The Black Madonna Makes It to Times Square

We have been meditating on the archetypes of the Green Man and the Black Madonna in the context of calling for a more sane balance between the healthy and sacred masculine and the divine feminine. 

Christena Cleveland’s book, God Is a Black Woman, promoted by Amazon in Times Square, Manhattan. Photo by Christena Cleveland, published with permission.

In that context, I called years ago in my book on The Hidden Spirituality of Men for a ritual to celebrate the sacred marriage of the Green Man and the Black Madonna, the Green Man representing the spiritual warrior defending Mother Earth, and the Black Madonna, among other attributes, representing the grief of Mother Earth and her call to both heal and celebrate.

Last week we applauded the release of a new book by theologian Christena Cleveland, God Is a Black Woman, which tells of her intrepid journey with the Black Madonna–and lo and behold!  The book and the Black Madonna find themselves now in the hot lights of Times Square.

The Black Madonna is quite a trickster, as I have noted before.  Talk about coming out of the closet with a vengeance.  I guess I’m not the only one who believes that her time has come.

“Voyage of the Black Madonna”, CUNY-TV Segment featuring Alessandra Belloni. From the archive of Alessandra Belloni

Last week we also celebrated the journey with the Black Madonna undergone by Alessandra Belloni and shared by her in her book, Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna.  Alessandra has spent years leading rituals and retreats and pilgrimages based on the Black Madonna who is integral to her homeland in Italy. She is also a New Yorker since she has been artist in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC for a number of years.

The Black Madonna calls us to the power of darkness, to our common mother of humans who emerged from Africa, to the darkness and depth of the cosmos (she is a cosmic mother), to love of the earth, to the truth of grief and suffering, to the joy of celebrating life even in difficult times, to putting the poor and oppressed first, to living with wisdom and passion and to working for compassion and justice for the most neglected.  To waking and shaking up people and their institutions. To moving beyond Patriarchy therefore.

She is a sign of our times and for our times.

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

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Times Square at Night.” Photo by Nelson Ndongala on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you see the Black Madonna as a sign of our times?  Why or why not?  How does this affect you personally?  How do you see her altering our culture and our species today?

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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10 thoughts on “The Black Madonna Makes It to Times Square”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask us first: “Do you see the Black Madonna as a sign of our times? Why or why not?” I believe it must be a sign of our times, because even I have only recently, in the last few years, become aware of the Black Madonna; or of her significance. But now I see her as the counter part to the Cosmic Christ; as the Cosmic Dark Mother, and this month (Black History Month) I see her as the Dark Mother of all people of darker color. Secondly, this makes me feel more balanced, in that there is now male and female, light and dark–enlightenment and “endarkenment.” Finally you ask: “How do you see her altering our culture and our species today?” It has already altered our understanding of our origin. We find that humanity was not created, pristine, in a perfect garden, in a perfect world, but rather arose from a dark mother in Africa 3.2. million years ago –as our “common” ancestor! And if the Black Madonna can rouse the sleeping Goddess movement, we will have: “The Return of the Goddess”–and with her return, I believe we would begin to see the machine of patriarchalism begin to slow down more and more–until the scales tip in favor of women–for the first time in thousands and thousands of years!

  2. Avatar

    In today’s DM, I see once again the necessity and value of the expressive arts, and the rituals, ceremonies and powerful storytelling of wisdom truths; being expressed in intuitive, imaginative and creative ways… which awakens the consciousness of humanity. I see more fully, why the patriarchal and heirarchal institutions in many areas react in fear, feeling threatened by the Divine Feminine, doing whatever they can to oppress, suppress and silence Her ways of reaching the hearts, minds and souls of humanity. However, despite and in the midst of the sorrowful grief that this causes… we must continue embracing and responding to the movements of our Universal Mother, whom arouses and awakens Her essence and presence within us and the all and the everything of creation.

    The Black Madonna is indeed altering, inparticular humanities image of God, and the false image of this, created by the white supremacy of the patriarchal and heirarchal leadership within religion and government, that has gone on for centuries. Much in this arousing process, is being exposed for what it is, causing this to fracture, not only within religion and government, but more importantly within the conscious awareness of humanity. This is deep, dark collective soul work that we are all in the midst of… that we are seeing unfolding, and are evolving through… so that the true Image, essence and presence of the Divine nature of God, seeded and sealed within our humanity might emerge… like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

    However painful or sorrowful this death of the false image of God and ourselves may grieve us and this new Baptisim by the Fire of the Spirit of the Black Maddona may be… if we surrender in faith, hope and trust to the wisdom of Her ways and the compassionate, merciful essence of Her Mothering presence, we will also be deeply nurtured, infinetly cared for, our wounds gently tended to… scarred but offered healing, broken yet broken open even further into wholeness… tenderly comforted, lovingly consoled and wisely counselled… in and through this transformational process of “dark-enlightenment”, the purification of “endarkenment”… which Richard has so aptly named.

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    It is astonishing to see the Black Madonna enthroned in Times Square. I wrote this poem in 1987 when I learned about Mitochondrion Eve.


    She lies bleeding
    her children all dying
    this once glorious Queen
    black mother of all.

    Black Rachel
    she weeps for her children
    to pale men deafened by
    years of destruction
    pale sightless men who
    gouge out their own eyes lest
    they see clearly their
    death machine wasting the
    womb of this woman

    She refuses to die…

    What miracle of grace could
    stem swelling death tides
    what light set the bounds of
    this darkest wrath rising
    graced blacks baptized into fear
    baptized into tears by whites
    brandishing crosses that
    slash heaven from earth
    having themselves nursed at the
    breast of the one one nameless
    father and an unearthly mother

    Such pale men were these
    nurtured so long on thin air!
    They came with crosses raised
    high in the name of
    faraway kings faceless queens
    hungry to devour whole lands
    whole peoples in the name of
    Their Own Christ

    !Some Christ!
    locked up like a beast in
    their vaulted cathedrals then
    dragged through the streets in
    a heavy gilt monstrance
    heavy guilt monster raised
    raised high over the people with
    clean priestly hands swathed
    in pure silk shot through with
    gold thread strip-mined
    seven times seven times from
    the deepest warm seams of
    the scarred heart of this woman
    Black Mother of All.

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      GWEN, very poignant poem beautifully and powerfully expressing dark truths. Thanks for sharing what you have so courageously written, as a prophetic voice in our times. Jeanette.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you Jeanette for all that you contribute.
        Having just reread my poem above I see that it needed one more edit.

        I don’t recall feeling “courageous”, but I was surprised that a Catholic newspaper didn’t hesitate to publish it. [CATHOLIC NEW TIMES [Toronto] Dec.6, 1987.] The editors placed it beside a review of Sir Richard Attenborough’s movie CRY FREEDOM. Denzel Washington played the role of Stephen Biko.

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