Something About Mary

Published under: Spirituality

Over the past few years there’s been a resur­gence of inter­est in Mary.  Her pop­u­lar­i­ty speaks to a stir­ring deep with­in our col­lec­tive uncon­scious. The soul of our cul­ture is call­ing for us to redis­cov­er her image and symbology.

Mary rep­re­sents kind­ness, lov­ing com­pas­sion, and fem­i­nin­i­ty. She’s back to free the fem­i­nine aspect with­in us all — men and women alike.

But, which Mary are we talk­ing about? And, does it real­ly matter?
Accord­ing to Stephan Hoeller, there seems to be a “mud­dle of Marys” in the New Tes­ta­ment. There’s Jesus’ moth­er Mary, Mary of Mag­dala (aka Mary Mag­da­lene), Mary of Bethany (Lazarus’ sis­ter), and even a Mary called “the oth­er Mary.”

Fur­ther leg­ends have Moth­er Mary, Mary Mag­da­lene, and a black (Nubian) Egypt­ian Mary trav­el­ing to the south of France — spread­ing the teach­ings of Jesus. Mary appears to have been a very pop­u­lar name back in those times.

We do know that from about the 4th Cen­tu­ry A.D. onward, all of the ear­li­er rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the divine fem­i­nine in the West became eclipsed by the ven­er­a­tion of the Vir­gin Mary. And, by the Mid­dle Ages, a large “cult of Mary” had spread through­out Europe.

Accord­ing to Hen­ry Adams, near­ly every great church built dur­ing the 12th and 13th Cen­turies ‑at Paris, Rheims, Amiens, Chartres, etc. — belonged to Mary (Vir­gin Mary/Mother of God/Queen of Heav­en). She was revered for her mer­cy and for­give­ness — as opposed to judg­ment and retribution.

Fast for­ward to the cur­rent (and recent) best-sell­ing fic­tion­al accounts of Mary Mag­da­lene. Although they may be a great read — there seems to be lit­tle his­tor­i­cal basis for these new rev­e­la­tions about this Mary.

The upside to this pop­u­lar­i­ty of Mary mythol­o­gy is that it will ulti­mate­ly lead peo­ple to explore the evi­dence that does exist — espe­cial­ly with regard to Mary Mag­da­lene. She’s often been asso­ci­at­ed with the “repen­tant pros­ti­tute” image or arche­type — how­ev­er, this could­n’t be far­ther from the truth.

In recent­ly pub­lished (1955) Cop­tic edi­tions of impor­tant Gnos­tic texts — which include The Gospel of Mary — one dis­cov­ers that Mary Mag­da­lene was actu­al­ly a car­ri­er of the great mys­ti­cal Gno­sis tra­di­tion — and a close dis­ci­ple of Jesus.

It appears that this asso­ci­a­tion ulti­mate­ly led to her (and these texts) becom­ing an object of den­i­gra­tion by the ortho­dox forces in the ear­ly Chris­t­ian church — start­ing in the 1st Cen­tu­ry A.D.

It took about three cen­turies for the Old Testament/superiority of men over wom­en/­faith-based sal­va­tion and redemp­tion per­spec­tive to gain the upper hand. And, look where its got­ten us.

Its time to look at Mary with new eyes and res­ur­rect her true sym­bol­o­gy — kind­ness, com­pas­sion, and femininity.

Now more than ever.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

Lec­tures by the Rev. Ros­alyn Bruyere and Stephan Hoeller.

Mont Saint Michel and Chartres” by Hen­ry Adams. Project Guten­berg offers a free e‑book (2003) download.

Also, check out the recent­ly pub­lished “The Gnos­tic Bible.” (2003)

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