In our series of interviews for the MysticMag blog we shared the story of many interesting people. Today is no different. Maggy Whitehouse is an ordained independent sacramental priest, a spiritual teacher, celebrant, author, and comedian. In this talk we focused on the religious part and spirituality in general. Don’t miss this great interview.
You discovered complementary medicine and holistic health in a very delicate moment of your life. Please share that story with us.
I married quite late, at the age of 32, and, unbeknownst to both of us, Henry had cancer. They found a shadow in his lung two days after we returned home from our honeymoon and it turned out to be Stage 4 malignant melanoma, leaving him one year to live.
This was more than 30 years ago, so holistic health was not so popular: it was hard to get organic food and find therapists who could help. We tried and did not get very far. In the end, he decided to go through conventional treatment, which unfortunately destroyed his stomach. He died two weeks after taking it, just one year and sixteen days after our wedding.
The one thing that did help was hands-on healing. We contacted a healer who taught me how to channel energy from my left to my right hand with my hand on his forehead. Every time I did that, he’d fall asleep.
After his death, the hospital chaplain told me he wasn’t going to Heaven because he was not a Christian. I was so furious with the idea he was going to Hell because he hadn’t signed on the right dotted line! We were married for one year and sixteen days, which is not very long. You have two choices in a situation like that: either to go mad or crazy! So, I just dived into alternative medicine and holistic health.
After a tragedy like that, many of us want to try to make sure it does not happen to anybody else, even though you can’t change everybody else’s life for them. But I studied for 2 or 3 years all aspects of complementary medicine and healing and became a qualified healer with what’s now known as the Healing Trust and learned Reiki to Master level.
Looking back, without your current knowledge of Judaism and alternative medicine, how do you think it all combines avoiding the idea that God is here to punish us?
Basically, the idea of original sin and penal substitutionary atonement theory, which are very prevalent ideas in most churches of the world, were taught by Saint Augustine in the 4th century and Saint Anselm in the 13th century. Before them, even though Humanity disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, it was generally thought to be part of the process of how to be human.
The revelation that came to me was: Jesus knew nothing about original sin, Judaism knows nothing about original sin. So, how could he die as a substitute for original sin if it was not even a theory in those days? That was part of the start of my healing.
Also, learning with many amazing teachers and getting interested in Franciscan teaching. The Christian generally adopts Dominican teaching, which adopts the penal substitutionary theory. The Franciscans say the first Bible was Creation itself and that Jesus was always ‘Plan A’, not “Plan B’. It enables a completely different way to look at it: the Holy One is love and not some kind of cruel ruler who will punish you if you don’t love it. Because that is not love! It’s a really nasty human projection.
Jesus personified Creation for 33 years, we believe. In the Jewish mystical tradition, it is taught there’s always one person alive who personifies that level of grace, generally just living their lives peacefully, secretly and doing whatever good they can.
You learned about Kabbalah in your journey. What are the benefits from it?
It helped me. I realized that I still had this suppurating hatred for Christianity. So, I went to a church, which I had avoided for a while, in search of help. I had a place at Birmingham to study the New Testament in Greek, which was brilliant to find out what we thought Jesus actually said, as close as possible to the original language. Then, I found out the 32,000 versions of it in Greek, so I wasn’t going to get that much closer!
Then, I met a Jewish man, who was as far at the end of his road from Judaism as I was from Christianity. We got into a relationship and very slowly and gently wheeled ourselves into the center. My teacher of healing then found it very hard to deal with him and sent him off to a chap called Warren Kenton (Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi) in London, who was Jewish, to help him. My partner told me such interesting things from his studies that I was fascinated and we both started traveling down there – a three hour drive in each direction every Thursday – as a regular commitment.
What was most important about this is the diagrams of the Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder are scaffolding on which you can hang any religious faith, Astrology, Tarot etc. and see it all work together in harmony. I started learning this structure while living in a Jewish family and community, so I started understanding the background from which Jesus came, which was really useful.
What would be your advice for someone discovering Spirituality and wanting to start a journey in that area?
You’ll have to find a group. This kind of work is studied in groups because everybody’s life is different, unique. You can’t have an absolute formula, but rather a skeleton – or scaffolding – within which you are a unique human being.
My teacher Warren Kenton (Halevi), who is now deceased, has a website called KabbalahSociety.org and there are details, all sorts of groups and workshops there to try out.
It is important to say that there are Kabbalistic groups that are not cults but that invite people to sign up and then make them pay a standing order, making it very hard for people to leave. Warren taught us that any good Spiritual group should be reasonably hard to get into, because you have to demonstrate having discipline and integrity to want to do the work, and also should be extremely easy to leave. His groups and his teachers’ groups always have been, and always will be, free.