More than 500 shrines of the Black Madonna appeared world-wide, but mostly in central Europe, between the 11th and 15th centuries. Scholars suggest that she represents ancient goddesses, like Artemis, Diana, Cybele, Isis and others. (1)
Judy Zappacosta, Jungian analyst from California, researched her modern presence in Europe, she said: “I was very moved by the essence of sitting before a feminine dark figure that had such a deep interiority to her that she just pulls you in, into darkness, into silence, and actually into mystery…
“There’s an ownership that is taken up by the local people, that they are the keepers of, they say, “the Lady,” [who] is part of their lives in a very everyday way… they change her clothing; they have festivals, dances, lots of relationship to fertility, and motherhood, and things that bring them close to the people that are beyond the church’s style of owning a particular icon. The Black Madonna seems to have slipped through ownership by the church… she lives within chapels all through the places that you usually find her… way upon rural wild wilderness places, less-travelled regions… [where she] has always been discovered…”(2)
The Black Madonna can be seen as a personification of the forgotten Great Mother. Over millennia, the unconscious, personified as the feminine principle, has become gradually more suppressed by consciousness, personified as the masculine principle, in all of us. As aspects of the unconscious became submerged, it became the task of the shaman/ess to undertake the descent into the underworld, maintaining a relationship to this forgotten world. This is e.g. portrayed in the myths of Inanna, Persephone and Orpheus.
Later, even this process of descent into the underworld became forgotten, until it was made accessible again by Jung’s psychology, so that we might consciously undertake the inner journey.
The silent form of the Black Madonna may inform and contain us each on our own journey, in our dark night of the soul, as we grapple with our fate. It is her call: by heeding it, by following her lead, we each in our own way contribute to the restoration of her temple.
1. Website of Europe up close: Article on The Mystery of the Black Madonna
2. Website: Depth Insights Blog: Symbolism of the Black Madonna, a Jungian Perspective, Interview with Judy Zappacosta