Customer Reviews: Invoking Mary Magdalene: Accessing the Wisdom of the Divine Feminine
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VINE VOICEon May 23, 2006
Siobhan Houston has made a unique contribution to the growing literature on Mary Magdalene. While many books are focused on history, theological reflection, or alternative spiritual perspectives, Houston offers a practice-centered volume. The pratices range from rituals to a rosary to making a garden, and are flexibly constructed so as to be useful to seekers with many different approaches to the Magdalene (as Goddess, Christian saint, Jewish woman, female manifestation of the Christ, etc). Definitely a must for those who want to pursue a relationship with Mary Magdalene.
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on May 17, 2006
As a co-leader of a Magdalene Circle, I found this book a wonderfully helpful guide to developing ways to publicly honor Mary Magdalene as Sacred Complement and Divine Partner. Siobhan Houston has given us the next step to take after immersing ourselves in study about early Christianity and Mary Magdalene, when we find ourselves wanting to express devotion to Her. Suggested prayers, a nine day devotional practice,and a July 22 Magdalene Feast Day ritual all serve to bring the devotee into an experience of gnosis of the Divine Feminine Wisdom. The book satisfies both a thirst for knowledge about Mary Magdalene the women and a thirst for experiencing the dimension of consciousness where She is available to us all. Accessing this dimension is facilitated by the book's wonderful CD of guided meditations.

Thank you, Siobhan Houston, for creating a bridge upon which deeply intuitive/feeling women can walk again into Christianity.
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on May 18, 2006
This book has a very untraditional approach to Mary Magdalene, with references to Gnostics, Sufis, the Hindu tradition, Kabbalah, goddess and pagan paths and so forth. It's a interesting mix that is somehow works really well, probably because the chapters are arranged topically--Healing and Compassion, Magdalene as Initiatrix (the chapter on the Gnostic view of MM), Accessing Power with the Dark Goddess, etc. The author is of Jewish and Irish Catholic descent, and seems to have had a really interesting education and a background in many spiritual traditions. I especially liked the suggestions for setting up an altar and ideas for prayer beads, prayer shawls and a little container garden of devotional plants. The book gives instructions and web sites to help you make your own prayer beads and shawls, if you are so inclined. Since I knit and garden, this was great info for me. And the author has a playful, joyful attitude to spritual practice that is a nice change from some of the deadly serious meditation books I've read.
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on July 20, 2007
I loved this book! I found it accessible and based on good scholarship (the author graduated from Harvard Divinity School). In my view, the book is an open-hearted meditation on different aspects of Mary Magdalene in history, legend, and myth. Each chapter covers a different aspect, such as Magdalene as healer, the Gnostic Magdalene, relating to the Magdalene as the Beloved/Friend, and Magdalene as the Dark Goddess (including possible connections to the European Black Madonnas). Houston is very clear that she is offering ideas and possibilities for readers to use and modify for their own practices. She also concludes that any relationship with the Magdalene and (indeed the Divine in general) is best self-defined. While she talks about her spiritual relationship to Mary Magdalene, she never prescribes a certain way for others to approach the Magdalene. No doctrine, no dogma, no proscribed rituals, no clergy, no authorities to submit to.
The book is very consciously written for both men and women. In fact, Houston specifically addresses her readers as "women and men." Just because the subject of the book is the Magdalene and the divine feminine does not automatically exclude men, a fact that the author takes care to note.
As for the "rewritten" prayers, the fact is that many prayers and epithets of the divine descend to us from ancient times, and often have pagan roots. For example, many titles of the Virgin Mary derive from names for pagan goddesses; the Virgin Mary is often called "Stella Maris" (Star of the Sea), a title originally given to the Egyptian goddess Isis. The only "rewritten" prayer in the book is the Gnostic Rosary (the rosary, by the way, also has pagan origins). Some people will enjoy this Gnostic take on the rosary, and of course, some will not. The author lays out a wide variety of ways to relate to Magdalene--she is well aware that not all the practices will fit everyone.
As far as the author's discussion of Magdalene's possible connections to goddess of other cultures, she does so on two levels. First, she looks at the cultural and spiritual significance of the early European legends about Magdalene in light of the pre-existent pagan goddess worship. While Houston doesn't make an historical pronouncements, since good documentation doesn't exist at this time, she points out that Roman colonists established temples to Cybele and Diana (and other gods/goddesses) in England and France, and in addition, the indigenous pagan cultures (for example, the Celts) venerated goddesses of their own. Discussing Magdalene's legendary presence in France and England, and how these legends interacted with the pre-existent goddess worship is a fascinating and completely reasonable subject. Also, much scholarly debate abounds in regard to the Black Madonna statues in Roman Catholic churches, and their possible connection to Roman and Near Eastern goddesses like Isis. Since a high number of these mysterious Black Virgin statues are in regions of France where Magdalene was and still is fervently venerated, talking about Magdalene's connection to these statues is logical.
Secondly, Houston talks about Magdalene on an archetypal and mythological level. This conversation is not meant to be historical, as Houston clearly notes. It falls in the area of depth psychology and cross-cultural anthropology, such as when Houston mentions possible resonances with goddesses of other cultures.
I found this book a great resource and a springboard that helps me think about Mary Magdalene in new ways. My spiritual practice has deepened and I feel a connection with what Houston refers to as "the Magdalene Path," the spontaneous grassroots movement that is demanding the re-inclusion of the divine feminine in the West!
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on May 18, 2006
I received this book as a present and have been really enjoying it. The author has a flowing style of writing and it's obvious she has a lot of scholarly background. But she is also someone who does spiritual practice and seems passionate about sharing her ideas and experiences about that with others. The book is very practical, with lots of good ideas and resources, and it's a pleasure to read as well. It doesn't advocate any one approach or one belief system or religion and is written for both men and women. Her voice on the meditation CD is lovely and melodious.
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on August 3, 2006
I bought this book directly from the author at the recent Mary Magdalene feast day celebration in Boulder. During the celebration we all did a meditation from the CD, a journey to the Cave of St. Baume in France where Magdalene is supposed to have lived. It was such a wonderful experience that I wanted to be able to do the meditation at home. The book is great and the CD is a wonderful tool that inspires me to actually do some meditation!
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on September 2, 2006
Invoking Mary Magdalene: Accessing The Wisdom Of The Divine Feminine is a spiritual book and audio CD guide to invoking the sacredness of Mary Magdalene, who is mentioned in the New Testament more than any other woman. Chapters include a Magdalene litany for turning oneself over to become a vessel for Divine Feminine grace, teachings on enlightenment Jesus is said to have imparted to Magdalene alone, a guide to creating one's personal shrine to Mary Magdalene, and much more. Written by a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Invoking Mary Magdalene is a profound, reverent, and respectful guide to expressing faith and paying homage. The sessions on the accompanying CD are Guided Visualization to the Cave of Baume (11:45), The Holy Gnostic Rosary (31:37), Union with the Holy Bride (13:00), Magdalene as Grail Guardian and Queen of Shadows Meditation (9:47), and Prayer of Archangelic Protection (0:52).
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on August 23, 2006
This book contains some very solid, practical ways of starting up a spiritual practice devoted to the Magdalene. Unfortunately I could not get past the whole "let's throw Kali, Sekhmet, Hecate, and the Magdalene into a blender!" concept that she tries to sell. None of these goddesses have a thing in common with the Magdalene except maybe their gender. I would've loved to have seen some genuine cross comparisons and rituals between her and very similar goddesses who are equally as popular, and would've made far more sense to include: Isis, Astarte, Aphrodite, Ishtar, and Inanna are just a few I can rattle off the top of my head. I think that she is trying to market this book for the type of person who would be much happier picking up a book on Teen Wicca. Nonetheless, this book has a lot of excellent ideas in it and I found that the information included was just what I was looking for--when I ignored all of the "dark godddess" nonsense, that is.
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on June 4, 2006
Book provides many answers to questions about Mary Magdalene. The audio disk is worth the price of the book. Great format and good reading.
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on May 26, 2007
This book is an excellent guide for everyone, from the intellectually curious and to the serious spiritual practitioner. Houston gives us the background on Magdalene and then takes us step by step through many techniques and practices to strengthen our own life and consciousness.
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