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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.



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