Thursday, June 20, 2019

Sacral Tarot Decks

The Black Madonna of Tindari
Mysteries of Black Madonna Tarot deck

For the Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck I am once again
creating sacred altars of the shrines and sanctuaries and stories
of the Dark Madonnas in a similar style to the Mysteries of Mary.
A part of my vision is that these two decks will work together and a
third deck will be born from their sacred union.

When I started with ritual pilgrimages to sacred sanctuaries
of Mary and other saints, I was struck by the aura of divine
otherworldliness of these places.  Whilst one is in that space
you are also transported to the Otherworld and filled with incredible
Light and Inspiration and a deep state of peace and fulfillment.
And you can see it in the faces of other pilgrims too.

It is also obvious that the art and iconography of the shrines,
sanctuaries and statues imbue a certain sensitivity which
connects with that most authentic, unveiled part of oneself.
It is not the merit of the art that is most evocative to the pilgim,
but rather the pure devotion and worship of the believers who created
the iconography and iconosphere of the shrine, that evokes a deep
sense of being 'at one' with the sacred in the beholder or visitor.

When you enter the iconosphere or space of the sanctuary, you enter
into a ritual relationship - at first you are transformed from tourist or visitor
into a pilgrim;  your visit becomes a ritual pilgrimage;  you enter into a
sacred relationship with those who have worshiped here before you
and you become a devotee, even if it is only for the duration of
your visit.  You are alchemically transformed from a passive
visitor, who came to see the shrine, into an active participant
in something far greater than ordinary life and its struggles.

Shrines and sanctuaries in their representation of the miraculous event,
apparation or sacred story that took place there, are an intrinsic part
of the ritual and relationship with the sacred.  The statues and other iconic
works of art that are created to embody the apparition or miracle of the sacred
being, are believed to be and has proved to be full of power.  Copies of these
icons and shrines are also believed to carry some of the same power
as they represent the sacred event and physical embodiment through
the iconography.  The small souvenirs which include holy medals, ex-votos and especially
the smaller replicas of the holy icon, are also an important part of the sacred
relationship and serves an important ritual function in the personal devotion
to the Mysteries.

The shrine of Cybele 
Mysteries of Black Madonna Tarot deck

Part of the power and worship of an icon and shrine of a holy being, is the aspect
of distance, or being removed from us who are behind the veil.  We see this in the
ritual coverings that are put over the statue; at times there are curtains that are
only opened during Mass.  During festivals of worship, the statue is brought out
into the streets and into among the people and everyone feels blessed and it
is an important part of worship to touch the statue.  Often  it is part of the ritual
to knock on the door of the sanctuary or to sing to the deity to be allowed 
into the sanctuary or chapel. This perceived distance in time and space
adds to the power of the icon.  Seldom are really powerful icons
found in the middle of a bustling city;  they are usually tucked away
in distant places and they require from one to undertake a physical
and psychic journey.  Different shrines have different attributes
and you will visit the one that you are most in need of.

The smaller reproductions that we take home and use on our daily altar
and for daily rites do not diminish its power.

With this understanding in mind, I created the Mysteries of Mary tarot
deck and now the Mysteries of the Black Madonna deck.
Each shrine and each card  is a representation, containing the aura
of the original sacred event, manifestation and its iconography.
Each shrine and card contains a small replica of the icon.
That in itself makes it powerful, but many of these icons have been
touched to the original icon or dipped into the healing waters or
touched to the rocks of the shrine or natural cave.  Each icon
was brought back from a personal pilgrimage which I attended
to with sacred ritual and intent and a willingness to enter through the
veil of my own mind and the mind of the collective.

My process of creating these altars include hours and hours of meditative
research.  I undertake pilgrimages to as many of the sites which are chosen
to be included in the deck, as I possible can.  I do not pick many of the
sites - they choose me.  As does the detail of the story that jumps out at 
me or the many synchronicities that guide me throughout the process and
to which I have to stay open and aware.

Miniature lemon tree brought back from Italy

During my pilgrimages I collect as much as I can.  I collect some of the
dirt which I keep in tiny labelled bottles.  I collect rose petals and other
bits of nature.  I still have a dead bee from the shrine of St Francis in Assisi.
I collect holy oil and samples of the water. 
In my studio I create many altars.  I have main ones that are seldom dismantles
and then I create altars for the theme of the week or month of the creative
process that I am immersed in.

Before I start working, I put frankincense and myrrh granules onto
smoldering charcoal.  I still use incense that I brought back from the Black Madonna
of Marseilles as well as the monks of San Luce in Bologna and a tiny bit
of rose incense from St Terese of Lisieux.  I always have fresh lemons and fresh
flowers on my work table.  I light candles and offer these to Blessed Mary
in her many aspects.  I eat one pastiche made from the holy waters of Lourdes
and I purify my own energy and the energy of the white board that I work on,
with the sacred water.  Then I anoint myself with a blend of rose and lemon oil.
At the end of the session, I close the energies by putting out the candles and
closing everything down and by closing the door to my studio.

Each deck is consecrated to Mary.  They are opened and wrapped in my studio
on pristine white tissue paper stamped with the Auspice Maria symbol that I use
for protection.  Once the decks and books and statues are wrapped, they are
sprinkled with the blend of healing waters, and blessed rose petal water from
St Terese's mass in Lisieux as well as rose and lemon oils.
Each deck is sent out to be used as a sacred altar and sacrament dedicated
to the sacred being in yourself and your personal relationship with That.

(the full post is available on

If you are interested in sponsoring my creative journey with the Mysteries of the Black Madonna
Tarot deck and read more about my personal experiences as I work on this deck, please
join me on 
I am undertaking a pilgrimage to the Black Madonnas in Belgium in a month's time
and you can undertake a virtual pilgrimage with me.


No comments:

Post a Comment