Every once in awhile I secretly delight in reading something cringe worthy. With an eye for scandal not veracity, America Nation of the Goddess, is like that article in the Weekly World News that makes you laugh and groan and scratch your head. If only the authors didn't appear to take it so seriously! The main thrust of the story is that powerful, secret families or organizations referred to as the Venus families are promoting a hidden agenda of Goddess worship in plain sight, even in public buildings and monuments. The nature of the Venus families is speculative and no hard proof of their existence is ever provided. The arguments prove convoluted, confusing, and largely unconvincing.

The first section of the book goes to a lot of trouble to cast doubt on what the authors see as the mysterious relationship between the Knights Templar and the Freemasons. As this history is well-documented and taught to European high school students, it was mysterious to me why they questioned this verifiable history. They seem convinced that the Knights Templar and the Cistercian religious order passed on the heretical idea of a married Jesus and a Goddess presence in Christianity. The argument starts with Templars living during the Crusades in the tunnels of the Talpiot Tomb. They claim the family of Jesus including his wife Mary Magdalene were buried here and it is evidence of a historical cover up of the sacred feminine in Christianity. The feminine Jewish concept of God known as Shekinah is explored so as to further the idea of an ancient thread of secret Goddess worshipers surviving since Biblical times. Confusingly, after starting along this path of Hebraic-Christian symbolism, they then switch course. relying on mostly Greek and Egyptian Pagan symbolism to make their points. Everyone from the Founding Fathers of America to modern farmers are involved in this heretical form of Goddess worship.

The authors, Janet Wolter and Alan Butler, write about their amazement at discovering evidence of Goddess worship in a Minnesota Grange Hall. To the authors, the classical imagery in the Grange Halls and ceremonies is evidence of this underlying current of sacred feminine reverence rather than a reflection of the Victorian era's fascination with Greek and Roman classicism. This hidden Goddess worship is so hidden that the authors assert only the uppermost members of the Grange know.

The Patrons of Husbandry, also known as the Grange, is an American agricultural association founded in the 19th century that always included women in its membership. The authors make a lot of hay over this inclusion of women asserting this is further evidence of their Goddess proclivities. This is a gross misunderstanding of 19th century trends and laughable.

The chapter on the Kensington Rune Stone appears to serve no other purpose than self-promotion of the book on the same topic by Scott Wolter, husband of the author Janet Wolter. This chapter has the most tenuous connection imaginable between the Templars, the Vikings and the Algonquin people. They claim the Kensington Rune Stone is legitimate although most scholars and most Minnesotans believe it was faked. There is no historic proof of pre-Columbian Europeans intermarrying with North American tribes. The authors use 19th century speculations of an earlier European presence in North America which has since been thoroughly disproven. They even suggest that the Algonquins practiced Masonic-like rituals due to this hypothetical earlier European Templar presence, a self-serving, inaccurate and offensive assertion.

The authors are quite taken by the controversial Megalithic Yard, theorized to be a highly accurate unit of measurement used to build megalithic sites. They claim the Megalithic Yard was reintroduced when building colonial American cities. I grew bored with the long explanations of how many Megalithic Yards were counted between various monuments and the symbolic meaning of these numbers. They also spend an astounding number of pages discussing the equally riveting topic of shadows cast by monuments and pointing to other monuments, such as the Washington Monument casting a shadow towards Ellipse Park on a day that they associate with the Goddess Demeter and then relate back to their theory about the Eleusian mysteries being alive and well in Grange Halls.

Most of the so called research in this book could not withstand the late night drunken arguments of college freshmen. While some passages are historically veridical, there is enough misinformation and conjecture to make it a dubious source of information. A few ideas I found novel and interesting. I've been told that their theories about the obelisks in NYC being lined up to resemble Orion's Belt and pointing to a location in England and their assertions of Masonic influence on the game of baseball are not as far-fetched as they seem. Unfortunately, their lack of concern with source checking and historical accuracy calls everything they say into question. The speculative nature of the text made me wonder if Alan Butler and Janet Wolter don't moonlight as scandal-mongering political ad writers. So much is inferred, so little is really said. The Venus Families in the end are as nebulous as the facts.

~review by Larissa Carlson

Authors: Alan Butler and Janet Wolter
Destiny Books, 2015   
pp. 353, $18.95