Prayers to Black Madonna and Kali Rising by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedThis past Saturday, I had an opportunity to sweat in a traditional Lakota sweat lodge for the first time.  It was, above all, an interesting cognitive experience for me.  I found myself sort of shaking hands with the ritual, the heat, the stones, the songs, and so on, saying, “Hi, I’m Natalie.  I have an open mind.  I am excited to know about you.  Thanks for letting me see what you are all about.”  I didn’t know whether I would pass out, have visions, or learn something new and wonderful about myself or the others.  I was curious, still, and grateful for the opportunity. I was gifted by generous people, good fellowship, and new ideas.  I will go back, even though I didn’t exactly find some thing… or maybe I did.  Maybe, I found someone, or, better, maybe someone found me.

Two days before the sweat, I received an email from one of my companions on the journey, saying something I still do not understand about the Constellation Sagittarius, the Galactic Center, and the Rising of the Black Madonna.  Although I did not understand the astronomy, I was intrigued by the call to recognize and confirm the Black Madonna.  For, without particular reason or impetus that I could identify in myself, I had been dreaming of a Black Madonna statue for some time.  After trying to find out what it was, I was able to identify it as the Black Madonna of Prague.  I have never been to Prague and was basically unaware of the rich tradition of Black Madonnas in Europe, despite four semesters of art history in college.  So, I made note of my dreams, with a promise to myself to seek them out whenever and wherever I travel.  I also purchased little trinket at a Canadian gift shop, which sits on my desk as a guide and companion.

black-madonnaHere, though, now, someone else was inviting me to consider the Black Madonna anew.  

Subsequent to my learning that our sweat would now be infused with a ritual observance of the Black Madonna, I received an interesting link to an article on the return of the Goddess Kali at the time of the autumn equinox, in which I read that one must: “Have the courage and endurance to face what must die in you, and the rewards will be unparalleled.”  Now I was hooked.  For, I am intrigued and curiously comforted by this firesome deity, often writing for her.  And, while I am not superstitious (and worse, I am admittedly driven by a kind of critical realism that tends, or at least has tended, to dominate my epistemology), I cannot at the same time deny my own experiences, especially of dreaming, just because the dreams I have are often categorically disruptive and theologically dangerous.  If my study of theology has given me any one lasting insight, it is this: No tradition or ritual is adequate to account for the wonder of creaturely experience.

Here were my dreams and my experiences in real time, converging, with a deeper story to attend to, saying, “Hi, Natalie.  I’m here too.  Have an open mind.  I’m excited to show you something.”

As a gift for the sweat, I wrote a poem/prayer to share for the Mother, giving in to a new imagination and new possibilities about how it feels to talk to Her and how to love her and how to thank her.  I also surfaced a few Kali poems from some time back.  In all of them, I find myself discovering that God is so much bigger than our words, our concepts, our traditions, our rituals, and so happy to show up when we say, “Hi.  I’m here.”

A Prayer to Black Madonna

Mama, may I have a word
Something that I need to say
Finally, I understood
How you wanted me to play

Mama, now it wasn’t right
Tried to lie, tried to hide
Hurled that woman’s pocket book
Deep into the dark of night

Mama, Lordy, you were mad
When I hit and bit my sister
And I know I said a name
That barely hit and barley missed her

Mama, Mama, hold me now
The night’s so ling, my vision’s black
Mama, Mama, carry me
In your tummy, on your back

Mama, how you got so old
Here and I’ve got kids to raise
Your back has curved a question mark
And my hair is turned to grey

Mama, see, I think I see
Now I think I understand
Not because I broke your dish
But because I scored my hand

Not because I ate the cake
But because he needed too
Not because I broke the pot
But that I intended to

Mama, they’re so warm and wide
All of us, we fit inside
And your back, so very strong
And your song goes on and on

Mama, can we play together
Mama, can we play forever


Let us dance

the lines are contingent
which cross this history
entangling a web
of circumstantial being

you there, I here
and neither of us near
the sublimity of Being
against these little truths

I cannot remember now
her name, what he wore
the first day of school or
my old apartment number

this is why
I would like to kiss you soon
because what I do remember
this too will pass

and the Great Destroyer
with hands of music and flame
cares not much at all
how either of us lived


Kali’s love

I come to you across
such distance of the years
that you might be redeemed
in me and know my love,
the covenant’s measure.

I, who comb your hair, bathe,
anoint you with my blood,
mold, fire and decorate
the world beneath your feet,
I dance until it’s done

and broken into sleep.
Beneath my weightless gaze
the hunchback stands crumpled,
his posture neither bent
nor straight as he might think.


Natalie Kertes Weaver, Chair and Professor of Religious Studies at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Natalie’s academic books includeMarriage and Family: A Christian Theological Foundation (Anselm, 2009); Christian Thought and Practice: A Primer (Anselm, 2012); and The Theology of Suffering and Death: An Introduction for Caregivers (Routledge, 2013)Natalie’s most recent book is Made in the Image of God: Intersex and the Revisioning of Theological Anthropology (Wipf & Stock, 2014).  Natalie has also authored two art books: Interior Design: Rooms of a Half-Life and Baby’s First Latin.  Natalie’s areas of interest and expertise include: feminist theology; theology of suffering; theology of the family; religion and violence; and (inter)sex and theology.  Natalie is a married mother of two sons, Valentine and Nathan.  For pleasure, Natalie studies classical Hebrew, poetry, piano, and voice.

Author: Natalie Kertes Weaver

Professor of Religious Studies and Graduate Theology & Pastoral Studies, Ursuline College

4 thoughts on “Prayers to Black Madonna and Kali Rising by Natalie Weaver”

  1. Thanks Natalie. I’ve never associated the Black Madonna with First Nations. I find something powerful in your photo. So true, no ritual or tradition is adequate…


  2. Thanks Natalie. You mention: “I have an open mind.” Likewise Kali is known for destroying ignorance.

    And there’s something about Kali (the Black Madonna) that opened my mind this morning to a new way of remembering. When I was a child, my father made me memorize my address, my apartment number, and phone number. And I was asked to repeat that information often. To my family that was important knowledge I had to have.

    And looking back now, how wonderful that they made me learn it. But what does it mean to “go home” in terms of our spirituality, and do we know how to get home in that sense? The answer seems to me, very simply, be who you are.


  3. Really loved this. Thank you. The Mystery dances with us in so many ways. I’m in the middle of a story I know well and suddenly, there it is, a total new meaning. My sister, a 62 year old woman was told at a young age not to let her big dreams trouble her – “they will pass” – the adult said with true compassion for this girl grieving her father who died suddenly. Last week she treated herself to a 2-day dream workshop (losing two days’ pay to go, plus paying for this teacher visiting from Europe). He so gently told her, “Ah, dreams are ancient medicine” and she who has always loved Native stories, symbols, and ways, suddenly felt healed of that old misinformation and its wound. I’m so happy for you both having touched the Mystery in your ways.


  4. Putting together a Native American sweat with the Black Madonna and Kali is quite the cross-cultural experience. Even if nothing came of the sweat (but it did, didn’t it?), this might be enough. Kali/Durga/Bhairavi has insinuated Herself into my life over and over until I had to acknowledge that She is one of my major Goddesses. I had forgotten that this was Her season. Thank you for reminding me.


Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: