It is not easy to quickly or simply answer the question of what the Black Madonna actually represents. One answer leads to more questions which in turn demand more explanations. A possible reason for this turmoil lies in the difficulty our culture has always had in consciously integrating the feminine side of life, and especially its dark side. Another reason is the nature of the dark feminine itself, which defies attempts to give eternally fixed limits to what she represents. Still, she reflects herself in our personal and collective lives and gives intimations of her most essential meaning through images, myths, dreams, and fantasies. If we are willing to receive and be open to such phenomena, we stand a chance of not only knowing in part what she might represent but, more so, experiencing the healing force she embodies in our time.
This darker aspect of the feminine has throughout history been both feared and sought after, both hated and admired. The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln stands among the many Black Virgins that seem to imagistically express this dark side of the feminine in a creative transformational manner for both the individual and the collective.
Beginning with a history of the Einsiedeln Madonna, Dr. Gustafson broadens his analysis into a psychological and historical examination of the Black Madonna, from her roots in the pagan deity Lilith and the archetype of the Great Mother, to her resurgence as the Virgin in the Middle Ages, to her life today as the unheeded unconscious archetype of the feminine.
Fred Gustafson, author of Dancing Between Two Worlds: Jung and the Native American Soul and editor of The Moonlit Path: Reflections on the Dark Feminine, lectures widely and has a full practice as both analytical psychologist and pastoral counselor. Dr. Gustafson is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and is also an ordained minister.