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Goddess Archetype - Athena


A brief psychological overview of Athena

Athena - extroverted and independent temperament--represents the goddess of wisdom and civilization--concerned with career, motivated by the desire for achievement, acquiring knowledge, she possesses a keen intellect, concerned with education, culture, social issues and politics. Athena is father’s daughter. She enters the male arena in the outer world. Athena is also known as one of the three Amazon women. (The myth of the Amazon women spoke of a society of fierce warrior women who lived entirely without men.) The story of her birth: she emerged, fully-grown, out of the Head of Zeus.

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She is an androgynous ‘virgin’ goddess who develops a relationship with her own inner masculine part rather than partaking in marriage to an outer male. Her awareness is focused. She relates to men as intellectual companion with whom she shares ambitions, career goals, and ideals. If a primarily Athenian-type woman chooses partnership, she seeks one who possesses sufficient self-confidence and who will appreciate her ambition and autonomy.

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The ancient Olympian Goddesses -
a deeper look

Athena - represents the feminine archetype for logical thinking -- as a woman, not as a man. Her virgin goddess energy can be deeply transformed or sublimated in highly creative ways. By nature the virgin goddesses are more self-directed, self-motivated, focused rather than diffuse in their thinking. She is goal oriented. As a result, virgin goddess types tend toward independence and autonomy more so than their partnership-oriented vulnerable goddess sisters.

  • To the Romans she was known as Minerva
  • Athena’s father was the Greek god, Zeus, who gave birth to her from his head. She sprang forth with a forceful shout and brandishing her sharp spear.
  • The Greek myth states Athena’s true mother was Metis, a Titan, belonging to the pre-Olympian race of deities of the matriarchal period suppressed by the later patriarchy. She was swallowed by Zeus--a metaphor for the matriarchal suppression.
  • Greek image of Athena - maiden with a sword and armor - tall and imposing - associated with violence and action
  • Athena’s true nature, however, demonstrated active concern for the well-being of the community/humanity. She was an activist against suffering and injustice.
  • The goddess Athena rejects sexuality, marriage and motherhood.
  • Athena punishes any man who spies on her naked body, yet with some compassion.
  • Seated beside Zeus, only Athena knows where the lightning bolts are hidden and how to use them.
  • Athena’s archetype is essentially youthful, idealistic committed to a higher purpose.

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  • Challenges facing Athena
    • Finding her relationship to authority--will she dutifully uphold and promote the authoritarian, hierarchical fatherworld as status quo OR emancipating herself, she will she slay the father (symbolically) to become fully herself--overthrowing the father principle--paternalism--corporations, colonialism, oppression, suppression of the feminine principle and carry the torch for the well-being of humanity.
    • Athena has been split off from the mother function as a result of Zeus’s swallowing Athena’s mother (matrilineal society)-- Zeus is psychically at war with the mother principle; therefore, Athena is most out of touch with her need for warm, physical nurturing, attention to her instinctual and bodily needs, and unconditional love.
    • Athena’s strong identification with the fatherworld renders her prone to inherit the patriarchal fear of Dark Mother powers--not recognizing these powers as aspects of her own psychic make-up.

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  • Athena’s dark side: Medusa - intimidating, critical, judgmental toward weakness in others, her air of authority and inapproachability keep others at an emotional distance.

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  • Athena’s wound: Her heart -- out of touch with the two goddesses of love: Demeter, the maternal love, and Aphrodite, sensual love - Her masculine image concealing her vulnerable, underdeveloped inner feminine self--She is emotionally hypersensitive.

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  • Athena’s gift: Today, is to empower women’s contribute to the political, intellectual and creative life of our cities, therefore, elevating the integrity and quality of our civilization by bringing forth the qualities of the feminine which have long been suppressed

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  • Athena’s personality
    • As a child & adolescent:
      • Her nose is in a book.
      • Curious, seeking information, wants to know how things work
      • Daddy’s girl - he may cater to her astute intellect & her urge to achieve
      • She may enjoy educational toys like the microscope - science fairs.
      • She may sew her clothing or enjoy other crafts.
      • She tends to lack close female friends - may prefer platonic male companions.

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    • As an adult woman:
      • Motivated by her own priorities rather than the needs of others.
      • Tends to live in her head - not very connected with her body/sensuality.
      • Focused thinking, practical, pragmatic, linear thinker - does things in moderation.
      • Not at all the flirtatious type.
      • A devoted and dependable friend.
      • Achievement oriented, she feels comfortable in fields dominated by men.
      • Career-oriented, ambitious, supportive (goes along with) the male-dominated status quo - manages herself well in the midst of male action/power.
      • Impersonal, rational - well in control of her feelings/emotions - she is able to work closely with men without falling into emotional or erotic entanglements.
      • Her libido is directed into mental, extraverted activities, striving for intellectual fulfillment (achievement is gratifying), creative leadership & decision-making
      • A woman with Athena archetype strong in her nature would be most fulfilled in a meaningful career in which she felt she was making a societal contribution; otherwise, she will tend to feel a sense of emptiness, lack of direction, lack of meaning.
      • As a mother, if she chooses this path, Athena would be less keen on the baby/ child years. She will enjoy an older child’s ability to speak intelligently so that she could engage with her/him in an adult manner regarding learning, goals, projects, and accomplishments.


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  • Historic females embodying the Athena archetype: Joan of Arc, early 1400 C.E. (a French heroine who defeated the English in battle--later burned at the stake, accused of being a witch); Christine de Pizan, 1400’s C.E. (first woman in France to support herself as a writer); Mary Wollstonecraft (wrote the first great feminist document in 1792 C.E.)

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