Have you seen her? The Black Madonna?
Even a few months ago, I would never have thought to ask such a question. But on this particular day, catching up with a friend back in Greece, I found myself asking. The response was equally surprising.
Yes, I have.
We were talking about dreams.
The Black Madonna is not encountered often in Greece. I certainly haven’t come across any such icon in any of the churches I’ve visited—and I’ve been to a fair few!
Searching online, my single noteworthy find was this beautiful icon, the Black Madonna of Vatos, Crete. It can be found inside a small church hidden in the forest, near a cave that was used as a secret school during the Turkish occupation, and a secret refuge during World War II.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Black Madonna is more widespread, and it is estimated there are 450-500 icons.
Next come the Americas.
It was in North America that the Black Madonna archetype began to appear in the dreams and other unconscious material of hundreds of—otherwise unconnected—women and men.
My friend was certainly puzzled. Why was she—and all these people—dreaming of the Black Madonna?
Luckily, I had some answers.
The Black Madonna is a powerful archetype of transformation.
She is able to hold the deepest of sorrows, death and rebirth, always loving.
Hidden in her darkness, in her womb, is the unfathomable mystery of the Divine and Creation. A light so dazzling we cannot perceive it, mystics say, except as darkness.
The Black Madonna is also connected with fecundity and nature.
In stark contrast to the old paradigm of patriarchal supremacy and the destructive dissociation from our own earthly roots, here is the “Queen of Nature”, reminding us of our loving Mother Earth and a feminine that is decidedly material, “of the flesh”, yet no less spiritual, Divine.
The Black Madonna “urgently demands a return to balance and wholeness, honoring the earth and representing ecology and environmental concerns…Her return is a sign of our times”, says theologian Matthew Fox.
Appearing in our collective dream, the Black Madonna heralds the emergence of the Divine Feminine.
“Dreams: Language of the Soul” is a fascinating interview in which Woodman describes how “the destiny of the soul is directed through dreams.”
She also emphasizes the collective dream of the Black Madonna archetype as the “matriarchal soul… related to the fate of the Earth itself”, and discusses many other aspects of dreams, dream work and interpretation, the inner child, the redemption of the female body and more.
There are more fascinating stories…
- The mystic and artist Meinrad Craighead saw a connection between the Black Madonna and the Native American Hopi spirit, Crow Mother, one who both cares and challenges. Her own dream of the Black Madonna awakened in her the awareness of the missing feminine aspect to the Divine, catalysing profound healing and radical changes to her way of life.
- Tataya Mato, author of “The Black Madonna within: Drawings, Dreams, Reflections (Dreamcatcher)”, searched for “wholeness and release from despair”. On her journey of recovery from abuse and a traumatic childhood, she found that her dreams, active imaginations and drawings became increasingly “pervaded by the luminous presence of the divine feminine figure, the Black Madonna.”
The capacity to awaken and heal through dreams and dream work is astounding.
It is happening.
It starts from the inside.
Now’s the time to heal the endless mistrust and pain in our lives and relationships.
- Reclaim our physicality, the sacredness of our body.
- Reconnect sexuality and spirituality, balance masculine and feminine, centred in the heart.
- Let our Soul guide us to fulfil our highest destiny in harmony with each other, women and men, and with our planet.
I love these words by Patty de Llosa (she offers a good introduction to the work of Marion Woodman):
“The true feminine is the receptacle of love. The true masculine is the spirit that goes into the eternal unknown in search of meaning. The great container, the Self, is paradoxically both male and female and contains both. If these are projected onto the outside world, transcendence ceases to exist. The Self—the inner wholeness—is petrified. Without the true masculine spirit and the true feminine love within, no inner life exists… To be free is to break the stone images and allow life and love to flow.”
Learning all this, my friend was delighted and inspired.
So am I.
- Have you noticed any interesting patterns in your dreams?
- How do you experience masculine & feminine—in yourself and in relationship?
- Which aspects of the Black Madonna resonate the most?
The conversation continues inside the School of Soul Alchemy.