SOMETHING ABOUT MARY MAGDALENE -- TV DOCUMENTARY FEATURING RAMON JUSINO THE GOSPEL OF MARY: LISTENING TO THE BELOVED DISCIPLE by Esther A. deBoer THE GOSPELS OF MARY: THE SECRET TRADITION OF MARY MAGDALENE, THE COMPANION OF JESUS by Marvin W. Meyer THE GOSPEL OF MARY OF MAGDALA: JESUS AND THE FIRST WOMAN APOSTLE by Karen L. King THE WOMAN WITH THE ALABASTER JAR by Margaret Starbird THE GODDESS IN THE GOSPELS by Margaret Starbird MAGDALENE'S LOST LEGACY by Margaret Starbird THE RED TENT by Anita Diamant THE COMMUNITY OF THE BELOVED DISCIPLE by Raymond E. Brown THE GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE Edited by Jean-Yves Leloup, et al THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY IN ENGLISH Edited by James M. Robinson
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The following essay was written by Margaret Starbird, and is published here with her permission. I was fascinated with her observations after several discussions about them. I asked her to write something on it that I could post on this site. It is with much gratitude for her having taken the time to put this together that I present this here.
-- R. K. Jusino

The Little Mermaid and the
Archetype of the Lost Bride.


by Margaret Starbird
© 1999


Ariel, the "little mermaid" in the Disney® film, is much more than a fairy tale for little girls. Rather, she is a powerful metaphor for the plight of the "Sacred Feminine" over the last several thousand years of western civilization. Since Mary Magdalene, the "Lost Bride" in the Christian story, is a "carrier" of the Sacred Feminine, (in fact, a composite of Aphrodite, Athene, and Demeter, not to mention similarities with Isis, Inanna and Astarte--and the Holy Sophia!), this discussion is relevant especially to her. She was to have been the Lady of the Age of Pisces as Christ was its Lord, forming together the sacred mandala of "hieros gamos" for the Age of the Fishes.

What happened to this "Goddess" of the ancient world--she who was "Queen of Heaven and Earth"? She has been systematically devalued and made diminutive, relegated into the watery depths of our unconscious (like Ariel, the seventh of seven sisters), controlled and patronized by the "benevolent" patriarchy (Ariel's father, King Triton, in the Disney movie). Ariel's face is dark, like that of the Bride in the Song of Songs (1:5), "swarthy" from her labor in her brothers' vineyards. And she has long wavy red hair, a commonly held attribute of Mary Magdalene.



And what is the dream and desire of Ariel, the littlest mermaid? Why, to walk upon the green earth, out in the sunlight. It is interesting to note that in the Disney film, it is not Ariel who needs to be saved, but rather it is the "handsome Prince" who is in deep trouble, shipwrecked and dying (the condition of the partriarchy at the dawn of Aquarius??) it is Ariel who is HIS redeemer, not the other way around!



In her cave under the ocean, Ariel collects artifacts from Spanish galleons shipwrecked at sea. She examines the commonplace items used by humans and wonders what they are for and what it would be like to be human. Among her treasures is a painting by Georges de la Tour called "Magdalen with the Smoking Flame." Mary is gazing at a candle burning on the table beside her. In the film, Ariel tries to pluck the flame out of the picture.



Of all the possible pictures available from art galleries around the world, it is incredibly significant that the directors of the Disney® film chose to place Mary Magdalene at the bottom of the sea, for it is SHE who represents the lost Bride and the archetype of the "Sacred Feminine" as partner in Christian mythology. She also represents the Church as Bride and was recognized as the model for "ekklesia" by the early Christian fathers -- the "beloved community" redeemed by Christ. In this connection, it is almost uncanny that the little mermaid is called Ariel, for Ariel is a synonym for Jerusalem, the Holy City besieged (see Isaiah 29:1-8). Either the use of these symbols was deliberate on the part of the directors of the film, or it rose spontaneously from the depths of their unconscious and was intuited to be appropriate!



And what is the condition of young Ariel? She, too, is besieged. She is chided and teased about her wish to be human. Her kindly father and the sea witch even conspire to prevent her from being joined with her beloved. Her voice is stolen and she is unable to speak her truth. In a similar way, Magdalene's voice was "stolen" when she was called prostitute (without any scriptural justification whatsoever!). Her story was desecrated, her robes and mantle of honor, like those of the Bride in the Canticle, were stripped from her by the "guardians of the walls" (5:7).

In the film, the little mermaid does not carry a book and a mirror by accident. These are icons readily identified in Medieval art. The mirror is not just a symbol for feminine vanity but represents the role of the material world (Mater, mother, matter) to manifest the Divine in "the flesh," as the moon mirrors the sun. The "Sophia" is called the "immaculate mirror" of Divine energy. The book represents all natural and spiritual law -- science and revelation -- and the Wisdom of seeking to know God's precepts. In Medieval times the adage "Nothing is without meaning" applied to every icon in every painting. I would love to ask the Disney® film director if these icons were used by holy accident -- or by design.



An interesting aside is that the Merovingian bloodline, identified as the "vine of Mary" in the heresy of the Holy Grail, is said to have had a mermaid as a progenitoress and to be descended from a king "Merovee" who was half man, half fish. Mermaids are prominent among the medieval watermarks related to the heresy of the bloodline, and some are rendered with the fleur-de-lis of the Merovingians entwined around their double tails. The connection of Mary Magdalene with the mermaid and the "Queen of the Sea" is very old.

What is the ultimate desire of the "devalued" Feminine archetype personified by "Ariel"? Of course, it is to be reunited with the "Divine Masculine" in sacred partnership -- not sublimated to his interests as her savior and mentor, but as his partner, his Beloved and his equal -- something women are barely able to imagine after centuries of being the "little sister," one of the poignant epithets of the Bride in the Song of Songs! (8:8)



Carl Jung speaks of the condition of the patriarchy at the end of the age when its energy has been spent and it is no longer able to uphold the "establishment" it has built over the millennia. The "masculine" suffers burnout. Jung calls it the "enantiodromia." At some point, the feminine rises and returns to lend her strength and for a period the two are reconciled and unite to forge a new cultural "thrust" for the next age. It is time now for the "sacred feminine" to reemerge to play her role in the waning hours of the Age of Pisces, for her "prince" can't be whole without her!

How interesting that the image of the little mermaid, with the MM's of Mary Magdalene formed at the ends of her two tails and in her crown, is posted at streetcorners worldwide in the form of the Starbucks® logo! She is the "siren" calling to us from our unconscious, hoping that we will hear her voice! She is intent on finding her way into our conscious lives as she rises to join her Beloved!



Ave Millennium -- MM!
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Copyright © 1999 -- Margaret Starbird. This essay is posted here with her permission.

Posted: November 7, 1999


Margaret Starbird is the author of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar: Mary Magdalen and the Holy Grail (1993) and The Goddess in the Gospels: Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine (1998)

Margaret Starbird's e-mail address: starbird@wa.net
Margaret Starbird's webpage: www.MargaretStarbird.net




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