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A 14-hr mixed level initiation into the transformative teachings of the Black Madonna, the Assumption of Mary as the marriage of spirit and matter, and Chartres Cathedral through lecture, dance and music featuring Anne Baring, Andrew Harvey and other faculty.

Venus Rising:

Regenerating Love


August 13 – 19, 2022

7-Day pilgrimage to Chartres, France


Lynn Bell, Apela Colorado, Ruth Cunningham, Eve Ensler (V), Jim Garrison, Andrew Harvey,
Calen Rayne, and Banafsheh Sayyad

Inside Venus Rising

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, most of us are feeling worn down with all the lockdowns, social distancing, isolation and uncertainty. More than anything, we need intimacy, we need community, we need to actually be with one another. So much needs healing, so much needs praying for. We need to regenerate our capacity to love so we can heal ourselves, each other and the larger ecology of life.

In this spirit we invite you to join us in a pilgrimage to Chartres during its holiest time of the year during the Feast of the Assumption of Mary and the honoring of the Black Madonna. Join us for a 7-day initiation under the radiance of a full moon into the mysteries of the Divine Feminine through deep reflection, joyous celebration and empowering dance at one of the holiest shrines of the Great Goddess.

Reimagining and regenerating how we love requires that we come to a deep reckoning of the trauma caused by thousands of years of patriarchal oppression of the feminine, of nature, of indigenous peoples, all of which have had the effect of constraining and distorting the expression of love. We need to strip away the structures of oppression and learn deeper layers of self love so that we can love others more deeply, especially at this time of great global suffering. We need to embody the fierceness of love so our inner coherence can compensate for the deepening chaos all around us and catalyze greater compassion for the world. This is why regenerating love is the imperative of our time.

Venus Rising in all her splendor illuminates the pathway of love for us to embody as we navigate through these very challenging times. We will explore what the ancients taught about the science of right thought, right speech and right action. The key to doing what is right is knowing how to love. Right thought, right speech, right action follows the pathway of the heart.


The Assumption of Mary and the Black Madonna

This pilgrimage will center us deeply in the heart of Chartres. We will be there on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15) which honors the Church doctrine, enunciated by the Pope in 1950, that Mary was assumed directly into heaven upon her death and now presides as Mother of God. This year’s Feast coincides with the full moon. A city that has reverenced the feminine for several thousand years, honors the feminine in the deepest of ways. On the Day of the Assumption, the Black Madonna is carried through the streets before being placed in front of the statue of the Assumption of Mary, where she is kept for one week and then hidden away till the following year.

Parading the Black Madonna recalls the way the Druids in ancient times brought her out of the grotto underneath the granite promontory upon which the cathedral today stands. They honored Mother Earth and the cycles of the seasons through the Black Madonna. Being in Chartres at this one time of the year will both deepen our Memory of ancient rites and activate our souls to a greater reverence for the Mother of God.

It is in this sacred space that we will deeply explore the nature and scope of the dark feminine as manifested in the Black Madonna. The dark feminine in all her aspects has been revered since ancient times. She was refracted through the great Goddesses of antiquity such as Innana and Isis, Kali and Quan Yin. There are over 300 statues and sacred sites in Europe alone dedicated to the Black Madonna, the most famous and revered of which is at Rocamadour in France.

One of the critical issues we will explore is how the Black Madonna is present today in world affairs and personal transformation. She has historically been present during times of turbulence and upheaval when a culture or civilization is dying and something profound and redemptive is being born. The metamorphosis from the old to the new is uniquely the domain of the Black Madonna, which is why she is so actively present in our lives today.


Apela Colorado, PhD indigenous scientist and elder of the Oneida-Gaul ancestry, founder of the World Indigenous Science Network will invoke our days and guide the exploration of our dreams .

Eve Ensler (V),   author of The Vagina Monologues, The Apology, and founder of V Day and One Billion Rising will invite participants into a collective ritual of apology. 

Jim Garrison, PhD will co-moderate the proceedings and speak on various aspects of the archetype of Venus and Plato’s Symposium.

Banafsheh Sayyad, MFA, MA,  Co-Director of Ubiquity Chartres Academy, will moderate and guide the group to embody the wisdom teachings explored during our week.

Ruth Cunningham, classically trained musician, sound healer and founding member of the Anonymous will create musical context for our initiatory process

Calen Rayne, DMin will share insights on the labyrinth and lead the rituals.

Lynn Bell, astrologer, will provide an astrological report every day.

Andrew Harvey, PhD (Hons), scholar, mystic and author of more than 30 books, will share his understanding of the Black Madonna and vision of a new relationship between the feminine and the masculine.


Each day will include sacred movement, chanting/singing and dreamwork. Throughout the week, we will have presentations on various aspects of Venus and the archetype of the Feminine, the significance of the Assumption, the Black Madonna, the Liberal Art of Rhetorica and what love means for our time. We will have sound baths for deep relaxation and integrate the teachings through sacred dance. You will have ample personal time for meditation, prayer and exploration.

Our group will have abundant exclusive time to immerse in the Cathedral outside of public hours. This includes a labyrinth ceremony accompanied by the music of the Soundscape. We will spend an evening exploring the Crypt and communing with the underground Black Madonna. We will hold rituals in the Cathedral and the labyrinth early in the mornings, experiencing the many aspects of Mary and commune with the Black Madonna in the only week of the year where she is accessible in the Cathedral.

We will build an altar together upon which we will bring artifacts representing our apologies for the past, our adoration of the Great Goddess and our hopes for the future. By registering for the pilgrimage, participants vow to work on healing what is in need of healing and to make peace with those from whom they are estranged. You will come with what you seek healing for to place on our collective altar.

There will also be time to enjoy the marvelous cafes and restaurants around the Cathedral with old and new friends, and the most extraordinary light shows around the town of Chartres at night.

Our intention is to heed the call of the Divine Feminine, to see her around us and become her in our very cells so we can live in harmony with each other and with the Earth and all of the Earth community. We will integrate head, heart and body through wisdom teachings, song, dance and theater, and immersion in the imagery and symbolism of the cathedral.

Course Audience: This pilgrimage is suitable for ALL who love to embody the Divine Feminine in all her glory..

Certification: This pilgrimage fulfills14 hours of the 200-hr Dance of Oneness® Certification Program.

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Benefits of this Pilgrimage

Activate a deep connection with the Divine Feminine

Feel energized and unlimited

Elevate your state of being

Cultivate a conscious coherence between your heart, mind and body

Join a global community of like-hearted people

Activate inspiration and creativity 

How to Register for this Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage is presented by the Ubiquity Chartres Academy in Chartres.

You must register at Ubiquity University and book accommodations with their help.

Please find FAQ and Read Health Disclaimer here

Venus Rising

Register at Ubiquity University

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About Banafsheh

Banafsheh Sayyad is a master Persian sacred dancer, choreographer and founder of Dance of Oneness®. She is a deeply profound and highly accessible spiritual teacher of embodiment. Banafsheh performs and teaches internationally, initiating people into the wisdom of their bodies. She inspires all to live in these modern times grounded in love for the Earth and centered around our abiding true nature. Her signature style of holy wildness infused with ancient wisdom ignites transformation and illumination in all those who dance with her from around the globe. Banafsheh invites the dancer within to remember, reclaim and resource the innate healing intelligence streaming through us and spiraling all around us. Her easeful instruction and welcoming spirit empowers students from all stages of life to feel a true sense of belonging in their bodies and passion in their lives, by integrating wisdom teachings proven throughout the ages.

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