The story of the New Celestial Union Version, an eight-year retrospective
The behind-the-scene story of the NCUV
By S.A. Morrigan
March 11, 2017
With the publication of the new Eastminster Critical Edition, which is by far the best rendition of the scriptures ever, I thought it is appropriate for me to offer this retrospective.
My first attempt at publishing a print edition of what was known then as the "Madrian Scriptures" (later renamed "Filianic Scriptures") was late 2008. At the time, I was relatively fresh out of my short-lived stint at a Reformed Catholic denomination as a priest and an episcopal vicar (who possessed nearly all power of a bishop). What got me out of Christianity was my rather accidental encounter with an obscure Internet phenomenon of the time, called "Aristasia." I found "Aristasia" through a brief mention (now long removed) in the Wikipedia article on Goddess worship -- no hyperlink, so I had to use Google. At the time, "Aristasia" was in transition--from a London-based lesbian-separatist kink club organized around Marianne Martindale to an Internet-based global experiment in "re-racinating the image-sphere." I was among the first to join the so-called Operation Bridgehead, a virtual Aristasia, so to speak, based in Second Life.
I was particularly drawn to the religious and philosophical aspects of Aristasia, far more so than the "cultural" phenomenon itself. The latter, I found it to be intolerable after a year or so with them. It felt rather contrived and shallow. There was a growing gap between the former and the latter as Aristasia began separating itself from its British roots--though, ironically (as ECE mentions in its commentaries section) the emphasis on "Aristasian" religion and spirituality was their way to rapidly distance themselves from the BDSM which made Aristasia (in)famous in the eyes of the public and the media.
Unfortunately, compared with Christianity, this religion lacked certain things--such as a book of scriptures and a prayerbook. Fragments of little this and that were sporadically published on Aristasia forums and websites by one who called herself "Raya Chancandre" (who may actually be the same person as "Lady Aquila" and even "Sushuri"--as multiple personality to boost Aristasian virtual Potemkin village was rather encouraged back then). Around this time, the website mother-god.com began and it quickly became one of the most popular sites on Goddess spirituality (according to Alexa). It was obvious to me that it was not just me. Yet, mother-god.com did not have good enough resources to implement a spiritual practice; it was mostly about apologetics to establish Aristasia's religious dogma: the monotheism in which the deity is female.
This led me to three projects: first, a quest to establish some kind of ecclesiastical organization to support this faith apart from Aristasia and its quickly degrading and infantalizing "culture"; second, a publication of an actual paper book that contains all known sacred texts used by the faith, consolidating various fragments available at the time online; and third, a creation of a common liturgy for a worldwide adoption (or at least within the anglophone world).
The first project manifested as what was then called the Collyridian Filianic Communion (originally it was named the Collyridian Britannic Episcopal Church, as its liturgy was initially designed out of the Anglican use and Sarum rite with a "revived Collyridian" language to adapt it to the Goddess spirituality). Some of the Deanic organizations that are still active today trace their roots to CFC. The CFC itself became defunct by the end of 2011, primarily over the lack of internal cohesion.
The second project was the New Celestial Union Version, first published in 2009 as a paperback and later expanded in 2010.
NCUV was based primarily on the Marcus Mößner (or, more commonly known as "Moessner") manuscript (which was also available online at the time on Rasa von Werder a/k/a Kellie Everts's website and David Kay's MSN forum page--making it the most commonly used version). Mößner was briefly a member of the CFC (before he decided to become Roman Catholic) and he provided some valuable input. He was also had a personal contact with the late Madria Olga Lotar, the last surviving matriarch of Lux Madriana. However, I was already aware of several discrepancies between the Mößner text and Aristasian Authorised Version texts. The latter at the time was only published online in fragments. No other manuscripts were available to me at the time.
Later additional manuscripts were emailed to me by maybe two or three individuals, one of which was Georgia B. Cobb and the other I believe was Barbara Thompson. They claimed to have followed the earlier incarnations of Madrian/Filianic faith (and the latter was a subscriber to The Coming Age magazine). These were consulted in prior to the publication of the 2010 edition, but after the 2009 edition.
The publication of the NCUV was largely motivated out of my own devotional necessities as well as out of my ambition (at the time) for a wider propagation of the faith "beyond the confines of Aristasia." To achieve this end, I did make some extensive changes to the texts -- most notably, elimination of a pseudo-archaic "King James"-esque language and spelling changes from the traditional British spelling to the Oxford spelling (I did not, unlike the later edition by Sun Daughter Press, change it to American spelling, as I believed the reach of the NCUV should be international and the Oxford spelling was official in the United Nations).
In 2009, none of this was intended to be a scholarly work. In fact, I wasn't even intending to market the book widely. It was primarily for my own sake, and anyone else who might appreciate having a hard copy of the scriptures in a nice-looking book format. It was at best an amateurish attempt built on poor source materials, and the work was largely done over a few days sitting in a Starbucks with my laptop. It also is worth noting that by 2009, I no longer maintained any contact with the Aristasia group or its members, as they considered me a persona non grata, and in years prior, I increasingly saw how (the post-Bridgehead) Aristasia had destroyed itself in the hands of maybe two individuals (this suspicion was later corroborated by a correspondence with a former member of the Aristasia group who was once close to them). Therefore, the work was done entirely without backing or resources of Aristasians. Curiously, shortly after the publication of the NCUV, the Sun Daughter Press announced the release of its version of the scriptures (which omit the majority of the scriptural texts, but oddly enough, mixes the rest of the scriptures with misappropriated Hindu texts), The Gospel of Our Mother God, with rather polemical claims that theirs was the purest scriptures and NCUV (without directly mentioning it) was a corrupt version influenced by "new age." The timing could not be a pure coincidence.
Now I look back and kind of laugh at myself but I got to also keep in mind that I was homeless and I was feeling both bored and worthless so any project like that was a boost to my own morale.
I was always hoping for better and more authoritative manuscripts to emerge, and I made several calls to form a task force to research the history and archive documents of the faith, yet in vain.
So now you have it. Go use the new one.