Magdalene: You Can't Hold Her in a Box
I found a portrait of Mary Magdalene this week hidden in a Google image search for Saint Barbara. Just the same way you find great-great grandmothers with personality and their own individual woman's journey stories hidden in the staid world of the genealogies of men's family names. The portrait is titled "St. Barbara in a Wooded Landscape", painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the early 1500's. It is mentioned in a 1931 issue of The Antiquarian magazine as ,'Lucas Cranach's portrait of a woman represented as the Holy Magdalene', according to its Christie's auction house description. Have a look.
Pearls, chalice in her left hand (of the feminine path),the bread, long free hair, red dress, the brocade of stature, hand on heart and look of inner knowing. It's her.
Through us, she's escaping the confines of mis-naming. The man who painted it was friend to Martin Luther and lent his talents to the Reformation. Maybe the public naming of the portrait was necessary in the political climate, but the real name was known enough to show up centuries later.
Magdalene won't stay mis-named in art and not in religious scripture either. And however a woman wants to claim and feel herself to be the modern expression of the feminine divinity that Mary Magdalene represents is fine. I get nervous when Mary Magdalene starts feeling like the Blessed Mother too much.The one who says don't ask me, ask my son.
The spirit of the feminine portrayed in the symbols of this painting point to the future. The chalice holds the mystery of what is to come and the pearls of great price give a woman the nerve to make it happen. Women who feel the spirit of the Magdalene move inside and become curious about her, often end up with an urge to change things in their immediate surroundings.
Everything in the world needs the spirit of the feminine instinct for connection right now. As I move my fingers one bead to the next on my rosary I'm living that feminine instinct. One prayer to another, one thought to another, I'm sewing my individual world to the greater world and inviting sacred energies to help. Mary Magdalene is a verb, she's the energy of movement and creative action. She's got that look of knowing in her portraits because she does know, and she's quite willing to tell you.