This month in the Embracing Shakti Temple our featured embodiment of the Divine Feminine is the Black Madonna – a representation of the Great Mother archetype. The Black Madonna has been one of the most mysterious and controversial religious icons for centuries. Dating to mostly the medieval period, she usually appears in the form of paintings or carvings. While some say she is just another Virgin Mary carved from black wood, others think it is soot on her skin from the smoke of a thousand candles. However, there is speculation that goes much deeper than that.

While there are hundreds of Black Madonnas in churches and museums throughout Europe and Latin America, some scholars say she is linked to religions that existed long before Christianity. Her shrines are often in locations that were once pagan holy grounds for Diana, Artemis, Cybele and Isis. Even further back, she may represent the archetypal Earth Mother, Gaia, the ancient, eternal power of the feminine force, creator of all life, who gives birth, nourishes and feeds us all, and to whom we shall return to when we die. However depicted, or where she came from, there is no doubt that she conveys a sense of depth and mystery.

If you would like to evoke the energy of the Black Madonna to connect to power of transformation, here are a few suggestions:

  • To honour new birth that comes with Spring, plant a favourite flower in Black Madonna’s name. If you’d like to take this one step further, decorate the pot and create a shrine to her around it.
  • Black Madonna reminds us that we cannot rule over nature and constantly recycles all things. What can you recycle to do your part to help our environment? Bottles, paper, electronics … go through your home to see what you can purge and reprocess.
  • The Great Mother embraces all things creative! How do you see the Black Madonna? Why not paint, carve or create your own depiction of her?