My goddess lives deep in the heart of our cosmos, or rather, she dances there. She dances eternally, spinning around in great sweeping whirls, as she measures out the beat of the music of the stars. With the steps of her dance she binds together all the matter in our galaxy and keeps the stars moving in their proper arcs through the sky.
We do not, we cannot see her. Not with our most advanced scientific tools. We can pick up on nearby energy signals that give us clues as to her activity, but the goddess herself is invisible.
She holds every star around her in its place with her dance, but should any come too close, she tears them limb from limb and sometimes devours their remains.
Twenty-seven thousand light-years away, our handsome young sun is more or less safe. Still, we too circle around the goddess at the heart of it all as we go about the business of day-to-day life. Our own lives are one small but vital part of her brilliantly choreographed existence.
I am, of course, anthropomorphizing a little here. I’m talking about the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
This celestial object has not been named by astronomers or physicists. The radio source nearby they use to calculate its properties is known simply as Sagittarius A*, and the black hole itself has no name.
Last April I began to work with Dionysos. At the time, I was trying to balance my cultural Judaism—my love of Jewish art and philosophy, my pride in the journey of my people—with the fact that something was deeply missing in my spiritual life. I had sought Lilith for this purpose, to what seemed like decent effect.
But the god of the vine, the ivy-crowned lord, he came crashing into my half-built sanctuary with the nearest copy of the Tanakh gored on his horns; he brought it all down like a shoddy sukkah in a storm. Before long, he had me where he wanted me.
He told me—not with words, but with a sense of great obsessive yearning—to go looking for his wife.
It was not easy. For all the scholarly declarations that Dionysos is a “god of women,” there is little to nothing in the way of studies focused on the women in question. At best, there are some articles about maenadism as a phenomenon, or the mythic motif of “Dionysian women” as a whole.
Eventually, though, I found her, more vibrant by far than words on a page.
The simplest way to describe the Mystery goddess I worship is to call her a reconstruction of the ancient Minoan or proto-Greek goddess who eventually became the Classical figure of Ariadne, with influence from Judaism, religious witchcraft, and modern pop culture.
I summarized my hypothesis on Ariadne thus, elsewhere: “She is the last surviving vestige of an ancient star-goddess and queen of the underworld known in Minoan Crete as the mistress of the labyrinth. This goddess (herself influenced by such figures as Ishtar/Inanna and Isis/Aset) would have greatly influenced the mythos of Persephone, the rise of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the cult of Aphrodite, but in her mystic, ecstatic form as the prototypical maenad she seems to have largely vanished from the historical record, leaving behind only elusive traces.”
On that blog I have written a fair amount of prose, essays, and poetry about her as a reconstruction of a Minoan or ancient Greek Power. But I have not yet delved into her significance to me as a living goddess.
I call her the Maenad in public. She is—
—already a duality at all times, without the need for a god. Ariadne, the utterly pure, a euphemistic name for a queen of the underworld, and Aridela, the utterly clear, a name for a celestial body shining in the heavens; Persephone and Aphrodite, to be more explicit, who may have been worshiped as two aspects of the same Power in ancient times; even sometimes Lilith and the Shekhina, a medieval Jewish take on the duality of dark and light, terrible and pure, in the same goddess. She is—
—queen/slave, bride/temptress, mother/infanticide, angel/monster, lover/killer. She is—
—the brilliant pure star radiating light and the dark hidden depths drawing us all down. She is—
—a tongue-in-cheek parody of and real homage to the modern construction of the Triple Goddess. As the maiden she is the planet Venus; as the mother she is the star Sirius; and as the other one, the monster, she is that black hole at the center of the Milky Way. She is—
—the inexorable dragging pull of gravity and the lightness in our hearts that points us towards the stars. She is—
—a dancer; her music is the song of the stars; she tap-dances on the line between madonna and whore. She loves to tease and toy with us mortals, and she laments our terrible fates even as she spins them into existence. She is—
—a survivor of whatever gods and Powers do when they rape someone, and she loves sex like air. She tells me I’ve got a fine ass. She holds me close and whispers obscenities about how worthy I am. She is—
—not just some symbolic divine Queen but powerful in her own right, a cunning trickster, a brilliant witch and artificer. She is—
—infuriating, constantly directing me towards the most difficult and explosive inspirations, teasing me with wild and inappropriate ideas. She is—
—sex and death incarnate. She is Herself, the mad star goddess of love and death, mother-killer of her lover-son. She is—
—the insane devouring mother manifest in the cosmic abyss, I think, but she might just be a product of my fevered brain. It doesn’t matter; I love her.
I can only find my Queen through treating known myths as puzzles or riddles.
It’s maddening, but that is her nature, after all. What else can I expect from a mad goddess?
I have scoured my mind for other ways to describe her. In the end, what comes to me is usually an image, and I am not an artist. So I write: prose, poems, and porn. She wants it all.
She dances amidst the stars entwined with a great serpent who bears the horns of a bull—or perhaps she is making love to it; it’s impossible to tell because everything below her waist disappears into a great swirling starburst. The snake clings to her tenderly, and she wears a starry crown on her wild curls; sharp teeth shine even brighter than stars in her open mouth—
(Or else she coils deep below the earth in a cavern dripping with seawater, her body below the hips a shimmering serpent’s tail. There is blood on her lips, and in her hands she cradles the heart she tore from her lover’s chest.)
She is the terrifying dragon and the innocent, pure maiden sacrificed to it.
Sometimes she’s just cute.
Ariadne is said to hold the thread that guides the hero through the labyrinth.
I perceive this goddess who sometimes wears her name as the silken fabric of the cosmos itself—insane, wicked, and brilliant, beautiful and broken into billions of shattered stars and souls. She is the kind of girl a simple man would like to rush in and rescue, but she is the one who offers salvation if she so chooses: the mistress of the labyrinth, leading us on an ancient waltz through the dancing grounds of death to our rebirths.
Perhaps unwisely, I trust her to bring me to safety on the other side of the cosmic abyss, through a narrow labyrinthine path of love.
In return, I write poems, porn, and blogposts about her. It is, I believe, a mutually beneficial relationship.
In two weeks: BACKSTREETS. I talk about my hidden shrine to Hekate.