The Black Madonna, Gilles Quispel’s old loveJune 3, 2015
Annine van der Meer was a student of the late Professor Gilles Quispel and presented her PhD thesis “Op zoek naar loutering. Oorsprong en ontwikkeling van de enkratitische ascese tot het begin van de 13e eeuw n.Chr.” under his supervision in 1989. Having since grown into a specialist in the role of women in ancient religious cultures and its significance today with works like “The Language of MA the primal mother. The evolution of the female image in 40,000 years of global Venus Art”, Annine van der Meer reflects in this blog on her encounters with Gilles Quispel and the inspiration he provided to look into the cult of the Black Madonna.
Gilles Quispel himself was greatly committed to the BPH, having edited and translated, together with Roelof van den Broek, the Corpus Hermeticum, as well as the hermetic Asclepius and several seminal gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi (Gospel of Truth and Gospel of Thomas) on his own. The BPH also acquired Quispel’s personal research archive as a token of the warm relationship between the library and the pioneering scholar of gnosis. Annine van der Meer presented her book on the Black Madonna to the BPH because it was at the library’s recommendation that Gilles Quispel’s widow presented to Annine Quispel’s Black Madonna archive.
THE BLACK MADONNA, GILLES QUISPEL’S OLD LOVE
Reminiscences on the occasion of presenting my new book on the Black Madonna to Esther Ritman in Amsterdam on Thursday, 5 March. Dr. Annine van der Meer, the Netherlands.
Searching for the Black Madonna.
The Black Madonna was very dear to Gilles Quispel and his wife, Lien Quispel-de Langen. They visited her in her sacred places in France and Spain; Lien took the pictures which Gilles used for his lectures. Their children were so kind to give me their Madonna photo archive after both had died, in the autumn of 2010.
Gilles and Wisdom.
When I was a young student I attended a lecture by Gilles on the Black Madonna in 1975 and I heard him say ‘Long before humanity prayed “Our Father who art in heaven”, people prayed “Our Mother who art on earth”. Then he continued saying that ‘This period was known as matriarchy’. In the lecture, and also in the article which he published later on the Black Madonna, he linked the black Venus of Lespugue from 23,000 BCE to the black Shulamite from the Song of Songs, Asherah of Israel and the Holy Spirit in the Book of Revelation. He kept emphasizing that Jesus and some of the Hebrew Christians knew the Spirit as a feminine Divine Being. He regarded all these feminine Divine Beings, which were so fully present in Gnostic Christian texts, as manifestations of Holy Wisdom; he acknowledged the Black Madonna as the Christian manifestation of Holy Wisdom, our universal Dark Mother.
Gilles and the Black Madonna.
At that time in 1975 I became fascinated by the Divine Feminine. Gilles introduced me to Black Wisdom’s hidden manifestation and from that very moment she started to reveal herself to me, and I, too, fell in love with Gilles’ old love. From that first encounter on, an encounter initiated by Gilles, I started on a lifelong quest for her, which has resulted in this book about the Black Madonna, in which I examine her manifestations from the most ancient times of the old black Venuses, through all times and cultures to the present, a time when many Black Madonnas have disappeared from sight. They are stolen or they are made to look less black, but the ordinary people want her back, and black the way she always was. The book follows the trail Quispel set out and proves that with all his audacious statements, he was right in the end. For more information (in Dutch) please go www.pansophia-press.nl.
Introducing Dr. Margaret Barker.
Also on 5 March, I introduced Dr. Margaret Barker to Esther Ritman. Barker is an outstanding biblical scholar and former president of the Society of Old Testament Studies from the UK. She is the author of numerous books and articles on ‘Temple Studies’ and ‘Temple Theology’. Esther was so kind to give us a personal tour of the library. Margaret was delighted to see and actually hold several old kabbalistic texts, printed and manuscript, and editions of the Torah in her hands.
Dr. Barker’s specialty.
Margaret Barker is specialized in ancient Hebrew biblical texts; she is able to compare the Hebrew in the selected texts of the Tenach with certain, occasionally older, Hebrew texts that were later classed as ‘apocryphal’; she compares these Hebrew texts with their Greek and Latin translations. Because of her expertise she is also involved in researching and salvaging recently found lead codices in a cave in Jordan, very close to the IS-occupied territory. I wrote a report of a lecture she gave about the lead codices in Holland for AcademyPansophia in 2012 .
How Lady Wisdom became a Lost Lady.
After Gilles Quispel died in 2006, I visited Lien Quispel-de Langen several times. On one of these occasions I brought her my book (in translation) ‘From Sophia to Mary. The Renaissance of the hidden Mother in the 21st century’, Geesteren, 2009 . Lien told me that one of the things Gilles regretted very much towards the end of his life was that he did not find the time to write a complete study about Holy Wisdom and the divine Feminine. Now, however, I appeared to have performed that task him. I was honoured and pleased by her words. While collecting my notes and papers to write this book, I felt a bit orphaned after his death. But then I found Margaret Barker’s work, and it became a real treasure for me. After writing the book, I went to England to present to her the finished book and show her how I has composed it on the basis of Gilles’ and her work . We have developed a deep friendship since then, and she invited me to give a lecture at her Summer school in August 2011 .
We lost Lady Wisdom through scribal corrections.
In 2012 she came to the Netherlands to give a lecture on Wisdom in Amsterdam at an international theological conference of the OTW/SOTS/SBL, and I wrote a summary of this lecture . During her stay in 2012 she told me about what she called ‘the corrections of the scribes’ and I compiled another report on this important lecture subject . In the surge of monotheism, scribes of the Second Temple Period had erased Lady Wisdom, who was the ‘Mother and partner of the Lord’. Since then she had become a ‘Lost Lady’, but if you know where to look you can still find her in the ‘deconstructed’ texts. In those days, Margaret was busy preparing the first part of her book The Mother of the Lord, in which she mentions these ‘corrections’ . Based on her research in The Mother of the Lord, I was able to include several examples of these ‘corrections’ in my own book The Language of MA the primal Mother, from 2013 .
Continuing the search for the Lost Lady Wisdom.
Following the path set out by Gilles, I am continuing my search for Lady Wisdom, who was lost in the mists of history. I am sure she is now once again revealing herself. That why I was very happy to bring Gilles’ old love – the Black Madonna – to the Ritman library, where so many pearls of hidden history are kept and cherished . They are being passed on to a new phase in our history and collective future, one in which esoteric values will hopefully be better understood. This greater understanding is directly connected with the recovery of a Lost Lady Wisdom in her Christian manifestation: the Black Madonna. This I learnt from Gilles and Lien Quispel-de Langen, for which I am forever grateful.
Dr. Annine van der Meer, 20 May 2015.
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1. Annine van der Meer, 2012, ‘De 70 loden boekjes, de grootste vondst sinds de Dode Zee rollen’, online article (in Dutch), www.academiepansophia.l/publicaties/verslagen and www.anninevandermeer.nl. For up-to-date information see www.annne-pansophia.nl/verslagen (in Dutch).
5. Annine van der Meer, 2012, ‘Wijsheid en de andere boom’, summary (in Dutch) of a lecture by Dr. Margaret Barker at an international bible conference of OTW/SOTS/SBL in Amsterdam in 2012, article online; Annine van der Meer, 2012, ‘God heeft borsten’, extensive report (in Dutch) of the 5-day visit of Dr. Margaret Barker to the Netherlands in July 2012.
7. Margaret Barker, The Mother of the Lord, vol 1. The Lady in the Temple, London 2013, on the ‘restoring scribes’ 2, 9, 11, 85, 160, 162, 233, 239, 240, 241, 243, 257, 343, 347; D. Bartélemy, ‘Les Tiqquné Sopherim et la Critique Textuelle de l’Ancien Testament’, Supplement of Vetus Testamentum vol IX, 1963, 285-304, with several xamples demonstrating five ways of scribal ‘reworking’ texts to suit their own recently gained poltiical and religious insights; Van Sophia Tot Maria, 120, 144 ‘a sample of some of the tricks used’.
9. Annine van der Meer, De Zwarte Madonna van Oer- tot Eindtijd. De Moeder van Donker en Licht en haar dochter Maria Magdalena, The Hague 2015; see www.pansophia-press.nl.