Diaspora: the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland (Merriam-Webster).
When we speak of Mary Magdalene and the feminine diaspora, we are identifying the intentional and deliberate removal of the feminine principle in Christianity and by association, the extraction of and demonizing of the feminine in Western culture. To put it succinctly, as soon as Jesus left the building, the disciples discarded the women Jesus had invited as their equals along with the egalitarian framework Jesus modeled with his beloved Mary, called Magdalene. Selling out to the patriarchal norm, Mary Magdalene, and all women with her were set aside as “less than” and their former authority disregarded as the ravings of madness:
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. (Luke 24: 9-11)
Then Andrew began to speak, and said to his brothers, “Tell me, what do you think of these things she (Mary Magdalene) has been telling us? As for me, I do not believe that the Teacher (Jesus) would speak like this. These ideas are too difference from those we have known.” And Peter added, “How is it possible that the Teacher talked in this manner with a women about secrets of which we ourselves are ignorant? Must we change our customs and listen to this woman? Did he really choose her, and prefer her to us!?” (Gospel of Mary Magdalene Page 17)
Unlike the male disciples who benefited from the patriarchal, hierarchical norm, Mary Magdalene and the other women did not. Instead, until they came into Jesus’ company, these women were prisoners of the cultural norm which valued them as less than cattle – and single, unmarried women even less so. Jesus changed this by inviting women to walk beside him, learn from him and minister beside him. Jesus did not place himself in the position of perceived outside authority as would have been normative for a Jewish Rabbi. Instead, he empowered the women to find their own inner authority in union with the Divine within.
This message of Union was the core of Jesus’ teachings and the women got it. As scripture and tradition proves, few of the men did. They simply could not move beyond their male privilege and the benefits it afforded them. The women, on the other hand, had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Mary Magdalene got it; as did the other women in Jesus’ company. Sadly, however, the feminine principle honored by Jesus and empowered through his women disciples could not defend itself against the tide of the patriarchy, so it retreated into the background.
As history continues to bear out, however, the feminine principle cannot be destroyed. As it relates to the Christian tradition, it remained in the mystical and contemplative practices and teachings of “the church” (small c – meaning people….not institution). It remains in the figure of Mother Mary who presides as Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix – treated by Catholics as almost a Goddess in her own right. She has remained in the Wisdom traditions of Christianity as Sophia, The Bride, and The New Jerusalem. The feminine principle has also remained intact in the women and men who have come forward as mystics and prophets – forever holding the feet of the Institution to the coals and holding it accountable to the truth of Love while challenging it for its love of power. Holy people like Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila, Clare and Francis of Assisi, John of the Cross, Catherine of Siena, Gertrude Stein, and Dorothy Day.
And the feminine principle remains in Mary Magdalene and the re-emergence of her story along with the renewed knowledge of her critical role in the Jesus story and the ongoing story of humanity’s evolution. With the rediscovery of the gnostic texts in which Mary plays a central role and the advent of authentic scriptural scholarship, we now understand that Mary was not the “sinful woman” the patriarchal Church would have us believe. Instead, we see her as co-equal with Jesus in sharing the mission and message of love in support of the ongoing healing and transformation of what separates us as human beings. It is only in healing this separation that we can ever know peace in our world and healing that separation begins by bringing the feminine diaspora home and making a place for her in our hearts and in our lives.
The Magdalene Priestess training, created and facilitated by Lauri Ann Lumby, provides the framework and the tools for our own journey of self-actualization. Here we restore the Magdalene to her proper place within the story of human evolution and, like Mary, come to know the truth of who we are while piercing through the unhealed wounds, unacknowledged fears and societal conditioning that would prevent us from being anything less than free: