Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maeve (aka Mary Magdalen) on the Papyrus Scrap

Maeve has been impatiently waiting for interview requests from The New York Times and other major media since The Times published that article about of a scrap of papyrus. You know the business-card size scrap in which Jesus makes a reference to (feel the shaking of the church’s one foundation) “my wife.” The press has been slow on the uptake, so Maeve has deigned to grant an exclusive interview at this blogsite.  

Interviewer: So Maeve Rhuad (aka Mary Magdalen) I suppose that Jesus might have had a wife comes as no news to you.  Do you feel a little insulted by the furor over a scrap of 2nd century papyrus when you have been trying to state the obvious for over two thousand years?

Maeve: Maybe bemused rather than insulted. People do tend to get more excited over ancient bits of papyrus than recently published novels—unless they are by Dan Brown. That the article made reference only to Dan Brown omitting many other (sorry Dan and thanks for publicity) more accomplished novelists is the insulting part. 

Interviewer:  Why do you suppose the existence of Jesus’s wife (which is to say your existence) has been so suppressed all these centuries? What’s the big deal about a Jewish rabbi having a wife?

Maeve: Many people have speculated about my existence and there have been various heretical traditions about Jesus’s marriage among such sects as the Cathars. But if you want to know the real dirt, it’s all in The Maeve Chronicles. Readers will recall that I got off to a bad start with Peter. When I met him, I was running a holy whorehouse, and his wife came to us to …let’s just say resolve fertility issues. Even so, Peter and I had our rare good moments. But things fell apart when he laid siege to Temple Magdalen to try to take my posthumous daughter by Jesus. We finally cut a deal: I would keep my baby and disappear from the story. I got off to a bad start with Paul of Tarsus, too, and with Jesus’s brother James. There was one moment in my misadventures when I had those three church fathers, so to speak, tied up and held at knife point. I could have nipped church’s long, bloody history in the bud, but all I wanted was information about my daughter—whom they had kidnapped at the age of twelve! So the deal is off, as far as my disappearing from the story is concerned. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Sarah gave her kidnappers the slip, stowed away on a ship and later became a pirate.  

Interviewer:  The scrap of papyrus also refers to a female disciple. Many people assume she is the same woman as one he calls wife. Would you care to comment?

Maeve: Yes, I would, on my own behalf and on behalf of my friend Mary of Bethany who really was a disciple and who fought for the right of women to be not only disciples but leaders in the ecclesia. As for me, I am simply not disciple material. Jesus knew that, and that is why he finally broke down and proposed marriage to me. He was overwhelmed by his following. He needed someone who loved him passionately but was willing to tell him off—which I did from an early age and continued to do to the point of throwing figs at him in the Temple of Jerusalem after he blasted the fig tree (which I restored to life, by the way).  I never converted to Judaism or Christianity—though I did become a whore-priestess of Isis when I encountered that goddess during my sojourn as a slave in Rome.  

Interviewer: In addition to controversy over whether or not you were married to Jesus, there has always been speculation about whether you were a whore, for which there is no scriptural evidence. Many people now insist that casting you as a whore is a patriarchal defamation of your character. Would you care to set the record straight?

Maeve: Far be it from me to defend the patriarchy, but you see they cast me as a penitent whore, and that I never was and never will be. But yes indeed I was a whore, and so would you be if you were a young woman (or man) captured by a Roman slaver and sold on the block, which is what happened to me. When I finally won my freedom (an exciting tale included in The MaeveChronicles) I continued to ply my trade—but on my own sovereign terms at Temple Magdalen—the holy whorehouse I mentioned earlier. My biggest hesitation in marrying Jesus was the prospect of leaving Temple Magdalen and going on the road with The Twelve (though it was usually a lot more than that).

Interviewer: One last question. Can you tell us briefly what it was like being married to Jesus?

Maeve: If you really want to know, read the last part of The Passion of Mary Magdalen. In brief? It was no bed of roses. Jesus is supposed to have said “the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Well, he had my breasts, thank you very much! And I had only his less sumptuous chest. We did not have a typical married life. We never had a home together. We always had a lot of other people around us. Our child was born after he died and rose and disappeared (though lo he is always with me). We had a major rift towards the end of our marriage (see blasted fig tree) but we made it up when he saved me from being stoned as an adulteress. What was it like being married to Jesus? Blissful, agonizing, sweet, short.  Brief yet momentous. A mustard seed, a hazelnut, a scrap of papyrus.

Monday, September 3, 2012


between summer and fall
between one political convention and the other
between the full blue moon and the next new moon
between holiday and school
between breath in, breath out
between tide in, tide out
between young and not so young
between not so old and old
between labor contractions
between life and death
between knowing and not knowing
between toil and rest
between harvest and fallow field
between flying and falling
between waking and dreaming and the reverse
between disasters seen, unseen and unforeseen
between miracles, the same
between notes and grace notes
between the wide world and the small one
between the great silences that shelter us all

As I write, it is Labor Day. I am between chapters of the mystery (the novel-in-progress) but perhaps also the mystery. I started working on this poem a couple of days ago to try to express my sense of what may be a time of the year, a particular time in my life, or a time in our collective life. Whatever 2012 is or isn’t according the Mayan calendar and the plethora of interpretations, it is an election year for the presidency of the United States of America. The economy is in peril and many people remain without viable employment on this day that celebrates workers. Rights that we fought for and believed we had secured are under attack. It is another year of extreme and disastrous weather for many parts of the country.

Like many people, I often feel I don’t do enough to address the challenges of our time and/or I don’t know what to do.  So I just keep doing something, anything, and succeed mainly at wearing myself out. In the last month I have had my tenth bout of Lyme disease. Between the disease itself and the powerful antibiotics, I have experienced a mind-altering fatigue.  I have not taken to my bed (aerobic physical activity helps destroy lyme spirochetes). But I have been pausing more often. Sitting still and gazing. Yesterday I saw a ruby-throated humming bird not more than a foot away from my face. I have spent a lot of time looking at the reflection of sky in the water. Sometimes I just sit and close my eyes and let drawing breath be enough. Are nonattachment and exhaustion next of kin? I don’t know. I am finding it helpful to pause. Not to forget the sorrows of the world, but to remember the underlying, encompassing mysteries. Not sure I am being coherent. All I mean to say is: pause.

That said: here are few announcements and invitations. Please do visit my new website, if you haven’t yet and subscribe to receive updates. Black Earth Institute is featuring a project called Thirty Days Hath September, 30 poems by 30 poets to balance and reflect on all the campaign speak with which we are being bombarded. My poem, a ghazal entitled…Who Will Listen will be posted on my birthday, September 27th.  You can subscribe to Black Earth Institute’s blog   to have these poems delivered to your mailbox.

I will be writing quarterly for Feminism andReligion, a refreshing and thought-provoking blogsite. Please do visit. My next post will be published on October 20th. It is possible that Maeve (who is alive and well and trotting the globe) will write it for me.

Local folks, I will be at COTA (Celebration of the Arts) in New Paltz on Saturday, October 6th,  performing from an early novel How to Spin Gold and talking about fairytales. On Sunday, November 11th, I will be speaking at the Pine Plains Library. Details forthcoming at my website .

I am having fun writing the mystery novel, as yet untitled. After writing in Maeve’s  voice for twenty years, it is quite a change to write in the 3rd person again from four different points of view. More on that another time. Suggestions on topics for this blog are welcome. Mostly I want to be in touch and wish you a beautiful Autumn.

Note: even though I have a new email address, I have not been able to persuade to make the change, so this blog will be delivered to you from my old address.