The following essay by Lidia Adaman Tremblay won 3rd place in the fifth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition.
Exploring the Dark Side of the Moon
by Lidia Adaman Tremblay
by Lidia Adaman Tremblay
The following is based on a workshop I presented in 2012
Hello and welcome to the workshop. No, the next hour will not be spent in discussing Pink Floyd! Today, we shall explore the mysteries that are linked with the Dark of Moon, the Dark Goddesses associated with that moon phase.
It is appropriate that this topic should be brought out right now, because we have just had the Dark of Moon about a week ago. In my view, the Dark of Moon is different from what we call New Moon – the Dark of Moon is the time when the moon is not visible at all, because it is directly between the Earth and Sun, which, ironically, means that what we know as the Dark Side of the Moon is completely lit up. Confused yet?
Anyways, the Dark of Moon phase lasts about three nights, after which time, we see a thin crescent emerge and that is what I consider The New Moon.
The Moon is the only natural satellite our planet has – that we know of – and it’s just a lifeless hunk of rock floating around and around, approximately 250,000 miles away from us. Earth’s gravity holds it in place, but the Moon’s gravity is responsible for the twice-daily tides that keep our oceans aerated and habitable by so many species.
Lifeless though it is, the Moon has held us in thrall for millennia, inspiring wonder and fear, tales of werewolves, vampires, and lunacy, romance and mystery. But most of all, in spite of some cultures associating the Moon with male energies, the Moon became associated with the women’s mysteries and cycles.
EXPLANATION OF DARKNESS
Many people fear the Dark. It’s a place of evil, demons and other nasties. We talk of Bright blessings, being Light healers, Shining Goddesses, sunshine, lollipops and rainbows – ooops, sorry, another musical band, no, not going there. Anyways, darkness is something to be avoided, shunned, and not to be discussed, let alone explored.
On the other hand, we all love to look up at the dark sky full of stars, and watch the Full Moon overhead. Beautiful beyond words is that panoramic view, inspiring dreams of star flight Getting into bed after a long day, we welcome the darkness that envelopes us as we turn out the lights.
Darkness isn’t all evil and to be avoided, is it. In this workshop, I would like to share with you the extraordinary journey I embarked on some ten years ago, and what it taught me. It is my hope that by the end of this workshop, you will all have a new appreciation for what the Darkness, and especially the Dark of Moon can bring into your life.
As I said, this happened about ten years ago, during a full moon eclipse, and I decided to do a ritual designed not to honour the full moon, but to see what the darkness of the eclipse would bring. At that time, I was living in a very spacious apartment with a full attic. More to the point, I lived in that attic, while my son, his wife and daughter lived in the actual apartment. Yeah, the old woman in the attic – let your minds run rampant with that scenario!!
The attic was very dark to begin with. I made an altar very close to the floor, and settled myself comfortably on cushions before it, leaving only one small tea light burning in a glass container. I wrapped myself in a black hooded cloak, blindfolded myself, and as the Shadow was drawn across the bright face of our Lady, I asked Her to show me the mysteries that lay in that shadow.
Here is the first-hand account of that event, as I wrote it in my journal:
The meditation began with the appearance of The Lady as she once revealed Herself in a dream. In it she was in Her Mother aspect with a young boy. She was dressed in a simple and elegant white dress and a turban-like headpiece. She had a box, silver, and within the bo was a deep blue satin lining, silver threads strung with silver beads.
She took out the threads in a cats-cradle way and began to change the configurations. With each new formation the threads grew until they became stars and worlds and galaxies.
All this I saw again, and this time She showed me galaxies still forming, stars not yet born. All these were within the darkest blackness beyond imagining. Back in normal space, I watched the galaxies spiral in a stateful joyful dance that took millennia to complete. The Earth came into view and became the most important item in the universe.
I could see how She saw the Universe and all countless dimensions at once, while with only a tiny shift of focus could zero in not only on one world but on one person without the loss of focus on all else.
Back to darkness and within it I saw light – life and death, death and life. Both are one, and one are both. Shadows exist because of not understanding, to hide and then to reveal. Everything is there for us to understand, but until one is ready to understand that light is a shadow in our sight. Shadows also provide perspective, for without shadows all would be flat white or flat black, equally blinding and nothing would be distinguishable as background or foreground. The darkness, above all, contained ALL the answers to all the questions we will or could ever ask.
Now on Earth, I’m taken to the four Elements. Air stirs up dust, fog, and snow, but also blows them away. Fire revels but hides what’s just outside its sphere. There are dark depths in the oceans and other waters, and the caverns of earth are full of mysteries.
To understand something is to open more questions. To shed light on something reveals only what the light shines on. Layer by layer the light within the shadows is peeled away until all is revealed, all is One.
Dark and shadows are restful and needed for Balance.
Since then, I had started to pay more attention to The Dark of Moon. It was not a time to be shunned and feared, it became a time of looking inward, exploring the heart and soul within. Of And always, I came away refreshed, renewed, a little bit wiser and more understanding of what the nature of Darkness is all about.
I started a year-long quest to discover what Darkness was. For each Dark of Moon I chose a different Goddess to work with:
Hakate – She took me through an amazing journey, and taught me that there are always choices, always options when faced with any situation.
Again, from my journal entry:
I am in a midst of what appears to be a swirling tunnel. It is very dark, and I feel more than see the spinning passageway. I feel frightened, and I ask Hakate to lead me with her torch, and immediately there is light about me. At the end of the tunnel, I see two young and beautiful women. They are laughing and dancing about in a large golden chamber. The room is empty of furnishings, except for a dais at one end containing a throne of rich burnished wood inlaid with gold and ivory. There are two other doorways leading to other tunnels, making it three in all.
I do not hear music – only silence beyond their soft voices. Silence as deep and endless as the night sky, and yet, there is no sky here. I do not see any torches or candles, but there is light, soft and rich, emanating from everywhere at once. I know that I have come into the Underworld, the Realm of the Dead, and the two women are Persephone and Hakate, her companion and guide. They are dressed in robes of white and gold, embellished with vines of green. They see me, and wave me forward.
Within one step forward, I find myself in yet another tunnel, richly gleaming with a golden light. It too is empty. Vaulted ceilings and polished floors invite me to walk further. Each room has three doorways, the one I entered and two more, forming a “Y”. Now each tunnel/room/passageway looks the same as the one before, and before long I wonder if I’m progressing or simply seeing the same room over and over again. At this thought I stop in the middle, so I can see all three doors, and say, “My Lady Goddess, why are these rooms empty?” The answer comes clearly to me, “These rooms are you, and are being made ready to receive the glories that are awaiting you.”
I stand there longer, thinking on what I have seen, and suddenly realize something. “The Realm of the Dead is not at all frightening and gloomy, as the Greek legends made it out to be. It is full of light and enlightenment, of riches and delight – how could it be otherwise, when Persephone here is Queen!”
At that though, the room grows dark and the walls begin to swirl again. I do not know if I’m moving, or am being propelled through this tunnel, but I am now unafraid. I come back to my own room, lit with candles and fragrant with frankincense and sandalwood, to find Hakate sitting cross-legged before me in the guise of a young girl, no more than 16. She’s smiling and is full of bubbly joy, and I wonder why anyone ever would see Her as an old and frightening Crone. But She changes to that right before my eyes, becomes distant in spirit, the black hood draped closely over Her face. Just as quickly, She’s young and beautiful again.
She tells me to once again close my eyes and lift my hands. I do so, and see my hands alive with flame, which I pass to and fro, building mystical landscapes from the energies flowing from my fingertips. These energies begin to converge and begin to build yet another tunnel. It envelopes me momentarily, and I lose sight of the fountaining brilliance. I realize then that I’m to build something new from this blackness, and begin to shape – something. It’s not clear what my hands are doing, since they seem to move independently of my thought and guidance, but soon I see massive distant shapes – and am thrilled to see mountains – mountains that I have dreamed of so often in the past, but have not visited for a long time now. They stand against the sky that is just beginning to lighten after a long black night. I continue this act of creation, until I’m surrounded by these huge structures. I’m so deeply contained by them, that although the sky brightens considerably about them, I remain in deep shadows. The air around me is clear, crisp, cool with a hint of refreshing moisture. With a final flinging of my hands, the Sun leaps into the sky, and I’m finally standing fully in the light.
I’m weeping with joy and exhilaration, with love and gratitude, and so I find myself weeping as I once again find myself in my room.
Pandora – For this Dark of Moon ritual, I was moved to write a poem/chant for Pandora, and in doing so, I learned what “Pandora’s Box” really was. The writing of that chant was like taking dictation – it came to me very suddenly and totally. She taught me the value of the Sacred Feminine.
Morrigan – I approached Morrigan in Her aspect of Divination. The entire ritual was based on divination tools – Tarot, Runes, dice, crystals, but the main tool here was the cauldron, filled with hot water and herbs. Gazing through the steam, I learned that it is She who parts the clouds and mists, so that we may indeed see more clearly. Goddess of mysteries, She waits to reveal.
Cerridwin – Another cauldron ritual. It is through Her cauldron that we are reborn. But for the purposes of this ritual, I tried to recreate the tale of how She brewed a potion for a year and a day to provide wisdom to her son. She taught me that even when things go horribly wrong, they turn out right.
Nemisis – Ah Nemisis! A Goddess quite misunderstood! To say that “so and so is my Nemisis” means today that he or she is a problem, a difficult person to be around. But that’s not correct. Nemisis is a Goddess who dispenses justice in a swift and timely manner. She heeds the calls, especially of women, and rushes to their aid. She taught me that it is not wrong to crave justice when something is wrong, that one does not need to suffer long at the hands of others.
Hel – The Norse Goddess Hel is a dark Goddess indeed! From the waist up, she is a beautiful woman, and from the waist down, she is a rotting corpse. Her domain is the Underworld by the same name, Hel, but far from being the fiery place of torture other religions make it out to be, is a place of crystalline beauty and cool reflection. Hel taught me to take my duties seriously, even as She does, She also taught me not to fear the next life. Sometimes it is necessary to suffer a bit of unpleasantness along the road of life.
Sedna – Sedna is an Inuit Goddess who suffered horrible injustice at the hands of her father. While She cried out to be rescued, and clung to the side of the kayak for dear life, her father broke her fingers off so that he could escape the evil which he did not recognize at first in his son-in-law. But even as Her fingers fell off into the cold waters, they were transformed into marine life which has fed the Inuit people in the frozen north – seals, walruses, whales. She taught me that out of the darkest moments new life can be born. She also taught me that it’s alright to weep and wail, to scream in pain, to feel the “negative” emotions to the fullest because, sometimes it’s the only way I could move onto firmer ground.
Baba Yaga – Ah, Baba Yaga! The Primordial Crone of the Russian forests. She is the untamed spirit beneath the brooding trees, She’s the rushing wind as She rides the skies in her mortar propelled by the broom. She will strike you down and raise you up again. She will frighten you, even as She will show you the way to safety. She taught me that it’s a good thing to let go of convention, to do something unexpected, and to never underestimate the Crone!
Black Madonna – Isis or Mary? Mary or Isis? Madona and Child by any other name is still Mother and Child. She holds Her Son/Sun proudly before her. Not for her the downcast eyes and submissive posture! She sits, her face blackened by the radiant glory of Her child, Her offspring! From her I learned to walk proudly, and never be ashamed of my motherhood, for no other occupation is more worthy!
Kali – Black and fierce, dancing upon the head of the demon, red tongue protruding from her mouth, Kali is of fierce countenance. She is adorned with skulls and a sword raised high!! She taught me it is right and fitting to recognize and name one who would be the enemy in my life, one who would cause me harm, that it is not wrong to take steps to make my life better by dealing justly and decisively with the situation.
Lilith – What can I say about Lilith? Lilith rising, riding, raging, To be set free and unencumbered, Within me, about me, around me, Uncoiling, the serpentine spasms carry me, shake me, thrust me Into rapturous heights!! Need I say more?
Oya – Goddess of Storms, Goddess of Change. She had no hesitation in charging into my life, demanding I organize a voodoo ritual so that She can work necessary changes in people’s lives. She taught me to take charge of my life, to not be afraid of changes, but rather to embrace them, because it is through these changes that life is advanced.
All these are counted among the Dark Goddesses. All have incredible lessons to teach us. They’re not all fluffy and gentle and tossing glitter and flower petals along your path. And I ask you – do you have courage to walk through the Dark Woods and meet Her at the crossroads? I can assure you, you will never regret it!
If I may, I’d like to share with you an invocation I wrote especially for the Dark of Moon phase:
Dark of Moon Invocation
I honour You, Oh Lady of Shadows and Mysteries
I honour You in Your time of Darkness
You shine still behind Your cloak.
As a blanket covers the sleeping child
So Your Darkness covers the world
That we may
Ourselves, and see You
Shining in our hearts.
I honour You, Oh Dark of Moon
I honour You, Oh Crone of Darkness
I honour You, Oh Lady of Shadows and Mysteries!
I hope this helps you to see the beauty of The Dark of Moon time, and welcome Her into your life as much as you do when She is in her Full Moon phase.
Since retiring, Lidia Adaman Tremblay has been able to devote her time to writing. She has also been a costume designer, pianist, office administrator, graphic designer, and background actor in movies. She believes that being a mother and grandmother does wonders to stimulate her creative processes, as well as being a 2nd degree Alexandrian High Priestess, deeply involved in The Red Tent Movement for women in Canada. She has written and self-published several books, both fiction and non-fiction. You can fine her on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube and via her online store.