Studying and Listening to the Black Madonna

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.” 

“Cuncti Simus Concanentes” Medieval prayer to the Black Madonna and healing trance dance ritual against the Plague. Conceived, directed, and produced by Alessandra Belloni.

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?

Recommended Reading

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

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

4 thoughts on “Studying and Listening to the Black Madonna”

  1. Avatar

    Having read your recent essays on the feminine face of God then watching Belloni’s wonderful sacred dance, I find myself reflecting on the takeover (twice in two+ decades) of the culture of Afghanistan and their repression of women. I don’t mean this to be a political statement and I do support Biden’s ending of our war there. I don’t think we ought to go about fighting to change the culture of another country. That is up to their people. However, in my admittedly unsophisticated opinion, after reflecting on the dance, it seems to me that as a religious sect represses, subdues, and ignores the natural gifts of women, they are doing the same to God. If one of the faces of God is female, then how can we know or follow God if we ignore the gifts of that expression of the Godhead.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Michele, You say, “in my admittedly unsophisticated opinion, after reflecting on the dance, it seems to me that as a religious sect represses, subdues, and ignores the natural gifts of women, they are doing the same to God. If one of the faces of God is female, then how can we know or follow God if we ignore the gifts of that expression of the Godhead.” I agree with you wholeheartedly, Michele !!!

  2. Avatar

    I think she is calling us, fiercely, tenderly, and urgently to wake up to our wholeness and sufficiency–if only we can realize our interconnectedness from the cosmos to the tiniest creature on earth, that we are all one whole, individually and together. And that there is enough in that, just our interbeing is sufficient and more than sufficient. We do not have to strive and compete for more.

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: