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Images of ChristoSophia
GREEN MAN



ChristoSophia in Dervaig


Dervaig


It was a clear, crisp, early morning on June 7, 2008, that we left the small island of Iona behind as our ferry crossed the narrow sound to Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull. We were on a pilgrimage to the Hebrides – the islands off the western coast of Scotland – and Iona, which is widely known as a sacred isle and “the cradle of Scottish Christianity” was one of the highlights of our journey. But today we were anticipating another experience of deep personal significance to us as we were going to a little, out-of-the-way church to see a stained glass window that symbolized ChristoSophia for us. As we drove along the winding one-track road through the wild beauty of the Isle of Mull, we felt that we were truly on a pilgrimage. After several hours we crossed a stone bridge leading to the picturesque town of Dervaig, and got our first glimpse of the Kilmore (Chil Moire) Church. Even from the outside it appeared to be quite unusual, with its whitewashed walls and round tower. But when we entered the church, we were even more struck by the uniqueness of the sanctuary. Our eyes were first drawn to the shimmering rainbow colored apse; in its center the dove descended, feminine imagery of the Holy Spirit or Sophia. We observed that the Kilmore (Church of Mary) was rightly named, for the peace and beauty in this sacred space conveyed a distinctly feminine presence. After these moments absorbing the spirit of the place, we turned our attention to the exquisite stained glass windows – two in the apse and five in the south wall. And the second window in the nave was the one that we had come this great distance to see! The image is of Christ and Mary holding hands – the Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine joined together – an extraordinary image of ChristoSophia.

All the windows were created by the stained glass artist Stephen Adam of Glasgow and were installed during the five years after the reconstruction of the church in 1904-1905. We had first seen the picture of the Sacred Couple on the website of Margaret Starbird, whose many books including The Woman With the Alabaster Jar, Magdalene’s Lost Legacy, and Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile have done so much to help restore Mary Magdalene to her role as the Bride of Christ. We were interested in the description in the church brochure: “In this window a pensive Christ holds the hand of a calm Madonna blue gowned Mary who holds her left hand over her heart.” It appears that the church is claiming that Jesus is holding the hand of his mother, the Madonna! But, in addition to the image that obviously depicts a couple in love, there are other clues that clearly point out that the identity of this “Mary” is not the virgin Mother of Christ. The inscription beneath the couple states, “Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” This is the verse in Luke 10:42 that refers to Mary of Bethany. The longstanding tradition in the Christian church of identifying Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany (sister to Martha and Lazarus) confirms that the beautiful woman in the stained glass is clearly Mary Magdalene. And she is obviously pregnant! Margaret Starbird gives further details of the symbolic references to the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene in the window. The couple’s right hands are clasped, and this “hand-fasting” is a widely recognized symbol of the marriage ceremony. Behind the couple are seen two towers, a symbol of Jerusalem, the Holy City. Margaret Starbird states, “The stained glass window clearly portrays the nuptials of the Lamb and his bride, the Holy City, prophesied in the Book of Revelation.” The artist personified the Holy City, the community of the faithful, as the Bride of Christ, the woman Mary Magdalene.

Even though in the early 20th century, when this window was created, the role of Mary Magdalene was subsumed under the Virgin Mother, it appears that 100 years later the time for her revelation has come. Many books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail, The DaVinci Code, and especially Margaret Starbird’s pioneering work attest to the fascination that many people have for the woman who was the beloved of Jesus. Many spiritual groups have sprung up in recent times that are devoted to the figure of Mary Magdalene. The intensity of this interest shows that the archetypal energies of the “hieros gamos” or sacred marriage are re-emerging in our world today, and that the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is the primary manifestation of this archetype in Christian tradition.

When the role of Mary Magdalene as Bride of Christ was repressed early in the history of the Christian church, mainstream Christianity lost the power of the archetypal sacred marriage that was central to Near Eastern mythology. The life-giving waters of this wisdom went underground, to nourish the souls of those seen as “heretics” such as the Gnostic Christians, Cathars, medieval alchemists, and poets and artists throughout the centuries. The loss of the wisdom of the feminine has had dire consequences for our culture, especially for women and our Mother Earth. Restoring the feminine polarity by acknowledging the sacred union of Mary Magdalene and Jesus has immense significance at both the human and mythological level.

At the personal level, recognizing the love of Jesus and Mary Magdalene teaches us that the spiritual path can be traveled through a love relationship. The problems that the Christian church has typically had with this concept was clearly illustrated for us when we went to church shortly after the movie based on The Da Vinci Code had been released. The minister devoted his sermon to repudiating the movie’s theme; his major argument that Jesus and Mary Magdalene could not possibly have been married was that the exclusive nature of conjugal love would not be compatible with Jesus’ inclusive love for all humanity. But this reflects the “either/or” premise of dualistic thinking, rather than the “both/and” thinking of higher consciousness. Why should any one form of love preclude the experience of others? We know from our own experience that we can love our spouse, children, parents, friends – they are different types of love, but the intensity of one does not diminish the others. In fact, the ability to truly give oneself to another in love is reflected in greater ability to love in other forms. Jesus’ self-giving love for all human beings could certainly be consistent with his love for a particular woman in both her unique individuality and her Oneness with all humanity. And the central Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ was both human and divine would best be supported by his human love for another special person as well as his divine love for the world.

The emphasis of the church on celibacy as the highest ideal through much of its history is a direct result of the repression of the sacred marriage at the heart of the Christian mystery. But recognizing the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene emphasizes the Way of Love which is the central message of Christ. This is the Way that must accept love in all of its forms; it certainly cannot exclude erotic love. The love between a man and a woman can be a very high form of spiritual practice in itself as each sees the Divine in the other and serves this Beloved. Mary Magdalene provides us with a superb model of this love in the Gospel accounts that show her giving all of herself in service to her Beloved: her generosity in the extravagant act of anointing him with precious oil, her devotion as she suffered with him at the Cross, her faith that survived even death and enabled her to witness his resurrection. In all of her recorded acts she displays a love that transcends her own desires and fears – this reflects the transformation of the ego that is the result of advanced spiritual practice. One of the most direct paths to pursuing this goal is through a conscious love relationship. In Jesus and Mary Magdalene joined we can see the complementary sides of a completely self-giving love: as Mary Magdalene pours herself forth in her total love for her beloved, Jesus completely empties himself on the Cross in his love for humanity. It is the circulation of their love energies – uniting the One and the All – that redeems the soul of humanity and renews the life of the world.

Celebrating the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene also accomplishes the very important task of redeeming sexuality. The loss of the mysteries of sacred sexuality has been devastating to Christianity. While many are aware that these mysteries have been retained in Eastern Tantric practices, it is not as well known that mystical Judaism also honors sacred sexuality as a pathway to the Divine. Kabbalistic teachings convey the mystical truth that a man and woman uniting in holy love effects the heavenly union of God and the Shekinah (the Divine Feminine.) The spiritual roots of Jesus and Mary Magdalene were in this Jewish tradition, and their relationship can be seen as an earthly counterpart to the heavenly union. In this way they provide a model for us in opening to the transcendent dimensions of love-making. Restoring the sacred marriage to Christianity helps to heal the grievous wounds in our culture caused by the splitting of sexuality from spirituality; it reveals the sacred nature of loving sexual relationships that are blessed by the presence of God.

In addition to the importance of the sacred union for our human relationships, it also has a deep mythological significance. As the primacy of Mary Magdalene has been almost completely hidden in mainstream Christian tradition, she is the most rejected form of the Divine Feminine. As such she personifies the exiled Shekinah of mystical Judaism and the fallen Sophia of gnostic mythology, as well as the suppression of feminine power in the church as women lost their roles as mediators of the divine mysteries. It is her rejection that has caused humanity to generally remain in a lower state of consciousness. This is why the acknowledgement of Mary Magdalene’s role in the sacred couple is so important from an archetypal standpoint; the role of the mother has always been accepted – and sometimes revered – in Christian tradition, but the role of the sexual consort has been the most repressed, and therefore has the greatest need to be known.

That the Christ is both masculine and feminine is best imaged in the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Gnostic Christians realized this even when the institutional church denied it. In the celestial realms the union of Christ and Sophia in the “bridal chamber” of the gnostics was symbolized by the union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene on Earth. As Tau Malachi states, the gnostic gospels teach that “the incarnation of the Christos occurs through the person of Lord Yeshua and Mary of Magdal – the Bridegroom and the Holy Bride…Lord Yeshua embodies Christ, the Logos-Word, and Lady Mary embodies Christ, the Sophia-Wisdom.” In the stained glass window at Kilmore Church we see this incarnation of the Christos: Jesus and Mary Magdalene embodying ChristoSophia.

In gnostic mythology the “fallen Sophia,” cast from the spiritual realm into the material world, represents the human soul. As Sophia is rescued by her lover, the Christ, so too must the soul be redeemed through the love of Christ. This takes place through the inner sacred marriage, the uniting of the soul with the Divine. The rites of the gnostic “bridal chamber” of Christ and Sophia, reflected in the nuptials of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, is finally performed in the mystical union that takes place within the human heart. Uniting the masculine and the feminine, the spiritual and the physical, leads to the attainment of the Divine Human – the realization of Christ. Jesus and Mary Magdalene can also serve as our models in this process. As Jean-Yves Leloup says, “The restitution of the true character of Miriam of Magdala as a companion of Yeshua of Nazareth can help men and women today realize their potential of anthropos, their full humanity, which is both flesh and spirit, both human and divine.”

In the window of Kilmore Church, Mary is pregnant, a sign of the fertility of this life-giving union. DERVAIGWhat is to be born from the sacred marriage, mirrored within the human heart? It is at the deepest level the birth of Divine Humanity, the “new creation” of the transformed human being. This is the Second Coming of Christ that many mystics envision as the awakening or enlightenment of humanity – to “see” the Kingdom of Heaven that is “spread out upon the Earth” (Gospel of Thomas), that is already here and now. As such, it is a transformation of consciousness, that will take place within the human soul rather than outside in the world. The Second Coming awaits this inner transformation of humanity – the attainment of the divine/human potential within each of us.

As we gazed at the image of Mary Magdalene in the stained glass window at Dervaig, our musing drew us back to the isle of Iona that we had left earlier in the day, and to the prophecies of Fiona Macleod, a Celtic visionary of the late 19th century. At about the same time period that Adam was creating the stained glass windows for Kilmore, Macleod foretold that Christ shall come again on his beloved isle of Iona, but this time in the form of a Woman. He recognized that the birth of the feminine Savior in Iona “was doubtless of an Iona that was symbolic…for She would rise suddenly in many hearts, and have her habitation among dreams and hopes…then for the first time the world will know peace.” We felt that we had come full circle in this one day, beginning in Iona – the symbolic center for the Second Coming, this time of the Feminine Christ – and ending in Dervaig where we were seeing this prophetic vision captured in the stained glass window. Our hearts were filled with the hope that today this prophecy is beginning to be fulfilled, as the feminine face of the Christ, which is Sophia-Wisdom, manifests through the return of the historical woman, Mary Magdalene, to her full power. The many women – and also men – who are seeking Mary Magdalene today are the harbingers of the Second Coming that she initiates.

As Margaret Starbird says, “In the Apocalypse, the bride descends from heaven to celebrate her nuptials (Rev. 21:2.) She is the human embodiment of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. And the goal of Christian theology is her sacred marriage with the eternal bridegroom.” As this deepest mystery of the Christian faith is finally realized, the waters of life that have had to flow underground through these many centuries will spring forth to renew the parched land of our spirits and our Earth. And then we may heed the invitation to enter the New Jerusalem, the Holy City that greets the Soul of Humanity:

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”
And let him who hears say, “Come.”
And let him who is thirsty come,
Let him who desires take the water of life without price.
Rev. 22:17

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The image is of Christ and Mary holding hands – the Sacred Masculine and Sacred Feminine joined together – an extraordinary image of ChristoSophia. *
































The archetypal energies of the “hieros gamos” or sacred marriage are re-­‐emerging in our world today, and the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is the primary manifestation of this archetype in Christian tradition. *



























The loss of the wisdom of the feminine has had dire consequences for our culture, especially for women and our Mother Earth. Restoring the feminine polarity by acknowledging the sacred union of Mary Magdalene and Jesus has immense significance at both the human and mythological level. *




























In Jesus and Mary Magdalene we can see the complementary sides of a completely self-­‐giving love: as Mary Magdalene pours herself forth in her total love for her beloved, Jesus completely empties himself on the Cross in his love for humanity.








































What is to born from the sacred marriage, mirrored within the human heart? It is at the deepest level the birth of Divine Humanity, the “new creation” of the transformed human being. *