Dr. Christena Cleveland
Co-create a more integrated spiritual life with divine guidance from the Black Madonna, who’s ever-present and ready to accompany and empower you as you discover and embrace your authentic essence... and move toward healing for your life and our world.
Society often tells us what to believe. We’re conditioned to conform to what’s expected of us.
As a result, many of us live quietly disconnected from the truth of who we are...
If you feel as though you’ve never had the chance to get to know yourself fully, your true beliefs, desires, and actions won’t be aligned, preventing you from living your truth.
The sacred figure of the Black Madonna — a Black female image of the Divine who draws seekers of all religions and spiritualities — is known for meeting people precisely where they are on their life’s journey... particularly when all hope seems lost, says Dr. Christena Cleveland, public theologian and activist.
The Black Madonna can reveal truths about your own sacredness and share a new understanding of God, one in whom you can find hope. She can also offer an empowering mirror for parts of yourself that you might have relegated to the shadows.
Join us for a 7-module course with Dr. Cleveland where she’ll guide you to connect with the Black Madonna... who she believes has always been ready to accompany, guide, and empower you as you discover who you truly are and move toward healing for your life and for our world.
As you connect more deeply with the Black Madonna as a both an archetype and a spiritual guide each class, Christena will introduce you to different names and characteristics of the Black Madonna — including Our Lady of the Good Death; She Who Cherishes Our Hot Mess; Our Lady of the Snows; and She Who Showers Us With Miracles.
Join Christena and explore the secret history and meaning of the Black Madonna, and experience Her miraculous capacity to enhance your journey of growth.
Along the way, you may find that you’re transforming your beliefs about yourself and others — enabling you to let go of your grief and painful emotions, experience deep levels of healing, and learn more about who you are from a place of self-empowerment and advocacy for others.
As you’ll learn during your seven sessions with Christena, you can turn to the Black Madonna with your most hopeless situations, your longstanding wounds and burdens — and your dreams for the future.
In this inspiring 7-module course, you’ll explore:
- The Black Madonna’s divine power and unconditional love as an example of self-acceptance and transformation
- The interfaith history and meaning of the Black Madonna and why She urgently matters in our contemporary world
- How connecting with the Black Madonna can transform your thoughts, emotions, and behavior
- Practices to release your needs to the Black Madonna so you’ll feel fully supported and transformed
- The ways our patriarchal society keeps us trapped in what Christena calls the resource-scarcity-and-fear vortex — and how to transform these fears that can manifest in sleepless nights, hunched shoulders, a constant sense of urgency, and more
- How to trust the Black Madonna with your grief so you can connect to your spiritual empowerment even during life’s toughest times
- Ways to let go of the need to control others and lead from a place of love, not fear
- Embodied practices that root your identity in the Black Madonna and empower you to heroically speak your truth and stand up for the wellbeing of others
- How to co-create your spiritual experience with the Black Madonna through embodied and somatic practices — including play, guided meditations, singing, and movement practices
- How you can follow the Black Madonna’s path of embodied justice and sacred activism to make a difference in the world
Christena will illustrate how the Black Madonna does not follow the familiar trope of an authoritarian deity who swoops in to “save the day.” She is instead inviting you to practice mutuality and co-create your experience of Her.
Christena is beloved by her students and readers around the world for the candid, courageous way she shares the powerful experiences of discovering her own truth.
“Dr. Cleveland brought her whole self to this shared journey and made space for us to do the same.”
Dr. Cleveland brought her whole self to this shared journey and made space for us to do the same. No matter what state I arrived in to the sessions, the expansive welcome, vulnerable sharing, and gentle practices created room for insight, healing, and transformation. And I left each gathering feeling more beloved and free.
What You’ll Discover in These 7 Modules
In this 7-part transformational intensive, Christena will guide you to experience deep levels of spiritual healing, self-acceptance, and feminine empowerment when you connect with the Black Madonna.
This course will feature step-by-step teachings and experiential practices with Christena. Each session will build harmoniously upon the previous ones, so you’ll develop a complete holistic understanding of the practices, tools, and principles you’ll need to co-create your spiritual experience with the Black Madonna — as you embrace your deepest truths and love yourself for who you are.
Module 1: The Transforming Power of the Black Madonna’s Love to Guide Your Steps Toward Healing
Who is the Black Madonna? Why is She Black? Who are the people who have venerated Her around the globe? Why does She matter today?
As the course begins, you’ll journey to the Black Madonna of Clermont-Ferrand, France who has been called Our Lady of the Good Death. Through Her, you’ll learn how the Black Madonna’s powerful Black and female body has beckoned pilgrims’ embodied spirituality since the 1100s — and has the power to transform our mind, bodies, and spirit.
Christena will share how the Black Madonna’s powerful Black and female body is always working to heal and restore you as a spiritual seeker, and our world today.
In this opening session, you’ll:
- Explore the interfaith history and meaning of the Black Madonna and why She urgently matters in our contemporary world
- Learn how the Black Madonna can transform your beliefs about yourself and others
- Discover how the Black Madonna’s healing revolution affirms the sacredness of women and feminine spirituality
- Experience a meditation practice to help you discern how Our Lady of the Good Death is lovingly attuned to your personal pain — and wants to guide your specific steps toward healing
Module 2: Release Your Needs to “She Who Cherishes Our Hot Mess” to Feel Fully Supported & Transformed by Her All-Embracing Love
As part of our anti-nurturing society, you’ve likely been conditioned to believe your needs are a burden.
We’ve been taught to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, that it’s not okay to be “high maintenance,” and that asking for help or admitting we’re struggling is a shameful sign of weakness.
You’ll discover how Our Lady of the Sick, the supremely nurturing Black Madonna of Vichy, France, not only welcomes your needs but wants you to bring your biggest, loudest, most embarrassing needs directly to Her.
Seated on the supremely nurturing lap of “She Who Cherishes Our Hot Mess” (one of Christena’s many names for the Black Madonna) you can take a deep breath, relinquish your need to be perfectly independent, and simply be — mess and all.
From this authentic place, you can begin to connect with Her nurturing and healing power — and see that your needs are the key to connecting with the Divine, yourself, and others.
In this session, you’ll:
- Examine how most of us have been conditioned to despise our own humanity, especially our needs
- Discover how Our Lady of the Sick, the Black Madonna of Vichy, cherishes the opportunity to care for you and earnestly invites you to share your needs with Her
- Experience a reflection practice that supports you as you look inward to examine your needs, especially those you’re afraid to share
- Engage in a powerful practice of matriarchal (needs-based) connection with your fellow pilgrims
- Discover what you and your fellow pilgrims can teach each other about co-creating communities centered on meeting people’s needs
- Add an element to your home altar that symbolizes your human needs
Module 3: Relinquish Your Tightly-Held Fears as You Pivot From Fear to Abundance in the Presence of “She Who Showers Us With Miracles”
Christena will share another of her many names for the Black Madonna, “She Who Showers Us With Miracles.”
Our patriarchal society keeps us trapped in what Christena calls the resource-scarcity-and-fear vortex — a seemingly unending spiral of three fears: the fear of not getting what we need, the fear of losing what we have, and the fear of what other people think.
These fears can show up in your body through sleepless nights, hunched shoulders, a constant sense of urgency, and more.
As Christena guides you on a journey to Our Lady of the Snows in Aurillac, France, you’ll learn how you can wrap yourself in Her bountiful blanket of infinite resources — and watch how your body relaxes.
In Her presence, you’re safe and can face your fears with compassion and courage... as you engage in a series of practices to support you as you pivot from the embodiment of fear to the embodiment of abundance.
In this session, you’ll:
- Discover how your perception of the scarcity vs. abundance in your life impacts your embodied experience to a far greater extent than its reality
- Learn how Our Lady of the Snows is uniquely empowered to help you relinquish even your most tightly-held fears
- Discover practices to support you as you identify where fear and resource scarcity are showing up in your body
- Explore practices to help you gently stay present with your embodied experience — long enough to move through fear and resource scarcity and connect with the abundance that Our Lady of the Snows perpetually offers
- Identify personalized images, mantras, and practices that reliably help you connect with your experience of abundance in your body
- Discover where abundance already exists in your life
Module 4: Offer Your Grief to “She Who Holds the World in Her Womb” So You Can Connect to Spiritual Empowerment During Life’s Toughest Times
Grief is legitimately scary.
When your worst fears have come true... when you’re dealing with profound loss... or when you find yourself in a seemingly hopeless situation... the grief can feel both alienating and all-consuming. In the midst of grief, you might wonder whether anything good can come of your experiences.
To make matters worse, social science research reveals that humans possess numerous built-in coping mechanisms that prevent us from connecting with spiritual empowerment when we’re most stricken with grief.
Yet, Our Lady of the City and County, the Black Madonna of Mende, France, invites you to think of grief as a womb space. As Christena will share, another of her names for the Black Madonna is “She Who Holds the World in Her Womb.”
In Her sacred, capable, and regenerative womb, you are invited to assume the role of the fetus. You’re free to allow Her to carry both you and your grief — and radically depend upon Her as She labors to birth something new in you.
In this session, you’ll:
- Discover how your experience of grief can impede your connection to the Divine
- Hear stories about how the Black Madonna assures you that you’re completely surrounded by love’s life force in the midst of your grief, no matter where you are — and how this inspired her name, Our Lady of the City and County
- Engage in a reflective practice to help identify the grief you are carrying
- Explore how the Black Madonna’s womb offers a nurturing place to rest when you’re grappling with grief — as She invites you to release the burden of grief and instead be carried by Her
- Learn how the Black Madonna’s womb provides a spiritual umbilical cord which activates precisely when we are faced with the uncertainty that often accompanies grief
- Experience a guided meditation on how to activate the Black Madonna’s umbilical cord... surrender to it... and receive the outlook, wisdom, and love that you need in your unique experience of grief
Module 5: Relinquish Control to “She Who Loves by Letting Go” So You Can Lead From a Place of Love, Not Fear
Whether it’s larger societal issues like climate change or interpersonal ones like witnessing a beloved who is learning a lesson the hard way — we all desire to influence those around us to make good choices...
Yet, more often than not, the fear of what will happen if they don’t do what we think is best triggers the need to control them.
When you’re guided by fear, as so many of us are, you can become so attached to a specific outcome that your leadership becomes heavy-handed, shaming, and punitive.
The Black Madonna of Thuret, France — or “She Who Loves by Letting Go,” as Christena lovingly calls her — offers a different way to be a powerful leader. She stands firmly rooted among muddy lotus flowers — and models what it looks like to influence people from a place of true strength, generous invitation, and affirmation of each individual’s sacredness.
Traditionally called the Virgin Warrior, the Black Madonna of Thuret is supremely capable of holding space for the murkiest moral dilemmas, so you can relinquish your need for control. By joining Her in the mud, you allow Her to liberate your leadership from fear, and empower you to lead from a place of fearless love.
In this session, you’ll:
- Learn how fear triggers a powerful need to control ourselves and others
- Examine the dangers and futility of trying to control others (even when we mean well)
- Engage in a reflective practice to identify the ways you try to control yourself or others
- Discover how the Black Madonna of Thuret — the Virgin Warrior who loves by letting go — models a version of strong leadership that differs from the patriarchal norm
- Explore how to influence others by telling your story of transformation in a non-controlling and effective way
- Engage in an affirming practice you can return to any time you are struggling to “love by letting go”
Module 6: Speak Your Truth Alongside “The God of Joan of Arc”
In our patriarchal society, we’re often taught what to believe and conditioned to conform to what is expected of us.
In this environment, knowing your truth can be difficult, much less speaking your truth.
Yet, as a sacred being, your truth is sacred, too — even if it ruffles feathers.
You’ll journey to the fierce Black Madonna of Moulins, France who famously guided Joan of Arc in 1429 as she fought for her truth and freedom, as well as the truth and freedom of others. As you’ll discover, yet another of Christena’s names for the Black Madonna is “The God of Joan of Arc.”
By examining the social psychology underlying Joan of Arc’s courage, Christena will help you begin to see how Joan of Arc’s identity was spiritually empowered and directly connected to the Black Madonna. From this identity, Joan of Arc was able to stand in her truth, speak her truth, and fight for her truth.
Like Joan of Arc, you can engage in embodied practices that root your identity in the Black Madonna and empower you to heroically speak your truth.
In this session, you’ll:
- Examine how societal forces conspire to silence your truth
- Engage in a reflective practice to help you identify an unspoken truth that you would like to boldly proclaim
- Discover social-science research on how your identity is shaped — and even empowered — by our close relationships
- Explore how your relationship with the Black Madonna, like Joan of Arc’s, can fuel your quest to find your truth... and speak it boldly
- Team up with your fellow pilgrims in a collaborative, embodied practice that gives words and movement to your unique truth
Module 7: Follow “Our Lady of the Side-Eye” Onto the Path of Embodied Justice & Sacred Activism to Make a Difference in Our World
As you conclude your transformative journey, you’ll visit Our Lady of the Rock of Mayres, France.
Affectionately nicknaming her “Our Lady of the Side-Eye,” Christena will explain how the Black Madonna’s Black body is a revolution that invites all people into sacred activism and offers a clear path forward.
Rooted in Her unconditional love and atop Her steadying rock, you’ll discover research and insights into how people of all races unknowingly practice anti-Blackness.
In the midst of embodied spiritual practice, you’ll reflect on and discern how Our Lady of the Side-Eye is empowering you — and all of us — into a more daring and profound practice of sacred activism.
In this closing session, you’ll:
- Discover how the Black Madonna’s Black body cries out on behalf of the Black people in the world
- Discover how the Black Madonna’s Black body is a healing revolution that affirms the sacredness of Black people and invites us to earnestly fuse our spirituality with racial justice advocacy
- Learn about a reliable social science model for identifying subtle anti-Blackness in ourselves and in our communities.
- Participate in an embodied meditation practice to discern how Our Lady of the Side-Eye is empowering you into a more daring and profound practice of sacred activism
The Black Madonna Bonus Collection
In addition to Christena’s transformative 7-module online course, you’ll receive this special bonus collection to complement the course and take your understanding and practice to an even deeper level.
High-Resolution Image: Our Lady of the Side-Eye
Artistic Rendering by Laylie Frazier
This high-resolution, artistic rendering of the 12th-century Black Madonna of Mayres, France — by Afro-Filipino artist Laylie Frazier — depicts Our Lady of the Side-Eye. The sparkling genius of Black Girl Magic, the nurturing wholeness of Black Mothering, and the fury of Black women’s drive for excellence come together in a supremely loving insistence that we all do better. When we are truly transformed by Her, everything changes.
Top 5 Sessions From the Mystics Summit
Selected Sessions From the Summit
These standout sessions from the Mystics Summit feature sought-after spiritual teachers who offer illuminating insights on embracing a deep, still quality of mystical attention. Sessions from James Finley, Mirabai Starr, Father Greg Boyle, Rami Shapiro, and Colette Lafia guide us deeper into appreciation and awe for the preciousness of life... with a level of focus that allows us to commune directly with the sacred.
What People Are Saying About Dr. Christena Cleveland...
“Christena fosters a powerful and meaningful space of spiritual learning and deep community.”
Grounded in the Sacred Feminine of the Black Madonna, Christena fosters a powerful and meaningful space of spiritual learning and deep community. I am deeply grateful for the journey, my personal growth, and that of the collective.
“Liberation for BIPOC and White people who get that there’s more freedom beyond the effects of white supremacy.”
Amazing! Liberation for BIPOC and White people who get that there’s more freedom beyond the effects of white supremacy. Christena shares timely wisdom and care as she dismantles the effects of racism from our spirit, soul, and body — just when it seems so prevailing and never-ending. There’s a place for freedom and abundance beyond what we’ve been led to believe.
“I am leaving this experience with a renewed sense of hope in my spiritual journey...”
This virtual pilgrimage was an anchor in my life in a time of such spiritual uncertainty. I am leaving this experience with a renewed sense of hope in my spiritual journey, and assurance that I can carve a faith walk that is intuitive and embraces the fullness of my identity as a Black woman.
“This has been the single most informative and shaping course of my 20 years in spiritual spaces.”
“Dr. Christena Cleveland has offered essential language to clarify and identify what has been transpiring and transforming in my life for a long time.”
Dr. Christena Cleveland has offered essential language to clarify and identify what has been transpiring and transforming in my life for a long time. This gift of language and insight has straightened my back, lifted my chin, and helped me shine with divine abundance. It’s been here all along.
Here’s What You’ll Receive
Seven 90-Minute Class Sessions With Dr. Christena Cleveland
Experience a unique opportunity to learn from social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist Dr. Christena Cleveland — from the comfort of your own home. Each class session includes a streaming video option and will guide you to connect with the Black Madonna, who’s always been ready to accompany, guide, and empower you as you discover who you truly are.
Seven Transcripts of Class Sessions
You’ll also receive the entire class transcription after each session is completed. You can then review, print, and highlight the most important insights and practices you were given.
Exercises and Questions for Each Lesson
Between class sessions, you’ll have the option of completing related exercises, practicing new tools, and answering questions to accelerate your learning and integrate each lesson.
The Black Madonna Bonus Collection
- High-Resolution Image: Our Lady of the Side-Eye
Artistic Rendering by Laylie Frazier
- Top 5 Sessions From the Mystics Summit
Selected Sessions From the Summit
An Unprecedented Opportunity to Join the Online Training, Embody Your Sacred Wholeness Through the Black Madonna
We feel honored that Dr. Christena Cleveland has chosen to partner with The Shift Network to offer this exclusive online training. This is a unique opportunity to learn from a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist whose powerful insights and pioneering work are helping us heal and awaken ourselves and our world.
If you’re serious about following in the Black Madonna’s footsteps to embrace your deepest truths and love yourself for who you are, then you owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and our world to take this one-of-a-kind training.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your own evolution, click the register button below to reserve your space now.
Your Satisfaction Is 100% Guaranteed!
Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed! If you don’t absolutely LOVE Embody Your Sacred Wholeness Through the Black Madonna — or don’t feel that it meets your needs — please submit your refund request form 2 weeks from your date of purchase and we’ll happily issue qualifying customers a refund.
More Praise for Dr. Christena Cleveland...
“Theologian and badass activist Christena Cleveland journeys through liberation and deftly reveals a path for each of us.”
Theologian and badass activist Christena Cleveland journeys through liberation and deftly reveals a path for each of us. In doing so, she joins the lineage of sister-friends like Hurston, Walker, Lorde, Shange, and more, that do it fiercely.
— Rev. angel Kyodo williams, writer, activist, ordained Zen priest, and the author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace
“[Christena is] offering liberation to Black women like me and all who would be free...”
[Christena is] offering liberation to Black women like me and all who would be free, delivering us at the feet of the Black Madonna, and to our better selves.
— Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, author, activist, preacher, and public theologian
“The Black Madonna chose well when she chose Christena Cleveland to tell her story.”
— Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, renowned spiritual pioneer and author of more than 35 books
“I really believe Christena Cleveland’s work is going to save lives.”
— Cole Arthur Riley, writer, poet, and author of This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us
“Christena Cleveland’s work is both soul-satisfying and brimming with deft research.”
— Dr. Moya Bailey, feminist scholar, writer, and activist
About Dr. Christena Cleveland
Christena Cleveland, PhD, is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal and its sister organization, Sacred Folk, which creates resources to stimulate people’s spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation. A weaver of Black liberation and the Sacred Feminine, Dr. Cleveland integrates psychology, theology, storytelling, and art to stimulate our spiritual imaginations.
She recently completed her third full-length book, God is a Black Woman, which details her 400-mile walking pilgrimage across central France in search of ancient Black Madonna statues, and examines the relationship among race, gender, and cultural perceptions of the Divine.
Christena holds a PhD in social psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara as well as an honorary doctorate from the Virginia Theological Seminary. An award-winning researcher and author, Christena is a Ford Foundation Fellow who has held faculty positions at several institutions of higher education — most recently at Duke University’s Divinity School, where she led a research team investigating self-compassion as a buffer to racial stress.
Though Christena loves scholarly inquiry, she is also a student of embodied wisdom. She recently completed the Art & Social Change intensive body wisdom training for millennial leaders, and is currently deepening her mind-body-spirit integration in a year-long embodied leadership cohort for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
Frequently Asked Questions
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