MONEY, SEX, AND POWER
We like to be direct. We LOVE transparency. And what we’ve noticed is that issues around money, sex, and power are invariably the issues that tend to break down all the best of "spiritual" intentions. So here we are, giving it to you honestly and simply: how we hold the three greatest make-or-break aspects of spiritual leadership and community.
Currently, the temple is operated on an entirely volunteer, donation-based system. We have been graciously gifted the use and stewardship of the land by Dr. Gerry Lehrberger, owner of the Wellsprings. We were also very graciously gifted the use of the dome by Asha Deliverance of Pacific Domes. Graell and Tony Corsini donated their own tipi and dome for use as the Moonlodge and School for Sacred Beekeeping, respectively. So for all intents and purposes, and due to the grace of the Goddess and those who love Her, we have no overhead to speak of. What a miracle! This allows us to offer almost all of our weekly events by donation, excepting the rare instances when there are materials to be purchased or travel expenses to be covered. Workshops, retreats, and special events that are offered for a tuition (often by a visiting teacher, or perhaps as a special offering from either a temple priestess or steward) are done so on a tithing basis - the temple receives donations from these events. All temple stewards, including the co-directors, currently serve on an entirely volunteer basis. This may not be how it always remains (it may not prove to be sustainable in the long run), but it is how we operate now and how we’ve operated since the temple’s inception. It is our intention that, as much as possible, sanctuary, teachings, ritual and support will be available to all, regardless of financial status. We hold fundraising events and accept donations in order to cover basic costs like website development, informational fliers, infrastructure improvement, community offerings, etc. Donations are gratefully accepted.
It seems important and necessary to be clear that we are not a temple that works explicitly with sexuality, tantric or otherwise. We are not called to do so, although we regard sex as inherently sacred and really more powerful than probably any of us know. It is a Divine Mystery of Union, and has hidden within it the seed of eternal life, and the same spark that first gave rise to all of Creation. At least, it can be that. It can also, obviously (and culturally) be manipulative, confusing, and fraught with complication and pain. We encourage practices and ways of relating that value conscious intention, personal integrity, honor and transparency. We are certainly a community that views the body as a temple and values embodiment. Sacred sexuality is one aspect of a fully integrated practical, ecstatic mysticism that we wish for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, choices around relationship or abstinence. etc. The union with a beloved Other is a mirror of the Sacred Marriage within. That said, we are not a tantric temple, we do not offer sensual massage or erotic services or education of any kind, and we never will. It’s just not our calling. We do at times offer counsel around Sacred Marriage, conscious communication, authentic intimacy and relating, empowerment, and personal healing, all of which will spark profound changes in your experience of sexuality if you allow it. In accordance with one of only a very few guidelines that we absolutely insist upon, men and women who serve at the Goddess Temple of Ashland are not permitted to engage sexually in any way with visitors to the temple. Hopefully, your experiences at the Goddess Temple will help you to know yourself well, to come present with your embodiment, to connect with Mother Earth, and to discover the impeccability of your own truth, so that you can bring this cultivation to whatever you choose to do, whether you plant a garden or make love to your partner. In the end, it’s your own reverent connection to the Divine through your loving, through your touch and approach with a loved one, your sense of honor and respect, and your own commitment to healing that will open the doors to sacred sexuality. It’s all within you, no intermediaries necessary!
Responsive stewardship is our template for guiding leadership, power, responsibility, and authority within the Temple. There is an article that goes into much greater depth on our media page if you’d like to really understand it, but in general, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It is responsive, rather than authoritative, and it is stewardship rather than ownership. It is neither a hierarchy, nor an entirely circular/consensus based way of relating and decision making. It’s a union of the two, and it’s been amazing. Here are some key points:
We commit to power with rather than power over. Everyone involved needs to be actively engaged in purifying themselves of the often subtle need to compete rather than cooperate and synergize. We commit to LISTEN to one another, to SUPPORT one another, and always to honor our own truth, our own needs, so that we can honor the truths and needs of others.
Our directors are more responsible, not more special, than anyone else. They do not direct under titles such as “high priestess,” because that would suggest a spiritual hierarchy, and in the case of this temple, would be both inaccurate and undesirable. It is their job to make sure that everyone who wants to participate in the temple has the support to do so. It is their job to walk their talk with ever-increasing integrity and accountability, to work together in harmony so that the temple may thrive, and to listen deeply in service to the Soul of the temple.
Anyone who feels called to offer or create or get involved in any way is welcome to (within the basic guidelines), but they must step forward into their own power, name their vision, work in good communication, forge trusting relationships, and do what they say they’re going to do. In other words, there’s a lot of space for people to step into creative inspiration and leadership, but in order to do so, they must become a true steward – accountable, trustworthy, fully committed to their vision and the partnerships that will arise to support them in it.
Within our fundamental agreements, we have insisted that all agree to speak directly to anyone with whom we have challenges or misunderstandings. Gossip, triangulation, and the cowardice that prevents us from speaking directly to one another are all extremely toxic to the heart of a temple, and they sabotage the personal power and integrity necessary for responsive stewardship to thrive. Our words are extremely powerful, and we take full responsibility for the way we speak of our brothers, our sisters, and the temple herself.
As of 2016, the temple has grown to include an Elder's Council, in additon to co-directorship. After six years, plenty of growing, challenges, successes, and service to the community, we felt the necessity of having a council to both bring a wider accountability to the co-directors, and to provide a wise and neutral place for conflict or misunderstanding to be resolved. It is the Elder's Council that determines if something that is happening is out of alignment with our fundamental principles, and serves the greater guardianship of the temple as a whole.
Well, there you have it! ”Money, Sex, and Power” according to the Goddess Temple of Ashland. We hope you feel like you know us a little better, and also that you feel empowered to reach out and ask if you have questions or curiosities that arise.