white femininity: whitemalegod’s secret weapon By Christena Cleveland, PhD

For the first several weeks of my walking pilgrimage, I debated whether to visit the famous Black Madonna of Orcival. It wasn’t the walking distance that deterred me; She lived in a gorgeous Romanesque cathedral nestled in a charming medieval mountain town only fifteen miles away. Rather, I was hesitant to visit Her because I knew that, after a thousand years of being Black, She had undergone a mid-twentieth-century “renovation and restoration” process that whitened Her skin. I knew from photos that Her once gorgeous melanated skin was now a ghastly beige-ish pink. The incredible Black Madonna of Orcival now appears to be a white woman.

Continue reading “white femininity: whitemalegod’s secret weapon By Christena Cleveland, PhD”

Guadalupe Rises Again by Sara Wright

I was in a Mexican store helping someone to choose tiles for the sink and bathroom of a new casita. I have always been drawn to Mexican art because the images tell stories, and many of those stories revolve around images in Nature – usually stylized. The tiles, for example portray flowers, birds, butterflies, and fish in brilliant colors. The child in me loves to see these stories. Artists who work with animal images in a respectful way honoring the spirit of the animal portrayed (either natural or stylized) allows me to bridge the world from animals to people.

Mexican art moves me. The expressive folk images, and the use of natural objects like gourds to create complex designs give me a sense of being at home in the world of people as well as Nature. The former has been my Muse since I was a child. As a life long naturalist I am deeply drawn to the world of animals, I think in part because aside from my brother, animals were my first real friends. Continue reading “Guadalupe Rises Again by Sara Wright”

“Tricolor Mary: Encountering Three Faces of the Divine Feminine” by Simone Grace Seol

simone-graceI always felt curiously distant from the figure of Mary. I always sensed that there is so much there and yet, I could never connect to it emotionally.

The foil to Eve, vessel of Love, suffering mother. I wanted to love her, I wanted to feel her, I wanted to feel drawn to the mystery of Marian devotion. But I felt alienated by the vision of the feminine that she seemed to project: the pure, immaculate, virginal, submissive, obedient, quietly suffering.

Most days, I feel like the opposite of every single one of those qualities.

It’s exactly the kind of feminine archetype I don’t really relate to — the kind of person about whom people say, “oh, she’s really nice” as if yielding compliance and non-offensiveness are her primary attributes. The kind of woman who fades into the background, whose worth lies only in her utility to the patriarchal narrative. Continue reading ““Tricolor Mary: Encountering Three Faces of the Divine Feminine” by Simone Grace Seol”

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.
Continue reading “Prayers to Black Madonna and Kali Rising by Natalie Weaver”

Our Ladies of Sea, Earth, and Sky by Joyce Zonana

Sara and the Marys
Sainte Sara encompassing Sainte Marie-Salome and Sainte Marie-Jacobe

O Sainte Marie-Jacobe, priez pour nous.

O Sainte Marie-Salome, priez pour nous.

O gardeures de la Provence, priez pour nous.

The priest intoned the words in deep, liquid accents, his voice echoing from the ancient stone church in the remote village of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in the Camargue region of Southern France, where the waters of the Rhone River meet the Mediterranean Sea in a wild, wide, flat expanse populated by black bulls, pink flamingos, and white horses.

“O, Saint Mary-Jacobe, pray for us.”
“O, Saint Mary-Salome, pray for us.”
“O, guardians of the gates of Provence, pray for us.”

I could feel the words resonating through me, bringing sudden, hot tears. The people gathered in the small village square repeated the priest’s chant, their voices rising above the low, white-washed houses into the sunlit sky, out towards the shimmering sea where legend tells us the two Marys had drifted two thousand years ago in a boat without rudder or sail.

Continue reading “Our Ladies of Sea, Earth, and Sky by Joyce Zonana”

Black Madonna Transforms into Vodou’s Lesbian Defender by Kittredge Cherry

Kittredge Cherry
Kittredge Cherry

One of the most famous Catholic icons is the model for a Haitian Vodou goddess who protects lesbians.

Traditional images of Erzulie Dantor, the Vodou defender of lesbians, are based on the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.  They even share the same two scars on the dark skin of the right cheek.

Every year more than 100,000 people view the original Black Madonna of Czestochowa icon in Poland at one of the most popular Catholic shrines on the planet. John Paul II, the Polish pope, was devoted to her. Few suspect that the revered icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary has a lesbian connection. Continue reading “Black Madonna Transforms into Vodou’s Lesbian Defender by Kittredge Cherry”

Why are We Drawn to the Black Madonna? by Judith Shaw

judith Shaw photoOnce the opportunity came my way to spend two weeks with my sister in Paris, I knew I had to visit the Black Madonnas at Chartres.  I had been to Chartres many years ago,  before I knew about the Black Madonnas scattered throughout Europe.  I felt the power of the site at that time, but had little understanding of where that power came from.

History of the Black Madonna 


The indigenous goddess worship of Europe, was influenced by Phoenician traders who introduced statues of dark skinned African and Middle Eastern goddesses such as Isis, Inanna, and others to the European continent from 1550BC to about 300BCE.  The worship of these goddesses continued  with The Roman invasion of Gaul (France) and other parts of Europe.

Once Christianity took hold in Europe, churches were built on top of sacred pagan sites. But old ways die hard; many of these dark skinned goddesses were incorporated into the newly built Christian churches.  Today there are more than 500 known Black Madonna statues and paintings throughout the world, the majority in France. Continue reading “Why are We Drawn to the Black Madonna? by Judith Shaw”

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