Our Lady of Schlock: Elvira & the Feminine Divine

God is dead.

As he should be.

But the Goddess lives! And her name is Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Over the decades, Elvira (aka Cassandra Peterson) has carved out a place in our dark little hearts as the resident Queen of the Macabre.

But she is so much more than a Jack-O-Lantern aficionado.

Elvira is a divine being; a modern deity for our modern times.

The Mistress of the Dark is nothing less than an avatar of the Goddess.

The Goddess

Wiccans worship the Goddess as a representation of the Feminine Divine.

Embodying the transformative nature of the moon, this Goddess has many phases.

She is often referred to as three divinities: the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone.

It’s by invoking this threefold Goddess throughout Elvira’s story that we can truly understand her divinity.

The Maiden

She has appeared throughout many religions, from Diana of the Ancient Greeks to Freya of Norse mythology.

Diana, Greek Goddess of the Hunt

Wild and free, the Maiden – sometimes named the Virgin – embodies innocence and burgeoning sexuality.

Freya, Norse Goddess of War

She is a representation of the virgin-warrior and the huntress, a women unto herself, brimming with potential.

The Virgin

As the Maiden may rush through the forests in pursuit of wild game, so too did Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira) chase her dreams.

After graduating high school in 1969 in Colorado Springs, Cassandra moved to Las Vegas where she worked as a showgirl.

Then, in the early 1970’s, Cassandra took off to Italy where she met director Federico Fellini and began a rather small acting “career”.

Eventually, Peterson returned to America, moving to Los Angeles.

She joined the famous improv school, The Groundlings, and perfected a Valley Girl character which would become her trademark.

Phil Hartman (right); Paul Reubens (center); Cassandra Peterson (left)

The Maiden guided Cassandra’s hand as she crafted what would become Elvira; the Mother would bring the Mistress of the Dark to fruition.

The Mother

She has manifested in various forms, from Ceres of Roman mythology to Selene of the Greeks.

Ceres, Roman Goddess of the Harvest

Through her nurturing and abundant nature, the Mother – sometimes named the Whore – presides over life and growth.

Selene, Greek Goddess of the Moon

She represents maturation and a productive spirit.

The Whore

As the Mother Goddess governs the growth of crops, so too did Elvira take form.

Station KHJ-TV was hoping to replace their once beloved horror host, Sinister Seymour.

The producers took a liking to Peterson’s Valley Girl character and brought her on board.

And, with a dash of Sharon Tate ala Polanski’s “Fearless Vampire Killers”…

…Elvira was born!

With a sharp wit and BIG *ahem* personality, “Elvira’s Movie Macabre” was a hit in Los Angeles.

The show was really COOKIN’!

A Coors beer campaign soon took the Mistress of the Dark national.

A movie was soon to follow. And just like that, Elvira was a household name.

But as time marched on, it was the Crone guiding Elvira’s future.

The Crone

From Kali of the Hindus to Hecate of the Ancient Greeks, magic arts & healing are the Crone’s craft.

Kali, Hindu Goddess of Destruction

The Crone – sometimes named the Witch – represents destruction, but also regeneration.

Hecate, Greek Goddess of Witchcraft

She shows us that with time also comes wisdom. Death is not the end, but the continuation of a divine cycle.

The Witch

As the culture shifts around her, Elvira shows resilience and foresight which would make a Crone proud.

Keeping up with the times, Cassandra has capitalized on her image.

From pinball machines to video games, Elvira has shown up everywhere!

Comic books, too. And novels. And action figures. Halloween costumes. Salt & pepper shakers.

The list is as BIG as her *ahem* fanbase!

It’s this certainty of purpose, this wisdom of foresight, that sets Elvira apart. There truly is no other.

Unpleasant Dreams…

Cassandra never knew her horror hosting gig would become a lifelong career. But thank the Devil it did!

She gave us what we didn’t know we needed: a Mistress of the Dark who moonlights as a Goddess.

Feast your eyes upon Elvira, darlings, in all her glory.

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