Woman with the Alabaster Jar
A story of the sacred feminine and how it has been denied through time. This book draws on many sources of knowledge to illustrate its theory, one of which are the trumps of the Charles VI Tarot.
By Margaret Starbird
Book - Published by Bear & Co
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Margaret Starbird was raised within the Catholic faith, holds a Master's Degree from the University of Maryland, has studied at Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany and at Vanderbilt Divinity School. In 1995, under a recommendation from friends, Starbird read the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail (by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln). This brought about a major turning point in her life - the life of a faithful daughter of the Catholic church. The major premise of Holy Blood, Holy Grail was that Jesus had taken a wife - the Mary called Magdalene, the same Mary Magdalene that the church called a "penitent prostitute"!
Starbird made the decision to "debunk" what she saw as the blasphemy of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. To do this, she researched the paintings of the artists that had been implicated by the authors as being in collusion with the Grail heresy. She worked with the symbols found in these paintings, cross-referencing them with the watermarks (symbols worked into the paper used for writing) of the Albigensians (heretics who flourished in southern France from approximately 1020 through 1250 A.D.).
From The Woman WIth The Alabaster Jar: "My research eventually drew me deep into European history, heraldry, the rituals of Freemasonry, medieval art, symbolism, psychology, mythology, religion and the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Everywhere I looked, I found evidence of the feminine that had been lost or denied in the Judeo-Christian tradition and of the various attempts to restore the Bride to her once cherished status. The more deeply involved I became with the material, the more obvious it became that there was real substance in the theories set forth in "Holy Blood, Holy Grail". And gradually I found myself won over to the central tenets of the Grail heresy, the very theory that I had originally set out to discredit." 1
The Woman With The Alabaster Jar speaks of the life of the man called Jesus and his followers, of the politics of his time, and the reason for the sacred marriage with Mary the Magdalene. The book starts with a fictional account of the initial meeting between Jesus and Mary the Magdalene. Aside from representing the marriage of the archetypal Sacred Bride and the archetypal Sacred Groom, the literal marriage between Jesus and Mary the Magdalene was a highly political one - uniting the daughter of the tribe of Benjamin and Jesus, the messianic son of David, uniting the Benjamite lands surrounding the Holy City with the Holy City, fulfilling the prophecy and acting as a source of healing for the people of Israel. This was also a marriage that was, for political reasons, kept secret from all but a select circle of royalist followers.
This is the story of the sacred feminine, and how it has been denied down through time - how the church became based on the masculine principle of the Sacred Triple God, without acknowledging the feminine counterpart of the Sacred Triple Goddess - maiden/mother/crone. I grew up in the Congregational Church, and seemed to have no problem with the virgin mother Mary (I was truly not aware that Jesus had siblings!), and a celibate Jesus.
It was amazing to me the process that Starbird went through in this book - and how it brought many disparate bits of knowledge in my life together. Amongst these bits of knowledge were the "why" of the multitude of shrines to Mary in France and Italy, the Black Madonna (referring not to race, but to the hidden aspects of Mary the Magdalene), the holy grail as a euphemism for the vessel of Mary the Magdalene as a mother, Tarot as a tool of the symbolism of the time ... and much more.
In the middle of the book Starbird has included full color plates of representative Tarot Trumps from the Charles VI deck, and color plates of the Madonna by Botticelli and della Francesca, as well as representative water marks from this time. Connecting Tarot as a tool of the time - it is one thing to say this, and another to see it!
Whether you end up agreeing with Starbird or not, this book is a "must read". This world needs to realize the sacred union - the balance of the masculine and the feminine principles. We have known this for a long time now - but if you are like me, you never took the thought back far enough, back to the "beginning" - or what serves as our beginning. The Woman WIth The Alabaster Jar will show you how to think outside the rules - to find your own truth.
Oh ... and what is the alabaster jar? The who is Mary the Magdalene. The alabaster jar is the jar that contained the scented substance called nard that Mary the Magdalene anointed Jesus with. The beginning of the journey for her, and for us.
Footnotes: 1 ibid. pages xx-xxi.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.