The Dark Mother ‘face’ of the Goddess has probably existed since the beginnings of self-reflective awareness. In fact, it is likely that so-called ‘primitive’ concepts of both the Bright and Dark Mother precede any distinct concept of a Goddess as deity — recognized only as an all-pervading ‘Presence’, most commonly referred to as ‘the Great Mother’.
In a quaternal configuration (rather than the more common, and patriarchal, trinity of Maiden, Mother and Crone), the Dark Mother is known as the 4th and Mid-wife face of the Goddess — She who is the ‘unseen’ hands, guiding all births and deaths, and therefore, all. As such, She is also all ‘doorways’ (between Upperworld/Underworld, Bright/Dark knowing, etc.), and is often represented by womb-like objects, such as cauldrons or the Holy Grail. She provides the vital link between the ‘passing away’ of the Crone, and the ‘coming into being’ of the Maiden; and is the polaric-parallel of the Bright Mother (source of manifest abundance), as tomb and womb, which in pagan concepts (and now scientific ones as well), are one and the same (T/Womb).
She is often amongst the early generations of Godde, born out of chaos, and/or is the dark face of the primal creatrix. Most of these early Godde faded into the background as the Godde of manifest order became more focal in the myths — but not so with the Dark Mother. Although She was progressively twisted into a demonic figure, patriarchy was never able to totally rid itself of Her (disguised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as the Black Madonna and the veiled Sophia). As an unfortunate necessity within the development of patriarchy, She became an elusive and shadowed scapegoat for the rising dominance of male/light (being, of course, uncontrolled by light) — retaining the Destroyer aspect, but not the Creator one. While the Dark Mother concept does contain anti-light qualities, Her more essential nature was mostly lost until the feminist and neo-pagans movements of the last century.
She is not only the agent of the Underworld, but IS It. She is not only the transformer between death and life, the doorway of passage between (both directions), and the lantern that guides that passage; but the very matrix in which the transformation takes place — the Dark Womb. She is also the Dark Moon and its mirroring quality of ‘muse and mystery’. As such, She is the source of all prophecy and oracles, intuition, and ‘Dark Knowing’ (the Unconscious).
THE PRIMAL MOTHER/MATRIX
The concepts of the Dark Mother and Primal Mother/Matrix (usually referred as ‘fecund chaos’) overlap significantly, in almost every culture. Later forms of the feminine principle were understood as distinct Goddess ‘faces’/deities (variations of Maiden, Mother, and Crone), but neither the Primal nor Dark Mother fit that status well. They are both too all-inclusive and yet elusive to have any distinct form; and in fact, represent an infinite and eternal matrix of formlessness/beyond form, of pure and (relatively) infinite ‘potentiality’.
Furthermore, in the intuitively-biased mind, light always both arises out of darkness, and is eternally surrounded by it: it is born from and into the surrounding darkness — like a candle in the night — not OUT of it. The concept of Mother/Womb goes beyond that of a distinct Goddess or God, and is that from which both are born. However, humyns are a sight/light-biased, focused species; and the patriarchy developed by controlling resources and information (both notably ‘light-abled’ forms). If light equals activity and control of it, the patriarchy needed to consider the Mother/Womb passive.
We are now re-understanding that this is an incorrect assumption. The primary quality of the feminine principle is ‘gatheredness’, and thereby, the power of ‘drawing in’ (essentially, magnetism in its volumest meaning): it is the polaric opposite to the masculine principle, which is separation (absolutely necessary to any kind of ‘ex-press-ion’, and only evil in its extreme states), and thereby, ‘thrusting out’. Both principles are active, but in different ways.
The Dark Mother, in fact, represents the continuum of the Primal Mother throughout the on-going evolution of the Universe. She is the eternal matrix from which all ‘light-abled’ (in part, what scientists call ‘ordinary matter’) expression/thing-ness ‘comes into being’ and ‘passes away’ – as stated in the Charge of the Goddess, “From Me, all things proceed, and unto Me, they must return.”
DARK MATRIX/MOTHER/MATTER IN THE NEW COSMOLOGY
Matter, Matrix and Mother all derive from the same word ‘mater’ – from Indo-European and Sanskrit roots. It is quite common now, for scientists or ‘quantum theologians’ (O’Murchu’s term) to refer to the Earth as a ‘living Mother’, yet few have considered the volumer connotations of this image for the Universe. They rarely, if ever, directly connect the ancient concepts of the Dark Mother, and the new cosmological theories concerning Dark Matter, Black Holes, and the ‘living’ matrix that both provide to the Universe. Yet, both the concepts and the language of the new physics/cosmology persistently echo that of the Dark Mother.
Creative chaos (now understood to be a deeper order) is the primary quality of the Primal Mother, and Her ‘daughter’ (that is, She who inherited Her on-going role), the Dark Mother. Brian Swimme distinctly (but indirectly) conjures the images of the Dark Mother in referring to this creative chaos as ‘the all-nourishing abyss’. He also points out that this ‘ocean of potentiality’, this ‘quantum vacuum’, is “the nonvisible…that which can never been seen…[or] pictured. It is both nonvisible and nonvisualizable” (Swimme, 1996, 97) — in other words, non-lighted-abled in any way, physical or psychic: the Dark Mother is She who is eternally veiled, whose ‘face no man (sic) can ever see, except in death’.
Some scientists or quantum theologians have suggested that the birth of the Universe is better described as ‘a cosmic egg’ in a ‘orgasmic flood of birthing’, ‘foaming into existence’ — rather than the more typical pyro-technique ‘big bang’. All the words used here are related to the Great Mother image – even foaming, which is not only a sea/ocean image, but a variant of the ‘yeast’ image. O’Murchu points out, re: this primordial state, “When matter and anti-matter meet, physicists talk of “annihilation.” Actually, it is not …but a process of “transformation” (O’Murchu, 1998, 133): the Dark Mother is the ultimate transformer.
We now understand that creation is being constantly created — cycles of (in terms of electrons/etc., instantaneous) creation and destruction, which actually define a ‘perfectly transformative’ reality: the Dark Mother’s role is to be the ‘T/Womb’ of all such ‘comings and goings’, and more importantly, the very Doorway of them. As ultimate transformer, She IS the implicate order (Bohm): as matrix to all ‘light-abled’ ex-press-ions, She is the Mother to all explicate order. Furthermore, as Dark Matter, She is the deep space T/Womb that embraces all movements between implicate and explicate orders. In fact, She might be the best symbolic representation we have of Rupert Sheldrake’s ‘morphogenetic fields’.
Her quality of ‘drawing in’ is responsible for not only the gravity that holds the Universe together, but curvature of its structure, its pattern of predominately spiral galaxies, and its ‘return’ to Black Holes. Black Holes are theorized to be the matrix for all ‘birthed’ universes – the silent ‘winter’ between a universe’s death and rebirth. The Dark Mother, as the T/Womb transformer, embraces all possible universes in their ‘ovum-like’ Black Hole state. O’Murchu notes that “It now appears that the “once-and-for-all process” [birth/death of a universe] is only one of a number of evolutionary cycles, in a universe that may be trillions rather than billions of years old…Maybe we live in an infinite universe… [in which] cycles may be re-created infinitely…” (O’Murchu, 1998, 183) — an idea held by many ancient cultures, as the cycle of ‘ages’. Furthermore, Black Holes are also thought to be ‘worm holes’ (O’Murchu, 1998, 126), possibly to other universes: this conjures the image of a vagina, linking the world of ‘inner womb space’ and the outer world, and also specifically, of the Dark Mother as ‘doorway between the worlds’.
Before the concept of male Gods developed, the Mother was understood as the ‘all-pervading Presence’. This indicates that our ancestors understood Her as deeply and ultimately immanent – as Berry says of the Universe (for modern humyns) “…such an intimate presence, that it escapes our notice…spontaneities that come from an abyss of energy and a capacity for intelligible order of which we have only the faintest glimmer in our conscious awareness.” (Berry, 1988, 195). While Black Holes and ‘dark halos’ may be a particular form/function of Dark Matter, there is evidence that Dark Matter exists throughout the Universe in all the spaces — both within and between — ‘light-and-experience-abled’ existence. If so, it would be not only the originating matrix of all creation (T/Womb), but also the ‘deepest in’ and ‘farthest out’ of existence’s moment-to-moment explicating — the most immanent/intimate, yet all-encompassing Presence conceivable. Symbolically, only the Dark Mother is capable of embracing this imagery.
Yet, in many cultures, She is also the ‘phosphorescent angel’ — a womb not filled with silent, still empty space; but seething energy that has not become ‘light-abled’ as yet — the Shimmering. The Primal Mother is often understood as ‘churning primordial waters’ — or as O’Murchu describes it “a boiling, chaotic conundrum of raw potential” (O’Murchu, 1998, 133). In Hinduism, Shakti (name means ‘pure energy’) conceives the Universe after creating a vibration between Herself and Her partner, Shiva: is this vibration (or more accurately, primordial resonance), ‘the Shimmering’? Swimme states “Even the word “vibrate” is not exact, for it connotes a solid object that moves rapidly back and forth in space… [when actually] particles exist in one location and then …another… without traversing the space in between” (Swimme, 1996, 102) — I would suggest that the word he might be looking for is ‘shimmering’.
Her primary ‘drawing in’ quality — which in terms of Dark Matter, has been dubbed, the Great Attractor — is one of attraction and seduction; both necessary to ensure relationship. Swimme insists (as do others) that the Universe is not primarily made up of “… “material things” [that are] “really real” ….” (Swimme, 1996, 94), but rather, webs of relationships, and that the Whole of such webs is what is ‘really real’. Berry goes on to suggest that “Without the gravitational attraction experienced throughout the physical world, there would be no emotional attraction of humans to one another.” (Berry, 1988, 46). Given that Dark Matter  comprises more than 90% of the gravitation of the Universe, and that the basis for humyn relationships (choices, development, etc.) are quite possibly more than 90% unconscious, it would seem that the Dark Mother is critically responsible for the ‘relatedness’, and webs thereof, of humyns and all life and existence – and therefore, of the very concepts of community and communion.
New is something old,
Seen for the first time,
(chorus of a song written by Rhyannan – 1960s)
[Author’s Note: It was first published in the GreenSpirit (UK) magazine.]
 The term ‘Godde’ refers to all possible archetypes that could be imaged as a Goddess or God ‘face’ – both as a collective and a single unit.
 In the English language (at least), there is no specific term for ‘more or ultimate in all directions at once’, as there is for singular directions-more – such as higher/highest, etc. The words ‘volumer’ and volumest’ are distinctly ‘missing’.
 Bread and oven are a common image of the Great Mother, and even today we refer to pregnancy as ‘having a bun in the oven’.
 As a ‘light-biased’ species, we tend to conceive of ‘shimmering’ as light, perceptually moving but without any distinct ‘waves’. The term however, is not confined to perceptual light, but can also be used as a body sensation, and from there, expanded to include a sense of ‘psychic resonance’, which has no manifested movement.
 Recently new statistics have been proposed – that the Universe contains 5% ‘light-abled matter’, 30% Dark Matter, and 65% Dark Energy – although it is not at all clear what the difference between them is. Dark Energy is proposed as accounting for the speeding up of the expansion of the Universe. For the purpose of this essay, however, I will consider Dark Matter and Dark Energy as variant qualities of the Dark Mother, so the percentage that can be corresponded to the Dark Mother remains the same.
 Webs are one of the most common symbols of the Great Mother – in both ancient and modern times.
Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth, Sierra Club books, 1988
John P. Briggs and F. David Peat, Looking Glass Universe, Touchstone books, Simon and Schuster, 1984
Demetra George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Harper/Collins, 1992
Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology, Crossroads Publishing, 1998
Brian Swimme, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, Orbis Books, 1996