Me and the Mary Grotto

Duality And The Feminine

girl-prayingFew places in London have more mystique, more soul, than Guest House On The Mount. The structure of this charming “boutique hotel” was at one time a Nunnery, and on the grounds remain a few remnants of that time. The terraced lawns that grace the property feature a Mary grotto hollowed from the old roots of what looked to be a toppled Mother Oak’s roots.

It has a beautiful feminine mystique, and it of course lies at a crossroads – Windermere and Richmond. Which is very significant, in that the guests are a mish-mash of both students (old and new and from everywhere) and friends & family of someone being cared for across the way at University Hospital.

You know Mom, it’s almost as if those thick, stone walls have retained the soul of the women who once lived their quiet and serene lives within. You can almost FEEL the arms of the Mother…the Great Mother herself. Call her Mary, or Marion, or Maria. Call her Beauty, or Goddess, it’s all the same thing. At one of the most difficult times of my life, there she was. Appropriately at the time I was reading of another Mary, Mary of Magdalene.

The book was Mary Called Magdalene, a novel by Margaret George. So I was surrounded by Mary’s. And given the middle name you gave me Mom, I felt you with me, always.

More and more I’ve learned about the triple aspect of the Mary’s that appear in the Bible. Mary the Mother, Mary the Maiden, and Mary the Crone. Interwoven throughout there is still retained a fraction of the importance that women played within the early church. The more I read of early Christianity, the more I see the movements of the time, the indignation of the Jewish people strangled under the Roman boot. I now believe that Jesus is as much an enigma as he ever was, as ethereal as spirit, as difficult to catch wind of as any archaeological remains from his time.

What little remains of writing from those first two centuries AD, dates to just the mid-late 2nd century, with nothing left from his time. Few then would have known how to read and write, and even if his movement may have attracted the more literate, the fragile mediums available would be largely long gone by now. Only those fragments of scrolls that were well-preserved in jars remains today. There in fact is quite frankly no first hand accounts from the 1st century, and so it is difficult to say anything with any certainty about Jesus, or any of his followers.

Perhaps that’s why it intrigues me so, it is really a grand mystery. Built upon that mystery is this brilliant faith and belief, a mythology standing on the remains of a fragmented history of a time and a place that has defined the course of the last 2000 years. There are great truths scribed within that great tome, and that as well has always intrigued me.

Even today you know Mom, I still retain this deep faith, this belief in a great and grand spirit, call it what you will. In the ancient and early Canaanite region, and what scholars call the bible lands, the Levant, one finds the early roots of what Muslim’s call The People Of The Book, with a clear recognition within early fables of the masculine and feminine aspects of GOD. These characters remain hidden within their language now, but to some their presence speaks volumes.

The name of God in Judaism used most often in the Hebrew Bible is יהוה (YHWH), also known as the Tetragrammaton. Elohim (God, singular and plural form, depending on the context), and Adonai (master), are regarded by rabbinic Judaism not as names, but as epithets or titles reflecting different aspects of God. Elohim is the aspect of justice, and Adonai the aspect of mercy.[WIKIPEDIA]

Most early religions, and those that remain in practice today, like Hinduism, have at their core a higher set of beings that represent the ying and yang, male and female, positive and negative, aspect of humanity. The early Jewish people were no different.

Shekhinah – Hebrew: this sound שכינה is the presence or manifestation of God which has descended to “dwell” among humanity. The term never appears in the Hebrew Bible; later rabbis used the word when speaking of God dwelling either in the Tabernacle or amongst the people of Israel. The root of the word means “dwelling”. Of the principal names of God, it is the only one that is of the feminine gender in Hebrew grammar. Some believe that this was the name of a female counterpart of God.

The sign for the first character of the word…pronounced like SHAAHA, one can find in the Vulcan hand greeting Leonard Nimoy contributed from his Jewish heritage for the character Spock. I thought you’d love that one Mom. That wonderful greeting Trekkie’s have used all those years is in fact a blessing.

What made these people different you know, was actually not the presence of something, but rather its absence; of iconography and the simplicity of their homes and pottery.

Some archaeologist[1] today hypothesize that these early people were born right in the Levant, and are thought to be a mish-mash of ex-Caannites who went off on their own after the powers that be that had controlled the region fell, from around the turn of the 13th century BCE. In fact, the Egyptians once ruled all (or most) of the country we now call Israel. At one time the area was split into two regions, with the rich regions named Israel in the North, and rough and rugged Judah in the South.

The first appearance of the name “Israel” in the historical record is the Merneptah Stele, circa 1200 BCE. During the biblical period, two kingdoms occupied the highland zone, the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.

AFTER the close of the 12th Century, and the Egyptian Pharoah Ramses death, there was a gigantic crash in several empires across the known world. The event has been termed the Aegean Apocalypse, and remains of coastal cities throughout the region have been found. This is when the bull-jumping Minoan civilization was destroyed by a gigantic volcanic eruption, probably setting of a mass of migrations throughout the Mediterranean. Within this same time frame Ramses II closed out the epoch of Egyptian might, with drought and famine following. Afterwards Egypt was never the same.

It wasn’t one or two events, but more like a cascade of events over the course of 50-100 years that crumpled many mighty empires. One by one all fell. Approximately a century or more later the Kingdom of David is born. Turning their backs on the abhorrent, luxuriant and corrupt nature of their overlords, now free, these people merge under a determination to NOT fall under the yoke of another’s immorality again.

The Jewish people I think are an amalgamation of many Peoples of the time, converging and merging together their individual creation myths, and taking from each the kernels’ of truth they could each agree upon.

And you know Mom, stripped of all the pomp and circumstance, the trials in the desert, the grand journey, and all that, the story still resonates for me. One can now understand perhaps more clearly what they were striving for. One could say we don’t inherit identity, we choose it.

So I think I’m going to write about this fascination I have more, if you don’t mind. You once being a Sunday school teacher, I imagine will approve (as would of course both Grandma AND GrandpaD). I’ll warn you though, I have a slightly different point of view perhaps than some, given my animistic mindset and my understanding of the feminine nature of divinity. It won’t be your common biblical fare, that’s for certain. I promise though Mom, I won’t evangelize.


A Reading List of Biblical subject matter

~ Judas the Apostle, by Van Mayhall Jr. – “Ancient language expert Dr. Clotile Lejeune is happily living a quiet life in Seattle when her world is profoundly shaken. After she learns that her estranged father has been murdered, Cloe must travel with her son, J. E., back to her Louisiana hometown to unlock the mysteries of a two-thousand-year-old oil jar her father has left in her care—a jar inscribed with the name Judas Iscariot. Anxious to find her father’s killer and dispel her own personal demons, Cloe has no idea that what she is about to uncover has the potential to set the international religious community on fire.”

~ Mary Called Magdalene, by Margaret George – “Mary Magdalene, the beloved disciple and companion of Jesus, has held a mystique since her name appeared in the Gospel of Mark {the earliest of the Gospels – dating to earliest perhaps 2nd century AD? at least…perhaps even earlier}…References to her are tantalizingly brief, but we do know that she was the first person to whom the risen Christ appeared, and the one commissioned to tell others the good news.”

~ The DoveKeepers, by Alice Hoffman – “Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to ancient historian Josephous, two women and five children survived”.

[1] The Bible Unearthed – Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, Free Press, New York, 2001

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