As we enter the deep fall, the realm of Samhain, we are stepping into the misty territory between the worlds. It is sometimes a place of uncertainty, a place of feeling those more difficult emotions like grief, sadness, anger, fear or pain. But it is also a place of rich magick, awakening and deep inner healing.
This is the sacred realm of the Dark Goddess. The Cauldron-Keeper, Transformer and Shapeshifter. The Dark Mother who wraps us in her black wings under the night sky. The warm darkness of Her gestating womb as well as the labour pains that birth us into light. She is the arms that cradle us through the storm and the lap we rest on to recover afterwards. She also hands us the sword and teaches us to wield it, cutting away that which no longer serves growth. She holds us accountable and ensures that we grow through our fear, shame and pain.
The Dark Goddess takes on many forms and names throughout history, from culture to culture.
She is Hecate, Baba Yaga, Ereshkigal, Kali, Lillith, Cerridwen, Morrighan, Nepthys, Sekhmet and many more. Most Dark Goddesses have a story of trauma, rejection, pain or making grave mistakes. Their myths often include a descent into darkness that they moved through and overcame. The Dark Goddesses chose to be there to help us in life’s most difficult experiences and have deep empathy for our human experience.
The Dark Goddesses can be fierce and destructive or wise and comforting, but they are always empowering. The Dark Goddesses support us in a different way than the ‘Light’ Goddesses do.
Light Goddesses can be there for us in our dark moments, but the way they help is different. Like the brightness of the full moon, Light Goddesses can help inspire creative expression, a lightness of being, joy, fertility, growth, physical healing and manifestation of our desires.
Like the Dark Moon, The Dark Goddess invites us to embrace life’s mystery, potential, and let go of outworn patterns. She holds our hand through the muck of life’s toughest emotional trenches. She will sit with us, as well as teach us the skills for navigating through deep pain, loss and trauma. Dark Goddesses are experts of the Shadow realms and are there for us especially when we need to embrace our rage, jealousy, fear, avoidance, and our hidden gifts that must come out into the light.
‘Dark’ and ‘Light’ Goddesses don’t always fit neatly into either category. They are simply different facets of the same healing energy, like the different faces of the moon. Both are needed, both rely on each other, such as in the case of the Goddess Isis, and her twin sister Nepthys.
Isis is known as the Goddess of motherhood, magick and healing. Nepthys is known as the Goddess of mystery, mourning and the dead. They often like to work together.
Isis’ husband Osiris was murdered and cut into many pieces. Isis, with the help of her twin sister Nepthys, gathered his pieces and then conceived new life (her son, Horus) from his remains. Some say Isis and Nepthys are both aspects of the same Goddess. Either way, they worked best together to accomplish a feat of rebirth.
The whole ‘light’ and ‘dark’ binary is more of a human construction than a spiritual one, but it is how our human mind often perceives things, especially since we are influenced by the cycles of the moon and seasons.
There is such a thing as too much light, too much sunshine. Light can become oppressive. Heat can burn. Constant positivity and happiness can be perceived as insincere and lacking in empathy. Constant focus on growth and manifestation is a sure way to burn out.
The brighter the light, the stronger the shadow, as they say.
Many spiritual people like to follow the ‘light’ at all costs and relegate any unpleasantness to the shadow realm. But just like the moon cycle, eventually, the time will come to meet the truth that dwells in darkness.
Paganism views dark and light differently than Christianity and some other religions. Light isn’t considered ‘good’ while darkness is ‘evil’. They are both equal and necessary forces of nature. Ascension and light are not states that can, nor should, be maintained for life on earth. Life here is cyclical. All facets are to be embraced as part of the greater whole.
The Dark Goddess seeks for us to fully embody our shadow, to get to know it. The shadow contains the parts of us we don’t like, wish to suppress, or feel must stay hidden for whatever reason. She asks that we feel our pain so that we can be expanded by it, wisened by it. She sees the potential underneath our masks, fears and insecurities and pushes us to embody that potential.
Sometimes she doles out the tough love and asks us to overcome our petty fears. She wishes us to never be less than all of who we truly are. The Dark Goddess brings us strength. She loves us fiercely, so much that she is willing to walk through the fire, the trenches, and the pain with us. She is not ‘above’ our humanness, and teaches us that neither are we.
Cerridwen- Goddess of Awen & Transformation.
This month I am embarking on a new path, a two-year training to become a Priestess of Cerridwen.
Cerridwen is a Welsh Druidic Goddess of transformation and magick. She is the quintessential Witch, often depicted with her cauldron of death and rebirth. She is the mother of Awen, a druidic term for the flowing divine energy that inspires us and flows through all of life.
Cerridwen can sometimes be considered a Mother Goddess or a Crone Goddess, but either way, she walks in the Dark Goddess realm. I like to think of Her as a ‘Dark Mother’ because to me, she is very maternal, but one who is in touch with the more darker aspects of human life, and therefore her nurturing is the kind that challenges us to grow and change through inner work, rather than just making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I am very excited to take this journey. I feel this year especially, the energy of Cerridwen is needed to hold us through this time of uncertainty, as we as a collective are going through this pandemic trauma.
When Cerridwen Called Me…
Cerridwen called me on my two trips to the UK in the last few years. In the first one, I visited the Goddess House in Glastonbury, where they have several beautiful healing rooms dedicated to different Goddess energies. My favourite room was the Cerridwen room- decorated all in purple and black, with the Cauldron (symbol for the womb) featured prominently in its décor. I could just feel Her energy there and I didn’t want to leave. It felt so familiar, like coming home.
Then, a couple years later, I visited Wales and Cornwall. I especially felt Her presence in southern Wales, when I was visiting with the ancient Yew trees- a tree of death and rebirth commonly found in graveyards. The Yews were over 1000 years old and likely much older. I sat in them and with them for hours, just communing and feeling something shift inside of me forever. It felt like they were re-organising my energy field, shifting very old patterns deep in my DNA, with this strong, wise, dark maternal presence that I now in hindsight feel was Cerridwen.
Cerridwen’s sacred lake is in northern Wales, Lake Bala, which I have yet to visit.
Growing Older & Moving towards the Dark Goddess
A few years ago, I started working with the Morrighan (and still do, because She is awesome), who is another Dark Goddess with several facets. Morrighan showed up very strongly during a difficult time in my life, and helped strengthen me to protect myself, set boundaries and keep my mind and senses sharp while navigating some very murky emotional waters. She is a warrior goddess (and quite multifaceted) but also has a certain tough maternal energy that I deeply connect with. She sees through BS, and encourages us to cut it out of our life.
It seems as I get older, I am more and more drawn to working with the Dark Goddess more closely. In the life cycle, perimenopause and menopause is attributed to the Dark Goddess energies calling.
I am entering a new stage of life where my daughter is close to her teen years and is moving through puberty while my hormones have shifted towards perimenopause, thus changing my priorities, and helping me embrace my inner Dark Goddess. As a woman with plenty of Scorpio energy in her astrology chart and womb health issues, death and rebirth has been featured regularly in my life, making the connection with the Dark Goddess quite natural.
Cerridwen is a fierce, protective mother, wife, wild Witch/Druid who endured difficult turns of fate and learned through her mistakes. Her tale is very much one of death and rebirth. I will be embarking on this journey of learning and forging a stronger relationship. Stay tuned for more about Cerridwen and Her Cauldron of healing and rebirth!
Do you have a connection with a Dark Goddess? How do you feel about using terms like ‘dark’ and ‘light’ when it comes to the Goddess? How do you feel about getting intimate with your shadow or embracing the harsher, more challenging emotions like fear, anger, grief, sadness and pain?
This post is the first in the Dark Goddess Series. Stay tuned for more as we descend into Her depths as the months get colder! Blessed be.