The Amazing Barbara G. Walker

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Fairly late in my quest to learn more about early religious beliefs as well as the Judeo-Christian tradition, I stumbled upon the works of Barbara G. Walker. I am writing this post so that you are aware of her work should you decide to study this subject in more depth. Her early attempts to understand the religion she was being taught will give you evidence of her “doesn’t leave a stone unturned” approach. She was born in 1930 in Philadelphia. The American Humanist Association named her “Humanist Heroine” in 1993, and in 1995 she received the “Women Making Herstory” award from the New Jersey NOW.[1]

When I grew old enough to read the Bible, I worked hard at it because I was told that a close reading of it would answer all my questions. I surely wanted those promised answers. Over the course of a few years, I went through the Bible word by word, with care, three times. I found few of my questions answered, many more raised, and a most unsettling mass of what seemed to be errors.[2]

I made it through the entire Bible once, searching mostly for discussions about women. I can’t imagine reading it word for word three times. But Barbara is thorough. She has an interesting background keynoted by being an expert on knitting having published many books on the subject, a feminist with several books addressing that topic, and finally as an atheist addressing the symbolism of the goddess and religion in general. Her most amazing work, in my opinion is The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Published in 1983 by Harper One, it is a 1121 page book of every word, symbol, or meme associated with women’s myths. I have never seen anything like it. Here is a sampling of some of the words defined therein: Asherah (a Canaanite goddess), Blodeuwedd (a Welsh Virgin Goddess), cow (a manifestation of the Great Mother as Preserver), and elephant (a totem of Shiva the oldest god of the Vedic male trinity). I think you get the picture. Some of the entries run for pages.

In this post, I am going to share twelve quotes from her book entitled Man Made God which I found highly informative and very well researched. I strongly encourage you to read this book.

 

On Biblical Human Sacrifice

I wanted to know why, if God was so all-merciful and all-powerful, did he have to make Jesus die before he was willing to forgive anybody? Why not just forgive everybody right off? For that matter, why did he create a hell in the first place? I wanted to know why God was so mean to his children, to make them suffer eternities of pain for an offense committed by a remote ancestor. It wasn’t my idea of justice. No human being that I knew would be that cruel.[3]

The ancients thought that blood was the divine substance of life, responsible for making babies in the womb, and the gods themselves needed blood to keep their incorporeal selves alive. Blood was therefore poured out on their altars to feed them and keep them happy. (4)

The Real God and the Return of the Goddess

The biblical God has advocated and endorsed sexism, rape, child abuse, battery, bigotry, torture, theft, fraud, perjury, extortion, forgery, war, murder and genocide. This God has biblically confessed to wiping out whole populations at a whim and even destroying the whole earth and all its creatures because a few humans dared to ignore him. He has biblically described himself as the creator of evil (Isa 45:7) and the bringer of “not peace on earth… but a sword” (Mat 10:34), which Robert Ingersoll called the only biblical prophecy ever fulfilled. (12)

When God was Born

Goddess religions never had a hell, never defined sexuality as sinful, never ordered genocidal slaughters of biblical magnitude and never imposed so heavy a burden of guilt on their children as did the father gods. In general, the Goddess was a more tolerant parent than the Heavenly Father. (23)

When Woman Ruled

In northern Europe, women were clan heads, property owners and religious leaders during pre-Christian times. Mothers, not fathers, gave names to children in pagan Britain and Scandinavia. Old German documents designate persons by their mothers’ names only. Old writings mention prehistoric Irish queens but omit the names of their spouses, who were of no importance. Lombards claimed that their ancestors descended from a primal virgin mother, Gambara, who never had a spouse.101 Roman writers called the lands of the northern barbarians “lands of women,” which were governed by landowners called in Saxon cwenes, in Norse kvaens: “queens.” (64)

Patriarchal Harshness and Brutality

Another characteristic of patriarchal society is reckless exploitation of nature, another way of enslaving the divine Earth Mother. Biblical Genesis presents this as man’s God-given right to “have dominion over” and “subdue” all the natural world; modern men like to call it the “conquest” of Nature. The ancients looked upon the Goddess as immanent in Nature. For them, the material world was not sinful but sacred. Native Americans and many other “primitive” groups had the same idea… Goddess-oriented societies were more democratic; their model was not a pyramid but a circle, indicating the wholeness of all parts. (72)

The Forgery of “Historical” Christianity

The New Testament books are so confused in their reportage that the Church eventually forbade laypersons to read them at all and declared Bible reading by the laity a heretical offense. Up to the time of Luther, anyone owning a Bible translated from the Latin Vulgate into the vernacular was subject to burning at the stake. (141)

The Real Golden Rule

Religion is, and always has been, the biggest money-making business on earth. Religion sells a nonproduct, salvation, for enormous sums—and never needs to make good on its promise. To induce people to pay in advance for something that need never be delivered in reality—that is the very definition of successful scammery. (158)

Dying and Rising Saviors

Modern scholarship has shown that Easter is not a Christian institution. Every detail is of pagan origin. The divinely fathered savior, born of a virgin at the winter solstice, followed by 12 zodiacal disciples, sacrificed at the spring equinox, buried in a new tomb, resurrected amid general rejoicing, bringing salvation and eternal life to those who worship him and/or sacramentally consume his flesh and blood—all these are purely pagan concepts. When early Christian fathers were told that their Jesus was just one more copy of many sacrificial saviors going the rounds in the Roman Empire, they could hardly deny it. (165)

Mother Knows Best

Mesopotamia before 4000 bce was largely matrist and peaceful. The Mother Goddess religion prevailed, and women had high-status positions as priestesses, scribes, diviners, healers, judges and acknowledged masters of various crafts, such as fiber arts, weaving, pottery, food preparation and agriculture. In Crete and pre-Hellenic Greece also, the primary deity was the Great Goddess, whose temples were tended by women, and gender equality was the rule. (257)

Violence, Maleness and Monotheism

Concerning violence in modern society, Dr. June Stephenson states: “In 1991, 90 percent of those arrested for murder were men, who tend to murder for more trivial things than women. Women arrested for murder most often killed their husbands or boyfriends after long-term physical abuse.” (261)

The Inquisition Redux

The solution was found in declaring witchcraft a demonic heresy. The persecution became a major industry, resulting in great profits from seizure of the victims’ possessions. Each procedure of torture carried a fee. Victims were charged for their food and lodging in prison, for the ropes that bound them and the wood that burned them. After the execution of any comparatively affluent witch, officials would treat themselves to a banquet at the expense of the victim’s estate.787…The Church distinguished between witchcraft, perpetrated by women, and sorcery, a legitimate pursuit of men. (279)

Halloween: The Season of the Crone

Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows, All Saints or Hallow-Eve is the season of the Crone. In ancient paganism, the word Crone denoted an elder priestess or tribal matriarch; a cognate word is “crown,” the symbol of a leader… The skull was an important symbol of the divine Crone, often envisioned as her true face, veiled like everyone’s skull by the mask of flesh. Typically, she was also hidden behind a black veil… the only pagan religious holiday that the Church never managed to pre-empt and turn to its own use: Halloween. (284-5)

The book can be purchased here.

Karen L. Garst

The Faithless Feminist

 

September 15, 2017

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_G._Walker

[2] Barbara G. Walker, The Skeptical Feminist (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1987), 57.

[3] Barbara G. Walker with D. M. Murdock, Man Made God: A Collection of Essays (Seattle, WA: Stellar House Publishing, 2010), 3. All other quotes from this work will simply be noted with the page number after the quote.

About the Author Karen Garst