Four seasons lay inside my breast
Each with its own challenge and test
But none so brutal as the wintertime
For I am not allowed to die
As we approach the longest night of the year, I contemplate what this season truly represents. According to many pagan traditions, winter is the “crone time” of year. The crone represents not only age and wisdom, but also the mysteries of death. I like to think of her as the Dark Mother, she who stands at the tomb to lay the dead to rest. The Dark Mother also presides over the female menstrual cycle, the time when something dies and a cleansing process begins. So while her energy is felt the strongest in the winter, all women of childbearing age experience the “season of the Dark Mother” every 28ish days.
Instead I wear a shroud of shame
When the blood and pain reveals my name
I am Womanhood,
Mysterious, Proud, and Vain
In our modern culture, it is generally accepted that women have a special power that men do not — the power to give birth. However, once the job of childbearing has ended, the general attitude is that they serve no other purpose as a woman. This places women in the awkward position of having to defend what happens each month they are not pregnant. It cuts women off not only from their bodies, but also from the other aspects of their power. Just as the Mother gives life, the Dark Mother can take it. This power is so frightening that it was vilified in Lilith and condemned in Eve.
I wear the face that you revile
For its beauty, power, and guile
The horrible truth behind my cries
Is the fear that rises in your eyes
Our culture is not set up to allow for graceful endings, honoring the mourning process, or allowing time for healing. We live in a time of “Super Moms” and “Adrenaline Junkies” who are too busy or feel too obligated to take a time out. This can lead to a lot of modern-day ailments, such as migraines. The missing link here is to pay attention to the season and work with it, instead of against it. The winter season is naturally a time of hibernation. But just as we are not allowed to rest simply because it’s cold outside, women are not allowed to rest simply because they are bleeding. This rejection of nature turns a process meant to cleanse and replenish into a never-ending wound, hence, obsession with states of stigmata.
But once I have been set to ground
The tides will turn, the moon grow round
Healed of all my aching wounds
I will arise from the tomb
The tomb is not only a metaphor for death, but also a return to the Source. For once laid to rest, the tomb becomes the womb from which one is reborn. We worship this rebirth every year in the Sun/Son God. But while many beliefs focus the myth of a dying man, not once do we acknowledge that there is a real live human who bears a stigma, bleeds, dies, and is reborn from a tomb in three days. She is called woman and she is everywhere.
I am the dark mother, I preside over death
But there is no true moment where I am at rest
For when I am at my worst, I am at my best
I am a paradox, a riddle, a test
The Dark Mother speaks to us through pain and suffering. She insists we pay attention to the cycles of our lives so we may learn when to act and when to retreat. It is only when we ignore her call that we begin to experience dysfunction: mental, emotional and physical. As soon as we stop to listen, the pain becomes a lesson — the darkness becomes a resting place. When we surrender to the Dark Mother, we acknowledge some things are beyond our control. But if we exhaust what we are given, the Dark Mother will find a way to gain our attention. Thus, we gain wisdom.