Repairing the Dark Goddess within the Heart
By Persephone de Hades
Truly Getting Down to the Work that Needs to be Done
The damage of women comes from thousands of years of not being allowed to fully express their sexuality. Over millennia, this has been taken away from women. As we are starting to remove the ugly masks from the demonized and outcast Goddesses, we see there is much more work to be done. In modern times, we have physical proof these images live within women, society and the world at large. If we are truly about to resurrect Goddess worship in modern times, we must first face the ugly reality that the damage is deeply embedded and we ALL play a part in its continued existence, whether consciously or unconsciously.
With Lilith we see how her role as votaress for ancient sex rites in the Middle East was turned into the classic image of the sexy, dangerous vamp. Today, sex-workers, both men and women, are considered an evil and scary part of our society. Yet American culture projects this very thing through ads, TV shows, movies, and other media. The people who embody Lilith's physical work are feared, castrated and less protected than others. In addition, it's more likely for a woman to be incarcerated for prostitution than it is for a man. [i] On a more personal level, Lilith is that aspect of equality we cry for. When a woman does decry unfairness, she is cast away or leaves before experiencing the outcome of a situation. This situation can apply to any relationship, where the masculine and feminine are present, not just heterosexual affairs.
Mary Magdalene's role as a favored disciple and the undeniable historical evidence that links her to priestess work has been diminished by the Catholic Church in an effort to make Peter Yeshua's most blessed. Thus leading to women's spiritual roles as meaning nothing and considered unneeded. Her misinterpretation in the role of Christianity has led to the misconception of her being a prostitute among other assumed, negative female roles.
Medusa's Greek ideal lives in the hearts of our own blood sisters, such as the case with mine. Medusa not only represents negative feminine stereotypes but her hated and terrible form also manifests itself through actual women living out this patriarchal fear. Medusa is that aspect embedded within the hearts of women and the frightening imaginations of men - where it is seen a necessity to cut off her head from behind. Whether it means keeping secrets from a woman, silencing her during an argument or actually murdering her - among a plethora of other possibilities - men take on the Perseus role without even thinking. Demetra George explains it best:
"Men who have not made peace with Medusa in themselves will see feminine sexuality as something that fascinates them, but also the source of their self-undoing. As they try to protect themselves against its frightening power by destroying the monster, they unconsciously incite the Medusa woman in their lives to retaliate by castrating them physically and psychologically. For many of us direct confrontation with this aspect of our being, often unknown and unnamed as it hides in the dark caverns of our psyche, can overwhelm and immobilize us with its raw intensity.
And yet a man who desires a positive relationship to women's dark moon sexuality must make the descent into his unconscious, listen to the wailing agony of his decapitated Medusa, reach out in sympathy to her pain, heal the wounds of her rejection, and return whole-within-himself to the upper world. After the hero has proved his separation from his mother, he must reestablish a loving relationship to his inner dark feminine. Until he can do this he will remain trapped in the web of destructive sexual relationships."
In heterosexuality, men who hold an utter fascination with women's bodies are the same men who hold a cross up in terror when the object of their desire "freaks out." They begin to label them and start to assume a woman's next actions in addition to predicting their reactions to certain situations. This causes men to withhold themselves from the woman, thus furthering her despair and longing. A negative cycle has begun or perhaps it is continued. I don't remember who said this, but it solidified something within my heart when I heard it, "If a man claims to know a woman's mind, he knows nothing at all." I can't describe enough how true this is. I don't know how this would be for other kinds of sexualities, but if you apply the masculine image and the feminine role, I'm almost certain similar results occur.
These Goddesses also project that aspect from which we castrate ourselves, in fear of facing reality or in being afraid of understanding the darkness presented to us. In rage and aberration, Lilith was forced to marry Adam and then torn from her duties to Innana/Ishtar. Mary Magdalene's spiritual role was taken from her and her name defamed as a prostitute. Medusa is likewise cut off from Athena, who insists on Medusa's head for her Aegis. Not only do these stories describe a tear between the relations of women but also how women are robbed of who they are and what they want to express themselves to be.
Women have a love/hate relationship between each other, at least in our society. There's this catty attitude and a thirst for competition, particularly over money and men, which is unexplainable and quite despicable to me. This is the essence of jealousy...someone having something someone else wants because that person cannot find the strength within themselves to appreciate what they have in their own life. Because we are not taught that each person (woman or man) is precious in their own right in addition to social guidelines to adhere and conform to, most grow up with depression issues, psychological and emotional problems and, some, end up with eating disorders.
The one commonality between all these goddesses is the prominence they held at the height of their ancient, revering societies. Lilith was the high priestess and Mary Magdalene was a lady of such stature. Medusa was the Ultimate Great Mother who beheld the mysteries and magical power Lilith and the Magdalene ministered. Their high office ensured the balance of nature, was the hub of the community and permitted the feminine on an equal and reasonable footing with the masculine.
Within the sacred sex rites that we know Lilith, Mary Magdalene and Medusa to be associated with, a woman's menstruation or moontime was an important part of the process. Today, menstrual blood is not seen as sacred and valued. Women are told to put something in their underwear and just continue their lives as if nothing's going on. We're taught to deny our intuitions and, in this kind of alienation, we deny ourselves of the connection with our innermost self.
How do we heal such negativities? Lilith's statement of freedom and independence was supposedly a warning to women if they tried to exercise such beliefs. They would be castrated from their societies and labeled as a whore. Mary Magdalene's vision, I believe, is the reason why the Catholic Church doesn't allow women to be leaders as well as deeming visions heathen work. Additionally, the Church will most certainly consider marriage for priests before they let women become leaders. What about Medusa's hated image? She was the leader of a group of forceful, powerful, military-type women who were overwrought with patriarchal conquest. The patriarchy's projected image of the terrible, bitchy woman is something with which to contend.
This deep, dark sexuality represented in the ancient sex rites of the Middle East and procured through magick of a woman's intellect and body gave men the right to rule. Through these unions, if a child was born, it meant abundance for everyone. But since monotheism has separated the sacred from sexuality and claim rights to women as property, the image of the divine feminine is distorted, feared and rejected. It's happened for so long that it seems a hopeless fix.
Where there's a desire to succeed, the way will be presented; however, it would take a lot of effort on the part of everyone. The way to start is within the self. We must take each of these Goddess archetypes and turn them inward. We must question ourselves and relate ourselves to each of these and where our roles lie within the myths in any given situation. Are we Medusa embodying the patriarchal version of her form, denying the mysteries of the feminine for a lack in hope of anything else? Are we Lilith, immediately fleeing when we don't get our way or assuming we won't be accepted by others and leave? Are we Mary Magdalene? Speaking up for our intuitions and visions, only to get knocked down because of others jealousy and criticism? Or what about our own sense of greed and envy? What do we fear so badly that it prevents us from positively moving forward? What part of ourselves are we rejecting? Evaluations of this kind are pertinent to release the fear we clench in our guts. Coming to terms with our shadowy sides means understanding who the Dark Mother really is.
The Dark Mother represents our worst nightmares, fears, anxieties, worries and phobias. She is a reflection of our hidden desires, an ugly form that represents the other half of who we are. She is that part of ourselves who we dread, capable of committing just as much ill as we can good. True integration of this within ourselves, our psyches and our rationale will guide us to not being scared. Releasing trepidation means there's nothing to fear, not even death.
[i] Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault - http://www.icasa.org/uploads/prostitution.pdf [Accessed: 25 August 2005]
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About The Author
Persephone de Hades
Editor/Owner of the Goddess Quarterly Ezine. Seeking to unite the divine feminine within everyone who chooses to accept Her existence.