About Magdalineage

Magdalineage.com is the virtual face of The Magdalineage Project, an educational undertaking I initiated in 1993 after traveling to France and discovering the legends about Mary Magdalene as teacher and contemplative.

Like most of us, all I had ever heard was that Mary Magdalene was a whore. A part of my psyche exploded when I realized there were traditions that viewed Mary Magdalene as a courageous preacher. Since childhood I had been drawn to the spiritual life and over a period of many years I sought out stories about holy women in many different cultures. But here, within my own tradition, was an extraordinary story about a woman I had long ago dismissed. It was like uncovering a long buried family secret that suddenly made all the pieces of a confusing puzzle shift into place.

The confusing puzzle of course was the fundamental dilemma out of which feminism arose: why does “history” not document women as the movers and shakers they clearly are? The last thirty years of feminist analysis have begun to address this inequity. Women are being acknowledged as movers and shakers, and our experience of the present and out understanding of the past is changing dramatically. In particular, feminist scholars in religion have been able to document that before the Church Fathers forbid women to preach and baptize, women were indeed preaching and baptizing in the earliest days of the Jesus Movement. And after two thousand years, Mary Magdalene’s powerful and primary role in this movement is finally coming to light.

When I traveled to the South of France in 1993, I knew nothing about Mary Magdalene but distorted fragments from a Catholic childhood. With great surprise, I kept encountering images of a young woman who taught fisherman and shepherds and then retired to a cave to live out her life in contemplation. These images were embedded in the everyday life of the people of Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, St Maximen and Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. I was determined to learn more.

1993, it turns out, was a pivotal year for the awakening of the dormant Magdalene. When I returned to the States and begin research, I saw that two important books had been published: Susan Haskins’ Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor, a powerful scholarly examination of the Magdalene in history, legend, art and literature; and Margaret Starbird’s Woman with the Alabaster Jar, an intuitive interpretation of the Magdalene material that asserts that Jesus and Mary were marriage partners.

Since 1993, the literature about Mary Magdalene has blossomed into a veritable industry. As most people know, The DaVinci Code novel has outsold every other book in the history of publishing. What’s less well known is the development of some wonderful feminist scholarship about Mary Magdalene.(See Reading) I dove into all the above with great relish.

Twice more I returned to France and once to Turkey for field research. While traveling I wrote a series of “discovery” articles that were published in the international journal Goddessing. Other articles appeared in Spirit of Change magazine, The Beltane Papers and Gaia. I presented slideshows throughout New England on Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother and the pagan underpinnings of Christianity. Particularly satisfying was a collaboration with several other women on a theatre piece called "The Three Marys Speak" that premiered on Good Friday, 1999, in the First Congregational Church in Concord, MA.

This activity generated a great deal of interest within women’s spirituality circles and the next phase of The Magdalineage Project was to lead tours to the holy sites of Mary Magdalene in France. The first tour was organized around the fabled Gypsy festival in the seaside town of Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, the legendary port of entry for Mary Magdalene and her friends. The second tour focused on the Magdalene’s feast day and included the procession of her blackened skull throughout the streets of St Maximen, a small working class town near Aix-en-Provence that was once a main center of her pilgrimage. (See Meeting the Skull of the Magdalene.)

For several years The Magdalineage Project lay dormant as I cleared cancer out of my body. Just as I was returning to health, The Da Vinci Code novel was bringing the legends of Mary Magdalene to a huge and eager audience. I knew there was another piece of work for me to do and I listened carefully to all the many conversations generated by The Da Vinci Code. What I heard was that many people were taking the legends to be literal fact, which they are not. There is a great deal of confusion around the true identity of Mary Magdalene and suspicion, even hostility, towards historical scholarship. In the home page I talk about the legends as part of Mythic Reality, how Mythic Reality is different from historic reality and how, paradoxically, both are true.

To explain – and explore - the mythic and historical versions of Mary Magdalene, I produced an audio CD “Her Time Has Come: Mary Magdalene in the 21st Century.” in which I share my own evolution of thinking as I traveled through the many layers of tradition, legend and contemporary scholarship. Like so many people I originally confused the legends with “fact.” It took me years to uncover my own truth with the material. It is my hope that the CD will stretch you and help you discover yours.

My primary approach to the world is that of a healer and whether one resonates with the historic or mythical perspectives about Mary Magdalene, there is enormous healing available for women and men through the rediscovery of Mary Magdalene. (See Healing Through the Magdalene)

To facilitate that healing, which I see so often on the faces of the people listening to my presentations, I developed an experiential workshop called "Her Mystical Body: Exploring the Archetypes of the Magdalene for Healing and Transformation." The workshop combined with the “Her Time has Come” lecture work very well together. They are my current offerings.

Over time The Magdalineage Project has had many different phases. The process reminds me of the musical form called call and response: an impulse – a call - arises and gets sent it out into the world. What returns as response shapes the next impulse - and on and on.

So what’s next for The Magdalineage Project?

With such an organic process, one never knows - but certainly one intention is to find my way back to France to complete research for a manuscript called She Lives in the South of France, the Legends and Holy Sites of Mary Magdalene.

Stay tuned in!

Deborah Rose has been exploring sacred sites with an emphasis on women’s spirituality for longer than she can remember. She is a healer, writer and spiritual activist. She earns her living as an acupuncturist and lives in Somerville, MA. For more about Deborah’s acupuncture work see www.DeborahRose-Acupuncture.com.

Contact Deborah