(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
(also known as SMC, SM or Essemian Church) is a modern
Religion; committed to the restoration of some of the
women's religions worshipping the Great Goddess. We are
interested in historical research of many ancient
matriarchal cultures to the extent of simulating the
of such a society in our present time. The simulation could
extended to include a Goddess-based, Amazonian-like
in which present day assumptions of the active and passive
gender roles respective to male and female are reversed,
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
To explain what this has to do with Goddess worship - we
offer the following. Since we believe that the worship of a
gender God has resulted in a rationalization for the
of a male dominant society, it then becomes apparent that
practice of Goddess worship could also have a similar
gender dominance presumptions. If such an effect were to
in an inversion of the present societal paradigm (whereby
female becomes the dominant gender rather than the male),
be concluded that such an inversion of gender dominance is
essential element of Goddess worship.
SMC believes that the ideal Goddess worship environment
indicates the necessity for a female dominant societal
and thus retains as one of its principle religious
acquisition of resources for the eventual creation of an
private communal living arrangement, where a Goddess-based,
female-dominant, disciplined lifestyle can be fully
Insofar as we believe that the realization of our unique
lifestyle objective is a 'Goddess-directed religious
SMC seeks special women and men who are prepared to
the full consequences of living in such a communal
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
rejection of the odd notion that a "spiritual" God should
a biological gender. We are suspicious of those religious
traditions which seem to have an extraordinary need to
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)
assumptions', rather than being based on logical or
reasoning. We offer a unique opposing alternative by
and emphasizing the female aspect of the (same)
Q: WHAT DOES THE SMC TEACH ABOUT THE GODDESS?
A: SMC's theological beliefs involve more the 'QUEST'
study) of ancient Goddess Religion history and mythology,
than teachings of any set orthodoxical beliefs. Rather than
for "believers", we prefer instead to invite others to
our Quest for increasing our knowledge of the Goddess, to
the ways of the ancient Goddess-based societies, and to
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
commitment of SMC involves re-linking some parts of
(male-dominated) technocratic society, with a distant past
'Goddesses' (rather than any 'Gods') were natural to the
collective consciousness of all rational beings. Yes, SMC
really involved with religion. Some SMC Rituals originate
the mythology of the "darkside" (Mahavidya) goddesses of
India. Herein one finds the paradigm of the powerful,
and sometimes cruel feminine deity who demands male
and obeisance. It is from this source that SMC's 'Sanctuary
the Goddess' derives its ritual traditions, based upon acts
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'
how prevailing religious influences can affect strict laws
not only sex but sexuality itself. SMC believes that it is
to involve the use of eroticism in religious 'celebration'
than religious litigation to have one group's sexual
prevail over another.
Moreover, SMC's devotion to the practice of 'Shaktism' (a
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
Q: HOW CAN A CHURCH INVOLVE SENSUALITY WITH RELIGION?
From the earliest times known, religions traditionally have
sensuality a natural and normal part of their religious
experience. Nearly all of these earlier religious
Goddess-oriented. It was not until after the patriarchal
suppression of matriarchal religions that sensuality become
"immoral pagan" practice to be condemned by patriarchal
However, the practice of Tantric Shaktism requires that we
confront and experience our sensuality as an expression of
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
Q: DOES THE SMC ADVOCATE FREE LOVE?
No, but here we can see the confusion over the term of
which to most people implies "irresponsible". Since total
total responsibility is something few people are willing to
people seek to escape from freedom and responsibility by
behind cloaks of "respectability" while criticizing those
dare to take responsibility for acts of investigating
'alternative sexuality'. SMC's most controversial position
sexuality is the notion that full control of a sex act be
reserved for the female instead of the male. Such a notion
extremely antithetical to a patriarchal society. SMC
(1)since the woman is the 'child bearer', it should be only
'woman' who initiates and controls all sexual activity; and
all sexual activity should be "Life Affirming" (i.e., safe
practices, and taking responsibility to exclude unplanned
Q: WHY IS THE SMC ORGANIZED AS A CHURCH?
As there is a certain communal benefit that can result from
coordinated efforts of individuals who share the same
(i.e., 'religious Common Belief'), SMC's purpose is to
the community coordination and legal organizational
necessary to best socially and economically share the
and costs of our Quest. As our Quest is a "religious
activity, by being organized as a church we can far better
provide for the transfer and sharing of resources in the
privileged situation that exists for other tax-exempt,
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
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
involving senseless cruelty to cause injury or harm to
the answer is "No!" Make no mistake about this! As a
humanistic church, SMC opposes cruel, senseless violence in
form. But if you take "S/M" to mean, as it was intended,
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
spiritual fulfillment by participating in orchestrated
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
that the SMC invokes in its religious practices.
Q: WHAT IS AN "ESSEMIAN EXPIATION RITUAL"?
Demonstrating our interests and respect for antiquity, we
anthropological note of the use of "expiation" or
rites from the oldest primitive, to even a few of the
religions. Such rites, where a consensual sacrifice or
was freely given as an offering to a deity to grant pardon
past wrong, or to ask for some future favor, was a natural
common occurrence and thus is also recognized by our church
the physical manifestation of a 'devine petition'. The
of the petition defines the severity of the expiation or
atonement. This Rite is conducted by an Essemian Priestess
her 'Dakini Initiates' (women trained in assisting a
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
correction. We believe that a deeply sincere commitment to
Rite, which of course is purely optional, improves one's
of a petition being granted by the Goddess, as well as
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
is satisfied by: (1) opt for minimal involvement by
SMC regular publications and a membership card as a (Level
General Member; (2) take steps to become more actively
as a (Level 2) Special Member, (by becoming a regular and
participant in SMC's local Volunteer Group) and helping SMC
achieve its objectives; or (3) advance through Level 2 to
an (Level 3) Initiate in one of SMC's special religious
for women and men is up to the individual member. The
commitment, the greater is the involvement and thus,
the greater the potential for personal fulfillment. The
active member is far more likely to meet, talk and possibly
experiences with other members of the Essemian Community.
most of all we believe that the greatest benefit that SMC
offer any of its members (as members of a "Religious
Who Share a Quest"), is the opportunity for a 'respectful
association' with others with whom you may share very
Q: HOW MAY SMC MEMBERS BE DISCREETLY RECOGNIZED BY OTHERS?
Borrowing heavily upon those "secret recognition systems"
ancient Goddess-based (Women-Kraft) religions, SMC members
special means to allow themselves be recognized only by
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
symbols, or there may be more subtle signs, such as
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
to recognize this or respond to it. Thus recognition and
communication shall always remain the option of the
Q: HOW DOES ONE BECOME MORE INVOLVED WITH THE SMC?
One begins by first becoming a Subscribing Member (just
and return the Membership Application form provided with
pamphlet). At this point you become a Level 1 Subscribing
Member, and will receive regular publications from SMC.
more than just a way to get new subscribers. On the
We are aware that SMC's unique religious beliefs are a
which attracts many whose interests may be limited to only
'prurient pursuit', and thus may have little or no
intention in developing an understanding of, or
for, the spiritual aspects of our unique philosophy. We
encounter some people who already have the appropriate
and disposition to quickly grasp our philosophy and are
advance. We prefer a gradual process for mutual
you learn more about SMC simply by reading our
learns more about you through your letters expressing
questions. This is especially the case for the greater
of members who live outside the state of California, or
Californians living distant from the San Francisco Bay
Q: WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT SMC PLANS?
SMC was originally set up to serve a small number (less
300). Since late 1989, interest in the form of inquiries,
the potential for membership growth, has been increasing to
point of overwhelming our present organizational structure.
respond to these increasing growth needs, several special
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
its programs. SMC has grown to the point that it must now
acquire a permanent membership facility (Darkside Goddess
in the San Francisco Bay Area, in order to expand its
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
in a number of tasks to meet its goals. Therefore, for
live locally in the S.F. Bay Area who are interested, SMC
hold a General Membership & Orientation Meeting once a
the purpose of recruiting people to join SMC's Volunteer
(3) National Membership Organization: SMC has long been
considering ways in which to export not only its
also to replicate some form of its structure and activity
other areas in other parts of the country. These efforts
just beginning to take form with our first 'Essemian
outside of California with the Northeast Region Essemian
Sanctuary in East Hartford, Connecticut, under the
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
balance. We have managed to deal with this problem by
sliding scale that favors couples and single women.
The basic rate at this time (assumes single male) is $45 a
Sliding scale for couples ($35) or single women ($20) is
only when the Membership Application is accompanied with a
from a woman that: (1) identifies herself as a single
female half of a couple; and (2) states in her letter her
in SMC's philosophy from a feminine perspective. A male
as part of a couple, joins without the knowledge, consent,
expressed co-interest of his spouse or female partner, does
qualify as a couple and must join as a Single Male (Pre-op
and "TV personas" must also join as a Single Male).
But, you cannot join SMC simply by sending money. Please
that joining is by application only where signature stating
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,
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
you get it? Because there was a reason you are reading this
What is that reason? What is the religious basis of the
of the "Darkside Goddess," and why is it that leather clad
with whips are perceived as "goddesses?" Is there a
reason why more and more women are beginning to believe it
destiny to control men? Is there a spiritual reason why
more men are surrendering themselves to these women? You
some of these answers in the Essemian Manifesto, 61 pages
illustrations and photos.
Photos include the showing of an actual ritual performed in
Francisco where an Essemian Priestess punishes a man
chains. She makes him crawl on the floor in his chains to
foot of her throne where she has him whipped. These
were not contrived or staged for any media production, but
scenes from a real S M Church, Sanctuary of the Darkside
ritual, and performed by real people (not actors or models)
have a sincere belief they were practicing their faith by
sacrificing to obtain Her Divine Grace by making such an
to the Darkside Goddess, --Kali.
1995 Service of Mankind Church, Sanctuary of the