Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

28 August 2007

Tower Maidens

Filed under: folktale type,hypostasis,parallels,Paul,tarot — markandmore @ 22:58

That there is some kind of relationship, perhaps a shared identity, between Paul the evangelist and Simon the magus, has been proposed by several writers. However that is a topic for another day. Correspondingly one would therefore expect some kind of relationship between Thecla and Helena, the two women who followed them.

Simon found Helena in a brothel in Tyre and purchased her freedom. He recognized her as the current hypothesis of the Holy Spirit, and she followed him on his travels.

Thecla was a young aristocrat who abandoned her family and fiancee to follow Paul. This is told in The Acts of Paul. Thecla is not mentioned at all in the Pauline epistles nor in The Acts of the Apostles. In the Eastern Churches, she was considered to be an apostle, equal to the major apostles.

The common item that we are interested in is that both women observed from towers:

Clementine Recognitions 2,12: ?Once, when this Luna of his was in a certain tower, a great multitude had assembled to see her, and were standing around the tower on all sides; but she was seen by all the people to lean forward, and to look out through all the windows of that tower. Many other wonderful things he did and does, so that men, being astonished at them, think that he himself is the great God?

Acts of Paul and Thecla, 2,1: … Thecla sat at a certain window in her house. 2:2 From whence, by the advantage of a window in the house where Paul was, she both night and day heard Paul’s sermons concerning God, concerning charity, concerning faith in Christ, and concerning prayer; 2:3 Nor would she depart from the window, till with exceeding joy she was subdued to the doctrines of faith.

There are of course other Tower Maidens. It is in fact Aarne=Thompson folktale type #310.

  1. Some writers try to derive Mary Magdalene from a town in Galilee, but neither archeology nor ancient texts document such a town of Magdala. More likely, magdalene is from the Aramaic, ‘migdal’ which means tower or fortress (here). Like Thecla, Mary Magdalene was an apostle, in fact she was the apostle to the apostles. It is often assumed, without any Biblical foundation, that she was a prostitute — like Helena.
  2. Asenath, the heroine in the +6th century Jewish romance, Joseph and Asenath , who was locked by her father the Egyptian High Priest in a tower away from men. The biblical Joseph, aware that she has converted to the Adonai cult, finally marries her.
  3. Valeda, a seeress of the Bructeri tribe, who prophesied victories against the Romans during the Batavian Revolt of 69-70 (whilst the Romans were a) fighting the Jews b) having a war of succession). She dwelt in a high tower and sent her prophecies by messengers. (Tacitus Histories 4, 61)
  4. Rapunzel is trapped in a high tower by a witch who took her at birth in exchange for vegetables taken by her parents. The tower has no entrance, and Rapunzel must let down her hair for the witch, and later the prince, to climb up. Other folktale versions tell similarly of Petrosella and Persinette.barbara.jpg
  5. Barbara, a fourth century maiden from Nicomedia, Bithynia, was locked in a tower by her father to keep her from suitors. He was infuriated to find that she had converted to Christianity, but her prayers enabled her to escape. Finally he was ordered to kill his daughter, after which he was himself killed by lightening. She became a popular Christian saint who is identified with lightning and cannons, and in the Santeria religion she appears as the male god Shango.
  6. Ethniu. Daughter of Balor of the Fomorians, who was prophesied to be killed by his grandson. He locked her in a crystal tower, but Cian helped by the druidess Birog managed to enter and seduced her. She gave birth to triplets, but Balor threw them into the ocean. Birog saved one child and he became the god Lugh, who like Jesus was a tekton, a craftsman.
  7. Cleito. Plato’s Critias tells how the god Poseidon loved a mortal called Cleitas. He built a tower on an island and surrounded it by three moats. Their first son was Atlas, and the island became known as Atlantis.maidenstower.jpg
  8. Istanbul actually has an ancient structure called the Maiden’s Tower. The major story associated with it is that of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who was visited by Leander who swam across the strait every night, until the night of a storm when her candles were blown out and he drowned.
  9. Later the story became that sultan’s daughter had been locked away so that the prophecy that she was to die of a snake bite on her 18th birthday, but the effort was in vain.
  10. There is also a Maiden’s Tower in Baku, seemingly of Parsee origin. The only story is that a maiden jumped to her death in the waves below (as did Hero).
  11. There are Magdelene Towers in Budapest, and in Rennes-le-Chateau, and at Magdelene College, Cambridge, and in Drogheda, County Louth (where the Ulster chiefs submitted to Richard II of England.

So what does this series mean?tarottower.jpg

Quispel sees the maiden in the tower as a hypostatis of the cosmological potency standing on the towering house of the world.

Detering sees her as the human soul shut up in the body (the tower), who is set free by the (a) saviour.

There is also the Tower card in the Tarot. This card can symbolize ruin and catastrophe. But it can also imply illumination and epiphany, when false conceptions are left behind.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Edwin Johnson. Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins. London: Tr�bner & Co., Ludgate Hill 1887 p 106 (pdf). Online at http://www.radikalkritik.de/AntiquaMater1.pdf.

Gilles Quispel. Gnosis als Weltreligion. Zurich: Origo 1951 p65

Herman Detering. Der Gefälschte Paulus. Patmos 2000. Translated as “The Falsified Paul: Early Christianity in the Twilight”. The Journal of Higher Criticism, 10, 2 Fall 2003. p 169-171(pdf). Online at http://www.radikalkritik.de/FabricatedJHC.pdf.

Advertisements

Blog at WordPress.com.