Madonna/Magdalene Issue 12 – Editor’s Welcome

Solstice is a magical season. For most folk in the Western world and the Christian diaspora in the East, it is Christmas.

Perhaps because I have a little boy, when I celebrate Christ’s birth – the wonder of  beginnings – I fast-forward, panicky and aggrieved, to Jesus’ death. Mothers, however free-spirited, worry. Christ, the first rock n’ roll star, with his healing gigs and levelling of prejudices, died mocked, tortured and abandoned by his fans.  Only two people stayed; his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, an ex-prostitute who may have been His best friend.

When they meet in the Bible, Magdalene wipes Christ’s feet with her hair and ointment; mingling humility with sensuality. Jesus “loved her more than the rest of the women,” according to Magdalene’s gospel. She was chosen to witness His resurrection.  A church in Jerusalem now houses the site of His cross and the empty tomb where they met. Chanting and incense smoke upwards at sunrise, an alchemy broiled by a mixed coven of Coptic, Greek and Latin monks, nuns and worshippers.

Magdalene’s unclean, blessed voice bridges life and death, darkness and light.   Inevitably, Magdalene’s gospel was removed from the bible. The whore was separated from the virgin, mother and slut sundered.  Women – and those whose sexuality did not fit – were shamed by masculine powers.

As Gazelle Twin observes in this issue, “purity and humility” became qualities used to justify “violence and rape” against feminine people.

At The Demented Goddess, we’re committed to exploring feminine freedoms for all. So, in this last issue of 2018 – and the first of 2019 – we bring you Nicola Barker, Britain’s foremost experimental novelist and a Catholic convert, on the difficult beauty of the Madonna; Adam Scovell on the whore and the virgin on film; Ellen Rogers’ revolutionary recasting of the crucifixion, using feminine and non-white figures; and electronic musician Gazelle Twin on smashing archetypes in her new album, ‘Pastoral’. Since shame and the performance of femininity remain central to the virgin-whore complex, Rhyannon Styles, performer, writer and trans activist and I discuss our experiences of  shame, sluttishness and being very femme.

Irish DJ Caiomhe Lavelle’s accompanying mix throbs from Yoko Ono to Madonna to Lydia Lunch.  Get loaded on gothic disco and spread your wings around our winter edition!

Here’s to more Goddess Thunder in the New Year,

Soma x

Soma Ghosh, Editor.

Main photo: DJ Caoimhe Lavelle by Heber Hanly & Saoirse Wall

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