Our pal Inominandum posted this interesting reflection on the Catholic saint Sara-la-Kali and her feast which took place late last month. This is wonderfully trippy!
“…in the French town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a statue of Saint Sara-la-Kali, dressed in seven layers of gowns, will be brought from her shrine by men on white horses and bathed in the ocean. This event will be attended by hundreds of Catholics and is particularly important to the Roma people. Fortune Tellers will take crystals and even cards in bags and dip them in the ocean at the exact moment that the Statue of Saint Sarah is dipped into the water.
“Who is Sara-la-kali?
“The statue depicts a black woman or girl, decked in a crown and blue and white clothes, much like the Black Madonnas, but the question of who exactly this is supposed to be is hard to pin down..
“I first heard of her many years ago as the secret daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She arrived on the shores of Camargue on a fragile boat with no oars with Mary Cleopas, Mary Salome, and Mary Magdeline. In this mystery her black skin indicates that she is hidden offspring, and her name is Sarah, meaning Princess.
“Later I learned the more popular legends that claim her as an Egyptian girl that served the three Mary’s and is venerated for her charity. Egypt of course represents a land of mystery and magic and the Talmud even claims that Jesus had Egyptian secrets tattooed on his body as a child.
“Still other legends claim that she was a Roma Queen already in France, and that the shrine where her statue is now located was once a place of Mithraic Sacrifice. She received a vision of the Saints that would soon be arriving by sea and prepared to greet them. It is from this story that some draw her ability to aid with divination. A few years ago a Roma friend taught me a short prayer to say before reading cards:
‘Sara E Kali who saw the Three Mary’s of the sea.
Lend me your sight, that I may see the future in these cards.
“Of course as you probably guessed from the name some claim that she is a Christianized Kali, whose veneration the Roma carried with them. Indeed recent genetic studies have shown the Roma throughout Europe are descended from dalits in India 1400 years ago.
“So how do I honor her? All of the Above.
“To my mind there is an honesty and even power in saying ‘I do not know’ or ‘I cannot quite pin it down.’ Indeed I feel that the mystery of the Black Madonnas overall is an invitation to contemplate how much we do not know, how much we cannot know, and how our ordinary methods of knowing fail us when faced with the ineffable.
“Right now Sarah’s Statue … is set up for a novena to her and the three Mary’s – represented here by cards from the Tarot of Jean Noblet hand colored by Edmund Zebrowsk The World is representing Mary Clopas because she bore witness to the Crucifixion. The Star is for Mary Salome who brought jugs of oil and spices to annoint the body of Christ at the Tomb. La Papesse is of course for Mary Magdaene who is said to carry on the bloodline and Gnostic teachings. This Wednesday I will be taking her to the sea and bathing her in the foam. I will offer her silk cloth and ask her to bless my cards and for other blessings as well, but mostly I will be asking this spirit of the ineffable for guidance in the things that I don’t know and just the slightest hint of the things I can’t know yet.”