Demons, Trauma, and My Patron Saint

Back before I knew I was mentally ill and thought I was just crazy I had an experience that scared me and shook me up for thirteen years. I have finally, just recently, become at peace with the incident. My fiancé and I had gone to the beach, and the full moon shone across the waves. As we walked out onto the beach, those moonbeams were calling me to the water. It was so beautiful, and peaceful, that is, until I began to be strongly compelled towards the water. But as I walked towards the water, I knew that if I were to go into the water, I would never come out. The water would swallow me up. Perhaps it was because of the suicidal ideation that I had had for years that made that scene so vivid in my mind. For many years, I blamed it on literal demons and figured I must have done something evil and God had allowed the demons to harass me.

When it comes down to it, I wasn’t far off the mark, except that God had not allowed literal, evil, spiritual beings to attack me. It was a demonic attack as far as metaphors go, however. I now believe that demons are a metaphor for our trauma, a being that ancient cultures created in order to describe trauma because they didn’t have the words. This is why stories exist, to help us understand things about our lives. This scene had far more to do with my mental anguish and trauma than anything else. But, I spent almost thirteen years worrying that I had inadvertently invited demons into my life and wasn’t sure how to get rid of them.

One day recently, my patron saint came to me, and it was so blatantly obvious that she was the one. I never expected, when I picked up Kate Moorehead’s book Healed: How Mary Magdalene Was Made Well, to connect so intensely with Mary Magdalene, although I had some inkling that I would connect some which is why I purchased the book. I wasn’t even looking for a patron saint, but that’s kind of how God has always worked in my life. I think that maybe I relate to her because it appeared that, like me, she wasn’t a good Christian woman, but she was a devout follower of Jesus Christ.

Mary Magdalene was close with Jesus, because Jesus had healed her trauma, he had exorcised her seven demons, these demons being a metaphor for trauma. Jesus did a lot for her, and she was so grateful. She was present and grieving at the crucifixion, and she was the first one to witness the resurrection of Jesus, the most important event in Christianity.

Kate Moorehead talks of Mary Magdalene and the seven demons that Jesus exorcised from her, saying that Mary Magdalene was mentally ill. She starts off by giving evidence as to why Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, as many people seem to believe, and she spends time examining why women were even judged by their sex life to begin with. Personally, my opinion of Mary Magdalene would be the same whether she was a prostitute or not, because as Moorehead shows in this book, our past doesn’t have to dictate our future.

But the point Moorehead was making is that Mary Magdalene has been judged unfairly by whether people thought she had sex and how much and who with, as if that defines her. Moorehead asks why, if she had been a prostitute, that this was considered the most important thing about her in describing who she was. She even digs into the creation myths in the first chapters of the Bible to make the point that women have always been defined by their sex lives in Christian tradition, even though women are so much more than who we have sex with.

She talks of the real Mary Magdalene, not the one we made up because of our obsession with sex. She talks about how Jesus healed her and reminds us that Jesus is still in the business of healing. The place where I would disagree with Moorehead is her idea that Jesus usually heals immediately, because that’s the nature of exorcism. In my experience with PTSD alone, I’m being healed little by little, as complex trauma is exposed to the light and processed. The point is the healing. This book is also useful for people that aren’t mentally ill, because she talks about our insistence on entertaining negative thoughts about ourselves and how we need to get rid of those too.

Thanks to this book, I’ve connected deeply with Mary Magdalene and her life and story, that she is bringing me closer to God.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for me. (Please and thank-you)!

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