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Black Madonna

by Ken Rabac, PhD-ThD


Most Indo-Tibetan scholars believe that the Hindu and Buddhist Dark Goddesses and the Christian Black Madonna are a common prototype with a common Archetypal source in antiquity or eternity.

Alain Daneliou speaks of a mine of spirituality extending back into prehistory and expressing each civilization's emotional ties to the Great Mother in both her nurturing and fearsome aspects.

The patriarchal Aryan Vedic and Judaeo-Christian cultures de-emphasized the Divine Mother in favor of God the Father and male dominance. Feminist theologians have attempted to recover the Black Madonna as a mystical counter point to the Cosmic Christ. Poet and Scholar Andrew Harvey in his splendid book THE RETURN OF THE MOTHER sees the Black Madonna as "Mary who in the heat of true passion gives birth to the Christ Heart."

 

In Eastern traditions, the Black Madonna motif appears as the Dark Goddesses exemplified by Kali, the frightful creator/destroyer. In Buddhism, Kali takes the form of Vajravahari, the consort of the Black Samvara and Kali's nature is reflected in a retinue of disciples who attend to the Tantric couple. Vajrahari and the Dakinis are said to inhabit cemetery grounds and wear necklaces and skirts made from human skeletons and skulls.

 

Sri Aurobindo and Ramakrishna both contemplated the Divine Mother and encountered Dark Kali in only one aspect of the deity. Aurobindo found four basic sides to the Eastern Madonna.

1. MAHESWARI: represents CALM MINDEDNESS, COMPREHENDING, WISDOM, TRANQUILITY, AND INEXHAUSTIBLE COMPASSION.


2. MAHAKALI: The great Kali represents STRENGTH, IRRESISTIBLE PASSION, IMPETUOUS and SWIFT ACTION OF THE "World Shaker."

3. MAHALAKSMI: VIVID, SWEET AND WONDERFUL WITH DEEP SECRET BEAUTY, FINE RHYTHM, COMPELLING ATTRACTION AND CAPTIVATING GRACE ...A Hindu variation of Jung's Anima.

4. MAHASARASWATI: INTIMATE KNOWLEDGE, FLAWLESS WORK AND EXACTING PERFECTION. This sounds like Jung's AMAZON.

 

 

For Aurobindo these four personalities of the Divine Mother are always at work, SYNCHRONISTICALLY, in the Universe. Aurobindo teaches that there is at all times an alchemy of the Divine Mother occurring in each individual. He says we are all Gnostic children of the Divine Mother, inflamed, impelled, nurtured and soothed by the four aspects of her personality.

 

When we are under the sway of Maheswarit, we experience tranquility and wisdom. Mahakali's Dark Mother strips us of safety -- Mahakali is of another force of nature -- force, strength and power of overwhelming intensity -- mighty passion and divine violence.

 

Andrew Harvey also sees the Great Mother as being a composite Archetype composed of Kali, The Black Madonna and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Nature and Earth.

 

In Mary and the Black Madonna, Harvey finds the MYSTERY OF TRANSCENDENT BLACKNESS -- THE DIVINE UNKNOWABLE -- BEYOND CONCEPT -- SO DAZZLING THAT SHE RADIATES AS DARKNESS.

 

Harvey also emphasizes the Black Madonna as the Queen of Fertility and Tantra -- SACRED SEXUALITY.

 

He describes the BLACK MADONNA as a "BURNED AND SEARED, ANGUISHED AND INFINITELY STRONG -- DIGNIFIED MOTHER."

 

In a particularly lyrical passage, Harvey writes of the Black Madonna: BLACK MADONNA IS THE TRANSCENDENT KALI-MOTHER, THE BLACK WOMB OF LIGHT OUT OF WHICH ALL WORLDS ARE ALWAYS ARISING AND INTO WHICH THEY FALL. The presence behind all things -- the darkness of love and the loving unknowing into which the child of the mother goes when his or her (own) illumination is perfect."

 

For Harvey the Black Madonna is also the Queen of Nature and the Blesser and Agent of all rich and fertile transformations of the outside world and the psyche.

 

He depicts the Black Madonna as "blackened by grief but ENNOBLED and made ADAMANT by SECRET MYSTICAL KNOWLEDGE." This knowing she has discovered through her agony which she represents with dignity.

 

Harvey holds the Black Madonna accompanies us in our worst anguishes and humiliations -- representing endurance and faith transmuted into WISDOM.

 

Paraphrasing Harvey, "The Dark Queen of Heaven guides us into the Highest Mysteries", The Black Madonna provides immense inspiration to compassionate service and the IMMENSE ALCHEMICAL POWER OF TRANSFORMATION through both JOY AND GRIEF.

 

Harvey interprets the SACRED HEART OF MARY as the Black Madonna's "FORCE STREAM" of the intense ENLIGHTENMENT that follows the acceptance of all of our emotions as they are ... enduring all things to perceive the deepest mysteries of existence.

 

One of Sri Aurobindo's least known and most beautiful brief works, HYMN TO THE MOTHER OF THE RADIANCES, captures the essence of the Divine Feminine Archetype.

 


Ken Rabac was initiated in Mahayana Buddhism in 1968. He is a Clinical Supervisor with Alternative Counseling Services (407-843-5300) and a lecturer at the Jung Center (407-740-7300). Ken teaches Buddhist Philosophy through the College of Metaphysical Studies (1-800-780-META). His book, entitled QUANTUM DREAM TEMPLE, will be published in Spring of '98. It examines Lucid Dreaming and Meditation in the light of contemporary Science.

This article was published in Vol V, No 3 issue of the Healthy Alliance JOURNAL. For a free copy of our current publicaiton, click here or get a one year subscription by filling out our survey.

 

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'Black Madonna'
Copyright 1998 by Ken Rabac, PhD., ThD.
E*mail Ken at krphd@mindspring.com

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Copyright 1998 Healthy Alliance Publications


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