Monday, August 20, 2007
The historical Mary of Nazareth and the Madonna/Theotokos must be understood from different perspectives. As an historian, I see Mary as a Jewish Palestinian woman, possibly a rape victim, raising a child in an occupied country in the first century. I do not believe in the virgin birth. The Madonna/Theotokos is a goddess figure drawn from the mythology that grows up around Mary of Nazareth's connection to Jesus of Nazareth and comflated with the mythologies of several Near Eastern and European goddesses including Isis and Artemis. As such, she is among many of my favorite representations of the Goddess. I find her particularly potent because she has such immediate emotional relevance in world history in the past two thousand years and continues to have tremendous numinous power even among modern people. From a feminist perspective, the veneration of Mary as Mother of Christ is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it perpetuates the demonization of female sexuality and promotes a dichotomy between body and spirit. However, I go ahead and worship her from a more purely pagan perspective as Goddess and view her divine child/consort Christ as a manifestation of the sacred masculine energy (Horus/ Attis/ Dionysus/ Balder, etc.) He is bios (life temporal) to her Zoe (life eternal).