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Dark Moon Goddesses

The earliest people understood that the power of life lay in the darkness of the moon. But after thousands of years, humanity forgot this truth and began to fear the power in the waning dark moon which they associated with death, destruction, and the forces of evil.

However, the dark moon phase has a purpose - transition between the death of the old and the birth of the new. The dark time is a time of retreat, of healing, and of dreaming the future. Unfortunately, in our society we have been taught to fear and resist the decreasing energies represented by the dark, by decay, death, and the unconscious. The dark symbolizes our fears of aging, illness, death, and dying. It covers and hides our painful and shameful secret memories of traumas such as abortion, incest, rape, sexual violation, physical abuse, eating disorders, body dysfunctions, addictions. The dark keeps these secret fears buried deep in the unconscious mind.

Based on the correlation between the twenty-nine days of the moon’s cycle and the twenty-nine days of women’s menstrual cycles, the ancients personified the moon as the Great Goddess. The Moon Goddess, in her bright phase, was a giver of life and all that promoted fertility. In her dark phase she was the wielder of the destructive powers of nature. The ancient Goddess-worshiping cultures understood that the menstrual time is a woman’s most powerful time of month, a time when her psychic and spiritual energies are most highly sensitized. It was for this reason that women retired to menstrual huts during their moon time in order that they might commune with the deities through meditation, prayer, and ritual to seek healing and truth.

With the rise of the male god cultures, women continued to be separated and isolated during their moon time. But now it was not because they were holy, but because men feared their great psychic power during this time of the month. Menstruating women became taboo and were considered impure. This tradition survives today in many cultures, where menstruating women are barred from religious ceremonies.

Menopause is the dark moon phase of woman's sexual life cycle. In ancient cultures older women, as crones, were honored as wise women, the community elders. They were believed to come into their power as healers, seers, and magicians. However, modern society, in its failure to understand the value of the dark, has come to project many of its fears of the unknown upon older women who have passed through menopause.

Contemporary scholars are now uncovering evidence of how the worship of the Goddess has been suppressed, her temples and artifacts destroyed, her followers persecuted and her reality denied. The new belief systems of the conquering patriarchal solar tribes denounced cyclical renewal, thereby disrupting the Moon Goddess’s cycle of birth, death, and regeneration.

The Story of the Dark Goddess

The story of the Dark Goddess takes us across much of the world, where the Dark Goddess is known by many names in different lands. She is called Kali in India, Hekate and Persephone in Greece, Lilith in the Near East, Eresh-kigal in Sumeria, Morgana in Britain, and Hel in Scandinavia. Moira, the Fates, the Furies, Medusa, Medea, Circe, Nemesis, Nyx, the Gorgons, the Sirens, the Black Madonna, Cerrwiden, Nephyths, Black Isis, Oya, Coatlicue, Mother Holle, Baba Yuga, the Black Dakini, the Terrible Mother, the Bad Fairy, and the Wicked Witch are some of her other names. As far back as the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic, 40,000 years ago, there exists evidence that humanity worshiped a female deity who became personified in the symbolism of the Goddess.These goddess-figures emphasize the breasts, belly, and vulva of the female body, signifying prehistoric peoples’ reverence for the birth-giving and life-sustaining powers of the feminine. The Goddess was immanent in all of nature, and people built shrines to honor and interact with her at springs, groves, caves, mountain peaks, hearths, and wells. Let's look at two of the dark goddesses who are part of my practice.

Hekate, Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night, triple-faced Hekate is an original embodiment of the great Triple Goddess. She is most often linked with the dark of the moon and presides over magic, ritual, prophetic vision, childbirth, death, the underworld, and the secrets of regeneration. Mistress of the crossroads, this lunar goddess dwells in caves and walks the highways at night. Hekate is portrayed as a torch-bearing Moon Goddess, she is the Anima Mundi, Witch Mother, she's the guardian, gatekeeper and guide. The new, full, and dark phases of the Triple Moon Goddess reflected the three stages of a woman’s life as Artemis the virgin, Persephone the nymph, and Hekate the crone, and alternately as Persephone the daughter, Demeter the mother, and Hekate the grandmother. She's celebrated on August 13 as stroms bringer, November 16 as the Queen of the Underworld and November 30 as the lady of the crossroads and during each dark moon.

Lilith, the first wife of Adam

Lilith first emerges in ancient Sumeria as a handmaiden to the great goddess Inanna. In Hebraic mythology she is the first wife of Adam. Originally he and she, Adam and Lilith, were created equal and together and set in the Garden of Eden to give things their names and thereby bring the world into manifestation. They had a very difficult time because Lilith insisted upon full equality, which Adam refused, and they could not agree upon anything. Adam would have sex with Lilith only if he was on the top and she was on the bottom because he was superior, having been created from the pure dust, and she was inferior, having come from filth and sediment. After some time Lilith realized that Adam was never going to accept as valid and worthwhile anything she had to offer, so she uttered the secret name of God, flew off, and vanished into the air. Adam complained to God that the wife he had been given had deserted him. God then sent three angels, Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, to capture Lilith. She refused and did not return to her husband. She chose a lifetime of exile in a desert cave on the shores of the Red Sea rather than one of subjugation and domination to Adam’s will. Lilith went through a great period of grief. Not only had she voluntarily removed herself as the feminine aspect of wisdom from the process of a new creation of the world, but daily one hundred of her children were dying for her defiance. After her mourning was done she made love with the water elementals, and many beings arose from this union— namely the sea of the unconscious, from which the feminine aspect of our wisdom arises from the depths of our psyche. Meanwhile, in the Garden of Eden, God took a rib from Adam’s side and turned it into Eve, Adam’s second wife and helpmate. Adam was pleased to be rid of Lilith, who only gave him trouble, and to now have Eve, who was submissive and dutiful in all ways. When the story of creation was being written down, mention of Lilith was wholly exorcised from scripture. The biblical patriarchs did not want to give the world a model of a wife who demanded equality and defied and left her husband; instead they extolled the virtues of Eve, who had no such ideas but instead would be subservient, enabling her husband in all ways.

The Archetype of the Dark Goddess

The Dark Goddess is associated with the dark phase of any cyclical process that operates in our lives. She appears whenever we experience major change, loss, and transformation. When we are able to contact the genuine nature of the Dark Goddess within us, we feel as if we are in our power. We are strong, assertive, psychic, prophetic, creative, sexual, unrestrained, and free. Patriarchal culture rejects these aspects of a woman’s nature that arise from her red energy of the dark moon, sensing them as dangerous to male domination, and thus labels them as unfeminine.

The Dark Goddess, in modern society, embodies all of the feminine qualities that have come to intimidate men in patriarchal culture. As such she represents those aspects of the wholeness of a woman’s nature that we have been conditioned and pressured to renounce in ourselves in order to be accepted and validated by men.

At times when the Dark Goddess comes to us—at menstruation, at menopause, during loss and transition—if we are not aware of her gifts of deepening and renewal that she offers, then we often experience her as a tempest. We see her as actively destroying all of our life structures and relationships that are based on our acceptance of the patriarchal “nice, submissive, and pleasing” feminine image. Or if we are successful in holding back and suppressing this monumental red energy peaking inside of us, we will experience the Dark Goddess as the depression, despair, and unbearable pain of the bleakness, subjugation, and meaninglessness of our lives.

The Dark Goddess of the dark moon is the mistress of transformation, and she exists everywhere there is change. The Dark Goddess within us demands that we discard all that is no longer necessary in our lives, our relationships, worldly possessions, and life structures that have fulfilled their purpose in our growth and development. If we do not heed her call, she will keep up her threat with increasing pressure, ruthlessly destroying anything in our lives that is holding back the changes that will move us through our patterns of cyclical renewal.

When the moon disappears from sight, the Dark Goddess calls us away from the external world, and she leads us to meet our essential self who resides at the core of our being. She shatters structures, disintegrates the personality, destroys form. She liberates and saves, heals and frees. Dark Goddess forces us to look at ourselves with utter, naked honesty. For many of us this is very frightening—to see ourselves stripped of our illusions and false pretensions. As we descend into the dark depths of our hidden beings, we may discover our frustration, resentment, and anger that lie buried beneath the layers of our socially conditioned “nice and normal” persona. The Dark Goddess within us is the force that moves our lives from waning to waxing, from the old to the new, from destruction to creation, and from death to birth. In order to keep the cycle ever-turning, she severs all our attachments to the old, safe, secure, and known, because she is the very movement of change and transformation itself. She inspires us with a power that arises from deep within our womb, and calls upon us to speak the truth, uphold our integrity, protest injustice, and exalt in our ecstatic healing sexuality. She urges us to expose evil, shatter falsity, and demand the truth from others whenever we encounter domination and oppression. The dark moon conceals the secret activity of the Dark Goddess, whose power lies in her wise blood. We can honor the Dark Goddess within us by learning how to skillfully fashion and channel our monthly red menstrual energy, which then remains with us continually after we pass through menopause. The blood of the Dark Goddess as it flows through our bodies carries her gifts of personal power, spiritual illumination, psychic sensitivity, sexual ecstasy, healing, regeneration, and above all, the promise of new life arising from the decaying compost of the old.

By Demetra George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon

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