A wise, complex
The work explores such spiritual themes as love, loss, forgiveness, healing
and resurrection. To date the show has raised many questions from its different
audiences, just what Dacanay intended. Her goal was not necessarily to provide
a more sympathetic understanding of Mary Magdalene, but to show that her
story and that of many women have been oversimplified and not given the credit
they deserve, she said.
Whoever Mary Magdalene was, I know she was more wise, more complex
and more wonderful than the two-dimensional view of her that has come down
to us. ... If I on a microcosmic level can create something that never existed
before, then on a macrocosmic level we can create something new and better
together, Dacanay told NCR. What she wants is a world of peace.
For women, it just might have to begin with peace between the sexes, she
said. The age-old gender war is both unnatural and manmade, she said.
Its about culture and learned behavior that have been the
norm of patriarchy for only 5,000 years. Whats required for peace is
to step away from the paradigm of one person having to be over another to
survive, she said.
Dacanay believes that such a peace can break out at any time.
It only requires a community in which everyone is revered, respected
Prostitutes, Temple Virgins, were they Temple Priestesses?
there a tradition of women living and working at the Temple in Jerusalem?
Many pagan temples of the day had priestesses and the Hebrew Temple
did have a "Women's Court."
It is very likely that both Mary Magdalene and Mother Mary were representatives
of the Goddess and served as priestesses in a Temple, be it the Second (Hebrew)
Temple on the Temple Mount or one of the many pagan temples built by Solomon,
the Romans or Greeks which existed and thrived during Yeshua's day in the
city of Jerusalem, the province of Galilee and other cities of Israel. On
the left is a painting depicting one of these women's courts from Roman times.
We know there was the Women's Court at both Solomon's Temple and the Second
Temple in Jerusalem, and we know there is mention of the practice of sending
young women there to "work." Mother Mary is said to have been dedicated
to Temple work, she lived there, wove tapestries, altar cloths, prayed for
the betterment of the people, etc. She is repeatedly called a "Temple Virgin"
and apocryphal books tell of her adventures there under the Highpriest Zacharius.
[Gospel of the Birth of Mary, written 300's AD, supposedly written
by Matthew, and the Protevangelion, written by James, Yeshua's brother,
one of Mary's other sons]. At one point another priest, Abiathar, wants Mary,
known as a magikally powerful and beautiful priestess, to marry his son.
It was custom after their service to the Temple, to give the Temple "Virgins"
in marriage to prominent men of the community, usually nobles or priests.
The Highpriest is perplexed what to do with Mary, she cannot marry
just anyone, and so he enters the Holy of Holies and asks the Divine to send
a sign. That's how she ends up betrothed to Joseph.
Ancient pagan temples of both Old and New Testament times were populated
with sacred "prostitutes." But these women were NOT what we consider prostitutes
today. They were highly respected representatives of whichever goddess
whose temple they served in. The words used to indicate them are not "whore"
or prostitute, but Hierodules or Hetera (singular) heterae (plural), meaning
sacred dedicant, sacred temple-worker. My friend, a sort of historical
columnist, Joseph Kerrick writes:
Truly sacred prostitutes existed in past cultures, like the heterae of Greece
and the shaktis of India. In fact, the words "prostitute" and "prostitution"
have such an indelibly negative imprint in the modern Western mind that in
order to properly grasp the meaning of these things we should resort to one
of the older terms -- so I'll use "hetera" and its derivatives.
So: the purpose of heterism is not mere sexual gratification, but first of
all healing, and secondly transcendence. In the first function, the hetera
is what we would today call a therapist, who specializes in the use of sex
to accomplish the aim of healing. The second function [transcendence] has
been practically forgotten in the postmodern world, and can only be understood
in a societal context where the higher forms of spirituality are practiced.
The process of negating the ego to perform selfless service to God and his
children is only known in the West in a matrix of ascetic monasticism; but
there have been, and are, other cultures where these same principles are
applied in a specialized form of sexual relationships -- namely, heterism
in its higher form, in which it can not only heal people of pathologies,
but help them transcend the human condition and become better than they could
ever hope to be in "normal" life.
When Mary Magdalene was called a hetera or prostitute back in
the early centuries of Christianity, the people of the time knew perfectly
well what that meant, she was a Temple Priestess, serving the Goddess.
Perhaps she was such a priestess, the ubiquitous name of "Mary" has
been attributed to the fact that it might not be a woman's specific name
at all, but might mean a priestess of the goddess religion. Either
way, Mary Magdalene did have a life before she joined Yeshua's ministry,
but we now know it was not selling her body on the street like modern-day
prostitutes. What about Mother Mary? Did she actually sleep with men
in the Temple? We will never know, but we do know the story of Pantera, a
Greek-born Roman soldier assigned to guard the Temple precinct in Jerusalem.
"News" records of the time say he met, and perhaps wooed, a Temple
Tapestry weaver named Mary then got her with child, a child later claimed
to be conceived of God. This story is historically recorded in the Jewish
writings of the time, the Talmud, and even in a Roman record book.
Jewish writings from the first century go on to say it was the same Mary
who gave birth to the Christian messiah, Jesus. Even more fascinating,
in the 1990's, the grave of Pantera was uncovered in Germany, and sure enough
he lived during the time of Jesus' birth and was even stationed in Jerusalem
at the time! He was the head of a legion in his later years and had
been transferred to fight in Germany, but died there in his late 40's. Ian
Wilson discusses the Pantera evidence in his book Jesus the Evidence.
We know that Yeshua was divinely conceived, but some religionists like
to think he still had a human "sperm donor" to make the baby start growing
inside Mary's womb. Those of this camp assume that was Joseph, but
since he protested having never slept with her, perhaps God used this Greco-Roman
soldier with the fascinating name. Pantera may be a mixed form of Hebrew
and Latin, Ben-Terra, which means Son of the Earth Goddess). Ah, the
stuff of legends...
was a Christian leader, not a repentant prostitute
By Victor Greto, for The Gazette
Who is Mary Magdalene? A prostitute and sinner who repented after Jesus saved
her from being stoned by a mob -- the same Mary who then saw the risen Christ
According to some Christians and scholars, it's time to rethink the prostitute
and stoning stuff.
Mary Magdalene is becoming a role model for women who expect more important
roles for themselves in their respective churches. And scholars use Mary
Magdalene as a symbol of the important role of women in early Christianity,
as they work out the implications of recently discovered ancient literature.
The current reform of Mary Magdalene has centuries of church and art tradition
to overcome. The non-biblical image of Magdalene as a repentant prostitute
is an image that had been officially sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church
in the sixth century. And it's that image that has been perpetuated by dozens
of Christian paintings and movies ever since.
The misreading of Mary Magdalene, critics say, is almost as ancient as the
Gospels of the New Testament themselves, if only because there are up to
five different Marys in the Gospels and seven in the New Testament as a whole.
The greatest damage done to Magdalene's reputation, however, is only partly
the confusion of these Marys, says Sister Evelina Belfiore, director of Catholic
education for the Colorado Springs, Colo., diocese. The main problem is the
way some decided to identify an unnamed woman with Magdalene in the Gospel
In 7:37-38, Luke tells the tale of a woman, "a sinner" who goes into a dinner
party and anoints Jesus' feet. The following chapter immediately introduces
"Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out. . . ."
"In the early church," Belfiore says, "as people have placed her in art and
legend and misinterpretation, they linked her with the sinner from the chapter
Take Martin Scorsese's `Last Temptation of Christ' as one of the more recent
examples. In the film, based on the Nikos Kazantzakis novel, Magdalene is
portrayed as a prostitute and is identified with another episode often included
in the Gospel of John 8:3-11, in which Jesus stops a crowd from stoning a
woman for prostitution. There is no indication in the text that either unnamed
woman is Magdalene, but tradition has linked her with Magdalene.
That link, Belfiore says, came about in the early church of later centuries
"and may have been associated with the oppression of women. Before that,
women were ordained deaconesses. Then, there was a turnabout, excluding women
from the sacred and from orders. Mary Magdalene had such a privileged role
in the Gospels that it seems there was an attempt to put her in a bad light."
Which is exactly what Sister Christine Schenk says she is trying to reverse.
Schenk is executive director of the Cleveland-based FutureChurch.
Two years ago, Schenk's group in conjunction with another Catholic group,
Chicago-based Call to Action, launched the national observance of a July
22 feast of Mary Magdalene. It has grown from 28 prayer services last year
to a reported 100 services this past July.
"The Mary Magdala project emerged," Schenk says, "because it makes contemporary
biblical scholarship available, and it provides woman ministers to preside
at a prayer service."
Schenk says her group is not calling for women's ordination but for "women's
equal call to ministry in the Catholic Church."
Schenk said the Magdalene services include a "brief reflection on Mary of
Magdala," and what she calls "the right of naming." That is, when Jesus calls
Magdalene by her name in the Gospel passage John 20:17, "she recognized him"
as the risen Christ, and she was called as a disciple.
Schenk thus sees Magdalene as representing a woman's call to discipleship.
In the past, she says, women have internalized the idea that they weren't
as holy or as good as men. The Magdalene services are "a real healing for
many participants," she says.
The emergence of women in organized religion is not only a Catholic issue.The
Rev. Patricia Westlake of Trinity United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs,
Colo., says she believes Magdalene was present at the Last Supper.
And she believes other female disciples were on a par with the more famous
12 male apostles. In two of his letters, St. Paul also mentions important
women of the early church. "For me, the Scriptures give [women] a prominent
role," Westlake says. "Jesus gave them a prominent role. It's our culture
that doesn't give them a prominent role."
Feminist scholars of early Christianity see Mary Magdalene as indicative
of what happened to women in general in the early church. "In the last twenty
years, the history of women in ancient Christianity has been almost completely
revised," writes Karen King in a recent essay about women in early Christianity.
King is a professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient
Christianity at Harvard University's Divinity School.
King writes that the early Christian women we thought we knew have almost
nothing to do with the revised portrait that scholars are just beginning
to unveil. "Chief among these is Mary Magdalene," she says. "Discoveries
of new texts . . . have now proven that [her reputation as a repentant
prostitute] is entirely inaccurate. She was indeed an influential figure,
but as a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian
movement that promoted women's leadership."
Among the newly discovered texts King is referring to is `The Gospel of Mary,'
discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt more than a half-century ago. In that
Gospel, Mary receives secret revelations from Jesus -- much to the chagrin
of Peter.`The Gospel of Philip,' also discovered at Nag Hammadi, shows yet
another understanding of Mary's relationship with Jesus.
"But Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often
on the mouth," that Gospel reads. "The rest of the disciples were offended
by it and expressed disapproval. 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 like (I love) her?' "
Scholars say they are not arguing that these are historically truer portraits
than those of the New Testament Gospels. But they argue that these Gospels
show there were early Christian communities that traced their beliefs back
to a figure known as Mary Magdalene -- which had nothing to do with the
traditional figure of a repentant prostitute.
Even those women in established religions who do not accept the non-canonical
Gospels as legitimate sources see hope for women in a closer reading of the
four Gospels of the New Testament. "I think she's a model for women today,"
Belfiore says of Magdalene. "That when Jesus spoke to Mary to go tell the
other disciples he was risen, it shows that woman has a complementary role
in the mission and that we need one another. It's not a man's church or a
woman's church, but a church. Women have a specific dimension of the mission."
Magdalene meets Tiberius
A "legend" taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church for over 1500 years
According to the ancient tradition of the East, Mary
Magdalene was a wealthy woman from whom Christ expelled seven "demons." During
the three years of Jesus' ministry she helped support him and his other disciples
with her money. When almost everyone else fled, she stayed with him at the
cross. On Easter morning she was the first to bear witness to his resurrection.
She is called "Equal to the Apostles." The Eastern tradition tells us that
after the Ascension she journeyed to Rome where she was admitted to the court
of Tiberius Caesar because of her high social standing. After describing
how poorly Pilate had administered justice at Jesus' trial, she told Caesar
that Jesus had risen from the dead. To help explain his resurrection she
picked up an egg from the dinner table. Caesar responded that a human being
could no more rise from the dead than the egg in her hand turn red. The egg
turned red immediately, which is why red eggs have been exchanged at Easter
for centuries in the Byzantine East.
Mary traveled the Mediterranean preaching the resurrection.
Like Peter and Paul, she died a martyr and she bears witness to the important
role women once held in the Church.
This icon (on the front of the card) was commissioned
for Grace Cathedral in San Francisco to commemorate the election of Barbara
Harris, the first woman bishop in the Anglican communion. As women reclaim
their ancient rights in the church, Mary Magdalene challenges all Christians
to re-examine their cultural prejudices about gender and leadership.
-- From the back of my Society of Mary Magdalene
membership welcome card
The Eastern Orthodox Church, which includes the Russians, is indeed fond
of blood red eggs at Easter. Gold letters are painted onto the red
eggs. They make red eggs every year, no pastels. You have to
start with a brown egg in order to get the rich dark red color.
[In the Tiberius red egg legend, no mention is made of Mary Magdalene's
marriage to Yeshua/Jesus. That part of the story has been suppressed, but
kept alive by gnostics and heretics becoming one of the secrets of Esoteric
for evidence of their marriage.]
Here are some links discussing the relationship between Jesus Christ and
Magdalen as the Bride of
Margaret Starbird shared the following thoughts regarding
Botticelli's painting, Derelicta (above):
Starbird writes: [This] is a picture of a woman
sitting on the steps in front of a door that is closed. Lying around her
are the remnants of her mantle. The picture is by Botticelli and is called
"Derelicta" ("The Abandoned One"). When I first encountered it in a book
of Botticelli's paintings, I was struck immediately. It seemed to me to be
an illustration of a passage in the "Song of Songs." [Song of Solomon in
Protestant Bibles]. The "guardians of the walls" attacked the Bride
as she was seeking her bridegroom in the streets of the city. They set upon
her, stripped her of her mantle and beat her--then told her to go home. I
was amazed when I started to read the explanations art critics had offered
for this painting. None of them could guess who it was who was "the abandoned
one"--They tried to pin the painting on various Old Testament women who were
abused and mistreated, (Tamar and others) but were unable to establish the
exact identity of the woman.
The "abandoned one" represents not just one woman,
but ALL! The entire half of the human family born female is subjected
to abuse by the "guardians of the walls" who protect the "box" they have
created for God, guarding the gates...taking literally the lines in Scripture
that gave "Peter" the authority to "bind on earth, bind in heaven."
There is another place where the "abandoned one" is
mentioned--my favorite prophecy: "For Sion's sake I will not be silent, until
her vindication shines forth like the dawn...no longer shall she be called
"abandoned" or her lands "desolate," but she shall be called "Beloved" and
her lands "espoused." -- I believe that Mary Magdalene represented the
Bride/Daughter of Sion and that when the "Nuptials of the Lamb" are finally
celebrated, her presence at the side of Jesus will help to heal the nations.
I'm always amazed at pastors who repeat the "party
line" without ever having examined the evidence for the "Sacred Union."
There is no historical evidence (or any evidence) that
Mary Magdalene was a prostitute!
More on the painting above:
Thanks for posting the "Derelicta," Katia. Unfortunately, it's not in color
in my book. In the original, the torn mantle is rose-colored.
In looking again at the picture, I noticed the twin
pillars holding up the arch. These pillars, "Boaz and Jachin" mentioned in
the Book of Kings, are symbolic of the Temple of Jerusalem, and this reminds
me of the "Shekinah" (Bride of Yahweh) whose myth, like Mary Magdalene's,
is another Bride in exile--suffering separation from her Beloved following
the destruction of the Temple which cannot be rebuilt because of the
"cardiosclerosis" (hardness of heart) that seems to be so prevalent on the
planet. The "blueprint" for the New Jerusalem is (as in the Book of Revelation!)
the Sacred Union (the "sword" and "cup" triangles intertwined--Star of David).
Carl Jung has this right--integration of the "opposites" (Logos/Reason and
Eros/relationship) starts in each individual psyche and spreads out into
the community and from there into the wider world.
This painting seems to say that the "abandoned one"
has been locked out of the "Church" which does not recognize the need for
her necessary contribution to the spiritual (and therefore also the emotional
and physical) well-being of the community. The "Bride" is being denied access...
In Memory of Her,
by Noor, OMM Initiate
I am going home
To my Beloved,
Where I will no
Longer be the
I am returning to my
Place as the
I will be Heaven
On High, for I
am going to be
With my King.
Blessed am I
Who holds the Rose
And sits at the
Left hand of
Blessed am I
Who holds the
Who walks the
Way in light.
Blessed they will call me
As they bow before me
And weep at my feet.
They shall welcome
Me at gates of gold
With roses and
Garlands and crowns.
And there shall
Be doves, pure
And white, and
And my Beloved
Articles & Poems on this
was a Christian leader,
not a repentant prostitute
Whispers of Mary Magdalene's Voice
Priestesses, Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene?
We Did Not Know You
Sacred Reunion by Margaret Starbird & thoughts on Derelicta,
Questions/Comments/Complaints for the