The aspect of the Dark Goddess is misunderstood or misinterpreted due to the "definitions" placed upon her by cultures, most especially as one culture warred against, and dominated, another culture. On the other hand, there are the religious factions which needed to justify their domination over other religions by putting evil connotations upon various deities.
Unfortunately, in these modern times, this misinformation surrounding the Dark Goddess is now used to justify many aberrations exhibited by members of our own society.
The article below, written by "Magi" does much to clear up the misinformation, and my own personal thoughts appear below that.
The Dark Goddess is the aspect of the Goddess most often deemed mysterious,dangerous, violent or ill tempered. Dark Goddesses appear in almost all religions featuring female deities, and are widely the most misinterpreted and misunderstood of deities worshipped by modern day practitioners. Just as the use of the word "occult" has been perverted into a word harbouring connotations of evil, mischief of malevolence, so too has the term "Dark Goddess" become commonly misunderstood to mean goddesses of ill repute, evil or treachery.
When religion refers to a dark goddess, it refers to the aspects of any cycle of life that tends to be overlooked or shoved to the background of society. There can be several reasons for this: topics may include sexuality violence toward women, war, murder, magick, death. All of these are issues that permeate society and yet are little talked about. They are subjects that are most commonly avoided in the Western World because Occidental religions do not provide healthy methods of dealing with these subjects. They are largely seen as feminine aspects of life, related to the yin, and therefore a subject not readily discussed in public.
Many Dark Goddesses deal with the subject of Destruction. The popular Hindu Goddess Kali, Supreme Dark Mother Goddess, is known as the Mother of Dissolution and Destruction. She is the dark aspect of the wife of Shiva (the dark aspect of one face of the Devi, the dark face of Parvati). As the goddess of destruction, without further study one might assume that she is ill tempered and violent, sadistic or insane in nature. This is quite untrue. According to Hindu mythology, she destroys ignorance, destroys that which incurs chaos or disrupts harmony, destroys the ego which interferes with the workings of god, and blesses those who strive to know God. Kali is merely one example of a dark goddess who is popularly misunderstood. In the movie, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, worshippers of Kali are depicted as child enslavers, sadistic murderers and consciousless heathens.
Such misunderstanding is widespread in the study of the Dark Goddesses. So, if Dark Goddesses are not evil, then why do we call them "dark"? This line of thinking is inherited from European practices in which men who sought to justify the conquering and enslavement of darker skinned people all over the world linked darkness of skin with evil. According to some early Anglican Christians, descendants of Cain (the son of Adam and Eve who slew his brother and was thus condemned to be the father of a nation of people who would forever be plagued with strife) were marked by God and colored black. These descendants of Cain supposedly reside in Africa, and when white Europeans sought to conquer and enslave these people, the justification used was that they were children of Cain , and this forsaken by God, and therefore, something less than human.
Far earlier than that, approximately 1500 BC when light skinned Aryan peoples (tribes from Russia and Central Asia) moved into the area of present day India and began to conquer and co-habitat with the dark skinned Dravidian people who inhabited the area, the Aryan people subjected the natives to the caste system, which relegated all of the most darkly colored people to the lowest caste (actually, they were outside of the caste system, as the caste system was reserved for "humans") marking them as something less than human. These are only two examples of how the term "dark" came to mean something inhumane, and evil. But they permeate our thought, and Western culture has adopted this view.
Yet, when the term "Dark Goddess" is used, we are not speaking of the term dark as it was twisted by the events listed above. We speak of dark in its most original context: "hidden, or unknown". The role of the Dark Goddess is hidden from the face of Occidental culture, and even from most Oriental culture. Because she acts as destroyer, bringer of death, she is feared, and with fear brings prejudice and hatred. However misunderstood the role of the Dark Goddess is, however, her study is crucial to understanding the operation of Goddess Religions.
The Dark Goddess is the counterpart to the life giving aspect of the goddess we usually associate with. She brings death, for without death, we cannot fertilise the earth to bring new life. She is the destroyer, for without destroying that which we no longer need, we cannot grow. She is the keeper of magick and mystery, for without the hidden truths, our quest as a human race seems without point and purpose. She is the murderer, for there is evil in this world, and her children need protection from it.
Wonderful article, and being a Dark Pagan myself, I can understand that the majority of Pagans I have met somehow refuse to, or deny, dealing with the darker side. The dark side is an unknown realm, and people are scared of what they do not know, or quite understand. But then I wonder, why do I keep hearing, "Pagans are very openminded, and want to learn about everything." Is that really true? Not from the comments I have received when trying to discuss the darker side of Pagan paths.
Could it be the misinformation that is attributed to the darker aspects, and deities? For example, Hekate is the Greek Goddess who guides those along the three way path (where you are going in life now, your future course, and to the afterlife), and is, therefore, close to the god Hades, ruler of the Underworld. She is a virgin, maiden goddess, close also to Persephone and Demeter; and is attributed with being the guardian of magickal folk, ie: witches.
Now the Romans took Hekate, changed the spelling to Hecate and made her into a demon goddess; evil incarnant, a lover of chaos and violent death. Yet many, who say they worship dark goddesses, have no clue as to her true Greek background, and how this gentle goddess was bastardized by the Romans. They, for whatever personal reason, are just attracted to the "evil aspects" attributed to her.
But being a dark pagan is not all about being evil, that is a clear misnomer. It is about finding the balance between the powers of the day and the night, the dark and the light, the bad and the good; seeing, dealing with and accepting both aspects of everything.
Come to the dark side, we have sweet treats too.