If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’ Goddess News, Spiritual Blog, Divine Feminine,
Dr Joanna Kujawa
Dearest Friends, my apologies for a prolonged silence. I’ve missed all of you, especially our interactions via comments – I miss this part most. I have been incredibly busy on the academic front and, hope this will be a great interest to you – that I have recently I’ve had to steal time in order to write my book based on the Goddess News blog as well as additional research which includes my own heretical take on Mary Magdalene and her connection to the goddesses of the past. However, writing a book is serious business and, as usual, I threw myself into research which requires significant resources and time. In this case, I wanted to clarify some claims and competing narratives by Margaret Starbird in her book, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar as well as several other similarly themed books on Mary Magdalene. The Woman with the Alabaster Jar is an important book and addresses many questions about Mary Magdalene and Jesus as well as explores their relationship. I admit that as I was undertaking my own research, I came across several inconsistencies which I address in my book in the chapter on Mary Magdalene and her time in France. First of all, I discovered, there are two competing French traditions: one is that of the Cathars who were brutally executed by the Holy Inquisition and the Roman Church while the other from Provence to which Starbird usually refers. The reason for the delay of the blog and the book is that a lot of interesting material on the Cathars was written in French and I, as you read this, am waiting for a book delivery from France. Also, I admit, reading in French will take longer for me – so I am asking for your patience. If you are interested in reading my blog on Cathars without the French sources , please check my blog https://www.joannakujawa.com/mary-magdalene-in-france-and-the-cathars/. Please keep in my mind that the updated version is coming.
In the meantime, a couple of interesting synchronicities have taken place. Carl Jung defines synchronicity as a coincidence that relates by meaningfulness rather than by cause and effect. This is what took place last month to me. First of all, I decided to interview a French tour guide named Veronique Flayol. Veronique leads tours related to Mary Magdalene in Southern France. In the process of the interview, I realised that there are two Mary Magdalene traditions within France and that people outside of that country are often unaware of these. I believe that Starbird also, pretty much, combined them while researching her magnificent book. Veronique has also clarified my other doubt about Starbird’s book which concerns Sara – who came with Mary Magdalene to France. Sara, in Starbird’s interpretation, was Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ child while in the Provencal tradition Sara is either a ‘humble’ servant or a Gypsy queen who greeted Mary Magdalene’s boat near Marseille in Southern France. To learn more about it I invite you to listen to my interview with Veronique Flayol on my YouTube channel and, if you are interested, sign up to the channel: Mary Magdalene in France: The Devotional Tour with Dr Joanna Kujawa and Veronique Flayol – YouTube.
As I was finishing the interview with Veronique, I received an email from an American friend, Shannon, who has recently published her book on Amazon – The Gospel of Joy – and sent me an excerpt which talks about her visit to the cave of Mary Magdalene near Marseille – which I had just finished discussing with Veronique. Veronique and Shannon do not know each other and I thought that the timing was well … interesting. So, I decided to do something that I normally do not do – to publish a part of the excerpt that Shannon sent me from her book.
Just to clarify, both the video with Veronique, the French tour guide, and a part of the excerpt from Shannon’s book (an interfaith minister) – follow a very different narrative from that which I present in my blogs and the upcoming book. However, I also believe that we should share and respect other narratives of this remarkable and mysterious woman – goddess known as Mary Magdalen or Mary Magdalene. So if you are of a more traditional persuasion, I invite you to listen to my interview with Veronique Flayol: Mary Magdalene in France: The Devotional Tour with Dr Joanna Kujawa and Veronique Flayol – YouTube. If you are interested in the Interfaith take on the Provencal tradition of Mary Magdalene, I invite you to read the excerpt from Shannon’s book below.
Alternatively, you can read my earlier blog on the Cathars and Mary Magdalene https://www.joannakujawa.com/mary-magdalene-in-france-and-the-cathars/ and be patient with me as I am doing my best to finish my own book by the end March.
Also, watch for my next youtube video with Miguel Conner on Goddess Sophia which will be out early next week.
A part of Shannon’s excerpt from her book – The Gospel of Joy:
…With David’s blessing, and while he managed everything at home, after my meetings in Paris, I headed south on the train to Marseille. By taxi, I traveled to Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, to the place on my sacred pilgrimage wish list ever since I first learned about Gnosticism back in 2010. I planned to visit the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine and to hike up the mountainside to the sacred grotto of Mary Magdalene.
The town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume was even more remote than I’d realized from online travel guides. Taxis and Ubers were pretty much nonexistent, and although I was within a short walking distance from the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, the mountainside where the grotto was located was about a 45-minute drive away.
I first tried to reserve a local taxi to take me to the grotto and was told by each company I called that they did not have a driver to take me all the way there. My next idea was to rent a car, but that meant I’d have to juggle finding time to drop it back off before flying to my next destination tomorrow, definitely not ideal.
Admittedly, I was starting to wonder if I’d even make it out to see the grotto. I kept searching for travel tips online from my room in a 13th Century convent converted to a hotel. I noticed one person mentioned in a forum there was a school bus route that could take travelers part of the way but did not include clear locations for getting on and getting off and where to go from there.
Laughing in a moment of exasperation, I decided as I normally did, if it was not coming together easily, then it was my sign to let go and allow the way to be revealed if it was meant to happen.
Instead of working through it any longer, I grabbed my backpack and made my way over to the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine to meditate for a while. The Gothic architecture cathedral was founded in the 13th Century and included a crypt that contained the Holy relics of Mary Magdalene. I made my way to the pews inside and sat comfortably, with my backpack down between my shoes, and pen and journal in hand. I inhaled in the beauty of the moment within the sacred space honoring Saint Mary Magdalene and began to meditate on the Holy light.
In the focus of my thoughts, I inwardly sang, “Spirits of the Light, please reveal yourselves in this cathedral. Show me who you are and reveal to me the beauty of your Light! What is the way to the grotto?”
I soaked in peaceful reverie for a bit longer, and in stillness, felt complete. No words came to write, and that was just as fulfilling as when words came forth to write. I gathered my belongings and with my backpack securely on my shoulders, I walked over to the little gift shop to look at all the sacred souvenirs. As I was browsing, conversational sounds drifted in from my periphery where the attendant was speaking with someone who had just come in. My ears perked at the word, “Cave.”
“We are going to the cave!” I heard again, distinctly in a British English accent.
Quickly I turned to see where the voices were coming from, and I saw two ladies who were bubbling with happiness because they were about to go to the grotto.
“Wait! Hi!” I called to them and hurried over to where they were. I explained I was unable to find transportation to the grotto, and with a smile, asked, “How are you getting there?”
One of the ladies beamed with excitement and advised that they had a rental car. She said if I wanted to go with them there was enough room for one more, and I was welcomed to join. She mentioned they had snacks and water and plenty of everything to share.
Without hesitation, I agreed, and we rejoiced together and hurried out of the cathedral to meet their traveling companions who were ready to go and waiting at the rental car: a priest from the United Kingdom and a seminary priest still in training from Ireland. All of them devout Catholics and on an honest-to-goodness pilgrimage to the sacred cave of Mary Magdalene. And here I was, an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister. The irony of the situation was not lost on me as I squeezed into the tiny backseat of the compact car with the two ladies and we started off to the grotto.
Finally, the road opened up to a destination and we parked and walked through the open field to the trail markers and stepped into the forest of Sainte-Baume. The holiness of the rocky mountain dated back to ancient times, even before Christians attributed the cave to Mary Magdalene. The Ligurians, Greeks, and Romans believed this sacred place was inhabited by the energy of their goddesses of fertility Cybele or Artemis.
In researching other sacred pilgrimage sites for Catholics, I noted it seemed to be more often than not they were reappropriated from pagan sacred sites and trails (such as Camino de Santiago “the way of Saint James” in northwestern Spain which followed a Roman trade route from pre-Christian times and included grottos and pools originally dedicated to Venus and other fertility goddesses).
It was said in legend after arriving in France after Jesus’ crucifixion and evangelizing Provence, Mary Magdalene withdrew to the solitude of these woods and to the cave to finish out the rest of her days. In the Middle Ages, it became an honored site of worship and received visitors such as popes, kings, crusaders, and of course, pilgrims.
As I stepped fully forward and into the woods, I felt the energy shift into an almost supernatural magical flow in a Holy embrace that uplifted my soul. Shadows and rays of light through the branches and the leaves danced together on the forest floor with grace and ease. Worn stone and rocky outcroppings lined the trail upward as we continued, beneath the bowed trees.
In reverence and silence as the cave grew close after a steep incline, I smiled and bowed my head in respect when seeing the Dominicans who have cared for the sanctuary over the years since 1295. Although it was not required, I removed my shoes at the entrance to the grotto, similar to when I entered the sacred spaces in the Buddhist temples and shrines in Japan. My mind was in awe of the deep spiritual energy that I drew inward with each breath as I stepped foot into the cavernous grotto of the mountain.
Drip… drip… drip… came from deep within the cave, the only sound within the silence. No matter where I stepped within the grotto, the sound of the water from the deep into unseen pools emitted in a slow rhythm, the walls moving as shadows and light from the reflections of candles lining the space with flickering illuminations in the darkness.
I remembered reading about caves as sacred places similar to the womb of Mother Earth, and water itself was considered the memory of the world, the connecting element between the cells in our body and our connection in the cosmos. The deep spiritual power I sensed in the cave felt like an endless ocean without waves. Not even a ripple marred the distant echoes of drip… drip… drip, reminding me the grotto was just as alive and in flow as the mystical forest outside.
Not knowing how long my travel companions planned to pray in the silence, I found my way over to a quiet corner, where I alone stood facing Mary Magdalene. I gazed at the statue sculpted as if she were being carried up to Heaven by angels. Then, I brought out my journal and opened to the marked page where I’d written an introduction ahead of time, which I planned to speak and then request a blessing in this sacred space. While remaining respectful of the silence, and in reverence, I whispered as quietly as I could,
“I am Shannon,
child of the most High,
with crown of Divinity,
third eye of inspiration,
voice of wisdom…
As I whispered the words, “voice of wisdom,” a warm sensation and energy centered around my throat area at the chakra location. I paused and felt the gentle tingling expand with warmth as if a light was pouring through, and I continued,
“Heart of compassion,
spirit of Holy fire,
gut of truth,
rooted in the Earth,
with hands of miraculous healing
and feet of loving service.”
Upon bowing my head in completion, I noticed the sensation at my throat felt like it was blossoming like a lotus flower. I felt as if somehow it was an attunement with the energy presence and flow of the Divine Spirit within the cave. In awe, not having expected to experience any sort of activation of my throat chakra, I did not even continue to get to the part where I planned to ask for a blessing. In reverence, the moment felt complete, and I stood in wonderment and silent appreciation of this miraculous pilgrimage to the grotto of Mary Magdalene.
I put my journal away and slowly made my way around the statue and to the back of the cave where I placed both palms on the cavern wall, feeling the strength of the stone and the energy vibration of the earth. Soon after, it was time to leave the sanctuary, and as my Catholic companions dropped me back off at the convent hotel, and I was still in awe of the miracles as I waved goodbye and they went on their way in pilgrimage to another site, knowing in the deepest of my heart that my request in the cathedral was answered through these beautiful spirits of the Light…’
As always, I would love to know your thoughts through your comments.
Dr Joanna Kujawa
I love reading your posts and it’s wonderful to receive a new one. Thank you so much for sharing this – it’s so beautiful and I really felt the connection to the caves and the Spirits of Light… my whole body was shimmering as I read the words Shannon whispered, and I could feel the waters connecting my cells with the cosmos – unity – it felt magical. I can’t wait to read your book too! Much love, Snow
Thank you, Snow, for your comment and encouragement. It means a lot, I am so glad that you connected with Shannon’s experience in the Grotto of Mary Magdalene.
Dr Joanna Kujawa
Thank you! I really enjoyed and learned a lot with your interview of Veronique. Looking forward to reading your book when it’s published! Thank you again:)
Thank you, As the Road Wanders, for your comment and support. I miss conversing with my Goddess News Friends. I liked speaking to Veronique too. English literature on the Cathars is very sparse and already old. Anything new is focused on the politics of the times and the warfare, not on spiritual beliefs. That is why, I needed to delay the publishing of my book to consult the French sources.
Dr Joanna Kujawa