2682 Middlefield Road, Suite J,
Redwood City, CA 94063
Tau Rosamonde Miller
The Mary Magdalene Line of Succession
In January 1962, Tau Rosamonde Miller was contacted and offered ordination by emissaries of the hierophant (bishop) of the Mary Magdalene Order (Holy Order of Miriam of Magdala) in Southern France. Just as in every previous ordination performed by the MM Order, only women were invited. No candidate, including Rosamonde, had ever known of the Order's existence prior to their first contact. She became at that time in spite of—or because of—her young age, the successor to the Lady (bishop/hierophant) as well as their seventh and last Marashin, a title given every few centuries and with no counterpart in other traditions.
The Mary Magdalene Order claims its lineage of succession from Mary Magdalene herself. After the death of Jesus, given the attitude toward women at that time, it became necessary for her to leave if she and her lineage were to survive. According to tradition, Mary Magdalene, along with Joseph of Arimathea and a few trusted ones fled to the West. They landed in the British Islands where they stayed until Joseph's death. Once her work with Joseph was completed, she sailed with some of the women to the Continent. Her successors survived despite bigotry and persecutions by the careful selection of candidates; by the passing of their orders exclusively to women; and by maintaining the most strict secrecy throughout the centuries.
The Mary Magdalene Order never had a ban against ordaining men. That women only had been ordained was not doctrine, but necessity. Rosamonde trains and ordains men as well as women in this line of succession.
The Mary Magdalene Lineage cannot be understood or studied in the same manner as the other fifteen traditional lines of apostolic succession to which she is also heir. To this day the Order remains partially secret. Even in our more progressive times there is still danger, and the protection of the identity of the others is still necessary were there to be an open resurgence of hostility toward women in spirituality.
The Traditional Lines of Succession
Eleven years later, in the latter part of 1973, she was again offered ordination. This time in the traditional lines of apostolic succession preserved and transmitted through a masculine priesthood. Dr. Stephan Hoeller, a Gnostic bishop of long standing and with a known affection for the feminine aspect of God, had for some time been interested in opening the priesthood to women. He heard of Rosamonde through various sources and, after discussing his plans with three other bishops, he wrote her a letter extending an invitation to be ordained. This was the first time a woman would be publicly ordained since the times of the First Council of Nicea in 325c.e.
This was an opportunity to open the door for women to be accepted as priests. As Rosamonde had already been ordained and consecrated bishop in the Mary Magdalene Order, she did not answer immediately. She meditated on the offer for a few weeks and consulted with her hierophant in France. She was reminded that in her oaths of secrecy there was one clause. That when the time came, she was to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding their existence, as long as she remained discrete as to names and exact locations. Furthermore, her vow required her not to openly divulge her ordination until and unless she became publicly ordained through the traditional lines of succession. She was struck by the significance of the offer and that same day called Bishop Hoeller to discuss the possibility with him.
All four bishops expressed their rejection of jurisdiction, especially Stephan Hoeller and Neil Jack. They agreed that none of them had any intention of making her part of any of their churches or of placing her under any of their jurisdictions. The ordination would carry no expectations and have no strings attached. At that time, she had no plans to start a church, for while being deeply spiritual, she is not religious in the traditional meaning of the word.
She met Stephan for the first time and was ordained in a moving ritual at Stephan's Chapel of the Holy Sophia in Hollywood, Ca. on January 19, 1974. Thus, she embraced the role of "ecclesiastical guinea pig."
On January 18, 1981, seven years after her ordination by Hoeller and with the same terms agreed at ordination, she was consecrated bishop at the Gnostic Sanctuary in Palo Alto, Ca., at the Sanctuary of the Holy Shekinah. Bishop Stephan Hoeller presided, assisted by the same ordaining bishops, the late Forest Barber, of the Ecclesia Gnostica, the late Herman Spruit, of the Church of Antioch, and Neil Jack, of the Church of the Sacred Wisdom.
The Founding of The Gnostic Sanctuary
In 1978, Tau Rosamonde started celebrating public Eucharist services in Palo Alto. She envisioned creating a sanctuary that she herself would have liked to attend; with no membership, beliefs or dogma—a refuge for spiritual travelers, where no one would impose their reality upon another.
To this effect she asked Hoeller if he would extend to her a chapter of his church while she applied to incorporate her own church. She found that he was not incorporated and that he was operating under a chapter of the Church of the Sacred Wisdom, founded by Bishop Neil Jack a few years earlier. She asked and received from Neil a chapter from the Church of Sacred Wisdom. At that time he sent her a beautiful letter reiterating and encouraging her in her determination to always remain independent.
In 1979 she tried to have her services listed in the yellow pages and she found that no designation under "Churches: Gnostic" existed, and that to open one she needed to be incorporated. She started legal proceedings and invited Hoeller to incorporate his church and hers as one, always with the understanding that they were two distinct, independent, and separate churches. She foresaw no difficulties in the future of this arrangement, for their ecclesiastical relations were based on deep trust, mutual respect, and friendship. The amicable partnership demanded of each of them never to meddle or confuse one with the other.
In spite of their best efforts to keep their churches independent, people became confused with their differences and approach and started treating one as if it was part of the other. There were constant questions asked from Rosamonde and Stephan to explain why their churches were so different, why they had different rituals and why one bishop never knew what the other one was doing. The annoyance persisted and finally, in March 1983, Rosamonde resigned from the Ecclesia Gnostica, reflecting legally what has always been in spirit. She incorporated under the name Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum to preserve a continuity of name.
The confusion on the part of others persisted, and in another attempt to clarify the matter,
Rosamonde changed the name of the church again, this time to
CHURCH OF GNOSIS (Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum).
We have continued through the years the feelings of respect and friendship for Bishop Hoeller and the Ecclesia Gnostica. We also maintain friendly relations with many other churches, mainstream, Independent Catholics and Gnostics alike.
© Copyright 1995, Rosamonde Miller