Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Pieta

If you have ever been to the Vatican and entered St. Peter's Basilica, one of the most famous works of art in this unbearably ornate cathedral is Michelangelo's Pieta. I first saw this when I was 12 years old, during the days when you could actually get close to it and experience the elegant soulful mourning of a mother who watched her adult child's execution. Shortly after our family's visit, an insane man attacked the statue with a hammer, it was repaired but now sits behind bullet proof glass and a hefty distance from viewers. Actually it is hard to really experience the art in this new arrangement, but alas modern times dictate the safety precautions.

Pieta in Groom, Texas 1995

In Groom Texas, outside of Amarillo, a local gentleman was tired of all the advertising of the decadence in modern culture along the interstate. He commissioned a series of black metal sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross, and placed them on private land so as to not be subject to secular laws. To my knowledge, this is one of the few modern Black Pieta's in existence. It is also a very intimate as you can walk up and get close to the image, which goes along with the Black Madonna experience in general, more accessible.

Often when we think of The Madonna, it is of a Mother and young infant son. While the white Madonna's, particularly starting in the Renaissance, are depicted in very serene and joyful presentations.......... 

The Black Madonnas on the other hand are often somber.

 The Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Poland

The Black Madonna of Marsat, France

In the journey of faith, mysteries are continually revealed throughout the experience. As one ages, the understandings become deeper and more real with time. One of the purposes of Christ's Incarnation is to model the initiation of Humanity. Christ came to us to experience a human life and death so the Spiritual World could comprehend our task, but also to show the way to conscious free union with the Divine. "Ye shall be as Gods," does not mean power over the elements, it means to suffer so all illusions disappear and we can be free from what holds us back from full awareness of the truth. He endured all human weakness and folly, to show us what lies ahead for us, both the pain and the triumph.  The Christian Community calls The Christ; The Son of Man. This denomination also calls communion; The Act of Consecration of Man. There is a profound reason for this identification.

Mary the Mother of Jesus was one of the first humans to say yes to the Christ Event. 

The Annunciation by Henry Osswa Turner

In art, the archetype of The Madonna is that of the perfected human, the human soul. The obvious correlation is that humanity is to birth the Christ within. The tender depictions of Madonna and Child in a way belie the challenges that come with taking up the way of the Christ. The final outcome is a joyous, peaceful and enlivening experience, but the journey is anything but smooth.

The Black Madonna's, their color and narratives, resonate deeply with humanity. The devotion to these works of art is unrivaled in Europe. They depict the deep sufferings that earthly life encompasses but also give a message of endurance, and an example that conveys support, the Black Madonna's continually say "you can do this, because I have done it."

To lose a child is one of life's greatest sorrows. No matter the age of the child, stage or method, it is the most devastating of all pains from which the parent never recovers. But Mary the Madonna, knows this pain, this searing tearing of the heart. For her, she witnessed the unjust execution of her child. After all she had experienced, all that she had "pondered" in her heart, the heavenly revelations as to the being she was guiding through his life as only a mother can, her bewilderment over what she was witnessing must have been multifold.

When we lose anyone, particularly a child, we often question, "how could God do this, how could he let this happen?" Can you imagine the questions Mary had watching her child on the cross? What went through her mind as he lay lifeless on her lap? For me this is the deep significance of the Pieta. We in the West often overlook the suffering involved in Christianity, we focus on the joyous birth of Jesus, and skip right on to the Ressurection, with our Easter egg hunts and pastel flowers on the Altar. Obviously the focus should be on the Joy, the empty tomb, but quite a bit happened to get to that point. This is why I think the term "Son of Man" is so poignant, because in essence he is our Son, and we will all go through a similar journey.

So many mother's mourn their children, many lost to senseless violence of unjust laws or wars.

To carry a child in your body, all the effort, sacrifice, love and care that goes into raising that child, no other earthly love can compare. To lose a child due to violence adds an extra layer of horror to the grief.

God understands this grief, Mary lived it, the Spiritual World witnesses this pain, and yet there is transformation. The refinement of suffering brings a wisdom and an openness no other worldly lesson can bring. The searing pain was experienced by one of humanities greatest daughters, and in a way is endured by the Divine as he witnesses his children destroying themselves and the very planet they were gifted to live upon.

For me as I go along my sojourn, with so many losses and enduring griefs, as I witness and offer support to my friends who are going through the fire of the death of their children, I look to the somber Black Madonna's who bring a message of comfort. They speak to me of the refinement that comes with suffering, that endurance is possible, and that triumph is the outcome. The Black Madonna's seem more prophetic of the journey the Madonna was about to embark. Some even show a glimmer of a smile which for me is a knowing look conveying what lies ahead for us, the treasures in heaven and of the riches hidden in dark places.

Monday, January 20, 2014

America's Greatest Son

The United States Celebrates the Birth of one of her greatest sons this weekend. What citizens of the USA tend to forget is that the nation was born out of the imagination of men, and is a work in progress. When you truly learn the history, read the debates and examine what inspired people to break a governing tradition that had been in existence since the dawn of civilization, it is quite inspiring.

Americans have a sound belief in their exeptionalism. Often the exceptionalism is expressed as not having to abide by laws and traditions of other cultures. Somehow, we are above the common tedium and restrictions that dominate other nations. What ever holds us back, we have almost a religious conviction, sometimes it can be irrational, that we can change things for the better individually and collectively.

Our nation has been referred to as the New Jerusalem, the City on the Hill, and patriotism for many can have a religious fervor. We are a nation of ideas, beliefs, adherence to principles, with the current of Justice holding everything together. Each one of the groups that makes up our collective culture brings a different gift.

I have often considered the Africans of our nation to be the truest of all Americans.  They originally came here against their will but used ingenuity and resilience against terrible odds to help forge our nation. Throughout our great history, it was the African Americans that continued to inspire us to live up to our ideals of Equality, Freedom and Fraternity. Because they have not experienced freedom and equality as much as other groups have, their commitment to Justice often surpasses other communities. From the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, it is the Africans that invite us to see our shortcomings and help forge new territory in community.

In essence, the American Experience is the experience of what it means to be truly human within the Christian context of those three ideals. Christ came for all, we are free, equal people living within the community of the Christ. Our execeptionalism as a nation is that the system of government was conceived on these values, and we the people consistently strive to meet those principles.

One of our greatest sons, who embodied with dignity and grace these American, these Christian principles, his birth is being celebrated this day. The national holiday was not soundly embraced by all of our states. Arguments against the holiday ranged from; we had enough holidays, we could not afford another holiday, he was a communist agitator. The old states rights versus federalism justification for oppression was also used as an excuse not to federalize the holiday. Boycotts ensued and finally, the third Monday of January was set aside as a national day for celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King is remembered and celebrated for many reasons. One of the more striking aspects of his ministry was his dedication to the Beloved Community. The Beloved Community is the ultimate goal, the ultimate expression of the human experience within the Christ. For us to be free and equal humans with in a community, we must have love for one another. Dr. King's steadfast belief in the dignity of all people, the equality of all people was the true sign of his Christian orientation, his Christian American exceptionalism.

At the heart of the Beloved Community is a notion and recognition that the Christ is within us all. His act on Golgotha was the great equalizer, his deed transformed all of matter and made all of humanity capable of containing the Christ, of knowing the Divine. When we recognize that we all contain the Christ within, how will we behave towards one another?

In Astrosophy, the number 33 has a profound meaning. It is the number of years that Jesus walked the Earth, it is called the Christ Rhythm. When an event or a concept occurs, it plants a seed that can come to fruition 33 years later. Christ began his descent in the Etheric in 1900, and significant occurrences have happened on earth in the 33 year cycles since then. 

In 1966, Dr King began to connect the issues of war, poverty and racism. 33 years later, the WTO protests occurred in Seattle, where for the first time the wealthy, the poor and labor unions collaborated to successfully thwart the corporate take over of the global economy. A few years later, for the first time in human history the entire globe was protesting a war that had not yet begun, the American led invasion of Iraq. The biggest of all the marches with literally millions of people across the entire earth simultaneously marching for peace, happened on Martin Luther King's birthday. While so much seems hopeless in terms of resisting war, violence, racism and poverty, the seeds have been planted, and the fruit will bear out in the future. At the core of the WTO and anti-war protests was a recognition of the beloved community that King advocated. How can we have an economy based on war, aggression and racism if we recognize the Christ in all of life?

Across the nation on Martin Luther King Jr day, many communities have a call to service day, where people are encouraged to give a day of service to their local places of residence. This invitation to serve one another is the essence of the Beloved Community Dr King worked and sacrificed his life to achieve.

May we live up to this challenge, to see the Christ in one another, to serve one another on this most American of National Holidays.Thank you Dr. King for your great service to our nation. May your words continue to inspire us all to greater heights, that our American exceptionalism will be defined in terms of how we embody the Beloved Community.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Greatest Sin of Materialism

Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of Peach Parish in Vacherie Louisiana

When one goes to the various Black Madonna Shrines throughout Europe, it is striking to see the adoration of the pilgrims. When I was sitting in Chartres Cathedral in the chapel dedicated to the Black Madonna of the Pillar, I noticed the difference between the people who were paying attention to the rest of the Cathedral and those who came directly towards the Black Madonna. The big difference was mainly the race. Those who were of non European origin came to the Black Madonna first, those who were of European origin tended to come to the shrine if it was on their pathway through the Cathedral.

What I was seeing was a deep resonance from the non European people, as if they were visiting a friend or relative. For those of us who do have European roots, we do not understand the wounds inflicted on our dark skinned brothers and sisters by presenting divinity as Caucasian. In one aspect I can empathize as I was exposed to traditions that forbade females over the age of 18 to preach the Gospel to adults, and have experienced the extreme pain of having the sacraments withheld from me due to my "paperwork," or what I like to call church affiliation. I have always been painfully amused when attending a service when communion was presented, and either the officiating clergy or sternly worded pamphlets requested that those of us who were not (fill in the blanks with a certain Christian sect, protestant or otherwise) were asked to refrain from the salvation offered by the sacrament. I always wondered why anyone thought this was an effective recruiting tool, who in their right mind would want to join something that was so exclusionary and elitist? Did the deed of the Christ only count for certain groups? Was entry into heaven dependent on having the proper identification papers, genitals and racial presentation? I was raised in an ecumenical home, as well as in the Methodist Church, where the "table" was open to all. I was shocked and deeply hurt when I found this was not how things are done in many houses of worship. 

There was a lovely segment on Weekend Edition this morning. As I drove out to the canyons to hike, I was deeply moved by what is going on in a small Parish Catholic Church in Vacherie, Louisiana. Vacherie is a small town about 50 miles west of New Orleans, made famous by the various now historic plantations in the area. Often in the path of the Hurricane's of the area, Vacherie is home to Our Lady of Peace Church. 

Our Lady of Peach Catholic Church was founded in 1864, and suffered many a devastating hurricane. In the late 40's a building campaign to restore the old Church started, and in 1954 a statue of Our Lady of Peace was donated to the congregation.

In 1959 another structure was completed, but with a purpose and effect in great contrast to the essential impulse of the Christ. A bathroom was constructed, but with two entrances. One set of doors was painted white, and the other was brown. While there was no specific signage, all parishioners knew what the colors meant, and ushers would follow African American congregants to make sure they used the proper rest room. 

In 2005 Hurricane Rita almost demolished the building that housed these segregated rooms, and this last October bulldozers were brought in to finish the job. Life long parishioners had always felt left out of the parish by this symbol of racial hatred, and were relieved when it was finally destroyed.

What was and is so unique about this instance is that before and after the destruction of the building, there was a group that formed to talk about racial pain. The service was called, "Healing of Racial Hurts" and  preceded the demolition of the building. The resident Priest, Father Michael Miceli said in his prayer during the Mass, 

"Let us acknowledge the mistakes, the decisions, the policies, the rules, the evil, the sins we committed that unfairly separated us, especially our African-American brothers and sisters, both living and deceased," He set fire to pieces of the old bathroom building. And from the pulpit, the priest apologized. "Please, forgive us," he said.

Racism is the ultimate expression of materialism. To judge the worth and character of a person by something as arbitrary as the color of their skin is a feature of our current age. It started when the Europeans ventured across lands and oceans, with profound consequences. During the early days of the Spanish occupation of the Americas, the treatment of the Natives was so vicious that many of the clergy spoke out against the oppression. A great council ensued where the humanity of the Natives was argued in a  papal court. The resulting document was called Sublimus Dei, released in 1537. This document recognized the soul and humanity of the Natives, and forbade the enslavement of them. It did not however, recognized the humanity of the Africans, and we all know the horrors that ensued up to the Civil War, and the echos America endured in the Segregation of the South.

There are those who complained that the "Healing of Racial Hurts" Mass was unnecessary and served only to stir things up. But there were others who felt a great burden lifted, and finally welcomed in their home church. 

We are one in the Christ, we are one in the family of Humanity, as part of the Cosmos that birthed us. The magnificence of creation is that there are so many varied ways that Divinity expresses itself, both in nature and in the human community. Racism breaks this bond, this deep connection. When Divinity is expressed to the exclusion of others, it is a pain greater than any other. I think this is why racial and religious strife is so destructive, wounds so greatly, because it is basically telling the other that they do not exist. To experience this in a sacred place such as a church, even in the bathroom, is the ultimate triumph of evil.

There is much strife in the world these days, between different groups. In some ways, I think it is a sort of working out of the evils of materialism, for our task in this age, particularly on the American continent is to face materialism in a moral way, to transform and spiritualize the material.

In the landmark book Race and the Cosmos, author Dr. Barbara Holmes talks about the heady days of the Civil Rights movement. She speaks about how the African American community thought if they could have legal and economic parity with whites, then all would be well. What she and others have experienced has been the opposite. There is a great grief over the centuries of abuse and oppression of slavery, and a deep feeling of alienation from culture and origins because many families do not know from where their ancestors came. Dr. Holmes then goes on to talk about the cosmic nature of Black, and that we all come from the great galaxy, that our true home is within the vastness of the Universe, with the Divine as parent of us all.

A wonderful tactic of resistance is being used in the Ukraine these days, that of holding mirrors to the police.

What I love about this is that it is the essence of being human. The essence of being a Christian is recognizing the humanity, the Christ in the other. How can we harm and reject the other, when in reality the other is us? 

True healing comes from going deep into wounds so they can heal. If you cover up a wound without allowing for the dirt to be cleaned, it will fester and cause great damage. Recognizing another's pain, asking for forgiveness is one of the greatest things we can do to create harmony in our personal and communal relationships.

The scarred, somber dark faces of the Black Madonna's I think are profound reminders that Divinity has many faces. The Black Madonna's are essential to help us acknowledge our diversity, that Divinity is in us all. Let us reach out to one another, in the spirit of the universalism of the Christ. Only then, can we truly have what the Church in Vacherie promotes, deep, lasting, rich and rewarding peace.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Human Heart and the Holy Grail

One of the many themes of the Black Madonna's is that they are associated with The Holy Grail. The Shrine at Montserrat is considered to be the location of the Grail in many legends. The bringers of the Black Madonna's the Knights Templar are also considered to be associated with the Holy Grail.

The Grail is the cup that caught the blood of Christ as he hung on the cross. It is considered to be an agent of transformation as the blood of Christ also transforms. 

In Anthroposophy, we view the Incarnation in Palestine over 2000 years ago as Christ coming in the Physical. We understand the Christ has come again, as was foretold in the Gospels. We see this so called "second coming" as happening now, but in the Etheric or life realm, not in the Physical.

The Angelic Hierarchies by Hildegard of Bingen

Since the beginning of the 1900's Christ has been descending through the planetary spheres and the angelic hierarchies to reappear in the Etheric. A great counter distraction to this event of the activity of Christ occurred twice, when he started his decent. The great distractions that turned humanities gaze away from the current Christ event were during the time of World War I, and again in 1933 with the triumph of the Nazi's in Germany.

Robert Powell speaks about the Christ Rhythm as being 33 1/3 years, as long as Christ Jesus life on earth.(1) At the dawn of the age of light, after the 5000 year period which many call the Kali Yuga ended in 1899, the Cosmic Christ started his new journey towards Earth. Each one of the Christ Rhythms is 33 1/3 years and we can see amazing things in history during 1933, 1966 and 1999 respectively.

The Black Madonna's are associated with the Evangelist Luke, who as we have learned was a apostle of Paul. Luke was educated in Greek Medicine which dealt with the Etheric realm. 

The Black Madonna's came in mass during the Crusades by the Knights Templar. The Crusades were the preparation for the age of Consciousness Soul which we now are living through. The main ideal of the Knights Templar was to create a culture that could contain the Christ, a Grail culture, if you will.

The Black Madonna of the Americas is The Virgin of Guadalupe. This miraculous image is a seemingly endless codice of symbols, but one of the more amazing aspects of this Madonna is the geometry which she represents. She is an image of the Golden Ratio, as well as the geometry of the Fifth Chamber of the Etheric Heart. She has her hands over her heart, says to Juan Diego to whom she appeared, to "build me a temple," and her image imprinted upon Juan Diego's chest. The corona and her hands are the same geometric shape as the fifth chamber of the heart.

Rudolf Steiner and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer spoke about the development of the "fifth chamber" of the human heart. This chamber is being developed so humanity can perceive the Etheric Christ. Frank Chester of California has discovered the geometry of this chamber through his work with the Chestahedron.

It seems to me, all these correlations between the Black Madonna's, Luke the Evangelist, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. The message is that we must develop our hearts so that they can perceive and contain the Etheric Christ.

We often think of spiritual enlightenment as an external destination. For centuries the treasure of the Templars has been thought of some sort of cache of gold buried in the new world. But if we really think of the true "treasure chest" it is actually within our own bodies, our heart can contain the real, lasting and most valuable of all treasures, if we open and develop it. Our hearts can perceive and contain the cosmic Christ. Our human hearts are the true Grail.

Suffering, the Dark Night of the Soul and Wisdom

As we enter into these final days of the Holy Nights, those of us who participate in studies and special church services start to grow a bit weary here near the end. The Holy Nights is a microcosm of the coming year, and each year is a path of initiation to those who wish to grow in their maturity as a human being.

A major effect of the event on Golgotha was that the spiritual world was opened wide to humanity. The torn curtain in the Temple between the Holy of Holies and the congregation was a deep symbol that there was nothing between Humanity and Divinity after the deed of the Christ.

Before this event, only a select group was initiated, after Golgotha, life became the initiation. We became all equal in the eyes of the Divine, and from this point onwards it has been our own efforts that will open us up to communion with the Heavens.

The Black Madonna's have many themes associated with them. A major similarity among these works of art is that they have very somber faces. Numerous narratives mention how the Madonna's survive fires, bombs, and attacks with swords. In some instances they are actually broken, yet miraculously mend themselves. The Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Poland has scars on her cheeks from a Saracen vandal. Many attempts to cover the scars have been unsuccessful, as they reappear the next day.

The term the Dark Night of the Soul was coined by St. John of the Cross. He was trying with Theresa of Avila to reform the Spanish Clergy and Women Religious. He was betrayed and thrown into a windowless dungeon, where he conceived of the theory that during the darkest of nights, the greatest of suffering is where we feel the Divine most potently.

A trending theme in modern day attempts at Spiritual awakening is the association with pleasure and happiness with fulfillment. I think this is why the new age new thought movements are so popular. Suffering is something humans do not really want to acknowledge let alone endure, and yet it is a universal experience.

While extremely unpleasant, suffering is part of the human journey of initiation. The deeper purpose is to open the heart and develop organs of perception to the Spiritual World. Wisdom is the gift of suffering. Suffering transforms. In the blackened forest after a devastating fire, new life stirs. From the intense pressure on charcoal, a diamond is formed. The irritating sand in an oyster produces a priceless pearl.

The Black Madonna's along the Compostela are dark and stern for a reason. They show us that life is difficult, the journey is long, but there is transformation at the end. When we are in agony, it often opens our hearts and we feel and perceive the Divine in ways we never could in times of plenty and contentment. Our suffering is not in vain, and the love and wisdom on the other side is sweeter than anything we can imagine. 

Blessings on your journey.

The Lecture Reference from The Fifth Gospel by Rudolf Steiner

Monday, December 30, 2013

Wisdom and the Way of the Stars

As we proceed through the year, our planetary system is like a symphony of movement throughout the heavens. As we traverse the stars, each month gives us a new opportunity for deeper understanding on our journey.

The Holy Nights are a microcosm for this journey. The period between Christmas Eve and Epiphany is a time when time in some aspects stands still. The days and nights are pretty consistent in their length during this time, and after Epiphany the length of the days increases in the northern hemisphere.

During Medieval Times, there was a thirst for the Apostolic fervor of the early days of Christianity. This desire for passion led people to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to test themselves for endurance either through fasts, extreme hardships through monastic living and other endeavors. A famous route for Pilgrimage through the European Continent which still stands today is called The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, or the Way of the Stars.

What is unique about this route is that it literally casts a net over the entire continent. The route also has a correspondence with the Stars. Legend says that the dust of the footprints of the pilgrims made up the Milky Way. 

The Black Madonna's are found in churches, shrines and cathedrals along this Camino. An interesting correspondence with the stars is in France, where the Virgo Constellation is reflected in the location of the major cathedrals dedicated to "Our Lady" or Notre Dame. 

The star in the constellation that corresponds to Chartres is Porrima, or the Roman Goddess of Birth. There are three Black Madonna's at this Cathedral, which was also the home to a great Templar Mystery School. 

Pilgrims would flock to Chartres, start out their journey in the crypt and make their way up into the Cathedral of light. The mysteries of Birth, of Light and Dark were the focus of this school. When you go from the Crypt into the main sanctuary, filled with colored glass, you can see the beauty and meaning behind these mysteries.

The Black Madonna's are placed throughout the Camino. I think they were placed there to remind us that we must now use our will, our effort to reach out to the Spiritual World in our modern times. I also think the Black Madonna's are reminders of our cosmic origins and our spiritual natures.

After the the Christ Event on the first Easter, the mysteries were opened to all. Before this time, only a select group of people were initiated into the mysteries. After the Christ event, life itself became the initiation, and our path through the year as indicated by the journey through the stars, brings us Wisdom.

These ancient Icons and Fresco's with Christ and the Zodiac offer a unique perspective on our collective journey. As we enter the midpoint of our Holy Nights journey, it is my hope that we remember that all paths lead to the Christ for those who can take up the task, and answer the invitation to be whole.

Blessings to you as you continue your journey on the "Camino" of the Holy Nights!

Christmas Eve and the Birth of the Son Within

All the preparations are done and the world turns inward for the annual celebration of the Birth of the Christ. There is something so special about Christmas Eve. I have always loved the quality of this evening, the anticipation, the onset of the celebrations. If you haven't got everything done, then, oh well, it probably won't get done before the big day, because it Christmas is going to start anyways, regardless if you baked that amazing cookie recipe or made those awesome place cards out of foil. The Church services, the candlelight, the music, it all starts up and something magical is in everything, the light, sounds, smells and feeling.

Every year for the last decade or so, the local classical music station in Southern California broadcasts the annual festival of Carols from Kings College in Cambridge England. It is a lovely combination of poetry readings, scripture and choir music. It always starts with the Genesis story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. The significance of this story for  Christmas is the fact that the plan was put into motion way back in the dawn of human history, for the Christ to come to Earth through the vessel of a human body.

Adam and Eve: Windows to Beginnings by Paul Matei

The first centuries of Christianity there was a comprehension of the Christ that is very different our modern understanding. It was common knowledge until the 9th century that Christ descended to Earth from the sun to join his destiny with that of humanity. Christ was seen as the "sublime being of the Sun," who descended to Earth for our benefit. 

Human beings in this context were seen as having a threefold nature; body, soul and spirit. I go into great lengths about this in my book, The Black Madonna, Journey of the Human Heart. But for our discussion here, many events in heaven and on earth conspired to create a dimming of this awareness.

Icons of the 4th Ecumenical Council of 869-870 AD

In the 9th Century, a great Ecumenical Council took place in Constantinople, then the seat of the Vatican and the head of the Holy Roman Empire. At this Council in the year 869 AD,  consciousness of Christ as a being of the Sun, and knowledge of the existence of the Human Spirit was made into heresy. Essentially, teaching, preaching or writing about the human spirit became illegal, and the church hierarchy became the disseminator of the mysteries. The mystical knowledge of the Christian impulse started to dim, and make way for a more materialistic orientation towards the Spiritual World. Ultimately, this has lead to the opportunity to develop our freedom and independence, but the drawback was a shutting down of the living knowledge of the nature of the Christ. 

The Black Madonna of Montserrat Discovered in the Mountains 
Discovery Dated in the late 700's Early 800's
Painting by Ricci 1640 AD

The Black Madonna Appearing to St. Meinrad of Einsiedeln in the 9th Century

During this time, the 9th Century, the Black Madonna's started to "appear" on the European Continent. The discovery narratives of several of the major Black Madonna's tell of the works of art revealed through light and sound, music and stars. As the age of the Crusades commenced with the founding of the Knights Templar, the Black Madonna's began to be brought to Europe by their efforts. Rudolf Steiner indicates that much of the secret efforts that the Templars had on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was to penetrate the Sophianic Mysteries, The Grail Initiations. It is in my estimation profoundly significant that The Black Madonna's appeared in earnest during and after the 9th Century, just as human consciousness was dimming, as a invitational spark into memory. But this time, humanity would have to develop their consciousness of the Spiritual World, of the Christ Impulse out of their own efforts, through translating Divine Will symbolized by the color black and the large hands of the Madonna's.

The Holy Nights that are the yearly festival of Cosmic Memory, begin on Christmas Eve. December 24th, Adam and Eve Day, is the commemoration of the great drama that unfolded, when the spark of the Divine plan for the Incarnation of the Christ in response to the Fall of Man was set in motion. It is a time for us to remember how we can see the Sun at Midnight, that the light is present during the darkest time of the year.

What is particularly moving to me each year, each day in fact, is seeing the effort and gesture that the Spiritual World has towards to humanity. That after the event in Palestine over 2000 years ago, the Spiritual World continues to reach out to us. The Black Madonna's are for me part of this gracious reaching out to humanity, as a constant reminder we are not alone, that our suffering and endurance has purpose, and that we are thought of so highly that the Christ would come to dwell amongst us.

Blessings to you this Christmas Eve!