Sunday, June 3, 2018

The heart of the woman-soul

The Face of Feminist Spirituality the heart of the woman-soul

One woman’s journey to rediscovering and reclaiming Goddess

Using the words feminist spirituality is extremely painful, conflicting and divisive.This is indeed the deepest conflict and inner division that many women on a conscious spiritual journey do experience though. The ultimate goal or focus of all spiritual paths and disciplines is Union or One-ness. The deepest yearning of a woman’s soul is indeed One-ness, but this mystical union within can only be experienced between two equal parts of self.

As I am working on the Black Madonna and Dark Goddess tarot deck, my thoughts have been going back over my journey into discovering the heart of the Feminine for myself.  Posts and writings about the divine feminine is now an every day occurrence but it was not always so.  Starting this blog nearly nine years ago brought me into contact with an amazing circle of women who had already discovered that there is a 'remedy' for the imbalances of our patriarchal world and they welcomed me into their circle and listened to my stories.  That is one of the most powerful strengths and attributes of the feminine in both female and male :  that of community, support and empathic listening.

I went back through my old writings and will share with you some of my early posts as my own inner journey unfolded.  You will see that during this time I also left my guru and spiritual community and veered off  to guide a group of people into communing with the divine feminine wisdom;  went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, founded the Temple of Mary and created the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck.  That is in a nutshell, but none of this happened overnight.  It was a long process of soul searching and grappling with the ideas that were born into my mind through none of my own volition.

Here is the first extract. 
Having been born as a woman in this age, my soul guided me to uncover a feminist spirituality for myself and other women like myself. There is an inherent conflict in the word feminist and spirituality. Feminist implies a divisive separation which is in direct contrast to the all inclusiveness of the word spirituality. I liked to use the word woman-soul and eventually this led me to an intimate relationship with goddess.  (The word goddess include the word god and not the other way around but goddess still has many connotations which limit what I am trying to verbalise so I will jump between various names for the hidden aspect of the Divine)
We do not only experience ourselves as women on a physical level, but more intensely on an emotional and psychic level. I uncovered my deep thirst for spiritual intimacy and soul ecstasy on the psychic level of my being and it was only through a direct experience of the relationship between my sexuality and the Feminine, that I could begin to marry these two concepts and experiences in myself.
All that is psychically experienced as woman-soul has been repressed by ourselves as women, in a patriarchal world with male-based spirituality.
There is an inherent conflict in the words feminist and spirituality. Feminist implies divisive separation and spirituality implicitly calls for ego-less and selfless action.Women have been conditioned and have inherited through the mother-line the submission to the patriarchal systems and societies in many subtle ways.
This is the most nebulous and fragile concept for any woman who is experiencing the deep thirst for spiritual intimacy and soul connection. Deeply etched into the collective woman-soul is the shaming of all that is feminine through thousands of years. This shaming of all that is psychically experienced in the recesses of our soul and has never found an acceptable voice in male-based and male dominated spirituality, has been suppressed and repressed by women themselves.
Using the words feminist spirituality is extremely painful, conflicting and divisive.This is indeed the deepest conflict and inner division that many women on a conscious spiritual journey do experience though. The ultimate goal or focus of all spiritual paths and disciplines is Union or One-ness. The deepest yearning of a woman’s soul is indeed One-ness, but this mystical union within can only be experienced between two equal parts of self.
At the root of a woman’s longing for wholeness lies her suppressed voice and identity as a woman. Before she becomes truly conscious of a defined spiritual path, she experiences life as an open, sensitive and vulnerable being in a body and psyche which follows cycles and rhythms which are only reflected back at her in the natural world of seasons, plants and animals.
Nowhere else in the daily life of the household, nor society at large, are these cycles acknowledged, nor honoured. From her earliest age does she experience the differentiation made by gender and the deep–seated discrimination against feminine nature.
Nature as a feminine expression of Life and the ultimate expression of Goddess herself, is harnessed and subjected to mechanical means for profit and human comfort.
For years I was happy to teach from spiritual books and Gnostic scriptures. The deeper I entrenched myself into meditation and other spiritual practices, the more I discovered a gaping contradiction and inner conflict within myself. In my practical work as spiritual healer and teacher working mainly with women, I found this same inner conflict reflected back at me. We, as women, living in our current, modern world, had, at this stage of our journey, not had the luxury or privilege of asserting ourselves and being received positively for that assertion, as yet. We are now, embarking on a path of spiritual discipline, being asked to give up this assertiveness which we have never owned. We are being asked to put others first and ourselves last. Something that we have become accustomed to and which we have been living at great cost to our own sense of worth and value and those of our mothers and daughters.
I would find myself teaching those women, sitting in the circle, facing me with anticipation and hope, just the opposite of these teachings. I would advise them to start claiming their lives back. To put themselves first, to become strong and selfish mothers to their inner children, to fight for what is rightfully theirs and to claim their sacred space, to stake their boundaries and to learn to say no. As my inspired words became more and more feminist in nature and they appeared to be in contradiction to many accepted spiritual teachings. I tried to digest and assimilate these teachings as they flowed through me from my higher awareness and understanding – as they flowed through me from Her that I now intimately know and understand as Goddess.
But the conflict worsened as I observed women’s psyches and inner worlds flowered and blossomed into healthy bodies and clarity of purpose and sense of self. At a deeper level, a more subtle and more powerful conflict was raging within myself and within some of these women, who although they were witnesses to this powerful growth in their own inner worlds, came up against the wall of conditioning.
The ancient path of Goddess worship addresses the imbalances of both society and the individual. Through reverence of and devotion to the Great Mother (the Organic Living Light Within) profound transformation and regeneration takes place on both the individual and cosmic levels. The Great Mother is known as the Kundalini (Kali Ma) in the Hindu and Eastern traditions. In the Western mystical traditions, Sophia, Lady Wisdom is the vessel of birth and transformation of the Divine Human being.
As the Divine Feminine within is healed, an infinite well of compassion, nurturance and groundedness into the physical self, become accessible to the whole person. Unity consciousness is unattainable by only half of the Personal Self. The Divine Marriage, the sacred union within, is between the personal self and the Higher Self (Shakty and Shiva). The manifested separation between these two have to be healed on all levels, in both male and female.
Spiritual growth and sadhana (spiritual achievement) is impossible without the practical application into daily life. Self-mastery entails a deep understanding of the light and shadows of the personal heart as well as the expansion of the Will to the Light. True spiritual growth will awaken the Great Mother within.
When She awakens, we step into a life beyond the expectation and understanding of our intellectual mind. We access a wonderful sense of being more than the self and as She unfolds within, the human being is challenged into living a life of giving back to the community, the creatures of this world and the world itself.



Saturday, May 26, 2018

Initiation and consecration through the Black Madonna tarot deck

Images from the forthcoming Black Madonna Tarot Deck

The Black Madonna deck is a deepening of the Mysteries of Mary as a spiritual path of being devoted to the Blessed Mother in Her many manifestations and aspects.  The deck will offer another layer and level of spiritual insight and clarity into the personal journey of initiation, consecration, dedication and commitment to Mary as the reflection of the One in many and many in One.

It is part of my vision that one will be able to use these two decks, the Mysteries of Mary and the Black Madonna, concurrently and together; both for readings for spiritual insight and as a guidebook and map to the journey of spiritual unfoldment and ultimately union with the divine self.

Mystery surrounds the Black Madonna and her symbolism.  There are as many theories as there are Black Madonnas.  We no longer have any writings about her and very few stories still exist.  But that is exactly where I am looking for my insight about the Wisdom of the Black Madonna :  in folk tale and the stories that have been carried over down the generations and in my own personal experiences and insights into the collective unconscious and the womb of light.

The blackness of the Black Virgin is obviously a problem for the patriarchal religious structure known as the Roman Catholic Church.  Various explanations are given for the dark colour of the statues and the past few years many Black Madonnas have been whitened in renovation projects in the cathedrals and churches.   Slowly the ancient tradition of the Black Madonna is disappearing.  I see this 'whitening' reflected in many of the New Age teachings and sentiments and short cuts are promised to the holy grail of inner peace whilst at the same time many ancient practises are denigrated and even declared illegal (as in the use of herbs and plants).

However, what a blessing that She is being kept alive in these beautiful cathedrals and basilicas and that communities are still devoting themselves to her ritually and in festival.

The dark colour of the Black Madonna reflects the inner darkness that we have to wade and find our way through if we want to find long lasting satisfaction and happiness.  This is not an easy process and without a community to support your struggles, it is even more difficult.  When you turn outwards towards mainstream thinking, you will be met with a deluge of alternative solutions offered through capitalism, designed to replace your inner connection to yourself and the Universe.

When one closes one's eyes, you see the colour of the Black Madonna.  Sitting in contemplation and meditation for long periods of time can be overwhelming and frightening to the ego-mind and the constructs of the psyche.  We spend an inordinate time to create our mental constructs and to line up our belief systems to give sense and meaning to our world.  We also all have personalities that has been shaped and created through our personal conditioning and experiences and from there we continue the personal 'training' of the mind. In other words, we are heavily invested in who we believe we are and in maintaining this illusion for ourselves and the world.  So obviously change will not come easily.

Millions of people struggle with insomnia and use exercise or drugs to subdue the mind into submitting to sleep.  A regular meditation practise may look like a peaceful and inactive pastime, but the truth be told, it takes the lid off Pandora's box and lets the 'good, the bad and the ugly' out from your subconscious mind into the awareness of the conscious mind.  And this  It is far easier to live in ignorant bliss and have no ills blight the landscape of your awareness.

All spiritual practise leads to a psychic and emotional detox and when you do not know what is happening, it can be very fearful and off-putting and retreat would seem like the most sensible thing to do.

An initiation into a spiritual practise and path can come to you in various ways.  Often one is catapulted and initiated through personal experience and a catastrophic event in your life into a deeper exploration of one's inner reality.  With the New Age explosion in the West many spiritual teachers have appeared but it also created a watered-down form of spirituality with the teachings made more meek and acceptable and palatable to the masses.  If you are serious about your spiritual unfoldment you need to dive deeply into the womb of black light that resides within you and within which you reside.

There is also a lopsided focus on 'love and light' with the result that those who understand that the shadows and the living black light is an integral part of the divine matrix, split off into their own sub-culture of new-paganism, wiccan, witchery and other labels.  Unity and union with the divine means that these two worlds have to be married and embraced as one, both within oneself and within the projected world of our divine mind.  Otherwise we are falling back into patriarchy and dual based religions of 'good' and 'bad', 'good' and 'evil' and all that grows from there.

As we enter another phase of our understanding and consciousness, we are waking up to the reality that the Guru is within and that She reflects her guidance and wisdom onto the world around us.   With knowledge comes awareness and insight which leads to clarity beyond the created veils. Join me in this journey of allowing the Black Madonna show us where the veils are and how to transform them into Wisdom.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Black Madonna tarot deck

In my research and pilgrimages to the Black Madonna, I found that one of Her most important messages can be summed up by these words of Albert Einstein :

A human being is part of the whole called by us 'universe', a part limited in time and space.  We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest.  A kind of optical delusion of consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.  We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive.

The stories of the Black Madonnas are some of the oldest that we have.  Many of these statues were hidden for hundreds of years to escape destruction by the many rulers and patriarchs that passed through the lands.  But she has a consistent story and message to tell.

If you are interested in following the development of the deck, please subscribe to this blog.  There is a tag (Black Madonna tarot deck) at the top of the blog where you will find the posts on the Black Madonna tarot deck as they are posted.



Saturday, May 5, 2018


To be human is to be born into a dance in which every animate or inanimate, visible or invisible being is also dancing. Every step of this dance is printed in light; its energy is adoration, its rhythm is praise. Pain, desolution, and destruction in this full and unified sacred vision are not separate from the dance, but are instead essential energies of its transformative unfolding. Death itself cannot shatter the dance, because death is the lifespring of its fertility, the mother of all its changing splendor. If we could bring ourselves to open to this vision, we would undergo a revolution of the heart.⠀

~ from THE RETURN OF THE MOTHER by Andrew Harvey



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Month of Ma(r)y

Shrines of Blessed Mary in my garden
photograph by Hettienne Grobler

Since the ancient times the month of May always
had a special significance for the divine feminine
and goddess.  
In the North it is spring, so the Romans and Greeks
 dedicated this month to Flora and she had her own
feast called the Floralia.
The month of May was also holy to Artemis 
and in Rome the great Titaness Rhea was venerated as the 
Queen of Heaven and the Spring Goddess.  She later became
known as the goddess Cybele and these ritual spring festivities
celebrated the union of the god Attis and Cybele after the long
winter months.

In the Southern Hemisphere it is Autumn and we
prepare for the transition of the winter months to
deeper travels into the inner worlds so we do not have the 
same fertility rituals and celebrations in the month of May.
Crowning ritual of Blessed Mary at the Temple of Mary shrine
in my garden by Hettienne Grobler

With every season there used to be a transition of goddess.
May Day, or the first day of May was seen as the official day of spring
in the Northern Hemisphere and this spring transition of the reigning
goddess forms the background 
 to the tradition of the May Queen. On May Day the May Queen and the Queen of Winter,  would participate in a ritual contest
 After the May Queen won, she would be crowned.
 In this crowning ritual the May Queen would be married to the May King in a ceremony 
of the annual marriage or union between the God and Goddess.

On Flora's holy day the celebration included the picking of flowers and
making them into garlands and crowns and handing the flowers out throughout
the village.  It also included a special procession with a statue of the spring goddess
covered in flowers.

And so it has become that May is the month of the Madonna
and the crowning of Mary on May Day

Showers of blessings
descend upon
the heart in the lovely month -
blessings that
blossom in Roses,
 the beloved flower of the Madonna
and a reflection
 of the Mystic Rose which
blooms eternally in her heart

In this month I take the time to create
an altar and weave a crown of flowers for my  Mary statues and altars. 
 place water, oil and food on
your altar to be blessed by her presence.


Mary blessings to you


Monday, April 30, 2018

I heard the Call

After the completion of the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck I considered a couple of new creative ventures.  I started to do research on the Mystical Blue Rose of Mary Magdalene, I also undertook to organise a group pilgrimage to the Black Madonna in the South of France.  I were also drawn to visit La Moreneta in Spain and I picked up painting again!!! But then the dreams started to appear and slowly but surely the message became clear :  the Black Virgin is calling me and she has an important message that needs telling!  And I am heeding the call!  And work has started on the Black Madonna deck - the title is not clear yet.

My visit to the Black Virgins at Chartres spoke to me very deeply and based on those pilgrimages and experiences that I had, I created the Amulets of Mary Blessing sets.  I also did include some of the Black Virgins that I have visited over the years.  I will be doing two personal pilgrimages during the course of this year and early next to immerse myself in the healing and visionary energies of the Black Madonna.

We also have a Black Madonna here in South Africa and you can read about my pilgrimage to her here :

I am also sharing with you again my previous posts on the Black Madonnas in the Mysteries of Mary deck.
Lady of Regla, Mysteries of Mary Tarot
Our Lady of Regla is the ninth card in the suit of Vessels.

The Black Madonna of Regla is revered by thousands. Tradition tells us that her statue was buried under a fig tree to safeguard it against an invasion, and it was miraculously rediscovered. (Notice the importance of the fig tree in her story – we see her in relation to trees in many other stories in the deck) The rediscovery of the hidden image, chalice and lamp led to the revival of the devotion to the Virgin of Regla.

This Black Madonna has many attributes in common with the African goddess Yemaya. Her colours are blue for the ocean and silver for the moon. She is represented by the crab, fish, mermaids and shells. As is often the case with a new religion, it assimilates the culture and religion of the land and many African slaves were brought to Spain, bringing their devotion to Yemaya with them. And in Our Lady of Regla, we see the Great Mother as the protector of the mariners, seaports, provider of the abundance of the oceans and its tides. Our Lady of Regla is associated with the astrology sign Cancer known for its mothering nature and family.

The Black Madonna symbolises the dark matter, of both the Earth, our physical mother, as the darkness of matter in the process of alchemy. And the white Divine Child is very obvious in this shrine, symbolising the Light which humanity can potentially give birth to through spiritual transformation.

Sara la Kali - Mysteries of Mary tarot

 Sara la Kali is the V of Vessels in the Mysteries of Mary Tarot

 Every year the holy festival of Santa Sara la Kali takes place in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
 in the South of France. 
Sara la Kali is also known as Santa Sara and
Sara the Black One, Queen of the Romani Gypsies.  
Gypsies from all over the world gather here to pay homage to their goddess.  
For three days a non-orthodox Catholic mass takes place 
and the relics and statues of Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome is carried in the boat, 
in procession down to the sea.  
On the third day of the pilgrimage, Santa Sara is brought up from the crypt 
underneath the Church and she is taken in a wonderful procession to the beach 
where she is immersed in the sea whilst pilgrims enter the water which has been blessed by her immersion. The statue of Sara gets dressed in a multitude of cloaks before she is taken out in the procession. 

One version of the story is that, after the crucifixion of Jesus,  the Three Marys and their servant Sara was put into a boat without a sail or oars,  as punishment meant to kill them, yet they miraculously made it the French shore.  Another version was that the Three Marys (Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome) was put in a boat without sails.  Sara, a child-servant was on the shore and begged to be put into the boat in order to serve the Three Marys and she miraculously walked on the water and climbed into the boat.

Sara first appeared in the Legend of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in which it was interpreted that she was a Gypsy.  The Gypsies expanded this story and turned her into a French Gypsy princess who had knowledge of the secrets of the world.  In this version of the legend she had visions forewarning her the that the Three Marys will arrive and that she is to help.  She saw them arrive in a boat struggling with the rough seas.  She threw her cloak onto the waves and it miraculously became a raft and she rescued the holy ones. 

Then there is also the legend that the Three Marys carried with them the Holy Grail and that this holy blood was Sarah, the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was the place where Isis Pelagia, Artemis and Cybele were once worshipped. One cannot miss the inclusion of the name Kali into Sara la Kali, thus linking her to the Hindu goddess of death and transformation.  This seems possible as the Gypsies are descendants of India.  Kali means black in both Sanskrit and Romani, the language of the Roma gypsies. Sara la Kali is regarded as a Black Madonna.  The Dark Mother archetype was, and is still, worshiped under the names of the Dark Mothers such as Kali, Cybele and Artemis.

Sara the Black One is also a reminder for us of the Great Goddess worship and the great Mystery which the Black Madonna holds. 

 In pre-Christian times the Gypsies used to worship the Goddess Ishtara or Astarte.  Once a year they carried a statue of her into the sea to receive its blessings.  Every year on her feast days of 24 and 25 May Sara is carried to the sea amidst the sound of music, song, dance and prayer. The Catholic Church only gave them permission eighty years ago to include Sara in the procession of relics of the Marys and to dip her into the sea.

Immersing sacred statues of the Goddess is an ancient custom to be found in many cultures.  In India huge statues of Durga Ma is floated down the Ganges during Navarathri.  The Romans used the bathe Cybele in a river. 

XI Holy Wisdom from Mysteries of Mary tarot

Mirror of Justice, Seat of Wisdom – Litany of Loreto

There are many streams of understanding of Holy Wisdom as the Lady of the Mysteries. 
In the Litany of Loreto She is called the Seat of Wisdom.  
The Black Madonna, the ‘Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres’; 
Our Lady Underground in Chartres is the representation of the Divine Woman 
as Holy Wisdom in the deck. 
The background tapestry in this shrine I drew and stitched myself.  
It is a replica of the one that hangs behind Notre Dame Sous Terre in the 
underground chapel of Chartres. 
As you enter the chapel you pass underneath ‘the Hand of God’ 
and it is as though are being blessed as you enter the hidden 
underground chamber of Dark Wisdom. 

Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres
XI Holy Wisdom
Mysteries of Mary Tarot

The hidden Black Madonna under the earth is seated on the throne of wisdom  
One has to descend through the Chartres Cathedral to access these 
underground passages and chapels, 
all of which are dimly lit and often only by candle light.  
You can only visit this chapel under the guidance of an appointed tour leader and you are not allowed to linger in the chapel to pray or meditate. 
Holy Wisdom is veiled behind the appearance and noise 
of the external world and it is necessary to enter the 
subterranean cave in order to find her ‘still’ voice.

The Greek for Holy Wisdom is Hagia Sophia.  
Sophia is the Wisdom of the divine deity. 
She has been revered as the Wise Bride of Solomon 
in the Judaic tradition; as Athena, the Queen of Wisdom and War 
in the Greek pantheon and as 
Our Lady Wisdom by Christians.  
She is known as Chokmah in Hebrew, and Sapientia in Latin.

XV The Black Madonna
Mysteries of Mary Tarot

Traditionally The Devil

‘The Black Madonna is Dark and calls us to the darkness.. Darkness is something we need to get used to again—the “Enlightenment” has deceived us into being afraid of the dark and distant from it’ – Dr Matthew Fox in his blogpost The Return of the Black Madonna

‘…that which is unknown to us, we deem weak and contemptible. So it is that realities revealed to vigilance seem weak and contemptible, whereas they are strong and praiseworthy.’ – Logion 124, The Gospel of Philip

The Black Madonna or Black Virgin is an ancient aspect of Mary revered as sacred across many cultures of the world.  She is worshipped in caves, underground chambers and dark, hidden places. She represents the darkness of the void and the womb and the dark side of the divine and the feminine. She is virtually the polar opposite of the image of the purity of Virgin Mary.  (It is an interesting fact that there are Black Madonna statues at many places sacred to Mary Magdalene) The Black Madonna can be regarded as that which is hidden and dark or that which is hidden in the dark shadows.  She holds the sacred image of our wholeness by reflecting the dark shadow of our collective and personal consciousness.  She also represents pain and suffering and death, but she is a tremendous agent of change and transformation.  That is one of the meanings of her dark countenance.  She is the one who entices you down into the painful depths of your desires and passions only to bring you face to face with yourself in the mirror of her all-encompassing divinity.

Shrines and holy places dedicated to the Black Madonna are known to have been placed on power points of the earth’s energy ley lines.  This shrine shows the Madonna on the Pillar in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres.  Until my second-last visit to the Madonna on the Pillar she was a Black Madonna.  But recent renovations have turned the Black Madonna into a milky-white doll-like version of the once powerful Black Madonna.  This miniature statue still shows the Black Madonna in her previous appearance and clothing and the Cathedral of Chartres as it once was, veiled with mystery and tradition.

On the shrine of the Black Madonna we see the arms of Our Lady at the top, with the red rose and white lily of alchemy tied onto the arms demonstrating that she holds us in an equal embrace, body and spirit alike.   Religion often regards this world and its physical pleasures and desires as the world of the devil. All religion shy away from the shadows and only see the light as ‘good’ or ‘positive’.  Black is usually regarded as a ‘negative’ and the colour of death and worse.  Wherever there is light, there will be a shadow and the shadow plays a very important role in the wholeness or holiness of the psyche and soul.  If we never look into the shadows, we can never know who we are; we will then become stuck in the idea of who we think we are only and the depths of our being will never be plumbed. Without the darkness of the night our nervous systems cannot completely come to rest in order for the body and mind to regenerate itself.  How would the fetus gestate without the darkness of the womb? How would the human heart come to know true compassion and empathy for another’s suffering without entering the darkness of the cave of loss and pain?
 Traditionally this card is the ‘Devil’ card.  The name Lucifer has become accepted as a name of the devil or the fallen angel in Isaiah 14 of the Old Testament, especially because of a sermon by Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) and the poem Paradise Lost by John Milton. The name Lucifer literally means ‘light bringer’ or bringer of light. ‘Bringing light’ is derived from the Latin lux which means ‘light’ and ‘ferre’ which means ‘to bring’. In Latin Lucifer originally referred to the morning star, Venus, or the Bringer of the Dawn. 
So here we have the goddess Venus, the morning star, directly connected to the Christian idea of the devil.  There is a direct connection between Venus goddess of love and the astrological ruler of Virgo (virgin) and Mary, virgin-mother of the child of love.

In this shrine the Black Madonna is the bringer of light into the darkness of pain and ignorance.  ‘Enlightened’ means to bring light to the darkness of an uninformed mind and I would add that it means to bring the light of awareness and insight into the heart of humanity.  Without the darkness there would be no need for the light and conversely, the light will be completely blinding without the darkness.

The Tree of Choices
Mysteries of Mary Tarot

Traditionally The Lovers

‘God planted trees in a garden. Humans lived among those trees, they were not yet divided when they were told: Eat from this tree or do not eat from it.’ Logion 94, The Gospel of Philip

The tree plays an important role in the Mysteries.  In this card we are confronted with the Tree of Choices.  In the Biblical and Judaic stories there are different versions of the trees of Paradise.  It would seem that there was in truth only one tree, the Tree of Life.  This is an ancient symbol of the self-sustaining and regenerating power of a spirit filled world. In the story, this tree was later split into two, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After the split of the trees we see that they are now in opposition to each other. After the fall of Adam and Eve, caused by their eating from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, humanity was cut off and banned from the Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life promised eternal life and humanity was now doomed to a mortal and exiled life.

In this shrine I compare the metaphor of the two trees with the way in which our culture have split value and worthiness of masculine and feminine and then still further dividing the feminine into the ‘good girl/virgin/wife/mother and the bad girl/lover/wise woman.  This split is reflected in the way that the stories of Mariam of Nazareth and Miriam of Magdala, is interpreted and held up as image of the two aspects of woman .

Popular legend has assigned the apple tree to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The apple is a powerful symbol of woman and her feminine sexual nature. (Also see V Holy Rood, The Handless Maiden for more on the symbolism of the apple tree).  In this version of the story of the Fall of Man, woman and her sexual nature is held responsible for their eviction from Paradise.  So right at the onset a woman has been forbidden from getting to know and understand her complex sexual nature. There is an inherent sexuality in physical bodies; one could say that the soul radiates its mystical and sexual nature through its physical cloak.  But humanity has been severed from this mystery and all its gifts.
In the Christian story we are only told the story of Mary the Virgin-Mother, the one who conceived immaculately and who remained a virgin even after the birth of her son.  We never really meet Mary the Beloved of Jesus, the Bride of the Bridal Chamber, the one who is called the Magdalene.  Mary the Mother of God is indeed a Bride without a Bridegroom as She is the Bride of the Spirit, but there is another sacrament in the mysteries, that of the Bride and the Beloved Bridegroom..  This brings us to Mary Magdalene and the various interpretations of her role in the story of Jesus and the three Marys.  Few accept Mary Magdalene as the beloved or the bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.  Mary Magdalene has been blackened in reputation by various authors of religion through the centuries and mostly she has only been seen as an unholy woman who indulges in pleasures of the flesh.  Religion has always separated the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit and especially in the treatment of women as wives, lovers and mistresses.  And we see this split right at the start of the story with the two trees in the Garden of Paradise.  

In this card we see Mary the Mother with the rosary in her hands and we see the black Mary as she is depicted in the poem ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ in the Nag Hammadi library.  In this shrine she represents Mary Magdalene and ultimately both together represent the Feminine Soul and aspect of the eternal feminine.  Both these women carry the name Mary and to me it is an important indicator that there is an important hidden message for those with ears to hear.  The split between the Madonna and the whore is active in many layers of our cultures.  Women are demonised for the expression of their sexuality, whereas men are honoured and revered for their sexual prowess. 

In the traditional Lovers card we often see a male hero struggling for a choice between two women.  In the Mysteries card we have the female version of the choices card.  Women are mostly compared to men and masculine pursuits and rarely in relation to other women and themselves.  This creates an imbalance in women and a suppression of womanly ways and feminine relational values.

Hecate, goddess of choices, is often shown with three roads behind her.  One plus one equals three: new life is born from struggling and discord. Living with the tension of the opposites, allowing disagreement and another's voice that differ from yours, to be heard, brings awareness to the glassy mind, of the awesome beauty of creating a life that has meaning. There is a place where all the rivers converge and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity. 

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage of two opposing forces, a third force is born.  This is the meaning of creativity and the magical nature of the number three.  (This card is a six and thus contains two threes). On the path of divine love, the magical child of love and hope is born from the marriage of the opposites.

The braid of life contains three strands which can be symbolised by the colours white, red and black.  In the ancient cultures the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree. Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well. This specific tree contains all three elements of the thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap. The white blossoms start to form whilst the red berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.

 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the cycle of spring and new beginnings; the red berries represent summer and the fullness of the season and the physical acts of sensuality and joy and loving and the black seed contains the potential of fathering the new life and it also is the end of the life of the berry.

As we dance and weave with the tension of desire and repulsion between the opposites of life, we discover new possibilities, new experiences and we weave a new story.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Introduction to Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

A card deck of 78 large size cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with an accompanying A5 book with glossy papercover and 160 pages of info on each card and its themes and background.  Packaged in a hand crafted tarot pouch, accompanied by a signed card from the deck and a rosary.  

The Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck is a unique deck of cards and guide book published in Cape Town, South Africa.  The Mysteries of Mary Tarot is a mystical vision of the sacred mysteries of the Soul and its unsung feminine path. The Mysteries tells of a sacred marriage of the Bride and the Beloved : a new mythos of the Story of the Child Within and the Gospel of Love. A mystical vision of the religion of the Soul as reflected in the archetypal images of the story of Divine Mary in the Mariamic tradition.

Back of the Mysteries of Mary deck

Today we know the Blessed Mary as the Mother of Jesus who plays a small part in the story of Protestant Christianity and who plays an important part in the Roman Catholic tradition.  She is lesser known as a goddess in the feminine traditions and very few would connect her with the great Mother goddesses of the past or the Lady Sophia in the Wisdom traditions.

But to myself, and others like me, there is a connection, a red thread that connects the dots in the eye of the heart.  The ancient divine feminine had been demonised many moons ago and her stories had gone underground.  One has to rely on myth, folk tale, oral traditions, fairy tales and subtle clues and especially correspondences, to uncover Her story.  And today Mary is the Sacred Keeper of all Our Lady’s titles and Wisdom.

The Mysteries of Mary is a reweaving and a regathering of all these threads of Our Lady’s garment created from red wool and linen.  We look in the Bible, in the Koran, the Kabbalah and many other ancient and rediscovered lost books.  There are also esoteric and apocryphal books that tell the stories of Mary, the feminine counterpart of the Divine Creator in the Western religion and myth and many of these stories have been included to create The Mysteries of Mary deck.

In this deck the story starts with Mara, the bitter one.  Why is she called Mara?  We follow Mara, the holy fool through the stories of Maria Prophetissa, the Jewess and the first woman alchemist, to Sophia, Mary of the Gael onwards till we get to the Woman who stands on the moon with twelve stars around her head.
Woven into the tapestry of myth, metaphor and inspiration, are fairytales and in particular, the folktale of The Handless Maiden.  And so are the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, pagan and especially the Judaic history which is the precursor to the Christian mysteries.

The deck incorporates alchemical principles and as such it is a marriage of opposites, a living hieros gamos which follows the sacred journey of the Holy Fool through the mysteries of Mary. I focus on the mystical (hidden)  and inner meanings of the Mysteries of Mary. 

Historically and politically there are so many theories and ideas – none of them completely provable – thus it remains a Mystery. The teachings of Jesus and the Marys, are also open to various interpretations.  Many wars have been fought based on differences in interpretation.  I am not exploring the religion of the Mystery, but rather the message that I, personally see in this ancient story.

The four suits of the deck correspond with the four cycles of Mary's life :  Virgin and Priestess as the Suit of Vessels;  Beloved and Bride as the Suit of the Holyrood;  Mother and Sacred Woman as the Suit of Distaff and Wisdom as Suit of Roses.

It is my vision that this deck can be the start of a far greater vision : one that marries the mind and the heart; the feminine and the masculine.  It is my hope that you will glimpse the revelation that all religion contains Soul and that the veils of dogma and manipulation obscure the truth.  May you look in the mirror of Sophia and see yourself as Love Eternal. - extracted from the Introduction of the accompanying book.

The deck consists of 78 handcrafted shrines, each one made by  myself to 
represent one of the stories in the deck.  These were photographed and then professionally 
printed in a large card format on a good quality card stock.  
The style and colours used create a rich tapestry of imagery, symbol and colour.  
The accompanying guide book has a paperback cover.   
Each limited edition deck will be signed by myself and each deck 
will come in a unique pouch in the style of the deck

- 78 tarot cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with thick glossy varnish
- 160 page A5 paperback tarot book signed by myself
- Unique handprinted tarot pouch
- Extra signed tarot card

I ship registered airmail with a tracking number

Here is a link for reviews received from those who purchased
the deck :

Here is a link to the review by Arnell Ando on her website :

The deck is available in my shop The French Madonna