How can ancient mythological goddess concepts be useful to women, today, in understanding their contemporary reality and concerns? This web site offers its readers information leading to understanding of these goddess types & qualities, offering women new paths to self-discovery, personal development and fulfilling direction. Discovering goddess influences within a woman can guide her Being in creating her own true-life story--not a story directed by others. Such understanding and inner access can guide a woman in making conscious choices that have personal meaning and fulfillment for her, as an individual.
Understanding goddess types offers a woman very specific means of increased self-awareness of herself, her relationship to her lover, partner, her way of parenting her children, her inner urges in her self-expression and creativity. New ways of understanding feminine psychology have been emerging in the past twenty years--from a feminine perspective. In a society that has trivialized the Goddess concept, learning of the significance of Goddess qualities/energy can be instructive for women and men. We are aware that women's and men's behaviors, attitudes, likes and dislikes do appear to conform to particular typologies.
Understanding Goddess energy/types can help women discover their true natures--their innate gifts and abilities, recognize where they are best suited in life, appreciate their strengths as well as understand their areas of challenge. Furthermore, Goddess energy types are drawn to other particular Goddess types as friends and cohorts and find other types less appealing. They are better suited to one type of career or life direction than another. Most interesting, we women have a combination of a number of Goddess energy/types within ourselves of varying ascendancy. By increasing our consciousness of these various energies we have an opportunity to affirm and express our more primary goddess qualities as well as discovering ways to draw out the more recessive Goddess qualities within us. In this way, we bring into balance our hidden goddess qualities and better actualize our gifts.
A Goddess typology 'Quiz' is available at this site providing women a means of determining their Goddess qualities in varying ascendancy.
What is "Goddess"? Looking first at Webster's Dictionary, goddess is defined:
a female god
A woman greatly admired, as for her beauty.
Such a masculinized definition sorely trivializes the concept and potentials of goddess, historically, and collectively diminishes the significance of her role in women's lives, then and now. On the contrary, Goddess mythology provides women, today, an ancient mirror of womanhood--Goddess being a divine, guiding and supernatural force. Our psyche needs these images to nurture its growth. These mythic images can guide us to see who we are and what we might become.
Goddess, from a feminine perspective, represents a particular feminine archetype. Archetype, as a concept, is at the foundation of Carl Jung's psychological works. Archetypes are deep enduring patterns of thought and behavior laid down in the human psyche that remain powerful over long periods of time and transcend cultures. Archetypes form the basis for all unlearned, instinctive patterns of behavior that humankind--regardless of culture--shares in common. Archetypes are found in dreams, literature, art and myth and communicate to us through many symbols. Archetypes compose the ultimate source of psychic symbols which, in turn, attract energy, structure it and influence the creation of civilization and culture. Consider: male and female organs are, in fact, symbols for the archetypal energies known by the Chinese as yin and yang. Archetypes also go beyond the psyche bridging inner and outer worlds.
A goddess is the form that a feminine archetype may take. Goddess types represent models of ways of being and behaving that we women all share and recognize from the collective unconscious. In fairy tales this archetype may be revealed to us as a queen, a princess or a witch. In our nighttime dreams we tap into the collective unconscious whereby we access the common pool of archetypal images. Goddesses, as a feminine archetype, remain alive to this day in the psychology of women; and, depending upon which energies are more pronounced, influence her personality with a distinct character, a way of being, a way of relating in the world--a way of offering her special gifts. In other words, women are a blend of these types with particular types predominating while other qualities may be more recessive--out of her conscious awareness.
Historically, masculine rulers/conquerors of lands and societies, usurped the goddess power in these societies they conquered and absorbed and distorted these goddesses into their own beliefs of whom they most resembled. For example, under Roman rulership, many of the Celtic goddesses were taken over--such as Brigit, who seemed similar to the Roman goddess, Minerva (Greek Athena). Subsequently, when the Christian male dominated, and found the goddess cult so revered by the so-called 'pagans', the Christian males, unable to eradicate the goddess reverence, instead, canonized her as St. Bridget. They couldn't do away with Brigit because her followers so revered her. Therefore, she was reinvented as a nun; nevertheless, she retained her pagan qualities and festival celebrations among her loyal followers.
Personally, the ancient Greek historian, Hesiod's interpretation of the Olympian goddess myths is preferred and used, here, over the perspectives of Homer.
A note on historic dating: B.C.E. refers to Before Current Era (previously referred to as Before Christ.) and C.E. refers to Current Era, which begins our current 2000 years. The late '60's marked a new dating system and the shift away from the Bible as an historical marker.
FOR FURTHER READING, SEE BOOKS CITED BELOW
Jungian psychologists Jennifer and Roger Woolger provide a most outstanding and complete academic coverage of the influence of goddess types in their book, The Goddess Within: A Guide To The Eternal Myths That Shape Women's Lives, 1987. In their book they have selected six major goddess archetypes from the classical Greek period (c.500-300 B.C.E.) that they perceive as most active in the psyche of today's contemporary woman.
Jungian analyst, Jean Shinoda Bolen, a clinical professor of psychiatry, has also authored a very popular, and perhaps a somewhat more personal book on Goddess types. Her book, The Goddesses in Everywoman, 1985 & 2004, explores seven feminine archetypes. Bolen identifies two categories of goddess: 'virgin' and 'vulnerable'.
The following is a summary of these feminine archetypes--identified as Olympian goddesses of ancient Greek mythology. Bolen & the Woolgers conceptualize 'virgin', meaning untouched, unmarked, pure, untrod, undiscovered, unworked by man--as in virgin forest, virgin snow; uncombined in its native form--as in virgin silver. These virgin goddesses represent qualities of autonomy, independence and self-sufficiency. This archetype represents the woman whose purpose does not become distracted or diverted by relationship--but actively pursues her own goals. Virgin, therefore, is not merely referencing sexuality.
Vulnerable goddesses refer to relationship-oriented archetypes depicting the nature of traditional wife, mother and daughter roles. The well-being of this archetype relies on involvement in a significant interpersonal relationship. Bolen asserts that each of these vulnerable goddesses experienced anguish at the hands of the male and suffered in her own distinctive way. Each type also exhibits symptoms resembling psychological illness; however, also instructive is growth through suffering that is inherent in this category.
A key difference between the goddesses of ancient times and the present-day, New Age depiction of goddess: the goddesses of ancient times contains within them qualities of light and dark--nurturer and destroyer. New Age ideology frequently tends to avoid/deny the shadow aspects while acknowledging and celebrating only the so-called 'positive' qualities. In fact, as in all of us, even within the goddesses we find dark qualities. As we increase our awareness of these shadow aspects within our own psyche, less and less are we obligated to experience these difficulties through other people or outer circumstances. Furthermore, these shadow parts we initially resist, when increasingly acknowledged, become the most illuminating and transformative aspects in our lives.
Through understanding these ancient goddesses, women of today can reconnect with their own inner cycles, physically as well as psychologically/spiritually. Goddess cycles of disappearance--reappearance; creation--destruction; nurturing--devouring; birth--death; giving--taking away. Within the goddess is the cosmos--containing the continuum of opposites as a circle. Death is not merely an ending; it is also a beginning. These seeming opposites are capable of being reconciled, brought together through goddess wisdom. The goddess not only nurtures physical life but, also, the life of the soul.
When you take your 'goddess' type quiz, you will be able to obtain ratings, like a score, which determines how much or how little of each of these types are alive within you. As you read, below, about the goddess qualities, you will gain more of a sense of qualities you identify with--have consciously available to work with--and qualities that may be out of your conscious awareness that you may choose to strengthen or to develop. Although there are many more goddesses, historically, we will explore the seven Greek goddesses of Mt. Olympus, described below.
The initial 'short list' (just below) provides a brief psychological overview of each goddess--her temperament, her primary interests, a little about her history. Below this list is a more in depth exploration of each goddess including her historic information and her nature as a child and adolescent, her wound, her gifts. The goddesses are listed, below, as polarities, for example: Athena & Artemis are opposites; Hera & Persephone are opposites, etc.
Athena Artemis Hera Persephone
Aphrodite Demeter Hestia
In Depth List:
Athena Artemis Hera Persephone
Aphrodite Demeter Hestia
It is also important to realize that we women will experience changing predominance of these goddess types at different periods of our lives. For example, a woman may, in her late teens and early twenties, relate strongly to Aphrodite qualities. By her late twenties and into her thirties, desiring marriage and a family, she may find Aphrodite energy fading and Demeter energy more pronounced. By mid life, women experience another significant shift, a mother may find her focus shifting as her grown children leave home and are less available to her, she may begin to feel somewhat directionless, uncertain. It's not uncommon that a more familiar goddess quality begins to conflict with a newly emerging quality--feeling pulled between two very different goddess desires at the same time. These differentiated goddess aspects give us a language for understanding these stages in our lives as well as keys to working with the inner conflicts we experience.
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