With Theodore J. Nottingham
Q) How did you and the Artist meet?
A) It happened thanks to technology in unexpected and extraordinary circumstances. Out of nowhere, at a particularly isolated moment in my life.
How did the idea of writing this book together come about?
It was born from the inspiration to complete the Gospel of Mary Magdalene which was discovered in the late nineteenth century in Upper Egypt in Coptic translation from the Greek. Not published until 1955, due to the world wars and other factors, the first six pages are missing, as well as portions of chapters 4, 5, and 8. Two other fragments of the same material were later found, which is very unusual for such an ancient text, suggesting that it was well circulated among early Christian communities. We shared the intuition that the spirit and teaching of this writing was especially important in our time. I might even say that we felt a duty to complete it. The work expanded naturally and I feel that we were guided by a higher plan.
In the book you say that this meeting changed your life. What exactly are you referring to?
I discovered in Raffaella a depth of heart and soul that resonated in such a way as to initiate me into new levels of being. It was a spiritual and emotional evolution at exactly the right time of my life, and with her I found the answers I've been searching for during forty years of spiritual study and experience.
How do you think the Church will react to the answers in the book?
The very nature of the Church and not only her, from whatever Tradition, sets limits to the awakening of the human spirit within the confines of its particular creeds, rituals and hierarchies. This has always been the case and the great mystics have often been marginalized in their lifetimes despite the words of Christ: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8). I am certain that seekers of God across the world in our time will find teachings and perspective that will greatly benefit their journeys. We live in a historical moment of great transition for Humanity.
How did your personal spiritual journey lead you to this revelation?
I was profoundly influenced many years ago by the mystics of Christianity such as Meister Eckhart, St. John of the Cross, St. Theophan the Recluse as well as those of other Traditions. Enlightened contemporaries like Thomas Merton and Krishnamurti played an important role in moving forward on the path. In my twenties, I was deeply involved with the study and practice of the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and his Fourth Way approach to self-knowledge and the awakening of higher consciousness leading to our authentic Self. All this allowed me to recognize in Raffaella the manifestation of all the teachings I was studying.
You have written and translated many books. What are the central themes of your other books and how do you view this book?
All of my books deal with spiritual themes, whether they be historical fiction, visionary works, or non-fiction. The translations of Spiritual Masterworks, namely from Father Alphonse and Rachel Goettmann, two of the most enlightened people I have ever met, and Karlfried Graf Durckheim, the great German spiritual teacher and “father” of transpersonal psychology, deal with these perspectives and methods of openness to the vaster Life. Readers will find in "Ella and the Tree of Mira", through Miriam's teachings to the Apostles and her interpretation of the Scriptures, themes that are perfectly integrated.
As a spiritual seeker and in the past also a Protestant Reverend for 40 years and in recent years almost an Orthodox monk, what impact has this encounter had on your knowledge?
My intensive studies of scriptures and spiritual writings, as well as the hardships related to the life of a Protestant Minister across all the years, along with the effort to assist others on their journeys, were foundational for the next level of development which could only be deeply personal. There comes a time when the books must be put down and the public teaching reduced so that the focus becomes introspective. The experience of meeting Raffaella was the next step to live in backlight the embodied experience of Miriam and Joshua's Unconditional Love. I can also say that all the knowledge acquired and personal efforts made have been enriched by the intuitive and emotional knowledge that resulted from this meeting.
The male character in the book is a writer who has made a great discovery. How much of you is there in what we find written, and if so, what criteria do you use to confirm its authenticity?
The discovery of who she is beyond time is entirely founded on the reality of who the Artist is in life. To come to a knowledge of this revelatory experience requires going passed the limitations of the mind and perceiving with the intuitions of the soul or the ‘nous’, as the ancients call it. The confirmations, or criteria, for this discovery are found in the testimony of what emerges from the depths of the soul and of what is incarnated in ordinary life. When every intuitive statement resonates with my forty years of study, expressed with stunning clarity and simplicity, and bringing to mind what Saints and Great Masters from all centuries have stated in the past, there is a recognition of a great mystery and awe at the spiritual level of knowing coming from a heart of exceptional purity and love for God. As an example, if a child where to speak of the laws of physics with an exactitude matching the discoveries of the greatest physicists, long before they could have studied these matters in school or read books concerning them, then it would be evident that this child was gifted with an intuitive knowledge that surpasses any logical conclusion other than that they came into the world with this knowledge already present within them. In a similar way, the spiritual and esoteric wisdom manifested in words and actions, reveal a depth of being that transcends this dimension and this lifetime.
The Artist says that she has answered your questions about unresolved issues in the Gospels. What do you think are the unresolved issues?
My understanding of “unresolved issues” might be better expressed as “fundamental ideas” that the human mind and soul have struggled with from the beginning of Christianity and continue to do so, perhaps even more, in our time. They are unresolved because the answers given over the centuries, mostly in the form of creeds, are either incomplete or do not resonate with the evolutionary need of the human soul. A writer once said that creeds are an attempt to express mystical experience in concrete terms and therefore cannot be understood without those personal experiences. For instance, questions such as “is Jesus human or divine?” or “why does wickedness exist?” or “how is the Son of Man within us?” or “what is meant by living bread” are given answers that integrate these teachings with our deeper Self rather than simply letting us believe as if it was only a matter of faith and dogma.
What do you think about the synchronicity of events as explained in the book and also about the fact that it appears in this moment of world pandemic?
The fact that this book and its revelations appears at such a moment without programming, suggests that it can contribute to this important time of renewal and clearer understanding of the message of the Gospels.
After Dan Brown's book and all the works that have been published on Mary Magdalene, what could this book add and what do you think was not known before?
It is now known that Mary Magdalene is the Apostle to the Apostles. What was not known before are her teachings and the expression of what Jesus imparted to her alone. The presence of Mary Magdalene is in this book. It is not merely information about her. This book also adds a new perspective on who she is in relation to Christ, not only in their human relationship, but in their spiritual equality and the integration of the masculine and feminine in the divine unity. In a way, one could say that this book gives the opportunity to discover her return to the world for the purpose of clarifying the original revelations.
The relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene remains controversial. What light does the book shed on their relationship? Are the scenes based on historical facts?
Their relationship is controversial only from a religious point of view which reduces the importance of the feminine, the fullness of Christ's humanity and unity with the Divine in all that it is. The historical facts, when considered without prejudice, point to the naturalness of their relationship but are not able to reveal the metaphysical dimension of who they are together. This is a lived experience, not an opinion and is part of the uniqueness of the book. It will be clear to the attentive and sensitive reader that the wisdom given here is beyond the confines of space-time, and the revelation of the relationship comes from that same source. It is eternal memory and present reality.
She presents the Gospel of Mary Magdalene in this book, which seems complete with the missing pages of the original manuscript, and presents new interpretations of the Gospel of Thomas. What sources did you draw from for this process?
The source is the extraordinary mystery and depth of an intuitive wisdom that transcends the mind and is rooted in the heart, not only of this world.
The interpretations provided by "Miriam" on the Eucharist and other central teachings seem surprisingly original. What are the implications of the book for Christianity and the future of religion?
This book is an expression of that kind of revealed teaching that is needed for a future freed from the misunderstandings and limitations of the past. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
The central character of the book is the artist who describes the meaning of her works in the exhibition. Is there a direct connection between the two female figures?
We can say that her works of Art are a continuous expression of this same consciousness.
Do you have other editorial projects together?
We have written six initiatory fables for children together which are being prepared for publication and we are working on a book that accompanies “Ella”.
Is there a relationship between you and the Artist as the book suggests?
The book is born from this mystical relationship and is the witness to it. It embodies a metaphysical love that cannot be expressed otherwise.
Who is for you Raffaella Corcione Sandoval?