Mary Magdalene healed Jesus of the Seven Demons and anointed him as the Christ for the Age of Pisces. For the three years he traveled as a preacher, he found refuge in the home of Mary and her siblings, Martha and Lazarus, who supported his ministry financially. The writers of the gospels turned these facts around to suit the doctrine of Jesus as the miraculous Son of God.
Karen Bernard, Madonna Confessions
The above is not the narrative of a new work of fiction. Rather, it is a revelation exper- ienced under the Great Solar Eclipse on the feast day of Mary Magdalene.
I was prepared for such a lightening bolt. I finished Jean Markale’s The Church of Mary Magdalene on July 8, the day of the Lunar Eclipse and spent the next two weeks absorbing its message while actively clearing out my mind from clutter.
The publicist from Inner Traditions (www.innertraditions.com) sent me the book (left) in 2004 when I was writing on their author, Margaret Starbird (www.margaretstarbird.net), whose book Woman with the Alabaster Jar inspired The Da Vinci Code. I finally picked it up to read while writing the proposal for the Black Madonna exhibition. Engrossed in the story of how the Legend of Mary Magdalene was unearthed by a humble French priest, I savored it on my train journeys to and from HP Garcia Gallery on Eighth Avenue. Engrossed as I was, I left the closing chapters for my annual Cape Cod vacation, which took place this year under a Lunar Eclipse.
Markale, a specialist in Celtic studies at the Sorbonne, has written books about the Templar treasure and the Cathars, who honored the Black Madonna. The author does not write that Magdalene was the healer who purified Jesus from the demons that were bound to latch onto him in his travels, but in recreating her identity from prostitute to a wealthy woman, prepared for the revelation to hit me on the very day of the feast of Mary Magdalene.
The author brilliantly guides the reader through all the speculation surrounding the Abbe Sauniere (1852- 1917) legend, which inspired the documents re-reading Merovingian history that were planted in under a false name in the Bibliotheque Nationale in 1956, accompanied by other significant events pertaining to the Black Madonna legend later chronicled in the best selling book Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
Yet it is his talent as storyteller which pulled me right into the lore surrounding the treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau where the Church of Mary Magdalene and Magdalene Tower.
He treats his readers as authentic seeker of mysteries, giving them clues leading to false truth and then winding them back through the labyrinth trapped by their own prejudices. At one point he is so convincing in providing the portrait painted by the legend of Abbe Sauniere, who arrived in 1885 at the Church of Mary Magdalene as a turn of the century crusader. He weaves the speculative tale of the humble priest discovering documents under the altar which open the door to an inner sanctum: a secret Masonic world complete with trysts with a glamorous actress and the fortune which paid for the restoration of the church and construction of the Magdalene Tour (below).
Magdalene Tower at Rennes-le-Chateau
Yet, through this adventure, the core of the legend, which gives the book its title, was neglected. What a clever literary device! How like human history, performed and written by men, to pursue an illusive treasure, while neglecting the very fact of the existence of such a monument, however humble, to the true identity of Magdalene!
The treasure is the very church whose innards carried the wisdom of knowing the power of remaining hidden until the time is ripe for the unveiling. This is how the tale of the Abbe remained underground from his death in 1917 to mid 20th century when false documents planted by genius marketers churned up his legend. Holy Blood, Holy Grail spawned such seekers as the scholar Margaret Starbird, whose investigation of early Christianity inspired Dan Brown to write The Da Vinci Code. By the time this bestselling book became a movie, the world was awakened to the legend of the Black Madonna preserved in the inner sanctum of this village church by a skull with a ritual marking.
Magdalene depiction in Rennes-le-Chateau
The depiction of Mary Magdalene on the tympanum of the church of Rennes-le-Chatea is described by the author: “she is on a sort of boat, with a snake against her robe and a cross crowning her head.”
The serpent, associated with knowledge in the bible, can be newly identified here as the kundalini, the serpent power sleeping at the base of the spine, whose awakening leads to self-knowledge and eventually transcendence. In the Arthurian legend, the Fisher King was guardian of the Grail, and only those capable of seeing his castle were able to enter
Through this story, we arrive at the paradox of the Age of Aquarius: How do we open our eyes to see that which will awaken us if we are still asleep
This, I believe, is the task of art. Art communicates through time, as the humble Abbe well knew. As Markale writes:
Abbe Sauniere’s message is to be found at the church in Rennes-le-Chateau and nowhere else: it is Mary Magdalene herself. The parish church had borne her name certainly since the ninth century, but Beranger Sauniere made every effort to multiply her image: the statue, the fresco beneath the alter, the fresco on the back wall, the stained-glass window in the choir, the tympanum on the outside, not to mention Villa Bethania and the Magdala Tower. There are many, many depictions and clues.
…But one has to have their eyes wide open to find them.
And so, Black Madonna continues the story into a new century by presenting a 21st century face for Mary from the imagination of artists.
Can it just be a coincidence that Donna Ruff was creating a trilogy of collages revealing the schism of patriarchal archetypes through the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa under the Virgo/Pisces Eclipse of 1997?
Could it be only coincidence that Vincent Baldassano created a work entitled Madonnas 3 (below) revealing the three faces of Mary pointed out by Markle in his chapter That Odd Mary Magdalene?
Vince Baldassano; Madonna3, 2009
One question arises immediately. What do the three Mary Magdalenes have in common? They are the sinner that is won and forgiven by Jesus; Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus; and finally, Mary of Magdala (thus Mary Magdalene), who, according to Luke, has come from Galilee with Jesus. It is well known that divine figures were often depicted in the form of triads in ancient times…Could the same be true for the three Marys of the Gospels, who can be seen beneath a varnish of folklore in the legend of the Holy Marys of the sea?
Was it just a coincidence that Michael Manning, whose fluid style of multilevel narrative painting exhumed the ancient association of the Virgo symbol (the red M left) in his portrait of Mary, which also carries the artist’s symbol of the base of the female spine (the seat of the kundalini) as a common motif of awakening?
Was it just a coincidence that the miracle of a midtown temple to Mary sprung up overnight with the installation of the Black Madonna exhibition in early May of this year, a timing which accompanied the first sighting of Venus in Aries in the Eastern skies at dawn? Even I who live by the stars did not realize that I was being guided into this adventure by the soul of Mary Magdalene through the opening of the Great Solar Eclipse her feast day. It took an extraordinary act of surrender for the miracle to happen.
Could it be an accident that The New York Times quoted artist Bill Viola on his piece for St. Pauls in the week leading up to the Great Solar Eclipse on her feast day, thereby bringing the dialectic of the face of the feminine into the center of the art world?
Mary is the embodiment of a universal female figure present in nearly all spiritual and religious traditions… I see this piece as the embodiment of the feminine principle, related to ideas of creativity, procreation, inner strength, love and compassion.
And what of the importance of Mary to the Age of Aquarius? Markale writes in the closing of his remarkable book:
Mary Magdalene is the image of the Feminine in its highest expression. She is the “revealer” of the resurrected Jesus. She performs the royal anointing of Christ. She is the one who loves Jesus and whom Jesus loves above all other women, she who gave him the Second Life, that of the Spirit and the body of glory. Hers is a message of love that can transform the world.
Could it just be a coincidence that I was able to weave the revelation of Mary on her feast day into a tapestry of images and narrative inspiring Black Madonna under a Virgo Moon?
Not at all, I selected the Virgo Moon to disseminate this revelation, knowing the wisdom of the Goddess would guide me!