In the Catholic Church in which I was raised, the hierarchy claims their authority and power through what they call “apostolic succession” – meaning they (believe) they can trace their authority all the way back through the succession of bishops, all the way back to the original apostles. The implication of apostolic succession is that a bishop’s power can be traced all the way back to Jesus who gave the original apostles this power in the first place.
Apostolic succession is predicated on the assumption that Jesus intended to establish a new religious institution (ie the “Church “) and that the only apostles who were given this power were male. Since I can no longer believe either of these assumptions to be true or established on any verifiable facts, I must now frame the idea of apostolic succession as simply another one of those man-made constructs put in place to deny women (and the laity) any position, participation, or voice in the Institutional Church.
Reflecting on the idea of Apostolic Succession and the ways in which it has been used to deny all but a few a voice in the dissemination of Jesus’ teachings, has me wondering what the world would be like if instead of apostolic succession, the “church” had been established on the Magdalene Succession and if such a thing had been recognized, what it may have looked like.
In my personal experience, the Magdalene Succession has nothing to do with a line of “bishops” imparting power and control to another bishop. Instead, the Magdalene Succession happens through a direct and personal encounter with the Magdalene and with her, the Christ. These are encounters that arise out of contemplation and prayer, through dreams, while engaged in our active imaginations – what Jesus refers to as “the nous” (ref: The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean Yves-LeLoup). The Magdalene Succession happens independently of one’s religious affiliation and happens to women and men alike. Through the Magdalene Succession, one comes to know Mary and Jesus intimately and comes to know the mystical teachings of Christ as Mary herself came to know them. “Authority” is not imposed from without, but arises from within in an individual’s personal relationship with the Magdalene and the Christ, The Divine therefore being the one and only true authority. In the Magdalene Succession, personal revelation (coupled with sound discernment) is honored and held as sacred and unique to each individual, recognizing that the Divine reveals itself to each individual in a unique and magnificent way as it relates to their own unique temperament, personality and Soul’s purpose with LOVE being the ultimate test of this truth.
If there were to be a “church” based in the Magdalene Succession, it wouldn’t be a church at all – at least not in the way we normally think of Church. This “church” would not be rooted in anything that speaks of fear, power or control. This “church” would be free of doctrine, hierarchical power, and white male privilege. Instead, it would be rooted in personal growth and development through which participants would come to know themselves through an intimately personal relationship with God/dess. They would come to know their own unique giftedness through which they would find meaning and purpose in their lives and would be compelled and supported in finding ways to share their gifts in the world for the sake of their own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world.
Those called to be “leaders” would receive this call direction from the Magdalene and the Christ and would not “rule” over those they are called to “lead.” Instead of leading, they would shepherd – teaching, sharing, encouraging free thought and discussion, allowing for personal revelation, honoring all that a person is as sacred and supporting them in the discovery, nurturance and empowerment of their gifts. If a community should develop, it would happen organically and would be formed on the principles of mutual support and respect, collaboration and cooperation. The role of the “leader” is more about education and support than about imposing rules, dictating behaviors or insisting on compliance. In short, the community would be guided by love.
The Order of the Magdalene arose out of this process of direct revelation and is in service and support to those called to embody and further Jesus’ teachings on compassion and love and were fully known and experienced by the Magdalene.
If you are interested in learning more about the Magdalene, and the invitation to continue her mission of Love in the world, check out my FREE preview course for the Magdalene Priestess Training or my online course Resurrecting the Magdalene.