Mary…Lady of light, Lady of mercy, Lady of protection and nurturing…
“Hail Mary Full of Grace, blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
Lady of the sea, Lady of the sky, Lady of the moon—Mother Mary, the Blessed Virgin….
Through the Ages
For nearly 2,000 years, The Virgin Mary has been worshipped and esteemed by Christians, especially, Catholics as the eternal Mother—pure, spotless, perfect, untouched by man.
In many people, Meditation on her elicits profound feelings of peace, gentleness, loving forgiveness, protection, nurturing. Visionaries report that when she manifests her presence, the fragrance of roses fills the air.
For centuries, all over the world, many devout and hopeful seekers have seen Mary. Some of the places she has graced worshippers with her presence are France, Russia, Egypt, South America, the U.S., and, Italy. When Christians (and others) think of Lourdes, Fatima, or Medjugorje, Mary comes to mind. Numerous Hollywood movies, documentaries, and TV shows have been made about Mary’s visitations.
Giving all the sightings by the faithful and even by some of the not-so-faithful, is this proof that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a real person? Are the scriptural stories about her true? No one can prove it either way.
Fact or Fiction?
Christians will tell you that the story of Mary is true and that she was woman who gave birth to Jesus, who was conceived without Joseph’s help. If the scriptures, however, are not historically true, who or what was the woman named Mary based on? What’s the real story?
Anyone who studies religious history comes to know that most of the Christian teachings, and most, if not all of the Holy Bible’s New Testament were fabricated by early church fathers. They may or may not have deliberately meant to deceive, but absolutely nothing is known of the historical Jesus or his mother, the “Lady of Roses,” Mary.
Since the scriptures were written so many decades after the supposed death of Christ, one possible scenario is that the founders of the early Christian faith and the authors, editors, and writers of what eventually became the familiar Holy Bible, had to take their best guesses.
They could have studied the many legends, existing myths, and stories of the time, deleting what they believed to be false and recording what they believed to be true. However, it becomes apparent, after studying Biblical and church history that many of the early fathers were biased and had distinctly non-religious agendas for how they wanted their “believers” to think, worship, and live.
The Church’s Fight with Mary Worship
Much more could be written about the politics of the early development of Christianity, but this is about Mary, so I’ll stick to her story. Considering how Mary is adored by so many of the faithful, it may seem odd that that the writings of some of the early Catholic founders were so misogynistic (woman-hating).
It seems many of them used their position to subjugate any worship of Mary. As an example, consider what Tertullian (155-220 A.D.), a former pagan, turned powerful father of the Church said to contemporary women.
“And do you not know that you are an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age; the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway, the first deserter of the divine law; you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert—that is, death, even the Son of God had to die.” —The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara Walker
Those are not the words of a man who believed in the equality of woman, nor in the divinity of Mary.
For the first few centuries of formalized Christianity, the Church fathers tried their best to discredit Mary and forbade any mention of her that would even hint at divinity. Some of the writings discovered on this topic indicate that they were afraid that the people, accustomed to worshipping a pagan goddess as the giver of life, would put Mary before Jesus. That simply would not do in a male dominant society’s religion, especially one that considered women just one step above cattle.
Byzantine Emperor, Anastasius (431 to 518) insisted that Mary must never be called the Mother of God for “it is impossible that God should be born of a woman.”
Italian Dominica friar, priest, and Doctor of the Church, Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275) at one time stated that women had no souls.
Bishop of Cyprus, Epiphanius (310-403) ordered, “Let the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit be worshipped but let no one worship Mary.”
Bishop Aurelius Ambrosius of Milan (340-397) called Mary the temple of God but said that “Only He is to be adored who worked within the Temple.”
An early Christian sect called the Marcionites believed that Jesus could never touch vulgar female flesh, therefore was never born at all but appeared from Heaven fully grown. 1
On the other hand, there was a sect called the Marianites who claimed that Mary possessed the true qualities of divinity, more so than even Jesus. By the 5th century, Catholic persecution succeeded in extinguishing these worshippers of Mary as Goddess—or so they thought. Marianites still exist.2
A Losing Battle
In spite of all the persecution, denials and taboos about recognizing Mary as divine, many early Christians would not be denied their Goddess. They clamored for a Mother Goddess to balance the masculine Trinity of God the FATHER, Christ the SON, and the Holy Ghost, whose gender is not identified but is often thought of as masculine by those Christian who want to preserve the masculine dominance. For evidence, they cite John 16:7-8 where the Holy Spirit is referred to by the word, Parakletos “counselor, a masculine pronoun.
Once, Mary was worshipped as a part of the feminine trinity—Mary the MOTHER, Mary Magdalene the DAUGHTER, and Jesus’ sister Mary as the HOLY GHOST.3
Ancient mythologies and religions balance masculine and feminine deities. In all the pantheons of deified beings, gods and goddesses, saviors, messiahs, avatars, and so forth, each male had a female partner:
- Rama had Sita
- Shiva had Kali and Parvati
- Krishna had Rhada
- Buddha had Kwan Yen
- Ramakrishna had Saraden Devi
- Zeus had Hera
- Dionysus had Demeter
- Quetzalcoatl had Cimalman (his Virgin Mother).
- Mohammed had Khadija
- Tammuz had Inanna
- Osiris had Isis
- Izanagi of Japan had Isanami
The virginity of the mother of a savior is also a common thread in ancient religions. To name a couple: In Mexico the virgin mother of the savior was Cicomecoatl. The Celtic savior Cu Chulainn was also born of a virgin mother whose name has been lost through the centuries.
Mary as the eternal goddess, represents the feminine balance of the masculine Jesus.
The early Christian fathers tried to stamp out any hint of the female goddess concept in its religion. Any temple dedicated to a feminine deity was either destroyed or forbidden. The Christian patriarchal hierarchy tried all they could to belittle Mary.
The people wouldn’t stand for it—they wanted their Goddess. So, the church fathers, did what they needed to do in order to survive, they brought in a “new and improved” Mary.
According to Mary Daly who wrote Beyond God the Father, the Church was failing, “destined to go down to bloody death amidst the bleeding corpses of its victims….”
In defiance, the pagans resurrected goddess worship. To avoid losing Christians to Paganism, the church fathers relented and began teaching that Mary was indeed divine. Even though the new Mary was a composite of pagan goddesses, the Church presented her as the historical mother of Jesus, divine and pure. They preached that she, not a pagan goddess, was the Holy Mother of the Savior.
Oddly enough, even though virgin birth of saviors is common in nearly all ancient religions, the question of Mary’s virginity wasn’t thought of until the 6th century. Perhaps because the people demanded that the mother of the savior be a virgin like all the other mothers of gods. Could Jesus, the proclaimed only Son of God have a lesser mystical birth than Osiris, Krishna, Buddha, or Tammuz? Certainly not!
Mythology and Virginity
According to mythology expert and professor at Lawrence College, Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) and many other philosophers and scholars, the mystical meaning of the virgin comes from the ancient myth of the cosmic mother manifesting the material world from virgin space.
Whether or not the church fathers were aware of this is unknown. Mary’s virginity, however, was played to the hilt. It was emphasized more than any other aspect of her “history.”
Unfortunately, Mary’s purity did nothing for the plight of women who continued to be considered “unclean” because of their gender. They were both cursed if they were barren and cursed if they bore children because of “original sin.”
After relenting on the subject of Mary’s divinity, the Church fathers went all out. They campaigned to put Mary in the place of all other major goddesses. They erased the names of goddesses on Pagan temples and replaced them with Mary’s. They took the attributes of the goddesses and gave them to Mary. They assigned to Mary, a compilation of:
- Mariamne (Semitic)
- Aphrodite-Mari (Syrian)
- Maya (Moerae)
…and goddesses from all over the known world
The church proclaimed Mary the supreme Mother, chaste, beautiful beyond all women, perfect in every way. They created a supernatural Mary for the people. This campaign was so successful that many Christians thought the church went too far and that Christianity was dedicated more to Mary than to Jesus, but that didn’t stop Mary’s popularity. The Catholics still refer to their religious institution as “Holy Mother Church.”
Mother of the Ages?
Is Mary then, merely a fabrication of the Catholics to placate the people? The Hindus believe that at every turning of astrological ages (approximately every 2000 years), an avatar (savior) takes human form to help raise human consciousness to meet the incoming energies of the New Age. Many believe that Jesus came to bring us out of the age of Moses (Aries) into the age of Pisces.
Each astrological age’s avatar, real or mythical, had a feminine counterpart that resonated to the opposite sign of the zodiac.
Jesus resonated to Pisces the Fish. We find references to fish in connection with Jesus scattered throughout the New Testament, including:
- Fishers of men
- Gathering of disciples among fishermen
- Loaves and fishes
The Greek word icthus whose letters form the anagram “Jesus Christ Son of God,” is the Greek word for fish.
The opposite sign from Pisces is Virgo, the virgin—pure, precise, nurturing, chaste. Virgo is associated with wheat. Mary is often depicted with sheaves of wheat. And in the story of the loaves and fishes, Virgo is representative of loaves (wheat) and fish is representative of the sign Pisces (symbolized by two fish).
In pre-Catholic teachings such as Gnosticism, the universal female essence is the activator of the universal masculine energy. It is the masculine energy that takes the cosmic force and channels it into form. But there can be no manifestation without the feminine activating (birthing) energy.
Does it Matter?
So, Mary, it seems from all historical evidence is fiction. Does it matter? To some, perhaps. But to others it’s unimportant that much of what the Church has written about Mary’s life is false—her essence has survived the ages. She is the Eternal Goddess Mary, the feminine principal, the ultimate yin, and will continue to be so, even if she appears again in a different form, with a different name and with a different “Savior.” She is timeless; indestructible; universal; purity of thought, word, and deed; the ancient Mother of the universe, the activator of the male principle.
I will hold on to that faith in the goodness of the feminine archetype and know that she resides in us all. She is the Empress and the High Priestess in the Tarot. She is the balancer and the creator. She is the pure creative activator of agape love and I will continue to include her in my spiritual practices and meditations.
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