Poem to Mary of Magdala by Anne Fricke



The first documented reference of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute was not until 594 C.E in a sermon by Pope Gregory. The Catholic Church has since, in 1969, officially repealed this declaration.

Mary’s gospel has been found, though a few pages are missing. Those are the pages that explain her teachings. We know that her teachings were of transforming powerful emotions (we know the what, but not the how).

The story line of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute is pervasive throughout our culture. If we have that one major detail wrong, imagine what else we are missing.

Did you know the way this would unfold?
Know before knowing how your story would be disguised?
Did you step into the circle, hands splayed in supplication,
ready to receive gifts of wisdom
in exchange for your dignity and your truth?

Or did they blindside you with
blasphemy and lies?
Was your spirit assaulted in the
twisting and reshaping of your story?
the sharp-edged words of Gregory’s sermon
piercing your spiritual flesh, nailing you to a cross
no one would witness

Do you weep?
longing for a time and place lost
to the translations of today,
when your feet walked dusty paths
alongside compassion and grace
when you were Mary of Magdala,
a woman of her own right, without context to man

How did this all end?
Had you called him when he came to you?
marched willingly into the depths of the underworld
to retrieve his spirit and bring him
again to the light,
an eternal remembrance
of his teaching,
an alchemy of sacred knowledge and love,
Did you mean to honor him for
the rest of history, or revive his soul
for the sake of your own?
Was it for love of us, or love of him?
Or did he come to you of his own desire?
Lay his legacy at your feet,
ask of you the responsibility of remembrance
Did you at first put up your hands in rejection,
back away in fear and suggest the burden
of truth was too great for you to carry?

Yet you braved the world
carried the resuscitation of his spirit
with your words,
faced mockery and disbelief and lies,
a defamation of historical carnage!
shamed before a congregation of millennia!
girls shriveling under the judgment of a thousand moons,
lining church walls and confessional prisons
desperately seeking through the pages and the lore
for anyone who
may look like them,
their sisters and aunties, their mothers and grandmothers
enslaved by existential sufferings,
misconstrued sexuality and stultified awakenings

Do you call to them from across the ether?
whisper your humanity into their ears,
sing for them the melody of your own gospel
come to them in dreams and
light the path of transformation –
of subjugation into strength,
grief into wisdom, fear into action
Do you build for them a step upon which to stand?
bury your wisdom into their bones,
infuse the truth of your own story into their cells so
when they are faced with the option of either
virgin or whore
they know,
these awakening women know,
they can be both – and everything in between.

 

Anne Fricke is a poet, author, storyteller, podcast host, wife, and mother. She lives in far Northern California, writes daily, and travels when she can. Raised by a strong, outspoken, agnostic mother in the Bible Belt, Anne was gratefully able to find her way to the Divine Feminine as a young woman, with little baggage attached. You can read more of her work at annefricke.com.



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17 replies

  1. Anne, what a powerful poem! Thank you so much. Your are inspiring me to speak with Mary Magdalene in my meditative dialogues and see what she might have to say. I’d love to see you write another poem, this one full of her responses up you.

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  2. Wow, what a moving poem about Mary…. “Her story’ buried comes to light in this telling – and it is surely a complex one – I remember being s shocked and angry when i learned that tis incredible woman had been cast as a prostitute. This is NOT to say that I am judging any woman who falls into prostitution for any reason. I am not – I remember how I felt about my body as I awakened sexually – such shame – and where did that come from? Thank yo so much.

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    • Thank you, Sara! It’s funny because I was not raised in an overtly Christian or Catholic household, though my close friends were and I spent a lot of time there. But still, the shame of women’s sexuality reached me, it’s so imbedded in our culture. I am grateful that so many women are opening up publicly and the narrative is shifting. Now women like my teenage daughter can go into the world with no shame or burdens on that aspect of their life.

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  3. yikes sorry about typos… I just respond too spontaneously for my own good!

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  4. Aha! As it happens I am rereading The Maeve Chronicles https://www.amazon.com/Magdalen-Rising-Beginning-Maeve-Chronicles/dp/0976684322/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+magdalen+chronicles&qid=1598108403&sr=8-1 by our friend Elizabeth Cunningham, a brilliant novelist. In these four books (which started out as a trilogy, but she apparently couldn’t stop), Mary of Magdala is a Celt who first sees Esus (Jesus) as a boy, meets him at a Druid school, where they fall in love, and marries him during his ministry. These novels are a splendid corrective to the patriarchal “inerrancy” of the New Testament.

    Many thanks for your inspiring poem about Mary. I love “whisper your humanity into their ears.” So true! And bright blessings to you and your poetry.

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  5. A beautiful poem! I especially love how you connect Mary Magdalene to girls and women of our time, and have her communicating directly across the centuries. Listening for the messages of the women and goddesses of the past as we navigate these challenging times is so essential and you have captured both Mary Magdalene and what she has to say to us now splendidly. I hope you will share more of your poems in the future!

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    • Thank you, Carolyn! I am actually working on a collection of these types of poems to women of our history and folklore. I started a year or so ago with this poem and have added a few since then. Lately I’ve been very inspired to dive deeper into this collection, looking for inspiration and wisdom from women who have come before, trying to find comfort and hope in these very trying times.

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  6. Thanks so much for your beautiful and powerful poem.

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  7. What a wonderful, powerful poem to MM. Have you considered posting it on The Way of the Rose a FB group? It would be much welcomed, I’m sure. Blessed be.

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  8. This is something incredible! Thanks. I enjoyed reading your poem.

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  9. I Goggled you, Annie, to see what else you know about Mary Magdalene and I see you are a person of great accomplishment and enormous talent! Your website is amazing; I look forward to spending more time with you!

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    • Thank you, Sue! I will admit that your comment gave me a feeling of imposter complex. I had not known much about Mary Magdalene other than the usual patriarchal perspective. From an early age, I knew women were being shackled by the limiting narrative of virgin and whore. Then about a year or so ago I had the beautiful opportunity to take a class from my dear friend and wise woman, Karen Harris. I had always known that there was more to Mary’s story than what we were taught, that the details had probably been skewed. I still also just accepted that she, for part of the story, was a prostitute. This poem comes from an admiration of her, her life, the mystery of her story, the legitimacy and necessity of her role in the resurrection, her own enlightening gospel, all of it, and how I had, to a degree far more than I had thought, also been duped.

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  10. Brilliant poem! Just what I needed to hear!

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  11. So beautiful the way you display choice of action that challenged and elevated her. Her multifaceted expression of the archetype as her story played out through history. Thank you so much, truly.

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