Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Black Madonna tradition

The Black Madonna Tradition 

Photo: Black Madonna at Meymac in the Correze department, France.
The Origins of the Black Madonna in Europe




I have undertaken many pilgrimages to the Black Madonna over the past 18 years, the
first one being the Black Madonna in the sanctuary of San Michele in the grotto
at Monte San'Angelo in Puglia.  In my research for the creation of the Black Madonna tarot deck I am unearthing many interpretations and I have not come to any conclusions yet.  
I am sharing this article written by Cassandra Eason with you; the link is below.


Black Madonnas are potentially the most exciting mystery and source of mysticism within the Catholic Church today. They can be frequently traced back to pre Christian mother goddess figures and have become even more than conventional Marian figures, associated with healing miracles, pilgrimages and even magical powers. For this reason they are often kept in crypts or dark corners of a church, tolerated, but often mistrusted by more conventional religious authorities.


The Black Madonna is the hidden secret in the heart of Catholicism, the old often demonised pagan goddess tradition actually thriving in churches today, though to those who worship her she is the Mother.

In some cases Black Madonnas are the oldest of statues. Often Catholic churches and cathedrals were built on top of former goddess shrines and in the case of at least some Black Madonnas, for example at Chartres Cathedral near Paris the original statues now worshipped as Black Madonnas may in fact have been originally pagan goddesses who were renamed to transfer worship of the Earth Mother to the Virgin Mary.

In France, where the majority of Black Madonnas are found, indigenous mother goddess worshipping traditions date back to the Goddess of Laussel, found in the entrance to an Ice age cave in the Dordogne region in central France. She was crafted around 23,000BCE and is important because she is the first representation of the Earth Mother as a lunar deity. She holds in her right hand a bison horn, shaped like the crescent-Moon. The horn is divided with 13 marks probably representing the 13 moons in a lunar year. Her other hand touches her womb.


Even today there are more than 500 known Black Madonna statues and paintings throughout the world, the majority in France, though many more that have been documented in historical records were destroyed during the French Revolution. Others too may stand unnoticed in shadowy corners of small churches and chapels, as they have done for hundreds of years, loved by the local worshippers and without any need to be rediscovered.

As the indigenous goddess worship evolved in Europe, statues of dark skinned Middle Eastern goddesses such as Inanna, Astarte, Artemis and Cybele were introduced to the European continent by Phoenician traders from 1550BC to about 300BCE. The Phoenicians came from the coastal regions of modern day Lebanon, Syria and Israel and were highly influential culturally. Indeed their phonetic alphabet is believed to be the forerunner of most modern alphabets. The Roman invasion of Gaul (France) and other parts of Europe also encouraged worship of these goddesses, to flourish.

The cult of Isis was the dominant religion of the Mediterranean during late Roman times, and had spread into Roman-occupied lands, including Gaul. Many Isis statues cradling her infant son Horus on her lap passed straight into Christianity as churches were created over the temples.

As late as 550 CE, Isis still had a temple in Soissons, just north of Paris and the Middle Eastern goddesses co-existed with the Celtic Gallic deities.

The Greco-Roman Mother Goddess Cybele and Artemis/Diana of Ephesus, both dark skinned fertility goddesses were still worshipped in France and the Mediterranean coast from Antibes to Barcelona during the later centuries of the Roman Empire. Cybele was during the 3rd century the supreme deity of the town of Lyon that was capital of a vast area of South-eastern France, a region where many Black Madonnas are found. Marseilles was devoted to Artemis.

During the Middle Ages, the Crusaders returned from the Middle East, bringing goddess statues and some such as the mystical Knights Templar, many of whom who were wiped out as heretics,were involved in promoting the cult of the Black Madonna and her association with Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene was the alter ego of the Mary virgin birth. The Merovingians identified the Black Madonna as Mary Magdalene. Through the bloodline of Mary Magdalene, the Merovingians claimed to be the rightful Kings of France, with descent from Christ’s son by Mary Magdalene, the infant depicted in her arms in the Black Madonna statues. Some legends say she married Christ at the wedding at Cana where he turned water into wine.

The Goddess beneath the Earth

Photo: St. Quentin-la-Chabanne (La Creuse (23) France): Notre Dame de Sous-Terre situated in the crypt. 17th centuryreplacing the original that was destroyed by the Protestants.

Further evidence of the Black Madonna’s pagan and nature worshipping origins is the fact that Black Madonnas were frequently discovered hidden in trees or caves in France and Spain as late as the seventeenth century. Legends grew up that suggested these dark wood statues had magical powers that called the chosen finders to hiding places sometimes deep in undergrowth. Of course there were priests who perhaps were sympathetic to the old ways who may have known that a pagan goddess statue was kept in a particular cave and brought out for worship in the old nature religions that are still practiced in woodlands and groves worldwide today.

At a particular time when the local religious climate was amenable to combining paganism and Catholicism, some priests may have persuaded simple peasants they had discovered one of the Black Madonna figures in its hidden natural place and so this was a way of introducing the pre Christian statue into the mainstream religion. In churches today, Black Madonna statues may by coincidence or design, be kept in a crypt or subterranean part of a church or cathedral near a sacred spring or well.


Our Lady of the Trees

Many Madonnas found locally are made out of local wood, as with the linden wood Madonna of Altötting in Bavaria. In Altötting the tiny chapel is described as womb like, windowless and painted black, with the walls studded with gold and silver images and ornaments. Her shrine is surrounded by thousands of ex voto or stone tablets expressing thanks for blessings received. Some date back to the 13th century and range from healing when all hope was lost to the safe return of a traveller and crutches were also left as proof of healing.

The site of the Altötting chapel was sacred in pre Christian times and the linden tree was revered by pre Christian peoples. The Black Madonna is the oldest Christian site in Bavaria, dating back to 680 CE and the Linden Madonna was placed there. In 907CE the town was ransacked by the Hungarians and only the chapel and statue survived. The present Black Madonna dates from 1300.The ancient linden tree stood next to the chapel, but in 1674 was cut down to make room for a basilica to enclose the chapel, but it was never completed. Centuries later a new linden tree was planted. A number of miracles have been attributed to the linden tree Madonna. In 1489 when a three year old boy drowned in a local stream and her mother took her dead child to the Virgin statue, the child was revived. Not long afterwards it was reported that a farmer’s six year old son fell off a horse drawn grain-wagon and was crushed beneath the wheels. The family asked for help from the Virgin and the boy was restored to full health. The unbroken Mother tradition associated with the tree has transferred comfortably to the people who visit the Madonna and many thousands of tourists flock to the site, so making her a valuable resource to the church which may outweigh any doubts about tree worship.


The Protective Virgins

Photo: In October 2007, the BM pictured above, was decapitated by vandals. She was in the Notre Dame de Marceille just outside of Limoux, near Carcassonne. This photo was taken exactly one year before.

Just as the Black Madonnas became cult worship for many pilgrims, so hatred of them was also very great; especially among those who consider them an affront to the sexless conventional Mary, or fear their darkness, since darkness is quite mistakenly popularly associated with evil.

Over the centuries a number have not just been destroyed but mutilated and decapitated. But the Black Madonna, like her pagan predecessors in nature who incorporates both the creative and destructive aspects of the earth, may fight back.

A fascinating story comes from Evaux-les-Bains in the Creuse area of France; a town famed for its hot springs and was made a spa town by the Romans. This Madonna is mentioned by Ean Begg in an older version of the book, though I have not as yet been able to find other references to this event. It describes how only the head of the statue was preserved after the statue was mutilated at the Revolution and thrown into a well. Of the four profaners soon after the event, one (according to popular legend) cut his throat; One died falling from a rock; one who boasted of breaking the statue’s jaw had his tongue cut out and one was struck by lightning.

In another church, Notre Dame de la Roche, near Mayres in the Puy de Dome, the 14th century black virgin holding a naked crowned child, was apparently stolen at the end of the 18th century, but brought misfortune on the family of thieves.


Defending her children


Even more graphically, Our Lady of Rocamadour, 100 miles north of Toulouse in France, who was reputed to bring dead babies back to life long enough so they could be baptised and so their souls go to heaven, took revenge on the attackers of three of her faithful pilgrims. It is told how in the 12thcentury, three pilgrims were robbed and guided on impassable ways they might have perished. They called out to the lady and she took away the sight and paralysed the hands of the robbers. But the pilgrims asked Mary to restore them and so she did. A bell on the ceiling of the Madonna chapel rings when she saves someone who calls on her for example sailors at sea as a sign she has saved them and they would make pilgrimages to thank her.

The original Rocamadour site was dedicated to Cybele and to later to Venus, the Roman love and fertility goddesses. This Madonna is one of a number attributed to St Luke but the present statue is 9th - 12th century.

But it is the painting of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland that is credited with the most magical powers to protect Poland from attack and is revered by Polish people throughout the world. It is a painting of the Madonna and Christ Child which legend states was originally painted by St. Luke the Evangelist, on a table top from a table built by Jesus.

The picture itself has been damaged in battle and again the Virgin took her revenge. In 1430 in the town of Czestochowa, in Poland where the painting was kept in a specially created monastery church, Hussites overran the monastery and one of the invaders slashed at the painting twice with his sword. One of the robbers drew his sword, struck the image and inflicted two deep gashes. While preparing to inflict a third gash, he fell to the ground and writhed in agony until his death. The two slashes on the cheek of the Blessed Virgin, together with a cut on her throat in an earlier attack, have always reappeared though many attempts have been made to repair them.

In 1655, Poland was overrun by the forces of the Swedish King Charles X, The monks defended the portrait against a forty day siege and, it was said, as a result of the Madonna’s intervention, Poland was able to drive out the invaders.

In 1920, the Russian army gathered the banks of the Vistula River, threatening Warsaw. The image of the Madonna was seen in the clouds over the city. The Russian troops withdrew.
Our Lady of the Snows, who takes her name from an apparent natural phenomena miracle

Like any good mother, our Lady of the Snows, the Black Virgin of Aurillac, the Cantal region of the Auvergne in France, defended her children with her life. The first Black Madonna in Aurillac was brought back from the Crusades by one of the local feudal lords. Yet though her body was destroyed by the Huguenots, it is believed she helped defeat them. On August 5th, 1581, the enemy were camped ready to storm the town by night. But the Black Madonna is credited with lighting up the sky as bright as the sun and so the cockerels began crowing. The noise and the light woke the people and the Black Madonna was seen at the chapel door holding Baby Jesus. She then sent a huge snowstorm to drive back the enemy. Freak electrical lighting? Hail? Whatever the effect the people were inspired to rally and defeat the enemy. Earth goddesses are traditionally said to have great power over the weather.


The Druids’ Black Madonna

Chartres Cathedral near Paris, home of the magnificent 11-coil labyrinth that is 40 foot (approximately 12 metres) in circumference, itself a mother goddess symbol, is home to two Black Madonnas. The pagan earth religion is never very far from the surface of this magnificent Gothic cathedral. Chartres Cathedral, built on a former Neolithic burial mound, was known to the Gauls as Carnutes and was according to Julius Caesar, the central annual meeting place for the Druids and Druidesses of Gaul and beyond.

Above the South door at Chartres Cathedral are sculpted oak twigs and tree spirits. Oak leaves are also entwined around the Black Virgin of the Pillar a statue who stands in the main church and it is believed that the wouivre, the ancient female earth power rises up through her from the well.

The Black Madonna of the crypt, Notre Dame sous terre (Our Lady Underground) made of pear wood, with her crown of Druidic oak leaves, was one of the major prayer and offering shrines on the mediaeval labyrinth pilgrimage. She is apparently a replica of an old Black Madonna, destroyed during the French Revolution when the statue was actually burned on an execution pyre during the Revolution. But this destroyed statue was itself an 11th or 12th century statue and there are earlier references to a small black image, of pagan origin, the Virgin whom it was predicted by the Druids would give birth to a saviour. What has happened to this is not known. Even today you can walk as pilgrims have for hundreds of years through the crypt past the Druidic healing well, through the centre of the labyrinth to the place in the east where the sun strikes a nail in the paving on the Summer Solstice. This is another ancient spot that has been Christianised, perhaps once the site of a monolith, a single stone aligned to the Midsummer sunrise, in both cases representing the birth into light. The Virgin Mary’s veil she wore to give birth is also kept here, so making it even more of a female fertility site, as it may have been for thousands of years albeit under a different goddess name.

Sick pilgrims would through the centuries sleep in the crypt, the womb of the mother and as they emerged, reborn, well again it was hoped and here nuns cared for them.


The 11-coil labyrinth shown here is situated in the nave of Chartres Cathedral, said to be the finest Gothic cathedral in Europe.


The Healing Madonnas of the leys, the Black Virgin of Montserrat

Great powers of healing are associated with Black Madonna statues. One explanation is that the statues conduct the powerful earth energies associated with Ley lines along which many Madonna sites are found. Montserrat near Barcelona in Spain, like Chartres is on a Ley line. Ley lines are hypothesized as invisible psychic energy tracks beneath the earth along which people from ancient times built their temples and shrines.

Their purpose was so that they might connect with a power beyond themselves that in earlier times was associated with the power of Mother Earth. The small wooden Virgin of Montserrat called La Moreneta (the Dark Maiden) is a statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ that is venerated at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery in the Montserrat mountain near Barcelona in Catalonia. The original statue is attributed to St. Luke, brought to Montserrat; it has been suggested by St. Peter in AD 50.

Centuries later, the statue was probably hidden from invaders, in nearby Santa Cova (now the Holy Grotto) and rediscovered in the late 9th century by shepherd children among rocks. They saw bright lights and heard singing coming from a cave in the mountain. Stories abound of how a Black Madonna chooses its own site and will either return there mysteriously if moved or become so heavy it is immovable Legend has it that the Benedictine monks could not move the statue from its Holy Grotto to construct their monastery, choosing to instead build close to the grotto. The Benedictines are said to be the last religious order to have knowledge of ley energies and to build their abbeys and monasteries along them. The present statue is carbon dated to the 12th century. On September 11, 1844, Pope Leo XIII declared this high profile virgin of Montserrat patroness of Catalonia.

Photo: Black Madonna in the Notre Dame de Marceille just outside of Limoux, near Carcassonne



Another Black Madonna who insisted on returning to her own site again associated with ley energies is the Black Madonna of Limoux, south of Carcassone in France, The church at Limoux is called the Notre Dame de Marceille and as with Montserrat the Madonna was found in the earth like the Montserrat Madonna.

It is told, though not accurately dated that a ploughman digging a filed on the slopes of Marcellan found his ox would not go forward whatever he tried. The ploughman started to dig and found the wooden smiling Madonna, brown and dark. He took the statue home but the next morning it had disappeared and was back in the place he found it. This happened three times and when the local monks heard they built a chapel there. Other Madonnas prove too heavy to move no matter how hard people try if they are in the right place. Our Lady of Oropa, the northern Italian region of Piemonte was brought to Italy by St. Eusebius (martyred in 371 A.D.) and placed in a cave that was a pre-Christian site sacred to Apollo and various goddesses. She had been found buried under ruins in Jerusalem. When more than a thousand years later a group of monks tried to move her to a new location, the three foot tall statue became so heavy the monks had to return her to her cave and she felt light again.


extracted from http://www.http://cassandraeason.com/vierge_noir/

Friday, July 27, 2018

Resurrection, sacred bees and the Black Madonna



This is a repost from today's sharing on The Temple of Mary blog http://bookofmarysacredheart.blogspot.com

 The past few weeks have been intense for many people as we enter ‘eclipse season’ and the build up of the Blood Moon eclipse in Aquarius later today. I have seen posts about 'feeling stuck in the Underworld' and I  myself have become intensely aware of seeing an increase in distraction around me.  So much so that I decided to decrease all my creativity and I even felt called to suspend my research on the Black Madonna tarot deck and to rather focus on the practical activity of packing my bags for my upcoming pilgrimage.

My dreams have been intense and vivid although the core message remained unclear. The Golden Light has been increasing and becoming more and more intense.  I tried to manifest and make visible to the world the intensity of the golden light.






Contained within this Light is the balance between mind and heart; soul and body. On a physical level it inspires you to bring the health and welfare of your body into alignment with your soul.  Emotionally it asks that you clear out, in other words, that you forgive the past, cut the cords and let go of all the old baggage.  The more you can let go of, the more beautiful will the resurrection (more on this) be.



Then the Diamond Light started to become more and more visible.  A certain clarity and also a 'cold light of day' started to enter.  You may have experienced this as seeing things more clearly all of a sudden and you may be pleasantly surprised by new perceptions.  But mostly, you will feel the squeeze of being pushed to decide what it is that you really want.  You will feel the intensity of having to decide when actually all you want to do is to hide you head under the blankets and shout 'leave me alone'.  A re-balancing of the mind and heart is happening.  The sacred marriage is being called for, over and over.  Is the feminine present?  Do you know what your heart wants or is your mind so dominant that you can no longer feel the yearning of your passion and desire?  Have you given up hope and do you feel that you cannot get what you want?



Maybe being born under the sun sign of Capricorn and being a visionary artist (one that sees the imaginal in the physical) my body is my biggest interpreter of cosmic consciousness and the changes in the Divine Cosmos.  This can be quite tough at times and on my ordinary life, but maybe that is the idea!  



I have shared some of my painful and enlightening experiences before, such as the spider bite and the wasp sting.  Each one of these have opened up energetic centers in my brain which has allowed me to download vivid visions and understanding as to what is happening in the Cosmos.  I share these with you as it is an integral part of life and it reminds us of the bigger picture and not to sweat the small stuff.  It has become the mainstay of my life and the ground of my being and I invite you to firmly root yourself into the Tree of Life which spans heaven and earth. Pay attention to what is happening around you.  Free your mind from mental clutter and on-going conversations and rather keep the screen blank so that your senses can wake up.  We are part of a much bigger story and lots of what is happening around us is just entertainment and advertisements for others' selling their wares.  You have a special mission and purpose and you are receiving communication from the Cosmic every moment of every day.




This week my garden was invaded by bees - thousands of bees.  They churned around in my sacred Mary garden outside my bedroom.  During the years I have held many rituals and group meditations here in this sacred space.  The biggest Mary leyline also runs through this space.  I did not connect the dots as I observed the bees crashing themselves against my windows and trying to find ways to enter the house.  The doors were left open and many had found their way in already.  Google was summoned and I read again about the dire plight of the bees and that they probably are in need of food.  I put out raw honey (which they were not interested in) and maple syrup which they loved.  I moved these further and further away to try and lure them away from the house. But alas, none of this helped.  For three days they stayed and in that time, in short succession, three bees stung me.  One on my left foot on exactly the same spot as the wasp a few months ago and two others found their way in under my dress and stung me on my left leg.  I had once again received bee medicine! And it is intense and painful and impossible to ignore!! And the first words I hear were : 'resurrection, resurrection, resurrection'.

My previous life changing vision which identified the opening of the Lionsgate also included the words  'resurrection'. 

Here is the Lionsgate in this card from Mysteries of Mary
Do you see the two lions?



Here is the vision from a previous blog post :

'We were all gathered in the courtyard.  The light had the luminosity of the Otherworld.  In the centre of the courtyard grew the Tree of Life, its trunk twisted and gnarled, housing an entire city of light.  The sound of the heavens played in its leaves.  I was below, at the base of the trunk, in my role as healer.  I blessed those that came up to me.  A man sat down in front of me, asking for healing.  As I placed my hands on him, I felt the healing power coursing through my body and flowing down my arms and hands.  I was familiar with this transference of healing energy and was unperturbed.  The next moment he jumped up, amazement on his face.  He shouted out "look at that beautiful being!!".  Before I turned around I was aware of the pillar of light behind me and as I turned around I said 'oh yes, that is Serapis.  I saw a beautiful light being in intense white light.



As I was looking at this pillar of light which my Self recognised as Serapis, the vision expanded.  A lion appeared from the branches of the Tree of Life,  facing the East and the rising Sun.  She growled and her mane shook and reverbated and the hair became one with the branches of the giant tree.  She roared into the sky, 'Osiris!!!!' resurrection, resurrection.

As I was watching the scene in awe, my lips formed the word FORTEZA and I continued chanting this word as I returned to consciousness.

 It was clear to me that the message from the bees was connected to the previous lion vision I had but I was not yet sure how.  However, in both cases the core message was 'resurrection and regeneration'.  I sat down and 'looked' within my inner book chamber for the connection between the bee and the lion.


'And Samson turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion' - Judges 14:8.

The bee is a symbolic insect in Egypt and the theology of that era identified the lion with Sekhmet, the Lionness Goddess and the bees came forth from the Lion Sekhmet.

The goddess Asherah is also associated with the lion and the bee and you can read more about her symbology in my guidebook to The Mysteries of Mary.  Here is the link to a previous blogpost that I wrote a few years ago on the vision of Serapis, the Lion and the Tree :   
http://bookofmarysacredheart.blogspot.com/2013/08/asherah-lady-of-wisdom-queen-of-heaven.html



Three bees around Her head

Both these two cards symbolise alchemy and transformation


as does the bee. The bee has been regarded as a sacred being as far back in time as we know.  Without the bees humanity will not survive on this planet.  The ancient goddesses have all been worshipped as the Queen Bee and the metaphors are abundant.   A bee alchemically turns pollen into golden honey, also known as amrit or sacred food of the gods.  The sting of a bee is exceptionally painful, but healing at the same time.  It boosts the body's immune system and is a known therapy for many diseases.  Honey is known as one of the greatest natural healers and healing food on the planet.  In Egyptian and Judaic lore we are told that all we need is milk and honey.  In the 3 of Distaff, the three swords that pierce the Great Mother's heart, has been replaced by three roses.  This is based on the story of the apparition of the Rosa Mystica.  The healing power of love and forgiveness, transform the pain of betrayal, hurt and rejection into the sweet fragrant rose blooms, symbolising the Soul in her natural state of beauty, truth and love.

The bees are regarded as the tears of the goddess Sekhmet; the great mother who cries for her children's suffering.  But wisdom teaches us that through mortal suffering our hearts are opened and we come to taste absolute love and joy.



The entrance through the hidden gate 

 Last night the next stage of the Lionsgate opened and a higher reality has become available to us.  For those who live with awareness and in the present moment, many changes are awaiting. 

Resurrection, resurrection, resurrection.

In the goddess temples of Diana, Artemis and other Black Goddesses, the bees were regarded as souls of the dead.  In Egyptian lore the bees were regarded as the tears of Ra, similar to the tears of the Great Mother who weeps at the suffering of her children.

But transformation awaits to those who are willing to change their minds;  be prepared to see beyond what you believe;  be willing to see where you are stuck in the dark corner of your mind;  open your heart and do what your mind fears most!!! 

I regularly read Marcia of StarSister Astrology's updates.
Here is the link to her site : http://starsisterastrology.com/

and she writes the following : (copied from her facebook page)

Our Messenger (Mercury) has begun a 25-day vision quest through the heart. He's searching for what you've lost, forgotten, or haven't noticed about the part of your life that's ruled by Leo, the sign of our solar system's Great Heart.
Beginning on the eve of this century's longest total lunar eclipse, this realignment of mind and heart will take the Messenger through territory he's been exploring through four different retrogrades since 2000. For 18 years, he's been helping you see the power of the heart.
2000 was the last year that Luna made the deep shadow dive of a total lunar eclipse in Saros cycle 129. The next eclipse in that cycle is the one taking place tomorrow -- both of them the longest eclipses in their centuries.
Since it began at the North Pole in 1351, the height of the Italian Renaissance, Saros cycle 129 has been winding its way towards the South Pole, eclipse by eclipse. Every 18 years it's brought revelations about the stunningly destructive and brilliantly creative ways it's possible to use the radiant power that's live-streamed to us from the Sun every minute of our lives.
The lunar eclipses of June 1964, July 1982, July 2000, and July 2018 are the strongest ones in the 1,262-year Saros cycle. Tomorrow's eclipse is the last peak in this wave. And Mercury has turned retrograde to make sure we get the message.
And that's not all. The starting point of this year's retrograde vision quest is the same degree where he and the Sun created a new way to see with the heart in August 2011. Just three months later,the great star Regulus left the sign of the King for the sign of the Goddess. Retrograding through 0 Virgo into Leo, the Messenger was looking for openings in our awareness to re-member the star power of the Divine Feminine. That 2011 Mercury retrograde ended in 18 Leo 42 -- in the exact- to-the-arc-minute location of next month's third and final eclipse in this triple-eclipse, multi-planet retrograde Summer of Re-alignment and Re-set. The Messenger was already preparing us. You're more ready than you think. When that solar eclipse in 18 Leo occurs on August 11, the Messenger will be one of seven planets on retrograde vision quests. As soon as that last solar eclipse re-set occurs, Mercury will turn around, and head to the future. He'll be seeing everything differently. And the more fully you accept his invitation -- to re-think, re-view, re-conceive, re-imagine, and re-create the power of the heart in this part of your life, the more you will be too.

I am departing on the Black Madonna voyage to Southern Italy and Sicily on 4 August and will be visiting the Seven Sisters during the time of the solar eclipse in Leo and while seven planets are retrograde!!!




Shrines from the Black Madonna tarot work in progress



Blessings

Hettienne



all images are my own and from my tarot decks The Mysteries of Mary and The Black Madonna.
Please link back if you do share.
www.hergracesacredart.com

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.

blessings

Hettienne  


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Initiation and consecration through the Black Madonna tarot deck

Images from the forthcoming Black Madonna Tarot Deck
www.hergracesacredart.com


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.

blessings
Hettienne


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.

blessings

Hettienne


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Joy




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


blessings

Hettienne

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

Hettienne