Kathleen is preparing to launch a new series in e-book format, "Legends of the Divine Feminine", a unique hybrid of fiction and non-fiction exploration into stories from around the world, featuring extraordinary female characters.
Friday, April 18, 2014
I awoke this morning filled with trepidation, that sense of fear deep in the pit of my stomach. It took me a few minutes to realize the fear was not mine, it was not today's fear, it was not of this time or this place or this person. It is the fear and trepidation of 2014 years ago, of another time when it all went terribly wrong. When the players were ill prepared for the plot twist that was thrown to them. And in meditating more upon that concept today, when I knew what I wanted to write.
meaning of Good Friday can be
found here, in my first novel.
Since The Expected One was first released - nine years ago next week, could it really that long? - I have received literally countless messages in all formats about how that book and its re-telling of the Passion story has impacted my readers. I received one of those messages today, and it absolutely was the greatest of Easter gifts. A beautiful private message from a woman who told me that The Expected One and its story of Easa and Magdalene brought her back to a version of Christianity she could embrace with all her heart. I cherish that message, and all the others, above any other motivation I may have to write. They are my reason for being.
But back to the trepidation. Within the thousands of letters, emails, messages that come from almost ten years in 50 languages and 100 countries, I have also received thousands from those who were moved by this version of the story because it came alive for them. Many thousands have told me that they know they were there on some level, others feel that they are connecting to the archetypes or have a soul connection. But the point is that the story of the last week of Jesus' life is etched so indelibly upon our human psyche, that many of us experience it in a deeply visceral way. For some, it is intensely personal, a "I know I was there somewhere" feeling; for others it is a powerful expression of their faith, the day that changed the world.
But where am I going with this? None of this is revelatory. It's not news that Good Friday is a powerful, emotional, energetically challenging day for many of us. There are 2 billion people in the world today who are focused on the unjust and terrible death of one of humanity's greatest teachers and most perfected souls, at the very least. That amount of energy alone would cause any empath to feel emotional, tired, challenged or worse on this day every year. But I think it is deeper than that. I think the events of Good Friday have scarred us for eternity. There is a wounding deep within our humanity that says the good guys don't always win. That we aren't entitled to our happy ending. That tragedy and sacrifice is our lot.
by Sandro Botticelli.
That wounding needs to be addressed. Maybe, if we all recognize it and work on it together, it can even be healed.
I call it "Cataclysmic Consciousness." I believe that many of us, and I have seen this so many times with people on a spiritual path, are secretly waiting for the other shoe to drop. No matter how optimistic, positive, spiritual, Present-in-the-Now we try to be, there is that voice in the back of our minds, whether we hear it literally or feel it intuitively, that says, "Even Jesus couldn't win this one. Just when we were about to create Heaven on Earth, it all went very, very wrong." In other words, I think the events of Good Friday have programmed us to expect that we cannot succeed on our highest spiritual paths, and have programmed us to accept struggle, pain and even martyrdom as part of the package we signed up for.
Of course, we have to address the basic belief system of what the Crucifixion means, which is always controversial. If you read my books and follow my work, you already know that I do not subscribe to a fundamental belief that Jesus "died for our sins" which is why it is "Good Friday." I do not believe in a patriachal God that requires a blood sacrifice of his most beautiful creation to wash away our evil thoughts and deeds. My God is a God of love, a Creator and Creatrix who love their children as all good parents do. So I reject that it was a Good Friday. For me, it was one of the greatest tragedies in human history - and I think that is true for many, based on the responses to my books.
Bob Marley addresses the question simply and beautifully, "How long will they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look? Some say it's just a part of it, we've go to fulfill the book."
Well, I don't buy it and I don't think Bob did either. I don't believe that we have to fulfill that book or any other. I believe we have to break the cycle of fear. We have to realize that the trepidation that fills us when we get close to making a real breakthrough in our lives comes from ancient woundings that are in our DNA, our ancestry, our souls. They are our challenge to overcome. We must insist that there will be no more martyrs, that we will not let the darkness of fear encroach upon where the light shines brightest, when we are pursuing our bliss. The events of Easter Week hold not only archetypal characters, but also situational models that all of us can relate to in one way or another. The fear and anger of the apostles when Jesus is taken; Claudia Procula's helplessness when her pleading falls on deaf ears; a mother's torment over the son she cannot protect from his own choices, a child's confusion in the world of men and violence, a beloved partner's utter devastation in a loss she could not prevent and did not see coming (I know this one all too well).
of Pontius Pilate, was one of my key
reasons for writing The Expected One
These are stories of shame, loss, terror, rage. They are deep wounds if we continue re-live them and allow them to bleed. But they can become scars instead. A scar is a mark that is never forgotten, that allows us to tell a story, but that bleeds no longer and no long hurts us. I wanted to close out this note with an excerpt from The Expected One, and as I picked up the book I found something very different than what I had been seeking originally - but this is what I opened to. As I read it, I understood why.
It was as if Easa read the thoughts of Pontius Pilate. He replied in a whisper, "I cannot make this easier for you. Our destinies were chosen for us, but you must choose your own master."
Elige Magistrum. Choose your master. It is the theme of this book which took me twenty years to live and write, and a theme worth contemplating. Pontius Pilate allowed fear to be his master, and his resulting decision wounded the world for over 2000 years. On this holy day of remembrance, I will vow not to make that same choice in my greatest life decisions. I reject the fear and trepidation that has haunted me for so long, and I hope you will join me in a similar choice, if that sounds right to you at this point on your journey. I will no longer wait for the other shoe to drop. I will remember that these fears belong to my past, but not to my future. My master will not be fear. My master is Hope. My master is Faith. My master is Love. And if I can stand in that belief from this day forward, then it truly is a Good Friday.
Painting by Greg Olsen.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
copyright Lucasfilms Ltd
On a somewhat regular basis, I receive an email, post, letter or private message informing me, usually accompanied by a nearly audible sigh of disillusionment, that I "am not what they thought I would be." Siiiiiigh. I can hear the exhale of disappointment at the end of that sentence, or the similar sentence with the same message. Doesn't matter what the words are, really. "I thought you would be different after reading your books" is thematic of the correspondence. Depending on the sender's own character, the delivery of the sentence is either gently scolding or harshly critical. But the intent is always the same: to tell me I have let them down because I did not fit whatever version of me they had hoped to find. I am too edgy, too aggressive, I swear too much... or some version of those critiques.
Fair enough. I am a public figure and I live out loud and my life is open to scrutiny because I allow it to be. But I have to wonder when I receive these letters, what, exactly, the disappointed masses are reading and why do they think I would be anything other than outspoken, controversial, embattled, and brash? Have they really read my books?
I would like to examine this for a moment and I hope you will come with me, because it will make an important point, I promise you.
In the eight years since The Expected One and its sequels were released, I have received tens of thousands of letters from around the world (the books are in 50 languages) telling me that my books have impacted, changed or even saved the lives of my readers. These letters are gifts beyond imagining, a price above rubies, more valuable to me than any royalty check can ever be. And yet, some of these same people who are changed by my work are the most angry or upset when this very human and flawed author does not live up to their imagined standard of spirituality or act as their desired role model.
Let's look at the paradox here. The same people who say my books are powerful are offended when I am powerful in person. The books challenge them, but I am not allowed to challenge them. They say my books are fantastic because they are provocative, but when I am provocative it is somehow offensive. I often wonder if male authors would be held to the same standard? I think not. Female authors are supposed to behave in a ladylike fashion. We are the women you want to have tea with, right? And so-called spiritual authors are held to an even higher accounting. We aren't supposed to feel anger or swear or defend ourselves in public. We are supposed to sign our correspondence with "love and light" and "blessings dear one" and be neutral and zen in the face of opposition. Yet my books are not wrapped in rainbows and covered in flower petals. They are hard hitting, love them or hate them. They force you to think, feel, conclude. They push your envelopes and ask you to grow beyond what you have been taught and challenge what you believe.
Both The Book of Love and The Poet Prince open with prologues that contain gruesome death sequences. Simon and Schuster asked me to tone down the extreme gore of The Poet Prince opening and I refused. It was necessary to impress the theme about the dangers of fanaticism. These are not Harlequin Romance novels. They are written to change you from the inside out, to make you weep and even retch with remembering, if I have done my job properly. Now, with that in mind, do you really think I write like Mother Theresa, or that I should? Because here is the thing: you can't have it both ways. Either you want my work to change you and to elevate the way you think about the world and history through the challenges I present, or you do not. You either want to understand that women have the power to change the world - because they have and they will continue to, in many different guises and personalities and approaches, - or you do not. But it is not a shrinking violet who creates books like this. It's a warrior.
Most people cannot begin to imagine what it takes to spend 20 years of a life devoted to finding and telling these stories. It sounds glamorous, but if you have ever watched an Indiana Jones film, you know that Indy has to fight a lot of bad guys and survive a lot of perils and pitfalls before he finds the Ark and the Grail. Dorothy has to kill the witch before she is killed by her, and only after showing that kind of courage and willingness to die for what is good and right will she be given the knowledge that she seeks. That is the nature of the Hero/Heroine's Journey. Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, secrets, all must be earned. That quest has caused me to risk everything I am and have over two decades. It cost me my first marriage, many relationships with family and friends, every penny I have ever made, and risks to my physical and emotional well being that are more extreme than the fiction I write. And yet, I took those risks because I had to. I took those risks to write the books that have changed so many lives. And sweet, demure women do not take such risks.
But Marion Ravenwood does.
Go watch Raiders of the Lost Ark again and witness Marian in the scene where she takes on Nazis in her bar in the Himalayas. THAT is the kind of woman who does this work. The kind of woman who literally spits in the face of evil, even though she is clearly scared to death. Which I often am. But it doesn't stop me because I cannot let it. Jane Austen I am not, and I do not aspire to be. Marion Ravenwood... now we're getting closer.
But the truth is, most of us only like Marion Ravenwood when she is safely on our movie screen. If she is in our living room, or even on our Facebook feed, she is unspiritual, unfeminine and downright scary.
Attaining the information to write these books is only the first part of the journey. Once the knowledge is attained, it then has to be put into a written form that can be assimilated, digested and hopefully enjoyed by readers around the world. These books do not write themselves. They require years of devotion, years of juggling raising three kids, figuring out how to feed them, educate them, be their full time caretaker while at the same time pursuing truths that can change the world and inspire people in heart and soul - and write 165,000 word manuscripts that are worthy of worldwide publication. I haven't slept through the night since 1995. Fact. Anyone who knows me well or has roomed with me on a tour or research trip can jump in here and attest to the fact that this is not an exaggeration. I simply do not have time to sleep. I am writing this right now at 3:00 am, because the middle of the night is MY time. The computer is on my lap in bed, because hopefully, once I finish this particular piece of writing, I might be able to get an hour or two of sleep before waking up at 5:30 am to make breakfast for my son and get him to school before starting my day all over again. Maybe.
is the story of one of the greatest warrior women in history
The criticism I receive the most often - although usually it appears on discussion boards or my detractors' Facebook pages - is that I am somehow a hypocrite or liar because I "do not live The Book of Love." I often wonder if those critics have actually read that book, because if they have, they will know that it is the story of one of the greatest female warriors of all time. Matilda of Canossa challenges the laws at age 13 when she begins training in arms, goes in to her first battle at 16, and leads her first army at 18. Her battle strategies were so brutal and so brilliant that General George Patton carried a book about her approach to war with him while on campaign. Women like Matilda of Canossa and Joan of Arc led armies into battle to defend the very histories and principles that I write about. They carried swords and they used them - they hacked men to pieces and became very bloody in a wholly unfeminine and (apparently) unspiritual way. That is the nature of battle. It isn't pretty, but it is often necessary. And if Joan had not fought brutally, the battles of Orleans and Reims would not have been won and European history and geography might look very different today as a result.
Joan of Arc, painted by Annie Louisa Swinnerton in 1904,
with the sword that she was not afraid to use.
Was Joan of Arc unspiritual? She was told where to find her sword - which she was to use in acts of war to hack her opponents into mutilated bits - by St Michael the Archangel himself. But if she were alive today in the 21st century, she would be vilified on the internet for not behaving more like Doreen Virtue - for not being pretty and soft and ultra-feminine all the time in her pursuit of angelic understanding. And NO, I am not comparing myself with Joan of Arc,or even Doreen Virtue. What I am doing is saying that there are many archetypal role models, and most of mine are warriors who by their very nature have, and require, an edge. And that shouldn't be a bad thing. So I ask the question again: would a male author be held to the same standard of behavior? Because this is a sexist issue, like it or not.
Finally, after nearly two decades of questing, juggling, writing, risking, rejection, insomnia, chest pains, pneumonia, divorce, and financial hardship, my books get published and distributed worldwide. And then comes the horrifying revelation that the battle has just begun. I have spent every day of the last eight years defending my work and myself against every kind of detractor, from pathological plagiarism accusations to physical theft to very serious death threats. The book tour and launch party for The Book of Love in 2008 had to be canceled by my publisher for security reasons, and I had armed body guards and police support with me on every tour stop for The Expected One in the United States. I have had more cease and desist letters and restraining orders written in my defense than most would ever believe. This is not work for the faint of heart or for "ladies who lunch." This requires - this demands - true grit. I don't have the luxury of perfecting the Downward Dog or practicing mantra. I'm too busy in my lawyers' offices. So I repeat: you can't have it both ways.
Now, imagine if Indiana Jones had died in Marion's arms at the age of 41 - not fighting evil or on an epic quest for the truth, but of an insidious and horrible disease that destroyed his once strong adventurer's body before her eyes, until it finally robbed him of his last breath as she held him. It might make her edges a little sharper, her exterior a little harder. One could hope that people might remember that as strong as she is, she still lost the love of her life and had her heart ripped from her body in a way no different than if the Thuggee in the Temple of Doom had done so with his bare hands. One could hope that compassion for the tragedy of her journey just might remain in the hearts and minds of those who encounter her along the path. But that is rarely the case. Sympathy has a short shelf life, whereas grief and its after effects are enduring.
in my arms from a rare and aggressive cancer
five months after our wedding in 2012.
You do not have to love me to love my books. This is about the message over the messenger. But perhaps this note will at least give those of you who cluck your tongue at me for my "unspiritual" behavior pause to consider the amount of blood it takes to actually accomplish this task. Each of my novels is emblazoned with the motto of the warrior queen Boudicca - who slaughtered the Romans without mercy - and that is THE TRUTH AGAINST THE WORLD. I am often told by "very spiritual people" that I need to change that motto to "The Truth For the World" or "The Truth in Service to the World." No, actually. I don't. Because I am not Doreen Virtue or any other spiritual leader or guru or Hay House author, with all due respect to Doreen, who I am sure is very lovely and I happen to have several decks of her beautiful and inspirational cards, thank you very much.
What I am is an unapologetic warrior. And true warriors do battle for what is good and protect what needs to be defended - which is what Michael the Archangel taught Joan. Warriors of light and love do battle AGAINST the Dark Side of the Force. They spit in the face of Nazis who would try to steal the holy medallion. They do not send them love and light. They do not "go with the flow."
When the literally gigantic tyrant general, Holofernes, oppressed the Israelites and killed the innocent, Judith and her maidservant hacked his head off while he slept. Guess what? That ended the oppression!
Sometimes, a woman has to use her sword to save
what is good and precious in the world against the forces
of evil and oppression. I once published this painting on
Facebook along with a blurb about Judith, and several women
unfriended me for my "disturbing and unspiritual message" -
without even knowing who Judith was or reading the message!
So the next time something I say or do on Facebook or here or anywhere else that offends your sensibilities, pisses you off, or somehow disappoints you, ask yourself: what would Marion Ravenwood do? Because here is what I think she would do, with a respectful nod to George Lucas and Laurence Kasdan, who created her character. I think she would say:
"Take me off the goddamn pedestal. Come stand beside me and fight this battle with me so that we might both get out of this alive and defeat evil in its many forms, be it lies or oppression or trafficking or sexism. Or not. But if you aren't going to join me... well, then get the hell out of my way because I have a battle to fight, and at least don't make it worse. But if you do decide to fight beside me, I promise that when the battle is over and won, I'll buy dinner and the first round, and you will have my loyalty."
Well.. that's what I would say, anyway.
Cue the John Williams theme music while I polish my armor with special attention to that place on my helmet that is engraved with The Truth Against the World. Are you coming with me, or not? Because my sword arm is itchy.
the battle cry "The Truth Against the World"
(She didn't scream it in English, however, and instead it
sounded more like this: 'Y gwir erbyn y Byd')
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Mastery and Mysteries of Mary MagdaleneÂ In Southern France
June 1 – June 8, 2014 In Southern France
Join Kathleen McGowan and Rev. Cynthia James in a once in a lifetime journey to the land where Mary Magdalene lived and taught: the ancient and mystical Languedoc region of France.Â Bestselling author Kathleen McGowan and globally beloved Transformational Specialist and Teacher, Cynthia James are your sisters on this journey which is designed for women only.
Seminar topics covered will include:
- Freeing the Body and Loving Your Temple
- Healing the Heart and Living from Love
- Sacred Sexuality and Beloved Partnerships
- Crossing Thresholds / Sacred Transitions
- Finding Your Authentic Voice / Sharing Your Gifts With the World
For the complete Itinerary and to Register please click the following link to be taken to the Mind Body Spirit Journey’s page for this trip:
Mastery and Mysteries of Mary Magdalene 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Stay with me on this, there is a point to it beyond celebrating my own book. I promise. Keep reading.
My favorite thing as a writer is getting feedback on my books, specific details that people respond to. I have been gifted over the years to receive tens of thousands of letters, notes, messages, etc. with this kind of delicious responsiveness. And I do mean GIFTED. It's like Christmas and my birthday combined when I receive the natural, enthusiastic responses that tell me my work has somehow impacted someone's life in a positive and forever manner. And whereas ALL of these comments mean the world to me, I have a particularly euphoric response when a man tells me that some element of The Book of Love has rocked his world. If I could issue a copy of TBOL to every man in his own language on his 21st birthday, I would do so. I truly believe that this is how important the information in TBOL is for men. And don't just take my word for it. TBOL is what caused Filip to want to be in a relationship with me after a lifetime of being single. He said often that TBOL completely altered him, it awakened him and gave him "eyes to see and ears to hear - and a heart to be heard." A dear friend of mine's husband says that TBOL "Changed the way he loves for eternity."
This week, a wonderful and dynamic male friend of mine sent me a text to tell me that he had been reading TBOL on an airplane and he was completely blown away by a specific element. In this case, it was the legend of Ariadne and Theseus, the story of the labyrinth. Well the way that story is told in TBOL has a twist. Trust me, even if you think you know this story, you have never read it told quite like this. This version was revealed to me in a very special way and I rewrote it many times over the course of that book to get it just right. But I realized as I read his text that I had not read that segment in years - probably not since it was published in 2008. And so... I went back to read it again.
Now, it may sound a little weird that I often do not remember what I have written in great detail, and I do not know if this is true with all writers, but once I have committed something to the page finally, it leaves my memory. I don't need it anymore, and what I do need is more space to add new stories and teachings, so I don't hold on to old material. I often have to go back and read something I wrote when somebody asks me about it for that reason. At the time of writing it, I LIVE it to the point of insanity. But once it's gone... it's gone. So there I was, re-reading the story of Ariadne and wondering why it had been so impactful when I was punched in the stomach by one of the lessons in the story. This spiritual truth about love and the concept of a true beloved relationship is so powerful, so honest and so important that it bears repeating to everyone who has ears to hear it, and I know a number of people right now who DO need to hear it. So this is it:
"For love that is not requited in equal measure is not love at all. IT IS NOT SACRED. And holding on to the ideal of such love will keep us from finding the one that is true."
Too often, we try to make a relationship work because we desperately want it to. We love so hard, so deeply, so much more than the other person in the relationship. We WILL them to love us back in the same way, but they simply cannot. They cannot, because it is not the right relationship for us. We cannot force another to love us as we love them, and that is the most painful of realizations.
It is only when we are loved in return, in EQUAL MEASURE of give and take, that love evolves into the "beloved relationship." And so, my friends, during this time of Venus retrograde, if you are in a relationship where your love is not returned in equal measure, it is perhaps time to release it and let it go. Holding on to the idea of a love that is not of equals is keeping you from finding that true, bonded mating that changes the world with its depth. I know that kind of relationship intimately and was blessed to experience it, and I wish it for everyone. Was my relationship perfect? No way. It was flawed and challenging and messy in all kinds of ways, as most truly intimate relationships are. But did we love each other with equal depth and incredible commitment? We did. And THAT was what made our love epic.
Do NOT settle for anything less than epic love, a love that is reciprocated, a love that gives to you as much as you give to it.
I was listening to Neil Young recently and was struck by the harshness of a specific lyric, "It doesn't mean that much to me, to mean that much to you." It kind of kicked me in the teeth and made me think about whether or not I had people in my life who might think that about me - people I loved with far more commitment than they loved me in return. It was a very eye-opening and somewhat disturbing inventory, but a necessary one. But certainly, if this sentiment can be said within your most intimate relationship, you are receiving a very strong wake up call to get out and let go. Love deserves love in return, always. Open yourself to the kind of epic love that reciprocates in generous measure. Accept nothing less.
You deserve to be loved in the same, "all in" kind of way that you know you are capable of loving. And every minute you settle for anything less, you are blocking your ability to know something far greater.
And if you have not read this version of the Ariadne story, it may be time for you to pick up The Book of Love. Who knows where it might take you?
Here's a great link to understanding the Venus Retrograde energies at work in our lives: http://virgomagic.com/2014/01/11/venus-in-the-underworld/
Wishing you epic love on the journey. - k x