The Heart of the Black Madonna

Saturday, January 4, 2014

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

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