Tip o' the Week Header

Tip o' the week #18 - Magdalene and the Labyrinth

Dear [firstname]

I’ve just been reading the first two books of a trilogy by Kathleen McGowan, The Expected One ISBN 13-978-1-4165-2672-8, and The Book of Love ISBN 978-0-7432-9536-9.  They are a new take on Mary Magdalene that explores much new territory about one of my favorite women in history.  McGowen began her work by coming to the realization that most powerful women in history have gotten bad press - Joan of Arc and Mary Magdalene are but two examples, and her present books are works of herstory and mythtory - all of it is truth, all of it is lies.  You decide which is which.

But there are some really interesting things the author has to say about labyrinths that I had not heard or considered before.  She claims that Chartres was a center of the Magdalene heresy, that its labyrinth’s design came from the time of Solomon and Sheba, and that the story of Theseus and Ariadne
- that is assumed was commemorated on a metal plaque (now long gone) at the goal of the labyrinth - was used by the monks of the Middle Ages at Chartres as an allegory of the Church’s treatment of Mary Magdalene.  Like the Magdalene, Ariadne, The Lady of the Labyrinth, was reduced to become a minor appendage to the Greeks’ story of the hero Theseus.

Chartres Labyrinth
Chartres Labyrinth

McGowen writes, “... Mary Magdalene was diminished and sometimes removed from the accepted chronicles of Jesus’ life by men of the Church.”  She goes on to suggest that “Ariadne became an allegorical symbol for Mary Magdalene for the ‘heretics’ ((read: Cathars et. al.)) who would not let her importance die.  Theseus’ survival - his reemergence from the labyrinth after facing death - was a metaphor for the resurrection.  Ariadne, who protected him with her love, was the first to witness his glory as savior of his people, just as Magdalene, who anointed Jesus, was the first to witness the glory and his resurrection as Savior of his people.  The union of Theseus and Ariadne could represent the love of Jesus and Mary Magdalene; their story would allow the heretics to depict their teachings in plain sight.”  (p134 The Book of Love)

If you are a fan of Holy Blood/Holy Grail type mythtory, you will already be familiar with some of what Kathleen McGowan writes about the on-going denigration of Mary Magdalene in these two books, but, at least for myself, it was full of new possibilities and insights into the greatest story never told.


Sig Lonegren
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