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The Gnostic Avenger

Jesus and Magdalene in the Pagan World

The unique importance of Mary Magdalene for non-Christian Gnostics arose from her identification with the fallen Sophia, the holy harlot, the Whore of Wisdom. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” was probably not John the Divine, author of the Gospel of John and the Revelation, but a woman variously called Mary, Myriam, Mariamme. She is not the incarnation of the Aeon Sophia, but she is a good-enough human reflection of the divinity. In Gnostic terms, she exemplifies an accomplished Mystery School teacher, an initiate who knew the secrets of cosmos and psyche as deeply as any man.

Magdalene’s male counterpart, Jesus, is not the human incarnation of the Aeon Christos, either. In Gnostic theology, there is no such incarnation. Jesus was, like Magdalene, a phoster or enlightened one, fully mortal and fully human. Together, these two people would have made an unmarried pair without children, for the Gnostic guardians of the Mysteries— who called themselves telestai, "those who are aimed" — rejected procreation as enslavement to social obligations based on blind biological drives. They would have viewed the shared consecration of their work in the Mysteries higher than the mundane institution of marriage. At least that is how this pair might be imagined if one were to reconstruct a scenario based on non-Christian elements in the Nag Hammadi materials.

Genuine images of Gnostics and teachers from the Mysteries are non-existent, mainly due to the fact that initiates were vowed to anonymity. It was against their code of selfless consecration to allow themselves to be depicted in any way that would foster a cult of personality. Nevertheless, antique traditions preserve some recognition of the initiatic figure. Mary Magdalene is often pictured reading a book to indicate that the Gnostics were intellectuals and teachers who taught literacy and maintained the high culture of the pre-Christian world. (The Magdalen Reading by Roger van der Weyden, c. 1435. National Gallery, London, Plate 18 in Venus in Sackcloth by Marjorie M. Malvern.)

 

Christos and the Christ

As I have insisted elsewhere on this site, the difference between the Christos of the Pagan Mysteries and “the Christ” requires careful elucidation, especially as it bears on the figure of Jesus' counterpart, Mary Magdalene. The Christ is an ideological icon invented by Saint Paul on the basis of the Zaddikite messiah of the Dead Sea. As such, the term denotes a superhuman being who, assuming the form of the mortal man Jesus, models the highest ideal of humanity. The hybrid Jesus/Christ is the central figure in the Roman cult of salvationism. Hence, the Christ represents the paradigm of salvation in human guise, but with a distinct superhuman element implied. (Few Christians understand that the superhuman element, the power behind Christ, is Melchizedek, the eerie, clone-like overseer of the Zaddikim; but this is exactly as Paul claims in Hebrews 6:20.) He is the focus of the Palestinian redeemer complex discussed at length in my book, Not in His Image. In the glossary I offer these contrasting definitions:

Christ: (from christos, “anointed one,” Greek translation of the Hebrew mashiash, “messiah”) In Christian theology, the “only-begotten Son of God” who assumes human form to enter history and redeem humanity from sin. Central figure in the redeemer complex. Said to have been incarnated uniquely in the historical person called Jesus of Nazareth; hence, the human/divine hybrid, Jesus/Christ. Regarded by the faithful as the ultimate model of humanity, and the locus of human dignity. The divine scapegoat.

Christos: (Greek, “anointed one”) In Mystery idiom, a divinity in the galactic matrix (Pleroma) who unites with Sophia to configure the singularity of human potential, and later intercedes to assist Sophia in the organization of animal life in the biosphere (the Christic intercession). Does not incarnate in human form, but may assume a humanoid guise in the Mesotes.

These definitions indicate not merely a niggling contrast of terms, but a profound clash of paradigms. The Gnostic Christos is neither a divine savior nor, in his human guise, the supreme model of humanity. In the humanoid form of the Mesotes, this entity is a kind of inner guide, or inner spiritual compass. Paul preached that "the Christ in us" is a super-human presence that carries our sense of humanity, but Gnostics taught that our sense of humanity must be acquired by intellectual and empathic recognition of the Anthropos, the human species. In Not in His Image, I call this recognition the species-self connection (Ch. 23). The difference between the Gnostic Christos and the Christ signals a vast divergence of views concerning how we sense “a spiritual presence” in our personal lives, and how we identify that presence with our innate sense of humanity.

Pagan Tolerance

In Gnostic terms, the figure of Magdalene is indispensable to the inner sensing of our humanity. She is a haunting, elusive presence in the conventional Gospels, but in Gnostic writings she unambiguously attains her true stature. Magdalene figures in dialogues in half a dozen NHC treatises; she literally stars in the non-NHL Pistis Sophia; the Gospel of Mary is attributed to her. The latter is fragmentary material, with only eight of eighteen pages remaining. It is found in the Berlin Codex (BG 8502), hence it stands outside the NHC, but it is included in the canon and carried as the last text in the Nag Hammadi Library in English.

Much has been made of the Gospel of Mary, but little of what’s currently written gets to the Gnostic core of her character. Regrettably, the words attributed to Magdalene in the Gospel of Mary provide yet another occasion for Gnostic scholars to indemnify Christianity and discount original Gnostic teachings.

In her book The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, subtitled “Jesus and the First Woman Apostle,” Gnostic scholar Karen King argues that “the norm of Christianity was theological diversity” This statement is intended as praise for the early Christian community, meant to reflect positively upon Christians today. In King's view, modern believers can think well of themselves knowing that their belief-system arose from a rich diversity of views rather than as a totalitarian dogma. Her viewpoint encourages modern Christians to be open-minded and tolerant of different interpretations of the Faith.

But the historical evidence King uses to support this point shows that well into the 4th century Christianity was so poorly defined, and so loosely understood even by those who embraced it, that it is patently misleading to call it by that name. Devotees were not even agreed on whether to call their savior figure Christos or Chrestos. King is explicit: “As we have repeatedly emphasized, at the time the Gospel of Mary was written, Christianity had no common creed, canon, or leadership structure.” Precisely so: there was no dogmatic Christianity in the diversity of the early sects, but Christianity as such is only meaningful in terms of the dogmas that define it.

King implies that the formative diversity of the Faith, including Gnostic versions of the salvationist agenda, is a credit to the open and compassionate spirit of the first Christians, or proto-Christians. This is a clever spin, and utterly misleading. Professor King denies that the pluralism she finds so praiseworthy in the first centuries of the Common Era was entirely due to Pagan tolerance, soon to be eliminated when the self-styled Christians finally did define their canon, creed, and leadership!

“The complexity and abundance of early Christian thought” (King again) was indeed impressive, but hold on a minute. If Jesus and Magdalene are to be imagined as two prominent teachers in that time and setting, it cannot have been the Christian message they were expounding, but Pagan theology of the kind in which Hypatia excelled.

We are left to wonder, How might Jesus and Magdalene have appeared, and what might they have taught, had they been initiates from the Mysteries?

Da Vinci also followed the tradition that recognized the high literacy of Gnostics and Mystery initiates. In his Annunciation he pictured the Virgin poised elegantly at a table, reading a book. What might be taken for an urn can be seen on the table to her left. Whatever one makes of Da Vinci's connection to the Priory of Sion, as an artist he clearly observed the secret tradition that portrayed Madgalene as literate and red-headed. For all the attention given to Magdalene's possible presence in The Last Supper, it is equally, if not more shocking, that Da Vinci could have subversively portrayed her in the Annunciation. As the wife of a humble carpenter, it is unlikely that the mother of Jesus would have been either literate or elegant.

Simon and Helen

Gnostic teachings fostered the ultimate, long-range view of human potential. The goal of initiation in the Mysteries was not "human divinity" but the highest level of authenticity and novelty in religious experience, without authority, intermediaries, or fixed doctrines. Gnosis is a path of illuminism in which we acquire by our own powers the knowledge that recharges the life-force and reaffirms our connection to the life-source, Gaia-Sophia, but Salvationism is a “cross theology” (Karen King) that bonds us to the suffering of the Divine Victim. Rather arrestingly, King says “one issue at stake in cross theology was authority.” I reckon that a Gnostic would find that statement, at least, to be clear and without error. Gnostic spirituality was vividly and rigorously anti-authoritarian.

To represent Magdalene as the “first woman apostle” freeze-frames her in the old paradigm of patriarchal authority and makes her subservient to the primary male agent of the Roman salvationist creed (divine or not, depending on your doctrinal criteria). This portrayal of Mary Magdalene is utterly wrong in Gnostic terms and does not even follow the prevailing grain of historical and textual evidence. She was the ultimate outsider in the evangelical scenario of Jesus as conventionally told.

Jesus and Magdalene pictured in the time and setting of proto-Christianity cannot be made into evangelists. Given the intense spiritual ferment of the Piscean Age, and the unprecedented situation that compelled some Pagan initiates to come out in the open, they can at best be imagined as a pair of Gnostic teacher-healers. As such, they would have been agents and exemplars of Chrestos, the Benefactor awaited by so many at the dawn of the Piscean Age, and in that role they would have taken a stand against the authoritarian paternalism of “cross theology.” G. R. S. Mead advises:

    In studying the lives and teachings of these Gnostics, we should always bear in mind that our only sources of information have hitherto been the caricatures of the heresiologists, and remember that only the points which seemed fantastic to the refutators were selected, and then exaggerated by every art of hostile criticism; the ethical and general teachings which provided no such points, were almost invariably passed over. It is, therefore, impossible to obtain anything but a most distorted portrait of men whose greatest sin was that they were centuries before their time.

In addition to projecting Magdalene into the collective imagination, the recent controversy around The Da Vinci Code has changed the way we picture her companion. Once Magdalene appears on the scene, we can never imagine Jesus in quite the same way again. How then do we re-imagine the Savior? Well, considered as a Gnostic revealer (phoster), Jesus can no longer be regarded as the Son of God, a divine being. Nor can he be identified with the Jewish rebel and messianic pretender of Eisenman’s sensational profile, based on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Jesus the Gnostic would have been totally human and non-political. Putting this figure beside Magdalene, we can picture a couple of Mystery School initiates who ventured into the public eye, challenged by the issues of the Piscean Age — especially the main issue, the quest for personal guidance, consistent with the massive shift toward narcissism and self-concern at the dawn of that Age (c. 120 BCE). Because the guidance sought by so many people at that time was personal, it could not be found within the program of the Mysteries where ego-death and transpersonal service to humanity were the criteria.

In fact, such a couple did appear in that very time and setting: Simon Magus and Helen, the fallen women who was said to incarnate Ennoia, the “divine intention” of the Pleroma. Simon the Magian, who lived in Samaria around 50 CE, is often called the first Gnostic. (The title Magian alludes to the ancient order of Zoroastrian priest-shamans, the prehistoric taproot of the Gnostic movement. See the companion article, Gnostics or Illuminati?) Simon was the first Mystery School initiate known by name to have appeared in Palestine and argued in public against the redeemer complex. Christianity did not exist in 50 CE. The figure and mission of the Christian redeemer was not clear at that time. As Karen King notes, even three hundred years later there was no agreement on creed, doctrine, or practice. Simon would have argued against certain theological points in the Palestinian redeemer complex of the Jewish radicals, the Zaddikim. Some centuries later these points would have been consolidated into the rigid dogmas of Roman Christianity.

Hellenistic fabulae (popular tales) recounted in the Clementine Recognitions (4th C. CE) represent Simon as an evil magician who debates theology with the apostle Paul and even engages him in a sorcerer’s battle in the air over Rome. You do not have to dig out the Recognitions to know who won.

Behind the naive scripting of the Recognitions and those Hellenistic romances known as the Gospels, a battle for humanity was taking place. Although the Salvationist creed was not formalized until centuries later, the redeemer complex with its program of divine reward and retribution had been developing since the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BCE. The terrorist theology of Jewish apocalypticism came to a fever pitch in the Zaddikim, the extremist cult of the Dead Sea. From the days of the Macabbean revolt in 168 BC, the dawn of the Piscean Age, Palestine was rife with messianic obsessions and rocked by social upheaval due to ferocious resistance to Roman occupation by the Zealots.The Dead Sea Scrolls present firsthand evidence of this volatile situation, but they are never cited by scholars like Karen King who wear specialist blinders. Yet the Scrolls represent the single most revealing evidence we have of the real setting of the historical Jesus and his infamous companion, Magdalene.

Lacking realistic portraits of Pagan initiates and Gnostics from the Mysteries, artists and writers of later generations tended to depict them as fabulous figures in long robes, surrounded by magical and symbolic items. This manner of representation distanced them from humanity and shrouded them in an aura of mystification. A number of adepts were pictured in this way, but there is (as far as I know) no surviving image of a Gnostic couple such as Jesus and Magdalene or Simon and Helen. (Apollonius of Tyana, by Jean Jacques Boissard, c. 1615)

By the time of Simon Magus, Palestine had become a significant threat to the destabilization of the Roman Empire. The entire region was racked with social and religious unrest, sectarian violence, and millenarian madness. Into this dangerous atmosphere stepped a pair of initiates, Simon and Helen — or Jesus and Magdalene, if you prefer. The substitution is fair, because the two couples are virtually identical. Either of them could have been Jewish, for they were a good many Jews in the Mysteries, which were multi-ethnic in membership. Like Helen, Magdalene was said to be a prostitute. (In the companion essay, She Who Anoints, which present a full-length review of King's book, I consider this controversial factor in Magdalene's profile in terms of her role as a sacred consort in Pagan rites of anointing.) The aim of the initiates in those troubled times would have been to render compassionate service to the many people struggling through a momentously difficult moment in human history. They would not have paraded as gods, as they are accused of doing in “the caricatures of the heresiologists.”

A humanistic portrait of Pythagoras, Greek
initiate and Mystery adept. From The History
of Philosophy
by Thomas Stanley (17th Cent).

Teaching Humanity

In that tumultuous time and setting, Jesus and Magdalene could quite possibly have been an initiated couple from the Mysteries, like Simon and Helen. The would even have been a Jewish couple who stood against the hateful fanaticism arising among their own people. It is essential to remember that the Zaddikite ideology, the foundation of Christian theology, was not the belief of mainstream Jews in antiquity, and was, in fact, a source of enormous grief and anguish among them. (The same situation persists today: Many sincere believers within the international Jewish community do not accept that Zionism represents the heartfelt convictions of Jews, nor that it truthfully serves the aims of their spiritual tradition.) As a Jewish couple, Jesus and Magdalene would have felt compelled to face the crisis within their own racial-cultural tradition, a crisis that shattered Hebrew tradition and caused the expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem in 70 CE. As an initiated couple from the Mysteries, they would have acted differently, however. Their work in public life would have been dedicated more to the problems of personal guidance raised by the new Zeitgeist of the Age, and less to specific issues concerning the fate of the Jews.

So imagined, this couple cannot have been Christian in any conventional sense of the term. Neither would they have been a married Jewish couple bent on having children at a biological extension of their faith. See my article in The Secrets of Mary Magdalene, edited by Dan Burstein and Arne de Keijzer.) The power of Magdalene is just this: when she enters the picture, Jesus sheds the aura of divine redeemer. This couple do not represent the familiar savior and the “first woman apostle,” no matter what kind of retrofit is put on them. Professor King claims that Mary of Magdala, in her “legitimate exercise of authority in instructing the other disciples,” preached the unique message of Christianity to the world: “Christian community constituted a new humanity, in the image of the true Human within.” The notion that the first Christians discovered a new sense of humanity unknown to anyone before them is typical of the arrogance of Salvationist creed. The claim that Christians, then or now, represent the human species in some unique manner, better and more deeply than other people, is holier-than-thou and nonsense.

“The image of the true Human within” is not, and has never been, copyrighted to Christianity. I would argue that the term “true Human” (Coptic PITELEIOS RHOME) in King’s translation of the Gospel of Mary is an expression of the Anthropos doctrine of the Gnostics, the Mystery teaching on the pre-terrestrial origin of humanity, not the divine redeemer. Scholars who use Gnostic material to revisit and revalorize Christian doctrines rarely acknowledge the originality of their sources. Marvin Meyer fares a little better than King in attempting to put Gnostic writings “into language that is meant to be inclusive… [using] non-sexist terms and phrases.” Meyer uses “Child of Humanity” rather than the familiar “Son of Man.” The consequent shift of language can be startling. For instance, The Secret Book of James says, “Blessed are those who have spread abroad the good news of the Son before he descended to Earth.” Meyer renders it: “Blessed three times over are those who were proclaimed by the Child before they came into being.” This language comes close to denoting the Anthropos, the numinous genetic template of the human species projected from the galactic core of the Pleroma, thus giving some idea of what Magdalene would really have been teaching. (Meyer also incorporates Mystery jargon, “three times over,” referring to the status of hierophant, e.g., Hermes Trismegistos; hence he implies that the identity of the Child or authentic humanity is a matter of initiated knowledge.)

But Meyer almost loses the genuine non-Christian message he wants to capture. “The Son before he descended to Earth” is the Anthropos projected from the Pleroma before the Earth emerged, understood in Gnostic terms, but sounds dangerously like the Incarnation in Christian terms. The substitution of Child for Son humanizes the language of the text but verges away from the Mystery teaching on the Anthropos. Karen King’s allusion to “the image of the Human within” is actually closer to the Gnostic meaning, although she does not bother to acknowledge that the Anthropos doctrine, distinct from the redeemer complex, is the source of this language.

By retrofitting Magdalene into the redeemer paradigm, the Gnostic message is co-opted and distorted, time and time again. In their own day Gnostics saw this happening and protested with vehemence and eloquence. The distortion continues, effectively obliterating from Magdalene’s character and teaching any traces of “the side that lost out,” as King characterizes them. With Jesus and Magdalene, it is one version or the other: either they represent Gnostic illuminism or they represent the salvationist platform of redeemer beliefs. It cannot be both. Any admixture of cross theology immediately destroys the authenticity of the Gnostic couple and their message to humanity about what it means to be human.

According to their own account of their origins, Gnostics traced their sacred tradition back to Seth, one of the sons of Adam. Sethian teachings emphasize the power of the Divine Sophia and even downplay the Christos in the mythic scenario of Sophia's fall. One of the essential claims of the Sethians was to preserve the teaching of True Humanity, the Anthropos, not to be confounded with the image of perfect humanity in Jesus Christ. (Adam and Seth, miniature from the Royal Chronicles of Cologne, 1238 CE. National Library, Brussels.)

She Who Anoints

The first step in a genuine, enduring revival of Gnosis in our time would be to recognize what is original to Gnostic teachings in the Mysteries and refrain from co-optation intended to produce a “new, improved” version of Christian beliefs. Magdalene could be the key factor in the revival, but so far she is contributing to a lot of distortion. The problem with the pop occultism of Baigent and others, including Dan Brown, is that it makes Mary Magdalene accessory to an altered patriarchal scenario rather than to an anti-patriarchal scenario. The Priory of Sion, the alleged secret society that is said to have preserved the truth about Magdalene’s role in Jesus’ life, is the instrument of a monarchist cabal intent upon restoring the blood-line of Jesus in Europe. True or not, real or not, this scam is about as patriarchal as you can get.

Even if the Priory does not exist, the message is clear: Magdalene is valued for her biological role as a vessel of the “holy blood” of Jesus, the sangraal. Behind this fantasy lurks the crypto-fascist mentality that pervades almost all forms of modern esotericism. If Jesus was divine, the bloodline originating from him is unique on earth. If he was a mortal man, the bloodline still has paramount claim to regal status, for the “King of Kings” ought rightly to be the progenitor of the kings who rule the world. In such ways as this are we once again delivered into the insidious game of the theocrats.

Nevertheless, The Da Vinci Code has deeply affected many people by the way it reintroduces the Divine Feminine into religious life. This angle of the novel comes closer to the Gnostic profile of Mary Magdalene as a teacher of True Humanity, PITELEIOUS RHOME, and the intimate companion of Jesus, whom she anoints. At best, it points far beyond the Gospel setting to the unique power of Magdalene as a numinous figure in human imagination.

As noted above, Christos, Greek equivalent to the Hebrew mashiash, means “the anointed.” Originally this was an honorific title given to sacred kings in Mesopotamia. It had no divine connotation and still does not for devout Jews. As a title of affiliation rather than divinization, it designates a man who carries the authority of the Father God. Theocracy is an all-male domination system, the crux of the patriarchal agenda. Patriarchy is about men anointing men, or, in bureaucratic terms, men appointing men. Zoroastrian Magi who anointed ancient kings in the Near East were in a position of authority and control over the men they empowered. Clever priests pandered to the egos of the theocrats, treating them as if they were divine, descended from gods. The pretence of divinity fits the crypto-fascist agenda like it was custom made for it: Constantine recognized this clearly when he insisted on the divinity of Christ so that he could claim superhuman authority for the Roman Empire. The fact that he stopped short of declaring himself divine, as some late Roman emperors did, is a measure of his political savvy. As a human claiming divinity, he could be questioned. But by enforcing the divinity of Jesus, Constantine made sure that no one could question the authority he held in the name of the Son. And he made the penalty for doing so, death.

In pre-patriarchal times, anointing was a sexual-hedonic rite, the heiros gamos (sacred wedding) of the Goddess, who was represented by a priestess, with the man who would be king. Like a powerful magnet, the figure of Magdalene draws our attention to this forgotten rite and the empowering woman who performed it.

For Gnostics of the Mysteries, the human figure of Mary Magdalene had a mythic counterpart: the Goddess Sophia, the consort of the Christos in the Pleroma. The Gospel of Philip describes the erotic sacrament in the nymphion (“bridal chamber”) where initiates ritually reenacted the divine coupling that produced the Anthropos, the luminous template for humanity. Myth is repeated in the sexual ritual, the two genders are reconciled in the nymphion, and the celebrants emerge with their sense of humanity renewed and sharpened. The Gospel of Philip (73.5) affirms, “Those who do not receive the resurrection while they yet live, when they die will receive nothing.”

For Gnostics, resurrection was vital-sexual regeneration experienced here and now in the living flesh. Magdalene is traditionally pictured with an urn, the vessel of anointing. All the evidence indicates that this woman would have been seen by her Gnostic peers as a courtesan charged with ritual anointing and instruction in the mysteries of the nymphion – a “sacred prostitute,” to apply the unfortunate term that often turns up in the current flood of books about her. No one lately seems to have gotten her tawdry image as right as Marjorie M. Malvern, whose Venus in Sackcloth was published in 1975, almost thirty years before the present furor over Magdalene. Malvern shows that “the connection of the Magdalen with a goddess of love… is unbroken and unmistakable” in European art and literature from classical times. “Transcendence of the fear of death through the celebration of the ‘mystery’ of sexual love and of life on the earth” is the signature of the consort, she who now re-ignites the image of the Great Goddess in the collective imagination.


The Gnostic Avenger

In the perspective of the Pagan Mysteries, Magdalene’s role in the life of Jesus was to anoint the anointed, but the mortal man was not made divine by this ritual. Rather, it showed that he was acknowledged by a representative of the Goddess Sophia to be a teacher of “the Human within.” Consider this notion against the proclamation of Paul in Hebrews 6:20, that “even Jesus [was] made a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” This astounding disclosure alarmed the Zaddikim, who saw Paul spouting their secret doctrines to the public. It also would have alerted Gnostic observers to the ultimate pretensions of the Zaddikite sect on the Dead Sea, a group whose sexist and genophobic views were diametrically opposed to the sexual balanced humanitarianism of Gnosis.

Gnostics like Jesus and Magdalene did not normally do religion in the public eye. They did not enter politics to change the world or accomplish social reform, but in their work in the Mysteries they did everything they could to nurture people who would build a society that did not need to be reformed, because it was good enough on the basis of the moral integrity of its members. As telestai, Jesus and Magdalene would have consecrated their lives to harmonize culture and nature, and, most certainly, to keep theocratic politics (the only kind that matter on this planet) at a safe distance from schooling their fellow humans in co-evolution. Like many other guardians of the Mysteries, they managed to do all this in the Near East and in Europa for about six thousand years, the last four thousand after patriarchy had got a good head of steam rolling.

Such is not the achievement of individuals head over heels in love with their own divinity.

Allowing for the presence of Mary Magdalene in the story of Jesus shatters the pretences around deification, and blows patriarchal presumptions about God out the window. It also weakens, rather than strengthens, the crypto-fascist agenda attached to the “holy blood, holy grail” fantasia. Magdalene is the flesh-and-blood defiance of the patriarchal overthrow that shunted sacred mating into oblivion, in favor of the all-male messiah club and the begetting or royal heirs. She is the one who anoints virginally, without conception.

She is the Gnostic Avenger.

* * * * *

Those on the scene in Jerusalem at the time, around 35 CE, did not know if the women at the gates wept for Jesus crucified or for Dumuzi, the Sumerian tender of flocks whose lover was the sensuous goddess, Inanna. Today, facing the prospect of a Gnostic revival, we know that Inanna and Dumuzi, the goddess and the shepherd king, are mirrored in Magdalene and Jesus, and their relationship has nothing to do with self-deification, or concocting a better form of Christianity, or reinstating the Merovingian dynasty in Europe. This couple is about Pagan eroticism, the hedonic rites of human passion, and Gnostic sacramentalism. In their union and in their teaching alike, they celebrate the divine body of Gaia-Sophia in whom humankind has its pleasure and its atonement.

(Like many other images thought to be of the Virgin Mary, "The Madonna of the Sacred Coat" by C. B. Chambers (ca. 1890), presents a Magdalene-like figure in a gentle, welcoming attitude, thus allowing a glimpse of how a female Pagan initiate might actually have looked.)

 

 

 


Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.