Mary Magdalene of the Bees
A drawing for a painting that will be titled Mary Magdalene of the Bees. 2015.
Many of my paintings are inspired by readings, and by documentaries about science, archaeology and history. When I encounter an idea that gives me a clear image in my mind, I paint it.
The book The Lost Gospel, which I first discovered in documentary form, gave me such an image. But before painting, I took time to read the book, write about it for my website in about.com, Ángeles y milagros, and to let the image take shape in my mind.
It has been an unusual year for me, a year of change and of silence, and of struggle to keep up with all the things I do. Because I draw and paint the Magdalene only when I can pour the best and most pristine feelings into the work, it took a long time to finally give shape the image I wanted to paint. Finally, on Sunday, December 13, 2015, I drew the image above.
It is based on some previous ideas from other works and the research of Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson that relates Mary Magdalene to bees. (You will find the article about these ideas after these images.)
Below are several images and ideas that inform the drawing for Mary Magdalene of the Bees.
The original drawing idea, for another painting, holding the Sacred Heart of the Earth. 2014.
Sacred Heart of the Earth, 2012.
My bees from 2010.
Mary Magdalene of the Heart, 2010.
Mary Magdalene, Jesus, Bees and Other Inspiring Ideas...
There are many hypotheses about who really was the biblical Mary Magdalene. In recent times, many have sought to prove that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married, had children, and that she continued to build the church of Jesus on Earth after His death.
Two authors named Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson published a book in 2014 entitled The Lost Gospel, which explores this hypothesis, using recent archaeological discoveries and an ancient manuscript.
When the advocates of a celibate Jesus won the battle to those who believed he was married and had children, this part of the story was removed from official documents and prohibited.
But some stories survived as oral history. And some written texts also survived. The Nag Hammadi codices and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene are some of those texts.
And others survived hidden in texts which apparently had nothing to do with Jesus. An example of such a text, according to authors Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, is in the British Library and was compiled by a monk in the Sixth Century.
This monk gathered a significant collection of writings. Among these texts was a much more ancient manuscript that had not been written by the monk, titled Joseph and Asenath. It appears to be the apocryphal story of the wife of the biblical patriarch Joseph.
When analyzed as a biblical "type", Joseph represents Jesus Christ.
The text itself was known before. It has not been determined if it was originally a Jewish or Christian text. What makes this discovery significant is that this manuscript carries a letter from an anonymous man that expresses that the text contains "secret wisdom."
Moses Ingila, the recipient of the letter, confirms that the text has "inner meaning" and emphasizes that it would be dangerous to comment on this text.
Early Christian Story in Code
The text tells the story of Asenath, the wife Pharaoh gave to the Biblical Joseph. Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson analyze it to explain that the early Christians may have used this story to hide and preserve wisdom.
The Joseph of the story has many parallels with Jesus. Asenath calls him the Son of God. He arrives in a chariot with white horses, and he has all the qualities of the god Helios. The oldest representations of Jesus show him with rays on his head, just as the god Helios would have been represented. Asenath falls in love with him and renounces her gods.
One interpretation of Mary Magdalene is that she was a pagan priestess. Sometimes the goddess she serves is Isis (as in the manuscript by Tom Kenyon). The authors Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson identify Asenath as a Phoenician priestess because she lives in a tower, has statues of gods, offers libations, is a virgin and wears great wealth.
The title given to the Magdalene, Magdal-eder, according to Margaret Starbird, means "tower". Even if the most usual interpretation of "Magdalene" is accepted as someone from Magdala, modern archeology has discovered in Magdala the remains of a city of diverse cultures, including Phoenician towers used as temples.
An angel also appears in the story, whose appearance is equal to that of Joseph, but made of light.
The angel shares with Asenath bread and wine, a clear reference to the Christian communion. He also asks her to bring a honeycomb, which Asenath miraculously finds on her table. The angel draws a cross on the honeycomb and hundreds of bees surround Asenath. Some die, but the angel resurrects them. The angel calls Asenath the "Bride of God," and says he is ready to marry Joseph.
Why the Bees?
What is the role of the bees in this story and how do they relate to Mary Magdalene?
The counterpart of the sun god, Helios, is Artemis, the goddess of the moon. In an ancient temple in Ephesus there are two clues that helped Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson understand the meaning of the bees in the minds of the early Christians, many of whom had been pagan before becoming Christian.
One key is a menorah drawn on the stone steps of the temple, which is not seen in any other temple in the region.
The other key is a statue of the goddess Artemis, which is surrounded by bumps on her chest. Archaeologists usually identify these bumps as breasts. However, a beekeeper led Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson to discover another likely meaning: they are larvae of queen bees.
The authors now needed to discover the connection between Ephesus (today's Turkey) and Magdala. In an archaeological dig they found just what they needed.
In Tel Rehov in Israel there are a group of 3000 years old clay cylinders. It was determined that the cylinders were beehives because they had remains of ancient bees wings inside. The scientists were able to determine that the remains are of Anatolian bees, which come from Turkey.
Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson concluded that Asenath’s bees could have been included in the text to form a connection with Mary Magdalene.
Since Jesus was depicted in antiquity as the god Helios, then where was Mary Magdalene represented as Artemis?
In search of the answer that would give more weight to their argument, Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson went to visit another recent excavation.
In Beit She'an, in the region of Galilee, a sixth century monastery was excavated. In the center of the floor, there is a mosaic that covers the floor of the monastery. The central characters, have over their heads the sun for the man, and the moon for the woman. They are surrounded by 12 men. The church is named in honor of Mary, and names her as co-founder of the Church. Another inscription says that Mary is buried there with her son named Maximus.
Mary Magdalene was depicted as Artemis, the Moon goddess, and the companion of the god.
Why is the Magdalene/Goddess image important?
The importance of Mary Magdalene as the wife of Jesus goes beyond religious beliefs or Christian denominations.
It seeks to return to man his sacred feminine aspect and to recover the balance that the concept of a single and celibate Jesus destroyed. Just as Apollo and his twin sister Artemis represented the masculine and feminine ideals, the sun and moon, man and woman, divine masculine and divine feminine, Jesus and Mary Magdalene represent the union between these two divine aspects of humanity.
The aim of so many authors interested in the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene is not to destroy the Christian faith, but to restore what was lost in the intellectual wars of a few men who decided the fate of a large part of humanity for the last 20 centuries.