Mary Magdalene: A Perspective by Fay Barratt
Back in 1st Century Palestine women in general held very little power or freedom. Their word held no sway in the Jewish courts of law, they were only to speak with men in their family and inside a house, not on the street. If you read the canonical gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John) you will notice that when women are mentioned by name it is in association with a male family member, mother of, wife of, or daughter of. That is, as far as I can see, all except for one - Mary Magdalene.
Her influence must have been great as she is mentioned in all four gospels as the person who first witnessed the risen Christ and who was sent to tell the other disciples. It is my belief that she was only able to see Him because a parallel inner resurrection had taken place within her.
The hidden gospels that have been re-discovered in the twentieth century; the gospels of Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Philip and others, show Mary Magdalene as a leading disciple, apostle and spiritual teacher. She is the close and constant companion of Jesua (Jesus) and in other ancient texts, notably Pisitis Sophia, she is recognised as a spiritual leader. These texts show us a woman who was the close companion of Jesus, had access to his hidden teachings and a deeper understanding than other disciples.
In the 5th Century Pope Gregory conflated several of the Marys in the gospels along with the woman who anointed Jesus feet into one Mary Magdalene and defined her as a penitent prostitute. This was repealed by the Vatican in 1969.
The story of her as a prostitute was used by forces for good because people understood her as a redeemed sinner. She became adored and venerated in medieval Europe, particular in what is now southern France. The story goes that she, and a few close companions, (some say one was the child of her and Jesus), were sent from Palestine in a rudder-less boat which landed on the shores of Provence. From there she preached and converted the population and spent her last 30 years as a hermit, meditating, praying and being taken up to heaven by the angels each day. (See my article on St Baume).
So what about now? Why is there so much interest in her and so may books written about her? The spirit and teachings of Mary Magdalene is emerging with force at this time. She brings the mystical feminine Christ Consciousness in a form that has had very little credit in earlier historical periods, but is ripe, perfect and powerful for us now. It is the surrendered form of feminine spiritual leadership accessible to both men and women. It is the bride turning up fully for the sacred marriage from which comes Divine Union. There is something about her that seems to bring us close to the human story, that speaks to us about our experience here and now. She speaks through many of us and the message is always one of love and encouragement. She teaches us so much about our experience as spirit incarnate in matter. At this period, where humanity and planet earth stand at a critical point, with the close future possibilities of destruction or salvation, I hope that this school will explore and expand her teachings for the benefit of all the earth.