Embracing The Darkness

Anna Fedele

in Looking for Mary Magdalene

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199898404
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980130 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

Embracing The Darkness

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This chapter focuses on the pilgrims conceptualization of “darkness” and their desire to embrace rather than refuse or condemn their own dark side. On the French trips they recognized their dark side in statues they call “Black Madonnas” and in Saint Sara of Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The chapter also describes a crafted rite of passage to celebrate women’s menopause becoming a crone. Marihuana figures in this ritual, and the women identify it as something, like women, whose true value has gone unrecognized. The chapter compares this menopause ritual to other contemporary rites of passage and shows how the pilgrims come to see menopause as an opportunity for spiritual growth rather than an infirmity. Drawing on Tanya Luhrmann’s analysis (2001) of the importance of destructive divinities, the chapter argues that through the dark divinities the pilgrims manage to express feelings of vulnerability, anger, shame and guilt that they consider unacceptable in mainstream society.

Keywords: menopause; rite of passage; crone; marihuana; Black Madonna; Sainte Sara; Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer; Luhrmann; darkness

Chapter.  12069 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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