|Myriam M'Gadola: Mary Magdalene|
|Gematria: 88||Gematria: 290/850|
Two mythical or historical personages have reappeared lately on the world stage, after a long absence -- Judas, through the discovery of the Gospel of Judas, and Mary Magdalene through the Gospel of Mary of Magdala (a 5th century text discovered in 1896 (Berlin Codex), see Karen King, 2003) and the Da Vinci Code and its precursors -- both raising questions about their real identities and relationship to Jesus.
Jesus wasn't Christian, and neither was Myriam M'Gadolah. Early Christianity formed its identity as a shell for Jesus' revelation by marginalizing Jews, Gnostic thought, and women. Mary Magdalene resides at the conjunction of this triple repression.
The important point of contact between Hebraism and early Christianity can only be shown in the almost
unknown link between the original Qabala and Gnosticism, against which the Church built its defences.
We will point out some of its elements, without which this essay would not be complete.
One of the most important Gnostic archetypes is Mary Magdalene. Of its many names we will only mention Myriam M'Gadola. The root Mareh (Mem-Raysh-Aleph-Hay) in Hebrew means image, appearance, vision, mirror (whence derives the English word: mirror). Iam is always a reference, to the sea or to a still water acting as a mirror. G'dola means big.
The Mary Magdalene out of whom Jesus had cast seven devils (Mark, xvi, 10) is the female element transfigured by this "casting out" of no. 7. This archetype is visionary in a real sense: it is, in its symbolical form, the woman exorcized by her cosmic spouse and sanctified by the expulsion of the seven resistances to the sacred no. 7 of indetermination. She is the necessary witness, the only possible witness to the resurrection of Aleph. She is the eternal prostitute, eternally redeemed and regenerated: the human psyche. Mary Magdalene is symbolically -- and alas only symbolically -- the final act of a drama that the mind dreams for fear of losing itself in its completion.
With Miriam M'Gadola or Magdalene we are at the very centre of the essential elements of the myth, in the deepet symbols of Qabala, of Gnosis, of alchemy, and of many other expressions of what is often included in the words "occult" or "esoteric."
As we read this schema we see it to be similar to a peaceful mirror of still waters. It reflects the vision that the living light projects upon the world. It is the vision that the world projects upon the world. It is the vision that the world projects upon light. It is the substance purified: the structured energy as it appears to itself in its own evolution. It is the perpetual gnostic throbbing of energy in a symbiosis of pregnacy and virginity.
Myriam M'Gadola emerges from the vast primordial mass of waters, from the perpetual undifferentiated energy constantly expanding in its apparent evolution. Energy, in spite of building its own container, cannot resist itself to the point of containing itself.
Having identified Myriam as the psyche we can understand how the human mind, when it is really in love with the infinite cosmic energy, can always be impregnated by it, thereby perpetually fresh, new, virgin. It may give its fruit but it never is its "mother". It can progress on the path of understanding so far as to emit the spark of Aleph. The spark dies and resurrects intermittently and does not acknowlege its mother.
We are never justified in approaching the problem of knowledge by reversing its symbols. These images are but projections of the individual and the collective unconscious. They are regressive, they belong to the past, whereas knowledge is the immediacy of our own maturity.
Cabalists, it can be said, in brief, explored the structure of energy, outer and inner. Gnostics have emphasized the inner life. Both have rejected the canonical teaching according to which the inner life can be lived vicariously by means of an objectified myth.
Carlo Suares, Cipher of Genesis, p.212, 216-218
Recent scholarship has shown how normative Christianity
was formed through the exclusion of heresies labeled "Gnostic" from the communities of early believers in Jesus.
These exclusions and expulsions were necessary to re-establish an authoritarian patriarchal hierarchy modeled
on the Roman Empire and eliminate dangerous ideas regarding belief in authority and the role of women in society.
Of the three categories of Jewish Gnostic Woman, Judiasm, and particularly its inner seed, Qabala, is the least
perceived in the archetype of Mary Magdalene.
It is difficult to free thought from its attachments to interpretations of its own myths. For most of Church history, believers were taught that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, based on an intentional mis-reading by the early Catholic Church. Why marginalize the member of Jesus' inner circle who often shows the most wisdom and seems closer to Jesus than anyone else and who just happens to be a woman?
The myth of Myriam M'Gadolah, Mary Magdalene, is at the conjunction of three streams -- the Qabala, Gnosticism and the evolution of consciousness through the transformation/liberation of feminine energy. Qabala explores the structure of energy, inner and outer. Gnostics have concentrated on the inner life, and the illumination of Wisdom. Both understand the role of the human psyche, and its potential personification as Mary Magdalene.
The true root of Qabala, based on the letter-numbers of the
In this case, the archetype of Mary Magdalene, appearing paired with the archetype of Jesus, can be seen a part of a decisive turn in the evolution of consciousness in the human psyche over the past six thousand years. In the myth of the Qabala, which encompasses the relationship of myth and history, the evolution of human consciousness is personified through the familiar archeypes of the Bible, in a progression from the pseudo-historical (Adam down to Abraham and his children) to the quasi-historical ( Moses) to the beginning of modern myth and history with the impossible-to-verify appearance of Yhshwh/Jesus two thousand years ago.
The core of the myth is the Great Game betweeen the two partners, Aleph, infinite, intemporal consciousness/energy and Yod, spacetime and duration. Elohim , beginning with Aleph, is the evolutionary process, and works in space-time to create all that is. YHWH, beginning with Yod, is the involutionary process, the existential union of the two lives, outer and inner, of material and psychological process, and works to manifest in human consciousness. This interplay can be followed in Bereshyt/Genesis, where Elohim appears alone in Chapter 1, intertwined with YHWH in Chapters 2 and 3, and YHWH appears alone for the first time in Genesis IV, 1, when Hheva/Eve says I have aquired man et YHWH. (Abel will appear with no-one's help and Eve will recognize that Elohim is there with Set).
Qaheen/Cain is the archetype of Cosmic Consciousness in the human psyche. Hevel/Abel (Hebrew: wisp, vanity) is an ego which dissolves when confronted with cosmic consciousness-existent-cosmically indeterminate, the literal encoded meaning of Cain. This is the first full expression of the two partners, Aleph (Cain) and Yod (Abel), in (archetypal) human form, and the first expression of the myth in human history after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. We can see the problem -- YHWH needs to manifest in human consciousness in space-time, but the state of the human psyche is primitive and incapable of individuation and integration. Abel dissolves into the earth.
Henceforth, YHWH will look before He leaps, and will thorougly test the candidates He selects for his revelation, as the myth begins to unfold in history and the essential theme of the two partners is elaborated in the archetypes and psychological configurations of the Chosen. Still in the archetypal sphere (mythical, non-historical personages), YHWH will test both Abraham (the sacrifice of Isaac) and Jacob, the first incarnation of Israel. Then, in the sphere of Creation, he will repeatedly try to kill Moses, whose mission is to build a container for the Elohimic seed in the body of the people of Israel. Moses, whose name means fire in the waters will literally create the Hebrew people by freeing them from their psychological bondage in Egypt and sending them on their way into history and their unique destiny as the protective shell of the creative immanence, capable of living in symbiosis with it. 1400 years later, Yhshwh, Jesus, another incarnation of Israel, will burst this shell and render it obsolete.
It is impossible to understand the archetype of Mary Magdalene without understanding its Hebrew and Qabalistic/Gnostic roots, particularly the theme of the two brothers, or twins, by which Aleph and Yod interact, and the theme of psychological development through the transformation of the feminine on psychological, interpersonal and social levels. The theme of the two brothers is found in the Hebrew bible in many variations, but the major arc is traced from Cain and Abel through Jacob/Israel and Esau to Jesus/Israel and Judas, the true brother of Yhshwh, just as Mary Magdalene was his true sister. The free conscience of women determines many of the stories of the Bible, from Eve getting the ball rolling, to Abraham insisting on Sarah's sisterhood, through Rebecca's "deception" of Isaac, Jacob's work to free Rachel from Laban, to the saving of adrift-in-the-waters Moses by two women, and Zipporah's later removal of his foreskin (also: Esther). The status of women in these stories is free and equal.
At this point, in considering the significance of the myth of Mary Magdalene, it is vital to remember that myth isn't a sub-category of history, but its opposite. Myth has its origin in the ahistorical beyond-space-time, the "eternal" in the language of mythographers. From the point of view of space-time, the mythical process unfolds into the historical process, with the goal of building a container capable of manifesting the Myth from the inside-out. From the point of view of the Myth, space-time doesn't exist.
Really understanding the myth of Mary Magdalene requires, first, dropping all prior conceptions about either the mythical or historical status of all the personages of the Bible, and second, adopting a new way of thinking -- one based on unitary principles and the constant conjunction of material and spiritual (psychological) processes and the interplay of our two partners, Aleph, beyond-space-time and Yod, duration and existence.
If we can not get distracted and fixated by our interpretations of our own core myths, in either material or spiritual terms, we can focus on following the interaction of myth and history (why this myth at this time?) down to our present psychological situation. The simple fact that we have no historical record outside the Hebrew and Christian Bibles of any of the important Biblical figures including Abraham, Moses and Jesus (though the Jews claim evidence for David) means that these archetypes exist, in different spheres, at the conjunction of mythical and historical processes that are essentially beyond space-time (a-or-nonhistorical), i.e. psycho-spiritual and inside each of us. If we can resist the temptation to either historicize or mythologize about Mary Magdalene, we may begin to be able to find her within ourselves.
So we approach Myriam M'Gadolah, who was a knowing Jewish woman, initially from the standpoint of neither myth or history, but from within, in her own name.
As we have said, Qabala is the science of the structure of energy, considered in both its material and spiritual aspects as one two-fold energy/consciousness in constant conjunction and opposition. The key to the revelation of Qabala, at the heart of the Hebrew myth, is found only in the letter-numbers of the Hebrew Alephbet. The letter-numbers (which have both qualitative and quantitative connotations) are completely generalized, biologically-structured energies in different states of organization -- 22 fundamental powers of creation. Using this key, we can decode the structure of the myth from the inside-out.
The myth of Mary Magdalene cannot be explained, in discursive or any other thought, since it essentially describes a state of the human psyche that is beyond thought. The symbols must be taken inside and examined and connected in their overlapping and interpenetrating meanings, and instead of thinking in particulars and arbitrary signs, thinking in generalizations and non-arbitrary signifiers.
Miriam is spelled Mem-Raysh-Yod-Mem. The Hebrew word for waters, or sea, is Mayim, Mem-Yod-Mem. Raysh, spelled Raysh-Yod-Sheen, is the recipient of the conjunction with Aleph that is Awr , Aleph-Waw-Raysh, light, where Aleph is male and Raysh is female. Raysh is the archetype of the Cosmic or Universal container or Mind.
What does this collision of symbols mean? We know that
the root Mareh (Mem-Raysh-Aleph-Hay) in Hebrew means image, appearance, vision, mirror (whence derives the English word: mirror). Iam is always a reference, to the sea or to a still water acting as a mirror.Both the root Myr/Mareh and the suffix iam mean still water, mirror or vision; the word is a reflection of a reflection, the mirror of a mirror. Myriam is then somehow Raysh in the waters. The 20th and 21st letters of the Hebrew alphabet are Raysh and Sheen and they are singularly spelled like this, where the last letter of the spelling of the previous letter begins the spelling of the following letter --
The first time Sheen appears in the Hebrew alphabet (including the letter spellings) is in the letter just before itself. Sheen is already contained in Raysh. Now we can consider that Shamaim, the Hebrew word translated as "Heaven" and referred to by Jesus ("my Father who art in Heaven") is the same as the word Myriam, with Raysh and Sheen switched and outside acting upon the waters (Shamaim) instead of being submerged in them (Myriam). Myriam is somehow the intimately connected opposite or counterpart to Shamaim, where God apparently lives.
And what is Sheen and its action on the waters of existence, but the Breath of God? The potential for Shamain is contained in its opposite, complementary structure -- Myriam. Sheen, as the Breath of God, is Aleph's representative (Aleph being completely beyond-space-time) in space-time, underlying and animating all creation.
Now we can begin to integrate the particular cluster of symbols surrounding Mary Magdalene -- vision, light, mirror, water, heavens, feminine consciousness and her relationship to Yhshwh/Jesus. Early in the Beginning the Spirit or Breath of Elohim hovered over the face of the waters and said "let there be light." This light is Aleph-Waw-Raysh, or the union or conjunction (Waw) of Aleph (as male) with Raysh (as female). Raysh is half of light (Waw is just a conjunction). Myriam is a double (myr-iam) mirror containing the half of light that is not Aleph. Shamaim, heaven and God's abode, is somehow within her.
On the most abstract level, the myth symbolizes the evolution of consciousness through a process of feminine transformation -- the outer light is transformed into the inner light in the apparent evolution of the universe from undifferentiated energy. The inner light is consciousness, symbolized in Mary Magdalene as the great still mirror of universal consciousness witnessing the perpetual resurrection of her spouse, the cosmic fire of Aleph, Yhswh, Jesus. Yhshwh, spelled Yod-Hay-Sheen-Way-Hay is the Sheen (fire) of of YHWH.
The key to human psychological development is the transformation of the feminine. The static, repetitive female elements of psychological conditioning in both male and female individuals must be transformed for consciounsness to evolve. At each step in the myth's progressive interaction with history, from Emanation through Creation, Formation and Action, psychological evolution is symbolized by a state of feminine consciousness, from Hheva/Eva though Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel, down to Mary Magdalene.
In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
In the myth, Mary Magdalene is the only person present in all four of the Gospel recountings of the
sephulchre scene (if we count her as one of Luke's "two women" parallel to Matthew's story). For
John, she is the sole presence. Why don't we understand what this means?
Mary Magdalene is the "necessary and only possible witness to the resurrection" because she represents the end-state of the evolution of the human psyche -- exorcised of its seven resistances to indetermination -- necessary to reflect the resurrection of Aleph and participate in the revelation of Yhshwh, Jesus.
Mary Magdalene is symbolically -- and alas only symbolically -- the final act of a drama that the mind dreams for fear of losing itself in its completion.
Only symbolically because the human psyche is only on the verge of realizing its true calling. The final act, because it is witness to its own psychological death and resurrection as it fulfills itself in its completion, which is freedom.
Sepherot: Gedolah/Gadolah: Greatness |
Abraham Cycle |
Miriam Up Down and Up Again - It Could Happen to You|
Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: Miriam: Prophetess, Diseased and Well
Michael Haag: The Making of a Virgin Birth