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Twin Town High (vol. 8)
Way beyond Dan Brown & the Da Vinci Code
Friday 21 October @ 12:36:44
by Sid Pranke
Mary Magdalene. Mary of Magdala. Mary of Bethany. Isis. Ishtar. Osiris. Jesus. The Knights Templar. The Holy Grail. Holy Blood. Holy moly.
Why did all of this information take, basically, 2,000 years to surface? How many lies were told? How many people died along the way?
of the Mary Magdalene phenom say it is nothing more than radical chic Christianity.
That one cracks me up—how often have you seen those three words together?
I would say that radicals often have spurred on movements throughout history,
and then possibly, it becomes chic. Maybe it becomes a bumper sticker. Maybe
we get a new Bible. Maybe, finally, we get an ERA.
Have you ever wondered what eggs have to do with the Easter bunny, and what
does that have to do with the Resurrection? Wow, it’s been there all along,
and we just didn’t ask the questions. Or if we did ask them, perhaps we
were scoffed at, ridiculed, or told to shut up.
I can’t decide which is more important—the rewriting of history
or the prospect of having someone new to pray to. I am not a Catholic—I
was raised and confirmed as a Lutheran—so we really only were encouraged
to pray to the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So I never have
had the complete experience of praying to a female figure—although some
of my Catholic friends are accustomed to that practice. One Catholic nun I know
even told me that she believes in goddesses—when she told me, something
stirred deep within me. I remember asking about pagan myths in my junior high
Sunday School class—anonymously, since we got to put folded questions
in a box and my female teacher would pull one out to read the question aloud
and answer them for us. The questions were basically dismissed without discussion.
When I was 17, the singing trio I was in won first prize in a community celebration
for the selection, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” a tune
about Mary Magdalene from the rock opera “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”
The song’s line “I’ve had so many men before in very many
ways” didn’t embarrass me at that age since I was harmonizing with
two others at the time—it never even consciously occurred to me that I
was singing a song about a woman historically cleared of her role as “repentant
One of my sisters told me she was admonished harshly by our minister during
youth group gatherings for asking questions about Mary Magdalene’s relationship
with Jesus. “But they were close,” she would argue. The minister,
who seemed so tolerant and open in many ways to us, would glare sternly at her,
warning her she was heading down the wrong path.
never occurred to me that our ministers knew more than they were telling. After
high school, I never gave MM any more thought until I started to write music—as
a beginning songwriter, I didn’t try to figure out what my songs were
about, only that they would speak to me in a deeper way than even I could discern—I
had discovered the muse. One of my songs, which I have since retired because
it actually came true—needed a bridge. So I decided for some reason to
rewrite the Beatles’ line about Mother Mary in the song “Let it
Be.” I wrote, “Magdalene brings to me/ Words of wisdom let it be/
I can’t say what speaks to me/ All I want I want from thee/ It’s
not right to cling to me/ All I want I want for free.”
My Wiccan percussionist at the time thanked me for writing that last line. I
am still not sure why. Fast forward four years to 2004. I bought and read Lynn
Picknett’s book “Mary Magdalene: Christianity’s Hidden Goddess.”
At the time, everybody was buzzing about Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”—my
brother works at a Catholic university, and I would see female students buzzing
around with copies of the book, underlining sections to look up later, and comparing
notes about topics raised in the book. I decided to buy Picknett’s book,
because I wanted a nonfictional, not a fictional, perspective.
Picknett’s book blew my mind. I had always felt like something was missing—but
here were layers upon layers of mysteries—in my own faith, one from which
I felt disconnected.
For the longest time, I had searched elsewhere, showing genuine interest in
other cultures, other religions. In my own culture, which is Suevi, or Swabian,
or Schwabisch, depending on who’s talking about it, there were actually
strong female role models—although it was so entrenched that there was
little discussion about it. So little discussion, that I had nearly forgotten
about it. We had brauche, women healers, appointed from grandmother to granddaughter,
who were called upon to help when people got sick or needed prayers. The practice
went way back in our history, and had similarities to Native American shaman
practices—and somehow I felt comfort in that.
recall my father calling on one of the local brauche to our home to help him
heal sores on his feet. The woman came over, mixed up a concoction, spread it
on his feet, and said a few words to go along with it. It felt completely natural
to have her come into our home to help my father, and at the same time, it felt
I looked into the history of my own ancient European culture after I returned
from a retreat at the Highlander Folk School in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
The Highlander is famous for its huge circle of rocking chairs, where everyone
shares their own story. Rosa Parks used to hang out at the Highlander prior
to the beginning of the civil rights movement. When I was there in the early
1990s, we gathered on the first evening in the famous room with rocking chairs
for everyone and began to introduce ourselves. A white woman stood up, identified
herself as a lesbian and a witch from North Carolina, and went on to say that
white women had lost their culture—her story left the women in the circle
stunned—women of all colors. One woman from Hawaii said, “I had
no idea white women have lost their culture.” This is what Mary Magdalene
represents to me—returning to our true culture—the one that was
stripped from us.
Back around the year 0, Caesar was plotting on how to conquer my ancestors.
He knew that they preferred to lay low during the waning moon, especially at
the admonition of the women elders, so that is when he decided to attack with
his X legion. He succeeded, and so began our Christian conversion.
About 1800 years later, my ancestors thought that the warring Napoleon was the
Antichrist (based on mentions of “Apollyon” in Revelation) so they
decided to hightail it out of Bavaria. They built boats that they sailed down
the Danube River, and were planning to meet God at the foot of Mt. Ararat. But
it was winter, so they decided to go to Odessa on the Black Sea until spring.
Well, apparently, they forgot about going back to Mt. Ararat, because they stayed
in what was then south Russia until they emigrated to North and South Dakota
in the late 1800s. Those who didn’t leave were eventually sent to Stalin’s
gulags. Today, I am not so sure I believe in an Antichrist, but I do believe
Jesus had something to teach us all. So did Mary Magdalene. ||
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