Breaking Chains
The Evolution of the Black Madonna
By Nic Phillips


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In this exceptional study of the Black Madonna, author, scholar and artist Nic Philips leads you on a pilgrimage through the history, myth, practice and modern relevance of her many images around the world and asks astute questions about how they have been interpreted and misinterpreted over the centuries. As though restoring the artefacts themselves, he gently strips away layers of supposition and imposition to show the truth beneath, but also looks to the value of the later meanings and significance accrued by these sacred portrayals of a Black Virgin.


Starting with one of the most famous of her statues in Chartres, France and then casting light on the less explored phenomenon of syncretic worship within the African and Indian diasporas, we learn how the mysterious Black Madonna became equated with Dark Goddesses such as Kali, the primal fury of the Vodou Lwa Ezili Dantor , and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.  Taking us into an in-depth exploration of a figure who has been interpreted as both Mary Magdalene and various Orisha, this expertly-researched book shows what a powerful figure this Dark Mother remains throughout the world as a symbol of the strength and liberation of the oppressed.


Whilst many existing books on this subject have focused mainly on myths which have grown within the European Grail tradition, Breaking Chains embraces both a personal journey and an objective approach to finding the real power behind the Black Madonna, not only mythically and historically but politically. In a fascinating and accessible work, including his own extraordinary paintings inspired by statues and stories around the world, Nic Phillips shows that the Black Madonna is the focus for a living, breathing, evolving movement, and is perhaps even more relevant today than ever before.


2021, 240 pages. hardback, paperback & Kindle editions available.

ISBN 978-1-905297-83-2

B&W 6.14 x 9.21 in or 234 x 156 mm (Royal 8vo) Perfect Bound on Creme w/Gloss Lam. Illustrations in B&W. 


ISBN 978-1-905297-82-5

B&W 6.14 x 9.21in or 234 x 156mm (Royal 8vo) Case Laminate with colour illustrations


Breaking Chains

  • Nic Phillips is an English artist and writer with a degree in History and Archaeology from Cardiff University.  He spent 12 years in Wales, before moving to Glastonbury, Somerset, to work at one of his most cherished heritage destinations, Glastonbury Abbey. Nic began exploring the landscape of the West Country from a young age with regular holidays in Cornwall which would eventually inspire some of the paintings in his book Celtic Saints of Western Britain (Avalonia, 2015). After illustrating two tarot decks with Kim Huggens exploring the Divine Masculine and Feminine, entitled Sol Invictus and Pistis Sophia, Nic developed his art on a larger scale.  He launched Nic Phillips Sacred Art and studying and creating Eastern-inspired icons, alongside depictions of the Goddess, as well as numerous saints, in a distinctive modern style.

    All of his artwork can be purchased as prints, cards, and more, directly from the artist through his website, Facebook, and Etsy store.

    For more information visit

  • Introduction

    Chapter 1 Chartres: A Black Virgin no longer

    Chapter 2 The Virgin of Le Puy: Racially Black?

    Chapter 3 Mountain Mother: Our Lady of Montserrat

    Chapter 4 Standing in the Shadow of Guadalupe

    Chapter 5 The Black Madonna in Vodou

    Chapter 6 Syncretism and the Black Madonna in the Americas

    Chapter 7 Mother Kali: Black Madonna at the Periphery, Dark Goddess at the Centre

    Chapter 8 The Romani Saint and the Magdalene

    Chapter 9 The Historiography of the Black Madonna

    Chapter 10 Conclusion – Why do People need the Black Madonna?