The Grail Code 
Finding the real “sacred feminine”

Christians all over the world celebrated the feast of St. Mary today. If you’re Catholic, don’t think you have a monopoly on Mary: her feast is on Protestant calendars, too, and of course I needn’t mention how many fans she has among the Eastern churches.

The most beloved saint in Christian history is Mary, the Mother of Jesus; the most famous Christian images are icons and statues of mother and child; the most popular plastic lawn statue in my neighborhood is Mary-in-the-bathtub, as some of the locals call it. Huge factories in China are turning out millions of plastic Marys as we speak.

So how can people say that Christianity suppressed the “sacred feminine”?

This may surprise you, but I think Christians actually have to take the blame for a lot of that misleading impression. If we were really doing our job—if we were bringing the Good News to all the nations—then people would know that, for Christians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Those ringing words (from the particularly ringing King James Version) tell us right away what sets Christianity apart from almost any other religion. In most Buddhist sects, for example, a woman has no hope of reaching enlightenment: she must be reborn a man, and then there are a few incalculable eons to get through before the goal is reached. But Christians believe that men and women are equally valuable in the sight of God, and equally destined for heaven.

So why isn’t that the impression most people have of Christians? Why are Christians the patriarchalist villains in Dan Brown’s revised version of history?

What Dan Brown is telling people, and I think he believes it himself, is that there was a beautiful old pagan paradise where the Feminine was sacred, but it was stomped flat by jackbooted Christian storm troopers who demoted women to property. What was actually true, of course, is absolutely the reverse: women were property—often more liability than property—to pagans, but to the Christians they were people, each one uniquely valuable as a person with a soul, not as property. If a pagan left an infant girl out by the road to die, a Christian was likely to pick her up and raise her. It’s no wonder that the Christians seemed to have all the women long before the time of Constantine.

But we can’t deny that Christians, being (after all) sinners, have often forgotten the uniqueness of each person as a creature of God, and have instead treated women pretty much the same way the pagans did. Is that the fault of Christianity? No; it’s the fault of Christians. That’s different. A Muslim who blows up a crowded market doesn’t speak for Islam, and a Christian who treats women as property doesn’t speak for Christianity. They both speak for our fallen world of sin.

But we know how to escape from that cycle of sin and death. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” With those words, the model of Christian faith undid the untold ages of rebellion against the will of God. The model of Christian faith is a woman, and Christianity teaches all of us, male and female, to emulate her virtues.

Dan Brown is right: the real Holy Grail was named Mary. He’s just got the wrong Mary. It was Mary the Mother of Jesus who bore the body of the Christ within her. The grail-bearer in many of the Grail romances is a young virgin because she represents the original Grail, the Virgin Mary, who willingly cooperated with God’s plan of salvation.

That’s what the “sacred feminine” really looks like. When Paul says that there is neither male nor female, he’s calling us to remember that Christians are different from the rest of the world. For us, each individual person is sacred, male or female equally, the sexes in balance with each other and with the Earth, redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which came about through the willing cooperation of Mary, our model of faith.

2 Responses to “Finding the real “sacred feminine””

  1. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » One year Says:

    [...] Buddhism [...]

  2. chinese abacus Says:

    I think this is a very real problem and I am glad to see that Harvard is covering it. I think images are the biggest threat, especially on social media sites like Facebook. It’s an even bigger problem now if Facebook profiles have become searchable in Google…oooch

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(C) 2006 Mike Aquilina and Christopher Bailey