What are Black Virgins?
Theirs were the great pilgrimage shrines of the
Virgin, some still are: Chartres, Le Puy,
Montserrat, Rocamadour, Einsiedeln, Walsingham,
Loreto, Czestochowa, Altotting, Hal, Guadalupe
(Spain and Mexico). All the images are black and
there were hundreds more, some destroyed, others
whitened, others disappeared, but many still exist,
either in the original sites or in museums. In the
West they are classically small statues from the
13th Century, thrones of wisdom with the divine
child bolt upright, facing forward. The recurring
refrain from the Song of Solomon ‘I am black,
but I am beautiful’ links them to the Queen of
No one wrote books about them as a special category
called “Black Virgins” until the threshold of WW2.
Are they of any interest to us today other than
devotional or historical?
Their re-emergence, and the many apparitions of the
Madonna, have coincided with other signs of the
times, pointing to a change in the dominant ideas of
consciousness, away from patriarchal one-sidedness.
These include the successes of the women’s movement;
the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Gnostic library and
the Dead Sea Scrolls; shamanism; the Gaia
hypothesis; Jung’s depth psychology; the spread of
Buddhism in the West; renewed investigation of
animal cave paintings; epic fantasy and the
literature of magic and spiritual communities from
Esalen to Findhorn.
Jung called this the “right time for a metamorphosis
of the the Gods”. The Black Virgins, the most
important still living symbol of the Christian age,
heralds the return of the Goddess, who is Nature and
our mother, the Earth.
Ean Begg is author of The Cult of the Black Virgin.