It's always been my understanding that the cult of the Black Madonna was associated with esoteric & ancient mystery schools of mysticism. I
understand the Black Madonna to actually be a representation of the Egyptian Goddess Isis. I believe the Cathars were persecuted during the middle
ages for their continued rejection of the Roman Catholic church and secret worship of Isis, disguised as a Black Virgin, or Madonna.
I'll present some information below with the relevent links for your consideration and study:
"The Black Madonna cult is central to the Priory (of Sion). To them at least, there is no doubt about the significance of the Black Madonna. Pierre
Plantard de Saint-Clair writes explicitly, 'The Black Virgin is Isis and her name is Notre Dame de Lumiere (Our Lady of the Lights)."
The story of the Black Madonna has the quality of the profound mysteries. It has therefore a heretical secret which cannot be revealed in writing, but
only transmitted by the oral tradition, a privilege of the initiated. From what can be revealed through writing, we have the historical registry which
sends us to the worship of Mother Earth, the Great Mother, the Goddess.
In the Egyptian and Greek religions the soul is represented by the bird who always followed the Goddess Mothers and which follows the Black Madonna
like the Holy Ghost follows Mary.
"Isis. . .was worshipped as a holy virgin. But although she was also mother of Horus, this presented no problem to the minds of her millions of
followers. For whereas modern Christians are expected to accept the Virgin birth as an article of faith and an actual historical event, the followers
of Isis (Isians) and other pagans faced no such intellectual dilemma. To them, Zeus, Venus or Ma'at may or may not have once walked the earth: what
mattered was what they embodied. Each of the pantheon ruled over his or her own area of human life; for example, the Egyptian goddess Ma'at dealt
with the concept of justice, both in the material world and when the souls of the dead were weighed in the balance. The gods were understood to be
living archetypes, not historical characters. Isians did not waste their time searching for cloths that may have wrapped the body of Osiris, nor did
they consider it important to find splinters of the box in which he was confined. Far from being an unsophisticated and ignorant religion, theirs
appears to have had a profound grasp of the human psyche.
"Isis was worshipped as both Virgin and Mother -- but not as a Virgin Mother. Isians would have considered the notion of the Virgin birth frankly
ridiculous: the gods may be capable of wonders, but they do not demand that their worshippers suspend their disbelief quite so much. The worship of
most major goddesses emphasized their essential femininity by dividing it up into three main aspects , each representing the lifecycle of real women.
First, there is the Virgin, then the Mother, then the Crone; all three are also linked to the new moon, the full moon and the dark side of the moon.
Each goddess, including Isis, was understood to stand for the whole female experience, including sexual love, and therefore could be invoked to help a
woman with any kind of problem -- unlike the Virgin Mary whose own personal purity is an impenetrable barrier for those who would like to share their
sexual problems with her. Isis, a full-blooded woman who represents a complete female lifecycle. Isis, a beautiful girl-goddess to whom women could
pray, with a clear conscience, about absolutely anything, appealed to women from all cultures."
She shows up in Sumeria as the super popular Inanna with a double personality: in the morning she is the valuable "Lady of the Battles", goddess of
the heroes, and in the evening she be comes the goddess of fertility, of the pleasures of love. She fertilizes the grains, the earth and the man. She
does not be long to one man only, but to several. Her priestesses are the "sacred prostitutes" who, like the virgins who do not belong to any man,
metaphorically they do not belong to any because they belong to all. They have a multiple womb which belongs to all men, for theirs is the womb of the
goddess Inanna - Mother Earth - which they will become. The cult to Inanna had in the sexual act its main practice, because it re-established the
original androgyny through the sacred prostitution.
We see Mother Earth be worshiped as Ishtar in Babylonia, and later as Isis in Egypt, and as Astarte among the Hebrews. In Frigia she appears as Cybele
(Diana of the nine fires, indicating fertility.
As a Greek goddess she receives the name of Rea, Gaia or Demeter, always goddess, profound, mysterious and dark. Her Roman equivalents are Tellus,
Ceres and Maia.
Still in Egypt Mother Earth appears as Neith, the oldest and wisest of the goddesses. Protector of the dead and of the war, she was head of the
practical arts. She is the night sky which bends over the earth, forming with her hands and feet the gates of Life and Death. The first-born
androgynous is a virgin who fertilized herself, bringing the life she produced to all the worlds.
The Celtic goddess Mother Earth is Annis (or Anu) and her cult reaches Europe.
In the early days of the 'comparative religions' discipline, authors casually equated the 'Black Virgins' venerated by Catholics with pagan
goddess images of similar appearance, providing some with a polemic argument against the Catholic Church. More recently, some feminist writers have
suggested the Black Madonna as indicating a perspective on Mary underemphasized in traditional Christian doctrine. In any case, Black Madonnas have
proved themselves as devotional aids within ecclesial life over the course of centuries. Many of these images have received approval from
ecclesiastical authority in light of the divine approval manifested by well-attested miracles (subsequently approved by Church leadership).
Actually the worship of the virgin, Black "Mother of God" with her God-begotten child, far predates Christianity and prevailed throughout the
Historians recognize that the statue of the Egyptian Goddess Isis with her child Horus in her arms was the first Madonna and Child. They were renamed
Mary and Jesus when Europe was forcibly Christianized. The worship of Isis and Horus was especially popular in ancient Rome. "Roman legions carried
this figure of Black Isis holding the Black infant Horus all over Europe where shrines were established to her. So holy and venerate were these
shrines that when Christianity invaded Europe, these figures of the Black Isis holding the Black Horus were not destroyed but turned into figures of
the Black Madonna and Child. Today these are still the holiest shrines in Catholic Europe." 1 Titles such as Our Lady, The Great Mother, are the same
titles attributed to Isis! The word "Madonna" itself is from mater domina, a title used for Isis! The month of May, which was dedicated to the
heathen Virgin Mothers, is also the month Mary, the Christian Virgin.
In Bible Myths, T.W. Doane devotes a chapter to The Worship of the Virgin Mother, where he candidly states, "The whole secret of the fact of these
early representations of the Virgin Mary and Jesus - so called-being black, crowned, and covered with jewels, is that they are of pre-Christian
origin; they are Isis and Horus... baptized anew."
The female principle outlines an emerging movement during the Gothic Renaissance. In France, in the 12th century, there is a religious and knightly
order surrounded by mysteries. The Order of the Priorate of Our Lady of Sion. It is passionately interested in the cult of the Goddess Mothers, now
already in the Christianised figure of the Black Madonna. Her most important historical contribution was an amazing precedent in the struggle for the
equal rights of women.
The Black Madonna became consistently present after the Crusades. Especially the Knight Templars, who brought to their countries small statues of
black Virgins which were considered exotic pagan representations. The great celebration of the Knight Templars was Pentecost, day of the Holy Ghost
and, as we have seen, the Dove belongs to Mother Earth as the Holy Ghost belongs to Mary.
Pentecost was also the great Arthurian celebration of the Holy Grail, object of the sacred search which appears at this time. The Knight Templars
became part of history as the Grail's guardians. The Holy Grail protected the earth, nourished it and granted it fertility, powers similar to those
of the Mother Earth and the Black Madonna. The female principle is revealed in the Grail, as was also the cult to the worship of Love practiced by the
Troubadours through their total dedication to the Lady.
Most Indo-Tibetan scholars believe that the Hindu and Buddhist Dark Goddesses and the Christian Black Madonna are a common prototype with a common
Archetypal source in antiquity or eternity.
In Eastern traditions, the Black Madonna motif appears as the Dark Goddesses exemplified by Kali, the frightful creator/destroyer. In Buddhism, Kali
takes the form of Vajravahari, the consort of the Black Samvara and Kali's nature is reflected in a retinue of disciples who attend to the Tantric
couple. Vajrahari and the Dakinis are said to inhabit cemetery grounds and wear necklaces and skirts made from human skeletons and skulls.