Earlier this year I got The Dark Goddess tarot deck by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince and I've been drawing one card a day from the deck to get to know them better.
Something that fascinates me about gods and goddesses is the outsized humanity inherent in their divinity and power. Jealous, and spiteful, petty, quick to anger and revenge, moody, whimsical, vulnerable, vain, reckless, healing, opaque, selfish, generous. The depths of their sorrow, the heights of their joy, the power available to them – all are so grandiose as to be unfathomable but still so enticing in their scope. Like – if we can just imagine it, put words to it, build myths around it, maybe we can reach it, maybe we can transcend our own pathetic yearnings.
Gods and goddesses aren’t perfect, though. Not the ones I like, anyway. They're messy, they make so many mistakes and kick up all sorts of trouble they don't own up to, that they often don't ever fix, don't ever have to fix. Trouble they never really suffer from. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite get sent a golden apple by Eris (a goddess whose whole thing is stirring up shit) and throw down about who is most beautiful to see who gets the apple. Some hapless shepherd gets pulled in to all this. A mortal man! Asked to judge the beauty of goddesses. No one has anything better to do. He picks Aphrodite because of his boner. To thank his boner, she makes the most beautiful mortal woman, who is already married to a powerful king, fall in love with him, and this starts a war that ruins thousands. Not Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, and Eris though. They lose nothing. They suffer nothing. They continue.
A dark goddess does not owe you shit. A dark goddess takes power from worship, but a dark goddess holds power even when she is forgotten. She endures disgust, betrayal, fear, and she remembers. If a dark goddess deigns to answer your call, she will not play by any rules but her own. What she gives may not always be what you want. A dark goddess has whims and demands, and her wrath may be punishing when these aren't fulfilled. A dark goddess takes, a dark goddess gets hers.
The Dark Goddess tarot cards are beautiful, but I love most the goddesses' ugliness, how they exist, without apology, in their own gaze and the gaze of their admirers. I like their murderousness and rage (Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet's blood-lust nearly destroys humanity and is only stopped by extreme drunkenness), the things they grow without intention (Cailleach, the Scottish Goddess of Winter, created the hills and mountains of Scotland by dropping rocks from her wicker basket as she walked), they way they inhabit pain (Dhumavati is the Hindu Widow Goddess, and the sentence describing her in the little white book is What appears unlucky becomes something sacred). They do not care if their words aren’t pretty to hear (Blue Dakini, Tibetan Goddess of the Knife, says: If it is not real and true, sever the ties).
I love the self-possession of dark goddesses in the same way I love the compulsion, the naked desire and want within humans that makes us create and look to deities in the first place. Me, but stronger. Me, but wiser. Me, without all my human weaknesses. Me, with everything I wish I had. Me, and everything I wish I could be. That's the real power of a dark goddess. The power is everything we give her of ourselves. That power contains our best and worst, our broken splinters, our hearts of mud. The dark goddesses are everything we want to be; they are us and everything we already are.
Because I was writing this, I pulled three new cards I'd never met before.
Priestess: The Pythia, Delphic Oracle of the Gods. From dissolution comes awareness.
Corruption: Tlazolteotl, Aztec Goddess of Filth and Purification. Disease is cruel but not irredeemable.
Hag of Earth: She Who Watches, Chinook Stone Chief. Remember history or more will be lost.
My quick notes:
Dealing with truth and time is not easy; they are unwieldy shapes but they must be wielded and carried nevertheless.
Where do you feel sick? Where do you feel your health is low? Do you consider yourself unclean? What do you consider whole and what do you consider lacking in your life? What part of yourself negates your own value, and how can you suck out poison when you’re the one feeding it to yourself?
The gift on the other side of truth is simply truth. The gift on the other side of time is simply its passing. Hold on to whatever knowledge you can, help others remember. What can you pass on that will survive this moment?