"In us is also a dark angel (Hekate was also called angelos), a consciousness (she was also called phosphoros) that shines in the dark and witnesses such events because it is already aware of them a priori.........Part of us is not dragged down but always lives there, as Hekate is partly an underworld Goddess."
The Dream and the Underworld, James Hillman
Hecate is the Crone aspect of the triad Persephone/Demeter/Hecate. Hecate lives at the crossroads between conscious and unconscious, dream and waking. In Greek myth, Hecate alone heard the cries of the naive maiden Kore as she was carried by Hades into the underworld. It was Hecate who bore a torch for Kore as she evolved into the mature Persephone, Queen of the dead, and also Queen of life's rebirth in the Spring. Hecate is the guide of souls through deep, unfathomable places of the psyche, the initiatory journey into mature womanhood through psychic realms previously untravelled. When the time is ripe, Hecate stands quietly at the threshold, unseen until She hears the soul-cry of those who ask Her to light the way.
Hecate was my guide as I traveled through the tunnel of menopause, my appointed time to do my "shadow work". At menopause I entered a profound depression. I was forced to plunge into recesses of my life history I hadn't begun to negotiate. What I felt, in essence, was deep emotional shame. All of my internalized stories of being a victim arose for examination. And I was also forced to examine the side that is a tyrant, that always insists on having it's own immature way.
I remember lighting a candle each day to symbolize my daily commitment to my journey through the despair I felt. I carried that candle with me, and when I felt lost, I relit it. That's Hecate to me. She will not help you to avoid a thing, but She will bear a light for you on the path, the path to mature empowerment. "It's time", She says, "to know the inside of yourself, to know all that is there". I believe that at certain passages in our lives, our souls cry "I want to get rid of this, I want to move on". And it's not easy.
"Go down into it" my counselor would tell me, "bring it up and let's look at it". That's Hecate country. I remember a visualization I did while in therapy. She had me look behind a curtain, and what I saw was an emaciated, unloved creature. I was given the opportunity to "meet" a part of myself that symbolized the inner voice that daily recited a litany that went something like this: "I can't do this right, I can't do that".......I had to meet this sad, frightened creature and open my heart to her. Now, I recognize that persona when I'm driven by unconscious fear. I can determine to bring her into the whole circle of who I am.
We see the mythos of Hecate as dark, and scary. But that comes from a culture that denies aging, the so-called shadow side of life. We are preoccupied with youthfulness, which translates as a childish self-absorption that insists "I will do what I want to do, when I want to do it".....regardless of the consequences to ourselves, our communities, to our world. Shadow work is about soul retrieval. I had to become a mature, empowered woman at menopause, and so, whether I understood it or not, I had begun to bring home parts of myself that were lost. Unexamined childhood wounds, so many "underworld" storylines. That meant going inside to meet the ugly, the uncomfortable. Hecate was the force guiding me through the hard times. W hen I performed Hecate, I was doing it to thank Her.
The Dark Goddess is about learning genuine compassion, full circle compassion. It's so much easier now for me to recognize what is going on with others, because I can see into the once opaque depths of myself. We speak of women who've gone through menopause as being "more in their power". This is because the other side of disintegration is the retrieval of enormous reservoirs of energy. We're asked to clean out the book of our lives, so we can become guides for those who will follow us. To become our Hecate selves.
A MEMOIR: THE DARK GODDESS
As we approached 2000, we wanted to create a ritual for the past millennium. To remember the loss of so many indigenous people, the world wars, the enormous destruction within the past century. Three components were important to us: to invoke the Dark Goddess, and we wanted a soldier with his sword, which was to be ritually cleansed. The sword would symbolically become Excalibur, transformed from the profane into something holy.
We had invoked the Dark Goddess, I was to play the role, and She began to work with us. I was beginning to stir a cauldron within, stirring unconscious memories of so many horrific historical events, preparing to put them into the cauldron to become transformed. I was sleepless for days. I bought a black fabric veil, and wore it during rehearsals, and my veil became a way to "put the Goddess on", physically and psychically.
One day, I had a profound emotional experience before my altar. I truly felt the desire of the Goddess to return to the world, to come back as a living presence in our lives. And I felt so much grief. I invited my friend to help me re-work the script. I knew she needed to sit with me before the altar in order to understand what I was feeling. We sat beneath the veil together, and prayed. And we both felt a presence with us, communicating so much sadness, the weight of deep disappointment, and overwhelming compassion for our ignorance.
When I walked into the circle we made, She was with me. My actions were spontaneous, acting to heal the forces of modernity that left their mark on our small town as well, a corporate entity that had poisoned our ground water by dumping chromium. This also went into our cauldron, the greed, the continuing waste of life. What happened was a true ceremonial healing that had little to do with me, Anne Weller. We symbolically created, in our small way, a ritual for the entire planet, for the future. The Dark Goddess was with us because She wanted to be there: we ourselves became Her cauldron of transformation.
The aftermath was equally life changing. For days afterwards I was abrupt with others, impersonal. I recognize now that is also what the Dark Goddess is as She manifested through me. She isn't "nice". Her work is beyond that. She serves the future. Her work is true compassion and evolution in its fullest sense. The Dark Goddess, who is found in many cultures by many names, is not aspected lightly. Working with Her calls forth one's internal capacity for psychic empowerment, a transformative energy not easy for our limited personalities to encompass. I found myself confronting uncomfortable questions, wanting to slide away when it brought my own way of being to the surface. In Buddhist art, a cobra is depicted rising over the head of the seeker. I felt ridden by the Dark Goddess. The small "me' was beneath the cobra. The work was larger than my concerns, and impersonal. I was a brief vessel for an immense archetypal intelligence manifesting itself within the ritual drama we created.
And yet, embodying the Dark Goddess did bring tremendous personal change. You can't work with sacred theatre and not be changed in some way. Perhaps the most obvious was understanding the ways I had always been a "nice girl", and how it had disempowered me. Like so many women, I've been complacent, and given myself away over and over to "liked". Doing this work forced me to outgrow it. I found myself confronting daily those aspects of myself that were just not useful. Arguments arose, things fell apart. I was being re-constructed, whether I was aware of it or not, to better serve Her. Which, of course, meant better serving myself. That's how I look at it. The little overlay of how I lived my life, of how I imagined myself, which had never been very effective, was now utterly obvious to me. My authentic power began to manifest.