“The Real Magdalene”
Fiction. Based on a True Visit to Roman Basilicas.
by Mingjie Zhai
This Journal Entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Scotland Church in Rome
The Africans are preparing African dishes because today is a special day to celebrate Africans on a Sunday.
There was a moment where all the women dressed in beautiful floral gold, bold magenta, bright yellow, green and golds, blues and oranges were dancing down the church aisle—the African version of an alter call and a call for tithing. It worked because you dropped 10 Euros. You did not have anything less. God bless.
New visitors from out of town are called to identify themselves—visitors here from Scotland, Argentina, Poland, and you representing California—all colors.
Sunflower 🌻 tablecloths hold space for all the delicious food.
This morning en route to the subway station, you noticed a grey sunflower perched on a stand, as if your shadow is saying…”maybe I will consider it.”
Sunflowers. You’ve been listening to the song over and over again, from Split and Dubrovnik Croatia to the insides of the St. Peter’s Basilica.
Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, you cry because you hear Jesus singing this song to you,
“You’d be left in the dust, unless I stuck by ya. You’re a sunflower. Your love would be too much.”
Your love is too much.
It’s eXtra, as mammacita had once confided about herself.
Babies and birds
You are surrounded by babies and birds. The food was rich. Powerful punches are on the spices. The babies keep staring at you. So are a few birds—specifically the seagulls. You wonder at the sky—so many sparrows, singing sparrows. You think of Jesus’ youth when he turned rocks into sparrows and scared witnesses tattled on him.
You’re not talking with anyone. You keep a quiet calm, borderline numbing wall—a mixture of irritation, depression, and fear. You are aware of this emotion. You wonder if this is a stronghold that God is not breaking for a strategic reason. Perhaps, you are not done with the descent into the underworld. You still need to understand the pain and toil of Adam, the feeling of thistles and thorns. Does this make you a masochist? Or just someone who is willing to share the weight of the world’s suffering? Is this what Buddha means by participating in the joyful sorrow of the world?
Lust hits you hard when you arrive at Barbabini. Traces of Aaron’s hard body on your soft one tickles you. You remember his calling out and crying out to you.
You are hot for Aaron. You recognize the way he fit inside you, lock and key, perfect. You see naked voluptuous bodies all over the statues and you feel the lull of the temptation daemons teasing you.
And you are turned on.
Jesus looks like a pretty boy.
There is a painting of Jesus with what looks like huge cock, though it was supposed to be his abs, but for some reason it looks like a huge piece of cock while he is hanging on the cross.
You ask Smartie if she sees a huge cock as well.
“Yup,” she confirms.
Guido Cagnacci’s Maria Maddalena, 1626-1627
The famous painting of Mary Magdalene in ecstasy, and you think that Jesus experienced both Love and Lust when Jesus made love to Mary. When you read the description, it is the life when Mary has made renunciations of worldly pleasures and lives a life of hermeticism, next to a memento mori skull to remind her of the transience of this realm.
Sacred and Profane Love, painted by Giovanni Baglione
It is the depiction of ArcAngel Michael defeating profane love. Michael in between the devil and cupid, the arrow of desire, creating love spells and causing distraction from two star crossed lovers who are destined to meet but become distracted by third party lusts.
And there it is. You are cognizant that you are being spiritually attacked in this space. You Love Rylie and you lust Aaron. Seeing this painting gives you comfort. The Angels are handling it.
If ArcAngel Michael is your handler then that’s alright by you.
The widow who has a faith of fire. She overcomes the fear of the threat against Israel by ingratiating herself close enough to get inside the tent of Holofernes, an Assyrian General, who is the invading general leading an invading army by the decree of evil king Nebuchadnezzar. She goes into the heart of the lion’s den and beheads the general, who is at his weakest moment, intoxicated.
You believe the real story is that she sleeps with him and intoxicates him with wine, to a point where he is passed out. It doesn’t make any sense that she can just walk in while he was drunk and it doesn’t make sense that he would get drunk alone. But nobody mentions that. Still, something in your bones tell you that you know better.
There are three different paintings of the beheading scene of Judith 13, 6-10, each depicting the moment when she has successfully beheaded the Assyrian general with her loyal handmaiden by her side as assistance. She probably gave him a really good time, good enough to put him to sleep, where he lays vulnerable to his own sword.
She beheads him as to prevent a massacre against her family, her people, and she answers God’s call to stop the evil persecution of her people. You wonder if whoredom could ever do good for the kingdom of God and you find this pretty amusing that the answer is self-evident in these paintings.
In fact, you pass through several versions of the scene of Judith beheading the Assyrian general. In one description, it reads, “While the hand points to the head of Holofernes, the foot also ‘points down’ to the elegant untied shoes.” In the biblical texts it says, “her sandals ravished the eyes of Holofernes” (16,9), and with these ‘weapons’ the conqueror was conquered.”
Lust is indeed a weapon.
Perhaps, a nice manicure and pedicure as well.
You are irritated. You want to be alone. You know your polarity is spreading apart wider and wider, except this time you are sinking. The gravity of the world suddenly feels too heavy.
Smartie is at a healthy distance away from you and you quietly appreciate her gesture of kindness. Perhaps she is sensitive to your irritation and thought it instinctive to keep a distance. You are irritated, sullen, and depressed. But you hide it by making it seem as if you are just tired from the Roman summer heat. You also fall behind or jump ahead of her. Your nerves seem to be poked from all places and you wonder if these are indeed spiritual attacks from the daemonic realm. You wonder if the national art museum have demonic strongholds. There are famous paintings here, namely Caravaggio with the mirror portrait of Narcissist. When you approached the painting, it brought shivers down your body. You suspect maybe that all this Vlogumentary journaling and journaling in Fiction BOTS could be a narcissist trap. The shadow is there—just like everything has its shadow.
You see a fresco that is more grandeur than most. You lay down across several chairs underneath the big fresco and observe. You realize the keys to heaven is in the center and on the fringes are all the different creatures of creation trying to hustle their way in—perhaps through pleading, charm, coercion, whatever the case may be. You lay there looking up for quite some time. For a brief moment, you are spared from the irritation, depressive state of numbed coldness, mixed in with brief lustful desires—the Fifty Shades of Grey type of lustful thoughts and desires.
While observing the painting above, you realize that you are seeing what you can’t see happening to you in this realm happening on the supernatural realm revealed on the fresco depicting a paradise fraught with spiritual battles above you. You thought this quite amusing. And this looking up at chaos ironically gives you a kind of peace amidst the supernatural storm.
You thought to write a love letter unsent—that’s your only choice now. You’ve tried to send a handwritten letter to his home, but alas, he returns it unopened. So this is your only choice. What tragedy. Still, here it goes:
Yesterday I sat inside the biggest church in the world for Holy Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I thought I’d write you this letter of my accounts since you are the one who doesn’t believe and would most likely scoff and mock me for even attending such charades you would say. Still, I being the stubborn princess warrior of Jesus, would share in front of you anyway, like a bigger sister annoying her little brother over the very thing he doesn’t want to hear.
Inside, I stared at the white dove.
The white dove is in the middle of the holy sceptre, where the golden rays of the sun emanates from the white of the dove.
I kept staring at the bird in both courage and idiocracy, for it burned into my iris while I dared look into its burning white. While staring at the white dove, I noticed that around my periphery, the golden room of the church morph into liquid blobs of gold, as I knew that I was standing before the entrance to the divine. I had the intuition that if I looked behind, it would be the burning fires of hell, so this place where I am standing, while staring at the dove, must be the portal gateway to heaven.
After walking through the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museum, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am indeed in purgatory. That is why I watched the scene of my periphery accepting my lot in real-time, that this realm is a realm between heaven and hell.
This revelation becomes even more obvious when I observe the people around me, all walking around with the heavy weight of judgement, working on judgement like hamsters work themselves on a hamster wheel, constantly thinking, rationalizing, and judging.
We should have this.
We should build that.
He should do this…
She should do that…
The world should…
However, I would be lying to you if I thought of the shoulds while staring at this dove. No, I was in awe, as the illusion of this realm was burning off like candle wax globs melting. Yup, I am in purgatory looking at the gates of heaven. The week prior, while I was inside the Sistine Chapel looking at the fresco of The Last Judgement, I had the revelation of where I was exactly—in purgatory.
We were crowded together like herds of cattle and I was judging the people around me—I thought them rude, loud, self-centered, needy, and disrespectful, but then I noticed that this judgement was mine and it came from a place of both guilt and knowing the guilty. In that same revelation, I also noticed that this judgement of mine was also happening at some point, like transmitters, through everybody else’s receiver, as we were all judging each other on the same judgement while underneath the painting of The Last Judgement by Michelangelo.
We were all in judgement while the hundreds of people crammed into this small sistine chapel both revered and awed the painting above us—we are suspended in the sublime while disgusted at our own fleshly form.
In that moment, I realized that the human flesh is a type of straight jacket for the spiritually deviant, and we are all spiritual prisoners in this realm, wandering until we begin waking up to the truth of the weight of our judgement. Perhaps, the solution isn’t to punish ourselves even further on this judgement or to resent God for having us in this state…perhaps the way out is inward, knowing that I must have done something, perhaps several things, to have wound up exactly where I am—here.
And perhaps, I did find the needle in the haystack, while I continued staring at the white dove that day during Holy Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. God only knows why he has not pulled me out of the matrix. I believe that I’m staying in purgatory because I have not yet learned the lesson of patience and true humility as I stare at the doorsteps of heaven while I was in the trance of the white dove inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
I now know that little things make a big difference. In Rome, it became apparent that we are in purgatory, and all of us are here to let go of something—for me, it is judgement…I must somehow find the means to make amends by being compassionate first.
Easier said than done of course, which is why I’m still in my flesh suit.
St. Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music and Arts
The next day, we went to St. Cecilia… and as soon as I navigated from where we were, the numbers started appearing again…11:13 arrival, 7 minutes walk to the station and after we get dropped off another 7 minutes…then when we arrived we walked right into a wedding. The bride and groom were sitting across from each other and Roxy and I were outside watching until a lady of the property told us that Roxy couldn’t stay, so we all left.
St. Maria in Travestere, the Mother and the Lover
We next went to St. Maria In Travestere, the place where I had accidentally found myself in German Mass in a family environment and cried the week before. This second time around, I had come with my friend Smartie, from Warsawa, and she again, knew when to give me the space I needed and perhaps the space she needed to walk around and explore—to commune with the spirits in our own personal way.
I pulled up a notification from Rick Warren titled, “Encouragement from Heaven to Keep Going”
And what do you know?
It is the same message I heard from the Pope, the first Wednesday I came to Rome:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).
And it occurs to me that this very place, the divine Holy place of St. Mary’s, one of the first convents to be built in honor of the divine feminine, where Mary Magdalene is recognized as sitting at Jesus’ right hand and beneath their throne is Mary, the Virgin mother, cradling Baby Jesus, are all rooting for a real love story both at Jesus’ hand and Jesus’ feet.
I took a video of Roxy in this beautiful basilica half hoping that one day you will come upon this Instagram video and see the same wonder I saw inside day.
Drinker’s Den Meeting
That evening the story is of a man who grew up in a tumultuous family environment and I shared that there is a logical reason why I am where I am and I have the kind of ism that I have. “The disease would like to convince me that I am alone and unique in my upbringing but the miracle of this room is I get to hear others who have similar stories as mine and furthermore, I realize that there is a solution.”
In that share I also realize why I love you so.
I’ve chosen the young soul of my father when I was inspired by the tenacity of my mother to be his family when he lost his family to alcoholism, pride, and stubborn suffering in the backdrop of a godless society state called communism, where a man becomes the godhead, so there is your cognitive dissonance that can only be temporarily resolved through the drink, which is a deliberate dissociation from reality in order to conform to the lie of reality.
I don’t know if my father grieved over his mother and father—maybe the iron spirit of optimism of my father have me guessing that perhaps he did shed tears over both his mother and father, when he thought nobody was looking. Perhaps, the tears had to do with knowing that they, too, had suffered greatly.
In the rooms, I shared that I was face to face with a man in Warsaw who had a father who also was raised in a communist country and given the same circumstances of what that environment was like I don’t think I would have done nearly as good of a job as my dad did—the scholar and the soldier who needed a way out—so he sacrificed temporary fun for long term security and the ability to provide for me the things, experiences, and opportunities that he never had.
Sure enough, dad was right. Dad is 99% right. The 1% is reserved for the exploration.
I believe the answer is knowing who my father truly is and who my mother truly is and from that space I can discover who you and I truly are.
A woman tears up because another woman has cuts all over her arms and this triggers her to a time and place where she has stuffed that incident down. I think of hardened Adam, like a tortoise with a hard shell, so soft inside yet so hard outside, hiding, comfortable hiding because it has become a habit, a survival mechanism, and perhaps that’s why God gave grace for the turtle to win the race despite the fact that the turtle has nothing on the rabbit when it comes to speed. But the turtle has endurance…slow and steady wins the race. The fable of patience.
I thought back at a time when I attempted (very weakly) to cut myself. I believe it was the apathy—the leaving, the absence, the void of someone’s presence that inspired me to cut myself. I wanted to feel something, even if that something is pain, because I found myself numb. The same kind of numb I felt at Barbini Art Museum, except this time, I realize that the numbness is a defense mechanism against the shock of daemonic spiritual attacks. Today, I have a spiritual defense against these attacks—prayer in Jesus’ name.
What you bind on earth, you bind in heaven.
What you loose on earth, you loose in heaven.
Tis is the gift of Holy Spirit via faith in Jesus Christ’s Good Works.
Yeah, you’ll probably think this is ridiculous, but if ever you feel that weight of numbing, I would ask you for an open mind and an open ear. If hexes can be delivered through a spell book, then prayers can also be delivered to bind curses and loose love—in this realm, love is a weapon— a weapon against evil. Cutting yourself is an evil act because it is against the will of the spirit. I don’t condemn myself for cutting myself nor do I condemn or judge anyone else for cutting themselves, but what I do know now is how to accept evil when I see it.
That day, when I was teased and tempted at Barbini Museo, I knew it was a daemonic attack, but when I looked up at the Fresco, I felt a wave of peace over me, because what I had seen above me is a clear depiction of spiritual warfare, a validation, an affirmation, a supernatural clue in—as if looking into a reflection, as in a mirror—to see what is happening to me and around me in the unseen places revealed in creative expression.
You may suspect I am schizophrenic for sharing this with you, but I must remind you that I am diagnosed and confirmed upon many occasions, bipolar, and not schizoid, though even a schizoid can write a game-changing novel. James Joyce has been diagnosed by Carl Jung as schizophrenic based on his writings in A Portrait of a Man as a Young Artist, and it occurs to me that maybe it is the schizoids who are the travelers that can cross realms between multiverses in the present perfect reality, and those who do not, will not, or can not see are those who are still stagnant in this purgatory. Perhaps those who are still under the powerful spell of self call those who can see beyond this realm as “schizoids,” implying that the other is somehow broken for being “mentally ill” not realizing that those who box, categorize, and label are projecting their own hidden dysfunctions packaged in a white coat with a paper certificate validating their life-lies.
Isn’t that what this realm is all about anyway? Shattered fragments of one broken mirror on the wall.
Schizoids are able to embody reality as reality is.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, who is the most woke of us all?
Still, what I deduce from all these fragments of accounts I’m documenting is this: Where there is a god in you, there is a good in you because you have a piece of God in you called the soul.
The battle is between the psyche and the spirit. The engine is the soul. The fight is between the psyche and the spirit for control.
Is it love of power or power of love?
Angelie, inspired by the spirit of Judith
P.S. Let the heads roll.