Thursday, August 09, 2007

Goddess Conference postscript



I wanted to close these posts on the Goddess Conference with a note about two events connected with the Conference, Caroline Probyn's exhibition and Alessandra Belloni's drama on the Black Madonna.

Caroline was asked to paint a Goddess for each of the eight festivals of the wheel of the year to hang over the altar in the Goddess Temple. She writes, "The opportunity to paint them was brought to me by a friend and priestess of the Goddess temple and it was only in the process of painting that I began to experience a tangible presence beyond myself that then became my inspiration for the rest of the cycle. As such, these paintings were a gift to me from the ‘beyond’! "

The result of her inspiration are the paintings that were beautifully displayed in the Miracles Room in the Glastonbury Courtyard. To enter the sacred space she created was to be enfolded in the living presence of the Goddesses - a truly healing experience. She writes, "Perhaps these works will act as a mirror, bringing you closer to her aspects within yourself. That is my hope. So please don’t look for her in the paints on the canvas or in the beautiful cloths that shroud her different forms ... you won’t find her there, though Her name can be heard through all of those things. The truth of her living presence breathes in the Silence of your own heart. Listen for her there and honour her, because our world really needs her just now ..."

Alessandra's powerful singing to the sound of the tambourine and her dances are well known. It was a delight to spend a last evening in Glastonbury at a sacred drama at which the story of the Black Madonna was beautifully expounded through her song and through dance. The Black Madonna tradition includes black and enthroned representations of the mother and child. Most are from the 12th to 15th centuries. Stephen Benko says, "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, Demeter, derives from Ge-meter or Earth Mother. The best fertile soil is black in color and the blacker it is, the more suited it is for agriculture.

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