The Heart of the Black Madonna

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Soul in the Age of Distraction

When I look for material to post on my Facebook page, it is so interesting how the search engine interprets my queries. Since June 16, 2015 was the new moon, I typed in "Black Madonna and Moon" into the search box to post some Icon celebrating the new moon. What came up was a rear view image of an 80's pop star, dressed in black with her bum cheeks hanging out of her black thong. I will spare you, the reader, the visual, as it is something all of us could lead happy fulfilling lives without ever seeing what passes for the Black Virgin and a crescent moon, but I actually found the internet event both extremely amusing and disturbing at the same time.

The creative process of articulating one's heart when it comes to understanding the Human Divine relationship is one of constant conversation, constant revelation. The Angelic world is always poised into action for those who bother to make connection. It never ceases to amaze me how when I am questioning something, the information comes to me in the most unusual and unexpected ways. I find books in discard piles of libraries or garage sales, playing on the internet leads to unknown treasures, even seems to know I am searching and suggests unusual gems for me to read. I also stumble into situations where I can glean learning's and see endless correlations.

I am in a new place, moved away from all that was familiar because the familiar was so filled with pain over loss of every kind imaginable, it seemed a new environment was the only way to heal my broken heart. As I crave the sacrament of Communion, I of course set on a exploratory journey to find a new community where I could listen to the hymns of my childhood and receive nourishment from the Table as well as a welcoming community. Church attendance is down, so all communities are on the charm offense, offering genuine caring and warmth to any new face. As providence would have it, I started attending a church called "Grace" where the congregation was busy raising funds to construct a copy of the Labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in the courtyard of the church. I am not a fan of the power point presentation church services of modern communities. This church has an organ and a pastor who loves the old hymns. I sing to my hearts content, without the aid of slides prompting every stanza.

After the service, members come to welcome me and invite me to be part of their many small group studies and activities. The one I can attend is studying the Acts of the Apostles. In these last few months, when I was not editing my first Black Madonna book, which I hope to have published in the next few months, I have been studying the early Church, specifically how the Balkans and the Black Madonna fit into this picture. The Apostle Paul traveled throughout the Balkans in his mission journeys, specifically to Macedonia. St. Helena, the mother of Constantine, is responsible for many of the Black Madonna discoveries in Palestine. She is said to have brought them from Jerusalem to Constantinople, and from there many were given as royal gifts and religious donations throughout the Roman Empire of the day. 

Many of the Black Madonnas discovered by St. Helena are reported to be painted or carved by the Evangelist Luke, author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke was a direct Apostle of Paul's and a contemporary of many of the original twelve Apostles of Christ. What sets Paul apart, as well as Luke, is that they witnessed the Risen Christ, Christ in the Etheric Life realm. Another contemporary and first Apostle of Paul was Dionysius the Areopagite. He was baptized by Paul, and was one of the first Church Fathers to write down treatises on how to access the Divine. One of his more interesting philosophies is "Divine Darkness."

Divine Darkness, says Dionysius, is how we truly access Christ and the spiritual world. He writes that when we are devoid of distractions, we can most purely experience the full magnificence and mystery of the Divine. The Knights Templar were influenced by Dionysius when they spent their first nine years in Jerusalem, studying with the Syrian Monks. The Syrian Christians came from the original communities established by Paul and carried the message of Divine Darkness in their approach to Christ. The Knights Templar brought back this knowledge and mystery to the art and architecture of the Cathedral and Mystery School at Chartres. The Templars also brought and placed Black Madonnas in many cathedrals and shrines in Europe along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, on which Chartres resides. In the Middle Ages, pilgrims would come to Chartres and enter the crypt, where there was a spring associated with a Dark Virgin. They would spend the whole night singing and praying, and at dawn would ascend to the main cathedral, one filled with light. Many would walk the Labyrinth as part of the ascent into the multicolored light coming from the stained glass windows. 

This week at the study, we read Acts 10. In this chapter, we learn that a Roman soldier had a vision telling him to go to Peter and convert. We also hear about Paul's dream showing him all food was good to eat, even the non Kosher options, and we hear a treatise that Christ came for all peoples, the beginning message of universal love for all of God's children, not just select groups. The following discussion revolved around how we receive guidance from God. Do we have prophetic dreams and visions, dramatic conversions, flames on heads and speaking in tongues, or do we actually miss the constant messaging from the Divine because modern life is so distracting?

One group member commented that her husband was a retired minister who missed the ministry greatly, but that he had never felt closer to God than he was now feeling though his gardening. One of my Facebook chat groups is arguing over whether a self proclaimed person is actually a prophet reincarnated to give us wisdom. I responded that we search for wonders, but miss the miracles that surround us every moment of every day. Our beating hearts, the orbiting planets in the endless background of stars, emerging plant life from tiny seeds, the sounds of the night creatures that create a symphony of rhythm. We do not need glitter dust flashing lights from prophets descending on clouds, we have the miracle of life on this beautiful planet that sustains us, lovingly set into motion by our creator. One woman remarked that so much distracts us in modern life, we overlook the supernatural wonders that surround us on a daily basis.

I marvel that a copy of the Labyrinth of Chartres will be gracing this church of Grace, that we are studying the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke, who knew Dionysius who in turn influenced the Knights Templar, patrons of the Cathedral that celebrated the mysteries of darkness and light. I also grieve a culture that thinks Black Madonna and Moon is a pop star with her bum hanging out, thinking that is some sort of artistic message to enlighten the rest of us. Her very smooth airbrushed bum is a distraction from the marvels of creation, of true human creativity and deep soulful love that fills every crevice of the universe. Why is it that the bare bottoms and cleavage of popular personalities, we even call them "celebrities" and "stars," capture our attention, but we miss the dawn and the song of the birds? 

The Black Madonnas have existed for almost 2000 years, the pop star thankfully is only preserved on the internet, which by all accounts may not record events for the next two millennia. But nature and the cosmos will record the essence of love for all of eternity, written in the stars. Now that is what I call a true distraction from the tedium and pain of life. 

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