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Can The Book Of Mormon & The Pearl Of Great Price Help To Restore Priesthood To Women?

Women and the Priesthood Divine Council Anthropomorphism Tree of Life Asherah Holy Spirit of Lady Wisdom Pearl of Great Price

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#1 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:10 PM

Yes!

In previous posts, I have speculated on the identity of the Holy Spirit. I think it very likely that our current conception of the Holy Spirit as being male is incorrect. Furthermore, I believe that viewing the Holy Spirit as female -- as, in fact, Lady Wisdom Herself -- provides one of the strongest bits of evidence in support of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon available. In the Book of Mormon, the Father, the Holy Spirit of Lady Wisdom, and the Son are seen as One God, unified in intention yet separate in body. Far from the traditional Christian lens through which the BoM is too-often interpreted in, it is actually a preservation of the ancient Wisdom tradition. The oft-repeated claim that Joseph Smith's so-called "Nauvoo theology" represents some sort of philosophical break with the Book of Mormon is faulty; it is the Nauvoo theology which finally caught up with the Book of Mormon.

To summarize this view very briefly:

The Tree of Life is represented in many ancient cultures as being related to the Goddess. In the Old Testament, the Tree is associated with Asherah the Queen of Heaven, and Shaddai (the title often translated as "Almighty" in the King James Version) may be a Goddess epithet also related to Asherah as well. In Proverbs, Lady Wisdom is also associated with the Tree of Life, just as the Spirit of Wisdom is in the New Testament, most spectacularly in the vision recorded in John's Revelation about the Tree and the Queen of Heaven. Additionally, the Spirit is associated with both the Dove (an extremely common Goddess-symbol) and with Baptism by immersion and Rebirth, which is obviously a feminine office.

While I am not, by any means, even an amateur linguist, I strongly suspect that the translation of the King James suffers from preconceived ideas of the Trinity -- a conception which, unfortunately, has conditioned our reading and comprehension of the text. While parakletos and spiritus are grammatically masculine and pneuma is a neuter noun, ruach, the Hebrew 'Spirit', is feminine. While of course grammatical feminine is not in itself conclusive evidence for a physically-feminine referent, neither does it preclude it. From this perspective, the very few references in John to a masculine Spirit might simply be an error of incorrect assumptions. Moreover, conceptually, the symbolism of the New Testament is considerably clarified if the feminine view of the Spirit is adopted.

As Margaret Barker has shown quite convincingly, the Deuteronomic reforms of Josiah were disastrous for the older Temple theology. This has a great deal of import for our reading of the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. Many of the criticisms of the Book of Mormon have in the past derided it for, among other things, a pre-Christ Christology. With the shifting paradigm offered by Barker (and even, in some ways, Hugh Nibley, in Message of the Joseph Smith Papyric, Abraham in Egypt, and One Eternal Round) the reconstructed Temple-centered religion of the pre-Josian religion is shown to have far more in common with Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price than with the Old Testament as it is traditionally understood.

Specifically, Lehi journeyed away from Jerusalem because the Vision conveyed by Lady Wisdom (the Tree of Life) was being taken from the Temple, transforming it into a great and spacious building bereft of the Holy Spirit. "And they shall contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance." -- 2 Nephi 28:4

Jeremiah, who is often read as an anti-Temple, anti-Queen of Heaven polemicist, actually acknowledges the switch -- if we read more carefully, he is condemning neither the Temple nor the Tree of Life, but rather the fact that they have been used to cover up avaricious practices, making them ritual forms without meaning. When the people deride him for Prophesying against them, he acknowledges that they have performed the rituals correctly, noting that the women were baking cakes to honor the Queen of Heaven as they should have. That was not the problem -- the problem was that they were doing so insincerely, as an empty ritual, using it like magical spells and blaming their troubles on the fact that they had been prevented from performing them. Indeed, Jeremiah compared the attempt on his own life with the destruction of the Tree.

The Book of Mormon has long been known for its stunning revelations relating to the Tree of Life. Just as remarkable is the feminine personification of the tree found in the Book of Jacob:

5:54 And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive; wherefore, that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose, I will take of the branches of this tree, and I will graft them in unto them. Yea, I will graft in unto them the branches of their mother tree, that I may preserve the roots also unto mine own self, that when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me, and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard. And it came to pass that they took from the natural tree which had become wild, and grafted in unto the natural trees, which also had become wild. And they also took of the natural trees which had become wild, and grafted into their mother tree.

60 And because that I have preserved the natural branches and the roots thereof, and that I have grafted in the natural branches again into their mother tree, and have preserved the roots of their mother tree, that, perhaps, the trees of my vineyard may bring forth again good fruit; and that I may have joy again in the fruit of my vineyard, and, perhaps, that I may rejoice exceedingly that I have preserved the roots and the branches of the first fruit.


In a patriarchal polemic against the Mothertree which Jacob wishes his family to be grafted into, Genesis and the post-apostasy Hebrew Bible distorts the eating of the fruit:

"And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." -- 3:17

The Pearl of Great Price restores the correct context, in which taking the fruit of Wisdom is a desirable action.
Additionally, in the Book of Mormon, the Tree is everywhere associated with the Holy Spirit of Wisdom -- Lady Wisdom from Proverbs, who is known as a Tree of Life and therefore possibly Asherah and Shaddai.

The Book of Mormon was dictated to scribes who recorded it in the best language that they had available to them (in their weakness, after the manner of their language) As such, there were countless errors in the manuscripts which have been corrected over the years. However, the corrections themselves were still based on the weaknesses of the language. Mormons have long been criticized for refusing to hold to an inerrant view of the text; yet far from a drawback, this is actually one of the most vital points of the Restoration.

One very important area where this can be highlighted is the use of titles. If an office-holder's title is named for an attribute (as is often the case in the ancient world) yet the corrector does not realize this, then it simply will not be capitalized, leading to a subtle misreading.

For instance, if Emma Smith or Oliver Cowdery or any of the scribes did not recognize the many parallels and quotes from Psalms and Proverbs in our Restoration scriptures, she or he would not have made the connection between Lady Wisdom and the lower-case "wisdom" often mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Through mere punctuation, the word becomes an attribute, rather than a person with a title named for that attribute. Yet if we look at the surrounding context in which the word "wisdom" appears, we are often justified in thinking it might be referring to Lady Wisdom Herself.

1 Nephi 10:22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.

("For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round." -- 1 Nephi 10:19)

In the Book of Moses, the Spirit reveals mysteries of the Earth to Moses; the Spirit cries out to Enoch from the bowels of the Earth which is Her home when Her children descend to violence. This is clearly the ubiquitous motif of the Earth-Mother Goddess.

If the "fertility goddess" found in so many religions seems unforgivably "pagan" or "heathen", remember that the word "pagan" is not even found in the Bible, and Nephi says that "God remembers the heathen." "Heathen", meaning merely "not Christian or Jewish", probably pertains to one inhabiting uncultivated land -- not a condemnation of their religion as such, even if we ignore the Genesis story in which all the families -- and therefore religions -- in the world sprang from a common root.

In common parlance, "fertility goddess" is of course all-too-often bandied about with a sneer, as if the speaker is above such "primitive" concerns -- and yet, fertility is the root of life, the great gift which God granted Abram and Sarai. With the embodied human nature of deity, we are all, in effect, fertility Gods and Goddesses in embryo.

The word "create" just means "to make, bring forth, produce, beget." It's related to crescere, which is to "arise, come forth, spring up, grow, thrive, swell, increase in numbers or strength," from the Proto-Indo-European base ker-, meaning "to grow", as in the name of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, or creare, "to bring forth, create, produce;" or the Greek kouros, "boy," or kore, "girl". We "create" our own children by following natural laws, initiating a process in which we cooperate in a complex symbiosis with other material to form new tabernacles for spirits, and yet the Uncreated Intelligence which we bring to light from darkness is eternally Free, an uncaused cause being initiated into the Temple of their body.

And as the Book of Mormon itself testifies, it is only when the testimony of two nations is allowed to run together that the truth of Godliness is made manifest. This revised view of deity, in which both male and female humans are capable of divinity, opens up a remarkable vista of comparative religious studies, in which we are not constrained to view the old "primitive myths" with patronizing Victorian disdain, itself conditioned by a post-Apostasy view of a disembodied Greek-philosophy view of God as Ontologically Unique First Cause rather than Individual Free Agent. (The human hand reaching out of the cloud in the gloriously enigmatic Book of Ether is a particular favorite of mine. Joseph Smith said that our happiness was only possible in a tabernacle; his view of an endless deified family is breathtaking for the sheer humanistic love it expresses.)

Clearly, God's visits in which He can speak to men face-to-face are rare. With innumerable garden-worlds to tend, he cannot spend overmuch time in our particular vineyard. But He has given us what we need to know to live well: to willingly take part in the Atonement, the Reconciliation of all Uncreated Intelligences. This record of the Atonement is found in scripture:

Moses 6: 5 And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration; and by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled. Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also. Now this prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost [ie, Lady Wisdom], and a genealogy was kept of the children of God. And this was the book of the generations of Adam, saying: In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; in the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God.


As usual, the Holy Spirit provides inspiration for language, writing, and fertility to "male and female" alike, with Priesthood being bound up with genealogy and the Book of Life -- all of which immediately calls to mind the Neolithic cultures in which Goddesses were worshipped just as strongly as the Gods. "Adam" is an archetypal name given to the fecund ancestors; the Holy Spirit "called their name Adam".

60 "For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified. Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to [W]isdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment. And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me. And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost."

This is a beautiful example of "primitive" religious ritual, in which the fertile Goddess gives birth to humanity.

It's even continued in the New Testament, in which Christ acts as a Restorationist, bringing back the Temple theology which Josiah had expunged and offering a "renewing" of the Holy Spirit of Wisdom. He is baptized with the sign of the Dove; it is women who know of his resurrection first; Lady Wisdom is paired in verses with the Father (Matthew 11:19) Christ brings back Light (Luke 1:79), the Tree of Life, the Lampstand to guide the way to peace, which is in His At-one-ment, the Reconciliation of all Uncreated Intelligences into one adopted family. The Apostles are given power at the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them in the first chapter of Acts; this power is often related to language, speaking in tongues. Corinthians equates the Holy Spirit with the Wisdom of God in order to compare it with the Wisdom of the world. When we are "inspired", we are given eloquence by hearing the words of the Breath of Life which was breathed into Adam and all his children, the Comforter, the Mother who promises immortality by bearing the Light of Christ to us, guiding the generations of the family tree of this world towards the Savior's Atonement.

So where does Priesthood fit into all this?

The Book of Abraham

Nibley has shown at length in "All The Court's A Stage" the confusion occurring when the Egyptians tried to claim Patriarchal authority through a Matriarchal line. Thus the usual gender wars ensue, in which we are asked to play the Devil's Dilemma of choosing between Gog or Magog as if either was preferable to the other.

The point is that it should never have gotten to that point to begin with.

In this book, Abraham becomes a High Priest, a title which had been conferred upon him descending from the Fathers from before the foundation of the world. This should not, if we are fair, preclude High Priestesses; in fact, he desired to be a Father himself, and therefore needed a wife as holy as he - "Sarai" means "Princess".

His fathers had "turned away from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen [which were the mute idols they had turned from commemorating the gods to being the gods themselves], utterly refused to hearken to [his] voice." (1:5)

Specifically, they "turned their hearts to the sacrifice of the heathen in offering up their children unto these dumb idols." (1:7)

Pharaoh's priest "had offered upon this altar three virgins at one time, who were the daughters of Onihah"; these "virgins were offered up because of their virtue; they would not bow down to worship gods of wood or of stone, therefore they were killed." (1:11) It was not their virginity which made them holy, but their faith in God as they chose to refuse to bow down to the established Priesthood of their land.

The land of Egypt was "first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus." "When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land." (1:23-24)

Note that the race is not a product of the curse; their branch of the family tree has rather not been blessed by Noah regarding the Priesthood. (To "curse" is not a supernatural magic power - in Ecclesiastical terms, it is to ban, censure, or pronounce anathema. But we still have some who claim that it really was their neighbor, the old witch, who cast a spell on the cows so they wouldn't give birth.)

The pertinent fact to note is that this appears from the text to be a policy which is nowhere said to be based on a Revelation from God.

Similarly, the patriarchal government was "after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal." (1:25) This was not divinely ordained, it was a policy of men. As Marija Gimbutas, Riane Eisler, and Elinor Gadon, among others, have shown, the patriarchal waves of invasion disrupted earlier, more egalitarian societies (though to be sure, they were hardly Utopias either!). It hardly matters that it is justified by an appeal to rhetoric emphasizing a claimed holiness - a similar sacralization of racially-motivated prejudice was seen, for instance, in the American South during the fight over slavery.

Yet, "Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of [W]isdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood." [Emphasis added]

Here Priesthood is explicitly decoupled from the organizational social-strategy of the order of Patriarchy. Priesthood and Patriarchy are quite explicitly not interchangeable; it is said that while Pharaoh righteously imitates the Patriarchal order, as yet he does not have the Priesthood. It was the "fathers" who "instituted [this order] in the days of Adam" and caused it to come "down by lineage" (D&C 107:41); "the order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son." (D&C 107:40)

Yet the Celestial Order we aspire to was, before the Fall, one of a marriage between equals. It wasn't until man sinned that woman was subjugated.

Note that it is never said "the fathers" had it by Revelation; it was merely something like a "Policy" had after the Fall, when the Celestial law in which Men and Women were Gods was not present. Many such policies have been changed in the past (such as Priesthood restrictions on blacks). As Joseph Smith taught in the King Follett Discourse, it is only when we come unto the Lord willingly that he starts to meet us; "when we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us." Those who say that the Church must wait until after death for women to be Priestesses are merely pushing that day farther away, when we should be grasping for it now.

Pharaoh was blessed with the blessings of the Earth and Wisdom (the Egyptian Ma'at), yet it was a practice by Noah (again, not necessarily inspired) which cursed him from the Priesthood. (As the D&C so ruefully acknowledges, we know well that good men are not assured of infallibility - we see the example of David, and emphasize that if the works of Justice are destroyed, Gods cease to be worth worshipping as such) As Moses 8:22 says, "God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the earth; and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually. [Again, one is put in mind of the Indo-European invasions which placed men higher than women]

By not extending our Priesthood to women, are men acting unfairly, without kindness, meekness, patience and long-suffering? Do the Heavens withdraw themselves and denounce the legitimacy of our Priesthood when we exercise unrighteous dominion and withhold it from an entire group of people, justifying our actions not with revelation but rather the philosophies of men mingled with scripture?

Yet, God also offered in Moses 8:24 that if he "Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest [the full priesthood, ushering in a full at-one-ment?]; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you; nevertheless they hearkened not."

It is the concept of Priesthood, "Elderhood", which is important, not the gender. The Creation was made known to the Fathers by the Holy Spirit of Wisdom (1:31); [after "the Lord ordained Noah after his own order (Moses 8:19)] yet by sad experience, we have learned that as soon as men get a little authority they exercise unrighteous dominion.

3:18 states that "If there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal."

All intelligences, "male and female", "Jew and gentile" are alike unto God who is "more intelligent than they all." (3:19) Since we have all existed forever, we are all equal. Thus, there is no basis for restricting the Priesthood based on gender.

The Gods are our parents, who adopted us before the foundation of the world, whose Son volunteered to bring knowledge of the At-one-ment after we have come down to experience mortal trials in order to become more like them.

4:1 "And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth. And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters."

This vital scripture restores the idea that God the Father and God the Son are not only two separate beings, they were joined in their vast project of Creation by a Divine Council, which included the prominent Spirit who hovered and brooded over the waters, Wisdom who danced before the foundation of the world, who is possibly the Asherah, "She who treads the waters". The staunch trinitarianism of mainstream Christianity which is found nowhere in the Bible is done away with - everyone can get in on the act, if we live up to our divine potential. (See the Sermon in the Grove for the Plurality of the Gods.)

4:26 "And the Gods took counsel [we might say held Council, a sort of General Conference] among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness; and we will give them dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they him."

They are both to have dominion of the earth; the man is not without the woman. But it is not the dominion emphasized by those various waves of apostasy in the Jewish and Christian traditions, which followed after the lusts of their hearts and sacrificed "every man woman and child", justifying their actions in later redactions to blame God for their sins. No, the "dominion" in the Garden stories from around the world was that of a Gardener, a man and woman who replenished the earth and bore children to take part in their work.

In our Articles of Faith, we state that "we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. [...] We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Joseph Smith was endowed with knowledge in a Sacred Grove. Like Christ, he instituted a "renewing" of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, asking for the Wisdom to set him on the path which would lead him to Restore the knowledge of the hieros gamos, the Sacred Marriage, in the Temple of God, wherein men and women would be sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise in order to be fruitful and take part in the Creation.

With this in mind, we might fruitfully reread the Joseph Smith History, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our version:

1:10 "In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it? While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack [W]isdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth him not; and [She] shall be given him."

"Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed [W]isdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know."

1:73 "No sooner had a I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when, standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this Church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation."

"Oliver Cowdery exclaimed: "Nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the [W]isdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit!" (JSH, footnote)

1:26: "So far as the sectarian world was concerned ... it was not my duty to join with any of them." [The most fundamental sects out in the world are not based on superficial political or religious ideology, but rather on the artificial split we impose between men and women, despite God's command that we be one with all, men and women. As the New Testament says, there are no divisions between males and females when all are united under Christ's teachings.]

"At last, the work could begin; in 1:26, Joseph Smith had finally been assured: "I had found the testimony of James to be true - that a man who lacked [W]isdom might ask of God, and obtain, and not be upbraided."

I would describe D&C 121 as another "olive leaf […] plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord’s message of peace to us”, just like section 88, because it so emphatically states: "God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now; which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory; a time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. [...] According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was."

Some pertinent scripture:

1 Enoch 94.5. And hold fast my words in the thoughts of your hearts,
And suffer them not to be effaced from your hearts;
For I know that sinners will tempt men to evilly-entreat Wisdom,
So that no place may be found for her.


The Wisdom of Ben Sirach 7:19 "Forego not a wise and good woman: for her grace is above gold."


"The world's greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus Christ." - James Talmage Daughters in my Kingdom page 3


Acts 7:51 "`Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and in ears! Ye do always the Holy Spirit resist; as your fathers also ye.'"


"I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost." -- Alma P. Burton, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 343-344


"We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true Mormons." -- Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316


"A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; [that is,] those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus." B.H. Roberts, History of the Church 3:381


"I have said these things because I fear dictatorial dogmatism, rigidity of procedure and intolerance [in the Church] even more than I fear cigarettes, cards, and other devices the adversary may use to nullify faith and kill religion. Fanaticism and bigotry have been the deadly enemies of true religion in the long past. They have made it forbidding, shut it up in cold grey walls of monastery and nunnery, out of sunlight and fragrance of the growing world. They have garbed it in black and then in white, when in truth it is neither black nor white, any more than life is black or white, for religion is life abundant, glowing life, with all its shades, colors and hues, as the children of men reflect in the patterns of their lives the radiance of the Holy Spirit in varying degrees." - President Stephen L. Richards


Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father's commandment; Do not forsake your mother's teaching.


Matthew 15:4 "For God did command, saying, Honour thy father and mother."

Sirach 4:23 "And refrain not to speak, when there is occasion to do good, and hide not thy Wisdom in Her beauty. For by speech Wisdom shall be known."

John 20:21 Jesus, therefore, said to them again, "Peace to you; according as the Father hath sent me, I also send you," and this having said, he breathed on [them], and saith to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."


When we give to all men and women liberally and deny none, we can finally be at peace with each other in the full blossoming of the At-one-ment: "And the Dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off." -- Genesis 8:11

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith, 01 March 2012 - 07:01 AM.

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#2 thesometimesaint

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:22 PM

No. Priesthood is a separate issue from Wisdom.
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#3 robuchan

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:25 PM

She Moves in Mysterious Ways.
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#4 Freedom

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 02:25 PM

Interesting considerations. There an argument that takes a different perspective that the tree of life is the priesthood and for men, and the tree of knowledge is the power of life and belongs to women.

http://www.fairlds.o...0-the-two-trees

We are very clouded in our understanding but we have enough to make it back to God. When we return, I think we will all be in for some surprises.
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#5 Ares

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 07:36 PM

Substantive and respectful discussion only please.
This is a Mormon dialogue and discussion board, not a misrepresent, demonize and debate board. Please learn the difference before posting.

#6 altersteve

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:23 PM

Lots of things to think about here. I'll have to ponder this and let it sink in a bit before I add my own thoughts.
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#7 The Nehor

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:31 PM

In answer to the topic question, no.

Only those with the keys of the Priesthood can restore or give the Priesthood to women.

As to the Holy Ghost being female every modern-day prophet who has defined the Holy Ghost has defined him as male. They might be guessing but your evidence doesn't seem any more convincing.

And this is coming from someone who does believe that one day women will hold the Priesthood.
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#8 mfbukowski

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:42 PM

In previous posts, I have speculated on the identity of the Holy Spirit. I think it very likely that our current conception of the Holy Spirit as being male is incorrect.

Very interesting post and fascinating arguments!

I don't particularly agree, though and let me cut to the chase about why I do not agree.

I think that what is missing here is a coherent argument explaining why all the prophets have been wrong, in your view, and why your contrasting view is "right".

I think that is going to be a hard one to sell.

Additionally, I think that if you really understand the temple covenants, women already DO "have the priesthood".

Edited by mfbukowski, 29 February 2012 - 09:44 PM.

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#9 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:50 PM

Not all the Prophets have been wrong about the gender -- just those influenced after the misleading translation and, earlier, the deliberate expunging of Asherah during the Josian reforms.

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith, 29 February 2012 - 09:51 PM.

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#10 mfbukowski

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:25 PM

Why is it not possible that Wisdom is Heavenly Mother and that has been deliberately veiled because of its extremely sacred nature? That has kind of been my presumption. What justifies the presumption that she is the Holy Ghost?

Sorry if I missed that. I have not digested all of it yet.
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#11 Storm Rider

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:45 PM

Based upon the temple, women do act in priesthood authority. However, just as no man may exercise his priesthood without the tacit approval of his priesthood leaders, so it is with women.

In many ways the most active role of the priesthood is the function to preside. I don't think this will ever change. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. I have also heard it said that women hold the priesthood through their husband; there may be some degree of truth to this, but I don't know. What I know is that women can function is the exercise of the priesthood when directed to by a preisthood leader.
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#12 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:48 PM

No worries, bukowski; I realize 'twas a rather large post. *grin*

The view that the Queen of Heaven is too holy to talk about is something I disagree with quite strongly, for reasons well-explained in "'A Mother There': A Survey of Historical Teachings About Mother In Heaven" by David L. Paulsen & Martin Pulido, which is an absolutely vital historical overview of LDS teachings about Her. (It is unfortunately not available free anymore, so far as I know, but it is well, well worth the $2.00 download.)

It basically comes down to the fact that if people are going to profane Her name to the degree they do our Father, then She's frankly tough enough to take it and we don't need to "protect" Her.

As part of the Adam-God theory, Brother Brigham basically equated Eve with the Heavenly Mother; that's who the "Mother" in Eliza's poem is most likely referring to, leading to a bit of dissonance when read through our modern interpretive framework. I disagree with Brigham's perspective (if I am understanding him correctly), unless we're taking a rather more archetypal view than he did, in which women take on the name Eve and become deified. In this case, the Garden story can be read as a typological parable of the sort found in Revelation or Daniel, which details the "Fall" from a premortal state into our mortal bodies in order to progress. Some are uncomfortable with this, seeing Genesis as a more literal history, but it's the view I personally subscribe to. It's all a script for a Temple Drama, as far as I can see.

But it's pertinent to note President Young's statement: "Whether Adam is the personage that we should consider Our Heavenly Father, or not, is considerable of a mystery to a good many. I do not care for one moment how that is; it is no matter whether we are to consider Him our God, or whether His Father, or his Grandfather, for in either case we are of one species of one family and Jesus Christ is also of our species." JD 4:217

The same might be said of the Queen of Heaven: whether Lady Wisdom is the personage we should consider our Heavenly Mother, or not, is considerable of a mystery to a good many. But it is no matter whether we are to consider Her to be our God the Mother, or whether Her Mother, or Her Grandmother, for in either case we are of one species of one family and Jesus Christ is also of our species.

In my opinion, it's all about being adopted into the Covenant in which we Uncreated Intelligences on worlds without number are bound to each other in the peace of the At-one-ment. The point is that there exist embodied female divinities which we simply don't recognize as much as the menfolk. No one knows what Christ and the Father look like, but we have lots of corny paintings of them everywhere; what's stopping us from making corny and inaccurate paintings of the Queen? It can't be a matter of "well, we just don't know as much about Her" -- if my speculation is correct about Her identity as the Holy Spirit of Wisdom, then we have far more information about Her than the Father! :)

I'm too exhausted right now to give much more support for the reasons why I think it likely that all these titles (Shaddai, Asherah, Lady Wisdom, Holy Spirit, Sophia, Dove, Tree of Life) are referring to the same woman -- there's a little more of an argument made in this earlier thread, which I mentioned in the opening post, if you haven't read that, and also this thread on Nephi and his Asherah. Oh, and this thread too.

Basically it goes like this: the title "Holy Spirit of Wisdom" used to name the entity with whom we are offered rebirth through baptism is essentially the same title as Lady Wisdom from Proverbs, who (although some people claim to be a mere hypostatization of an abstract concept) is referred to as a Tree of Life in Proverbs 3:18. Asherah, whose name is often mistranslated as "grove", is symbolized by a standing pillar or pole of some sort -- likely the original "menorah" of the Temple. (Her name means "She who treads on the sea", bringing to mind the Spirit brooding over the waters) Josiah's reforms, emphasizing a strict retroactive monotheism, threw out this stuff as if it were pagan accretions from Solomon's Phoenician wives or whoever, but it had stood in the Temple legitimately for over a hundred years total. The menorah, shaped like a tree, symbolized the only Light in the Tabernacle, and that in reference to the Garden story dealing with the Tree of Life, and Asherah was sometimes represented with a bird-face, the common Goddess motif echoed in the Dove. It's all intertwined.

Additionally, I found Kevin Christensen's work examining Margaret Barker's scholarship from a Latter-Day Saint perspective to be extremely helpful as confirmation of some conclusions that I'd come to independently -- I realize many people disagree with Barker's innovative paradigm, but I find it deeply, deeply satisfying, and I think it's going to gain a lot of ground in the coming years to be vindicated in many respects. (Please don't blame Christensen for any historical/argumentative flaws found in my hasty posts, though -- his papers are much more careful than my hurried words here, and I'm not sure that he'd necessarily agree with all my arguments anyway, so I wouldn't want him to feel obligated to defend my mistakes, if I've made any.)

I strongly disagree with the kind of pressuring that the Toscanos took part in over similar issues, but I do think our culture has been unfair with regard to recognizing female divinity as an equal to the male, and I don't agree with the Priesthood being restricted to men. If this stuff is ever useful at all, I hope it will be as encouragement for the Church leaders to look into these issues and seek revelation on this subject so that if change is to be made it will be through the proper channels. Or even better, we might recognize that restricting the Priesthood to men outside the Temple is just a policy thing, and therefore doesn't even require a big ol' revelation in the first place. :)

Just think how awesome it would be if we who hold the Priesthood power were to extend it to women in ordinances outside the Temple, such as ritual healing and baptisms. I think baptisms especially (symbolizing rebirth!) would be a wonderful thing for women to participate in just as much as men. Not to mention all the day-to-day Priesthood stuff in wards.

The point is for men and women to work together to create life from death. That's what it's all getting at, I think. We each take our parts in the Temple Drama to learn how to better serve each other.

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith, 01 March 2012 - 12:45 AM.

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#13 mfbukowski

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:42 AM

Perhaps the central issue becomes gender roles in general. Are you opposed to gender distinction and or gender roles?

Does this apply in your opinion to gay marriage?

Surely the celebration of opposites- the unity of yin and yang as unity in diversity must fit into the picture- if there ARE no opposites- no "other", no diversified roles, what happens to the glorious cosmic poles- no north without a south, no good without evil, no male without female?

Surely we don't want a grey fog of uniformity because it is politically correct in this rather odd age in which we live?
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#14 TAO

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:52 AM

I'm with mfb. Scripture isn't going to change anything right now; the Lord prophet's will reveal things when the time comes, if he so wishes to do so.

Ultimately, I don't worry about it too much, as it is all in the Lord's hands.
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#15 altersteve

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:40 AM

I remember reading in Ender's Game about how the main character's mother, who used to be a Mormon, once placed her hands on her son's head and gave him a blessing, and I think I remember reading that she blessed him by faith or something like that, so not by the power of the priesthood. I haven't read it in awhile, so I don't know for sure. Anyway, I know it's a fictional book, but the author is LDS, so is there any truth to this? Can women give blessings? I've never seen it happen myself.
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#16 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 05:10 AM

bukowski:

Yeah, I'm not huge on overly-specific "roles". Though there are some basic physical/biological differences between men and women that of course need to be taken into account, I'm actually rather frustrated with a lot of the cliches often bandied about regarding our views on gender. I know some men who are more "nurturing" than some women, and some women who are more "assertive" than men, etc., etc.. I think much of what we view as unchanging absolutes about supposedly innate "feminine" and "masculine" characteristics are cultural constructs as much as anything, and quite amenable to change. I think our commonalities as humans outweigh our differences as genders. ("There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." -- Galatians 3:28)

While I absolutely love a lot of the hermetic symbolism of, say, the alchemical marriage (or the Adam and Eve Temple symbolism, for that matter) I don't think that extending the Priesthood to women would be harmful to that metaphorical stuff in the slightest. Yes, there are glorious differences between the sexes, but both having the ability to perform Priesthood ordinances doesn't have to be among them.

As the JST of Hebrews 7:3 states: "Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life." Priesthood doesn't depend on gender -- it is not a "father's" or a "mother's" exclusive privilege.

I also admit to being a bit frustrated by statements such as TAO's that "scripture isn't going to change anything right now; the Lord prophet's will reveal things when the time comes, if he so wishes to do so," because I think that we have a duty to learn how to be Gods ourselves, to be Kings and Queens and Priests and Priestesses to God, the same as all Gods have done: by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation. When we know how to come to God, He begins to unfold the Heavens to us and tell us all about it; when we are ready to come to Him, He is ready to come to us. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. What is evident from reading the D&C and histories of the Priesthood Revelation is that Revelation only comes when there is a burning desire to know, and when no effort is spared in seeking out the best books to discover the Words of Wisdom.

As Spencer W. Kimball said, "Revelations will probably never come unless they are desired. [...] I believe most revelations would come when a man is on his tip toes, reaching as high as he can for something which he knows he needs, and then there bursts upon him the answer to his problems." Learning line upon line, precept upon precept, and wrestling with the Lord day and night, wanting urgently “to find out firsthand what the Lord thought about it.” It was not enough just to wait until the Lord saw fit to take the initiative, in other words. Elder Hinckley said that the Revelation on the Priesthood "is a tremendous thing. It came as a result of great effort and prayer, anxious seeking and pleading. Anyone who does not think that is a part of receiving revelation does not understand the process.”

People grow up hearing accepted traditions and being content with them, but Revelation can overturn them: "Day after day, and especially on Saturdays and Sundays when there were no organizations [sessions] in the temple, I [Kimball] went there when I could be alone. I was very humble [...] I was searching for this [...] I wanted to be sure. [...] I had a great deal to fight [...] myself, largely, because I had grown up with this thought that Negroes should not have the priesthood and I was prepared to go all the rest of my life until my death and fight for it and defend it as it was."

"Some days he [Kimball] went more than once, often alone. Sometimes he changed into temple clothing; he always took off his shoes. He obtained a key that gave him access to the temple night or day without having to involve anyone else. Few knew, except the security men who watched over him."

At the same time, although the "answer had become clear in Spencer’s mind as early as late March [...] he felt [that] unity within the leadership was important, and he continued to discuss the matter with others. He sensed resistance from some, which he fully understood. He did not push, lobby, pressure, or use his office to seek compliance. Instead, he increased his visits to the temple, imploring the Lord to make his will known, not only to him but also to the Twelve, to these good men who all their lives had quoted other Presidents of the Church." So it's not a matter of trying to exercise unrighteous dominion on others. I think we have to all be united in earnestly desiring and seeking after a Revelation on this subject, if one is indeed even necessary for a change of policy to be made.

altersteve:

"Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism" by Jonathan A. Stapley & Kristine Wright is a really good paper. "In this paper, we briefly review women’s integral participation in the development of Mormonism’s distinct healing liturgy by the time of the settlement of the Great Basin, highlighting the interaction of healing ritual and power with the development of the temple. We then discuss the various healing rites employed by women in Utah and the contexts in which they administered. All Mormon ritual operates in two partially overlapping liturgical modalities: one folk and the other formal. Throughout the nineteenth century, Mormon liturgy generally existed as oral tradition. There were no manuals to dictate precise ritual formulations; instead Latter-day Saints learned ritual performance from the example and mentoring of both male and female church leaders. Folk pedagogy served the Latter-day Saints well; however, due to pressures within and outside of the Church, the hierarchy first reformed liturgical authority and then explicitly formalized the Church liturgy itself. In this paper, we show how female ritual healing evolved in context of this history and how it is a key feature in understanding the development of Latter-day Saint liturgy. Furthermore, we show how these dynamics led to the end of female administration of healing ritual in the Church."

(And that's such a sweet scene in Ender's Game -- glad to know others are a fan of the book! Can't wait for the movie.)

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith, 01 March 2012 - 06:00 AM.

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#17 Pa Pa

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 05:44 AM

No. Priesthood is a separate issue from Wisdom.

Having the Priesthood myself, makes that apparent.
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#18 guitarist

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:31 AM

I remember reading in Ender's Game about how the main character's mother, who used to be a Mormon, once placed her hands on her son's head and gave him a blessing, and I think I remember reading that she blessed him by faith or something like that, so not by the power of the priesthood. I haven't read it in awhile, so I don't know for sure. Anyway, I know it's a fictional book, but the author is LDS, so is there any truth to this? Can women give blessings? I've never seen it happen myself.

I know someone who has. Women are entitled to the priesthood through their husbands, and can call upon that priesthood. And in rare cases, it's been explained to me that when the husband is unable to do so, the wife has the ability to lay her hands upon her children to give them a blessing through faith, and by the power of the priesthood which her husband holds. A wife can also lay her hands on her children for a blessing in tandem with her husband, sharing the same priesthood (I believe though that you have to add "by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood & through faith..." to the blessing). It tends to be fairly rare, because it's typically reserved for times when there's no other priesthood available, and it appears to be limited to her children, since she co-presides over them in the family unit.
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#19 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:34 AM

Again, just to make sure it isn't lost in the noise, Female Ritual Healing in Mormonism by Jonathan A. Stapley & Kristine Wright is an excellent resource on the question. :)
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#20 Maidservant

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:42 AM

Hm. I hope I can express myself.

From my point of view (only), I think you are missing some things.

Where to start.

First of all, what bukowfski said. I have priesthood.

And/or I am the final priesthood given to men, when they become prepared for me.

You are missing (so I say), not so much an understanding of women, but an understanding of the Church and of this earth life.

Men hold the priesthood in the Church. What is the church? The gate. The gathering. It is preparatory and Aaronic (despite the usage of Melchizedek to effect the Aaronic nature of it). This is a position of servant, albeit that servant who leads, that which washes the feet, as in the story of Jesus doing the same. A glorious servant, full of charity. When you think of a gate, and who guards a gate, it is beautiful to have the brothers do it, although certainly women are warriors too, but nevertheless, you have men guarding the gate and protecting what is most precious within it (their women and children). So it is not about what women can't do, but about what men can do and have the privilege of doing. Men have their salvation hinged on this work, women do not. And indeed, you may imagine that women have sent their men to the gate, and men fulfill this request and charge from whose lips any request drops, they fulfill (their women). (If women become required to have priesthood in the church, then their salvation will hinge on that too, and all priesthood work will have to be done vicariously into the past. As things stand now, women are free from this requirement, and I see the purpose and the blessing on that.)

By this token, you can imagine that if Heavenly Father does anything, perhaps he first asked, "What shall I do? What is your happiness, that I may fulfill it?" which is the question that all good men ask their women, and that becomes the labor of all good men (I have seen this time and time again).

The godhead--Father, Son and Holy Ghost--is an Aaronic Priesthood structure. It may not seem like it is, but it is. Or if not strictly Aaronic, at least preparatory in some manner. Thus, the Holy Ghost is not female, but the godhead all, are still the gate, the cherubim even, guarding the Tree of Life.

In baptism, your father (or a substitute) holds on to you while you descend into the waters and back up again. This is a token for the real baptism, which is coming to the mortal plane. Our Father holds on to us as we enter mortality and as we arise again. Please do not separate your Father from this work he does with his children. It is manhood to instruct, surround, cherish, nurture (pick a word) their children. This is the example of the Father.

As I think you said (not sure), patriarchy and the patriarchal order are not the same thing in any way. Patriarchy is a worldly paradigm. The patriarchal order is the "parent" order (not the "father/male" order). In marriage, a man requests a woman to be her husband and the father of her children. She determines his worthiness to be that husband and father, and permits him or no, to enter a covenant with her. Think on this for a looooooong time.

I know that I am a creator, and I know that I bring children into the world, and, in connection with my husband, bring them to completion (he assists, or full partners, as you wish).

As one image shows, men wake up to be able to see the woman. And another image shows women speaking and making decisions, and another becoming silent (in the Fall). So to undo the Fall, perhaps, one thing to do is to undo the "silence" of women. I think you mentioned something along these lines also.

Just some thoughts. What you've researched is otherwise awesome. But I don't need to read from texts, Asherahs, trees of life, sofias, etc, I only need to read . . . myself. :)
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