The Marian Doctrines:

Contact Us

Table of Contents

Search Site

home  Home

Google listing of all pages on this website

Site Map

Toby Johnson's Facebook page

Toby Johnson's YouTube channel

Toby Johnson on Wikipedia

Toby Johnson Amazon Author Page

Secure Site Comodo Seal

Secure site at

rainbow line

Also on this website:

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from, the Apple iBookstore, etc.

Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III

Gay Spirituality

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

Gay Perspective

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

Secret Matter

SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan

Getting Life

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods

The Fourth Quill

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

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

charmed lives
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers

Myth of the Great Secret

THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell

In Search of God


Unpublished manuscripts

About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

rainbow line

  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

rainbow line

  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

Why gay people should NOT Marry

The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage

Toby and Kip Get Married

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

rainbow line

Gay Consciousness

Why homosexuality is a sin

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

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

The Gay Succession

Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey

The upsidedown book on MSNBC

rainbow line


"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

You're Not A Wave

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

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

What Anatman means

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

Cutting edge realization

The Myth of the Wanderer

Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss

World Navel

What the Vows Really Mean

Manifesting from the Subtle Realms

The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse

The est Training and Personal Intention

Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven

rainbow line

Gay Spirituality

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Two Loves

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

rainbow line

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

Having a Church to Leave

Harold Cole on Beauty

rainbow line

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Not lashed to the prayer-post

Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality

Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process

Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)

Redeem Orlando

Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar

Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson

rainbow line

Mystical Vision

"The Evolution of Gay Identity"

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

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths

 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

rainbow line

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016

The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)

You're On Your Own


rainbow line

Seeing Differently

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

Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom

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

rainbow line

The Vision

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

rainbow line

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

rainbow line

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

rainbow line

Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube

rainbow line

About Alien Abduction

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

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

Intersections with the movie When We Rise

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

Toby at the California Institute

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

rainbow line


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 Mark Thompson

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

The Alamo Business Council

Our friend Tom Nash

Second March on Washington

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

rainbow line

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

Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen

War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre

Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey

Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes

The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes

Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour

In Walt We Trust by John Marsh

Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary

A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary

Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

Internal Landscapes by John Ollom

Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

Yes by Brad Boney

Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler

Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal

Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson

Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire

"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught

Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology

The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons

Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert

The Revotutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker

Out There by Perry Brass

The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh

The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan

It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja

ReCreations, edited by Catherine Lake

Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard

Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson

Dating the Greek Gods
by Brad Gooch

Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan

The Substance of God by Perry Brass

The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe

The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

An Interview with Ron Long

Queering Creole Spiritual Traditons by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner

Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard

Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak

Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan

Rising Up by Joe Perez

Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez

That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang

MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether

Double Cross by David Ranan

The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak

Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry

In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson

The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson

Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray

Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak

Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor

Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien

Queering Christ by Robert Goss

Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage

The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato

Catland by David Garrett Izzo

Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson

Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main

Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd

Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza

What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett

Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans

Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen

Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden

The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood

Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman

The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak

3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak

Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon

Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message

Life Interrupted by Michael Parise

Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire

The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman

Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny

Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman

True Religion by J.L. Weinberg

The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer

Everything is God by Jay Michaelson

Reflection by Dennis Merritt

Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson

Hard Lesson by James Gaston

God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson

The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson

Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther

Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen

The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether

The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber

AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar

Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost

The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal

Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal

In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane

Walking on Glory by Edward Swift

The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey

Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire

Enigma by Lloyd Meeker

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:

Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe

Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here

Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness

Gay Spirituality   is now available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here

charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman

secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction


Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance

Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham. Click here 

The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE

The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here

Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams

Two Spirits
audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook  narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here

Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III

Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld

The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.

rainbow line

Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.

The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the B.V.M.

One of the most interesting lectures I ever heard—that changed my understanding of Catholicism and the concept of dogma—was by John Totten, S.M.—a professor and a wonderful and deeply spiritual man at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. When I was a Marianist scholastic, back in the early 1960s, Bro. Totten gave a talk to the Marianist students in which he explained the Marian doctrines in historic context.

This popular philosophy and  theology professor explained to us the “real” meaningBVM behind the modern doctrines of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both the
Immaculate Conception and the Assumption (the only two dogmas that have actually been declared under the rubric of papal infallibility), it seems, contained historico-political subtexts. They are really about the Church, and not so much about the woman who was the mother of Jesus.

The Immaculate Conception was declared by Pope Pius IX a doctrine of faith on December 8, 1854 in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus.

The Immaculate Conception is the doctrine—so often confused by Catholic and non-Catholic alike with the Virgin Birth of Jesus—that, in anticipation of the sacred role she would play in the incarnation of Christ, Mary was exempted by God from the human heritage of original sin. From her conception, Mary was free of the stain of sin on her soul. Immaculate means pure, containing no flaw or error.

Pope Pius IX had come into office in 1846 a great supporter of the liberal cause in Italy. He was pious, progressive, intellectual, decent, friendly, and open to everybody.
He supported the populist leader Garibaldi and populist movements to redefine the relations of power in society.  But his liberal leanings did not resolve strife in Italy, especially between secular Italian Nationalists and the Church as ruler of the Papal States. In an act of terrorism, the Papal Minister of the Interior, Pellegrino Rossi, was assassinated on the steps of Saint Peter’s on November 15, 1848 and the Pope became a virtual prisoner in the Quirnal Palace.

Betrayed by the very forces he’d supported, Pius, in disguise as a regular priest, fled to Sicily on November 24, 1848, where
, with the Encyclical Ubi Primum (February 2, 1849), he polled Catholic Bishops about the wisdom of  declaring the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. (as she is referred to in the shorthand of the Missal) and thereby, incidentally, exercising the power of papal infallibility.

To those in the know, according to this historical analysis, Pius IX’s declaration of the Immaculate Conception meant the Pope was saying that even though he’d made a strategic political mistake in siding with the populist liberals, the Church, symbolized by the B.V.M., had always been in soul free of flaw or error and remained so.

A major event of Pius IX's papacy was the First Vatican Council in Rome which set out to redefine the power in the Church itself, including this idea of papal infallibility. The Council was convened on December 8, 1869. (December 8th is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, for it was, in part, the declaration of the Marian dogma, under papal infallibility, fifteen years before, that occasioned the Council). It had only completed the first part of the task, defining the role of the papacy, and had failed to define the authority of the bishops in relation to the papacy (and to the exercise of infallibility), when it was abruptly forced to disband because of the invasion of the Papal States. The Kingdom of Italy
, under Victor Emmanuel II, captured and annexed Rome on September 20, 1870. The Council was adjourned October 20th and never reconvened.

Pius IX died on February 7, 1878, aged 85, concluding the longest pontificate in papal history (32 years)

The Assumption of the Blessed Mother was declared by Pope Pius XII a doctrine of faith on November 1, 1950 in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.

The Assumption is the doctrine that at the end of her life (the Pope avoided the question of whether she had died), the mother of Jesus was taken body and soul into heaven so that she did not suffer the rending of soul and body and the corruption of the flesh that ordinarily accompany the end of life.

The doctrine has meaning beyond the historical, of course. C. G. Jung thought the Assumption celebrated the sanctity of the flesh and finally acknowledged the feminine principle in the Catholic God. But, at least according to my theology professor, its real significance is only understandable in its political context.

Pius XII came into office in 1939. He had to carefully balance the priorities and teachings of the Church with the political realities of his day which were, of course, the rise of German Nazism and Italian Fascism. Following World War II, with the defeat of the powers that had threatened him and to which he had made major concessions, Pius was forced to admit he’d made serious errors. At least some of the guilt for the Holocaust was saddled on him because of his silence and willingness to acquiesce to Fascism.

In 1950, specifically in commemoration of the defining of the Immaculate Conception (to make sure the connection with his predecessor was established), Pius XII declared the doctrine of the Assumption of the B.V.M.
. To those in the know, the Pope was saying that even though he’d made a strategic political mistake in signing Concordats with Hitler and Mussolini, the Church, again symbolized by the B.V.M. remained uncorrupted in its physical, institutionalized form--its "body"--from flaw or error and remained so.

Pius XII became seriously ill in late 1953 (which included a bout with uncontrollable hiccups that lasted some five weeks). He was a near invalid most of the last five years of his life. He died at the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gondolfo, on 9 October 1958 of a heart attack brought on by exhaustion. Ironically the embalming of his own body was botched through an experimental process devised by an Italian doctor,  Oreste Nuzzi, that was supposed to preserve the body indefinitely using the same oils and resins that had been used on the body of Jesus. In fact, perhaps because of heat in the hall where the Pope's body was laid in state, chemical reactions occurred in the embalming fluids; the Pope's body decomposed rapidly; the body had to be re-embalmed twice; the Swiss Guard stationed around the body became ill during the vigil; and viewing by the public had to be terminated because of the stench.

His funeral was said to be largest congregations of Romans to that date. Angelo Cardinal Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) wrote in his diary on 11 October that probably no Roman emperor had enjoyed such a triumph, which he viewed as a reflection of the spiritual majesty and religious dignity of Pius XII.


Let me predict that the next Marian doctrine that will be declared will be Mary Mediatrix of All Graces; it will be declared by the current pope or his successor once the priest-pedophilia scandal has faded away. And the meaning will be that even though the Church had made mistakes about handling the molesters in the priesthood, the source of grace is the Church herself, not the individual priests or bishops, and therefore even pedophile priests could validly and licitly administer the sacraments. The doctrine will appear to be about the B.V.M., but it will really be about transferring problem priests from one assignment to another. And the Church will be exempting herself in metaphor from any flaw or error.

Mediatrix and Magna MaterCuriously, the laity are seldom let in on these historico-political subtexts. They seem expected to just take everything on face value. When I was growing up it was routinely said that Catholics were required to believe in both the Immaculate Conception and
the Assumption, though, as I observed above, many Catholics didn’t understand what these notions were. They just "believed" them.

The B.V.M. continues to be the most meaningful remnant of my Catholicism for me—though she is more the Magna Mater of Western European paganism—the Great Mother, source of all life—than the Palestinian housewife and mother. Certainly medieval Catholicism had Christianized the Magna Mater by merging her with that housewife and mother. The Mother of God to whom Chartres and Mont Saint-Michel were dedicated was not the historical woman.

Imagine! the Catholic doctrine is actually that Mary is the Mother of God. We know that means that Jesus was God and she was Jesus’s mother and so by syllogism "mother of God" ("Theotokos," according to the Council of Ephesus, 431) and that's really about the divinity of Jesus.

But the words themselves reveal the deeper meaning: the Magna Mater, Great Mother, precedes even God the Creator/Ruler of the Universe. She—the eternal Feminine—is the source of the whole cosmos (of which God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are parts).

Kip and I visited Ephesus years ago on an RSVP cruise of the Greek Islands. I remembering being struck by the contiguity of St John and the Blessed Mother’s home and the restored bazaar in historic Ephesus with the ridiculous but whimsical and slightly reverent insight, that perhaps John and Mary had a booth down there in the bazaar (near where the footprints are that the tour guides say are the first advertising billboards in history that lead to the main brothel).

I think Mary may have been selling crocheted potholders in the shape of ovals with the words "I am the Immaculate Conception" embroidered around the edge. What an archeological discovery one of those would be!

From a "gay perspective":

I'd like to add a couple of observations about the Catholic Marian doctrines from a gay perspective.

   You know, Christianity comes out of a desert society where cleanliness and taboos were important for survival. Desert cultures are patriarchal. Nature was hostile; there was no food and water; you'd die out in the desert if you didn't follow the rules. (Hence the importance of hospitality which is the central issue of the myth of Sodom, not sex.) The story of Jesus is about a reformation in Judaism in which taboo and hygiene were replaced by compassion and love of neighbor as the saving virtues.

    As Christianity spread into Europe and France, it began to blend with the "old religion" of the Goddess. France was fertile and green; European cultures were matriarchal. Nature was welcoming and fruitful; food literally grew on trees.

    The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception—while declared "dogma" in 1854, which was actually about
the role of the Church in modern political society and the Pope's siding with Italian popularism, which then turned against him—can be understood as the purity and innocence of the feminine principle. The Immaculate Conception, remember, is the doctrine that the Blessed Mother Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. This is about Mary, not about Jesus; the Immaculate Conception is not the Virgin Birth. This notion of Mary as being free of sin originates during the time of the Gothic cathedral building. Mary is the Christian incorporation of the Great Mother Goddess, and represents the innocence and purity of women.

    In medieval Catholic thought, the "stain of original sin" was conveyed to a newly conceived child by the pleasure of the male during orgasm (this was called concupience). What a sex-negative idea that was!

    "Original sin" can be understood to mean male competitiveness and belligerence; that's what's wrong with human beings; we fight against each other instead of working together for the benefit of all. And that starts with alpha males fighting for access to females to assure dominance of their genes. Women (especially lesbians) and gay men are less competitive and more cooperative and service-oriented. This is a very broad generalization, of course, but it is pretty true in spite of exceptions.

     Joseph Campbell observed that the real origins of "sinfulness" come from the earthly reality of the food chain, that life lives on life.  Nature is red in tooth and claw. Humans kill other sentient beings in order to eat in order to live. The guilt primitive humans felt in hunting is the origin of "original sin." Among aboriginal peoples, we know now, elaborate rituals accompanied hunting to beg forgiveness of the animals killed and to thank and honor them for their sacrifice.  Modern people don't do that. There are no such rituals in the Tyson Chicken plants (tho' kosher food is blessed and there are rules for how animal slaughter is performed precisely out of this sense of responsibility for killing to live).

— — —
    The doctrine of of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary--which was declared in 1950 about the Pope's error in siding with the Fascists in WWII--can be understood as an acknowledgment of the rights and dignity of women. Carl Jung thought the Assumption represented the incorporation of the feminine into the Trinity. With our gay/queer perspective, we can understand the Assumption, which is the doctrine that Mary was taken bodily into heaven at her death, as a declaration of the holiness of the flesh. God and the Goddess aren't immaterial ghosts in the ethers; they have physical bodies and physical bodies are good. And our mystical intuition reminds us that those bodies are our bodies. "The Kingdom of God is within you," means "God" is us, the deep consciousness that is watching our experience and thereby "creating" the universe.
   And, as gay/queer, we don't experience sex as competition for dominance of our genes. We can experience sex as "God's" pleasure in being embodied, and putting out gift waves of joy and good will for all sentient beings. Our sexual joys don't exonerate killing to live, but can help balance the sense of guilt for being incarnated in flesh.

   This isn't what the Catholic Church and most Catholics think the Marian doctrines are about, but I offer these gay perspectives as a better way to understand and remythologize them. Both the Immaculate Conception and the bodily Assumption of the BVM into heaven are about the goodness of flesh and the joy and pleasure that come from being incarnated.

— — —

Annuciation-Philippe-de-Champaigne    The Marian myth that does have to do with Jesus is the Virgin Birth, the  doctrine that Jesus was born of Mary
without having been impregnated by a human male through the intervention of the Holy Ghost, who appeared in the form of a dove in response to Mary's "Fiat" to the Angel Gabriel's annunication to her that she would become the mother of the Christ. The Biblical origin of this idea is a line from the prophet Isaiah: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a child and shall call his name Immanuel ('God with us')" (Isaiah 7:14). In the mind of the prophet this had nothing to do with Jesus 700 years later. It was about current day politics in his time. (And the virgin in question did have a child by normal means and it was taken as a sign of Isaiah's prophetic powers.)

    Scripture scholars now say the word "virgin" meant a woman who had not had a child, not a woman who had not had sex or whose hymen was still intact. Applied to Jesus, this comes out of the myth theme of "the miraculous birth of the hero." All around the world mythic heroes were born of virgins, i.e., outside the normal round of history and logic. Even Buddha is mythologized as born of a virgin; his mother dreamed of a white elephant at his conception and gave birth while standing, holding on to a branch of a cherry tree, as the infant passed directly through her side without going through the birth canal—obviously mytholgical.

    And the point is that there was something wonderful about Jesus's birth. If the word meant a woman who was not a mother, then the Virgin Birth means Jesus was born beyond the rules of non-contradiction. Mary was both a mother and a non-mother. The idea of contradiction is a "male" thing, a rule in the mind. That Jesus was born without intervention of a male means he transcends all the warlike qualities of males. No men fought over a woman for him to be born. He came forth directly from the maternal womb of the Universe.

    In patriarchal cultures, a woman who can't or doesn't have children is useless. The purpose of females is to give birth to males' offspring. Remember, they didn't understand how sex works at all. They thought males produced babies as seeds which the males implanted through sexual intercourse into females the way seeds are sown in soil. The females then grew the babies in their bodies and gave birth to them for the sake of the males' gene dominance. There was nothing special for Jews about virgins.

    In matriarchal cultures, like old Europe during the time of the cathedral building and the fascination with the Blessed Mother as a Christian manifestation of Magna Mater, the Great Mother Goddess, virgins are important, not because they are non-sexual, but because they are fecund and beautiful and alluring and have potential to give birth and become mothers. Virgins represent the sacredness of human flesh.

   And the secret message of the Virgin Birth is that "God" becomes incarnated in flesh in order to perceive "Him/Her" self from every possible perspective and to enjoy the wonders of being flesh--including sexual pleasure and erotic ecstasy.

   The Virgin Birth isn't anti-sexual, it's a celebration of sexuality and fleshliness.

— — —

    The ancients may not have understood this, like they didn't understand sex and chromosomes and DNA, but all fetuses start out as female. During gestation the Y chromosome in the males causes the structures that would become the female sex organs to change and become male. The ovaries and fallopian tubes move down and become the testes and inguinal canals, and labia and clitoris become the scrotum and penis. During early childhood the testicles descend through the inguinal canals into the scrotum.

   We are all female at the beginning before the male principle descends. The Great Mother, "Theotokos," the Mother of God, is a Virgin, not because she is a sexual renunciate, but because males haven't "descended" yet. The Great Mother precedes the division into female and male. In that sense she is pure and innocent and free of sin—because she is free of males! And has not been defiled by male drive for dominance and control.

    In the Arthurian Legends, the King of the Grail Castle, King Amfortas, is wounded in the thigh. That woundedness manifests as the "wasteland." A wound in the thigh means in the genitals. Perhaps we can amplify this myth to understand that wound as the weakness at the base of men's peritoneum where the inguinal canals pass through the musculature of the abdomen. That weakness can result in hernias when the bladder presses against that weak spot or the intestines actually push through and can become strangulated. So the Amfortas Wound in the Arthurian myths is the vulnerable spot where the male separates from the female.

Parsifal and Amfortas   In the story of Percival/Parsifal, when the young knight is granted the vision of the Grail Castle and meets King Amfortas, he remains silent because his mother had told him not to be impolite and ask too many questions. If he had asked instead: "What ails you, my Lord? Are you in pain?" --exhibiting compassion--he would have been invited in and given the Grail cup itself, i.e., the Beatific Vision. But because he does not, the Castle disappears and he has to start his quest over again.

   Compassion would be the feminine, maternal instinct. Trying to be polite would be the male, manipulative trait.

    The Virgin is sacred not because she is asexual, but because she is always compassionate and pure in her response to life. She never becomes "jaded" or used up. She is always innocent, undefiled, joyful and expectant.

   We are "virgins" when we maintain our goodness and innocence, never becoming jaded about sex or dismissive of those we make love with. I propose that queer gay, LGBTQ+, people are called to be virgins by making love innocently and out of kindness.

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine 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, four 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 and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

 back to top

BACK to Toby's home page

valid html

Essential SSL