Hildegard – Story of a Sinning Soul

Still reading up on Hildegard of Bingen from the book “St. Hildegard of Bingen” by Carmen Acevedo Butcher (excellent, excellent read) and I found another section I would like to share. This translation of the first section of vision four from SCIVIAS sounds quite gnostic in nature. The painting I included in the post is from this section of the SCIVIAS.

Who am I?  A pilgrim wandering in death’s shadow.  What path am I on?  The wrong one.  What comfort can I get?  That given to pilgrims.
I know what I should have become.  My body was designed as a sacred temple, a sanctuary shining with gems brighter than the sun and stars, because they radiate God’s magnificence.  The roof and the walls should have all been made of gems.  The stairs would have been crystal, and the streets gold.  I was made to be friends with the angels because I’m a living breath God placed in mud.  I was supposed to experience God.  But no!  When I saw I could focus on anything I wanted, my inmost self turned its attention to the sinister North.
I regret that so much now!  For I was captured, robbed, blinded and violated.  My garment was torn.  I was dragged to a gruesome place and subjected to the worst kind of slavery.  My captors hit me and made me eat with pigs.  They put me on the rack and tortured me.  They threw me outside and stung me with scorpions.  
Then they shouted at me, laughing, “Where’s your honor now?”

Hildegard of Bingen: To Sophia…

The other week, youtube’s algorithm recommended to me some music written by Hildegard of (von) Bingen. I was not aware of who she was, but decided to give it a listen and really liked what I heard. Doing some research, I realized how amazing this person was. Yesterday while browsing through some books at a local store, I spotted one titled “St. Hildegard of Bingen: Doctor of the Church” by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. Flipping through it, I spotted a poem/song dedicated to Sophia (Wisdom). Being an advocate of Sophia, this really warmed my heart. So of course, I purchased the book and want to share this particular piece with you all. Browsing the net last night, I seen Hildegard also did a painting of Sophia, which I have included in this post as the main picture. I am looking forward to studying more about Hildegard as she seems to be quite fascinating. And as a synchronicity to all of this, just a few days ago was Hildegard’s Feast Day (Sept 17).

To Sophia
You soar, sustain, and animate,
climb, dive, and sing
Your way through this world,
giving life to every beating

You never end.
   You keep circling, crossing over us
on three wings----
   one speeds through heaven,
   one holds the earth together with a kiss as light as dew,
   and one whooshes over, under, and through our lives.
We praise You, Wisdom!

The Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene (#3 of 3)

Here is the final part of my translation of the Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene. This sectionof the story includes her death and some legends relating to her. I found this exercise of modernizing the story to be quite enlightening. I plan on doing more in the future.

It happened that a priest, who desired to lead a solitary life, took a small residence for himself not far from the place of Mary Magdalene.  Then one day, our Lord opened the eyes of that priest and he saw in what manner the angels descended into the place where the blessed Mary Magdalene dwelt, and how they lifted her into the air, and after a hour, brought her again with divine praising to the same place.  And then the priest desired greatly to know the truth of this marvelous vision, and made his prayers to Almighty God, and went with great devotion unto the place.  When he approached a stone’s cast to it, his thighs began to swell and feel feeble.  His entrails within him began to lack breath and sigh for fear.  As soon as he returned, he had his thighs all whole and ready to go.  When he enforced himself to go to the place, his body began to feel weak and would not move.  He then understood that it was a secret celestial place where no human could enter.  He called out the name of Jesus and said “I conjure thee by our Lord, that if thou be a man or other reasonable creature, that dwell in this cave, answer me and tell me the truth.”  And when he had said this three times, the blessed Mary Magdalene answered “Come closer and thou shall know what thou desires.”  And then he came trembling unto the half way, and she said to him “Does thou not remember the gospel of Mary Magdalene, the renowned sinful woman, which washed the feet of our Saviour with her tears and dried them with the hair of her head, and desired to have forgiveness of her sins?”  And the priest said to her “I remember it well, that it has been more than thirty years that the holy church believed and confessed that it be done.”  And then she said “I am she that by the space of thirty years have been here without the company of any person, and like as it was suffered to thee yesterday to see me, in like wise, I am every day lifted up by the hands of angels into the air, and have deserved to hear with my bodily ears the sweet song of the celestial company.  And because it is showed to me of our Lord, that I shall depart out of this world.  Go to Maximin and say to him that the next day after the resurrection of our lord, in the same time that he is accustomed to arise and go to Matins, that he alone enter into his oratory, and that by the ministry and service of angels, he shall find me there.”  And the priest heard the voice of her, like as if it had been the voice of an angel, but saw nothing.  He then went to Saint Maximin and told to him by order.  Saint Maximin was replenished of great joy, and thanked greatly our Lord.  And on the said day and hour, he entered into his oratory and saw the blessed Mary Magdalene standing in a choir of angels, and whom was lifted from the earth about four feet.  Praying to our Lord, she held up her hands, and when Saint Maximin saw her, he was afraid to approach her.  She returned to him and said “Come toward mine own father and flee not thy daughter.”  When he approached her, as it is in the books of Saint Maximin, for the vision that she had of angels everyday, the cheer and visage of her shone as clear it had been the rays of the sun.  And then all the clerks and priests were called, and Mary Magdalene received the body and blood of our Lord of the hangs of the bishop with great abundance of tears.  Afterwards, she stretched her body toward the altar and her right blessed soul departed from the body and went to our Lord.  After it departed, there issued out of the body an odor so sweet smelling that it remained there for seven days.  The blessed Maximin anointed the body of Mary with precious ointments and buried it honorably, and after commanded that his body should be buried by hers after his death.

Legends after her death….

Hegesippus, with other books of Josephus accord enough with the said story, and Josephus said in his treatise that the blessed Mary Magdalene, after the ascension of our Lord, for the burning love that she had to Jesus Christ and for the grief and discomfort that she had for the absence of her master our Lord, she would never see any man.  But after she came into the country of Aix, she went into the desert and dwelt there for thirty years without knowing of any man or woman.  And he said that everyday at the seven hours canonical, she was lifted in the air of the angels.  But he said that when the priest came to her, he found her enclosed in her cell; and she required of him a vestment, and he delivered to her one, which she clothed and covered herself with.  She went with him to the church and received the communion, and then made her prayers with joined hands, and rested in peace.

In the time of Charles the great, in the year of our Lord, 771, Gerard, Duke of Burgundy, had no child by his wife, gave large alms to poor people and founded many churches and monasteries.  When he had the abbey of Vesoul, he and the abbot of the monastery sent a monk with a good reasonable fellowship into Aix, to bring back any relics of Saint Mary Magdalene.  When the monk arrived to said city, he found it all destroyed by non-Christians.  Then by adventure, he found the sepulchre, for the writing upon the sepulchre of marble showed well that the blessed lady Mary Magdalene rested and lay there, and the history of her was marvelously entailed and carved into the sepulchre.  The monk opened it that night and took the relics back to where he was lodging.  That same night Mary Magdalene appeared to that monk saying “Doubt thee nothing, make an end of the work.”  He then returned homeward until he came half a mile from the monastery.  He did not remove the relics until the abbot and monks came from the process, and he handed them over honestly.  Soon after, the duke’s wife had a child.

There was a knight that had a custom that every year, he would go on a pilgrimage to the body of Saint Mary Magdalene.  During a battle, the knight was slain.  As his friends wept for him, they said with sweet and devout quarrels, “Why did the servant of Mary Magdalene to die without confession and penance?”  Then suddenly the dead arose and called for a priest.  When the priest arrived, the knight confessed to him with great devotion, and received the blessed sacrament, and then rested in peace.

There was a ship with men and women that was sinking into the sea, and among them was a woman with child, who were about to be drowned.  The woman cried fast on Mary Magdalene for help, making a vow that if she might be saved by her merits, and escape the peril, if she had a son, she would give him to the monastery.  As soon as she made her vow, a woman of honorable habit and beauty appeared to her, and took her by the chin and brought her to the shore all safe, while the others in ship perished and drowned.  When the woman had her child, it was a son and she honored her vow.

Some say that Saint Mary Magdalene was wedded to Saint John the Evangelist when Christ called him from the wedding, and when he was called from her, she had been angered that her husband was taken from her, and went and gave herself to all delight.  Because it was not appropriate that the calling of Saint John should be the reason for her damnation, our Lord converted her mercifully to penance, and because he had taken from her sovereign delight of the flesh, he replenished her with sovereign delight spiritual before all other, that is the love of God.  It is said that he glorified Saint John before all others with the sweetness of his familiarity, because he had taken him from the preceding delight.

There was a blind man who was led to the monastery of the blessed Mary Magdalene to visit her body.  His leader said to him that he saw the church and then the blind man cried out and said in a high voice “O blessed Mary Magdalene, help me that I may deserve once to see thy church.”  And at once, his eyes were opened and was able to see all things clearly.

There was another man that wrote his sins in a journal and laid it under the coverture of the altar of Mary Magdalene, meekly praying to her seeking pardon and forgiveness.  After a short amount of time, he took his journal and found all his sins erased and struck out.  Another man was being held in prison, in chains, for debt of money.  He often called onto Mary Magdalene for help.  On one night, a fair woman appeared to him and broke all his chains, opened the door and commanded him to go his way.  When he saw himself loose, he fled away.

There was a clerk of Flanders named Stephen Rysen, a man of great immoral and entertained all manner of sins.  And such things concerning his health, he would not hear.  Nevertheless, he had great devotion in the blessed Mary Magdalene and fasted her vigil, and honored her feast.  During a visit to her tomb, he was not all asleep nor awake, when Mary Magdalene appeared to him as a fair woman, sustained with two angels, one on each side, and she said to him “Stephen, why does thou consider the deeds of my merits to be unworthy?  For what reason does thou not, at instance of my merits and prayers, be moved to penance?  For the time thou began to have devotion in me, I have always prayed to God for thee firmly.  Arise and repent, and I shall not leave you till you are reconciled to God.”  He felt his body fill with such great grace, that he renounced the world and entered into religion to live a perfect life.  Then at his death bed, Mary Magdalene was seen standing beside him with a choir of angels, which bared the soul up to heaven in the likeness of a white dove.  Let us pray to this blessed Mary Magdalene that she gives us grace to do penance her for our sins, that after this life, we may come to her in everlasting bliss in heaven.  Amen.

Check out the 1483 version at: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/goldenlegend/goldenlegend-volume4.asp#Mary%20Magdalene

2021 version by Bill Piper

The Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene (#2 of 3)

Here is the second post regarding my “modern” translation of the “Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene” from the Legenda sanctorum (Readings of the Saints) by Jacobus de Varagine. This section still follows the man and his wife from the previous post, and ends with Mary Magdalene going into solitude. I hope you enjoy this read and be sure to check back in a week (or so) when I have the final part of the story translated.

As always, I am not a scholar or some professional, so please bare with any mistakes I may have made. 😉

And when they made their course, sailing a day and night, there arose a great storm.  The wind increased and grew over hideous.  During the troubling of the sea and among the great waves, the lady gave birth to a son.  During his birth, the lady had died and the child, crying for his mother, made a piteous noise.  This brought great sorrow to the father, seeing his wife die and not knowing if the child will survive.

Alas!  What sorrow was this to the father, to have a son who’s birth caused the death of his wife, and the son may not live due to having none to nourish him.  Alas!  What shall this pilgrim do, seeing his wife dead and his son crying after the breast of his mother?  And the pilgrim wept strongly and said “Alas!  What shall I do?  I desired to have a son, and I have lost both the mother and possibly the son.”  And the mariners then said “This dead body must be cast into the sea, or else we all shall perish.  For as long as her body abides with us, this storm shall not cease.”  And when they had taken the body to cast into the sea, the husband said “Abide and suffer a little, and if you will not spare my wife, at least spare the crying child.  I pray you to wait awhile, for to know if the mother be reeling from the pain and might revive.”  And while he spoke to them, the ship men spotted a mountain not far from their ship.  They said that it was best to set the ship towards land and to bury there, to save the body from being devoured by sea creatures.  The man agreed with the mariners and they brought the body to the mountain.  On land, they tried to dig a pit for the body but found the ground was hard as rock thus they left the body lying on the ground and covered it with a mantle.  The father laid his little son at the breast of his dead wife and said weeping “O’ Mary Magdalene, why did you come to Marseille to cause great loss and set me upon this evil adventure?  Why did thou ask of God that my wife should conceive only to die during childbirth?  And now the child she conceived will perish because it has no way to nurse.  This I had by thy prayer, and to thee I commend them, to whom I have commended all my goods.  And also I commend to thy God, if he be mighty, that he remember the soul of the mother, that he by thy prayer have pity on the child that he does not perish.”  Then he covered his wife’s body, along with the child, with the mantle and returned to the ship and went forth with his journey.

When he came to Saint Peter, Saint Peter came against him.  When he saw the sign of the cross upon his shoulder, he demanded who he was and wherefore he came.  To whom Peter said “Peace be to thee, thou are welcomed and in good counsel.  Be not sadden by your wife’s sleep and the little child that rests with her, for our Lord is almighty, for to give to whom he will, and to take away that he has given, and to reestablish and give again that has taken, and to turn all heaviness and weeping into joy.”  Peter then led him into Jerusalem and showed him all the places where Jesus Christ preached and did miracles, the place where he suffered death, and where he ascended into heaven.  When he was well-informed of Saint Peter in the faith, and it had been two years since he had departed from Marseille, he took his ship to return to his county.  

As they sailed by the sea, they came, by the ordinance of God, by the rock where the body of his wife and son were left.  They arrived onto the mountain, the little child, whom was protected by Mary Magdalene, went to the seaside and started throwing stones into the sea.  When the man saw the little child playing, he was marveled at what he was.  When the child spotted them, he was afraid as he had never seen people before.  He ran to his mother’s breast and hid under the mantle.  The father went to find the child.  Upon pulling off the mantle, he found the child suckling the breast of his mother.  The father took the child into his arms and said “O’ Blessed Mary Magdalene, I would be so happy and blessed if my wife were alive, and might live again to come with me to my country.  I know certainly and believe that thou has given me back my son, and had fed and kept him safe for two years on this rock.  Please bring his mother back to full health.”  And with these words, his wife respired and took life, and as if she just woke up from a deep sleep, said “O’ Blessed Mary Magdalene, thou are of great merit and glorious, for in the pains of my deliverance, thou were my midwife, and in my necessities, thou has accomplished to me the service of a chambermaid.”  And when her husband heard that thing, he marveled as much and said “Does my dear and beloved wife live?”  To whom she said “Yes, certainly I live, and am now first coming from the pilgrimage from where you came, and all in like wise as Saint Peter led you in Jerusalem, and showed to you all the places where our Lord suffered death, was buried and ascended to heaven, and many other places, I was with you, with Mary Magdalene, which led and accompanied me, and showed to me all the places which I will remember and have in mind.”  And there, she recounted to him all the miracles that her husband had seen and never once failed in her recollections.

And then the good pilgrim received his wife and child, and went to the ship.  Soon after, they came to the port of Marseille and found the blessed Mary Magdalene preaching with her disciples.  They kneeled down to her feet and recounted to her all what had happened to them, and then received baptism of Saint Maximin.  They then destroyed all the temples of the idols in the city of Marseille, and made churches of Jesus Christ.  And with one accord, they chose the blessed Saint Lazarus to be bishop of that city.  Afterward, they came to the city of Aix, and by great miracles and preaching, they brought the people there to the faith of Jesus Christ.  There, Saint Maximin was ordained to be bishop.  In the meanwhile, the blessed Mary Magdalene, desirous of sovereign contemplation, sought a right sharp desert and took place there which was ordained by an angel of God, and to abode there for thirty years without knowledge of anyone.  In this place, she had no comfort of running water, no solace of trees and no herbs.  That was because our Redeemer had ordained for her to not partake of bodily meats but rather that of a celestial nature.  Everyday at each canonical hour, she was lifted up in the air of angels, and heard the glorious song of the heavenly companies with her bodily ears.  She was fed and filled with right sweet meats, and then was brought again by the angels to her proper place, in which she had no need of bodily nourishing.

Stay tuned for part 3!

Check out the 1483 version at: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/goldenlegend/goldenlegend-volume4.asp#Mary%20Magdalene

2021 version by Bill Piper

The Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene

I’ve heard of the legend of Mary Magdalene arriving in France after the death of Jesus but never did track the story down until recently. This legend comes from the the book titled  Legenda sanctorum (Readings of the Saints) by Jacobus de Varagine and released around 1260 CE-ish. The book is also known by the title, “The Golden Legend.” The book is a collection of stories relating to various saints that made it’s way around medieval Europe and was added to throughout that time period. I am focusing on the Mary Magdalene section. I looked online for a recent translation (originally published in Latin), but the only translation I could find was from 1483 and it’s in Middle English. I’m sure there are other translations but to view free online, that’s all I could find. So I decided to “modernize” this Middle English translation into something that is a bit easier to read. An exercise that I thought would be rather simple has turned into something a bit more time consuming. So I have to decided to present this legend in three separate blog posts. Please note, I am not a scholar/professor, etc… so excuse any errors I may make. This is a learning experience. I will provide a link to the text I am basing this translation on for those who want to read the 1483 version.

Be aware that this legend has medieval issues like Mary Magdalene being fused with the repentant woman and also being mis-identified as the sister of Lazarus and Martha. It also portrays Mary and her family living in castles. Now, I’m not a castle expert, but I don’t think castles, as we know them, were around during Mary’s time on this planet. But this is an apocrypha of medieval times, so just “go along with it.” I also decided to keep some of the language and not totally turn it into modern English. Hey, I like some of the phrases used. Some areas will resemble their 1483 counterpart very closely, while other areas, I reworked. At any rate, I hope you enjoy part 1 of 3 of my 2021 translation of “The Golden Legend of Mary Magdalene.”

Here follows the life of Saint Mary Magdalene, and first of her name.

Mary is as much to say as bitter, or a lighter, or lighted.  By this be understood, three things that be three, the best parts that she chose.  That is to say, part of penance, part of contemplation within forth, and part of heavenly glory.  And of this treble part is understood that is said by our Lord: Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken from her.  

The first part shall not be taken from her because of the end, which is the following of blessedness. 

The second because of continuance, for the continuance of her life is continued with the contemplation of her country.  

The third by reason of perdurableness; and for as much as she chose the best part of penance, she is said: a bitter sea, for therein she had much bitterness.  

And that appeared in that she wept so many tears that she washed therewith the feet of our Lord.  And for so much as she chose the part of contemplation within forth, she is a lighter, for there she took so largely that she spread it abundantly.  She took the light there, with which after she illuminated the other, and in that she chose the best part of the heavenly glory, she is called the light.  For then she was illuminated of perfect knowledge in thought, and with the light in clearness of body.  Magdalene is as much as to say as abiding culpable.  Or Magdalene is interpreted as closed or shut, or not to be overcome.  Or full of magnificence, by which is showed what she was before her conversion, and what in her conversion, and what after her conversion.  Before her conversion, she was abiding guilty by obligation to everlasting pain.  In the conversion, she was garnished by amour of penance.  She was in the best wise garnished with penance.  For as many delights as she had in her, so many sacrifices were found in her.  And after her conversion, she was praised by overabundance of grace.  For whereas sin abounded, grace over abounded, and was more.

Of Mary Magdalane

Mary Magdalene had her surname of Magdala, a castle, and was born of right noble lineage and parents, which were descended of the lineage of kings.  And her father was named Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis.  She, with her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle of Magdala, which is two miles from Nazareth, and Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and also a great part of Jerusalem, which all these things they departed among them.  In such wise that Mary had the castle Magdala, whereof she had her name Magdalene.   And Lazarus had the part of the city of Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany.  And when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body, and Lazarus his all to knighthood, Martha, whom was wise, governed nobly her brother’s part and also her sister’s, as well as her own.  She administered to knights, her servants, and to poor men, such necessities as they needed.  Nevertheless, after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these things, and brought the value thereof, and laid it at the feet of the apostles.  Then when Magdalene abounded in riches, and because delight is fellow to riches and abundance of things; and for so much as she shone in beauty greatly, and in riches, so much the more she submitted her body to delight, and therefore, she lost her right name and was called a sinner.  

And when our Lord Jesus Christ preached there and in other places, Mary was inspired with the Holy Ghost, and went into the house of Simon Ieprous, whereas our Lord dined.  Because she was a sinner, she did not appear before the just and good people but remained behind at the feet of our Lord, and washed his feet with the tears of her eyes and dried them with the hair from her head, and anointed them with precious ointments.  For the inhabitants of that region used baths and ointments for the over bearing heat of the sun.  And because that Simon the Pharisee thought in himself that, if our Lord had been a very prophet, he would not have allowed a sinful woman to have touched him.  Our Lord then reprimand him of his presumption, and forgave the woman all her sins.  And this is she, the same Mary Magdalene to whom our Lord gave so many great gifts.  And showed so great signs of love, that he took from her seven devils.  He embraced her all in his love, and made her right familiar with him.  She would be his hostess and procuress on his journey, and often times excused her sweetly; for he excused her against the Pharisee which said that she was not clean, and unto her sister that said she was idle, unto Judas, who said that she was careless with goods.  And when he saw her weep, he could not withhold his tears.  And for the love of her, he raised Lazarus, whom had been dead for four days, and healed her sister from the flux of blood which had held her seven years.  And by the merits of her, he made Marcelle, chamberer of her sister Martha, to say that sweet word: Blessed be the womb that bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck.

Mary Magdalene is the one that washed the feet of our Lord and dried them with the hair of her head, and anointed them with precious ointment, and did solemn penance in the time of grace, and was the first that chose the best part, which was at the feet of our Lord, and heard his preaching.  She anointed his head; was night unto the cross at his passion; made ready ointments, and would anoint his body, and would not depart from the monument when his disciples departed.  To whom Jesus Christ appeared first after his resurrection, and was fellow to the apostles, and apostle to the apostles.  Fourteen years after the passion of our Lord, long after the Jews had slain Saint Stephen and cast out the other disciples into neighboring countries to preach the word of God.

There was that time with the apostles, Saint Maximin, which was one of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord, to whom the blessed Mary Magdalene was committed by Saint Peter, and then, when the disciples were departed, Saint Maximin, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Martha, Marcelle and Saint Cedony (who was born blind but was cured by our Lord) and other Christian men were put onto a ship and sent out into the sea without any tackle or rudder, for they were sent to be drowned.  But by the purveyance of Almighty God, the ship landed at Marseille, where no one would receive them to be lodged.  They dwelled and abode under a porch before a temple of the people of that country.  When the blessed Mary Magdalene saw the people assembled at this temple, whom were there to sacrifice to idols, she arose up peacefully with a glad visage, a discreet tongue and well speaking, and began to preach the faith and teachings of Jesus Christ, and the people withdrew from the worshipping of the idols.  They were marveled of the beauty, reason and fair speaking of her.  And it was no marvel that the mouth that had kissed the feet of our Lord so graciously, should be inspired with the word of God more than the other.  

And after that, it happened that the prince of the province and his wife made a sacrifice to the idols to have a child.  Mary Magdalene preached to them of Jesus Christ and forbade them those sacrifices.  And after a little while, Mary Magdalene appeared in a vision to that lady saying “Wherefore thou has so many riches and cause suffering among the poor people, to die from hunger and the cold?”  She doubted and was afraid to speak of this vision to her lord.  And then the second night, she appeared to her again and said in likewise, if she did not warn her husband to comfort the poor and needy, a great menace will overcome them.  Yet she said nothing to her husband.  And then Mary Magdalene appeared to her and her husband on third night when it was dark with a frowning and angry visage like fire, as if the house had burned, and said “Thou tyrant, who is in member with the devil, and whose wife who is a serpent, an enemy of the cross, who has filled thy belly with food while the people starve.  Whom live in a palace wrapped with clothes of silk but allows the people to live in discomfort, without harbour and takes no regard to them.  Thou shalt not escape without any punishment for living this way for so long.”  And when Mary Magdalene said this, she departed away.  Then the lady awoke and sighed.  The husband sighed strongly as well for the same cause, and trembled.  And then she said “Sir, have thou seen the vision that I have seen?”  “I have seen,” said he, “that I am greatly marveled of, and am afraid of what shall we do.”  And his wife said “It is more profitable for us to obey her, than to run into the ire of her God, whom she preached of.”  For which cause, they received them into their house, and ministered to them all that was necessary and needful to them.  Then as Mary Magdalene preached on a time, the said prince said to her “When will thou defend the law that thou preach?”  And she answered “Certainly, I am ready to defend it,” as she that is confirmed everyday by miracles, and by the predication of our master, Saint Peter, whom now sit at the seat of Rome.  To whom then the prince said “I and my wife are ready to obey thee in all things, if thou may get thy God whom you preach of, that might give us a child.”  And then Mary Magdalene said it could be done and then she prayed unto our Lord that he would of his grace give them a son.  And our Lord heard her prayers, and the lady conceived.  Then her husband would go to Saint Peter to see if Mary Magdalene was truly preaching of Jesus Christ.  Then his wife said to him “What will you do sir, will you go without me?  Or when you depart, I shall depart with you, and when you return, I shall return, and when when you rest and relax, I shall rest and relax.”  To whom her husband answered, “Madam, it shall not be so, for thou art great and the perils of the sea be without number.  Thou be safe, and stay at home and take care of our possessions.”  And the lady would not change her purpose, and fell to her knees, weeping at his feet, demanding he take her with him.  And at last, he consented and granted her request.  Then Mary Magdalene set the sign of the cross on their shoulders, to the end that the fiend might not stop them on their journey.  The couple obtained a ship that was large enough for them and left all their belongings in the keeping of Mary Magdalene, and went forth on their pilgrimage.

Part 2 will be out next week.

Check out the 1483 version at: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/goldenlegend/goldenlegend-volume4.asp#Mary%20Magdalene

2021 version by Bill Piper

The Three Steles of Seth

I wanted to share a video from the ESOTERICA youtube channel in regards to the Three Steles of Seth. For those who have not checked out this channel on youtube, I HIGHLY recommend it! It is ran by Dr. Justin Sledge and he covers a wide range of topics involving esotericism, and Gnosticism is one of his more favorite subjects. He has done several Gnostic related videos, including one on the Books of Jeu. This video I am linking to is of his most recent video on Gnosticism and it speaks of “The Three Steles of Seth”, a small hymn / prayer document that tends to get over looked (and I’m guilty of that as well). Here is the translated text from gnosis.org and below that I will link to the video. Enjoy!

Translated by James R. Robinson

The revelation of Dositheos about the three steles of Seth, the Father of the living and unshakable race, which he (Dositheos) saw and understood. And after he had read them, he remembered them. And he gave them to the elect, just as they were inscribed there. Many times I joined in giving glory with the powers, and I became worthy of the immeasurable majesties. Now they (the steles) are as follows:

The First Stele of Seth

I bless thee, Father Geradama(s), I, as thine (own) Son, Emmacha Seth, whom thou didst beget without begetting, as a blessing of our God; for I am thine (own) Son. And thou art my mind, O my Father. And I, I sowed and begot; but thou hast seen the majesties. Thou hast stood imperishable. I bless thee, Father. Bless me, Father. It is because of thee that I exist; it is because of God that thou dost exist. Because of thee I am with that very one. Thou art light, since thou beholdest light. Thou hast revealed light. Thou art Mirotheas; thou art my Mirotheos. I bless thee as God; I bless thy divinity. Great is the good Self-begotten who stood, the God who had already stood. Thou didst come in goodness; thou hast appeared, and thou hast revealed goodness. I shall utter thy name, for thou art a first name. Thou art unbegotten. Thou hast appeared in order that thou mightest reveal the eternal ones. Thou art he who is. Therefore thou hast revealed those who really are. Thou art he who is uttered by a voice, but by mind art thou glorified, thou who hast dominion everywhere. Therefore the perceptible world too knows thee because of thee and thy seed. Thou art merciful.

And thou art from another race, and its place is over another race. And now thou art from another race, and its place is over another race. Thou art from another race, for thou art not similar. And thou art merciful, for thou art eternal. And thy place is over a race, for thou hast caused all these to increase; and for the sake of my seed. For it is thou who knows it, that its place is in begetting. But they are from other races, for they are not similar. But their place is over other races, for their place is in life. Thou art Mirotheos.

I bless his power which was given to me, who caused the malenesses that really are to become male three times; he who was divided into the pentad, the one who was given to us in triple power, the one who was begotten without begetting, the one who came from that which is elect; because of what is humble, he went forth from the midst.

Thou art a Father through a Father, a word from a command. We bless thee, Thrice Male, for thou didst unite all through them all, for thou hast empowered us. Thou hast arisen from one; from one thou hast gone forth; thou hast come to one. Thou hast saved, thou hast saved, thou hast saved us, O crown-bearer, crown-giver! We bless thee eternally. We bless thee, once we have been saved, as the perfect individuals, perfect on account of thee, those who became perfect with thee who is complete, who completes, the one perfect through all these, who is similar everywhere.

Thrice Male, thou hast stood. Thou hast already stood. Thou wast divided everywhere. Thou didst continue being one. And those whom thou hast willed, thou hast saved. But thou dost will to be saved all who are worthy.
Thou art Perfect! Thou art Perfect! Thou art Perfect!


The Second Stele of Seth

Great is the first aeon, male virginal Barbelo, the first glory of the invisible Father, she who is called "perfect".

Thou (fem.) hast seen first the one who truly pre-exists because he is non-being. And from him and through him thou hast pre-existed eternally, the non-being from one indivisible, triple power, thou a triple power, thou a great monad from a pure monad, thou an elect monad, the first shadow of the holy Father, light from light.

We bless thee, producer (fem.) of perfection, aeon-giver (fem.). Thou hast seen the eternal ones because they are from a shadow. And thou hast become numerable. And thou didst find, thou didst continue being one (fem.); yet becoming numerable in division, thou art three-fold. Thou art truly thrice, thou one (fem.) of the one (masc.). And thou art from a shadow of him, thou a Hidden One, thou a world of understanding, knowing those of the one, that they are from a shadow. And these are thine in the heart.

For their sake thou hast empowered the eternal ones in being; thou hast empowered divinity in living; thou hast empowered knowledge in goodness; in blessedness thou hast empowered the shadows which pour from the one. Thou hast empowered this (one) in knowledge; thou hast empowered another one in creation. Thou hast empowered him who is equal and him who is not equal, him who is similar and him who is not similar. Thou hast empowered in begetting, and (provided) forms in that which exists to others. [...] Thou hast empowered these. - He is that One Hidden in the heart. - And thou hast come forth to these and from these . Thou art divided among them. And thou dost become a great male noetic First-Appearer.

Fatherly God, divine child, begetter of multiplicity according to a division of all who really are, thou (masc.) hast appeared to them all in a word. And thou (masc.) dost possess them all without begetting and eternally indestructible on account of thee (fem.).

Salvation has come to us; from thee is salvation. Thou art wisdom, thou knowledge; thou art truthfulness. On account of thee is life; from thee is life. On account of thee is mind; from thee is mind. Thou art mind, thou a world of truthfulness, thou a triple power, thou threefold. Truly thou art thrice, the aeon of aeons. It is thou only who sees purely the first eternal ones and the unbegotten ones.

But the first divisions are as thou wast divided. Unite us as thou has been united. Teach us those things which thou dost see. Empower us that we may be saved to eternal life. For we are each a shadow of thee as thou art a shadow of that first pre-existent one. Hear us first. We are eternal ones. Hear us as the perfect individuals. Thou art the aeon of aeons, the all-perfect one who is established.

Thou hast heard! Thou hast heard!
Thou hast saved! Thou hast saved!
We give thanks! We bless thee always! We shall glorify thee!


The Third Stele

We rejoice! We rejoice! We rejoice!
We have seen! We have seen! We have seen the really pre-existent one, that he really exists, that he is the first eternal one.
O Unconceived, from thee are the eternal ones and the aeons, the all-perfect ones who are established, and the perfect individuals.

We bless thee, non-being, existence which is before existences, first being which is before beings, Father of divinity and life, creator of mind, giver of good, giver of blessedness!

We all bless thee, knower, in a glorifying blessing, (thou) because of whom [all these are. ... really, ...], who knows thee, through thee alone. For there is no one who is active before thee. Thou art an only and living spirit. And thou knowest one, for this one who belongs to thee is on every side. We are not able to express him. For thy light shines upon us.

Present a command to us to see thee, so that we may be saved. Knowledge of thee, it is the salvation of us all. Present a command! When thou dost command, we have been saved! Truly we have been saved! We have seen thee by mind! Thou art them all, for thou dost save them all, he who was not saved, nor was he saved through them. For thou, thou hast commanded us.

Thou art one. Thou art one, just as there is one (who) will say to thee: Thou art one, thou art a single living spirit. How shall we give thee a name? We do not have it, For thou art the existence of them all. Thou art the life of them all. Thou art the mind of them all. For thou art he in whom they all rejoice.

Thou hast commanded all these to be saved through thy word [...] glory who is before him, Hidden One, blessed Senaon, he who begat himself, Asineu(s), [...]ephneu(s), Optaon, Elemaon the great power, Emouniar, Nibareu(s), Kandephor(os), Aphredon, Deiphaneus, thou who art Armedon to me, power-begetter, Thalanatheu(s), Antitheus, thou who existeth within thyself, thou who art before thyself - and after thee no one entered into activity.

As what shall we bless thee? We are not empowered. But we give thanks, as being humble toward thee. For thou hast commanded us, as he who is elect, to glorify thee to the extent we are able. We bless thee because we were saved. Always we glorify thee. For this reason we shall glorify thee, that we may be saved to eternal salvation. We have blessed thee, for we are empowered. We have been saved, for thou hast willed always, that we all do this.

We all did this. [...] not through [... aeon ...], the one who was [...], we and those who [...]. He who will remember these and give glory always will become perfect among those who are perfect and impassable beyond all things. For they all bless these individually and together. And afterwards they shall be silent. And just as they were ordained, they ascend. After the silence, they descend from the third. They bless the second; after these the first. The way of ascent is the way of descent.

Know therefore, as those who live, that you have attained. And you taught yourselves the infinite things. Marvel at the truth which is within them, and (at) the revelation.


The Three Steles of Seth

This book belongs to the fatherhood.
It is the son who wrote it.
Bless me O Father. I bless
you, O Father, in peace.

From: http://gnosis.org/naghamm/steles.html

Prayers to the Holy Mary Magdalene

Today, July 22, is the Catholic Feast Day of Mary Magdalene. While I’m not Catholic, I have no issue celebrating Mary Magdalene. Here is a prayer involving Mary which is from the book “A Manual for the Gnostic: Doctrines, Prayers, & Practices of the Gnostic Church” issued by the L’Eglise Gnostique Apostolique of North America.

O Mary Magdalene,
Beloved of the King of the Universe, Sacred Daughter,
Queen of the Earth who is one with the Mother of Heaven,
Immersed in the ethereal Light,
Consort Eclipsed for Centuries,
We pray for you coming in Fullness,
Mystical Magdalene, prophetess,
Emerge from the Shadows,
Let your time come now,
Through these your mysteries we would draw you nearer to us,
Sister most dear to us,
You who were most faithful to the Gnosis,
Mistress of the Brightest Day, coming Virgin of the Light,
Let your brilliance illuminate the night,
And bring us closer to the heavenly Light,

Holy Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion
became the Holy Consort of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Christ forgives
through the miracle of love.
You, who possessed the Gnosis
please intercede for me, so that some day
I may share in the same everlasting joy and grace.

Gnostic Prayerbook

What is nice about “Gnosticism” is the lack of a dogmatic approach. However, people do like their theatrics/ceremonies and prayer for their spiritual beliefs, as do I (to an extent). Looking for “Gnostic” related prayers, I picked up the book “A Gnostic Prayerbook: Rites, Rituals, Prayers and Devotions” by J. Puma. In this book, the author has put together various practices and prayers using gnostic related texts as a source. I wanted to share a few of the prayers from the book.

This particular prayer is one I perform quite often. It’s a take on the sign of the cross prayer. Do the following: touch forehead and state “NOUS” (mind), touch solar plexus and state “CHRISTOS” (Christ), touch shoulder and state “PISTIS” (Faith), touch other shoulder and state “SOPHIA” (Wisdom) and finally touch your heart and state “AMEN.”

Simple, yet effective!

Here are two other prayers from the book I wanted to share:

Prayer to the Mother Barbelo

Holy Mother, You are the life within all. With you we share the fall into ignorance, and it is with you that we share the ascent into life and light. Resurrect us. Awaken us to our true selves. Initiate us into your mysteries-themysteries of the Christos. Help us to see the spark in all who come across our path, and serve them as a spark of God. Amen.

Prayer for Divine Guidance

Holy Sophia, grant me your Divine WIsdom and guidance. Shed your light on the path before me and keep me from stumbling. Guide my feet as you guided the feet of the Aeons who ascended and descended the shining ladder of Jacob, and lead me to the best and finest Path of gnosis. Nous, Christos, Pistis Sophia, Amen.

These are just a few of the many prayers included in the book. I have not included any of the rituals and rites that are listed but if you would like to incorporate such practices into your routine, I recommend this book!

The Thirteenth Repentance of Pistis Sophia

We have come to an end here with the thirteenth repentance translation comparison. I hope you have enjoyed reading the comparisons. The point of this exercise is to show that one needs to check out various translations, if possible, of various works to get a full understanding of what the text is trying to say.

MacDermot Translation:

1. ‘Hear me as I sing praises to thee, 0 Light of Lights. Hear me as I say the repentance of the thirteenth aeon, the place from which I came down, so that the thirteenth repentance of the thirteenth aeon be completed. These (aeons) I against which I have transgressed, from them I came down.

2. Now at this time, 0 Light of Lights, hear me as I sing praises to thee in the thirteenth aeon, my place from which I came forth.

3. Save me, 0 Light, in thy great mystery and forgive my transgression in thy forgiveness.

4. And give me the baptism and forgive my sins and purify me from my transgression.

5. And this my transgression is the lion-faced power, which was not hidden from thee at any time, for on account of it I came down.

6. And I alone among the invisible ones, in whose place I existed, transgressed, and I came down to the Chaos. I transgressed before thee so that thy ordinance should be fulfilled.’

Mead Translation:

1. Hearken unto me singing praises unto thee, O Light of lights. Hearken unto me uttering the repentance for the thirteenth æon, the region out of which I have come down, in order that the thirteenth repentance of the thirteenth æon may be accomplished,–those [æons] which I have overstepped and out of which I have come down.

2. Now, therefore, O Light of lights, hearken unto me singing praises unto thee in the thirteenth æon, my region out of which I have come down.

3. Save me, O Light, in thy great mystery and forgive my transgression in thy forgiveness.

4. And give unto me the baptism and forgive my sins and purify me from my transgression.

5. And my transgression is the lion-faced power, which will never be hidden from thee; for because of it have I gone down.

6. And I alone among the invisibles, in whose regions I was, have transgressed, and have gone down into the chaos. Moreover I have transgressed, that thy commandment may be accomplished.

Simon Magus diagram

Here is another diagram from the 1926 book “Gnosticism.” This one is named after Simon Magus, a figure who some of you may be aware of. Below is the quote from the book:

“This one is not within the egg, but emphasises the Aeons as perfections in their several spheres and planes. On the plane of fire we have the Universal Principle, the Father; the Universal Root, the Mother; and the Son, the Supreme Treasure-House, “He who has stood, stands and will stand,” the Four-Faced Brahma, the Upper Tetractys. Then we have the middle distance or Invisible Sphere expressed as an Aeon. It is Incomprehensible Air without beginning and without end…moving on the Waters. The lowest region is also represented as a sphere or perfect whole in itself though born from above. This is called the manifested Sphere, “the world made by Angels, the world of men.” Within the Invisible Sphere we find a more elaborate development. Each plane, as we have already mentioned, according to the law of three, is in turn divided into three, and each of the three divisions has three aspects. The middle triangle (marked D) is the reflection of the triangle with the point, of the Region of Fire above, the Upper Tetractys, the three and the four. The lowest triangle of this region is the reflection of this archetypal triangle, and the lettering gives a further key to the inverted method of reflection of this lowest manifestation. The intermixture of air and water is symbolised by the seal of SOlomon, the point within the interlaced triangle completing the symbol of the seven of the lowest plane of manifestion. Thus we have the key to open the doors to all the chambers within the double-Pyramid, the Ogdoad or Natural World, or the mystic thread to guide us on the way through the labyrinthine mazes of the Temple of Life, for the way is long and difficult to follow till the Inner Shrine of Initation is reached.”

More to come!!