Posted in church, Inspiration

A Temple Not Built by Human Hands

For thousands of years, human beings have been building temples to their gods. From the humble beginnings of forest shrines, to the temples of the East, to the gargantuan medieval cathedrals and in more modern time, the mega-church complexes, human beings have designed and built external structures to house, to reflect, and to give worship to their gods.  In many belief systems the believers were required to offer sacrifice and worship within the walls of these temples so as to earn the favor of their god.  For some, neglect of these obligations is met with threats of eternal damnation.

These temples were built to represent an external god. God was either thought to be in the temple – either contained within its walls, within its tabernacle; or at the very least, it was only in the temple where god could be met.  The walls of the temple were meant to keep gods in and non-believers out.  Some belief systems have even created rules where those who don’t believe, or those within the faith who aren’t considered worthy because they have not completed the prescribed atonement rituals or sacrifice are not truly welcome.  Keeping gods in and the undeserving out.  All of this rooted in the belief that as human beings, we are separate from God.

Jesus taught otherwise. Raised Jewish, Jesus learned and followed the prescriptions of his faith.  He listened to the stories of his ancestors.  He studied the words of the prophets.  He memorized and followed the law.  He was a good Jewish boy doing what good Jewish boys do.  But, as the stories seem to imply, Jesus heard and experienced something beyond the surface layers of his Jewish faith.  He did not simply attend synagogue on Saturday to fulfill his Sabbath obligation.  It is likely that somewhere in his journey with his Jewish faith, he came upon the more mystical studies of his tradition.  Here he discovered a God that was not only in the temple.  He found a God that was not in a heaven light years away.  Likely through contemplation, meditation and prayer, and through the guidance of others who had come this way before him, he found a God who was not “out there” but dwelt deep within Jesus’ own being in a state he called “Oneness.”  Jesus discovered that the kingdom of God was not out there, but was within him in this state of Union where he experienced peace, contentment and bliss. John the Evangelist later called this experience Love.

For Jesus, the temple became something not outside of himself. Rather, he came to understand that he was the temple – that we are all the temple.  God is in us and we are the temple of that Divine Spirit.  The mystical traditions of Judaism (the Kabbalah) affirm this.  We know and understand this when we do the work Jesus did of healing ourselves of all that which seems to separate us from God – fears, false perceptions, ego attachments, old wounds, etc.  This is the work Jesus (likely) learned through his own Jewish faith, which he accomplished for himself and when he then went on to (try to) teach his disciples.  Some got it.  Some did not…..

 

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Learn the Kabbalistic principles practiced by Jesus through the Order of Melchizedek Training:

 

 

Posted in Mary Magdalene

The Magdalene Priesthood Training- Returning to Ourselves

For the past several years I have welcome over 100 women and men into the Order of the Magdalene Priesthood Training.  Below are the words of two recent graduates of the full 1 year program.  Thank you Maria and Rebecca for your beautiful words and for the work of love you are performing in our world!

In looking back over the time it has taken me to complete this course, I can’t believe where I am now.
The gifts (magic ) I have to offer from my Spirit.
The Freedom of authenticity that is flowing from me.
The integration and depth of the Spirit that comes forth.

The fearlessness and contentment of living in this new found Freedom.

I have learned through this program to come back and return…return to myself.
Everytime I struggled with something occurring in my life,
I would do a lesson in the program and reflect…go inward.

Not seek outward for help, like the old me would do.
But connect to the training …to the Magdalene…to me!

It was a blessing in so many ways.
The Magdalene Priestess Training ultimately allowed me to stand unto myself.
To find dominion in me.
Thank you Lauri…so very much.

Maria G. USA

 

What is so amazing to me is in this journey and through each course it has helped to heal my relationship with religion.  In the sense that I don’t need to follow any one direction of spirituality.  It has given me a completely different outlook on scripture and the characters in scripture but also on those who have translated and handed down these teachings.  To stop and consider what personal agendas may have been at stake in recording and passing them on based on the author at the time.  It has taught me to lead through my heart.  How to recognize myself in others both my poor and positive traits and how those are reflecting in those around me. I have to admit that my relationship to Christ has very much been strengthened during this time, and in doing that my sacred feminine feels even more powerful.  I seem to have a very strong relationship to Mother Mary as well, and it may be due to the fact of being in the throws of motherhood now.  I definitely do not feel like the same person from almost 2 years ago.  Now I feel strong in my faith combined with my witchy ways.  You don’t have to choose one or the other.  It’s empowering and wonderful!

Rebecca USA

 

Posted in Inspiration, Order of Melchizedek

The Promise of New Life in the Darkness

After death is the promise of new life. This is the Easter message and the law that nature teaches us over and over and over again.  A seed it planted.  It germinates and grows.  It matures and bears fruit.  It dies, returning to the earth where it plants the seeds for the next life to begin.

Original drawing by Lauri Ann Lumby

So is the true of our human experience. Even our cells are continually involved in this eternal journey of birthing, growing, maturing, dying, and then being born again.

But this dying and rising is not limited to the growth of our cells. This is the eternal dance of our human experience – if we have the courage to surrender to the journey – especially when it all looks like death.  Like it felt for me on Monday.  Facing the end of our dreams, is one of those moments that feels like death.  For me, this death was palpable.  I felt like death.  I felt the weight of death.  I felt as if my body had become my own tomb made out of lead.

Then yesterday I woke up to the dawn of a new day. Rather, I woke up to the void – the place within the tomb where the life that once was lay in repose.  It was an apt position for the final session of a 5 year journey (for some, longer for others) I had been facilitating – learning as I go.  This was the final session of the Order of Melchizedek training that I have been piloting locally before making it wholly available online.  In this portion of the training we had been studying the Aleph Beis and its connection to the major arcana in the Tarot. Yesterday’s lesson (the final lesson) was on the Hebrew letter “Tav” and The World card in the tarot. You will have to take the class to understand how these two seemingly opposing systems are connected, but as a way to bring the course to a close, I facilitated a shamanic journey for those in attendance, while joining them in my own journey.

In my journey, I was led to every journey I had done before. I was brought to every location, every person, every being, every animal, etc. and in each scene, that which appeared to be outside of me was absorbed into me. All perceived division was absorbed into and became part of me. This absorption continued and continued and continued, until I saw that I had become a black hole. I was the black hole and I was in the black hole, drawing in and absorbing every single aspect of the life I have lived so far. It was all drawn inward toward the center of the black hole – a center that doesn’t really exist. The energies of my whole life were being drawn in and compressed – compressed to the point of nothingness and everything. The depths of the void filled with unlimited potential. All that has been was being compressed, transformed and was becoming “fuel” for the life of the black hole. What I then came to understand is that everything was being compressed – the old life was coming to an end, and was being used as fuel/compost for the new life/new world/new universe that will burst forth out of the other side of the black hole once maximum compression was reached.

Today I sit in the black hole. Nothing more to do. Nothing more to be. This world I have known is done. Complete. I am whole. I sit in the void as the new life is being born in secret. I will know it when it arrives. Until that time. I simply am – Lauri.

 

Posted in Being Human, Death, Inspiration

The Death of Our Dreams

For the last several days (weeks, months, years) I have been experiencing a deep and pervasive sadness. This is a sorrow that I have been unable to give a name to; neither have I been able to identify its source.  Until now….. After giving myself the time and permission to sit with this sorrow, exploring its depths, its name was finally revealed:

The death of every dream.

As I sit at this place in my life, I am realizing the difficult truth – every dream I had once had for my life has died (ok, not every dream, only the ones born of ego). I am nowhere near where I thought I would be at 54 years old when I embarked upon this journey of self-fulfillment some 26 years ago.  I am not a best-selling author.  I’m not rich or famous.  I have not been successful is reforming the Catholic Church or in starting a new way of being church.  Neither am I speaking Jesus’ message of love before thousands.  And I have definitely not met and am not living my once-dreamed of “happily ever after” with the elusive “Mr. Kelly.”  Finally, not one of the “new age” or “new thought” promises of abundance and prosperity have found their fulfillment in my life.

“Death” by Robert M. Place

As it turns out, I am not living a single one of the “American dreams.” Even more disappointing I’m not even living one of my own dreams. But then again, who is?  How many people do you actually know who got everything they wished for?  Not too many I suspect.  In fact, I bet many who say they are living their dreams are lying, and if they are living their dreams, they are not likely happy for it.

I remember when my parents hit this stage of realizing many of their dreams have died. I watched two of my dearest friends face the death of their dreams when their perfectly healthy 21 year old son died. I have watched three other dear friends face a similar death with the loss of their beloved partners to brain cancer. And just this week, another friend’s dreams died with her son in a deadly car crash.  Every day, thousands, if not millions or people face the death of their dreams.  I am convinced that this is the path of the human experience.  We dream.  Our dreams die.  And on the other side of the dream is the life that was meant for us all along.

The ancients call this alchemy. Christians call this redemption.  Jesus called it “the kingdom of God.” Throughout scripture Jesus speaks on this topic of leaving our worldly dreams behind so that we might fulfill the calling of the Soul.  Over and over he turns the table on the societal conditioning and ego-filled dreams of riches and fame (he had to confront these temptations himself) and invites us instead into humility.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. MT 19: 24-30

 

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Mark 8: 36

 

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? MT 16: 24-26

 

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. 1 John 2: 15-17

 

As Jesus continually pointed out to his disciples, the world’s ways are not God’s ways and the things of this world will not lead us to peace, contentment, or love. The kingdom of God that Jesus came to know within himself and then tried to show others how to attain, cannot be found through worldly gain or through what the world values as “success.”  Instead, it can only be found by moving past worldly aspirations and then emptying ourselves of any and all attachments we might have for worldly things – riches, fame, success through doing, accomplishments, goals, achievement, possessions, positions of power or status, etc. etc. etc.  Only when we are empty – completely empty – like Jesus was on the cross – are we able to find that Oneness that defies reason and understanding.  Only in setting aside the things of our ego can our Soul step forward, leading us to the life we were always meant to live before taking on all these attachments.

For myself, this means another layer of ego-death. Acknowledging the death of my dreams.  Sitting with the loss.  Allowing myself to grieve.  And then, walking on.  As I step out of the ash left by my dying dreams, I will enter into a new world.  No longer encumbered by the weight of these dreams, I will be free to receive the new life that is intended on the other side of this death. Kinda like enjoying my very own Easter.

What dreams have died for you?

How are you creating space for yourself to grieve the loss of those dreams?

How are you supporting yourself in being open to the new life that will come forth once you lay your dying dreams to rest?

Posted in Spiritual Direction

Do Not Fear the Darkness of Life

It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear, but is instead the ability to move forward in spite of our fear. THIS is the lesson and meaning of life and what Jesus came to teach us.  This courage is what we commemorate and give honor to in our Good Friday observance and what we are invited to embrace in our own lives.  Whether we profess Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, the Buddha, Amma, Anandamayima, the 13 Grandmothers, Spider Woman, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene or any other formerly living human as our teacher, the lesson is the same:

Do not fear the darkness of life. Instead, let it lead you to freedom.

In every spiritual tradition, the invitation is the same – FREEDOM. Some describe this freedom as salvation.  Others speak of it as presence, bliss, oneness, unity, peace, or love.  No matter what word is used to describe this freedom, the sentiment is the same.  We are here to remember the freedom we once knew and will once again know and we are here to remember this freedom right here in the midst of our human experience.

Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of my favorite scenes from the life of Jesus.  Here he wrestled with his doubts and his fears.  Because of his foresight and wisdom, he had a sense of where his path was heading.  He knew there were those threatened by his presence and that if people truly believed what Jesus had come to know, many would lose their perceived place of power and privilege.  Jesus knew they plotted to kill him.  He was afraid.  Terrified.  And in this, he wondered if God really had his back.  Had he simply made it all up or was what had been revealed to him really true?  Jesus fought hard with these fears and doubts.  He was tempted to chuck it all and return to a normal human life.  Instead, through the agony of prayer, he found peace.  He discovered resolve.  He harnessed the deep well of courage within him to face his greatest fears – suffering and death.

But Jesus’ struggle didn’t end in the Garden. His fears surfaced over and over and over as he took one step at a time on the road to Calvary.  When accused.  While on trial.  When he was whipped and beaten.  When the soldiers placed the crown of throne on his head.  When we was given the cross to carry through the city of Jerusalem and up the winding road to Golgotha.  As people mocked and ridiculed him, spit on him, called his names.  When he fell.  When he stumbled.  Every step of the way rose up another fear.  Jesus did not overcome his fears, he walked through them. He faced them.  He bore them.  And he walked.  One step at a time.  As the executioners nailed his body to the cross.  As the cross was lifted and his body sunk under its own weight, crushing his lungs.  Terrified.  Feeling abandoned and betrayed.  Suffering the excruciating death of crucifixion.  Jesus was afraid.  In pain.  Suffering.  In his suffering he turned to God and this is where he found his courage.  Where he found his acceptance and peace.

Hopefully none of us will have to face the death of crucifixion, but fear, suffering, and death are all consequences of the human condition. We cannot escape it.  We will all experience suffering.  We will all face challenge and difficulty.  We will all experience loss, betrayal, and death.  This is the human condition and this is why the Jesus story is so important – for all of us.  In the crucifixion narrative and the events leading up to it, Jesus shows us how to face the darkness of life.  He shows us how to find our way through our fears (he never promises the elimination of fear) and most importantly, how to walk on in spite of our fears.

 

What darkness are you currently facing?

How are you being invited to be with your fears and in being with them finding the courage to walk on?

 

Authentic Freedom is a protocol inspired by Jesus which shows us how to face and move through our fears in our own journey toward freedom.  Learn more HERE.

Posted in Raised Catholic

There Was Good in the Old – an Ode to Notre Dame

Yesterday, in a discussion with the TWYH online community in which I am a member, we were sharing the deep sorrow we had all been feeling before hearing the news of Notre Dame burning. Before the event even took place, many of us were feeling a deep sorrow and the need to weep tears that were not specifically our own.  We were feeling the collective sorrow over the destruction of a centuries old icon while wondering, “what could this possibly mean?”  As I have ceased from trying to give meaning to world events, I could only ponder that question and yet in the sharing, one of the women said the following words related to her own sense of grief and these words hit me between the eyes:

 

There was good in the old.

 

Not only did these words hit me between the eyes, they hit me in the “feels.” Oh yes!  Oh yes!  There was good in the old and there continues to be good in the Church I once called my home and from which I have been in exile for the past eleven years.

In a similar conversation the day prior with a friend who is “spiritual but not religious” and scientific in her leanings, I tried, and failed, to express what it is like to be raised Catholic and the indelible imprint Catholicism leaves on one’s soul. From a rational perspective, I left the Church because I had to.  I left because the container of the Institutional Church had become too small.  I was no longer free to do the work I know in my Soul I have been called to do and I had to make a choice – be obedient to God or obedient to the Church.  I chose God.  While this choice has given me more freedom to pursue my Soul’s calling and has allowed me to minister to those the Church has turned away, the consequence of this choice is a loss that I will likely grieve for the rest of my days.

Why? A rational person would think this grief silly and unnecessary.  It is easy for those raised outside the Church to scratch their heads in disbelief over what seems to be a clinging to nostalgia or an unwillingness to let go of what has been.  Not so.  Not so.  There is something profound that happens in those of us that were raised Catholic and no matter how distant we become from the Church, there is always something that will remain.  I believe the words spoken by my online friend perfectly describes that which remains:

There was good in the old.

There is a mystery and a magic in Catholicism that is unmatched by other belief systems (at least in my experience). Where else is bread and wine turned into the “Body and Blood” of Christ?  Even if we only believe the magic of the Eucharist as symbolic, this is pure magic – transformational magic at that.  In the Eucharist – the central sacrament of the Catholic tradition, we are participating in the transformational act of becoming Christ.  When eating the bread and drinking the cup, we are saying “YES” to being the Body of Christ.  This is not meant to be lip service or an empty ritual of eating bread and drinking wine.  Eucharist is meant to be taken literally – we are accepting the invitation to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, to live as he lived, to do as he did – clothe the naked, heal the sick, give food to the hungry, free those imprisoned, pray for our enemies, love our neighbor, etc. etc. etc.  And in living as Jesus lived, we are meant to become him – to embody all he represented – purity, humility, generosity, mercy, compassion, love, all while living and working for justice.  For those who are paying attention, living in and among this ritual alone changes you.

There is wisdom in Catholicism. I discovered this wisdom in the rich tradition of contemplative prayer – a tradition previously reserved for those in religious orders – the Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, Jesuits, etc. etc. etc.  Women and men who for thousands of years have dedicated their lives to the study of the scripture and praying with that scripture so they could know God and in the process, growing in love.  When I was in my ministry studies and learned these practices, they LITERALLY changed my life.  I began a daily practice and for 25 years (minus a couple when I was having babies), I did not miss a day.

In Catholicism every passage in life is treated (or has the potential for being treated) as sacred. Birth.  Entering adulthood. Marriage.  Vocational decisions.  Death.  Every passage in life is met with a sacrament.  Both life and death are treated as sacred and given their proper honor, along with the appropriate communal ritual for honoring that passage.  These are the rites of the ancients – a wisdom that has not been lost in the Church.

There is a Goddess in the Church. Mother Mary.  Mary Magdalene.  Eve.  Sarah.  Teresa of Avila.  Bernadette Soubirous.  Joan of Arc.  The one thing that Catholicism has that is lacking in all other expressions of the Christian faith – a Mother we can go to for comfort.  Women we can turn to for inspiration and support.  The idea of the Communion of Saints gives us not only women but also men who were Superheroes – people who dedicated their lives for the purpose of Love.  St. Francis of Assisi.  John of the Cross.  Meister Eckhart.  Ignatius of Loyola.  The list goes on.

There is beauty in the Church. The Cathedral of Notre Dame is the perfect example.  The first things rescued from the church were works of priceless art and religious relics.  Why is the whole world grieving the destruction of Notre Dame?  It is certainly not because they were raised Catholic – it is because they see the loss of beauty – the art and architecture of the middle ages which inspire awe and wonder by symbolically making visible the magic and mystery of life – that which some call “God.”

This is the old that is good. This is the good that remains.  Even if Notre Dame had burned to the ground (which reports assure us it has not), this good would still remain.  This is the good that has held the Catholic Church together all these years in spite of the reign of terror that has co-existed with all that is good.

There is good in the old. My hope has always been and will continue to be that as that which is no longer life-giving is burned away; it is the good that will remain.  Perhaps this is why Notre Dame allowed herself to be burned – to prove to the world that sometimes death is necessary to reveal the good that has always been there and to make a way for something new.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, detachment, Forgiveness

The Journey from Vengeance to Compassion

I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
“Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.”
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
For he has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the wicked!

Jeremiah 20: 10-13

 

I must humbly admit I sympathize with Jeremiah in his rant against his enemies and his desire to see vengeance meted upon them. In the many years I have had to deal with those who “hate me” I have gone from praying for their suffering and basking in satisfaction as I watch karma enacting its justice upon them to where I am today – still finding some satisfaction in karma (I’m still human!) but mostly having compassion for the suffering they continue to choose while I (mostly) live in peace. Not a peace born out of satisfaction for karmic retribution, but my own peace in knowing the Love that I am in God and doing my best to live from that Love.

The peace that I now know is the fruit of 25 years of diligent attention to my spiritual practice. This is a practice that goes beyond sitting in silence and includes unwavering accountability to everything within me that might otherwise infringe upon my ability to know Love. This unwavering accountability has nothing to do with freeing myself from “sin” out of a fear of Divine retribution. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that I have wounds from my past, social conditioning and fears that have kept me from knowing God’s love – not because God’s love is being withheld, but because these wounds, etc. prevented me from feeling and knowing the Love that has been here all along.

In knowing this Love, I feel whole and complete within myself. When I waver from this feeling of wholeness, I tend to the wound that is still asking for healing. Now, this is where I’m going to lean a bit in Jeremiah’s direction in describing in contrast the inner life of my “enemies.” For the record, I no longer consider these people my enemies, but I know that to them, I am the enemy. I am the enemy because I dare to question, challenge, and confront the doctrine they cling to – a doctrine they cling to mostly out of fear of God’s punishment.

These are those I have come to refer to as “the self-appointed inquisition” who for years harassed me, tried to sabotage my work, spread rumors against me, called the contemplative practices I teach “the work of the devil,” called my healing work “sorcery and witchcraft” and wrote letters of complaint to the local bishop so much that I understand the file on me is enormous and that I have been officially blackballed in the local diocese. To them, my work is “dangerous.” And, I guess it is. I invite people to use the brain God gave them to reason, discern and exercise their truth and to challenge anything cloaked in fear.

In the past, I was heartbroken by the action of these people – many of whom I thought were my friends. I was traumatized when a group of them came to one of my classes and turned it into an inquisition. I was further traumatized by the local chancellor who harassed me about a class I was teaching on the Aramaic Lord’s prayer. I was profoundly insulted and disappointed when the same chancellor promised to let me speak on behalf of Reiki – arrived 45 minutes late to our meeting and then issued the Reiki prohibition (which he always intended to issue) the very next day. I found myself writhing in anger, hatred and confusion of how these so-called Christians were treating me. I felt like a victim to their constant harassment.

Then the harassment stopped. Not because the self-appointed inquisition ceased their relentless inquiry and reporting on everything Lauri Lumby – but because I no longer care. Not caring is not a defense mechanism born out of fatigue. Instead, “not caring” is the detachment born out of Love. The more I have come to know the Love that I am, the less I am triggered by other people’s fear. The more I know God’s Love, the less I care about what other people think of me or my work. And in this I have peace – a peace my “enemies” will likely never know.

This is where my dreams of vengeance turn to compassion. Today when I see or hear from my “enemies” I no longer see their cruelty, I see their fear. I see a fear born out of shame – shame for who God made them (it’s not ok to be gay in the Catholic Church), shame for past actions for which they have never forgiven themselves, shame out of secrets that might destroy ones place in society, shame out of something so deeply suppressed that the only thing that can come through is prideful self-righteous. As it relates to the officials of the Church who have made me their enemy, I see fear, shame and in some an arrogant quest for power – using fear, deceit and manipulation to acquire that so-called power. For all of these I now bear compassion knowing that they will never know the peace I know in coming to know the Love that I am as God’s beloved daughter – the same love available to all of us if only we have the courage to heal the fears that keep us from knowing this Love.

Support yourself in healing the fears that keep you from knowing the Love that you are.  Discounted pricing through April 30, 2019.  Click on the image below to learn more and to register. 

 

 

 

Posted in priestess training, self-actualization, Spiritual Development, Spiritual Formation

A New/Original Vision of Priesthood

For the past 2000-5000 years, priesthood (across religions) has meant one thing: a position of power and authority held by men acting as an intermediary between the undeserving flock and their god. These men have been given themselves the power to interpret the word of their god and to dictate doctrine around their interpretation of that word.  They have appointed themselves determiners of who is saved and who is not and have created rituals and practices to be practiced by the undeserving so that they might earn the “love” of a jealous and fickle god and therefore their heavenly reward after death.  These men have used the threat of eternal damnation to manipulate those they “serve” and have benefitted from a culture based in fear. These men have been held as separate, more important and more powerful than the people they “serve” and have benefitted from this separation, given places of honor and becoming rich on the backs of those who are expected to pay, pray and obey.

Whereas not every man who has followed the call to be “priest” (or woman who has taken on this kind of priesthood) has lived their priesthood in this way, all are complicit in a culture and a structure that places one in a position of power over those they are meant to serve. The current structure of the priesthood – especially as it is expressed in the Catholic Church in which I was raised, is a culture of (often white) privilege rooted in separation lived out through power and control.  I can’t help but believe that this is not what Jesus had in mind.  In fact, it seemed that Jesus spoke openly against those who placed themselves in positions of authority and who lauded their power over others.  Instead, Jesus provided a completely different model of what priesthood might be which seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

In order to understand the kind of priesthood that Jesus lived and then modeled for those who spent time in his company, we don’t have to look very far. Scripture is quite clear about the priesthood that Jesus embodied – one of healing, comforting, teaching and empowering with Jesus hanging out, not at the top of the pyramid, but at the bottom of an inverted triangle upholding and uplifting those he sought to serve.  In this, Jesus created a container in which those to whom he ministered might be supported in doing what Jesus did – coming to know themselves as One with God in love, and in this oneness coming to know their own unique giftedness and then supported and empowered in the development of and then sharing of these gifts – for the sake of their own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world.

This is the priesthood that Jesus embodied and the priesthood that Mary Magdalene was empowered to embrace. When we turn to those scriptures that didn’t make the cut of the emerging hierarchical/patriarchal institution that became Christianity, we clearly see Mary in this role:  comforting, healing, teaching and empowering the other disciples to go forth and continue the work that Jesus empowered them to do.  In this, Mary was living not as a priest within an institutional church, but as High Priest in the spirit of the ancient tradition of mystery schools which served to support women and men in achieving the fullness of their personal, psychological, emotional and spiritual development.  In short, Mary, like Jesus, did the work to support what modern-day psychologists call self-actualization.

What would our world look like if we lived priesthood in this way – coming to know our own self-actualization and then empowering others to do the same?

 

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Posted in church, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, order of the magdalene

Mary Magdalene – Healing the Patriarchal Wound of Christianity

Two-thousand years ago, a Jewish man fell in love with the mystical teachings of his faith – teachings about love, compassion, and oneness. In his love of his faith, he discovered an intimate relationship with the Divine who he called “Abwoon” – meaning all that is.  He felt the love of this Divine being as the love of a parent for their child – and even more so. In this love, the man found peace, contentment and joy along with the means by which he could experience “heaven on earth.” In his excitement of this discovery, this Jewish man did what every rabbi did before him; he sought to teach others what he had learned.

He taught where all rabbis taught – in the synagogue, in the courtyard of the Temple, in the fields, on the hillsides and near the shores of the living waters. He was invited to dinner in people’s homes and he taught there. He taught wherever there were those “with ears to hear.” In his wanderings, he attracted a company of women and men who chose to follow him so that they might learn even more from this man who knew and showed great love.

In this company of women and men, there was a very special woman, Mary, from the house of Lazarus. She along with her brother Lazarus and sister Martha, became Jesus’ devoted students, learning all he could share with them, while gaining insights and revelations of their own.  Mary took to Jesus’ teachings in a unique and special way.  Soon, Mary and Jesus became one. Mary understood the depth of what Jesus had come to know in a way unique from the others and in this, she too became teacher.

Lewis Williams, SFO

When Jesus was arrested, put on trial and murdered, Mary was there by his side. With the other women and a few brave men, they stood watch and offered prayers of support for Jesus as he suffered and died.  They never left his side.  When Jesus’ body was removed from the cross, Mary and the other women anointed his body for burial, wrapped it in linen cloths and offered the requisite prayers of burial.  When the stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the burial cave, the women wailed.  They cried.  The tore their hair and clawed at the ground.  In tending to their own grief and to the horrors of Jesus’ dying, they created space in which new life could begin.

And it did. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to Mary.  She saw and she believed. And then Jesus did a remarkable thing – he appointed Mary, now called Magdalene, “Tower of the flock.” Mary was ordained and sent forth to continue Jesus’ mission in his stead.  He did not give over his mission to the men who remained hiding in the Upper Room. He gave it to the woman who had the willingness to be emptied of all within her that might hinder her from knowing anything other than LOVE. He gave it to the woman who was free enough of ego to stand face to face with her greatest fear – the torture, suffering and death of her beloved and to have the courage to trust that even in this greatest loss, new life would emerge.

Mary was the new life.  Mary, now called Magdalene, went forth to share with the other disciples the good news and to continue what Jesus began – supporting the disciples and anyone else with ears to hear – in the mission of Love.

But then, patriarchy stepped in. Unwilling to let go of their fear of the patriarchal cultural norm and unwilling to set aside their egos enough to remember the equality that Jesus taught, the disciples rejected Mary’s message.  “This is the ravings of a woman.  Jesus’ could not have risen from the dead.  What does that even mean?”  Then Mary showed them.  She showed them how they could see Jesus and experience his presence, his guidance and his teachings.  They saw a glimpse, but they did not experience the fullness of what Mary described and then they became jealous.  They asked Mary why Jesus would appear to her and not to them.  How could he love her more than they?  Mary tried to explain, and Jesus through her.  But still the disciples could not accept that Jesus would choose her over them. So they cast her out.

Mary then went on her own way, with Lazarus and Martha beside her, the other women, along with a couple of the men who believed, and did what Jesus ordained her to do. She continued in the mission of Love.

The other disciples tell it differently. It is to Peter that Jesus gave the mission of building the new church (a church Jesus never spoke of building), and the purpose of this church was salvation.  Only those who believed as the disciples told it would be welcome into paradise at the end of time – totally forgetting that the only kingdom Jesus spoke of what the one right here in our midst when we are free enough of our fears to know Love. Sadly the Love Jesus taught was forgotten and replaced instead by fear.

This fear is the patriarchal wound of Christianity.  Fear born out of jealousy.  When the disciples cast out the woman Jesus ordained to continue in his stead, they cast out all women.  No longer reflecting the balance between masculine and feminine that Jesus favored, the Church became the distortion of love.  Instead of being rooted in the Oneness that Jesus preached, the new Church was based in separation and fear, power, control and privilege. Like the patriarchal culture in which they were raised, the men created a hierarchical, patriarchal institution where those in power are lauded as better than the rest and where salvation was the privilege of the few who would obey their commands. What we have today is a sad and broken institution whose fear comes out sideways in gluttony, lust for power, wrath, envy, greed, sloth, and the worst of these – pride.  Here children are raped and the offender excused, women are denied their rightful place as teachers and guides, our humanness (including our sexuality) is demonized, and instead of people living in LOVE, they are cowering in fear.

Embracing Mary Magdalene changes all that! In place of fear we find love.  Instead of hierarchy we discover collaboration.  Instead of power over, we have power with.  Not because of Mary, now called Magdalene, but because of what she represents – the core of Jesus’ message which is LOVE.  But this message of Love is not even about Jesus – it is about the truth of our Source, our original nature, ourselves, all of creation, and that which some might call God.  Love is who we are.  Love is all there is.  When we remember as Jesus and Mary Magdalene remembered, then there will be peace and we will fulfill our mission as humans which is to discover heaven on earth.  So mote it be!  Amen!

Scholarly resources:  https://templeofthemagdalene.com/2018/01/16/my-mary-magdalene-reading-list/