Legend of the Descent of the Goddess

By Gerald Gardner

Now the Goddess had never loved, but she would solve all mysteries, even the mystery of Death, and so she journeyed to the nether lands. The guardians of the portals challenged her, “Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels, for nought may ye bring with you into this our land.” So she laid down her garments and her jewels and was bound as are all who enter the realms of Death, the mighty one.

Such was her beauty that Death himself knelt and kissed her feet, saying: “Blessed be thy feet that have brought thee in these ways. Abide with me, but let me place my cold hand on thy heart.” And she replied: “I love thee not. Why dost thou cause all things that I love and take delight in to fade and die?” “Lady,” replied Death, “’tis age and fate, against which I am helpless. Age causes all things to wither; but when men die at the end of time, I give them rest and peace and strength so that they may return. But you, you are lovely. Return not; abide with me.” But she answered: “I love thee not.” Then said Death: “As you receive not my hand on your heart, you must receive Death’s scourge.” “It is fate, better so,” she said, and she knelt. Death scourged her and she cried: “I know the pangs of love.” And Death said: “Blessed be,” and gave her the fivefold kiss, saying: “Thus only may you attain to joy and knowledge.”

And he taught her all the mysteries, and they loved and were one; and he taught her all the magics. For there are three great events in the life of man — love, death and resurrection in the new body — and magic controls them all. To fulfill love you must return again at the same time and place as the loved ones, and you must remember and love her or him again. But to be reborn you must die and be ready for a new body; to die you must be born; without love you may not be born, and this is all the magic.


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