For May Day, I usually take my family to the CUUPs celebration at the UU Church where we dance around a maypole. I also wrote a mini-ritual for my family, called “Jesus and the Goddess”. Since my wife is Christian and my son identifies as Christian, it makes sense to find ways to incorporate Christian themes into our Neopagan celebrations. I came up with this idea after reading a small book called Jesus and the Goddess by Carl McColman. In the ritual, the children of God and the Goddess, Jesus and Magdala share three gifts with each other and with their parents. The gifts remind them that they have more in common than they had thought. I hope you enjoy it.
The Story of Jesus and the Goddess
Father: This is just one story about the Goddess and the God. There are many stories, all of them a little bit different. It is not important which story is true. What is important is what each story has to teach us. In order to understand the whole truth, we must listen to all the stories. This is one such story.
Father: In the beginning, there was the Goddess. She was the watery darkness that was everywhere. And from that watery darkness there was born Heaven and the Earth. And Heaven and Earth were male and female, god and goddess. And they loved each other. And from their love was born all things: the sun and the moon; plants and animals; and all of us, both male and female, sons and daughters of the God of Heaven and the Earth Goddess.
Mother: For a long time, people worshiped the God and the Goddess together. And they celebrated their love. But there came a time, when the God of Heaven became jealous of the Goddess, for she loved all of creation. And the God of Heaven made himself forgot where he came from. And he declared, “I have no mother. I have no wife. I am God alone!” And his followers worshiped the God of Heaven alone. And they punished anyone who worshiped the Goddess or any other gods. And he told his followers that men were better than women, because men looked like him. Women reminded him of the Goddess, who he wanted to forget.
Father: But the Goddess was not completely forgotten. She was spoken of in the Bible as Asherah (the tree of life), and Sophia (which means “wisdom”), and Shekhina (which means the presence of God on earth).
Mother: When Jesus was born he was God in the flesh. He was born to Mary, who in this story was the Goddess in the flesh. And when Jesus suffered on the cross, his mother Mary suffered even more, to see her child suffer. And in this story Jesus was also married to a woman called Magdala, who was also the Goddess in the flesh. And Magdala was a priestess of the Goddess.
Father: Still, most people forgot the Goddess, for many centuries her existence was only a rumor, one that had to be whispered. This lasted a long time, until the last century, and people started to remember the Goddess. And they looked back in history and found her in many places: in statues made by cave people, in stories of ancient goddesses, in paintings of Mary the mother of God, and even in the Bible, hidden between the lines. And the worship of the Goddess returned.
Father: But now the Goddess was angry. She had had enough and she was tired of being forgotten. And she declared spiritual war on the religion of the God of Heaven. She even went so far as to say that only women could worship her, because all men reminded her of the God of Heaven. She really only wanted to be treated equally. But she had been ignored for so long, she forgot about the importance of balance. She had forgotten the love she had once had for the God of Heaven.
Son: The children of the Goddess and the God were Jesus and Magdala. Now the God of Heaven had told Jesus to stay away from the Goddess, and the Goddess had told Magdala to stay away from the God of Heaven. And Jesus and Magdala were not allowed to play together. Sometimes, some of the followers of Jesus and Magdala tried to get together, but the God and the Goddess wanted none of it.
Daughter: Eventually, Jesus and Magdala had enough too. They were tired of their parents fighting. They wanted to play together. And they were going to show their parents how to get along. They knew that the followers of both the Goddess and the God had important gifts to share with each other, if only they had the chance.
Son: So, on May 1st (May Day), the day on which Pagans celebrate the marriage of the Goddess and the God, Jesus and Magdala made a plan to bring each other three gifts that would heal the divide between the God of Heaven and the Goddess of Earth. Both Jesus and Magdala went in search of the perfect gifts, gifts which had special meaning to each of them.
Daughter: When they came together again, they each brought their gifts with them. Magdala presented her gifts first. They were simple gifts, gifts which seemed ordinary, but were actually very meaningful.
Father: The first gift Magdala brought forth was earth. And she said:
Daughter: “This is earth. It is the body of our mother, the Goddess. Some of the followers of the God of Heaven have said that the Earth and our bodies are not good, and only Heaven is good. But with the gift of earth the Goddess teaches us that everything we can see and touch and taste and smell, all these things are good because they are part of the Goddess. It teaches us that our bodies, which are made of earth, are good too. And we are a part of the Goddess too.”
Son: “Thank you. I always remember the meaning of the gift of earth.
Father: The second gift Magdala brought forth was water in a chalice or cup. And she said:
Daughter: “This is water. The water is in a chalice. Both the water and the chalice are symbols of womanhood. The chalice symbolizes the womb in which our mother’s carried us. The water symbolizes the water of the womb in which we floated. Some of the followers of the God of Heaven teach that God is only male. But with the gift of water and the chalice, the Goddess teaches us that God is female too. She reminds women that God looks like them too, and she teaches us that a God without a Goddess is only half of a god.”
Son: “Thank you. I will I always remember the meaning of the gift of water.”
Father: The third gift Magdala brought forth was a flaming candle. And she said:
Daughter: “This is fire. The fire burns like the divine spirit inside of all of us. Some of the followers of the God of Heaven teach that only God has power and we are weak. The Goddess teaches us that we can find the power we need inside of us. The fire also symbolizes anger and our right to be angry at injustice, when some people hurt other people. The fire inspires us to fight for equality and justice.”
Son: “Thank you. I always remember the meaning of the gift of fire.”
Mother: Now it was Jesus’s turn to share his gifts. The first gift Jesus brought forth was a star. And he said:
Son: “This is a star. Like the one that appeared the night I was born. To the followers of the Goddess, the Goddess is all the world. But sometimes it seems like the world doesn’t care about us. The star reminds my followers that God is searching for them, reaching out to them, and trying to tell them how much he loves them.”
Mother: And Magdala took the gift of the star and said,
Daughter: “Thank you. I always remember the meaning of the gift of the star.”
Mother: The second gift Jesus brought forth was broken bread. And he said:
Son: “This is my body. It is broken like my body was broken. Sometimes the followers of the Goddess need the Goddess to be strong because they need to feel strong, and they forget that God suffers too. But this broken bread reminds my followers that their God has suffered like they have, they he understands their sadness and their pains, for it is written that he is ‘acquainted with sorrows’ and is ‘touched by their infirmities’, and he has descended below all things.”
Daughter: “Thank you. I always remember the meaning of the gift of broken bread.”
Mother: The third gift Jesus brought forth was a wooden cross. And he said:
Son: “This is an empty cross. It is a symbol of the greatest miracle ever. To the followers of the Goddess, the Goddess is nature. And nature follows natural laws. One of those laws is that everything dies. But this cross reminds my followers that sometimes miracles can happen. Small miracles and big miracles. Sometimes the laws of nature can be overcome by the love of God.”
Daughter: “Thank you. I always remember the meaning of the gift of the wooden cross.”
Father: Now Jesus and Magdala each took the gifts they were given. But they were not done. Magdala carried the gifts of Jesus to her mother, the Goddess. And Jesus carried the gifts of Magdala to his father, the God of Heaven.
Son: The first gift that Jesus presented was the gift of earth. And Jesus explained to his father the meaning of the Goddess’s gift of earth. And the God of Heaven began to remember the Goddess. And he said,
Father: “I remember the gift of earth which the Goddess gave to me long ago. I remember in the beginning I saw the earth, and I said it was good. And I saw the bodies of the men and women who were created, and I said they were good. This was my gift too.”
Son: And God took the earth and held it in his hands and smelled the life that dwelled inside it.
[Father: Take the earth in your hands and smell it deeply.]
Son: The second gift that Jesus presented was the gift of the water in the chalice. And Jesus explained to his father the meaning of the Goddess’s gift of water. And the God of Heaven continued to remember. And he said,
Father: “I remember the gift of water which the Goddess gave to me long ago. This water is the gift of birth which is in all women. And it is also the gift of the second birth, the gift of starting over anew, which is symbolized by the waters of baptism. For my Son has said, ‘You must be born again.’ And this chalice which holds the water is also the cup which holds the water which my followers drink in memory of the blood of my son every Sunday when they ask for the gift of being born again. This was my gift too.”
Son: And God took the chalice and drank deeply of the water.
[Father: Take the chalice and drink all the water.]
Son: The third gift that Jesus presented was the gift of fire. And Jesus explained to his father the meaning of the Goddess’s gift of water. And the God of Heaven remembered the Goddess. And he said,
Father: “I remember the gift of fire which the Goddess gave to me long ago. It is the gift of the spirit, which my followers call the Holy Ghost, which lives in the hearts of every man and woman and child. For my Son has said, ‘The kingdom of god is within you.’ And it is the fire of the burning bush which Moses saw. It is the fire which drove all my prophets to fight for the poor and needy, the widows and the orphans. This was my gift too.”
Son: And God took the fire and placed it in his heart.
[Father: Fix the picture of the flaming heart on your chest.]
Son: And the God of Heaven repented that he had forgotten the Goddess, who he loved. And he went to look for her.
Daughter: At the same time, Magdala was presenting the gifts of Jesus to the Goddess. The first gift that Magdala presented was the gift of the star. And Magdala explained to her mother the meaning of Jesus’s gift of the star. And the Goddess began to forgive the God of Heaven. And she said,
Mother: “The God of Heaven did not completely forget me after all. This star is God’s message to our children that her is searching for them. When our children look up into the night sky, they see my body. And it is full of stars. And each star has a different message for our children. For there are as many paths to me as there are stars in the sky. This was my gift too.”
Daughter: And the Goddess stretched forth her arm and placed the star in the sky amidst all the other stars.
[Mother: Hang the star from some high place.]
Daughter: The second gift that Magdala presented was the gift of broken bread. And Magdala explained to her mother the meaning of Jesus’s gift of the broken bread. And the Goddess forgave the God of Heaven a little more. And she said,
Mother: “The God of Heaven did not completely forget me after all. The broken bread is the broken body of Jesus. This bread was made from grain. And the grain is sown the ground by a plow, which must break my body, which is the earth. And the grain which rises up must be cut down so that the grain may be harvested. And the grain must be crushed so that flour can be made. And the flour must be baked so that the bread can be made. All creation requires sacrifice. As Jesus suffered on the cross, so I suffer with all of creation as it is born, and lives, and dies. This was my gift too.”
Daughter: And the Goddess took the bread and ate it.
[Mother: Eat the bread.]
Daughter: The third gift that Magdala presented was the gift of the wooden cross. And Magdala explained to her mother the meaning of Jesus’s gift of the wooden cross. And the Goddess forgave the God of Heaven. And she said,
Mother: “The God of Heaven did not entirely forget me. This empty cross is the symbol of the miracle of the resurrection, the miracle of life which follows death. This wooden cross was made from a tree. Ever winter the tree dies. And every spring, it is born again, in the continuous miracle which is the cycle of life and death and rebirth. This was my gift too.”
Daughter: And the Goddess stretched forth the cross and its branches sprouted green leaves.
[Mother: Hold the cross in one hand. Replace the cross with a green leafed branch.]
Son and Daughter: And the Goddess looked up and she saw the God of Heaven, who she had loved so long ago. And she loved him again. And they embraced each other in love. And on that day, they were married again before all the children of Heaven and Earth.
[Father and Mother: Embrace.]