After embracing diverse spiritual philosophies, many people return to the religious heritage of their youth. Although I have been passionate
about Buddhism and Goddess mythology, my sanctuary has always been in church and my dearest mentors, its ministers. I remember my Grandmother taking me to church on Easter Sunday;
walking on snowy pavement towards the simple white structure. But the interior's central image of Christ suffering on the cross now seems incompatible with my understanding of
Jesus's great teaching. If theology is a fiction that leads to the truth, where is the Christian paradigm for the universal feminine?
In her companion books, "The Woman With The Alabaster Jar" and "The Goddess in the Gospels”, Catholic scholar Margaret
Starbird displays great courage by going beyond doctrine to explore the hidden legacy of Mary Magdalen's sacred union with Jesus and its power to heal the Christian psyche. In
"The Goddess in the Gospels" Starbird writes, "I believe the cracks in the foundation of Christianity are so profound and so dangerous that the whole edifice is now
in danger of crumbling into ruins. Naming the Virgin Mary as co¬≠redemptrix with Christ will reinforce an ancient mandala for wholeness... But this familiar model will not heal the
wounds caused by the denial of the full humanity of Jesus and the human bride he loved."
In her first book, "The Woman With the Alabaster Jar”, Starbird traces the Grail heresy from its roots in Neolithic Goddess
mythology; Near Eastern religious ritual; spiritual canon in the Old and New Testaments; Gnostic Bible sources; the 4th Century legends that thrived in Provence in Old French;
medieval troubadour poetry and the alternate faith of Christian sects in the 12th century; esoteric symbolism of the Knights of Templar; to modern Freemasonry. She also exposes
fascinating hidden meanings in her interpretation of the Tarot deck, the unicorn tapestries of the Late middle Ages, Renaissance art and European folk tales.
St. Mary Magdalene, Pietro Perugino, 1500
Although the scope of Starbird's references is vast, the core story has stunning simplicity. Beyond what we know from the
Bible's four gospels; that Mary Magdalen was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, she sat at Jesus's feet while Martha served
the guests, she anointed Jesus's head with perfume from an alabaster jar and dried her tears from his feet with her hair, she
was released of possession by seven demons and was present at calvary and the opening of Jesus's empty tomb, is the theory
that she was the hidden bride of Christ. After the resurrection, she escaped Palestine pregnant with Jesus's child. She was aided
by the wealthy merchant Joseph of Arimathea and they fled to Egypt. They traveled from Alexandria by boat to the South of
France. Here Mary preached at the temple of Diana, later to become the church of "La Madeleine" in Lezelay. The French still
celebrate a festival honoring Saint Sarah, the dark child who came with Mary. The Grail legend first appeared in the 12th
century presenting a ‘Grail Family’, the custodians of the chalice. The French word for grail, sangraal, means ‘blood royal’. This
meaning suggests Mary, a vessel of the sangraal, brought the blood of Christ within her child who carried the Davidic bloodline. This blood flowed through the Kings in the
The Gnostic bible texts were discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945 when an Arab boy, digging near a cliff, found a
sealed jar which contained 13 volumes of papyrus written in Coptic text, the Egyptian language 1400 years ago. Among the remaining volumes his mother did not burn as fuel was the
Gospel of Mary Magdalen. In this gospel, Mary, a disciple of Jesus, comforted the others at his death. She said "Do not weep
and do not grieve nor be irresolute for his Grace will be entirely with you and protect you." Peter said to her, "Sister we know the
savior loved you more than the rest." (From "The Nag Hammadi Library in English" by J.M. Robinson, Harper Collins.)
Many Jews accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah in the Davidic bloodline. Jesus was a rabbi and a rabbi in his time
would have been married before he was 30. In the forward to "The Woman With the Alabaster Jar", Rev. Terrance Sweeney
states, "There is nothing in scripture that proves that Jesus was married, nor is there anything in the Bible that says that Jesus
was unmarried... If Jesus was married why is there no specific mention of this or his wife's name in scripture... The physical
threat to his spouse's life would have been reason enough to exclude his wife's name from all contemporary written records."
Starbird first encountered the idea that Jesus and Mary were married when she read the controversial book, "Holy Blood
-Holy Grail" by Michael Baignent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. It took her several months before she came to terms
with the idea that the church hierarchy could have suppressed evidence that Jesus was not celibate. In her second book "The
Goddess in the Gospels", Starbird tells of her personal experience with divine synchronicity on her arduous quest in search of the lost bride and her sacred marriage.
A source of revelation for her was the study of gematria, a system used in both Greek and Hebrew in which letters
interchange as alphabet and numbers. Starbird writes, "Jesus was a charismatic teacher but the texts of the New Testament
were written in Greek. Illumination I received from the numbers encoded in the New Testament was profound." Starbird explains that the gematria of Mary, the Magdalene is 153, which is the
number designating the Vesica Piscis in Latin. This form ( ) is created when 2 circles intersect and represent the "womb",
"seed", "vulva", or "gateway" and is a symbol of regeneration. It was also known as "the Holy of Holies", "inner sanctum" and
"the materialism of spirit."
Rather than accepting the concept of Jesus's marriage as heresy, perhaps the heresy was initiated by the Church's propagation of
dogma in the aesthetic tradition, which rejects the divine feminine consort. For centuries the church sought to repress
and control women's great powers, her intuition, sexuality, fertility and mature wisdom. Celibacy has been used as a
political tool to keep the church's wealth out of the hands of heredity claims. Today it appears transparent why the Virgin
Mother is chosen as the revered feminine archetype rather than the fertile bride. Starbird writes, "Orthodox Christianity forced
the cult of woman to be channeled into the cult of the Virgin Mary. The Mother and Sister aspects in the feminine were
honored, but the bride aspect was sublimated. The church could not accept the flesh and blood wife of Jesus."
Mary Magdalene in Penitence, El Greco, 1585-90
Mary Magdalen as disciple, bride, widow, single mother and preacher would make a powerful role model for contemporary
Christian women and acceptance of the Grail as a symbol for the "purity" of the womb would acknowledge woman as creatrix.
Margaret Starbird's books help pave the way to access a new liturgy in which a woman's natural life processes are sanctified and the archetype of physical union restored.