Well I don’t – no one does! All we have to go on is art, which was heavily influenced by cultural context and what was fashionable at the time.. Only Mother Mary has been depicted more in art than Mary Magdalene over the last two millennia.
The covers of ‘Apostle to Mary Magdalene’ and ‘Mary Magdalene’s Legacy’ were both sourced by designer Ruth Sutherland from the following paintings:-
Pope Gregory’s homily in 591 placing emphasis on Mary Magdalene as a repentant sinner whose sins were distinctly sexual, had a profound influence on the art which was produced for the next 1500 years. She would often be portrayed as a weak and tearful woman, in varying degrees of undress.
In a world where only the most educated could read the Bible, art was a crucial tool for the Church. It would not be until 1969 the Catholic Church retracted this statement, but the damage had been done – Mary Magdalene had permeated our consciousness as the fallen woman, whose path to salvation was only achieved through years of repentance living as a recluse.
Sadly, this served the Catholic Church in their patriarchal oppression of women. No male saint has ever been treated this way!
Fortunately, artists were creative and ‘hid’ characters in their art – only ‘those who had eyes to see’ would perceive the symbolism.
Take the famous painting of ‘The Last Supper’ by Leonardo da Vinci. The apostles are identified by name from a manuscript, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, found in the 19th century. The twelve apostles are depicted in groups of three, Yeshua is sat in the middle. From left to right,
Bartholomew, James son of Alpheus, and Andrew; Judas (in green & blue), Peter & John (?); Thomas, James the Greater & Philip; Matthew, Jude Thaddeus & Simon the Zealot.
Surely, John is a woman we are looking at? The tiny, graceful hands, the pretty elfin features, the distinctly female bosom and the gold necklace. This person is also wearing garments that mark her out as special. They are the mirror image of Yeshua’s; one wears a blue robe and a red cloak, the other wears a red robe and a blue cloak in identical style.
My cellular memory tells me this is Mary Magdalene! In ‘Mary Magdalene’s Legacy’, John was her first pseudonym – she wrote the Gospel of John, and the Secret Gospel of John was her first transmission at the Lake Mareotis community.
Da Vinci was alleged to be Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, an ancient secret order set up to protect the Merovingian kings in France, who in turn claim to have heritage from Mary Magdalene…
In June 2019, I was attending a bio-energetic meditation retreat in Ireland and visited the Knock shrine on our way to the airport.
In August 1879, Our Lady appeared at the gable of the church with St Joseph and St John the Evangelist. A Lamb stood upon a plain altar. Some saw angels hovering above the Lamb. The witnesses prayed for over two hours in the pouring rain, although the gable was dry to the touch.
After reading notes by the witnesses, these three figures were carved by Venetian sculptor Professor Lorenzo Ferri in 1960 to commemorate the miracle.
My friends and I sat in the front pew immediately before them and meditated. Immediately my eyes started to flicker and I ‘saw’ a large pink heart. My friend Suzanne saw the same.. I immediately thought of ‘The Way of the Heart’ – it is always pink to me – Mary Magdalene!
So I believe the figure to the right of Mother Mary is not John, it’s a woman, Mary Magdalene. The book in her left hand represents the gnostic gospels. Her right hand is performing a mudra, which she would have learnt about in the Mystery school in Alexandria. A mudra is a hand gesture that channels your body’s energy flow. She is practising the Prana mudra; prana is the vital life force within all living things – she is awakening both her personal prana and the prana around her.
My cellular memory tells me the figure to the left of Mother Mary is Joseph of Arimathea, her half-brother, not her husband Joseph. In ‘Mary Magdalene’s Legacy’, it is Joseph of Arimathea who is entrusted with the care of Yeshua’s mother and Mary Magdalene, the mother of his child. He arranged for their escape from Judea to Alexandria.
I wonder where else she is hiding?