Lessons from the Dark Goddess

Invoking the goddess wasn’t natural. I’d been strictly deity-less for nearly a decade, and doing anything quasi-religious felt like an affront to science and reason.  Despite my Richard Dawkins-esque leanings, however, the goddess was calling out to me. I felt like a fractured, disempowered shell of a woman and I desperately wanted to connect with a badass feminine archetype. Literary heroines simply weren’t cutting it. I was going to have to embrace a more immersive, transcendent experience.

Kneeling before the altar I’d cobbled together from a haphazard collection of thrift store purchases, I felt odd. It wasn’t unpleasant, it was just surprising–I felt the electricity of something potentially formative, but kept questioning the legitimacy of said “electricity”. I wanted to believe in magick, but I wondered whether or not my most recent bout of depression had tipped me into the realm of “worrisome behavior”. I wanted to believe that I could make myself whole by myself, but knew that following the whim of my conscious ego had simply led me to a muddle of shame, confusion, and insecurity. I’d gotten to the point where I was willing to do something entirely out of character if it meant I had a chance at reconciling all of the shit that had held me hostage for years.

My first few rituals were unsuccessful in terms of goddess contact. At that point, I was using an eclectic Wiccan approach (something that didn’t end up resonating, but was an effective primer nonetheless), so I was calling out to the “divine feminine” in abstract. I pictured the moon goddess in my mind, pictured her silver descent as I invoked her, but once she “got here”, nothing much happened.

Long about my fourth ritual I successfully induced a trance state and I found myself tripping in my subconscious plane. It was so vivid and so clear that I remember this event as if it actually happened to me (and who’s to say it didn’t?): I was a charioteer goddess streaming down from the cosmic sun all white light and fury. I was speeding towards earth, a dark, shadowy place. It’s as if I were going to meet my adversary, and as I came closer, she came into view–a figure cloaked in black in a black wood with a crow perched on her shoulder. My mind’s eye kept switching frames–calm, lucid dark goddess and reckless raging white goddess. When the two finally met, there was no catastrophic collision; rather, the dark goddess put up her hand and stopped the white goddess dead in her tracks. The two regarded one another and then wove into the yin-yang symbol.

Woah. I remember coming out of that ritual and thinking, “supreme knowledge has just been dropped on me.” After journalling, I concluded that I’d been trying to molest myself into the light rather than making equal space for light and dark to live side by side. If I wanted to make any headway, then, I was going to have to hold space for my shadow and explore what lived there. But I wasn’t ready then. I’m reminded of a quote from St. Augustine: “Lord, give me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

At some point, I chose Brigid as my matron goddess. As a goddess of the forge, she symbolizes creativity and brilliance even though her mythology speaks of suffering. I pictured her forever smiling, a beaming source of lightness and gaiety–I want that, I thought. I made Brigid’s knot and added it to my eclectic altar collection and began invoking her. She appeared, dancing barefoot and free in the center of a field, yet she always seemed to run away just as soon as she appeared. I followed only to lose her in a dense thicket. After multiple rituals, I didn’t lose her. I was able to keep pace and found that we were traveling through a wormhole. I grasped for her arm, but she was just out of reach. We appeared in a hoar-covered grove. To my left was my father frozen in a throne (The Emperor archetype for sure). And before me was a figure who looked like Maleficent. She was stern and shrouded with black crows. I looked at her; she pointed. I followed her finger to the bloody heap where Brigid lay, slain.

Holy shit. 

I came up and grounded myself and had a moment of intense reflection about the power of archetypes. I’d always loosely subscribed to the notion of Jung’s collective unconscious–there was “evidence” that supported its existence and it seemed like something I wanted to believe in, so I subscribed to it. This, however, was an entirely different beast–this was an experience of the collective unconscious. It didn’t seem like an invention of my subconscious, but something more–something that transcended me in the sense that I am my own, independent entity.

If the dark goddess archetype exists in tarot, she seems to be a cross between Death and The High Priestess, a guardian of esoteric truths and a catalyst for immensely painful change. She forces you to see that which you’ve denied, that which you’ve buried deeply and are too ashamed to claim as your own. I wanted the light–compassion, empathy, expansiveness–but I needed to fumble my way through the darkness to get there. This is no uncommon occurrence; those within shamanic traditions speak of the seven year illness a seer often goes through before they’re able to travel to the spirit world and share what they learned with the community. If there’s a person alive who’s reached enlightenment without first experiencing a dark night of the soul, I have yet to hear of or meet them. I lived beneath a shroud of darkness for years, and I’d come to expect that that’s how my life would always be. It wasn’t until I heeded the call of the goddess that I was finally able to process some of the pain and move on. The Morrighan is still my matron, but she’s made space for other goddesses to come and work with me (which is very gracious of her, I assure you). And is my relationship with her merely a figment of my imagination or a creation of my subconscious? Honestly, I don’t know. But my path has revealed to me that I don’t really have to know–if I’m receiving guidance, working through trauma, discovering hidden truths about myself and getting closer to self-actualization, it doesn’t really matter.

Much Love,

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4 thoughts on “Lessons from the Dark Goddess

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