greek myth Europa was a Phoenician princess seduced by Zeus in the form of a white bull. He took her on his back and swam off to the island of Crete where she bore him three sons who became the heads of royal dynasties. Europe today conatins very litle of ancient Europa, yet the ruins of the old Pagan civilization are still to be seen in every nation-state of the "European Community." Gary Snyder remarks that "the possibility of passage ito myth-time has been all but forgotten in Europe." (The Practice of the Wild, p. 15) I couldn't agree more. Eruope has completely rotted out, down to the humanist core and even into the mythological pit. I reckon it is worth the trouble to distinguish the Europe of nation-states today from Europa. The Mysteries were Europan, and certainly not European.

extremist belief: enacted in uncompromising or fanatical behavior. Often associated with violence, if not directly used as a justification for violence.

Sectarian hatred inspired by racial and religious beliefs accounts for the greater part of the social violence that plagues the world today. Since 9/11 the world is familiar with talk about the difference between extremists and moderates - but what is the difference, really? There is no difference in the beliefs held, only in the way they are held. The signature of extreme belief is the willingness to use violence and brutal force to enact it or to impose it on others.

We commonly assume that moderate Muslims hold the same beliefs as terrorists, but they do not act them out in the same way. The argument says that moderates interpret the beliefs they hold in common with extremists in a different way. However, the extremists say that moderates are not true believers! Why do terrorists hold up copies of the Koran? By their self-definition, extremists are believers who passionately act out the literal meaning of their beliefs. They regard moderates as insipid and undevout believers. The hope is often expressed that moderates will restrain extremist believers, but history shows no evidence of this ever having been the case. History is dominated by events enacted by extremist believers, not by moderates.

Example: During four centuries of European history, extremist belief drove the Inquisition and produced the torture and murder of millions of people. The horrific practices of the inquisitors were compelled by extremist beliefs that infected the European society with fear and confusion. Extremist beliefs often coincide with conflictual beliefs.

For a complete list of permutations of belief see Modes of Believing.