Dear Readers and friends,
It is Easter and again we are experiencing a powerful eclipse, the lunar counterpart to the solar we had two weeks ago. This also coincides with stories of resurrection of the phoenix, the bennu bird that disappears in flames only to reappear out of the ashes. This moon holds the message of the avatar.
I want to share some relevant chapters from the book I wrote about Jesus and Mary Magdalene, or Yeshua and Mariam as they're called in my story.
From "Rituals in Sacred Stone"
He received his verdict with dignity. The courtyard was cleared and Yeshua was tied to a pole. His shirt was pulled over his head leaving his back exposed. Two sturdy executioners each equipped with a whip presented themselves for duty. Forty nine lashes. That should do. Few people survived more.
Mariam turned her head away, but she could hear every time the whips hit his body. The whips had small cups with sharp edges at their ends that dug into his skin. He would have ninety eight indentations where skin would be missing before they were done.
Lazarus tried to watch the procedure. He was turning pale and felt nauseous before the tenth count. Yeshua didn’t make a sound the whole time.
The executioners looked disappointed when they were finished. But people had been counting with them. They couldn’t put in any extra whiplashes for good measure. They bowed to the centurion who had been standing by, before they returned to wherever they came from. He acknowledged them, they had done their job.
The centurion received a paper with a written order. He opened up the scroll and read. Then he scratched his head and adjusted his helmet. The sun was getting higher in the sky. He hadn’t had a chance for food himself since yesterday because of all this commotion. It seemed to be coming to an end. He was glad.
The prisoner was untied from his pole. He was bleeding from numerous places on his body. Small red trickles were running down his sides. He made no attempt at wiping himself but simply pulled his shirt to cover his body. The soldiers wanted to mock him further. They had made him a wreath of thorns and placed it on his head. The centurion couldn’t deny his soldiers some fun. There certainly wasn’t much to do in this godforsaken place. Why couldn’t he be stationed somewhere exciting, like Caesarea or Alexandria?
Mariam’s sympathy pains were excruciating. Did they know how vulnerable the top of his head was? Did they think they could prevent him from pulling in strength from above, or disconnect him from his inner power? Was this something Antipas had conjured, to make sure Yeshua couldn’t do any of his magic?
The soldiers gathered around the prisoner. The crossbeam was placed across his shoulders. His hands were tied along it so he would hold it straight. There was no need to tie a rope on the prisoner. He had nowhere to go. He was surrounded by soldiers, and the crowd couldn’t open space for him with his wooden wingspan.
It was time to move again. The Romans knew how to march. But this was slow moving and had nothing to do with the rhythmical trot of a good flock of soldiers. This was a funeral procession led by the deceased while still alive.
Mariam felt sick. Really sick. Lazarus bought some bread from a vendor. They had showed up this early morning ready to make a profit. Some goat milk was offered from a bucket. He made sure his sister got some. They stood in the shade of a tree and watched the group in the courtyard get ready.
Mariam gathered her strength. She dutifully ate the bread and drank the milk she was offered. Her gratitude went out to her brother. As she looked up to find his face, she saw that two other familiar faces had joined them. Her mother in law was there with her daughter Mary. Mariam collapsed in their open arms.
Lazarus looked ashen. Mary gave him strict orders to go back to Bethany and take care of Joseph. He did not take this very well and needed help. The two Mary’s would take care of Mariam. Lazarus had had enough of this event. He couldn’t take his brother-in-law being hurt and humiliated any further. He knew what would come next, and he didn’t think he would be of very much help. Mariam seemed to be in good hands with the women. Relieved, he left to do as Mary told him.
The three women watched as Yeshua passed them on his path, surrounded by soldiers, and burdened with the tool that was intended to kill him. He swayed underneath its weight, but kept on walking. They all pulled in their breath and felt their anguish spread from their throats and hearts and close their airways.
The women followed him as close as they could. At the steps by the Temple Mariam saw a familiar face. It was Simon of Cyrene, a man she had seen among the followers before. He was easy to spot with his height and wide body. She grabbed his arm and told him to follow with them close by. Soon they would need his strength.
They passed Veronica who was ready to give Yeshua water and wipe his face. Susanna was there, offering her tears and prayers. Salome and Johanna stood along the path, showing their love for him with their golden glow.
The people of the night had vanished back into the shadows they came from. The people along the path were their own followers. They offered what they could as the procession found its way among them.
Soon Yeshua fell, and the centurion was looking for someone to carry the beam for him. Simon was ready. He took the large piece of wood and handled it like a twig. Yeshua got on his feet slowly. He slurped some mouthfuls from Veronica’s ladle and let her wipe his face. A new sound was heard among the crowd. The yells for his crucifixion had stayed behind in Pilate’s courtyard. The sound heard now was a quiet murmur of encouragement. The people who loved him had arrived. They lined the road for him. They showed him the way, just like he had shown them the way to themselves. The words were condolences for his gruesome ending. The words were gratitude for what he had taught them. The words were love for a man who had healed bodies and souls.
Mariam was moved. She walked silently with the other two women. And where they came, people made room for them.
“There is his mother,” they said.
“I see his sister.”
“That is his wife.”
The people showed them their sorrow. They showed them their tears. Other men and women carried their pain and grief with them. The three women walked straighter, sharing strength with multitudes.
When they arrived at the hill where the poles were erected, Mariam noticed that this was not the usual place for executions. This was on a hill, and could be seen from far away. The hill of the skull. The hollow hill of Golgotha. Mariam felt the cold water run down her spine. Then she corrected herself. There were reasons for this, however morbid.
A warm hand found hers. She turned and saw the lovely eyes of a good friend. Young John had found her in the crowd. He stood with the women representing the disciples of the man who had taught so many so much.
The soldiers lifted the pole out of its holder in the ground. They laid it down on the sand. Simon was told to place the cross beam in the cut out indentation where it fitted so they could tie them together. Yeshua was told to relinquish his shirt and lay down on the cross. The centurion produced three nails and pointed to the hammer waiting in its holder next to where the pole belonged.
Mariam watched her husband stretch out his arms and lie still while the soldier hammered the nail through his wrists. They knew not to hit his main arteries. Then he would die too quickly. She listened to the clangs of the hammer as it hit the nails and watched his face for his response. He didn’t cry out, he didn’t protest, he silently allowed it all to happen.
His feet were placed on top of each other and the third nail was sent through them. A soldier produced a plaque which got hammered to the top of the cross.
Then they lifted it up, and carried it over to where it needed to go into the receptacle in the ground. It was pushed upright and it sank into its hole with a clank.
His body slumped down and was hanging from his wrists. He lifted his head to breathe better, pushing a little up from his feet. The pain was convulsing through his body and he was forced to allow gravity to win.
The three women rushed up to the cross as soon as the soldiers left him alone. They touched his feet, they cried with him. Mariam touched his leg and reached for him. She felt how exhausted he was. The excruciating pain was numbing and at the same time it kept him alert. Using all she knew, she tried to fuse with him, merge with him a little, take on some of the pain he felt. He didn’t let her. He had closed his field. His life force was being concentrated in the center of his body. She knew he was dying.
Remember the sponge, Mariam heard from somewhere. Bashra was talking to her from her herb bag. She had prepared a sponge with some special herbs for this occasion. Now was the time to use it. Thanks.
She turned away from the others and found it quickly in her bag. Looking for one of the soldiers, she found the centurion standing there looking at the inscription on top of the cross. He was again scratching his head and adjusting his helmet trying to give the words meaning.
“Please. Dip this in water and give it to him. He is thirsty.”
“He is dying, madam. It won’t help.”
“Please. Let me comfort him, even for a moment.”
The centurion had instructions to allow the women to administer to the prisoner. He didn’t see any harm in offering a dying man a drop of water. The centurion called one of the soldiers and gave the order. Mariam watched as he dipped the sponge in a water bucket and attached it to a long reed to be able to reach him. Yeshua was hardly conscious, but he noticed the wet thing touching his lips and managed to suck some drops off it.
That will do, Mariam thought to herself.
She finally gave herself time to look at the plaque that had puzzled the centurion. There was an inscription on it in both Greek and Aramaic, and it said Yeshua, the Nazareean, King of Judea. She stiffened as she read it. What was Pilate thinking? Would the insults never end? Or was it an insult? After all, this was what Yeshua claimed. Did Pilate in his lack of understanding, actually proclaim what they had been trying to say all these years? Pilate was a follower of Mithras, the Roman god of warriors. What did he know of priest kings?
Mariam watched the blood streaked, flogged body of her husband give up its last flickers of life. The flame went out. His color turned gray and soon there were no more movements in his body. He looked contorted where he was hanging. The hill was called the Skull, and over the hilltop the sky turned dark.
The soldiers were making their rounds to see that the prisoners were indeed dying. If they felt that the process was going too slow they would break the crucified man’s legs. Then he wouldn’t be able to push his body up to breathe and would suffocate. The soldiers were tired of their games, they wanted to go home.
“Hey, this one is dead already. That went fast.”
“Open his side. See if he bleeds.”
The soldier went over to Yeshua and stuck his lance in his side. Some blood came out.
“He’s bleeding a bit.”
“That’s fine. He’s dead. Let’s go home.”
Mariam was grateful that the soldiers were ignorant of the process of death. And that the position they pointed from made it hard to stick the lance any further in.
Mary had been very quiet and standing over to the side. Now she touched Mariam’s arm.
“Dear, it is late in the day. The Sabbath is approaching. We have to take him down before sundown, or he will hang there for a whole other day. The animals…”
As they spoke, Joseph of Aramathea approached the soldiers who were picking up the things they had brought with them for the watch.
“I have spoken to Pilate, and as a relative I have claimed the body of the prisoner.”
“He is all yours. Help yourself. We’re leaving.”
Mariam looked at Joseph and they shared a moment. It was quiet on the hill now. Most people had gone home. Only a few followers had decided to stay to the end. Simon was one of them, and they asked him again for his help. Young John supported it on the other side as they managed to lift the cross from its foundation and maneuver it down to the ground.
He was almost cold by now. Mariam touched his arm and followed it to his hand where the massive nail went through his wrist. How could they get him off of this torturous device? Simon found the hammer the soldiers had used and gave the nail a good whack on its side. It moved enough in the wood that Simon could pull it with his hand. He tried to be careful, but still the hole in the wrist got widened.
“Let’s be quick,” said Mariam to Simon to speed up the process.
Joseph had brought a linen sheet and they transferred him to it so they could carry him between them. Simon took the heaviest load, and young John proved stronger than he looked, and took the other end next to Joseph. The women hurried around them as they left on the path down the hill.
“This way. The tomb is to the left,” Joseph instructed them as they entered the fragrant garden behind the hill. He had said they could use the tomb he had purchased for his own use when his time would come.
The tomb was an open cave in the mountain wall. A large stone could be rolled in front to seal it off. Inside there was a bench to lay the body on. They all came inside and Yeshua was placed on the stone.
He was even colder now. Young Mary was crying and her mother was comforting her. They all needed to say their last goodbyes. After some time, Mariam asked if she could have some time alone with her dead husband. She needed to do her duty as a wife, wash the body and lay it out the traditional way.
“John, would you take young Mary and his mother Mary and walk them back home to Bethany? I will just stay with Uncle Joseph in Jerusalem tonight.”
“As you wish, Mara. Make sure you get some rest as well.”
“I’ll take care of her,” said Joseph.
The women hugged each other goodbye for the night and Mariam watched them leave through the garden. John knew the way and would see them safely home. Simon left with them and was invited to stay with them in Bethany.
As soon as the others had left, Mariam started administering to Yeshua’s wounds. She washed the body the way she was expected to, and did her best to heal the many scrapes his skin had taken. The cut from the soldiers lance wasn’t very deep and was stitched together quickly. The ointment she had applied the previous day had worked well. The whips had not dug into his body as badly as they were built for. With enough white camphor and lavender, besides some pure oils she had and some cactus plants, they would heal very well. He also had eaten the holy bread recently. His whole body was tuned into life, even though he now appeared absolutely dead. The little belladonna and opium he had gotten from the sponge had done its job.
“Here are your herbs, Mariam. How can I help you further?”
“I need water, Uncle. And a brazier.”
“It has already been brought in, daughter.”
“Thank you, Uncle.”
“Nicodemus and I brought aloe vera to heal his skin. Lots of it. Be generous, Miriam. There is a lot of regrowth that needs to happen.”
Mariam looked over her supplies and saw that Joseph had brought aloe vera in abundance. She could reapply it all through out the night. It would prevent infection and encourage new skin to be generated.
They worked together creating a new herbal balm for Yeshua’s body. When it was ready it was applied while the lion goddess Sekhmet was invoked with incantations. Mariam sang a note and uncle Joseph picked up the lower tone. They created harmonies with deep frequency which resonated in the stone surrounding them. When Yeshua had been prepared with the balm, they laid him out straight on the linen. The piece was long enough that it also covered his body on top when folded over from above his head. Before they covered him, Mariam looked at her husband. She admired his strong physique, his height and his fine features. His hands were modestly crossing by his hips. As her eyes viewed where his fingers overlapped she laid her hand over her own abdomen, remembering.
I’ll always be with you, he’d said.