Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Art Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes

Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes



Art Novena for Lady of Lourdes - an annual tradition on Cloister of the Heart starts
again on
3 February (the day after Candlemas or Imbolc and St Bridgid's feast day) and 

culminating on the feast day of Our Lady
of Lourdes, the Immaculate Conception on 11 February.





Seven years ago I started the tradition
of the Art Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes on my blogs.
This was part of my very first post :

A few months ago I visited the grotto of the Lady of Lourdes.  An unforgettable

experience which has touched me deeply - beyond religion, beyond concepts, 
beyond labels.
Nine Days for the Lady of Lourdes
a novena
('novem' the Latin word meaning 'nine')
nine days of  illuminating art, 
poetry,
and sharing
Starting on Friday 3 February 
till 11 February
the feast day of the Lady of Lourdes.



When one participates in a ritual (probably any ritual, but when you regard it as sacred, you add a certain 'light' to it) you are transported into a different time and space : colors are different; the light is different; everything has meaning and the ordinary become extra-ordinary.  My art novena for Lourdes in particular, highlights my statement that our lives are the altar to the Divine and I strive to capture that numinosity of the sacred ritual in my photographs and altars. I only started creating sacred altars on my return from Lourdes.  These small shadowboxes are vignettes, a moment in time in the life of ordinary human beings, lifted out of the mundane into the numinous, merely by seeing life as sacred




You can read the previous seven years' novena blog posts here :


This year I am creating Our Lady of Lourdes Amulet Blessing Sets
based on the Benedicaria way.





The Amulets of Mary Blessing set is a two-fold oracle, blessing 
and healing set incorporating various ancient traditions including the Benedicaria, 
the sacred path of the pilgrim and priestesshood in the Temple of Mary
 and the sanctification of the ordinary through the blessing way.

I am creating only a few Our Lady of Lourdes Amulet sets for use
in the annual novena and for every day!!. All amulet sets
that I create complement the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck.



Recently I learnt about the ancient tradition of Benedicaria and the work of a Benedetta.  Although I am not born into the Italian culture, my journey as pilgrim did start in Italy with the call issued by Archangel Michael to visit his grotto in Mont Sant’Angelo and I see myself as a modern Benedetta, continuously uncovering more. 

 Benedicaria, The Blessing Way

Benedicaria, the Blessing Way, is an ancient Catholic and domestic folk tradition practised by the Italians in Southern Italy.  This tradition is fast fading from modern society, but many of its practises are still part of syncretic worship and devotion.


One who practices the Benedicaria, is known as a Benedetta, or a Wise Woman and a Benedetto, a Wise Man .  Benedicaria is a private form of practising your religion and it blends with many domestic practises, such as the blessing of animals and herbs, infusing oils and elixers, creating an altar, using flowers and holy cards for blessings and wisdom.
Benedicaria is predominantly a woman’s practise.  
A Benedetta has much in common with the goddess archetypes of 
Demeter, Hestea, Bridgit and even Athena.   
She is the homemaker, mother, herbalist, gardener, chef and healer.  
This role is not regarded as of any importance 
in modern society, but for one who is spiritually aware and 
who undertakes these tasks with great intent, 
she understands the spiritual force that is being wielded.  
The preparing of food is not only a physical act, but a spiritual one. 
 If this is done in love it will bless the family; 
 if done in anger and ignorance, it will curse the family. 

The physical life and its objects are manifestations and representations of the life and existence of the spirit.  Taking care of our physical life is a sacred task and when performed with intent and awareness we realise that the ordinary is indeed sacred.


The Lady of Lourdes amulet sets will contain
items that I collected during my annual visits to Lourdes,
hand cast resin holy medals (including
a cast of the Holy Chemise of Our Lady charm)
charms, holy cards, a miniature Lady of Lourdes resin
statue, a tiny vial of the healing waters of the Lourdes
spring,  as well a set of 46 charms applicable to the story of Lourdes
and the Mysteries of Mary
(some of these charms will be the same as in the Amulets
of Mary set but some are completely unique)
and a Our Lady of Lourdes casting sheet with different
sections to the Mary and Goddess sets.
(All sprinkled with waters from the Lourdes spring and touched
to the relic of the Chemise of Our Lady.
 The Lady of Lourdes amulet sets will be available in
my shop The French Madonna @etsy.com in the next fortnight.



Be sure to visit my blog Cloister of the Heart
 on 3 February and follow the art novena to Our Lady of Lourdes


blessings
Hettienne

Pilgrimage to the Black Madonna and Divine Infant of Prague



I spent Christmas with my family in Prague and although I had
my own list of must-visits, Prague surprised with a few
hidden secrets of her own!
I discovered the Casa Loreto in Prague.
Although it is a copy of the shrine in Loreto in Italy,
this entire convent, shrine and grounds were beautiful
with amazing artwork and emanating
powerful Divine Feminine energies.


I will share the story with you in another post with many pictures.
I will also tell you about the incredible holy card exhibition that I also 
stumbled upon in Prague!  
I have returned filled with visions, dreams and new inspiration and
am working on amulet blessing sets based on the Benedicaria
way of living.



Each one of these sets are unique.
They are not simply a collection of mass produced charms
thrown together into a pouch.  Yes, there are mass produced
charms in as well, but there are also unique pieces
such as the hand carved skull, from a nun/s rosary;
tiny Mary statues collected on my many pilgrimages;
holy medals brought back from sacred places and dipped
into holy wells, sacred rivers and miraculous places of healing.


I also cast both in sterling silver and in polymer clay copies
of sacred relics and special statues. 

Each casting sheet is printed onto linen cloth by myself and
sprinkled with holy water and salts from many places
such as Lourdes, St Terese of Lisieux and the grotto of St Michael
in Mont Sant'Angelo.  You can read more about my pilgrimages
here :  http://pathofdivinelove.blogspot.co.za/p/sacred-journeys-pilgrimages-from-2000.html

The sets include a collection of new and old prayer cards;  each
set contains one very special and old prayer card
and some are copies of cards which are now in
private collections.

All the amulet sets correlate to the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
and can they can be used together.

They can also be used in healing sessions.  I am working
on a set that can be used with a chakra reading as well as
an astrology and colour reading.

It takes days to create one amulet set and it is the result
of years of collecting relics and water from sacred sites.  Each set is prepared
on my sacred altar of dedication and devotion to the highest principles
of unity and oneness with the focus of restoring the principle of the
feminine to our consciousness and awareness.

I share many pictures and updates on Instagram @thefrenchmadonna.


blessings
Hettienne

Reading with the Amulets of Mary Blessing Sets




Reading with cards, charms, tea leaves or any object
is an intuitive inner journey that takes practise.
It is a skill to hone your subtle senses and also a skill
to trust your intuition and your inner voices and prompts.

Life is a journey filled with markers and pointers for us.
Each life has a theme and certain archetypes and we can
create within those limits and parameters.  To become
really in touch with your subtle senses, demand a certain
amount of humility and your own personal shadow work
It is so easy to pretend to ourselves that 'all is as it should be'
and to shift all responsibility onto a Higher Power.
The truth is that we have been dealt a hand of cards, 
black and white and red and we are accountable
and responsible for getting to know both the positive
and negative of our own personal hand.

This is where amulets, charms and tarot becomes so valuable.
When you combine it with Jungian shadow work, you can uncover
your own projections and hidden perceptions - you can take 
the power back from unruly emotions and the pain
of dysfunctional personal relationships.


Skull of Mary Magdalene in procession at Sainte Maximin -la-Ste-Baume
France during feast day celebrations


The Amulets of Mary comes with a booklet describing the fundamental
tenets of Benedicaria, The Blessing Way, an ancient Southern Italian spiritual
path.  According to those who have made a study and practice of Benedicaria
it is the most pure form of Catholicism.  It restores many practices
which have been classified as 'occult' to its rightful place in a spirtiual
path that integrates both ancient traditions, folklore and modern
consciousness enlightenment work.

I suggest that you keep a book in which to record your readings
and also your own interpretation of the charms and their positions
on the charts.  With time you can create your own casting sheet as
you develop your own understanding of what it is that you
want to ascertain from these readings.



When you have followed the guidelines for creating your
own altar and you have asked the question, you can
take a handful of amulets from the pouch and drop
them onto the casting sheet.
The sheet has been divided into four quadrants.
These represent the four suits of the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck
or any tarot deck.  I have allocated the four sections of mind,
body, soul and spirit and the attributes
are handwritten onto the casting sheet.
You can add your own with a sharpie onto the linen cloth.
  You can allocate the four seasons, the four elements
of earth, air, water and fire. On the new sheets I have added
Past, Present, Future and Unknown.  You can do the same.

I have also added a YES and NO section

The section of the sheet that applies, depend on your question.  If
you asked a simple yes or no question, then look to see where the
charm fell. If you randomly picked some charms and you choose the
yes and no sections, then it is important to see which charms fell
on the yes and which fell on the no - then read their meanings, look
at their meanings and story in the tarot guide book and add your
own intuitive meaning to it all.  Sometimes one needs to allow
all the information to settle down into the unconscious and reveal
its deeper meaning to you over time.
Sometimes the answers are just so obvious and right there.

In the new sheets I have added key words to the four sections.

For instance, in Body you can add
earth, embodiment, physical, manifestation

When you want to see a bigger picture than Yes or No, you can
cast the charms over the entire sheet.  This will then show you
which areas of your life is affected and what your inner guidance
is trying to draw your attention to.



Sample reading :

Chalice fell in Mind (Suit of Distaff)
Star landed on Heart (Suit of Vessels)
Mermaid landed on Body (Suit of Roses)


The Chalice
The Chalice is seen as a sacred and holy object in ancient Grail legends, Arthurian myth, Mary Magdalen myth and in a Christian hymn Mary is called the Chalice.  The Chalice is also regarded as the holy grail and there are many theories :  some believe   that it is a physical cup in which Jesus’ blood was collected after the crucifixion by Mary Magdalene;  others believe that the the Holy Grail is a women or the strength of a woman.  In the Mary Mysteries, she is the Chalice and the Holy Grail.  She is the strength and compassion that floods our soul;  she is the Waters of Consciousness that flow everlasting from the Chalice.
Tarot Card :  Queen of Vessels : Mary Magdalene anointing the feet of Jesus
Meaning :  sacred vehicle;  when you get the chalice in a reading it indicates the vehicle in which your blessing will appear;  it also points to the direction in which you have to go;  it shows in which area of your life you have to pay attention to your dreams.

Add your own connotations and meanings to the chalice and even the
stories and legends in which it appear.  Chalice fell on
the Mind section.  Mind is thinking, thoughts, ideas, conscious mind,
rational mind, logic, neural pathways

This placement could mean that you have to pay more attention
to your ideas  and thoughts:  they will take you to the Chalice and Holy Grail of
your search.  The Queen of Vessels card
is of the suit of the Heart and waters.  I interpret this as telling
you that your mind should be in service of your heart.
When you become aware of the way that your mind reacts
to the prompts of your heart and its inner whisper,
you will become aware of an important message.
 Let's see how the other charms relate to the reading.

Star
The tale of Esther (Star) is an allegory of a feminine majesty who once stood as equal to her spouse the king and was the instrument through which her own blood relatives and all of  the nation were saved. This echoes the place of Sophia who was present to God at the creation itself and helped it all come into being through her assent to the plan. This story of Esther may be a “fossil” that remains in the Bible and allows us to see how Israel first regarded the feminine, before the patriarchal powers purged the nation of all forms of the ancient Goddess known as the Shekina, partner to the masculine manifestation of God. “Esther” is another form of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, (Star) who was also called “Queen of Heaven” as was the Egyptian Mother Goddess, Isis and as Mary is yet called today. “Esther” is another form of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, (Star) who was also called “Queen of Heaven” as was the Egyptian Mother Goddess, Isis and as Mary is yet called today.
Tarot Card : Stella Maris and 2 of Holy Rood

Star landed in Heart and seen in the light of the placement and meaning
of Chalice, this makes it pretty clear that this querent is not
giving her heart and desires, equal status.  The emotions and the heart
is a feminine quality and often neglected or suppressed.
This is a reality of our modern culture and religion :  the feminine
is suppressed to benefit the masculine properties of 
achievement, logic, rational thinking, goal setting and so on.
To listen to our inner guidance, we need to make time to play,
to meditate, contemplate, spend time alone and more.


Mermaid
Mermaids are regarded as mythical creatures.  They appear in many folk and fairytales.  In the story of Ariel, the mermaid, many parallels can be seen in her story and that of the goddess and specifically the story of Mary Magdalen.  The mermaid is also symbolic of a woman’s ‘watery’ nature and her intense emotional body.  Through the ages the emotional and feeling nature of women has been demonised and women have been institutionalised for ‘hysterics’.  Her spiritual nature has been suppressed in many ways and many have made sure that women have lost their ability to have both a mermaid tale and a pair of legs to walk on land when needed.
Tarot Card :  9 of Vessels – Our Lady of Regla
Meaning :  you need to find a strong sense of balance within yourself;  get to know your own nature and you will be able to master the world around you;  pay attention to your feelings;  unknown waters;  value your own feeling nature;  feelings speak of your intuition;  inner wisdom;  

And Mermaid in Body sums it all up.  

p.s. This was a real reading for someone and these are extracts
from the booklet and additional information sheets. 

If you have bought a set of Amulets of Mary from me, feel free
to send me an email at hettienne@telkomsa.net and I
will send you jpegs of new and updated casting sheets
which you can print at home.

blessings
Hettienne

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Amulets of Mary Oracle and Blessing Set



Blessing Amulets of Mary Oracle Set


The Amulets of Mary Oracle is a two-fold oracle, blessing and healing set incorporating various ancient traditions including the Benedicaria, the sacred path of the pilgrim and priestesshood in the Temple of Mary and the sanctification of the ordinary through the blessing way.



The Amulets of Mary Oracle and the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck are a culmination of my own conscious spiritual journey of the past 25 years.  It incorporates the practise of Sacred Altarmaking, the devotion of the pilgrim to sacred places, the use of holy waters and relics, the creation of sacred oils and elixers and my work as Diksha giver (Blessing giver) and Guru in the Shaktipat tradition of the Great Mother and my devotion to the Blessed Mary.

Recently, through various books (all listed in the Bibliography of the accompanying booklet) 
I learnt about the ancient tradition of Benedicaria and the work of a Benedetta.  Although I am not born into the Italian culture, my journey as pilgrim did start in Italy with the call issued by Archangel Michael to visit his grotto in Mont Sant’Angelo and I see myself as a modern Benedetta, continuously uncovering more.

The Amulets can be used with and alongside the Mysteries of Mary Tarot cards.




Benedicaria, the Blessing Way, is an ancient
Catholic and domestic folk tradition practised by the Italians in Southern Italy.  This tradition is fast fading from modern society, but many of its practises are still part of syncretic worship and devotion.

One who practices the Benedicaria, is known as a Benedetta, or a Wise Woman and a Benedetto, a Wise Man .  Benedicaria is a private form of practising your religion and it blends with many domestic practises, such as the blessing of animals and herbs, infusing oils and elixers, creating an altar, using flowers and holy cards for blessings and wisdom.


Benedicaria is predominantly a woman’s practise.  A Benedetta has much in common with the goddess archetypes of Demeter, Hestea, Bridgit and even Athena.   She is the homemaker, mother, herbalist, gardener, chef and healer.  This role is not regarded as of any importance in modern society, but for one who is spiritually aware and who undertakes these tasks with great intent, she understands the spiritual force that is being wielded.  The preparing of food is not only a physical act, but a spiritual one.  If this is done in love it will bless the family;  if done in anger and ignorance, it will curse the family.  The motto ‘cleanliness next to godliness’ means much more than meets the eye.  When you keep your spiritual space, ie the home clean, you also keep your spirit and its physical space clean.

The physical life and its objects are manifestations and representations of the life and existence of the spirit.  Taking care of our physical life is a sacred task and when performed with intent and awareness we realise that the ordinary is indeed sacred.



Every Benedetta will have a home altar and a personal altar.  The Amulets of Mary Oracle set can be placed on your altar along with the Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck.

With the Amulets of Mary blessing set you will receive guidelines for
creating an altar, using coloured candles, how to use the casting cloth,
the holy cards and more.



The novena prayers are an important part of the Benedicaria.  A novena is a prayer that is said for nine days consecutively.  It is said that the first Apostles prayed for nine days between Jesus’ Ascension and the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.  The number 9 is a very powerful number in numerology (the science of numbers).  Usually a novena is accompanies by candles, rosaries and ritual such as sacred shrine making (see my blog http://pathofdivinelove.blogspot.com) for my art novenas to Our Lady of Lourdes.  The ancient novena prayers are used in conjunction with all of the above as well as an image of the Saint and those who you are praying for.
It is also practise to include the colour of the Saint or Holy One that you are asking for help.

The Amulets of Mary Blessing set consists of a blessed casting cloth, a set of 45 charms in a small bag, nestled in a tin;  a set of holy cards in a linen scapular bag;
an accompanying spiral bound guide book; a small statue for the altar and other options.
Each set is completely unique and one of a kind and cannot be replicated exactly as I use vintage charms, hand cast silver charms and vintage holy cards amongst others.

There are various sets available :  some are dedicated to a particular saint or saints; others to Mary and Her apparitions or a specific apparition, etc. 
You will find more information on the various available sets at The French Madonna on Etsy.com or on my blog.



The casting cloth has been blessed by touching it to the second and third holy relics of Mary’s sacred chemise and roses from St Terese’s sacred garden, as well as roses from the garden of St Francis and other holy relics.  It has also been sprinkled with holy water from Lourdes and Ngome.
On the casting cloth is a hand drawn diagram.  

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women
and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb

Holy Mary,  Mother of God,
oh Rose Queen
Bestow your Blessing upon us
Now and Forever


Blessings
Hettienne


The French Madonna
www.etsy.com/shop/thefrenchmadonna


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Mary Magdalene as Black Madonna

The Tree of Choices
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


VI  TREE OF CHOICES
Traditionally The Lovers

‘God planted trees in a garden. Humans lived among those trees, they were not yet divided when they were told: Eat from this tree or do not eat from it.’ Logion 94, The Gospel of Philip

The tree plays an important role in the Mysteries.  In this card we are confronted with the Tree of Choices.  In the Biblical and Judaic stories there are different versions of the trees of Paradise.  It would seem that there was in truth only one tree, the Tree of Life.  This is an ancient symbol of the self-sustaining and regenerating power of a spirit filled world. In the story, this tree was later split into two, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After the split of the trees we see that they are now in opposition to each other. After the fall of Adam and Eve, caused by their eating from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, humanity was cut off and banned from the Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life promised eternal life and humanity was now doomed to a mortal and exiled life.

In this shrine I compare the metaphor of the two trees with the way in which our culture have split value and worthiness of masculine and feminine and then still further dividing the feminine into the ‘good girl/virgin/wife/mother and the bad girl/lover/wise woman.  This split is reflected in the way that the stories of Mariam of Nazareth and Miriam of Magdala, is interpreted and held up as image of the two aspects of woman .

Popular legend has assigned the apple tree to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The apple is a powerful symbol of woman and her feminine sexual nature. (Also see V Holy Rood, The Handless Maiden for more on the symbolism of the apple tree).  In this version of the story of the Fall of Man, woman and her sexual nature is held responsible for their eviction from Paradise.  So right at the onset a woman has been forbidden from getting to know and understand her complex sexual nature. There is an inherent sexuality in physical bodies; one could say that the soul radiates its mystical and sexual nature through its physical cloak.  But humanity has been severed from this mystery and all its gifts.
In the Christian story we are only told the story of Mary the Virgin-Mother, the one who conceived immaculately and who remained a virgin even after the birth of her son.  We never really meet Mary the Beloved of Jesus, the Bride of the Bridal Chamber, the one who is called the Magdalene.  Mary the Mother of God is indeed a Bride without a Bridegroom as She is the Bride of the Spirit, but there is another sacrament in the mysteries, that of the Bride and the Beloved Bridegroom..  This brings us to Mary Magdalene and the various interpretations of her role in the story of Jesus and the three Marys.  Few accept Mary Magdalene as the beloved or the bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.  Mary Magdalene has been blackened in reputation by various authors of religion through the centuries and mostly she has only been seen as an unholy woman who indulges in pleasures of the flesh.  Religion has always separated the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit and especially in the treatment of women as wives, lovers and mistresses.  And we see this split right at the start of the story with the two trees in the Garden of Paradise.  



In this card we see Mary the Mother with the rosary in her hands and we see the black Mary as she is depicted in the poem ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ in the Nag Hammadi library.  In this shrine she represents Mary Magdalene and ultimately both together represent the Feminine Soul and aspect of the eternal feminine.  Both these women carry the name Mary and to me it is an important indicator that there is an important hidden message for those with ears to hear.  The split between the Madonna and the whore is active in many layers of our cultures.  Women are demonised for the expression of their sexuality, whereas men are honoured and revered for their sexual prowess. 

In the traditional Lovers card we often see a male hero struggling for a choice between two women.  In the Mysteries card we have the female version of the choices card.  Women are mostly compared to men and masculine pursuits and rarely in relation to other women and themselves.  This creates an imbalance in women and a suppression of womanly ways and feminine relational values.

Hecate, goddess of choices, is often shown with three roads behind her.  One plus one equals three: new life is born from struggling and discord. Living with the tension of the opposites, allowing disagreement and another's voice that differ from yours, to be heard, brings awareness to the glassy mind, of the awesome beauty of creating a life that has meaning. There is a place where all the rivers converge and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity. 

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage of two opposing forces, a third force is born.  This is the meaning of creativity and the magical nature of the number three.  (This card is a six and thus contains two threes). On the path of divine love, the magical child of love and hope is born from the marriage of the opposites.

The braid of life contains three strands which can be symbolised by the colours white, red and black.  In the ancient cultures the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree. Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well. This specific tree contains all three elements of the thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap. The white blossoms start to form whilst the red berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.

 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the cycle of spring and new beginnings; the red berries represent summer and the fullness of the season and the physical acts of sensuality and joy and loving and the black seed contains the potential of fathering the new life and it also is the end of the life of the berry.
As we dance and weave with the tension of desire and repulsion between the opposites of life, we discover new possibilities, new experiences and we weave a new story.

This shrine and card represent choices. The Tree of Choices invites you to consider the choice to say ‘both’ instead of the black and white rationale of ‘either/or’.  You will be given the opportunity to make a decision and you are reminded that it is possible to find a new way and a different way of reacting and of doing things.  You are reminded that it is only fear that will force you into a corner, and thereby denying half the picture.  When you are willing to keep an open mind and an open heart, it is possible for a new vision to be born.

blessings
Hettienne

Mary Magdalene as Black Madonna



The Tree of Choices
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


VI  TREE OF CHOICES
Traditionally The Lovers

‘God planted trees in a garden. Humans lived among those trees, they were not yet divided when they were told: Eat from this tree or do not eat from it.’ Logion 94, The Gospel of Philip

The tree plays an important role in the Mysteries.  In this card we are confronted with the Tree of Choices.  In the Biblical and Judaic stories there are different versions of the trees of Paradise.  It would seem that there was in truth only one tree, the Tree of Life.  This is an ancient symbol of the self-sustaining and regenerating power of a spirit filled world. In the story, this tree was later split into two, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After the split of the trees we see that they are now in opposition to each other. After the fall of Adam and Eve, caused by their eating from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, humanity was cut off and banned from the Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life promised eternal life and humanity was now doomed to a mortal and exiled life.

In this shrine I compare the metaphor of the two trees with the way in which our culture have split value and worthiness of masculine and feminine and then still further dividing the feminine into the ‘good girl/virgin/wife/mother and the bad girl/lover/wise woman.  This split is reflected in the way that the stories of Mariam of Nazareth and Miriam of Magdala, is interpreted and held up as image of the two aspects of woman .

Popular legend has assigned the apple tree to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The apple is a powerful symbol of woman and her feminine sexual nature. (Also see V Holy Rood, The Handless Maiden for more on the symbolism of the apple tree).  In this version of the story of the Fall of Man, woman and her sexual nature is held responsible for their eviction from Paradise.  So right at the onset a woman has been forbidden from getting to know and understand her complex sexual nature. There is an inherent sexuality in physical bodies; one could say that the soul radiates its mystical and sexual nature through its physical cloak.  But humanity has been severed from this mystery and all its gifts.
 
In the Christian story we are only told the story of Mary the Virgin-Mother, the one who conceived immaculately and who remained a virgin even after the birth of her son.  We never really meet Mary the Beloved of Jesus, the Bride of the Bridal Chamber, the one who is called the Magdalene.  Mary the Mother of God is indeed a Bride without a Bridegroom as She is the Bride of the Spirit, but there is another sacrament in the mysteries, that of the Bride and the Beloved Bridegroom..  This brings us to Mary Magdalene and the various interpretations of her role in the story of Jesus and the three Marys.  Few accept Mary Magdalene as the beloved or the bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.  Mary Magdalene has been blackened in reputation by various authors of religion through the centuries and mostly she has only been seen as an unholy woman who indulges in pleasures of the flesh.  Religion has always separated the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit and especially in the treatment of women as wives, lovers and mistresses.  And we see this split right at the start of the story with the two trees in the Garden of Paradise.  



In this card we see Mary the Mother with the rosary in her hands and we see the black Mary as she is depicted in the poem ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ in the Nag Hammadi library.  In this shrine she represents Mary Magdalene and ultimately both together represent the Feminine Soul and aspect of the eternal feminine.  Both these women carry the name Mary and to me it is an important indicator that there is an important hidden message for those with ears to hear.  The split between the Madonna and the whore is active in many layers of our cultures.  Women are demonised for the expression of their sexuality, whereas men are honoured and revered for their sexual prowess. 

In the traditional Lovers card we often see a male hero struggling for a choice between two women.  In the Mysteries card we have the female version of the choices card.  Women are mostly compared to men and masculine pursuits and rarely in relation to other women and themselves.  This creates an imbalance in women and a suppression of womanly ways and feminine relational values.

Hecate, goddess of choices, is often shown with three roads behind her.  One plus one equals three: new life is born from struggling and discord. Living with the tension of the opposites, allowing disagreement and another's voice that differ from yours, to be heard, brings awareness to the glassy mind, of the awesome beauty of creating a life that has meaning. There is a place where all the rivers converge and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity. 

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage of two opposing forces, a third force is born.  This is the meaning of creativity and the magical nature of the number three.  (This card is a six and thus contains two threes). On the path of divine love, the magical child of love and hope is born from the marriage of the opposites.

The braid of life contains three strands which can be symbolised by the colours white, red and black.  In the ancient cultures the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree. Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well. This specific tree contains all three elements of the thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap. The white blossoms start to form whilst the red berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.

 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the cycle of spring and new beginnings; the red berries represent summer and the fullness of the season and the physical acts of sensuality and joy and loving and the black seed contains the potential of fathering the new life and it also is the end of the life of the berry.
As we dance and weave with the tension of desire and repulsion between the opposites of life, we discover new possibilities, new experiences and we weave a new story.

This shrine and card represent choices. The Tree of Choices invites you to consider the choice to say ‘both’ instead of the black and white rationale of ‘either/or’.  You will be given the opportunity to make a decision and you are reminded that it is possible to find a new way and a different way of reacting and of doing things.  You are reminded that it is only fear that will force you into a corner, and thereby denying half the picture.  When you are willing to keep an open mind and an open heart, it is possible for a new vision to be born.

blessings
Hettienne

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Black Madonnas of the deck

XI Holy Wisdom from Mysteries of Mary tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com

Mirror of Justice, Seat of Wisdom – Litany of Loreto


There are many streams of understanding of Holy Wisdom as the Lady of the Mysteries. 
In the Litany of Loreto She is called the Seat of Wisdom.  
The Black Madonna, the ‘Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres’; 
Our Lady Underground in Chartres is the representation of the Divine Woman 
as Holy Wisdom in the deck. 
The background tapestry in this shrine I drew and stitched myself.  
It is a replica of the one that hangs behind Notre Dame Sous Terre in the 
underground chapel of Chartres. 
As you enter the chapel you pass underneath ‘the Hand of God’ 
and it is as though are being blessed as you enter the hidden 
underground chamber of Dark Wisdom. 


Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres
XI Holy Wisdom
Mysteries of Mary Tarot

The hidden Black Madonna under the earth is seated on the throne of wisdom  
One has to descend through the Chartres Cathedral to access these 
underground passages and chapels, 
all of which are dimly lit and often only by candle light.  
You can only visit this chapel under the guidance of an appointed tour leader and you are not allowed to linger in the chapel to pray or meditate. 
Holy Wisdom is veiled behind the appearance and noise 
of the external world and it is necessary to enter the 
subterranean cave in order to find her ‘still’ voice.

The Greek for Holy Wisdom is Hagia Sophia.  
Sophia is the Wisdom of the divine deity. 
She has been revered as the Wise Bride of Solomon 
in the Judaic tradition; as Athena, the Queen of Wisdom and War 
in the Greek pantheon and as 
Our Lady Wisdom by Christians.  
She is known as Chokmah in Hebrew, and Sapientia in Latin.

When Holy Wisdom is seated on the throne of your inner world, then you are ensured of a wise voice of intuition and discernment.  Following Lady Wisdom is a skill that needs commitment to be developed.   She does not often speak in a loud voice, but often through the words of others, images, nature and your soul.  You are surrounded by the voices of Wisdom, you only have to open your ears and eyes. 

blessings
Hettienne