Sunday, August 21, 2016

Maria Prophetissa


"One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth."

She contains all four elements
The corresponding card in the next cycle is VI The Tree of Choices

The early or even some say, the true first alchemist of the Western world,  was known as Mary or Maria the Jewess, Mary or Miriam the Prophetess and Maria Prophetissa.  She is known as a Jewish alchemist, but is also referred to by other writers and cultures.  She is also known by these names :  Maria Hebraea, Maria Prophetissima and Mariya the Sage; She is known from the works of the Gnostic Christian writer Zosimos of Panopolis who dates her as having lived in the third century.  But others claim that her work was done no later than the first century. Zosimos describes her as one of the sages. 

In alchemy the Axion of Maria exists :  "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth."

Many precepts of hermetic alchemy have been attributed to Mary.  None of her writings remain except for The Dialogue between Mary and Aros on the magistry of Hermes.   In this document many basic and fundamental alchemical processes are described.  Certain cryptic quotations of alchemy have been attributed to Mary, the Jewess and Prophetissa and she is said to have spoken of the hieros gamos or the union of opposites.  A quote attributed to her is ‘join the male and the female, and you will find what is sought’.

Mary Prophetissa is said to have invented the tribikos,  a three-armed distillation instrument; the kerotakis, which is a hermetically sealed container and the bain-marie.  The bain-marie (Mary’s bath)  is a double boiler that is used in chemical processes.  The bain-marie is also used for cooking food which is an example of alchemy in the day to day life.

Card I is traditionally the Magician in the deck.  It represents Hermes, the psychopomp (the inner guide of the psyche) or the Alchemist.  In this deck Maria Prophetissa is the embodiment of the archetype of Alchemist.  She is the one who initiates us into the adventure called life and its accompanying challenges.  She is the one who introduces us into the melting pot of experiences.

In this card we see the three colours of the cycle of life, red, black and white.  Maria stands in front of a red tree of life blazing in the light of the sun rising in the background.  The birds nest represent new life and the skull represents death.  The alchemical processes involve death and rebirth.  All change and transformation feels like death to the self.  At her feet are the four elements of the four suits, namely the chalice from the suit of vessels, a red apple from the suit of the holy rood,  the red thread from the suit of the distaff is tied around the book and the red rose. 

In the open book is written the Maria axiom :  "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth."

Maria holds the hawthorn branch as her magician’s wand.  The magician or alchemist archetype of the deck has all four the elements to her disposable.  Here we see the chalice, pitchers and alchemists' bottles of the suit of vessels and the element of water;  the white hawthorn branch as a symbol of the flowering cross of the tree of life and the element of living fire;  the red thread tied around the wisdom books as the element of air in the suit of the distaff and the red rose from the suit of roses and the element of earth.  The colours of red and white are also significant as these represent the two opposing colours of spirit and matter which has to be unifed into the sacred marriage in order for transformation and new birth within the psyche to take place.

The alchemist seeks to ‘make gold from lead, the prima materia’.  The process starts from the black stage also known as nigredo through various stages to gold.  The blazing red tree is firmly planted in the black stone said to be buried at the foot of the tree of life.  The red tree has become one with the black stone through its root system.  In the alchemical process of spiritual transformation, it is understood that one has to bond with the opposite or the nemesis.  You have to surrender to and accept the given circumstances and the parts of the personal self which you might find abhorrent and as the cause of your failed attempts at finding joy and peace.  And indeed, you have to grow to love, integrate and merge with that part of yourself before transformation can take place.  Then, and only then can conception and birth take place.  

The black stone represents the black stage (nigredo) and the physical matter and personal ego.  The personal ego would seem to be the black sheep in the story.  One’s personal limitations and shortcomings would appear to be the nemesis in the journey of joining soul and spirit.  

In Alchemy the Philosopher’s Stone is required to make the process happen.  Is this the same stone as the stone hidden at the foot of the tree?  If it is, it means that the physical life and its suffering is the Philosopher’s Stone to the manifestation of the gold, the goal of the alchemical process.  In other words, there is no other way except for the way through the dark tunnel of despair of feelings of being overwhelmed.  

The red tree of life is symbolic of the fiery kundalini that rises like the living sap through the trunk of the tree and its branches, enlightening the human energetic system with higher spiritual values and understanding.  And in the background we see the blazing golden Sun of Gnosis and illumination. 

Maria Prophetissa, the Alchemist, tells us that that everything is as it should be.  You are exactly where you need to be and that there is no hidden enemy other than ignorance and unconscious living.  When you bask in the golden Sun of illumination and you allow all of yourself to come out of the hidden shadows of shame, guilt and depression, then transformation will take place.  Obviously, that is not such an easy undertaking as you will have to die to the old.

The production of the tarot deck is under way and I hope to have it available in my shop
The French Madonna October/November 2016



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

0 Mara, the Holy Fool

Mara, the holy fool
Card 0 Major Arcana
Sacred Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

Drink the poison and find the cure

Mara is the archetypal woman representing the self
on the inner journey of Self-Realization.
She is the holy fool who sets out on an unknown
journey towards an unknown destination, leaving
behind a limited understanding and perception
of the inner life and its manifestation into this world.

The Holy Fool has the number zero (0) in the deck.
Zero is the number of potential.  It stands outside the 
numbers of the major arcana which runs to
card 21, the culmination of the journey.
But as the journey is circular, card zero is both the
beginning and the end of the journey -
like the Tenth card in the Major Arcana, the Wheel
of Time depicts, the journey is infinite.

Mary had a little lamb 
Its fleece was white as snow
 And everywhere that Mary went 
The lamb was sure to go 

Here she is accompanied by the rabbit,
symbol of the goddess and the fertile nature
of the divine and nature as well as the
vulnerability and tenderness of all life
and all living beings.

Mara carries the Lamb, symbol of the Soul,
as well as the soul's purity, enduring innocence
and its incorruptibility.

She also wears the garland of the virgin
symbolizing a potent truth of 
the true metaphysical meaning of the virgin :
'one unto herself'.  

Behind her are the trees of the forest
that she is leaving behind as steps out on her journey.
On the tree top sits a dove, the Holy Spirit, or
messenger of the heavens, accompanying her on
this journey.

The tree represents the archetypal Tree of Life and the
Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This theme
is more fully explored in the Suit of the Holy Rood.

Here we see the fir tree for the first time and
we are reminded that this is the shape of the pineal gland, the seat of consciousness and enlightenment in the human brain.
She is surrounded by the elements of the
Sacred Mysteries of Mary :
the white hawthorn blossoms,
the red berries, the black seeds
and the green branches.
Read here more about the symbolism of the hawthorn
in this deck.

Mara's story unfolds through the journey of Maryam,
the Jewish prophetess and the hidden Hebrew goddess;
through the wisdom of Maria-Sophia,
the three Marys, Mary Magdalene, the handless maiden
and finally, through the initiations of

The name 'Mara' forms part of the word 'amara',
a medicinal plant called bitter-ash or bitter-wood;
the most bitter plant known to us with a characteristic black elixer which is known to aid digestion and healing
for stomach disorders.  It is also known for its blood purification properties and cleansing of the gallbladder and liver. 

'Mara' from the Hebrew means 'bitter' or 'strong' in taste.  

This first card introduces us to the sacred understanding that our journey will lead us through the purification of fire and flame.  And most importantly, Mara teaches that we have the 'cure' for our malaise within ourselves, accessible by and through the self.

'Drink the poison and find the cure"

As we set out on our life journey, we are faced with many bitter and painful experiences.  The temptation
are strong to at times just give in, to feel that one
just cannot overcome the painful disappointment,
loss or emotional wounding.  But Mara and her
message of 'drink the poison and find the cure'
remind us of the homeopathic philosophy that
the body has the power and ability to heal itself 
by creating the cure for the symptoms which
have been invoked by self-action.
She teaches that if you are facing a challenge,
you have the ability to overcome it and you 
will discover the alchemical abilities of mind,
body and spirit and the mystical ability of the Soul
or Self to ingest and transform your life experiences
and to birth a new understanding and perception.

As she sets out on her journey she will move through
the lower and also the higher mysteries of initiation
towards self-realization.

Another important message that Mara delivers
is the unity and oneness of divine and nature,
as well as the sacred knowledge that all
paths lead to the same mountain.  It does not
matter which culture you belong to and which
myths guide your story, there is the One and the Many.
One Divine Being and many different names and traditions.

The Holy Fool has the number zero (0) in the deck.
Zero is the number of potential.  It stands outside the 
numbers of the major arcana which runs to
card 21, the culmination of the journey.
But as the journey is circular, card zero is both the
beginning and the end of the journey -
like the Tenth card in the Major Arcana, the Wheel
of Time depicts, the journey is infinite.

The Higher Mysteries of Mary is currently
being printed and published by myself.
It will be available in my online shop
The French Madonna


Monday, August 1, 2016

My journey with creating my own tarot deck

A small portion of the 78 Tarot Cards
Two years ago I started the project of creating my own tarot deck.  I had the vision of each card being a handcrafted shrine. But I did not want to just emulate the traditional tarot decks based
on the teaching of the Order of the Golden Dawn or Rider-Waite. I wanted to share and highlight my own understanding based on my own experiences.  I saw that this could be a vehicle
for sharing my own teachings and mystical insight into the hidden secrets in religion and the new age.

I took time out from offering classes and retreats through my wisdom school, The Temple of Mary
and I closed my Etsy shop. I packed away my paints and canvases and focused solely on creating this deck.

Ace of Vessels
The New Human

Each shrine consists of a small wooden shrine which contains the miniature diorama of the part of the story that I am depicting. The Tarot deck has 78 cards :
22 Major Arcana cards which are the main archetypal cards followed by the Minor Arcana which are separated into the four suits.

Well, all 78 shrines have been completed!
And my studio have been taken over by them.  All my books and display areas
have been taken over by the shrines.  

This is but a small portion of the shrines and only one wall -
they cover three walls

My vision is to publish the deck with a small accompanying book.
And then to rewrite this book over time into a more expanded version.
So now the next part of this mammoth task is starting.
It is not that simple to have a tarot deck published in
South Africa.  I have found online international companies but
then the shipping is exorbitant.  There are some wonderful websites out
there and many others have gone this route before me.
A very helpful and informative website is that of 
Arnell  Ando at
Through her website I visited the Tarot emporium of Osvaldo Menegazzi
in Milan and Italy and what an inspiration that was!!

This image is from Arnell's website showing some of his handmade
boxes and deck of cards.

So this is the route that I am taking.  I am investing in a top of the range
printer that uses archival ink - that means that they do not fade or run.
And I will print each deck and myself and also create a handmade 
box for each deck!

And I am working on some unique jewellery pieces based on
the cards in the deck.  I have started with Card XVIII Stella Maris,
traditionally The Star.

Higher Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck

Each pendant will be accompanied by a Tarot Card and its meaning
and interpretation, packaged in a special tin or presentation box.

If you would like to stay up to date with my journey and the Higher Mysteries
of Mary tarot deck, you can subscribe to this blog in the side margins
where it says "Follow by email' or you can become
a follower on Google Plus.

I am also on Instagram where I update regularly.

My cards and pendants will be up for sale in my shop
The French Madonna at