- Category: Blended Traditions
My great-grandmother’s print of Raphael’s Sistine Madonna hangs in the closet where I keep my altar. The Virgin steps barefoot on the earth, her mantle blowing back from her face, her serious little son cradled easily to one side. She looks out, her expression unreadable. She seems younger than me, and yet so much wiser.
I’ve been praying to her.
I’ve been Pagan for many years, but somehow this image has never lost its appeal. In a way, such unorthodox prayer is typically Pagan, reflecting both the flexibility of Pagan spiritual practice and the diversity of Pagan origins. For while ancient Paganism certainly influenced Christianity, the reverse is true as well. As Christians drew from ancient cult when they built up the figure of the Virgin Mary (sparsely depicted in the Gospels), so modern Pagans draw from the emotional resonance of the Virgin’s story to shape their own version of the Goddess. It is that resonance that draws me, a quality that doesn’t feel Christian or Pagan, just deeply, mysteriously human.