*This article was first published in New Age Journal in 2006. The website is no longer available
New insights into Mary Magdalene’s role as beloved Apostle and companion to Jesus have convinced many that she was probably Jesus’ wife and soul mate. For others who adhere to Jesus’ celibate image as a condition for his divinity, this notion is a heresy that is based on very few embraceable facts.
The least recognized evidence of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s divine union is held within a mythological legacy, a series of Hellenistic myths that hold a mysterious connection to the Jesus story. The mythological motif of birth, death and resurrection of a “godman” that culminates in the reunification between God and Goddess has numerous examples: Mithra and Anahita of Persia, Tammuz and Istar of Syria, Osirus and Isis of Egypt and Adonis and Aphrodite of the Greeks. To the ancients, these Gods and Goddesses were always paired and vested with supernatural powers and position– honored by public celebrations and rituals that enacted portions of their mythology and celebrated the harvest. For the Persians, the myth held a prophetic promise of the incarnation of Mithra whom they believed would be sent by Ahura Mazda (God) to repair the culture and reign as a ‘good king’. At the time of Christ’s birth, the Magi of Persia fully expected that Mithra would incarnate in the same way the Jews believed that the prophecies of Isaiah would be fulfilled.
The most fascinating similarity to Jesus’ story is the myth of the birth, death and resurrection of Adonis, the Hellenic Greek God whose consort was Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, and Mary Magdalene’s namesake. The name Mary is derived from Miriummeaning “myrrh of the sea” or “star of the sea,” a title also associated with Aphrodite who emerges out of the sea with her brother Eros as a passionate archetype of feminine beauty and love. Aphrodite was a goddess whose sexuality was central to her divine nature and whose quest to resurrect her spiritual spouse, Adonis, required determination and the surrender of all her earthly possessions. She embarks on a heroic adventure into the underworld to confront the death Goddess, Persephone, and emerges with the resurrected Adonis by her side.
Like Aphrodite, whose sexuality is her ‘claim to fame’ and the subject of ridicule and jealousy, Mary’s image is also painted as a harlot, shamed and defiled. This similarity is more than coincidence because, in truth, the archetype, Aphrodite, drove Mary’s personality, psychology and spiritual purpose defining her as the Goddess whom Jesus would love and whom he could embrace as his divine complement. As part of Mary’s psychology, the archetype likely dominated her consciousness pushing her to shed a legacy of shame, to embrace the sacredness of her sexuality, and rebirth her own consciousness to embody the more divine aspects of her feminine soul.
Jesus’ identity similarly holds parallels to Adonis. Firstly, Jesus was referred to as “Adonai” in the Bible, a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or highest god. The Syrians similarly titled their lord, “Adon”. Secondly, the cave site sanctified as Jesus birth in Bethlehem was a pre-existing sacred site of worship dedicated to Adonis. Thirdly, it is said that the blood-red anemones sprang up on the hill on which Jesus was crucified and on Mount of Beatitude,where Jesus gave his first sermons, just as they sprang from the blood of Adonis when Aphrodite blessed his blood in memorial. Finally, the wild boar responsible for Adonis’ demise, symbolic of brutality and greed, was an emblem adopted by Roman soldiers and carried on their shields.
The mythological personality of Adonis, birthed in the sign of Aries, was a will-driven youth who cast caution to the wind in pursuit of the hunt. Conversely, the personality of Jesus whose spiritual conviction drove him to boldly confront the Pharisees and Sadducee priests and convert his community, could best be described as a mission that lacked caution, one that resulted in his persecution and crucifixion. Just as Aphrodite steered Mary’s personality, Adonis would have driven Jesus to step out fearlessly and boldly on a defiant mission of love.
From these parallels what is brought to light is that Adonis/Aphrodite myth, which was circulating in the region some 300 years before the birth of Christ, was Jesus and Mary’s underlying mythology, an unconscious script about the destiny of twin complements who would rise to embody their divinity as God and Goddess. To some degree, it cast their fate presenting many opportunities to choose an abiding love no matter what the challenge, and to learn the lessons they had chosen for their incarnation so that each would spiritually evolve and mature. It laid out the plan for a mutual destiny, one that would fulfill their promises to each other as well as a profound spiritual mission.
Discovering the parallel elements between the narratives of the Gospels and the many resurrection myths, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy the authors of The Jesus Mysteriesand Jesus and The Lost Goddess, have concluded (in an exaggerated error) that Christian fathers borrowed from the legacy of Adonis as well as other pagan resurrection themes in putting together the New Testament, citing the parallels as proof that Jesus’ history (birth, crucifixion, and resurrection) was just another myth with no historical basis. They deny the very existence of Jesus, stating they could find no evidence that Jesus ever existed as a real person. Instead, they suggest he was a meaningful construction of early Christians, Gnostics, an archetype of a Godman, used figuratively to represent the fully realized individual who achieves “Gnosis,” the ultimate truth and consciousness of himself as ‘divine’. In this view Jesus was, therefore, only symbolic for the Christ within us all and never lived at all.
There is little argument that there are numerous embellishments in the Gospel narratives, and that certain elements added to Jesus story were admittedly borrowed from pagan communities whose celebrations were well established. For instance, the birth date of December 25th was a borrowed element, likely included so that the new religion might be easily accepted and absorbed into the pagan communities whose solstice celebration of Saturnalia fell on that date. However, such reconstructions and embellishments do not erase and nullify the fact of the man’s existence nor his mission. Most of the parallels between Jesus’ life and the Adonis myth, in fact, exist not because they were authored in by gospel writers, but because they emerged as synchronicities from within a meaningful unfolding destiny. For instance, the three of Marys, pointing to the Goddess Aphrodite, could seem like coincidence to some, but for the awakened mind, the synchronicity of the three Marys, implies that a meaningful evolutionary plan was in place, in which three faces of the Goddess (Mother, Virgin and Bride) were on stage with Jesus to light his way, helping him to psychologically and spiritually mature. They were in the forefront of his life as feminine reflections of his soul and representative of the feminine face of God. They would awaken him to the power of the Feminine and prepare him for the mystical marriage, uniting Bride and Bridegroom (the masculine and feminine within) — a spiritual transformation that would fulfill his destiny and rebirth his consciousness to achieve Christhood.
The parallel elements should in fact underscore the importance of Jesus life and authenticate his and Mary Magdalene’s relationship rather than to raise doubt as to their existence.
The Adonis and Aphrodite myth prophesized the incarnation of Jesus alongside Mary Magdalene, in the same way that a precognitive dream prophesizes a future event. Mythic elements and themes manifest in the creative field we call life regularly. Myths are public dreams or scripts embedded in the collective unconscious and composed of metaphoric imagery like our night dreams, but on a larger scale. They drive human consciousness forward on an evolutionary trail through deaths, rebirths and battles that act out human psychological and spiritual dilemmas, completing a cycle of humanity’s destiny plan, through which all of humanity is to learn the lessons of its fate. With gods and goddesses, demigods and mortal characters as archetypes — powerful energies of light and dark — myths unfold out of unconscious aspects of the collective soul and eventually manifest as real-life dramas that are a part of real history. Myths offer a blueprint or script for each and every individual who will consciously walk its path recognizing the evolutionary tasks they must master in order to grow in consciousness and evolve for the betterment of the consciousness of all. The hero of the myth or collective dream is birthed into the world through each individual soul whose destiny it is to act out the part and fulfill its destiny. In the case of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s underlying myth, the destiny fulfills a promise of resurrection and spiritual reunification between two separated lovers, bride and bridegroom, to reconcile the split within their souls and to fulfill their promise to serve the evolution of consciousness of humanity through a profound example and their teachings.
After I compared the narratives of Jesus’ story in the Gospels with the myth of Adonis I was left to ponder one stark contrast between the two stories. The reconciliation between God and Goddess seems to have been replaced with a mate-less dying God, who was sacrificed on the cross and ascended without having truly fulfilled the divine plan of reconciliation. Or is it that we were not told the ending chapter of Jesus’ life as it really occurred? Did Jesus survive the crucifixion and did Mary, like Aphrodite, save his life? His mythology would lead us to believe so.
Copyright (c) 2006 Ariadne Green. All rights reserved.Ariadne Green, MS, is an internationally recognized dream/mythology expert, shaman and the author of Ariadne’s Book of Dreams, Warner Books 2001 and Divine Complement: The Spiritual Terrain of Soulmate Relationships.