In each place I’ve called home, I have set up an altar of items that have special meaning for me. Some items have been given to me, others I have collected over the years.
Once before, I wrote about my collection of the Virgen de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe or the Virgin Mary) and of the Black Madonna. These are represented in various forms on my altar.
There are items of olive wood I brought back from the Middle East, several icons of St. Francis of Assisi, relics from grandfathers who were ministers, and other odd items that have some kind of spiritual quality about them. I even have my original baby plate with pictures of the Campbell children on it propped up against the wall!
A colleague in ministry gave me a stone from the Isle of Iona in Scotland. Several bits of Native American crafts, a silk scarf from the Dalai Lama, and more grace this alter.
Everyone has items like this that maybe have a significant meaning, but you don’t know what to do with them. Find a place to display these all together and enjoy them as something special in your life.
I have been collecting representations of the Black Madonna for many years. I’m not quite sure what my attraction is, but I suspect it’s because she’s not the untouched virginal White Madonna we often think of at this time of year. The Black Madonna has been through the fires of experience and has survived, each time stronger than ever. I have photographs of paintings, sculptures, icons, and more.
The Black Madonna is a national symbol in Poland, with Polish Catholics making the pilgrimage as often as possible to see her. The story of how she came to be known as the Black Madonna can be found here. A list of countries where the various Black Madonnas can be found is here.
There is a beautiful essay online by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox written in 2006. I highly recommend that article to you. He talks about the “Return of the Black Madonna” as being a sign of our times. The conclusion to the article is here.
Of all the female religious icons, the Black Madonna is my favorite, and of those I favor the Virgen de Guadalupe (Spanish for the Virgin of Guadalupe). Most of my collection is of her. I even have a mouse pad with her picture on it, although someone once asked if I didn’t think it was sacrilegious to be running a mouse over her.
I love to light rose-scented candles labeled “Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe” that are very popular with the Mexican population. When I lived in Tucson, I kept one burning on the altar in my entryway at all times. What a warm welcome the smell of roses gave each time I walked in my door.
The photo above is a painting that hangs by my front door of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I also have a huge platter with her image painted on it, that even Kaimana seems to love!
There are several books available if you are interested in reading more about the Black Madonna. Three exceptionally good books of all the ones I own are:
1) Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna, by China Galland
2) Our Lady of Guadalupe: Faith and Empowerment among Mexican-American Women by Jeanette Rodriquez
3) Dancing in the Flames by Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson.
If you are interested in having one of these, click on the Amazon.com ad on the right. Not only will you be getting a good book to enrich your life, but you will be helping to support this web site.
There are many “Mother myths” from various cultures and faiths. Some reveal the mother as nurturing, maternal, care giving, full of a feminine mystery and power. Other mother myths portray a darker side of motherhood, but I won’t talk about those today.
In Jungian psychology, there is the archetype of “Mother,” or the Divine Mother. I will briefly tell you about only a few of these.
To start out, there was Mary, Mother of Jesus, who has been called the Christian Goddess of Compassion. She is a universal symbol for motherhood. As a pastor as well as a mother, I could relate to the Christmas story that surrounds the birth of Jesus. I often wonder how she made the trip on a donkey at the time of delivery!
The Virgen de Guadalupe (Spanish for the Virgin of Guadalupe) is considered to be one of the “Black Madonnas.” That’s a story for a later post, but this picture hangs beside my front door.
Another beloved mother figure is Kwan Yin, or Quan Shi Yin, or Kuan Yin. She is the compassionate bodhisattva of East Asian Buddhists. The actual word used (karuna) means something greater than compassion, which is described as “a love for all beings, equal in intensity to a mother’s affection for her child.”
On the grounds of the Waikoloa Hilton Hotel here on the Big Island stands this statue, the ocean creating a wonderful watery backdrop for this Divine Mother. Please check out my brother’s post on Guan Yin today.
When I lived in Arizona, I learned of Ha Hai-I Wuhti, the Hopi Divine Mother, who was thought of as the mother of all kachinas. I don’t have a picture of her, but here is a shot taken in Tucson on the church grounds.
That earthy picture brings me to Gaia, Greek Goddess we might be more familiar with as Mother Earth, the symbol of a mother who nourishes plants and young children. What better way to show her nurturing than by showing some of the local flowers?
All along Ali`i Drive on the Kona side of the island, and many other places as well, you will see the night blooming cereus. I remember friends in Tucson who sat up all night to see their one plant bloom. Here they are in abundance everywhere and certainly spectacular. These had bloomed during the night, but I was able to get a shot before they were completely gone the next morning.
Four years ago, my children got together to celebrate my girls’ birthdays, and also to say farewell to my son who was leaving for his first tour in Iraq. They sent me the picture at the beginning of this post. At first I wondered who all those people were! I thought the shot included friends of my children.
Then I realized they were all mine in one form or another. There were my four children, their spouses, and eight of my nine grandchildren (one couldn’t get away to be there). Since then, two great-grandchildren and one spouse of a grandson have been added to this “rogue’s gallery.”
Of course, I can’t forget my “other” child – Mr. Kaimana Kat! Here he is hanging over a large platter that is a painting of the Virgen de Guadalupe.