By Princess O’Nika Auguste
Lucifer is one of my favorite current television shows. It has everything that someone could want: humor, horror, magic, romance, and action. Lucifer focuses on Lucifer Morningstar, the Devil himself, who has abandoned his role as Ruler of Hell because he is bored and unhappy. He also leaves Hell to defy his father, God. In the television series Lucifer, there are two creators of the universe—God and his ex-wife, Goddess. In the Hebrew Scriptures, there are hints of a female version of God, called Chokmâh (Hebrew ) or Sophia (the Greek word for wisdom in the Septuagint).
Many biblical scholars and historians have also suggested that the ancient Israelites worshipped a goddess along with Yahweh, and she was called Asherah. The Bible has even suggested that this Asherah was worshipped by the ancestors of the Jewish people.
Who is Asherah?
Asherah is a goddess in many Near Eastern religions. In ancient Sumerian religion, she is the consort of Anu. In the ancient Canaanite religion, she was the wife of El, who was also a supreme deity in Canaanite religion (Leeming, 2005, p. 32).
“Dione,” a word that means goddess, was associated with Asherah. There was also a similar word, Elat (which also means goddess), was used to describe her in the ancient city of Ugarit (Olyan, 1988, p. 79). It must be noted that Dione is a Greek name for the mother of Aphrodite in some Greek mythology. Asherah has been associated with fertility cults, so it does make sense that she is named after the mother of the goddess of love and sex.
Ancient Israelites may have considered Asherah a consort of Ba’al given the anti-Asherah sentiment of the Deuteronomistic writers ( Sung, 2011, pp. 553-564).
Asherah’s worship in Ancient Israel.
The ancient Israelites worshipped not only Asherah but many other gods in the 10th century BCE and at the beginning of their exile in 586 BCE (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2002, pp. 241-242). It is assumed that the Jewish people didn’t become officially monotheistic until after the exile and possibly as late as the Maccabean period (BBC: Bible Buried Secrets, 2011).
Asherah is mentioned forty times in the Hebrew Bible but English translations have reduced it. Asherah is associated with trees in the Bible (1 Kings 14:23, 2 Kings 7:10) and made into wood by humans (1 Kings 14:15, 2 Kings 16:3-4). She is associated with grapevines, pomegranates, walnuts, myrtles, and willows (Danby, 1993, p. 90).
Hence, like in Lucifer, Asherah or the Goddess is important or at least important enough to be suppressed In ancient Israelite religion and important enough to be banished by God to Hell.
The Goddess in Lucifer
Lucifer moved to Los Angeles and runs a nightclub called The Lux. In LA, he helps LAPD detective Chole Decker solve a murder and is invited to become a consultant for the Department. In Season 2, Lucifer’s mother, Goddess, comes to earth, using the body of a lawyer named Charlotte. In episode 1 of season 2, Lucifer hints to his therapist, Linda, that Goddess and God created the universe together, but does not offer much in the way of details. This makes sense in the light of Genesis 1:26-27 in which humanity is made in the image of the Creator, both male and female. I believe that this passage is hinting at co-creators of humanity. Moreover, the Hebrew word elohim could be translated into the plural gods, further validating the idea of co-creation..
In Proverbs 8:23-31, Sophia (or Wisdom) says that she was with God before the universe was created and was there in the beginning. Lucifer echoes this in Episode 2:1. He says that God and Goddess had sex, causing the Big Bang and thus creating the universe. Goddess (or Sophia) is referred to not only in Proverbs but in the Wisdom of Solomon and the Book of Sirach. While Proverbs is a consistent part of the Hebrew canon, the Wisdom of Solomon and the Book of Sirach as part of the Apocrypha does not appear in many reformed Christian canons. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that Wisdom 8:4-6 and Sirach 1:4 has Goddess acting as God’s co-agent in creation. Sophia also creates with God.
In Lucifer, (Mum as Lucifer calls her) is the mother of angels including Lucifer himself. Likewise, in Wisdom of Solomon 7:22-27, she is the “fashioner” and “mother” of all good things. Angels are mostly good and Lucifer was good once. It makes sense that the show made her the mother of all angels.
According to Marcus Borg, “Sophia is the most fully developed female biblical image of God” (Borg, 2011, p. 4). In the series, Goddess is the most fully developed female angel. Even Lucifer’s sisters are not as developed as their mother.
In Lucifer, Goddess is strong, assertive, and bold. She is a powerful woman. In Sirach 24:3-4, Sophia is a powerful, strong, and assertive female deity, who is proud of herself and her accomplishments. Mum (or Goddess) is the same although she doesn’t like humanity much because of God’s abandoning his family for humanity and because being in a human body weakens her, although by the time she leaves for another universe she comes to appreciate some of them.
In our modern day worship, we “creations” are afraid of calling God “Goddess” or saying that there was more than one creator of our world as it would probably borderline worshiping another deity, which one of the commands in the Torah specifically prohibits. However, I will argue that it is not against Christian worship to worship the goddess or another co-creator because it is hinted at in Genesis 1, and Proverbs 8 explains explicitly that Wisdom was there with God.
So What Happened to Asherah, Sophia, and Goddess?
We know that in Lucifer episode 2.18, Lucifer sends Goddess to another universe to start over because a war in heaven will have serious casualties and Goddess agrees. Thus, Goddess in Lucifer has a happy ending and starts creation over in another universe. It is rumored, though, that she will return in the second half of Season 5.
Judaism now is a monotheistic religion and no longer worships a female deity as many of their Israelite ancestors more than likely did. Although Jewish people no longer worship a goddess, it is worth noting that Jewish heritage and lineage is passed down through the female.
But what happens to the worship of Asherah? Why are Jews and Christians monotheistic and why we do not worship (for the most part) a female deity?
The Hebrew Bible can sometimes be a sexist text; nevertheless, there are glimpses of female power. For example, in 1st Kings 15:13, Queen Maacah worshipped Asherah. It is quite probable that the household matriarchs worshipped Asherah as it is suggested In Jeremiah 44:19 (Dever, 2005, 163). This illustrates that Asherah and other goddesses were important in ancient Israelite society.
Because of a patriarchal society, the worship of the goddess was suppressed and buried until historians, biblical scholars, and archaeologists began to uncover Asherah. In Lucifer, we do not know the Goddess’s name. We know her through Lucifer as Mum, but she is not named. She is either known as Mum or Goddess tied to a male’s identity whether it be Lucifer or God.
Even though God is not named, we know he is powerful because he controls the entire narrative, sending both Lucifer and Goddess to Hell and by creating Chloe to be made for Lucifer. God or Yahweh (or should I say the writers of Lucifer and the Hebrew Bible) control the narrative and continue to suppress the Goddess or Asherah.
Another reason besides the patriarchy why Asherah was suppressed is because the Hebrew Bible associates Asherah with prostitution (c.f Jeremiah 2:20). Some Hebrew Bible prophets like Hosea and Ezaekil blame her and her religion for making Yahweh jealous. Lucifer blames his mum for God sending him to Hell. However, in Lucifer, it shows the goddess still had influence and power. She tells Lucifer that it was her idea for his father to send him to Hell because God was so angry he may have destroyed their son. So in order to protect her child, she suggested Hell. Like the Hebrew Bible, where we still see glimpses of the goddess worship, in Lucifer we see a glimpse of the once powerful co-creator of the universe.
In modern Christianity, it is a sin to worship Sophia because of the commandment of not having another god before God. But we do know that the ancient Israelites worshipped more than one god. One of the Ten Commandments is evidence of that. Even the making of the golden calf is also evidence, and there are several hints throughout the Hebrew Bible that the Israelites worshipped many gods and goddesses.
In a culture that is patriarchal and where women do not have rights, it is understandable that the worship of a female deity by herself or with a male creator would be deemed a sin.
It is also understandable that although we as Christians have improved the roles of women in the church, that worshipping a co-creator (a female at that!) would be almost impossible.
What we must do to recover Sophia/Asherah /Goddess is to teach the texts that illustrate that worshipping a co-creator with God a female is not sinful. Recovering Asherah/Sophia is a feminist act. It is not sinful or idolatry to recover the ancient Jewish history of a female deity.
It is not a surprise either. Ancient Israel was part of the ancient world. All ancient religions or most had a consort or queen with their king. The ancient Israelites for a while were part of that, until misogynist forces suppressed the goddess and buried all knowledge of her until now.
She is a beautiful and complete version of a female creator and a role model for modern day women. She is not metaphorical but she is as real as Mary. Why elevate Mary the Holy Mother when there is a divine being that is female.
We must move away from sexist, patriarchal, and misogynist theology that keeps women oppressed and embrace theology that is feminist and anti-oppression.
Asherah/Sophia/Wisdom/Goddess is waiting to be recovered and rediscovered.
Princess O’Nika Auguste is from the beautiful island of St.Lucia. She has a BA in English Literature from Grambling State University, a Masters of Divinity with concentrations in New Testament and Church History from the Interdenominational Theological Center and a Masters of Theological Studies in Biblical Studies from Claremont School of Theology. She has contributed articles to Christian Feminist Today. She is an avid blogger contributing blog articles to Perspectives and Opinions. She has self-published her first collection of poetry called From A Dark Place. She is a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy and historical and period pieces.
BBC Two – The Bible’s Buried Secrets, “Did God Have a Wife?” BBC. 21 December, 2011.
Borg, Marcus, “Female Images of God in the Bible,” Radical Grace, Vol 24, No 1, Center for Action and Contemplation, (2011): 4.
Danby, Herbert (1933). The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew With Introduction and Brief ExplanatoryNotes. Oxford:OxfordUniversityPress.
Dever, William G. (2005), Did God Have A Wife?: Archaeology And Folk Religion In Ancient Israel, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.
Finkelstein, Israel, and Silberman, Neil Asher (2002), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, Simon & Schuster.
Leeming,David(2005).TheOxfordCompaniontoWorldMythology. OxfordUniversityPress, USA.
Olyan, Saul M. (1988). Asherah and the cult of Yahweh in Israel, Scholars Press.
Park, Sung Jin (2011). “The Cultic Identity of Asherah in Deuteronomistic Ideology of Israel”. Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. 123 (4): 553–564