The Madonna Secret

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Mary Magdalene’s confessions reveal a sensual world of love and betrayal, magic and mystery, hidden within the Gospels.

  • Reroots Mary Magdalene and Jesus in the lush ecology and complex spiritual culture of Second Temple Period Judea and Galilee under Roman rule
  • Rewilds the Gospels with the forgotten voices of defiant and oppressed women, the nature-based storytelling of oral communities, and the embodied eroticism of a lovable rabbi with appetites and desires, doubts and shame, and a playful sense of humor
  • Retells a familiar narrative informed by extensive research in botany and ecology, scriptural analysis, feminist studies, and the mythic traditions of the Mediterranean

When Leukas, a Christian convert, ventures into the wilds of Gaul to receive the hidden teachings from Mary Magdalene before she dies, he discovers that hidden within the Gospels he thinks he knows is an epic love story—between an educated Jewish woman overwhelmed by her mysterious spiritual powers and a sensual magician devoted to the wisdom of the earth. The secrets she will reveal are both more shocking and more tragic than anything readers have encountered before.

Beginning with Miriam’s childhood as a member of a wealthy Jewish family living outside of Bethany, we see her struggles as a young woman with spiritual curiosity and intellectual aspirations that drive her to combat the violence of Empire and the sexism of her own culture. Propelled by mystic visions, Miriam is finally drawn into the wilds of Galilee, where her destiny collides with a mischievous rabbi who will change her and the world forever. Trapped in a mythic story unfolding in events around them, the lovers strive not to repeat a tragedy older than the pyramids.

In The Madonna Secret, Sophie Strand resurrects a richly textured world where complex characters reveal the lived reality of scripture and open familiar sayings to radical new meanings and possibilities.


“Sensual, earthy, and mystical, Sophie Strand’s novel The Madonna Secret views Jesus via the woman who loved him. Refreshing in its perspective and stunning in its breaks with church-curated, patriarchal characterizations of Jesus and his mission, the story is told from the viewpoint of Mary Magdalene, whom, herein, Jesus loves and weds. The book reframes the couple’s lives, work, and love from a feminist perspective: here, the voices of oppressed women come through loud and clear, and the human body is honored and enjoyed.”
—Kristine Morris, Foreword Reveiws

“This book is alchemical. It transmutes the lead of the patriarchy into the gold of embodied feminine wisdom. Sophie Strand has a gift for dialog. With her vivid, flowing language, this primordial love story comes alive, and Mary Magdalene takes her rightful seat as the powerful prophet of love she was and continues to be. A magnificent work of historical fiction that feels utterly true.”
—Mirabai Starr, author of God of Love and Wild Mercy

“Sophie Strand’s wrist is a time machine, not the sort composed of cogs, gears, and wheels but the kind that entrances: the fungal brew that slips into your cup and melts all of history. To read this book is to travel to a simmering world sensuously realized, the heat of which might force you to fall to your knees—in worship.”
—Báyò Akómoláfé, Ph.D., author of These Wilds Beyond Our Fences

“There are stories that define our lives and retellings of those stories that transform our lives. As I read Sophie Strand’s The Madonna Secret I could feel the old, brittle bricks of a foundational story dissolving in my being. In its place rooted a reconnection to the healing of soil and place, a reweaving into the underground networks of women and ancestral wisdom, and a flowering expansion into possibilities beyond patriarchal myths. I wept as I finished the book, feeling how Sophie’s deep scholarship and bright-burning heart rewrites the story of Magdalene and Jesus; it is riveting, revealing, and revelatory. I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is one I will revisit over and over again. Be ready for a cellular shift that will not only change each individual who reads it but also transform the very paradigm beneath our feet.”
—HeatherAsh Amara, author of Warrior Goddess Training

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