This week's Goddess is Melaina, a dark form of Demeter, the Greek Goddess of the Grain, as the angry, grieving and injured Mother. She took this name, which means "the Black One," as the result of a trauma; though as an Earth Goddess, Her realm naturally includes the dark and the chthonic.
Demeter had a much beloved young daughter named Kore, Whose name simply means "Maiden." But Haides, the God of the Underworld, took it upon Himself to rape Kore and abduct Her to the Underworld, all with the tacit approval of Zeus, King of the Gods. When Demeter discovered to Her horror that Her daughter had vanished, She frantically searched the Earth. But She received little help, as few wanted to anger Zeus by turning Haides in.
To make matters worse, in the midst of Her search Poseidon, the Sea-God, conceived a "lust" of His own, and pursued Her. She would have none of it, unsurprisingly, and told Him so. But He ignored Her No! and hunted after Her, until in desperation She transformed Herself into a mare and hid among a herd of wild horses. He found Her out, however, and taking the form of a stallion He then raped Her.
Faced with Her own assault in the middle of an already very bad situation, Demeter withdrew from the world, donning black and shutting Herself in a dark cave.
Due to the rape She conceived two children; the horse Areion, and a daughter, Whose name was considered so holy and secret that it was never shared. All we know to call the daughter now is Her title Despoina, which means "Mistress."
Demeter was eventually convinced to come out of Her cave, as with the Earth Goddess in hiding nothing would grow; and the Moirai, or Fates, those old, old Goddesses of Mother Right and Justice were the ones to do it.
The cave in which She hid Herself was said to be on Mount Elaios, and the people there kept a statue of Melaina within it. She was shown holding a dove and a dolphin; but Her head was that of a horse, and serpents and monsters were tangled in Her mane.
Melaina's is a very dark story, though I suspect one that has been somewhat twisted; there is evidence that Poseiden and Demeter were considered consorts at one time. Though usually thought of as a Sea-God, Poseidon has deep ties with the Earth, and was believed to cause earthquakes; and His name means "Husband of Earth," which complements the meaning of Demeter's name, "Earth Mother."
Be that as it may, this is a dark card, for a dark time. True, the year is getting darker as we head towards Yule in the north; but I think this has more to do with a backlash against the recent election of Barack Obama. Already there is a reported rise in racially motivated hate crimes, at least in this country; and I think this week will see a dark underbelly exposed. Looking at events with a keen eye, and calling out injustice when we see it will I think help steady the situation.
On an individual level, this card calls us to examine where we have been hurt or traumatized ourselves, and what we need to do to heal from those experiences. Taking note of anger or fear when it arises, and acknowledging it as valid, will help to see the situation as it is now, so we can all move towards healing, and help invoke its presence in the world.
When I asked Her what She had to say to the world, She said:
I see darkness, death, destruction. I see the deep dark; it is soothing not to look, to refuse to see. For one can't look at it straight, sometimes, or perhaps, not yet. But there is healing in that dark, if you will live it for a time.
Here there is deep hurt; but the darkness will come to light. Keep your eye on it, the anger and the fear and the justification for it; and sort the truth from the lies that the liars believe is truth.
Your nightmare stands before you in broad daylight. What will you do? Hide, or face it? Which is it? Ha! The wise will answer, both. Are you wise?
I know, that is somewhat contradictory. Perhaps that is part of Her lesson for this week, too. For Demeter is both the bright Grain Mother as well as the dark Nightmare; and I think She is asking us to discern between anger motivated by fear or hate, and anger that grows from trauma or injustice. Seeing the difference between the two is important now.
What do you think?
To read more about Her, go here.