Monthly Archives: April 2015

In praise of sacred spaces: Salisbury Cathedral, UK

Followers of this blog will have noticed that I have been conspicuous by my absence in recent weeks. Most bloggers, especially those like me who have been keeping noses to the blogging grindstone for a number of years, feel the need for a break now and then, no matter how much fun it all is. Sitting staring cross-eyed at a visually attractive wall, hand clutching a cup of tea, is a great way of chilling out and revitalising, I find. Throwing in a little therapeutic travel also helps!

So, after a week of travel therapy, I am now home. Our last port of call was the historic English market town of Salisbury. Much though we loved Salisbury, its world-famous cathedral, unsurprisingly, was the highlight: awesome, in the pre-social media sense of the word. I was especially moved by the Trinity Chapel and its magnificent Prisoners of Conscience window.

Prisoners of Conscience window

Prisoners of Conscience window

photo: Anne Whitaker

And – I found the statue of the Black Madonna.

(mentioned by Jamie in my April 10 reblog from her site..) 

Black Madonna, Salisbury UK

Black Madonna, Salisbury UK

photo: Anne Whitaker

Here is Jamie, from that excellent blog Sophia’s Children, on the topic of the black madonna archetype...”….But the real surprise, as I wandered through the beautiful cathedral was coming upon a chapel dedicated to prayer for ‘prisoners of conscience’, which featured a stunning stained glass window.

Looking over this chapel, dedicated to mindfulness of and prayer for those who are being held prisoner throughout the world, was a dark madonna.

For any who know the archetype of the dark or black madonna, and the many things She symbolizes, you will know that there is no more appropriate place for Her than this space dedicated to those who have been forgotten, who are being held captive, who are being treated cruelly…”

Given the awful atrocities we read about daily which are being perpetrated all over our world more than ever, we need powerful symbolism to remind us how far we still have to evolve as a species in order to become civilised…

We also took some time to wander through the cloisters and the extensive grounds around the cathedral, soaking up the atmosphere. Salisbury Cathedral is visually stunning, not least because of its magnificent spire. I hope you enjoy this unusual view!

Salisbury Cathedral Spire

Salisbury Cathedral Spire

Photo: Anne Whitaker

 One of the surprises of our visit was this: despite the constant traffic of noisy schoolchildren, mingling with tourists of all races, colours and creeds, it was possible to find contemplative spaces. For me, sitting quietly in Trinity Chapel, contemplating the beauty of its magnificent window which offered such a powerful, poignant message, was something I treasure and will not easily forget.

Where would we be, believers or not, without the power, grace and inspirational quality of those spectacular mediaeval monuments?


450 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


The Black Madonna Connection

Following on Easter, Jamie over at Sophia’s Children reminds us of the deep, ancient wisdom held in the archetype of The Black Madonna…read, reflect, enjoy…In Jamie’s words “…this Whole Feminine, this symbol of deep wisdom and Unity, of remembrance and healing of what has been fragmented and abused, … is needed right now in the world.

She is calling for remembrance and expression in our work places, in our leadership, in the way we understand and express ourselves. The heartbeat grows louder, and the need for it grows as well. As we remember Her, she expresses herself more powerfully through us…”

Sophia's Children

La Moreneta Madonna of Montserrat, a more renowned Black Madonna located at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery in the Montserrat mountain in Catalonia. La Moreneta Madonna of Montserrat, a more renowned Black Madonna I visited with at the Santa Maria de Montserrat monastery in the Montserrat mountain in Catalonia. There is also another nearby, in a more humble location amongst the people.

Given what I’ve shared in recent (and previous) posts, it seems a fine time to have a nice pot of tea and a renewing, revitalizing visit with the Black Madonna.

I’ve written a lot about the Black Madonna over the years, and will link to a couple of those posts here — they delve more deeply into the meaning, the history, and my own journey of introduction to her Mysteries.

In short, the Black Madonna is the Virgin and Child, Mother Mary and the Christ child. With a twist.

Her blackness is multi-level symbolic, but hints at the depths of the Mysteries … in this case, Christian, but connected by an…

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A time of waiting…the hours before the Light returns…

There is a stillness about Easter Eve. Whether you are Christian, hold another faith, or none, the underlying archetypes of the Easter journey are common to all human experience.

Iona Cross, Full Moon, August 21 2013

Iona Cross, Full Moon

photo: Anne Whitaker

We have all, unless we have led a supremely charmed life, been cast out into the wilderness at one time or another. Life has crucified us all, to a greater or lesser extent. We have been in the Underworld, have known what it is like to go through experiences so severe that we die to our old selves. Then there is the wait, the wait in darkness, fear, and not knowing.

Will we ever emerge, reborn? And when we do emerge, who are we now? Who recognises us, acknowledges and honours where we have been?

And the most profound  question of all: what should we do with the life which has been given back to us?

As ever, in times of waiting, the great poets have been there before us, giving a context, bringing collective dignity to our individual struggles. Here are some magnificent lines from T.S.Eliot to see you through this dark night, before the Easter light returns:

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

T.S.Eliot “East Coker” No 2 of the Four Quartets


T S Eliot

T S Eliot

300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page