GODDESSES

Goddesses

Athena – Goddess of Wisdom and Crafts

Born full-grown from Zeus’ head. Athens is named after Athena (and called that in Greece to this day).

Metis – Everything Feminine - feelings, nature, instinct, the sacred feminine, or an identification with women and feminism; to become a mother’s daughter as well as a father’s daughter.


Hestia – Goddess of Hearth and Temple; never personified by a human body/face. Appeared as the hearth, a spiritual presence, peace-keeper, keeper of the sanctuary / church. Eternal virgin, never entangled in war or romance. The example for the vestal virgins, hearth-keepers, who entered the priestesshood as young girls around the age of 6. They dressed alike and kept anonymous. They remained chaste, with dire consequences if they did not. Her two virgin goddess sisters were unlike her: they were outwardly focused while she was inwardly focused. Hestia women could find a place in a cloistered order, during a time when living alone (without a man) was not allowed in society. As an older woman in a patriarchy, she is supposed to become invisible—and this suits her just fine.

This introversion can be thought of as being self-centered. Hestia is also developed through taking time out of busy schedules for yoga classes and meditation, retreats or women’s circles that provide a time to “center” and enter a ritual Hestia space.


Hera – the Goddess of Marriage - same as the triple goddess. A statue of Hera was immersed in a bath in the spring, symbolically restoring her virginity; in the summer a ritual sacred marriage took place; and in the winter a dispute and separation from Zeus were enacted, and Hera went into hiding as the widow. “Hebe the maiden, Hera the matron, and Hecate the crone.” Hera likes to be partner in creative projects too… When they find such a person, a man or another woman, the book can be written or the project can get off the ground, or the new business can thrive — and Hera blossoms in this new form.


Demeter – Goddess of Grain, giver of the Eleusinian Mysteries. These were huge festivals held every five years and very important events for many centuries. Yet, little is known about them as those attending were sworn to secrecy. It is thought that the central tenet around which the Mysteries revolved was that, just like grain returns every spring after its harvest and the winter lull, so does the human soul after the death of the body, reincarnated in a next life.

Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate represent the three phases of women’s lives and the three aspects of the triple goddess: maiden, mother, crone. Demeter is a diminished version of the Great Mother Goddess, Gaia,  who was worshiped long before Zeus and the Olympians. She is the mother goddess whose daughter Persephone is raped and kidnapped by Poseidon and as she searched for her, she herself was raped. She wandered the earth disguised as an older woman beyond childbearing years, and took on the job of serving as nursemaid to Triptolemus, son of King Celeus and Queen Metaneira of Eleusis.

Demeter and Dionysus (the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth). were worshipped at Eleusis, a little town near Athens. Dionysus became the male counterpart to Demeter, now the two the great Gods of the earth, during the turning of the tides toward patriarchy around 3,000 BC. Their worship was referred to as the Eleusinian Mysteries or Thesmorphia. The Myth of Demeter goes something like this:

  • Metaneira, a mother herself, comforted Demeter in Persephone’s absence.

  • Demeter doted on the Triptolemus and anointed him with ambrosia daily. Demeter’s attachment to the child alarmed Metaneira, and the two ultimately went their separate ways.

  • Still angry over the abduction of Persephone, Demeter subjected the world to famine. Zeus sent the gods to Demeter one by one to try and bring her out of her despondency. Demeter and Persephone were ultimately reunited at Zeus’s decree.

  • Demeter was granted eight months per year with Persephone; her daughter would remain with Hades for the remaining months.

  • Men called Demeter the “Good Goddess” despite the desolation she had brought about as a result of her grief.

  • She named Triptolemus her ambassador to men.

  • She taught Triptolemus and Celeus her sacred rites.

  • In ancient art, Demeter was pictured wearing a wreath made of ears of corn.

  • The snake and the pig were sacred to her.

  • The torch is often depicted in connection with Demeter because of her persistent search for Persephone.

  • Demeter came to Eleusis during the reign of King Erechtheus of Athens.


Hecate, Hestia, Sekhmet

Is the older woman who shares her wisdom and teaches Demeter about letting go of her child in stages. Hecate’s wisdom tells Demeter that like the goddess herself, she may not be able to protect her children from suffering. As an inner quality, Hecate is a source of wisdom and patience, enabling us to wait until we have some clarity and can wisely choose the path we will take at significant junctures. A Demeter-tyype woman who acquires Hecate’s wisdom becomes this kind of friend herself. Wise friends and women’s circles provide Hecate support through these transitions.

Besides Hecate, Hestia and Sekhmet are the crone archetypes that a Demeter type most needs to develop. Hestia, so she can find a center in herself, and Sekhmet, in order to act decisively once she sees the truth of her situation.


Persephone Dual nature: maiden, and queen of the underworld.

Persephone the maiden does not know “who she is” because she is as yet unaware of her desires and strengths. It is her nature to be receptive, playful, and malleable. As a vulnerable goddess, she doesn’t have an innate ability to focus like the virgin goddesses, nor does she have an instinctual inner drive to fulfill which Hera, Demeter, and Aphrodite have. A young Persephone doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life and this lack of definition makes her susceptible to “being abducted” by stronger personalities who can impose on her their expectations of who they want her to be. It is her pattern to be chameleon-like, to unconsciously “try on” whatever others expect of her or project upon her. Sometimes she has difficulty making a commitment of taking care of another person. She will stay the eternal victim/maiden until she stops withholding herself, denying the truth of her situation, and learns from the experience.

With the archetype of queen of the underworld, she can draw upon her empathy, imagination, and easy access to the collective unconscious, which are resources for creative work that she may, by age 50, finally have found. If she has psychic abilities, this may be a time to develop them wisely. The Crone-age Persephone is leafing through catalogs, aimlessly shopping, gathering seashells or flowers, and delighting in these activities just like picking flowers in the Eleuysinian fields. Sometimes, Sekhmet/Kali had to emerge first, before it was safe for Persephone to come out and play. Or an abducted Persephone had to emerge from an abusive relationship or an addiction before a playful Persephone was possible. Often it is the laughter and freedom of Baubo/Uzume, found in the company of women friends, that finally liberates the spontaneous girl in every woman.


Aphrodite or (Venus) The Goddess of Love and Beauty born as fully grown from Cronos’ genitals (Which Zeus had thrown into the sea!). She married Hepaestus, the lame god of the forge, and she had many love affairs which she entered freely. In the shame culture of the patriarchal paradigm, she’s had to renounce this part of her personality. She could compel mortals to fall in love; only the virgin goddesses could resist. She’s had many lovers, she is never humiliated, abused, or raped. The mutuality of an attraction is the “chemistry” that happens between lovers; in chemistry, when two substances react, both are transformed in the process. There is often a similar though nonsexual eros or “chemistry” between the two people in transformative and creative relationships such as mentoring, teaching, directing, editing, doing therapy, or even parenting, in which the potential of one person is brought out by the other through a combination of skill and love. Aphrodite is a vision carrier. She holds a vision for a beloved’s dream before and until it becomes evident and sustainable. She can be at risk of her clients falling in love with her. She can be a carrier for a vision or dream between herself and a creative partner, and vision carrier for the ones she is in service to. There is a risk of falling in love with your creation. The difficulty with being an Aphrodite archetype is that she likes intensity. When one relationship wanes she may want to leave and go to wherever the intensity is stronger.

Fundamentalist ideology defines women as either good women or whores. A woman who is desired does not have to feel desire herself in order to be blamed if a man finds her desirable, even if she is raped.

Aphrodite-types may have become courtesans. This becomes dangerous when beauty wanes and if protection disappears.


Goddess Archetypes and Women’s History (apply the goddess of your choice as the centuries pass)

From the perspective of the Goddess Archetypes I find this interesting:

Let’s remember the Inquisition and witch-hunts in Europe.  From 1450s through the 1750s, witch-hunts resulted in a gendercide; it was mostly women. During this time, people lived close to the earth. They were aware of herbs, and recipes for health. The older women were the ones more knowledgeable. To make herbal concoctions and use earth medicine was not only natural it was necessary for survival. These “witches” were the healers of the clans. For that reason, they held some powers that may have been or simply seemed mystical in nature. For that, they were the ones targeted and feared by the Church Reformationists. Jumping to the late 1700s: the Salem, Massachusetts fiasco based on fear.


Next Came the Birth of Feminism:

First Wave – Women’s Sufferage 1848. The circle of five women friends (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Coffin Wright, Jane Hunt, and Mary Ann McClintock) who organized that first convention and wrote the first statement of The Declaration of the Rights of Women.

At that time Women:

o   Could not own property

o   Were the property of their husbands (as were their children)

o   Did not have a right to their own wages

o   Were considered incompetent to testify

o   Could not vote

o   Husbands had the right to physically discipline them / rule them

Finally, after 70 years of deliberation, in 1920 the 19th amendment was ratified and women were given the right to vote. Eleanor Roosevelt, at 35, voted for the first time.

 

Second Wave – Personal and Political Feminism

o   WWII 1939-1945 Women had to keep things going on the home front be independent and competent (only for the duration of time while the men were off at war).

o   In the late 40’s and 50’s women were housewives, and for some this is when they went to college to get their “MRS. degree” and their “PHT” (putting hubby through). Women had babies – collectively producing the baby boom (from 1946 to 1964) – and the ideal was togetherness in suburbia.

     

Third Wave – the later 60’s and 70’s, the decade of feminism reached its peak. Women were meeting again, 500 publications appeared on the topics of sexism and patriarchy, and this movement went hand in hand with the equal rights movement. In the 60’s and 70’s women began to speak and they were being heard. During this 100 years, women accomplished becoming man-like. Mastering action, intellect, and the power needed to become successful in the game of LIFE.

Women’s Circles / Recovery Groups:

It was during the 60’s and 70’s when it was women in their 20’s and 30’s on campuses. These circles, consciousness raising groups, the essential idea was: Tell your personal truth, listen to other women’s stories, see what themes are shared, and discover that the personal is political—you are not alone.

·      In the 80’s and 90’s, the recovery movement was the next major movement in which people met in groups: AA; NA; Food; Gambling all requiring confidentiality, admission of powerlessness over the addiction and needing help from a higher power.

·      In the 80’s Women’s spirituality groups took off in California and were psychological and apolitical. Symbols, myths, music, meditation, art, and ritual were common elements, along with a reverence for nature, the sanctity of women’s bodies and the earth, and a return of goddess spirituality in many forms. Crone ritual circles to mark the passage into the post-menopausal time began happening then too.

·      In the 1990’s cancer support groups began as an adjunct to cancer treatment. Results of Stanford research revealed that women in the support groups:

o   Used less pain medication

o   Had less anxiety

o   Lived twice as long as the ones in the control group, some going on to live over a decade later