Chelsea Green Publishing

Not in His Image

Pages:464 pages
Size: 6 x 8.9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781931498920
Pub. Date November 15, 2006

Not in His Image

Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief

By John Lamb Lash
Afterword by Derrick Jensen

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
November 15, 2006


Basing much of Not in His Image on the Nag Hammadi and other Gnostic writings, John Lamb Lash explains how a little-known messianic sect propelled itself into a dominant world power, systematically wiping out the great Gnostic spiritual teachers, the Druid priests, and the shamanistic healers of Europe and North Africa. They burned libraries and destroyed temples in an attempt to silence the ancient truth-tellers and keep their own secrets. But as Lash reveals, when the truth is the planet Earth it cannot be hidden or destroyed.

Not in His Image delves deeply into the shadows of ancient Gnostic writings to reconstruct the story early Christians tried to scrub from the pages of history, exploring the richness of the ancient European Pagan spirituality--the Pagan Mysteries, the Great Goddess, Gnosis, the myths of Sophia and Gaia--and chronicles the annihilation of this Pagan European culture at the hands of Christianity.

Long before the birth of Christianity, monotheism was an anomaly; Europe and the Near East flourished under the divine guidance of Sophia, the ancient goddess of wisdom. The Earth was the embodiment of Sophia and thus sacred to the people who sought fulfillment in her presence. This ancient philosophy was threatening to the emerging salvation-based creed of Christianity that was based on patriarchal dominion over the Earth and lauded personal suffering as a path to the afterlife. As Derrick Jensen points out in the afterword, in Lash's hands Jesus Christ emerges as the agent provocateur of the ruling classes.


"John Lash's Not In His Image presents a fascinating view of meanings in a sacred history long--and wrongly--suppressed. It demands profound correction of what Western civilization has been taught to call religion. It is a book that should be read by everyone."--Barbara G. Walker, author of The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Feminist Fairy Tales, and others.

"This remarkable book introduces a Gnostic approach to Sophia-Gaia, the feminine wisdom principle embodied by the earth, vividly soliciting us to embrace Her revival for our survival. When the human race revered the fertility of the earth, the perennial philosophy of human kindness and good sense, as embodied in the common laws of indigenous people the world over, was equally prominent in ancient Europe. Gyncentric societies did not know the taint of sexual apartheid; mystery cults were participatory, experiential and peaceful. The erudition and mindfulness of the Pagan world have been hugely underestimated, since the onslaught of patriarchy, symbolized by the flood, destroyed a much larger civilization than we have been lead to believe. Initiated in antediluvian times with the arrival of misogynic sky gods, it took the three monotheistic religions to achieve the undoing of the sophisticated way of life of our forebears. In Gnostic terms, evil came from outside of the matrix of the earth, from another dimension or parallel universe. Entities of this parallel dimension managed to insinuate themselves into our world. It may come as a shock to many, that the Gnostics held Yahweh to be such an entity, facilitating the promotion of the perpetrator-victim ethos of Salvationism, held to be an abomination and a fateful error. John Lash presents the stark contrast between the tenets of retribution and exploitation - of the feminine ­, and the ethos of illuminism, with its emphasis on personal experience and communion with nature, within the framework of a vast body of knowledge, reaching from the classic authors of antiquity to present-day proponents of eco-science and eco-spirituality. A fascinating read."--Susanne G. Seiler, Gaia Media News. Basel, Switzerland

"Sometimes a book changes the world. Not In His Image is such a book. It is clear, stimulating, well-researched, and sure to outrage the experts. Take it from a scientist: the 'experts' are often wrong. In fact, a hallmark of breakthroughs is that they are usually well-researched and outrage 'experts.' Science shows the importance of trusting clear thinking about direct evidence. This book is full of both. Get it. Improve not just your own life, but civilization's chances for survival." --Roger Payne, Ph.D., MacArthur Fellow, president of Ocean Alliance, author of Among Whales

"John Lamb Lash's Not in His Image is a rare achievement, combining impeccable scholarship with remarkable visionary insight. In a breathtaking tour de force, the author provides a profound analysis of the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and their connections to the patriarchal system. He identifies the deep roots of the intrinsic problems of these three religions-- perpetrator-victim emphasis and salvationist ideology--and points out their relationship to the alienation and agony of modern humanity. This book is a must for everybody who is trying to understand the psychospiritual currents underlying the present global crisis." --Stanislav Grof, M.D., author of Psychology of the Future and The Cosmic Game

"Not In His Image is a brilliantly subversive and provocative work of scholarship and passion that overturns everything you ever believed about Christianity. The gnostic mysteries have found a new and eloquent champion in John Lash." --Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods

"An extraordinary and profound book. Not In His Image a blessing, and a warning that we must cease taking the terrible advice of Christianity … and that we must instead re-inhabit our own joyful, painful, mortal, beautiful bodies and fight for our lives and for the lives of those we love. This book points the way home."--Derrick Jensen, from the afterword

"What we know about the divine comes by way of three paths--through the spectacle of nature, through the testimony of spiritual seekers, and through our own inner experience, as in meditation and mystical communion. John Lamb Lash seeks to renew our understanding of all three paths, and thus to renew our sense of the divine. In particular, he challenges the otherworldly creeds that have come down to us in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and to recover the earth-based religions that preceded them. Those ecologically wise religions flourished, he reminds us, not only among the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere but also in ancient Europe. By reclaiming this pagan heritage, he argues, we can begin to cure the pathologies of genocide, war, and environmental degradation that afflict the modern world." --Scott Russell Sanders, author of A Private History of Awe

"Not In His Image is a stunning book. It should cause quite a furor. Lash's historical and anthropological erudition are breathtaking." --Colin Wilson, author of Atlantis and the Kingdom of the Neanderthals: 100,000 Years of Lost History and The Outsider

"John Lash's heretical book is a precious act of spiritual disobedience that seeks to save the world from Salvationism. Lash opens new ground between myth and ecology, and helps one feel what the planet feels. He proposes direct knowing and moving beyond belief, and advocates animism as a proposition to test. He leaves the future open and in need of human imagination. Humanity is implicated in the future of the living planet, but Lash exercises caution when making suppositions about our role as a species. This book is learned, courageous, and full of insights. Some may find it challenging and even shocking, but it is an important read for those interested in life on earth. It is made for readers to chew on, rather than believe."--Jeremy Narby, anthropologist, author of The Cosmic Serpent, DNA and the Origins of Knowledge and Intelligence in Nature: An Inquiry into Knowledge

Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review-
Gnosticism is a label applied to a collection of religious ideas that has long exerted a certain appeal to public intellectuals and controversialists, ranging from the theologian Marcion in the 2nd century AD to literary critic Harold Bloom in our time. What attracts them, I suppose, is the conviction that the highest truths are available only to a small circle of initiates -- the Greek term gnostokoi can be translated as "those who understand divine matters, knowing what the gods know."

The latest to unfurl the banner of Gnosticism is John Lamb Lash, who describes the Gnostics of the ancient world as "the elite of Pagan intellectuals" and declares that their writings are "the explosive charge that can blow the institution of the Faith off its foundations, for good and all." By "the Faith," he means the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition in its entirety, and he intends to do nothing less than convert his readers into latter-day Gnostics.

Lash, whose publisher describes him as "an exponent of the practice of mythology," rejects much of the contemporary scholarship on Gnosticism. For example, he dismisses the work of Princeton historian Elaine Pagels, author of The Gnostic Gospels, because she places the texts discovered at the Egyptian archeological site of Nag Hammadi within the context of early Christianity. Such an approach, he insists, "has hampered understanding of who the Gnostics were, and why they protest so vehemently against the rise of Christianity."

Lash seeks to rescue Gnosticism from the dustbin of Christian history and restore it to its rightful place amid the splendors of pagan antiquity. To signal his admiration for the fecund religious imagination of paganism, he capitalizes the word "Pagan" as if it were a single faith rather than a phantasmagorical assortment of beliefs and practices. But he does point out that Gnosticism itself shouldn't be described as a religion or even a sect, if only because gnostokos was "the generic term for any person learned in divine matters." Above all, he insists that Gnosticism represents the path toward "spiritual deep ecology," symbolized by today's adherents of the Greek earth goddess Gaia.

Not in His Image is perhaps best compared to Robert Graves' The White Goddess, an earlier and only slightly less eccentric effort to find and explain the linkages among the fantastic variety of religious experiences in the ancient world. Like Graves, Lash is a self-invented scholar who has read widely and thought deeply. (He is the author of Quest for the Zodiac, The Hero and The Seeker's Handbook, and the co-founder of with a former wife, Joanna Harcourt-Smith, who lived with Timothy Leary in the 1970s. And he is general executor of the estate of Jack Kerouac's daughter, Jan, to whom he also was once married.) He confidently issues pronouncements about what he calls "the wholesale genocide of Pagan culture" and prescriptions for the spiritual salvation of the world.

Lash offers this work as a corrective to the "scholarly specialization" that condemns the Gnostics to "an obscure and uncertain place on the margins of the history of religion." Along the way, he seeks to repudiate what he sees as the pigheadedness of the academic establishment. Thus, for example, he condemns biblical scholars who do not see the continuities that Lash detects between the early Christians and the religious community at Qumran. He calls them "Zaddikites," but they are better known to the lay reader as the custodians of the Dead Sea Scrolls: "They fail to realize that the message of love in the charming miracle tales of the New Testament is a sugar coating on the bitter cyanide of Zaddikite ravings."

But Lash is not concerned merely with scolding biblical scholars. His goal is to melt down the religious and philosophical ideas of antiquity and recast them as a serviceable faith for our world. In place of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, which he links to "the religious schizophrenia of the ancient Hebrews" and which he flatly condemns as "annihilation theology," he proposes that we embrace Gnosticism and what he dubs "Gaian ethics," which he describes as "not a call to faith in God, but faith in the human species."

Lash is capable of explaining the mind-bending concepts of Gnosticism and pagan mystery cults with bracing clarity and startling insight. At moments, however, he slips into a kind of New Age rant as baffling as any mystical text. "What we seek in 'Gaia theory' is a live imaginal dimension," he writes in one such passage, "not a scaffolding of cybernetic general systems cogitation." Or: "Gnosis, taken as a path of experimental mysticism, and the Sophianic vision, taken as a guiding narrative for co-evolution, can provide the spiritual dimension for deep ecology independently of the three mainstream religions derived from the Abrahamic tradition."

Even he acknowledges that his book can be "a long haul and a lot to follow" and that his line of reasoning "demands exceptional concentration from the likes of us, many of whom cannot stay in the moment for three minutes at a time."

Lash's arguments are often lively and entertaining, even when they aren't convincing. When he contends that Celtic civilization spread to the far corners of the ancient world -- "An apocryphal legend claims that John the Baptist was a Celt," he writes, "and Mary Magdalene was Circassian, half Celt, half Jewish" -- he is reduced to citing the film "Lawrence of Arabia" to support the proposition that "Celtic half-breeds survived in the Levant down into the early twentieth century."

And when he considers what he calls the "sci-fi theology" of the ancient Gnostics, he comes uncomfortably close to affirming that the otherworldly "Archons" of Gnostic myth were authentic extraterrestrials.

"It is worth noting that the first great UFO wave of the twentieth century occurred in the summer and fall of 1947 when Jean Doresse was in Cairo examining the Nag Hammadi Codices, at the very moment the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found," Lash writes. "This was also the year that the CIA was founded, with the dual intention (according to UFO conspiracy buffs) to co-opt alien technology and cut a deal with the aliens, allowing them to experiment covertly on human subjects.... In fact, a CIA agent named Miles Copeland was dispatched to Damascus to examine and photograph some of the first scroll fragments to be unearthed."

At one telling moment at the outset of his book, Lash describes how his life was transformed when, in early adolescence, he was reading a copy of Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra in the back seat of the family car on the way back from an orthodontist's appointment in upstate New York. "I swore to finish what Nietzsche had begun," he declares. "I vowed to think through and live out his critique of Christianity to the end."

With Not in His Image he keeps that vow. But when Lash invites us to embrace the "high strangeness" of what he calls the "ET/Archon" hypothesis "with the Gnostic theory of alien intrusion" -- "the stranger it gets, the more sense it makes," he insists -- he passes wholly through the looking glass.

2006-12-03 Jonathan Kirsch


John Lamb Lash

John Lash, a comparative mythologist who specializes in stellar lore, has spent 30 years in research and experimentation, using Signs and Constellations. He is the principal author of the Marion Institute's Web site,, an inquiry into the contemporary meaning of humanity's myths and beliefs, and is the author of a number of books, including The Seeker's Handbook, Twins and the Double, The Hero: Manhood and Power, and Not in His Image. He lives in Europe.


John's Website: MetaHistory


A Sanctuary of Trees

A Sanctuary of Trees

By Gene Logsdon

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

A Sanctuary of Trees

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95

Finding the Sweet Spot

Finding the Sweet Spot

By Dave Pollard

"Now what am I going to do?" is a question many people ask—and leave unanswered—at critical potential turning points in their careers.

Perhaps you’re a new graduate, but instead of lining up for a boring entry-level job at a big corporation, you wish you could start your own sustainable and responsible business. Or maybe you’ve been stuck in a job you hate for a few years, but you still dream of doing the thing you love and that you’re actually good at. Or maybe you’re a boomer and you’re ready for a second career, a personal venture that will represent a total change from what you’ve spent most of your work life doing.

Whatever your situation, this is the book to help you get started. Finding the Sweet Spot explains how sustainable, responsible, and joyful natural enterprises differ from most jobs, and it provides the framework for building your own natural enterprise. You’ll learn how to find partners who will help make your venture successful, how to do world-class market research, how to innovate, how to build resilience into your enterprise, and how to avoid the land mines that sink so many small businesses. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to find the "sweet spot" where your gifts, your passions, and your purpose intersect.

And make no mistake: our world needs your talent. The current economic system and the educational system that feeds into it have let us down and are destroying our planet. We need a blossoming of natural enterprises—connected, collaborating, and supporting ventures—to form a dynamic new natural economy.

Is such a thing possible? Inventor, entrepreneur, and humanist Buckminster Fuller said: "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Finding the Sweet Spot presents a new model. Use it to find the work you were meant to do, thereby helping to create the world we’re meant to live—and make a living—in.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Finding the Sweet Spot

Dave Pollard, Dave Smith

Paperback $19.95

Listening to the Land

Listening to the Land

By Derrick Jensen

In this far-ranging and heartening collection, Derrick Jensen gathers conversations with environmentalists, theologians, Native Americans, psychologists, and feminists, engaging some of our best minds in an exploration of more peaceful ways to live on Earth. Included here is Dave Foreman on biodiversity, Matthew Fox on Christianity and nature, Jerry Mander on technology, and Terry Tempest Williams on an erotic connection to the land. With intelligence and compassion, Listening to the Land moves from a look at the condition of the environment and the health of our spirit to a beautiful evocation of eros and a life based on love.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Listening to the Land

Derrick Jensen

Paperback $20.00

Dreaming the Future

Dreaming the Future

By Kenny Ausubel

Few would deny that we are entering a period of great change. Our environment is collapsing. Social disruption abounds. All around, it seems, we are experiencing breakdown. But out of this chaos comes the opportunity for breakthrough-the opportunity to reimagine our future.

In Dreaming the Future, Kenny Ausubel leads us into that possible new world and introduces us to the thinkers and doers who are-sometimes quietly, sometimes not-leading what he calls "a revolution from the heart of nature and the human heart."

In a collection of short, witty, poignant, even humorous essays, Ausubel tracks the big ideas, emerging trends, and game-changing developments of our time. He guides us through our watershed moment, showing how it's possible to emerge from a world where corporations are citizens, the gap between rich and poor is cavernous, and biodiversity and the climate are under assault and create a world where we take our cues from nature and focus on justice, equity, diversity, democracy, and peace.

Even those steeped in the realities of a world gone wrong and efforts to right it will find refreshing, even surprising, perspectives in Dreaming the Future. It will come as no surprise to readers that Ausubel is cofounder of Bioneers-which foreword author David W. Orr describes as "one part global part catalytic organization."

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Dreaming the Future

Kenny Ausubel, David W. Orr

Paperback $17.95