The Doctrine of the Moulting of the Holy Ghost

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

The Holy Spirit as Third Person of the Trinity

above the high altar in st peters

The idea in the Christian mythos of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity is an excellent example of how doctrine and myth change AND of how a new transformation of the idea of "God" is happening in modern times.

In America in the 1950s, before the sea change in human life referred to as "The Sixties," the Blessed Trinity--invoked each time a Catholic made the Sign of the Cross in the ritualistic/superstitious act of calling upon God for grace and help--was "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

The Father was clearly the white-bearded Old Man who reached out to instill life in Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The Son was the historical personage of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, i.e., the "annointed One," the "World Savior," whose life and death is the central Christian motif told about in the Gospels. And the Holy Ghost was an invisible presence, symbolized by a Dove.


This Dove descended on a lightbeam to enter the womb of the Virgin Mary to conceive the child Jesus.

The Dove rained down tongues of flame onto the heads of the Apostles to inspire them to preach the Good News Jesus brought that human beings should love one another--and that love, not obedience to Law and taboo, is the key to experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven. And this on Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus's Resurrection from the dead and conquest of crucifixion, one of the most heinous forms of execution ever devised by man. The Dove, in stained glass, hovers over the high altar in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, portending Divine Providence.

The Blessed Trinity

The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, as explained by Sts Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, is that in the Beginning, before time, God the First Person knew Himself and spoke the Word, which generated the Son, the Second Person. The First and Second Persons loved one another, and that love proceeded from them together,* as the Third Person. It is like the human family (albeit all queerly male) in which the father loves the mother and their love--and passion--gives birth to a son or daughter. The heterosexual family is the model for the dynamics of the Three Persons in One God.

* So-called Orthodox Christians (Coptic, Greek, Russian, etc.) who have a different political structure for the Church, i.e., without a central and infallible head (Pope) consisting of Bishops who pass their ordination and consecration directly from one generation to another in a line from Jesus known as Apostolic succession, officially disagree with the notion that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. They prefer a more linear procession, with the Father generating the Son and the Son loving the Father and generating the Spirit. (Like their Bishops in a nicely orderly procession that doesn't require involving the original begetter again…)

With the liturgical reform of the late 50s and the "defenestration" of the Church after the Second Vatican Council of Pope John XXIII, the odd Old English word "ghost" for spiritual being, was changed to the Latin and more serious sounding word "spirit," so that the Dove became the Holy Spirit.

Unlike the Father and the Son who are anthropormorphized into persons with likes and dislikes, even jealousies, and with, in the case of Jesus, a physical human body and a Mystical Body consisting of all human beings who have the presence of sanctifying grace in their souls, the Holy Spirit is totally non-physical and non-personal.

The Holy Spirit is that sanctifying grace--the "amazing grace" that transforms human lives. The Holy Spirit is Love, the feeling and interior sentiment of care and nurturing and deep desire for union.

Unlike the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit is symbolical.
The Radiance of God shines on Jesus
In the Old Testament, pre-Christian Hebrew/Jewish mythos, the Creator God--YHWH--gave forth a radiance called the Shekinah. That was the first appearance of the image of the Third Person of the Trinity. In Kaballah tradition, the Shekinah is the Spouse of Yahweh, God's wife. In later Hebrew writings that form the Old Testament's prophetic and poetic period, God's partner in creation is called Sophia, wisdom. That's the second appearance of the Third Person, as the idea and plan God had in His mind when He spoke the Word of creation.

In the heavily Gnostic-influenced, Gospel of St John, the Word coexists from the Beginning with God and is God. And that Word becomes flesh, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, as the man Jesus who came to walk among men in Palestine at (and as) the beginning of the Common Era.

The "Word" is Wisdom expressed. It's an idea, a meme, a myth.

That we can write about the doctrine of the Trinity and observe the changes--from radiance to wisdom to ghost to spirit--is a sign of the modern ability to understand religious doctrine and mytholgical tradition from over and above.

It is this ability and higher perspective that constitutes what, I think, Joseph Campbell would call "the new myth."

Our modern idea of "God" is changing from a personal being with beard and flowing robes to the Universal, Cosmic process that "began" with the Big Bang and proceeds to evolve into stars and planets, and then into Life and then into Intelligence and reflexive self-awareness that can observe the process.

With the modern discoveries of deep time, the billions of galaxies of the universe outside the solar system, the evolution of life and the complexity of the human mind--symbolized, by the way, in the human persons and personalities of Einstein, Hubbell, Darwin and Freud (and Jung, of course), our idea of God has to change.

He can't be seen as an old man sitting atop Mt Sinai or Mt Olympus or Jesus reigning from Heaven Above. What fascinates and inspires human beings today is not imaginary personalities hovering our us (we consider such "delusions" as mental illness), but rather our awareness of ourselves as conscious beings.

Consciousness itself is the new image for that mystery about which life and meaning revolves.

This shift in the meaning of God from "person" to symbol is beautifully expressed in the transformations of the Third Person of the Trinity.

Using the age-old image of the Dove, we might say that the Holy Ghost is moulting, putting on a new coat of feathers, a new manifestation.

the Holy Ghost as Dove

The Doctrine--which, of course, I am making up right here--of the Moulting of the Holy Ghost is the "new myth" that religion and myth have been clues to the Deeper Consciousness of which human, individual, life is an experience of.

Joseph Campbell called this "a prodgious transfer of the focal point of human wonder."

(I think Campbell belongs in that list with Einstein, Hubbell, Darwin, Freud and Jung.)

Read more about The New Myth

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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