Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Appeal of Mary Magdalene

The Feast Day of Mary Magdalene is celebrated in a number of Christian denominations on July 22. It is also marked by a number of Goddess feminists, along with Isis' "birthday," which according to some accounts occurs at around the same time. Magdalene, a saint in the Catholic Church, is increasingly honored by both Christian and Goddess feminists. Why?

As you probably know, Christian sources originally claimed Magdalene was a "reformed" prostitute. This mistake has been corrected (though it persists in some writings). According to historical research, she was never a prostitute. Most explanations of why she was thought to be one say that it was due to confusion. I'm not so sure. I think it may have been an intentional way to discredit her. Kind of like the way today detractors will call a powerful woman a "bitch" or "whore." (For a similar assessment that I read after writing this, see the last faq on this page on the Gnostic Sanctuary's website.) In any event, today some (many?) Christian individuals and groups consider her to be either one of Jesus' disciples and/or his wife. Some Gnostic Christians consider her a co-messiah or a human, who, like Jesus, attained enlightenment.  She may also be honored by the Black Madonna statues in Europe, especially those in the South of France, where it is believed by some that she and a child named Sara (also spelled Sarah)--some say her servant, others say the daughter of Magdalene and Jesus--and possibly some other apostles immigrated, arriving by boat. Sara is especially honored as a saint, Sara la Kali, by the Roma in the town Stes. Maries de la Mer, France, where she is also considered another form of the Black Madonna. (See the links at the end of this post for more info.)

 For Mary Magdalene's Feast Day this year, I'd like to share the digital art I did of (for?) her a few years ago. 

Mary Magdalene by Judith Laura
Almost everything in the drawing is either oval or triangular in shape. Ovals include her halo/crown--which includes 13 (number of lunar months) egg-shaped rubies (eggs are a symbol long-associated with Magdalene), the top of her blue-violet garment, the sleeves of her white garment, shapes of the cup she holds; triangles include the gold downward pointing triangle at her neckline, the lower part of the blue-violet garment, and the skirt of her white garment, which can be seen as one large triangle and is also composed of several smaller triangles. She holds at the level of her womb, a wine-filled (or blood-red, depending on how you see it) cup, inscribed with her name in Aramaic, the language she spoke.  I based my depiction on four contemporary theories about Mary Magdalene: (1)  that she was a disciple/apostle, had great intellectual and spiritual understanding and that her relationship with Jesus was the closest of all the disciples but wasn't sexual, (2) that she was married to Jesus, that they had at least one child, and that Magdalene and the child(ren) eventually went to southern France by boat, (3) that she and Jesus were involved in a hieros gamos, or sacred marriage. (4) that she is the female counterpart of Jesus. See versions of the figure on a number of different items here and here.

Just some of the links for
Isis' Birthday

 Magdalene and Sara:

Magdalene as co-messiah or co-enlightened:

and just some of the books with info about Mary Magdalene: 
The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene by Jane Schaberg 
The Nag Hammadi Library by James Robinson (translation and interpretation of texts)
The Woman with The Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird
Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile by Margaret Starbird
The Mary Magdalene Within by Joan Norton
The Gospel of Mary Magdala by Karen L. King
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Biagent
The Moon Under Her Feet by Clysta Kinstler (novel with historical endnotes, includes sacred marriage and 2 Marys as priestesses)

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At Monday, September 02, 2013 5:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is another link if you want. I used thoughtful conjecture to fill out a short biography of Mary Magdalene.
If the link doesn't work, copy it into Google.
Tom Slattery
Rocky River, Ohio


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Judith Laura

More blogs about /goddess/feminist theology/spiritual feminism/pagan/feminist spirituality/.