Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Who is Mary Magdalene?

I am currently in the middle of reading my 146th book on Mary Magdalene. If it’s written in English on the subject of the Magdalene, basically, I’ve read it. Why? She’s fascinated me for years—in fact, long before The Da Vinci Code and concomitant cottage industries. What is it about her?

I am a believer in the veracity of fairy tales. For me, Mary Magdalene qualifies as fairy tale material. She’s a person, a character, and a symbol, just like those other fairy tale ladies Rapunzel and Cinderella. One of the chief truths about fairy tales is that the names in a fairy tale have meaning. In addition, fairy tale lore says that there is power in being able to name something.

So let’s look at Mary Magdalene’s name. First, her name in the original Greek isn’t Mary Magdalene! There’s a little word that fits between Mary and Magdalene that changes everything. That word is “the.” Her proper name is Mary the Magdalene just as Jesus’ proper name is Jesus the Christ. An interesting parallel.

Magdalene like Christ is a title, a level of inner realization. We know what it is to carry the title “the Christ.” It means the same thing that the Hebrew “messiah” means, namely, “the anointed.” What does it mean to carry the title “the Magdalene?”

Come with me into name etymology briefly. (For what it’s worth, I do the meaning of a child’s name when I do a christening as well. Names always mean something!) Let’s take apart Magdalene.

Mag- is a word prefix we all know. It’s the same as that found in the word magnitude or magnanimous. It means Great.

How about –dalene? This word means Devotion.

So Mary the Magdalene is, in part, Mary the Great Devotion. Not Mary of great devotion, or Mary in great devotion, but Mary the Great Devotion.

Older name etymology books cite the name Mary as meaning bitter, but far more ancient sources, the Egyptian to be exact, say that the name Mary comes from a root which means Beloved.

Now from Mary the Magdalene we can see Beloved, the Great Devotion. Quite a name! And, quite a symbol!

For me, Mary the Magdalene represents the Beloved in each one of us that comes of where we place our great devotion. Think of the things and people and places and ideas and animals and anything that you love. Do you not devote yourself, your attention, your energy, your focus to what you love?

The Magdalene’s great devotion was given to Love itself in the person of Jesus the Christ. In my view, she was as Christed as he was. In one of the Gnostic gospels he calls her, “the woman who knew the All.”

To know the All, the creator and the created, is a simple way to explain what it is to live life on a spiritual path. Beloved, the Great Devotion, (in the person of Mary Magdalene) has gone before us, leaving us a fairy tale, bread crumb path to follow if we choose it.

Conjure her, sit with her, contemplate with her. Let go all the things the world and the church have said about Mary the Magdalene. I believe she awaits our love and great devotion, and that once we love and are devoted to her, she can and will show us our true selves and our highest good. This is certainly my experience of working with her.

This is fairy tale code, dear one. She is a symbol of whatever you love—your Great Devotion, the choices that will turn your inner divine spark into a flame.

The loveliest thing about fairy tales is that we all know how they end.

And they all loved . . . oops! Lived happily ever after.

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