Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor's Name

Christine E. Gudorf

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Whitney Bauman

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Lesley A. Northup

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Gnostic, priestess, feminine, gender, sexuality, performance, ritual, Eucharist, O.T.O., magick

Date of Defense



The Gnostic Mass of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (E.G.C.) suggests a heterosexual gender binary in which the female Priestess seated on the altar as the sexual and fertile image of the divine feminine is directed by the male Priest’s activity, desire and speech. The apparent contradiction between the empowered individual and the polarized gender role was examined by comparing the ritual symbolism of the feminine with the interpretations of four Priestesses and three Priests (three pairs plus one). Findings suggest that the Priestess’ role in the Gnostic Mass is associated with channeling, receptivity, womb, cup, and fertility, while the Priest’s role is associated with enthusiasm, activity, phallus, lance, and virility. Despite this strong gender duality, the Priestesses asserted that their role was personally and spiritually empowering, and they maintained heterosexual and polarized gendered roles are necessary in a transformative ritual which ultimately reveals the godlike unified individual.





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