The Temple Priestesses of Antiquity is a poorly-researched book that unfortunately is written well enough to keep one’s interest. Lady Haight-Ashton, the author, is a modern-day medium with a fascination for what she imagines was the life of her psychic counterparts in the past. Starting with the ancient temple priestesses of Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia and moving forward in history to talk about everyone from Hildegard von Bingen to Mother Shipton to Sybil Leek, the book covers an extremely wide range of time periods and cultures. The inclusion of a Christian nun, 16th century soothsayer and a famous modern psychic is a good indication that the book doesn’t stick to the topic of its title. Poor research and excessive and wild speculation plague this work. It’s a shame because the topics are interesting.
The author weaves together a “herstory” of alternate feminist history mixed with New Age fantasy. She claims that the temple priestesses of the ancient world were in general far more important in their societies than modern researchers admit or acknowledge. The actual evidence about the lives of these women doesn’t match the author’s version. For instance, on page 33, the author quoted an internet source to talk about the priestesses of Atlantis who later became priestesses of Isis. The very existence of Atlantis is up for debate so the idea that we know the biographies of its former inhabitants is fanciful.
Lady Haight-Ashton talks about female mummies with tattoos-asking if these are “medical tattoos.” Looking at the site she references, a lot of text in the book is taken directly from the website word for word. The difference is Temple Priestesses is far less descriptive than the website regarding the medical conditions. What the author says makes it sound more mysterious and just weird. The medical conditions turn out to be lady problems. The author also chooses to acknowledge but avoid the topic of divination by entrails. Is she squeamish or do these not fit her narrative of a glorious ancient past filled with oracles and women of power?
The research unfortunately doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. I investigated one footnote regarding the Priestesses of Isis and discovered that the author was using scene setting for a role-playing game set in ancient Egypt as if it were actual historical fact. The link in the footnote is for this page: http://www.aleph.se/Nada/Mage/Egypt/Priestesses.html. See that this link talks about this site being created for a role-play game: http://www.aleph.se/Nada/Mage/Egypt/thanks.html.
I can’t in good conscious recommend this book to anyone who cares about accuracy and historical fact. It’s going to appeal to some feminists who enjoy envisioning a matriarchal world. It will attract those with a particular interest in the history of mediumship. If you read it, seek other sources before deciding if it’s true.
~review by Larissa Carlson
Author: Lady Haight-Ashton
Moon Books, 2022
pp. 108, $ 12.95