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14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine

Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene

Published by Bear & Company
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



About The Book

A practical guide for inviting the wisdom of Mary Magdalene into everyday life

• Provides a unique workbook for use in the spiritual pathwork of Magdalene Circles

• Includes wisdom stories, guided meditations, journaling questions, and essays by Margaret Starbird, author of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar

• Designed for those involved in Magdalene Circles and those interested in applying the sacred feminine wisdom of the Goddess to their lives

Women’s circles have been called a “revolutionary-evolutionary movement hidden in plain sight” by Jean Shinoda Bolen and have been hailed as capable of affecting global change. Magdalene Circles are groups of women who focus their shared energies on the wisdom of Mary Magdalene to gain insight into the role of the sacred feminine in their own lives and to help them advance on their spiritual paths.

This book offers 14 lessons to help understand the wisdom offered by Mary Magdalene’s story and mythos. Among the lessons are prophecies of the bride, why we need the bride, Magdalene’s archetypal pattern of descent, and how modern women carry the Grail. Well-suited for the individual reader as well as a group, each lesson includes an introduction, guided meditation, questions for journaling, and an essay by Margaret Starbird as well as suggestions for group sharing. Placing Mary Magdalene within the pattern of “cyclic renewal” of earth-based religions, this book offers the chance to incorporate the sacred feminine wisdom of Mary Magdalene into everyday life for Christians and spiritual feminists alike.



The Weeping Magdalene

The One Who Cries

One of the identifying features of Mary Magdalene in iconography is a tear on her cheek or a handkerchief pressed to her eyes. Her tear is often visible in medieval paintings and statues, reflecting the fact that the only Mary who cries in the Gospels of the New Testament is the one called “the Magdalene.” This trait is reflected in the term maudlin in English, which means “overly sentimental.” But it is one of the ageold characteristics of the Goddess who cries over the broken body of her Lover in the ancient pagan mythologies. She is the compassionate one, sympathetic and empathetic, moved to tears over the plight of her friends and family.
In the Gospels, while the Virgin Mary “ponders her sorrows in her heart,” Mary Magdalene cries. She cries at the tomb of her brother Lazarus (John 11), and Jesus is so moved by her tears that he raises Lazarus from the tomb. She cries over the feet of Jesus at the banquet in Bethany (John 12) and wipes her tears from his feet with her hair. Here Jesus is moved to protect her from the complaints of Judas about the wasted value of her fragrant ointment. She cries at the empty tomb of Jesus on Easter morning (John 20). First the two angels seated in the tomb ask her why she is crying, and then, a few minutes later, Jesus, whom she mistakes for the gardener, asks her the same question: “Woman, why are you crying?” Mary’s tears recall the prophetic passage addressed to the “Magdal-eder” by the prophet Micah almost seven hundred years before: “Why are you crying? Have you no king? Has your counselor/mentor perished, that you cry aloud like a woman in labor?” (Micah 4:8–9).
There is no mistaking this woman whose emotions are so heartfelt and whose devotion to Jesus is so passionate. She is clearly the Beloved, faithful to Jesus throughout his ministry in Palestine and even to his grave. It is she who is the model for contemplative souls seeking union with the Divine-- one-on-one, heart-to-heart. She is the mirror of Christ’s love for us; her love for him is only a shadow of his love for her! We can imagine her tears of sorrow changing to tears of joy as she encounters her Beloved risen in the garden, reaching out to her, clasping her close, whispering her name, that name, which in its very essence reflects her tears: Mary--“the bitter salt sea.”
In connecting with the tears of Mary Magdalene, we reclaim our ability to live authentically, to express deeply felt compassion, to rejoice in our humanity and the gifts of our five senses, culminating in our mystical union with the Beloved. “Those who sowed in tears shall reap rejoicing, and they shall come home, bearing their sheaves” (Psalm 126:5–6).


Tears happen when we love. In our Christian story the many tears of Mary Magdalene were often misunderstood or criticized by those around her, except Jesus. Perhaps the others had lost awareness that one of the ways the Bride of the Messiah King would be recognized was by her tears.
We believe Jesus knew that he and Mary Magdalene were enacting the ancient pattern of Earth’s spirituality, the pattern of cyclic renewal of life. In those ancient stories, the queen of the land falls in love with a hero and chooses him as king and lover to give her a child; then he dies. The queen’s love for him ensures birth and blessings for her land, and also causes her great sorrow when he dies. This is the pattern of life of our Earth and our bodies, with the cyclic renewal of seed, growth, harvest, death, and seed again . . . on and on in never ending abundance. Love, birth, death. Jesus and Mary the Magdalene lived this pattern.
Tears are natural all along the way, for it is a story rich in feelings, one that is lived by each of us. If there weren’t tears, our hearts wouldn’t be with us, only our head and intellect. Mary Magdalene lived the way of the heart, the way of deep feeling.
Other people questioned Mary Magdalene’s tears, but Jesus was moved by her tears, because he loved her. He protected her tearful reactions, telling others to let her be and to listen to her. In Mary Magdalene’s weeping and the way it touched Jesus’ heart, we see God’s intention that we should include the heart in our life journey. In Jesus, we see the masculine spirit moved emotionally by the feminine spirit’s capacity to feel life deeply and to love.
Mary Magdalene’s weeping lets us know that we are loved for our ability to feel our lives deeply and be guided by our heart.


The Weeping Magdalene

In myself I have the wisdom of her.
She has given me bravery
Whenever I need it.
When grief and tears come,
Like her I do not waiver at the sight of dissention, but I
feel and lift myself
In the face of danger.
I have the vision of myself as whole and the ability to
access this wisdom at any time.
Like in each new spring, with each new bud on the
Hallelujah, I am whole and I have risen.
Amen and Blessed Be.

--Susan Kehoe-Jergens

About The Authors

Joan Norton, a licensed psychotherapist with 25 years of experience helping women, founded the Los Angeles Mary Magdalene Circle. The author of The Mary Magdalene Within and a contributor to Secrets of Mary Magdalene, she lives in Washington state.

Roman Catholic scholar Margaret Starbird’s extensive study of history, symbolism, medieval art, mythology, psychology, and the Bible uncovers new and compelling evidence that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalen. Starbird’s investigation of this suppressed history calls for a restoration of the feminine principle to its intended place in the canon of Christianity.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Bear & Company (March 3, 2009)
  • Length: 144 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781591430919

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Raves and Reviews

“Joan Norton and Margaret Starbird have written an inspiring guide for women to create their own Mary Magdalene circles. The simplicity of their lessons provides confidence and encouragement to the beginner and offers a basis for further creativity for the more experienced seeker of the Divine Feminine within.”

– Barry Dunford, author of Vision of Albion: The Key to the Holy Grail

“Joyfully delve into the mysteries of Mary Magdalene with this wonderful new book. It features group circles that combine traditional seasonal motifs with the journey of Mary Magdalene, then links these motifs to our own life journey, encouraging us to discover inner wisdom and understanding. Rich and intelligent essays on related lore are provided by well-known Magdalene author Margaret Starbird. The blending of the lessons and essays provides a work that inspires us to deepen our journey into the essence of Mary Magdalene. Highly recommended.”

– Jennifer Reif, author of The Holy Book of Mary Magdalene and Mysteries of Demeter

“The faster we awaken the Sacred Feminine within all of us, the faster we can save the world. Don’t delay. Drink in the wisdom of Norton and Starbird, who offer Mary Magdalene as the archetype of the Divine Bride of love, sensuality, and wholeness.”

– Karen Tate, author of Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations and Walking an Ancient Path: Rebirt

“Joan Norton and Margaret Starbird’s suggestions for approaching the encounter with Mary Magdalene integrate some of the most precious traditions known to women’s history: building caring communities, gathering together as a way of birthing new life and knowledge, and sharing devotional experience.”

– Martha Mathews Libster, Ph.D., R.N., historian and author of Enlightened Charity and Herbal Diplomat

“As a sexual abuse survivor, this is a book I celebrate! Sexual abuse thrives in cultures like ours that banish the Sacred Feminine, and here is a book that shows how to awaken her and bring her back. The very thought is healing.”

– Sandra Pope, author of Growing Up without the Goddess: A Journey through Sexual Abuse to the Sacred

“Joan Norton and Margaret Starbird have created a link to the long-hidden mystery of the holy marriage and family of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This loving journey is shared in simple and graceful ways, allowing us to discover the Feminine Face of God, follow the signs, and practice in community and as individuals. I highly recommend beginning your own journey.”

– Tina Carey, author of God’s Messengers for Today’s Women

14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine embodies the leadership spirit of the Magdalene and invites us into her mysteries through personal experiences, thoughtful scholarship, and guided meditations. Norton and Starbird have written a book that shows Mary Magdalene is both an ancient representation of the sacred feminine and a potent role model for contemporary women.”

– Kris Oster, Ph.D., cofounder of Gaia Festival

“Joan and Margaret deliver the story of Mary Magdalene in a way that puts into balance the truth of the Sacred Feminine. I feel within my very DNA that the oppression and suffering of the feminine that has occurred through all time has somehow been put right. I have been inspired to begin a Magdalene Circle in my own community, and I know women everywhere will be feeling the same call after reading this very important material.”

– Carrie Woodburn, integrative energy healer

"Both new age and women's studies collection will find inspiring this guide on how to create a personal Mary Magdalene circle."

– The Midwest Book Review, California Bookwatch, July 2009

"This exciting, intriguing, and practical book presents an invaluable opportunity to women of all religious paths to connect with a vital force of the divine feminine. Highly recommended."

– Wendy Hawksley, Sage Woman, No. 77, Autumn 2009

"Whether one believes in her as an equal to Jesus, or as a Jungian archetype representing the shadow side of the feminine, the exercises in this book will help readers reclaim those parts of themselves."

– Swan and Iris Solstice 2009, Dec 2009

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