goddess athena

Moon Owl Observations

November, 2011

The Goddess Athena

Athena is a very well know goddess and was one of the most highly honoured and respected in ancient Greece. The tale of her birth is one that is both shocking and remarkable. Athena is not only a beautiful goddess, but is intelligent, wise and reasonable. She is also one of the three virgin goddesses and is credited with inventing the horse bridle, sailing ship, flue and trumpet. Another popular name for Athena is Minerva (Roman mythology)

This goddess of wisdom and war had one of the most unique births. Her father is Zeus and when his wife Metis was pregnant with Athena, he was told that if a son was born he would kill Zeus and take his throne. Zeus obviously did not want this to happen so he ‘played it safe’ and swallowed Metis whole, along with their unborn child. After doing this, Zeus suffered from a horrible headache and begged Hephaestus to help him. Not knowing what else to do, Hephaestus hit Zeus on the head with and axe- which split his head open. From this head wound emerged a beautiful adult female who was fully dressed in battle regalia. This woman was Athena.

Athena is almost always depicted in full armour and it was widely accepted that she was Zeus’ favourite child. She is the patron of arts and crafts, including carpentry and building. As most goddesses, she did have a jealous side. An excellent example of this would be the story of Medusa.  Medusa used to be a very beautiful woman but made and unwise choice and boasted about her beauty to Athena, who then became extremely jealous and decided to change Medusa into a hideous monster with living snakes for hair.

Athena has done many great things  and the good easily outweighs the bad. This rational, intelligent goddess was an amazingly powerful defender and peacemaker. She gave many heroes advice and protection and was the one that helped Odysseus find his way home. She was often called to settle disputes between the gods and/or mortals, hence being mentioned in a large number or tales. Athena also had a very compassionate side. Teiresias accidentally once walked in on Athena when she was bathing. This is normally punishable by death but she took pity on him and covered his eyes with her hands. This blinded Teiresias but it also gave him inner site and he went on to become a well known prophet.

Probably one of the most common things Athena is known for is being the patron of Athens. How this came about was the town held a competition to see who would be the patron god and have he town named after them. She went up against Poseidon and she won them over with the gift of the olive tree. After this the olive tree became very sacred to her and an olive branch is usually used when paying homage to her. Because of her wisdom, the owl is also very sacred to her. Athena is a powerful, extraordinary goddess and an excellent choice for a personal deity- just remember to always show her the respect she deserves.