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 : https://bookofmarysacredheart.blogspot.co.za/2017/02/pilgrimage-to-lady-of-ngome-part-1.html
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
XV BLACK MADONNA
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
VI TREE OF CHOICES
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.