The Phoenix Goddess Temple opened its doors to the Phoenix New Times in January, 2011. We believed we were to be featured as a community resource for the publication's annual "Valentine's" issue, which features products and services for the lovers. For weeks, we prepared to receive our neighbors and new friends, offering classes, socials and intensives for both couples and singles looking for love. The reporter did not view the temple as a religious or spiritual place. When asked about her religion, she stated "I am an atheist, with hedonistic tendencies'. She proceeded to devalue our spiritual approach to the point of stripping all religious motive or content from our practices, then sought secular authorities who would comment on our approach to healing and counseling. The District Attorney and Prosecution has repeated mentioned the contents of this article, published February 17th, 2011, as their primary motive in closing the temple. The article is filled with inaccuracies, half-truths, inept comparisons and outright slander. We were never offered an opportunity to rebut the libelous content of the article in Phoenix New Times. So much for Freedom of the Press, it's only 'free' if you are politically aligned with the ruling powers. Temple administrators approached the City of Phoenix Legal Department, James Hays supervisor Gary Verburg, Mayor Gordon and our City Councilman Michael Johnson. We wrote letters asking the City to address the harms they caused our temple and religion, asking for our grievance to be addressed. We were uniformly ignored by every City employee we contacted. As a last resort, we left a message at the "Special Victims Unit", because at that point, we felt thoroughly abused by the City Administration. We were wrong, there was a whole lot more abuse headed our way.
On a brisk Sunday morning in mid-January, Wayne Clayton arrives at work at Phoenix Goddess Temple wheeling a brown piece of luggage. *** Wayne Clayton is a healer with the Temple of 1 and Director of the School of 1. His ministry is creating one-ness through bio-energetic flow, especially in the heart and root areas of the energy system known as ‘chakras’.
"These are all my healing tools," he says.
Among them are a clear plastic bag stuffed with white latex gloves and a bottle of lubricant. *** Wayne’s healing tools also include essential aromatherapy oils, which shift the body’s emotional state through the sense of smell, tuning forks and chakra healing bowls, which shift the vibrational field using sound as transforming medium, and inspirational art which features women as sacred beings with beauty, nobility and inherent power.
He will use them later in one of his "trauma healing" sessions. *** “Tools for Trauma” is a healer’s modality taught by Wayne Clayton at the School of 1. The approach gives partners and healers of those who have been sexually abused a strong compassionate protocol for healing trauma. The technique involves using a safe and sacred environment to re-create the moment the victim lost control of their body, energy and circumstances. Once there, sound, scent anchors, nurturing touch and unconditional loving witness bring the abuse out of hiding and shame into the light. This multi-level approach triumphs over the abuse by releasing terror and helplessness at the cellular level. This is replaced by a moment of victory and choice, which is celebrated by both the healer and the healed. To HEAL is to make WHOLE and to be WHOLE with All-that-is is to be ONE with SOURCE and all of creation.
But first, he'll receive his own session with a temple "goddess" *** goddess / god, an initiate who practices use of divine love, light and self-sovereignty under God/Goddess…. who calls herself Aphrodite. *** The woman here has taken a sacred vow to live as the well-known and beloved Goddess of Erotic Love of ancient Greece. Now, as then, women who priestess the sacred feminine for humanity take on the appearance and characteristics of the divine inspiration. Just as a Catholic Priest dons the collar and becomes God the Father for the confessor, the Priestess cloaks herself in the image of the Goddess and embodies the divine feminine during the holy immersion….. Clayton says it's common for practitioners at Phoenix Goddess Temple to do sessions for each other. It helps "recharge energy" and maintains an all-important balance.
Practitioners at this self-styled church *** All churches are self-styled unless or until they become ‘mainstream’. All true spiritual human enterprise begins with a few like-minded believers who desire to practice their beliefs in harmony, to magnify their positive experience of God/Goddess…. near 24th Street and Thomas Road say that what they do is sacred work to balance energy and heal people, and Clayton really seems to believe it — at least enough to let New Times watch two of his all-too-revealing sessions.
Clayton's title is "touch healer." He's in his 50s, about 5-foot-8, heavyset, with glasses and salt-and-pepper hair. Aphrodite is one of about 14 women who work at the temple. Like the majority of the goddesses, she appears to be in her late 30s to early 40s. She's tan, blond, and blue-eyed, with faint crow's feet in the corners of her eyes. She says she conducts up to three sessions per day.
Just what is a "session," you ask? Step into the "Persian Room" with Aphrodite and Clayton.
This room is light blue, with accents that include billowy white curtains tacked across the ceiling. Books by Persian poet Rumi adorn the end tables, and sounds drift from a boom box — mostly birds chirping, combined with the sound of a sitar. A stick of Nag Champa incense fills the room with an earthy, spicy smell. *** All of the temples’ Transformation Chambers are dedicated to a specific color or ‘ray of light’ in the visible spectrum of light that we see as a rainbow. White as Source, Black as Cosmic Womb, plus Red (Creation/Sex/Life&Death), Orange (Womb/ Mother Nurture / Nourishment), Yellow (Ego/Identity/Sense of Self in the physical), Green (Heart/Love), Blue (Inner Truth Expressed/Communication), Indigo (Mysticism/Spirituality practices in the ‘temples’ of the mind) and Violet (Crown/Halo/Direct-connect to Source/God/dess). Our healing spaces reflect the world’s great religions, including the wisdom streams of the Hindi, the indigenous Shaman, Taoists, Judeo-Christian believers and those ‘old world’ religions of the Pagans and Wiccans. Egyptian wisdom and the healing power of water is also celebrated here.
Clayton gets butt-naked and belly-down on a massage table *** The temple has many ‘altars’ throughout the temple. Each altar is a surface upon which we consecrate (dedicate with sacred intent) those seekers desiring a strong connection to Source light. The Transformation Chambers are safe and sacred spaces where a soul is able to experience their own light and energy matrix. The massage table aforementioned has been turned into an Altar of Light to alter (change) each person toward their own divine light. The Altars are blessed daily, and have extra padding / softness added to reflect the Mother’s bosom and lap; they are lit from within to reflect that we are all filled with the Father’s light.
Aphrodite runs her hands over his back, then takes off her sarong and drapes it over him. She's wearing only a black G-string that reads "I O French." She tells him she's going to run the sarong across his body a few times, and each time, he should imagine some pain he's had going away. She rubs coconut oil *** used for centuries by temple healers and sacred sex practitioners, the low temperature process coconut oil is scientifically proven to be have anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal properties, acting as a barrier even for common STDs…kills germs and smells like a vacation at the beach…..on him while saying things like, "We're all deserving of pleasure."***Pleasure is so hexed and vexed in our culture that we frown upon anyone who seeks to enjoy. Personal pleasure in the body tells the soul that life is worth living; without pleasure, why be here in a body? If it is all striving for gain, what is the gain if we experience no joy? In Temple, as in many churches, the goal of the inner initiates / adepts is to ascend in their light body, that is, to not die but ‘live forever’. Our belief is that we cannot strive for eternal life without knowledge of joy in our bodies now.
About 40 minutes into the session, Clayton turns over on his back. He doesn't have an erection. *** Erections are not the only goal of a transformational energy healing. Practitioners address the individual’s overall energy matrix / light body not just their root. Aphrodite proposes a prostate massage. She puts on a "finger condom"*** finger cot, used in all hospitals and clinics to protect against fluid exchangeand inserts a finger into his anus, while simultaneously gripping and stroking his penis *** we do not use this term for the male member in the temple, as it is not a majestic or powerful enough word. IN sacred sexuality, we prefer and commonly use the terms wand of light (sex magic) lingham (Hindu tantric) jade stalk (Taoist sacred sexuality), to name just a few.
Five minutes of this, and Clayton's whole body starts shaking. He lets out several loud moans, and Aphrodite cleans him up with a wet towel. *** Wayne reports that he did not have an ejaculation during this session, he rarely does. The energy shudders witnessed are common orgasmic energy rushes which are easily activated in a person who practices energy awareness. The Sanskrit term for these involuntary energy modulations, which are blissful much like full release, is the term kriyas, a form of non-sexual tantric orgasm.
After he's dressed, Clayton tries to explain his session from a spiritual perspective.
"The start with the sarong was awakening my skin," he says. "We were developing a relationship, when I started to feel tingling sensations of yin-yang balance. Then she sent meridians up and down my spine to move internal energy better, and we had chakra-to-chakra contact." *** The veil ceremony to awaken the entire ‘whole’ body is one of the many ways in which a Whole Body Healing differs from therapeutic massage. In draped massage, the body is experienced as compartmentalized; only one limb or section of the body is exposed to touch at any given moment during the therapy. Full nudity connecting with full loving touch, and sacred anointing, gives the soul a full sense of the human 5 pointed ‘star’ body. To heal is to make whole, to be whole with creation is to be one-with-all-that-is.
Aphrodite's interpretation of what happened sounds less ethereal. She says what New Times witnessed is typically what she does in a session, but regarding the prostate massage, she says, "I don't always do it. Some guys are uncomfortable or they're already erect. Usually, once I rub my breasts on that area, it's over. But if it's a little limp, I'll ask to do the prostate."
"The prostate is a sacred male spot," Clayton adds. "I had stuff there I needed to release."
Phoenix Goddess Temple claims to offer "touch healing" to the sexually wounded and disenfranchised. But really, it appears to be nothing more than a New Age *** this term is used as a put-down, both to the New Age community and to our temple. Our teachings come from ancient wisdom lineages, the only thing ‘new’ is that we are practicing from many streams under one roof. Very Age of Aquarius…..brothel practicing jack psychology techniques. *** The reason this is true for the reporter is that she is not a spiritual person, and has no personal spiritual practices, nor roots in any religion. She claimed to be a ‘hedonist’ if anything. We note that a hedonist believes ‘eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we all die’ is definitely not a religion, as it renounces the soul as eternal and does not have gratitude for the gift of life from Source. The writer could not see anything sacred because she does not choose ‘sacred’ as a reference point to anything in her reality. No psychology is practiced in the temple, although psychologists have made referrals to our healers and guides.
Licensed psychologists say the "healing" could be damaging *** the term ‘healing’ and ‘heal’ require both the recipient and the healer to be open to the divine energy. This requires faith and an open heart. All people have access to divine healing; the teachings are clear: the healing only works when there is faith on both the part of the healed and the divine channel or healer. Damage occurs when there are promises made (therapy will clear this problem up for you, but it will take many visits to get to the bottom of why you feel this way during sexual expression). Temple admits no-one without their consensual agreement that they enter into the healing with faith that their needs will be met by the divine. No guaranteed outcome is offered, and so we do not disappoint by not delivering on a promised outcome…. and legal experts say the touching could be illegal *** This would be true if we were prostitutes, but we are not. We are Priestesses for the Mother Goddess and healers working in faith, with divine light and love. . But the temple has been operating mostly trouble-free for almost three years and raking in an estimated $20,000 a month in "donations." *** We have struggled financially since the get-go here in Phoenix. The problem has been, those who routinely buy sexual gratification view the temple as not sexy enough. When compared to massage parlors or escorts, our way of being is not seen as a ‘sure thing’, that the money offered will definitely result in a particular sexual act. With no guarantee of any particular act and no guarantee of financial support, both the seeker and the priestess act in FAITH, which openness is the only way the divine can enter in to mundane reality.
Women at the temple take names like Magdalena, Shakti, and Devima. *** All of these women have taken vows to embody these divine women of legend. There's also a high priestess named Gypsy ***The goddess temples were forced into wagons, the worship of the mysterious feminine became the colorful and free gypsies, who also kept fortune telling alive, and a tall, lithe blonde named Leila Swan, who advertises her measurements (36-26-37) on her page at the temple website, which includes photo galleries of each goddess. *** Leila Swan provides her measurements because for many people, the actual ‘form’ of the Goddess is being sought, and if there is a fixed desire for a certain proportion, a devotee should be able to worship with his / her most preferred form. In fact, the worship of form and through form is a primary practice at the Mother’s temple.
The goddesses practice techniques that include genital touching for a "religious offering" ***offering of support of money that generally ranges from $204 to $650. Their advertisements go in the adult sections of local newspapers, including New Times, but Phoenix Goddess Temple founder Tracy Elise says the temple is not a brothel — it's a church, and the services offered are religious rituals to enrich people's lives. *** Sex workers in the adult section of the Phoenix New Times, and like magazines the world over, pay millions in ad revenue to the papers, who facilitate the meeting of clients and escorts, and the finding of sensual massage parlors. Temple Found-Her Tracy Elise claims Jesus as her first spiritual teacher and savior. He taught his followers to be a light unto the world, and to bring the light where it is needed. PGT and the School of 1 provide a safe and sacred haven for those ready to connect with their own inner light, cultivate their own energy matrix and step into their divine birthright to joy and ease in the body.
The women at the temple have mostly male clients *** Temple has guests, seekers, initiates, adepts and co=healers in session, no clients are here, which implies a limited professional relationship without benefit of divine guidance…., while Wayne Clayton (one of the few male practitioners at the temple) works primarily with women, particularly the sexually abused. His form of "healing" work includes spanking and exploring "energy spots" inside vaginas and anuses. He has no license or certification in psychology *** What does this profession have to do with sacred sexual healing? We offer seekers who have faith in their own version of God/Goddess/Source to open up to divine energy healing, a re-wiring of their matrix towards strength and power, but says he offers an alternative approach to solving some of the same problems addressed in sex therapy.
Sex therapy is a relatively new field. Until the 1960s, sexual dysfunctions were generally treated with psychoanalysis. The pioneers of modern sex therapy, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, began doing laboratory observations *** Lab observation implies a strong separation of the observer from the observed. Temple healers practice one-ness with all that is, through heart energy, and through both parties focusing on their higher power as the mediating and healing power. ….at Washington University in St. Louis in 1957. They studied things like vaginal lubrication and orgasm, and established the "four stages of sexual response" (excitement, plateau, orgasm, resolution). Their early work advocated therapists as sex surrogates, a technique now shunned in licensed sex therapy *** Sexual surrogacy is shunned not because it doesn’t work, but because it is too difficult legally and ethically within the counseling / massage therapy framework. Many sex therapists refer to Temple classes, where a student can decide for themselves if study of the human energy system and sacred sexuality is a fit for their life. Personal choice is emphasized above any pre-set expectancy or specific outcome.
Subjects commonly addressed in sex therapy include premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, sexual trauma, and intimacy issues between couples. *** These issues are addressed by the counseling community looking for mental (psychological) reasons for the problem and will root out the blocks through conversation and wise questioning. The medical community also addresses these issues as ‘biological’ problems, where circulation, physical stress on body parts, pharmaceutical side-effects etc. Temple works with soul and life force energy flow to correct or change the issue to a more positive experience.
Common techniques include cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, and sensual exercise homework for couples. Phoenix Goddess Temple addresses some of the same issues and uses some of the same methods but also incorporates "magnetic energy healing" and "sacred water ceremonies," both of which involve sex acts for monetary donations *** We do use role play and some of our practitioners are qualified hypnotherapists and life coaches. We do not compete head-to-head with these therapists, as our intention is to solve the issue at the soul level, not mental or biological level for the individual.
Licensed psychologists interviewed for this story won't definitively say sex therapy works (at least they’re honest on this one!), let alone validate alternative methods. But what they hear is happening at the temple scares them, they say. ***Of course it ‘scares them’ as they work with definitive methods or ‘profiles’ of human behavior. Scientific methods of solving issues which can be objectively proven through the 5 physical senses: we must be able to see it, hear it, taste, touch or smell it for it to be ‘real’ and therefore valuable. The Temple focuses on helping our members tune into their “6th sense”. Once they have this awareness, they can learn to direct their own life force energy for a variety of desired outcomes. Science has always been ‘scared’ of those who do miracles through simple faith.
"[Sex therapy] works for my patients, but it all depends on people's motivation," says Dr. Marcus Earle, a licensed sex therapist in Scottsdale. "Sometimes, outcomes can be equally effective not doing therapy as doing therapy. There's a chance that going someplace like the temple might be helpful for some people. On the concern side, not having people who are trained to walk people through difficult things in their lives could make things more difficult." *** All of our temple practitioners stand by to make referrals to appropriate professionals in the larger community. We do have a few healers actually focusing on healing severe abuse and trauma, and so in-temple cross-referrals also occur. We have offered sex abuse healing to men and to women at greatly reduced tithes (many abuse healings run 3 – 4 times the length of a normal energetic transformation and whole body healing).
Licensed sex therapists are certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). To be certified, a person must have a master's degree in some area of psychology and a minimum of 50 hours of supervised practice. There are currently about 500 sex therapists in the United States certified through AASECT, including no one at Phoenix Goddess Temple.
But despite treating some of the same issues, nobody at the temple claims to be a "sex therapist." Rather, they are "touch healers" who facilitate spiritual and emotional releases through sexual practices, and accept monetary "donations" for their services.
Whether or not temple practices have any therapeutic benefit, beyond facilitating orgasms, is debatable but highly unlikely. Clients and practitioners claim "energy healing" works, but there have been no empirical studies. "It sounds kind of hokey," says Phoenix psychologist Martin Keller, a diplomate of both the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Board of Sexology. *** None of the people this writer spoke with were part of the holistic movement to replace talk therapy with a combination of talk therapy and touch healing. Temple referred her to the Association of Sex Energy Professionals, which meets annually here in Phoenix each fallwww.goasep.org
· "If they're doing sex therapy, sex counseling, or even sex education, they need to be a licensed mental-health provider."*** We are not mental health providers, we are energy and light body healers, working with mutual faith in God/Goddess and in our own divine ability to heal one another…
He says the alternative "trauma healing" techniques like those described at Phoenix Goddess Temple "sound scary. I see it as dangerous." *** It is much more dangerous for anyone to live with the dark cloud of shame, guilt, anger and anxiety which tends to color the live of a sex abuse survivor. Many victims find their connection to God to be broken after years of abuse. Our healing emphasizes that each person is a divine light here to experience contrast between love and fear, connection to Source and the ‘disconnect’ that we feel separates us from God. Scientists and God/Goddess folk rarely see eye to eye, as their alphabet and score card differ greatly.
And in the eyes of the law, taking money for sex acts — even under the guise of "sacred healing" — is prostitution.
"If these places operate in such a way that I go there and pay money and then a tantric healer touches my genitals, that could be considered prostitution," says James Hays, assistant city attorney for Phoenix. "If I have to pay $60 or whatever to go to a class and, at the end, she rubs my genitals and tells me it's helping my life force or whatever, I've really got to question that." *** The Temple practitioners enter the transformation chamber without any guarantee that they will be supported financially for their healing gifts. The seeker or student enters and gives their time in faith that they will receive the authentic energy healing they most need. Since there is no guarantee of any sex act, and no guarantee of payment, the temple practitioners and members are in the realm of faith, and not the realm of a business contract.
There's a history of sacred sex temples throughout the world and about a dozen modern versions in the United States. *** Not a dozen, more like 5 or 6 total, including San Fransisco, Denver, Maui, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Manhattan. In the past two years, at least three of them have been raided on suspicion of prostitution ***Seattle experienced two actual raids, other temples have been harassed through zoning enforcement. Many of the pioneers of the Tantra and Goddess movement nationwide have either been ticketed or actually arrested for prostitution.
Phoenix Goddess Temple was investigated for city code violations, including inadequate parking, in 2009 but has not been charged with prostitution. *** Both the City of Scottsdale and the City of Phoenix have declared in press releases and public meetings that the vice department has visited the temple locations, and quote “have not found any evidence of prostitution”.
· Hays worked in adult-business regulations for more than a decade and remembers sting operations on massage parlors in Phoenix in the 1990s, and the prices for services at the time, which ranged from $60 for a handjob to $200 for intercourse. Phoenix Goddess Temple's suggested donations of anywhere from $200 to $650 for their services may seem high in comparison, but Hays has an explanation. *** The need for sexual healing touches on the basic carnal need for sexual gratification (simple release of the energy). We evangelize and convert our temple membership from those who need energetic health or a way to worship the sacred feminine. Our members convert from a variety of secular sexy activities, including patrons of strip clubs, escort agencies, massage parlors and swing clubs. We also gain new members from the spiritualists who have given up on receiving guidance for their sexual energy / intimacy from their traditional church or synagogue. The requested offering of support helps to pay for the healer’s time, supplies, facility, laundry and cleaning ministry, on-going training and community outreach activities like the Sunday service and the Wednesday Healing & Revealing circles.
"They're skating on thin ice, so they need to make money to hire a lawyer when the house of cards comes tumbling down." *** Anyone that challenges the validity of the Mother’s church will have a landmark battle, since the historic references for Goddess Temples and Tantra Temples are unavoidably specific: the worship of the Ma – Matter – Mother makes sacred all things physical (Ma-terial realm). The writer was given an easy to use reference guide for our beliefs regarding chakras and the Ladder of Light ascension process we study together.
Phoenix Goddess Temple looks like a New Age resort. The hallways are painted an earthy copper shade and adorned with paintings by Sedona artistPaul LaWrence Curtis depicting scantily clad women playing with fire. Statues and tinkling fountains loom around the corners. *** Our art changes frequently as many of our featured artists show their work in other cities. Paul LaWrence’s “Embraced by the Goddess” series is now hanging in Sedona at three local galleries.
There are two floors and eight rooms called "transformation chambers," each decorated in a different theme, including the "Judeo-Christian room" (all white with paintings of Jesus), the "Egyptian room" (black and gold), and a blue "water chamber" featuring a big bathtub. Every room includes a massage table (which they call an "altar of light"), as well as a bed (called the "grand altar").
· There's a euphemism for everything in temple-speak. There are no johns, but "seekers." No sex, only "sacred union." There are no handjobs, only "tantric touch." No payment is accepted, but hefty "donations" are expected. There are no hookers, just "goddesses." They don't work with penises, but "wands of light." *** This writer has no sacred vocabulary of her own. This does not mean that words carefully chosen to represent our relating to Source is not real, it is simply not real to her. See “Temple Glossary” for edification and illumination on ‘temple-speak’.
Phoenix Goddess Temple bases its practices on the Hindu concept of chakras, powerful energy centers believed to permeate from points on the physical body. The system as employed in the West names seven chakras, each associated with a color.
,…associated with violet and located on top of the head, as well as the purple Third Eye, located between the eyebrows. There's also the blue Throat Chakra, the green Heart Chakra, the yellow Solar Plexus Chakra, the orange Sacral Chakra, and the first chakra, the red Root Chakra. It covers everything from the waist down, including the genitals. *** WOW, this lady did not read her homework assignment! This description of chakra system used in Temple of 1 study is blatantly off, and would not match any known system of chakras at use on planet earth. There are energy wheel systems (chakras) in the Hindu, Buddhist, Korean, Mayan, Hopi and Egyptian religious systems. None describe the wheels as she lists them here.
Temple mother Tracy Elise says their work focuses on the Root Chakra. The idea is that women take energy in through their hearts and men's energy flows out through the Root Chakra. And if a man's root energy is blocked, it creates problems
*** Women send energy through the heart, men send through the wand of light. This heart/root connection is one of the main areas of practice by those studying the sacred sexual energy flow.
A Phoenix Goddess Temple practitioner poses in the Heart Chakra room. "Lately, I'm seeing so many men who actually have no red ray energy. Their red ray magnetic has been off, meaning what's supposed to be a positively charged channel has been neutralized — neutered," Elise says. "They're cut off, because there's so much guilt and shame and fear around the energy of the root. There's no science and provability about this [healing system], she acknowledges. But it works." *** Science has not studied energetic health through the chakra system, which is 5,000 years old; variations on the human chakra system have popped up in 7 different places on the planet, all of the systems pre-date Christianity / Catholicism by about 3,000 years. There is one interesting scientific area of study which does point to orgasms lead to greater health for men. Anyone can search the web and find multiple studies conducted in the last 20 years which empirically prove that more orgasms equals less chance of prostate cancer. There is also the ‘use it or lose it’ associated with erectile dysfunction in men who have effectively blocked the flow of their root energy through lack of erections and orgasm.
Or at least it's working for them. Phoenix Goddess Temple isn't a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit, although it generates substantial revenue. *** The Phoenix Goddess Temple has chosen the legal status of “Free Church”. The Mother’s temple cannot be party to the federal government’s agenda of war and destruction, disregard for the care of the g-old and giving education of the young a low low funding priority. The way the federal government uses tax money is not in alignment with the Mother and Her complete respect for all of life. Co-creating a church with Uncle Sam is not in integrity, especially in light of full separation of church and state, the very concept upon which the United States were founded.
"Suggested donations" *** we prefer the term ‘offering of support’ for the ministry we do. …. range from $204 for a one-hour introductory session to $600 for a one-hour "Sapphos Duos" session (with two goddesses) to $645 for the three-hour "Sacred Cacao Hot Chocolate Ceremony." It's been said prostitution is the oldest occupation in the world. Turns out, people have been doing sexual/spiritual work for a long time, too. Historian Herodotus (circa 490 to 425 B.C.) described prostitution at the Temple of Ishtar in Babylon, where the Assyrian goddess of sex was worshiped. The cult of Ishtar eventually spread to Greece, where she was renamed Aphrodite.
The Temple of Aphrodite at Corinth was imagined as a magnificent palace of lusty abandon, where a thousand beautiful women serviced men who came to worship the goddess. But excavations in the 1990s revealed the temple was too small for even a hundred women, and modern historians say the temple women were not high-society beauties but slaves purchased by rich Greeks and donated to the temple as religious offerings. **** There are many examples of Goddess Temples of old being stripped of their honor and being forced to work without benefit of acknowledging the priestesses sacred intent. The decline of the worship of the Mother has taken place over thousands of years, with the ‘his-story’ being recorded by the violent victors.
There's a tradition of "sacred sex" in India, a country known for its ancient sex manual, the Kama Sutra, as well as its temples dedicated to tantra, an esoteric branch of Hinduism that seeks spiritual power and union through rituals that include sex. The Hindu devadasi system — in which a girl was dedicated to a deity's temple — was customary until the 11th century, when invaders from West Asia began destroying temples across India and forcing devadasis into prostitution. India outlawed the devadasi system in 1988. *** Check it out! The writer reports on the violent overthrow of feminine value based religions, note the words ‘destroyed’ and ‘forced’.
"In the United States, modern "goddess temples" rooted in female-positive spiritual traditions began popping up around the beginning of the current millennium -- without offering sex. Temples in the U.S. include The Goddess Temple of Orange County and the Chico Goddess Temple in California; the Asheville Goddess Temple in Asheville, North Carolina; the Highland Goddess Temple in Michigan; and the Sedona Temple in Sedona. In 2009, three temples in Seattle -- the Sacred Temple and two Moon Temple locations -- were raided on suspicion of being brothels. All three were run by a woman named Vivian Ellis, who legally changed her name to Rainbow Love. According to Love's Web site, she was "mentored" by Tracy Elise for five years." *** Rainbow Love and Tracy Elise were co-center holders for the Seattle, WA based School of One mystery school. Their partnership ended in 2006, when Rainbow Love chose to create the Sacred Temple as a for-profit entity; Tracy Elise chose to continue to build the temple as a not-for-profit resource for the community. The women remain close friends in the spiritual feminist movement.
Elise, 50, has shoulder-length blond hair and wears a variety of flowing sarongs, some with glittery accents. Between her eyebrows, she wears a jeweled forehead decoration called a bindi. She claims she's had sex with more than a thousand people and had as many as 80 orgasms in one month. *** This information was shared in the context of the ancient temple priestesses, who were not considered representatives of the Great Goddess until they had loved and instructed at least 1000 men. The 80+ orgasms per month is common to practitioners of energetic health and tantra.
She was once Miss Harvest Queen at the Alaska State Fair. Her transformation to temple mother started in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1995, when she had what she calls "a kundalini awakening." (Kundalini is a Sanksrit word describing powerful but unconscious energy.)
At the time, she was married with three children and felt stuck. Then she had an enlightening experience with another man. "It actually happened not in a sexual moment, but the first time we held each other," she says. "It was almost like a special effect in a movie — where you see it, and then suddenly it's glass and it shatters to pieces and falls to the floor. It was just like that. I could almost see and sense all of my structures just shattered."
Elise found herself on a new path, one on which she could manifest her inner goddess. "Certainly, I couldn't have become this and stayed married to a very moderate Catholic man," she says. "I prayed the prayer of no return . . . I drove away from my home, my husband, my [catering] business, everything." *** Although Tracy Elise did leave her husband, she has remained close to her mother, sisters and her 3 adult children, two of whom work in support ministry at the temple.
Elise landed first in Washington State, where she worked at a massage parlor *** worked with one tantric male, one woman., then at the Tantra Temple (founded by Ms. Elise) in Seattle for six years. *** Our temple was witnessed and charted first by Spiritual Healers & Earth Stewards in 2002. In 2003, the Light Body Temple was chartered by the Venusian Church of Redmond, OR. The second round of temple ordinations took place Dec. 21st of 2003. The third ordination ceremony, conducted in the name of the Cosmic Mother, took place at a public park on Lake Union, May 1st, 2005. The Mystic Sisters have since ordained another dozen priestesses here in Arizona.
Seattle has a number of temples, but Phoenix didn't have anything quite like it in 2008, when Elise drove here in her Dodge Caravan with a new mission: bring "sacred sexuality" to the Valley.
Phoenix Goddess Temple began in the spring of 2008, in a Scottsdale residence near 68th Street and Exeter Boulevard. *** Not true, we started off Indian Bend Road, near the Pavilion Mall in a private home.
In February 2009, Scottsdale police visited the residence after neighbors complained. Sergeant Mark Clark told media that police couldn't determine whether allegations of prostitution were true, but officials charged the temple with city code violations, including inadequate parking for a home-based church.
Unable to operate under Scottsdale's zoning code, Elise moved the temple to a larger residence near 59th Street and Shea Boulevard. The temple went through two more homes in upscale Phoenix neighborhoods before opening at its current commercial location near 24th Street and Thomas last March. One of Elise's three children, a grown son, also lives in Phoenix and works at the temple.
Six months ago, Wayne Clayton moved from Chicago with his wife to become director of the temple's new learning center, the School of 1 (his wife is the school administrator). He teaches courses such as "Stem Cell Reactivation" and "Spanking as a Healing Modality”.
Clayton specializes in "seekers" who have been sexually abused and people suffering from illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease. He's been practicing his techniques — which include role-playing and "yoni release" (yoni is the Sanksrit word for vagina) — for 20 years.
He says he first tried these techniques after surviving years of sexual abuse at the hands of his late father. He tried psychotherapy and says that at one time in his 30s, he was on 37 different medications. None of it worked for him, so he started looking into things like acupuncture, massage, and shamanism. He says they worked for him, and they work for others, too.
But some of Clayton's claims go far beyond therapies, like acupuncture, that are now considered almost mainstream. He says one of his clients in Chicago lost a breast to cancer, and after several healing sessions with him, she grew her breast back. He says another woman in Chicago, this one suffering from cervical cancer and a subsequent hysterectomy, grew her female organs back through energy work. Eventually, she bore children. *** Wayne Clayton insists that these stories are true, but the miraculous results cannot be confirmed as he is not in touch with these former clients.
"You're a liar and a pervert!" *** Sex abuse is hard to stomach; this part of the article gives a lurid view of the role playing which can in many cases, restore a sense of personal power to someone who has been abused when they were a child.
The naked woman draped across Wayne Clayton's lap screams at him. He's spanking her. It's a sunny Sunday afternoon in January, and they're in the "Red Room" at Phoenix Goddess Temple. This is the role-playing part of one of Clayton's "trauma healing" sessions. He's pretending to be an abusive male figure from her past.
The woman is a 40-year-old "seeker" who says she was sexually abused by her stepfather and grandfather. She wishes to remain anonymous, so we'll call her Jane.
Jane's been having weekly sessions with Clayton for the past three months. Each session lasts two to three hours. The session starts with 10 to 15 minutes of talking before moving to role-playing.
"I'm your father! Have respect!" Clayton yells, smacking Jane's butt. Jane's crying when Clayton strips and they switch roles. Now, she spanks him to let her "anger out."
She smacks Clayton's ass with both hands repeatedly. "I'm 2 years old, and you're rubbing your penis on me!" She screams.
"I'm doing what's best for you," Clayton deadpans.
Jane continues smacking Clayton with tears streaming down her face. "I should have told on you — you ugly, ugly man! I just hope you're burning in Hell! That's all I have to say to you!"
After the role-playing, it takes a while for Jane to calm down. Clayton typically does deep-breathing exercises with her to "isolate energy."
Then he asks Jane whether she's ready to move into the "release" part of the session.
She says she's on her period, but he says that's okay and asks her to lie down and remove her tampon. He gets a latex glove, puts it on his right hand, and grabs his bottle of lubricant with the other. "Can I enter?" he asks.
Jane nods, and Clayton inserts two fingers into her vagina. "Okay, first I'm going to ground your energy," he says. "I'm grounding you to the Earth. I want you to think about the physical release you're going through, and how it will help the emotional release."
He pushes his fingers a little deeper and says, "Now we're going to bridge — feel the sensation? Feel the burning? I'm pushing on your urethra."
Clayton tells Jane he feels her having all these "amazing energy releases," though there's no change in Jane's movements or expression. But twice she does say, "That's too much."
"I'm gonna pull out," Clayton says. "Keep the breathing going. I want you to turn over and we'll do some anal release, get the anger out of there. Then you'll be cooked."Jane says she feels "cooked" already. "We don't want you to leave lopsided," Clayton says, changing gloves.
And so the session ends with Clayton inserting his finger into Jane's anus, holding it there for several minutes and telling her to "feel that energy spot."
After the session, Jane says she feels better. She had a headache when she came in, and now it's gone. Though she hasn't eaten, she isn't hungry. "My body's still vibrating," she says. "I feel energized."
Clayton says he does "yoni work" and "anal release" because those points on the body are important energy channels. He does "cervical work," too. "Every part of your body needs to be touched," he says, "including those inside."
Diane Genco is founder of the AZ Center for Change in Phoenix and a licensed professional counselor who specializes in treating sexual abuse and trauma. She says a licensed therapist would "lose their license in a heartbeat" for touching a patient's genitals, and before a patient can begin to deal with the physical aspects of trauma, a lot of mental and behavioral things need to be addressed. "If these non-traditional healers are not qualified or credentialed in understanding post-traumatic stress disorder and all the things that go with that — the ripple effects of trauma — it could be harmful," Genco says. "If they're just dealing with the sexual aspects of [PTSD], they could do more damage than good." *** This is the part that is so very sad. Nearly a dozen of Wayne’s female seekers came forward to give testimony to how this form of healing gave them back their lives, but the reporter was not interested in hearing about effective results.
does involve helping clients "re-learn how to be sexual without trauma being triggered," but "I can't even imagine any kind of therapy that involves touching a victim," she says. "It should never involve directly touching a patient in a sexual way. That is exploitation." *** Talk alone will not re-route and re-wire the energy flow that is blocked during sexual or any kind of physical trauma. It is not talking that does the harm, it is physical force. This energy can be replaced by a positive energy experience, which creates a new matrix of flow for the seeker.
A few days after New Times watched Wayne Clayton's prostate massage, he sent an e-mail stressing Phoenix Goddess Temple is not a massage parlor. "We do not do massage in any form," he wrote. "We don't even use the word massage."
But they do. As of this writing, on the temple's website under "General FAQs," they advertise "prostate massage." **** We did not use the term, we simply answer a Frequently Asked Question, wherein a writer uses the common vernacular to describe what they are hoping to find. And the definition of "massage therapy" under Arizona law is pretty broad. It includes things like hydrotherapy, skin wraps, and the application of essential oils.
James Hays helped rewrite the city massage ordinance in 1989. He says avoiding the word "massage" means nothing. "They're using their narrow definition," he says. "You don't make up your own rules as to what massage is or isn't — the state does." *** Temple Healers practice Whole Body Healing, which does not have the same motive, procedure or ethics as massage therapy. WE do not claim to do any kind of massage, as this is a biological process which works muscles, fascia, and circulation. An essential of therapeutic massage is the ethical ‘draping’ of the patient’s body with fabric covers. Whole Body Healing anoints the body in ancient wisdom traditions from Christianity and Hinduism. The soul experiences the body as ‘whole’ without compartmentalization of the corporeal vessel. The full relaxation is intended to open energy flow, not relax muscles or improve circulation.
"Massage" may have a broad legal definition, but "prostitution" does not. According to Arizona law (Title 13), "prostitution" is defined as "engaging in or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct under a fee arrangement with any person for money or any other valuable consideration." *** Thankfully, a vast majority of guests, seekers and initiates do give an offering of financial support to the healing ministry. If this was not so, the temple could not exist, as we are not part of any mainline or long-established church. Indeed, our religious mothers and fathers were tortured and killed, their property confiscated in the name of one religion being superior to another. Religions freedom is the cornerstone of what makes America a great country, and a great experiment as the “melting pot” of the world.
New visitors to Phoenix Goddess Temple sign a form before their first session that states, "I acknowledge I will not receive any type of sexual gratification in exchange for money during my session." But that doesn't mean there's no sex. *** The temple holds the transformation chambers as equivalent to the Catholic confession booth. In both cases, a soul seeks non-judgmental witness for their life journey. The interaction with either the Father (priest standing in for God the Father) or the Mother (priestess standing in for the Mother Goddess).
"Some of our practitioners do operate with sacred union as part of what they offer, but it's never, ever guaranteed," Tracy Elise says. "You don't want to identify the people who sometimes have sex as people who always have sex, because they don't." *** It would be as ridiculous for us to say to everyone who visits the temple “you must never have sex” as it would be for us to say “ you must have sex”. A central tenant of our practice is the self-sovereign use of our own life force energy. It is not for anyone to direct another’s energy in advance of the moment either, as this would override the core concept of “now” is the only true moment we can live.
Practitioners at the temple do not receive "payments" but accept "donation only." *** we prefer the term “requested offering of support” as that connotes one party receiving something of value, which causes their heart to naturally desire to give something back. This generous state is in our belief, the true nature of the human being.
… That could give them some defense, Hays says, "But if it's really a donation, then I should be able to go in there and say, 'I don't feel like giving a donation. Give me the services for free,' and then if there's no services — that's not a donation. It's like a forced gratuity." ***People do indeed come in to the temple and receive healing, counseling and training and not leave even one penny in thanks. Temple offers trade, barter, scholarships, and free internships to sincere believers who desire to participate from a heart-centered place.
But Phoenix Goddess Temple is "really just a business modeled as something they're not, so they can get money," Hays says. "It happens all the time." *** Please note, Mr. Hays has not attended any of PGT healing ceremonies, teachings or spiritual services. There is no indication that he has a spiritual or religious practice of any kind. If he does cultivate a relationship with the divine, apparently the ‘love thy neighbor’ aspect did not reach his study.
Last year, tantra practitioner Janae Thorne-Bird of Heartsong Healing Center in Salt Lake City was jailed on prostitution charges. *** She was charged with breaking massage rules in her spa; the city refused to grant validity to her Ananda Nirvana ritual, which was offered to a spa client as a spiritually enlightening option beyond the traditional therapeutic massage….
In 2009, three goddess temples in Seattle — all run by Elise's former student, Rainbow Love *** Rainbow Love & Tracy Elise closed their temple relationship in April of 2006. They disagreed upon the legal entity with which to hold the group practice— were raided on suspicion of being brothels. Love was charged with three counts of promoting prostitution and attempting to promote prostitution. Love claims authorities violated her civil rights; Thorne-Bird claims freedom of religion — a tricky defense, Hays says.
"The intersection between government regulation and religious expression is very complicated," Hays says. "I can't think of a case here where someone claims to offer sexual favors as part of their spiritual expression. It would be an interesting case, but I don't think it would work well for the church. The sex would be ancillary . . . you can do all your religious things without selling sex acts." *** That is true if you are an “upper chakra” religion, which focuses on sound, breath, speech, imagination, and spirituality-as-invisible power. The Mother’s temple focuses on making the lower chakras sacred again, then activating the entire Ladder of Light (7 lamps) in an integrated spectrum. Without sacred context or spiritual intent, there is no way to convince an atheist or agnostic that sex can connect you to God/Goddess, as they have no allowance in their paradigm for divine mystery.
But freedom of religion has trumped the law before, Hays says, pointing out some Native Americans are legally protected in their religious use of peyote, an otherwise illegal substance. And in North Phoenix last spring, a federal judge ordered the city not to enforce its noise ordinance code against a church called Cathedral of Christ the King, which was ringing church bells several times a day. The judge ruled penalizing the church was a violation of their right to religious expression.
Hays says there might be some protections for Phoenix Goddess Temple if they claimed to be a private club, and points out many adult businesses — including theaters, cabarets, and escort services — are legal in Phoenix "if they operate in compliance with the law." *** For us to be a private club, we would have to abandon our calling to represent the Mother as the divinely ordained partner for God the Father. This would be a diminishment of current calling and purpose.
But despite the obvious eyebrow-raisers at the temple, Elise says she's doing nothing wrong. "The temple is really a church for us," she says. "We open ourselves with love as an empty channel, and that's the authority by which I heal. I don't get my credentials on the ground level. I get my calling and I am under the jurisdiction of the most high. *** Tracy Elise never ever said to the reporter, “we are doing nothing wrong”. The concept of doing wrong is not even in our frequency of service. This was another projection on the part of the writer. She answered the Mother’s call to serve full time in the name of the Goddess in March of 2003. She believes that all pastors, ministers and spiritual healers/guides are ordained directly by their connection to Source, and in this way, her temple is no different than any other.