Tag Archives: erishgikal

Winter Solstice – A Time for Reflection

Persephone, painting by Judith ShawIn the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, usually December 21,  heralds both the time of deepest darkness and the beginning of the return to light.  It is a liminal day offering a transformation from darkness to light.

In the mid-latitudes in the ten days after the winter solstice the hours of sunlight increase by only a few seconds up to a minute or so.  The world slows down allowing a time to relish the quiet of long nights and the inspiration of winter dreams.

One of the most well known stories about the transformative nature of this time of darkness is the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter, Earth Goddess of Grain had a daughter, Persephone.  Persephone lived in the golden glow of her Mother’s love and protection.

But like all youth she was compelled by curiosity and divine force to begin a journey of completion.  Persephone was walking in a meadow one day and she saw the beautiful narcissus flower – the flower of death. As she reached down to pick the flower, the earth split open, releasing Hades, the Lord of the Underworld. Hades then took Persephone, willingly or otherwise, in a Spiral Dance into the shadows of the underworld.

Read my full essay on Winter Solstice, Persephone and two other Goddesses in their dark aspect, Inanna and the Cailleach on the Feminism and Religion Blog. Click here.

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Reflections on Darkness and the Light

Last Sunday was a gorgeous day here in Albuquerque.  So with a huge case of spring fever I took a long bike ride along the Rio Grande.  There’s a spot on the trail which meets a large street, so the bikers and hikers go under the road and thru a tunnel.  As I coasted down the trail, reveling in the breeze and the sun, I noticed the huge change when I entered the tunnel.  All of a sudden I was in darkness and, though it was cool and refreshing, the bright light and colors shining through at the other end drew me on.   It seemed like such a physical reminder, a metaphor for the lightness and darkness we experience in life.

Light and dark are the original pair in the duality of this physical world.  “And God said , ‘Let there be light.’”  We fear the darkness and yearn for the light.  But the two forces work together, creating the tension of our universe of duality, creating the experiences necessary for growth.  All of this is created by the One Source from which we come.

Timing is a very important part in the dance of life.  Spring, follows winter; birth leads to death and back to rebirth; difficult, dark periods of life lead to revelations and transformations.  The light and the dark forces move together in the world, regulating and holding the timing of life events .

Many ancient Goddesses are known at “dark Goddesses”.  These Goddesses, such as the Indian Kali Ma, the Irish Morrigan, the Sumerian Erishgikal,  and the Greek Hekate represent the forces of death, destruction, war and chaos.

In recent decades there has been a resurrgence of interest in the Black Madonna, the Christian version of the dark Goddess.  The Black Madonna calls us to embrace the darkness.  The rational western world created by the “Enlightenment” is one which has feared the darkness.  But before the light was the dark.  The ground of our souls is in the darkness, the deep well from which we spring forth, the dark womb which precedes life.  To avoid the darkness is to avoid the essence of who we are, condemning us to a superficial life.  Andrew Harvey says, “The Black Madonna is the transcendent Kali-Mother, the black womb of light out of which all of the worlds are always arising and into which they fall, the presence behind all things, the darkness of love and the loving unknowing into which the child of the Mother goes when his or her illumination is perfect.”  She is, “ “the blackness of divine mystery”.

The Black Madonna and all the dark Goddesses help us to honor the Earth and all the physicality inherent in the Earth.  The Dark Goddess helps us to understand that all endings lead to new beginnings.  She helps us to maintain a balance between the desire for transendence and a recognition of the beauty of this physical life.  Like the lotus whose roots spread out in the dark mud and whose flower blossoms beautifully into the light, the human experience must embrace the dark and the light in order to be whole.

Here’s a quick drawing I did after my bike ride which sparked these thoughts on darkness and light.  If you know any interesting links that show artwork dealing with light and dark

The Light Draws Me On

The Light Draws Me On

please post them in the comment area.   Thanks!