The image is of Mary Magdalene by Dante Gabrial Rossetti
THE RETURN OF THE GODDESS
Western culture has for two thousand years worshipped a masculine god. In the Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - God is a He not a She. For thousands of years before Christianity, even into ancient pre-history, the feminine and the Goddess - creator of life through the body of woman - was worshipped and revered as most sacred. All of nature, and the natural cycles and the earth, were the basis for ceremony, sacraments and religious understanding. The fairly new religion, Christianity, even more than Judaism with its reverence for Sophia as Wisdom, exclusively acknowledges the masculine as the highest form of divinity. With no value placed on the feminine.
This status quo had endured for thousands of years. Until...the 2003 publication of The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel - publicly, through the art of fiction and then cinema, unearthed facts based on a paradigm shattering archeological find in Egypt. Questions that had remained silent for thousands of years went mainstream and raised a major stink in the halls of Romanized Christianity. Which...if you add 2 and 2 is the form of belief that Christians still follow. Even though, in these 2000+ After Christian Era years, the forms may have morphed into Protestant and Catholic. Many believe - and perhaps fear - that the unfolding of The Da Vinci Code plot, with the suggestion of a secret relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, the woman who the orthodox church calls “prostitute”, signals an unruly awakening in consciousness, and return of the Great Goddess to her rightful place of honor.
None of this speculation would be possible, except for a fortunate accident that rocked the biblical world. In 1945, in Nag Hammadi, a barren desert plain of Upper Egypt, a peasant stumbled upon a red earthenware jar. Inside he found thirteen papyrus books bound in leather. Even this factual story is the stuff of fictional intrigue. For years, translation of the thirteen ancient papyrus scrolls was blocked. Finally in 1981, translated and cross-validated by an international team of scholars, the original documents - allowing for time-worn holes and fragmentary shreds in some instances — were published as The Nag Hammadi Library. To emphasize believability, carbon dating reveals that some of the documents, such as The Gospel of Thomas, predate source texts for three of the gospels included in what we accept as The Bible.
In The Gospel of Phillip, the most controversial text appears: …the companion of
the (Savior is) Mary Magdalene. (But Christ loved) her more than (all) the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her (mouth). The rest of (the disciples were offended)…They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you as (I love) her?
If we consider these ancient scrolls as realized truth, jealousy among members of Jesus’ tiny flock of first Christians is obvious. The Gospel of Thomas records a conversation between Jesus and the Apostle Peter, the rock on which the Church of Rome stands:
Simon Peter said to him, Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of life.
The implications are astounding. What if Jesus and Mary were lovers, probably man and wife? With consideration of early Jewish tradition, the idea is not so farfetched. In the Bible Jesus is addressed as rabbi, and by Jewish tradition, rabbis were required to marry.
What if Jesus intended for Mary Magdalene - the one he loved above all the rest - to lead his apostles and carry on his work? How different would Christianity - the basis of Western faith - our churches, our government...our entire culture...have been if the partnership of Jesus and Mary had been recognized? It's mind-blowing to imagine! The orthodox Bible records that Mary Magdalene was the first to encounter Jesus in his risen state, as he stood outside of his burial tomb. At first she mistook him for the gardener, only to have Jesus reveal his identity. When Magdalene hurried to the apostles with her glorious news, they didn’t believe her. They shamed her, put her down, and doubted that she, as a woman, would receive such honor. Jealousy? Envy? Is this the source of the repression of the plausible relationship between Jesus and Magdalene? Even though it is human nature for a man and a woman to partner? Is Mary Magdalene the logical link to Sophia of the Old Testament, known in Proverbs as Wisdom, the Feminine Face of God?
How did we in the West lose her? Is she here now? I believe that she is. In my psychotherapeutic work, heavily weighted toward the inner world and revelations found in dreams, the Goddess turns up all the time. She is often black, symbolizing the hidden, the one we are in the dark about. She is the caged woman who peers out and implores the dreamer, “Release me.” She is the woman who stands at an ironing board, smiling quizzically as she presses out the wrinkles. She is the one who offers love to the male dreamer, only to have him reject her as evil, bad, demonic. The Goddess is everywhere and in everyone. In our outer world, perhaps Oprah is Her most obvious muse.
Before patriarchal Christianity took hold, Europeans knew her well. On sacred ground where great European cathedrals now stand, the Goddess was once revered and worshiped. These sacred sites, for millennia the path of pilgrimage, healing, and peace, still emanate the energy of the Goddess.
Years ago, before I ever traveled to Europe, in meditation I experienced a life changing image: A glowing sun streaming brilliant beams of light completely fills my inner eye. A silvery moon, smaller than the sun yet no less brilliant, gently eclipses the sun. Radiant beams entwine. A strong inner voice says: When the sun and the moon become one, there will be roses without thorns. At that moment, the luminous sun and moon transform into a circular stained glass window, as a delicate pink rose slips into the center.
As a student of Carl Jung, and his seminal work with the unconscious, I recognized the symbology: The sun is masculine, the moon is feminine, the rose represents the Goddess, just as the circle is a Mandala which symbolizes wholeness.There are many layers of probable meaning built into the simplicity of the image.
The meditative experience was profound for me personally, but the possibility of witnessing a healing of the feminine and masculine principles in our world, inspires me even more. Wanting to keep the memory close, with the help of a graphic artist I translated the images into a representation which marks my business cards and stationery. For years I’ve been reminded of the profound peace I felt when I witnessed the exquisite symbols: When we are one, there will be beauty without pain.
On a European trip a few years ago, just two weeks before Christmas, I stood looking up, stunned motionless before the round Rose Window at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was the image, exactly as I saw it in meditation years ago. All across England, France and Scotland I felt the Goddess with me. She spoke in my heart. I felt her in my soul. At Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, built in honor of Mary Magdalene, I heard the voice of The Magdalene deep within my mind. Yet so clear, I felt like she was standing beside me. She said:
Bring them to know me.
I believe The Magdalene is giving all of us the same message if we listen. However we translate her wishes, the Great Goddess is alive and well, and her daughter, Mary Magdalene is speaking loudly.