Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie are treated as the "uncrowned king and queen" of Kabbalah, the mystical form of Judaism, and their shared faith is largely what has kept their marriage together until now. So claims her estranged brother Christopher in his book Life With My Sister Madonna, which will be published tomorrow.
Christopher Ciccone, an interior designer, worked for his sister until 2003, when they fell out, according to the intimate exposé which is being serialised by a Sunday newspaper.
In recent months there have been many reports that Ritchie and Madonna are to divorce despite denials from this singer, who is 50 next month. But Mr Ciccone says their shared faith and regular counselling from Kabbalah rabbis has helped them remain a couple. He describes how another sister, Melanie, found the atmosphere between Madonna and her husband "very tense" at their Wiltshire home. "A Kabbalah rabbi would regularly come down from London to mediate between them. I believe Kabbalah is helping keep Guy and Madonna together," Mr Ciccone writes.
Mr Ciccone says almost everyone within Madonna's circle came under pressure to join the Kabbalah movement. In 2001, Mr Ciccone says he was told she would pay him the remaining £5,000 for work he had done on one of her homes if he went to a Kabbalah meeting. He lists her staff he encountered there, remarking: "The edict that you have to belong to work for her hasn't yet been formalised, but I suspect it soon will be."
At meetings at the Kabbalah Centre in LA, Madonna and Ritchie regularly sit next to Rabbi Yehuda Berg. Mr Ciccone claims to have heard another devotee complaining: "I've been coming here for 15 years and I've never gotten to sit next to the Bergs."
Mr Ciccone says he can feel the envy, particularly when Guy is given the honour of carrying the Torah to the altar. "I believe that Kabbalah has given form to [Madonna's] nebulous world and given her a purpose," he writes, adding that because she is treated differently from all the other acolytes, "she feels that her existence has been validated".
"After all, she has an entire spiritual movement backing up her decisions. She now believes she has God on her side," he says.
The end of his relationship with his sister came in October 2003 with a row over the price of a light fitting, during which Madonna, he writes, "calls me and calls me a thief, a liar, the most untrustworthy person she's ever met".
A fax arrived, telling Mr Ciccone never to contact Madonna again. He replied by saying he gave up his life to help her become the "evil queen you are today ... 15 years of listening to your bitching, egotistical rantings, mediocre talent and a lack of taste that would stun the ages."