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


Surviving the Future

Surviving the Future

By David Fleming and Shaun Chamberlin

A Story from Lean Logic

Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That hardback consists of four hundred and seventy-two interlinked dictionary entries, inviting readers to choose their own path through its radical vision.

Recognizing that Lean Logic’s sheer size and unusual structure can be daunting, Fleming’s long-time collaborator Shaun Chamberlin has selected and edited one of these potential narratives to create Surviving the Future. The content, rare insights, and uniquely enjoyably writing style remain Fleming’s, but are presented here at a more accessible paperback-length and in conventional read-it-front-to-back format.

The subtitle—Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy—hints at Fleming’s vision. He believed that the market economy will not survive its inherent flaws beyond the early decades of this century, and that its failure will bring great challenges, but he did not dwell on this: “We know what we need to do. We need to build the sequel, to draw on inspiration which has lain dormant, like the seed beneath the snow.”

Surviving the Future lays out a compelling and powerfully different new economics for a post-growth world.  One that relies not on taut competitiveness and eternally increasing productivity—“putting the grim into reality”—but on the play, humor, conversation, and reciprocal obligations of a rich culture. Building on a remarkable breadth of intellectual and cultural heritage—from Keynes to Kumar, Homer to Huxley, Mumford to MacIntyre, Scruton to Shiva, Shakespeare to Schumacher—Fleming describes a world in which, as he says, “there will be time for music.”

This is the world that many of us want to live in, yet we are told it is idealistic and unrealistic. With an evident mastery of both economic theory and historical precedent, Fleming shows that it is not only desirable, but actually the only system with a realistic claim to longevity. With friendliness, humor, and charm, Surviving the Future plucks this vision out of our daydreams and shows us how to make it real.

Available in: Paperback

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Growing, Older

Growing, Older

By Joan Dye Gussow

Michael Pollan calls her one of his food heroes. Barbara Kingsolver credits her with shaping the history and politics of food in the United States. And countless others who have vied for a food revolution, pushed organics, and reawakened Americans to growing their own food and eating locally consider her both teacher and muse.Joan Gussow has influenced thousands through her books, This Organic Life and The Feeding Web, her lectures, and the simple fact that she lives what she preaches. Now in her eighties, she stops once more to pass along some wisdom-surprising, inspiring, and controversial-via the pen.

Gussow's memoir Growing, Older begins when she loses her husband of 40 years to cancer and, two weeks later, finds herself skipping down the street-much to her alarm. Why wasn't she grieving in all the normal ways? With humor and wit, she explains how she stopped worrying about why she was smiling and went on worrying, instead, and as she always has, about the possibility that the world around her was headed off a cliff. But hers is not a tale, or message, of gloom. Rather it is an affirmation of a life's work-and work in general.

Lacking a partner's assistance, Gussow continued the hard labor of growing her own year-round diet. She dealt single-handedly with a rising tidal river that regularly drowned her garden, with muskrat interlopers, broken appliances, bodily decay, and river trash-all the while bucking popular notions of how "an elderly widowed woman" ought to behave.

Scattered throughout are urgent suggestions about what growing older on a changing planet will call on all of us to do: learn self-reliance and self-restraint, yield graciously if not always happily to necessity, and-since there is no other choice-come to terms with the insistencies of the natural world. Gussow delivers another literary gem-one that women curious about aging, gardeners curious about contending with increasingly intense weather, or environmentalists curious about the future will embrace.

Available in: Paperback

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Growing, Older

Joan Dye Gussow

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One-Straw Revolutionary

One-Straw Revolutionary

By Larry Korn

One-Straw Revolutionary represents the first commentary on the work of the late Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka (1913 – 2008), widely considered to be natural farming’s most influential practitioner. Mr. Fukuoka is perhaps most known for his bestselling book The One-Straw Revolution (1978), a manifesto on the importance of no-till agriculture, which was at the time of publication a radical challenge to the global systems that supply the world’s food, and still inspires readers today. Larry Korn, who apprenticed with Mr. Fukuoka in Japan at the time, translated the manuscript and brought it to the United States, knowing it would change the conversation about food forever. The One-Straw Revolution, edited by Korn and Wendell Berry, was an immediate international success, and established Mr. Fukuoka as a leading voice in the fight against conventional industrial agriculture. In this new book, through his own personal narrative, Larry Korn distills his experience of more than thirty-five years of study with Mr. Fukuoka, living and working on his farm on Shikoku Island, and traveling with Mr. Fukuoka to the United States on two six-week visits. 

One-Straw Revolutionary is the first book to look deeply at natural farming and intimately discuss the philosophy and work of Mr. Fukuoka. In addition to giving his personal thoughts about natural farming, Korn broadens the discussion by pointing out natural farming’s kinship with the ways of indigenous cultures and traditional Japanese farming. At the same time, he clearly distinguishes natural farming from other forms of agriculture, including scientific and organic agriculture and permaculture. Korn also clarifies commonly held misconceptions about natural farming in ways Western readers can readily understand. And he explains how natural farming can be used practically in areas other than agriculture, including personal growth and development.

The book follows the author on his travels from one back-to-the-land commune to another in the countryside of 1970s Japan, a journey that eventually led him to Mr. Fukuoka’s natural farm.  Korn’s description of his time there, as well as traveling with Mr. Fukuoka during his visits to the United States, offers a rare, inside look at Mr. Fukuoka’s life. Readers will delight in this personal insight into one of the world’s leading agricultural thinkers.

Available in: Paperback

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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

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Dave Pollard, Dave Smith

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