A Goddess for Everyone

Running a bit late with this one. Had a rough day with the wee one. We had shots and blood taken today. Anyway, here’s Monday’s post enjoy.

Today I want to talk about the many faces of the Goddess. We’ve talked about how Gods are born and the creation myths attached to them, but we haven’t talked about the deities themselves.  Some Goddesses are related to protection, fertility, love, death, or even money. Others are bound to the earth.  Some are mother Goddesses, while others are maidens, crones, or even warrior Goddesses.

As a note there are many Goddesses that fit multiple categories.

So let’s take a look at the Goddess in her many forms.

The Earth Mother

This is the Goddess at her most primal.  In this form the Goddess is the living Earth. She is not only our mother, but our protector and provider. She gives us everything from the air we breathe to the food we eat in this form.  She is the embodiment of everything feminine.  She is even called the womb in some instances.  She is all knowing, caring, and loving. She is a teacher. She is also both a creator and a destructive force of nature.

People who focus on the Earth mother often describe the Earth as the body of the Goddess. The rivers are her veins, the weather is her nervous system, both nourishing us and destroying us as needed. There are even some mounds in Europe that are said to represent her womb or breast, such as Salisbury Hill. When we pollute or strip her of her resources, we harm her.  She is the ultimate immanent deity.  She is a part of us and we are a part of her.

She is often pictured as a naked rotund woman, with leaves and vines for hair.

The Triple Goddess

The triple Goddess is a three part Goddess. She is comprised of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.  She is often depicted changing with the cycles of the moon.  The Maiden is the start of the cycle.  The Mother is the bright of the moon, and finally, the Crone is the waning of the moon.

The Maiden

The maiden is the embodiment of youth, vitality, sexuality, innocence, and purity.  She is the virgin Goddess.  She is young. She is the idealist.  She still remains hopeful.  Many young women and teens relate to the maiden.  She is often impulsive and is still the dreamer.  While there are many maiden Goddesses some of the better known are Persephone (Greek Goddess of Youth), Eir (Scandinavian Goddess of Mercy), Irdlirvirisissong (Inuit Laughing Goddess of the Northern Lights).

As a side note….virgin in this sense do not mean sexually pure. Originally the term virgin referred to a woman who was complete within herself.  (add link http://www.topix.com/forum/afam/TKOGRLKVQPTAPMJSC) This could reference a woman who has never birthed children or a girl who has never been married.  The Maiden Goddess is represented as a young woman who is often eager and flirtatious.

The Mother

The mother is the middle ground in a woman’s life.  She is the empowerment of the full moon. She is wise and protective.  She is the caring mother, the nurturing aspect, and joyful in her roles.  She is considered the representation of female maturity. The mother knows the ways of the world and the joys of childbirth.  She understands the delight and frustration of raising children and the sorrow of letting them go as they leave the nest.

Images of the Mother Goddess include: Demeter (Greek) and Eko obasi, the pregnant tortoise Goddess of West Africa.  Eve from the bible has also been considered a part of this category by some.

The Crone

The crone is the final face of the Goddess and the final face of humanity. She is the old wise woman, the grandmother, and sometimes the hag.  She can be cruel or loving. She can no longer bear children. The crone has experienced the wonders of the world, both happy and sad.  The crone lives to share her wisdom with the world.  She cannot be fooled and recognizes all falsehoods as she has been around long enough to see it all.

Some believe that she knows the bitter taste of death and others call her the reaper.  She can be either the bringer of death and solace or the bringer of wisdom. Examples of the crone include Hecate (Greek), Medusa (African mythology), and Perkuna, the Armenian Goddess of Thunder who shares her wisdom through her tears.

Love and Fertility Goddesses

Once you have covered the first two categories, we begin to see a lot of overlap in roles. As noted at the beginning, there is a lot of overlap in the categories. For example, Aphrodite can be represented as a maiden in some stories, while she is a nurturing mother in others. She is also a fertility, lust, sexuality, and passion Goddess. Freya (my daughter’s name sake) is another one who fits multiple categories. She is Goddess of love, fertility, death, war, beauty, and sexuality.

The point I want to make here is that nearly all of the love and fertility Goddesses represent duality. They give love, but can be harsh when scorned by others.  They can fill your womb and bring plentiful crops or they can bring you heartbreak and loneliness.

Moon and Sun Goddess

These are Goddesses that dominate the skies.  It really is no wonder that there are so many sun and moon deities. Both are so important to our well-being. Both celestial objects bring light into our world.  Nor is it any wonder that one is often depicted as God while the other is called Goddess. Now in most western cultures, the sun is the God while the moon is the Goddess, but that isn’t always so.  The Goddess as the sun is known more in the East and South, but the God as the moon is relatively rare. There are a few, but that is a discussion for yet another post.

The moon in Goddess mythology has come be perceived as connected to death and rebirth.  Much of this relates to the concepts of the triple Goddess, but there are other cultural reasons.  The first of these is rather obvious. They cycle of the moon can be related to a woman’s monthly cycle and even this can be translated into death and rebirth.  The menses was once referred to as the “water of death from the portal of life” according to Teaching Witchcraft (for any new readers that is the book most of these lessons are based on) .  So, based on that, it is easy to understand how the moon could be recognized as a representation of death and renewal. The Morrigan (Celtic triple Goddess), Hecate (Greek triple Goddess), and Breksta of Lithuania are all examples of this category.

While sun Goddesses are rare in Europe they are fairly common in many other parts of the world. In Japan, Amaterasu is a major figure of the pantheon.  In Egypt Sekhmet and Hathor are Goddesses of the sun. Amaterasu represents life, warmth, security and vitality. She is also the Goddess of divine inspiration.  In Egypt they represent the protective lioness, the furious mother.  Finally, there is the triple sun Goddess Brigit (Celtic), with her three faces of morning, noon and dusk. She is the principal Goddess of the Celts. She is a mother, teacher, and lover who gave fire to her people.

The Warrior Goddess

This has to be one of my favorite categories. There’s a reason my daughter is named Freya. That particular warrior Goddess just fits me so well. She is the proud warrior, strong and unafraid. She is the mother defending others under her wing.  The Valkyries and the Greek Amazon women define the Warrior Goddess archetype.  They are sensual. They are fierce. They are proud and they are defiant.  Artemis (Greek) is a prime example.  She is the strong warrior wielding a bow and arrow and yet she is also the maiden, delicate and full of mystery.  She is female potential and ability personified.

As a side note, there are some who believe that this role should be considered a fourth aspect of the triple Goddess lying somewhere between the maiden and the mother. In this case she is a defiant, strong willed woman capable of both great fury and great passion.  She would be a force to be reckoned with due to her drive and determination. This would represent the woman who is no longer a child, but is not ready to have a child of her own.

The Goddess of Death

While many view death as finality (Just imagine Kali with her skull necklace and eyes of fury here) it is often not the case with most Goddesses of death.  While Kali is widely recognized as a Goddess of death and terror, she is revered in Indian culture as a symbol of death and rebirth. Yes there is an end, but the end is just the beginning of something new. It’s like the death card in tarot. The same can be said of the Goddess Erishkagel who is seen taking in souls and returning them to the Earth to begin anew.  The Goddess of death is often similar to the crone.  She brings wisdom and guidance while carrying you through the night and into the next day.

All Together Now

No matter what face the Goddess takes in your life, of which role appeals to you, there are many types of Goddesses.  A Goddess for every personality and for every need. It is important to understand these roles and how they relate to our lives. I hope that you can now see the different archetypes when you read about a new Goddess.

While I plan on doing a similar post for the God, I’m going to take a break here to share some lessons I’m learning from my parenting blog.  Right now I’m reading a book called Positive Pushing and normally I don’t connect to these types of books, but I’m finding a lot of my past and a bit of my present in its pages. So I thought we might talk a little bit about the importance of self-esteem in a witch, and how we can foster those skills within ourselves so that we can be better witches and make wiser decisions.

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