When the Jews Believed in Other Gods

Centro Estudios Judaicos del Sur de PR

Image result for 2,200-year-old altar with bull: Somebody was worshipping gods other than Yahweh Gil Cohen Magen

2,200-year-old altar with bull: Somebody was worshipping gods other than Yahweh (Gil Cohen Magen)

By Elon Gilad

There is but one God, according to Jewish religious dogma. No other exists. We tend to assume that our forefathers devoutly believed the same. But the truth is that the Bible also shows, time and again, that wasn’t the prevailing system of belief among the ancient Israelites.

The different scribes who wrote most of the biblical canon believed the incorporeal world was populated by a multitude of gods, but that the Hebrews should not worship any of these other deities, only Yahweh (which is what scholars call henotheism or monolatry). This is explicitly stated in the Second Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

The verse “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?” (Exodus 15:11) is even more explicit about  other gods existing alongside Yahweh.

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No, wait, actually, we have to talk about this

A Nest Made of Words

Every so often, there’s a blow-up in pagandom, like an unexpected geyser in Yellowstone or the stirring of a long-dormant volcano. It’s a sudden explosion of willful ignorance, of fear and hatred, of gatekeeping and exclusion. It poisons the atmosphere for a while, and somebody has to clean it up; that somebody is not usually the people who caused it.

We’ve had a blow-up of Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism in the past week, accompanied by gender intolerance. Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists don’t like being called TERFs, but no English speaker will use multiple syllables when an acronym will do. They’re TERFs. They exclude people. They refuse to respect trans folk.

So I have to clear the atmosphere and state unequivocally that whatever contributions people may have made twenty, thirty, even forty years ago, if right now they are expressing fear and hatred toward trans people and saying we should exclude…

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So, Zsuzsanna Budapest has been showing her arse again…

Fortunately, for myself, I’m not enough of a masochist to see if this goes beyond a couple of choice Facebook posts of hers:

I’ve never been surprised by this shit from her; like Mary Daly, who thankfully passed some years ago, she’s been like this since literally the 1970s. I understand if newcomers to paganism are shocked and surprised, but if you’ve been around at least as long as I have (off-and-on for about twenty-five years, practising polytheist for about a dozen years straight), there’s really no excuse to be ignorant of this shit, especially if one fancies oneself an ally to trans people.

Unfortunately, pagan and polytheist religions haven’t always been so comfortable with LGBT people, especially trans people. The introduction of “women’s mysteries,” a concept that arguably goes back in various forms to antiquity, though existing in its current state since the 70s, and based on the Robert Graves invention of the Maiden Mother Crone triune goddess, focuses on menstruation and bearing children. It’s not about All Women, not even all cis women, as some cis women have a biological condition that fits a definition of “intersex,” meaning that they’ll never menstruate and/or bear their own children. Shit, this even excludes cis, dyadic (non-intersex) women who have PCOS, have had a hysterectomy for any medical reason, are on certain forms or HBC (hormonal birth control) for any reason, or who simply aren’t bearing children for any reason.

The fact that modern pagan TERDs (special thanks to Storm Faerywolf) never really acknowledge in so many that their “women’s mysteries” are actually about menstruation and childbearing which even some cis women will literally never experience betrays the fact that their agenda isn’t about “feminism,” as they claim, but is simply against trans women.

As I’ve said here, before (search the archives on this blog, you’re smart enough to figure that out), I’ve no issue with women who need – physically, psychologically, spiritually – to celebrate their menstrual cycle and childbearing in ritual, be it alone or as part of a group. What I do take issue with is phrasing:

These aren’t mysteries relevant to even all cis women, be they dyadic or intersex. These are mysteries relevant to people who menstruate and choose to bear children. There is obviously a spiritual value to that and there are millennia of traditions to support this fact, but the fact that the Daly-Budapest Uterine Cult has steadfastly claimed this value is relevant to all women betrays their views as ultimately upholding the patriarchy their cultists claim to abhor: it reduces a woman, and her worth, to her ability to make babies.

Sounds like it ultimately upholds the patriarchy they claim to abhor, if you ask me.

I’ve got no problem with people who need to celebrate that part of themselves, and the argument can even be made that Mother and Spinster are actually two different female-spectrum genders born of two different experiences of womanhood. If you need to celebrate the mysteries of the menstrual cycle and childbearing, just don’t do as ZB, and erect this as the very definition of womanhood.

You knew things would change if you went through with it.

But why? I’m still the same person.

It’s just different, Flower. Physical is spiritual. You’ll always belong to me, things are just different, now.

We had plans?

Plans can change. You took the time in the fork that guaranteed that they’d change.

But I had to do this. I had to.

I know, but you could have put it off.

What if I couldn’t? So much is happening, I might not have had the chance, again. I’m sorry, but I can’t be a martyr.

I understand, and now whether or not you could have put things off is irrelevant. The Sisters even warned me that’s where your thread turned, but there was a split. Even I can be stubborn with hope.

I love you.

I know, and you’ll always belong to me, but this is where you need to go, now. I can always find another just as worthy. Just keep Our cultus alive. Continue your art and music for all your gods, as you promised. It will all work for the best. I will always love you, little Flower.

We’re not breaking up, we’re just making my end more open than it was, before.