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mythologically speaking...what does gnosticism have to do with tarot?

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Christine  Christine is offline
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my stance today

So, where do I land in all of this? My approach is entirely mystical. My educated mind believes that we cannot know in a provable way what happened to MM and her children (if there were any). Also, my spirituality does not require a "bloodline" to validate the potency of the Grail as a source of blessing poured out for all humanity. I find inspiration from putting myself into *some* of the stories of MM, however I find other stories to be insultingly abusive of her, much like the behavior of some of the original Apostles when she was alive. Therefore I have settled on a "memory" of her that resembles a book of snapshots, glimpses of evocative moments, pregnant with meaning but by no means self-explanatory. I will probably spend the rest of my life contemplating what we do and don't, can and can't, know about her.

This points back to the reason I wrote down that musing "...on the Magdalene": If nothing else, the story of Master Jesus and Mary Magdalene is the very closest that Christianity comes to touching on the Sacred Marriage. This is what I consider the "central revelation" to be gained from our meagre knowledge of Mary Magdalen's life. We have lost most of the pages of her Gospel. We see her image warped and disfigured by the projections of the male Apostles and their followers. She is very nearly lost to us as an individual with thoughts and feelings of her own. But through it all, the fact that Master Jesus had a partner, whom he loved above all the other Apostles, and in whom he saw an awakened spiritual companion and partner on the Path, THIS is what I find compelling about her story.

Along those lines, and without expressing either approval or disapproval.... The work that is causing the most ripples in my pond of late is _The Magdalen Manuscript_ by Judi Sion and Tom Kenyon. You can see from the marketing on that one, that it will widen the wake of the MM legend without being able to add a single new fact or proof to the historical search. One of the Priests in my Order is making it the cornerstone of her ministry, a signal that leads me to believe that in the future we will be seeing "MM tantra" catching fire between spiritually-oriented couples who feel a resonance. (The scholar of Hebrew spirituality, Raphael Patai, in his book _The Jewish Alchemists_, reveals a legend of MM that indeed makes a link to very old stories of a Western Tantra. But the legend is entirely a-historical, as he easily demonstrates.)

This makes me feel that, like the Virgin of Guadalupe (sp?), Mother Mary, Sophia, the Shekhina and every other feminine hypostatic manifestation of the Divine ... well, She appears whenever and wherever and however She wants to! Perhaps the Anthroposophical approach will ultimately be the one that wins out.... Rudolph Steiner used to say that whatever human myths show the great Spirits of Time going through, *that is what happens to that energy entity in fact*! By this he meant, when a body of sacred stories undergoes subtle shifts from generation to generation, eventually mutating from one emphasis to another as human culture evolves, then that's *what is happening to the entity the myth reports about*! Therefore, whether MM actually made it to Marseilles or not ~in fact~, the 'eggrgore' of MM (the great corporate entity bearing her name, which has grown from an actual person into a body of stories, beliefs, and superstitions by 1400) DID indeed "land in a boat on a shore west of town", and in so doing inseminate the northwest coast of the Mediterranean with Divine Feminine energy which has been present for the people ever since.

But, hey, the historians will never buy *that*! <G>


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firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
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Dear Christine, I read your three posts with avid interest. First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions so thouroughly and generously. It seems we will have material to ponder here for quite sometime!.

Now to re-read and re-read your posts!
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Diana  Diana is offline
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Christine: I can only ditto firemaiden here. What wonderful contributions you have made to this forum and you've only just joined! Hope to hear a lot from you.
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Umbrae  Umbrae is offline
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Originally posted by Christine
We see her image warped and disfigured by the projections of the male Apostles and their followers.
Now this is only my opinion, but we cannot state that MM was treated poorly by the Apostles.

We know that her image and role was warped by the Paulines. We know that Paul (still Saul of Tarsus at the time) hung out with James the Just's Ebionim group (which carried on the teachings of JC for 150± yrs) after JC’s ‘crucifixion’ but was tossed out for presenting heretical concepts, and ideas about both JC’s teachings and JC himself.

It is the Pauline's who have left us with the view that the Apostles shunned MM.

Further, since the woman in the boat (presumably MM) brought with her the Black Madonna (Sarah)…there’s a bit that should not be ignored.

Good to read your wonderful posts.
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Christine  Christine is offline
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prejudice against MM?

Hello all --

Pulling _The Gospel of Mary Magdalene_ by Jean-Yves Leloup off my shelf (you will also find a translation of this Gospel in _The Nag Hammadi Library_, general editor James M. Robinson), we read beginning on page 37 (which is page 17 of the Gospel):
"Then Andrew began to speak, and he said to his brothers: "Tell me, what do you think of these things she has been telling us? As for me, I do not believe that the Teacher would speak like this. These ideas are too different from those we have known". And Peter added: "How is it possible that the Teacher talked in this manner with a woman 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?"
Then Mary wept, and answered him: "My brother Peter, what can you be thinking? Do you believe that this is just my own imagination, that I invented this vision? Or do believe that I would lie about our Teacher?" At this, Levi spoke up:
"Peter, you have always been hot-tempered, and now we see you repudiating a woman, just as our adversaries do. Yet if the Teacher held her worthy, who are you to reject her? Surely the Teacher knew her very well, for he loved her more than us. Therefore let us atone, and become fully human [Anthropos], so that the Teacher can take root in us. Let us grow as he demanded of us, and walk forth to spread the gospel, without trying to lay down any rules and laws other than those he witnessed".

There is another Gospel, the name of which I am forgetting, that has Mary being counseled by one of the less-mysogynistic Apostles, and in that one she is shown as complaining that the other Apostles hate her (especially Peter) and will not listen to her.

I take it that *within her own lifetime* and while the Apostles were still together, she suffered the usual sexism of her times.

IMHO, Any woman who has experienced being mostly surrounded by boys and men, with diminished access to feminine companionship, has had these feelings. Between the societally-granted masculine entitlement all the male Apostles felt, and her own "differentness" from devout Jewish women (being from Magdala, where the repression of women was not so all-pervading, allowing her to become educated and have a business of her own), her complaints reflect what was the "norm" in Jewish society. No doubt that it took a lot of courage, self-esteem, and struggling for her to stand at the side of the Teacher in that environment!

Blessings, Christine
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jmd  jmd is offline
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I have finally had some time to read through this wonderful thread started by firemaiden, and so wonderfully and evocatively picked up in various ways.

So I take this opportunity to also welcome Christine to Aeclectic, and encourage all to at least read her wonderful Underground Stream (I know it's a book, Umbrae, but one I divine you will like ).

I'll move from the most recent posts backwords as I pick up bits and pieces I wish to comment upon, and wish to re-iterate points made that Gnosticism has many forms... many consistent with various established religious views.

Christine points out that perhaps the Anthroposophical approach (check the Bible & Anthroposophy site), which arises out of Rudolf(us) Steiner's work, may be the one which ultimately wins out. An interesting remark, given some of my own interests. Whether it does or not, however, I should mention that though the great Spirits of Time (or Archai), illumine our endeavours as we progress from age to age, this is quite different to any egrigor-type body created by though forms which may, in many ways, weave fabric created of mis-shapen (incorrect) threads.

Mary Magdelene undoubtedly has been, to the detriment of us all, mis-represented and demeaned by certain patriarchical views. The Sophia, and the views of the World Soul, have at times interweaved with views on the Magdelene.

Certain dualistic views - gnostic ones included - have at times been as abhorent towards the feminine as have monotheistic ones.

But what of Gnosis?

The term itself, without going to either dictionaries or books on the subject, suggests that a form of direct knowing - or illuminated apprehension - of merging with - is implicated. Gnosis also implies, in numerous ways, that this isn't solely achieved by Divine Grace (though it is nonetheless necessary), but rather the steps are taken through one's own efforts.

These steps, as mentioned by Christine in her earliest post, include the various disciplines of alchemy, theurgy, astrology, and magic, as variously understood by numerous practitioners of these arts.

In certain parts of the world and certain times, women too were considered as worthy (viz Maria the Jewess in Alexandrian Alchemy) - this despite the usually difficult barriers of not only broader social constraints, but also more immediate familial ones.

The Alchemical gnostic path, which, as also wonderfully characterised in early Rosicrucian documents, leads to the marriage of male and female - the union of Sol and Luna. This, though the way in which some revisionists have presented Jesus and the Magdelene as, indeed re-presents the allegory - but at what cost?

What I find personally fascinating in these views is the way in which, often, the spiritual becomes explained away as either psychological or as sociological metaphor.

Christine also mentions the Jesus Commission. I don't quite know what to make of this body. What I have read and heard of their striving thus far seems to be just what I have mentioned in the previous paragraph. Maybe - or even undoubtedly - Jesus was an initiate of various mysteries. But what of the Christus? was this mere title, or does it also denote a spiritual being who, at the descent at the baptism in the Jordan, took on the earthly vehicle for Divine redemptive purposes?

These are very well questions which may find a reflection in the iconography of the cards - and the questions asked by Christine at the completion of her first post are some of the ones which are indeed important in seeking the answer firemaiden's opening quest.
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Christine  Christine is offline
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Sforza Book of Hours

I'm being short because my computer is still messing up.

Plate 66 is St. Mary Magdalen being raised by four angels to the heavens, over the Port of Marseilles. Fishermen look up to see the vision of her, covered in only her long hair, dominating the skyline. The few remarks which accompany this minature are "St. MM is portrayed in later life as a hermit, covered by her own flowing hair, being carried by angels to heaven for nourishment. In the background appears the pilgrim whose wife she restored to life, and whose child she protected after they were abandoned." (from the British Library publication called _The Sforza Hours_ by Mark Evans.)

The manuscript was made in the 1490's, originally by Birago. It was Bona of Savoy, wife of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who apparently commissioned it or at least served as patron for it during her lifetime. In an unfinished state, it was stolen, eventuallly making its way to Margaret of Austria, where it was completed with the help of Gerard Horenbout.

I am sure that this is only the tip of the iceberg of MM art from the MA and early Renaissance. Perhaps if a person took the time to collect images and literature about MM from the immediate vicinity of Marseilles between 11-1500, the power of this legend, and some of the typical "symbols" of her mythos, would become clearer to us. (And by the way, if there's a place where these images can be seen on the internet, please let us know, because these images are STUNNING!)
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pan  pan is offline
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Gnosticism & Tarot
In order to be clear about the relationship between Gnosticism and Tarot, it should be stated at the
outset that there are no specifically "Gnostic" Tarots. It would be equally true to say, however, that
every Tarot is a Gnostic Tarot. This paradox exists because, as with the difference between the
Gnostic reading of Genesis and the Catholic reading of Genesis, the difference lies in interpretation.
Tarot artists used this ambiguity to their advantage in the early centuries of Tarot. So, for example,
the High Priestess image could be seen as an allegory for "Mother Church" in the eyes of a
believing Christian, while a Gnostic might see in the very same image the female pope, a truly
heretical concept! In this manner, the Gnosticism of Tarot is "hidden in plain sight," like much of
the esoteric content implied in the art of the earliest handmade Tarots.

PICTURE: Popess, Lombardi Tarot, The Gnostic Priestess-->

The situation gets a bit easier to untangle in modern Tarots because through the
centuries, the tensions between the Church and its heretics took on more of the
character of a stalemate: the Church came to understand that it could not kill
every heretic in Europe and still have a constituency to call its own. As a result
less anonymity was required on the part of the philosophers and artists who were
working with Tarot, so we are more easily able to learn about the Secret Society
affiliations of those who have contributed most to the development of the Tarot.
Therefore, for purposes of this book, we will assume that there is a Gnostic
undertone to every Tarot deck to which we refer. Certainly since the time of
Etteilla in the mid-1700s, almost every luminary in the field of Tarot has belonged to either the
Rosicrucians, Masons, Martinists or some other Secret Society group. Among the older Tarots, a
good indicator of Gnostic affiliation, aside from subtle clues hidden in the artwork, would be the
relative vigor of the Church's reaction to that deck, or to its artist, the person who commissioned it
or to the region in which it was produced.

We must remember that great variety existed in Gnostic thought. There were Arabic, pre-Islamic
Gnostics, Gnostics who remained culturally Jewish, Egyptian Gnostics, Zoroastrian Gnostics and
Hermetic Gnostics. They didn't all believe the same things, although most of these ancient cultures
based their collective histories upon these first five books of Moses.

These were not merely Hebrew scriptures. All of Western civilization believed in this as history.
Many of the stories that Moses codified can be traced back to Babylonian, Akkadian and Sumerian
oral tradition. Yet, not every spiritual seeker using the Mosaic texts agreed with his slant on the
story. So from the time of Alexander right up to the French Revolution, the Gnostic "underground"
has been preserving competing origin stories rejected by "orthodox" Judaism, Islam and
Christianity, keeping alive an alternative vision of human nature and destiny.

It is probable that the expulsion of the Moslems, Gypsies and Jews from Spain helped bring Tarot
into form as a deck of cards in other parts of Europe. Those expelled minorities flooded Europe
with literate, spiritually inclined seekers. The European Secret Societies were providing a place for
a meeting of the minds among those who were being marginalized and forced underground by the
controversies of the times. I am convinced, and the evidence implies, that the Secret Societies
participated in enabling the Hebrew/Hermetic/Gnostic synthesis from antiquity to again see the light
of day, albeit in card form.

Gnosticism And The Goddess
One of the things Gnosticism represents is a rebellion within the Old Testament-based (Mosaic)
religions against those who used the myth of Genesis to stamp out the ancient Goddess-based
mysteries of antiquity. Even as early as the second century BC there were those who felt Moses
had distorted the ancient creation stories to

eliminate the participation of the feminine side of Deity.
The Goddess as co-creator had in earliest times been revered by all Semitic peoples and those
memories have never been entirely wiped out despite the Hebrew focus on Jehova (JHVH) as the
One True God.

As just one example of the preservation of the Goddess in Gnostic thought, let us look back to the
Hebrew tradition about the "daughter of God," called the Matronit of the Kabbalah. Her roots were
planted in Talmudic times in the first through fifth centuries AD. They called her by several names
in their mystical literature: the Shekhina, Malkuth, the Supernal Woman and the Discarded
Cornerstone, among other titles.
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firemaiden  firemaiden is offline
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Sooo, getting back to the original topic for this thread, which I started, has anyone read the Da Vinci Code?
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Umbrae  Umbrae is offline
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Yes I have.

And if you are interested in pre-Christian religious history, or how the church has twisted the pre-Christian mythos – it’s a must read.

Dan Brown the author, did his homework.
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