Autumn has arrived and with it, the knowing that the arrival time of the Dark Goddess is drawing near.
Often associated with the Crone, the older aspect of the Goddess who has passed Her child-bearing days and is now, through retaining Her blood, retaining Her wisdom, we are reminded of our own mortality. Her name is often whispered in some vain attempt not to draw Her attention - Baba Yaga, Cerridwen Frau Holle - yet we know wherever we do, She will be waiting for us regardless. However, the Crone is not the only aspect of the Dark Goddess, for She appears in many other forms.
Shekhinah Mountainwater used the term “Dark Maiden” in her book Ariadne’s Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic, to describe the aspect of the Goddess who is the sorceress, the seducer, and the ruler of our suppressed desires. Compared to the Crone, the Dark Maiden is young and often enchantingly beautiful, yet dangerous to know. She is Lilith, Circe and Persephone, weaving her spells and illusions upon us, enticing us to step beyond the veil.
There is another side to the Dark Maiden and that is the ferocious warrior who is not always able to be controlled. These Goddesses may or may not have consorts, a point that actually holds little importance when it comes to Her own power. Goddesses including Artemis, Durga, Sekhmet and Pele can be placed in this category depending on what myth we read.
The most terrifying aspect of all is that of the Dark Mother - She who not only births us but also devours us. She shakes and destroys in order to transform and recreate, pushing us to our limits as if we need to prove to her (and ourselves) that we are “worthy”. Her motherly love is “tough love” which we have little choice but to embrace. When the Goddess appears in this form, She can be known as Kali, Oya and Scathach.
Just when we think we have nicely pigeon-holed the Goddess into triple form of Maiden, Mother and Crone, so that we can align Her with the moon as Robert Graves encouraged us to do in his poetic work, The White Goddess, the Dark Goddess shape-shifts as if to remind us that there is so much more to Her than that.
Flitting in and out of our dreams (or nightmares), lurking in the shadows, and even appearing in our peripheral vision, She entices us ever closer to her realm, that of the Underworld, the hidden depths of our subconscious, our Soul memory, the realms where the shadows intermingle with our fears and phobias.
Even if we watch Her seductive dance from the sideline, at some point we will realise that regardless of our resolve the Dark Goddess will capture us in the web - the only choice we can make is whether we want to descend voluntarily into her darkness or find She has ventured into our world, exposing Herself (along with all we have been trying to hide) for the world to see.
Just as day needs night, we need to embrace this aspect of the Goddess in order to express our true potential. It is within the darkness that a seed germinates and that the brilliance of a star can be seen. Therefore, it is within understanding the Dark Goddess and integrating her into our spiritual lives that we can gain the true power of inner growth, not to mention the enlightenment of spiritual awareness.
I will be hosting two workshops this year on Encountering the Dark Goddess - the first in Melbourne just prior to ANZAC Day and the second in Adelaide just after the date for the Celtic festival of the dead (Samhain) in the Southern Hemisphere which will be coinciding with the new moon. More details about these two workshops and how you can book can be found here.