Her names and tides are innumerable. In ghost stories she often figures as ‘The White Lady’, and in ancient religions, from the British Isles to the Caucasus, as the ‘White Goddess’. I cannot think of any true poet from Homer onwards who has not independently recorded his experience of her. The test of a poet’s vision, one might say, is the accuracy of his portrayal of the White Goddess and of the island over which she rules. The reason why the hairs stand on end, the eyes water, the throat is constricted, the skin crawls and a shiver runs down the spine when one writes or reads a true poem is that a true poem is necessarily an invocation of the White Goddess, or Muse, the Mother of All Living, the ancient power of fright and lust – the female spider or the queen-bee whose embrace is death. Robert Graves “The White Goddess”
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was the beginning of the end for the White Goddess. Amongst animals only man is conscious of his place in the world, only man realises that time passes, that he is mortal. As the word took over, as Adam delved and Eve span, the superior power of the word smothered the instincts, the sun outshone the moon, but the White Goddess did not die she was eclipsed.
The moon radiates no heat but does illuminate. Since time immemorial the moon has personified mystery, and the White Goddess is the mysterious power behind the creative throne. She is the poet’s muse whose ethereal power catches us unawares; she sneaks up on us from behind the intellect, surprising us with her feminine sagacity. She may come upon us in an illuminating flash, but she has been working ever so slowly behind the scenes: quiet, unobtrusive,
more modest and more intelligent than the the logical, determined, masculine brain. Complementary to the heat of the masculine, she is prescient, reflective and cool. She has to be wooed from her secret hiding place; she cannot be called on directly. She appears to us in dreams, in the semi-wakeful state, on a long walk, in our scribblings and sketches; when we are not thinking of anything in particular she will ambush us with a blinding revelation. But like the pale moon she can be dazzled by the overpowering bully that is the intellect. She has to be coaxed gently into revealing herself before day-breaking logic hustles her back into her lair. She is the vampire that shuns the sun.
She has to be courted, she shuns the brash, direct approach, she will not be managed:
she is likely to fall into your arms when you least expect her to. The essence of creativity in any field is summoning up the white goddess.
The skill of the artist has to be painstakingly learned and requires thousands of hours practice, as experience grows and confidence increases the White Goddess who walks always with him, appears more and more, she turns thinking into knowing. But the White Goddess can be a deceiver too, she is the Goddess of ‘wishful thinking’, she may lift her veil but she may not reveal the truth.