by Shekhinah Mountainwater
   A group of sisters in Oregon put  on a Goddess gathering one summer,
featuring the topic "Is there a fourth aspect to the Goddess?". Hearing
about this got me thinking that the answer might be yes, the Dark Maiden.
   I first learned about this Goddess from a lover, who used to call me
her "dark maiden," and point out the waning crescent in the late night sky.
She would explain that there are two crescents and two maidens. The Bright
Maiden corresponds to the waxing crescent, curving towards the right. The
Dark Maiden corresponds to the waning crescent, curving towards the left.
Over the years, I have discovered the beauty of this symbol system and its
potential to give healing and enpowerment to women.
   We all know about the great triad : Maiden, Mother and Crone. This three
fold archetype resonates deeply in our psyches as Begining, Middle and End
of all things, and is likely to be with us always. Yet a fourth aspect
might appear within the triad -- as well as a fifth or sixth. "When the 
myths come alive for us they change," says Starhawk. Truly, there are no
limits to the Goddess, and all things are possible.
   But why the special attention to the Bright and Dark Maiidens? For one
thing, they make a marvelous all-female alternative to the male-opposite-
female symbolism of patriarchy. The Bright Maiden who waxes, moves towards
the Light and the Sun. She is the young Goddess who is growing, the Amazon,
the woman who takes her powers of freedom, action, strength and
independence. She is the risk-taker, the woman who dares. in other words, she is all things our society tells us should be considered "male." Because
of our loss of Her image in our psyches, women find themselves accused of
becoming "like a man," when they express Her qualities. Known to us as
Diana, Artemis, Boudicea, the Amazon Warrior Woman... the Bright Maiden is
more familiar to us than the Dark.
   The Dark Maiden who wanes, moves towards the Underworld, The Crone. She
is associated with aging, descent, introspection and magic. The Dark
Maiden is teh enchantress, She Who Pulls. In her positive attributes, She
represents some of the lost powers of woman. She surrenders to the flow
and pulls, like the pull of the moon, the suction of the undertow. This is
the magnetism of magic, our power to draw to us all that we require. Images
of the Dark Maiden appear to us as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, the
Mermaid, Sirens, Sorceress.
   In patriarchy the Bright and Dark Maidens tend to appear in negative
expression, and because of this, our impression of them can become
destorted. Patriarchs love to keep our Dark Maidens weak and dependent upon
them, and if we decide to act out of our Bright Maiden selves, they insist
we do so "like a man." These are some of the reasons why it is so important
for us to find woman-identified symbols for these parts of ourselves;
Goddesses that are soft and strong, magickal and free -- female expressions
of these qualities.
                    ---------                ---------
                    Weak                     Surrendering
                    Flaky                    Spontaneous
                    Passive                  Pulling
                    Victim                   Supporting
                    Self-Sacrificing         Compassionate
                    "Loser"                  Gentle
                    Myopic                   Subjective
                    Over-reacting            Intuitive
                    Deluded                  Imaginative
                    ---------                ---------
                    Hard Boiled              Strong
                    Superficial              In control
                    Hyper-rational           Organized
                    Militant                 Disciplined
                    Aloof                    Independent
                    Unemotional              Objective
                    Mechanical               Scientific
                    Power-over               Power-from-within
                    Careless                 Playful
   The main thing to remember about the Dark Maiden is that She has the
power to Respond. She is the receptive and sensative part of us, which
we need for successful magic as well as personal wholeness. She is tender
and vulnerable, and it is important to keep our Bright Maiden qualities
so we can protect Her. Too many women with Dark Maiden qualities become
victims in our society, subject to the will of others. And too many Bright
Maidens become cold and hard. Feminist spirituality teaches us that we
have been programmed to act out these qualities in ways that men have
devised. Liberation lies not in discarding them, but in learning to reclaim
them in their older, female expressions.
   Inevitably, this process will lead us back to the Three-fold and Five
fold expressions of the Goddess, because they offer flow and continium. 
They teach us that any one quality when isolated at the expense of the 
others becomes destructive and limiting. WHile the Bright and Dark Maidens
do pair off and become partners, companions and lovers...they can be seen
within the larger contexts of Maiden, Mother and Crone, or Fire, Water,
Air, Earth and Spirit. Sometimes I picture the two Maidens as Warrior and
Priestess within a cycle that includes Mother, Grandmother, and Lover.
Sometimes I see them as the Fall and Spring Equinoxes, known to the ancient
Greeks as the Anados (Goddess arising) and Kathados (Goddess Descending).
Thus we can integrate the duality of our Bright and Dark Maidens into the
three-fold, five-fold and eight-fold (the eight holy days of the year)
cycles of Life and Being.
   This article is but a glimpse into the possibilities. I invite you to
search within yourself, in myths and amoung symbols that you know, for
signs of the Bright and Dark Maidens.

Shekhinah Mountainwater is a long-time Muse and lover of the Goddess. She
offers teachings, rituals, music, writings, runes, tarot, workshops and
more to the woman-spirit community. For a catalogue send $1 to Shekhinah
Mountainwater, PO Box 2991, Santa Cruz, CA 95063. She is currently working
on two books, one of Tarot and one on theololgy, both of which will contain
images and discussions of the maiden Goddesses....