A New Age priestess and radical tantrist appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court last week claiming a Catholic conspiracy is behind the charges brought against her “goddess temple” which include prostitution, pandering, money laundering and illegal control of an enterprise.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the bizarre antics of Tracy Elise, leader of the Phoenix Goddess Temple in Phoenix, Arizona, who appeared in court dressed in a long white dress, sporting flowers on her head and a bindi on her forehead. Representing herself, she prepared to make her final arguments by setting up a small altar with pine cones and goddess figurines, then told the court that she was “letting the holy spirit guide me today through this trial.”
She's going to need a lot more than New Age mumbo-jumbo to get her out of this one. Prosecutors say women associated with the Temple offer services including sexual gratification to male visitors in exchange for money. Elise, who doesn’t deny the charge, says it’s all part of the temple’s spiritual practices.
According to its website, the Phoenix Goddess Temple promotes sexual healing and is an open source for all who wish to better know the Great Mother and her unique gifts for healing body, mind and soul.”
One of its services include “Friday Night Sex Ed” sessions which feature classes such as “Pleasing the Male and Female Bodies” and “Sacred Loving Touch for Couples”.
AZCentral.com explains that Elise founded the Phoenix Goddess Temple out of a residence in Scottsdale in 2008 before moving to a new location after neighbors complained and police made inquiries into church activities. In 2010, she relocated it to Phoenix, calling it a “neo Tantra Temple” which offered spiritual and touch-based healing services in exchange for donations.
Although they claim to be “One of the nation's largest temple's honoring the Mother aspect of the Creator”, Maricopa County attorney Edward Leiter presented the court with evidence that this organization was more like a house of prostitution than a house of worship. He showed the jury a menu of temple services which included a sentence stating that a “goddess” would physically help a “seeker” achieve sexual gratification. “Donations” for these services ranged from $200 to $600.
“There is absolutely no legal or religious protection for what was happening in there,” deputy county attorney Christopher Sammons said. “This is about the defendant manipulating people around her to create a place for prostitution.”
During the trial, when asked if touching the genitals was a sacred practice for her faith, Elise said it was.
She also described other temple practices such as collecting menstrual blood from temple members in “moon jars” which was then poured on trees and the ground to thank the earth.
In a video of the court proceedings which is posted on her Facebook page, Elise launches into a disjointed rant against a prosecutor, accusing him of engaging in a Catholic conspiracy against her. She cited him for being a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus who vowed to publicly support a Pope who is the leader of a religion whose “doctrine” does not allow women to be priests.
At this point, the judge interrupted Elise to remind her that the charges against her were brought by a Grand Jury, not the Catholic prosecutor.
“Unless you can show that there is some inappropriate influence being exerted by the county attorney or some other Catholic official on the grand jury - and you have no evidence like that - so your arguments about what happened in regards to this conspiracy aren’t relevant to these charges,” the judge says.
When confronted about the raunchy ads for the Temple which featured scantily clad "goddesses" in suggestive positions, Elise claimed the ads were “a stream of natural energy” designed to draw more seekers to the temple.
If convicted, she could be spending decades worshiping Mother Earth from behind bars.