I sing of the Black Goddess Nuit. I sing of the limitless velvet expanse of space, which is not empty, it is her body, spangled with stars. I sing of the dark and fertile loam of the earth. I sing of the smooth cool depth of the obsidian cave where we reach the most profound mystery. I sing of the Black Goddess Nuit: She creates, She sustains, She destroys, She redeems.
Is it surprising to see the word “black” to describe Nuit? She is the night sky. She was born of Nut, the Kemetic netjer loved by North African brown and black people. What other color would she be?
Before you read another word of mine, go read this: White feminist Paganism and the colonization of Heaven and Earth.
The white ally has two jobs. The first is to make space for black and indigenous voices. Have you read the piece? I’m going to talk about it and I encourage you to hear Ferguson’s voice first.
The second job of the white ally is to interact with other white people to build anti-racist community. Ferguson makes the sobering observation that white feminism fused the White Goddess with Mother Earth to create a Divine White Feminine.
The Divine White Feminine. Let’s sit with that for a minute.
If you’re white I’m going to assume you have signed on to be a white ally, you’ve done your preliminary reading, and you are working on your own white fragility. If you haven’t done your beginning work contesting racism, two of my Patheos colleagues have great primers to bring you up to speed. If you find yourself defensive while reading this I encourage you to do the exercises they suggest.
- Misha Magdalen, The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Pagan
- Cyndi Brannen, Dismantling the Widespread White advantage in Paganism and Witchcraft
I will be honest, when I first started thinking about the Black Goddess I felt a sense of loss. As a white feminist I spent a great deal of time and energy contesting the image of a male god who didn’t look like me. Just when I succeeded in creating an image of the divine who reflected my body back to myself I was asking myself to give her up. The Black Goddess doesn’t look like me. How do I relate to her?
Part of being an ally is to de-center whiteness. Sometimes that means I de-center myself. It is less important that I insist every image of the divine meets my needs, more important that I recognize the beauty in every image of the divine, and most important that I recognize the divine in every person.
I am not only a magician, I am also a yogini, studying Tantra in a Shri Vidya lineage. It helps a lot to relate to the Tantric goddesses. They aren’t just white, they are also red and black, bright and dark. Kali in particular is dark and fierce, but she is also a loving mother. Whatever her aspect, Devi is Ma. And I am her daughter. I am her emanation, her dream; She is everything.
It’s a Tantric move to see the black mother as beautiful.
I was lucky enough to see Helga Hedgewalker’s magnificent painting Nuit Queen of Heaven at the Paganicon art show in 2016. This Nuit is the voluptuous night sky, beautiful and powerful, and decidedly African. I encourage you to check out the link. If you like the image, don’t copy it, buy a print! I’ve ordered one for the Vespers for Nuit ritual I’m performing at Sacred Harvest Festival next month.
Here is a Thelemic thought experiment: re-read Chapter I of the Book of the Law while visualizing the Black Goddess speaking these words.
She is Ma, She is Devi, She is everything. She is black.