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Black Virgins/ Black Madonnas

Explore the mystery behind enigmatic dark figures of Mary scattered throughout Europe. Are these darkskinned figures Goddesses, secret symbols of heresy, remnants of Pagan Cults?

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There are almost five hundred so-called "Black" Madonnas scattered over Europe, the highest concentrations appearing in France and Italy. Many are believed to have miraculous powers of healing and protection. While many of these dark-skinned Virgins are explained away as the result of candle soot or age, most appear to be deliberately created with black skin. Some bear reference to the Song of Songs from the Old Testament: "I am black, but beautiful, daughters of Jerusalem. Like the black tents of Cedar, like the pavilions of Solomon." The Black Madonnas are associated with the earth, with darkness, mystery, and most importantly, miracles. Many have theorized that these images and statues hearken back to the worship of the ancient Goddesses Isis and Demeter; indeed, some of the statues themselves are believed to be pre-Christian. Certainly, the image of the

divine mother and child-god are older than Christianity, and the tendency of the Catholic Church to borrow, consciously or subconsciously, the iconography of widespread Pagan cults at the time of it's founding is well known. The statues have also been connected to Mary Magdalen, who is often seen as the counterpart of the Virgin "Goddess" Mary- an emblem of fertility and sexuality, a substitute for the missing "Goddess consort" to Christ. Articles and Essays on the Black Virgins: A Reflection on Black Virgins Some musings on their origin and meaning. Isis, the Black Virgin Selected quotes from a variety of sources. Black Madonnas: Still Black and Still Venerated Lists locations of dozens of examples. The Black Madonna: Primordial Ancestress As an archetype of earth. The Black Madonna and Mary Magdalen Connections between The madonnas, Isis and Mary Magdalen Return of the Black Madonna

Images and Galleries: The Black Madonnas of France A Small Gallery with several good examples. The Black Madonna Gallery Madonna and Child Gallery Goddesses with Child, from Christian and PreChristian Icons

Other "Black" Madonnas: Mexican Black Madonnas The Madonnas of Mexico and their Aztec origins. Black Madonna del Tindari An American Black Madonna

Related Resources: Mary Magdalen Rosslyn chapel Priory of Sion Rennes-le-Chteau Religious symbols Gnosticism Sacred Geometry The Holy Grail

Merovingian Dynasty Black Virgins Black Virgins

Black Virgins
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Rennes-le-Chateau Mary Magdalen Gnosticism

Definition: A

large collection of Madonna and Child statues found mainly in the South of France. Mysteriously, they are all black in color, and many believe they represent Isis or Demeter, and are a cover for medieval Goddess worship. Still others believe they represent Mary Magdalene, and support the notion that she bore children with Jesus, a common Gnostic belief.
Related Resources: Historical Oddities Religious mysteries at Alternative religions. Gnosticism Gnosticism at Alternative Religions. Elsewhere on the Web: Black Virgins - A short essay.

The God-idea of the Ancients, Or Sex in Religion


Related Subjects The God of the Witches Jesus Mysteries Mandeism Buy the Book: The God-idea of the Ancients Sex and Religion

Eliza Burt Gamble

Alternative Religion/ Library

Christianity a Continuation of Paganism-(continued). From the facts recorded in the foregoing pages, we have seen that true Christianity was but a continuation of that great movement which was begun in Persia seven or eight centuries before, and whose gathering strength had been emphasized by the humane doctrines set forth in the various schools of Greek philosophy. In the first century of the Christian era may be observed among various sects, notably the Gnostics, a desire to popularize the teachings of an ancient race, and to accentuate those principles which had been taught by Buddha, Pythagoras, the Stoic philosophers, the Roman jurisconsults and others. In other words the object of the new religion was to stimulate the altruistic characters which had been developed during the evolutionary processes, and to strengthen and encourage the almost forgotten principles of justice and personal liberty upon which early society was founded, but which through ages of sensuality and

selfishness had been denied expression. When we remember the tenacity with which the human mind clings to established beliefs and forms, it is not perhaps singular that in a comparatively short time these principles were lost sight of, and that the entire system of corrupt paganism, with Christ as the New Solar Deity, was reinstated; neither is it remarkable, when we reflect upon the length of time required to bring about any appreciable change in human thought and action, that the principles which this Great Teacher enunciated are at the present time only just beginning to be understood. To one who carefully studies the history of Christianity by the light of recently developed truths, the fact will doubtless be discovered that the fundamental difference existing between Catholic and Protestant sects is grounded in the old feud arising out of the relative importance of the sexprinciples. From the days of Zoroaster to the final establishment of Christianity by Paul, the tendency--although slight--had been toward the elevation of woman, and consequently toward

a greater acknowledgment of the female element in the god-idea. Considerable impetus was given to the cause of woman's advancement through the doctrines of the various schools of philosophy in Greece, and subsequently by the efforts put forth by the Roman lawyers to establish their equality with men before the law; hence, during the first hundred years of the Christian era the "new religion" seems to have contained much of the spirit of the ancient philosophy. By several of the early Christian sects, the second person in the trinity was female, as was also the Holy Ghost. In a "fragment of a gospel preserved by St. Jerome, and believed to have been from the original Aramaean Gospel of St. Matthew, with additions, the Holy Ghost (ruach), which in Hebrew is feminine, is called by the infant Savior, 'My Mother, the Holy Ghost.' "142
142

Barlow, Essays on Symbolism, p. 135.

The mission of Christ was that of a Regenerator of mankind, an office which had been symbolized by the powers of the sun. He

was to restore that which was lost. He attempted to teach to the masses of the people the long neglected principles of purity and peace. He did not condemn woman. He was baptized by John (Ion or Yon) in water, the original symbol for the female element, and while in the water; the Holy Ghost in form of a dove (female) descended upon him. To those who have given attention to the symbolism of the pagan worship these facts are not without signification. Because of the peculiar tendency of Christ's teachings women soon became active factors in their promulgation. If there were no other evidence to show that they publicly taught the new doctrines, the injunction of St. Paul, "I suffer not a woman to teach," would seem to imply that they were not silent. The doctrines of the Gnostics were particularly favorable to women. Marcellina, who belonged to this order, was the founder of a sect called Marcelliens. Of her works Waite observes: "It would scarcely be expected that the heretical writings of a woman would be preserved amid such wholesale slaughter

of the obnoxious works of the opposite sex. The writings of Marcellina have perished."143 Not only did women teach publicly, and write, but according to Bunsen they claimed the privilege of baptizing their own sex. The reason for this is evident. Before baptism it was customary for the newly-made converts to strip and be anointed with oil. After the establishment of Paul's doctrines, however, "the bishops and presbyters did not care to be relieved from the pleasant duty of baptizing the female converts."144
143

History of the Christian Religion, p. 405.


144

Ibid., p. 23.

Although the utmost care has been exercised to conceal the fact that women equally with men, performed the offices connected with the early church, yet by those who have paid attention to the true history of this movement, there can be no doubt about the matter. Notwithstanding the early tendencies of the "new religion" toward the recognition of women, and toward the restoration of the female principle in the Deity, the policy to be pursued by the church was soon

apparent, for Paul, the real founder of the system calling itself Christian, and a man imbued with Asiatic prejudices concerning women, arrogantly declared that "man is the head of woman as Christ is the head of the Church." Women were commanded to be under obedience. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man; thus was re-established and emphasized the absurd doctrine of the Lingaites, that the male is an independent entity, that he is spirit and superior to the female which is matter. After this indication of the policy to be pursued under the new regime, it would scarcely be expected that theefforts put forth by the various sects among the Gnostics toreinstate the female element either on the earth or in heavenwould be successful, and as might be anticipated from the factsalready adduced, as early as the year 325, at the council of Nice, a male trinity was formally established, and soon thereafter, the Collylidians, a sect which rigorously persisted in the adoration of the female principle, were condemned. At the council of Laodicea, A.D. 365, the 11th canon forbade the ordination of women for the ministry

and the 44th canon prohibited them from entering the altar. The devotees of female worship, although for a time silenced, were evidently not convinced, and to force their understanding into conformity with the newly established order, the Nestorians, in the year 430 A. D., reopened the old dispute, and formally denied to Mary the title of Mother of God. Their efforts, however, were of little avail, for in the year 451, at the council of Ephesus, the third general council, the decision of the Nestorians was reversed and the Virgin Mother reinstated. Upon this subject Barlow remarks: "Well might those who made this symbolical doctrine what it now is, at length desire to do tardy justice to the female element, by promoting the mother to the place once occupied by the Egyptian Neith, and crowning her Queen of Heaven."145 The fact will doubtless be observed, however, that by the Romish Church the idea of the godmother differs widely from the Queen of Heaven--the original God of the ancients. Mary the Mother of Jesus is not a Creator, but simply a mediator between her Son and His earthly devotees--a doctrine

only a trifle less masculine in texture than that of an Almighty Father and his victimized son. The worship of Mary was adopted by the socalled Christians in response to a craving in the human heart for a recognition of those characters developed in mankind which may be said to contain the germ of the divine. The masculine god of the Jews was feared not loved, and his son had already been invested with his attributes. He was all powerful, hence a mediator, a mother, was necessary to intercede in behalf of fallen man, and this, too, notwithstanding the fact that woman had become the "cause of evil in the world."
145

Essays on Symbolism, p. 134.

The Great Goddess of the ancients, Perceptive Wisdom, the Deity of giving, she who represented the purely altruistic characters developed in mankind, and whose worship involved a scientific knowledge of the processes of Nature, when engrafted upon the so-called Christian system, although indicating an important step toward the recognition of the genuine creative principles, was not understood. Although

her effigies were brought from the East and made to do duty as representations of Mary, the Mother of Christ, a knowledge of her true significance lay hurled beneath ages of sensuality and selfishness. By those who have made it their business to investigate this subject, it is observed that there is scarcely an old church in Italy in which there is not to be found a remnant of a black virgin and child. In very many instances these black virgins have been replaced by white ones, the older figures having been retired to some secluded niche in the church where they are held especially sacred by the ignorant devotees who know absolutely nothing of their original significance. We are assured that many of these images have been painted over, ostensibly in imitation of bronze, but the whites of the eyes, the teeth, and colored lips reveal the fact that they are really not intended to represent bronze, but figures of a black virgin goddess and child whose worship has been imported into Europe from the East. I had been told that one of the oldest of these images extant was to be found in Augsburg; a thorough search, however, in all

the churches and cathedrals of that city failed to reveal it, but in the museum at Munich such a figure is to be seen. It is in a state of decay, one arm of the mother and a portion of the child's figure being worn away. Upon this subject Godfrey Higgins remarks: "If the author had wished to invent a circumstance to corroborate the assertion that the Romish Christ of Europe is the Crishna of India, how could he have desired anything more striking than the fact of the black virgin and child being so common in the Romish countries of Europe? A black virgin and child among the white Germans, Swiss, French, and Italians!!!"146
146

Anacalypsis, book iv., ch. i., p. 175.