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On the Black Madonna
The Black Madonna
This post forms part of an ongoing series:
This article continues the tour of my second vision from December 2020, which became a prophetic recounting of my spiritual journey. The journey up to this point involved rediscovering the universal Self, and so was an ascent towards the ‘light’ of eternity, towards greater transparency, unity and truth. However a key spiritual principle is that opposites must always be accounted for to arrive at completion. And so the visions will now describe the process of creation, which in line with the Hero’s Journey, is a descent back into the ‘darkness’ of existence. Transparency will now be veiled, unity will be replaced with multiplicity, sterile truth with the confusion of life.
This process of creation is presided over by the Goddess, the Great Mother who is the key subject of this vision. In the previous article, her aspect as the Sky Goddess was introduced who bestowed the Boon to the initiate. This article will continue where it left off, and introduce the dark aspect of the Goddess. She presides over the birth of creation, and so is associated with the initiate bearing the Boon into the world. In order to articulate this further, I’ll introduce this dark aspect by reference to it’s appearance in our culture as the Black Madonna.
The Black Madonna
Our Western culture values the masculine and objective above the feminine and subjective, and nowhere is this more apparent than religion. Christian belief equates the objective reality of God with the life beyond, rather than the here and now. The subjective reality of this world is not to be revered but rather transcended. This world can only cause us suffering, and is a cross we must all bear before the faithful are rewarded in Heaven.
The God principle is so entrenched that there has been no room for the Goddess since Europe was Christianized and did away with the old religions. But they never truly went away but rather were driven underground. The Black Madonna is a demonstration of this (read more here and here), where local villages insist on representing the Virgin Mary as black, associating Mary with the Goddess of the pagans. Pagan myth associated the feminine with darkness and celebrated it, for it was associated with the womb and creation. This celebration of darkness associates the Divine with this world rather than the world beyond.
The darkness was also associated with the hidden mysteries of initiation. Much like Mary, the Pagan Goddesses are often depicted with their Son, indicating secrets of creation that they impart to devoted sons, or initiates. It is both aspects of darkness, as the Mother and Initiator, that we will be concerning ourselves with here. The next passages from the vision will introduce a key Mother Goddess, Kali from the Hindu tradition.
The Goddess of Death
(The goddess is) statuesque,
Beauty similar in nature to Hera ..
Her appearance has morphed now into (Kali), a terrible aspect
And a Black sharp Mountain .. towers above me
Like the Tower of Babel
(Kali) tells me to not fear the Shadow
Of She who Destroys
This is only her apparent aspect from the Darkness of Time ..
She warns the Darkness will consume me once more (upon entering the Tower) as it always has
The initial appearance of Hera is significant, for she abandons her son Hephaestus and casts him out of Mount Olympus, in the same manner that will take place in this vision. Hephaestus as a result is a cripple, obsessed with creating beauty in order to heal his emotional wounds. This process of learning to create from the heart through darkness is the exact same journey that the Goddess will impart upon the initiate.
Upon providing the ruby to the initiate, Hera morphs into Kali, who represents creation, and the darkness that precedes creation and where it is birthed from. She is commonly depicted holding a sword (as above) signifying divine knowledge, and a severed head that is our aspect that must be slain by divine knowledge to attain her secrets. As such, she appears terrible to initiates who resist her influence, but her guidance is in fact revealed to be loving should the initiate allow her to take them where they need to go.
Birth of the Divine Child
I float in a Void
I've lost all bearing, all definition..
A great chicken that lays eggs
Eggs that hatch tiny human souls ..
I'm being torn apart
Deep vibrations emanate from my spine ..
The darkness has condensed into a pond
And I am surrounded by tadpoles
What was once the divine essence of the Goddess
Now encases me in a slimy residue
The initiate enters the womb of Kali, described as ‘a black, unsolvable mystery’ with its own intelligence, burning away the dross of the initiate to make him a fit vessel for the Divine. The womb is alternately represented in the previous passage as a Mountain or the Tower of Babel, both symbols of creation representing the gestation of sterile unity into a manyness of lively confusion.
The initiate is hatched from an egg. This is a classic symbol, represented by figures such as Harpocrates, Phanes and Ra in classic mythology. It suggests the initiate is about to enter a prolonged incubation before awakening, as the Egyptian myths suggest, as a Divine Child at dawn.
The Night of Pan
I'm lying on a beach
It’s not quite sunrise yet ..
I call out to the Goddess
Where is she now?
Has she abandoned me? ..
I start sobbing like a toddler ..
I feel I want to say that the Goddess is present in the Ocean, the Waves and the Sky
It feels trite
I am not comforted by this statement..
The initiate emerging from Kali’s womb is represented here by the beach setting, having emerged from the Great Ocean of the Unconscious. The initiate sobs like a toddler for having being abandoned by the Mother, recalling the Thelemic myth of the Night of Pan. In Thelema, the child who cries out is the Babe of the Abyss, the aspirant who must undergo the ordeal of crossing the Abyss before reuniting with the Mother at dawn.
In other words, Kali is not done with the initiate yet as dawn has not arrived. She has veiled herself in darkness, representing a separation between Heaven and Earth. This period of darkness is commonly characterized as a ‘dark night of the soul’ wherein feelings of stagnation, fatigue and difficulty is to be expected. In alchemy this process was termed the ‘Nigredo’, the black stage where the initiate undergoes purification and confronts the shadow within, surfaced in this case by the influence of Kali.
Finally, an interesting passage here is the trite statement that the Goddess is ‘present in the ocean, waves and the sky’. This represents an incomplete understanding of the Divine, indicating an idea of the Goddess that resides above and outside, rather than acknowledging her presence as the Dark Mother within. These kinds of sentiments are summarized in statements such as ‘everything happens for a reason’, or in other words expecting good things to simply just happen. What is missing is active participation on the part of the initiate. Kali’s role is aimed at exactly this, to influence the initiate to embrace his inheritance to be a co-creator of the Divine.
Real life parallel
The most significant parallel in how this vision related to my life was my career. As described in the previous article, I was offered an opportunity from a client who were keen to bring me onboard. This felt analogous to meeting the Goddess where ‘everything was falling into place’.
However in taking the opportunity I had decided to gloss over the details, being optimistic it would simply work out. The crash down to Earth resulted from commencing the role, and finding it did not match my expectations. This realization coincided with the influence of Kali inducing my ‘Night of Pan’. What originally felt like cause for optimism ended up feeling like I had been abandoned.
It felt that I lacked the ability to create the life I wanted. In this respect I resembled the God I mentioned earlier, Hephaestus. Hephaestus is also cast down to Earth by his mother Hera, unwanted and abandoned, and as a result feels he has a crippled nature. It is only through being adopted into another family, a family that resides below the Heavens, that he awakens his Fire within, and learns to work through his home, the Earth.
This process of discovering the Fire within, and coming to see the true nature of the darkness will be shared in the next article, that will finally round out the description of the second vision.
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