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.

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)

Prayer to the Dark Madonna

Guest Post by Leni Hester

Hold me in your embrace, as you hold the stars close in your dark skies,
Great Mother of the Void, O Brilliant Darkness!
I call to You, Dark Mother, Eternal Spring of Mercy,
And ask for your benevolence and comfort.
Sacred Black Madonna,
You who are the healing force of the well, of the sacred grove,
who causes sacred trees to weep tears of myrrh, be witness to our wounding
and heal us of illness and shame.
You who hear the cries of the world, Radiant and Compassionate One,
who is our mountain sanctuary against the storms of a troubled world,
I ask for your blessings of peace and liberation,
Shield the vulnerable from violence and greed,
Protect us from harm and malice, you who bear witness to the sorrows of the world.

Beloved Black Madonna,
as you hold all things of the flesh in your loving sight.
Your love is our refuge, always. Blessed Be.

Statement Regarding Police Violence and Racism

We of the Order of the Black Madonna stand in solidarity with other Pagan organizations in publicly denouncing:

  • the racist and hyper-militaristic violence of police departments directed against people of color.

  • the use of violence by police departments against all non-violent persons engaged in lawful, constitutionally protected acts of protest.

  • all policies that encourage police officers to use deadly force prior to discerning the facts of a situation, including policies that enable the reckless hiring of officer candidates that are clearly, demonstrably, and dangerously unqualified to protect and serve their communities.

  • all attempts to cover up, manipulate, or erase the facts of cases involving wrong-doing by police officers, including intimidating witnesses, lying, destroying or hiding evidence, and stonewalling or otherwise not cooperating with investigating State and Federal authorities.

We express our solidarity with people of color in our community and in communities across the country. We stand with them in peaceful, non-violent protest of the death and destruction that has been directed at them by a racist, bloody over-structure that has time and again proven itself to be incapable of self-regulation.

We demand the complete overhaul of this system so that all military weapons purporting to be for “crowd control” currently used against non-violent protestors be immediately removed from all police departments nationwide, and all military vehicles and military-grade weapons be removed and destroyed. We also demand that body cameras be issued to every on-duty police officer for the protection of the public against wanton outbursts of violence. Finally, we demand that each and every individual who seeks a career in law enforcement be critically evaluated by psychological and Diversity Education professionals to see of they exhibit signs of unaware racism, racial prejudice, and racial bias.


The Order of the Black Madonna is a devotional society dedicated to Our Lady of Magic, the holy darkness which gives birth to all and receives all. As Our Lady of Czestochowa, Isis, Sophia, Caridad del Cobre, The Magdalene, The Great Dark Rich Mother Earth, The Nameless Cosmic Darkness. She is the silent, numinous, holy sense that is found in moments of un-self-conscious reverence. We stand and hold Her sacred embodiment, and we witness the powerful and courageous emergence of previously marginalized voices of color in our communities. In Her stead, we weep at the innocent blood being shed, and in solidarity with them and with all people of righteous purpose we demand bold, empowering change on all levels of our society. Now.

Blessing for Black Mothers Everywhere

This piece was written by Guest Author Crystal Blanton

From the depths of her soul she mourns

From the fear of her present she cries for the reality that she must hand to her child.

From the shadows of her experiences she gives the lessons of a mother who prepares her child for battle.

She is the carrier of hardship inside of a harsh world, the holder of the painful lessons, and the mother of the endangered.

She is the beginning of all life, and she is the the seeker of true justice.

She is the caregiver for the oppressor, and the trainer for the oppressed.

She is the warrioress stuck in the tower, unable to save her children from death.

She is mother

She is Black mother

She is the forgotten of the bereaved, while she holds the hands of those who dismiss her pain.

She holds the power of the universe, and harnesses the dark shadows of the world.

She is the magic of motherhood, and possesses the thighs often stolen for others' pleasure while discarded for the perception of her ugliness.

She is mother

She is Black mother

She carries the pain of her lineage, and the hope of her visions.

She walks the floors of the bottom, and finds magic when there is nothing else left.

She bears the misfortune of the darkness of society, and passes the culture of survival to the next generation.

She is mother

She is Black mother

As she rises from the bottom once again, take a moment to breathe in her name. Take a moment to acknowledge her need. Breathe out words of strength, encouragement and magic to her. Speak them aloud….. 

Let this energy reverberate into the world… We give it to the Black Madonna as she heals, encourages, protects, and strengthens the Black mothers in our society, and their children, so they can continue the fight to thrive in our communities and to touch a sense of equity in our world. May she be blessed as we all are blessed.

 

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.