The first time I remember meeting her I was around nine years old. I sat in the narrow hallway on the landing of the stairs and a rush of overpowering emotion came pouring through me. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. My fingers curled into fists grasping at the emptiness in my palms. My body heaved and shook with each wave. The sadness I felt was beyond anything I could make sense of and there was no stopping the flood.
She descended through me with her grief in this way regularly for a couple of years. In my early adolescence she brought her rage that turned into aggression and sometimes cutting my arms just for relief. At some point I learned to tame her. I pushed her down and covered her with a heavy lid. She would show up in flashes through my poetry, political activism and in the grief of my early 20’s after the sudden death of my first love. When glimpses of her emerged I would inevitably shut her down and push her out.
She has been called crazy, evil, depressed, angry, “too much” and she is the dark goddess of me. This one of me feels everything DEEPLY. She has become my ally, my muse, my ecstasy and the devastating kind of falling in love that breaks my heart open.
I now know that the 9 year old girl that was so sad was an empath feeling the grief of the world. The teenager that cut herself didn’t have any resources for digesting and expressing the enraging injustices she both witnessed and experienced. The dark goddess had no context. She was told both implicitly and explicitly to hide.
As I’ve moved into relationship with the dark goddess of me and learned to dance with her she’s become one voice in the integrated expression of my wholeness as a woman. She comes to invoke a shift in perspective. She comes to shake me down to my beautifully messy primal nature. To remind me that I am at once human and holy. She shows me surrender and teaches me flow. She draws me into the mysterious and the imaginal. She bears the gifts of the moments in life that show up to reshape me.
Every woman has a dark goddess (although you might choose to name it something else). She is a force of nature—as are her wild emotions. She lives in the liminal realms of dreams, creative inspiration and sexual arousal. She exists in spaces of transition and release—menstruation, pregnancy release (birth, abortion, miscarriage), the postpartum and peri-menopause. She has long been culturally exiled with these female taboos.
As we move into the season of autumn, the water element, the time of waning daylight and life on earth moving underground, we enter the territory of the dark goddess. This is a great time to get curious about this aspect of yourself and perhaps apprentice to it. The dark goddess teaches us emotional intelligence—the ability to authentically meet and be with our emotions as the great forces of nature that they are and to allow them to flow through us.
She is the medicine for the caretaker, the perfectionist and the people pleaser of you—the ones of you that desperately try to hold it all together, that feel obligated to smile and say everything is great even though you are having a really hard time. The ones of you that put everyone else’s needs and emotions ahead of your own. And the one of you that has turned away from these great powers within you. She is the medicine for the victim of you. The helpless one that feels that life is happening to you. The one of you that displaces your agency onto others and outer circumstances.
When you turn toward the dark goddess you say yes to the powerful life force that is moving through you and by you. When you choose to surrender to the difficult spaces and the moments of coming undone, the dark goddess supports you in integrating parts that have been previously fractured and you become more of who you truly are.
The dark goddess is just one of many flavors and expressions of you, yet it is one many of us are uncomfortable with. To walk with the dark goddess is to enter the wilderness and walk the edges between worlds. This place calls upon our instinct and intuition, rather than our strategic minds, to survive. She reminds us that all parts of our womanhood are sacred—especially the one’s deemed messy and “out of control” with blood, fluids, big energies and their own unpredictable timing—menstruation, pregnancy release (childbirth, abortion, miscarriage), the postpartum and peri-menopause. She teaches us that these are the thresholds of change and how to slow down and become spacious to fully receive their offerings.
If you are drawn to this work, we will be bringing light to these cultural shadows in our next Artemis School module, Nurture, as we explore women’s sexual wellness through the passage of the postpartum and how to support moms and others in physical, emotional and sexual well being within all the great changes of their lifetime. This intimate and nourishing retreat style training is in Ojai, CA October 17-23, 2017 (early bird thru Sept 9!). This will be the last Artemis School module in this current format as I go on sabbatical next year to work more deeply with our existing community of graduates and to envision a larger offering of this work. The dark goddess guided me in creating this space as she creates out of the void.
Go slow and with respect into this territory, as it is still widely unknown, you have likely not had modeling for navigating the dark spaces with grace. We are collectively bringing the dark goddess back to earth, she is waking up in each of us after thousands of years of exile. For me it has been essential to have outside support and mentorship at times. The place to begin is with a simple intention to learn from her. She comes in the spaces of being rather than doing.