Saturday, December 22, 2012

The two Mary's

People who share the same name can at times seem mysteriously connected to each other. And when we encounter these ‘twinned’ names in secret traditions, we can take it as a signal that something more is intended than mere coincidence. We know the Christ by the name of Jesus, but to his contemporaries his name was Yeshua – which in Hebrew is the same name as Joshua, who inherited the leadership from Moses. And the two women of the Gospels who so obviously share a name are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary, the Magdalene. But surely these two women could not be more contrasting, more unlike each other? For the one is blessed by the Divine as an immaculate virgin, and the other is cast by the Church as a common prostitute – a redeemed whore.

Neither of these epithets are actually accurate (although why they are not is perhaps a post for my blog for another time!). For the last two millennia Mary Magdalene has perhaps been the most wronged woman in all of human history. If we now see the Magdalene in her rightful form, not as the whore, which is how the Church has chosen to portray her, but as the most enlightened of all the disciples and even as the equal partner of Jesus, then we restore her at last to her rightful place. And when this restoration has found place, then the two Mary's can stand beside each other. When this happens then they can in the eyes of esoteric philosophy and the secret teachings bring about the supreme event. For then the two Mary's can become one. The virgin and the whore unite in one being to become the virgin whore.

But the virgin whore has already existed, for this is one of the titles given to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Ishtar, who invites us to overcome these contradictory koans of her titles and so enter the greater mysteries. But Ishtar is herself a continuous goddess who changes forms and names according to the culture in which she finds herself. So she has been both Ishtar and Isis and Astarte and Asherah, and she will become anew another incarnation in our own age with the uniting of the two Mary's. Thus the virgin-whore both survives and endures and speaks to us throughout history. As I mention in my previous post (Star of the Sea), the goddess is more powerful than any one doctrine. In describing the Magdalene as a whore (which the Gospels never actually do), the Church has perhaps been unknowingly fulfilling the true purpose of the goddess.

And perhaps all that it takes to unite the two Mary’s is our own awakening awareness of these traditions, and to realize that what had seemed to us to be two separate and individual women are in fact merely two aspects of the one goddess. 

Painting: Mary Magdalene by Carlo Dolci


  1. The relationship between the two women both named Mary is an intriguing one. One has been called the Mother of God, the Virgin. The other has been hinted at by the Church of being as what Emma describes as a "redeemed whore." Some who have researched the Knights Templars are convinced that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, and there appears to be some convincing evidence for this including an ancient letter that has been brought to light showing evidence that Mary Magdalene was Jesus' wife. This has sparked controversy with some stating that the letter is fraudulent. I will let the experts settle this but I remain open to the possibility that this may be genuine.

    What this blog means to me is that the various "selves" that we live through are all small aspects of us. We can be a parent, a friend, a lover, an enemy, a stranger, a saint and a sinner. All in one! Similarly the aspects of our deities are ultimately aspects of our self. For example, in Buddhism we have the Buddha of Infinite Light, Amitabha. Amitabha is not an entity or Lord or deity separate from us. Amitabha is our true nature as Pure Consciosness.

    Emma writes:
    "And perhaps all that it takes to unite the two Mary’s is our own awakening awareness of these traditions, and to realize that what had seemed to us to be two separate and individual women are in fact merely two aspects of the one goddess."

    Yes, and that goddess is you (and us)!

  2. What a pleasure it is to have one's thinking stretched by such posts and the ideas they contain! Emma's post here and Joseph's comment well express the idea that what seem like dualities are really different forms of the One. Polytheistic beliefs make this idea accessible, since all gods and goddesses are forms of the original unity, and our different 'selves' reflect that truth.

    Joseph mentions the recently-discovered fragment of Gnostic text. I'm inclined to think that those with a vested interest in not having their boat rocked (the forces of orthodoxy) are the ones who are going to shout 'forgery' the loudest! Impartial scholarship is what is needed in such situations - and at the moment impartial scholarship sees no reason to think that the fragment (which is written in Coptic) is not genuine. The fact that Jesus refers directly to Mary as his wife in the text is naturally very compelling. The textual context and the age of the fragment both conform to other Gnostic texts which have long been accepted as genuine.

  3. And what a pleasure it is for me to have such knowledgeable and truth-loving readers on board.
    But it is more than a pleasure, for I am very grateful for your insights which I value so much.