Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moon Goddess: Our Guiding Light

The Moon Mother: Our Guiding Light

Literal Moon in the sky or ancient Goddess, it’s important to understand what natural powers are symbolized by the Moon.  In our patriarchal culture, we value sunlight rather than moonlight.  We look to facts and logic (Sun rationality) rather than feeling and intuition (Moon imagination).  In fact, we need both.  We live in our solar nature but our lunar nature needs to be explored and understood because we have been taught to ignore it.

There are many aspects of the ancient Moon Goddesses to explore.  Women need to re-learn what our lunar nature is, because it is our guide to life.  And if women can’t connect with our lunar nature, how can men find their way there?  

These next few blogs on The Moon are excerpts from my book: Wisdom’s Daughters: How Women Can Change the World.

When we lost touch with the feminine mysteries of the ancient Goddess, we were banished from our home inside the Moon.  Small children know and remember their true home, but as we grow up, we forget for the most part, how to live in the natural rhythms of life which the Moon Goddess - perpetual renewal, the measure of time, the weaver of fate - represented to her ancient worshipers.  Most of us have no idea what power and effect the Moon has over us or the world around us.  However, what was lost can be found, for the Moon still travels across the night sky and still sheds her silvery light upon our darkness.

            The first thing we observe about the Moon is that it changes shape, unlike the Sun, which appears the same every day and never fails to rise and set, full and round all through the day.   The Moon grows larger, then smaller, waxing and waning as it travels across the sky.  It rises at different times during the night and at different spots on the horizon.  And it even completely disappears for three nights.  But it comes back, and begins the process over again.  Small wonder that early humanity projected its imagination onto the Moon, since they experienced it as a monthly cycle that regulated time, its rhythms governing the tides, women's menstrual cycles, plant life and weather.   The Moon showed people the basic rhythms of life as well as the truth of the natural law of constant change.

            Ancient peoples observed that the Moon made the fertilizing moisture that makes living things grow and thrive: plants and animals as well as human beings.   The Moon Mother, imagined as a vessel of water, fertility and fecundity, was the source of being and becoming.   And because ancient peoples could live with contradictions, they also believed the Moon was the land of the dead, the place souls went to between incarnations.  Just as the Moon dies and is reborn, so souls go to the Moon to await rebirth.  The life cycle of birth-death-rebirth is prefigured in the changing Moon.  
Women naturally understand this rhythm of change, because our bodies respond to these changing rhythms.  Men have a harder time adjusting to this cycle.  They don’t know how to relate to their own changing moods, and so ignore them as inconsequential.   Women's greatest gift, our ability to adapt to change, has been used against us to demonstrate that we are not as rational, and therefore not as reliable or responsible as men.   
Once again, men used themselves as the measure of all things, and their own lack of adaptability became the standard.   But it can’t remain this way.  Now the world needs people who can change, who can let go of what is outdated and open to new ideas and new possibilities.   It is a perfect time for women to step forward and use our strengths and set new standards for what makes a full and rich life.  

When the ancient Goddess religions were suppressed under Christianity, her manifestations were split up.  On one hand, some of her light qualities were attributed to the Church and to the Virgin Mary.  Her darker, mysterious qualities, however, were soon associated with the Devil and with witchcraft, for Christianity accepted the heavenly attributes of the feminine while rejecting the earthy spirit of the Goddess.  The Earth and women, who were seen as creatures of the earth and of the body, were relegated to the darkness of sin.  Consequently, our culture developed a split between the heavenly feminine and the earthy feminine. 

It is up to us to heal that split and become conscious of our gifts.  The Moon Mother can show us the way, for she is our constant guide through life.

Watch for my next blog on the Moon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Great Goddess Isis: Lover, Mother, Healer and Mistress of Magic

Isis is perhaps the best known of the Egyptian goddesses.  She was worshiped in Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire from around 3000 BCE to around 200 CE, when many of her titles and attributes were taken over by the Virgin Mary.  Isis is another goddess who can represent the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin, the Divine Mother whose Child is the savior of Life.  Her mysteries taught people the truth of the cycle of life, death and rebirth.  She is a goddess of natural law as well as magic and healing. 

Isis is known by her 1000 names, which reflect her many gifts, attributes and powers.  She is the milk-giving cow goddess; goddess of serpents of the primeval waters; the star goddess Sirius, whose rising signaled the inundation of the Nile; the bird goddess; goddess of the underworld, whose breath gave life to the dead; goddess of the Tree of Life, offering the food and water of immortality; goddess of the words of power; the caring mother of her son, Horus; goddess of the throne, upon whose sovereign lap the king sat as her infant child in the image of all humanity.1   Isis is the Mage, the Enchantress, Lady Isis, She whose Words have Power.
One of the interesting things about Isis is that her story contains the pain and suffering of human life.  Perhaps Isis was so loved because her story is a very human story of love and death and ultimate rebirth.  Or perhaps it is because Isis, like the Virgin Mary, is the Mediatrix of Grace, the Intercessor and Mother who listens to her human children and helps us because she understands us.  

Many of Isis’ statues are of her as the Mother, holding her child Horus in her lap.  These statues symbolize the realization of the potential of the Virgin.  The Virgin Mother is not complete unless she manifests a new form, a new order.  The Child is that new form, a form which completes her.  On an inner level, this image speaks to the power of women who can become virginal again and find our own form of wholeness and completion—our child— taking our unique consciousness and creating something in the world. 
Isis, along with her husband Osiris, brought culture to her people, spending time among them, teaching women how to grind corn and make bread, spin flax and weave cloth, and how to tame men enough to live with them (an art form on which many of us would welcome a refresher course!)   Isis taught her people the skills of reading and agriculture and was worshiped as the goddess of medicine and wisdom.  In the myth of Isis and Osiris, we see that Isis is indeed a healer, even bringing her husband back from the dead.

This is the story of Isis and Osiris and their child Horus.

Out of the primal waters, Atum arises and gives birth to the male Shu (Air, Life, Space, Light) and female Tefnut (Moisture and Order), who gives birth to Nut, the sky goddess, and Geb, the god of Earth.  (Right here you can see that the Egyptians had a different consciousness then we do. For us, we see the masculine Deity in the heavens, while we see the Earth as feminine.)
Shu lifts his daughter Nut away from his son Geb, supporting her so she can give birth to the stars and heavens.  And Nut also gave birth to two sets of twins, Isis and Nephthys and Osiris and Set.  They were born during the sacred five days between the years that Thoth, the Moon god, had to win from Ra, the Sun god.   Isis and Osiris loved each other in the womb, and Nephthys married Set.
Osiris, who was given the dark, rich earth around the Nile to rule, and his sister, Isis, taught the Egyptians the arts and crafts of civilization: how to plant and harvest, how to gather fruit and cultivate wine, how to create art and build cities.  Osiris often traveled to other countries to teach these matters, and Isis stayed in Egypt to rule and keep the peace.
But Set, who was given the desert to rule, was jealous of his brother and wanted to rule in his place.  So one day he constructed a richly decorated chest and gathered his friends and his brother for a feast.  Bringing the chest out, he promised as a jest to give the chest to whoever it fit exactly.  Everyone was either too short or tall, but it fit Osiris perfectly.  Once he lay within it, Set slammed the chest shut, nailed the lid and sealed it with molten lead.  Then Set and his fellow conspirators flung it into the Nile.
When Isis heard of the murder, she cut her hair and put on mourning and searched everywhere up and down the Nile for the coffin.  Some children told her they had seen where the chest had floated into the ocean and Isis discovered that it had arrived at Byblos in Phoenicia, where it lodged in a tree.  This tree grew around the chest and was so beautiful that the king and queen had the tree cut down and made into a pillar for their palace.
Isis went to Byblos and sat veiled and mourning by a well, disguising her divinity.  Soon some of the queen’s maidens came to the well and Isis offered to braid their hair in the Egyptian manner. When they returned to the palace, the queen saw their braids and smelled a delightful fragrance on them, and sent for Isis to come serve her in the palace.  She made her the nurse for her child.
At night, Isis would take the child into the great hall, feed him from her finger and hold him in the fires to give him the gift of immortality.  Then she would transform herself into a swallow and fly around the pillar that contained Osiris’ body, singing mournfully.  One night the queen came in and saw her son lying in the fires and screamed, depriving her child of immortality.
Once Isis reveals who she is, the king and queen help her take down the pillar and remove Osiris’ body.  Isis takes him back to Egypt and hides his body in the marshes of the Nile.  It is there that she conceives her son Horus, taking the form of a kite and with her great wings, breathing life back into Osiris’ body. 

When Isis gives birth to Horus in the marshes of the Nile, she has to leave him for a time.  When she returns, she finds him almost dead, stung by a scorpion.  She calls on her teacher Thoth, who gives her the Words of Power to heal Horus.  She becomes the Mistress of Magic, bestowing her magical incantations on the Temples for the healing of her people.
   Isis leaves Osiris’ body to take care of her son Horus, thinking it well hidden.  But one day Set, who is out hunting, comes upon the chest and tears Osiris’ body into 14 pieces and flings them into the Nile.  When Isis discovers this, she once again sets out to reclaim Osiris’ body, along with Nephthys and Anubis, her son Horus and her teacher Thoth.  They find only 13 parts—his phallus has been swallowed by a fish.  Isis makes a replica of the missing phallus to take its place, wraps the body in a mummy with great ritual, and once again with her wings revives Osiris to become King of the Underworld and Eternity, where he judges the souls of the dead.
Now Horus fights Set for the Kingship and finally defeats him.  When Horus brings Set to his mother, Isis, she takes pity on Set’s wounds and lets him go free.  When Horus discovers this, he is so angry he cuts his mother’s head off, but Thoth quickly replaces it with the head of a cow.  Isis now becomes Hathor, the ancient goddess of Childbirth and fertility.  They finally defeat Set and restore peace and prosperity to the Nile Valley.

Isis as Magician and Healer

While we often think of Isis in her roles of lover and mother, since the Sun is in Virgo, I’d like to consider her role as mistress of magic and healing.   Ritual magic and healing are aspects of Isis' gifts.  You need humility, perfectionism (in pronouncing the Word correctly), efficiency in a crisis, the correct application of the learned skills and techniques for problem-solving, intercession for others and healing.3
One story about Isis tells of how she poisons the sun god Ra and then gets him to tell her his NAME--which is his power--so she can cure him.  After this, she has the power to heal both physically and psychologically.   There were many healing temples throughout Egypt, and there are inscriptions there that tell of those who came to sleep in her temples and be healed through dreams.
Isis' story is a lunar myth and deals with feminine magic.  When Isis needs the help of her mentor, Thoth the Moon god of Wisdom, to give her greater consciousness, she does it to enhance the powers of the divine Feminine—that is Life.  It takes the focus and will of Naming something to create magic and healing.  You have to know what it is you want to create or heal!

As for Naming, the words had to be pronounced with the correct tone of voice.  Like chanting, these words of power had to resonant and vibrate to open the way for healing and magic.
Thoth was an ibis-headed god of Wisdom and Healing.  The Egyptians thought that the ibis was the most helpful creature in the delta, killing snakes and scorpions.  Its habit of bending over and wrapping its trunk around itself, tucking its head into its chest, gave it a heart shape.  The Egyptians made this heart-shape into the hieroglyph representing Thoth, which conveyed the meaning of ‘knowledge and an understanding heart’.  Hence, it represents Wisdom.  Thoth was a guide of souls, helping them transition from one state of being to another.  He is the Alchemical guide, the one who brings us knowledge and an understanding heart so we can be transformed.  I would say that he is the masculine energy of the divine Feminine, the ability to name and focus and order the world.
Healing brings us out of disharmony into balance.  We need to know what’s wrong to attempt to heal something.  We need to name it.  Chanting creates the vibration that will entrain in us and therefore bring us into harmony.
Ritual is also about bringing harmony and balance into play in our lives.  A ritual sets a form that is appropriate for its function.  What do you want to create the ritual for?  Knowing that will determine its form.   Magic happens when we align our body, soul and spirit with our desire.  

It is so sad that in our modern world people and corporations use powerful symbols and names to corrupt their original intent.  While Isis is the Goddess of Life, death and rebirth, a group of terrorists have taken on her name—and they sully it. 

Let us instead remember Isis as the Great Mother, the Mediatrix between heaven and Earth, the Magus and Healer who brings us the gifts of civilization.
May she help bring us to a new age of peace and prosperity, equality and creativity.

1.       Anne Baring & Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess, (London: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 224.
2.      Kathleen Burt, Archetypes of the Zodiac, (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Pub., 1997), p. 201.
3.      Ibid. p. 208.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Blessed Virgin Mary: The Goddess of the Piscean Age

While the Goddess has been dismissed from most of western consciousness for the past 500 years or so, young Catholic girls are still encouraged to love Mother Mary in all her forms.  Elementary school age girls dream of crowning the May Queen--Mary as Virgin.  Young girls and teens love the story of Christmas, imagining that we, like Mary the Mother, hold Baby Jesus to our hearts.  And as women grow older, we look to the Sorrowing Mother, Mary as Crone, who holds her son's wounded body and weeps over it. 

Michelangelo's  Pieta

The Virgin Mary is called the Blessed Mother by Roman Catholics.  And while many women searching for the Goddess believe she is nothing more than the patriarchal image of the perfect mother and obedient servant, she is really much more.  When Christianity banished the Great Goddess from western consciousness, it left us Mary, who has taken on the role of the ancient triple goddess.  As Maiden, Mary is the Virgin who is chosen to give birth to the Savior; as Mother, she is the archetypal caregiver and nurturer; as Crone, she knows the sorrows and grief of Life and accepts them.  She is filled with Wisdom.  She is an incarnation of Sophia, Lady Wisdom.

During the Piscean Age (1CE-2100CE) Mary became the symbol of the Divine Mother, the Comforter and Mediator between Heaven and Earth.  For 2000 years, Mary the Queen of Heaven was considered the co-redemptress along with her Son, and serves as a mediator between God and humanity.  
Mary is: Deathless, pure and by inference, without sin of any kind; at home in the courts of heaven; no mere spirit but body and soul complete; an ever-active intercessor and comforter; a friend of individual mortals, close at hand in their earthly pilgrimage…  (Geoffrey Ashe, The Virgin, p.161.)

The Great Mother is an archetype within all of us—and while we are very well acquainted with the archetypal negative mother and witch because of patriarchy, we often forget the Good Mother, who is kind and compassionate.   This is the Mother who listens, who forgives, who comforts, who guides, who nourishes, who understands and who accepts us for who we are.   

Rennslechateau Moon Madonna

As the most patriarchal culture in the world, the United States of America has a very deep negative mother complex.  So many Americans are insecure and depressed because we are so separated from our souls.  In Latin countries and in Europe, they have the Blessed Mother as a feminine icon and so love and respect some aspects of the Feminine Spirit.  For the most part, Americans are Protestants, who do not recognize the divinity of Mary and so only have a 'jealous' God and sacrificed Son to worship.    

The Virgin Mary is the merciful and sorrowing Mother of Humanity.  She is most like the Crone, the Spiritual Mother and Virgin who mediates between life and death.  And perhaps that is her role--the Wise One who has been sheltering us as we go through the lessons of the Piscean Age--lessons of dissolution, death and spiritual rebirth. 

Among the many aspects of the Goddess that she symbolizes, Mary has been associated with the image of the Divine Feminine who comes at the changing of the ages:  a Woman, clothed with the Sun, standing on the Moon, crowned with Stars, in labor, giving birth to the Savior.  This is the image of Sophia I was drawn to after I had a BIG dream while studying at the Jung Institute.  

Woman Clothed with the Sun

In the dream there is a wounded Lion (I am a Pluto in Leo Baby-Boomer) and I am making sure my children are safe.  I go out to find it.  Suddenly I am sitting in a buckboard wagon at a triple crossroads.  I look up and see a waning Moon and then see a mighty wave rushing toward me.  I think, "This is it.  This is death."  Then suddenly the wave has passed through and I look up again and see a beautiful crescent Moon in the sky and I hear a voice say, "You will be the Mother of a Savior."

Jung would have loved this dream!  My first thought was, 'No way can I be the mother of a savior. I can't do that to my children.'  Then I thought, 'Maybe it's about me?'  So I searched until I found the image of the Woman  of Revelations, and discovered that she is Lady Wisdom/Sophia/Mary.  And I knew that the revelation was about all women.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun is the Image of the Divine Mother who is returning to us now, at the changing of the Ages, not as a father’s daughter, but as Woman in her fully divine nature.   And she is calling to women to become her daughters, to grow into ourselves as spiritual women and to be the Wisdom Speakers for our culture at this moment of great cultural evolution.

In honoring Mary, we honor a woman rather than a Goddess, who was so in touch with Divine Spirit that she became wholly herself and realized her own divinity.  Like the Woman of Revelations, Mary incarnated her goddess-nature through her ability to stand consciously (Sun) in the (Moon) lunar tides of life while centering herself in her spiritual (Stars) awareness.   

And in this new age, the Divine Mother is giving way to the archetype of the Divine Partner—the Sophia (Wisdom) who is married to the Christ (spiritual consciousness).  The Gnostics believed that there was not only a man of light (Jesus) but also a woman of Light (Mary Magdalene) who were co-redeemers or partners in the work of salvation.  Mother Mary was the archetypal energy of this redemption for the Piscean Age.  

Mary's Legend 

Most of us only know about Mary from the Gospels.  But there is a legend about her parents and her early life, before she was chosen to become the Mother of God.
The Hebrew parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna.  The name Joachim is a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim).   Joachim belonged to the royal family of David, and Anna was a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family. 

According to the histories of the twelve tribes of Israel, Joachim was a very wealthy man. He brought his offerings twofold to the Lord, saying to himself, “This from my abundance will be for all the people, and this which I owe as a sin offering will be for the Lord God as a propitiation for me.”

Now the great day of the Lord drew near, and the children of Israel brought their offerings. Reuben stood up and said “It is not permissible for you to bring your offerings first, for you did not produce offspring in Israel.”

Deeply ashamed, Joachim left the city. In the desert he pitched a tent, saying, “I shall fast and do penance until the Lord deems me worthy.” He went into the desert and fasted for 40 days and nights. Anna wept to see her husband go.

All alone, she went into the garden and sat down beneath the laurel tree. Looking toward the heavens, she saw a nest of sparrows in the tree. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes. How she longed to have a child of her own. Anna entreated the Lord, saying” Woe is me! To what am I likened? I am not likened to this earth, for even the earth brings forth her fruit in its season and blesses you, O Lord.”

And behold an angel of the Lord appeared, saying “Anna, the Lord God heard your prayer, and you will conceive and give birth, and your offspring shall be spoken of in the whole inhabited world.” Anna said, “As the Lord my God lives, if I give birth, whether male or female, I will present it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall be a ministering servant to him all the days of its life.”: And behold two angels came saying to her “Behold your husband Joachim is coming with his flocks.” Anna ran and throw her arms around his neck saying “Now I know that the Lord God has blessed me very greatly, for behold the widow is no longer a widow, and she who was barren has conceived.”

Anna gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.   In gratitude to the Lord, Joachim vowed that once the child turned three years old, she would be sent to the Temple to be educated.

When she was six months old her mother stood her on the ground to see if she could stand. Walking seven steps, she came to her mother’s bosom. Anna held the baby to her and said, “As the Lord is my God, and He has sent me a miraculous child.” Anna then caught her up, saying “as the Lord my God lives, you shall not walk on this earth again until I bring you to the Temple of the Lord”. Then she made a sanctuary in her bedroom and prohibited everything common and unclean from passing through it.

When the child was three years old, Joachim said, “let us call the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews and let each one take a torch and let them be burning in order that the child not turn back and her heart be misled out of the Temple of the Lord”. Thus they did, until they had gone up into the Temple.

The priest received her, and kissing her he blessed her and said, “The Lord God has magnified your name in all generations, in you at the end of todays will the Lord God manifest his deliverance to the children of Israel”. He set her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God gave grace to her, and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her. At last it was time for Mary to climb the steps to the Temple. A halo of light encircled the blessed child and filled with joy, she began to dance. The child’s bright spirit could not be contained any more than the sun can be kept from rising. Her parents returned marveling and giving praise and glorifying the Lord God that the child did not turn back.

One day Zaccharia, the chief priest overseeing Mary’s education was discussing the scriptures with a small group of holy men. The child sat beside him, for already she was a great favorite with these revered elders. “The Lord made us to serve Him,” Zaccharia declared.

“And to glory in His kindness,” said Mary softly. Startled, the old priest looked at her. “The little one is fearless and yet all gentleness,” he told himself as the others exchanged smiles.

“The Lord can be merciful. That is true Mary,” he replied. “You are wise, for one so young.”

“Is it wisdom, good father, to see what is all around us?” asked the child. “The Lord must love us very much to have given us this earthly paradise to look after.”

When her chores were done, in the remaining hours of each day she went out alone just beyond the gates of the Temple. There she would distribute food and clothing to the poor and the elderly who came hoping for charity. In time the other girls followed her example, and the Temple became known far and wide for its generosity.

One day, as she bathed the brow of a young girl so sick with fever that she was not expected to survive the night. Mary heard angelic singing. She looked to her patient, wondering if the girl had heard it too. No, her friend was sleeping peacefully for the first time in days. Touching the girl’s forehead, Mary realized that the fever had passed. Surely it was a miracle – the girl would recover, just as Mary prayed she would. “Mary,” a voice suddenly said. “The Lord has seen fit to bring you into this world without the stain of sin. And you use His good favor to help others. By doing so you honour Him greatly.”

When Mary turned fourteen, Zaccharia told her, “It is customary for all young maidens at your age to marry.” That night an angel appeared to the old priest in a dream and said, “Do not worry, Zaccharia. Tomorrow have each suitor bring with him a staff. The Holy Spirit will give a sign as to who shall be Mary’s husband.”

The next day, the suitors crowded into the Temple, each holding a staff in his hand. Kneeling, they prayed for a sign. All at once a lily was seen to bloom from the staff held by the widower Joseph, a builder and carpenter. And then a snow white dove alighted upon the staff before flying off. “How can it be that the Lord has chosen me?” Joseph said, astonished “I have been widowed for some time and have sons nearly as old as this tender young girl.” But Zaccharia shook his head “The Lord has given a sign, Joseph.” And turning to Mary the priest asked “Mary what is your wish?” Moved by the events and Joseph’s humble words, Mary extended her hand to Joseph, saying, “I accept.”

That day the marriage contract was signed, and in twelve months the wedding ceremony would be celebrated. In the meantime, Mary returned to her parents while Joseph departed for a distant town where he was about to begin work on the building of a Temple. The commission was a great honour, but it would separate the couple for nearly a year.

At day break one spring morning, Mary went to draw water from the well before her parents awakened. All at once she heard a voice. “Hail Mary,” it said. “The Lord is with you. Holy is your name.” And the angel stood before her. “Mary, do not be afraid, “he said. “I am the angel Gabriel, God’s messenger. He has sent me to tell you that He wishes you to bear a son.”

“But how can such a thing be possible? I am not yet wed,” said Mary.

“The Holy Spirit will pass through you as a ray of sunlight passes through a drop of water, and so the child will be called the Son of God.” Mary shook her head in wonder.

“Your kinswoman Elizabeth has in her old age conceived a son, and she, like your own mother was once called barren,” the angel continued. “But now, thanks to the Lord, Elizabeth is in her sixth month. Indeed, only your consent is needed for such a miracle to be possible, for nothing is impossible for God.”

As she listened, Mary was filled with courage. She replied, “Then I give my consent.”

Bowing before her, the angel Gabriel kissed the hem of Mary’s robe and then vanished.

August 15th: The Feast of the Assumption of Mary

August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, a celebration of the belief that Mary, like her son Jesus, rose into heaven.  Taken symbolically, this is the day that the Church finally acknowledged that Mary is indeed the Goddess.

                                                     Assumta: Titian

The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."  The Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the Dormition of the Theotokos (the falling asleep of the God-Bearer).   

This is the story of Mary's last days on Earth. 

While we know little of Mary's life from the Gospels, according to legend, Mary spent her life after Pentecost supporting and serving the early Church.  She was living in the house of the Apostle John, in Jerusalem, when the Archangel Gabriel came to her and revealed that her death would occur three days later. 

The apostles were scattered throughout the world, but they were miraculously transported to be at her side when she died. The sole exception was Thomas, who was in India and so was delayed. He arrived three days after Mary's death in a cloud above her tomb.  There he saw her body ascending to heaven. He asked her "Where are you going, O Holy One?" In reply, she took off her girdle and gave it to him and said "Receive this my friend" before she disappeared.  (The Life of the Virgin Mary,The Theotokos.)  

Thomas was taken to his fellow Apostles and asked to see Mary's grave so that he could bid her goodbye. Mary had been buried in Gethsemane, according to her wishes. When the Apostles arrived at the grave, her body was gone, leaving only a sweet fragrance. An apparition is said to have confirmed that Christ had taken her body to heaven after three days to be reunited with her soul.

                                            Rubens: The Assumption of Mary

The earliest traditions all locate the end of Mary's life in Jerusalem.  In some versions of the story the event is said to have taken place in Ephesus, where the Eleusian Mysteries were celebrated for over 2000 years—dedicated to Demeter and Persephone.  In the House of the Virgin Mary outside Ephesus, at the shrine there is a particular "wishing wall" which pilgrims have used by tying their personal intentions on paper or fabric.  There is also a sacred spring there, which is believed to have healing properties.

In the 7th century, Theothekno, bishop of Palestine, preached a homily on the feast of Mary's Assumption, August 15: 

"Rejoice with the Mother of God,
with angels and saints,
and celebrate this great feast:
the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
"On earth she was a fruitful virgin,
in heaven she intercedes for all;
through this blessed woman,
the Spirit's gifts still flow upon us,
and her words teach gentle wisdom.
"At her assent the earth blossomed;
she sought good things for the poor.
Now in heaven her care is undiminished,
near her Son she seeks the good of us all."

What does it mean for our earthly body to be taken up into the heavens (the spiritual realms)? " The Assumption proclaims the Mystery of the century, the return of Mother Earth to the Heavens and the end, therefore, of the split between Earth and Heaven and all the divisions, such as between flesh and spirit, that flowed from that. It heralded the unity of the universe and the unity of human personality." (Eugene Cullen Kennedy:  

May it be so!