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ENCOUNTERING THE SHADOWS: EMBRACED BY THE DARK GODDESS

The shadows have always been a source of mystery. Often, fear and terror rule the dark places, holding our imagination captive and sometimes paralyzing us with the horror of the unknown. The shadows hold the secret to our own rising rebirth, the secret of the wisdom of ourselves. The ultimate mystery is that of knowing oneself. This is the lesson the Dark Goddess teaches.

The Dark Goddess is the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess. However She does not always take the form of the older, wiser sage. She can appear as the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. Many associate her powers with the underworld and even evil. But the darkness was not always seen in that way, the way of polarity, black and white, good versus evil. The darkness was just that, the absence of light. The way of the Dark Goddess is the way of the mirror, truth and reflection. She is not the kind and gentle Mother Goddess, who coaxes us to explore our lives.

She is clarity, like the sword of the Warrior Goddess Morrigan and the sickle of Hecate, cutting away without hesitation all that does not serve. She is the wild and free woman, free from slavery of spirit and body, like the demonized Lilith. She is the bringer of death and destruction, like Kali Ma, who separates us from our illusions and false truth. She is the light in the shadows, Hecate's illuminating lantern. She is what is at the end of our journeys and spiral dances. She is the one who greets us on the other side of this lifetime.

The lessons of the Dark Goddess are plentiful. When one seeks the Dark Maiden, one can learn the freedom that comes from being owned by no one. Persephone may not have been abducted as the legends tells us. Perhaps she was simply seeking to be free from her controlling mother, seeking her own truth and life. The Maiden is the one who teaches us to love and enjoy our sexual sides in a world that seeks to harm this aspect of women. She teaches us to risk and challenge the patterns we have been living, to not be afraid to descend into our own underworld.

The Dark Mother, while always acting in the best interests of one's higher soul, teaches the lesson of tough love. Kali Ma, with her sword, severs ego and fantasy to allow clearness of mind and spirit. She nourishes our ability to change our self imposed patterns that keep us from enlightenment. She helps us change, but it is never a mild transition. And sometimes we need that more than a gradual quiet transformation. Sometimes we too must rise like the phoenix. She shows us how to make beauty out of our ashes.

The Dark Crone perhaps embodies the full mystery of the Goddess and of life itself. She is the gate keeper, the end of all desire. Her face, likened to the Dark Moon, is called the true face of the Goddess. In the phase of the Dark Moon, which is looked upon as the symbol of the Goddess herself, we see just the Moon. All other times, we see the Moon in aspect to the relationship She holds with the Sun, always reflecting and translating the Sun's messages to us through Her reflective light.

We cannot have light without dark. Within the dark, renewal and rebirth are possible. In the dark, all possibilities are available and solutions are revealed. In our shadows, miracles linger and hope awaits us in the form of the Dark Goddess. She is always there for us, strong and unyielding to obstacles in our way. She is who waits when all other methods fail us, when we feel utterly alone, when we have completely lost our way. She is the lamp, the flashlight, the night light guiding us and helping us find our path again. Darkness leads to healing and magick. Darkness is as essential as light.

When a surgeon is operating on a cancer patient, does she cuddle the tumor and speak gently to it? No, she cuts is out. When an addict attends a rehabilitation clinic, do the facilitators use light to erase the addiction? No, radical removal of the offending substance is necessary along with a hard look and evaluation of a person's lifestyle and attitudes. When in an abusive relationship, whether it be family or a romantic relationship, do therapists encourage you to forgive and love the abuse out? Perhaps that is part of the process, but the first line of defense is usually removing the abused from the abuser and putting extreme boundaries in place, sometimes in the form of restraining orders and prison time. Radical change requires radical measures and often the peace- loving measure of using positive energy to heal or grow is just not the right solution.

Light can be blinding and can keep us from seeing the reality in front of our very own eyes. Love screens out the negative and sometimes you have to see the negative - the negative patterns you create for yourself, the negative relationship that needs to change or end, the negative choices that ultimately are not serving your best interests.

Next time you are faced with the dark, allow the Dark Goddess to greet you and lead you to a higher level. She will never fail you. And if you let Her in, you will find treasures long since buried and insights unavailable anywhere else. Let Her guide you and give you courage in the Great Mysteries. I dare you to dance with the dark.

To Connect With the Dark Goddess

This is a ritual to be done during the Dark Moon phase, which is between the last quarter of the Moon and the New Moon, approximately three days before the New Moon. I prefer to use a Moon Calendar to find the exact time to honor this Mystery Rite properly.

On the Dark Moon, gather your supplies, a black candle, Black Goddess oil, a censer, Black Goddess incense, and a black stone of your choice. Options include jet, onyx, hematite, black tourmaline or obsidian.

Open your circle in the usual manner, after purifiying your ritual space and by calling the elementals of each direction. I like using Moon Magick's Purification incense or a nice sage smudge stick to cense my space, moving clockwise. However, on the Dark of the Moon, I prefer to move counterclockwise, to mimic the underworld movements. Go with what feels right to you, however. Leave little to no light on, just allowing the light from the flame to illuminate your ritual space.

After casting your circle, invoke the Goddess, this time in her Crone phase. You can use some of the terrific invocations out there or create your own. I would use these or similar words, "Maiden of the Shadows, Great Mother of the Darkness, Wise Crone of the Underworld, I call to you! Enter this sacred circle and grant me the vision to peer into the Dark. Guide me into the Mysteries and give me the wisdom of my own abyss. Be here now!"

Anoint your black candle with Black Goddess oil, applying the oil from wick to tip, and focus yourself to receieve any insights this powerful Goddess will offer. Keep open and clear, as the messages can be cloaked in symbolism. This is a great time to use any divination technique, such as mirror scrying or tarot, or guided meditation. Light your incense as an offering to Her, the Dark Goddess. You may want to chant or simply remain quiet. Again, do what feels appropriate. Take your black stone and draw the energy of the Dark Goddess into it, visualing the candle flame as the source of wisdom in the dark, bringing Her qualities into the stone. Carry the stone with you to continue to receive Her knowledge.

After you have receieved your meditations, thank the Dark Goddess for Her wise counsel and for revealing Her Mysteries to you. It is appropriate to leave an offering for Her. If indoors, after your ritual, take the offering outside. Wine, fruit, especially pomegranates or apples, and other Goddess treats are wonderful offerings to Her. Close the circle in the usual manner and ground as needed.