goddess

Diana

January, 2011

Take me to the highest mountains
To all things wild and free
In the sacred wood
Ready your bow
Steady your gaze

In the winds
of the Wild Hunt
Hunter becomes the hunted
Haunting and haunted
As the winter gale

Tears the leaves
Moss Maidens
Frightened in the trees
Look after me in 1-2-3
To the Light and

To the darkness
You’ll find me
In the woodlands
And in the groves
I sing to Diana

Let the light unfold

Gems of the Goddess

January, 2011

CAILLEACH

cailleachwitch Gems of the Goddess


Winter has come.  Bringing along its snowflakes, whistling winds, and darker nights. Causing all living things to feel the need to hibernate against this bitter cold, only to return again in the spring refreshed and new.  Cailleach governs all of this. She is a Celtic winter goddess, as well as creation and transformation deity.  She is in the rocky mountain tops and hills. Her blanket of snow rests quietly over all that lives beneath its preserving grasp.

She is a death goddess, who lets die out what is no longer needed (in nature and within ourselves) but she also plants the seeds for new life to grow.

A very, very ancient goddess, previously worshiped in Scotland, Cailleach was so well respected she was said to have created the earth, with her hammer.  Banging out mountains and carving out streams.

Cailleach was a unique beauty.  She was depicted as an old women, with blue skin, bears teeth, matted hair, and piercing eyes.

On top of all that fierceness, she could also give kings the power to rule their land.

Cailleach reminds us what winter is all about.  A time for renewal.  A time for hibernation, even if its just a mental hibernation.  Those moments alone, digging deeper into your very core, are highly important to ones mental health.  With Cailleach there to guide you into the spring, as a refreshed individual, she can teach us all vast lessons about creation.  Strengthening us even more for the coming seasons.

CONNECTING WITH CAILLEACH

Meditate upon this wise women.  What things in your life need refreshment or change?  Let her guide you within the realms of her snowy earth.

Also make sure to give the animals some food to hibernate with.  Like nuts or berries.

SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER

Hammers, rocks, snow, hills, wands, blue, deer, mountains, earth

Gems of the Goddess

December, 2010

CERRIDWEN

images Gems of the Goddess

Welsh Goddess of Wisdom

Her long dark hair spiraling down towards her cauldron of knowledge.  She stirs up a potion of transformation for her son Afagddu, who has become ugly and one who is greatly feared.  So Cerridwen set off creating the perfect potion to make her son glorious and loveable.

For one year and a day Cerridwen added herbs at all the correct astrological times to her potion.  She chanted and sang the right songs, as the servant boy who tended the fire watched her carefully.  Then on the very last day as she set out to get the last bit of herbs, she heard an enormous crash.  Cerridwen went running to see what had happened, and came to find her potion completely gone as well as the servant boy who tended the fire.  Outraged, Cerridwen set out after him, murder on her mind.  The two ran and ran, shape shifting from a dog perusing a rabbit, an otter chasing a salmon, and a hawk flying after a bird.  Until finally the servant boy transformed into a single grain that fell to the ground, just as Cerridwen transformed into a black hen and swallowed that grain whole.

Nine months later she gave birth to Taliesen, a great Welsh Poet.

Cerridwen is the Crone aspect of the Goddess, and was worshiped by the people of Wales during pre-Christian times.  Even today she teaches us all the power of feminine knowledge, and how inspiration can lead to beautiful transformation in our lives.

So when you feel called to do so, call upon Cerridwen for inspiration, and ask her to share with you some of her wisdom.  All you have to do is ask politely, and take a peak into that big black cauldron!

CONNECTING WITH CERRIDWEN

Engage in your own cauldron festivities.  With the holidays coming up, I’m sure that won’t be a problem.  Cook and brew what feels right, and dedicate it to Cerridwen.

SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER:

White sow, cauldrons, astrology, herbs, nuts, corn, the moon, water, and dark colors

Gems of the Goddess

November, 2010

HECATE

HecateKatlyn Gems of the Goddess

work by Katlyn Breene

Daughter of Titanes Perses and Asteria

Since ancient times Hecate has been there within us all. All thanks to Zeus, who granted her this power, she forever -stands at the crossroads with her torch, governing who comes and goes within the spiritual realm.  Like the Greek and mysterious women she is, she’s also the goddess of witchcraft, and is sometimes seen as an old hag stirring a cauldron.  I don’t think hag is a very nice word, so lets just say older lovely lady.

Lover of the sky and moon, she is the queen of night who was never afraid to see the unseen within the dark, and the underworld.  This made her play an important role in Persephone’s life when she needed someone to talk to.  Hecate was always there, for she always knew what others did not.  With that fierce intuitive knowledge, and dark demeanor came her will to forever be independent.  Deciding to never rely on the power of a man to make her happy, she remained a virgin goddess.  She enjoyed being alone, lurking in cemeteries and hiding within the shadows.

But just because she likes to be alone and in charge, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t offer help.  Known for helping sailors at sea, she can also help anyone who asks her with respect.  One would not want to toy with her emotions, but she can play a huge part in our self-discovery path.  Hecate is one to urge you to look deeper into things (including yourself) to realize truths, even if they are scary. She can bring about swift change within our lives, be it bad or good.  Which ever creates lasting growth within us.  She sits deep within our souls waiting to be called upon for natural wisdom.  So don’t hesitate!

HALLOWEEN WITH HECATE

Since its almost Samhain, day of the dead, naturally Hecate would be most tangible, as the veil of seen and unseen becomes thinnest.  To connect with Hecate, go outside when the only light in the sky is that of the moon and stars, and call upon her.  Sit quietly and listen to what the night has to say to you.  Watch the moon as it stares lovingly at down in your direction.  Record any thoughts or experiences.

SYMBOLS AND THINGS TO PUT ON YOUR ALTER:

Torch, keys, dogs, cinnamon, mugwort, lime, raisins, candles, masks, moonstone, gold, owls, pumpkins, and dark colors

Myths and Legends:Journeys Through Time

November, 2010

Demeter greek mythology 687072 600 730.thumbnail Myths and Legends:Journeys Through Time

Every year the Earth goes through a series of changes. Where the change begins isn’t rightly

known but the beginning is assumed to be Spring; a season of rebirth and new beginnings.

Spring is the time when the world wakes up from it’s winter induced slumber and takes on

a new look. The tree leaves and flower buds peek at the world around them and decide

to be a part of it. The newborn animals begin to learn how to survive and become adults.

After spring comes Summer; a season of growth and destruction, of good times and on

occasion bad times. Summer is a time of temperment, sometimes Mother Nature’s temper

is good, at times it’s bad. Following summer comes Fall; a season of change and preparation.

Fall signifies the time when Earth starts to feel old and sleepy. The crops are harvested, the

animals know what to do for their first winter and the plants begin to slowly fall asleep. Fall

is almost a time of sadness. Winter is the final season to appear and it’s the most harsh. The

air is bitingly cold and so very dry, the snow piles up, the ice is slippery and dangerous.

Winter although beautiful can be deadly as most beautiful things often are. It’s ok though

because after winter comes Spring and the cycle begins again. The reason for the seasons

is quite simple. In Greek and Roman mythology, the world becomes sleepy, then desolate

and barren for four or more months because of the goddess Demeter. Demeter (known as

Ceres in Roman mythology) is the goddess of agriculture, nuturing, fertility, and grains.

This was important to the Ancient Greeks and Romans because it was the grains and

knowledge of agriculture that enabled them to live. The agriculture provided them

with the knowledge of how to farm grain which provided them with the means to make

bread which they would eat. Fertility too is important because if the land was fertile, it

provided a good crop and abundant harvest. If man and women too were fertile, then they

were able to have children and help the population grown. Demeter’s most known role in

mythology is that of Persephone’s mother. Persephone is the maiden who is kidnapped by

Hades, the God of the Underworld and made his queen. He abducted her because he thought

she was beautiful and fell in love with her. Zeus allowed the abduction and poor Demeter

had no clue of what happened to her child. She spent months looking for her child, thus

neglecting her duties. While she was looking for Persephone, several things happened to

her. She was taken against her will by Posiden in the form of mare and stallion, she became

unhappy and took the guise of an old mortal woman in the city of Eleusis, she became a

nursemaid after a long depressed state, and decided to make a future king immortal.

All of this came about because when Persephone went missing, Demeter searched

everywhere for her. At one point during her travels, Poseidon noticed her and began

lusting after her. She tried to hide from him by disguising herself a mare. Poseidon

was not fooled and became a stallion. The trip to Eleusis happened because she was

informed by Hecate that Zeus; Demeter’s former lover (before Hera) was the one who

allowed Hades to kidnap and marry Persephone. Feeling betrayed Demeter renounced her

divine duties and went into hiding. Due to her renouncing her divine duties, the world

started to become barren and all harvests ceased. It became a never ending winter.

Zeus finally realized what he had done and sent messangers to apologize and coax Demeter

into coming back and resuming her duties. She agreed to only do so if Persephone was

rescued. Zeus agreed and ordered Hades to release her. Hades, being unwilling to give up his

bride persuaded her to eat a pomegrante. Knowing that those who ate anything in the under-

world were not allowed to return to the Earth, Persephone having refused all food until now

because of this, accepted the pomegrante and ate the seeds. Having done this, she was

forever bound to the Underworld, one month for every seed she ate. Some versions say she

ate four seeds, others say six even seven. Demeter wasn’t happy that Persephone had eaten

the seeds but she was overjoyed at having her daughter back even if only for six months or

so. Demeter’s happiness at having Persephone back gives us spring and summer. Her sadness

and sorrow at Persephone going back to the underworld, gives us fall and winter. Spring

signifies Persephone’s return, Summer; her stay with her mother, Fall; the time when

Persephone leaves her mother and Winter; the time Demeter is without Persephone.

Despite everything Demeter has been through she had never acted upon her divine right to

become vindictive toward anyone who didn’t honor them in a dignified fashion. She was too

kind hearted to do so and even when she indulged in it, she always made it right. She’s a

symbol of strength, change, fertility, love, nurturing and the ability to be all of this even

when faced with despair. Of all the gods and goddess, Demeter is perhaps one of the

strongest, maybe not in power but in her ability to continue loving and nurtre people

no matter what is going on and how bad things get.

http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Demeter.html

http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/greek_goddess_demeter.htm

http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/goddess_demeter.htm

Rebel Rede

November, 2010

Be a Goddess!

It has become trendy to tell women to embrace their inner Goddess, but what does that really mean? I think when people tell us to embrace our inner Goddess they want us to embrace things like our divinity, power, confidence, creativity, knowledge, and sexiness etc. It is the idea that we treat and see ourselves as the beautiful divine creatresses that we are. In a world consumed my shallow definitions of physical beauty and female potential this is not always an easy idea to embrace.

It came to my attention recently how much I was struggling with this concept in my own life. I went from being a sexually uptight conservative Christian to being a sexually uptight politically active feminist. Somewhere in the mix of my religious and political restrictions I had lost my confidence and ignored my sexuality. How can I be a good witch, or be the physical embodiment of our great mother Goddess if I do not embrace my own sexuality and femininity? I wish there was some magical formula for learning to embrace our inner Goddess, but it’s not that easy. We have to work at it and it is different for every woman.

I realized recently that I had been so focused on my spiritual growth this year that I had gotten lazy in taking care of my physical health. I suddenly found myself at the heaviest and “softest” I had ever been. It is not only bad for our bodies to be physically unhealthy, but it is bad for our confidence as well. It takes spiritual, physical, and emotional health to become truly confident-to become a Goddess. Don’t be afraid to be creative though! Do whatever it takes! Much to my surprise I discovered a love for pole dancing. Not only is this new hobby of mine getting my body physically healthy, it is also helping me to embrace my sexuality. I am sexy and there is nothing wrong with that!

Find what makes you feel healthy, confident, and sexy. The journey to becoming a Goddess starts in your mind. It starts with admitting that you are a Goddess and then acting like you are a Goddess. I want you to stop reading this article right now and say out loud, “I am a Goddess, I am beautiful, I am powerful, I am sexy!” Now get off your beautiful Goddess booty and go be all those things! Be a Goddess!

Aphrodite, Goddess of Love & Beauty

August, 2010

goddesscards1.thumbnail Aphrodite, Goddess of Love & Beauty

“April is the cruelest month…” This famous opening line of T.S.Eliot’s revolutionary poem, The Wasteland, published in 1922, fits the ancient myth of the birth and life of Aphrodite to a T.

“Foam-risen” Aphrodite, (the Greek name for foam is “aphros”), was the product of a highly dysfunctional family. Her mother, Gaia, the generative Greek Earth Mother, tired of the constant attentions and cruelty of her husband, Uranus, who was both God of the Sky, and her first-born son. She asked one of their sons, Cronus, to castrate his father, so he would be unable to father any more children with her. (Uranus feared that their children would overthrow him one day. Because of this fear, he tried to prevent their being born. He did this by burying their babies deep within their mother, causing her untold anguish.)

Cronus was glad to oblige. He launched a murderous attack upon Uranus, and cast his severed genitals into the sea, where they dissolved into foam. From this potent and sexually charged brew, the fully-grown Goddess of Love was formed. She was never a child, raised to respect the rules and regulations of her elders. Instead, she emerged in full glory, her hair dripping with pearls, and greeted by ecstatic doves. Riding on a seashell, she was blown ashore to the island of Cyprus by the West Wind ~ the embodiment of love, beauty, and untrammeled sexuality. Her arrival caused a sensation in Olympus! Every god desired her. Every goddess was jealous. The world was turned upside down…

Zeus, King of the Gods, quickly realized he had a disaster on his hands. To avoid fighting amongst the gods for her favors, and to nail her down, he married her off to Hephaestus, the crippled master craftsman of Olympus. Hephaestus couldn’t believe his luck! Besotted with love, he created exquisite jewelry for his lovely bride, including the cestus, a magic girdle or belt, which made the wearer irresistible to men. This was another terrible mistake. Aphrodite was already irresistible, and had no intention of being faithful to a dull husband.

goddesscards3.thumbnail Aphrodite, Goddess of Love & Beauty

She carried on with dozens of lovers, including her half-brother, Ares, the impetuous God of War. She bore many children to her paramours, including Eros (Cupid), the son of Ares, who helped her to promote love and sensual delight. In vain, Hephaestus tried to control her. When he trapped Ares and Aphrodite in a golden net, and exposed their illicit affair to Zeus and the gods for judgment, he failed. Zeus, recognizing the futility of trying to discipline the goddess, refused to condemn her. She went on her merry way.

Aphrodite was impulsive and thoughtless as well as sexually self-indulgent. Wanting to defeat Hera and Athena in a three-way contest to be crowned Most Beautiful of all the goddesses, she shamelessly bribed the judge, Prince Paris of Troy. Hera and Athena also tried to bribe Paris. They offered him power and wisdom. Aphrodite, knowing what moves the hearts of men, promised him the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife. Paris awarded her the Golden Apple. Unfortunately for him, and for the ancient world, the woman, Helen of Sparta, was already married, to Agamemnon, King of Sparta.

Aphrodite’s scheme worked. Paris and Helen fell in love, and eloped. The tragic meddling of the goddess in affairs of the heart soon morphed into affairs of state, leading to the devastating 10-year long Trojan War, in which thousands of Greek heroes and citizens perished. Enraged, Zeus commanded Aphrodite to return to her appointed role as goddess of love, sensual delight, and fertility, where she could do less harm.

Aphrodite continued to take lovers. She even fell in love with a mortal ~ Adonis, the Hunter. This time, however, she was destined to suffer as well. Fearing that a wild animal might kill Adonis, she ordered him to give up hunting. Adonis refused, and was gored to death by a wild boar. The devastated goddess transformed her dying lover’s drops of blood into anemones. These lovely, short-lived blossoms remind us that she knew sorrow as well as passion.

goddesscards2.thumbnail Aphrodite, Goddess of Love & Beauty

A cult sprang up around the worship of Aphrodite. The month of April was consecrated to Venus, her Roman equivalent. Her festival, the Aphrodisia, (from which we derive the word aphrodisiac) was celebrated all over Greece on the first day of Aprilis, or April ~ especially at her temples in Athens and Corinth. Intercourse with her priestesses, called hierodules, or “sacred servants,” was considered a sacred act ~ a way of worshiping the goddess to ensure fertility and good fortune in love.

This custom originated in rituals practiced by worshippers of Aphrodite’s Near Eastern predecessors, such as the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and the Akkadian goddess, Ishtar. These Eastern goddesses, forbears of both Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus, also employed temple prostitutes. The practice was well documented in Babylon, Syria, Palestine, Phoenicia, and Carthage. Not surprisingly, Aphrodite is the patroness of courtesans, and of all who love or seek to be loved. She is also the protectress of sailors.

She has modern counterparts in contemporary “Sex Goddesses,” such as Madonna or Britney Spears. These adored celebrities seem to break all the rules in their search for happiness ~ though their behavior does not appear to reflect the goddess’s sense of sacred mission and delight.

Aphrodite’s power over love may seem narrow and frivolous, especially when compared to the impressive powers of Zeus, King of the Gods; Ares, God of War; or Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. The capacity to wage war, to lead nations, to sway mobs, to amass fortunes, or to display intellectual brilliance, are often more highly prized than the simple ability to move the human heart.

Yet the lesson of Aphrodite is that love reigns supreme. Zeus himself could not suppress her search for love. And the history of the Trojan War demonstrates the power of an ill-conceived passion to destroy nations. The goddess drives us into each other’s arms, breaks our hearts, and brings us back for more. She plants the seeds of attraction that lead to the birth of babies. She ensures the continuity of the human race.

goddesscards4.thumbnail Aphrodite, Goddess of Love & Beauty

While her willful quest for pleasure may lead to grief, she never gives up on love, or ceases to pursue it. She is fruitful, bears many children, and cherishes them. She rewards those who honor love: punishes those who deny it. She is a good friend, a bad enemy, and an ardent lover.

Above all, she is beautiful, fearless in her determination to live her life with passion and joy. Because of this, she has inspired generations of artists, poets, and writers to create immortal works of art in her honor.

Check out a few of their images on this You Tube video.

Enjoy the many faces of Aphrodite. They’re as varied as the human race! Beauty comes in many guises. Love is prompted by our unique perception of Beauty in the Other.

Love makes the world turn.

(URL OF YOU TUBE VIDEO ON APHRODITE)

http://video.google.ca/videosearch?q=aphrodite+the+greek+goddess&www_google_domain=www.google.ca&hl=en&emb=0&aq=2&oq=Aphrodite+the+#

Gems of the Goddess

June, 2010

Sekhmet

sekhmet Gems of the Goddess

Sekhmet is a powerful Egyptian Goddess.  There are some variations to the spelling of her name – Sachmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet, Sekhet and Nesert.  She is also known as Sacmis, which is a Greek name.   She was the sister and wife of Ptah.  Some places have her linked with the Goddess Hathor.
Sekhmet is a Warrior Goddess and her name means “The Mighty One”.  She was also known as (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Mistress of Dread, the Lady of Slaughter and the Lady of the Flame.  Her head is depicted with a lioness’ head.
She was known as a Solar Goddess and you will see many of her statues, in addition to having the lion’s head, has a solar disc on the top.   Many see her as a Goddess of War and Destruction.  She is tasked with protecting the Pharaohs when they went into battle by shooting arrows.   Sekhmet could be vengeful and could destroy by sending plagues, disease and misery to people.  However, she could easily reverse the effects, which shows the balance between her ability to destruct and to heal.
Sekhmet is part of the story “The Destruction of Mankind.”  Re, a Sun God, created Sekhmet from the fire in his eye to stop people that were plotting against him and being disrespectful.  Sekhmet was always enthusiastic about her slaying job and, once she got a taste of vengeance, she did her job so well she almost eliminated humanity.   Re put a stop to it by getting Sekhmet drunk beer that was colored to look like blood.  She was so tipsy that she abandoned her plans to finish off humanity and they were saved.
To avoid her wrath again, there were daily rituals (every morning and afternoon) performed to Sekhmet every day of each year.  Many statues will built in her honor – over 700.
Sekhmet is identified with Bast (Bastet).  She is known to wear red while Bast wore green.  Sekhmet was considered the Goddesses of the West while Bast was considered Goddess of the East.   Both had the lioness heads.
Her symbols are the lioness, cobra and Urjat (the eye of Horus).   To work with her, let her help with getting rid of anger and dealing with vengeance for a situation but it’s important not to get carried away.  Handling a situation properly will help you see the lessons of the experience much clearer than deal with problems when you’re in a temper.  She helps to transform the anger – letting you be safe to express yourself but stopping you from getting consumed by the fire.
Connecting with Sekhmet is easy – use interactive ways to do so.  Take a shamanic journey or work on doing some interactive meditations.  She is there to help you heal from your demons while acknowledging and facing them.

The Grove

June, 2010

Hera

HeraDrawing The Grove

Temperatures rise & the days lengthen. June brings with it the scent of jasmine on a warm breeze. The month bears the name of the Roman goddess Juno. I, like the Greeks of old, know her by another name. Hera is the child of titans Cronus &

Rhea.  From early on their relationship didn’t run smoothly.  Initially she refused his attempts until wily Zeus thought to transform himself into a cuckoo. When she held the shivering, miserable-looking bird to her breast he took his true form & ravished her. In her shame she had no choice but to marry him.

Hera was venerated as a mighty goddess by her own right in the ancient world. She was respected as a patroness of women & protector of marriage. She was honoured every four years at Olympia, where there was a festival held in her name. However, it is inevitable that she be defined by her relationship to Zeus. Tales of his extramatiral exploits are numerous, to say the least. Perhaps she can be forgiven for striking back from time to time.

Once Zeus fell for the charms of the Lybian queen Lamia. One version of myth says how Hera killed Lamia’s children & grief turned her into a monster.  She was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would not be able to escape the image of her dead babes. Zeus softened the blow by allowing her to be able to take her eyes out to rest. Lamia grew envious of other mothers & ate their children.

Hera almost caught Zeus out once. Zeus turned the hapless Io into a white heifer.  However, she wasn’t completely fooled & demanded that Zeus give her the creature as a gift. Hera left Io to the care of  many-eyed Argus to keep her separated from Zeus. The king of the gods ordered Hermes to kill Argus. When Hera learned of this she placed all his eyes into the plumage of the peacock. Ever notice the eye-like pattern in its tail?

Hera’s parenting skills aren’t fantastic. Her marriage to Zeus yielded a small few minor goddesses, including Hebe goddess of youth, as well as war-god Ares. Homer’s account states that she is also the mother of the lame smithy-god Hephaetus. Hera became jealous of how Zeus produced Athena without her, so she managed to give birth to a child on her own. However she was so offended by the baby’s physical imperfections that she threw him from the heights of My Olympus. Hephaestus later got revenge on his mum for her rejection by crafting a throne for her which would not let her get up after she sat on it. The other Olympians begged him to free her but he refused until Dionysus got him drunk. Hephaestus was taken back to Olympus thrown over a mule. He eventually released Hera after being bribed with the offer of  Aphrodite for his wife.

Hera often comes across as the archetypal wicked stepmother. Consider her treatment of the hero Herakles, Alcemene’s son with Zeus. To be fair it would be hard for any woman to cope with knowing her husband spawned an offspring with another. Hera took her hurt & jealousy to extremes from the start. When Alcemene was pregnant with Heracles, Hera tried to prevent her giving birth by tying her rival’s legs into knots. The servant Galanthis tricked Hera by saying she’s already given birth. When Herakles was a newborn, Hera sent two serpents to kill him. The baby strangled both creatures & was found happily playing with their limp bodies.

The image of a wife left at home alone & crying in in the dark whilst hubby has his fun is all too easy to see, be it god or mortal. No doubt Hera may have a ‘human’ side where she weeps or gives way to darker emotions like sorrow or fury. Many have difficulty looking past the image of an angry, shrieking shrew. There is more to her than this, however. She possesses a deep, abiding strength & more patience than she’s often given credit for. It must take a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to endure the scandals & constant emotional drama life with a philandering partner of this magnitude would put her through. Hers is an enduring love. She must truly feel deeply for Zeus if she has remained by his side no matter what their life together has thrown at her.

Hera teaches us to acknowledge the flaws in others even if we can’t always accept them. Imperfection is inevitable; even the gods themselves have quirks or weaknesses. Don’t try to love someone because they are perfect; instead love them for who they are, warts & all. The flip side to this is that Hera urges us to develop

self-respect. It is no less loving to speak out with all the dignity of a queen if a situation or behaviour in another becomes unbearable.

Sure, she is the queen of heaven & mother of all. There’s no disputing that in many ways Hera is the ultimate wife. However, remember that she renews her virginity yearly by bathing in the sacred spring of Canathus at Argos. Family life doesn’t mean one must give up his or her identity. Certainly marriage doesn’t, & shouldn’t, require either partner to become a creature bent perfectly to suit the other’s will. In renewing herself on a regular basis she constantly reclaims the part of herself she holds most dear. Whilst her methods might lack in tact at times, Hera lives by her own terms.  For better or worse, she is herself.

The Grove

May, 2010

Athena

athena The Grove

The scent of lemon lingers in the air. I can hear birds chirping outside in the garden as I crack open a window. My muscles feel a bit stiff, but I take pride in their ache. It’s taken me most of the morning, but I’ve finally managed to tidy up most of the house. There’s just one more chore left to do: polish the replica Athenian general’s helm on my desk & the bronze statue of Athena on my altar.

It makes sense for me to dedicate this day to chores. At what roughly corresponds to May in the modern calendar, the ancient Greeks celebrated the Kallynteria in honour of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, crafts, & battle. She is proud patroness of  Athens,  the city which bears her name.  The Kallynteria was a time when women swept out Athena’s temple &  tended the eternal flame kept there. The 2nd day of the festival was the Plynteria & included a ritual cleansing of Athena’s statue, along with feasting & prayers in the Parthenon. To honour her I choose to start my spring cleaning at this time of year too.

Who is this grey-eyed goddess? What is it about her that captivates all who know her?

She is the daughter of Zeus. Technically her mother is the titaness Metis, whose name means wisdom. Zeus feared a prophecy that her 1st child would be a girl, but her 2nd child would be a boy who bore enough power to overthrow him,  just as he overthrew his father Cronus. He opted to take no chances, swallowing his pregnant lover in effort to prevent her from giving birth to a child stronger than he. Not longer after Zeus was struck w/ a terrible headache. The smithy-god Hephaestus came to his aid, splitting open his skull with a wedge. Out sprang Athena, fully grown & fully armoured.  Myth might vary in places, but one consistent point is that she quickly became her father’s favourite child. Zeus entrusted no-one else with the key to his thunderbolts & only she was allowed to wear his aegis or bear his shield.

True, she’s a goddess of war. Athena does seem to have a ruthless side. A group of conspirators once trapped Zeus &  bound him in his throne. The titaness Thetis summoned Briarius, one of the hundred-handed Hecatonchires, to free him whilst the others argued over who would now rule in his stead. He considered Hera the prime instigator & strung her from the heavens with unbreakable silver thread for 4 days.

Poseidon and Hermes swore to never challenge him again & were banished from Olympus for one year,  where they had to serve a mortal king as common labourers. Zeus chose not to punish Athena, saying that she played a reluctant part in events.

However,  there’s only one account of  her embracing  battle for its own sake.

Hesiod ‘s The Theogony describes Athena as “The awesome, battle-rousing,

army-leading, untiring / Lady, whose pleasure is fighting and the metallic din of war.” She personifies war tempered with wisdom & a love of strategy, rather.

She often acts for the benefit of mortals & heroes alike.  Both Athena & her uncle Poseidon wanted to be patron deity of Athens. Athena gave a practical gift to the city. She caused an olive tree to spring up near the Acropolis, thus providing people with a plant that could grow in the tough Greek terrain & provide them with food, a source of oil, & things valuable for trade. Poseidon sought to outdo her by striking the ground with his trident & causing a spring of water to gush forth.  He is the ocean personified, so the water was salty. Athena’s gift to the city was considered to be more useful, so she became the city’s patron deity.

She sponsored the hero Perseus on his quest to slay the gorgon Medusa. The goddess provided him with a sword & shield. She also whispered in his ear & suggested he use his shield as a mirror to avoid looking directly at the killing gaze of the gorgon & avoid being turned to stone. Athena also aided Jason, Odysseus & Herakles in their adventures.

Despite her divine nature, she is perhaps one of the most ‘human’ of the gods. She can be vain like any other woman in her rare moments of weakness. When Eris, the goddess of discord and strife, failed to get invited to a wedding she decided to stir things up by throwing a golden apple into the crowd inscribed with the words “for the fairest”. Hera, Aphrodite, & Athena each tried to claim it, prompting the beauty contest which ultimately lead to the Trojan war when Paris abducted Helen of Troy when he claimed the prize Aphrodite offered him for choosing her.

She is capable of the same emotions as the rest of us & can be embarrassed.  Athena is given credit for inventing the flute. She was proud of her efforts & went to show it to the other Olympians. However Hera & Aphrodite laughed at her,  making fun of the way her cheeks puffed out when she played.  Athena caught her reflection in a fountain & could see their point. She then threw her creation away in disgust.

No other goddess personifies both timeless wisdom & ever-growing civilisation. Athena possesses reasoning, logic, & boundless intellect that reaches across the ages.  She asks us to use that wit, practicality, & creativity to reach our goals. Her ‘human’ side allows us to approach her when we are in need. Remember her at this time of year, & always.

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