The Virgin Birth of Jesus

In my blog entry no. 85  “Mary Magdalene and the 7 Demons” I stated that I wanted to discuss the point about Mary Magdalene living in celibacy. First, it is important to know that the relationship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (just like with Mary and Joseph) is a divine dynastic connection. Jesus is a descendant from the lineage of King David and Mary Magdalene’s father was the Jarius-priest Syrus. The married couple had to conform to strict dynastic rules, that went way past the usual Jewish marriage customs. The rules for a dynastic marriage were clearly defined and dictated celibacy and the times in which sexual relations, in order to have children, were allowed.

First the couple got engaged, which was more or less a legal contraction of marriage. Three months after the “engagement” the formal “first wedding” took place with an anointment ceremony (think back to the scene in which Mary Magdalene anoints Jesus with the nard oil) and in the following September the marriage began. After that, sexual relations were allowed, but only in the first half of December. If a pregnancy wouldn’t happen during that time frame, the couple had to live in celibacy again until next December.

However, if the woman got pregnant, a “second wedding” took place and the marriage was now official and legal. The legal status of the marriage was never publicized bevor the woman’s pregnancy, because this would guarantee the man to have a reason to get divorced, in case the woman was infertile. Due to fears of a miscarriage, the “second wedding” didn’t officially take place until the woman completed her first trimester.

These marriage customs explain why Mary – for whom these customs applied to as well – got pregnant while she was a “virgin”. Women became wives only after the “second wedding” and were considered virgins. The word almah actually translates into “young women”.

Now we also understand what the anointment scene with Mary Magdalene and Jesus truly means: namely, the bride anointing her husband! Due to legal reasons, nobody else would be allowed to do this. (For further information, please refer to the following books: Laurence Gardner’s The Bloodline of the Holy Grail, chapter 3; Barbara Thiering’s : Jesus the Man: New Interpretations from the Dead Sea Scrolls, appendix 1; or John Fleetwood’s The Life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, p. 10-11).

I find it fascinating that there are so many possibilities through which one can re-interpret the bible. I only find myself now thinking of the bible as trustworthy and reasonable. From my photo archives I picked a scene that depicts the anointment with Mary Magdalene. The photo shows the church of St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Beaume, which I visited with my tour group this fall.

Mary Magdalene

The Derivation of the Name Mary Magdalene

A lot of people are of the opinion that Mary Magadalene’s place of birth was Magdala. However, her name has nothing to do with an unknown city in Galilaae, which did not even exist at the time. The name Magdalene or Magdala derives from the hebrew “migdal” (Tower) and could mean that she was the owner of a tower or a castle. Since women named Maria (or Mirjam) were not allowed to possess property (women with this name were pointed to a ministry function within a spiritual community at that time), this statement cannot be verified. The American religious scholar Margaret Starbird is of the opinion that the word “Magdala”, which one can also translate as “higher, big, magnificent”, referred to Magdalene’s status as Jesus’ wife. She is convinced that the name Mary Magdalene actually means “Mary, the Great”. In Notre Dame de Beauregard, a little mountain church in Provence, I have discovered a beautiful depiction of Mary Magdalene, which I wanted to share with you below.

Mary Magdalene

Martha: More Than Just a First Name

The name “Martha” surfaces in the bible as being the name of Mary Magdalene’s and Lazarus’ sister. As mentioned in my blog No. 85, the name Maria (Mirjam) was seen as a title of high honor during the peak of Qumram. During that time, women with this name held high spiritual appointments within the religious communities. For example, these women were trained in the art of healing or lead liturgic ceremonies for women.

The name “Martha” has also a deeper meaning and actually presented a title. Martha means “mistress” and in contrast to women who were named Maria, a woman named Martha was allowed to possess property. Within their religious communities, both occupied the same status.

On our journey through Provence we also visited Tarascon, the place where Martha once lived. As legend has it, Martha freed that place from a monster named “Tarasque” and the inhabitants honored her for her brave deed. On paintings and depictions of Martha throughout that region of Provence, one can see her portrayed with a dragon and a mallet with which she supposedly killed the monster. The church of Tarascon is one big memorial site, full with pictures of her. Our tour group had also view this church on our spiritual journey through Provence in the fall.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene – A Prostitute?

In 1896 a papyrus codex from the 5th century was found in Kairo. It contained the gospel of Mary Magdalene. Interestingly, it is not a gospel by Mary Magdalene, but about her. Well known religious scholars, among them Karen L. King of Harvard Divinity School (USA), have translated the document. It offers a fascinating insight into the origins of Christianity and allows for a new view of Jesus’ doctrines as a way to receive spiritual knowledge. And it shows that the common misconception that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute is nothing more than theological fiction.

How did it happen that the Roman Catholic church “misunderstood” Mary Magdalene to be a prostitute. Who came up with this rumor? One could suspect that the composer of the gospel of Luke misunderstood the original story of Jesus’ anointment by Mary Magdalene as the “woman with the alabaster jar”, because it was written down 50 years later. Because this anointment was similar to a widely known custom, that was carried out by holy priestesses or the goddesses’ “temple prostitutes” in the Roman Empire. The correct description for these priestesses was “Hierodulae” or “Holy Women”, not “prostitute”.

During my travels through Provence I stumbled upon many depictions of Mary Magdalene with the alabaster jar. The photos posted below were taken in the cathedrale of Aix-en-Provence, which I visited with my tour group during the spiritual trip in the fall of this year.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene and the 7 “Demons”

The gospel of Luke states that some of Jesus’ followers were women, “…and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary that was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:2). At least, this is the official version of the Roman Catholic church which held up as the “truth” till the present.

It is interesting to know that the Essenes, which Jesus was a part of, used certain words as ciphering in order to prevent the Romans from understanding their messages and gospels. (The well known theologist Barbara Thiering from the University of Sydney wrote the most comprehensive study on this topic.) The Essenes used terms like “the blind” for those people who didn’t follow the “path”. The word “leprose” refers to people who weren’t born into a higher class or who were excluded from such a class. The “poor” were those members of the community who actually held high ranks, but who were required to give up all worldly possessions.

In this sense, the word “demons” cannot be understood literally either. The name Maria (Mirjam) was seen as a title of high honor during the peak of Qumram. During that time, women with this name held high spiritual appointments within the religious communities. For example, these women were trained in the art of healing or lead liturgic ceremonies for women. These women were bound to celibacy and understood the authority of the highest scribe. During the times of Mary Magdalene, the scribe was Judas Iskariot, who was described as the “seventh demon-priest”. Before Mary Magdalene got married, Judas released her from celibacy and this is where the phrase “seven demons were cast out of her” came from. After that occurred she was allowed to have physical contact with her husband, but only according to strict rules. (See: Jesus the Man: New Interpretations from the Dead Sea Scrolls by Barbara Thiering, chapter 17) But I will tell you about that another time.

The pictures to this blog entry were all taken in Provence. The first photo shows a beautiful glass window, which depicts the arrival of Mary Magdalene, Martha, Lazarus, Maximinus, Maria Jakobaea and Maria Salome. I uploaded the other photos to depict the energy this lovely region emanates.

Mary Magdalene

The Adoration of the Feminine in Southern France

When you are traveling through Provence, you will see Mary Magdalene chapels quite frequently. There seems to exist a network of Mary Magdalene sanctuaries. However, this wasn’t always the case. If you think back to the Middle Ages, we associate a very dark time with it. Back then women didn’t have any rights (unfortunately, this fact still exists in various countries today), but instead were viewed as the property of their husbands or fathers. They weren’t allowed to participate in the public sphere and weren’t able to own any form of property. The only exceptions were the women in Southern France. They, just like their husbands, were able to inherit and own property. Already in the early beginnings of Christianity it was a custom to worship women in that region.

The region of Southern France was the center of a Mary Magdalene worship over the span of many centuries. Many chapels, wells and springs still carry her name to this day, but during the 12th century when the worshipping of Mary Magdalene was outlawed, some of these cult sites received new names. They were named “Notre Dame” and were dedicated to Mother Mary. Due to these events, the importance of Mary Magdalene was pushed to the background and was lost until recently, when it was unearthed again. It is time again! It is her time again!

Mary Magdalene

The Holy Grotto of Mary Magdalene

One of the highlights of our spiritual journey in the fall will be a visit to “La Sainte Baume”, the “holy cave” of Mary Magdalene. In order to plan our itinerary and to double-check the infrastructure, we drove to this precious place yesterday. We hiked through a beautiful old forest to the cave, which is situated in a steep rock wall.

Legend has it that Mary Magdalene lived there as a penitent for 30 years and was carried from time to time into the valley by angels. Since we don’t just want to believe this popular belief, we discussed, while hiking up to the cave, how someone would have even been able to survive there 2000 years ago. Mary Magdalene cannot be considered a “regular person”, but instead has to be viewed as a highly enlightened and spiritual figure one can assume that she didn’t just feed off of food, but probably also knew the art of bilocation. She would have been able to feed off of light and could have existed in two locations at the same time.

Many royals and popes, who went to the cave to honor Mary Magdalene or to ask for her help and advice, also used the way we went over the lasthundreds of years. The scenic view from the entrance of the cave makes the long hike worth it and because of the wonderful atmosphere in the cave one can almost feel a holy energy. Even though our approach to Mary Magdalene probably differs from the other people who were praying in the grotto we felt a silent connection with them, as if a soft veil of energy enveloped us all.

Mary Magdalene