ONE OF THE THINGS I love about October/November, is that the Dark Goddess becomes so evident. She has literally been whitewashed by modern society and we fear her more than we embrace her.
It’s part of my life’s mission to change this.
And at this time of year? The Dark Goddess rules. Think Demeter, roaming the earth and mourning her daughter Persephone’s descent into the Underworld. Think about the Autumn season of your menstrual cycle (PMS season) and the destruction, rage and clarity that comes with that time. Think about the pseudo-death your body goes through to give birth to another life during labor.
All of this belongs to the Dark Goddess.
And so today I just want to go over a few of the most prevalent images of this time of year and tell you how it is evidence of the Dark Goddess. She goes by many, many, names: Kali, The Black Madonna, Isis, Inanna, Mary Magdalene, Artemis . . . Guadalupe.
One of the reasons black cats are considered unlucky and are also a symbol of Halloween is because black cats also belong to the Dark Goddess. The Norse goddess Freyja, is an aspect of the Dark Goddess and her chariot is traditionally pulled by thirteen black cats. Incidentally, Freyja is also the name sake for Friday (Freyja’s Day). Are light bulbs going off yet? Black Cats. 13. Friday. Dark Goddess.
Freyja is also goddess of the afterlife, sex, fertility and beauty. All beautiful and destructively powerful, feminine, things that you won’t catch the whitewashed Mother Mary of any Catholic church touching.
Witches also belong to the Dark Goddess. Like virgin, a witch originally was just a self-knowledgeable woman who held her own, could likely heal, and kept close ties to the earth. The term began to condemn women to death and was assigned to ugly old women who had nothing else going for them but an obsession on power/beauty/trickery.
On one end of the spectrum, you have “virgin” which used to mean a woman who was her own woman. She didn’t belong or answer to a man. Now that word is used to keep young women in check and to control their power and sexuality. On the other end of the spectrum you have “witch” which also used to mean that a woman was in her own power. She may be married now, but she knows things. She is needed by her community. But now that word is used to keep old women in check and to control their power and sexuality, by taking it away, just like it has been taken away from “virgins.”
So. Where does that leave the mother? We’ve demonized and marginalized the maidens and the crones, but what of the mothers?
I can talk about this at great length (and soon, I will), but one way the aspect of the Divine Feminine (and us women) that is associated with the mother has been demonized is in the commercialization of this time of year. Halloween, Day of the Dead (less so, but still), Thanksgiving, Christmas. All of these holy-days have their roots in honoring life and death. In honoring our ancestors, that is, the mothers who have come before us. Instead, death, and the Dark Goddess, has been completely removed from this time of year and from motherhood. And let me tell you, I die and am reborn daily as a mother.
Marigolds and Sweet Breads
For those of you who celebrate Day of the Dead, or who are interested in celebrating it, one of the main symbols associated with Day of the Dead is the Mexican Marigold, a round golden flower. It symbolizes grief and rebirth but it’s also the flower of Our Lady of Guadalupe, known as the Black Madonna of the Americas (a Dark Goddess). Our Lady of Guadalupe is actually the Aztec earth goddess, Tonantzin. She appeared to Juan Diego on the ruins of the temple to Tonantzin and was appropriated into the Spanish Catholic church as Guadalupe. Marigolds also belong to Tonantzin. Leaving Marigolds on altars and grave sites is not only an act of remembrance for departed loved ones, but also an act of honor for the earth goddess/mother earth and a gift of gratitude for taking the bodies of our loved ones.
It’s tradition during Samhain to offer the poor soul cakes in exchange for prayers for our departed loved ones, and during Day of the Dead, pan de muertos (bread for the dead) is left on altars as an offering for departed loved ones.
In ancient Greece, as well as other ancient cultures, it was tradition for little cakes, often in the shape of breasts, to be left at the temple of Aphrodite, goddess of love. It is believed that this custom is one of the origins of today’s wedding cake. I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to suppose that the tradition of soul cakes and pan de muertos are similar offerings for the goddess of death and rebirth– the Dark Goddess and Aphrodite’s opposite. Where Aphrodite rules falling in love and Spring, the Dark Goddess rules sex (remember, orgasms are called “A little death” in French), death and Autumn.
I for one, am making soul cakes to hand out this Halloween and I’ll be leaving some out for my ancestors and for Costa Rica’s Black Madonna/Dark Goddess. If you’re fortunate enough to have a Mexican bakery (panaderia) nearby, you can effortlessly stock up on pan de muertos (it is delicious!) or with a little patience– it requires yeast and waiting for the bread to rise– you can make your own.
So, this coming week in the midst of all of spooks and jack-o-lanterns, take a moment to breathe in the Dark Goddess. Take a moment to honor your own Dark Feminine. You know her well, you’ve just been taught to push her away or wonder at what was “wrong” with you. Spread marigolds like rose petals and leave offerings of sweet cakes and bread– and don’t forget to eat a little of it yourself!
If you’re interested in learning more about the Dark Goddess in the 21st century, stay tuned. I’ve got something amazing up my sleeve for the new year.
And don’t forget to check out the other parts of the Your Guide To The Thinning Of The Veil series!
Happy New Moon in Scorpio!