Female Gnostic Saints?

General Thelema Posted by <Mikal> on Monday July 03, @12:27AM
from the Thee-O-Sophia dept.

When I recently performed the office of Deacon at Gnostic Mass, I was asked by the Priestesss to end the Litany with the phrase, “and all female Gnostic Saints.” Since the current list of Saints is exclusively XY-chromosomes only, it got me to thinking about two things:

  1. Why is the list made up entirely of men?; and
  2. If it doesn't necessarily have to be a Famous Dead Boy's Club, who can we add?

In regards to Question (1), somebody once explained the rather esoteric reason to me, but it was a bit too subtle for my admittedly rather prosaic thinking. Anyone want to take a crack at saying just why the Saints have to be all guys?

As for (2), here are three of my candidates:

  1. Hypatia of Alexandria – famous mathematician and philosopher, martyred by Christian extremists
  2. Victoria Woodhull – 19th century American sex-positive feminist who fought for women's rights, erotic liberty, and contraception. She is the great-grandma of the libertarian wing of modern feminism, just as Susan B. Anthony is the matriarch of the Puritan/authoritarian wing. Among other things, Ms. Woodhull ran for President nearly 50 years before women won the right to vote.
  3. Sappho – practically invented poetry as we know it, and her colony at Lesbos gave a name to a whole world of human sexual expression.

I'm sure there must be many others that can be added to this list. Anyone?

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Ranma 1/2 on Wednesday July 05, @01:23PM

I like to think that there is some kind of valid reason that the Saint's list is all guys, and I can think of a great number of people I'd like to see get more recognition, but I do think that it is important that there is some kind of consistency, at least in public masses.

I would like to emphasize that I would not like to see changes made to the “fixed list”, that is the names usually found in italics.

I do believe that women of recognition are included already in the “unspoken” accompaniment to each division, but there are other ways to get a personal “saint” recognized. I remeber seeing, in a not-so-old issue of Agape (Caliphate O.T.O. newletter) that you could (degree withstanding) nominate someone for a title of honor. It was like “Servants of the Eagle” and “Servants of the Lion”, or something. Both male and female nominations were made, and a number of people were given honors. I was “too young” to make a choice, but I wished really hard(and found a senior, sympathetic ear), and my personal favorite made the cut, so to speak.

Now, if you wanted to write and perform a ritual (say “The Revel of the Daughters of BABALON”…) to honor female contributions to the principles of Light, Life, Love, and Liberty,..let me know and I'll see you at the altar.

Every man and every woman is a star.

Ch = 215

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by <aleph> on Thursday July 20, @08:49PM

like to think? 'nuff said.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Michael Sanborn on Thursday July 06, @10:26PM

Why is the list made up entirely of men? This is generally held to be simply an error on the author's part.

For myself, it has always seemed to point at the duality of speech and silence. The masculine is the limited, and can therefore be specified. The feminine is infinite, and so is beyond description.

I like the idea of some other honor (aside from “The Saints”) being accorded noted women of history. My candidate for their title: “The Maenads.”

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by George St. Croix on Saturday July 08, @10:47PM

The hypothesis I've always held follows from 777, column XLI, Magical Weapons, key scale 3: “Yoni, Outer Robe of Concealment.” That is, there are female Gnostic Saints, but they are concealed.

It may be argued that “well, why isn't the list all women, who would then 'conceal' the men?” I think it might have to do with the principle that the EGC is itself essentially “female” in its manifestation; the men, or “Lingham, Inner Robe of Glory” are then “revealed” inside the Church.

As for candidates for the list, how about Maya Deren?

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Scott Kenney on Sunday July 09, @07:25AM

Ida Craddock would be a good addition.

Re: Saint Ida
by Anathema Maranatha on Sunday July 09, @06:31PM

This list of female saints did indeed include Ida Craddock. Just thought I'd drop in this quick plug to make you aware of the Ida Craddock website, which is still in construction:


I will be adding more documents in the next few coming weeks too, so check back soon…

Re: Saint Ida
by Anathema Maranatha on Sunday July 09, @06:33PM

…sorry…that url was bunk….

heres the clickable one:


Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Randall Hobart on Sunday July 09, @10:40AM

I think one has to examine this issue in terms of the ritual function of the collects. There may be a very valid reason the male saints are invoked here. I think one reason is that the collects are for the empowerment of the Priest. The Saints represent Male figures in history who have had some role in investigating or performing the same secret the Priest is about to perform, so it's for his benefit that they are recalled at this point in the ritual. Of course, that doesn't mean there shouldn't be female saints – I think there should be.

I would nominate Theresa of Avila, Mary Magdalene, the Priestess Diotima, the “witch of Endor,” Mary of Alexandria, Joan d'Arc, along with the others mentioned already (Sappho, Hypatia, etc.). There's a semi-official list of female saints out there somewhere…

93 93/93

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by <aleph> on Thursday July 20, @08:51PM

“There may be” - I guess this means that that you don't REALLY know, right?

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Cartoon Name Here on Sunday July 09, @06:27PM

There is a list of female saints, but it is only used under special circumstances. I don't know all of the details, but it has been a topic of discussion at the Thelemic Women's Conference.

The reason that women are not typically mentioned probably has to do with the idea that the names of female members are not supposed to be revealed even after their death.

Fra. Sabazius, as the head of the EGC, is probably the best source for a semi-comprehensible and informative response to this question.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Cartoon Name Here on Sunday July 09, @06:31PM

As an addendum, there are separate Orders, “The Order of the Lion” and “The Order of the Eagle” that serve to recognize individuals not stated in the mass, male and female respectively.

Information on these lists, and on how to add individuals to the lists is given in Agape 1:3.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Skia Oura on Sunday July 23, @03:05AM

Why are the names of female members not supposed to be revealed, and who says they have to be members?

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by The Voodoo Chicken on Monday July 10, @12:05AM


The Gnostic Mass is largely sexual in it's overtones. When performing the Mass, you are (in a rather esoteric sense) relating the microcosmic sexual union to the macrocosmic “mysterium conunctionus”. The list of Saints read off by the Deacon are designed to fortify the masculine aspect of this union. To toss in a few arbitrary female names at an attempt to be “politically correct” seems foolish. The preistess should be more than enough feminine energy to complete the task. I would take heed not to allow our misguided ideas of “equality” to interfere with The Great Work…

93 93/93

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
<aleph> on Thursday July 20, @09:12PM

Why is it that the priest needs help, but the priestess “should have more than enough energy”? I'm not sure I follow…

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by the Reverend Rob on Tuesday July 11, @12:54AM

Why is the list made up entirely of men?

As a representative of the visible object of worship, the list of male Saints (and male saints only) is explained in the introduction to the collects.

Read closely.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Tim Maroney on Tuesday July 11, @02:09PM

I discussed the issue of female saints in my essay responding to Hymenaeus Beta's Women's Conference Address. He stated without explanation that while there may be female saints, they do not belong in the Gnostic Mass.

My essay may be found at Facts and Phallacies. My conclusion was that Crowley practiced a literally phallocentric form of sex magick, that he believed that women were secondary, that he stated the supremacy of the male and the phallus repeatedly in both public and private sources, and in summary, that “Crowley wrote an all-male saints list because he believed that the guardians of phallic magick through history had been men.”

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by the Reverend Rob on Wednesday July 12, @03:20AM

I suspect this is simplifying things just a bit; in particular the idea of micro and macrocosm as applied to men and women and the relative roles of each in the Mass bears examination before such a conclusion can reasonably be reached.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Mordecai Shapiro on Friday July 14, @06:40PM

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

I thought I'd add my two cents (though nowadays that's not worth the copper it's minted on). It's quite obvious, as has been pointed out, that the Saints collect in Liber XV is decidedly phallic in its terminology. Adding female saints to that list would require an extensive rewrite to make any sense at all. The Earth collect, on the other hand, would be pretty easy to rewrite to include a list of female saints, and I believe that this was done in the 1980's by a prominent SoCal gnostic bishop and OTO lodgemaster. As for who would be appropriate for such a list, I must agree with Mikal's nominees as all quite worthy. I'd also add some goddesses like Isis, Sekhmet, and Ishtar, along with historical personages like Zenobia, Yeshe Tsogyal, and Elizabeth I of England. As to the numerous explanations for why we should exclude women I find only Xnoubis' to be at all thought-provoking. The all-too-typical mindset which identifies the Priest with the (male) sexmagical operator and the Priestess with the (female) passive “altar of working” is just too patently wrong to even argue about! Get back to your masturbating, boys :-)

Love is the law, love under will.


Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Randall K. Pike on Wednesday July 19, @10:38AM

A most suitable addition to the list would, in my mind, be Joan of Arc.
She needs to introdution, and thusly needs no explanation.

Re: Female Gnostic Saints?
by Skia Oura on Sunday July 23, @03:14AM


Someone told me once that one possible reason that women are excluded from the list is because every woman who has ever given birth can be considered a saint, and thus there is simply not enough room on the list.
Personally, I don't agree with this at all.

I would rather believe what some people already have written, that the female nature is the passive, absorbant, etc, and that because of this it is impossible to manifest it into words, or something.

However, if female saints were to be added, well, hey, how about Hillary? =)

93 93/93.