It was in the eleventh century that a cult of Mary Magdalene began to develop in Vézelay. The relics of Mary Magdalene were brought to Vézelay from the Church Saint Maximin near the grotto of Sainte Baume. There, according to the local legends, Mary Magdalene lived out the final years of her life
Vézelay, the Church of Saint Maximin and the cave of Sainte Baume were connected to the Medieval Story of the Magdalene. In the legend of Mary Magdalene it is said that she arrived with other attendants. The list is subject to change according to who is telling the story. Legends had Magdalene preaching against idolatry and creating miracles while she traveled through the South of France.
It is said she went to Sainte Baume to live in a cave. She spent the next 30 years of her life fasting and praying and being fed by the songs of angels. Saint Baume is also connected with a pagan fertility site.
Our journey took us now to the cave of Saint Baume. It is nestled on top of a large gray mountain. This mountain actually was on a ley-line. It rose high above the vineyards below.
It was a beautiful climb through the forest. There was a fresh water spring, where you can fill your bottles. It led along a wooded trail called the Way of the Kings. This was the path the Royalty used as a part of their pilgrimage route.
When we visited this site I noticed the rock shapes outside the entrance of the Magdalene’s cave. There was one very large phallic rock joined together with another rock that had the appearance of a vulva. These rock shapes, engaged in Mother’s Nature fornication, were a sure indication that ancient pagans used this area as a fertility site.
Even today wine growers still climb up the steep mountain to light candles in Magdalene’s grotto to ensure a good grape harvest. Such caves during ancient times were looked upon as the womb of the Mother Goddess. The cave has been made into a chapel to Mary Magdalene. It is said she died here and her bones then were brought to the Church of Saint Maximin in the valley below.
This is where the story becomes a little fuzzy because it seems the bones of the Magdalene went to different places. It is said she was buried at Saint Maximin where the Cassianite order were the guardians of her relics. The relics were then brought to Vézelay when the Saracen invaded.
The relics of Magdalene did not surface until the 11th century. So it does leave one questioning the authenticity of the legend. There was a time in the history of the Catholic Church when relics of dead saints and the selling of indulgences to heaven became a profitable way for the church to make money. Today you can find the skull bones of Mary Magdalene in the Church of Saint Maximin, which is not far from the cave of Baume.
The Gnostic groups of France, which include the Cathars, and the Knights Templar, seem to have connections with both Mary Magdalene and the Black Madonnas. It is common to find a shrine to Magdalene and Black Madonna on the same site. What the Gnostic groups had in common was the fact that they embraced the principle of the Divine Feminine. Mary Magdalene was looked upon as Sophia, the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. The Divine Feminine included both the wisdom of the whore and the virgin.
The root of this Gnostic thought came from the older source of the Goddess Astarte whose symbols were fishes, doves and the star. The Cathars used the same symbols. The Catholic Church still uses the symbol of the fish for Jesus and the dove for the Holy Spirit.
The Goddess Astarte was Aphrodite to the Greeks, Venus Erycina to the Romans and Ashtart to the Phoenicians. The island of Cyprus is named after. The Egyptians knew her as daughter of Ra; her name was Anat. She was the ruler of fertility, sexuality and war. Even King Solomon in all his glory honored her with a temple. She was a manifestation of the fertility of nature. We can see she had many manifestations and widespread devotion in the ancient world.
But when the separation from the Goddess culture began, Astarte, the Whore, became the “abomination” in the Bible. This was the beginning of the Great Separation from Nature. We all are suffering this Great Separation even in the dark corners of our unconscious mind today! We can see in this separation in our society by the way we treat the Earth and our environment. We treat the Earth like is does not matter. This separation has been drilled into us by doctrines that held only half of the truth. “There is only one God” and that one God demands your worship. Yes there is only one God, but here on Earth in the material world of matter, that one God has many manifestations.
This separation has been passed down through the centuries as the Holy Word and if one did not follow this Holy Word, then death was the price. Holy Wars are still being fought on this planet over outdated religious views of separation from our planet and from each other. One may not even believe in God, or a High Power to be effected by centuries of patriarchal programming. You can see this everyday in the way big business operates. They think the Earth is separated from the people who live on the Earth. The insanity of this bad programming needs to stop for the survival of our future generations. This programming effects all of us, whether we believe in God or not, and has had its effect on our political views, our economic views, and the personal choices in our lives without us realizing.
The Cathars and the Knights Templars realized this a very long time ago. This is why the Divine Feminine was honored not only as the Virgin but also as the Whore. Mary Magdalene held that position as the rejected whore. A Virgin has no wisdom. She is a clean slate without experience. But it is through the whore and the trails and tribulation of life that we gain wisdom.
Who Mary Magdalene truly was I do not know nor claim to know. But as Mary Magdalene, the Divine archetype, she was the wise council to Jesus. She stood at the cross and did not fear to face the death of her most beloved one. These types of trials on the path of life are the real test to cultivate not only wisdom but also compassion. These are the great initiations every soul has to pass through on the journey through human dramas. This is why it is good to understand our history so we can learn why we think the way we do. When we take the time to understand our roots then we can begin to change the choices we make in the Here Now.
Directions: To Saint Maximin and La Sainte Baume http://www.planetware.com/france/saint-maximin-la-sainte-baume-f-az-sama.htm
Vézelay: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187114-d199024-Reviews- St_Madeleine-Vezelay_Burgundy.htmlMa
Chapter from the Book “A Mystic’s Journey to the Sacred Sites of France” By Raylene Abbott