Perhaps better known as the ‘Jesus and Mary Bloodline Conspiracy’, Laurence Gardner’s explosive bestseller is an expansion on his unprecedented and revealing 1996 work entitled, the ‘Bloodline of the Holy Grail’. That publication contained the most “comprehensive table of Jesus’ family descendants to be published in modern times” and dealt comprehensively with the marital status of Jesus, thereby bringing Mary Magdalene to the fore as a woman of considerable status.
Mary Magdalene. A name that until recent times was synonymous with all that was sordid in the New Testament of the Bible: Prostitution was her trade; Harlot, her middle name. However, within a few short years, this former ‘woman-of-the-night’ has been elevated to iconic status amongst fans of the Grail Legend. Was this young woman indeed a repentant prostitute? Or was she in fact a woman whose true identity could rock the foundations of Christianity? Many have offered a broad variety of explanations and possible answers to these questions and more.
In this groundbreaking and revealing work Laurence Gardner develops and moves these themes on to extraordinary new levels. The chapter dealing with the theory of ‘The Grail Child’ deals with sensational Vatican information on the secret marriage of Mary and Jesus and the documented persecution of their line, while the chapter entitled ‘Kingdoms and Colours’ provides probably the most fascinating insight to the probability of Arthurian descent from the messianic line. Gardner reveals that King Arthur’s mother, Ygerna del Aqs – through her own mother Queen Viviane I of Burgundian Avalon - was in the hereditary lineage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Arthur’s father was Aedán of Dalriada, whose own mother, Lluan of Brecknock was descended from Joseph of Arimathaea. By way of the union between Arthur’s parents, the line of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was linked to the line of James/Joseph of Arimathaea. King Arthur was therefore the first product of such a Desposynic marital union in almost 350 years, thereby explaining his immense importantance to the grail tradition.
The chapter analysing the ‘Sacred Marriage’ between Jesus and Mary Magdalene examines the consequences of mistranslation of church documents and interpretation of ‘accepted’ practice down through the centuries. His theory of “dynastic wedlock”, deals with the belief that women were raised and educated for the prospect of dynastic marriage and Gardner presents categorical evidence of a dynasty that clearly betrothed Mary Magdalene to Jesus. Indeed, as recent as the twelfth-century, the eminent scholar St. Bernard of Clairvaux referred to Mary Magdalene as ‘The Bride of Christ’.
Thanks to the phenomenen surrounding the popularisation of Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’, allegorical artwork concerning Mary Magdalene is now a subject of heightened public fascination. Such a widespread interest in the pictorial depictions of the Magdalene persuaded Gardner to compile ‘The Magdalene Legacy’ with Renaissance artwork as its primary focus.
He closely examines the fertile allegory in the depiction of the ‘Holy Grail’ as a vessel or receptacle, carrying the sacred ‘blood royal’ or ‘Sangreal’ and also looks in detail at the use of ‘engrailing’ (a scalloped edge design formed by aligning ‘V’ or ‘cup’ shapes in a running line associated with love goddesses and fertility cult females) in world-famous works of art, such as Caravaggio’s portrait of Mary Magdalene (1595) and Boticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’. The immense respect and acknowledgement for the Magdalene as the wife of Jesus – and as Gardner argues, the mother to his children - is further evident in architecture and design of numerous buildings mentioned by the author that are dedicated to Christian worship around the world.
Expanding his examination of Magdalene iconography, Gardner also offers a number of fascinating explanations for the use of a variety of Magdalene emblems throughout the ages. The mostprolific of these would probably be the numerous depictions of a flame-haired, Rapunzelesque - indeed some may even say pre-Raphaelite - Mary Magdalene. Such russet locks were in fact an attribute of certain prominent noble strains, well known within European dynastic royalty. It is therefore suggested that the common depiction the Magdalene with red hair was an allegorical representation of her birthright – a visual pointer to her royal status, even though, as Gardner notes, a 1st century Syrian woman would have had dark hair.
Whether it’s through the medium of fine art, sculpture or the written word, Laurence Gardner deals intelligently with the abundance of theories that surround the Grail Legend and all associated with it. The fascinating yet credible theories that he presents in this book illustrate his reverence and enthusiasm for the subject of the Magdalene, while at the same time allowing the reader to assimilate the information provided in order to draw their own conclusions on this ever controversial topic.With public interest in the subject growing by the day, thanks to groundbreaking works by passionate and enthusiastic writers, such as Browne, Gardner and their predecessors, Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln – to mention but a few - we can be assured that interest in the events surrounding the life of this enigmatic and increasingly revered female figure shall continue to fascinate and enthrall for centuries to come.
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