(REVISED 12/06/95) * (REVISED 12/06/95) * (REVISED 12/06/95)

Sanctuary of the Darkside Goddess
The Service of Mankind Church
P.O. Box 1335
El Cerrito, California 94530


Questions and Answers About the Darkside Goddess Sanctuary

Q: WHAT IS THE SM CHURCH?

THE SERVICE OF MANKIND CHURCH, SANCTUARY OF THE DARKSIDE GODDESS
(also known as SMC, SM or Essemian Church) is a modern Natural
Religion; committed to the restoration of some of the ancient
women's religions worshipping the Great Goddess. We are
interested in historical research of many ancient Goddess-based,
matriarchal cultures to the extent of simulating the existence
of such a society in our present time. The simulation could be
extended to include a Goddess-based, Amazonian-like society,
in which present day assumptions of the active and passive
gender roles respective to male and female are reversed, and
women have assumed extraordinary powers. We are not afraid
to explore a societal simulation where women become the
oppressors and men the oppressed, even to the extent where
men assume roles as slaves in a female dominant environment.

To explain what this has to do with Goddess worship - we
offer the following. Since we believe that the worship of a male
gender God has resulted in a rationalization for the legitimacy
of a male dominant society, it then becomes apparent that the
practice of Goddess worship could also have a similar effect upon
gender dominance presumptions. If such an effect were to result
in an inversion of the present societal paradigm (whereby the
female becomes the dominant gender rather than the male), it may
be concluded that such an inversion of gender dominance is an
essential element of Goddess worship.

SMC believes that the ideal Goddess worship environment
indicates the necessity for a female dominant societal paradigm,
and thus retains as one of its principle religious objectives the
acquisition of resources for the eventual creation of an isolated
private communal living arrangement, where a Goddess-based,
female-dominant, disciplined lifestyle can be fully effected.
Insofar as we believe that the realization of our unique communal
lifestyle objective is a 'Goddess-directed religious mission',
SMC seeks special women and men who are prepared to experience
the full consequences of living in such a communal situation, and
are able to help bring such a commune into existence.


Q: WHAT DOES THE SMC TEACH ABOUT GOD?

SMC has no unique theological teachings about God, except for the
rejection of the odd notion that a "spiritual" God should require
a biological gender. We are suspicious of those religious
traditions which seem to have an extraordinary need to describe
God as a 'He'; their image of an all-powerful, super-human,
spiritual being is always shown as being male in gender. We
believe this to be more the result of (male dominated) 'societal
assumptions', rather than being based on logical or theological
reasoning. We offer a unique opposing alternative by recognizing
and emphasizing the female aspect of the (same) all-powerful
'God'.


Q: WHAT DOES THE SMC TEACH ABOUT THE GODDESS?

A: SMC's theological beliefs involve more the 'QUEST' (i.e.,
study) of ancient Goddess Religion history and mythology, rather
than teachings of any set orthodoxical beliefs. Rather than seek
for "believers", we prefer instead to invite others to share in
our Quest for increasing our knowledge of the Goddess, to study
the ways of the ancient Goddess-based societies, and to explore
practical applications of ancient traditions to develop new
rituals for our present time.


Q: IS THE SMC REALLY INVOLVED WITH RELIGION?

The word 'religion' really means "re-link ing". And the basic
commitment of SMC involves re-linking some parts of present-day
(male-dominated) technocratic society, with a distant past where
'Goddesses' (rather than any 'Gods') were natural to the
collective consciousness of all rational beings. Yes, SMC is
really involved with religion. Some SMC Rituals originate from
the mythology of the "darkside" (Mahavidya) goddesses of ancient
India. Herein one finds the paradigm of the powerful, awesome,
and sometimes cruel feminine deity who demands male surrender
and obeisance. It is from this source that SMC's 'Sanctuary of
the Goddess' derives its ritual traditions, based upon acts of
surrender and subjugation of the male principle, as being a
sincere spiritual expression of the religious devotional
practices of Tantric Shaktism.


Q: IS SEX A PART OF THE ESSEMIAN CHURCH OF THE GODDESS?

Even though few admit it, sex is a part of 'every' religion. See
how prevailing religious influences can affect strict laws to control
not only sex but sexuality itself. SMC believes that it is better
to involve the use of eroticism in religious 'celebration' rather
than religious litigation to have one group's sexual preferences
prevail over another.

Moreover, SMC's devotion to the practice of 'Shaktism' (a unique
form of worship of the Mahavidya Goddesses) is rooted in
Tantrism. And Tantrism is based upon the use and control of
eroticism as being an essential element of religious practice.


Q: HOW CAN A CHURCH INVOLVE SENSUALITY WITH RELIGION?

From the earliest times known, religions traditionally have made
sensuality a natural and normal part of their religious
experience. Nearly all of these earlier religious traditions were
Goddess-oriented. It was not until after the patriarchal
suppression of matriarchal religions that sensuality become an
"immoral pagan" practice to be condemned by patriarchal churches.
However, the practice of Tantric Shaktism requires that we
confront and experience our sensuality as an expression of the
necessary surrender to the 'Goddess who dwells within'.
Therefore, the subject of sensuality must be included as a
regular aspect of our religious devotional exercises and rituals.


Q: DOES THE SMC ADVOCATE FREE LOVE?

No, but here we can see the confusion over the term of "free",
which to most people implies "irresponsible". Since total freedom and
total responsibility is something few people are willing to accept,
people seek to escape from freedom and responsibility by hiding
behind cloaks of "respectability" while criticizing those who
dare to take responsibility for acts of investigating
'alternative sexuality'. SMC's most controversial position on
sexuality is the notion that full control of a sex act be
reserved for the female instead of the male. Such a notion is
extremely antithetical to a patriarchal society. SMC advocates:
(1)since the woman is the 'child bearer', it should be only the
'woman' who initiates and controls all sexual activity; and (2)
all sexual activity should be "Life Affirming" (i.e., safe sex
practices, and taking responsibility to exclude unplanned
pregnancy).


Q: WHY IS THE SMC ORGANIZED AS A CHURCH?

As there is a certain communal benefit that can result from the
coordinated efforts of individuals who share the same interests
(i.e., 'religious Common Belief'), SMC's purpose is to provide
the community coordination and legal organizational structure
necessary to best socially and economically share the benefits
and costs of our Quest. As our Quest is a "religious purpose"
activity, by being organized as a church we can far better
provide for the transfer and sharing of resources in the same
privileged situation that exists for other tax-exempt, nonprofit,
religious corporations. Moreover, as the practice of some
Essemian Rituals may be considered controversial, by being
organized as a church we can invoke U.S. Constitutional
protection for the freedom to practice our religion as we
interpret it to be, and offer 'Sanctuary' to all who share in
the same desire to practice our Common Belief.


Q: IS THE "SM" CHURCH INVOLVED WITH "S/M"?

If you take "S/M" to mean "sado-masochistic" sexual deviation,
involving senseless cruelty to cause injury or harm to another,
the answer is "No!" Make no mistake about this! As a caring,
humanistic church, SMC opposes cruel, senseless violence in any
form. But if you take "S/M" to mean, as it was intended, "Shakti
Mysticism", then the answer would be a qualified "Yes". Our
involvement with this form of "S/M" actually describes a
situation where one may experience a deep, psychically intense
spiritual fulfillment by participating in orchestrated rituals of
surrender to iconographic forms of the darkside Mahavidya
Goddesses. We see this as the most sincere expression of
devotion to 'Shakti Mysticism', and it is the only kind of "S/M"
that the SMC invokes in its religious practices.


Q: WHAT IS AN "ESSEMIAN EXPIATION RITUAL"?

Demonstrating our interests and respect for antiquity, we make
anthropological note of the use of "expiation" or "atonement"
rites from the oldest primitive, to even a few of the modern
religions. Such rites, where a consensual sacrifice or suffering
was freely given as an offering to a deity to grant pardon for a
past wrong, or to ask for some future favor, was a natural and
common occurrence and thus is also recognized by our church as
the physical manifestation of a 'devine petition'. The sincerity
of the petition defines the severity of the expiation or
atonement. This Rite is conducted by an Essemian Priestess and
her 'Dakini Initiates' (women trained in assisting a Priestess in
rituals). Here devotees may present their petition to the
Goddess through a Priestess by consenting to endure mild to
severe forms of restraint, mortification, and/or corporal-based
correction. We believe that a deeply sincere commitment to this
Rite, which of course is purely optional, improves one's chances
of a petition being granted by the Goddess, as well as better
preparing one to deal with the reality of everyday life.


Q: WHAT BENEFITS CAN THE SMC OFFER TO MEMBERS?

Membership benefits can vary considerably according to the
degrees of commitment a member is willing to make. Whether one
is satisfied by: (1) opt for minimal involvement by receiving
SMC regular publications and a membership card as a (Level 1)
General Member; (2) take steps to become more actively involved
as a (Level 2) Special Member, (by becoming a regular and active
participant in SMC's local Volunteer Group) and helping SMC to
achieve its objectives; or (3) advance through Level 2 to become
an (Level 3) Initiate in one of SMC's special religious orders
for women and men is up to the individual member. The greater the
commitment, the greater is the involvement and thus, perchance,
the greater the potential for personal fulfillment. The more
active member is far more likely to meet, talk and possibly share
experiences with other members of the Essemian Community. But
most of all we believe that the greatest benefit that SMC can
offer any of its members (as members of a "Religious Community
Who Share a Quest"), is the opportunity for a 'respectful
association' with others with whom you may share very special
benefits.


Q: HOW MAY SMC MEMBERS BE DISCREETLY RECOGNIZED BY OTHERS?

Borrowing heavily upon those "secret recognition systems" of the
ancient Goddess-based (Women-Kraft) religions, SMC members have
special means to allow themselves be recognized only by 'other
members', even though they may might never have met before.
It's possible that someone you may see every day may be
displaying one of several SMC recognition signs. These
recognition signs may consist of wearing medallions with special
symbols, or there may be more subtle signs, such as displaying
buttons picturing some of the various ancient forms of
'male dominating Goddess' images that can be found in our
publications. If you were not a member, you would not know how
to recognize this or respond to it. Thus recognition and
communication shall always remain the option of the individual
member.


Q: HOW DOES ONE BECOME MORE INVOLVED WITH THE SMC?

One begins by first becoming a Subscribing Member (just fill out
and return the Membership Application form provided with this Q&A
pamphlet). At this point you become a Level 1 Subscribing
Member, and will receive regular publications from SMC. This is
more than just a way to get new subscribers. On the contrary.
We are aware that SMC's unique religious beliefs are a factor
which attracts many whose interests may be limited to only a
'prurient pursuit', and thus may have little or no potential or
intention in developing an understanding of, or appreciation
for, the spiritual aspects of our unique philosophy. We also
encounter some people who already have the appropriate background
and disposition to quickly grasp our philosophy and are ready to
advance. We prefer a gradual process for mutual acquaintance;
you learn more about SMC simply by reading our publications. SMC
learns more about you through your letters expressing interest or
questions. This is especially the case for the greater majority
of members who live outside the state of California, or
Californians living distant from the San Francisco Bay Area.


Q: WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT SMC PLANS?

SMC was originally set up to serve a small number (less than
300). Since late 1989, interest in the form of inquiries, and
the potential for membership growth, has been increasing to the
point of overwhelming our present organizational structure. To
respond to these increasing growth needs, several special growth-
response objectives have been decided upon and identified
accordingly for the potential new member:

(1) Permanent Facility: Heretofore, SMC has relied upon the
occasional use of member's homes or rented space to carry out
its programs. SMC has grown to the point that it must now
acquire a permanent membership facility (Darkside Goddess Temple)
in the San Francisco Bay Area, in order to expand its services
and programs, and provide greater access to its membership.

(2) Volunteers: SMC needs an increase in the number of
volunteers who can commit time on a regular basis to helping SMC
in a number of tasks to meet its goals. Therefore, for those who
live locally in the S.F. Bay Area who are interested, SMC will
hold a General Membership & Orientation Meeting once a month for
the purpose of recruiting people to join SMC's Volunteer Group.

(3) National Membership Organization: SMC has long been
considering ways in which to export not only its philosophy, but
also to replicate some form of its structure and activity to
other areas in other parts of the country. These efforts are now
just beginning to take form with our first 'Essemian Center'
outside of California with the Northeast Region Essemian
Sanctuary in East Hartford, Connecticut, under the direction of
Priestess Laura Goodwin.


Q: WHAT ARE THE COSTS TO JOIN SMC?

First you should know that SMC was once plagued by a
disproportionate ratio of male to female in its membership gender
balance. We have managed to deal with this problem by instituting a
sliding scale that favors couples and single women.

The basic rate at this time (assumes single male) is $45 a year.
Sliding scale for couples ($35) or single women ($20) is effected
only when the Membership Application is accompanied with a letter
from a woman that: (1) identifies herself as a single female, or
female half of a couple; and (2) states in her letter her interest
in SMC's philosophy from a feminine perspective. A male who, even
as part of a couple, joins without the knowledge, consent, and/or
expressed co-interest of his spouse or female partner, does not
qualify as a couple and must join as a Single Male (Pre-op TS's
and "TV personas" must also join as a Single Male).

But, you cannot join SMC simply by sending money. Please note
that joining is by application only where signature stating legal
age a disclaimer about receiving mature material. Since the
application requires a signature, we prefer to send you an
application together with a sample of our printed material, and
that you read this material before appying for membership.


Q: CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ON SMC BEFORE JOINING?

Yes! We invite you to send for a sample copy of:

1. "THE ESSEMIAN WAY" - $15.00*
The official SMC quarterly "Newsletter/Zine"

2. "THE ESSEMIAN MANIFESTO" - $15.00*

What is important about the Essemian Manifesto, and why should
you get it? Because there was a reason you are reading this now.
What is that reason? What is the religious basis of the philosopy
of the "Darkside Goddess," and why is it that leather clad women
with whips are perceived as "goddesses?" Is there a spiritual
reason why more and more women are beginning to believe it is their
destiny to control men? Is there a spiritual reason why more and
more men are surrendering themselves to these women? You can find
some of these answers in the Essemian Manifesto, 61 pages with
illustrations and photos.

Photos include the showing of an actual ritual performed in San
Francisco where an Essemian Priestess punishes a man (naked) in
chains. She makes him crawl on the floor in his chains to the
foot of her throne where she has him whipped. These photographs
were not contrived or staged for any media production, but are
scenes from a real S M Church, Sanctuary of the Darkside Goddess
ritual, and performed by real people (not actors or models) who
have a sincere belief they were practicing their faith by
sacrificing to obtain Her Divine Grace by making such an offering
to the Darkside Goddess, --Kali.

1995 Service of Mankind Church, Sanctuary of the
Darkside Goddess.