In 1967 sociologist Peter Berger, published The Sacred Canopy. He argued that a culture is held together by a number of shared religious notions that form an unquestioned (often unconscious) “sacred” covering that includes common ideas of goodness, beauty and justice. For centuries Western Civilization has lived under the canopy of Christendom. But that canopy now lies in rags on the cultural floor. A new covering floats over our heads.
International travel has helped me see this. I just returned from a trip to Colombia, France and Holland. In Holland we discussed “The New Europe,” which is no longer Christian. My lecture, “Neo-Paganism: Step-child of Secular Humanism,” suggested that the new Europe will be either Moslem or Pagan. There I met a South African theologian who noticed how much the “native” regime in the “New South Africa” fosters ancestor worship. In France, the students agreed that Cartesian French secular humanism was breathing its last.
The South American pastors who gathered in Colombia described an emerging canopy-the alliance between the “new” socialism of Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Fidel Castro, and the native populations, with their animistic folk religions. In Venezuela, for instance, Hugo Sanchez is encouraging pagan Santeria in order to undermine the authority of the Catholic Church. Witchcraft and black magic are very much in the public eye. Sociologist Rafael Strauss of the University of Central Venezuela states: “We are seeing a new syncretism that is uniting parts of different [native] religions.” Cuba is exporting an occultic spirituality associated with Babalaos or shamans who actively proselytize across South America. This alliance of populist politics and folk religion rejects Christianity as imperialist in its Roman Catholic form, and as “gringo” northern aggression in its Protestant form.
At the micro level, the new religious canopy looks pagan, syncretistic and anti-Christian. But the same canopy appears at the macro level-that of international institutions.
Jean Houston, Ph.D., is well-connected in the higher echelons of power. She is married to fellow channeler, Robert Masters. With Timothy Leary, they experimented with LSD in the 60s, and are firm believers in the paranormal. Robert wrote The Goddess Sekhmet: The Way of the Five Bodies (1988), and worships the Egyptian Ladyship. This book “initiates readers into a direct experience of the lost feminine mysteries…long repressed in our patriarchal world.” The Living Goddess, affirms Masters, now “returns from exile to become a transfiguring source of a new earth-centered ecology, and a new well of human wisdom, compassion and creativity.” How’s that for a “new” sacred canopy!
Robert loves Sekhmet, and Jean loves Isis, the Egyptian goddess of magic and the underworld. In 1995 Jean published The Passion of Isis and Osiris, after helping Hillary Clinton channel the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt in séances at the White House. She also helped Hillary write It Takes a Village. Now we know what Houston meant when she said a few years ago that our old origin story (the Bible) is not working and that we need a new myth for our new planetary world. Beginning January 1, 2008, Oprah Winfrey – another macro influence in the USA, will offer a year-long course on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles on her XM Satellite Radio program. Those who finish the Course will have a wholly redefined spiritual worldview, including the belief that there is no sin, no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything.
The new myth is very old. As Advisor to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) in “human and cultural development,” Houston has worked in India with the Dalai Lama. Now in the employ of the United Nations Development Program, she proposes “Social Artistry…for Human Development.” “Social Artistry” trains indigenous leaders in developing countries to find empowerment in their old myths and animistic traditions. In her workshops, participants study “the wise ones of primal cultures.” Under UN auspices, Houston has worked her magic in Albania, the Eastern Caribbean, Kenya, Nepal (where she trained leaders from twelve Asian countries), and the Philippines. But tell me. What has this to do with the emergency needs of children?
Houston says she is “Re-patterning Human Nature”:
The Social Artist learns to think like a planetary citizen, [appreciating] cultural stories and myths, while searching for the emergence of…a new myth…[in which] contemplation and meditation informs each action, and so that inward life and outward expression are complementary.
Whether on the ground in developing countries or in the stratosphere of global UN power, “social artistry” is religious con-artistry, surreptitiously constructing a mythical tapestry under the pretext of “human development.” This new sacred canopy is composed of Jung’s “eternal archetypes,” woven in honor of Sekhmet, Isis and all other pagan Nature deities, by a new breed of spiritual, geo-political artful shamans.