Magdalene: Hidden Herstory Of Women In Religion

magdaleneI have always been curious about religions. As a child my questions were a bit of a challenge. I wanted to know who invented God. Also why there were so few women in God’s stories. Why was it always about men? As a teenager I was fascinated by the women I could find. Mary Magdalene. Isis. Athena. Saint Theresa.

I studied the lives of Christian saints. Looking further afield I read about Kali, Freya and the Morrigan. All these wonderful women who seemed to be strong, brave and, most of all, powerful. They had followers. They were revered. And they offered a very different understanding of what being female meant. However, they were also part of a hidden herstory. Not taught in my all girls school. Even though I was encouraged to aim for a good education that education was still about history. And in that story Mary Magdalene was certainly not allowed to be a powerful woman in charge of her own life and sexuality.

So I suppose you could say that I have spent my life looking for herstory. Religions struggled to find a place for me. Because they tended to exclude the involvement of women in any meaningful or empowering way. Women stood around the edges of the action whilst men were firmly in the centre. Women were allowed a mother or carer role but never direct access to the God at the centre of it all. It wasn’t until I started to explore some of the pagan Goddess beliefs that I could get a sense of herstory. Sadly often still only accessible through history – men explaining what the beliefs represented – although many wonderful women writers were busy reclaiming herstory.

That is why Mary Magdalene became such a fascinating figure for me. A women who was at the heart of the action, so to speak, even if successfully watered down by history.

Even to the point that there is still a debate about whether she was an actual person or not. With a reputation meant to bring with it disgust, judgement and rejection. What is recorded is apparently her sexual proclivities rather than her intelligence. Except that this picture falters somewhat due to the discovery of the Gnostic Gospels at Nag Hamadi in 1945 which seem to confirm an earlier discovery in 1896. The Magdalene who emerges is a much more involved, loved and powerful part of the Jesus story. Yet still there is little acknowledgement of herstory. She still has to be reclaimed by women.

I feel that that is the point. Women have to ask for and be able to access herstory. It’s a strange imbalance when all that is taught, recorded or passed on is a very limited view of the role of half of the human race. A view that denies the creativity, perseverance and intelligence of all women. Where women are relegated to standing around the edges letting men ‘get on with it’. I guess that is what the Magdalene has come to represent for me. A story that tricks women into judging each other and getting them to reject their very own creative power.

If we are to make positive strides forward in this time of Divine Feminine energy it’s time to reclaim the story. Pleas take some time to find out about herstory. There are fascinating tales waiting to inspire you if you look deeper.

Day 864 of my blogging challenge