In my work over the years, I have heard from many people—some who identify as Christian and some not—their experiences with the Black Madonna.
Psychologist Marion Woodman also observed that in peoples’ dreams today there is appearing with increasing frequency the image of a sensual, sexual, earthy Black Madonna. This is not an idealized, chaste, detached Madonna, high up on a pedestal. This is a Madonna who loves her own body, her own flirtations, her own compassionate presence among human beings.
And she draws this conclusion: That she is beginning to surface in contemporary dreams suggests that as a race we are at last beginning to find in ourselves a vision of the feminine that has been buried in the unconscious for too long.
Meister Eckhart observes that “the ground of the soul is dark.” To avoid the darkness is to live superficially, cut off from one’s ground, one’s depth. The Black Madonna invites us into the dark and therefore into our depths.
This is what the mystics call the “inside” of things, the essence of things. This is where Divinity lies. It is where the true self lies. It is where illusions are broken apart and the truth lies. We are encouraged to be at home there, in the presence of deep, black, unsolveable mystery.
She is, in Andrew Harvey’s words, the blackness of divine mystery, that mystery celebrated by the great Apophatic mystics, such as Dionysius Areopagite, who see the divine as forever unknowable, mysterious, beyond all our concepts, hidden from all our senses in a light so dazzling it registers on them as darkness.
Eckhart calls God’s darkness a “superessential darkness, a mystery behind mystery, a mystery within mystery that no light has penetrated.”
One reason why the Black Madonna is returning in our time is that she calls us to the darkness and depth. Darkness is something we need honor again—the “Enlightenment” escaped the dark and fed the notion that we can “master nature” (Descartes’ false promise) and overcome darkness.
To honor darkness is to honor the experience of people of color. Its is opposite is racism. The Black Madonna invites us to get over racial stereotypes and racial fears and projections and to learn from the dark.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 232f.
See also, Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart, pp. 42f.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: Black Madonna from the Regina Mundi church, Rockville, Soweto. Photo by Justin Hall on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Eckhart that “the ground of the soul is dark?” Isn’t it true that the depths of everything—the sky, the earth, the oceans, are dark? What follows from that? Is our culture afraid of the dark?
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
Meditations with Meister Eckhart: A Centering Book
A centering book by Matthew Fox. This book of simple but rich meditations exemplifies the deep yet playful creation-centered spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Meister Eckhart was a 13th-century Dominican preacher who was a mystic, prophet, feminist, activist, defender of the poor, and advocate of creation-centered spirituality, who was condemned shortly after he died.
“These quiet presentations of spirituality are remarkable for their immediacy and clarity.” –Publishers Weekly.