Friday, January 19, 2018

Reading the Amulets of Mary




Reading with cards, charms, tea leaves or any object
is an intuitive inner journey that takes practise.
It is a skill to hone your subtle senses and also a skill
to trust your intuition and your inner voices and prompts.

Life is a journey filled with markers and pointers for us.
Each life has a theme and certain archetypes and we can
create within those limits and parameters.  To become
really in touch with your subtle senses, demand a certain
amount of humility and your own personal shadow work
It is so easy to pretend to ourselves that 'all is as it should be'
and to shift all responsibility onto a Higher Power.
The truth is that we have been dealt a hand of cards, 
black and white and red and we are accountable
and responsible for getting to know both the positive
and negative of our own personal hand.

This is where amulets, charms and tarot becomes so valuable.
When you combine it with Jungian shadow work, you can uncover
your own projections and hidden perceptions - you can take 
the power back from unruly emotions and the pain
of dysfunctional personal relationships.


Skull of Mary Magdalene in procession at Sainte Maximin -la-Ste-Baume
France during feast day celebrations


The Amulets of Mary comes with a booklet describing the fundamental
tenets of Benedicaria, The Blessing Way, an ancient Southern Italian spiritual
path.  According to those who have made a study and practice of Benedicaria
it is the most pure form of Catholicism.  It restores many practices
which have been classified as 'occult' to its rightful place in a spirtiual
path that integrates both ancient traditions, folklore and modern
consciousness enlightenment work.

I suggest that you keep a book in which to record your readings
and also your own interpretation of the charms and their positions
on the charts.  With time you can create your own casting sheet as
you develop your own understanding of what it is that you
want to ascertain from these readings.



When you have followed the guidelines for creating your
own altar and you have asked the question, you can
take a handful of amulets from the pouch and drop
them onto the casting sheet.
The sheet has been divided into four quadrants.
These represent the four suits of the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck
or any tarot deck.  I have allocated the four sections of mind,
body, soul and spirit and the attributes
are handwritten onto the casting sheet.
You can add your own with a sharpie onto the linen cloth.
  You can allocate the four seasons, the four elements
of earth, air, water and fire. On the new sheets I have added
Past, Present, Future and Unknown.  You can do the same.

I have also added a YES and NO section

The section of the sheet that applies, depend on your question.  If
you asked a simple yes or no question, then look to see where the
charm fell. If you randomly picked some charms and you choose the
yes and no sections, then it is important to see which charms fell
on the yes and which fell on the no - then read their meanings, look
at their meanings and story in the tarot guide book and add your
own intuitive meaning to it all.  Sometimes one needs to allow
all the information to settle down into the unconscious and reveal
its deeper meaning to you over time.
Sometimes the answers are just so obvious and right there.

In the new sheets I have added key words to the four sections.

For instance, in Body you can add
earth, embodiment, physical, manifestation

When you want to see a bigger picture than Yes or No, you can
cast the charms over the entire sheet.  This will then show you
which areas of your life is affected and what your inner guidance
is trying to draw your attention to.



Sample reading :

Chalice fell in Mind (Suit of Distaff)
Star landed on Heart (Suit of Vessels)
Mermaid landed on Body (Suit of Roses)


The Chalice
The Chalice is seen as a sacred and holy object in ancient Grail legends, Arthurian myth, Mary Magdalen myth and in a Christian hymn Mary is called the Chalice.  The Chalice is also regarded as the holy grail and there are many theories :  some believe   that it is a physical cup in which Jesus’ blood was collected after the crucifixion by Mary Magdalene;  others believe that the the Holy Grail is a women or the strength of a woman.  In the Mary Mysteries, she is the Chalice and the Holy Grail.  She is the strength and compassion that floods our soul;  she is the Waters of Consciousness that flow everlasting from the Chalice.
Tarot Card :  Queen of Vessels : Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Jesus
Meaning :  sacred vehicle;  when you get the chalice in a reading it indicates the vehicle in which your blessing will appear;  it also points to the direction in which you have to go;  it shows in which area of your life you have to pay attention to your dreams.

Add your own connotations and meanings to the chalice and even the
stories and legends in which it appear.  Chalice fell on
the Mind section.  Mind is thinking, thoughts, ideas, conscious mind,
rational mind, logic, neural pathways

This placement could mean that you have to pay more attention
to your ideas  and thoughts:  they will take you to the Chalice and Holy Grail of
your search.  The Queen of Vessels card
is of the suit of the Heart and waters.  I interpret this as telling
you that your mind should be in service of your heart.
When you become aware of the way that your mind reacts
to the prompts of your heart and its inner whisper,
you will become aware of an important message.
 Let's see how the other charms relate to the reading.

Star
The tale of Esther (Star) is an allegory of a feminine majesty who once stood as equal to her spouse the king and was the instrument through which her own blood relatives and all of  the nation were saved. This echoes the place of Sophia who was present to God at the creation itself and helped it all come into being through her assent to the plan. This story of Esther may be a “fossil” that remains in the Bible and allows us to see how Israel first regarded the feminine, before the patriarchal powers purged the nation of all forms of the ancient Goddess known as the Shekina, partner to the masculine manifestation of God. “Esther” is another form of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, (Star) who was also called “Queen of Heaven” as was the Egyptian Mother Goddess, Isis and as Mary is yet called today. “Esther” is another form of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, (Star) who was also called “Queen of Heaven” as was the Egyptian Mother Goddess, Isis and as Mary is yet called today.
Tarot Card : Stella Maris and 2 of Holy Rood

Star landed in Heart and seen in the light of the placement and meaning
of Chalice, this makes it pretty clear that this querent is not
giving her heart and desires, equal status.  The emotions and the heart
is a feminine quality and often neglected or suppressed.
This is a reality of our modern culture and religion :  the feminine
is suppressed to benefit the masculine properties of 
achievement, logic, rational thinking, goal setting and so on.
To listen to our inner guidance, we need to make time to play,
to meditate, contemplate, spend time alone and more.


Mermaid
Mermaids are regarded as mythical creatures.  They appear in many folk and fairytales.  In the story of Ariel, the mermaid, many parallels can be seen in her story and that of the goddess and specifically the story of Mary Magdalen.  The mermaid is also symbolic of a woman’s ‘watery’ nature and her intense emotional body.  Through the ages the emotional and feeling nature of women has been demonised and women have been institutionalised for ‘hysterics’.  Her spiritual nature has been suppressed in many ways and many have made sure that women have lost their ability to have both a mermaid tale and a pair of legs to walk on land when needed.
Tarot Card :  9 of Vessels – Our Lady of Regla
Meaning :  you need to find a strong sense of balance within yourself;  get to know your own nature and you will be able to master the world around you;  pay attention to your feelings;  unknown waters;  value your own feeling nature;  feelings speak of your intuition;  inner wisdom;  

And Mermaid in Body sums it all up.  

p.s. This was a real reading for someone and these are extracts
from the booklet and additional information sheets. 

If you have bought a set of Amulets of Mary from me, feel free
to send me an email at hettienne@telkomsa.net and I
will send you jpegs of new and updated casting sheets
which you can print at home.

blessings
Hettienne

Recent pilgrimage and new Amulets of Mary Blessing Sets



I spent Christmas with my family in Prague and although I had
my own list of must-visits, Prague surprised with a few
hidden secrets of her own!
I discovered the Casa Loreto in Prague.
Although it is a copy of the shrine in Loreto in Italy,
this entire convent, shrine and grounds were beautiful
with amazing artwork and emanating
powerful Divine Feminine energies.


I will share the story with you in another post with many pictures.
I will also tell you about the incredible holy card exhibition that I also 
stumbled upon in Prague!  
I have returned filled with visions, dreams and new inspiration and
am working on amulet blessing sets based on the Benedicaria
way of living.



Each one of these sets are unique.
They are not simply a collection of mass produced charms
thrown together into a pouch.  Yes, there are mass produced
charms in as well, but there are also unique pieces
such as the hand carved skull, from a nun/s rosary;
tiny Mary statues collected on my many pilgrimages;
holy medals brought back from sacred places and dipped
into holy wells, sacred rivers and miraculous places of healing.


I also cast both in sterling silver and in polymer clay copies
of sacred relics and special statues. 

Each casting sheet is printed onto linen cloth by myself and
sprinkled with holy water and salts from many places
such as Lourdes, St Terese of Lisieux and the grotto of St Michael
in Mont Sant'Angelo.  You can read more about my pilgrimages
here :  http://pathofdivinelove.blogspot.co.za/p/sacred-journeys-pilgrimages-from-2000.html

The sets include a collection of new and old prayer cards;  each
set contains one very special and old prayer card
and some are copies of cards which are now in
private collections.

All the amulet sets correlate to the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
and can they can be used together.

They can also be used in healing sessions.  I am working
on a set that can be used with a chakra reading as well as
an astrology and colour reading.

It takes days to create one amulet set and it is the result
of years of collecting relics and water from sacred sites.  Each set is prepared
on my sacred altar of dedication and devotion to the highest principles
of unity and oneness with the focus of restoring the principle of the
feminine to our consciousness and awareness.

I share many pictures and updates on Instagram @thefrenchmadonna.


blessings
Hettienne

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Blessing Amulets of Mary Oracle Set




Blessing Amulets of Mary Oracle Set


The Amulets of Mary Oracle is a two-fold oracle, blessing and healing set incorporating various ancient traditions including the Benedicaria, the sacred path of the pilgrim and priestesshood in the Temple of Mary and the sanctification of the ordinary through the blessing way.



The Amulets of Mary Oracle and the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck are a culmination of my own conscious spiritual journey of the past 25 years.  It incorporates the practise of Sacred Altarmaking, the devotion of the pilgrim to sacred places, the use of holy waters and relics, the creation of sacred oils and elixers and my work as Diksha giver (Blessing giver) and Guru in the Shaktipat tradition of the Great Mother and my devotion to the Blessed Mary.

Recently, through various books (all listed in the Bibliography of the accompanying booklet) 
I learnt about the ancient tradition of Benedicaria and the work of a Benedetta.  Although I am not born into the Italian culture, my journey as pilgrim did start in Italy with the call issued by Archangel Michael to visit his grotto in Mont Sant’Angelo and I see myself as a modern Benedetta, continuously uncovering more.

The Amulets can be used with and alongside the Mysteries of Mary Tarot cards.




Benedicaria, the Blessing Way, is an ancient
Catholic and domestic folk tradition practised by the Italians in Southern Italy.  This tradition is fast fading from modern society, but many of its practises are still part of syncretic worship and devotion.

One who practices the Benedicaria, is known as a Benedetta, or a Wise Woman and a Benedetto, a Wise Man .  Benedicaria is a private form of practising your religion and it blends with many domestic practises, such as the blessing of animals and herbs, infusing oils and elixers, creating an altar, using flowers and holy cards for blessings and wisdom.


Benedicaria is predominantly a woman’s practise.  A Benedetta has much in common with the goddess archetypes of Demeter, Hestea, Bridgit and even Athena.   She is the homemaker, mother, herbalist, gardener, chef and healer.  This role is not regarded as of any importance in modern society, but for one who is spiritually aware and who undertakes these tasks with great intent, she understands the spiritual force that is being wielded.  The preparing of food is not only a physical act, but a spiritual one.  If this is done in love it will bless the family;  if done in anger and ignorance, it will curse the family.  The motto ‘cleanliness next to godliness’ means much more than meets the eye.  When you keep your spiritual space, ie the home clean, you also keep your spirit and its physical space clean.

The physical life and its objects are manifestations and representations of the life and existence of the spirit.  Taking care of our physical life is a sacred task and when performed with intent and awareness we realise that the ordinary is indeed sacred.



Every Benedetta will have a home altar and a personal altar.  The Amulets of Mary Oracle set can be placed on your altar along with the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck.

With the Amulets of Mary blessing set you will receive guidelines for
creating an altar, using coloured candles, how to use the casting cloth,
the holy cards and more.



The novena prayers are an important part of the Benedicaria.  A novena is a prayer that is said for nine days consecutively.  It is said that the first Apostles prayed for nine days between Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.  The number 9 is a very powerful number in numerology (the science of numbers).  Usually a novena is accompanies by candles, rosaries and ritual such as sacred shrine making (see my blog http://pathofdivinelove.blogspot.com) for my art novenas to Our Lady of Lourdes.  The ancient novena prayers are used in conjunction with all of the above as well as an image of the Saint and those who you are praying for.
It is also practise to include the colour of the Saint or Holy One that you are asking for help.

The Amulets of Mary Blessing set consists of a blessed casting cloth, a set of 45 charms in a small bag, nestled in a tin;  a set of holy cards in a linen scapular bag;
an accompanying spiral bound guide book; a small statue for the altar and other options.
Each set is completely unique and one of a kind and cannot be replicated exactly as I use vintage charms, hand cast silver charms and vintage holy cards amongst others.

There are various sets available :  some are dedicated to a particular saint or saints; others to Mary and Her apparitions or a specific apparition, etc. 
You will find more information on the various available sets at The French Madonna on Etsy.com or on my blog.



The casting cloth has been blessed by touching it to the second and third holy relics of Mary’s sacred chemise and roses from St Terese’s sacred garden, as well as roses from the garden of St Francis and other holy relics.  It has also been sprinkled with holy water from Lourdes and Ngome.
On the casting cloth is a hand drawn diagram.  

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women
and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb

Holy Mary,  Mother of God,
oh Rose Queen
Bestow your Blessing upon us
Now and Forever


Blessings
Hettienne


The French Madonna
www.etsy.com/shop/thefrenchmadonna


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Tree of Choices

The Tree of Choices
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


VI  TREE OF CHOICES
Traditionally The Lovers

‘God planted trees in a garden. Humans lived among those trees, they were not yet divided when they were told: Eat from this tree or do not eat from it.’ Logion 94, The Gospel of Philip

The tree plays an important role in the Mysteries.  In this card we are confronted with the Tree of Choices.  In the Biblical and Judaic stories there are different versions of the trees of Paradise.  It would seem that there was in truth only one tree, the Tree of Life.  This is an ancient symbol of the self-sustaining and regenerating power of a spirit filled world. In the story, this tree was later split into two, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After the split of the trees we see that they are now in opposition to each other. After the fall of Adam and Eve, caused by their eating from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, humanity was cut off and banned from the Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life promised eternal life and humanity was now doomed to a mortal and exiled life.

In this shrine I compare the metaphor of the two trees with the way in which our culture have split value and worthiness of masculine and feminine and then still further dividing the feminine into the ‘good girl/virgin/wife/mother and the bad girl/lover/wise woman.  This split is reflected in the way that the stories of Mariam of Nazareth and Miriam of Magdala, is interpreted and held up as image of the two aspects of woman .

Popular legend has assigned the apple tree to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The apple is a powerful symbol of woman and her feminine sexual nature. (Also see V Holy Rood, The Handless Maiden for more on the symbolism of the apple tree).  In this version of the story of the Fall of Man, woman and her sexual nature is held responsible for their eviction from Paradise.  So right at the onset a woman has been forbidden from getting to know and understand her complex sexual nature. There is an inherent sexuality in physical bodies; one could say that the soul radiates its mystical and sexual nature through its physical cloak.  But humanity has been severed from this mystery and all its gifts.
In the Christian story we are only told the story of Mary the Virgin-Mother, the one who conceived immaculately and who remained a virgin even after the birth of her son.  We never really meet Mary the Beloved of Jesus, the Bride of the Bridal Chamber, the one who is called the Magdalene.  Mary the Mother of God is indeed a Bride without a Bridegroom as She is the Bride of the Spirit, but there is another sacrament in the mysteries, that of the Bride and the Beloved Bridegroom..  This brings us to Mary Magdalene and the various interpretations of her role in the story of Jesus and the three Marys.  Few accept Mary Magdalene as the beloved or the bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.  Mary Magdalene has been blackened in reputation by various authors of religion through the centuries and mostly she has only been seen as an unholy woman who indulges in pleasures of the flesh.  Religion has always separated the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit and especially in the treatment of women as wives, lovers and mistresses.  And we see this split right at the start of the story with the two trees in the Garden of Paradise.  



In this card we see Mary the Mother with the rosary in her hands and we see the black Mary as she is depicted in the poem ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ in the Nag Hammadi library.  In this shrine she represents Mary Magdalene and ultimately both together represent the Feminine Soul and aspect of the eternal feminine.  Both these women carry the name Mary and to me it is an important indicator that there is an important hidden message for those with ears to hear.  The split between the Madonna and the whore is active in many layers of our cultures.  Women are demonised for the expression of their sexuality, whereas men are honoured and revered for their sexual prowess. 

In the traditional Lovers card we often see a male hero struggling for a choice between two women.  In the Mysteries card we have the female version of the choices card.  Women are mostly compared to men and masculine pursuits and rarely in relation to other women and themselves.  This creates an imbalance in women and a suppression of womanly ways and feminine relational values.

Hecate, goddess of choices, is often shown with three roads behind her.  One plus one equals three: new life is born from struggling and discord. Living with the tension of the opposites, allowing disagreement and another's voice that differ from yours, to be heard, brings awareness to the glassy mind, of the awesome beauty of creating a life that has meaning. There is a place where all the rivers converge and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity. 

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage of two opposing forces, a third force is born.  This is the meaning of creativity and the magical nature of the number three.  (This card is a six and thus contains two threes). On the path of divine love, the magical child of love and hope is born from the marriage of the opposites.

The braid of life contains three strands which can be symbolised by the colours white, red and black.  In the ancient cultures the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree. Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well. This specific tree contains all three elements of the thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap. The white blossoms start to form whilst the red berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.

 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the cycle of spring and new beginnings; the red berries represent summer and the fullness of the season and the physical acts of sensuality and joy and loving and the black seed contains the potential of fathering the new life and it also is the end of the life of the berry.
As we dance and weave with the tension of desire and repulsion between the opposites of life, we discover new possibilities, new experiences and we weave a new story.

This shrine and card represent choices. The Tree of Choices invites you to consider the choice to say ‘both’ instead of the black and white rationale of ‘either/or’.  You will be given the opportunity to make a decision and you are reminded that it is possible to find a new way and a different way of reacting and of doing things.  You are reminded that it is only fear that will force you into a corner, and thereby denying half the picture.  When you are willing to keep an open mind and an open heart, it is possible for a new vision to be born.

blessings
Hettienne

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck






A card deck of 78 large size cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with an accompanying A5 book with glossy papercover and 160 pages of info on each card and its themes and background.  Packaged in a hand crafted tarot pouch, accompanied by a signed card from the deck and a rosary.  



The Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck is a unique deck of cards and guide book published in Cape Town, South Africa.  The Mysteries of Mary Tarot is a mystical vision of the sacred mysteries of the Soul and its unsung feminine path. The Mysteries tells of a sacred marriage of the Bride and the Beloved : a new mythos of the Story of the Child Within and the Gospel of Love. A mystical vision of the religion of the Soul as reflected in the archetypal images of the story of Divine Mary in the Mariamic tradition.

Back of the Mysteries of Mary deck

Today we know the Blessed Mary as the Mother of Jesus who plays a small part in the story of Protestant Christianity and who plays an important part in the Roman Catholic tradition.  She is lesser known as a goddess in the feminine traditions and very few would connect her with the great Mother goddesses of the past or the Lady Sophia in the Wisdom traditions.


But to myself, and others like me, there is a connection, a red thread that connects the dots in the eye of the heart.  The ancient divine feminine had been demonised many moons ago and her stories had gone underground.  One has to rely on myth, folk tale, oral traditions, fairy tales and subtle clues and especially correspondences, to uncover Her story.  And today Mary is the Sacred Keeper of all Our Lady’s titles and Wisdom.

The Mysteries of Mary is a reweaving and a regathering of all these threads of Our Lady’s garment created from red wool and linen.  We look in the Bible, in the Koran, the Kabbalah and many other ancient and rediscovered lost books.  There are also esoteric and apocryphal books that tell the stories of Mary, the feminine counterpart of the Divine Creator in the Western religion and myth and many of these stories have been included to create The Mysteries of Mary deck.
 
Mysteries of Mary tarot deck included in
tarot collection of Museo dei Tarocchi, Bologna, Italy


In this deck the story starts with Mara, the bitter one.  Why is she called Mara?  We follow Mara, the holy fool through the stories of Maria Prophetissa, the Jewess and the first woman alchemist, to Sophia, Mary of the Gael onwards till we get to the Woman who stands on the moon with twelve stars around her head.
Woven into the tapestry of myth, metaphor and inspiration, are fairytales and in particular, the folktale of The Handless Maiden.  And so are the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, pagan and especially the Judaic history which is the precursor to the Christian mysteries.

The deck incorporates alchemical principles and as such it is a marriage of opposites, a living hieros gamos which follows the sacred journey of the Holy Fool through the mysteries of Mary. I focus on the mystical (hidden)  and inner meanings of the Mysteries of Mary. 



Historically and politically there are so many theories and ideas – none of them completely provable – thus it remains a Mystery. The teachings of Jesus and the Marys, are also open to various interpretations.  Many wars have been fought based on differences in interpretation.  I am not exploring the religion of the Mystery, but rather the message that I, personally see in this ancient story.




The four suits of the deck correspond with the four cycles of Mary's life :  Virgin and Priestess as the Suit of Vessels;  Beloved and Bride as the Suit of the Holyrood;  Mother and Sacred Woman as the Suit of Distaff and Wisdom as Suit of Roses.


It is my vision that this deck can be the start of a far greater vision : one that marries the mind and the heart; the feminine and the masculine.  It is my hope that you will glimpse the revelation that all religion contains Soul and that the veils of dogma and manipulation obscure the truth.  May you look in the mirror of Sophia and see yourself as Love Eternal. - extracted from the Introduction of the accompanying book.


The deck consists of 78 handcrafted shrines, each one made by  myself to 
represent one of the stories in the deck.  These were photographed and then professionally 
printed in a large card format on a good quality card stock.  
The style and colours used create a rich tapestry of imagery, symbol and colour.  
The accompanying guide book has a paperback cover.   
Each limited edition deck will be signed by myself and each deck 
will come in a unique pouch in the style of the deck

- 78 tarot cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with thick glossy varnish
- 160 page A5 paperback tarot book signed by myself
- Unique handprinted tarot pouch
- Extra signed tarot card

I ship registered airmail with a tracking number

Archangel Michael, Servant of Distaff


Here is a link for reviews received from those who purchased
the deck :
 http://www.hergracesacredart.com/p/feedback-and-reviews-of-mysteries-of.html

Here is a link to the review by Arnell Ando on her website :

http://www.arnellart.com/mary-tarot.htm



The deck is available in my shop The French Madonna
www.etsy.com/shop/thefrenchmadonna


blessings


Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Black Madonna on the Pillar

XV The Black Madonna
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


XV  BLACK MADONNA
Traditionally The Devil
‘The Black Madonna is Dark and calls us to the darkness.. Darkness is something we need to get used to again—the “Enlightenment” has deceived us into being afraid of the dark and distant from it’ – Dr Matthew Fox in his blogpost The Return of the Black Madonna

‘…that which is unknown to us, we deem weak and contemptible. So it is that realities revealed to vigilance seem weak and contemptible, whereas they are strong and praiseworthy.’ – Logion 124, The Gospel of Philip

The Black Madonna or Black Virgin is an ancient aspect of Mary revered as sacred across many cultures of the world.  She is worshipped in caves, underground chambers and dark, hidden places. She represents the darkness of the void and the womb and the dark side of the divine and the feminine. She is virtually the polar opposite of the image of the purity of Virgin Mary.  (It is an interesting fact that there are Black Madonna statues at many places sacred to Mary Magdalene) The Black Madonna can be regarded as that which is hidden and dark or that which is hidden in the dark shadows.  She holds the sacred image of our wholeness by reflecting the dark shadow of our collective and personal consciousness.  She also represents pain and suffering and death, but she is a tremendous agent of change and transformation.  That is one of the meanings of her dark countenance.  She is the one who entices you down into the painful depths of your desires and passions only to bring you face to face with yourself in the mirror of her all-encompassing divinity.

Shrines and holy places dedicated to the Black Madonna are known to have been placed on power points of the earth’s energy ley lines.  This shrine shows the Madonna on the Pillar in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres.  Until my second-last visit to the Madonna on the Pillar she was a Black Madonna.  But recent renovations have turned the Black Madonna into a milky-white doll-like version of the once powerful Black Madonna.  This miniature statue still shows the Black Madonna in her previous appearance and clothing and the Cathedral of Chartres as it once was, veiled with mystery and tradition.

On the shrine of the Black Madonna we see the arms of Our Lady at the top, with the red rose and white lily of alchemy tied onto the arms demonstrating that she holds us in an equal embrace, body and spirit alike.   Religion often regards this world and its physical pleasures and desires as the world of the devil. All religion shy away from the shadows and only see the light as ‘good’ or ‘positive’.  Black is usually regarded as a ‘negative’ and the colour of death and worse.  Wherever there is light, there will be a shadow and the shadow plays a very important role in the wholeness or holiness of the psyche and soul.  If we never look into the shadows, we can never know who we are; we will then become stuck in the idea of who we think we are only and the depths of our being will never be plumbed. Without the darkness of the night our nervous systems cannot completely come to rest in order for the body and mind to regenerate itself.  How would the fetus gestate without the darkness of the womb? How would the human heart come to know true compassion and empathy for another’s suffering without entering the darkness of the cave of loss and pain?
 Traditionally this card is the ‘Devil’ card.  The name Lucifer has become accepted as a name of the devil or the fallen angel in Isaiah 14 of the Old Testament, especially because of a sermon by Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) and the poem Paradise Lost by John Milton. The name Lucifer literally means ‘light bringer’ or bringer of light. ‘Bringing light’ is derived from the Latin lux which means ‘light’ and ‘ferre’ which means ‘to bring’. In Latin Lucifer originally referred to the morning star, Venus, or the Bringer of the Dawn. 
So here we have the goddess Venus, the morning star, directly connected to the Christian idea of the devil.  There is a direct connection between Venus goddess of love and the astrological ruler of Virgo (virgin) and Mary, virgin-mother of the child of love.

In this shrine the Black Madonna is the bringer of light into the darkness of pain and ignorance.  ‘Enlightened’ means to bring light to the darkness of an uninformed mind and I would add that it means to bring the light of awareness and insight into the heart of humanity.  Without the darkness there would be no need for the light and conversely, the light will be completely blinding without the darkness.

When you receive this card, take a moment and see what your personal fear-based beliefs are. You have the power to free yourself from the chains that tie you to your present circumstances.  Speak to others, read books and become informed:  there are different perspectives to your self-limiting one.  

blessings
Hettienne

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Mary Magdalene as Black Madonna

The Tree of Choices
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
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VI  TREE OF CHOICES
Traditionally The Lovers

‘God planted trees in a garden. Humans lived among those trees, they were not yet divided when they were told: Eat from this tree or do not eat from it.’ Logion 94, The Gospel of Philip

The tree plays an important role in the Mysteries.  In this card we are confronted with the Tree of Choices.  In the Biblical and Judaic stories there are different versions of the trees of Paradise.  It would seem that there was in truth only one tree, the Tree of Life.  This is an ancient symbol of the self-sustaining and regenerating power of a spirit filled world. In the story, this tree was later split into two, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After the split of the trees we see that they are now in opposition to each other. After the fall of Adam and Eve, caused by their eating from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, humanity was cut off and banned from the Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life promised eternal life and humanity was now doomed to a mortal and exiled life.

In this shrine I compare the metaphor of the two trees with the way in which our culture have split value and worthiness of masculine and feminine and then still further dividing the feminine into the ‘good girl/virgin/wife/mother and the bad girl/lover/wise woman.  This split is reflected in the way that the stories of Mariam of Nazareth and Miriam of Magdala, is interpreted and held up as image of the two aspects of woman .

Popular legend has assigned the apple tree to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The apple is a powerful symbol of woman and her feminine sexual nature. (Also see V Holy Rood, The Handless Maiden for more on the symbolism of the apple tree).  In this version of the story of the Fall of Man, woman and her sexual nature is held responsible for their eviction from Paradise.  So right at the onset a woman has been forbidden from getting to know and understand her complex sexual nature. There is an inherent sexuality in physical bodies; one could say that the soul radiates its mystical and sexual nature through its physical cloak.  But humanity has been severed from this mystery and all its gifts.
In the Christian story we are only told the story of Mary the Virgin-Mother, the one who conceived immaculately and who remained a virgin even after the birth of her son.  We never really meet Mary the Beloved of Jesus, the Bride of the Bridal Chamber, the one who is called the Magdalene.  Mary the Mother of God is indeed a Bride without a Bridegroom as She is the Bride of the Spirit, but there is another sacrament in the mysteries, that of the Bride and the Beloved Bridegroom..  This brings us to Mary Magdalene and the various interpretations of her role in the story of Jesus and the three Marys.  Few accept Mary Magdalene as the beloved or the bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.  Mary Magdalene has been blackened in reputation by various authors of religion through the centuries and mostly she has only been seen as an unholy woman who indulges in pleasures of the flesh.  Religion has always separated the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit and especially in the treatment of women as wives, lovers and mistresses.  And we see this split right at the start of the story with the two trees in the Garden of Paradise.  



In this card we see Mary the Mother with the rosary in her hands and we see the black Mary as she is depicted in the poem ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ in the Nag Hammadi library.  In this shrine she represents Mary Magdalene and ultimately both together represent the Feminine Soul and aspect of the eternal feminine.  Both these women carry the name Mary and to me it is an important indicator that there is an important hidden message for those with ears to hear.  The split between the Madonna and the whore is active in many layers of our cultures.  Women are demonised for the expression of their sexuality, whereas men are honoured and revered for their sexual prowess. 

In the traditional Lovers card we often see a male hero struggling for a choice between two women.  In the Mysteries card we have the female version of the choices card.  Women are mostly compared to men and masculine pursuits and rarely in relation to other women and themselves.  This creates an imbalance in women and a suppression of womanly ways and feminine relational values.

Hecate, goddess of choices, is often shown with three roads behind her.  One plus one equals three: new life is born from struggling and discord. Living with the tension of the opposites, allowing disagreement and another's voice that differ from yours, to be heard, brings awareness to the glassy mind, of the awesome beauty of creating a life that has meaning. There is a place where all the rivers converge and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity. 

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage of two opposing forces, a third force is born.  This is the meaning of creativity and the magical nature of the number three.  (This card is a six and thus contains two threes). On the path of divine love, the magical child of love and hope is born from the marriage of the opposites.

The braid of life contains three strands which can be symbolised by the colours white, red and black.  In the ancient cultures the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree. Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well. This specific tree contains all three elements of the thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap. The white blossoms start to form whilst the red berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.

 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the cycle of spring and new beginnings; the red berries represent summer and the fullness of the season and the physical acts of sensuality and joy and loving and the black seed contains the potential of fathering the new life and it also is the end of the life of the berry.
As we dance and weave with the tension of desire and repulsion between the opposites of life, we discover new possibilities, new experiences and we weave a new story.

This shrine and card represent choices. The Tree of Choices invites you to consider the choice to say ‘both’ instead of the black and white rationale of ‘either/or’.  You will be given the opportunity to make a decision and you are reminded that it is possible to find a new way and a different way of reacting and of doing things.  You are reminded that it is only fear that will force you into a corner, and thereby denying half the picture.  When you are willing to keep an open mind and an open heart, it is possible for a new vision to be born.

blessings
Hettienne