A Perfect Circle: Magdalena Meaning
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Overcome by this... holiest of altars.
So pure, so rare, to witness such a lovely goddess.
I lost my self-control.
Beyond compelled to throw this dollar down,
before your holiest of altars.
I'd sell my...
anonymous Apr 17th, 2016 4:50am report
I love the complete confidence that some people have when proclaiming this songs meaning(or almost any other song written by Maynard for that matter). To me the only obvious thing, is that people often make assertions which are so blatantly skewed by the filters which have been created by their own experiences. A Christian is very likely going to perceive this song as about christianity. One of the commenters thought that this song was about a DMT experience. Another proclaimed that "Maynard doesn't write about strippers he is to intellectual to write a song about a STRIPPER." Really??? The same guy who wrote a song called "stinkfist"??? I think that most of the songs Maynard writes either have have multiple meaning or are purposely ambiguous. The only way to know for sure would be to have an in-depth conversation with the man. Otherwise there is no way to know, with any kind of confidence, what his lyrics are really about. I am also skeptical of anyone making any definitive assertions based on an interview he may have given. It would not surprise me if he purposely lied in order to maintain his aura of mystery. For the same reasons that a magician doesn't show you how they do a magic trick, I don't think Maynard wants to reveal too much about his personal life, or what his lyrics are about. It would ruin the show.
anonymous Feb 24th, 2014 2:54pm report
I don't know if any of you have actually been to a strip club before but I heard this song at one last weekend and literally every single word of the song applies. I always thought it was about a stripper but now I completely understand. It obviously has biblical references to Mary Magdalene and what not but I would be astounded if the primary meaning was not about being at a strip club.
anonymous Oct 31st, 2012 10:04am report
Magdalena was the name of his late grandmother!
Not Mary Magdalene...
Who by the way had the same strengthened faith like Judith...
This song is for her, due to her death before the release of one of the albums (Can't remember which , but it's irrelevant!)
Judith and Magdalena's death impacted him
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Aug 12th, 2011 8:05am report
This song actually has nothing to do with strippers or Christianity. It is about the lady you see when you do a strong hit of dmt. If you have never done DMT, you don't know what I mean, but the lyrics in this song are obviously relating to her. Think about it, its what he wrote this tribute song to.
joelfwilson Nov 2nd, 2010 11:47am report
he is over come
referring to the stripper or whore. religion is referred to as a whore to the worlds nations in the bible.
the money and power of religion moves through different religions or temples over the 2100 years but it is still the same religion.
"Overcome by this... Holiest of altars."
astounded buy the gold material glory of religions alters. once again referring to religion as a whore or alter to lay down in front of.
"So pure, so rare, to witness such a lovely goddess."
religion so pure so rare and such a lovely goddess. religion bedazzles people to give them money
"I lost my self-control."
I lost my reasoning. he lost is self control to religions golden glory and beauty now he will not question religion he just has faith with no reason.
"Beyond compelled to throw this dollar down, before your holiest of altars. "
with his mind over come and totally convinced he throws his money down before the alter of religion. now we see why religion is referred to as a prostitute.
"I'd sell my soul, my self-esteem, a dollar at a time"
as he gives his money away to false religion he unwitedly sells his soul his self-esteem one dollar at a time.
"for one chance, one kiss one taste of you, my Magdalena."
striving for once chance of redemption one kiss ore taste of you to please religion. Magdalena aka marry Magdalene. giving away what this song is really about.
"I bear witness (to) this place, this lair, so long forgotten."
He bears witness to the origins of religion. The true money power and religion of religions that passes to religion to religion fooling and controlling people that has been lost and forgotten with time.
"So pure, so rare, to witness such a lovely goddess,
that I'd sell my soul, my self-esteem, a dollar at a time,
For one chance, one kiss, one taste of you my Black Madonna"
black referring to hidden dark Madonna referring to Mary mother of Jesus.
black Madonna is calling false religion a evil whore.
anonymous May 2nd, 2010 5:35pm report
I guess there could be sort of a cleaner interpretation to it too. It could just be from a person's point of view about a female in general too. The part where he sings, 'one chance, one kiss, one taste', could be a line to satisfy his craving. I mean a stripper could be a easy shot. The whole i'd sell my soul, my self esteem a dollar at a time, could be a like a juxtaposition of his lust and his control over his self. Though the stripper interpretation makes most sense, i guess there is another way to see what the song means...
anonymous Feb 25th, 2010 2:58pm report
Maynard James Keenan is making a dual point about obsession with this song. The modern name "Magdalena" comes from the name of Mary Magdalen, so called because she was from Magdala, a village on the sea of Galilee. In a more modern light, the term "Magdalen" is a flowery way to call a woman a whore, stemming from the notion that Mary Magdalen was a whore (a notion not actually expressed in the Bible). The word "Magdala" in Hebrew means "tower" or "high altar". When Keenan says,
I'd sell my soul
My self esteem a dollar at a time
For one chance, one kiss, one taste of you
He is not only suggesting an exchange of sex for money, but he is also implying worship. He calls her both his whore and his altar. This could be interpreted as his worship of her, or of her sex, or of the confusion so many of us go through so often in relationships, the tearing inside when one is in love with a person he or she cannot respect. To call her a "Black Madonna" strengthens the notion of sex-worship. He also calls her a "moving temple", "holiest of altars", and "goddess". Clearly he is well aware of the dual meaning the name "Magdalena" has. This is a work of genius in language twisting and word-wizardry, yet another example of why Maynard is clearly one of the great minds of rock and roll.
anonymous Oct 14th, 2009 10:12pm report
Of course its about Mary Magdalen. She was a prostitute and as we see in Judith, Maynard doesn't think very much about christianity. These two factors seem to make it obvious what this song is about.
anonymous Sep 4th, 2009 9:01am report
"Overcome by your moving temple" "Overcome by this holiest of altars" he's obviously referring to a woman's body. When I go to Church (not often), the priest refers to bodies as "temples" and "altars: so we should respect them. Often he uses this when he preaches against suicide and self-harm.
"So pure, so rare to witness such an earthly goddess" The girl is "pure", which would be rare for a stripper.
At first when I heard this song, I didn't think of strippers. I thought more of lust, because it just doesn't seem like that kind of song. The tempo of the song didn't sound like strippers to me. But then I thought about the lyrics, and it seems that maybe Maynard was in love with a girl, then they separated or whatever, and a few years (maybe, I'm just roughly guessing) later, he sees "Magdalena" at the strip club. It was believed that Mary Madgalene was a stripper (that's pretty much set in stone by now), so he's just using "Magdalena" as a cover name. In the song, he also says "MY Magdalena", meaning he still has feelings for her. Again bringing up the "So pure, so rare" part, means she hasn't been a stripper for long. Maybe Maynard is trying to convince her to come back to him. I don't know, that's just how I see the song.
O.K. I don't normally do this, I usually just use this site to bounce ideas off of but this time I need to say something. The anonymous post on june 22nd is right, as long as you take something for yourself from the song it doesn't really matter what it's suppose to be about. Also, for all of you talking about the Da Vinci Code(which is one of my all time favorite books) please stop right there. You have to remember that it was written as a work of fiction. You cannot take every thing Dan Brown wrote and accept it as fact, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle. As far as my interpretation of the song goes its fairly simple. I get no strippers, no Holy Grail, no Mary Magdalene, or any Da Vinci from this song. I just take it as an expression of lust. But, it doesn't really matter what I think, what matters is what you take from the song.
HungarianHaiku Jan 16th, 2009 1:40am report
Taking time to analize the song carefully, my best attempt of interpretation is the song points directly to Mary Magdalene
"Overcome by your... moving temple."
After the "death" of Jesus, it was said they lived in secrecy, traveling from temple to temple in France.
"Overcome by this... holiest of altars.
So pure, so rare, to witness such a lovely goddess. "
The tomb of Mary Magdalene would change everything about Christianity, and it is the most sacred secret to protect.
"I lost my self-control.
Beyond compelled to throw this dollar down,
before your holiest of altars. "
The speaker was compelled to throw single dollar bills infront of her supposed grave as an insult, because she is a prostitute, allegedly.
"I'd sell my soul, my self-esteem, a dollar at a time
for one chance, one kiss one taste of you, my Magdalena."
He savors the idea of seeing her grave being discovered, he would sell his soul to see it.
"I bear witness (to) this place, this lair, so long forgotten."
The tomb of Mary Magdalene has never been discovered, it is long lost and forgotten.
"For one chance, one kiss, one taste of you my Black Madonna."
The Black Madonna, or Black Virgin, is a painting of Mary Magdalene depicting her in darkness from Sin.
Please feel free to criticize and correct me.
anonymous Jan 15th, 2009 1:22am report
I love the way most of you start your interpretations as "it means......blah blah blah." For one, you must understand that YES Maynard had an original meaning behind all his songs but I think he would agree with me in the fact, that as long as you get something out of his songs that is useful for your life then his mission is accomplished. And I don't think you are giving him enough credit Maynard doesn't write about strippers he is to intellectual to write a song about a STRIPPER, come on guys. Just because that is what your perverse mind puts together doesn't mean its even remotely close to what it's actual meaning is.
(I agree with whoever wrote the above). If he told us exactly what he was writing about, then it would take away from the song. I love the fact that I don't know. Then I can make my own interpretations. Then again, what you read might mean something totally different to you than it would to me. So, ha!!!
Quiranna1986 Aug 27th, 2008 8:26pm report
Okay...I'm agreeing with the take on the Sacred Feminine..but people...it really is about him watching a woman/stripper dance....He's absolutely mesmerized by her movements and her holiest of holies....I'm compelled to throw this dollar....He's so mesmerized by this woman that he'd give up his self estem to spend some time with her....And also remember...before the Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene was thought to have been a prostitute....And she was the wife of Christ according to the Sacred Feminine...not the Mother of Christ....Unless anyone knows for sure that A Perfect Circle is a member of the Masonic Temple....I'm pretty sure he is just admiring the woman dancing for him.....The references to the womb and The Sacred Feminine are coincidental...a way of showing appreciation for a female....
anonymous Feb 14th, 2008 2:11am report
It could be much simpler than it seems to be. I think he's just in love with someone that isn't returning the favor. Ever had a girlfriend? They cost money. He could be literally throwing dollars down for this girl, but still isn't allowed to worship her temple, if you know what I mean.
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