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.


Sunday, June 2, 2019


New stock of the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck has arrived and I am
currently packing and shipping pre-orders.
You can now buy a deck and book from me at
The French Madonna on


- 78 tarot cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with clear matte varnish 
- 160 page A5 paperback tarot book signed by myself
- Unique handmade pouch with image of the Sacred Mother
- Extra signed tarot card
- small statue of Mother Mary
- plastic rosary 

I accept payments through Paypal.  When you have paid by clicking on the PayPal button
please send me an email to confirm that you have bought the deck. 
I will reply to your email.
I ship from Cape Town, South Africa and I ship within 5 days of receiving
your purchase.

My email is :
I am the_french_madonna on Instagram.

You may want to join me as a patron on and receive monthly spreads, discussions and layouts for $5 a month.

This listing includes the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck presented in a hand crafted tarot pouch, a 160 page paperback guide book (signed by myself) and an extra signed tarot card, as well as a rosary and a small Mary statue. The deck and everything that comes with it is consecrated to Mary and is a sacred altar. You can read more about the ritual and practise on my blog

I am very proud to share that the deck has been included in the Museo dei Tarocchi (International tarot museum and the only one of its kind in the world) in Riola, Bologna Italy!! I visited the museum and its owner a few months ago and you can read more about this on my website here :

The Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck is a unique deck of cards and guide book published by myself in Cape Town, South Africa.  It  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 and embodied in the archetypal images of the story of Divine Mary in the Mariamic tradition. 

The deck is inspired by my devotion to Mother Mary and my personal spiritual journey and its many experiences with Her.  It is designed as a practical tool and instrument on the spiritual path blending the many traditions of worshipping Mary.  At a young age already (in childhood) I had many visions into the imaginal and invisible realms.  These shaped me and my view of life and many of these visions propelled me into my life’s work.

You can read more about my journey on Cloister of the Heart and on the Temple of Mary website at  The deck is discussed on my website

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 Marys 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 photographs taken by myself of the 78 handcrafted shrines that I created over a four year period.  These are 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

I ship registered airmail with a tracking number -  shipping usually takes between two and four weeks but there are unfortunately exceptions depending on the country and its postal service .

You can read reviews of the deck here :

Read review written by Arnell Ando on her website here :

Dear Hettienne,
You breathtakingly beautiful & heartfelt deck set has at last arrived! I’m blown away by how much care & attention to detail you’ve put into this meaningful project. I’d like to help spread the word somehow after I’ve had a chance to Live with it for a bit & read from your book your true intentions & visions. Thank you ever so much for your generous heart & sharing this magical offering. It is deeply appreciated Hettienne. ❤

This is such a beautiful deck and the energy is amazing. The whole set is beautiful and well put together, you’re not just getting a deck of cards but what fells like a blessing. I love it and I’m overjoyed that this Mary deck has found it’s way into my life!

What can I say about a person that puts so much of her heart and soul into this? Beyond words. Spiritual transcendent experience when you get anything from this woman. I thank you!

This deck is just exquisite. The work and intention put into it sets it apart. I am just beginning to work with it and there are so many layers. I just love it.

What a stunning deck! Very special indeed, I can’t wait to work with it. Fabulous customer service too. Thank you!

You can read about the process and see more of the cards as they developed on my website
The Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck at and many images on The French Madonna Instagram


Monday, May 6, 2019

Mysteries of Mary tarot deck is now on Patreon

Please join me on Patreon.

For $5 a month you will have exclusive access to a post
with a layout, or a spread, or other insights and clarifications
on using the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck as a healing tool
on your spiritual journey.

I also have a Black Madonna tier in which you will
receive a monthly post and image of the research on the deck,
the individual cards, their shrines, the suits,, the themes
and everything that goes into creating a tarot deck.

I am on Patreon as The French Madonna but you
can also find the button in the side bar.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Maria Naturans

Virgo Maria Potens
III The Empress
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot deck

Here Mary is the strong,  powerful and positive Feminine, 
Empress and Mother of the World.
She is pregnant with Life and the absolute abundance of creativity
and beauty and she is the womb of potential 
for ever-returning life;  the possibility of birthing 
sustaining and fertile life both within the psyche,
the spiritual and the physical.

The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

Mary as the Empress embodies the powerful feminine force which is within
both the masculine and the feminine.  This strength is not limited to the masculine
action of this world. The receptivity of the feminine does not make
her only submissive and dependent and the activity
of the masculine does not make it only divisive and cutting.

The strong positive feminine power within the Soul and
within the person, is often regarded as wild and chaotic
and it is also mostly deeply feared and our culture
believes that she should be controlled and harnessed
for our own use and benefit.
In a simplistic fashion, mother nature is seen
as the pure expression of the powerful feminine.
But mother nature, and our instinctual nature, is only a
part of the feminine power.  The soul is, and in earlier times,
the Holy Spirit was as well, most often depicted as a woman
and if the soul is only seen as a wild force of nature which
should be dominated and controlled, where does that leave us
as human beings?  And where does that put women
in this world of organisation and structure?  And
what happens to traditionally womanly values
and enterprises and to whom is the mothering of
the world relegated?   We end up with a world in
which the ideal and image of a
 positive nurturing mother and the powerful empress 
is completely absent.

She is surrounded by the symbols of the Mother of Nature
and the Mother as Earth as known to mankind
through the ages and throughout many cultures.
  She is standing in the stream of living waters, 
as they are eternally birthing through her.
She has the bee, the Queen bee, the sheafs of wheat, bunches
of grapes and is standing on a mountain covered in roses.

She is the Queen Bee surrounded by bees.
In the ancient world those who worshipped Demeter and Artemis 
were referred to as 'bees' or 'melissas'.
The bee was also a symbol of Potnia, also referred to as the
pure Mother Bee in the Minoan mysteries.
The priestess at the sacred site of Delphi was known as
the 'honey bee' and honey has many sacred and profound metaphysical
and physical properties and metaphoric meaning.

In Samuel 1 "Jonathan... put forth the end of the rod 
that was in his hand, and dipped it in a honey comb, 
and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened."

The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

Mary as The Empress embodies the great positive
Mother of the World.  Through her courageous
acts of meekness and mercy she manifests
the positive feminine force in this world.
She is the icon and symbol of our own
positive feminine strength and courage
and of the great mothering power that we possess.
We are capable of great acts of kindness,
we are capable of staying present in life with an open
heart and being present to our own vulnerability
and allowing the infinite waters of compassion
to flow through us to all of creation and to all living creatures,
including ourselves.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Miracle of the Sun

Our Lady of Fatima, the Dancing Sun -
9 of the Suit of the Lily and the Bee
The Path of Truth and Justice
Tarot Deck of the Mysteries of Mary

The Miracle of the Sun. This is how it is known to the people of Portugal.
 It all happened just 93 years ago, starting in May, 1917. 
Three shepherd children spoke of experiencing a vision of the 
Virgin Mary in the Cova da Iria fields close to the town of Fatima. 
It was the 13th day of the month. 
They were to repeat the experience on the 13th day of each month till October.
 The eldest child was Lucia, aged ten, and she was accompanied
 by her two cousins, Francisco, aged nine and Jacinta, aged seven.

When questioned, the children described seeing a flash of lightning about noon.
 It was followed by another which enveloped them in a blinding light.
 Looking up, they saw a lady “brighter than the sun”,
 her bare feet resting on a cloud touching the branches of a stunted holm oak. 
They described the vision as lovelier than any person they had ever seen. 
The “lady” was young, dressed in white, her face pure and smiling, 

On October 13th a crowd of 70,000 gathered at the
 Cova da Iria in response to the children’s claim 
that a miracle would occur on that day “so that all may believe.”
 At the appointed time, in the middle of a rainstorm the clouds broke up 
and the sun was seen as a disk spinning in the sky, 
throwing off great rays of fantastic colours. 
As one columnist reported, “Before the astonished eyes of the crowd 
the sun trembled and danced.” Suddenly it seemed to fall 
until it almost reached the earth, but then it stopped, 
slowly making its way back into the sky. 
Before Christianity the Sun was the female deity in many cultures
and the moon was the male God.  The mythologist
Janet McCrickard asserts that sun goddesses are more common
worldwide that male sun gods.  She suggests that the belief
in the male solar deities spread due to a few popular
Greek and Roman mythologies.  There are opinions that
the rising patriarchy in some cultures downgraded the power
of the female realm assigning it to the Moon of lesser light
claiming the power and brightness of the Sun for themselves.

The stories and descriptions about Mary become meaningful
to a woman when she understands the mysteries of Mary
in the light of her own feelings, her personal experiences,
imagination, dreams, creativity and all the aspects of her own
personal life.  A personal relationship with a female
divine image and being allows a woman to connect
with her own deepest inner and divine self.

When one relates to Mary through your own personal
experience, the story becomes different for every woman
but a personal guide and Muse for life direction and
self-fulfillment and happiness.



Friday, January 25, 2019


All alone, she (Anna) went into the garden and sat down
 beneath the laurel tree. Looking toward the heavens, 
she saw a nest of sparrows in the tree. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes. 
How she longed to have a child of her own. Anna entreated the Lord, 
saying” Woe is me! To what am I likened? 
I am not likened to this earth, for even the earth brings 
forth her fruit in its season and blesses you, O Lord.” 
And behold an angel of the Lord appeared, 
saying “Anna, the Lord God heard your prayer, 
and you will conceive and give birth, 
and your offspring shall be spoken of in the whole inhabited world.” – extract from the Infancy Gospel of Mary

Anna was barren and never conceived with child. 
The Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she will miraculously conceive.  
It is told that this is a miraculous conception of the Holy child Mary 
and it is an echo of the immaculate conception of Mary still to come.  
As Anna and Joachim, Mary’s father, was too old to physically conceive a child, this was regarded as a conception by Spirit.  
‘Promise them, that by the favour of our right hand they will receive the Fruit of benediction, and that Anne shall conceive a Daughter, to whom We give the name MARY…. were revealed to St Gabriel.’ 
And Gabriel said: ‘She shall be elect, exalted, powerful and full of the Holy Ghost; 
on account of the sterility of Anne her  conception shall be miraculous;’ – Mystical City of God

Anna is Greek for the Hebrew name Hannah and it means ‘grace’. 

Anna’s story is also in the Quran and she is revered in Islam.  
In Islam Joachim is called by the name Imran 
and he dies before Mary is born. 
The priest Zacharias predicted the birth of a male Messiah to Anna, 
but she gave birth to a girl.  
She is revered as a mystic in Islam for her wisdom 
and realisation that Mary was a highly spiritual 
and special child to be dedicated to the Temple. 

In this shrine we see Anna sitting under the palm tree, working on her sewing.
Gabriel is holding the red thread of the mystical message of love and good news
which he delivered to Anna.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Mary as Priestess

Mary has her own folk mythology unrelated
to the mainstream Christian myth.
In the mythological sense she is like the goddesses
in all cultures of the world.
The legends about Mary illustrate that Mary
is a force in people's lives.

 -  extracted from The Breath, the soul, the Divine female
by Rasa Luzyte

Mary's presentation in the Temple of the Dove
from the Suit of Vessels
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot

My card from the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck 
depicting the young Virgin Mary as
Temple priestess in the Temple of the Dove
as told in The Mystical City of God:

Joachim and Anne set out from Nazareth, 
accompanied by a few of their kindred and bringing
with them the true living Ark of the covenant,
the most holy Mary,
borne on the arms of her mother in order
to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem.

They arrived at the holy temple, and the blessed
Anne, on entering, took her Daughter and Mistress
by the hand, accompanied and assisted by Joachim.
All three offered a devout and fervent prayer
to the Lord, the parents offering God their daughter,
and the most holy Child.

She heard a voice saying to her :
Come my Beloved, come my Spouse,
come to my temple where I wish to hear they
voice of praise and worship.

The mystical city of God 
by venerable Mary of Agreda