Today at the Castle of the Muses we celebrate the Saint’s Day of Mary Magdalene, perhaps the closest of all disciples to Jesus Christ, and also his consort, who all the 4 gospels agree was the first witness to the resurrection.. Without her, there would be no Christian church. Yet her own writings, such as the Gospel of Mary, were suppressed by the patriarchal church for centuries. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, a bestselling novel, is all based on the Mary Magdalene lineage of the church. (Based partly on the researches of others such as Lynn Picknett and the Holy Blood and Holy Grail team). We also commemorate today the killing of thousands of innocent people in Beziers, France, for being Cathars and gnostic Christians by order of the official church – men women and children were all put to the sword, some 1,000 of them, Cathars as well as Catholics, after the Pope had declared a crusade against the Cathars, who although Christians, didn’t necessarily follow all the dogmatic teachings of the Roman church. Some say the Cathars carried with them some of the secret teachings of Mary Magdalene, and it was for this they were persecuted. Tragic that this massacre took place on her Saint’s Day, July 22. Pause for thought. Where in the world today are esoteric teachings being persecuted in the name of “dogmatic religion”? Where in the world are women still be marshalled into following set dogmas rather than being allowed to practice their faith openly, freely and wisely ? Mary is associated, like St Thomas, with the gnostic tradition in Christianity. Among some of the more important and interesting commentators and thinkers on Gnosticism we can mention (as if plucking fruit from a forest of Sapience) Hans Jonas, Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, Eric Voegelin, Giles Quispel, Elaine Pagels, Sir George Trevelyan, Gershom Scholem, Kurt Rudolph, Ernst Bloch, Karl Jaspers, Jung, James Robinson, Tim Freke, Edward Conze, Edwin Yamauchi, Tobias Churton and innumerable others. The Magdalenian and Thomas version of Christianity argues that what Christ taught was a spiritual and noetic transformation of the personality, akin to the Buddhist quest for enlightenment or the Jain quest, or the Hindu search for Samadhi, but with the added twist that once having attained this gnosis, one doesn’t “opt out” of the world, but rather stays in incarnation to help purify, redeem and transform the world. This is also the central point of Plato’s Republic – after seeing the Vision of the Good, the initiate remains in the world, and tries to educate an inspire those still chained to their own delusions – this should be the high calling of all true Academics, and remains the purpose of all higher academic education, for those that know. The original Academy in Athens was guarded by the 9 Muses, which is why we have christened the Castle of the Muses as such. Hence Platonic Christianity, so beloved of figures such as Jowett, Hegel, Schelling or Whitehead, is really at one with Gnostic Marian Christianity. There are also hidden Gnostic teaching at the heart of the Jewish Qabalah, Zoroastrianism, Bahai teachings, Shintoism, the Runic tradition, Sikhism and the other faiths enumerated in the Periodic Table of the World’s Religious and Philosophical Traditions. The idea of “remaining in the world” is also akin to the ideas of the Lotus Sutra and the Bodhisattva path in Mahayana Buddhism. Instead of seeking liberation from suffering (ignorance) for oneself alone, one seeks it for all mankind. This has been the central thrust of Catholic and Orthodox teaching over the centuries, from which the Protestant version of Christianity also took its fire. Marx and Engels, both protestant Christians under the spell of left Hegelian thought, transformed that idea into Communism, which took that idea of collective liberation and applied it to the social and economic sphere. In my own doctoral research I argued that the cold war was a mistaken and unnecessary clash between two pseudo-gnostic systems (capitalism and communism) both of which needed to reconcile via the transcendental-synthetic way of authentic gnosis. Now that integral way is surely the way of Mary Magdalen and the Thomas tradition of Gnosis, which can be reconstructed not only from the fragments of scriptures that have come down, but also from the witness of the dialectics of history, a pageant which transpersonal history has the task of uncovering, a task for the coming ages, if we survive the current wave of violence washing over the planet. The tragedy of the current situation in the Middle East, Mary Magdalene’s homeland, is that different exoteric religions and factions and nations still battle for supremacy and kill and torture in the name of their own perspective. Mary, Jesus and Thomas stand for an altogether different dispensation, That one looks at the conflict (whatever it is) from the vantage point of the eagle eye of love, and allows all parties to rise to higher perspectives and wisdom that removes the emotional disturbances (fear, guilt, hatred, anger) that just continually progress in an endless cycle of recrimination and revenge. This is literally the path to suicide. Instead, on Mary’s day, we should pause and reflect and ask ourselves what can be done about it ? How can we introduce into deadly quarrels, such as that between Palestinians and Israelis, the mediating voice of transpersonal gnosis ? One irony here is that Islam was supposed to be a gnostic movement from the beginning. Muhammad’s Quran is full of Gnostic insights, and formulations, (as I have pointed out in detail in my commentary) indicating that he was heavily influenced and inspired by friends and fellow visionaries he had met in his early years and travels, including Kadijah and others, and the doctrinal formulations of Islam are through and through gnostic in their basic teaching outlines. There has always ben a strong streak of gnosis inside Islamic thought, and this has given rise to all the later Sufi schools, and figures such as Ibn Arabi, Rumi, Abdul Qader, and the Illuminationist tradition in Iranian Shiism and the work of Mullah Sadra and Suhrawardi, to name but two. The recent nuclear arms treaty between Iran and the USA is a victory therefore, for a converging meta-gnostic consensus, that actually, all our scriptures, all our faiths, require us to live, and prosper, and celebrate life, compassionately and wisely, and to love and respect the other, and not blow ourselves to pieces with nuclear weapons, or to target our enemies withe the same. The USA also has its own gnostic traditions, embodied by the New Thought or New Age movement which started with New England transcendentalism (Thoreau, Emerson, Mary Baker Eddy, William James) and continues with California and Colorado integral thinking and transpersonal awareness (Wilber, Maslow, Grof, Esalen, Tarnas et al). The best of this USA transcendentalism and the best of Iranian illuminationism are saying identical things, just covered over with different intellectual and linguistic trappings. But the terrorist ideology that beheads people for not covering up their beauty in the right manner, or for falling in love unexpectedly and surprisingly, or for having religious doubts, or for not observing the right outer exoteric religious signs and behaviours, all these attitudes are antithetical to the gnostic wisdom that Mary Magdalen stands for, and that Jesus also stood for – the priority of the spirit over the letter, the dharma of inner wisdom over that of the outer constraints of law and religious obligation. Is not Man the master of the Sabbath, asked Jesus? Is not the Sabbath made for man, and not man made for the Sabbath? Nowadays he might well add: is not Man the master of the text? Is not the text made for man, and not man made for the text? True gnosis brings freedom and this is what the West at its best stands for – but it is a freedom which also brings great responsibility and the need for inner rather than externally imposed morality. This was Kant’s point: enforced morality is not actually morality at all. Sapere Aude he said. That was the high calling of the European enlightenment. That was the purpose of illuminated freemasonry and the pansophist movements from which it arose. But do our modern day brethren live up to their high calling, or have they simply descended into another rule-following power nexus of tradition, sometimes misusing their powers? Two centuries after Kant’s era, do we dare still to be free, authentically? Or do we run to take cover under dogmatisms, formalism and nationalisms, cults and sects and movements and isms, which give us the comfort of narrowly policed identity labels, but bring with them the inevitability of coming into conflict with other competing identity-narratives? On this day of Mary Magdalene, let us affirm once more our commitment to the spiritual freedom that comes with grace, from the insights of higher wisdom, and continue to develop and cultivate our innermost insights, both personally and collectively. Let us continue to try to manifest wisdom and love in our lives, alone, together and in community. Gnosis and the Mary Magdalene tradition also stood close to the Celtic Druid tradition, which once served as the major religious and philosophical lineage in the British isles and all over North Western Europe, and which the Roman imperial war machine did so much to try to eradicate, just as the Nazi war machine tried to eradicate the intelligentsia of Poland in World War Two at Auschwitz. But neither fully succeeded. The Druids lived on in secret, in Ireland and the remote parts of the British Isles, on the mountains and valleys of Wales and Scotland. No wonder Dan Brown set the dénouement of his novel in the Scottish highlands. The quest for the Holy Grail was and is indeed at the heart of Druid Christianity, or Druid gnostic teachings, and have not only inspired the great literary outpourings of the Arthurian corpus for centuries, but continue to inspire individual seekers of gnostic wisdom to this day amidst the mysterious landscapes of the Celtic world. Even Milan, I recently discovered, was a Celtic foundation, laid out by Druids, as revealed in the marvellous Archaeological Museum in Milan, which I visited recently while attending the European Transpersonal Association Festival. The word Druid simply means “Seer/Knower of Truth/Dharma” So on this day of Mary Magdalen, we have plenty of questions to muse on… Mary also gave her name to two famous colleges at Oxford and Cambridge and over 150 churches in the UK, including the one at Avebury. The Castle of the Muses, indeed the Muses themselves, stand for the rebirth of this eternal Feminine Wisdom as a living witness to the cruelty and stupidity of Sophiaphobic behaviour in today’s militarised and violent world. Mary and Jesus together ask only for peace on earth, as in heaven – not violence and killing, please !