LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:
This is From Anxiety to Love Radio, the show about undoing anxiety through A Course in Miracles and other pathways of love. Gain insights and tools to deepen your awareness of the peace that already exists within you. I’m your host Corinne Zupko, author of the award-winning and best-selling book “From Anxiety to Love.”
Welcome friends! This is episode 34: “How I met our Divine Mother.” From Episode 30 onwards, I’m sharing the unexplainable experiences I have had over the past two years, trying to put everything together in a coherent story while interweaving lessons and insights that can hopefully serve you too.
In the last episode (EP 33), Reverend Celeste Frazier introduced us to the Black Madonna, our Divine Mother. She shared how the Black Madonna cannot be contained to one identity and is the energy behind every page of ACIM. Please tune into that episode if you haven’t listened yet!
Prior to the interview with Rev Celeste, I shared about a massive upheaval I experienced in the Summer of 2021, and how I was guided to let A Course in Miracles go. While that was a very destabilizing experience, physical and non-physical help showed up rather quickly. Today, I’m going to share the story about the first non-physical presence who showed up to help.
There are two main parts to my story. The first part is about me being introduced to our Divine Mother by Jesus in my backyard and the events surrounding this and leading up to it. And the second part of my story is about the synchronicities that led me to finding an image of Her in a tree in my backyard. So here we are with part one of the story.
Let’s rewind for a moment to Spring 2019. When I was speaking at A Course in Miracles conference in England, I met a new friend. A fellow speaker at the conference, her name is Hollie Holden.
Shortly after meeting, Hollie and I quickly recognized that we shared a commitment to undoing the conditioning we’ve been raised in of racism, anti-blackness, and other forms of oppression both within ourselves and within the world. We recognized this because while at the conference, we witnessed a person in a white body saying the phrase “I don’t see color” in regards to race. We challenged this person that colorblindness is actually NOT a step towards the spiritual direction of oneness, but that “not seeing color” is actually a form of spiritual bypassing and is harmful.
For an in depth discussion on “I don’t see color” from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, you can check out the LOVE LENS. I’ll share a link to the waitlist on the show notes page. This is one of the many important topics we discuss.
Hollie and I have since had many discussions about what it means to be white women on a spiritual path, particularly as students and teachers of A Course in Miracles.
Sometime in late 2020, Hollie made a recommendation that would change my life. She recommended I get a book called, “Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna” by Allessandra Belloni. I ordered it, thumbed through it, placed it on my bookshelf and forgot about it for a while.
In the Spring of 2021, I had an overwhelming urge to start reading. The book was calling me. I remember the day I retrieved it from my bookshelf quite vividly.
It was a gorgeous day here in NJ. Sunny, 75 degrees, no humidity, and I was sitting in my yard surrounded by my chickens, with Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna, in my hands.
When my great grandparents individually came over to the United States of America, they were each around 16 years old, traveled solo, and became “American.” Much of my maternal Polish and paternal Italian cultures were forgotten. As a child, my mom was forbidden from learning Polish. The only things that survived from each culture were our love of pierogies and good pasta.
While reading Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna in my backyard in Spring 2021, I learned from the author, Allesandra Belloni, that in Southern Italy, the Black Madonna is still worshiped today in the same way as She had been in the Middle Ages.
Two specific locations, Naples and Sicily were named in the book, and I was flooded with the realization that my ancestors lived in Naples and Sicily, according to my dad, for “a very long time.” I know very little about my ancestors beyond my grandparents, but deeper into my Italian lineage, my ancestors likely intimately knew and were devoted to the Black Madonna.
The moment I read this, it felt like a wave crashed over my entire body.
Now I want to pause for a second and put this experience into context. I had just recently had my experience of letting go of ACIM and was feeling quite ungrounded and dysregulated. My whole world felt turned upside down. So when this wave happened, it was like a healing current washed over me.
What happened next is hard to put into words. As this wave crashed over my entire body, I had a simultaneous experience of Jesus being with me. I felt his presence in my mind and abundant amounts of love. As I was feeling this flow of love wash over me, I got a distinct feeling as if he lowered his head, extended his arm, and silently said, “I’ll let you two take it from here.”
I was instantly transported into a state in which I was being introduced, Heart to Heart, to my Divine Mother. It was a flood of overwhelming and all consuming love that felt intimately connected to the very ground I was sitting on. The earth itself felt alive to me. I loved it and it loved me back. The love was so strong I burst into tears.
From that point on, Jesus stepped into the background of my awareness, and in the foreground was a BLAZING, nurturing, loving, warm force that was strong and fierce yet completely gentle and soft. It was distinctly feminine. Every plant, rock and even the dirt itself felt like it was utterly divine. Jesus would remain behind the scenes for some time, and the Black Madonna, my Divine Mother (our Divine Mother) would become my primary spiritual relationship.
I believe she was the one sending me signs and synchronicities galore as I navigated my way through the pain of 2021.The spiritual and unexplainable experiences I had been having for about the past two years, including my experiences at the park (which I shared about in Episode 31) maybe didn’t make more sense but I now at least knew Who was behind them. My Divine Mother and a feminine energy that I had never been in touch with before.
Upon hearing my story many people naturally assume that Jesus introduced me to Mother Mary. While that’s absolutely true, it is simultaneously true that I met someone who’s identity could not be contained to Mother Mary. She felt far more vast.
Remember from our last podcast episode that it is important to note that both Jesus and Mary were not in white bodies. That is historical fact. Jesus and Mary had dark skin and that very much matters. Yet most of the images we see are of them white as white can be. Imagine if everyone worshiped images of Jesus and Mary with dark skin? That would help heal a lot of anti-blackness in the world, that’s for sure (If my memory is correct, I believe this idea is credited to Dr. Christena Cleveland).
There are also many examples of the Catholic Church whitewashing images of the Black Madonna in the name of quote “restoring” them. Literally, they turn a black Madonna into a white Madonna. I’ll provide a link in the show notes to one such example in France.
So who is the Black Madonna? Again, I refer you back to Episode 33, to hear Reverend Celeste Frazier, our special guest and one of my teachers, who introduces us to the Black Madonna in that episode.
I’m still in a process of learning who the Black Madonna is. As Rev. Celeste shared, the Black Madonna cannot be limited to one identity and She has many expressions throughout time and space. She is the Divine Feminine. She is Mother Earth. She is Mother Mary. She is Mary Magdalene. And she is much, much more. As my friend Hollie has stated, “She is THE Madonna and not different but the original ground of Love.”
The darkness of the Black Madonna has brought me into valuing darkness, which our culture vilifies. I first learned about embedded racism in our language from author, doula and wellness leader Latham Thomas. For example, our language equates “light” with good and “dark” with bad. Yet darkness is needed here in world of form. It is in the darkness of the night where we rest. It is in the darkness of the earth where seeds germinate and sprout. It is in darkness of the womb that a baby grows.
I even think of this passage from Dr. Eben Alexander’s book “Proof of Heaven” where he recounts his own experience in the afterlife of a “vast inky-black core that was the home of the Divine itself…. an inky darkness that was also full to brimming with light.”
Dr. Alexander references a quote from poet Henry Vaughan (who lived in the 1600’s). The quote is: “There is, some say, in God a deep but dazzling darkness . . .”
I’ve very much been sensing the Black Madonna through the earth. There’s a Course in Miracles quote that says, “The smallest leaf becomes a thing of wonder, and a blade of grass a sign of God’s perfection.” This is where I’ve been living.
In feeling a sense of deep connection with bugs, dirt, rocks, grass, and trees, I’m finding the oneness of everything springing into my awareness through deeply loving these seemingly separate forms. The Earth not only feels alive to me, but it feels distinctly feminine. And in my experience, it feels as if the Black Madonna is the container in which this entire dream is unfolding. I’ve had experiences of actually feeling held by her, that she’s this towering presence behind me just holding everything as it unfolds. I feel her everywhere and it grounds me in way I have never known before.
Through this connection with our Divine Mother, I received a very important download that would lead me into new levels of healing. The download was that “my body is of the earth, my mind is of God.” What this means to me is that my body is just like a plant or a tree. It is of the earth. And so fully inhabiting my body (because I believe I’m here) could actually be used by the Holy Spirit to take me into new layers of healing. I know this sounds contradictory as A Course in Miracles teaches we’re not bodies. But the ego has hidden stuff not only in the mind but in the body. The ego has hidden trauma not only in the mind but also in the body. And we’ve therefore got to be IN the body to SEE that which is hidden there in order for it to be healed.
When I was sitting in the grass reading the Black Madonna book, and had that “wave” crash over me, I now (over a year later) understand what happened energetically in my body – my root chakra opened up, possibly for the first time in my life. Root chakra is about a number of things like your connection to the earth and also your sense of safety. Unhealed trauma makes the root chakra constrict. I had previously been carrying some unhealed trauma which led me to never truly feel like I could fully inhabit my body (and this wasn’t helped or healed by ACIM because of my own blocks, not because of the Course) and I never knew how to fully ground myself. But, being that I’m taking you through my journey chronologically and I did not yet know this at the time, I’m going to hold off this branch of the story and share more about that later.
For now, I want to share a story about one of the many synchronicities that the Divine Mother would take me on. This is another truly meaningful experience to me and I’m honored that you’re still listening! This is PART 2 of my story.
In my backyard, I have a favorite sitting spot. It’s under a redbud tree. My husband and I planted this tree years ago when we first moved into our house. It was a “free” tree that was literally the size of a stick, which I got as a thank you present for joining the National Arbor Day foundation. It’s now about 30 feet tall. Every spring, vibrant hot pink flowers bloom directly on its bark. The leaves are heart shaped and a rock garden surrounds the base of the tree.
In the rock garden, sits a small concrete statue of the Buddha.
On July 30th or 31st 2021 (I don’t remember which day), I looked out my window, and the Buddha statue was knocked over, laying on its right side. Now this was odd – the way the statue is weighted it can easily fall frontwards or backwards. But to fall to the side would be like a triangle somehow lifting itself up to fall onto its side. After all, the Buddha is sitting in a lotus pose (so it has a triangle shape) and the base of the statue, the seated legs, are much wider than the body of the statue. It’s not physically easy for this statue to fall the way it did.
I went outside and fixed it.
Late at night on July 31st, I had been processing the intense emotions I was feeling and had a smack-in-my-face realization that I have a pattern of going through a major upheaval every 12 years. Twelve years prior to August 2021, I was in what I call my “adult age episode” of debilitating anxiety in August 2009. And 12 years prior to that in 1997, I started having panic attacks which brought me to ACIM. It seems that every 12 years brings about a major period of undoing/unsettling for me.
This might not seem all that weird to you, but my 12-year pattern was jaw dropping for me because each time, I went through a notable transformation. Twenty-four years ago, the panic attacks brought me to A Course in Miracles. Twelve years ago, while in the thick of anxiety, I realized I was using the Course as a band-aid, so I changed my direction and started to face my anxiety WITH Spirit. The result was profound peace and my book was born! And then in summer 2021, a new healing presence emerged for me, the Divine Mother.
So late at night on July 31st, 2021, I sat at my laptop realizing this, I typed into Google, “what is the significance of number…” and the first suggestion that Google made was for the number 12. I read some interesting articles about how there are many references to the number 12 in the Bible.
At this point, I got up for a breather, walked out of my office and looked at kitchen stove. It was 12:12am.
That next day, I was getting ready to go meditate under the redbud tree. I had been chatting with a friend about all of the synchronicities that were occurring, and I was feeling like I was not walking alone.
As I gathered my meditation cushion to head out the door, I glanced at my kitchen stove and guess what, it was 12:12pm.
With a smile, I headed out my door and walked toward the redbud tree. Low and behold, there was the Buddha statue knocked over on its right side AGAIN. How did this happen?? If a squirrel was knocking it over it would have to do so with intention to get the statue to be on its side! This time I wondered if it was a message of sorts. I remember thinking, “Does She not want me to have a statue of the Buddha here? Should I replace it with a statue of the Black Madonna?” As I released that thought, I got quiet and a prompt came to me: This prompt said “View the tree (my redbud tree) as if it is a representation of the Black Madonna herself.”
So I looked at the tree AS her. The tree became my focal point. I thought maybe I’d see her face in the tree bark. I looked around at the bark but nothing stood out to me except a large nub on the tree trunk. I decided to imagine that the nub represented her head and the rest of the trunk was her body.
I closed my eyes.
I don’t know how much time passed. But when I opened my eyes, my softened gaze landed directly on an indentation in the bark. In this indentation, which was almost like the negative space between pieces of bark, I immediately see her head, eyes, hair, breasts, a necklace and two shoulders.
There she was. Showing up right there in my tree in front of me.
This felt like such a sign for me – that I could trust that I was going to be accompanied through my tumultuous period of unsettling. And that I was not alone.
I have a photo of the image of the Madonna in my tree in the show notes page, which you can find at FromAnxietyToLove.com/34.
This would not be the only time I’d see an image of her, but it would definitely be one of the most profound. Between this and what is to come in upcoming podcasts, lingering doubt in my mind has faded. We do not walk alone.
Coming to know my Divine Mother has taken me into a new layer of healing fear and guilt. By the way, I use the terms Black Madonna, Divine Mother and Divine Feminine interchangeably. To me she is all of these things and more.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this. Nearly every night for over a year, I stick my head out my back door and breathe in the air of the darkness. I feel the Divine Mother everywhere and connecting with her is getting easier and easier for me. She’s as real as God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I sense her holding us. And I sense that she is the container in which this entire dream is unfolding.
I have two quick takeaways for you from this episode:
Number one: Try my nighttime practice – every night before bed, with love in your heart, open a window or stick your head out the door and breathe in the air of the night. Love the darkness. Say goodnight to the earth and send out love to anyone and anything that will receive it. Bless the world and thereby bless yourself.
And takeaway number two: Periods of unsettling can come with gifts. Hold steady as best you can and ask your Divine Mother for help. She is available to all of us. Always. You will find your way through.
Developing this relationship with the Divine Feminine has brought forth bounteous miracles and healing in my life. And I hope this podcast opens you up to developing a relationship with Her as well.
If you want to explore more about the Black Madonna, I recommend: God is a Black Woman by Dr. Christena Cleveland. The work of Matthew Fox. Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna by Alessandra Belloni. By the way, I learned in this book that there is a Black Madonna of the Hens! Hens actually uncovered her statue in the ground! If you follow me on social media, you know how much I love my pet chickens.
I’d love for you to come over to the show notes page to leave a comment – there you can let me know what you think of this episode, grab my takeaways, book recommendations and quotes mentioned. It’s all on the show notes pages at FromAnxietyToLove.com/34.
Thank you so much for listening to this story which is near and dear to my heart. I’ll see you in the next episode.
I am with you in your journey of undoing fear. I’ll leave you with the last few sentences in my book “From Anxiety to Love.” I believe in you. We’re healing together. Every gain that I’ve made is a gain for you and every gain that you make is a gain for me. My gains are yours and yours are mine because we are one. We’re going to make it. The light in you is TOO BRIGHT to fail. If you buy a copy of “From Anxiety to Love” make sure you take advantage of your free bonus which is three free tracks from the From Anxiety to Love meditation album. Get access at FromAnxietyToLove.com/meditations. Thank you for listening and I’ll see you on the next episode.