The Goddesses of Samhain
The Charge of the Dark Goddess and the Great Mother
Listen to the words of the Dark Mother, who of old was called Hecate, Nuit, Morrigan, Banba, Erda, Macha, Mother Night, Sekhmet, and many other names:
Whenever you seek wisdom, at the time of the Darkening Moon, come together in love and trust and learn of Me, who am the Wisest of Crones…Ye who search the mysteries of the Earth, the secrets of Air and Darkness, of Blood and Fire, the silence of the uttermost stars, come unto Me, and I shall whisper to you in the depths of midnight.
Ye shall approach Me in silence, and as a sign that ye are free from fear, your breast you shall bare to my blade…for fear has no place in my mysteries, and that which you seek of Me will destroy you if you fear it.
For I am the dolmen arch beyond which stretch the mysteries of infinity. I am the silence before birth and after death. I am the clouded mirror in which you scry your own soul. I am mist in the twilight, the vast and starry sky of midnight, shadows on the Moon.
All things come to Me in the end, and yet I am the beginning of all. I meet you at the crossroads, I lead you through the darkness, my hand you grasp in the passage between the worlds. To those that toy with Me am I an instrument of self-destruction, yet to the true seeker do I bring knowledge beyond mortal comprehension.
Of you shall I demand the utter truth of all that you are, and in return shall I give you all that you may be, all that I am. For my wisdom is beyond the Ages, and knowledge of my Secrets is power over self, over fear, over death. Nor do I demand aught of you which you cannot give. For I am the Mother of Mysteries, and as you know Me, so shall you learn to know yourself.
The Goddesses of Samhain
The energy of the Goddess runs strongly through Samhain’s celebrations. This is the final harvest of the year and a time when death and decay abound. The darker months of shorter days is crowding in and our thoughts turn to home, comfort and healing before the rigors of the next season of growing.
The Goddess as Crone weighs heavy in imagery and Her wisdom is sought out to correct what has gone awry. As the Celtic New Year, the Great Mother’s hand is what we hope will guide our journey as we emerge at the Winter Solstice into the Light of a newly birthed solar power. The Goddess becomes the place of “forming” our intentions that are seeded and quickened by the directive of the God and the union of polarities that organically flows through the Cosmos. These are but a few of the Dark Goddesses that may be called upon as the Veils part…
Hec(k)ate – Greek
Hecate is a triune Goddess, meaning that she holds within her power the gifts of the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. She is of the Greek pantheon and ancient in her power and energetic signature. This synthesis of her energies plays out in all of the ways in which she is called upon, the Crone being the more dominant of the three at Samhain.
In myth, Hecate is the only child of the Titanes Perses and Asteria ad was given power over heaven, earth and the waters. It is also said that she assisted the Goddess Demeter in her search for her daughter, Persephone and led her through the darkness of night with flaming torches, thus reuniting mother and daughter in the underworld of Hades.
She is often depicted as the dark figure that stands at the Crossroads and associated with the arts of necromancy, witchcraft, herbal lore of the poisonous plants, and all things of magick. Just as the Gates of Hades were guarded by Cerberus, as a Goddess that stands at a quartered threshold between life and death, her companions are the Hounds of Hecate and they assist in prodding to action and ultimately change those seekers who find Her. Because of her command over many of the arts of the Craft, Hecate is often considered the Queen of the Witch’s. In future posts we will experience Hecate’s gifts.
Cerridwen – Welsh
Cerridwen is a Welsh Crone Goddess of magick, wisdom and rebirth. The brew in her cauldron, named Awen (“inspiration”) bestows the transformative energies of brilliant wisdom. In myth, this brew was prepared for Cerridwen’s homely and ungainly son, Morfran. The brew was prepared very carefully and required a year and a day for it to be completed and the drinker to receive its full effects. The next occurrences are ones of undoing for the intended recipient of the potion as the stirrer of the brew accidentally splashes some of the scalding liquid on his thumb; sucks on it to relieve the pain and ingests the potion. The boy, Gwion suddenly becomes very wise and flees the scene realizing the wrath he will incur from Cerridwen. Using the magick of shapeshifting on the part of Cerridwen and being “one step ahead” by the now wise Gwion the cat and mouse game goes on. Eventually Gwion unwisely becomes an ear of corn and is consumed by Cerridwen as punishment.
In the style of many of these myths, with the ingesting of Gwion, Cerridwen becomes pregnant and upon seeing the beauty of the reborn Gwion cannot end his life. So, she swaddles him in cloth and throws him into the sea where he is rescued and grows to become the bard Taliesin. These themes play out in Samhain’s mysteries of the otherworld and the potential for those who have passed beyond to be reborn anew in grace and wisdom. At a practical level, we all strive for what we perceive that we do not have, and as life often will, opportunity presents itself sometimes accidentally. We fear the repercussions of what we have gained and flee shapeshifting into whatever we feel we “should” be to stay ahead of the game and hope that no one is the wiser to what we have been gifted. Samhain is a time to claim those gifts as our own ad with the help of Cerridwen’s cauldron of inspiration and new life, we may find that we are indeed the intended recipient of such great gifts.
The Crone – Triune Dark
A more generic attribution of the Goddess at Samhain is that simply of her triune nature; the Crone the face presented at Samhaintide. The Crone is considered the Dark aspect of the Goddess, her other two archetypes that of the Maiden and the Mother. She holds within the Wisdom of the ages having experienced the beginnings of life and youth and the fullness of motherhood. She is also the one who is nearest in the cycle of death and rebirth and into her care and keeping of those, benefitting from her wisdom across the veils and into the afterlife. She is the face that is also considered the ‘hag’ in many cultures.
The Crone was the wise woman of the village. Knowledge of herblore, communication with those of the Greater Earth and the magick of midwifery and putting out of its misery what was not viable. Often the Goddess as the Crone will be invoked and sought out at Samhain, serving many pantheons of expression and using the archetypal versus a specific Deity that may not normally fall within your personal work.
The Morrighan – Celtic
The Morrighan is a Celtic Goddess of War and Fate. She holds the gift of prophecy and command especially over the battlefields, determining who will live and who will die of the fallen. She is a shapeshifter and portends of her arrival are the gather in the crows/ravens. As the dominant goddess of Europe she was known as the Great Goddess and tales recount her abilities to move the soul through the cycles of life and death. The Morrighan was also called upon as protectress of the home and in early (Copper Age artifacts) there are depictions of her that bring more light on the extent of her gifts. In the book by John King, The Celtic Druid’s Years, Samhain is considered the mating time between the Dagda (the Great God) and the Morrighan.
She is seen as a bird goddess as well as an earth goddess whose breasts both nourish and sustain life and regenerate those in death. In Irish mythology the Morrighan’s breast were thought to form the hills in County Kerry. In early Celtic artifacts she is identified with images of the number three and the tri-parte nature of her magick and presence give her the power as a shapeshifter. Most view the Morrighan as a frightening goddess; more so because she is not death, itself, rather the keeper of death. In this way, the Morrighan is also the Wayfarer of light that commands strength and commitment to the path you have chosen, both in this life and the next.
The Qabalistic Sphere of Binah and the Womb of Creation
I’d like to offer a different perspective for the Goddesses of Samhain and the link to the Hermetic Tree of Life. If you are not familiar with the tree of Life please take a moment to read a basic here…
Qabalah Boot Camp: Just the Basics
The sphere of Binah is considered the Great Mother on the tree and is one of the Three Supernals that are responsible for the ultimate creation in manifest reality.She sits atop the pillar of Severity and with this semantic comes the cutting edge of what is required as the feminine energy seeks to refine and make viable what will become part of the Triune – Kether, Chokmah and Binah of emanation. I chose the image as the front piece of this post as representation of Binah and the sheer power she exudes simply in her presence.
The three Supernal Spheres that I referenced are Kether, the Godhead or the singular limitless source of all, that in its desire to become and create from itself splits and sends its potency in forming the sphere of Chokmah. Chokmah sits atop the Pillar of Mercy and as such commands the justifiable expelling of the seed potential that will move across to its companion, now formed as the primordial womb within Binah. These as polarized energies provide from the singular desire of Kether, the force and the form necessary for conception and the concept of creation. The seed must find its place within the womb of potential as as such the three together also exemplify the universal cycles of life, death and rebirth.
Using the energy of Binah as the focus o your Samhain celebration provides a container that is receptive to refining and testing the viability of what enters. This process is one of involution. In the reverse, what begins in the lower sphere of Malkuth – the physical and Kingdom of Earth’s gifts, ascends on the tree passing through its varying stages of evolutionary growth and having arrived at the sphere of Chesed – also on the Pillar of Force just directly below Chokmah. the choice is given to proceed across an abyss of great challenge and in so doing return to the primordial womb of Binah. This is a return to the waters that created you as the divine spark and reabsorption that occurs through the creation of a metaphysical death, or shedding what holds you to the denser realms as you pass through the Gates of imminence, and omnipresence.
There are many other Goddesses that are honored and called into working during the season of Samhain. Each have a hand in the parting of the veils and allowing for greater communication and interaction with out dear beloveds. Regardless of who you choose to offer your devotion to at this sacred time of the year, you will emerged transformed!
Read more about the cycle of the Goddess:
The Mystery of the Goddess
The Cycles of the God and Goddess Through the Wheel
Read More About the Goddess:
Read More About Binah and Qabalah: