Praise Her, Praise Her, Praise Her

Chelsea de Sequine


I understand that the poem below is controversial.  Perhaps a bit about myself would be of use.  I have been a practitioner of Wicca since the lats 1970's.  I am an avid student of the occult, working as I do as a professional psychic as well as a published poet, songwriter and science fiction author.

I am an avid fan of Dan Brown and especially of The Da Vinci Code and its predecessor Angels and Demons.  I do not insist that these works are historically accurate,  but rather that they do what any work of literature is meant to do.  They open up brain cells that you didn't even know that you possessed, or at least that was their effect on myself. I also love the work of Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln authors of Holy Blood/Holy Grail from which Dan Brown got the basic plot of Jesus and Mary Magdalene being a couple who had produced heirs who became the Merovingians of France.  This was especially of interest to myself as my own family is from Metz, France which was the capital of the Merovingians.

Among other interesting things about Metz, is a custom of the Roma people or Gypsies as we are colloquially called, of launching statues of Mary Magdalene on boats with candles on her feast day (July 22).  A similar custom is practiced in Brasil where Yemenya (the Goddess of the Ocean and of sexuality among other things in the Condomble and Santeria traditions) is celebrated with HER statues being sent out on boats with candles.  Both of these Goddesses are represented by a twin tailed mermaid, the image of which is ubiquitous throughout Metz.

Another formative event in my development was spending time in Amsterdam studying at the Rittman Library of Hermetic Philosophy.  Hermetic Philosophy quite simply is the well from which spring most of the Magickal systems of the Renaissance period (the time of Marcello Ficino, the oldest known Tarot decks, the heyday of the Kabbalah, etc) as well as the classics of nineteenth century Magick including the works of Eliphas Levi,The Order of the Golden Dawn, and OTO without which it is inarguable that Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente would not have created the wonderful neo-Pagan tradition which we know as Wicca.

My contention especially in writing the poem which appears below is to illustrate my belief that the religion of the earliest people whom one might call Christians had very little in common with the religion that was eventually imposed upon most of Europe in the wake of the conversion of the Emporor Constantine ca. 350 AD but rather was an initiatory cult which like the other Mystery religions that were prevalent in the first centuries BCE and CE (100BC-100AD in the old nomenclature) revolved around a dying resurrecting God and the Goddess who raises him from the Underworld, often by voyaging there Herself.  Examples of this are the myths of Isis and Osiris, of Dionysus and Demeter, and of Innana and Her husband Dammuzi and likewise Ishtar and Tammuz.

I am quite influenced by the wonderful work of Barbara Walker in works such as her Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. It is quite obvious to me that the Biblical story of Esther is actually about Ishtar or the Canaanite version of Ishtar, Astarte who is mentioned in the Old Testament, primarily because the prophets kept railing against Her worship and cutting down Her sacred Groves.

Her consort Dammuzi is mentioned by name in 1 Kings.  However, there is something odd about the fact that Tammuz or Dammuzi dies from being beheaded, but only after the Goddess known as Innanna or Ishtar whose consort he is has descended to the Underworld, shedding one of her garments at each of the Seven Gates of the Underworld. 

It is my contention that it is from this earlier myth that the story of Salome and the Dance of the Seven Veils leading up to the beheading of John the Baptist is a retelling and re-interpretation of the earlier myth which is hinted at in the New Testament to be more clearly understood by initiates in the Gnostic Mysteries (those with ears to hear as Jesus is said to have said).  The Seven Demons of the Underworld are said to have risen with Innanna when she returned to this world after having been left to rot on a meat hook by her sister Ereshkigal until the androgynous Being of Pure Light, Ashashanumir, rescued her.  The Babylonian Underworld is very similar and by way of Zorastrianism was in all probablity a model for the Christian image of "Hell."

I attempted in my poem to hint at these various connections between Pagan myths and the Gnostic Christian mythos while at the same time attempting some stylistic formalism from the point of view of poetic structure inspired by my study of Robert Graves, known for having written The White Goddess and also for the Gnostic fictional biography King Jesus among other works.

I exchanged several e-mails with the editor who at first intended to reject this poem because of my mention of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (who to me are the dying resurrecting Lord and the Lady who may be called by an infinity of names and still represent the same drama of love and self sacrifice and of death and rebirth) and because I use the word Hell to describe the Underworld.  It is my personal belief not that all religions are the same, but rather that many, most or perhaps all of the religions currently extant have a common ancestor or at least speak to the same universal Truths.

Like any poem, this one is intended first and foremost as a work of Art I hope that some of you will enjoy it, and find that it inspires thought and further study, particularly of the Mystery religions that were widely practiced throughout the Middle East and parts of Europe particularly during the historical period between the conquests of Alexander which introduced Egyptian and Babylonian thought and culture to Hellenistic Europe up until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jews as well as large numbers of Essenes, Pythogoreans and other Mystery sects throughout Europe in the years from 70 to 100 or so CE.

I hope that nobody is offended by my poem but if so it is no fault of your editor. I realise that many neo-Pagans are offended by Christian images as many of us including Aleister Crowley, Marilyn Manson and myself have ome from strict Christian backgrounds and have been very hurt by Christianity and are very angry about the atrocities that have been committed in the name of Jesus who is called among other things a Prince of Peace.

For better or worse here is my poem about death and rebirth and the Great Goddess known as:

A Start eh?

Same to me
Seven gates
Seven veils
Trip to the underworld
never fails
Lost his head, eh?

seen as obscene
seven gates
seven underworld spirits
Jesus casting out
without a doubt
she didn't find Him
She raised Him--praise Him
Praise Her, Praise Her, Praise Her
she went to Hell and back
without a fuss
for us.

Chelsea de Sequine