Celebrate Mary Magdalene!
In Conversation with Annalisa Derr
From your hostess, Annalisa Derr
WHO IS MARY MAGDALENE?
A priestess? A prostitute? The wife and beloved of Jesus? A devotional spiritual aspirant? A spiritual teacher and authority? A leader? A mother? A contemplative ascetic? A repentant sinful woman? The first witness to Jesus's resurrection? Or is she something more timeless, more archetypal, more iconic, more mythical, or even, cosmic?
This is a question that has mystified many seekers (and opponents) of the Magdalene for nearly 2,000 years. For me, she embodies all of these roles, and so much more. She is the Everywoman, appearing to each of us in a form that most resonates with our own soul. In that respect, I relate to Mary Magdalene as an individual woman as well as a manifestation of the cosmic feminine, sakti. She is a mirror through which I can understand my own experience as a woman, yet at the same time, she is also the cosmic feminine force, who guides me through the depths of healing my own internalized shame and sexism around female sexuality and embodiment. It is a shaming that I believe many women experience (consciously or unconsciously) as a result of thousands of years of patriarchal conditioning.
As you will see in the following interviews with a panel of incredible women who work with Magdalene and the Sacred Feminine, Mary Magdalene is Mary Magdalene. She is not definable. She is incredibly dynamic and inspiring, offering each of us who engage with her, the opportunity to transform our lives.
I invite you to dive in, remain "curious and open", and let me—and all of us at She Is Love—know what in this series inspires you!
The Magdalene Interviews!
This event was born out of a desire to celebrate Mary Magdalene on her feast day, July 22nd. Feast Day, what's that? A Feast Day is a day meant to celebrate and honor Christian saints through prayer, rituals, and liturgical readings, with each day of the year assigned to one or two saints. So, in celebration of our Lady of Honor, I have interviewed five women about their connection to and work with Mary Magdalene and the Divine Feminine. Each interviewee expressing her own vision of who Mary Magdalene is. While no one is assigning to Magdalene one role or meaning, each interviewee beautifully magnifies a primary Magdalene archetype that most speaks to her.
As part of her mysteries, Mary Magdalene embodies the archetype of female devotee, mystic, and pilgrimess. She invites fellow devotees (and curious seekers) to follow in her footsteps, and take a journey to her sacred sites in the south of France. In this video, I talk with Dr. Sweta Chawla (Writer/Story-Weaver/Facilitator) about how her Magdalene pilgrimage to La Sainte Baume brought her "forgiveness for the patriarchy".
The Spiritual Teacher: Apostle to the Apostle
Sylvia Milo (Project Creator/Playwright/Actress), sees the legends and history of Mary Magdalene as revealing the truth of Magdalene’s spiritual and personal power, strength, and commitment to her own transformation as well as to the transformation of those around her.
The Exiled Bride
Dr. April Heaslip (Mythologist and Educator) envisions Mary Magdalene as the Exiled Bride—representing the lost and denigrated feminine within the Christian tradition as well as Western society as a whole—whose return is needed to heal the Wasteland.
Dr. Cindy Caldwell (Diversity and Inclusion Facilitator) illuminates Magdalene as an archetypal Everywoman, who represents a feminine consciousness that is rising up, demanding to be seen, heard, and treated with dignity and respect.
The Cosmic sakti
In this interview, I speak with classical Indian dancer, Daniela Riva about how we can approach Mary Magdalene through the lens of the Hindu cosmic feminine (sakti) as well as the sensual and devotional experience of sacred feminine embodiment.
Inspired to learn more about Mary Magdalene and the Sacred Feminine? Our incredible guest speakers have offered their recommendations. Enjoy!
Dr. Cindy Caldwell
The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, and the Christian Testament by Jane Schaberg.
"Schaberg was a Professor of Religious Studies and Women's Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy and was one of the first to write about Magdalene. She was courageous and original in her depictions of the text, as well as in her unique, feminist interpretation of more common Biblical writings. She writes of the why and how of the deliberate repression of women and how the virgin birth was used as a tool to keep women subject to men. Her scholarship explains some of the power dynamics that directly affect the myths that surround Mary Magdalene."
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault.
"An Episcopal priest and Biblical scholar, Bourgeault was so persuasive in her argument that I knew I had to write my dissertation on Magdalene. Bourgeault will soon publish another book on Magdalene in which she also includes a verse by verse interpretation."
Secrets of Mary Magdalene: The Untold Story of History’s Most Misunderstood Woman
"This is a compilation of various biblical scholars who have written about Magdalene. It is a unique and bright exegesis on the Magdalene story and the contributors are the top of the Who’s Who list of scholars on Magdalene. Karen King, Jane Schaberg, Elaine Pagels, Susan Haskins, Ann Graham Brock…and the chapter that is devoted to a round-table discussion with these women is astounding."
Dr. Sweta Chawla
Red Hot Holy by Sera Beak
"A deep remembrance of a shared experience of the Life of Mary Magdalene. My soul cried with knowing and I became aware that I am not alone. It was affirming that her truth lives within so many of us that are awakening."
Dr. April Heaslip
The Book of Love (Triology) by Kathleen McGowan
"As a feminist cultural historian who claims these fictionalised stories to be autobiographical, McGowan offers extremely well researched revisioning of Magdalenian mythology with the best of intentions--the empowerment of women, women's history and a rebalancing of spirituality."
The Woman with the Alabaster Jar by Margaret Starbird
"Starbird consistently champions Magdalene's role as bride and equal partnership as regenerative of Christianity's true mission."
Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
"...is an imaginal journey through the embodied potentiality of regeneration, the core of Magdalenian mythology and the larger pattern of the Rising Feminine writ large."
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle by Karen L. King
"The complete translation of the Gospel of Mary, with fantastic analysis and history of the text."
Mary Magdalene Understood by Jane Schaberg
"A scholarly and passionate deconstruction of the myths surrounding Mary Magdalene."
Awakening Shakti by Sally Kempton
"I feel that Sally Kempton explains the tradition of the goddesses within the Indian tradition in a very profound way. She makes them contemporary and in a way that is accesible to women."
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean Yves Leloup.
"Leloup is a French mystic and contemplative who brings a beautiful analysis to her gospel."
Invoking Mary Magdalene by Siobhan Houston
"Houstin is a religious scholar and practitioner who offers a spiritual and archetypal approach to Magdalene as the feminine principle."
The Global Magdalene
Mary Magdalene is a face of the Divine Feminine re-emergence. As such, many women (and some men) are working with her as artists, academics, healers, feminists, Christian revisionists and priestesses. Below are a few links to their inspiring works!
"The Secrets of Mary Magdalene" Documentary
Dr. Kayleen Asbo "Perceptions of Mary Magdalene"
Margaret Starbird "Mary Magdalene"
Mary Magdalene Caravaggio Project
Donna Mejia Choreography "The Private Rapture of Mary Magdalene"
Nalini "The Magdalene Flame"
Mary Magdalene reenactment
Les Saintes Maries de la Mer pilgrimage
Greek Orthodox hymns of Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene Channel and Workshop Facilitator, Mercedes Krikel
Medieval Songs for Mary Magdalene
Who is Annalisa Derr?
A Mary Magdalene devotee, Annalisa Derr made her first solo Mary Magdalene pilgrimage to Southern France in 2014 where she was initiated into the Magdalene Mysteries. Shortly thereafter, the Goddess lead her to Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she is currently a PhD candidate in Mythological Studies. Annalisa is a ritual theater creatrix with specialized training in masked and physical theater from master teachers in Italy, India, and NYC. Inspired by events in early November 2016, Annalisa began work on a ritual performative series that blends Goddess-centered mythologies and menstrual art to promote the female body and female sexuality as powerful, healing, and life affirming. Annalisa has developed and produced monthly women’s events in New York City (Ladies Salon NYC) and Santa Barbara (Mary Magdalene Spiritual Group), with an emphasis on women’s spirituality, creativity, networking, and entrepreneurship. In addition, Annalisa teaches somatic and Goddess centered workshops with the aim to encourage women to reconnect to the sacredness of their female bodies. Information regarding upcoming workshops and her ritual performance series can be found at annalisaderr.com.
Annalisa and Mary Magdalene in performance art and Goddess photography.
Mary Magdalene performance art piece (Rome, Italy)
Mary Magdalene in collaboration with Goddess on Earth Photographer, Lisa Levart.
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