Mary, Matriarch of Christian Magic

Mother of the Eucharist 1

“Mother of the Eucharist,” by Tommy Canning

In both exoteric and esoteric Christianity, the Blessed Virgin Mary plays a major role. Rank-and-file parishioners seek out her intercession in trials and tribulations, mystics sometimes describe experience of meeting her, and magicians high and low invoke her to get things done. What are we getting ourselves into?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. A Crash Course on Mariology
Catholic Mariology: Starting Points
Orthodox Mariology: Starting Points
Protestant Mariology: Starting Points

2. Who Mary is Not
Misconception 1: Mary as “Goddess”
Polemics Versus Catechetics
Back to “Mary as Goddess”
Mary as Herself
Mary as Practices
Religious Illiteracy
Misconception 2: Mary as “Divine Feminine”
Misconception 3: The Authority of Apparitions
Final Remarks about Misconceptions

3. Who was Mary? Specific Teachings
The Four (or Five) Marian Doctrines
Immaculate Conception
Mary as “Mother of God”
Mary as Perpetual Virgin
Mary’s Assumption into Heaven
Mary as Co-Redemptrix
Quick Summary

4. Mary in Magical Practice
Why We Invoke Mary
a. Queen of Heaven
b. Mediatrix of All Graces
c. Special Relationship with Jesus
How We Invoke Mary
Specific Methods
a. The Angelical Salutation (the Hail Mary)
b. The Memorare
c. The Salve Regina
Hymns
Concluding Thoughts


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Mary Grotto, Sacred Heart Church, Dayton, Ohio.

1. A Crash Course on Mariology

Before we can talk about Mary in an occult or magical context, it might help if we first talk about mariology, or the study and understanding of Mary. As mainstream Christianity comes in three branches – Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant – we’re actually discussing three mariologies.

Catholic Mariology: Starting Points

We’ll start off with Catholic mariology, since this is the church Jesus originally founded. First and foremost, Catholic mariology sees Mary as an integral part of salvation history for three reasons: 1. she said “Yes” to giving birth to Jesus, 2. she raised Jesus from childhood, and 3. as Jesus’ Mother she occupies a special place in heaven.

This first point – saying “Yes” – has to be considered in light that Catholicism teaches the human will is absolutely free. Yes, the human will is free to accept or reject God’s grace, and the fact God sent St. Gabriel to ask her consent beforehand tells us two things: 1. God is not a rapist, and 2. Mary had the choice to say “No,” which would likely have been the easier choice, and that decision would’ve been honored.

That Mary raised Jesus from childhood doesn’t need much explanation; the Bible is abundantly clear that Jesus wasn’t sold to strangers or raised by a pack of wolves. She raised him, she loved him, she tended his boo-boos, probably worried for him when he may or may not have gone on a child-killing spree, and all the other things mothers do for their children. That means she walked closely with God Incarnate, not to mention the nine months she carried him in her body. The third point, that Mary occupies a special place in heaven, is equally self-explanatory since it’s a logical consequence of her consent to becoming pregnant and her mother-son relationship with Jesus.

Orthodox Mariology: Starting Points

While Catholic Mariology starts with Mary’s consent, the central focus of Orthodox mariology is her divine motherhood of Jesus, placing Jesus and Mary at the center of the universe and the goal of human history. In fact Orthodox mariology agrees on many points with its Catholic counterpart, the major difference being that Orthodoxy rejects the Immaculate Conception (we’ll talk about that later).

Unlike Catholic mariology, the Orthodox understanding of Mary isn’t articulated through a central teaching office (called “the magisterium”), but through the Church’s Divine Liturgy. This opens up a discussion on “Liturgy as Catechism,” ritual as teaching the faith, something both the Traditional Latin Mass and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom do extremely well.

Protestant Mariology: Starting Points

At the other extreme we find Protestant mariology, which can swing from benign neglect to intensely antagonism toward the Catholic and Orthodox schools.

When we first explore Protestant mariology, the first thing we notice is that the Reformers themselves were not anti-Marian. In fact Luther actually encouraged praying the Hail Mary, leaving out the “Holy Mary, Mother of God” part (not yet part of the prayer in Luther’s time). Calvin saw Mary’s submission to God as an example all Christians should emulate. Zwingli said we should honor Mary by honoring Christ. All three agreed with Catholics and Orthodox about Mary’s perpetual virginity.

When we read the Reformers’ views on Mary, it’s apparent their primary concern wasn’t removing her from the picture, but that they wanted to curb what they perceived as excesses in the way Catholicism viewed her. They still held that she was to be honored, just not as an intercessor and certainly not as anything other than Jesus’ mother.

The antagonism against Mary was a project for later generations of Protestants, who, following the iconoclastic mindset of their forebears, came to see Mary as little other than a character in a storybook or nothing more than, as one Protestant pastor once told me, “the bus that dropped Jesus off here.” She’s seen more or less as mattering only for those nine months of carrying Jesus in the womb, and after that God more or less threw her away after he no longer had a use for her; why else would her son just call her “woman” in the Gospels? What started as a project to check perceived excesses turned, over time, into a project of revulsion for any attention given to the woman who brought forth the Savior.


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2. Who Mary is Not

Since this blog talks about occultism and most occultists aren’t known for being theology majors, it might help if we address some common misconceptions before proceeding.

Misconception 1: Mary as “Goddess”

This is a common misconception in occult literature, especially any writings involving Neopaganism or authors raised in Protestant households. The general trend is that when pagan peoples were converted to Christianity (regardless of whether by free will or at sword-point), they generally saw their female deities represented in Mary. Therefore, according to this logic, our pre-Christian ancestors’ prayers to their Goddesses (Juno, Isis, etc.) are alive and well in the practice of invoking Mary’s intercession.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, originally this “Mary as Goddess” line originated amongst Protestant polemicists as a way of attacking Catholicism, most notably as a way of attacking the Catholic practice of invoking Mary by claiming any prayer to her was an act of idolatry. The groundwork for this attack is found in John Calvin’s Institutes, while it becomes fleshed out amongst English-speaking Protestant authors; in the eighteenth century Middleton claimed veneration of Mary is a continuation of Isis-worship (A Letter from Rome, 1729), Poynder likened Marian pilgrimages to pilgrimages in honor of the Hindu goddess Durga (Popery in Alliance with Heathenism, 1835). In the twentieth century, no less a theologian than Herman Sasse reminds us Catholic devotion to Mary is “Christianized paganism” (Response to the Doctrine of the Assumption, 1950):

The Marian cult is Christianized paganism, a paganism which lives, closely bound up in a form of symbiosis with the Christian faith, and from which it draws ever-new power. It is as though the super-human powers which stand behind the pagan religions, after the collapse of the pagan cults and myths, had taken refuge in the Christian religion.”

[NOTE: I read Dr. Sasse’s Response several years ago but can no longer find the entire text online, but a commentary with many relevant quotes can be found here.]

This idea, along with many others about Mary in particular and the Saints in general, transferred from Protestantism to English-speaking Occultism in part because the major “movers and shakers” in the Occult Revival were raised Protestant and saw no reason to question what they’d been taught about Catholicism. Hence we see Crowley refer to Mary as an “adaptation and conglomeration of Isis, Semele, Astarte, Cybele, Freya, and so many others” (Confessions, 1969), while the Farrars’ A Witches’ Bible (original edition 1981) effectively gives us a catechism of Neopagan views on the subject, devoting no less than two-and-a-half pages (I, 138-140) to telling us “Mary at Bethlehem is again the Goddess as Life-and-Death,” that “in order for Christianity to remain a viable religion, the Queen of Heaven had to be re-admitted to something like her true status,” that “Significantly, [Mary’s virtual deification] coincided closely with the determined suppression of Isis-worship,” and finally that:

[The Church] managed to create . . . an official synthesis of the Queen of Heaven, by which they achieved the remarkable feat of desexualizing the Goddess and dehumanizing Mary. But they could not muffle her power; it is to her that the ordinary worshipper (knowing and caring nothing about the distinction between hyperdulia and latria) turns, ‘now and at the hour of our death.’”

Later in the book (II, 154), we’re told that other goddesses and “the Catholic’s Virgin Mary are all essentially man-conceived Goddess-forms relating to, and drawing their power from, the same Archetype,” a concept most occultists would understand as an egregore. Later still (II, 176), the authors state that “we have found that many ordinary Catholics (including quite a few priests and nuns of our acquaintance) agree with us in private that in their approach to the Virgin Mary they are acknowledging the female aspect of divinity – i.e. the Goddess.”

I mention this last because of a recent conversation with a friend who identifies as Catholic, who insisted that Mary must be a goddess because Jesus was God, and she then told me “only a Goddess can give birth to a God.” Observant readers may recognize this as Docetism at least after a fashion, but it’s important to bear in mind what people “in the pews” actually believe often bears little resemblance to the actual contents of the religion with which they claim to identify (especially in this age where the average practicing Catholic is taught next to nothing about their religion).

Polemics Versus Catechetics

I just spent a lot of time quoting the Farrars, my main purpose having to do with their intent in writing the words just quoted. While the other authors were polemical – i.e. seeking to attack someone else’s beliefs – the Farrars’ purpose was primarily catechetical, meaning they sought not to attack (in fact they strike me as taking great pains to be respectful and even-handed as possible) but to explain what they believe and why.

When somebody takes the time to give a detailed and reasoned explanation for their beliefs instead of just attacking someone else’s, I prefer to give that somebody more consideration because a) they’re giving us a window into how their universe works, and b) it takes much more effort to articulate your own paradigm intelligently than it does to swipe mindlessly at the paradigms of others.

Back to “Mary as Goddess”

What we’ve seen so far on the “Mary as Goddess” issue is actually two questions: 1. Mary as herself, and 2. Mary in terms of the practices that have grown up around her. We could perhaps make a distinction between “Mary of history” and “Mary of faith,” parallel to the distinction made in contemporary Jesus studies.

I will endeavor to comment on these questions from the standpoint of orthodox Christianity. For the sake of clarity, I’ll state here that a non-Christian (or heterodox Christian) reader isn’t expected to conform to anything I say whether in part or in whole; the orthodox Christian reader who wishes to retain his or her orthodoxy, however, doesn’t have the same liberty for reasons that will be demonstrated below.

Mary as Herself

When we discuss “Mary as herself,” people make a mistake when turning this into a theological question. This isn’t a question of theology, but a question of history: did a woman named Maryam Bas-Yoakhim actually live some 2,000 years ago, and did she (or did she not) actually give birth to a child named Yeshua Bar-Maryam?

If the answer to this question is “yes,” then Mary is at root a human being, a 2,000-year old dead Jewish woman and nothing more. If the answer is “no,” then the mythicists are right, Jesus never existed, could therefore have never come back from the dead, and therefore the entire Christian religion is in vain. This ultimately means that in the objective order, Mary is either a human being or she never existed at all; there is absolutely no room for her to be or ever to have been a deity or anything else.

Secondary to the question of Mary as herself comes the question of Mary as representation of something else; this is a question that wouldn’t have been raised had Protestantism not seen this as ammo in its never-ending quest to justify its continued existence. This statement is more objective truth than polemic – and educated Protestants will themselves admit this – since Protestantism’s existence is predicated on the assertion that Catholicism must be somehow “wrong.” In fact it’s the entire reason Protestantism split from Catholicism in the first place; therefore, if Catholicism can’t be proven as “wrong,” and “other,” then the Protestant religion no longer has reason to exist and the intellectually-honest Protestant has no choice but to become re-absorbed into Catholicism. The life of John Henry Cardinal Newman provides an archetypal example of this, but at this point I’m digressing.

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Newman: “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”

Back to the subject, Mary as herself cannot objectively be a representation of anything other than the human being Maryam Bas-Yoakhim. While subjectively it’s possible for an individual or group to see her as a representative of something she isn’t, at the end of the day the reality remains unchanged: Mary is still Mary and that other thing is still that other thing.

We can find a parallel example of this in Rastafarianism. The entire religion is based on the claim that a man – Haile Selassie – as God Incarnate, whether as the Second Coming of Jesus or God in some other form. Selassie himself was a human being and nothing more, and even denied the Rastafari claims to his divinity when asked about it. What we have here is a group of devotees subjectively interpreting a human being as being either a deity or representative of a deity, when the objective reality remains the same: Haile Selassie was Haile Selassie and not Jesus, while Jesus is Jesus and not Haile Selassie. There’s no way to sugar-coat the fact that anyone attempting to equate the two is just plain wrong, and no amount of subjectivity or “feelings” is going to stop it from being just plain wrong.

Mary as Practices

We move from the question of Mary as herself to the question of practices that have grown up around her. Just as a symbol is not to be identified with the thing it represents, so too the person reverenced cannot be identified with the practiced used during the reverencing. Pre-Vatican II Catholicism openly admits having incorporated practices from pre-Christian religions provided the practice wasn’t strictly forbidden by the moral doctrine; the logic is that if another religion has a practice that is objectively “good,” then it must have come from God somehow. Let’s face it, May Crownings carry a fairly pagan “look and feel” . . . and seriously, have you ever actually listened to “Bring Flowers of the Rarest?”

Bring Flowers of the Rarest

Transposed from the original because I can’t sing that high.

Yet the thing is that even with the open admission of any practices incorporated from paganism (and “pagan” is a much bigger word than most people realize), even if it happened at the time when Isis-worship or any other form of goddess-worship was decreasing for whatever reason, the proper response is still “So what?” A substance is not changed by its accidents no matter what they may be, and simili modo none of this makes Mary into a goddess or anything other than human.

Now let’s look at the argument that “goddess worship was transferred to Mary” alongside the claim that re-incorporating the “divine feminine” was necessary “in order for Christianity to survive as a religion.” The entire argument is based on the assumption that Christianity after St. Paul was a hyper-chauvinistic religion that exalted the male to the exclusion of the female; Paul’s misogyny had turned the religion into a monstrosity too sexist to survive.

The problem with the argument is that it views concepts like “sexism” through modern-day Northern European eyes, without taking into account the place and time in which the Bible was written or Peter, Paul, and the others operated. For a religion to be too chauvinistic to survive, it would have to be much more sexist than the culture in which it arose and began attracting followers. We see nothing of the sort in Early Christianity, and in fact Paul’s “sexist” dicta are more or less consistent with gender attitudes prevalent in the first-century Mediterranean. Be it for good or for ill, there’s nothing in his writings indicating a religion more chauvinistic than the surrounding culture and therefore incapable of surviving.

Another part of this argument is the assumption Christianity insisted on a God exclusively male to the point that a “divine feminine” had to be restored for the sake of the religion’s survival. We find this neither in the Scriptures – Genesis 1:27 implies God’s likeness is both male and female, the original Hebrew for Job 38:8 describes God as having a womb (many English versions mistranslate the Hebrew), Isaiah is replete with God as having motherlike attributes – nor do we find the mindset of “God as exclusively male” in the Early Fathers.

We don’t find God’s gender discussed much in the Fathers, and when they do it’s handled as a “taken for granted” kind of thing. In his Commentary on Isaiah, for example, St. Jerome mentions the apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews describing God as “my mother.” Now this man’s favorite pastime was ripping heretics a new one, yet he merely pauses to tell us matter-of-factly that “in the Godhead, there is no gender (in divinitate enim nullus est sexus).”

We find a similar attitude in St. Gregory Nazianzus’s Oration 31, where he points out the mistake of confusing grammatical gender for real gender:

Do you take it, by the same token, that our God is a male, because of the masculine nouns ‘God’ and ‘Father’? Is the Godhead a female, because in Greek the word is feminine? Is the word ‘Spirit’ neuter in Greek, because the Spirit is sterile?

We even find a clue in Augustine’s silence. While he was the man curious about everything, God’s gender (or lack thereof) was so taken for granted that it didn’t bother piquing his curiosity. This leaves us with the conclusion that the argument Christianity “made Mary the divine feminine” because it was otherwise “too male-centered and patriarchal for its own survival” is unsupported by the historical circumstances and literary evidence, and therefore we can only regard it as false and based on a lack of sufficient information.

To me it seems more likely that the theological core of devotion to Mary has its roots in the reverence given to the Saints (which was established early on with both males and females venerated), with Mary elevated to the position of Queen of the Saints because she carried Jesus in her physical body. What practices attached themselves to Marian devotion would logically have been imported from whatever cultural practices were prevalent in the nations where Marian devotion established itself. And yes, the more ignorant amongst the populace were likely worshiping Mary the same way they’d worshiped other deities pre-conversion; the operating principle here is that their abuse doesn’t take away the right use, or as the ancient maxim says abusus non tollit usum. No religion forms in a vacuum and all are bound to have fits and starts in their early histories, and devotional practices are no exception.

What is possible according to occult theory, however, is that these practices – if performed by enough people with specific intent and belief – could over time create a “Mary Goddess” egregore. This would have traits associated with Mary and maybe even act like Mary, but would be an artificial being and therefore not the real Mary. How such a thing would work out in the celestial order would remain to be seen, and after almost 300 years of the assertion being made and 100 years of occultists operating on these assumptions, I’d be surprised if such an egregore doesn’t exist already, even if only in a nascent form.

Religious Illiteracy

A third point I’d like to bring up in this connection is both the Farrars’ statement about many Catholics privately agreeing with them, and my friend’s quasi-Docetic statement about “only a Goddess can give birth to a God.” The Farrars claim “quite a few priests and nuns” were part of this group, and I see no reason to doubt their claim. Yet I’d have to interview these priests and nuns before going further with this, seeing the book was first published in 1981, during the heyday of the Modernist Takeover after Vatican II, when seminaries were teaching “speculative theology” such as Mary as Representation of Goddess, Jesus was in a homosexual relationship with St. John (or alternately married to Mary Magdalen), and a whole host of other ideas for the sake of it not being what Catholicism traditionally teaches (this was part of a wider trend later identified as “the hermeneutic of rupture”). Hence I have no skepticism of the authors’ claim in this regard, but too much knowledge of the system where these priests and nuns would’ve been trained.

When we move to lay Catholics, though, we move to the fact the average lay Catholic is poorly catechized and has no interest in learning their faith in any level of detail, that most people’s faith (in any religion) is emotional rather than intellectual to begin with, and that it’s easy for a proposition such as Mary-as-Goddess to “feel right” to them. Especially if a person grew up in an environment where God’s maleness was over-emphasized, it makes sense that a person (I see this most often with women, but won’t claim my experience as normative) would want to reach out for a feminizing influence or some kind of “divine woman” watching over them.

The key to this begins with education on God’s reality as transcending gender, and there really is nothing wrong with saying “God the Mother” in place of “God the Father,” the necessity of Mary’s humanity to the Christian message, the reality that a symbol is not the thing it’s considered to represent, and teaching to emphasize objectivity over subjectivity. There’s an emotional aspect to this that may need to be addressed also, again because most people’s faith is emotional and not intellectual. Me, I’ve never been one of the “Feelie McFeels” crowd, so will leave that for the psychologist and licensed therapist to handle.

Misconception 2: Mary as “Divine Feminine”

This is a variation on “Mary as Goddess,” the difference being that instead of confusing Mary for a goddess, this misconception confuses Mary for the female aspect of God.

A lot of what we discussed in the foregoing misconception also applies here. Mary either was born a human and gave birth to a son, or she wasn’t born at all meaning Jesus didn’t exist and Christianity is all make-believe. People may claim Mary is a symbol for the “feminine side” of God but that doesn’t make it so in the objective order.

This is no different from when people claim the Holy Ghost is female, in an effort to bring “balance” or a “feminine presence” to the Godhead. Of course this also suffers from the same problems because God has all gender and no gender, a fact that applies equally to all three Persons.

In Judaeo-Christian theology, the closest thing to a “Divine Feminine” would be Shekhinah, which isn’t a divine Person proper – and therefore cannot be the Holy Ghost as some try to say – but rather a personification of God’s presence throughout creation. It’s more theologically sound (within orthodox Christianity) to think of the Shekhinah as an artifact of the Holy Ghost processing and infusing grace throughout creation, with the name “Shekhinah” used as something of a symbolic identifier.

Misconception 3: The Authority of Apparitions

This one doesn’t come from Protestant or Neopagan polemics, but is rooted  in the lamentable fact many Catholics don’t understand their faith. The occasional Protestant may mention this as part of a conversation (sometimes as a polemic and most times as a sincere question), but this is mostly an “in-house” problem.

Namely, this misconception involves the question of Marian apparitions – i.e. Mary’s appearances at Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima, and elsewhere – and assumes that not only are Catholics required to believe the apparitions happened, but also every word that was said must be obeyed to the letter.

The short answer is that the idea these apparitions must be believed and obeyed is hogwash, and leads to a heresy Traditional Catholics correctly identify as Fatimism, defined as:

An erroneous belief, or vice of excess, which arose in the 20th century and finds a new basis of faith in private revelations, latter-day prophecies, visions, and ‘signs and wonders.’  The term does not refer to balanced private devotion, but is a catch-all term for extremist, off-balance, devotions of all kinds, such as those that would elevate Fatima to the level of a dogma or subordinate Catholic and Apostolic teaching to Fatima or make a virtual goddess out of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

In essence, what Fatimism does is assume Apparitions carry the same binding authority as divine command or at least divine truth, because it was “Mary” who appeared and said it, and that’s it’s especially binding if the Church approved of its occurrence.

The problem with this misconception is that it completely ignores the distinction between public and private revelation, and assumes too much authority on the part of the Church’s hierarchy.

In short, public revelation is confined to Scripture and Tradition, and was closed with the death of the last apostle. These are the only sources of revelation that Christians are bound to believe. Everything else classifies as “private” revelation, meaning it was revealed to that person for that person’s benefit only.

A small-scale example of this could be a bizarre dream that I had in 1999, where I went to the Blessed Mother’s house (in the dream this was the church building where my father preached after converting to Protestantism), and the walls were filled with worms. There was a message in this that I prefer not to share, and ultimately I don’t know if it was Mary talking to me or if it was just my subconscious. Yet even if it checked out as 100% true and authentic, then it would still be nothing more than private revelation and you have no obligation to believe it. Anymore than I’d be obliged to believe any supernatural experience you relate to me.

On the larger scale, this principle also applies even to public occurrences like Fatima. This took place after the death of the last apostle and therefore cannot be public revelation; it can therefore only be private revelation and you’ve no obligation to believe that Russia needs to be consecrated or that the “miracle of the sun” ever happened.

The Church herself recognizes this when approving a given apparition, saying only that it’s “worthy of belief.” This is not a command to believe an apparition or other occurrence, but only says you have the option to believe it if you want to. You don’t have to believe it and can think it’s total BS if you choose, while realizing you’ve no right to force others to agree with your opinion one way or the other.

Final Remarks about Misconceptions

As we close this section on misconceptions, I think it’s important to make a distinction. When we’ve looked over misconceptions about Mary, you’ll notice I’ve pointed out two things: that objectivity is superior to subjectivity (this is a premise of theological study in the pre-Vatican II years), and most importantly (for the believing Christian) that our view of Mary has real ramifications for our view of Jesus.

This latter point will be expanded as we discuss the Marian doctrines, because the intent behind the Church’s teaching on Mary had nothing to do with “constructing a careful synthesis” or “desexualizing the Goddess and dehumanizing Mary,” but the purpose of these doctrines is essentially christological – that is, they tell us who Jesus is through her. All traditional Mariology has been laid out from the bottom up with the effect that to believe in a different Mary is to believe in a different Jesus or no Jesus at all.

This is why, while the non-Christian (or heterodox Christian) is free to accept, reject, or ignore anything I’ve said thus far at leisure, the orthodox Christian (who insists on remaining orthodox) does not share such liberty. To insist on retaining the belief Jesus was physically born, suffered, died, and resurrected requires belief in a physical human Mary who brought him into the world so that he could do so.


Our Lady - Rosary

“Our Lady of the Rosary.” I can’t find the artist’s name.

3. Who was Mary? Specific Teachings

If  we ask “Who was Mary,” we could begin by saying Mary of Nazareth was a woman born in Judea 2,000 years ago to the Tribe of Judah, the daughter of St. Joachim and St. Anna. Christians unanimously tell us she was the Mother of Jesus, and the Bible traces her descent from King David. She had a cousin named Elizabeth (the mother of John the Baptist), whose husband was a temple priest named Zachariah.

The exact relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is not known, only that they are called “cousins” in Luke 1:36, and Elizabeth is described as being “advanced in years” (1:7) while Mary is implied to be very young, as being engaged to Joseph. Mary’s youth is also implied by the association of her with Isaiah 7:14 (see Matthew 1:23), where the Hebrew word “alma” in Isaiah and the Greek word “parthenos” used to translate it in the Septuagint (also describe Mary in the New Testament) could mean either “woman who’d never had sex” or simply “young woman.” In fact the Latin “virgo” has similar meanings, which led to the phrase “virgo intacta” (lit. “intact virgin”) to distinguish between the two senses.

The Four (or Five) Marian Doctrines

Western Mariology is often discussed in terms of the four official “Marian Doctrines” defined by the Catholic Church. In order of Mary’s life story, these doctrines are: 1. the Immaculate Conception, 2. the Motherhood of God, 3. her Perpetual Virginity, and 4. her Assumption into Heaven after her death. There has been at least one attempt to have the Church define a fifth doctrine, that of Mary as either “Mother of Humanity” or as “Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces.” This is where we take up the discussion.

Immaculate Conception

Since we’re starting at Mary’s birth, let’s talk about these teachings in the order of her life story. That leads us to begin at her conception.

While by no means “official” until 1854, a belief that Mary was conceived without sin can be traced to the Early Church, finding an expression in some New Testament apocrypha. An example of this would be the “Gospel of the Birth of Mary,” which can be dated anytime between 200 and 600 AD.

This Gospel is also called “The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew,” and is substantially a retelling of an earlier, second century text titled the “Protoevangelion of James,” while adding more details. While the text was condemned by the Church in the Decretum Gelasianum of the late fifth century and Aquinas condemned it as “apocryphal ravings” in the thirteenth (Summa, III, 35, 6), the book’s details retained an influence on the Church’s mariology. Among these details would be an early mention of the Immaculate Conception, where the angel says to St. Joachim:

Accordingly your wife Anna will bring forth a daughter to you, and you shall call her name Mary: she shall be, as you have vowed, consecrated to the Lord from her infancy, and she shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from her mother’s womb. (Chapter 3; some well-known translations place this in chapter 2).

The text contradicts itself in the next chapter, where the angel tells Anna that Mary would be full of God’s favor “even from her birth,” rather than “from the womb” as the angel is reported to have told Joachim. I leave the reader to their own conclusions, while to me this says there was still fluidity in Christian thinking on how Mary was to be considered “full of grace, the Lord is with thee” (Luke 1:28; Protestant translations prefer the word “favored”), while general agreement existed on the belief that Mary was full of grace.

This is where the term “Immaculate Conception” comes in. The doctrine teaches that Mary was conceived by the sexual act between Joachim and Anna, and that, at the moment their respective gametes met,

the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854).

The Christological purpose of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is that by declaring Mary was, indeed “full of grace” throughout her entire lifetime (this corresponds to the Church’s teaching that life begins at conception), we are shown the saving power of Jesus to be so powerful that it can cleanse a person even in their womb; this tells us Christ is omnipotent. This doctrine also witnesses to Jesus’ purity by showing us the Pure God and Pure Man was to be born – and in fact arranged to be born – of a pure vessel.

Of the Marian doctrines, the Immaculate Conception is probably the most controversial, with Catholicism alone endorsing it. Orthodox and Protestants reject this doctrine, while most Old Catholics consider it something individual believers may accept or reject as they see fit.

Mary as “Mother of God”

If the Immaculate Conception is the most controversial of the Marian Doctrines, then the teaching that Mary is the “Theotokos” or “Mother of God” would be the least controversial. It’s accepted by Catholics, Orthodox, Old Catholics, and was unanimously upheld by the “magisterial” Protestant Reformers (Luther, Zwingli, Cranmer, and Calvin).

The title of “Mother of God” isn’t accepted because it ascribes any divinity to Mary, but because it points to Jesus as God the Son, the Word existing before creation and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

The idea that Mary is the “Mother of God” simply refers to her spending nine months carrying around God Himself in her womb; we can readily see this teaching points not to Mary but look through her, as through a window, to Christ. To claim Mary was not the “Mother of God” in this sense – that she did not bear God in her womb – is to deny either the divinity of Christ or his eternity. Such a denial is, in fact, to take sides with Arius rather than Peter.

Mary as Perpetual Virgin

Prior to the Protestant Revolt, the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin was far from controversial; it’s a point where Catholics and Orthodox are agreed, and also the “magisterial” Reformers. In fact, the only controversy surrounding it comes through the Reformers’ descendants pointing to a passage in Mark that mentions Jesus having “brothers.”

Ironically, it was John Calvin who wrote the best rebuttal to Protestant claims by pointing out the obvious: in the culture of ancient Palestine, the word for “brother” was also used to refer to cousins; furthermore every person named as a “brother” in Mark is mentioned as having a different parent elsewhere in the Gospels. While we can’t say this proves Mary was perpetually a virgin, this tells us with certainty that these people aren’t her biological children.

To me, I see it as a sort of historical speculation on the nature of someone’s sex life, because it is ultimately a historical question of whether this woman went to her grave never having had sex with a man. We can speculate all we want about human nature, whether Joseph ever had “needs,” and so forth, but ultimately we’ve no choice but to accept or reject it as an article of faith – an article consistently held since the early days – since there’s no way of inventing a time machine and finding out for sure (and learning ancient Aramaic, and hoping not to get slapped across the face for asking such a personal question!).

What’s important about the doctrine of perpetual virginity, of course, is not what it tells us about Mary but what it tells us about Christ. Here we are shown the power of Christ to preserve an individual in a state that’s completely against the dictates and urges of human nature. While the Immaculate Conception testifies to Christ’s ability to grant sanctifying grace, so Mary’s perpetual virginity testifies to Christ’s ability to grant actual grace into every aspect and area of our lives.

Mary’s Assumption into Heaven

The fourth Marian dogma and the one most recently defined, is that of Mary’s assumption into heaven after she died. The teaching is that when Mary died, Jesus refused to let her body remain in the ground but took her up (“assumed” her) into heaven, body and soul.

While Mary’s Assumption was generally believed in the West, amply demonstrated by the fact that the Missale included a feastday of the Assumption (August 15) and the Rituale a blessing of herbs on that feastday (App. De Benedictionibus, 11) long before Pius XII defined the dogma; this doctrine is about as controversial as the Immaculate Conception. The Orthodox Churches don’t celebrate Mary’s Assumption but instead her Dormition (“falling asleep”), while most Protestants vehemently reject it. Most Old Catholics teach that the individual believer is free to accept or reject this teaching.

As with all the other doctrines, the Assumption is important because of what it tells us about Christ. If the Immaculate Conception confirms Christ’s power over sin and redemption, the title Mother of God confirms Jesus’ as God, and the Perpetual Virginity confirms Jesus’ power over human nature – then the Assumption confirms Jesus’ power over the natural processes of the physical universe. Jesus has power over death and decay, power to pull a body out of the earth instead of allowing it to decompose into the ground. When’s the last time you or your friends managed to do that?

In effect, what we’ve just seen in the Four Marian doctrines is the power Christ possesses and presents to those calling upon his name. Mary literally spells out the power to which the Christian occultist has access, and we need only look through her as through a magnifying glass to get a clearer view. In fact it’s by looking through Mary that we get the clearest view of who her Son is and what he can do.

Mary as Co-Redemptrix

Having talked of the Four Marian Dogmas, we move to a potential candidate for a “Fifth Dogma,” Mary as Co-Redemptrix. It’s likely never to be defined as a dogma, and remain in that class of theological ideas known as an opinio tolerata, or “tolerated opinion.”

The idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix affirms (in accordance with Catholic teaching) that Mary’s role was subordinate with Christ’s role, but that she participated in the work of Redemption by agreeing to the Incarnation in the first place. We find this in St. Irenaeus’ Against the Heresies (III, 22, 4) when he calls Mary the “cause of salvation” on account of her saying “yes” to God’s proposal:

“Mary the Virgin is found obedient, saying, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.’ . . . so also did Mary, having a man betrothed [to her], and being nevertheless a virgin, by yielding obedience, become the cause of salvation, both to herself and the whole human race.”

Two centuries later, Jerome tells us that “by a woman the whole world was saved.” (Tractate on Psalm 96)

In more recent times, we find this idea – I prefer the word “idea” rather than doctrine when we’re not talking about official Church teaching – discussed by Pope St. Pius X in his encyclical Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum:

n. 12: “Moreover it was not only the prerogative of the Most Holy Mother to have furnished the material of His flesh to the Only Son of God, Who was to be born with human members (S. Bede Ven. L. Iv. in Luc. xl.), of which material should be prepared the Victim for the salvation of men; but hers was also the office of tending and nourishing that Victim, and at the appointed time presenting Him for the sacrifice. Hence that uninterrupted community of life and labors of the Son and the Mother, so that of both might have been uttered the words of the Psalmist ‘My life is consumed in sorrow and my years in groans’ (Ps xxx., 11). When the supreme hour of the Son came, beside the Cross of Jesus there stood Mary His Mother, not merely occupied in contemplating the cruel spectacle, but rejoicing that her Only Son was offered for the salvation of mankind, and so entirely participating in His Passion, that if it had been possible she would have gladly borne all the torments that her Son bore (S. Bonav. 1. Sent d. 48, ad Litt. dub. 4). And from this community of will and suffering between Christ and Mary she merited to become most worthily the Reparatrix of the lost world (Eadmeri Mon. De Excellentia Virg. Mariae, c. 9) and Dispensatrix of all the gifts that Our Savior purchased for us by His Death and by His Blood.

Our word “Co-Redemptrix” corresponds to Pope Pius’ word “Reparatrix” in the above quote. Two paragraphs later, he explains the limiting principle on referring to Mary by either of these terms.

n. 14: “We are then, it will be seen, very far from attributing to the Mother of God a productive power of grace – a power which belongs to God alone. Yet, since Mary carries it over all in holiness and union with Jesus Christ, and has been associated by Jesus Christ in the work of redemption, she merits for us ‘de congruo,’ in the language of theologians, what Jesus Christ merits for us ‘de condigno,’ and she is the supreme Minister of the distribution of graces. Jesus ‘sitteth on the right hand of the majesty on high’ (Hebrews i. b.). Mary sitteth at the right hand of her Son – a refuge so secure and a help so trusty against all dangers that we have nothing to fear or to despair of under her guidance, her patronage, her protection. (Pius IX. in Bull Ineffabilis).”

For clarification, the theological terms de congruo and de condigno have specific meanings: the former refers to a fitting reward not binding upon God, while the latter (de condigno) involves God binding himself to the reward. This distinction is crucial to understanding the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, else we risk falling back into the false conception of “Mary as Goddess” and Protestant accusations of “Idolatry.”

The essential characteristic in calling Mary “Co-Redemptrix” is that her role is in no way equal to Christ’s role. Ludwig Ott explains this in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (III, 3, 7):

The title Corredemptrix=Coredemptress, which has been current since the fifteenth century, and which also appears in some official Church documents under Pius X (cf. D 1978a), must not be conceived in the sense of an equation of the efficacy of Mary with the redemptive activity of Christ, the sole Redeemer of humanity (I Tim. 2, 5). . . . Her co-operation in the objective redemption is an indirect, remote co-operation, and derives from this that she voluntarily devoted her whole life to the service of the Redeemer, and, under the Cross, suffered and sacrificed with Him. . . . Christ alone truly offered the sacrifice of atonement on the Cross; Mary merely gave Him moral support in this action . . . He alone acquired the grace of Redemption for the whole human race, including Mary.

While I personally agree with the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, there is one aspect in which  can agree with this never being codified as official dogma. It’s not the ecumenical ramifications, seeing at heart I’m a Mortalium Animos kind of guy, but more that the term is too easily misunderstood by laity, who may easily assume the prefix “co-” means equality.

I’m not alone in this concern, as in a 2000 interview then-Cardinal Ratzinger referred to the title as “A correct intention being expressed in the wrong way.” (God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald)

A longer treatment is given in Salvatore Perrella’s Mary’s Cooperation in the Work of Redemption: Present State of the Question published in L’Osservatore Romano’s edition of July 2, 1997. Now I have a number of problems with what Perrella says, not least of all his complaints about the pre-Vatican II manuals (a collective term for preconciliar theology textbooks) and “a certain ‘under-appreciation’ of the Council’s teaching.” But he’s right when he mentions the problem with the wording:

The semantic weight of this expression would require a good many other qualifications and clarifications, especially in the case under examination, where she who is wished to be proclaimed coredeemer is, in the first place, one who is redeemed, albeit in a singular manner, and who participates in Redemption primarily as something she herself receives. Thus we see the inadequacy of the above-mentioned term for expressing a doctrine which requires, even from the lexical standpoint, the proper nuances and distinctions of levels.

This makes sense, especially from a pastoral viewpoint. The religious-literate reader can easily enough understand the distinctions at play here, but what about the average person in the pews? For example, in my books I spell out the theological concepts very clearly, yet I’ve seen the concepts misunderstood in posts I’ve seen on FB (from people who’ve read the books) and even a review on Amazon that didn’t quite get the distinction between ex opere operato and ex opere operantis. I discussed it with them privately afterward, but the fact is these posts came from intelligent people. Now let’s take a moment to imagine how the average person in the pews with little to no comprehension of their faith would interpret a term like co-redemptrix.

Yet if we put that aside, what can we learn from the image of Mary as Co-Redemptrix? In the first place, we learn that God is neither a rapist nor a deadbeat dad. He sent his messenger to get Mary’s consent before doing the deed, and remained with the Holy Family during Jesus’ childhood (the angel warning Joseph of Herod’s planned massacre, for example). Thus the idea of the Co-Redemptrix enshrines both the un-coerced love of God alongside the sacredness and absolute reality of human Free Will.

The idea of Co-Redemptrix also teaches us of the bond between mother and child, a bond that transfers from the relationship between Mary and Jesus to the relationship between Church and Believer. It’s no accident that the Church is referred to as “She” and as “Holy Mother.”

The idea of Co-Redemptrix also gives us a glimpse into Mary’s own humanity as she consented to the incarnation and walked with Jesus through his joys, sorrows, and glories. This is the woman who raised him to become the man he became, thus we gain a glimpse of the proverbial apple by looking upon the tree from which it fell.

In all, this is why I support the idea of Mary as Co-Redemptrix even if I don’t support its official definition as dogma. The same for the idea of Mediatrix which is closely connected, because it gives us more than just a picture of a woman wearing blue and keeping to herself; it gives us an image into the joys and struggles of an actual flesh-and-blood human being who voluntarily took on the yoke of bearing and raising God himself amidst this Vale of Tears alongside the immensity of the reward to be gained after such a struggle was won.

Quick Summary

As we leave this section on the Marian Dogmas, we can summarize all of them in terms of what they teach us about Christ and his power: Christ’s power over sin, Christ’s divinity, Christ’s power over human nature, and Christ’s power over the laws of nature. When we look into the prospective fifth dogma, we learn of God as relational, respecting human Free Will as sacrosanct and that God’s participation in the relationship between mother and child is reflected in the relationship between Church and believer.

The doctrines aren’t there to prop the Blessed Mother up on a pedestal, but are there to teach us about her Son. Mary, properly understood, is the lens through which we view Christ, and Mary, properly understood, is the human window through which we gain access to our Divine Savior – salve radix, salve porta, ex qua mundo lux est orta!


64898_327923867320757_1712706882_n

“Our Lady of the Cosmos,” by Hannah M. G. Shapero

4. Mary in Magical Practice

Having moved on from the dogma and the theological speculation, we now finally arrive at the “meat” of this writing, namely the schema for invoking Mary into your magical practice.

We’re going to start by laying out some general principles, and then move into specific practices.

Why We Invoke Mary

This is probably the most obvious question, since it’s imprudent and pointless calling upon someone without sufficient reason to do so.

Queen of Heaven

We invoke Mary because of the special favor God has given her, the privilege of bearing the Second Person of the Trinity in her womb and of participating – albeit indirectly – in the Economy of Salvation. This is why she has the title “Queen of Heaven,” because her special relationship with God resulted in her being elevated to the status of “Queen of Everything.”

Yeah, I know. A Protestant might automatically see that title “Queen of Heaven” and feel a need to mention some Babylonian goddess or something else out of a Chick Tract. I don’t see a reason to care because “Queen of Heaven” is merely a title and doesn’t imply transference. It’s the same as when mythicists talking about “Serapis Christ” or “Horus Christ” in the attempt to “debunk” Christianity. The word “christ” was a generic title meaning “anointed one,” and commonly enough used that there’s no reason to assume direct transference from one person holding that title to another.

Mediatrix of All Graces

Since we talked of Mary as Queen of Heaven, this title coincides with the not-as-yet defined doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces. Without going into the long series of theological quotes from the last section, I’ll just quote Ott’s Fundamentals (III, 3, 7, 2):

Since her assumption into Heaven, Mary co-operates in the application of the grace of Redemption to man. She participates in the distribution of grace by her maternal intercession which is far inferior in efficacy to that of the intercessory prayer of Christ, the High Priest, but surpasses far the intercessory prayer of all the other saints.

And Pope Leo XII in Octobri Mense (n. 4), who says:

The Eternal Son of God, about to take upon Him our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between Himself and all mankind, did not accomplish His design without adding there the free consent of the elect Mother, who represented in some sort all human kind, according to the illustrious and just opinion of St. Thomas, who says that the Annunciation was effected with the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity.[Summa, III, 30, 1] With equal truth may it be also affirmed that, by the will of God, Mary is the intermediary through whom is distributed unto us this immense treasure of mercies gathered by God, for mercy and truth were created by Jesus Christ.[John 1:17] Thus as no man goeth to the Father but by the Son, so no man goeth to Christ but by His Mother.”

There’s no shortage of quotations on this point, going as far back as the Patristic period and generally founded on a mystical interpretation of John 19:26-27 – “Woman, behold thy son . . . son, behold thy mother” – seeing John as representative of the entire human race and entrusting all of humanity to Mary.

Special Relationship with Jesus

There’s an old saying in the legal profession that “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” When we present our petitions before God’s court, we have to remember he’s the Just Judge as well as the Loving Father. If you’re going to see the judge, then it makes sense to get the best representation you possibly can.

Some would answer “Get Jesus,” and that’s just fine. All of the prayers in the Missale and Rituale take this approach and there’s nothing wrong with doing this in your life too (in fact all my personal work outside the Rosary operates in this fashion). Just remember that Jesus is God, meaning Jesus is the Judge. So why not get a lawyer who not only knows the way heaven works, but had the added benefit of spanking the Judge when he was a bad boy too?

In this connection, we also have another influence Mary has on Jesus that we don’t: the Fourth Commandment. In Jesus the Son of Mary, or, the Doctrine of the Catholic Church upon the Incarnation of God the Son in Its Bearings upon the Reverence Shewn by Catholics to the Blessed Mother (II, 1, 5), John Brande Morris tells us:

[Jesus] was conscious from the first, and so capable of obeying his Mother’s wishes. As a dutiful son, he would be bound to obey them, and not to avail himself of that ignorance of his capacities, which for argument’s sake we suppose her to have labored under, in order to elude obeying her.”

This is a logical conclusion from Scripture’s teaching 1) disobeying your parents is sinful, and 2) Jesus was without sin, then we can only conclude that 3) Jesus was obedient to Mary.

Now does this mean Jesus has no choice but to obey his mother now that he’s grown-up and ascended upstairs? No, it doesn’t. Grown children don’t have to obey their parents but do have to honor them, meaning they listen and evaluate, and then act based on the best and highest good. However – assuming the child had a good relationship with their parents – the fact that person is the parent means they will always have a special claim to the child’s ears, mind, and heart.

That’s something Mary has that we don’t, and neither do any of the other Saints.

In short, this is why we call on Mary. She is the “Queen of Everything” through whom our faith teaches us all God’s good things flow. While it isn’t necessary to call on her and go Solus Christus if you so desire (in fact most prayers in the Missale and Rituale do exactly this), it costs nothing and never hurts to call on someone who lived that close of a life with the Person you’re asking to manifest results for you.

How We Invoke Mary

Having discussed the why of invoking Mary, it becomes important for us to discuss the how.

The short version is that we call on Mary lovingly and in a spirit of filial piety. She is not a psychological force, or a “feeling” or “intuition,” or some spirit we can force into a triangle and boss around. She is in substance a dead human, yes, but a dead human with a great deal of influence and thus cannot be commanded. If you think you can constrain her into a triangle or otherwise command her, then you may as well resign yourself to disappointment here and now.

While an actual person, the Blessed Mother is also a personification of Love and Patience taken to the level of near-perfection, if not perfection itself. We see this not only in her patience with Catholics who lapse time and again, but also in that we can find several examples of her interceding on behalf of Protestants, Neopagans, and I even know one example of a man raised Jehovah’s Witness who asked and obtained her intercession.

She is very free with dispensing graces to those who come to her. This is one of many messages I received from the dream of the “house full of worms” I described earlier: Mary continues to love and show patience for us no matter how often we betray her or outright stab her in the back.

She is filled with love, and how we approach her must likewise be in a spirit of love and patience. This is no New Age sappiness or sentimentality, but a spiritual analogy to the chemical principle of “like attracts like.” Hatred and anger only attract more hatred and anger. To attract one who is positive, it’s for us to become positive no matter how difficult that may be at the time.

Another part of the how is to recognize that the Blessed Mother tends to work in her own way and on her own terms. I’ve learned from experience that the worst thing we can do is try to “script” or otherwise direct her actions; this flows from the principle that she can’t be commanded, that she loves us but will not kowtow to us. We see in her, in fact, the perfect synthesis of my previous Facebook post about Love, Power, and Vision.

Lastly, we need to discuss how the Blessed Mother responds to our invocations. Most times we hear or see nothing, only the results (or lack of results) that we ask for – though an apparent “lack” of results in the short-term may mean the prayer being answered a different way in the long term; I learned this first-hand in the years between 1998 and 2001.

[NOTE: I discuss prayers not being answered in Chapter 10 of How to Pray the Rosary and Get Results.]

She may also contact us by way of dreams or hearing voices. There are times when I’d be praying the Rosary with something on my mind, and would hear a woman’s voice – outside my head – saying something to what I was thinking. This happens infrequently (the last time was 11 years ago), and fits under “private revelation” so you don’t have to believe me one way or another; for myself I keep an open mind as to whether it’s legitimately Mary talking or my subconscious just has an active imagination, and I encourage everyone to view their own experiences with both an open mind and a healthy level of skepticism.

Dreams are more difficult to describe, and can vary greatly from person to person. In a dream she could visit you directly, or she could show you how prayers will manifest in the future or the path you need to take in the process. For example, one of my friends on Facebook told me the following (posted here with permission):

“IN MY EXPERIENCE I SMELL FLOWERY SCENTS AND THE ROOM GETS BRIGHTER AND BRIGHTER. i love Mother Mary so much. in dreams however not so . often angels appear in my dreams but not Mary. if she appears only as statue not a living being.”

Another example from my own life would be a series of dreams that I’d describe as “two brunettes with a redhead in between,” where I met each of the women and they looked exactly as I saw them in the dreams, and met them exactly how the dreams said I would. The two brunettes were teachers from whom I’d learn life lessons, while the redhead reinforced the lessons learned. Again, this is private revelation and you’ve no obligation to believe any of it, just as I retain an open mind about where the dream came from while admitting every aspect of those dreams came true in real-time.

Specific Methods

We now have all our preliminaries in order, and find ourselves at the point of discussing specific methods. Since the primary method for invoking the Blessed Mother is prayer, we’ll take the time to discuss some of the better-known prayers and how they can fit into devotional and ritual work.

hail-mary-in-the-bible

Luther: “Whoever possesses a firm faith, says the Hail Mary without danger.”

a. The Angelical Salutation (the Hail Mary)

The Hail Mary is one of several prayers Catholics are taught from childhood, and one of the most likely to be committed to memory (by older Catholics) even if they leave their faith later on. What’s not commonly known, though, is that Orthodox and Lutherans have their own versions of this Salutation:

ORTHODOX: Mother of God and Virgin, rejoice, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast given birth to the Savior of our souls.

LUTHERAN: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The words Ave, gratia plena! were originally spoken as a greeting, and we too may say the Hail Mary at the opening of an invocation to the Blessed Mother, or use this prayer as the entire invocation itself while concentrating on the reason we’re invoking her.

Another use for the Angelical Salutation is as a series of repetitions. The most famous example of this is the Rosary, where we say the Ave 10 times while meditating on each Mystery, and the Hail Mary is repeated three times in the Leonine Prayers said after Low Masses. Another example of this repetition is something I’ve heard from Traditionalist exorcists, who say the Ave over and over in their head as a way to keep the opposing entity from reading their thoughts. The prayer’s short, easy to say in one’s head quickly, and in my own experience it becomes a kind of “autopilot” that can be done without losing concentration on the work at hand.

The Salutation likewise lends itself to ritual use, where it can be used as a greeting or a refrain during the different parts of the rite. A good example of this is the Angelus, where a text is read responsorially and the Hail Mary said in unison. This can lend itself to quarter calls and similar operations.

In all things when you say the Hail Mary, remember that this is a direct quote from an angel. Say these words, therefore, not in a spirit of begging and desperation, but with energy in your voice and power in your heart, in a firm faith knowing she will hear and answer you.

b. The Memorare

The Memorare is part of a much longer prayer titled Ad Sanctitatis Tuae Pedes, Dulcissima Virgo Maria, dating to the 15th century though often misattributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th. In its currently-used form, it reads:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

The wording of the prayer implies “dire straits” and an attitude of “I really need this to happen.” It can be used at the end of a prayer session or ritual working to invoke a great deal of power into the world for accomplishing one’s purpose. At all times, though, one must be careful not to confuse the attitude of the prayer’s wording with one’s own mental attitude, as prayer or magical work done in desperation (i.e. when the clock’s run out) is not consistently known for manifesting the best kind of results.

c. The Salve Regina

Another well-known prayer, the Salve Regina or “Hail, Holy Queen” lends itself well both to devotional and magical use. The wording is not as dire as the Memorare, though with phrases like “vale of tears” and “turn then, most gracious Advocate,” it’s clearly intended for something stronger than just the basic Ave. In fact while we can find the Salutation used as an opening, it’s not uncommon to see the Salve Regina at the closing; we see this take place in the Rosary, in the Leonine Prayers, and in the pre-Vatican II Office for Compline (effectively a ritual for protection throughout the night).

When used in this way, the Salve is always followed by a versicle and response, and then a Collect addressing the intention behind the devotion or ritual at hand. Outside of the Rosary, the versicles always take the form of:

Versicle: Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.

Response: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

After this the operator says “Let us pray” followed by the Collect concluding the devotion or ritual at hand. I won’t belabor this since I’ve linked to examples of this versicle-collect combination for you to examine, and it’ll be easy enough to follow if you grew up in a liturgical church and paid a modicum of attention to what was going on.

Hymns

No discussion of Marian invocation would be complete without hymns, because Marian hymns play a significant part of any pre-Vatican II hymnal, and can be sung at the beginning or closing of any Marian devotional or ritual exercise.

While my personal favorite will always be O Sanctissima, the ultimate Marian hymn can only be considered the Magnificat because it’s a direct quotation from Scripture. There are many renditions, but the way I learned it was the simple melody of Psalm Tone VIII; this means it’s easy to memorize and easy to sing, though Gregorian Chant rhythms might feel a little unfamiliar if you’re used to hymn tunes or praise choruses.

Some hymns are appropriate for certain times of year, for example we’ve already mentioned Bring Flowers of the Rarest which is used for May Crownings, while Quem Terra, Pontus, Aethera (The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky) is appropriate for the Feast of the Annunciation. The best way to figure this out is by diving in head-first: get your hands on some hymnals and poke around to find what you like and what you don’t. The Saint Gregory Hymnal was widely used before Vatican II, while for something more contemporary you might look to Gather Comprehensive or whatever OCP’s publishing these days. There are a lot of options out there and I refuse to let you limit yourself.

I won’t get into the question of “traditional versus contemporary,” because I believe it’s a false argument and an unnecessarily bitter one. While at this point the Traditional Catholic would be right to bring up Tra le Sollecitudini, the fact is that I’m writing this for a diverse audience, and have been around the block long enough to see there’s good and bad in both genres. My personal preferences need not be yours.

When selecting music, the primary objective criterion is whatever theology the song’s expressing. Beyond that, the criterion of beauty (to your or your group’s ears) is more or less a subjective one.

Concluding Thoughts

This blog post is by far the longest I’ve ever written, having taken almost a month of my time to research, source, and edit, and filling up 23 pages in Word (not counting images). I could’ve gone longer, especially on the theology – seems that’s where my biggest strength is – but wanted to keep the material accessible.

We’ve covered the starting points of Mariology in Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant thought; misconceptions of Mary as found both within and without Catholicism; a discussion on Marian doctrine, what it says about who she is, and what the doctrines tell us about her son; and finally we’ve come to the place of discussing why, how, and what methods we may use when invoking her.

My hope is that from these outlines any magician can work a proper invocation to the Blessed Mother into their ritual work, provided they’re familiar enough with their craft or at least the ebb-and-flow of Catholic ritual and the occult principles bound up therein.

I’m going to take a week off after posting this, and then will start working on my next book, and the LATIN LESSONS FOR OCCULTISTS series I proposed over a month ago.

Be well, brothers and sisters, and may the Blessed Mother perpetually intercede on your behalf before her Son’s throne!

Mary-Dispensatrix

Our Lady Dispensatrix of Graces, pray for us!

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About Agostino

Originally from Queens, N.Y., and having grown up in Dayton, OH, Agostino Taumaturgo is a unique figure. He is the product of the unlikely combination of coming from a Traditional Roman Catholic background and a spirituality-friendly home. It was in this home that Agostino first learned the basics of meditation, prayer, and spiritual working. In time Agostino completed his theology studies and was ordained to the priesthood and was later consecrated a bishop. He has since left the Traditional movement and brings this knowledge to the “outside world” through his teaching and writing, discussing spiritual issues and practical matters through the lens of traditional Christian theology.
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