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Looking for Mary MagdaleneAlternative Pilgrimage and Ritual Creativity at Catholic Shrines in France$
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Anna Fedele

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199898404

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199898404.001.0001

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Embracing The Darkness

Embracing The Darkness

(p.217) 7 Embracing The Darkness
Looking for Mary Magdalene

Anna Fedele

Oxford University Press

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

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