Shamanhood, Racism, the Black Madonna and Alessandra Belloni

We have been meditating on the return of the shaman in our time predicted by the great eco-prophet Thomas Berry. 

Alessandra Belloni, percussionist, singer, dancer, and shaman in the Tarantelle tradition.

Speaking of shamans, let us consider Alessandra Belloni who is busy ushering in the Black Madonna.  It is my privilege to be working with her on line tomorrow, Saturday, May 8 (which in some calendars is the feast day of Julian of Norwich).  Learn more HERE.

Alessandra, who has been artist in residence at St. John the Divine Cathedral in NYC for many years, has roots in southern Italy where the Black Madonna has been honored for centuries, carries her music, chants and dances into her retreats.  Her shamanistic work is a work of healing as is evident in her recent book, Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna: Chants, Music and Sacred Practices of the Great Goddess  (by way of transparency, I wrote the Foreword to the book).

In my book on recovering the Sacred Masculine, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Recover the Sacred Masculine, the final chapters link up the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine. 

In a section called “The Green Man and the Black Madonna: Sacred Marriage of Nature,” I propose the sacred masculine archetype so suited to our time of climate crisis, the Green Man, marry the archetype of the Black Madonna, who is equally suited to wake us up out of our racism. 

NIGRA SUM SED FORMOSA (I am Black and Beautiful) – composed by Alessandra Belloni with music by John La Barbera, in praise of the Black Madonna, dedicated to Black Lives Matter

All humans come from Africa.  Therefore, all humans are kin; we are one tribe; one race, the human race.  And our ancestors, mothers and fathers, were all African.  The Black Madonna reminds us of this important fact, our common ancestry, our common lineage, our common tribe and single race.  Here all racism ceases; it shuts its ugly mouth; it gets out of our confused and degraded brains; and it exits our institutions and ideologies once and for all.  Unity becomes the bedrock for diversity.  The unity comes first.  Our origins matter.  They count. 

Imagine that!  A Sacred Marriage indeed–the Defender of Mother Earth marrying the Mother of our Species. 

Darkness depicts depth and the Green Man, as all living things, shoots its roots into the darkness from which it derives its nourishment and sustenance.  Without the black, green withers and dies.  It must live connected to the depths in order to survive. 

(L)”The Green Man,” center of a dish by Alan Caiger-Smith; photo by Clive Hicks; (R) “Black Madonna,” by Arden Mason. Images used with permission.

Green needs black.  And Green provides Black with Color and Conspicuousness; it brings the darkness up to the surface where others can see it and admire its handiwork.  It is a channel by which the beauty of the Black becomes more visible.  Green spreads.  The planet turned green when foliage took over.

The Black Madonna’s sense of time is not clock time.  It is more like that of indigenous people, more a time of waiting, of gestation and coming to fruition.  She takes us to the edge and operates on her time more than on ours.  But she does operate.

Green Man depicts the inherent love of humans for nature that the modern age sidetracked with its anthropocentrism and idolatry of the human at the expense of the rest of nature.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors To Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 19-32, 231-244. 

Banner Image: Detail of Black Theotokos ikon, 1500s C.E., now in the chapel of the Halki Theological Seminary, Heybeliada, Turkey. Photo by Konstantinos on Wikimedia Commons.

Meditate on the Green Man and the Black Madonna.  What insights do you derive from that “sacred marriage” in our time that you can apply to yourself personally as well as to our communities?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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6 thoughts on “Shamanhood, Racism, the Black Madonna and Alessandra Belloni”

  1. Avatar

    Has the Black Madonna been purposefully kept from prominence in the U.S., if she is the patroness of all countries? Is this part of the systematic racism?

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Sue, the Black Madonna of the U.S. is hiding in plain sight as Guadalupe, proclaimed by Pope John Paul II as the “Patroness of the Americas.” China Galland writes wonderfully about her in The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion.

  2. Avatar

    I am an ordained Christian pastor (35 years) who now considers herself a witch. How wonderful to read this article and know that the divine blending of Christianity and paganism is becoming publicly recognized and celebrated more frequently. I still consider myself a Christian (in a VERY progressive sense) but have found a deeper spiritual root with the followers of goddesses and gods who first proclaimed the presence of holiness in all Creation. The pagan rituals, the singing and dancing, mystic moments of silence and trance far surpass the need for Christians to find their faith in their heads, in dogma and doctrine that is stale and oh so rigid. Blessing on your work. So mote it be.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Carol, I too am an ordained pastor (35+ years), and I have walked a similar path. And I share similar views to what you express. That is one of the reasons I have felt so naturally drawn to earth-centered spirituality of “Creation Spiritulality,” and that is why I was so drawn to Matthew who haed SAtqarhawk on his faculty–and I too have taken classes from her. I recommend you read

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Carol, I too am an ordained Christian pastor (35+ years) who has walked a similar path as you. And I have the same sentiments as you do in your contrast between pagan rituals (action in the body) and Christian dogma (belief in the head). Earth-centered spirituality or “Creation Spirituality” are what made things work for me in both aspects of myself. And Matthew confirmed this for me by employing Starhawk as one of his teachers (and I have taken classes from her, and participated in ritual with her. One other book I might suggest is Adelina St. Clair’s book, THE PATH OF A CHRISTIAN WITCH. Thank you for your comment, and Blessed be!

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