Margaret Starbird on Oils & Magdalene, Mother Ruah, Song of Solomon

Klaus Mailahn posted:

Oils as symbol of Divine Mother Ruah / Ruach

Last night at BibleTV I saw an interesting sermon of famous US-preacher Bayless Conley. At the beginning he spoke of the Holy Spirit (we call Mother Ruah / Ruach). One of Her most important symbols has been oil, especially oil of anointing and oil for lamps! This special assignment seems to be an indication for the connection between Mother Ruah and Mary Magdalene. For oil of anointing brings to mind Mary Magdalene appearing as Sulamith in Song of Solomon / Song of Songs. Oil for lamps of course has to do with light – and Mary Magdalene is the Pure of Light in the Pistis Sophia and the Illuminated in the Gnosis. William Henry in one of his books calls Her in his subtitle “Illuminator. The woman who enlighted Christ”. In the Revelation 12, Mary Magdalene appears as The Woman clothed with the Sun.
We now can understand better why Hippolyte of Rome (170-236) in his Commentary on the Song of Songs associates Mary Magdalene with Ruah, particularly here:
On Song of Songs 4:1f.: “Look, my friend, my lovely, your are beautiful, your eyes are like doves.” The bridegroom calls this out to Sulamith, in Hippolyte’s opinion, because he has seen the Holy Spirit (Mother Ruah). So Sulamith is associated with Ruah. Writing about the Song of Songs 3:1-4 Hippolyte identifies Sulamith with Mary Magdalene, calls Her “Apostle” and “New Eve”. Commenting on the women going to the tomb of Christ he writes: “Oh, the new instruction, Eve becomes Apostle!”

Mary Magdalene and the Force

On Song of Songs 2:5: “Anoint me with oil and gather apples”. Here Hippolyte defines the oil of anointing as “the force teaching us all, fortifying Christ to the inner human”. So this means Mary Magdalene’s oil of anointing strengthens our connection to Christ. And the apple of Eve is the old symbol of the goddess of love, Aphrodite, identified with Mary Magdalene.  For more on Aphrodite and Mary Magdalene see Ariadne Green: “The mythology of Jesus and Mary Magdalene”

Margaret Starbird writes of Magdalene the Myrrhophore

Thank you for posting this, Klaus. The connection between Mary Magdalene as “ointment bearer” (Myrrhophore) and the Bride in the Songs of Songs [Solomon] is of immense importance! In the Song of Songs / Solomon, the fragrance of the bride wafts around the king at the banqueting table. In John 12, her fragrance “filled the house.” In both case the fragrance is “nard.” The only passages in all of the Judeo-Christian scriptures where “nard” is mentioned are the Song of Songs and the anointing of Jesus in all four Gospels by “the woman with the alabaster jar.”—

Here are several quotes referencing the “oils” or “fragrance” of the bride:

While the king was on his couch, my nard gave
forth its fragrance. (Song of Solomon 1:12)

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of
pure nard and anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped
them with her hair. (John 12:3a)

How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride.
How much better…is the fragrance of your oils
than any spice! (Song of Solomon 4:10)

The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume…
and Jesus said, “Leave her alone so that she might
keep it for the day of my burial. (John 12 3b, 7)

The only anointing of Jesus during his ministry was by the woman whom Luke calls a sinner, but John names: She is Mary, the sister of Lazarus. As I pointed out recently on this list, the “Vesica Pisces” associated by gematria (153) with Mary Magdalene’s title is used as a symbol for the “anointing by the Holy Spirit” in Christian art—

Here’s what I posted a week or two ago: “Often when you see a medieval sculpture of Christ seated in glory, he is surrounded by the “vesica piscis” () symbol (the yoni) which is universally associated with the goddesses of love and fertility. In Christianity, the meaning of the () is “anointed by the Holy Spirit”—acknowledging that She is feminine….

In the Gospels themselves, Jesus is anointed by a woman named twice in John’s Gospel (11:2 and 12:3). She is Mary, the sister of Lazarus, associated in Christian art and tradition (until recently!) with the Mary whose title is “the Magdalene,” the one who cries at Jesus’ tomb and meets him resurrected in the Garden on Easter morning.”

This association of the “anointing” with the “Bride” derives from the rituals of fertility cults of the ancient Near East where the bridegroom was anointed by his “Bride” as a prefiguring symbolic of the anointing of the male by the female during coitus. The “vesica piscis” symbol is equated universally with the yoni. Greeks called the symbol the “Matrix,” the “womb,” the “doorway to life” and the “Holy of Holies” – literally the “bridal chamber.” So the use of the vesica piscis in Christian art is a “carry-over” from the ancient rites of heiros gamos—the marriage of the Sacred King and his Holy Bride, who is the representative of the Goddess of the land and people.

Mary Magdalene is clearly cast in the role of the Bride in the Gospels—clearly the instrument of the Holy Spirit anointing the King in advance for his death and burial.

In memory of her,
“The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”

Magdalene Anointing Jesus during Easter Holy Week, Sacred Marriage

Become an Ordained Minister
Mary Magdalene and Jesus depicted in Sacred Marriage. Stained glass window in Scotland church

Joan Norton wrote about Sacred Marriage this week on our discussion forum:

Sacred marriage is a mechanism of enlightenment, in my view. It is the psychological principle by which growth of the mind and heart happens on our path with God… through intimacy between people and through an intimate relationship with one’s own psyche/soul/heart/mind. The soul speaks through dreams and the story metaphors used are based on nature’s processes of intimacy, birth, growth and death. In my experience, people grow towards God-realization through intimate encounter with other people or through their own inner life. That intimacy is what is sacred about partnership, sacred marriage. I don’t know how there could be an effective religion without a story of intimacy. There has to be a model for loving intricacy of care other than the mother-child model. I love all images of the archetypal mother but they are not psychologically the same as images of two people –or gods–in love and creating life together. If loving intimacy is seen only in the Madonna/child story it becomes incestuous. It sets up a longing for a kind of immersion in an unquestioning love that doesn’t always encourage growth. Mary Magdalene requests things of Jesus and she cries adult-woman tears that change his course of action.
     Everything I know about the historical likelihood of  sacred marriage being the very heart of our Christian story I have learned from Margaret Starbird’s books and some others; but the real strength of my convictions about it came from inside myself. I’ve met a number of woman who’ve told me that when they were little girls looking at the stained glass window stories of Christianity they just knew that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ girlfriend. It’s like that.
In Their Name,
Margaret Starbird writes:
Thanks for your wonderful remarks about the importance of the Sacred Marriage in the psyche, Joan.  Carl Jung says that the “Self” is often “imaged as a Divine or Royal couple” … :  )

Although the canonical Gospels do not agree as to the date, all four evangelists tell the story of the anointing of Jesus by the woman with the alabaster jar, confirming that this event was one of great importance to the earliest Christians.  Why? There are only a handful of stories that occur in all four Gospels, and this is one of them.  The others are:

1) the Baptism of Jesus by his cousin John
2) mulitplication of loaves and fishes
3) overturning the money changers’ tables in the Temple
4) the Crucifixion.
That should give us some idea as to the importance of the “Anointing at Bethany.”
In researching the background for the anointing of the Messiah by a woman, I discovered that this anointing of Christ in the Gospels is reminiscent of an ancient marriage rite  of “Hieros gamos” in indigenous to fertility cults in the Middle East.  The royal bride chose her consort from among the available bachelors and anointed him ceremonially as a prefiguring of the “anointing” during the marriage act in the bridal chamber.  After the consummation of the marriage, the couple was feted with a nuptial banquet–sometimes lasting for days–and the joy from the “bridal chamber” spread out into their domain, blessing the crops and herds.
Later in the liturgical season, the Bridegroom King was arrested–tortured, mutilated and executed–and laid in a tomb.  On the third day, the Bride went to the tomb to mourn the death of her Bridegroom and was overjoyed to find him resurrected in the Garden!  The ancient cults of “hieros gamos” celebrate the eternal return of Life at the time of the spring equinox…  Even the name of our East er celebration hints of these ancient roots in the “sacred marriage” festival honoring Astarte (later “Oestare”),  “Bride of the Easter Mysteries” in Canaan.
This week, “a few days before the Passover,” we read the Gospel story of the anointing of Jesus by Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 11:2 and 12:3-5).  When Judas complained about the wasted perfume, valued at a man’s year’s wage, Jesus said, “Let her keep it for the day of my burial.”  The Mary who is present in all four Gospels and both cross and tomb is Mary Magdalene, the Bride who embraces her Beloved in the Garden on Easter morning, re-enacting the ancient mythology of the “Sacred Marriage.”  I believe that Mary Magdalene and Jesus embody the “hieros gamos” of the archetypal “Holy Bride” and “Sacred Bridegroom” with which the peoples of the ancient Near East were well familiar.
The “fragrance of the Bride”–her “precious nard”–is mentioned in the Gospel narratives.  The only other place in the Hebrew Scriptures where “nard” is mentioned is in the “Song of Songs” (aka “Song of Solomon”) where the fragrance of the Bride wafts around the Bridegroom as he reclines at the banquet table. In John’s Gospel, her fragrance “fills the house.”
Here are lines from the Song of Songs, a poem known to have derived from an ancient liturgy celebrating the “sacred marriage” of Osiris and Isis:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.
Your oils have a pleasing fragrance;
your name spoken is a spreading perfume.
While the king was at his table

the fragrance of my nard wafted around him.

How much more delightful is your love than wine
And the fragrance of your oils than all spices!
The Gospel of Philip (from the Nag Hammadi Gnostic library) mentions Jesus’ frequent kisses — which apparently made the Apostles jealous of Mary Magdalene. In that 2-3rd c. text, Mary is called the “koinonos” (“companion” or “consort”) of the Lord—
In memory of Her–
“The Woman with the Alabaster Jar”
For more on the esoteric meaning of Easter visit our Easter Cycle observances page