People who share the same name can at times seem mysteriously connected to each other. And when we encounter these ‘twinned’ names in secret traditions, we can take it as a signal that something more is intended than mere coincidence. We know the Christ by the name of Jesus, but to his contemporaries his name was Yeshua – which in Hebrew is the same name as Joshua, who inherited the leadership from Moses. And the two women of the Gospels who so obviously share a name are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary, the Magdalene. But surely these two women could not be more contrasting, more unlike each other? For the one is blessed by the Divine as an immaculate virgin, and the other is cast by the Church as a common prostitute – a redeemed whore.
Neither of these epithets are actually accurate (although why they are not is perhaps a post for my blog for another time!). For the last two millennia Mary Magdalene has perhaps been the most wronged woman in all of human history. If we now see the Magdalene in her rightful form, not as the whore, which is how the Church has chosen to portray her, but as the most enlightened of all the disciples and even as the equal partner of Jesus, then we restore her at last to her rightful place. And when this restoration has found place, then the two Mary's can stand beside each other. When this happens then they can in the eyes of esoteric philosophy and the secret teachings bring about the supreme event. For then the two Mary's can become one. The virgin and the whore unite in one being to become the virgin whore.
But the virgin whore has already existed, for this is one of the titles given to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Ishtar, who invites us to overcome these contradictory koans of her titles and so enter the greater mysteries. But Ishtar is herself a continuous goddess who changes forms and names according to the culture in which she finds herself. So she has been both Ishtar and Isis and Astarte and Asherah, and she will become anew another incarnation in our own age with the uniting of the two Mary's. Thus the virgin-whore both survives and endures and speaks to us throughout history. As I mention in my previous post (Star of the Sea), the goddess is more powerful than any one doctrine. In describing the Magdalene as a whore (which the Gospels never actually do), the Church has perhaps been unknowingly fulfilling the true purpose of the goddess.
And perhaps all that it takes to unite the two Mary’s is our own awakening awareness of these traditions, and to realize that what had seemed to us to be two separate and individual women are in fact merely two aspects of the one goddess.
Painting: Mary Magdalene by Carlo Dolci