One of the most talked about women
Who do you think it is? Just pause and ask yourself.
Many names and faces may come to mind….
She is also one of the most painted women, ever, in the history of painting.
Here’s a hint : She has been called both a prostitute and a apostle.
She is Jewish. She is likely olive dark skinned and dark haired
(although she is painted light – more on this below)
She is best friends with one of the most well known teachers in the world.
More legends have been told about her whereabouts than we can recount.
This is the week she gets talked about around the world….
Did you guess?
Who is she?
Greetings Dear One,
She is the primary witness to the resurrection. That’s why I am talking about her right now. We are in Holy Week for many traditions, in the cycle of Passover and Pascha/Easter. Regardless of your spiritual tradition you are likely to see more eggs and crosses than at any other time of the year. For me, this time is often woven with personal internal conflict. We all have our ‘ways’ of relating to the ‘energy’ of this cycle. The story of this conflict I may one day share, but I am not quite ready.
Let’s just say. that part of my way of being in this cycle is to focus on the women who were a part of this story. Why? Well someone has to, because women are often left out the primary texts and stories told. But not around here. Around my home and circles, we include the Blessed Mother – and all women who have lost a child in our heart. And the Magdalene, the other woman closest to the story of this week’s ascents and descents, and all women who are not spoken of the way they should be and could be. I think of them as the ‘missing tribes’ but really they aren’t missing at all, just missing in many of our stories. There’s lots we don’t know, but lots we do, too, that is ripe for the sharing. About a woman archetype – who throughout the duration of her life, post resurrection, was ‘painted’ as a teacher – or so the legend goes. Check her out in the Orthodox Icon above – teaching.
Last year my friend Kayleen Asbo, an incredible Magdalene scholar and historian, filmed a potent class on her. I asked Kayleen if we could offer it a gift to you, and we agreed. This is our offering, for no cost, through May 15. In the videos Kayleen shares images she has gathered of the MANY faceted images of the Magdalene. You can paint along – or just watch, there is plenty to see, hear and experience in the process. Share with friends who may be longing for the feminine within their traditions. Like I always say, ‘She’s in there’ – and here, within our hearts if we choose to be with her.
I know all of us stand somewhere different spiritually. And when I share spirit based content I never intend to offend, or defend, but rather to offer perhaps another insight. An invitation into the feminine that may not have been spoken about as much as she could have been – and what have we been missing? Lots.
All of my life I have stood for the safety of women and girls. And part of that, for me, is to share about the feminine in some of her aspects as it relates to the past few thousands years. Do you include her in some way? Any ‘her’? If not, why not? Do we still think of deity and the stories of deity as primarily masculine? Most of us do. This takes years to unpack the conditioning and default settings, and even more years to do it in such a way that we don’t spend too much time in ‘reacting’ and instead move into more exploration of the feminine mythos we do know. So that is the invitation, the explore the Mythos of the Magdalene at some point during this cycle and see what she may hold for you.
Inquiry – What are we STILL not seeing about the feminine in our lives? And how is it playing out in politics, world events and the like? What kind of ‘bondage’ do we need to be set free from?
This week I gave a talk on Passover and Pascha in the Red Madonna with a focus on deliverance, and how we put ourselves into bondage. It wasn’t my best. I felt I didn’t want to speak about any violence – as if I didn’t have the stomach for it. But talking about those two events, and the Red Sea story, I challenged myself to try. It wasn’t my best work to say the least – it was an exercise in speaking about these stories without focusing on the violence – I had this moment – where I was like – really…? Must we tell stories of violence and death every year in order to find the new life message? Or so we don’t repeat our mistakes? Or so we remember who we are. I get it. Our ancestors want us to remember, so that we don’t lose our path and connection to the Divine like we can have a tendency to. And yes. This girl. This Holy Week. I don’t want to talk about violence. I have however added paint strokes for Syria and for San Bernadino and more into my painting process.
Now I want to talk about something else that is coming into my awareness more fully. That Mary Magdalene is Jewish and VERY LIKELY IN ALL PROBABILITY dark haired and dark skinned, and yet MOST of the THOUSANDS of images of her are light. Sigh. Why oh why do we keep doing this. It’s such an old story. I almost didn’t share this class because at the time of the class, and in the graphics, this thought, hadn’t come to me as fully as it has now. I often paint Mama Mary dark – and Magdalene too – and yet – here we are. SO I JUST WANT TO PRESENCE this and say that in my future Magdalene classes, I am going dark. AND if you join the class you can go dark. AND in our classes, we make her in OUR image as we choose. I hope I said all of this as right as I could to begin further alignment with this piece of it. Because Yeshua too, was dark. Each of us has to start somewhere with this conversation. Having seen a Black Madonna painted white, I have a personal history with this really shameful practice of whitening. IN my work, I teach, we can indeed make her in our image, but as an authentic expression of our own relationship.
Mary Magdalene is my patron saint, and Magdalena is my baptism name. I have long been with her in that garden imagining my own name being called so that I could recognize life calling my name….
Wherever you are in your cycle of this week – I extend my hand in kinship – and say:
Blessings upon your house and those who gather there.
May you find comfort in one another and the stories you tell.
May grace visit your head and heart no matter what else is happening.
May new life enter the sphere of your personal experience.
May we send blessings to all suffering beings.
And may we, amidst the chaos, find space to nurture peace within.
Here’s more about Kayleen Asbo and her incredible work. www.kayleenasbo.com
Why is she so important?
Kayleen Asbo and I put this together in relationship to the class – Who was this woman and what did she know, see, feel and act upon which the others weren’t seeing? And perhaps still aren’t seeing.
Who was this woman? Revered as the Apostle to the Apostles in early Christianity, Mary Magdalene appears in the Gospels as a loyal student of Jesus – the only person all four Gospels agree was present at the crucifixion, and the person chosen to witness the resurrection. Empowered by Christ to share his teachings and carry the message of new life to the male disciples. Over time, this woman of profound faith, courage and insight who stands at the very center of the death and resurrection of Jesus became confused and deliberately conflated with other women. Surprised?
As Roman Christianity adopted the doctrine of original sin and began to systematize a misogyny that completely contradicted the teachings and message of Jesus, Mary Magdalene’s true, pivotal role began to be cut out. When Pope Gregory preached a sermon in the 6th century declaring Mary Magdalene was the same woman as Luke’s unnamed sinner, she began to be replaced with other stories of penitent sinners, adulteresses and reformed prostitutes of other centuries, a slanderous accusation that has persisted until our time. Not so. The Orthodox traditions of Mary Magdalene – never, had her cast as a prostitute and always kept her Feast day – July 22.
Some biblical references – Mary of Magdala (first century) according to Luke 8:2 was healed of seven demons by Yeshua. Some say – that were in her, and some say – were on or around her – as if she may have been under attack. She was also among the women who accompanied and supported Jesus and was present at the Crucifixion and burial (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40, John 19:25). Mary Magdalen is in five of the six Resurrection narratives in the Gospel tradition: Mark 16:1-8; Matthew 28:1-20; Luke 23:56b-24:53; John 20:1-29; and Mark 16:9-20 (she is not mentioned in John 21:1-23. Peter is mentioned in four of the six narratives and is linked with Mary Magdalen in three. He is not mentioned in Matthew 28, the chapter that announces both the Resurrection and the post-resurrection command to evangelize the world. In Matthew, John, and Mark’s Gospel, she, is the primary witness to the Resurrection. Amazing. Yet, how often is she really included? We are including her.
When God, who is transcendent in essence, Came with flesh into the world, O Myrrhbearer, He received you as a true disciple, for you turned all your love toward Him; Henceforth you would yourself work many healings. Now that you have passed into heaven, never cease to intercede for the world!
~ Kontakion from the Orthodox Tradition ~
Coming up we have openings in IMAGINE – our women’s monthly painting circle for our next episode – and we have LEGEND in person and online with Jassy Watson, and Mary MacDonald.
San Bernadino tragedy – For my IMAGINE painting, I keep a kind of ‘body count’ – sound morbid? It is, and yet is cathartic. I can face the news, love the people, and pray for them in paint. And in this way – I process it – in a powerful way with Intentional Creativity. I know I cannot turn away from the knowing about violence, but I can, and do, change the way I relate to the information, and work with thousands of women all over the world to learn how to manage our energy around world events. How to be with them, to not turn away from suffering, and yet, not take it on personally or in our physical bodies. Perhaps you ask yourself how to stay awake during the tragedies? Me too.
May LOVE BE AT THE CENTER of all CHOICES