Artemis, the archaic mistress of animals, probably dates back to Paleolithic times. Her realm is the wilderness, and her concern extends to all wild, untamed things. She presides over the hunt and is the goddess of hunters. Fiercely individualistic and independent, she remains apart from relationships to men. Despite her fierceness she is addressed as a healing and soothing goddess/. Protector of births, she alleviates the suffering of women in childbirth, She is also responsible for the initiation of young girls. Artemis is a wonderful symbol of female independence. She reminds us of the value of solitude and the importance of wild, unprotected places. She shows us those frightening places that bring healing even through fear.
Ix Chel is the ancient Mayan moon goddess who reigned supreme through out the Yucatan Peninsula, in southern Mexico, as far south as El Salvador for more than a millennium. She is also called the Queen, Our Mother, the White Lady, and the Goddess of Becoming. Although married to the sun, she is fiercely independent, allowing no one to own her: she remains free to come and go as she chooses. As a fertility goddess, she makes women fruitful and sends fertilizing rains to the earth. She is a particularity honored as a patroness of child birth and healing goddess of medicine. Like many moon goddesses, she is the patroness of weaving. Ix Chel, like the waxing and waning moon. is comfortable with all sides of life. Her energy is midwife to our own creative ideas.
Lilith is a Middle Eastern goddess of abundance, fertility, and fecundity, the giver of agriculture to humans. The first woman created and the first wife of Adam, she refused to be subordinate to Adam in any way. Lilith is associated with the owl, a figure of darkness and deep wisdom, for she is also the goddess of death and transformation. SHe is sometimes represented as a demonic figure, for her dark wisdom and her sexual energy can be very threatening. She is known to appear as a frightening figure in dreams. Lilith is associated with the lotus, and the symbolism of that flower tells us much about her. The lotus, an exquisite flower that grows out of dark, rank, decaying earth, represents spiritual unfolding and the blossoming of wisdom. Like the lotus, Lilith challenges us to look upon our dark side and incorporate it into our wholeness so our great beauty can blossom forth.
Epona, from Celtic Gaul, was especially worshiped as a protectress of horses, a bringer of fecundity to mares and well-being to foals. She was the only Celtic goddess to be adopted by the Romans. A lunar goddess, Epona is often depicted with a cornucopia, a symbol of abundance and plenty. Like the symbol of the horse, she is a bringer of fertility, a source of inspiration, and a figure of death – a psychopomp on the soul’s final journey. As late as the twelfth century, Irish kings underwent a ceremony of symbolic birth from Epona in her form of a white mare part of claiming their kingship. In ancient days, a king was ritually wedded to the goddess as part of becoming king.
Comfortable in both realm of life and that of death, Epona is a strong symbol of independence, instinct, and vitality.
SIDE NOTE: In modern times many pagans believe that Epona watches over all domesticated animals to help protection them
Although Minerva, the Roman goddess of war and wisdom, is usually portrayed as equivalent to the Greek goddess Athens, she is revered as a goddess of wisdom, for the light of dawn typifies knowledge. She guides heroes in war and is patroness of all art, crafts, guilds, and medicine. Called by Ovid “the goddess of a thousand words” she was the inventor of musical instruments, numbers, and many crafts including weaving. The serpent and the owl were sacred to her. The serpent is an emblem of life energy and the creative impulse. The owl is a symbol of death and wisdom, and thus Minerva, a goddess of the dawn and wisdom, is also the goddess of death and transformation. Minerva is am incantation of wisdom in human form, an affirmation that we can use our knowledge and wisdom in pursuit of any goal we choose.
Aphrodite is most often described as radiant and shinning: when Aphrodite is present the whole world acquires a soft, golden glow. “Foam born,” she is associated with the creative, life-giving sea and represents a sense of freshness, renewal, and hope. a descendant of the prehistoric water bird goddesses of Old Europe, she is often accompanied by birds. The goddess of both spiritual and passionate love, Aphrodite joins us to one another. She is feminine being in all her dullness, and her realm is that of relationship and feeling. Aphrodite demands maturity if we are to be in a true relationship: when we embrace mature love, Aphrodite is there to bless us.
In Ancient Egypt Isis was among the oldest of the goddesses, the mother and giver of all life. A moon goddess, she gives birth to the sun, creates and sustains all life, and is the savior of all people. The teacher of agriculture, she is also the goddess of medicine and wisdom.
Osiris was her brother and husband. When Osiris was murdered by his brother Set, Isis searched for and found him, revived him, and conceived their son Horus. When Set again too Osiris and scattered his body in fourteen pieces, Isis hunted down each part, except for his reproductive organs, which she was unable to locate, in order to give each piece a proper burial.
Isis, the universal goddess, representing total femininity. She can overcome death itself, yet she is not above grief: one of her tears, wept when Osiris was dying, caused the Nile River to flood. She underscores the depths of emotions that even a goddess must feel.
Demeter is an ancient Greek Great Mother goddess, a goddess of life and death. The Greeks emphasized her role as goddess of cultivated earth, the giver of fruitfulness and abundance and provider of the gift of agriculture. She and her daughter, Persephone, called by the Greeks “the Goddesses,” together represent the continuous cycles of life and death, the two phases of the vegetative power of the earth. Demeter is remembered primarily for her great love for her daughter — when Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the whole earth to go barren. Here we see Demeter ready to give birth, to produce life.
Demeter offers a blessing of fruitfulness and possibility, of coming joy, of abundant life, and of hope.
Hera is an ancient goddess who, before she appeared as wife to Zeus in Greek mythology, was powerful, matrilineal queen in her own right. Hera is the original, all-powerful, multifunctional goddess responsible for every aspect of existence, a symbol of the complete woman. Among the Greeks, Hera was the goddess of marriage, a special goddess of women who accompanies each woman through every moment of her life. Her various titles point to her roles as bringer of fertility; goddess of marriage; protector of children; of women during childbirth, and of money; and presider over all aspects of public life. She was often represented with a peacock, symbolic of beauty, luxury, and immortality. The spots on its feathers reflect the starry firmament, and the peacock has knowledge of the weather, reflecting the ancient role of the goddess as bringer of the seasons. Hera is a mature, powerful goddess, combining both practicality and nurturing, a strong image of the supremacy of the queen within.
Ishtar is the multilayered Babylonian creator goddess, the source of all life and embodiment of the power of nature. She is the giver of plenty, the lawgiver, a judge, the goddess of tie as well as the goddess of both love and war. Her name means “giver of light” and derives from her role as queen of heaven. She is the planet Venus as both the morning and evening star, and her girdle is the zodiacal belt. Ishtar descends to the underworld and restores the vegetation god, Tammuz, to life and thus restores fertility to earth. As she descends she removes a veil at each gate. While she is underground life on earth is depressed and nothing comes to life. Ishtar is multifaceted, powerful symbol of a forthright mode of being that is unafraid to venture into the depths of the underworld. She represents the creative feminine, active and strong.