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Sunday, July 17, 2022

Mysteries of Mary tarot deck


The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck and guidebook is finally back in stock but only a small number of decks are available.

All my decks are printed by a small boutique printer and one of the first accredited neutral carbon printing companies in South Africa.

You can buy the deck sets on my website

There are two listings on the website - the first one is for a payment plan to help with the purchase price

Imaging Pilgrimage: Representations of Sacred Space in Contemporary Art

by Kathryn Barush published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts 2021

In her book Imaging Pilgrimage, Kathryn Barush brings together the study of medieval representations of pilgrimage to a number of contemporary art that is created after a pilgrimage and intended to act as a catalyst for others to experience, grace, healing and contemplation.  I am so honoured that she included my work with sacred altars and pilgrimage into this beautiful and enlightening book.


The Spirit of Tarot : The Search for God's Picture book is an exhibition at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley California from 28 October 2021 to January 28, 2022. At the moment is it only an in-person exhibition, but it will probably become an online one next year, according to the exhibition archivist David Stiver.

A selection of 12 tarot decks were chosen for the exhibition, reflecting an inter-spiritual, intercultural spectrum and both the Mysteries of Mary and the Mysteries of the Black Madonna have been included. According to David Stiver, the exhibition is done in a circle with each display facing the centre. My decks are flanked by Vicky Noble's Motherpeace and Paul Foster Case's Bota tarot deck.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck sale


On Friday 22 April I am making available 20 Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot decks at a reduced price.  

I printed the Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck during the drastic Covid19 pandemic lockdown.  Many printing companies had a shortage of paper and staff. 
Companies were under pressure to produce as fast as they could to make up for backlogs.  This experience was part of the Black Madonna initiations that went into the spiritual and creative process of creating this deck.  I used a total of 6 printers before I found one that ticked all the boxes.

I am still sitting with a number of imperfect decks that I am offering to you at a discounted price. These are perfect decks in every other way and I paid full price for them. These cards are covered with a matte laminate covering which gives it a sturdy and somewhat thicker feeling.  I was unhappy with the line of the die cut across the top and bottom edges of the cards.  Please see the pictures.

The cards are printed on 380 gsm with a soft matt laminate layer, thicker than the varnished cards that I sold a year ago. 

There are no die cut lines on the long sides of the cards

The die cut lines are on the top and bottom edges of the cards

Unfortunately, due to the problems with the postal services, I can only ship with DHL Courier Express, efficient, safe and fast, but expensive. Delivery is within 10 days.

The post office still cannot guarantee nor track international delivery.  I ship from South Africa worldwide with DHL Courier Express.  The cost is included in the price of the deck set.

I ship the decks as printed matter which means that in the US no custom tax is payable.  However, under the new EU custom tax law changes, all contents have to be declared and it is taxable.  The shipping costs are not taxable.

This is a unique deck based on the mystical path of the Black Madonna and it is designed to be used as a tool on the spiritual journey.  It has been five years dedicated to research, pilgrimage, ritual, ceremony, and the creation of 79 shrines.  This deck is a book of altars, opening the door to a deeply sensual experience of the mystery of She Who wears the Black Cloak of the Night Sky.  Here you will discover little known names, long forgotten rituals, and a fragrance once known.  My vision is that this book of sacred altars will become a flowering and fragrant offering on many altars dedicated to Her, and that you will experience her direct gaze of wholeness.

It is also obvious that the art and iconography of the shrines, sanctuaries and statues imbue a certain sensitivity which connects with that most authentic, unveiled part of oneself. It is not the merit of the art that is most evocative to the pilgrim, but rather the pure devotion and worship of the believers who created the iconography and iconosphere of the shrines, which evoke a deep sense of being 'at one' with the sacred in the beholder.

When you enter the iconosphere or sacral space of the sanctuary, you enter into a profound ritual relationship which changes you. Your visual interaction with the sacred icon transforms you from tourist into pilgrim;  your visit becomes a ritual pilgrimage and you enter into a sacred relationship with those who have worshiped here before you and you become a devotee, even if it is only for the duration of your visit.  You are alchemically transformed from a passive visitor, who came to see the shrine, into an active participant in something far greater than ordinary life and its struggles.

Shrines and sanctuaries in their representation of the miraculous event, apparation or sacred story that took place there, are an intrinsic part of the ritual and relationship with the sacred.  The statues and other iconic works of art that are created to embody the apparition or miracle of the sacred being, are believed to be and has proved to be full of power.  Copies of these icons and shrines are also believed to carry some of the same power as they represent the sacred event and physical embodiment through the iconography.  The small souvenirs which include holy medals, ex-votos and especially the smaller replicas of the holy icon, are also an important part of the sacred relationship and serves an important ritual function in the personal devotion to the Mysteries.


 I have shared the context, research and creating process of the Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck on Temple of Mary on Patreon.

I also share the pilgrimages and The Way of Mary as a spiritual path of freedom, with shaktypat, diksha, mantra and prayers.

I am currently working on the Mysteries of the Red Madonna, the Passion of Mary Magdalene and am sharing the visions and dreams and spiritual understanding on which the deck is based.

I also share on Instagram - @walkingwithmary


Hettienne Bhaktyma

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck sale


The Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot decks were printed during Covid19's highest lockdown in South Africa.  All businesses, except essential services, were closed down for a couple of months.  This, together with the collapse of international freight, minimum staff at Customs, and on and on, had a disastrous effect for the printing of a relatively small batch of cards.  I had to face challenge after challenge for the printing of both the decks and the books.  Businesses were in survival mode and there was no re-printing or tweaking of cards. 

Eventually I found a printer that could deliver, but only after I had received 300 decks from various printing company.  Some went straight into the recycling, but some I kept.

The Mysteries of the Black Madonna decks are sold out but I do have two boxes of decks that have minor imperfections.  I am planning to put these up for sale at a reduced price. 

Each deck will be accompanied by a handmade black velvet pouch lined with gold, the guidebook and the deck of cards.

The imperfection is the very noticeable die cut mark on the top and bottom ends of the cards. These cards are also laminated with a waterproof matte layer which makes the cards thicker and sturdier than the ones that I have been selling.

I will share more clear and in detail pictures when they go up for sale in the online shop at www.hergracesacredart.com

 I will also offer the option to purchase one of a variety of miniature Mary statues.  These are not available as a purchase on its own as the postal shipping is totally unreliable and there are still countries that are not open for mail from Africa.  Shipping is only offered with DHL Courier Express which is a direct delivery by courier.

Patrons of The Temple of Mary on Patreon always receive first choice and the date that the decks will be dropped in the shop with everyone else will be shared here on this blog and on my Instagram feed @walkingwithmary. 



Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Black Madonna of the New Dawn

An extract from an exclusive post on Patreon during the Novena to Our Lady of Living Fire

Nine days of images, art, contemplation and prayer

 Our Lady of the New Dawn sacred altar available

on www.hergracesacredart.com

It is a soft dawn sprinkled with the drops of birdsong.
In the sky the new moon is hanging just above the rising sun. I ponder my statue of Mary, placed in the most eastern corner of my garden, directly in the light of dawn during the astrological new year. 
Cloaked in the haze of the morning light, intense bliss rises in me, both tightening and releasing my heart and chest simultaneously and I hear the voice of Mary.
'You are not who you think you are.  It is not necessary, and at times quite pointless, to hang on to your weaknesses, foibles and strengths with such intent and focus.
Your nature may not always please you, or suit your idea of who you are.
The more you resist what is happening in your life and the more you resist your nature, the greater the wall which is blocking the light.
Only the warmth of the Light and its spiritual qualities of acceptance, compassion, understanding and peace, can bring life back to the barren wasteland that lies behind that wall.
Those who seek do not realise that it appears to them that they are making free and liberated choices, but this is very seldom true. You are a compilation of impressions, feelings, reactions, memories, half-felt emotions, fleeting desires and wishes and unexplored and half-lived dreams.
You carry within you the memories of all time.
At times you may appear to be a book, its pages the Keeper of all stories ever told and at other times you may feel like the blank pages, ready to be written onto. 
Both of these ideas may drive you to frustration, and into trying to become either or both or even 
to transcend the human experience by side-stepping the creative dance of creating and destroying.
But you are so much more than all of the above.  Within you lies the Holy Seed, dormant, waiting on the Kiss of Light.  Only the mind, with its ideas like clouds in the sky, is obscuring the Light from awakening the Tree of Life within you.
A mind locked down with ideas and concepts and beliefs of how you should be, is like concrete poured down onto a pavement.  It is only with the wearing away of time and weather that cracks can form, through which the tendril of a soft new plant can grow.  This tiny plant has the potential to become the beanstalk that will take Jack into the heavens of the giant.
A mind concretized with set ideas and theories, is the greatest obstacle to peace and ongoing blossoming and fruiting.

 That moment of absolute alignment with the Spirit within, is the kiss of the Light.

And all you need for that to happen, is to drop everything.
By that I mean that you can let your mind and its many doors and passages and rooms, drop away.
Over and over.
Every day
Every time

You are standing in the Light and each moment that you open your heart and you accept yourself and your nature and the many selves that you have created, you will receive the kiss of Light.
And I ask you to share your love with everyone, as we are all the One.'

- Our Lady of the Living Fire

Full article is availabe on Patreon


Friday, February 11, 2022

Novena to Our Lady of Living Fire Day 9


A blessed feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes to you.

Apologies for the late post but I decided to do my own puja first and then to share the images with you.  These images and objects are imbued with the living fire of Our Lady of Lourdes and you will be able to feel and receive the shakty that is flowing from them

.An initiate is one who chooses to turn his or her focus inward, into a metaphysical reality and upward into a wider context and upward into a higher consciousness.

An initiation is a ritual which takes the initiate through a doorway and threshold from the mundane ordinary reality into the sacred life.

A puja is a ritual dedicated to the worship of one's personal deity or devi.
(also called the Ishta Devata)

As in all ritual there is a certain set of actions; each one designed with a particular focus and effect in mind.  Today's puja is one of devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, Lady of the Living Fire, the Immaculate Conception and out intention is to evoke our spiritual selves  through the senses and the open heart.
These rituals and tools are all part of ancient traditions known as tantra yoga which really means a coming together with the entire body, heart and soul.

Through repeated entry into the spiritual realms we shed the perceptions and projections of the mind and access a wider vision, a deeper connectedness to all of life and  transpersonal wisdom.

For today's rite or puja we use fresh flowers, fresh flower petals, incense, music and if you can, and you feel drawn to do so, movement and spontaneous dancing. 

We open our sacred space with the daily prayer. Put your music on and you may want to put it on 'repeat' so that it plays continually. Light the candles. Light the incense and offer the sacred smoke to the items on the altar and to the image of Holy Mary.  Pick up your instrument and offer your devotion through voice and song or music.  You may feel drawn to move your body in movement and offer the devotion (bhakty) of your sacred dance to Her.

Or however you feel the bhakty move in and through you.

We offer the fresh rose petals to Mary by showering her image with the petals.
You can also sprinkle some of the rose oil and water from the altar as a blessing.

This is a very evocative and heart opening practise which
you can do every day or once a week and not only on holy days.


The woman at Lourdes refuses to give any other name but to say "I am the Immaculate Conception." She does not say, as the Church would have Jesus' mother say, "I am the virgin Mary who has been immaculate from the moment of my conception." (conceived and born without sin of any kind) She says that she IS the Immaculate Conception. The Lady of the Grotto is the embodiment of the cosmos speaking to us as an aspect of God’s own Being. She shows us the breathlessly beautiful immaculate plan – God’s conception of materiality. She is telling us that she is an image of our created, material nature, which is nothing less than a cloak that covers divinity. She uses every means available to communicate to us about who we are and what will help us

Spirit "wears" materiality like a garment. 
This garment is Earth's physical nature –  her Body. 
She/we are the Immaculate Conception!

Our emotions, feelings and our energetic heart has the power to alter and transform the electromagnetic field of our world and to move mountains.

The appearances and manifestations of Mary prove that the idea of separation between our world and the Otherworld is but an illusion.  Matter is made up of atoms and those atoms can be altered by the power of belief.

At sacred sites where the veils of belief have thinned, thousands of people feel the sacred presence  of the divine. And this sacred presence transcends all dogma, beliefs and laws.  It demonstrates to us that we have the power to alter our collective reality.

The bigger the crowd of believers in the power of love and beauty, the bigger the collective effect on the perceived and created reality.

To me, the Blessed Mother is not limited to any religion, any dogma or any culture. The Soul has her own religion and that is where you will find Her and Her many faces.

She is present for all

Her Grace enfolds everyone

You only have to become aware of Her.


Hail Mary

Ave Maria

Glory is the one who is our home

Glory for the presence in our hearts

Glory since the mystery transcends all words.

all songs, all signs

Glory is the hope that makes us live

Hail Mary

Ave Maria

Glory is the wonder that we were and are

and will become

Glory is the Spirit who invades our bones

and makes them shine

Glory in the wind and in the  fire

Glory in the one breath

giving life to all the world

Hail Mary

Ave Maria

Glory in the rising earth

Glory embracing what we lost

Glory in assuming who we are

Glory in the One who is whole

Hail Mary

Ave Maria



Thursday, February 10, 2022

Novena to Our Lady of the Living Fire Day 8

 Sacred Altar VI Holy Mother and Child from the Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck


We are blessed with three mothers in the course of life; our biological mother, mother nature, and Mary, our spiritual mother. Mother being a metaphor in the case of nature and of Mary.

They are mothers in the sense that they represent a structure that acts in a motherly way; forming, transforming, protecting, instructing, directing and redirecting, warning and initiating. This is an energy in the universe called mother nature and an energy in the soul personified as Mary.

The life-giving powers in nature were sacred in ancient times and revered as deities, deva, angels and fay.

Nature has laws that exert an energy that compels and draws but also accompanies us through the phases of life.

The early Christian Didache communities followed the Way of Life and used gender-inclusive language throughout.  Women were called on to lead all sacraments and rites and they called their spiritual Mother, 'the Lord'.

Aldobrandesca, a medieval mystic of Siena, when close to death had a vision of Mary with this message : 'Daughters, be obedient to the law of the Mother'.

Mechtild of Magdeburg saw Mary as the spiritual mother of all humankind : 'I suckled the prophets and sages before God was born'.

Juliana of Norwich saw visions of the motherhood of God and also said 'Our Lady is our mother in whom we are all enclosed ..... and our saviour is our mother in whom we are endlessly born ..... To motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom and knowledge, and this is God'

Inciting love in every heart, you bring forth generation after generation - Prayer to Venus, Mother of Rome, by Lucretius (d 55B.C.)

The Tao is the great mother, empty and yet overflowing, bringing forth the infinite universe. And it is forever inside you - Tao Te Ching

You will open the hearing of the wayfarer's heart (fu'aadi min saalikin) because the subtle knowledge of Her is Her proof. Grant us union with Her always and cause us to withdraw from every sensory existence.- Songs of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib

A Mary-Psalter

O Mother of beautiful Love

You who are our moon and our lamp

Our Lady of Heaven and Our Lady of the World

Holy Mother of All

Aurora radiating the Eternal Sun,

the rod smoking with incense,

The Lord is with you as the sun is with the dawn going before it,

as the flower is with the flowering rod

Mother of Dawn, Sun, Rod and mother of all



Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Novena to Our Lady of the Living Fire Day 7


'I am the Immaculate Conception' were the words by which Lady of Lourdes made herself known to Bernadette.  She appeared as a Radiant White Lady, known as the Sacred Woman of the Land before Christianity eradicated the knowledge of the spiritual world from the understanding and belief of human beings.

Pink Madonna by @maryhenlin on Instagram
Roses from my garden

She appeared at the grotto once sacred to Persephone-Kore, holy daughter of Demeter.  On Candlemass we celebrated Mary Magdalene as Black Madonna of the Confession in the crypt of an Abbey that once used to be sacred to Persephone.  

Demeter and her burning torches and the sacred pomegranate

Statue is a work in progress from a sacred altar in the

Mysteries of the Red Madonna tarot deck

During the feast of Persephone the search of Demeter was re-enacted by the devotees. They walked in procession in the city with lit candles and torches, as Demeter once did.

“Why do we carry candles in this feast? Because the Gentiles [meaning non-Christians here] dedicated the month of February to the infernal gods; and as at the beginning of it Pluto [Hades] stole Proserpine [Persephone], and her mother Ceres [Demeter] searched for her in the night with lighted candles, so they, at the beginning of this month, walked about the city with lighted candles. Because the holy fathers could not wipe out this custom, they ordered that Christians should carry around candles in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and thus what was done before to the honor of Ceres  [Demeter] is now done to the honor of the Virgin.” - Pope Innocent XII

Mother Eucharista, Black Madonna of Montevergine sacred altar
The Mysteries of the Black Madonna tarot deck

The feast day of Mamma Schaviona, Mother Eucharista, in the Mysteries of the Black Madonna, takes place on the same date.  Her feast day has been celebrated with the breaking of the bread and wine in the past.  Bread and wheat were sacred to Demeter, mother of Persephone and wine to Dionysius.  Demeter, Persephone and Dionysius were the key figures in many of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The holy daughter, like her mother, is a many faceted goddess.  She is Kore, the Maiden who brings the spring.  In the Underworld she is Persephone (Proserpina) who receives the disembodied souls.  After her descent into the Underworld, she dies to her maidenhood as becomes the bride and sacred lover of Plouton, the God of Death.  She is a radiant source of light in the Underworld and initiates the newly dead into Elysium and introduces them to the knowledge of their own divinity.  She destroys the initiate's fear of death.  She is the one who has overcome the fear of death and death itself as she had descended into the Underworld and yet returned to life again. One of the important messages of the Mysteries are that death is not the end.

Exquisitely fragrant roses all from my Mary garden

There is also a powerful connection shown between Persephone and Aphrodite in ancient works of art.  Love, an aspect of Aphrodite and later Mary, is what draws Persephone and Plouton together.  Persephone is often shown with doves, (sacred to Mary), always with the five petalled rose and lily and an ointment jar (sacred to Mary Magdalene)  She is also accompanied by the hen, similar to many Black Madonnas and especially Madonna of the Hens. As the maiden she is often accompanied by the swan

The Red Madonna and Her Beloved sacred altar wip

from the Mysteries of the Red Madonna tarot deck

As Queen of the Underworld, Persephone's sacred union with the god of Death is essential to the continuation of the seasons and to life.   The rape of Persephone is not part of the original tradition nor story.  Many modern authors view the story of the maiden and her descent very differently to the well-known hymn by Homer, called 'Hymn to Demeter'.  Research has shown that this part of the story were changed when the change from a matriarchal society to a patriarchal society began.  

Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in Women who run with Wolves, that in older matristic tales of the East, the Maiden had a desire to descend below in order to find her bridegroom.  In older myths such as Inanna, the Maiden knows her destiny and chooses to meet if of her own free will.

                                   Demeter and her torches, searching for her daughter

The story of the maiden Bernadette and Lady of Lourdes has all the elements of the mythic and the mysteries and we see the echoes of Persephone-Kore in the story of Bernadette as well.

'First Bernadette feels a brief quivering pang of terror, next a steady fear.  But this is no familiar, no fear that propels one to jump up and run away.  Later this fear melts into still another feeling of which this child Bernadette has no idea and can find no name.  One might call it comforting or consolation.  But until this instant Bernadette never knew that she was in need of being comforted.

For she is really not at all aware of the hardness of her life .... This is naked reality accepted as a matter of course. But moment by moment now she is more deeply

swathed in this consolation which has no name, which is a hot flood of compassion..... extract from The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel

In her own way Bernadette descended into the Underworld and had to face her fear of death, as she was taken into deep trance states when the Radiant Lady appeared to her.  Bernadette saw the shimmering young lady appear in the grotto near Cachot 18 times.  

The young Bernadette descends into the Underworld in order to receive the messages and gifts from Lady of Lourdes.  And she returned with the greatest gift to the world : the gift of compassion for self, for all living creatures and for life itself.  She enters the womb of the Great Mother of All and brings back the compassionate heart.  She entered into a divine union with the Beloved and her soul received the Immaculate Conception.

In one of the versions of the Eleusynian myth, Persephone is torn between her love for her mother and her love for the god of the death.   This crisis took place at the same time as the Earth was laid barren by Demeter's grief and the maiden's absence.  A resolution was reached : Demeter and her opponent for her daughter's love, Plouton, met and broke bread together in an act of great compassion for all of life and the Earth.  This surrender of the self to the Immaculate Conception, is the miraculous power that continues life into eternity.


I enter the Underworld as you pull me into your embrace, in every waking moment of living.

Contemplating on your Presence in the world, opens me up to the poignant beauty and suffering of all life in order and my  heart breaks open over and over, over flowing with compassion.

As my rigid mind dissolves in your presence, all boundaries between myself and all living creatures and the earth disappears and we are all one.