Who is the Black Madonna?
She is our Mother Earth, the Female Principle, our Primordial Mother, symbol of Wisdom and integration and resolution of the opposites.
As a perpetuation of the powerful goddesses of the ancient times, she returns with the sacred characteristics of the Virgin Mary. Metaphorically Virgin, but not in the Patriarchal meaning, for she does not belong to any man, but to all men. She provides life. Men as fruits of the earth come from her and to her we all return, to Mother Nature, to the Goddess-Mother.
Hers is the Holy Ghost - the female part of God, sacred fire which rises from the bottom of the earth. Macroscopically following Kundalini's winding path of fire, he goes through the earth's body coming out transformed into the Holy Ghost.
The story of the Black Madonna has the quality of the profound mysteries. It has therefore a heretical secret which cannot be revealed in writing, but only transmitted by the oral tradition, a privilege of the initiated. From what can be revealed through writing, we have the historical registry which sends us to the worship of Mother Earth, the Great Mother, the Goddess.
"Darkness precedes light and she is mother" (inscription in the altar of the Salerno Cathedral in Italy). The first wisdom was dark and feminine, eternal womb which in the religious African tradition of Candomblé is represented by the female ancestral power Iyá-mi-Osorongá (my mother Osorongá). This eternal uterus, amorphous matter, the earth's womb, is symbolized by the igbá (cabaça) - the bowl which is the whole, the content and the container. The bowl contains one bird - Atiorô, which represents simultaneously the power of pregnancy and the procreated element. Iyá-mi is the lady of the bird children, and is so powerful that her name cannot be mentioned lest these little children are destroyed. The ambivalence of her power shows in the myth which tells that when the Iya-mi-Eleye, the bird-women who founded the World, arrived here, they spread themselves on seven trees representing the seven types of different activities. On three of these trees they worked for the good, on three others they worked for evil, and on the seventh tree they worked both for good and for evil. Our Great Mother, Iya-mi, the Supporter of the World, contains in herself also the Terrible Mother, but is primordially an integrating symbol, able of using her power in the resolution of all the opposites.
Sublime queen of this ancestral female power, she reigns until our days, especially in Brazil and in Africa, OXUM, the most prominent of the Iyás, in a living cult to the great mothers. Orixá of all the waters, rivers, falls, streams and even the sea (in the Yorubá country), Oxum is the genitor by excellence, and at the same time, Supreme Ancestral Mother linked to procreation and also patroness of pregnancy. "She protects the foetuses and cares for them after birth until they have accumulated the knowledge which allows them to speak. "The cure of the children belongs to her and Oxum should not be anybody's enemy." - From a Yorubá text. Oxum is represented in some narrations as a mythical fish, for the fish are considered her children. The scales of Oxum's body symbolize these children. Like the fish, the birds personify her. These are represented by the feathers. "Her body of fish or of a huge mythical bird is covered by scales or feathers, parts of the maternal body, capable of separating from her, symbol of fertility and procreation". - Juana Elbein dos Santos.
In the Egyptian and Greek religions the soul is represented by the bird who always followed the Goddess Mothers and which follows the Black Madonna like the Holy Ghost follows Mary.
The most ancient manifestations of the cult to Mother Earth date back to Pre-historical times. One of the manifestations which arrived to us is a small figure, "La Polichinelle". She was brought to light by a worker near the caverns of Grimaldi. The profile shows a sharp projection of buttocks, breast and belly. The justly famous Venus of Sespugne has a tailpiece scored with vertical lines that resemble tail feathers (Pyrenees, France). In Ur there is another archaic registry of the cult to the Goddess Mother, a small statue in which she is shown with her divine son, both with a snake head.
She shows up in Sumeria as the super popular Inanna with a double personality: in the morning she is the valuable "Lady of the Battles", goddess of the heroes, and in the evening she be comes the goddess of fertility, of the pleasures of love. She fertilizes the grains, the earth and the man. She does not be long to one man only, but to several. Her priestesses are the "sacred prostitutes" who, like the virgins who do not belong to any man, metaphorically they do not belong to any because they belong to all. They have a multiple womb which belongs to all men, for theirs is the womb of the goddess Inanna - Mother Earth - which they will become. The cult to Inanna had in the sexual act its main practice, because it re-established the original androgyny through the sacred prostitution.
We see Mother Earth be worshiped as Ishtar in Babylonia, and later as Isis in Egypt, and as Astarte among the Hebrews. In Frigia she appears as Cybele (Diana of the nine fires, indicating fertility.
As a Greek goddess she receives the name of Rea, Gaia or Demeter, always goddess, profound, mysterious and dark. Her Roman equivalents are Tellus, Ceres and Maia.
Still in Egypt Mother Earth appears as Neith, the oldest and wisest of the goddesses. Protector of the dead and of the war, she was head of the practical arts. She is the night sky which bends over the earth, forming with her hands and feet the gates of Life and Death. The first-born androgynous is a virgin who fertilized herself, bringing the life she produced to all the worlds.
The Celtic goddess Mother Earth is Annis (or Anu) and her cult reaches Europe.
However, where the cult to Mother Earth(our Black Madonna) is most developed was in the Aegean-Cretean culture, where the Goddess Mother was originally venerated in caves, and whose priests were women. She is the Lady of the Beasts, of the mountains and of the birds. The serpents and the animals of the lower world and the wild ones were sacred to her, and the dove was in its crown as the Holy Ghost is in Mary's. She is the animal mother always with bare breasts, and nurses the Zeus child like a goat, pig or cow. As indicated by the fur clothing and the priestesses' clothing always with bare breasts, her cult dates back to the Stone Age. In the middle of the great cult to fertility in Crete is the bull, the double axe (or labris), the Minotaur and the Labyrinth.
The bull is the male instrument which fertilizes and at the same time is the victim of fertility, as demonstrated by his sacrifice which until today is found in the bull-fights.
The goddess of Crete - Demeter of the Greeks, is the lady of the lower world, of the bottom of the earth and of death. Her earthly womb is the womb of death, as it is also the center of fertility from where life sprouts. To enter the labyrinth means entering this womb to face death and from where, like a grain of wheat, one comes out gloriously reborn.