Skip to comments.Episcopaganism (Matthew Fox on the Black Madonna)
Posted on 03/15/2006 11:50:30 AM PST by sionnsar
A curious form of Christian image is the so-called Black Madonna. This is an icon of Mary in which the skin of the Mother of Our Lord is depicted in a dark hue. The most famous of these is probably Poland's Black Madonna of Czestochowa but there are many others. Since I am not Catholic, I don't know the significance of these images or whether they have any particular significance at all. But I'm fairly certain of one thing. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, I do not think those words mean what Matthew Fox thinks they mean:
Every archetype has its seasons. They come and go according to the deepest, often unconscious, needs of the psyche both personal and collective. Today the Black Madonna is returning. She is coming, not going, and she is calling us to something new (and very ancient as well). The last time the Black Madonna played a major role in western culture and psyche was the twelfth century renaissance, a renaissance that the great historian M.D. Chenu said was the only renaissance that worked in the West.  It worked because it was grass roots. And from this renaissance was birthed the University, the Cathedral, the city itself. She brought with her a resacralization of culture and a vision that awakened the young. In short, it was the last time the goddess entered western culture in a major way.
The goddess. 'Kay. Don't know whether you know this or not but Matt Fox is still listed among the clergy ot the Diocese of California. Says so right here.
In this essay I want to address what the Black Madonna archetype awakens in us and why she is so important for the twenty-first century. But before I do that, I want to tell a personal story of my first encounter with the Black Madonna.
Go for it.
That encounter occurred in the Spring of 1968 when I was a student in Paris and took a brief tripmy firstto Chartres Cathedral located about thirty five miles from Paris. While all of Chartres was an amazing eye-opener for me, its sense of cosmology and humor and human dignity and inclusion of all of life, I stood before the statue of the black Madonna and was quite mesmerized. What is this? Who is this? I asked myself. A French woman came by and I quizzed her about it. The answer was as follows. Oh, this is a statue that turned black over the years because of the number of candles burning around it, she declared. I didnt believe her. It made no sense. I looked carefully and saw no excessive candle power around the statue.
I don't know. I've got to figure that if you position four, five, six or more candles around a statue every day for FIVE HUNDRED YEARS, GIVE OR TAKE, that the statue would eventually show the results of it. But Matt knows the real reason.
The story is an old one, one of ignorance and of racism. Even the French, at their most central holy spot, have lost the meaning and the story of the Black Madonna. And racism has contributed to this neglect. The Black Madonna is found all over Europein Sicily, Spain, Switzerland, France, Poland, Chechoslavakiaas well as in Turkey and in Africa and in Asia as Tara in China and as Kali in India
An archetype by definition is not about just one thing. No metaphor, no symbol, is a literal mathematical formula. The Black Madonna meant different things in different historical periods and different cultural settings. What I want to explore is why she is re-emerging in our time and what powers she brings with her. Why do we need the Black Madonna today? I detect twelve gifts that the Black Madonna archetype brings to our time. They are more than gifts, they are challenges. She comes to shake us up which, as we shall see, is an ancient work of Isis, the Black Madonna.
Did I happen to mention that Matt Fox is still an Episcopal clergyman?
The Black Madonna is Dark and calls us to the darkness.. Darkness is something we need to get used to againthe Enlightenment has deceived us into being afraid of the dark and distant from it. Light switches are illusory. They feed the notion that we can master nature (Descartes false promise) and overcome all darkness with a flick of our finger. Meister Eckhart observes that the ground of the soul is dark. Thus to avoid the darkness is to live superficially, cut off from ones ground, ones depth. The Black Madonna invites us into the dark and therefore into our depths. This is what the mystics call the inside of things, the essence of things. This is where Divinity lies. It is where the true self lies. It is where illusions are broken apart and the truth lies. Andrew Harvey puts it this way: The Black Madonna is the transcendent Kali-Mother, the black womb of light out of which all of the worlds are always arising and into which they fall, the presence behind all things, the darkness of love and the loving unknowing into which the child of the Mother goes when his or her illumination is perfect.  She calls us to that darkness which is mystery itself. She encourages us to be at home there, in the presence of deep, black, unsolveable mystery. She is, in Harveys words, the blackness of divine mystery, that mystery celebrated by the great Aphophatic mystics, such as Dionysisus Areopagite, who see the divine as forever unknowable, mysterious, beyond all our concepts, hidden from all our senses in a light so dazzling it registers on them as darkness.  Eckhart calls Gods darkness a superessential darkness, a mystery behind mystery, a mystery within mystery that no light has penetrated.
Sumbitch. By the way, if you don't do any of this, if you don't have a Black Madonna in your church, Matt wants to know where you get your hoods cleaned.
To honor darkness is to honor the experience of people of color.  Its opposite is racism. The Black Madonna invites us to get over racial stereotypes and racial fears and projections and to go for the dark.
But Matt's willing to share his Canterbury cabbage.
The Black Madonna calls us to cosmology, a sense of the whole of space and time. Because she is dark and leads us into the dark, the Black Madonna is also cosmic. She is the great cosmic Mother on whose lap all creation exists. The universe itself is embraced and mothered by her. She yanks us out of our anthropocentrism and back into a state of honoring all our relations. She ushers in an era of cosmology, of our relationship to the whole (kosmos means whole in Greek) instead of just parts, be they nation parts or ethnic parts or religious parts or private parts. She pulls us out of the Newtonian parts-based relation to self and the worldout of our tribalisminto a relationship to the whole again. Since we are indeed inheriting a new cosmology in our time, a new Universe Story, the timing of the Black Madonnas return could not be more fortuituous. She brings a blessing of the new cosmology, a sense of the sacred, to the task of educating our species in a new universe story.
Athough there's not much left since he's been bogarting the bong.
The Black Madonna calls us down to honor our lower charkas. One of the most dangerous aspects of western culture is its constant flight upwards, its race to the upper charkas (Descartes: truth is clear and distinct ideas) and its flight from the lower charkas. The Black Madonna takes us down, down to the first charkas including our relationship to the whole (first chakra, as I have explained elsewhere is about picking up the vibrations for sounds from the whole cosmos), our sexuality (second chakra) and our anger and moral outrage (third chakra). European culture in the modern era especially has tried to flee from all these elements both in religion and in education. The Black Madonna will not tolerate such flights from the earth, flights from the depths.
Did I happen to mention that Matt's still listed on the rolls of Episcopal clergy?
Because she honors the direction of down and the lower charkas that take us there, the Madonna honors the earth and represents ecology and environmental concerns. Mother Earth is named by her very presence. Mother Earth is dark and fecund and busy birthing. So is the Black Madonna. Andrew Harvey says: The Black Madonna is also the Queen of Nature, the blesser and agent of all rich fertile transformations in external and inner nature, in the outside world and in the psyche.  Mother Earth nurtures her children and feeds the world and the Black Madonna welcomes them home when they die. She recycles all things. The Black Madonna calls us to the environmental revolution, to seeing the world in terms of our interconnectedness with all things and not our standing off to master or rule over nature (as if we could even if we tried). She is an affront to efforts of capitalist exploitation of the resources of the earth including the exploitation of the indigenous peoples who have been longest on the earth interacting with her in the most nuanced of ways. The Black Madonna sees things in terms of the whole and therefore does not countenance the abuse, oppression or exploitation of the many for the sake of financial aggrandizement of the few. She has always stood for justice for the oppressed and lower classes (as distinct from the lawyer classes). She urges us to stand up to those powers that, if they had their way, would exploit her beauty for short term gain at the expense of the experience of beauty that future generations will be deprived of. She is a conservationist, one who conserves beauty and health and diversity.
The Black Madonna calls us to our depths, to living spiritually and radically on this planet and not superficially and unthinkingly and oblivious to the grace that has begotten us in so many ways. The depths to which we are called include the depths of awe, wonder and delightjoy itself is a depth experience we need to re-entertain in the name of the Black Madonna. She calls us to enter into the depths of our pain, suffering and shared griefnot to run from it or cover it up with a myriad of addictions ranging from shopping to drugs and alcohol and sport and superficial religion. She calls us to the depths of our creativity and to entertain the images that are born in and through us. And she calls us to the depths of transformation, of social, economic, gender, racial and eco justice and the struggle that must be maintained to carry on solidarity with the oppressed of any kind.
Matt's going to be jonesing some Doritos real soon.
The Black Madonna calls us to our Divinity which is also our Creativity. First, our Divinity. Because she is a goddess, the Black Madonna resides in all beings. She is the divine presence inside of creation. She calls us inside, into the kingdom/queendom of God where we can co-create with Divinity and feel the rush of Divinitys holy breath or spirit. But to call us to Divinity is to call us to our responsibility to give birth.
Working in a library is not as peaceful as some people seem to think it is. It can get a bit frantic sometimes. The last two days were like that for me. When I got done with Sunday evening I was a bit frazzled. So I can't remember if I mentioned that Matt Fox is still on the rolls of Episcopal clergymen.
The Black Madonna calls us to Diversity. There is no imagination without diversityimagination is about inviting disparate elements into soul and culture so that new combinations can make love together and new beings can be birthed. Because the Black Madonna is black, she addresses the fundamental phobia around race and differences of color and culture that come with race and ethnic diversity. Meister Eckhart says: All the names we give to God come from an understanding of ourselves.  To give God the name Black Madonna is to honor blackness and all people of color and to get over an excessive whiteness of soul and culture. It is also to honor the feminine. Divinity is diverse. Diverse in color and diverse in traditions and diverse in gender. God as Mother, not just Father. God as Birther, not just Begetter. Gender diversity is honored by the Black Madonna and so too is gender preference. The Black Madonna, the Great Mother, is not homophobic. She welcomes the diversity of sexual preferences that are also part of creation, human and more than human.
Robbie? Susie Russ? Matt's got your back. And then there's this.
The Black Madonna calls us to our Divinity which is Compassion. Compassion is the best of which our species is capable. It is also the secret name for Divinity. There is no spiritual tradition East or West, North or South, that does not exist to instruct its people in how to be compassionate. Maat is the name for justice, harmony, balance and compassion among the African peoples. The Black Madonna calls us to Maat. To balance, harmony, justice and compassion. Grieving and Celebrating and Acting Justly are all parts of compassion. In both Arabic and Hebrew, the word for compassion comes from the word for womb. A Patriarchal period does not teach compassion, it ignores the womb-like energies of our world and our species. If it mentions compassion at all it trivializes it and renders it sissy. (For example, Websters dictionary declares that the idea that compassion is about a relationship among equals is obsolete.) Patriarchy neglects what Meister Eckhart knew and taught: Compassion means justice.  Compassion has a hard side, it is not about sentiment but about relationships of justice and interdependence.
Because the Black Madonna is the goddess that dwells deeply and darkly within all beings, ourselves included, she brings with her our capacity for compassion. We are not wholewe are not ourselvesuntil we partake in the carrying on of compassion. Meister Eckhart taught that the name of the human soul properly is Compassion and that until we are engaged in compassion we do not yet have soul. 
Compassion knows when enough is enough; compassion does not overindulge; compassion does not hoard and does not run its life on addictions of insecurity and pyramid-building to overcome these addictions. Compassion trusts life and the universe ultimately to provide what is necessary for our being. But compassion works hard as a co-creator with the universe to see that a balance and basic fairness is achieved among beings. Compassion is present in the Black Madonna in her very essence for the first outburst of everything God (and Goddess) does is compassion. (Eckhart) To return to compassion is to return to the Goddess.
Did I happen to mention that Matt Fox is still listed on the rolls of Episcopal clergy?
Since I am not Catholic, I don't know the significance of these images or whether they have any particular significance at all.
I guess they wiped his brain when he left the Catholic priesthood!
He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1967. He received Masters Degrees in both philosophy and theology from Aquinas Institute, and later earned a Ph.D. in spirituality, summa cum laude, from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Due to his controversial teachings, he was censured by the Vatican in 1989 and forbidden to teach, and later dismissed from the Dominican order. He was later received as an Episcopal priest by Bishop William Swing of the Episcopal Diocese of California.
Where to begin... my head is spinning. How clueless can a clergyman be?
Just for the record, this individual Fox is infamous for hanging out with a witch named "Starhawk" (AKA Miriam Simos).
He's smoking better stuff than I am.
So, does this mean that Matthew isn't compassionate? Because he crossed the "Enough is enough" line in about, oh, say, the 2nd paragraph?
He was definitely on the killer weed when writing this stuff. The Black Madonna is a peice of ART! Art doesn't HAVE to be a perfect likeness. Else all madonnas would look like a middle eastern woman, right?
I think it was Christopher Johnson who wrote that, not Fox.
The above is what happens when someone loses the faith and then perverts his old religion.
Yes, I remember the glorious day that Fox joined the Episcopal Church. He was on the verge of being excommunicated by the Catholic Church and beat the Magisterium to the punch!
New combinations together? Like your head and your butt?
Because the Black Madonna is black, she addresses the fundamental phobia around race and differences of color and culture that come with race and ethnic diversity.
What are you talking about? They are just paintings of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus that are about 1000 years old and candles have been burning in front of it for 1000 years.
Meister Eckhart says: All the names we give to God come from an understanding of ourselves.  To give God the name Black Madonna is to honor blackness and all people of color and to get over an excessive whiteness of soul and culture.
Who gave God the name "Black Madonna"???? Anyone besides you, Matt Fox?
It is also to honor the feminine. Divinity is diverse.
Diverse in color and diverse in traditions and diverse in gender. God as Mother, not just Father. God as Birther, not just Begetter. Gender diversity is honored by the Black Madonna and so too is gender preference.
Whoa. Who told you this? Were the paintings talking to you?
The Black Madonna, the Great Mother, is not homophobic. She welcomes the diversity of sexual preferences that are also part of creation, human and more than human.
Everything he wrote is disturbing but that last sentence is way out there. After reading it - serious drug abuse is the most reasonable explanation. It's just too bizarre. Thank God that the Vatican kicked him out. Saint Dominic pray for us. Send that dog with the torch to help find these people.
ROFLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!! What else is there to say? You know the sad thing was there was not much catechesis done in my old ECUSA parish on the classical articles of faith. But, boy, did 'Ol Matt Fox sure get quoted quite a lot. And the goddess worshipers lapped it all up.
My (former) United Methodist congregation was promoting a "Bible Study" using Fox's Coming of the Cosmic Christ years ago. It was one of the biggest reasons why I left the UMC and have never looked back.
Well, Fox is still a nut, anyhow. A Wiccan friend of mine gave me a couple of his books "just to show me" that Christians really accepted Wiccans.
That might be true I guess . . . if he was a Christian, but he obviously hasn't been one for quite some time.
I can't decide whether to give the books away or just trash them. I've never read (or tried to read) such a farrago of doped-up nonsense. The books are just like this article . .. only 2 or 300 pages of it.
Thank goodness Fox decided to decamp for the Whiskeypalians.
He's not the only one. I hate searching back through blogs on slow dialup, but somewhere... hmmm... found it!
Via titusonenine, it's the liberal Salty Vicar on Letter from a Young Catholic.
|Matthew Fox||Author of the book "Creation Spirituality" and the founder of a movement with the same name, he was investigated by the Vatican and subsequently dismissed from the Dominican Order in 1993. Creation Spirituality has 10 Principles which replace the 10 Commandments, among which are claims of "Divinity is as much Mother as Father" and "That we experience that the Divine is in all things and all things are in the Divine (Panentheism)." Panentheism is an old heresy which has been resurrected in New Age thought. He has "Techno-Cosmic Masses" which "integrates live music, electronica, multi-media imagery and eastern and indigenous spiritual elements to create a multi-cultural, intergenerational and ecumenical form of worship." The real Catholic Mass makes Jesus Christ present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Fox claims that Christianity has been spiritually destitute ever since St. Augustine came up with the doctrine of original sin. (Friends of Creation Spirituality is also part of Call to Action's Catholic Organizations for Renewal).|
Public Supporters of Dissident Organizations
|Matthew Fox||Supporter of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (Friends of Creation Spirituality).|
Hooo-boy! I see Matthew I-used-to-be-catholic-than-changed-to-episcopalian-but-I'm-really-a-nocount-New-Age-pagan-full-of-myself Fox is blathering nonsense again! He fits right in with a large portion of the current episcopagan "leadership." He doesn't just take a bit of peyote, he downs half a bowlful and then tops it off with a long session with a strong Colombian red from his hookah!
Bugs Bunny had this type of character pegged in his immortal quip: "What a maroon!"
Why do those who hate Christ so much pretend to be Christian? That is what always confuses me. This guy would be much more comfortable in a coven rather than a church.
I will pray for his soul, and those he is leading astray.
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