Monday, 29 April 2013

Queen Black Madonna.

The Virgin Mary gained the title once given to Inanna- Queen of Heaven.

It is tempting to say, she climbed off the lion's back, hid the symbol of the storehouse behind her lapis lazuli cloak, bit her lip and pretended that war and passion had never been hers.

The Black Madonna is Sophia
She is the Sibyl
And the Byzantine Madonna.

The child she holds is her son Dumuzi, the green man, and Damu, child of the abyss, her daughter Persephone, and child of God, Jesus.

Sanctuaries all along the Mediterranean attest to her link with the waves and tides of the sea.

Pope Innocent 111 (1198-1216) exhorted the faithful:
Towards the Moon it is he should look, who is buried in the shades of sin and iniquity. Having lost grace, the day disappears and there is no more Sun for him, but the Moon is still on the horizon. Let him address himself to Mary; under her influence thousands everyday find their way to God.
The imagery of water is light
The light of the sun is purified into dew, by the moon..
And the moon measuring time is the cycle of time.

Saint Jerome called the Hebrew Miriam, Stilla Maris- a drop of the sea.
Miriam  hid her baby brother Moses by the side of a river to evade the Pharaoh’s order that newborn Hebrew boys be killed..

Miriam sang the Song of the Sea as the Red sea parted..and then flooded back:
“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”
By a simple spelling mistake Stilla became became Stella Maris- Star of the Sea, and Mary becomes the constant star, the pole star which 'burns and burns and is never consumed'

Stella Maris was also stella matutina- the morning star.

Though Miriam isn't Mary...

Christians from the twelfth century onward interpreted Virgil's fourth eclogue as a messianic text foretelling the birth of an heroic child who ushers in the golden Age- when:
iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna,
iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto
now returns the Virgin also, and the rule of Saturn;
now a new race is sent down from the highest heaven
The constellation of Virgo.

And explains to some extent the resonance or importance of Queen Elizabeth 1. playing the role of The Virgin Queen.

According to Stephen Benko, "the Black Madonna is the ancient earth-goddess converted to Christianity." His argument begins by noting that many goddesses were pictured as black, among them Artemis of Ephesus, Isis, Ceres, and others. Ceres, the Roman goddess of agricultural fertility, is particularly important. Her Greek equivalent is Demeter, Earth Mother. The best fertile soil is black in color and the blacker it is, the more suited it is for agriculture

Ean Begg inThe Cult of the Black Virgin lists locations in England that once had, and in some cases still have a Black Madonna.

I'm not sure how accurate his list is, at least two of the places he mentions seem to have been turned into schools:

Our Lady of Walsingham, Norfolk.  This is England’s national shrine to Our Lady and Walsingham itself is referred to as England’s Nazareth.  In 1061, just a few years before the Norman invasion, Dame Richeldis de Faverches, Lady of the Manor, had a vision whilst her husband was on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  She was taken three times in the spirit to the house of the Annunciation in Nazareth by the Virgin and told to carefully note down its dimensions and make an exact reproduction of it in England.  This she did and the shrine became one of the holiest places in all Christendom.  Boarded up and damaged during the Reformation, the shrine has been repaired and reopened and is today the main place of pilgrimage in England.  Although the modern statue is not black, Our Lady of Walsingham is the first and foremost  Madonna of England and the Anglo Saxon English and as such is a powerful connection back to our ancient Mothers. 
Our Lady of Glastonbury, Somerset.  The original statue, believed to have been carved by St Joseph of Arimathea himself, was one of the few objects to survive the fire that destroyed most of the abbey in 1184.  Unfortunately it no longer survives, probably destroyed during the Reformation.  Glastonbury, with its powerful legend of being the site of the first Christian Church in Britain and resting place of the Holy Grail  is also the mythical Avalon – the island of the dead. 
Convent of the Holy Child, Mayfield in Sussex.  This contains two Black Madonnas and is recognised as one of the most famous sites for Black Madonnas in the world.
 Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse in Somerset.  Called simply the ‘Black Madonna, this was acquired by the Abbey at the turn of the 20th century and carved around 1470 in Strasburg.

Church of Our Lady of Hal, London.  Originally from Belgium, this appropriately named statue of Our Lady resonates with our ancient goddess Hel and of healing. 
Roman Catholic Church of St Aldhelm’s in Malmesbury, Wiltshire – the only statue in England of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, strongly associated with earth goddesses in the Americas. 
+Buckler’s Hard in Hampshire.  This statue, dating from 1886, is located in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is of French origin.  
+Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge.  This is a dark oak statue from the former Dominican Priory of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. 
Aylesbury Priory, Kent.  This is a modern Black Madonna, carved in the 1950’s.
Black Madonnas were made during the 11th to 15th centuries.

Modern ones are Jacob Epstein’s Madonna and Child (1950-52) found at the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Cavendish Square, London, and another to be found at Aylesbury Priory, Kent.. Carved in the 1950’s, but I don't know by whom.

And the most ancient ones?
Well it seems to me that the Madonna is a continuation of the double-female statue. I personally don't hold any store by the colour of the material they were made from, or the sex of the child.

Friday, 19 April 2013


I have bought 72, ten inch glo-sticks.
This should be enough to lay out the paths of The Sanctuary...

Hope this kind of thing isn't illegal!

The last time I was there- last Saturday, parked in the lay-by waiting for the sun to go down...I measured the angle between magnetic north and the avenue in the north-west quadrant.

If the concrete posts had been laid down using 1930's magnetic north, then the angle now would be about 56 degrees. !n 1930 magnetic north was 13 degrees west of True North.

If I rotate the plans to correct that 13 degrees..
The paths that lead from the center of The Sanctuary line up with the Sun a treat!

Site plan rotated by 13 degrees to account for magnetic declination in 1930

Unfortunately... the angle shows that magnetic declination was taken into account when the concrete markers in the avenue quadrant, were positioned.

Not 56. degrees.
41 which corresponds to Lt-Col Cunnington's plan.

A photograph of my compass on a concrete marker at The Sanctuary.
Using Flash, lines are drawn to show the angle of the avenue.
The angle measures 41 degrees in accord with Lt-Col Cunnington's plan of the site.

The question is, when were the blue concrete posts set up?

I have emailed English Heritage.

All I can say is, when the concrete posts were put in position magnetic declination had been corrected. This doesn't mean that Lt-col Cunnington did the same...the need to rotate the lay-out may still remain to restore accuracy may still remain.

The glo-sticks is where archaeology becomes art.
I've almost gone as far as I can go with science.

I really, really meant to finish The Sanctuary last I poured a libation of finest ale into the earth and set about restoring the paths, in light.

I used glo-sticks

I didn't have enough
All left overs from Halloween parties of our past
I just plain old didn't want to spend any money!

Monday, 8 April 2013

You know I thought The Sanctuary and Woodhenge would be easy.
Just read the original notes.
Decide what is substantiated.
Make some guesses about the possible mythologies and ideas that fit in with the finds and...

Move on.

I keep trying to...
Move on...

To the Iron Age!

I didn't think I'd end up trying to understand astronomy as a consequence of following the Persephone myth.

I didn't think I'd find myself saying that the admirable survey work produced by Lt-Col Cunnington contained an error that had led people like Mike Pitts to conjecture (incorrectly) about the positions of stones (specifically stone 'B' in this case) that were really 12 degrees further west than the plans made out.

Nor do I like to think that I'm right.
But my theory can be tested

Just yesterday
when I was there
I hadn't really thought about how to do that.

Never fear!
I will nail it.

Nor did I think that I'd start questioning the symbolism of the cross.
Much older than Christianity
As an essential tool for anyone making earthen structures embodying the cardinal directions...

Do I think that the Iron Age will be easier. more straight forwards?
Like people dropped corpses into disused grain pits
End of story...

Nothing I do is ever simple.