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THE CULT OF THE BLACK VIRGIN

By Ean Begg, published by Penguin Arkana at £9.99. 318pp. ISBN: 0-14-019510-6

Originally published in 1985, this new edition has been updated and expanded to take account of the author's continuing researches and discovery of dozens of previously unknown images of the Black Virgin (ie the Dark Mother) especially in Italy and Spain.

The first part is an 150-page historical essay, examining the evidence for the continuation of the cults of Isis, Cybele and Dark Artemis in southern Europe through the "Dark Ages" and mediaeval Europe and ranging through the image of both the Virgin Mary and the Magdalen, the Goddess as Whore, the Templars, the Cathars and evidence for a darker side to earlier Christianity. This is a Christian Goddess that pagans are going to find rather appealing!

The second part is an immense Gazetteer running to some 150 pages, cataloguing and describing every one of the hundreds of known and suspected Black Virgins across Europe, the Americas and beyond.

Recommended - especially for pagans travelling in France, Spain or Italy where these images are concentrated. A terrific and thought-provoking read.