Questions For the Heart and Mind
1. Discuss the symbolic significance of the name “Magdalene.”Margaret Starbird believes the name Magdalene to be of great symbolic significance, deriving from the name Magdal-eder, which literally means ‘tower of the flock’ in Hebrew. This name denoted a watchtower or high place from whence shepherd/esses could keep watch over their flocks. Magdala or Magdalene may also symbolise elevated, great, magnificent. Given that Jesus gave His disciples titles, Starbird believes that Magdala or Magdalene is not a place name, but a title Jesus gave Mary. It is synonymous with saying ‘Mary the magnificent’ or ‘Mary the great’.2. Assuming that Mary was the anointer of Jesus, what do you believe was the meaning of her action?My personal opinion is that Mary anointed Jesus to show him her deep respect and affection fpr Him. On a symbolic level, anointing with oil was done only in certain circumstances; when installing someone as priest, or at the coronation of a king. Mary’s anointing was symbolic of Jesus’ role as both. It was also an expression of deepest confidence; Mary was confident that Jesus valued her as a person. Women were considered of lesser value than men in society at that time. Thus, Mary, a lowly woman, anointed Jesus when His own disciples had not done so. Judas was angry at another meaning of her action; Mary used expensive perfume to anoint Jesus, implying that Jesus was extremely precious and worth the gift. Judas felt it was a waste; he looked at Mary’s action with a pragmatic judgement, not seeing though her action to the deeper level of love and service she was displaying to her Saviour.3. Have you ever been anointed? What was the context and what meaning did it have for you?
Yes, I was anointed with oil at a church service in the Blessing of the Sick. I was extremely ill at the time, and was struggling to walk or do work; my muscles were slowly becoming paralysed, and I experienced severe pain. After the anointing with oil, I did not experience physical healing at the time. However, I received a deep sense that I would one day be healed after walking a while on the road of sickness and pain. I also received the spiritual strength to cope with the difficulties my illness presented me with at the time. The anointing with oil was, for me, a meeting on a spiritual and emotional level with Jesus; it gave me much emotional and spiritual solace at that – for me – difficult time. .4. Do you believe that Mary Magdalene has as good a claim, and perhaps a better claim, as Peter or Paul to be considered the founder of Christianity?I believe that Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity, and that Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene are His disciples entrusted with the message to tell the Good News as witnesses to Him. I further consider Mary Magdalene to be the first preacher of the Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus. I believe it was no coincidence that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first after His Resurrection – she had immense faith and belief in Him as a Person and as Son of God. I believe that Peter, Paul and Mary each have a great message for Christians about their witness to Jesus. In essence, therefore, I believe Jesus to be Christianity’s founder; and Mary Magdalene, Peter and Paul to be co-equal witnesses and preachers in the service of Christianity.;
Submitted by Ernest Kayorie
After the completion of the extensive and sometimes tedious reading associated with the course, I would like to state that this has been an extremely informative course. While the subject is very interesting, it can be off setting because of the numerous definitions and oftentimes convoluted concepts. In many ways, it has involved learning a new vocabulary. She uses many resources to present the various topics and information important to a proper understanding of the subject. The most important part of the course for this writer was the summation because it brought together many of the ideas presented throughout the course.
The idea that Gnosticism was and is a distinct pre-Christian movement certainly makes sense and comparisons between Christianity and Gnosticism should be based on that concept. Oftentimes, one gets the distinct impression that Gnosticism was and is viewed as a aberration of Christianity. This belief system attempts to relate the story of man’s origin and how the known universe came to be. It also relates how that universe continues to unfold. This explanation is no different than the accounts in the Book of Genesis or any other creation story/myth with all variations on how the universe came to be.
Gnosticism presents ideas on the never ceasing potential that exists within man. It states that man strives for union with that part of him/her that is divine and immortal. The belief in the limited aspect of deity that was represented by the Jewish god, Yahweh was challenged by Gnostic wisdom because it saw man has a being of perfection who was simply attempting to return to or remember its rightful place in the universe. Gnosticism presented a lofty alternative to the small/petty cultural deities who were prone to human emotions. Who says we don’t create gods in our image?
The fact that this search for gnosis (wisdom) was existent at the time of the writing of the gospels and was prevalent throughout the known world is not surprising. Traditions tracing their origins prior to anything Christian (Hinduism, Buddhism) share their secret wisdom with those who are able to understand. What that truth entails is expressed differently in every culture and, at the same time, it shares commonalities which are self evident. The teachers of wisdom and the seers who share the responsibility of bringing this secret knowledge to those who wish to hear were certainly familiar with the ideas presented. The fact that some of these Gnostic ideas influenced the writings that found their way into the canon of the fledgling organization that was to become the “Church” also should not be surprising. The placing of what came to be known as Gnostic thinking on heretical lists is also not surprising. The knowledge presented within Gnostic texts was not for the commoners. It was too heady and convoluted and also it gave too much potential/power to everyman. Gnostic thinking continued to have influence throughout the growth of western thought and is certainly a factor in establishing our ongoing quest of finding out who we truly are.
Master of Druidism Essay
By Rev. Kevin John Gilhooly
The Druids were an ancient people, although there was a more modern version. The modern ones tended to converge on Stonehenge from time to time. That was about all I knew about Druidism when I began this course.
I have always been interested in a multitude of belief systems – I was raised Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools, I attended Buddhist services after college, and I’ve looked at other religions, as well. It has not been a quest to find the “right” or “only” solution, but rather to find ideas that will help me along my spiritual journey.
I began my study of the Druids with very little preconceptions. I chose the course since my family is originally from Ireland and because it was a belief system born of simpler times, which I think would be one possible solution to some of the issues of today. (This was mentioned in the course, in fact, so I was not alone in this thought.) Other than that, I was a blank slate.
I appreciated learning that the Druids were a society more than a religion. There are some societies (AA comes to mind) which often bind their members much more closely than proper religions do.
It is unfortunate that it was an oral tradition, since much of the specifics are then recorded for posterity by those outside the society. Nonetheless, there are records which are quoted throughout the course.
Since it was an oral tradition, there was a specific portion of society (the Bards) dedicated to continuing the tradition and handing it down. There were also Ovates, who were the healers and the Druids, who were performed the rituals and were teachers. It sounds like the caste system was not what we would consider a caste today with different levels in a hierarchy but rather a progression of learning.
Druidism taught its members to honor life – in all its forms. This core belief could help people to realize that all their actions ripple throughout the Earth – affecting not just themselves, but people and other beings around them. If you can accept this core belief, then you can start to realize your place within the Earth and how what you choose has effected beyond just those entities directly around you.
The interesting aspect of this to me was that it is a belief that will help one to do right without the requirement of a Supreme Being who is watching and “grading” what you do. There is no real need for someone watching over you to see if you behave – you can determine your correct path by how it affects the Earth around you.
Like their ethical code, the Druidic holidays are also tied to the Earth. Their calendar is based on the seasons, which would be much more important to acknowledge in an agrarian culture, and also again grounds the people into the rhythms of the Earth. It is interesting to note that theirs was a solar calendar, rather than a lunar one.
I was glad to learn that there are actually practicing Druids today. While it may not be accepted widely, I do believe it has concepts that should be acknowledged and studied, since other beliefs can gloss over them.
It is unfortunate that some of the aspects of the Druidic system (magic, divination) are held to ridicule by those in the mainstream, which then causes them to dismiss the tradition wholesale. While part of the tradition, I don’t believe focusing on those aspects give a true picture of the system and how it can help modern people survive in a modern world. I also believe that the explanations of magic in the course would lead many to believe that magic is around us.
As the world becomes more automated and mechanized, perhaps all of us should take a moment and reflect on the traditions of the Druids, who were connected to the earth and to each other.
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