La Dompna del Aquae by Andrew Jones.
The expectant Mary Magdalene arriving in Provence, AD 44
“Establishment history is largely based on recorded propaganda,” wrote the celebrated constitutional historian and genealogist, Sir Laurence Gardner. This certainly applies when one considers the complex cross-currents that have influenced the rise and growth of the Church.
Around 597 BCE, the Kingdom of Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzer II of Babylon who captured and destroyed Jerusalem, and deported the Hebrews to Babylon, where they remained in captivity for nearly fifty years. What we now know as the Old Testament was first written down by Hebrew scribes during their protracted sojourn in Babylon. This would account for the strong influence of Mesopotamian lore in Hebraic culture. Indeed, the Book of Genesis in its entirety is merely a brief summary of the Sumerian creation story recorded thousands of years earlier on cuneiform clay tablets. A modern translation and interpretation of these long-neglected Mesopotamian artefacts by Zecharia Sitchin, the controversial Russian Jewish historian, has been published in seven volumes as The Earth Chronicles. Sitchin sheds an astonishingly heterodox light on all creation stories by introducing the taboo topic of extraterrestrial intervention (see previous blogposts on Earth as an Anunnaki colony).
The Hebrews had for generations been a colonized people. Around 300 BCE Palestine had become part of the Alexandrian Empire. Then, in 63 BCE, the Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) marched into Judaea and seized Jerusalem, and Palestine became an annex of Rome. Hebrew resentment of Roman rule existed long before Jesus arrived on the scene. By the time he was born the priestly Pharisees and the mercantile Sadducees had comfortably adjusted to the political status quo, and were not in favor of rocking the boat of business-as-usual.
Outside of the New Testament there are hardly any records extant of the man called “Jesus of Nazareth.” Scholarly research has unearthed the fact that the town called Nazareth may not have even existed during the lifetime of Jesus. However, there was a Nazarite sect to which Jesus probably belonged, and early followers of his teachings were sometimes known as Nazarenes. Translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls (found in 1947 near Qumrān and dated between 200 BCE and 68 CE) reveal that a Master referred to in the documents as “the Teacher of Righteousness” was a high initiate of the Essene brotherhood.
Apocryphal scriptures locked from view in the Vatican Library may shed an entirely different light on the Palestinian passion play staged more than 2,000 years ago. The Gnostic gospels of Thomas and Mary, for instance, were deliberately excluded from the New Testament – even though they were allegedly written by two individuals dearest and closest to the Master Jesus. The apostle Thomas was, in fact, his brother; and Mary, his beloved companion and wife. But why would the Roman Church conceal this important information from its followers? Why, indeed, would the early clerics (specifically, Pope Gregory I in 591 CE) endeavor to portray Mary Magdalene as a prostitute when it can be established with a little independent research that she was in truth of noble descent, a fitting consort for a king?
In the old Hebrew tradition, a man was not considered a man – what more a Master or Rabbi – till he was married. Celibacy was considered neither a requirement nor a virtue in Judaism, except among certain ascetic sects like the Nazarites wherein sexual intercourse was sanctioned only at specific periods and essentially for procreative purposes.
Students of the Qabbala will inform you that the Anglicized form of the name “Jesus” robs it of numerological and mystical significance. The Aramaic form “Yeshua” or Hebraic “Yeheshuah” both yield rich qabbalistic meaning when rendered in Hebrew letters as YHShWH. The letter Ψ (Shin) represents “a triune essence” – the principle of 3 (the Paraclete or Holy Spirit); whilst YHWH is also known as Tetragrammaton, the principle of 4 (Physical Matter or Form). Thus we have in YH+Sh+WH an alphabetic expression of the fusion of Spirit and Matter: The Word Made Flesh. Note, too, that 3 + 4 = 7 (the universal number of Mystery); while 3 X 4 = 12 (base number of the duodecimal system of reckoning underpinning Western civilization).
When Jesus or Yeheshuah declares, “My Father and I are One,” he is simply stating that he embodies the divine in human form. In other words, he has successfully aligned and integrated his human ego-personality with his individual soul, as well as his cosmic oversoul. Or, in psychological parlance: his id, ego, and superego are in harmonious balance, qualifying him as a Self-Realized Master or Godman.
As for the appellation “Christ,” our etymological options begin with the Greek christos – usually defined as “anointed” (it was ancient practice to massage sacrificial victims or candidates for divine kingship with fragrant oils or unguents). Interestingly, the Greek word khrisma means unguent – and it is indeed tempting to associate it with another Greek word, kharisma, which suggests a favor, grace, or talent divinely conferred. Jesus the Christ was indisputably a charismatic personality.
In Latin the word crista - from which the English term “crest” derives – denotes a plume or tuft affixed on a helmet. Crest also means the top of a ridge or the highest point of a wave, and is used in heraldry to denote the family coat of arms or corporate emblem. In effect, the word “Christ” is not so much a name as a title – as in Anointed Chief or Divine King. The Hebrew word for messiah is masiah, derived from messeh, the fat of sacred crocodiles used in Egyptian anointment rites. This would explain why Gnostic texts refer to Yeheshuah in English as “Jesus the Christ” - and not “Jesus Christ” – to emphasize the distinction between the man and his status as the anointed king of a specific bloodline – the bloodline of the Holy Grail.
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The secret brotherhoods that have proliferated throughout history – indeed, that have subtly influenced the course of history itself – have their origins in the mythical mists of antiquity. Some fraternities, like the Ancient and Mystical Order of the Rosy Cross (AMORC) aka the Rosicrucians, claim the enigmatic pharaoh Akhnaton as their founder. Others hint that their initiatory roots reach even farther back to the legendary lost continent of Atlantis. In any case, the Knights Templar originated in the 11th Century after a small group of French nobles recaptured Jerusalem from the Saracens and established a base close by the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. The possibility that they may have found a hoard of buried treasure and sacred relics - including the famous Ark of the Covenant dating from the time of Moses – makes for a truly fascinating study.
From humble beginnings as a military religious order, the Knights Templar rapidly grew in economic and political influence until they were perceived as a direct threat to the Roman Catholic Church, and brutally destroyed. On Friday, October 13, 1307, hundreds of Templars were imprisoned by order of the French King Philip IV, with the blessing of Pope Clement V, and tortured till they confessed to sexual deviancy and blasphemy – and then mercilessly burnt at the stake. The superstitious who fear ill fortune every Friday the Thirteenth may be surprised to learn the historical origins of this particular phobia.
This was indeed a bloodstained period (which, shockingly, lasted from 1231 to 1834) in the annals of the Church - when millions of “heretics” were persecuted and cruelly executed by the barbaric Inquisition, instigated by a succession of popes and monarchs, to forcefully suppress all threats to the earthly power structure and protect the vested interests of the ruling elite.
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail has as its central theme the long-suppressed genealogy of the Christic bloodline carried into the modern epoch by Miriam of Mygdala, better known as Mary Magdalene. A convincing case is made on behalf of a dynastic succession generated by the royal union of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Obviously, this would negate Rome’s claims to any moral or spiritual authority over Christendom – and furthermore serve to anchor the life of Jesus the Christ in a radically (and intriguingly) different sociopolitical context.
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The early 1980s witnessed a feminist revolution of sorts among biblical scholars. Elaine Pagels published The Gnostic Gospels, an interpretation of the Nag Hammadi manuscripts which postulates the equal status between Father and Mother aspects of the Godhead. Other women academics like Karen King and Janet Schaberg popularized a fresh perspective of Mary Magdalene as a personage of considerable stature, power and authority in the early church. Margaret Starbird - an independent scholar and theologian with a Roman Catholic background - emerged as the best-known voice of the feminist restoration, with three impactful and impeccably referenced books: The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, The Goddess in the Gospels, and Magdalene’s Lost Legacy: Symbolic Number and Sacred Union in Christianity.
More recently, Dan Brown’s phenomenal best-seller – The Da Vinci Code – reiterates the Magdalenian theme in a modern Grail quest presented as a thrill-a-minute whodunit. The esoteric motifs of Brown’s murder-mystery masterpiece will be familiar to millions around the world by the time the movie version completes its circuit of the cinemas and gets recirculated on television. It is too early yet to gauge what effect this information, so brilliantly researched and packaged, will have on Christianity’s pet beliefs. Is the global popularity of The Da Vinci Code (more than 60 million copies sold at this writing) an indication that humanity has finally outgrown its fear of examining skeletons long concealed in the closets of establishment history?
In the original Hebrew version of Genesis, the name of God always appears in its plural form as Elohim. When God is quoted as saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” it implies that a group of creator gods is being addressed. Jehovah is a relatively recent Anglicization of Yahweh, the monotheistic Adonai (Lord) of the Hebrews, who alternately appears as YHWH.
According to Laurence Gardner, YHWH originally represented the four members of the heavenly family: Father, Mother, Son, and Daughter. The Mother Aspect or Sacred Feminine was revered as Shekinah, sister and spouse to the Father Aspect of the Godhead. Somewhere down the line, a creeping misogyny infected the male priesthood and effectively supplanted the nurturing Goddess (Mother Nature or Gaia) with a punitive, patriarchal, militantly vengeful monotheism.
The Book Religions (particularly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) which emphasized the “infallible” authority of their official scriptures, turned their adherents into ideologues, disconnected from the natural flow and ecstatic dance of Life itself. Instead of revering the miraculous physical reality of their own bodies – and, by extension, that of the natural environment and, ultimately, the entire living cosmos – believers were required to hold as sacred an ecclesiastically sanctioned set of written rules and regulations - purportedly channeled from on high, but expediently inscribed, modified, misinterpreted and perverted by those intent on institutionalizing belief systems as an effective means of social engineering.
It doesn’t take long for a handful of professional scribes and clerics, operating within a largely illiterate populace, to degenerate into a secretive cabal of power brokers, manipulating public opinion and behavior to its own diabolical ends. Therein lies the fundamental flaw of fundamentalism.
[Extracted from an unpublished manuscript, THE UNFINISHED BOOK OF JOHN: Confessions of a former Christian fundamentalist. First posted 2 January 2007]