The ground of the soul is dark.
— Meister Eckhart
In this dark time of the year, we are considering what is sacred about the dark, especially the dark aspect of the Feminine Divine. In particular, I have been discussing the Black Madonna. Why is there so much recent interest in Her? Why does it matter?
Theologian Matthew Fox notes, “Every archetype has its seasons. They come and go according to the deepest, often unconscious needs of the psyche, both personal and collective. Today the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is calling us to something new (and very ancient as well). The last time the Black Madonna played a major role in western culture and psyche was the twelfth century renaissance…”
[Exactly the last time that the High Priestess Tarot year was a mathematical possibility, as I discussed here yesterday. – B]
“And from this renaissance was birthed the University, the Cathedral, the city itself. She brought with her a resacralization of culture and a vision that awakened the young. In short, it was the last time the Goddess entered western culture in a major way.”
Author Cassandra Eason has researched and written extensively about the Black Madonnas. She notes, “The Black Madonnas in Europe for centuries provided a bridge between the old and new ways. The Mediterranean region was culturally influenced by Egypt and North Africa through the Moorish conquest as well as being geographically close to Africa and the Middle East. Black Madonnas are most frequently associated with the Egyptian Mother Goddess Isis, depicted with the infant Horus in her lap, the original Mother and Child icon.”
In addition to Her ties to Isis, She has been associated with Cybele, and Diana of Ephesus, all black Goddesses who were still worshipped in France and the Mediterranean coast from Antibes to Barcelona during the later centuries of the Roman Empire.
Up until the 3rd century Current Era, Cybele was the supreme deity of the capital of Lyon, the capital of the vast area of southeastern France. Some even argue that it was Isis , not Homer’s hero and Helen of Troy’s lover, Who gave Her name to Paris (as in par Isis).
In addition, Ceres, the Roman Goddess of agriculture and abundance (from Whose name we get the word “cereal”) was another black Goddess, and a fertility icon who became associated with the Black Madonna .
Scholar and mystic Andrew Harvey notes, “The Black Madonna is the transcendent Kali-Mother, the black womb of light out of which all of the worlds are always arising and into which they fall, the presence behind all things, the darkness of love and the loving unknowing into which the child of the Mother goes when his or her illumination is perfect.”
Matthew Fox muses, “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. She calls us to that darkness which is mystery itself. She encourages us to be at home there, in the presence of deep, black, unsolvable mystery.”
She is, in Harvey’s words, “the blackness of divine mystery…the divine as forever unknowable, mysterious, beyond all our concepts, hidden from all our senses in a light so dazzling it registers on [us] as darkness.”
As we bid farewell to 2006, and to the month of December, let us not forget the Dark Goddess Hecate, to whom this day belongs. Goddess of Witches, She who guards the crossroads, it is Hecate, Goddess of the Night, who teaches us the ancient Mysteries. Honor Her with a supper left at a crossroads, or given to those in need.
Step this night across the threshold into your own sacred Darkness, with the blessings of Hecate.