The Black Madonna
August 24, 2011 § 3 Comments
The Black Madonna phenomenon is a continuing enigma in the study of Medieval Christianity. They appear in churches from Eastern Europe to Spain, no different than other statues of the Madonna and Child except that they are inexplicably made of black or dark brown material. In alchemical lore they play a part in the fact that Nicolas Flamel’s definitive pilgrimage found him traveling to a site in Spain where one of the icons of the Black Madonna is venerated.
Theories about the origins of these icons abound, from the mundane idea that these are merely standard depictions of the Madonna having lost their original patina, or that were simply carved from materials that were black and left as is, to a whole host of esoteric explanations regarding secret cults and heterodox visions of the Divine.
I hope that it is apparent to any student of the Mysteries that such explanations are never clear cut, and more than finding some empirical fact that will explain these phenomenon, it is important to meditate on them, and discover how they provide intimate keys to understanding the beauty and complexity of our shared existence.
Jaq White, on her site Stairs of Gold, provides an intriguing mediation on the significance of these figures. The following is an excerpt from her article, The Cosmic Cycle & the Black Madonna, the whole of which is highly recommended:
“Some believe that these statues of the Black Madonna are not Christian in origin; rather, they are representations of Isis and Horus that when discovered, were wrongly identified as the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus – if so, this would certainly create the need for explanations as to why the statues were originally hidden. However, there is another possibility; the Black Madonna might never have depicted Isis but might well be an esoteric – possibly medieval – Christian symbol…
This Cosmic Cycle is incorporated in the Christian Holy Trinity; albeit in completely masculine terms, with God as heavenly father, heavenly Holy Spirit and the divine son made of earthly matter. This was enabled through the coupling of the male Holy Spirit and the “living” Virgin Mary. In Egyptian mythology, the living Isis only conceives her son Horus after the death of Osiris. He procreates from the spiritual world, when he becomes God of the Underworld.
This can be explained in alchemical terms, with the masculine Osiris, the black virginal prima materia and fixed male, uniting with the black, volatile, female, spirit of Isis his wife, conceiving and producing the Divine child Horus, the Earthly representative of his father Osiris. The serpents have devoured one another, the Ouroboros is realised and so the Cycle continues.
The serpent has long been perceived as an enemy of Christians, and the use of serpent symbolism in Christian iconography is generally to portray sinfulness, temptation, and the fall of mankind. The serpent as a symbol of the Divine state of man would not have been acceptable, and is still not acceptable to many Christians. However, in the “Black Madonna” we have the same trinity expressed.
The Black Virgin is, like Osiris, the father and the divine, male essence. The Black Mother is, like Isis, the mother and the divine, female essence, and the product of their union is the Ouroboros, Horus – the Christ.
The Black Madonna could be another representation of the All, the trinity – and an esoteric Christian symbol of the Cosmic Cycle. “
For the entire article click here.