Black madonna

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The Black Madonna and the Earth Mother

There are many interpretations that try to explain the Black Madonnas of Europe. These include theories and ideas that the Black Madonna may stem from her dark skinned parents, Christ and Mary Magdalene, or that ages of candle smoke darkened the statues. Being at heart attracted to symbolism and symbolist thought, I reject the too literal explanations and prefer to "read" Her darkness symbolically.

Some of the legends attached to these statues describe how she was buried to avoid destruction or veneration and how, later, she was come upon by a farmer ploughing with his cow. I like these legends of the Dark Mother coming out of the earth. This is closer to my understanding of our  pre-literal past when the earth was venerated as Mother, as the Great Generatrix. She is black because she is Earth: The Mother of the Beginnings...

A travelogue, "Goddess Sites: Europe", describes one of the Black Madonnas of France at Dijon as naked with pendulous breasts and legs apart, no sign of the child. However, when I "met" her she was not naked, her body was described by a delicate carving to suggest the folds in her garments. The child, which must have been carved separately as with many 13th century statues of the Madonna in Majesty, was gone and so were the  mother's hands.  What struck me and compelled me to return to this statue was the empty lap. In it and on it I could "see" a place for the divine female to take her place on the lap/throne/seat of the Great Black Mother. The absence of sacred gender symmetry in the Abrahamic religions left a space that begs to be filled...

How would our relationship to ourselves and the earth be different if the prevailing sacred image was of a mother giving birth rather than a man dying on a cross?

Blue Prayer - Interstice

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Majak Bredell

In die klein plekkies --
In die tussenruimtes
tussen 'n bewuste wens
en 'n onbewuste behoefte
luister ek na die stilte
op die rand van my gebed
'n Sagte lig kom uit
die donker klam aarde uit --
klein goudklontjies word
meegevoer op
'n dikswart stroom
Haar heilige gesig
word sigbaar
vanuit die donkerte
van my begeertes
Gekeer na 'n binnevou
volg ek die stilpunt tot
in die kern van my gebed
pers, indigo, blou, groen
geel, oranje, rooi
-- in die klein plekkies
in die tussenruimtes --


Majak Bredell

In the small places --
In the interstices
between a conscious wish
and an unconscious need
I listen for the silence
on the edge of my prayer
A soft light comes out
of the dark moist earth --
small chunks of gold
are borne on
a thick black stream
Her sacred face
is revealed
from the darkness
of my desires
Facing the inner fold
I follow the still point to
the centre of my prayer
purple, indigo, blue, green
yellow, orange, red
-- in the small places
in the interstices --

Post-Christian Alter Images

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The image of the great regeneratrix was powerfully captured during the Neolithic Age by the juxtaposition of the nurturing breast implanted with the beak of the bone-stripping vulture. This notion of nurture and death as part of deity forces the idea of no-end, of everything being transformed sooner or later. The Earth Goddess as life-giver and receiver of the dead was eclipsed by the martyred God who rose from the dead to return to his father's house ... I see the sacred earth as our original home ... from dust to dust ... the cycles are endless.


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