14 Steps to Awaken the Sacred Feminine:
Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene

by Joan Norton and Margaret Starbird


Bear and Company, 2010. ISBN 978-1-591-43091-9.
Reviewed by Laura Strathman Hulka
Posted on 07/11/2010

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Faith/Spirituality/Inspiration

This is an amazing book for women's groups. An inspiring guide, it helps women create viable, intensely functional Mary Magdalene Circles. What are Mary Magdalene Circles? They are groups of women who share their focused energies on understanding and enacting the wisdom that has come down from Mary. The purpose: to gain insight and understanding of the path life takes and how the sacred feminine can enhance and enrich personal growth. There are 14 lessons in the book, which are the steps to creating that path for women who have come together to share and help one another to discover that inner light and strength that comes to both Christians and spiritual feminists alike.

For many, this book will provide a conduit to self-understanding and awareness. It brings forth the call to appreciate and proclaim the validity of the Sacred Feminine, long kept under the thumb of the Church. Western Christian tradition has kept secret, denied, tainted, and exiled positive mentions of Mary Magdalene in biblical and religious writings. This book will help transform that trend into an affirmative way to experience and enjoy the revered female side of faith, without being defensive or critical of mainstream religion.

The book is divided into two halves, each vital in recovering our beliefs and standards. Part One covers the steps, called lessons, to educating women in the Magdalene story. It covers the warped history of Mary as a prostitute, the time with Jesus in the garden, the weeping Mary and more. Starbird and Norton discuss with great clarity the mythology and the metaphors that abound in Christian literature and the way women have been denied their place as partners in the hierarchy and oligarchy of the Church. Their intent is not to criticize or demonize traditional beliefs, but to show us that the Sacred Feminine should be part of our lives, part of the profound, deeply personal journey to the inner self.

Part two is equally remarkable. Focused on Prayers and Poems to Complement the Lessons, each section corresponds to the lesson in the first part of the book with the same name. In Lesson Two of Part Two, (where the erroneous history of Mary as a prostitute is discussed,) there is a prayer-poem by Susan Kehoe-Jergens, Self Re-Creation through the Magdalene. Powerful and hopeful, we can read these within our groups, or alone, to help us understand and appreciate the need to acknowledge and affirm our personal soul power.

The resource section of the book is extremely useful as well. It lists Internet Discussion Groups, Spiritual Training and Sacred Feminine Information Websites, Books, and Art and Icons. This inspirational book should help those struggling as individuals to comprehend that part of our feminine psyche. We do not have to struggle alone; we can create or join groups that will give us clarity and strength to be complete as women, awake and aware of our passions and our passages through a spiritual life. To know that as women we can be part of a greater whole is a life-changing piece of knowledge, a step I encourage us all to take.


Joan Norton is a licensed psychotherapist with 25 years of experience helping women. She is the founder of the Los Angeles Mary Magdalene Circle. She lives in California. Visit her blog.

Margaret Starbird wrote the bestselling book The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, among others. She lives in Washington state. Visit her website.

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