UK publisher Scarlet Imprint has announced the upcoming publication of a new edition of Peter Grey’s The Red Goddess. The publisher’s site sez:
The 2021 edition of The Red Goddess has been freshly typeset and is introduced with a preface by Alkistis Dimech. Fourteen years after it was first published, the book has not been available in hardcover for over 10 years.
The Red Goddess is an ecstatic journey through the unheard history of Babalon, the goddess of Revelation, an explicit and challenging vision of a very modern goddess coming into power. From the Revelation of St John the Divine, back through the Ishtar Gate and forward into a living modern magical current. This is more than a history, it is a passionate account of living magic and the transcendent power of Love.
The epic sweep of the text takes us from Babylon to Jerusalem to Rome, and onwards to Apocalypse. It confronts us with the language and symbols of our own culture and the denied demonic feminine. It looks at the angelic work of John Dee and places it in a European eschatology. It delivers a devastating exegesis on the excesses of Aleister Crowley, and unlocks the secrets of ‘Waratah Blossoms.’ It explains the immolation of the Californian antichrist-superstar Jack Parsons and his relationship with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. There is also a full supporting cast of Solomon, Simon Magus, St John the Divine, Earl Bothwell, the Templars, Mary, the Magdalene and countless others. This is the missing history of the love goddess in the West.
Thirteen essays conclude the book on subjects including: roses, mirror magick, bdsm, aphrodisiac drugs, the information age, love and lust, and the meaning of apocalypse. The Red Goddess is for anyone with blood in their veins, regardless of tradition, background or experience.
The Work of the Hierodule
A History of Mystery
Weeping We Remembered Zion
How Many Miles to Babylon?
Time Gentlemen Please
All Goddesses Are Not One Goddess
Words Made Flesh
Mary Mary Quite Contrary
The Bed of Him That Is Fallen
Rhymes With Holy
Jumping Jack Flash
Where Is Love?
Goddess of Love, Goddess of Lust
Blood Red Roses
Babalon & Beauty
Reflections on Mirrors
The Oldest Profession
Sexual Chemistry: Intoxicated with Love
Ravish Me With Kisses
Bridles, Whips, Needles and Knives
Queen of the Rose Gate, Queen of the Throat of Night
The World Made Flesh
The Unfurling of the Apocalyptic Rose
Weeping we remembered Zion
Oh daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. – Psalm 37:8–9
Without an understanding of the theological history of the Old Testament we cannot begin to fathom where the Holy Whore has come from. These histories are almost lost to allegory and fable. We can interpret them on a symbolic level, but it is vital that we engage with them, because they are the dreams that have made our modern flesh. Daniel, Kings II, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Lamentations are lying unread but still exerting their influence over our culture and ideas. Old wars, eternal battles between good and evil, these self same characters are recast in Revelations and the tale that becomes Babalon and the Dragon. These seeds, these dragon’s teeth, are a harvest we still reap. In 598 bce the unthinkable happened, Nebuchadnezzar the ruler of Babylon took the holy city of Jerusalem and carried many of its people into slavery. These ancient events have echoed down to us through history. In many ways Christianity is still dying from this old weeping wound in what was a small war.
The prophet Jeremiah had prophesied the fall of Jerusalem. The reason for this was simple for him, the idolatrous worship of other Gods by the people. For Jeremiah life was one long lament, a misery of betrayal. Yahweh had not deserted his people, they had deserted him. Yahweh would punish this loss of purity, using Nebuchadnezzar as the instrument of his vengeance. Jeremiah almost gloats over the foreseen destruction of Jerusalem, he berates Israel as a harlot. For him it is the incense burned on the rooftops to Baal and the worship of sweet Asherah in the groves and high places which would bring down Babylon upon them. His ranting was massively unpopular, and Jeremiah already an outsider, found himself imprisoned as a traitor. When Nebuchadnezzar came and fulfilled the prophecy Jeremiah was released from his dungeon where he was being slowly suffocated to death with mud.
Rather than holding out to see his people put to the sword Jehoiakim, King of Judah and vassal of the Egyptian Pharaoh, wisely surrendered to the Babylonians who surrounded his city. Not surrendering would have meant the vigorous butchery of the population. These were the rules of ancient warfare. In recompense, ten thousand Jews were carried into exile.
This was more than a military defeat, this was a religious disaster. As well as the human loss, the Babylonians took heavy tribute from the Temple of Solomon and the Royal Palace. The Babylonian Marduk, a Serpent God, had triumphed over the people of Yahweh. Their tribal God had failed them in what must have been a hammer blow to their national psyche. The Prophets cast about for something to blame. It could not be their God that had failed them. The fall of Jerusalem must have been the result of an enemy within. The soul searching turned into a witch hunt, a search for the canker in the rose of Israel.
The Jews that were taken down into Babylon were plunged into a thoroughly alien world. Despite the shared histories and the overlapping mythologies plundered from Sumerian sources, these were very different peoples. Seen through pious eyes, Babylon was a city of sin, a sensory assault of carnality and idolatry.
There are eight gates to the city flung across the cardinal points, each gate a God: Ishtar, Marduk, Ninurta, Enlil, Urash, Shamash, Sin, Adad. The Tower of Babel stood in the city midst reaching up to heaven. Some sight as the Jews came down the bold Euphrates, borne on tears to Babylon, the greatest city on Earth. They will have come through the enamel blue brick Ishtar gate with its golden ménage and copper covered cedar doors. This is the architecture of awe. Lions and Bulls and Sirrush gleam in polychrome glory along the sacred ways. The walls are all gleaming claws and fangs, the city like a devouring vagina dentata with a soft succulent centre. Luxury, excess, wealth is everywhere.
Here women sell themselves in the Temple plaza for a single coin. All of them, high and low born. The women of Babylon are whores, spreading themselves for strangers and calling it religion. Here they parade a great monitor lizard through the streets and proclaim that it is God. Babylon worships the Serpent. The place is thick with magi, eunuchs, courtesans and dancers. The air is spiced, the colours all too immodestly bright. Everything reminds them, we are not in Jerusalem any more.
The prophet Ezekiel is among the Jews taken into Babylon and he steps up the attack on idolatry. This is taken from chapter vi for those of you that didn’t get past his early description of flying saucer encounters
And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes which go whoring after their idols: and they shall loath themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
He continues with a solution and a threat, there is no place for rivals to their God
Then shall ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols, round about their altars upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
There is rich evidence in Ezekiel of the plurality of gods and goddesses being worshipped by the people at this time, rather than the monolithic grip of the One True God that most assume. There is also the stark fate of competing religions laid out which has been enacted in a global pogrom from the Middle East to Europe and the Americas in his name. This is obviously a God of Love.
Despite the indubitable anguish, the captivity was not a state of pitiless slavery. The city of Babylon needed skilled craftsmen and the status of the Jews was respected. The Book of Daniel, though an unreliable pastiche of Aramaic and Hebrew, does contain the seed truth that the Jews were also respected for their skills in magic and dream divination. Nebuchadnezzar even allowed them to worship Yahweh and maintain their cultural identity. This despite the darkly prophetic railing against Babylon that was prevalent among the priests and brought to the ears of Nebuchadnezzar by a network of spies. The most tangible symbol of oppression for the captives was, perhaps inevitably, the Tower of Babel.
The Tower of Babel
If there is one thing people still know about Babylon it’s the Tower, and God’s disapproval of such avant-garde town planning. It apparently broke all the planning regulations and simply had to go. There’s a building statute about overlooking Deity and so things went all 9/11 shaped.
We have a parable here about a group of magickians deliberately raising themselves to the level of God. Apparently that’s a bad thing. All those who agree can quietly close this book and walk away before it’s too late.
If you would like to open your Bibles to Genesis 11 it tells us that the Elohim were not chuffed and smacked down the contentious edifice and the men, now speaking different languages, were scattered across the earth. This heroic piece of skyline reclamation is of course shown in Tarot Card number sweet sixteen, The Tower.
Unfortunately the Old Testament version of events rather misses the point because it is a cut and paste job of mistranslated Sumerian myth. The Elohim who allegedly destroyed the Tower are better translated as gods and goddesses than the rather grand and monotheistic God the most high. In fact the Great Flood, huge chunks of Genesis and the whole Adam and Eve tale were ripped unceremoniously from Sumer.
With all of this bad mouthing, it would be easy to miss the fact that there was an actual Tower of Babel, a bricks and mortar temple that created all this anger. Sure enough in Babylon we have the sacred stepped pyramid temple that started all this rumpus. The city in Akkadian was called Bab-Ili meaning Gate of God and the Biblical interpretation of Babel was derived from the Hebrew balal, to confuse. The word play can be found in Genesis 11:9
Therefore is the name of it called Babel: because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
This is not only bad etymology it is a good example of the injustice Hebrew translation did to the complexity of Sumerian thought. The Tower itself was called Etemenanki by the Babylonians which translates as the rather more constructive House of the foundation of Heaven and Earth. The original temple on the site had been smashed by Sennacherib with his Assyrian army. The biblically-famed tower which dominated the landscape was rebuilt by Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, upon the foundations of this structure in the name of Marduk, the Dragon God. The King and Crown Prince removed their royal robes and bore up the first bricks, earth and mortar on their heads in a symbolic act that we see now in the laying of the foundation stone of a new building by a local dignitary or head of state, as well as in Masonic symbolism.
This was not simply a temple placed at random, this was the axis mundi, the vertical cosmic axis of the world. The temple and city of Babalon are the central point between the heavens and the underworld. The foundations were the very point where Marduk had been born and humans created from clay. In the temple the mythic and the mundane mixed as this is where the worlds overlapped. For the Babylonians with their obsession with the past and the origin of all things, the temple was a functioning time machine. It enabled the King to become Marduk himself in the New Year celebrations, and the priests and priestesses to daily experience the presence of the living Gods.
The tower itself is a form of the sacred hill or mound, the primeval earth rising out of the waters after the deluge of the flood. This symbolism can be found in Atu XIX of the Tarot, The Sun, and in many ancient mythologies. This is the point which can be called in the beginning. Sumeria itself can be seen as the sacred hill, raising its fertile mound between the Tigris and Euphrates. For the ritualist, this symbol is still used – it is the magickal circle.
The Israelites in exile saw the 297 foot tall tower as a powerful symbol of their oppression. In our age glutted on skyscrapers and poured concrete it is hard to imagine the impact that this completed architectural feat had upon the ancient mind. Let’s be mischievous for a moment and consult 777 the occult numerological dictionary entry for that number. Lo and behold, we have a swathe of significant words that share the number 297
Thesaurus/gazophylacium (Greek for dictionary) A secured house; a fortified castle The Throne; a name of Briah Nuriel (the Angel of Elemental Earth, also spelled Uriel) The neck
All delightfully significant, but only if the ancient Babylonians had decided to use feet and inches as their measures of choice. The correspondences may be intriguing, but let’s not make the mistake of the Israelites and balance false assumptions on each other and then wonder why our edifices collapse before we reach the stars. It would be better for us to build like the Babylonians, step by careful step, to the Holy of Holies.
The Sumerian temple or ziggurat that crops up in biblical law was the sacred mountain. It is both the body of the Goddess and the phallus of the God. The tower is the tree pillar connecting heaven and earth. The axis mundi. An attempt in glazed brick to nuzzle the g-spot of the heavens into riotous ecstasy.
Remember the description of Inanna with her Tower headdress? This is the tower. If you want to take this to the nth degree then all crenulated Crowns come from the Babylonian tradition.
The temple was comprised of heaven, earth and underworld. We’ve got a shift here from the Earth Goddess to a stellar consciousness and magick that looks to the seven sacred planets. The ziggurat in Babylon was indeed painted in the colours of the seven planets. At the summit of the tower was a ritual temple/cave/womb/tomb where the God and Goddess enacted the sacred marriage and descent into the underworld. This is not idle speculation, we have the account of Herodotus who visited in 5 bc when the tower was still intact. He accurately describes the step pyramid and the bridal chamber
there was a tower of solid masonry upon which was raised a second tower and on that a third, and so on up to eight…on the topmost tower there is a spacious temple, and inside the temple stands a couch of unusual size, richly adorned, with a golden table by its side… They also declare – but I for my part do not credit it – that the god comes down in person into this chamber, and sleeps upon the couch.
Herodotus’ scepticism is because of his literal reading of the descent of the God, but make no mistake, this is high magick. Wicca appropriately calls it the Great Rite. The High Priest and Priestess or King and Queen are becoming the God and Goddess and enacting the very first creative act that brought the universe into being. If you need another billion examples to saturate your unconscious then go read JG Frazier’s The Golden Bough. One living example in your own life would serve you far better.
With the Tower of Babel we have cosmic measurements being turned into words and letters, and that gets the Freemasons all excited. This temple can be taken as the ground zero of sacred architecture. There is nothing haphazard going on here. This is the place in history where the repetitive chants of shamanism have become the crafted poem. The Tower of Babel is composed of precisely measured symbolic parts. Magickians are deliberately looking at the heavens and making representations of what they see on the earth. Civilisation has been wedded to the high magickal arts, and how lovely that is.
The actual historical Tower fell into ruin when Xerxes of Persia took Babylon. It was a slow decay rather than a dramatic act of divine vengeance. The gods and goddesses who had bred the Nephilim and engineered the rise of man were abandoned. The city and tower overrun. This loss of the link to the sky gods and the multitude of the tongues spoken by the invaders is the reason behind the idea of a lost language. In a sense the language that John Dee was trying to find is this lost language, the intercourse between gods and goddesses and men and women. This is the secret knowledge that Enoch who was swept up to Heaven learned. Even the sexual cross-matching between Dee and Kelley and their wives that the angels demanded can be viewed through this prism as a genetic experiment at creating divinity in man. These are exactly the ideas we find in Sumerian creation myth and with the accounts of the Nephilim who lay with mortal women to sire gods.
The Sumerian gods did not die here. The pantheon decamped to Israel and the Dragon Court of Egypt. All part of the grand plan of the Sumerian Annunaki, literally heaven come to earth. From here you can conjecture about a blood link from the Sumerian gods who lay with mortal children, to the Royal House of David and on through an impossible succession of orders to the Templars and beyond. In this reading The Tower and the Tarot become a repository of forbidden knowledge carrying this secret teaching down the ages in a code that only initiates of the mysteries could read.
If there is a lineage of genuinely alien blood, then I can only say that by this century it is no longer a robust burgundy but a rather insipid rosé. Certainly ancient historical events are an important part of unlocking the wisdom of this curious house of cards. Our ignorance about Sumeria, the very cradle of civilisation is something that must be fixed if we are ever to understand where we came from and where we are going. Space aliens with eugenics plans fail the test of common sense. We need to look closer at the double helix to understand what kind of dragon is in the blood which drives us towards the stars. So why in the Hermetic tradition does The Tower look so sketchy? Phone line psychics are banned from using it. As if taking a card from the pack can remove an idea from existence. It’s one of the idiot cards in the Tarot that gets turned over to a gasp by the fortune teller. The thing is, it’s the wrong kind of gasp. Those who have studied the Tarot may allow themselves a knowing smile at this point. The Tower card contains the essential truth of this ancient temple. It’s an enormous cock detonating wildly into the night sky with all sorts of apocalyptic lightning (lightning actually starts at the ground and travels up) going on. Now before you get too cosy with the idea, the orgasm we are talking about here is one where the ego goes bang. The self is annihilated. Utterly. This is the secret of Babalon. This is the path of life but paradoxically that of death and destruction. In our increasingly turbulent times this is one paradox you would do well to study. Are you enough of a chameleon to cope? We are all children of Babel in the sense that we are trying to find a language to talk to each other and our Gods with.
The Great Escape
After three years of sworn peace Jehoiakim leads Jerusalem in rebellion against the conquerors. Babylon descends once more and chastises the city. That’s putting it mildly. Jehoiakim dies and his son is taken to Babylon taking the bad news to his exiled people. Zedekiah appointed as King rebels in turn. After 18 months of siege and starvation, Jerusalem is burned. The temple and palace are raised to the ground. There is no quarter given this time. Zedekiah’s sons are killed in front of him and then his eyes torn out. Even more captives are carried down to Babylon. In the biblical version Nebuchadnezzar darkens into death, afflicted by demons and shades. Nothing can cure him, neither Gods nor men. The Book of Daniel casts their hero as the interpreter of Nebuchadnezzar’s portentous dreams, just as Moses was able to play Freud to the Pharaoh. In this version Nebuchadnezzar ends up bowing to the God of Daniel. This is all rather wistful thinking, as is Daniel’s faith making him immune to lions, something the Romans never seemed to tire of disproving in the coliseum.
The apocryphal book Bel and the Dragon adds another dimension to this tale, slotting in just before the adventure in the lions’ den. In this account Daniel rumbles a priestly scam where they are using a secret entrance to enter the temple and are eating the offerings to a statue of Marduk and claiming the statue lives. Nebuchadnezzar has them killed for this. He goes on to rather preposterously let Daniel slay Marduk. It’s all rather Japanese monster movie, what with the pyrotechnics and what was no doubt a dressed up monitor lizard
1:23 And in that same place there was a great dragon, which they of Babylon worshipped. 1:24 And the king said unto Daniel, Wilt thou also say that this is of brass? lo, he liveth, he eateth and drinketh; thou canst not say that he is no living god: therefore worship him. 1:25 Then said Daniel unto the king, I will worship the Lord my God: for he is the living God. 1:26 But give me leave, O king, and I shall slay this dragon without sword or staff. The king said, I give thee leave. 1:27 Then Daniel took pitch, and fat, and hair, and did seethe them together, and made lumps thereof: this he put in the dragon’s mouth, and so the dragon burst in sunder: and Daniel said, Lo, these are the gods ye worship.
The reason I’m including this dragon story is that it is another clear influence on Revelations. The Dragon is emblematic of the old enemy, Babylon.
Meanwhile in the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar’s mind is stricken and the empire also crumbles. The people say that he has been abandoned by Marduk. The Jews sing songs of their deliverance in the ghettos. Nebuchadnezzar prophecies the coming of Persia and the fall of Babylon and it is not long in coming. Alas, Daniel is an unreliable source; Nebuchadnezzar is succeeded by several short reigning kings and the madness of Nebuchadnezzar should more properly be attributed to Nabonidus. But let’s not get too snarled in dead kings, we can leave that to the historians.
It is not Yahweh who saves the Jews in Babylon. Cyrus the Great rises and descends on the old enemy, an empire weakened by misrule and madness. The Jews are released. In 537 bce some 40 000 Jews return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, a fresh infusion of zealous believers forging a national identity around a united stand against all things Babylonian. The very place had become a byword for evil. The damage had been done. Here are the tales to become nightmares, of whores and serpents and towers and strange gods. Here is the enemy, the songs of lamentation ring around Her.
It would be wrong to lay the blame for the blackening of Babalon at the feet of the Jewish people. Anti-Semitism is a vile thing. The suppression of the Goddess has required the complicity of many small minds, large nations and ugly power plays. It is important to learn where these ideas came from in order to defeat them. We must remember that for them to take hold they must have found fertile soil in other climes where opulence, sexuality and paganism were reviled.
Now we must turn to the goddesses of ancient Babylon to get to the core of the tale of the Great Whore of Revelation.