AUTHOR FACTS STRANGER THAN FICTION
I have read The Expected One but am less interested in the novel than its author, Kathleen McGowan, who claims she’s descended from Jesus and the Magdalene, and who employs the medium of fiction to explain how she arrived at these beliefs. The novel itself, the first of three - the next volume is The Book of Love about a gospel Jesus supposedly wrote - was at least sometimes more attractive to me than the inevitable comparison, The Da Vinci Code.
Yet I still periodically wondered if I would be able to get through the novel. The second half is more polished than the first which contains some odd sentences and clichés so that I was not surprised a critic took exception to sentences like one from the first chapter I had noticed like: “History hung heavy in the rarified and holy air as the faithful hurried to houses of worship in preparation for their respective Sabbaths”. Anyway, I feel the writer’s skill developed in the writing and editorial advisors were asleep or overly polite about some passages (and the spelling of some French phrases).
But as said, ultimately it was the mystery of the author and her mind that kept me going. However much I disagree with what McGowan proposes I remain intrigued by what she imagines she’s dealing in, namely major new/alternative information about Jesus. Also how she got this material to the public after allegedly years of struggle is something that naturally interests me after years of experience of the same kind of effort. It seems her Irish Catholic musician husband (McGowan herself has a Baptist background) helped considerably.
Nevertheless by now the Irish American, Hollywood born McGowan has more than overcome any difficulties. While she loudly defends her “Truth against the World” position and protests the injustice of those who demand more academic, written, standard evidence from her, in fact she is very much being heard on her own informal terms with publishing backing her and putting out Expected in at least fifteen languages. Despite the unusual and for some even offensive claims McGowan is making there was not a paper or magazine I applied to in Ireland ( mainly Northern Ireland where McGowan is supposed to have worked in journalism and first report of her claims came through) was interested to have any comment from me. This is from someone published, an Irish national, a doctor of religious studies and himself similarly, if on a very different basis, claiming original information on Jesus at variance with McGowan’s. So she’s well defended and supported for alternative Jesus cults and clearly Ireland is changed or changing.
FICTION, FACTION AND NEW GOSPELS THROUGH FRANCE
The title “The Expected One” refers to prophecies in the traditionally Cathar regions of France that at some point one of the Magdalene’s descendants (she has a special representative in each generation) will present to the world her true story along with a gospel she wrote. The novel includes excerpts from this Magdalene gospel discovered through France - but paraphrased and adapted for the modern reader according to the important Afterword. If you accept the much disputed record of what McGowan has been doing and writing in France and Ireland – there’s no record she was editor of a paper in Ireland though she seems to have been some kind of freelance journalist - then she has been researching her subject for nearly two decades (since 1989) and is very much in touch with some Zeitgeist besides. Necessarily so because if the book cannot be seen as remarkably anticipating both The Da Vinci Code and publication of The Judas Gospel then you will think it has managed to ride in on their coat tails. (However we must allow coincidences – Slavoj Zizev’s The Puppet and The Dwarf of 2003 makes Judas out to be an “ethical hero” and anticipates the Gospel of Judas's line).
Whatever, although Expected is similar to Code for its Magdalene theme, for its French secret societies (and even its murder theme opening ) plus its trendy Gospel of Judas style desire to excuse Judas (and quite a few other people) the novel still contradicts and varies upon claims of DVC and Gnostic gospels considerably. Yes, Jesus was married and had children but he was still divine, crucified and was resurrected even if his project amid this wasn’t to redeem the world (he only died because his good friend Judas bungled some plans!) but rather to give an example and messages of especially forgiveness. For this the Magdalene was Jesus’ true mouthpiece, his real apostolic successor, not the other disciples. It’s incidentally an idea of the book, and a rather Gnostic one, that if one just accepts this forgiveness one will never suffer again. Indeed even Jesus himself didn’t really suffer on the cross and Annas and Caiaphas who realized they made a mistake about Jesus felt bad about it but could have stopped their agonizing over it and got happy if they would have just let go the guilt.
KATHLEEN MCGOWAN’S VARIOUS SOURCES
McGowan’s sources for what she is revealing are threefold and are:
1) Various Gnostic and apocryphal sources like The Gospel of Pilate which make Pilate and his wife virtual saints. Anything approaching the given gospel story of Jesus McGowan recalls in interview having first warmed to at ten years old following attendance at the (itself largely apocryphal and based on Judas’ view of events) Jesus Christ Superstar musical. She began singing its Magdalene’s song repeatedly, her first identification with the Magdalene so she “blames” her subsequent obsession with MM on Rice and Webber. Overall McGowan is biased towards any alternative sources having developed what’s called “a hermeneutic of suspicion” as a result of living in the Ireland of the Troubles. This made her realize the extent to which there's bias and contradiction in the reporting of events. And then there was simply her experience of being a woman. Put the two together and history itself is something to be doubted, especially woman’s.
2) Oral traditions and a variety of private sources in mainly France, sources McGowan cannot or will not reveal because they supposedly compromise people’s safety or secret society rules. This could at least in some instances be true though her information lets down credibility in some places rather badly. Her Magdalene Gospel of Arques is named for and linked in the novel to the Arcadia tomb at Arques, allegedly portrayed in the centuries old famous Poussin picture Et in Arcadia Ego. In fact this tomb, now demolished to keep trespassers away, was only built in 1933 and its Poussin associations belongs to the hoax invented by M. Plantard that the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail took up.
3) Visions McGowan has had and which supply her unique perspectives. Near the beginning of the novel Maureen goes to Jerusalem as McGowan did and is suddenly overcome by a vision of the Magdalene on the way to the crucifixion, a Magdalene who asks for her help. McGowan also claims that she was years trying to process the revelation (i.e. vision ) that MM was first married to a very reluctant John the Baptist (who was a bit of wife beater and who got executed because the really well intentioned Nazarene follower, Salome, in defending Mary tried to get John imprisoned, not as happened, executed!)
However misguided (and even opportunistic) she might be at a certain level I detect McGowan is sincere in her way. I doubt she would quite write the following if she didn’t mean it:
There were many, many times when I wondered about my worthiness to tell this story. I don’t think I’ve slept through the night in more than ten years as I have agonized over the details in this book and its potential repercussions. (p.439)
Also perhaps the admission:
“It literally took years for me to process that revelation [about John the Baptist’s marriage to the Magdalene and his abusive behaviour] before I was prepared to write about it. (p.437)
The first of these statements gives a framework for composition of the book. A bit over 10 years even if not the more contestable approximately 20 years that she tried to persuade her publisher was the case. Before 1997 she had certainly been looking into alternative histories of famous, often maligned people especially women; but something more definite started around 1997 and we can know what it was, namely a trip to Israel. The big question is whether it was a trip for or about the book and the Magdalene story we now have or if a vision about the Magdalene in 1997 was the source of the book. Indelibly inscribed at the Linda-Goodman.com site for 1999 at
we find a message from Kathleen McGowan describing her movements and interests.
She says that in 1997 she visited Israel to study the Essene mysteries, stars, plants etc. This journey was influenced by reaction to her friend, pop astrologer Linda Goodman’s passing, which makes it sound as though it occurred that year rather than 1995. No word here about seeing, studying, or fictionalizing the Magdalene but plenty about the occult and tarot (which McGowan says she has practiced since childhood) and numerology. Supposedly under Goodman’s influence (she was a fan who had only spoken on phone to Goodman but knew rather better Goodman’s confidante, Crystal Bush) she got to preparing a set of star cards to teach a form of numerology. The same site contains an angry letter from “Donna” who tells about legal arguments with a publisher over McGowan’s alleged attempts to erase her contributions to McGowan’s work.
AN ISIS WORSHIPPING, TAROT PRACTICING JESUS DESCENDANT
In December 1998 in honour of Linda Goodman (who had supposedly spoken to McGowan from the other side about a problem with her numerology work) McGowan records that she performed her annual promised secret ritual to Isis and Osiris. While McGowan is entitled to follow whatever beliefs she likes it is, to put it mildly, ironic that someone claiming descent from Jesus and the Magdalene with discoveries of their true teachings for the world should want or need to be worshipping Isis. It would however be consistent with claims elsewhere on the Net that McGowan has been changing personas (in a style fiction writers often do, blending truth and reality, re-writing their own and other people’s histories) at one time back in the nineties putting herself out as descendant of Celtic high priestesses. If so, presumably she wasn’t so deeply if at all into the Jesus dynasty theories as long ago as portrayed. Ten years at most. Or perhaps there wasn’t any clear starting point for specific research ….it was a matter more of precisely vision.
Just as she allowed the deceased Linda Goodman’s voice to illumine her numerology commentary, I should say McGowan is strongly clued into the occult and her visions act as authority with other data a rather minor second. And I would guess that whatever else may be true or false about her McGowan does have these visions ( she has insisted in interviews that the novel's story of vision of the Magdalene in Jerusalem is absolutely authentic as are other reported visions). Her novel’s heroine is Maureen Paschal, a family name she discovers is a Cathar one linked to Magdalene claims. This name and theme fictionalizes issues McGowan portrays as important to her like discovering facts about her father and forebears she would never have imagined like the involvement of her Baptist grandfather in Free Masonry and the esoteric generally.
If McGowan’s forebears had these esoteric involvements then without there being anything so dramatic as a Jesus lineage she could have, as in wicca linked families, inherited spiritual connections of another sort. I am aware that the concern some Christians have about believers dividing their faith with secret societies is because of the sort of legacy (“contracts”) this supposedly sets up, not simply a case of intuitional or psychic sensitivity such as anyone might possess on a genetic basis but contact with spirits which especially arts like Tarot that McGowan has practiced bring into play. Divination as of Tarot is believed to be linked to a specific Spirit of Divination.
A STRANGE SPIRIT STORY
Here I shall make brief digression to tell a story linked to the difficult subject of familiar spirits such as – possibly - McGowan inherits and communicates with when she hears Goodman beyond the grave or sees the Magdalene all over the place. Some years ago someone I knew in astrology circles was recommended to a supposedly very expert Tarot reader whom she visited out of curiosity. This person told me she could never forget and never explain how and why at some point into the session with the pleasant and accurate consultant, suddenly terror overtook her. So as not to seem offensive to the reader or personally ridiculous she had to prevent herself from screaming and running from the room because there, standing above the reader was this terrifying, ugly, salivating monster. I said I couldn’t explain the incident any more than herself unless to say it could have been she had seen a spirit of divination, a “familiar spirit” such as gives the occult such predictive success as it enjoys amid the deceptions and errors and the reason divination is scripturally under ban. (Please note divination is what is based on intuition or working with spirits, not what is empirically derived as in the case of astrology which fundamentalists, but not Jews, like to lump with the black arts).
LINDA GOODMAN, THE MCGOWAN GURU
Even if this peculiar story is irrelevant Linda Goodman, a sort of occult guru to McGowan, isn’t. Goodman is so important for McGowan’s worldview and for modern New Ageism more generally that we aren’t surprised to learn that like St Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc and most people of any significance, she’s a Jesus descendant too! The only trouble is that Goodman isn’t quite in a league with the others. The book Linda Goodman’s Star Signs whose numerologies McGowan took so seriously surely deserves a prize for whacky occultism (when I read it parts of the book had me nearly falling off my chair for laughter). Inspired by some spirit who materialized to her in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the course of the book Goodman theorizes she, and in effect no one, needs to die but can live indefinitely on air as a breatharian. She even supplies a diet towards gradually reaching that stage via vegetarian and fruitarian stages.
Whether or not Goodman followed it herself and it contributed to her premature decease the fact is she died in 1995, officially of diabetic complications and staged no resurrections as might have been appropriate given her beliefs re alleged ancestry. She also wrote a huge quasi- autobiographical novel-cum-epic called Goobers about mainly love and reincarnation all in a sort of poetic doggerel. It’s a work that is near Bible to McGowan who admits in her Afterword always to have it to hand. If I rightly recall from my cursory look through the book years ago it included some rather derogatory remarks regarding the Holy Spirit whom Goodman didn’t seem to deem too reliable in marked contrast to the number of the Beast/Antichrist which she speaks of in her numerology in Star Signs. Again this is a pretty poor showing from an assumed Jesus descendant and a spiritually bad vibe too, but McGowan evidently hasn’t taken any warning signals from it (rather like someone I know who had an affair with somebody claiming Jesus descent and who regrets the experience because this person was too much into the dark side).
But McGowan’s trust was perhaps inevitable. The lesson you would learn from Goodman’s esoteric obsessions is to defy all obvious fact and call it something like McGowan’s “Truth against the world”. Another Goodman blind spot had been refusing to accept her daughter was disappeared, dead and would never return. Police finally closed the case as suicide, accidental or deliberate. For years and until the end of her life Goodman was forever invoking power and faith at a personal altar to make her daughter return. It was astrology that gave her the pretext but then her astrology was itself strange. She used a system of houses that most astrologers consider pretty unworkable though this would again fit some “truth against the world” policy as would her insistence against all the facts that Marilyn Monroe had to have been born under Aries two months before the given date under Gemini.
What perhaps most unites Goodman and McGowan is their birth under the Ram of Aries, the sign strong on ego awareness and the battle. McGowan’s story so far and to judge from the tales floating around, is a history of spats, confrontations with people and legal disputes and beyond that a major argument with the world as given, a battle against fact and history. Sometimes McGowan regrets the (biblical) record she subverts and supplants as when she declares John the Baptist to have been an unsatisfactory abusive first husband of the Magdalene and progenitor of yet another special lineage through his one son. (This one son “Little John” whom Jesus adopts when he married the Magdalene is then the source of the idea of a “Beloved Disciple”!). It’s all heady stuff and just possibly having presented the world next year with a gospel Jesus wrote, McGowan will live to regret a few more “revealed” facts. It would be appropriate if publishing and media shared a few regrets about the promotion of this kind of material but it’s not too likely - originally self published it’s gone way beyond any Irish cottage industry by now.
Finally…..I see there is a McGowan Blog if you want to follow further developments and declarations. You may be surprised that for Magdalene’s day July 22nd this year along with prayer to this saint and insistence she was in France and can be felt around the St Baume area McGowan writes as easily as a rationalist about “legends” of the Magdalene. Is there a rationalist side to McGowan?. Who knows? But it does seem likely there will always be an unexpected side.