Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck






A card deck of 78 large size cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with an accompanying A5 book with glossy papercover and 160 pages of info on each card and its themes and background.  Packaged in a hand crafted tarot pouch, accompanied by a signed card from the deck and a rosary.  



The Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck is a unique deck of cards and guide book published in Cape Town, South Africa.  The Mysteries of Mary Tarot is a mystical vision of the sacred mysteries of the Soul and its unsung feminine path. The Mysteries tells of a sacred marriage of the Bride and the Beloved : a new mythos of the Story of the Child Within and the Gospel of Love. A mystical vision of the religion of the Soul as reflected in the archetypal images of the story of Divine Mary in the Mariamic tradition.

Back of the Mysteries of Mary deck

Today we know the Blessed Mary as the Mother of Jesus who plays a small part in the story of Protestant Christianity and who plays an important part in the Roman Catholic tradition.  She is lesser known as a goddess in the feminine traditions and very few would connect her with the great Mother goddesses of the past or the Lady Sophia in the Wisdom traditions.


But to myself, and others like me, there is a connection, a red thread that connects the dots in the eye of the heart.  The ancient divine feminine had been demonised many moons ago and her stories had gone underground.  One has to rely on myth, folk tale, oral traditions, fairy tales and subtle clues and especially correspondences, to uncover Her story.  And today Mary is the Sacred Keeper of all Our Lady’s titles and Wisdom.

The Mysteries of Mary is a reweaving and a regathering of all these threads of Our Lady’s garment created from red wool and linen.  We look in the Bible, in the Koran, the Kabbalah and many other ancient and rediscovered lost books.  There are also esoteric and apocryphal books that tell the stories of Mary, the feminine counterpart of the Divine Creator in the Western religion and myth and many of these stories have been included to create The Mysteries of Mary deck.
 
Mysteries of Mary tarot deck included in
tarot collection of Museo dei Tarocchi, Bologna, Italy


In this deck the story starts with Mara, the bitter one.  Why is she called Mara?  We follow Mara, the holy fool through the stories of Maria Prophetissa, the Jewess and the first woman alchemist, to Sophia, Mary of the Gael onwards till we get to the Woman who stands on the moon with twelve stars around her head.
Woven into the tapestry of myth, metaphor and inspiration, are fairytales and in particular, the folktale of The Handless Maiden.  And so are the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, pagan and especially the Judaic history which is the precursor to the Christian mysteries.

The deck incorporates alchemical principles and as such it is a marriage of opposites, a living hieros gamos which follows the sacred journey of the Holy Fool through the mysteries of Mary. I focus on the mystical (hidden)  and inner meanings of the Mysteries of Mary. 



Historically and politically there are so many theories and ideas – none of them completely provable – thus it remains a Mystery. The teachings of Jesus and the Marys, are also open to various interpretations.  Many wars have been fought based on differences in interpretation.  I am not exploring the religion of the Mystery, but rather the message that I, personally see in this ancient story.




The four suits of the deck correspond with the four cycles of Mary's life :  Virgin and Priestess as the Suit of Vessels;  Beloved and Bride as the Suit of the Holyrood;  Mother and Sacred Woman as the Suit of Distaff and Wisdom as Suit of Roses.


It is my vision that this deck can be the start of a far greater vision : one that marries the mind and the heart; the feminine and the masculine.  It is my hope that you will glimpse the revelation that all religion contains Soul and that the veils of dogma and manipulation obscure the truth.  May you look in the mirror of Sophia and see yourself as Love Eternal. - extracted from the Introduction of the accompanying book.


The deck consists of 78 handcrafted shrines, each one made by  myself to 
represent one of the stories in the deck.  These were photographed and then professionally 
printed in a large card format on a good quality card stock.  
The style and colours used create a rich tapestry of imagery, symbol and colour.  
The accompanying guide book has a paperback cover.   
Each limited edition deck will be signed by myself and each deck 
will come in a unique pouch in the style of the deck

- 78 tarot cards printed on 350 gsm card stock with thick glossy varnish
- 160 page A5 paperback tarot book signed by myself
- Unique handprinted tarot pouch
- Extra signed tarot card

I ship registered airmail with a tracking number

Archangel Michael, Servant of Distaff


Here is a link for reviews received from those who purchased
the deck :
 http://www.hergracesacredart.com/p/feedback-and-reviews-of-mysteries-of.html

Here is a link to the review by Arnell Ando on her website :

http://www.arnellart.com/mary-tarot.htm



The deck is available in my shop The French Madonna
www.etsy.com/shop/thefrenchmadonna


blessings


Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Black Madonna on the Pillar

XV The Black Madonna
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


XV  BLACK MADONNA
Traditionally The Devil
‘The Black Madonna is Dark and calls us to the darkness.. Darkness is something we need to get used to again—the “Enlightenment” has deceived us into being afraid of the dark and distant from it’ – Dr Matthew Fox in his blogpost The Return of the Black Madonna

‘…that which is unknown to us, we deem weak and contemptible. So it is that realities revealed to vigilance seem weak and contemptible, whereas they are strong and praiseworthy.’ – Logion 124, The Gospel of Philip

The Black Madonna or Black Virgin is an ancient aspect of Mary revered as sacred across many cultures of the world.  She is worshipped in caves, underground chambers and dark, hidden places. She represents the darkness of the void and the womb and the dark side of the divine and the feminine. She is virtually the polar opposite of the image of the purity of Virgin Mary.  (It is an interesting fact that there are Black Madonna statues at many places sacred to Mary Magdalene) The Black Madonna can be regarded as that which is hidden and dark or that which is hidden in the dark shadows.  She holds the sacred image of our wholeness by reflecting the dark shadow of our collective and personal consciousness.  She also represents pain and suffering and death, but she is a tremendous agent of change and transformation.  That is one of the meanings of her dark countenance.  She is the one who entices you down into the painful depths of your desires and passions only to bring you face to face with yourself in the mirror of her all-encompassing divinity.

Shrines and holy places dedicated to the Black Madonna are known to have been placed on power points of the earth’s energy ley lines.  This shrine shows the Madonna on the Pillar in the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres.  Until my second-last visit to the Madonna on the Pillar she was a Black Madonna.  But recent renovations have turned the Black Madonna into a milky-white doll-like version of the once powerful Black Madonna.  This miniature statue still shows the Black Madonna in her previous appearance and clothing and the Cathedral of Chartres as it once was, veiled with mystery and tradition.

On the shrine of the Black Madonna we see the arms of Our Lady at the top, with the red rose and white lily of alchemy tied onto the arms demonstrating that she holds us in an equal embrace, body and spirit alike.   Religion often regards this world and its physical pleasures and desires as the world of the devil. All religion shy away from the shadows and only see the light as ‘good’ or ‘positive’.  Black is usually regarded as a ‘negative’ and the colour of death and worse.  Wherever there is light, there will be a shadow and the shadow plays a very important role in the wholeness or holiness of the psyche and soul.  If we never look into the shadows, we can never know who we are; we will then become stuck in the idea of who we think we are only and the depths of our being will never be plumbed. Without the darkness of the night our nervous systems cannot completely come to rest in order for the body and mind to regenerate itself.  How would the fetus gestate without the darkness of the womb? How would the human heart come to know true compassion and empathy for another’s suffering without entering the darkness of the cave of loss and pain?
 Traditionally this card is the ‘Devil’ card.  The name Lucifer has become accepted as a name of the devil or the fallen angel in Isaiah 14 of the Old Testament, especially because of a sermon by Pope Gregory the Great (540-604 AD) and the poem Paradise Lost by John Milton. The name Lucifer literally means ‘light bringer’ or bringer of light. ‘Bringing light’ is derived from the Latin lux which means ‘light’ and ‘ferre’ which means ‘to bring’. In Latin Lucifer originally referred to the morning star, Venus, or the Bringer of the Dawn. 
So here we have the goddess Venus, the morning star, directly connected to the Christian idea of the devil.  There is a direct connection between Venus goddess of love and the astrological ruler of Virgo (virgin) and Mary, virgin-mother of the child of love.

In this shrine the Black Madonna is the bringer of light into the darkness of pain and ignorance.  ‘Enlightened’ means to bring light to the darkness of an uninformed mind and I would add that it means to bring the light of awareness and insight into the heart of humanity.  Without the darkness there would be no need for the light and conversely, the light will be completely blinding without the darkness.

When you receive this card, take a moment and see what your personal fear-based beliefs are. You have the power to free yourself from the chains that tie you to your present circumstances.  Speak to others, read books and become informed:  there are different perspectives to your self-limiting one.  

blessings
Hettienne

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Mary Magdalene as Black Madonna

The Tree of Choices
Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


VI  TREE OF CHOICES
Traditionally The Lovers

‘God planted trees in a garden. Humans lived among those trees, they were not yet divided when they were told: Eat from this tree or do not eat from it.’ Logion 94, The Gospel of Philip

The tree plays an important role in the Mysteries.  In this card we are confronted with the Tree of Choices.  In the Biblical and Judaic stories there are different versions of the trees of Paradise.  It would seem that there was in truth only one tree, the Tree of Life.  This is an ancient symbol of the self-sustaining and regenerating power of a spirit filled world. In the story, this tree was later split into two, the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After the split of the trees we see that they are now in opposition to each other. After the fall of Adam and Eve, caused by their eating from the fruit of the tree of Knowledge, humanity was cut off and banned from the Tree of Life.  The Tree of Life promised eternal life and humanity was now doomed to a mortal and exiled life.

In this shrine I compare the metaphor of the two trees with the way in which our culture have split value and worthiness of masculine and feminine and then still further dividing the feminine into the ‘good girl/virgin/wife/mother and the bad girl/lover/wise woman.  This split is reflected in the way that the stories of Mariam of Nazareth and Miriam of Magdala, is interpreted and held up as image of the two aspects of woman .

Popular legend has assigned the apple tree to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The apple is a powerful symbol of woman and her feminine sexual nature. (Also see V Holy Rood, The Handless Maiden for more on the symbolism of the apple tree).  In this version of the story of the Fall of Man, woman and her sexual nature is held responsible for their eviction from Paradise.  So right at the onset a woman has been forbidden from getting to know and understand her complex sexual nature. There is an inherent sexuality in physical bodies; one could say that the soul radiates its mystical and sexual nature through its physical cloak.  But humanity has been severed from this mystery and all its gifts.
In the Christian story we are only told the story of Mary the Virgin-Mother, the one who conceived immaculately and who remained a virgin even after the birth of her son.  We never really meet Mary the Beloved of Jesus, the Bride of the Bridal Chamber, the one who is called the Magdalene.  Mary the Mother of God is indeed a Bride without a Bridegroom as She is the Bride of the Spirit, but there is another sacrament in the mysteries, that of the Bride and the Beloved Bridegroom..  This brings us to Mary Magdalene and the various interpretations of her role in the story of Jesus and the three Marys.  Few accept Mary Magdalene as the beloved or the bride of Jesus the Bridegroom.  Mary Magdalene has been blackened in reputation by various authors of religion through the centuries and mostly she has only been seen as an unholy woman who indulges in pleasures of the flesh.  Religion has always separated the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit and especially in the treatment of women as wives, lovers and mistresses.  And we see this split right at the start of the story with the two trees in the Garden of Paradise.  



In this card we see Mary the Mother with the rosary in her hands and we see the black Mary as she is depicted in the poem ‘The Thunder, Perfect Mind’ in the Nag Hammadi library.  In this shrine she represents Mary Magdalene and ultimately both together represent the Feminine Soul and aspect of the eternal feminine.  Both these women carry the name Mary and to me it is an important indicator that there is an important hidden message for those with ears to hear.  The split between the Madonna and the whore is active in many layers of our cultures.  Women are demonised for the expression of their sexuality, whereas men are honoured and revered for their sexual prowess. 

In the traditional Lovers card we often see a male hero struggling for a choice between two women.  In the Mysteries card we have the female version of the choices card.  Women are mostly compared to men and masculine pursuits and rarely in relation to other women and themselves.  This creates an imbalance in women and a suppression of womanly ways and feminine relational values.

Hecate, goddess of choices, is often shown with three roads behind her.  One plus one equals three: new life is born from struggling and discord. Living with the tension of the opposites, allowing disagreement and another's voice that differ from yours, to be heard, brings awareness to the glassy mind, of the awesome beauty of creating a life that has meaning. There is a place where all the rivers converge and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity. 

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage of two opposing forces, a third force is born.  This is the meaning of creativity and the magical nature of the number three.  (This card is a six and thus contains two threes). On the path of divine love, the magical child of love and hope is born from the marriage of the opposites.

The braid of life contains three strands which can be symbolised by the colours white, red and black.  In the ancient cultures the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree. Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well. This specific tree contains all three elements of the thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap. The white blossoms start to form whilst the red berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.

 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the cycle of spring and new beginnings; the red berries represent summer and the fullness of the season and the physical acts of sensuality and joy and loving and the black seed contains the potential of fathering the new life and it also is the end of the life of the berry.
As we dance and weave with the tension of desire and repulsion between the opposites of life, we discover new possibilities, new experiences and we weave a new story.

This shrine and card represent choices. The Tree of Choices invites you to consider the choice to say ‘both’ instead of the black and white rationale of ‘either/or’.  You will be given the opportunity to make a decision and you are reminded that it is possible to find a new way and a different way of reacting and of doing things.  You are reminded that it is only fear that will force you into a corner, and thereby denying half the picture.  When you are willing to keep an open mind and an open heart, it is possible for a new vision to be born.

blessings
Hettienne

Friday, August 25, 2017

Holy Wisdom Black Madonna

XI Holy Wisdom from Mysteries of Mary tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com

Mirror of Justice, Seat of Wisdom – Litany of Loreto


There are many streams of understanding of Holy Wisdom as the Lady of the Mysteries. 
In the Litany of Loreto She is called the Seat of Wisdom.  
The Black Madonna, the ‘Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres’; 
Our Lady Underground in Chartres is the representation of the Divine Woman 
as Holy Wisdom in the deck. 
The background tapestry in this shrine I drew and stitched myself.  
It is a replica of the one that hangs behind Notre Dame Sous Terre in the 
underground chapel of Chartres. 
As you enter the chapel you pass underneath ‘the Hand of God’ 
and it is as though are being blessed as you enter the hidden 
underground chamber of Dark Wisdom. 


Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres
XI Holy Wisdom
Mysteries of Mary Tarot

The hidden Black Madonna under the earth is seated on the throne of wisdom  
One has to descend through the Chartres Cathedral to access these 
underground passages and chapels, 
all of which are dimly lit and often only by candle light.  
You can only visit this chapel under the guidance of an appointed tour leader and you are not allowed to linger in the chapel to pray or meditate. 
Holy Wisdom is veiled behind the appearance and noise 
of the external world and it is necessary to enter the 
subterranean cave in order to find her ‘still’ voice.

The Greek for Holy Wisdom is Hagia Sophia.  
Sophia is the Wisdom of the divine deity. 
She has been revered as the Wise Bride of Solomon 
in the Judaic tradition; as Athena, the Queen of Wisdom and War 
in the Greek pantheon and as 
Our Lady Wisdom by Christians.  
She is known as Chokmah in Hebrew, and Sapientia in Latin.

When Holy Wisdom is seated on the throne of your inner world, then you are ensured of a wise voice of intuition and discernment.  Following Lady Wisdom is a skill that needs commitment to be developed.   She does not often speak in a loud voice, but often through the words of others, images, nature and your soul.  You are surrounded by the voices of Wisdom, you only have to open your ears and eyes. 

blessings
Hettienne

Looking at the Black Madonnas in the deck

Lady of Regla, Mysteries of Mary Tarot

There are more than one Black Madonna in the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck.

Our Lady of Regla is the ninth card in the suit of Vessels.

The Black Madonna of Regla is revered by thousands. Tradition tells us that her statue was buried under a fig tree to safeguard it against an invasion, and it was miraculously rediscovered. (Notice the importance of the fig tree in her story – we see her in relation to trees in many other stories in the deck) The rediscovery of the hidden image, chalice and lamp led to the revival of the devotion to the Virgin of Regla.

IX Vessels - Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck

This Black Madonna has many attributes in common with the African goddess Yemaya. Her colours are blue for the ocean and silver for the moon. She is represented by the crab, fish, mermaids and shells. As is often the case with a new religion, it assimilates the culture and religion of the land and many African slaves were brought to Spain, bringing their devotion to Yemaya with them. And in Our Lady of Regla, we see the Great Mother as the protector of the mariners, seaports, provider of the abundance of the oceans and its tides. Our Lady of Regla is associated with the astrology sign Cancer known for its mothering nature and family.

The Black Madonna symbolises the dark matter, of both the Earth, our physical mother, as the darkness of matter in the process of alchemy. And the white Divine Child is very obvious in this shrine, symbolising the Light which humanity can potentially give birth to through spiritual transformation.



When you receive this card, you can expect a period of fulfilment and attainment.  It may herald the end of a cycle and the happy and fulfilling conclusion of undertakings and projects. It speaks of integration and synthesis as well as happiness in family and home.  You will enter a time of peace and spiritual harmony and you may expect many blessings to flow to you.  You have continued from the VIII Vessels and are integrating this new level of spiritual enlightenment and bliss.

Blessings
Hettienne

Sara la Kali

Sara la Kali - Mysteries of Mary tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com

 Sara la Kali is the V of Vessels in the Mysteries of Mary Tarot

 Every year the holy festival of Santa Sara la Kali takes place in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
 in the South of France. 
Sara la Kali is also known as Santa Sara and
Sara the Black One, Queen of the Romani Gypsies.  
Gypsies from all over the world gather here to pay homage to their goddess.  
For three days a non-orthodox Catholic mass takes place 
and the relics and statues of Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome is carried in the boat, 
in procession down to the sea.  
On the third day of the pilgrimage, Santa Sara is brought up from the crypt 
underneath the Church and she is taken in a wonderful procession to the beach 
where she is immersed in the sea whilst pilgrims enter the water which has been blessed by her immersion. The statue of Sara gets dressed in a multitude of cloaks before she is taken out in the procession. 


One version of the story is that, after the crucifixion of Jesus,  the Three Marys and their servant Sara was put into a boat without a sail or oars,  as punishment meant to kill them, yet they miraculously made it the French shore.  Another version was that the Three Marys (Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome) was put in a boat without sails.  Sara, a child-servant was on the shore and begged to be put into the boat in order to serve the Three Marys and she miraculously walked on the water and climbed into the boat.




Sara first appeared in the Legend of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in which it was interpreted that she was a Gypsy.  The Gypsies expanded this story and turned her into a French Gypsy princess who had knowledge of the secrets of the world.  In this version of the legend she had visions forewarning her the that the Three Marys will arrive and that she is to help.  She saw them arrive in a boat struggling with the rough seas.  She threw her cloak onto the waves and it miraculously became a raft and she rescued the holy ones. 

Then there is also the legend that the Three Marys carried with them the Holy Grail and that this holy blood was Sarah, the daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer was the place where Isis Pelagia, Artemis and Cybele were once worshipped. One cannot miss the inclusion of the name Kali into Sara la Kali, thus linking her to the Hindu goddess of death and transformation.  This seems possible as the Gypsies are descendants of India.  Kali means black in both Sanskrit and Romani, the language of the Roma gypsies. Sara la Kali is regarded as a Black Madonna.  The Dark Mother archetype was, and is still, worshiped under the names of the Dark Mothers such as Kali, Cybele and Artemis.

Sara the Black One is also a reminder for us of the Great Goddess worship and the great Mystery which the Black Madonna holds. 

 In pre-Christian times the Gypsies used to worship the Goddess Ishtara or Astarte.  Once a year they carried a statue of her into the sea to receive its blessings.  Every year on her feast days of 24 and 25 May Sara is carried to the sea amidst the sound of music, song, dance and prayer. The Catholic Church only gave them permission eighty years ago to include Sara in the procession of relics of the Marys and to dip her into the sea.
Immersing sacred statues of the Goddess is an ancient custom to be found in many cultures.  In India huge statues of Durga Ma is floated down the Ganges during Navarathri.  The Romans used the bathe Cybele in a river. 

This card signifies change and the sadness and disappointment that accompany certain changes.  In the celebration of Sara la Kali we see the disappearance of the nature based Goddess worship which has been replaced with the patriarchal church and its strict religious code and taboos.  This card reflects regret at how the strict moralistic father has replaced the loving mother.  But all is not lost.  Do not cry over the spilt wine from the fallen cups.  Look ahead and see that union between spirit and matter is present in the image of the Black Madonna, Sara la Kali and within reach of the one who is willing to commit to the inner path.

 Blessings

Hettienne

Monday, August 21, 2017

Charmed!

My charms set out on a casting sheet from CarrieParis.com 

My charm bracelet of trip to Bologna

I have always loved charms.  Ever since I can remember I collected
charms.  My very first charm bracelet was a plastic one with all
the fairytale princesses in bubblegum colours.

Since those days I have read a lot on charms and where
they come from and how they are our 'visionkeepers' and
hold the energy for our focus and manifestation of our intent,
desires and goals, amongst other things.

Carrie Paris from www.carrieparis.com has been
working with charm casting for years and she offers
beautiful casting sheets on her website.


Casting sheet by Carrie Paris of carrieparis.com
with my charms in a spread

When I created the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
I included charms into every single shrine and altar.
These charms represent the theme, the archetype, the symbolism,
the hidden meanings and so much more of each shrine
and card in the deck.  I chose charms to represent an entire suit.
For instance, the Suit of Distaff, has all the weaving, cutting, sewing
and braiding charms.  By adding a pair of scissors to a shrine,
I invoke in your mind's eye the theme of the Three Fates,
the cutting of one's life thread and the cutting of emotional cords.
When one places the pair of scissors on top of a casting cloth or a card
symbolising someone in your life, as in the court cards,
it takes on the meaning of cutting the cord of that relationship.

The skull of Mary Magdalene means wisdom and
sacrifice through wisdom.  It can also symbolise that something
has to die in your life and that wherever this charm lands, that
is the area that has to die off.

I have had the tradition the past ten years, of creating
a charm bracelet for every pilgrimage and places
I visited.  I attach charms to the bracelet while I am
travelling - each charm represents either a place and what
it means to me or an insight or vision or understanding
that was revealed to me.

Once the deck was published I started to create tarot rosaries
with the image of the cards and I added charms to the necklaces
to embody and harness the symbolism and meaning of the archetypes.




Casting sheet by Carrie Paris of carrieparis.com with some of my charms

I am playing with bags of charms, working on translating the
Mysteries of Mary tarot deck into a set of charms
and how you could use it in your life, along with the
Mysteries of Mary tarot cards or just the book with the charms.

What better way to access the Inner Child during this solar eclipse
than playing with charms?

Check back and I will share with you my progress on
the Mysteries of Mary charm set

Blessings
Hettienne