Friday, March 8, 2013

Gay Rights in the Church

I came across this wonderful blog post today from "Blueberries for Me". Well, rather, I found it today, the post is actually from April 2012. Anyway, it's a very experiential expose of why the author believes in gay rights precisely because she is Catholic, not in spite of her beliefs.

If the Church wanted me to oppose gay marriage, it should not have taught me that scripture is historical and contextual. It should have taught me instead that it is always literal, but it did not. It should not have taught me that God is love. It should not have taught me about the dignity of the human person, that everyone deserves a place to live, a place to work, a place to eat without being discriminated against.
This is something that I have countless run into with Protestants. The literal reading of scripture and complete and willing ignorance of its cultural and historical context. I don't think I've ever gotten an opinion on the dignity of the person...I think certain things are taken for granted by Protestants and they never actually formulate opinions about them...Anyway, the context of Scripture is incredibly important. This goes beyond textual context. Primarily, perhaps more so than textual context, it is important to understand the time and place that the Scripture you are reading was written. What was going on? Is this Scripture in response to something (most of the Bible is...this is probably not the best example question)? Is it in response to an event or a person? In the context of the Epistles, knowing exactly to whom and why Paul is writing is almost as important to the fundamental meaning of the text as any other context. And understanding this, with the knowledge that we have of certain personalities of the period, you can actually cross-reference historical references to a person Paul was talking to. Neat, huh?

Aside from that, as anyone who has read this knows, my interest in Liberation Theology and social justice has informed my faith to no small degree. If every person has inherent dignity, then every person deserves the same love, respect, understanding, and freedom. To say that one person's dignity is more important or better than another person's because of something inherent in the latter diminishes the dignity of all of us. The Church teaches us that homosexuality is disordered but we are to still love persons with same-sex attraction (SSA--the Church's go-to acronym so they don't have to say "gay") as we would love anyone else. And, truly, in the Church's teachings, a homosexual is not called to be any more or less chaste than any other person in the Church. Just like unmarried couples shouldn't have sex in the eyes of the Church, SSA means you can't have sex for the same reason.

However, I am inclined to agree with Blueberries for Me. The Church's very holistic worldview and theology fits together like a very precise puzzle. Anyone familiar with Pope John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" knows that he made a great attempt at calling gay Catholics home by actually dealing with the issue.

When I came out of the closet almost eight years ago, my mother absolutely and resolutely refused to accept what I was telling her. I am the only 'mo I have met that had to come out three times before it was just on the table and wasn't being put away again. This is not to say I ever went back in that closet, but out of respect for my mother I did not and never have just waved it in her face. She has through it all been very kind and loving and supportive of me. But she, like a lot of Catholic laity and clergy, entirely misses the point of what the Catechism and "Theology of the Body" have to say about homosexuality. Both admit clearly and without reservation or apology that homosexuality or SSA is simply not a choice.

This may at first sound like a dilemma and a contradiction. How can the Church admit that one cannot control their attraction but then say that one particular type of attraction is disordered? Many Protestant converts to Catholicism will comment that they had to learn an entirely new vocabulary when they converted. I think a lot of Catholics need to learn the vocabulary as well. When the Church says something is "disordered" they are not castigating it or disparaging it. There is no condemnation involved in that statement. What the Church is saying is that, in light of the Natural Law Philosophy that informs much of Catholic morality, there is a purpose for and inherent value in everything. Sexuality is no different.

From the Church's perspective, sexuality exists to ensure that the human race does not find fulfillment in aesthetic self-denial. While this self-denial is important for our lives of prayer, sacrifice, and penance, it is not to be the fundamental rock upon which our spirituality develops. Catholic theology is holistic. Our spiritual lives are to be as well. Sexuality, therefore, exists to ensure that we develop our spiritual life with another. It allows us to grow and bond with another human being, and by extension bring more human beings into the world. Sex, at the end of this road, is a tool for procreation. The pleasure we derive from it is our immediate reward for the lifelong reward of creating and nurturing life. So, because homosexuality obviously leads to a situation where a couple cannot procreate, it is disordered to this view of the purpose of sexuality and sex. There is nothing evil here. It is simply an admission that the sexual pleasure derived from homoerotic acts is a byproduct of our biology. It provides the immediate reward without the possibility of what a union of two people is supposed to produce.

All that being said, just as converts and many Catholics must learn a new vocabulary to deal with Catholic theology, I posit that the Church needs to learn a new vocabulary as well. One of the earliest challenges of the Church was establishing the Canon of Scripture. There were those who proposed that the Church drop the Old Testament altogether. I'm glad it wasn't dropped, but there is a very important observation to be made regarding how the two texts are to be treated.

The Old Testament is maintained primarily because of the historical link it provides between Christ and Creation. For the Church specifically and Christianity in general, it creates a special relationship with the Jewish faith and links us to a faith tradition as old as Humanity. The second reason the Old Testament is maintained is because of the prophecies concerning Christ. The Old Testament was not maintained because it contained verses with which we could condemn people. In fact, relatively little of the Old Testament is utilized in the formation of Catholic moral theology. The Ten Commandments are still there, sure, but the dense legal texts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are not the foundation of Catholic morality. In point of fact, Scripture is simply the jumping off point for the philosophical extrapolations that form Catholic morality. In a nutshell, Catholic morality is not set permanently in stone or based on Scripture alone.

A major point about Catholic morality not being set in stone is the concept of usury. In the early Church and up through the Middle Ages, loaning money at interest was so disgusting in the eyes of the Church that a Christian was absolutely forbidden from handling money in such a way. This fell to the Jews (cue two-thousand years of European anti-Semitism). Eventually, the Church realized that loaning money at interest, if it was low enough and responsibly handled, would not lead to the total moral ruin of society. This was a matter of morals. It was a matter of morals that changed. The Church's attitude towards homosexuality can change as well.

While I know that changing the Church's rules about charging interest probably did not have a wide-reaching effect on the rest of Catholic morality, it does set a serious precedent that should be examined closely. The redefinition of the Church's attitudes towards homosexuality would require re-thinking the Church's attitudes towards sexuality in general. This is not a Council I would want to sit on, and I do not envy the Church leadership when they rewrite the rules of sexuality.

But the Church does not only say that sex is for procreation. Quite the opposite. The joy and the passion between two people as they are in the sexual embrace is as important to the process as creating that baby, if not more so. John Paul II, in "Theology of the Body", goes so far as to say that a healthy sexual life is one of the most important things for a marriage to succeed. The same is true for homosexual couples. A healthy sexual life between the two is fundamental for the relationship to succeed. Without it, the relationship cannot bear fruit for either person involved.

In conclusion, the Church teaches that every human being is imbued with an inherent dignity that makes us all worthy in the eyes of God and Christ for salvation. This salvation is a process, but no one needs to be saved from themselves. We are taught to love the least among us the most, and many Catholics do a poor job of this when it comes to homosexuality. But the Church does not need to sit on current definitions of morality forever. Dogma is stagnant. Morality is a bit more fluid. We can all agree on not killing each other. But shouldn't the Church, which teaches that God is the very definition of love, allow us to love each other?

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Question of Life and Social Justice in the Church

Wow. Been awhile. I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the blessings of four inches of snow in three hours that Mother Nature decided to unload on us poor, downtrodden Central Ohioans.

Something caught my eye the other day and I've been pondering on it since. As reported in several outlets, and I'm sure you've seen it, the Catholic Church in Colorado has somehow decided that the longstanding position of the Church that life begins at conception no longer applies when a Catholic hospital is being sued for the death of unborn children and their mother.

Cliffnoting the whole situation, complications arose in the pregnancy, a doctor didn't show up, fetus and mother die. I'm not here to really discuss the political/theological aspects of this. If you want more in-depth coverage and haven't read it yet, head over here: My focus today is actually on a topic I brought up last time I posted: Social Justice. And it is because of this political waffling on the part of the Catholic Church that I bring it up again.

As a Collyridian, I look not only to Mary as a perfect example of a life perfectly lived, I also look to Joseph. I'm working on some supplemental Collyridian material covering Joseph in this respect, so consider this a sneak peek. Anyone familiar with the Christian mythos is familiar with the story of that particularly interesting time between the conception of Christ and His birth. But for those who aren't or just need a refresher, here we go:

Mary conceives Christ. She is a virgin. Before Mary can tell Joseph, Joseph is informed of this in a dream. Now, being 1900 years before the Sexual Revolution, an unmarried pregnant woman has few options. From the plethora of writings concerning Egyptian and Roman contraceptive and abortion procedures, it doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that Mary would have had this option. The only other option was to live in shame and possibly be stoned according to the Rabbinical law of the time. Joseph had the option to divorce her and continue his life as he saw fit, or he could consent to marry her anyway and care for the child sharing in her shame for the rest of his life.

This is something that is often overlooked in understanding the sacrifice made by Joseph. Everyone agrees that he took the harder route in accepting to marry her. What is immediately forgotten in the midst of the nativity is that Mary and Joseph did not recover from their shame just by getting married. Mary still conceived out of wedlock and Joseph still married a woman carrying a child that would have been considered a bastard. Even as late as the 1950's this was a very shameful situation. Joseph and Mary would have lived with this social stigma for the rest of their natural lives. Their neighbors, relatives, friends, everyone would have known that the birth of Jesus did not coincide properly with when the two were married. But they persevered anyway.

Whether or not Joseph actually took the dream at face value (and who really does that?) can be debated. But chances are, he noticed Mary started to get a little more round, got suspicious, and confronted her. It is probably at this point that she informed him of the angelic visitor. Joseph probably had quite a bit of trouble wrapping his head around this, and then manned the fuck up and did the right thing. He knew that the woman he was meant to be marrying was in serious trouble. If the Gospel of the Infancy of Mary, a non-canonical Gospel covering the childhood of Mary up until the Annunciation, is to be believed, Mary had been pledged to the Temple from birth. She would not have had sex at all. The very thought of her having a child would have been unthinkable, and her marriage to Joseph would have remained purely symbolic. But suddenly, it was all very real. Her vow was broken. No matter how many people they convinced of the miraculous occurrence, the very real heart of the matter was that her vow had been essentially broken. Mary no longer had a home. Her system of support, which would have rested in the Temple, would have been gone. Her family, who had made the vow for her according to the Infancy narrative, would have likely disowned her. The entire community could have had her stoned.

And Joseph, seeing the plight of the lowest creature imaginable, took pity. There is no Gospel account of this. There is no apocrypha, no non-canonical account of this. It is all implied and easily inferred if we just stop and examine the position of these two people. The age of Joseph is debated. Some see him as young, some see him as old. All Christian Traditions and most Biblical scholars agree that the usage of the word "maiden" regarding Mary means she could not possibly have been older than fourteen, and she was probably younger. Joseph was either a young man with his entire life to lose, or an old man who had no reason to care about the plight of a possible adulterous vow-breaker. In both of these situations, Joseph stands to lose the most by caring. Yet, he chooses to care.

Joseph is a model of perfect living by showing us that we must care for the lowest among us, long before Christ ever exhorts us to do the same. This is the heart of social justice, the heart of what I talked about at the Annunciation. And this brings us back to what the Catholic Church in Denver is doing right now.

At face value, the situation in Denver looks like negligence. Fighting this in court could save a doctor's career. Or the doctor could lose and the Church could be fined for punitive damages. Either way, the Church must pay for her lawyers, court fees, research, etc. And that's if they win. Or, the Church could follow the example of Joseph and offer what little consolation they could give to the grieving family who has been waiting since 2006 for some kind of answer to what happened to them. For Joseph, caring for the lowly was the costliest choice he could make. For the Church, they lose the least and gain the most by bowing to humility and breaking their pride. If Joseph had acted the way the Church is acting now, rest assured there would be no Church today, because Mary, the mother of Christendom, would probably have never gone to term, be it by Jewish stoning or Roman or Egyptian medicine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today is the Celebration of the Assumption of Mary according to the Catholic Church. It is a holy day of obligation, and the faithful of the Church and the faithful of Mary not affiliated with the Church mark it as the celebration of Her perfect assumption into heaven, both body and soul. It is a day to reflect on the Virgin in Her summation. What, then, is the life of Mary, other than the perfect example of Christian living? At the risk of politicizing this celebration of the Virgin, I have to request that you take a moment and understand that a Christian life is inherently political.

When I say Christian life is inherently political, I don't mean that a Christian must endlessly write letters to politicians and demand that they vote this way or that way on any particular bill. Nor are you necessarily called to strap yourself to a stump in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic in protest of a legal medical procedure occurring within. When I say Christian life is inherently political, what I'm saying is that we are called to be active and support social justice in all its forms. For all the pressure on issues like abortion, it is saddening to realize that there are still the hungry and the homeless who don't get nearly as much attention by the "Christian" Right. So what is Mary's role in this?

The Canticle of Mary, found in Luke during the Annunciation, has this to say about God:

"He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
And has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty."

It is a declaration about the leveling of social equality. The proud, the mighty, and the rich are swept away, and the lowly and the hungry are fulfilled. The Canticle of Mary is a response to Gabriel's announcement that Mary is to be the Mother of God. As His mother, She says "all generations will call [Her] blessed". Why? Because, as the Mother of God, She must be the embodiment of all that God is. The Beatitudes are a call to social justice, and, as in Liberation Theology, gives a preferential option to the poor. The summation of Mary is a summation of social justice.

The celebration of the Assumption is not just about the miraculous recognition of Mary's perfection; it is a celebration of a life lived perfectly. It is the principle example of practicing one's faith and living life accordingly. In addition to meditating on the person of Mary and her theological importance, we should also celebrate today and every day by thinking how we can make a bigger difference on the world, creating a plan to do it, and then following through.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Creation

Many Christians in America believe that everything in the universe was created in six calendar days of twenty-four hours each. There is also a group within this group (and maybe outside this group, I don't know) who believe that the Earth (and by extension, the universe) is only 6,000 years old. That's six-thousand years of 365.25 days each, with each day being only 24 hours in length. For a deity who is infinite in every sense of the word, this has been a blink for Him. Existential questions aside, it doesn't stand up to the fossil record very well, or the presence of modern homo sapiens thousands of years before the Earth was supposedly created.

This belief structure speaks of a certain level of arrogance on the part of its adherents. Be they Young-Earth Creationists, or just regular Literal Creationists, this arrogance stems from the logical end result of Sola Scriptura. What is this arrogance? It is the arrogance that an infinite God would not only create an entire universe within a specified period, but that He would also test the creation he put there by going the extra mile and creating millions of years' worth of fossils, and natural physical processes that require millions of years, give humanity the rationalism and intelligence to decode these things, and then expect us to believe that all of it is a lie. The Gnostics had a term for a deity that behaved this way. They called Him the Demiurge.

At this point I must insist that I do not adhere to the Gnostic idea of the Demiurge. I do not view the Old Testament God as some demonic, corrupt, jealous creature. My point is that the God envisioned by these Creationists embodies the qualities of the Demiurge. This image of God violates the God described in the Gospels. This was one reason why the Gnostics viewed the Old Testament God and the New Testament God as different beings. This worked for their worldview and comprehension of God, but for Evangelical Christianity wherein there is only the one God, it is problematic.

How, then, should a Collyridian interpret Creation? Well, I earlier blogged about the Annunciation and the idea that the Indwelling of Mary's divinity began at that moment, and the Trinitarian God and Sophiatic Goddess were reunited in the person of Mary for the gestation of the Christ. This idea stems from a particular passage in Genesis wherein God is described in the plural (Elohim, El Elohim) and a story that I call God in a Box (if anyone knows where this story originates, please let me know. I don't want to plagiarize). The story goes like this:

Imagine a hypothetical hyper-cube. A multi-dimensional box without limitation in time or space. All that has ever been, is now, and ever will be exists within this box at this very moment and in every moment. Now, imagine that the sum totality of all of creation is expressed as a solitary, uniform expression. This is God, but not just the Trinitarian God or Mary, this is the Unified God. Let's imagine this uniform expression of everything is represented by light. It fills the box. It is everywhere and every-when. But, because there is only light, this light cannot be understood as light. It just is. At some indeterminate point, this light became self aware. How? It receded a part of itself and created darkness. This is principally an allegory, but at this moment, the Unified God was not unified. God and Goddess were separated, and through further separation, and further distancing from the unified whole, all of material creation came into being. Because light and dark differentiated each other in different ways, and all material creation is defined because of the interplay of light and shadow, when man was created and imbued with intelligence, we were made "in our image". We have the qualities of both. As Our Lady of Guadalupe is wreathed in the sun, so is the light associated with the Goddess. Because God (darkness) can only exist so long as there is a lack of light, Collyridian cosmology accepts that the Goddess withdrew from this metaphorical box and existed beyond it. So it was the task of God to instruct man and teach him to utilize his intelligence responsibly. And this is where the biblical story of creation comes from, and why God became jealous; He believed Himself to be the only deity in existence, the only deity worthy of worship. This is why the book of Jeremiah condemns the offering of sacrifice to the Goddess. And upon the Indwelling, the Goddess re-entered the metaphorical box. She was reunited with her Consort. Wisdom was returned to the Masculine Divine. This is why the message of Christ and the message of the New Testament God is love instead of wrath. Patience instead of jealousy. The schism between God and Goddess was reunited in Christ and Mary.

Now, it is the goal of all of creation to recede back to its primal state when the box was filled solely with light and nothing else. All of our collective experiences, our consciousness, our love and life will be unified with the light, and it really doesn't matter if God created the universe in six days or six eons.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ave Maria

I closed my last entry with the Ave Maria. It's my favorite Marian prayer, aside from the Salve Regina, and I find myself saying it every day. Often, I say it multiple times a day. I would like to do with it what I did to the Annunciation: break it down according to Collyridian theology.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."
This is the salutation given by Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation. Summation of this also summarizes my last post, which should be directly below or here if it's not. Anyway, the summation is this: Mary is filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, marking the indwelling of the goddess and making Mary Her avatar. "The Lord is with thee" is marking the unification of the female and male aspects of the divine. Mary is the divine incarnate, ready to carry the avatar of God.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
"Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus."
She is the most blessed of women, being the vessel through which the Christ will be born and the vessel for the indwelling of the feminine spirit. The fruit of her womb, Christ, is also blessed, filled with the same grace as she. She is, ultimately, the vessel of grace. For this, she is most-favored.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in ora mortis nostrae.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death."
I am going to relate a story that was told to me by a Carmelite nun that sums up this part of the prayer.
During the Inquisition in Spain, a very honest prince that was lax in his faith went to Confession prior to the Easter celebration. While there, he informed the priest that he did not understand the point of Confession if God could see the hearts of men and know when man was sorry. The priest told him to pray but one Ave Maria, piously and sincerely to show that his heart truly was repentant. The prince went home and hurriedly prayed a rosary and went about his business. While out, he tripped on a stone in the road and was crushed under a wagon wheel. He saw instantly the divine light of heaven, and standing next to a golden scale was a weeping woman. He realized she was the Blessed Virgin, and he cried out to her, but she continued weeping. He saw on the scales a mountain of his sins weighed against nothing but broken beads and rotting string. The prince begged for forgiveness, only to find himself being woken up by a physician. The physician said that the prince did not have much time. He asked for a rosary, and brought his friends into his chambers. As he lay dying, he prayed the rosary over and over again, asking his friends to pray with him. As he died, he instructed his friends and subjects to pray the rosary daily. He closed his eyes one last time, and passed away. The prince found himself standing before the scales again, but the Virgin was no longer weeping. She looked directly into the divine light, then to the scales heavily weighted with the mountain of the prince's sins. And then the Virgin produced every rosary he had prayed, every rosary his friends had prayed, and every rosary that would ever be prayed due to his pious and inspirational devotion. The beads were solid and the rope was strong, and there was no amount of sin that could outweigh the weight of those rosaries being laid down on the scales. The prince felt the weight of his sin lift from his shoulders, and he entered the heavenly realm to be reunited with God.

This story is ostensibly Catholic, and a Catholic will interpret this simply as the intercession of Mary for which we pray when we recite this prayer. But it is more. It illustrates more fully that ongoing and continual grace pours forth from Mary's heart. She is not only the intercessory mother we run to in times of trouble, she is the original vessel through which grace poured, and she continues to pour out her grace on her devotees. This is the role of the Divine Mother--she is the Advocate, the Clementine, the Blessed Virgin to whom we run and from whom we receive comfort and confidence. Ave Maria, ora pro nobis.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Collyridian Meaning of the Annunciation

The Annunciation is found in Luke 1:26-38 and details the appearance of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary announcing the conception of the Christ. The resultant feast day is held on March 25, near the Vernal Equinox, nine months before Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ. For Collyridians, this event should be understood as something very momentous. It is the same moment that Mary's divinity was assured and the indwelling of Mary would have begun.

Before we break this down, it is important to understand two things: 1. in the Gnostic tradition and in my own personal theology, Mary-as-Goddess is the subsequent identification of the Goddess who existed before time and before the God of the Old Testament, and 2. the Greek word for "Holy Spirit" pneumia is feminine. These two things will be important soon. Read on.

Gabriel descends and announces to Mary: "Hail, highly favored one, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women." This is the source of the salutation that opens the Hail Mary (which was translated from Latin, which is why it sounds slightly different). In the resultant confusion, Mary is told that she will conceive by the Holy Ghost. Matthew, in his annunciation to Joseph (1:18-21), confirms this: "The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary they wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Phillip takes umbrage with this when he says "Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman?" Here he is not simply being ignorant. Grammatical gender does not mean a feminine noun cannot perform a masculine act. What he is implying is that, as the Goddess (Sophia in Gnostic tradition) predates the God (which I do not associate with the Gnostic Demiurge), and brought all things into being according to her own self-understanding (that's an entirely separate blog post), so too would the feminine indwelling of Mary have brought forth the Christ on her own terms. And this fits with the canonical Gospel as well. Mary was not inseminated by the Spirit. She was filled with the Grace at birth that was rightfully hers to not only prepare her as a vessel for Christ, but as a vessel for her own divine indwelling. She did conceive by the Holy Spirit because she was not pregnant prior. But what is important is to understand the proper way by which she conceived. She was made Goddess-on-Earth to prepare the way for the birth of Jesus Christ, the avatar of God-on-Earth.

Let us go back to what Gabriel said to Mary. "Hail, highly favored one, the Lord is with thee." If Sophia created of herself everything that exists, the separation of the material from the intelligent (physical from spiritual) resulted in the creation of God. This God proceeded to create the material world. Because this material world was made imperfect (lacking the wisdom of His Progenitrix), sin was permitted to enter. After the fall of Adam and the fall of Eve, the world became darker and darker until finally the indwelling of Mary could occur at the same time that the conception of the Lord occurred. The Annunciation, when Mary is told that the Lord is with her, is more than just an announcement that the Messiah has arrived. The Goddess and the God have been reunited and the world is now able to move back towards a perfect, sacred, and holy state.

So, even though the Annunciation was four months ago, I thought it would be nice to discuss what the event means for the deeper theology of Marian tradition that holds to Mary's place as the renewal of the divine feminine. And we'll end it with the Ave Maria just because.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in ora moritis nostrae. Amen.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Gospel of Phillip and the Three Marys

I'm currently writing a (short...maybe) discussion on the Three Marys as they pertain to my particular theology. As a Collyridian, the Virgin Mary is treated as a divinity equal to God. Because of this, I was recently accused of being a Wiccan. I thought about this for a while and said "No...I believe in the Trinitarian God but deny the Trinitarian Goddess" which is one of the central tenets of (most) Wiccan traditions. But then I started thinking about it some more, and wondered if I was maybe being unfair to Mother Mary. Is she Trinitarian? There are many Marys in the Gospel narrative. The Valentinians, an early Gnostic sect, informs us through the Gospel of Phillip that there were exactly three: Mary the Virgin, Mary the Mother of John (identified as both Mary's and Jesus' sister...more on that in a moment), and Mary the Magdala. There are also some very interesting associations within the Gospel of Phillip that discuss the nature of this Trinitarian Mariology. So I wanted to share some of what I've reasoned.

First, we have to rely on tradition a bit here. There are several women in the Gospel canon that Jesus interacts with. First is Elizabeth (also Mary's sister) when his interaction via Mary in her womb causes the infant John to jump in Elizabeth's womb. Later comes the woman at the well, the prostitute, and Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet with her hair. The Virgin and her sister Mary are present at Calvary, and it is the Marys that find the tomb empty after the Resurrection. Later, the Virgin is present at Pentecost, and then Paul's woman-bashing begins and active female personages disappear from the New Testament except when referenced by the speaker for a specific purpose. Tradition holds that, of these women, the woman at the well, the prostitute, and Mary Magdalene are the same person. There is often mention of "the other Mary" when referencing Mary and Mary Magdalene together, and sometimes Scripture will say "Mary and the other Mary". Additionally, there is mentioned "Mary, the Mother of John". Depending on how you treat these references, there are either three or four or possibly more Marys running around at any given time in the Gospel record. This really isn't incidental. Mary or Maryam or Miriam was and is still a common female name in the Jewish and Muslim world. It has fallen out of use in the West since the Reformation, but we should be relieved that there aren't a thousand Mary's being referenced in the Gospels, because there surely were that many historically. The Valentinians, who believed in the Gnostic idea of Sophia and the Demiurge, were also highly mystical in their outlook. The Trinitarian nature of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit was established early on. Though the Valentinians believed the Holy Spirit to be an extension of Sophia and, therefore, female (very interesting play on words in the Gospel of Phillip regarding the conception of Christ*), they also accepted the Trinitarian nature of God. Though there isn't much as far as how they viewed Sophia, Trinitarian parallels would have been expected. Thus, it would have been quite easy for them to conflate "the other Mary" and "Mary, the Mother of John" to be the same person, especially considering that no where in the Gospels does it say "Mary, the Mother of John, and the other Mary".

The Gospel of Phillip, when announcing that there are, indeed, only three Marys of importance, states:
"There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary."
Phillip does not tell us that "In addition to the Twelve..." or "There were three women who always walked with the Lord..." just that "There were three who always walked with the Lord." The implication is clear. Of those who followed Jesus during his lifetime, these were the three that did not leave his side for any appreciable amount of time. Gaps, irregularities, and variations in the Gospel accounts can, to an extent, be explained by the fact that they were a) written at different times, and b) written for different audiences, but could it be possible that there were times when Matthew, Mark, Luke, and/or John was absent for key events or sayings? Paul fills the New Testament but his Gospel was not considered canon. In fact, his Gospel reads like a hate-filled exegesis for why women are less than men. In one scene, his female companion is about to be eaten by lions, and he does absolutely nothing but watch. At the last moment, God intervenes on her behalf. And Paul continues to write epistles that illustrate his hate-gluttony for women. But enough about Paul. It is obvious that the Apostles were not present for everything. Luke even states as much when he concludes his Gospel by saying he intentionally left out certain events. Were they unimportant? Were they redundant? Was he even present for some of them? The Gospel of Phillip says plainly that Luke probably wasn't present. John probably wasn't present. Mark and Matthew probably weren't present. But there were three that were: the Three Marys.

In another passage, Phillip discusses the Magdala. The Apostles ask Jesus why he loves Mary more than them, and he gives them a beguiling allegory:Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.The blind and the sighted are the same in darkness—this is the base condition of humanity. Christ is the light that comes. The blind remain in darkness and the sighted see the light. Throughout the Gospel narrative, blindness is used as a means to describe those that cannot correctly perceive or understand Christ’s mission and purpose. Two sayings later in the Gospel of Phillip, it is made clear that the blind are those who do not possess the Holy Spirit, and the sighted are those that do:
If one goes down into the water (baptism) and comes up without having received anything, and says "I am a Christian," he has borrowed the name at interest. But if he receives the Holy Spirit, he has the name as a gift. He who has received a gift does not have to give it back, but of him who has borrowed it at interest, payment is demanded. This is the way it happens to one when he experiences a mystery.

The same allegory can be used here: for a blind Christian and a sighted Christian who are in the dark, there is no difference. But when the light of Christ comes, the blind Christian still cannot see while the sighted Christian can see the light of Christ.
The use of this allegory to discuss Mary’s position in regards to the other Apostles can only mean one thing: Mary Magdalene was possessed of the Holy Spirit at the time that Christ was on Earth. This is incredibly important because the book of Acts tells us that the Holy Spirit descended after the Resurrection and Christ’s Ascension. The Catholic Church holds that only Jesus’ Mother was possessed by the Grace of the Holy Spirit prior to Pentecost, but the Gospel of Phillip makes it clear that at least one other Mary had this gift while Christ was alive.
So we have established that Mary Theotokos, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of John were all present at all times for Jesus' mission. Mary, his Mother and Mary Magdalene were both filled with the Holy Spirit while He was alive. But what about the Other Mary? Let us go back to the Valentinians and see what the Gospel of Phillip says.

There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.
There are three Marys listed in two different ways. 1a. Mary, his mother, b. her sister, and c. Magdalene; and 2a. [Jesus'] sister and b. his mother and c. his companion. And they "were each a Mary". The Other Mary, Mother of John is not listed explicitly, but Tradition tells us that she was the Other Mary, and that she was the sister of Christ's mother (for clarification, Tradition also tells us that Mary's father had other wives, so it wasn't the case that her parents simply named each of their daughters Mary, but likely, the Other Mary was from a previous marriage). This passage in Phillip then claims the Other Mary to be His sister. Why?

Let's delve into this passage a little deeper first. Mary Magdalene is explicitly referred to as His companion in this passage. But they are all implicitly his closest companions because the three of them "always walked with [Him]". Additionally, two of them are direct blood relations. These three women are closer to Christ than anybody else in the Gospel narrative. It also seems redundant for Phillip to specify finally that all three were Marys since he identifies two of them earlier. That is, unless there is something important about this designation.

Phillip spends a lot of time discussing the importance of given names and secret names. This redundancy would not be necessary unless there's something important about the name of Mary to Phillip, and he would not make sure the reader knew these three women specifically were all named Mary unless the importance of this name applied to these three women. That information, paired with what we just discussed concerning Mary Magdalene's possessing of the Holy Spirit, can mean only one thing: the Other Mary had the Holy Spirit, as well. She may have been biologically His mother's sister, but she was also the sister of Christ. This makes the Other Mary just as beautiful and mysterious as her sisters.

Mary the Mother of God, Mary the Mother of John and Sister of Christ, and Mary Magdalene the Companion of Christ are three facets of a highly-developed and beautiful Goddess. But they coexist in the Biblical history at the same time as distinct people. The Trinitarian God does not do this. The Wiccan Trinitarian Goddess does not do this. No deity that I have come across in any pantheon of any world religion does this. But Mary, the embodiment of the Gnostic Sophia, the Mother of God, does simultaneously bring together a Trinitarian nature in the persons of the other two Marys. Are the three collective avatars of the Divine Feminine? I'm not sure. Are the three simultaneous avatars of the indwelling within Mary? Not sure. What I do know is that Phillip also talks a lot about things that appear "defiled" but are naturally "pure" (marriage and sex being two that come up a lot). So this simultaneous triple manifestation of a Trinitarian Goddess figure could have a deeper meaning below it. But that's an exploration for another time.

*FOOTNOTE!: The play on words concerning the conception of Christ goes like this: 'Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman?' This is because, in Greek, the word used for "spirit" is female. Phillip's precise play on words is explored in the excellent book "The Gnostic Bible" by Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer.