Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Black Madonna

At this time of year we are inundated with images of the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Everywhere we look whether in print media and I dare say, even the Internet, one cannot avoid the imagery. What we don't hear much about is the most sacred icon of the Christian church, the Black Madonna. All over Europe, South and Central America the Black Madonna is not only prevalent, but revered. How did this come to be? How is it that the holiest icon of the Christians appears to be Black and comely?

This story begins in ancient Egypt with the advent of Isis and Osiris, who have now been relegated to the status of gods. We don't here much about them today, but we do hear about their descendants, the Black Madonna and child. One of the interesting, but undeniable developments in the history of the Christian church is that it has been syncretized with the religious practices of its predecessors. We see this clearly as we examine the practices of the ancient Egyptians and their mythology and see that the idea of one god, monotheism; the immaculate conception; and the resurrection, which are all basic tenants of the Christian church were believed in long before the historical Jesus walked on the face of the earth.

As we look for proof positive that many "pagan" practices, particularly from Egypt have been incorporated into the Christian religion we can see indications of this in the artwork and iconography of the Christian church. As we compare statues of Isis suckling Horus from her breast we find a distinct similarity to pictures of the Mother Mary holding Jesus on her lap. We find mention of it in the Bible in the Book of Revelations with the description of Jesus as one who has skin the color of burnished bronze and wooly hair.

As we examine this artwork in many of the holiest shrines of Europe we find that there were possibly thousands of sites dedicated to the Black Madonna in every country in Europe. We also find this to be true in many countries outside of Europe, particularly in South and Central America. But, for the purposes of this article we'll focus on Europe, as it is the place that we'd least expect to find these icons.

Many of the Black Madonnas were destroyed during the French Revolution and other conflicts over the ages. But, right now today documentation exists on the history of at least 450 sites dedicated to the Black Madonna all across Western and Eastern Europe. The most heavily saturated area is France. But, every country worth its salt has at least one site, including Rome and the Vatican.

The odd thing about the Black Madonnas is how they've been explained away. Due to the advent of white supremacy and its attendant practices we now find that the holiest icons of the Christian church are being explained with bizarre stories regarding "candle soot or age", in spite of the fact that they've often been inscribed with references to the Song of Songs from the Old Testament:

"Verse 5. I am black, but comely (O ye daughters of Jerusalem) as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon. 6. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me, they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."

This belies the whole accidental blackness theory, and in this case it may not be written in stone, but it's certainly carved into the woodwork. In fact, it's much more likely that their blackness is kissed off of their hands and feet, than the other way round.

Because of the negative attitude towards anything black, and especially black people, many of these statues have either been destroyed, whitewashed or replaced with lily white statues in accordance with the tenants of white supremacy, which dictates that the Mother of God and hence her son must by definition be white. Any other statement to the contrary would have to be considered heresy.

One of my teachers, Chief Fela Sowande, admonished all of his students to always "read little and think deeply and much". If we just apply logic to the situation it will become clear that Jesus, hence his mother, could not have been lily white as we see them popularly portrayed in most every church in America. The peoples of the land they were birthed in have never been blonde haired, blue-eyed, with lily-white skin from that day to the present. Skin bleaching creams and hair rinses were not commonly in use at that time, because the negatives associated with being black had not come into style, yet. So, who was it that came up with this idea that Jesus was other than a swarthy son of Ham? I dare say it was the artists of an era far removed from that of the historical Jesus. All of these artists have been heavily influenced by a belief in white supremacy, either consciously or unconsciously.

Meanwhile, the icons themselves continue to be venerated in a odd twist of fate. The tricky part is how to worship the African woman and maintain your belief system, based on the doctrine of white supremacy. This is especially difficult due to the degradation of the African woman by everyone, including her man. As we see more and more images of the African woman glorifying her as a sex object rather than as the mother of nations.

These images abound, not just at Christmas time, but all-year round. This degradation has been occurring over a long period of time, but funnily, even with our modern, liberal outlook on life we have yet to be able to put these images of the Black woman, as a sex object to rest. Examples of this fascination with Black women and their sexual parts are easy to find. Witness the conversion of Sarah Baartman into some kind of sideshow freak.

Sarah Baartman was born in southern Africa as a member of the Hottentot tribe. White men were so fascinated with her and other women of her tribe that they took her to Europe and put her on exhibition in her birthday suit. This went on for a number of years and she finally succumbed at the tender age of 25. Her death did not release her from her tortured life, however, The scientists of the day cut out her vagina, her brain and bleached her bones, for display in the Museum de la Homme in Paris, France. Her body parts remained on display for 150 years, until the museum finally was shamed into locking them up in their vault. She finally was buried in 2002, in South Africa.

I consider her one of the lucky ones, because she doesn't have to be subjected to viewing our daughters on parade as modern day versions of Sarah Baartman. I consider her to be one of the lucky ones, because she's no longer on display as a modern day "Video Vixen", shaking her booty for money, sliding a credit card between her cheeks, to let us all know exactly where her money maker's at. She doesn't have to look at the new dances where the woman bends over and grabs her ankles as the man stands behind her grinding.

Sarah Baartman is dead and her bones are in the ground. The rest of us need to really think about what we're going to do with the remainder of our time on this earth. Will our women continue to devolve into "Superheads" or will they finally stand up and be counted as the mothers of nations.

For those of you interested in more details about the Black Madonnas of the ages, please see my related Blog The History of Black Virgin Marys, by J.A. Rogers. For more information on Sarah Baartman and the "Video Vixens" check my Video Blog on Sarah Baartman.

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