|"Our Lady of the Shards" Lauren Raine 2012|
¨Visual images of the Goddesses stand in stark contrast to the image of God as an old white man, jarring us to question our culture's view that all legitimate power is male and that female power is dangerous and evil. The image of the naked Eve brazenly taking the apple from the serpent, then cowering in shame before a wrathful male God, tells us not only that female will is the source of all the evil in the universe, but also that the naked female body is part of the problem. This image communicates to the deep mind the message that female will and female nakedness must be controlled and punished by male authority. In contrast, the Goddesses show us that the female can be symbolic of all that is creative and powerful in the universe. The simplest and most profound meaning of the image of the Goddess is the legitimacy and goodness of female power, the female body, and female will.¨
|"Black Madonna" |
In 2005, during a residency on the 150 acres of I Park Artists Enclave, the land spoke to me, and I had time and space to speak back, to engage in a creative artistic conversation. One of my first "Black Madonna" sculptures arose from that numinous time - eventually She found a home in a tree, and if she has since disintegrated into that tree through the passage of the seasons, well, that is appropriate.
Many scholars believe that the origins of the archetypal Madonna with Child in Europe began with earlier pagan images of Isis with her child Horus (the reborn Sun God). Isis was a significant religious figure in the later days of Rome, and continued to be worshipped in the early days of Christianity. Imported from Egypt, Isis had shrines throughout the Roman Empire. Rome was home to many deities, the cosmopolitan city of its time, and worshippers of Isis, as well as the Christ of early Christianity, co-existed. When Isis arrived in Rome she was sometimes adapted to Rome with Roman dress and complexion, and she was also occasionally merged with other Roman deities, such as Venus. Images of Isis survived the fall of Rome, were ubiquitous throughout the Roman Empire, and temples devoted to Isis continued well into the third century AD. "Paris" probably derives from the name of Isis (par Isis)......."city of Isis"
fresco from the Temple of Isis at Pompeii
Nevertheless, the origins of Isis are Egypt, where she was represented as a dark skinned deity, as were the people of that land, and no doubt many of her images transplanted to Rome and beyond retained the coloring of the peoples of Egypt. But many believe (as do I) that there are other associations that account for the archetype of the Black Madonna and Her enduring devotion. She represents the Earth Mother, and Her black color is the color of the rich, dark, fertile soil whose Mysteries sustain the cycles of life.
An image that especially interests me, for example, is one of two (!) Black Madonnas found at the shrine of Le Puy, France, which is one of the beginning points for the great Camino Pilgrimage.* In the Le Puy Madonna the Christ child emerges from the area of the figure's womb, rather
|Camino pilgrimage routes |
|Procession before Mass. Photo: PAP/Marcin Kmieciński.|
As previously noted, there are quite a few Black Madonna shrines associated with the great pilgrim route of Camino de Santiago de Compostela, called "the Camino". When Constantine established Christianity as the official religion of Rome, he also gave the Imperial blessing to the Roman "Camino" which he re-established as a Christian pilgrimage. Santiago Means "Saint James". According to legend, St. James brought Christianity to Spain, where, in his travels, the Virgin appeared to him in a vision. When he later returned to Palestine he was martyred, but his disciples returned his body to Spain and interred it in what became the great Cathedral and the final destination of the pilgrimage. But whether Saint James is actually buried at Compostela or not, long before the Virgin was called the Virgin people were making pilgrimages on that route to the Mother Goddess - perhaps bearing offerings, at Roman shrines, to Isis.
|Black Madonna of Czestochowskad (Poland)|
There are many sacred sites housing Black Madonna effigies, and quite a few of them are associated with "The Camino", of which the Cathedral of Santiago at Compostella is the endpoint. Scholar and film maker Jay Weidner has suggested that the earliest pilgrimages on the Camino were made to the Black Madonna of Compostella. He points out that Compostella comes from the same root word as "compost", which is the fertile soil derived from the decomposition (and re-creation) of rotting organic matter, the "Dark Matter" from which new life emerges. Composting could be viewed as the alchemical soup to which everything returns, continually resurrected by nature into new life, new form. "Mater" is Latin for Mother.
"From this compost -- life and light will emerge. When the pilgrims came to the Cathedral at Compostella they were being 'composted' in a sense. After emergence from the dark confines of the cathedral and the spirit -- they were ready to flower, they were ready to return home with their spirits lightened." ~~ Jay Weidner
The current author theorizes that the healing powers of certain icons, statues and images derive in part from their capacity to somehow function as both receptacles and conduits for some manner of spiritual or healing energy..........Perhaps, in some currently unexplained manner, sacred sites and sacred objects are able to gather, store, concentrate and radiate energy in a similar way."
Black stone of Mecca By Amerrycan Muslim