Liminal Book Review: The Red Goddess


The Red Goddess by Peter Grey; Scarlet Imprint, under the banner Bibliotechque Rouge. Published in the U.K., 2011. 248 pages.

Babalon compels me to re-think my Pagan ideologies. When I was a younger 'religious scholar' I poured over and obsessed on the Book of Revelations. Not understanding the history of it's author or any comparison in apocalyptic writings, my Catholic upbringing still had it's chains around me; holding me to the shame, guilt and eventually the fear used to control. Of course, this might also have been due to me being a slight insomniac in high school (one bout lasted 23 days with little more than 3 hours of sleep a night). There were even times after I had come to witchcraft and later paganism when I would secretly think, but what IF?

When I went on to college and took religious studies courses for my Bachelor's, I began to see what the situation really was surrounding the writing of not just Revelations, but ALL scriptural writings. I saw Saint John the Divine was a holy man, but also raving mad. Not that being a madman is a bad thing; in actuality a little psychosis might even be healthy for people who are mystics and seers. Escaping into the bliss of a deity could be a mini vacation from the horrors they might otherwise see.

“The Red Goddess” is a compilation of three books, each a section of history and the great workings with this most ancient and misunderstood Goddess. The author Peter Grey pulls the reader along in the narration; not reading as an academic book but a revealed text. Giving the background of ancient Mesopotamian roots of the sacred whore in the first part, Grey tackles the big missing 'archetype' in western traditions. Ancient magicians worked with Her energy as Ishtar and Inanna, then Lilith of the Sumerians. In Egypt, Grey explores the connection with Isis and Nephthys, and eventually Sekhmet: a blood thirsty and passionate crimson Goddess. The author severs this thread essentially saying these Goddesses all are not sexy enough to be considered sacred whores: "They simply do not have key characteristics"; being considered 'dark' does not make them Babalon (more inspirational than sexy). So who would be? I think I could make a good argument for Hathor/Hetheru as being an early incarnation of Babalon: the Goddess of Love, Passion, Dancing, and plays a key role in the journey to the after life. Her wild abandonment combined with the wrath of Ra is very similar to the passions of Babalon.

The work of invoking Babalon has been pursued by magicians and occultists for a VERY long time. Including the spiritual experimentation of Simon Magus, Aleister Crowley, Dr. John Dee with Edward Kelly, and the more recent Jack Parsons/L. Ron Hubbard pursuit all combined may have been enough magick needed to open the gates and release our Red Lady onto the Earth. Astride a dragon between Her flaming thighs, with eyes of fiery stone, Babalon has arrived; according to the author, the “end of days” is coming from a place of great research, not of Christian-based apocalyptic fear and oppression. For those brave enough to face the fear and shame, the promise of liberation is just around the corner.