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.

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