One recent study on the Black Madonna that is solid and lively and born of deep experience and practice is Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna: Chants, Music and Sacred Practices of the Great Goddess by Alessandra Belloni. (Full disclosure: It was my privilege to write a Foreword to her book.)
Alessandra comes from southern Italy where the Black Madonna has been honored since the third century (and which is only a hop, skip and jump from Northern Africa where Isis, the archetype of the Black Madonna, is from).
Alessandra has had her own healing experiences of the Black Madonna and she has led workshops and retreats and experiential pilgrimages to Black Madonna shrines for decades. Healings have often occurred including among transgender people who have so often been treated harshly in societies of many stripes. Alessandra leads with chants and drumming and dances—her method is very shamanistic, which is very appropriate since the Black Madonna represents very ancient, pre-religious, energies. The goddess religions preceded patriarchy by thousands of years after all.
The Black Madonna is commemorated in shrines in Sicily, Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and derives from the African goddess Isis whose name means “throne.”
The great 12th century renaissance was in great part inspired by a return of the Goddess and included the birth of a new exciting architecture found in the Gothic Cathedral movement. This Gothic revolution was a direct assault on the Romanesque and singularly masculine symbolism of the dark ages.
The word “cathedra” means throne—a Cathedral is where the goddess sits ruling over the city with love and justice, celebration and compassion. It is no coincidence that in many of these medieval gothic cathedrals there sits a Black Madonna mirrored after the goddess Isis.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God…Including the Unnameable God, pp. 92-94, 97.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Black Madonna of Częstochowa with rainbow halos, which is similar to designs from Pride Parade in Częstochowa. Photo by KamillaŚ on Wikimedia Commons.
CORRECTION: Yesterday’s DM stated that the “Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence” icon by Mark Doox, was commissioned by the Rev. Dr. Mark Bozzuti-Jones for Trinity Church Wall Street. The icon was in fact commissioned for Rev. Buzzuti-Jones’ personal collection. Our apologies for the error.
Queries for Contemplation
How long have you known about the Black Madonna? What do you hear her saying to us today? Why do you think she is returning at this time?
Naming the Unnameable: 89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God …Including the Unnameable God
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.
“This book is timely, important and admirably brief; it is also open ended—there are always more names to come, and none can exhaust God’s nature.” -Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, author of Science Set Free and The Presence of the Past
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