Mask of the Moth – Goddess Badb and the Darkness
Image source – Lost in the Darkness by Natalia Drepina
How beautiful is the Darkness, where our shadows are simply part of us without separation, and we breathe in the essence of the Universe in void; in potential, in endless possibility…
As Alban Hefin (Midsummer) approaches I become more acutely aware of the Darkness; as the brightness takes over, the blinding light scorching through the curtains disturbing sleep, and as a result my heart yearns to be cocooned once again in the safe embrace of Darkness.
“Darkness is a voice in the dark. Listen. Can you hear the beat of your heart, or is it the long, slow heartbeat of the Earth? You have no body; you have no limbs. Reach out, and there is nothing there. There is only you, whatever you might be, and the long, heavy dark.” – Sharon Blackie ‘If Women rose rooted’
Within my personal gnosis, the spiritual journey with the Goddess Morrigan is very much in my bones, as well as in the Dark spaces within myself and without… they are the punctuation marks between Fox and Coyote and Wolf howling at the Moon, the panting breaths between moments of ecstacy, the gentle pauses of silences measured in kindness when someone requires a silent presence and not words.
I have said that the Spirit energy of the Fox is within my very bones, and this too echoes within my Morriganic pathwalking;
Gudomain, .i. fennóga no bansigaidhe. ut est glaidhomuin góa, .i. na demuin goacha, na morrigna; no go conach demain iat na bansigaide go connach demain iffrunn iat acht demain aeoir na fendoga. no eamnait anglaedha na sinnaigh, ocus eamnait a ngotha na fendoga (Stokes 1859: 169).
Gudomain, i.e. hooded crows, or women from the síd; lying wolves, that is, the false demons, the morrígna. Or “falsehood,” so that they (the bansigaidhe and the hooded crows) are not demons; “falsehood,” so that they are not demons of hell but demons of the air. They double the cries of the foxes, and they double the voices of the hooded crows.
War Goddess: the Morrígan and her Germano-Celtic Counterparts thesis by Angelique Gulermovich Epstein
I have always felt a deep love towards the nocturnal creatures, especially those that howl, but this blog post is not about them.
The focus here is on the mask of the Moth, and the lesson that can be learnt from placing the soft silken wings over our eyes and speaking out into the night in the thrumming tones of Moth wisdom.
Moth is the unassuming night time dancer who understands the eternal embrace that takes part between Light and Darkness for they too are not separate but a part of one anothers bones and in between spaces.
Moth dances within the Darkness but always seeks illumination, however she has also invoked in us a sense of caution within modern folklore… do not to be consumed merely by light – as “a moth to the flame,” is synonymous with losing sight of the bigger picture and being burnt in the process.
To say that I did not expect the energy of Moth to coincide with Goddess Morrigan, and perhaps even less the aspect to which I most connect, Goddess Badb, the screaming death Crow, the phantom, the wailing banshee, is an understatement.
There is argument within the Morrigan community as to whether creatures outside of the surviving mythos deserve a place at her table, and for the purpose of this essay I will leave all of that argument outside the walls, and simply state that the synchronicity placed at my feet (quite literally in some cases with both live and deceased moths) cannot, to my mind, be denied. Furthermore it has enhanced and elevated my personal spiritual practice, so I do not argue with elements of my reality as I experience them.
For the longest time I have danced in offering to the Goddess Morrigan, frequently blade dancing, which came utterly from a place of soul memory and was not taught;
“Dance is the poetic baring of the soul through motion.” – Scott Nilsson
There is something about the Moth which crosses the borders of dancer, phantom, and night time shapeshifter. Watching moths in their natural habitat is haunting, poetic even, and it is only in the confusion of alien synthetic light that grace ebbs. This to me is akin to a lesson of Death and Dark spaces over which Badb precides; we have sought hard as human beings to sanitize and eradicate the truth of both. Death is hidden, dressed up, washed out and put out of sight, the natural decaying process removed from thought and memory, and electricity rings out polluting the night sky until we forget the beauty and simplicity of it.
When dancing with a blade there is a simplicity, a beauty in the movement, but also a call to caution, missteps and blindness can lead to injury, much like a moth to a flame. There is no separation between blade and body, they move as one, and very much like Badb, there is beauty with a hint of Death.
Moths also speak to the Mask of the Goddess Badb; the Shroud, for the silk shroud the moth leaves behind in its rebirthing process feel reminiscent of the mask of the Phantom Queen; for the Shrouds covering the faces of the grieving, as well as the Death Shroud of those who have passed from this earthly incarnation.
In our discussion on Ancestors and Underworld spaces, Cris and I had touched on the idea that there is a bond between mourner and the person who moved on; that a piece of Death was carried within the mourner in their grief, and a piece of life was carried within the person who died so that they could be reborn, epitomized most evidently within the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.
Similarly this can be seen in the reflection of the Shrouds (masks) for the Death shroud covers the dead but cocoons the body as it decays and releases the soul for Rebirth, and the mourners shroud is worn by the living, covering them in their sorrow, a physical reminder that they carry this death with them.
Badb told me once in meditation that:
“We are all the moments of Death we carry with us.”
We all carry moments of Death and Darkness within us, moth like memories that dance within our minds. Some of those moments flicker within us that bring smiles in the retelling, and some make our hearts ache. Such is the path of spirituality, where all memory, survivors of Death, are valid and true, even as the lines blur and the technicalities fade, the depth of feeling remains.
And they are all beautiful.
Many blessings, Starlets,
Joanne Morris 2017
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