RITUAL: GAZING INTO THE MIRROR
The intention of this ritual is to meet the Dark Goddess.
Time: One hour
You will need: A hand mirror, or if unavailable, a wall mirror
Journal, or paper and pen.
Maybe you think of the Dark Goddess as a source of power, inspiration or of change. Many women feel they have a special dedication, or belonging to the Dark Goddess. You may feel you were born with this; or that you chose it; that you have always known it or you are just now coming to understand it. You may feel that the Dark Goddess has overwhelmed your life, or directed you along particular paths you no longer wish to take.
Although the Dark Goddess can be understood as any (or all) of the actual, named Goddesses who are associated with the Underworld of different cultures, she can also be understood as a force of nature and of life. We usually experience her as external to ourselves. Many of our experiences of Descent resemble being dragged, protestingly, away from our normal life by events and circumstances beyond our control. Confronting the Dark Goddess feels very like facing the frightening witch all the fairy stories warn against; like the demons and monsters of our imagination.
The Dark Goddess is not at all like us; in short, she is scarily other. We have a lot riding on the differentiations. She is scary and we are not; she is angry, or hidden or implacable or in agony and we are not. She is powerful and we… Somewhere the separation starts to fall apart, as we begin to admit well, sometimes we are like that. Even, we might want to be like that, or at least borrow some of her qualities. We might even concede that our view of her could be distorted. But still we are viewing her as external to ourselves. If we cannot find the Dark Goddess in our own eyes, looking back out of the mirror at us, we will not be able to see her truth anywhere else. Recognizing her within yourself is a further step towards bringing a balance between the light and the dark, and towards integrating your Underworld experience. It is this knowledge that she is within us, as well as outside us that enables us to integrate her gifts and her energy, and so complete our return from the Underworld.
- Choose a way to create sacred space for your ritual; by casting a circle, lighting a candle on your altar, speaking aloud a prayer or invocation to the Dark Goddess or some other method.
- Write down a list of the areas of your own life that fall within the realms of the Dark Goddess. You might include such things as sleep, night, dreams, healing, mystery, the unknown, initiation, birth, death, renewal. There may also be more personal areas that you consider fall within the realm of the Dark Goddess; your creativity, your empathy or your psychic abilities. If you are not entirely sure of some, you can mark those items with a question mark, or have a different list for them.
- In a sentence or two sum up your relationship to the Dark Goddess. You might want to use words such as initiate, acolyte or priestess; or you might describe your relationship with her as unknown; frightening; compelling or repugnant. Add a sentence on what you would like your relationship to become; maybe one of greater understanding, respect or recognition.
- If you have a strong association with one or more of the named Dark Goddesses – such as Ereshkigal, Persephone, Hecate, Morgan le Fay, the Black Madonna – write her name, or their names down. For each name you’ve written, list a few main points that you associate with this aspect of the Dark Goddess.
- Choose one of your named Dark Goddesses, or if you did not have any, work with the Dark Goddess herself, and make a drawing of her energy. It need not be a figurative drawing – it can be purely color and shape. Find a way of expressing your awareness of her that is not in words. After you’ve finished the drawing, look at it again. Does it show you anything more about the Dark Goddess, or your relationship to her? If you learn something new, make a note of it.
- Spend a few moments settling and becoming aware of your breathing. Slow your individual breaths down, and become aware of their rhythms. Think of regularizing your breathing, so that each in-breath and out-breath are of similar length, with pauses between each one. You can count to assist yourself; six beats for an in breath; two before you start to breathe in; six beats for the out breath and a further two before you begin to breathe in again. You can visualize the breath entering and leaving your body; some people imagine it as a particular color or density. If you are tense or distracted now is the time you will notice it most, as you may have to struggle to keep your attention on your breath. If your mind wanders, or your breath speeds up or becomes irregular, bring your attention gently back to it.
- When your breathing is calm and regular pick up your hand mirror (or move to the wall mirror). Gaze into the mirror, allowing your focus to soften and even blur. If you find yourself examining your face (checking your make up or finding little imperfections) close your eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Seek to still your mind, and reach within yourself for a feeling of quiet. Then try the gaze again.
- Once you have a soft-focus gaze, begin to look into your own eyes. Imagine you are seeing into the depths of them. Notice all the little details; flecks of color, the changing width of your pupils, the absolute particularities of your eyes. You can choose one eye to focus on, if you find that easier.
- Begin to seek the Dark Goddess within the depths of your eyes. Dive into the darkness there, sense it expand and begin to reveal hints of its secrets. Ask to see her. Sometimes you will catch a flash of something that feels greater than yourself; some people have a vision of something completely beyond themselves and others may just have a sense of something stirring – or hidden – or see nothing at all. Persist, even if you see nothing.
- If you do see, or sense the Dark Goddess in your eyes, you may choose to ask her a question, or tell her something. Even if you do not see or sense her, you may still do this, and see your own eyes reflecting back to you. You may choose just to sit in silence and regard her, or regard what part of herself she has revealed. If you do not see anything special, it may be that the very blackness and hiddenness is showing you something of your relationship towards the Dark Goddess. Spend about ten minutes gazing into the mirror.
- To conclude the ritual, write some notes about what happened for you; or if you prefer, make another drawing.
- Ground and complete your ritual by undoing any steps you took to create a sacred space. Ground your circle, speak a prayer of thanksgiving to the Dark Goddess, blow out the candle on your altar or do whatever else is appropriate to conclude your ritual.