If I command the moon it will come down
And if I wish to withhold the day
Night will linger over my head
If I wish to embark on the sea
I need no ship
And if I wish to fly through the air
I am freed from my weight
- Ancient Greek Papyrus
She is acknowledged, and worshipped in many contemporary cultures, by diverse names and in many aspects. She is the Goddess - counterpart to the God, and equally important to spiritual balance in today's world.
The first association made with the word "Goddess" is usually the images of primitive fertility goddesses, which are found scattered over Europe, images which are thought to be among the first representations of the divine known to humankind. In searching for Her we undertake a journey into that part of our own psyche, which resonates to the call of the wise.
However, She is not only the inspiration of dead civilizations, nor an historical curiosity - seeking the Goddess is not a reversion to the primitive, but rather an identification with a multi-faceted symbol. She means many different things to those who choose Her as artistic patron, or as inspiration for their creative work and spirituality.
If we are inspired by myth, we are drawn to examine the roles of men and women in the society, which gave rise to the myth. Among the earliest cultures, images of fertile women and of the hunt were crafted in stone and clay, in ochre painted on cave walls and carved into the rock. They are representations of two human needs - children to increase the tribe and food to sustain it - arguably the oldest representations of deity. The images are important in their own right, for beyond the necessity for water, food Shelter and companionship, these early people sought to express their concept of forces in nature, which shaped their lives. Like all good art, it crosses cultural barriers and evokes feelings, which are relevant today, because we are still connected to the same human needs.
Today, priestesses and priests of the Goddess add their knowledge of psychology to the experience of history, to create a new worship from an ancient wisdom. They celebrate the Goddess in religious rites, yet they also draw parallels between the myths of the Goddess and the phases of human life - just as some people relate to the myth of Persephone in the Rites of Eleusis and perceive that it tells the tale of the Maiden (Persephone), the Mother (Demeter) and the Crone (Hekate).
A triumvirate of maiden, mother and crone is, in modern paganism, related to the phases of the moon, corresponding to first crescent, full moon, waning moon and dark moon. The process of birth through growth, maturity, aging and death is also connected to the aspects of the goddess, though the aspects are called by many diverse names from as many different pantheons.
In dreams, the Maiden often represents the potential self, the person we are becoming, and a possibility not yet real. Something has been conceived - a new attitude or idea, the seeds of a poem, an unknown strength, the courage to resist, or create or die.
There is a place within us which contains the Maiden - complete unto ourselves, virgin, we proceed from a willingness to meet every stranger as another deity in disguise. The Kore in Greek Myth can represent the potential within us all. We seek Her power, in the willingness to enter initiation, to abandon perceptions, to enter the realm of the unknown. She is the Maiden who lives in harmony with nature, who is reckless and restless about rules and restrictions. She is the Kore, stolen away by death into the underworld where She undergoes the transformation knowledge brings. She is stolen, dispossessed of Her innocence to become the initiate who is Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.
The knowledge gained in this journey, from child-woman to ruler of the dark mysteries of the underworld, marks a separation from the mother in the individuation process; severed from the complacency of childhood, we face our own decisions and trials. We take risks - sometimes risks that are not wise ones - but all these risks and adventures make us who we will become. We are reminded that a willingness to face our own mortality and effect the transformation of an initiatory experience marks our ability to complete the cycle of personal spiritual growth. The Maiden awakens us to the potential and creative strengths that slumber in the underworld of our own psyche.
The Mother is nurturing, creative and gives of Her substance to the world. She embraces the principles of returning and recycling energy. Through Her, the gifts borne by the Maiden are transformed in the crucible of mature realization.
The Mother can be perceived as our nurturing self, complete, but also a companion. She reaches beyond the singular to contain a multitude of possibilities. She is the relating principle, able to encompass a relationship of equals, to create and to build strength in Herself and others. Giving of Herself, She receives in return the freedom to fill Her cup with new dreams. The Mother has many images - She is the serpent and the butterfly Goddess; She is the deer, the bear, the wolf or the sow and is mistress of the art of transformation. Her association with these creatures is not totemic; She is not a woman with the characteristics and strengths of an animal. Instead, She is the creature or the Goddess. Part of these tales of transformation speaks of metamorphic change, dispossession and the process of alienation. Many myths tell of a Goddess who, in the dark of night, or at certain times, transforms or is transformed by some magic process (not always by choice) into a mythic beast. Her offspring are referred tor as foals, cubs or kids and are more powerful than their (often) mortal fathers in that they have the blood of faerie and the power to transform themselves. These myths are part of our Heritage, where the realm between the worlds exerts its attraction and speaks to us of spiritual truths.
Red is the color of the Mother - blood of birth, of the menstrual flow that Heralds the sea change at puberty and heats the blood in passion. It also represents blood drawn by Her or owed to Her in battle. It is no co-incidence that love Goddesses are often also warrior Goddesses; their language is that of the blood, the water of life. She teaches us that duration and ripening, of ideas and maturity, are important; She emphasizes that we must free our children and ideas to blossom in their own way. Until we have given of ourselves, we cannot either return to the Maiden within and learn things from a new perspective, or move into the realm of the Crone, who is the weaver of dreams.
The Crone is the queen of the shades, dark mistress of the night. She gathers the strands of our realizations and weaves a many-colored tapestry to illustrate our lives. As a midwife and timekeeper, She attends each birth and cuts the cord that binds us to the Mother. She is priestess and seer, weaver of magic and tide, who holds the spindle and measures the thread of our lifespan, weaving it into the web for a certain time and then releasing us to the regeneration of death.
As ruler of the crossroads, She is the giver and taker of gifts. She may grant us everything we desire or withhold it. She may wear all the faces of the Goddess simultaneously and is often portrayed as a serpent with many heads or as a medusa. She is that which we most fear and are most fascinated with - the realm of death. She leads the initiate into the depths of their own renewal in her role as teacher of the mysteries. She is found in the twilight world, as wise women are often portrayed, or on the edge of a forest, a river, and the sea or in an isolated cave. This makes Her a figure of dreams and magic. When we seek Her power within us, we challenge the boundaries of life and are "out on the edge" of reality. Her, the balance is precarious but She teaches us to synthesize realizations from the knowledge we glean from experience of life. Some of Her powers are those of the Fates, the Norns, and the Muses. She is also seen as a spirit of the wind and of wild places where things may be transformed into their opposites. As such, She can as easily change Her form and be seen as a woman of any age She chooses.
She is wanderer and oracle, Herbalist and shape shifter, wild woman of the wilds. She moves between the worlds of humankind and the elder gods freely and without restriction for She is a creature of all places, not just one physical realm. Where the Maiden can be seen as encompassing potential, and the Mother contains all fulfillments, the Crone rejoices in release from ties. Her knowledge of that which binds makes Her the ruler of cord magic and spinning. She apprehends the lessons of past, present and future and leads us into the mysteries of renewal.
A MODERN PRACTICE
The Triple Goddess who manifests as Maiden, Mother and Crone, is one of the forces worshipped in the Old Earth Religion and in modern Paganism and Wicca. She is the creator / preserver / destroyer who interacts with other multi-faceted deities.
We borrow from cultures of the distant past a concept of pattern, an ordered progression of changes within the individual and within society. Whether we perceive the Goddess as the primal female aspect of our own nature or as an aspect of deity; or indeed, as the creative principle of the universe, we can relate to imagery of the Goddess and find reflections of Her cycles in our own bodies. The process of change and growth that occurs in our life is echoed in the myths of the Goddess, from various cultures, which stress connection with nature and cultural rhythms. The theme of the Goddess leads to an examination of the role of deity in our everyday lives and, in turn, an exploration of the inspiration provided by spiritual or religious principles.
Now and again in the world individuals seek personal inspiration from the environment and express that connection through art, music, dance and ritual. We create the fragile strands of a cultural web and call on the many aspects of deity who are part of our spirituality.
The Goddess has many names and is as real to Her Priestesses and Priests today as She was in remote history. We call on the ancient wisdom, on the Lady who has changed Her shape to fit the needs of Earth's children. We worship and celebrate in open fields and groves of trees, in suburban living rooms and city parks, carrying a wild magic in our hearts and a willingness to undergo transformation and challenges in the names of the deities we worship.
The Goddess is once more honored in all Her aspects and finds a place in our hearts and our daily lives. Her power is seen in nature, in the depth of sacred pools and in the pull of the tides of earth and sea. The Mystery lives within us and is known by many names; we all carry Her within us, whatever our gender or age.
As an individual, I am poised between the faces of deity - between the underworld of dreams, myth and creativity on the one hand and the realm of thought, action and self-expression on the other. As priestess and woman I flow along the edge of the blade, a precarious but exhilarating balance - celebrating deity and life.
If I command the moon it will come down