If Jesus is the Sun, Mary Magdalene is the Moon

For 2000 years, the lunar aspect of Christianity has been missing. Very early in the evolution of Christianity, the Holy Feminine was supplanted by the ruling paradigm of the Roman world which was patriarchal, hierarchical, rooted in fear, power and control.  For 2000 years, the feminine has languished under the dominion of this unholy expression of the masculine (not to be confused with the Holy Masculine which Jesus represented, but not the religion that was founded in his name), but it has never truly departed.  For 2000 years, the feminine has been hiding in plain sight waiting until humanity was at a place in its spiritual evolution when it would once again be ready for her gifts.  Well, I think we can safely say:  WE ARE READY!

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The good news is that we don’t need to look very far to discover where the feminine has been hiding. The feminine has been hiding in what has come to be known as the “mystical tradition” of the Church (Nolan, A. 2008. Jesus Today – a spirituality of radical freedom). The mystical tradition is that which has been cultivated and then guarded by the monastic communities that emerged out of the Christian experience – the world of Sts. Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, Teillard de Chardin, Therese of Lisieux, Ignatius of Loyola and Bernadette Soubirous.  It is within these mystical traditions that we find the tools of the feminine – contemplative prayer, imagination, creativity, ministries of healing and teaching, a commitment to service, working for justice and the freedom of all. When we apply these practices to scripture, we discover the feminine there.  We find a divine who is both masculine and feminine, and which transcends gender all together.  We find the original compassion teachings of Jesus which transcend the patriarchal invention of doctrine.  We discover that Jesus promoted the equality of women and that there were women who learned from him, travelled with him, supported him in his ministry and who even became ministers themselves.  It is also through this lens that we discover the ONE woman who most fully understood and then embodied Jesus’ teachings, became his co-equal partner in ministry and maybe even his beloved wife.  This woman is Mary, called Magdalene.

It is through the gnostic tradition and the recently discovered gnostic scripture texts that we get a glimpse into the true greatness of the Magdalene, and what has truly been lost – not just hidden within the Christian experience. In rejecting the Magdalene, the Church rejected all women with her.  In rejecting all women, the Church rejected all that it means to be feminine.  The most harmful way this wholesale rejection of the feminine has been expressed is in the way in which the Church has rejected sexuality – the very procreative drive which insures the continuation of the species and which is unique within our species as an act that provides pleasure. We need look no farther than the priest sex abuse scandal to see how this rejection of the feminine, especially the sensual and sexual aspects of creation are now coming out sideways, proving the Buddhist adage of “what we resist will persist.”  All of this proving that if we only have the sun, all we are left with is a dry and barren desert, unable to bring forth life. With the restoration of the moon, the dry and barren desert is quenched of its thirst and is once again able to bring forth life.

If Jesus is the Sun, representing all that is external, intellectual, rational, linear, logical, masculine, pragmatic and proactive, then Mary Magdalene is the Moon. Mary, called Magdalene, represents the lost feminine in the Christian tradition – the esoteric, emotional, heart-centered, sensual, receptive, intuitive and creative. It is Mary Magdalene as the archetype of the feminine that must be restored to the Jesus story if Jesus’ true mission of love is ever to be fulfilled.

*original published at www.authenticfreedomacademy.com

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How the Church Maligned the Magdalene (and all women with her)

Originally published on 6/7/16 at http://www.authenticfreedomacademy.com

For 2000 years, the Catholic Church (and most Christian churches) have led us to believe that Mary Magdalene is the sinful, presumably adulterous woman from scripture. Even after “correcting” this mistake in the late 60’s, the Magdalene continues to be associated with the sinful woman.  This Sunday’s gospel proves that the Church’s agenda continues to be the maligning of the Magdalene  – and all women with her.

This morning, I find I need to rant a little. Ok, maybe a lot!  As I am reading this Sunday’s gospel in preparation for writing my weekly Empowerment Newsletter, I see there are two options for the Sunday gospel:  Luke 7: 36 – 8:3 or Luke 7: 36 – 50.  Normally, I would insist on using the gospel reading in its entirety because in the shorter version, critical contextual information is often missing.  Not this week, however, not this week.  Why? I will let you decide for yourself:

Luke 7: 36 – 50

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 8: 1-3 Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

 

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The first option for Sunday’s gospel tells the story of the “sinful woman” who came to Jesus, bathed his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair and then anointed him. The second option for Sunday’s gospel includes the beginning of Chapter 8, which describes the women who accompanied Jesus in him ministry, including Mary, called Magdalene (a title given to her which means “Great Tower”) “from whom seven demons had gone out.”

In describing what is wrong with this inclusion, I share with you an excerpt from my online course Resurrecting the Magdalene:

The Sinful Woman

In the year 591 of the Common Era (C.E.), Pope Gregory I in Homily 33 set the course for the next two-thousand years in which Mary Magdalene would be associated with the “sinful woman”  mentioned in the gospel of Luke chapter 7, (that and every other story in Christian scripture that mentions a sinful or adulterous woman).  Every preacher since then has agreed on this account.  Church teaching has reflected these sentiments, and artistic portrayals throughout history, including popular films such as Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, The Last Temptation of Christ and Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ continue with this theme, casting Mary Magdalene in the role of repentant whore.

Pope Gregory I came to his conclusion through the simple assumption that because Mary is mentioned in the reading immediately following the story of the “sinful woman” (Luke 8:1-3) that the two women must be one and the same, especially in light of the mention of Mary as having been “cured of seven demons” (more on the “demons” below). He assumed that the “demons” Mary was cured of were somehow sexual in nature.  Pope Gregory I was not the first to make this mistake.  The demonizing of Mary and the suppression of her role in Jesus’s life and ministry; and in the early development of Christianity, began long before Pope Gregory I and his now infamous homily.  In the Gospel of Mary (discovered in a desert cave in Egypt in 1896, and which we will spend time with near the end of this course), we learn that the suppression of Mary’s role began in the first few days or weeks immediately following Jesus’ death and resurrection.  In fact, the denigration of Mary began even before that in the moment she delivered the message of the resurrection to the male disciples who unanimously refused to believe her.  It was not until Jesus himself stood in their midst that the male disciples were willing to believe.

As soon as Jesus left the scene (and likely even while he lived), Mary’s role as student, disciple, empowered minister co-equal with Jesus, and possibly his wife was challenged, questioned, and then flat-out ignored. Mary,  the feminine empowerment Jesus tried to bring forth, and the feminine principle that he honored and modeled as equal that of the (holy) masculine, were quickly forsaken in favor of the unholy masculine (rooted in fear, power and control) prevalent in Roman and Hebrew culture at the time.  As the feminine principle was rejected, so too was Mary, called Magdalene, and the critical role she played in the life and ministry of Jesus and in the continuation of his mission after his death.  It was easier to cast Mary in the role of harlot than to acknowledge to a patriarchal world that women had power and that Jesus supported their empowerment.

Lewis Williams, SFO

Lewis Williams, SFO

Now back to my rant…..It angers me beyond measure that this tradition of associating Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman continues! The Church maligned Mary 2000 years ago to further a patriarchal, hierarchical agenda and clearly this continues to be their agenda OR this Sunday’s gospel would not include the passage from Luke 8 whereby uninformed readers will continue to make this association.  It is easier for the Church to continue to malign the Magdalene – and all women with her, than to risk losing the power they believe they have in maintaining a hierarchical, patriarchal institution.  This is wrong on so many levels and I’m not afraid or ashamed to be emotional about this!  THIS is where the Church first went wrong all those years ago, divorcing itself from HALF of its subjects by denying the role the Magdalene had as devoted disciple, co-equal minister with Jesus, his beloved partner (perhaps even his WIFE) the SOLE witness to the resurrection and THE ONE Jesus sent to share the good news and to continue his ministry in his stead.  Continuing to associate Mary, called Magdalene, with the sinful woman deprives her of her rightful place in the Jesus story and in doing so, the Church has deprived all women their right to live out the fullness of their dignity and giftedness in the Church.  But I guess I should thank the Church for continuing to deny the role of Mary Magdalene and all women with her because it is through this oversight that the Order of the Magdalene and the Magdalene Priest/ess-hood came to be.  So there!

 

To learn more about the Order of the Magdalene, click HERE.

To learn more about Magdalene Priest/ess Training click HERE. Better yet, take the FREE preview course available HERE.

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Mary Magdalene and Alchemy

For the past year I have been immersed in deep research for the follow-up to my first novel, Song of the Beloved – the Gospel According to Mary Magdalene. Book two will find Mary, called Magdalene in Alexandria, Egypt where she will experience a whole new life in a whole new culture and will be led to further training and initiation in her journey toward fulfilling the entirety of her Soul’s purpose….after Jesus.  This research has brought me to many interesting resources.  The most interesting have been the texts on the “magical” traditions of ancient Egypt, especially those on ancient alchemy.

Previous to this research, my exposure to alchemy has been minimal at best. Jay Ramsay in this book, Crucible of Love used the alchemical process as the metaphor for an enduring love relationship.  Deborah Harkness in her All Soul’s Trilogy describes alchemy against the backdrop of Medieval culture and the scientists and philosophers who worked to further the cause of alchemy.  At best, I was confused by the topic of alchemy and thought of it only as a fairytale science in which magicians hoped to turn base metals into gold.

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That was then, this is now. In researching the initiatory practices and “magic” of ancient Egypt, I came upon a text that has blown my mind. The Emerald Tablet of Thoth. The first version of this text which fell into my awareness was the mystical reflection on the Emerald Tablet by Doreal.  I was then led (through a voracious researcher friend) to a text which provides a variety of translations to the original text.  Finally, the book of all books, The Emerald Tablet – Alchemy for Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck has shown me that I have indeed always known what alchemy was.  Not only did I know what it was, I WAS LIVING IT.  My entire lifetime, especially the past 25 years, has been an experiment in alchemy.  Through this “experiment” I discovered the alchemical “formula” that works for me.  I then created a curriculum, and published a book ( Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy), which teaches others how to transform the base experiences of the human condition into their own, personal gold.  But I did not do this alone.

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The alchemical process that I created, Authentic Freedom, is really less of a creation and more of a remembering. Specifically, I believe that Authentic Freedom is the process Jesus used to initiate his followers and that Mary, called Magdalene, (who was said to be “healed of seven demons”) was the one disciple who brought this process to completion within herself and then went on to share this process with others.  I also believe that this alchemical process is what was written on the pages that were missing from the Gospel of Mary fragments that were discovered in the late 1800’s near Akhmim in Upper Egypt. Whether these pages were included in the original discovery and then destroyed, are now locked up in the basement of the Vatican, or were never included in the jars in which the gospel was preserved, we may never know.  But thanks to the process of alchemy itself, (through the “magic” of our creative imagination which connects us with “The One Mind”) we can now reclaim the original alchemical process and teachings of Jesus along with the woman he appointed to carry out these teachings – Mary, called Magdalene.

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Mary, called Magdalene, was said in scripture to be “healed of seven demons.” While tradition has equated this with “sin” and that she was formerly a sinful woman who Jesus converted to faith, there is no scriptural support for this traditional interpretation (for more on this, read my blog, How the Church Maligned the Magdalene).  Gnostic scripture scholars suggest that “healed of seven demons” describes an initiatory process that Mary, called Magdalene, completed under Jesus’ tutelage (see the work of Jean Yves-LeLoup for more on this).  Through this process, Mary achieved the goal of alchemy which is to become anthropos – to fully integrate the divine and human within her and to fully integrate the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine within her.  In short, Mary, called Magdalene, became self-actualized – she came to understand her own unique giftedness and how she was called to share these gifts in the world for the sake of her own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world.  Not only did Mary discover her purpose in this life, she moved through the inner obstacles that might have prevented her from living that life to its fullest.  Alchemy, then, from a Christian perspective, is allowing ourselves to be vessels through which God is made flesh in the human world, and in becoming flesh, turning our own lives and the world around us from fear into love.  Mary, called Magdalene, completed this process and then went on to facilitate others in this same process.  Through the process of alchemy, we now have in our possession, the very process that Mary underwent and then went on to teach and that process is Authentic Freedom.

I am forever indebted to Mary, called Magdalene and with her the Christ (for in truth, the two are one) for revealing this process of Christian Alchemy to me so that I can in turn share it with others.

To learn the alchemical process created by Jesus and then fulfilled through Mary Magdalene, check out my book Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy. Learn more HERE.

 

 

The Magdalene Succession

Originally published on May 9, 2016 at http://www.authenticfreedomacademy.com

In the Catholic Church in which I was raised, the hierarchy claims their authority and power through what they call “apostolic succession” – meaning they (believe) they can trace their authority all the way back through the succession of bishops, all the way back to the original apostles. The implication of apostolic succession is that a bishop’s power can be traced all the way back to Jesus who gave the original apostles this power in the first place.

Apostolic succession is predicated on the assumption that Jesus intended to establish a new religious institution (ie the “Church “) and that the only apostles who were given this power were male. Since I can no longer believe either of these assumptions to be true or established on any verifiable facts, I must now frame the idea of apostolic succession as simply another one of those man-made constructs put in place to deny women (and the laity) any position, participation, or voice in the Institutional Church.

Reflecting on the idea of Apostolic Succession and the ways in which it has been used to deny all but a few a voice in the dissemination of Jesus’ teachings, has me wondering what the world would be like if instead of apostolic succession, the “church” had been established on the Magdalene Succession and if such a thing had been recognized, what it may have looked like.

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In my personal experience, the Magdalene Succession has nothing to do with a line of “bishops” imparting power and control to another bishop. Instead, the Magdalene Succession happens through a direct and personal encounter with the Magdalene and with her, the Christ.  These are encounters that arise out of contemplation and prayer, through dreams, while engaged in our active imaginations – what Jesus refers to as “the nous” (ref: The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean Yves-LeLoup). The Magdalene Succession happens independently of one’s religious affiliation and happens to women and men alike.  Through the Magdalene Succession, one comes to know Mary and Jesus intimately and comes to know the mystical teachings of Christ as Mary herself came to know them.  “Authority” is not imposed from without, but arises from within in an individual’s personal relationship with the Magdalene and the Christ, God therefore being the one and only true authority.  In the Magdalene Succession, personal revelation (coupled with sound discernment) is honored and held as sacred and unique to each individual, recognizing that the Divine reveals itself to each individual in a unique and magnificent way as it relates to their own unique temperament, personality and Soul’s purpose with LOVE being the ultimate test of this truth.

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If there were to be a “church” based in the Magdalene Succession, it wouldn’t be a church at all – at least not in the way we normally think of Church. This “church” would not be rooted in anything that speaks of fear, power or control.  This “church” would be free of doctrine, hierarchical power, and white male privilege.  Instead, it would be rooted in personal growth and development through which participants would come to know themselves through an intimately personal relationship with God.  They would come to know their own unique giftedness through which they would find meaning and purpose in their lives and would be compelled and supported in finding ways to share their gifts in the world for the sake of their own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world.

Those called to be “leaders” would receive this call direction from the Magdalene and the Christ and would not “rule” over those they are called to “lead.” Instead of leading, they would shepherd – teaching, sharing, encouraging free thought and discussion, allowing for personal revelation, honoring all that a person is as sacred and supporting them in the discovery, nurturance and empowerment of their gifts.  If a community should develop, it would happen organically and would be formed on the principles of mutual support and respect, collaboration and cooperation.  The role of the “leader” is more about education and support than about imposing rules, dictating behaviors or insisting on compliance.  In short, the community would be guided by love.

The Order of the Magdalene arose out of this process of direct revelation and is in service and support to those called to embody and further Jesus’ teachings on compassion and love and were fully known and experienced by the Magdalene.

If you are interested in learning more about our Magdalene Priest and Priestess Training, please check out our FREE preview course:

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