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.

“The Cosmic Black Madonna” by surrealist painter/sculptor Ullrrich Javier Lemus. Published with permission.

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. 

“Empress of the Americas – the Virgin of Guadalupe” during the evening of Day of the Dead 2009, at portal to Balmy Alley, Garfield Park, San Francisco. Mural by Patricia Rose, photo by Studios on Flickr.

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.  

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

11 thoughts on “Why the Black Madonna Today?”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask us, “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?” Yes, “the ground of the soul is dark!” And yes, it’s true that the depths of everything–the sky, the earth, the oceans, the animals, the insects, the crustaceans, and invertebrates, and the creatures that dwell in the earth (like the worms), and those which live at the bottom of the sea, are all dark… at least at times! So, what do I get from this? I get that I need to be grounded in my soul, and in the earth, and in the silence (which is the darkness that can be felt). And now I will never forget the significance of the Black Madonna. But whoever reads this, I would also ask you to read the greatest poem on darkness by a Romantic poet, and the friend of the Shelley’s. The poem is simply titled, “Darkness,” and it was written by Lord Byron.

  2. Avatar

    Rev. Fox, I have a wall-hanging of a black madonna from my mother’s home. I have no idea why she had it or I took it when she passed, for it never fit into the personal consciousness that I was aware of. I was able to find it with ease while listening to your meditation on the Black Madonna. It is synchronicity that you are talking about something (though just an image) that must be awakening in me and which I do not understand at all, but I am open to the mystery and darkness . I am clueless but interested.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Monica, If you are “clueless but interested” follow your interest for “thou art not far from the kingdom/queendom…”

  3. Avatar

    I really appreciate the connections being made in todays DM of darkness and depth… the mystery within mystery… the unconscious truth awaiting affirmation within the psyche of humanity. When I think of the creatures within the dark depths of the sea… they do not use eyes to see, but rather have developed another valuable sense. Perhaps this is what the Black Madonna, in her archetypal essence and presence is drawing humanity into… into the deep mystery of darkness, that actually awakens this inherent, latent way of seeing… a new way of deeply feeling, intuiting, and introspectively sensing our way through the unknown… a pathway of wisdom, yet to be revealed… an emergence of that deeper truth already there within, grounded in the depths of our unconscious, desiring to break through, become and be affirmed, both individually and collectively.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, You write that the Black Madonna is drawing humanity “into the deep mystery of darkness, that actually awakens this inherent, latent way of seeing… a new way of deeply feeling, intuiting, and introspectively sensing our way through the unknown…” in other words, it can bring us to our Endarkenment!”

  4. Avatar

    What also arises is Rainer Maria Rilke’s words, “What is going on in your innermost being, is worthy of your whole love.” That includes that which is hidden within the deep darkness of the unconscious… all that which lies within the depths of one’s soul! Be not afraid, for the darkness and the light, they are the same to God, whom loves all, unconditionally… revealing that all is worthy of BEING loved TO love.

  5. Avatar

    I began my professional career as a secondary school teacher, then went on to write and edit language arts textbooks for National Geographic and other publishers. Teachers, when they have freedom, create amazingly effective and creative opportunities for student understanding and growth. This project is one example of that. It allows students to engage through the Via Negativa and the Via Positiva.

  6. Avatar

    Yin/yang: reflecting the free and joyful balancing/changing lifeforce, the loving, eternal energy both within and beyond the changing flow of active/passive, duality/unity, many/one. The creating-transforming energy of Being into the universe as a beautiful expression of the ineffable One beyond oneness, a reflection into Existence of the original creating Being-Loving-Energy Who exists both “beyond” and “within” His/Her/Nameless One’s Self-expression.
    The One is beyond our simplistic categories, beyond “and/or/neither/both”. The One Be-comes into existence within the Now of the birthing of each moment. Beyond light/dark, beyond thought or consciousness “of”. Beyond time and space. Hidden, perceived only when rising from the farthest depths of human consciousness, inaccessible to thought. Rising/unfolding into awareness from the deepest roots of our inner being. How to express this? Words stumble.

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: