Saturday, March 27, 2010

When the planet Eucharis passes between Venus and Jupiter, it stills the winds of adversity within me and I become a veritable sea of tranquility.

"I felt like I had been possessed by some magic and luckily for me, I have been miraculously and continuously possessed by some kind of magic." Madonna 2008

What the years 1988 and 1989 possibly mean for Our Lady.

"Just Like a Dream, You Are Not What You Seem" - Like a Prayer

In the midst of her Saturn Return, we discover that underneath The Artiste, in all her glorious artifice, is the natural woman showcased in Lee Friedlander's 1979 photographs. Perhaps, what we also have is a ritualistic pagan who called upon September's Muse to guide her. We hear, more often than not, that Madonna is The Muse, and yes she is for many - but who guides her?

With Like a Prayer, we get that once in a lifetime gift from a Goddess. Truth. If we do take the Saturn Return into consideration, then with Like a Prayer, lyrically we have Madonna shedding or purging her past but at the same time gaining the vision of where she will be going. According to astrologers, with Saturn Return, the 30th birthday indicates a major rite of passage because it marks the true beginning of adulthood, self-evaluation, independence, ambition, and self actualization. Madonna's 30 year mark on planet Earth was 1988 when the album was written, although released to mortals in 1989.

Woven throughout the Like a Prayer album, we have tremendous lyrical associations with mythology, history, sacred symbols and objects. Everything from the muse, the midnight hour, magic lanterns, luck, elephants, candles, tears, leprechauns, flying, mermaids, death, marriage, divorce, resurrection, angels, cupid, fairies, wishes, dreams, power, feet, hair, transformation, and even on the song that didn't make the final cut, we have Supernatural - all about the incubus.

It was my impression upon the release of Like a Prayer, and even more so 21 years later, that Madonna was at her most dynamic female - a universal woman - Eve. Some call it Wiccan, Pagan, or witch but really Catholicism plucked all its rituals from the Pagans. So, who's zoomin' who? From our perspective, with what she has chosen to share, it's all completely organic and really the Kabbalah seems perfectly natural in her personal evolution.

Madonna has alluded to magic throughout her career, beginning with her sacrilegious habit of adorning herself in crucifixes, amulets, stars, clovers, hearts and other voodoo. In the La Isla Bonita video kneeling at her altar while lighting incense and clutching a rosary, she transforms herself from a high up blue recluse into a fire red flamenco dancer that descends among the plebeians, casts her spell and then dances off into unknown territory. In the Like a Prayer video she makes the Saint Martin statue come to life. In Secret, we see a SanterĂ­a baptismal ceremony with more altars, candles and a sunflower submerged in water - long believed to deliver true love.

Since her career began it has been drenched with Pagan rituals, and Madonna has been the inspirational seductress, with millions under her spell. For me, there has always been something very bruja about Madonna. My first thought at 13 years old when I saw the 7" 45 of Borderline in 1984 was, "ooh - she looks like a sexy witch". I always imagined there was a cauldron underneath her hands in this photo:

Let's not forget the original pressing of the Like a Prayer album was scented with patchouli, a long time traditional ingredient in love potions.

I melt your heart as I melt this wax...


  1. Woohoo! Like a Prayer. By far her best album.

  2. yes, tony - like a prayer is wonderful. such an interesting time wrapped up with a brilliant album. i love how she went the other way of what was going on in pop music, at the time.

  3. I enjoy the notion of Madonna having a traditional Saturn Return, but I have to say that I am struggling to see how this astrological transformation held true in here future works prior to Ray Of Light, which is possibly quite naive of me. For all the sincerity on display in Like A Prayer, many of her detractors were quick to dismiss the spiritualized Madonna once she herself did. I think Like A Prayer is the most satisfying era of Madonna's entire career as she was at the peak of her potency and inspiration and she seemed to consciously create her own myth, making herself a goddess by association with all of the elements you describe. Is there a period of time following Saturn Return when the transformation develops? Logically, Madonna's Saturn Return began at the end of her Who's That Girl tour as the cycle is 29 years. Perhaps that is also interesting as she rejected music and the conventions of fame at that time and realized over the course of the next year that her marriage was also a hindrance. I guess her Saturn Return represented finding truth in her artistry.

  4. interesting AC.

    i dont look at 'prayer' as her making herself a goddess by association. in fact, i look at it as exposing her natural female goddess. if we look at 'prayer' as an oraganic description of her saturn return then we get an insight into her 'personal diaries', so to speak.

    for me, the punctuation mark on the 'prayer' period is at the tail end of '90 - everything from 'prayer' to the 'the immaculate'.

    you speak of her future works until 'ray of light'? personally i think she became to self conscious of her power - which i think is inevitable. thats human nature after an epiphany.

    she gained footing with 'bedtime stories' although still a little wobbly - it was really 'evita' that elevated her and put her back on the path of her innate and mature artistry which leads us straight into 'ray of light' - her own project.

    i break it down like this: raw talent - polishing - the epiphany - the fall and the rise.

    theres greatness in all of it because theres always an honesty with madonna that i think other performers lack. she opens her soul in her writing. she truly is like a painter - its her emotions whether good, bad or egocentric - her canvas happens to be music. some periods more tyte than others.

  5. I still have the original patchouli scented cassette and every time I smell it it's spring 1989 and I'm in Santa Barbara.

  6. Agreed, but no one is conscious of the unraveling of Saturn in its return phase. It is either a corrective process or a reinforcement of what is already there. In Madonna's case, it appears she was shedding something. Like A Prayer certainly plays like a personal diary, but it also rendered her immortal. She was no longer a rock star. By embracing the ethereal, Madonna became mythological in my opinion. It is all by association, and we all have our individual experiences, but from a universal perspective, I think we all experienced it the same way. I didn't even know what patchouli smelled like until I got my cassette, but I remember spending a awful lot of time with the sleeve close to my nose feeling like the album really could take me there.

  7. patchouli, a long time traditional ingredient in love potions. she got you! haha!

  8. I love love LOVE this post. With everything I thought of Like A Prayer, I never once thought of her saturn return. I love this conversation!!! You know, I still have a sealed copy of the Prayer vinyl and because of the patchouli, I put it in another plastic sleeve to preserve it. I take it out from time to time and smell it...I can't believe how strong it is 21 years later. I LOVE THIS ALBUM! Thank you for this discussion!

  9. To date this is still my favorite Madonna album, and I feel will remain the best thing she has created to date. 1989 was such an incredible years on so many levels. The videos from this album all belong in museums, consistently being shown for the art pieces they are. Whatever was going on in the stars during this time, thank God Madonna was able to somehow it express it in words, visuals, and best of all, music.

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