I love the idea that Spirit comes to us to forgive us. Forgiveness is a powerful and necessary thing, for to be human is to make mistakes that require forgiveness. Or as the shamanic tradition might frame it: we make mistakes that require ceremonies for putting things back in energetic balance again.
Here is a mystery: Why was Jesus laid in the tomb? God can make the resurrection happen anyway God wants. Why didn’t Jesus just fly off the cross, fly around the temple and vanish into the sky? Why didn’t a host of angels come down and carry him off with trumpets blaring? Why would God have a few people take Jesus down, wrap him up and lay him in the tomb, and then just have him just disappear on Sunday – leaving all sorts of alternative stories to be told (“they stole the body,” or “He didn’t really die, he married Mary Magdalene, and I am his descendant,” etc…).
My answer to “why the tomb?”: This is where the great mother enters the story fully in Her mystery. The sky father played his part in the story – the preaching, the words, the conflict, the miracles – the public, active, yang elements of the story. But to complete the story and the teaching, Jesus must enter into the realm of the Great Mother – the earth. This finishes the healing process and the transformation. And this is what Jesus came to teach us.
The sky father teaches us to ideate and talk and build. The earth mother reminds us that we need constant communion with her to cleanse and heal us and to bring us into humility. Without her, we will wreck the earth with unbalanced, unrefined, macho yang-itude.
So after all the public work initiated by the Sky Father, Jesus enters into the tomb, the darkness of the earth-womb, and in a secret process that none of us are allowed to see, the collected spiritual toxins are taken into the earth to be recycled by the Great Mother, as everything else is, was and always shall be. He then emerges transformed and sanctified. This is what Jesus came to teach us how to do for ourselves. He did not come to do it for us, as the “blood atonement for our sins” tradition has claimed.
I see the Great Mother everywhere in the Bible, even though the priests, bishops and emperors who edited and rewrote the Jesus stories uncountable times before they declared them officially unchangeable thought they were keeping her out.
I love that on the first Easter morning, it is Mary Magdalene, not one of the beloved male disciples, that first discovers the empty tomb. It is a woman who first sees the risen Jesus and mistakes him for a gardener – one who works the soil, one who caresses the skin of the Great Mother, whose hands are covered in mothering, changeable earth. While Mary was discovering the transformed Jesus, Peter, who would establish the sermonizing, unerring, rule-dispensing, male church, was hiding in some shadowy corner, wrapped in grief and fear, praying that no one would recognize him as a follower of Jesus.
After teaching them all to summon hope for a renewed world – a world of loving kindness, a world where the men with armies and money would realize they were not the real power – suddenly in a few short hours Jesus was dead, in abject humiliation; one of dozens, maybe hundreds of anonymous, petty criminals easily dispatched by the state that day. That renewed and renewing world crashed. The male disciples ran, anguished, and panicked.
Mary knew to take her grief to the earth – the garden – to have it transformed, and she is the first to meet the risen Jesus. This passage is so beautiful and unusual, I swear it is some kind of incredible goof by the many male redactors of the scriptures.
You have been told that Jesus emerged from the tomb totally disconnected from the world – more air than earth. You have been told that we, too, should strive to be as airy and separate. But that is Peter’s unbalanced unhealthy, male story, told after he came out of hiding and sought then power of religious leadership. It is Paul’s shouted sermons as he tried to establish the male-as-divine-image church.
I say to you: The male tradition of the church told us to ignore the Mother, and to take our grief and anger out on creatures of the earth in order to cleanse ourselves. I say to you, Jesus knew to go the Mother to be cleansed, healed and sanctified. He knew to take his grief, his tears of betrayal, his anger, his pain to the Mother. After all his preaching, this was his final teaching for us. He emerged from the Great Mother not as a spirit of air, as we have been taught, but as an enspirited earth creature, as a human infused and permeated by Earth Spirit, and that is what Good Friday and Easter teaches us, and this is what will save us.