Mary AND Mary Magdalene

My stay in Provence is coming to an end and I want to use this opportunity to discuss a topic that is close to my heart: The dismissal of Mary Magdalene and her doctrines, which Jesus directly conveyed to her. Not only was she his wife, but she was also the first apostle. Jesus bestowed her with the duty to spread his work in what today is known as South-West Europe. She fulfilled that work with endless patience and love and was supported by numerous family members and friends who followed her to the South of France. A part of the group, under the leadership of Joseph of Arimathaea, moved further to England in order to spread the word there.

The Roman Catholic church in Rome was far from enthusiastic about those developments, because Jesus’ doctrines stated that each person has to find his/her own spiritual path and will find God within herself/himself. (One can reference the gospel of Mary Magdalene from the 5th century, whose content is being doubted by the Roman Catholic church.)

Mary Magdalene had a large following and her doctrines developed into the religion that sprung up in France (and at the same time in England). Mary Magdalene was recognized as Jesus’ wife and equal partner, which didn’t sit well with the Roman Catholic church to this day. Starting in the 12th/13th century, the Roman Catholic church tried to erase her doctrines and placed Mary in the position that was meant for Mary Magdalene. Because of that doing the knowledge of and about Mary Magdalene vanished over the next few centuries. Now, because of the big transformations that are taking place, the truth finally resurfaces. People feel Mary Magdalene’s energy and do not blindly believe what the church tells them.

We need both, Mary and Mary Magdalene, because both Ascended masters place important energies at our disposal: a motherly, feminine and guarding energy on one hand and a courageous, calming and free-spirit energy on the other hand. These two masters would never stand in opposition to one another. Humans have dictated their respective places in history. The time has come to think about the fact if those assignment positions are still appropriate or if we should look at the two Marias from a fresh perspective. The time has come! Their time has come! And our time has come!

PS: In a window in the Holy-Ghost-church in Aix-en-Provence, Mary is depicted in the center of the apostle-group, whereas Mary Magdalene is relegated to be a marginal figure at the edge of the window. This is interesting if one thinks about the fact that Mary Magdalene was the first apostle. However, at least she is depicted in some way in that glass window. You probably wouldn’t find her in churches in Central Europe.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene’s Final Resting Place

An old legend from South France states that Mary Magdalene lived in the cave “La Sainte Beaume” (I talked about that cave earlier on in the blog series) as a penitent for 30 years. When she felt she had only a little while left to live, angels carried her into the valley so that she was able to confess her sins to Bishop Maximinus before she passed away. At least this is how the legend portrays it.

Maximinus, the older bishop of Aix-en-Provence, traveled together with Mary Magdalene and her family and acquaintances from Galilaea to the South of France in order to spread Jesus’ doctrines. He was a loyal friend and companion to Mary Magdalene and was also in close contact with Martha and Lazarus. The provincial pilgrimage town of St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Beaume was named after him and legend has it that the village’s basilica houses his remains, as well as those of Mary Magdalene and some of her followers.

There’s another place in France, the city of Vezelay, which claims to be the final resting place of Mary Magdalene. Both of these places have developed into well known and popular pilgrimage destination over the last centuries.

Nobody knows where Mary Magdalene was indeed buried. When I get in contact with her, the answer is: “It is a place that nobody knows”, which is the feeling one gets when one stands in front of her sarcophagi in St. Maximin. Still, I included some photos here, because I  visited the basilica and the crypt with my tour group in the fall.

Mary Magdalene

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