Order of the Black Madonna

The Order of the Black Madonna is a contemplative and service-oriented holy society devoted to the Great Dark Mother.

Filtering by Category: Feast Days

Feast of Mary Magdalen

From guest contributor Lou Florez:

Transparency as a spiritual tool and discipline has been a foundational message in terms of the ongoing work of decolonizing my personal practice. In order to engage integrity with this directive it is important to name my privilege as it relates to patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, and conversations about women and their experiences. I am a cis-gender man and by birth have been afforded rights, resources, access to power, safety, financial opportunity, as well as, structural and systemic privileges in the cultural, governmental, and family spheres. As such, my voice will be weighed and given more legitimacy than Priestesses and change makers who have been doing the work longer than I have been alive. Another foundational corner stone in my exploration of liberative practices centers itself in the intersectional analysis of systems of oppression; meaning that as a facilitator of ritual space, ceremony has to inhabit multiple points of access in terms of resources and reflections of historically under-represented populations.

Contextualizing the Ceremony:

I am not Catholic or Christian but have had a personal relationship with Mary Magdalen as a holy ancestress in the religious/magical traditions of the West, as well as, a one of the many patronesses of agency, sovereignty, sexuality, and embodied authority, divinity, and grace. Being that I work a Catholic influenced form of Rootwork and Hoodoo, the form through which I was taught to venerate and honor Spirit follows the following structure. For those who practice multiple Afro-diasporic traditions you can see the similarities. Here is the general outlne this ceremony will follow:

  • Set space
  • Libation
    -Offering water to cool, open, and help aide in coalescing the individual and communal consciousness to task at hand.
  • Asking that any negativity be averted and the ways of communication be cleared
  • Honoring/Acknowledging
    -who are you/ how do you name yourself?
    -who is in the room with you?
    -who are your teachers/ who has uplifted you/ spiritual influencers?
    -Evoking/Inviting Spirit in the room
    -who are you calling?
    -what qualities/ personality of Spirit do you want to build a relationship with?
    -what is your intention for bringing them in the space?
  • Working
    -construct
    -consecrate
    -anoint
    -enact it
  • Offerings
  • Divination/read it
    -is it accepted?
    -in balance?
    -ritual complete?
  • Close
    -acknowledge every being in the room
    -release the space with intention

Perform the Ritual

  • Set Space
     
  • Libation- Pouring of Waters
    Cool Water, Cool Road, Cool House, it is the Owner of the Day we respect. It is the Spirits of the East we respect. It is the Spirits of the West we respect. It is the Spirits of the North we respect. It is the Spirits of the South we respect. It is the first medicine holders and diviners we respect. It is the first Mothers, Wise Mothers, Mothers who fly on the right we respect. It is the Spirit of the Earth we respect. It is the Spirit of the Divine Messenger of Transformation we respect. It is the Spirit of those who live in the Realm of the Ancestors we respect. We give respect, we give respect. May it be so!
     
  • Removal of Obstacles
    Let illness be averted from our path
    Let poverty be averted from our path
    Let confusion and frustration be averted from our path
    Let our enemies not find our door
    Let witchcraft be made impotent at our feet
    Let death never see us
    Mothers, Fathers, hear these words and let be so!

     
  • Naming those present at ceremony
    I come before this altar today (state your name)
     
  • Naming teachers and those who inspired you
    I respect all those teachers who have taught me the ways of medicine and spirit. I recognize and honor my lineage of blood and affinity (name names)
     
  • Ancestral Recognition
    Ancestors I call you. Ancestors I call you. Ancestors I call you. I call you three times. Ancestors who have preserved the mystery of featherless flight. You create the words of reverence and Ancestors you are welcome at this house. Please come today. Ancestors you are welcome at this house. Come and accept our offering. Whatever good things are eaten in the Realm of the Ancestors please partake. If the earthworm pays homage to the Earth, the Earth shares Her abundance. If the child honors their parent they never suffer from neglect. All respect to the powers of the Praise to the Fathers. Praise to the Mothers. Praise to the Fathers. Praise to the Mothers. Praise to the Ancestors, we ask for your help and give you thanks. Ancestors we ask for good health and we ask for the power of transformation from the Realm of the Ancestors and we give you power. Please come today. Ancestors you are welcome at this house. I give thanks. I give thanks. I give thanks. I respect all those teachers who have taught me the ways of medicine and spirit, living and dead. Ancestors, I am greeting you my friends. When I do not know which road to follow I will turn to the wisdom of the Ancestors. May it be so.
     
  • Evoking the Creator (light white candle)
    I give honor to the Womb of Creation, Monarch of the first Messengers I praise. Eldest Parent of the Ancestors. The Ruler who never faces death. Spirit of the Earth, I praise you with your praise names. You mold the light to create all things. Owner of the Mystery of Nature, whose words are the Queen of Creation. Keeper of the unknowable Mystery. Source of all the Heads in Creation. Chief Diviner of the Light who will always be praised in the sacred Grove be present in this ceremony.
     
  • Evoking Mary Magdalen (light red candle)
    Saint Mary Magdalen, Our Lady of the Ecstasy of Creation, hear our prayers. Apostle of Apostles, first witness of the act of transcendence through grace, it is you who up lift us. Saint Mary Magdalen hear our prayers, Great Lady who tramples the injustices of misogyny, hear our prayers. Honored Wise Woman, Blessed Queen who forsook the ignorance of man and claimed her divine right as the living embodiment of the Womb of Creation, hear our prayers. It is you who have been denigrated through sexism and it is you who uplifts all those who have been violated by the patriarchy, Our Lady hear our prayers. We pray for all Women this night and uplift all those who have been wounded and are in sorrow, Saint Mary Magdalene hear our prayers.
     
  • Working
    In a group, all women present take turns recounting their experiences, struggles, joys, hardships, prayers for each other. Light a tea light on the altar for each participant to uplift their lives and their prayers to heaven. All men present, witness, be silent, don’t take up space, and support.

    If you are doing this ritual by yourself, light tea lights and pray for the upliftment of all women in our lives and in the world. If you are a woman, recount your experiences, struggles, joys, hardships, and prayers to Mary Magdalen herself.
     
  • Offerings
    Present the shrine with flowers, honey, incense, wine, perfume oils, and images of beauty and love.
     
  • Divination
    Divine a messages from Saint Mary Magadelen for the group or individual. Ask through divination (tarot, runes, oracle cards, etc) Receive message and contemplate it. Then, ask: i this complete? If not what needs to be given? Listen to spirit or use futher divination to help you receove all information needed.
     
  • Close
    Speak words of reverence and gratitude, then close the ceremony in your own words.

    This liturgy was inspired by the works of St. Hildegard, St. Theresa, as well as English translations of Oriki by Awo Falokun.

Feast of St. Joan of Arc

From Soeur Marie Verité:

 

My eighth-grade class at the parochial Immaculate Heart of Mary grammar school began preparations to receive our Confirmation into the Catholic Church when I was thirteen years old. Confirmation is kind of a big deal in general because it’s the “confirmation” of the vows a Catholic child’s godparents took when that child was baptized, usually as a baby. Confirmation, they told us, was when we stood up in front of God and everybody and said, “Now I’m able to speak for myself and I can wholeheartedly say I’m a soldier for Christ.” Not in those words, exactly, but that was the basic idea. And it was a big deal at that age because we got to dress up in our best Farrah-Fawcett hairdos and our new Candies platform shoes and parade around in front of each other and our families like we were finally somebody. We practiced the prayers and processions for weeks, and the day we received our special red Confirmation gowns was like a holiday – although I will take to my grave the sound of our teacher Miss Paul’s gravelly voice admonishing us with disapproval and disdain to pay attention as to when to sit and when to stand, because “You don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb.” You know, because of the red gowns. God forbid, Miss Paul. God forbid.

We were to choose a sponsor from among our friends and family (well, actually we were to choose a sponsor from among the adults we knew, not from amongst our own personal friends, which would have been hilarious and awesome but hardly conducive to the spiritually solemn tone principal Sister Anne Christine and celebrant Father Kenny were hoping to strike). I have no idea now who my sponsor was: I think my parents roped one of my mother’s friends from her bridge club into doing it for me, or maybe it was one of my mother’s sisters. I can’t recall, because frankly the idea of calling up a grown-up and saying, “Hey, there’s this thing I have to do and I need someone to stand up and promise to Jesus, the Holy Mother Church, the Archbishop of the Diocese, the priests and nuns of the parish, and all my family and friends that I’m not a lunatic truant possessed by Satan. Want the job?” terrifies me even now, forty years later. I can’t imagine how thoroughly I disassociated during that phone call when I was thirteen.

Once we had done that, we got to choose our patron saint. I remember sitting in class and thinking about which saint I wanted to pick. I don’t think I debated long; most of the girls in my class were choosing St. Theresa of Lisieux or St. Bernadette or St. Lucy, all of whom are badasses in their own way, but all I could think of for some reason was my mother’s name: Joan. I looked it up and there she was: La Pucelle, St. Joan of Arc, woman warrior, martyr, wielder of a great and powerful sword, Patron Saint of France, badass. That was it. She wasn’t girly, she wasn’t feminine. She was a warrior for God. She didn’t seem to mess around: she spoke with the angels and got shit done. There was a problem in the fifteenth century with establishing the French monarchy in the wars with the English, so Joan got on that problem and fixed it. She didn’t talk about it, she didn’t whine or wheedle; she got herself a horse and a sword and went to work.

Well, ok. That’s not exactly how it happened. There was a great deal of testing and being rejected by the French authorities and lots and lots of talking and arguing and proving she wasn’t a “sorceress” before she even got near the French Dauphin, and there are some historians who believe that she never actually fought in any battles at all and never killed anyone but merely was present with her banner so as to encourage the French army who could see her and believe that God was with them. But still, I didn’t care. I was thirteen and romantic, and here was a heroine. Not just a saint, but a real-life heroine who saw problems and fixed them, who prayed and got her first vision from the angels when she had been my age. I felt empowered and emboldened by this woman, this fighter. This was somebody I could get behind. I didn’t question for a minute that she heard voices and maybe might have been crazy. I didn’t question that she was a zealot who rallied France into a religious war to get the Dauphin his throne back. Something in me resonates with that, and it’s something I’ve had to keep a careful eye on in all the years since, that willingness to hear God and do whatever needs doing in order to raise the Holy Flag: I question things now, watch out for those who would use my romantic warrior’s passion for their own purposes, and make sure that I never try to convince anybody to do anything in the name of the Divine that they don’t already want to do. I watch people’s ethics carefully, and try to keep a weather eye out for those who wield spiritual power without a moral compass, making sure I don’t fall victim to them like Joan did. My success in this endeavor has been varied, but at least nobody has burned me at the stake.

Her death haunts me. Sixteen years ago I took a summer acting class for fun, and one of the plays we worked with was G.B. Shaw’s “St. Joan.” I performed a few of her monologues, but it wasn’t until the teacher of the class had the idea to have two class members clasp my wrists and arms as if imprisoning me, and then had me speak her final speech as if I were fighting for my life, as St. Joan had been five hundred and sixty-nine years before, that I felt a movement in my soul. It still shakes me, sixteen years after that performance: the howling rage at the Church’s betrayal, the profound and passionate faith in a God beyond the politics of Man, and a love of the natural world not for its own sake but because it was evidence for anyone with eyes to see that God, the Divine, is present and immediately around us all.

My voices were right. … [T]hey told me you were fools, and that I was not to listen to your fine words nor trust to your charity. You promised me my life; but you lied. You think that life is nothing but not being stone dead. It is not the bread and water I fear: I can live on bread: when have I asked for more? It is no hardship to drink water if the water be clean. Bread has no sorrow for me, and water no affliction. But to shut me from the light of the sky and the sight of the fields and flowers; to chain my feet so that I can never again ride with the soldiers nor climb the hills; to make me breathe foul damp darkness, and keep from me everything that brings me back to the love of God when your wickedness and foolishness tempt me to hate Him: all this is worse than the furnace in the Bible that was heated seven times. I could do without my warhorse; I could drag about in a skirt; I could let the banners and the trumpets and the knights and soldiers pass me and leave me behind as they leave the other women, if only I could still hear the wind in the trees, the larks in the sunshine, the young lambs crying through the healthy frost, and the blessed blessed church bells that send my angel voices floating to me on the wind. But without these things I cannot live; and by your wanting to take them away from me, or from any human creature, I know that your counsel is of the devil, and that mine is of God. (“St. Joan,” vi)

Feast of Our Lady of Montvergine

This piece was contributed by Soeur Marie Verité

Today as we celebrate the igniting of the sacred fires of Candlemas, as we seek within ourselves for that which is our deepest inspiration and hope, in Italy and around the world devotees of the Madonna of Montevergine prepare for a festival honoring Her and Her place in their lives which begins this weekend. They will sing and dance up and down Her holy mountainside which used to be, and perhaps still is, the home of a temple to the great mother goddess Cybele. They will play tambourines and sing songs to Our Lady of Montevergine, and floats will be drawn up by to the monastery where Her icon lives by oxen or horse-drawn carts as they have been at this time of year for hundreds of years.

The Madonna of Montevergine is an icon thought to have been painted by St. Luke as a hodegetria, the “One Who Points the Way” to salvation, and in the painting we see the Madonna with the Christ child on her lap. She is pointing to him to indicate that faith in him is the way to salvation. But the people of Italy and around the world look to Her as well, and have developed a love and reverence for her as their “Madonna Bruna,” their “Mamma Schiavona,” their slave mother, because of Her dark skin. They thought that because She had brown skin instead of white, She must be the protectress of those with equally dark skin, and that’s how She came to be associated with the slave or servant classes. They reach out to Her as their own, who understands hard work and sweat and tears, what it means to be marginalized and persecuted. She is not an icon of the wealthy or the privileged, the “white” class. She belongs to those who know what it’s like to work for a living, to be looked down at, to be pushed aside or thought to be somehow “less than.” 

She is beloved of the sexually marginalized because of the story of Her saving two gay men in the thirteenth century who had been beaten and run out of town, driven up onto the mountainside to die of exposure to the cold and the harsh elements. The sun shone down on them unexpectedly and helped them get to safety and find warmth, which they then celebrated by having sex on the spot. Or so the story goes. The celebration of human sexuality in all its forms is part of what makes Our Lady of Montevergine special, and perhaps what hearkens back to the rites and rituals of Cybele that used to happen on that very mountainside: the sacred union, the refusal to see human sexuality as something sinful or as something that needs to be hidden in dark places. Her festival is sometimes seen as a time to celebrate the joyful rites of spring, which you can imagine many of the monks of the monastery at Montevergine occasionally getting a little wiggy about. They are monks and have chosen the path of sacred celibacy, after all.

But still they come, christians and pagans alike, to do their rites and make their offerings to the Holy Mother in their own holy way. 

Her festival today includes music, dancing, and all forms of celebration: pilgrims sing and dance up and down the mountainside to celebrate Her. But it might also be said that they celebrate the coming spring and the welling up of potential, the coming of new life, which is a miracle after the hard winter. And it’s a miracle for everyone. The Black Madonna, Our Lady of Montevergine, Mamma Schiavona, smiles on us all after all our work, our struggles. She lifts up those who have been left behind, and brings them into the comfort of hope for a new beginning for everyone.

Feast of Our Lady of Candelaria

This piece is contributed by Soeur Marie Courage

All the watching hosts of Heaven know that hard times plague the race of men who, in their suffering, have forgotten to laugh with joy at the gift of Life.

Deep at the bottom of the ocean, in the womb of creation, the Mother's song rises and creates being from nothingness. A conscious choice is made, and the sea births Her holy treasure.

You sway in the waves, cascading toward shore, and when you touch the sand, your fluidity takes form. No longer water, you become wood, and root your love in the land of your arrival. At the sea's edge, you record the song of the Mother upon your feet, to remember your mission, the waves lapping and frothing about you.

EAFM IPNINI FMEAREI

The bottom of the ocean is the place of eternal patience, and so you wait. For men to come. For time to pass. For humanity to welcome love's readiness. You hold your child to you tenderly, for He is hope, and you rock Him in your wisdom, singing a lullaby.

EVPMIRNA ENVPMTI EPNMPIR VRVIVINRN APVI MERI PIVNIAN NTRHN

Darkness descends, and in the warm night you almost feel as if you were back at the bottom of the sea, singing with your sisters. But no. That time is over. You know what you must do. You take a single green candle from the folds of your robe, and ignite it with a whisper. Come.

ETIEPESEPMERI

Here they are just now, two goat herds. Rough men with random thoughts. Humans tend to resist the unfamiliar, and upon seeing you, rather than dropping to their knees in reverence at the soft light of your amazing grace, they react with violence. One raises a stone, the other a knife. They advance with fear and malice.

You move a hand, gently, as if waving. As if writing. As in a caress.

LPVRINENIPEPNEIFANT

The first man's eyes widen in terror. His arm, still clutching the rock, is frozen in an uncomfortable paralysis. The second man is mute with fear. He cannot stop it. He cannot help it. He slices into himself with his knife. Away, like two jackals, they run howling along the beach.

Sometimes it takes a small act of war to wage peace. 

And you wait some more, rocking your babe, who coos at you and looks up at the stars. They encircle your head in a crown of light, as each crashing wave now begins to chant your names. Shh. Shh. Shh. They are secret. They are thousand.

The men come back, crying and bleeding, cowering behind another man who risks nothing but bold eyes. They hang back while he inspects you, the diamonds in your eyes twinkling dangerously as you meet him with steady regard. He orders the men to come and lift you, to carry you back to his village. Aghast, trembling, they approach. One reaches to cautiously grasp you about the waist with the only good arm he has left. Miraculously, his paralyzed arm loosens instantly.

NARMPRLMOTARE

The second man reaches to support you at your back, bleeding on your gown from his knife wound. The blood seeps into your wood, staining it rich. The gash on his arm glistens for a moment, then sears closed and scarless as he yelps with surprise.

NBIMEI ANNEIPERFMIVIFVE

Fully healed and whole once more, NOW THEY BOW WITH REVERENCE. 

Knowing Mother, you teach from the place of profound Mystery. You know the secrets of human-rearing, and you apply them to the children these men have become. Your Yes will only mean something to the race of men if you give them your No first. Otherwise, they will treat your Yes carelessly, dishonoring themselves with casual entitlement. The sea has taught you well.

They enshrine you, call you Mother. Of course.

They venerate you and give you gifts. Silly. You want only their humility. But it makes them feel good to do it, so you turn away nothing.

They give themselves to you in utter trust, weeping, and you devour their surrender. Hungrily.

Another day will come, a day of guns and cannons and crosses. But that is not today. Today you are The Goddess. Today you are The Dark Mother. Today you sparkle black from your Shrine and call me to come. Today is a good day. I'll bring you fishes, gasping in the nets I wove till my own hands bled with roughness. That will be my gift.

To the Queen of Time and Space, I bow down. To She of Vastness, I bow again. 

The Order of the Black Madonna is a project of the Mt Shasta Goddess Temple.