Saturday, May 5, 2018

Blog moving

Prayer box and keepsakes

I have decided that its time to consolidate my blogs.  If you are interested in my pilgrimages,
sacred altars, shrines and tarot decks (yes, the second one The Black Madonna tarot is happening)
then please follow me at



Sunday, January 28, 2018

The hidden fairytale of Lourdes

Fairytales are a font of wisdom,;
a secret book of Wisdom and Divine Feminine tales.

In fairy tales the hero is always a woman
guided by the supernatural,
surrounded by magic and miracles
and a wondrous healing tale for all!

This year's Art Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes
will explore the feminine wisdom and guidance
of fairytales and specifically the miraculous
story of Our Lady of Lourdes
and the similarities with other fairy tales!

You are invited :  bring your spinning wheel and broom
and join me from Friday 3 February 2018
at Cloister of the Heart.

be blessed

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,
and sharing
Starting on Saturday 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 :

Art Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes on Cloister of the Heart

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 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



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 :

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.


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.

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.

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 and I
will send you jpegs of new and updated casting sheets
which you can print at home.