Its Mary Magdalene’s ‘Feast Day’ today on July 22nd and I have some thoughts to share. As we know her through the writings of many authors, Mary Magdalene is an example for modern women of how to integrate great strength with enormous grace and kindness. This is empowering for us. Since the Suffragette movement in the 1900’s, all the way through the 60’s to today, women have been growing in their sovereignty. It has been a bumpy ride though, from early feminism, where we wanted to be a ‘match’ to a man, all the way to the fluffy/wild neo-feminism of today. Today’s aware woman looks, to anyone near her, like is doing a funky, charming but confused dance. We live somewhere between the rose petals, chamomile tea and sanitized forests of our girlish desires, and the growling, howling, wild woman sisterhood of visceral aliveness. Then there is motherhood, and/or a job with times and responsibilities to negotiate into that too.
I was a girl who read the feminist writers of San Francisco in the 80’s and decided, with my creative prowess, intelligence and ambition, I could be ‘even better than a man’ and become a cinematographer. After hitting the glass ceiling hard and early in Hollywood, my other motivation — a committed yoga practice — bore fruit in the realization that I wanted to stop competing with men for ‘work’ and losing. Instead I wanted to dance and sing, wear dresses and be a WOMAN. Fifteen years later I am integrating both sides of my journey. Sometimes I feel torn holding both, as there are very few real role models that are visible. I suspect that they exist in private, in the forests and in some very balanced families, but out here on the cultural growth edge, in Los Angeles 2017, we are learning as we go how to be a full HER. Once I left the ‘mens’s world’ of work and competition, I delved deeply into what pleasure, what sensuality, and what tears of sadness and ecstatic joy felt like. I found a new type of powerful force in me and it felt like openness, softness and Grace. And it was terrifying. Our culture tends to call this softness ‘passive’, ‘weak’ or when it gets wild — ‘crazy’. Remember that the Catholic church shut down all the Celtic temples and celebrations when they came to Britain in the first century AD. It became ‘heresy’ to use the old ways of connection to nature, have pleasure and unbridled experiences of mysterious joy. There was a cultural message indoctrinated to women (and men) to be passive — unless at war, sexless — unless procreating, and only trust priests to mediate experiences of the Divine. This rigid control dynamic is diluted but still very present today. There is a lot of validation in our western world for women (and men) to be left brained, tough and logical and to deny their wild selves.
Women all over the world chat about this on social media, read books by a variety of authors, go to ‘Red Tent’ workshops and nod in recognition. For me, this is where Mary Magdalene comes in. Mary Magdalene, according to my understanding, was Jesus’ (Yeshua ben Joseph’s) Tantric Partner. Yes that’s right. They had sex. Good sex. And they reached God through making love. Oh and the GODDESS too. They were initiated by Isis into the mysteries of immortality in the Egyptian Temples. She was his equal. She was with him as he passed into death, and was the only one with him in the cave where he ‘resurrected’. Why her? Some say they were engaging in their yogic tantric practices during this time. These words will read as radical ‘heresy’ to some. I can’t prove their validity to you ‘scientifically’ but I can tell you I feel it in my bones, my tears, my joy and my life, and that is enough for me. So whether you take my words as a story or as a real occurrence, they tell a significant tale.
What is the deepest re-frame here is that there is even more beauty underneath the mystery of their relationship. Mary Magdalene wasn’t some Game of Thrones Wild Wonder Woman warrioress. The deepest truth is that her relationship with Yeshua was that of utmost devotion. It is said that she was ‘barren’ (unable to have children) and on the night of ‘the Last Supper’, Yeshua gave her a blue rose symbolizing his devotional love for her. That night she conceived. Perhaps the depth of love and trust she felt created a shift in her body. Could pure love actually manifest physical change on Earth…?
I sense that this energy of utmost devotion is what we deeply yearn for today. Our leaders are mostly bickering attack dogs, who turn on each other in a flash. Our brilliant cultural change makers — who could be Kings — are starved of material help or manipulated into giving up their views. Ideologues rule the day and material gain is the accepted excuse for sociopathic and selfish behavior. This is ‘normal’ and apparently dominant and it makes us sick to our souls. This is why Mary Magdalene’s story touches so many of us. She was radical, she was committed, she was gifted, she stepped outside her ‘tribe’ for a greater purpose, and she was lover and partner to arguably one of the most important men of our time. She may have even washed his feet with her hair, an act of humble and powerful love. Instead of being honored for her loving commitment, her offering earned her 2000 years of judgement, and being shunned. Many women today still feel like their deepest natures are similarly judged and shamed. Her story is real for us, as it is our journey. And the Catholic Church finally, in 2016 gave her a ‘feast day’. Well at least that is a start.
Perhaps, just like an amoral American Corporation, the Church can see the writing on the wall and knows that it won’t be relevant (or profitable!) going forward without adopting some values of its ‘consumers’. These values that we are all needing so badly, the ones Mary Magdalene’s life embodies, and that I call ‘feminine’ (though not bound only to women), are those of consideration, care, generosity, intuitive understanding, and honoring all that is mysterious and unknown.
Mary Magdalene’s story of devoted love and understanding is like a breath of fresh air in humanity’s current narrative. Our current mainstream story is full of disrespect for all things humane and caring and is completely nauseating. Her story gives us permission to trust one another and to give of ourselves fully, to be totally filled with love and generosity and feel powerfully held there. When needed in the face of injustice, we can still be full of anger and rage, and then held in love and presence as we re-balance to peace. This is what it is to be a full human.
From that place of shared understanding of our full humanity, huge change is totally possible.