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Goddesses: Legends and Bios

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1 Goddesses: Legends and Bios on Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:49 am

APHRODITE: Aphrodite is known as the Greek Goddess (Roman Venus) of love, desire, beauty, fertility, the sea, and vegetation. It is said that when Cronus was castrated by Uranus, and his part was thrown into the sea, Aphrodite was thus born and arose on a large shell, which was then carried to land, thus her name being translated "foam-risen". The sea nymphs dressed her and adorned her with flowers and gold. She now represents Erotic Love as a form of Divine influence, which has resulted in many men becoming capable of falling in love with her. The most famous legend of Aphrodite, is the beginning of the Trojan War. Aphrodite was among two other goddess, Hera and Athena, who were invited to the wedding of King Peleus and his sea nymph Thetis. Eris the goddess of discord was so outraged that she was not invited, so she threw a golden apple labeled "to the fairest" in the center of the floor. All three goddess knew that they were the fairest, and fought over it. Since Zeus would not choose the fairest, the goddess's looked upon Paris, the Prince of Troy, to make the award. Each goddess offered poor Paris a bribe for them to be the chosen one. Thus the bribe he could not turn down was that of Aphrodite, as she offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy. Helen however was the wife of the Greek king Menelaus, so Paris's abduction of Helen led to the Trojan War.

ARTEMIS: Artemis is the goddess of the wilderness, the hunt and wild animals, and fertility (she became a goddess of fertility and childbirth mainly in cities). She was often depicted with the crescent of the moon above her forehead and was sometimes identified with Selene (goddess of the moon). Artemis was one of the Olympians and a virgin goddess. Her main vocation was to roam mountain forests and uncultivated land with her nymphs in attendance hunting for lions, panthers, hinds and stags. Contradictory to the later, she helped in protecting and seeing to their well-being, also their safety and reproduction. She was armed with a bow and arrows. Artemis was born one day before her brother Apollo. Her mother gave birth to her on the island of Ortygia, then, almost immediately after her birth, she helped her mother to cross the straits over to Delos, where she then delivered Apollo. This was the beginning of her role as guardian of young children and patron of women in childbirth. Being a goddess of contradictions, she was the protectress of women in labor, but it was said that the arrows of Artemis brought them sudden death while giving birth.

ATHENA: Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. She was the favorite child of Zeus. She had sprung fully grown out of her father's head. Athena and her uncle Poseidon were both very fond of a certain city in Greece. Both of them claimed the city and it was decided that the one that could give the finest gift should have it. Athena's gift was an olive tree, which was better because it gave the people food, oil and wood. Athena named her city Athens.

DEMETER: She taught mankind the art of sowing and ploughing so they could end their nomadic existence. As such, Demeter was also the goddess of planned society. She was very popular with the rural population. In systematized theology, Demeter is a daughter of Cronus and Rhea and sister of Zeus by whom she became the mother of Persephone. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, lord of the underworld, Demeter wandered the earth in search of her lost child. During this time the earth brought forth no grain. Finally Zeus sent Hermes to the underworld, ordering Hades to restore Persephone to her mother. However, before she left, Hades gave her a pomegranate (a common fertility symbol). When she ate from it, she was bound to spend a third of the year with her husband in the infernal regions. Only when her daughter is with her, Demeter lets things grow (summer). The dying and blossoming of nature was thus connected with Demeter.

HECATE: Hecate is the Greek goddess of the crossroads. She is most often depicted as having three heads; one of a dog, one of a snake and one of a horse. She is usually seen with two ghost hounds that were said to serve her. Hecate is most often mispercepted as the goddess of witchcraft or evil, but she did some very good things in her time. One such deed was when she rescued Persephone, (Demeter's daughter, the queen of the Underworld and the maiden of spring), from the Underworld. Hecate is said to haunt a three-way crossroad, each of her heads facing in a certain direction. She is said to appear when the ebony moon shines.

ASTARTE: The Phoenician goddess of fertility and reproduction and the principal deity of the port city of Sidon. As Astarte she was worshipped as far west as Carthage, Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus. She was also the sister and co-consort of Baal, sharing this role with their sister Anath.

BRIGID: Brighid's three aspects are (1) Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry, (2) Fire of the Hearth, as patroness of healing and fertility, and (3) Fire of the Forge, as patroness of smithcraft and martial arts. She is mother to the craftsmen. Brighid's festival is Imbolc, celebrated on or around February 1 when she ushers Spring to the land after The Cailleach's Winter reign. This mid-Winter feast commences as the ewes begin to lactate and is the start of the new agricultural cycle. During this time Brigid personifies a bride, virgin or maiden aspect and is the protectoress of women in childbirth.

IRIS: In Greek mythology, Iris is the personified goddess of the rainbow. She is regarded as the messenger of the gods to mankind, and particularly of the goddess Hera whose orders she brought to humans. Iris is the daughter of Titan Thaumas and the nymph Electra. She is portrayed as a young woman with wings and her attributes are a herald's staff and a water pitcher.

CERRIDWEN: Ceridwen is a magician who features in the mythical version of the life of the genuine bard Taliesin. Ceridwen had an ugly son, Afagddu, whom she wished to make wise. She brewed a magical liquid and had her kitchen boy Gwion tend it. Three drops scalded his hand and he licked them off, instantly acquiring all the knowledge. In an ancient, ancient hunt she pursued him: first she became a greyhound and he a hare, then she an otter and he a fish, then she a hawk and he a rabbit. Finally, she became a hen and he a grain of corn, and she ate him. She became pregnant with him and he was born nine months later, a boy of astounding grace and beauty whom she named Taliesin and put into a coracle in the sea.

RHEA: In Greek mythology, Rhea is the mother of the gods, daughter of Uranus and Gaia. She is married to her brother Cronus and is the mother of Demeter, Hades, Hera, Hestia, Poseidon and Zeus. Cronus, jealous of the future power of his children and to secure his dominion, ate his own children but Rhea managed to rescue one son, Zeus. She hid him in the Dictean Cave in Crete and gave Cronus a stone wrapped in the clothes of the infant, which he swallowed. Thus Rhea succeeded in making him believe that he had killed all of his children. When Zeus reached maturity he overpowered and dethroned his father and made Cronus disgorge his siblings. Rhea is identified with mother goddess Cybele from Asia Minor and is also known as Rhea Cybele and Magna Mater ("great mother"). She was worshipped with orgiastic rites. Rhea is depicted between two lions or on a chariot pulled by lions.

DIANA: The Roman goddess of nature, fertility and childbirth. She is closely identified with the Greek goddess Artemis. Diana is also a moon-goddess and was originally worshipped on the mountain Tifata near Capua and in sacred forests (such as Aricia in Latium). Her priest lived in Aricia and if a man was able to kill him with a bough broken from a tree in this forest, he would become priest himself. Also torch-bearing processions were held in her honor here. Later she was given a temple in the working-class area on the Aventine Hill where she was mainly worshipped by the lower class (plebeians) and the slaves, of whom she was the patroness. Slaves could also ask for asylum in her temple.

GAIA: Gaia or Gaea, known as Earth or Mother Earth. She was an early earth goddess and it is written that Gaia was born from Chaos, the great void of emptiness within the universe, and with her came Eros. Gaia took as her husband Uranus, who was also her son. To protect her children from her husband, Gaia hid them all within herself. One version says that Uranus was aghast at the sight of his offspring so he hid them away in Tartarus, which are the bowels of the earth. Gaia herself found her offspring uncomfortable and at times painful, when the discomfort became to much to bear she asked her youngest son Cronus to help her. She asked him to castrate Uranus, thus severing the union between the Earth and Sky, and also to prevent more monstrous offspring. To help Cronus achieve his goal Gaia produced an adamantine sickle to serve as the weapon. Cronus hid until Uranus came to lay with Gaia and as Uranus drew near, Cronus struck with the sickle, cutting the genitalia from Uranus. It was Gaia who saved Zeus from being swallowed by Cronus, after Zeus had been born, Gaia helped Rhea to wrap a stone in swaddling clothes, this was to trick Cronus in to thinking it was Zeus, because Cronus had been informed that one of his children would depose him, and so to get rid of his children he had swallowed them, Gaia's trick worked and Zeus was then taken to Crete. Gaia being the primordial element from which all the gods originated was worshiped throughout Greece, but later she went into decline and was supplanted by other gods.

VENUS: The Roman goddess of love and beauty, but originally a vegetation goddess and patroness of gardens and vineyards. Later, under Greek influence, she was equated with Aphrodite and assumed many of her aspects.Venus is the daughter of Jupiter, and some of her lovers include Mars and Vulcan, modeled on the affairs of Aphrodite.

JUNO: Protector and special counselor of the Roman state and queen of the gods. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Juventas, Mars, and Vulcan. As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman empire she was called Regina. As the Juno Moneta (she who warns) she guarded over the finances of the empire and had a temple on the Arx (one of two Capitoline hills), close to the Royal Mint. She was also worshipped in many other cities, where temples were built in her honor. She can be identified with the Greek goddess Hera and, like Hera, Juno was a majestical figure, wearing a diadem on the head.

BASTET: The Egyptian cat-headed goddess, Bastet was strictly a solar deity until the arrival of Greek influence on Egyptian society, when she became a lunar goddess due to the Greeks associating her with their Artemis. Bastet was originally portrayed as either a wild desert cat or as a lioness, and only became associated with the domesticated feline around 1000 BCE. Bastet was the "Daughter of Ra". Additionally, Bastet was one of the "Eyes of Ra", the title of an "avenger" god who is sent out specifically to lay waste to the enemies of Egypt and her gods. Because the Greeks equated Bastet with Diana and Artemis and Horus with Apollo, Bastet became adopted into the Osiris-Isis myth as their daughter. She is depicted most commonly as a woman with the head of a domesticated or wild cat or lion, or as a cat itself.

ISIS: One of the most popular goddesses in Egypt. Isis belongs to the Ennead of Heliopolis, and according to the Heliopolitan genealogy is a daughter of Seb and Nut, sister and wife of Osiris. Possibly she was originally the personification of the throne (her name is written with the hieroglyph for throne), and as such she was an important source of the pharaoh's power. In the Hellenistic time Isis was the protrectress of sailors.In the Osiris myths she searched for her husband's body, who was killed by her brother Seth. She retrieved and reassembled the body, and in this connection she took on the role of a goddess of the dead and of the funeral rights. Isis impregnated herself from the Osiris' body and gave birth to Horus in the swamps of Khemnis in the Nile Delta. Here she raised her son in secret and kept him far away from Seth. Horus later defeated Seth and became the first ruler of a united Egypt. Isis, as mother of Horus, was by extension regarded as the mother and protectress of the pharaoh's. She was worshipped as the divine mother-goddess, faithful consort of Osiris, and dedicated mother of Horus.

PERSEPHONE: Persephone is the goddess of the underworld in Greek mythology. She is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Persephone was such a beautiful young woman that everyone loved her, even Hades wanted her for himself. One day, when she was collecting flowers on the plain of Enna, the earth suddenly opened and Hades rose up from the gap and abducted her. None but Zeus, and the all-seeing sun, Helios, had noticed it. Broken-hearted, Demeter wandered the earth, looking for her daughter until Helios revealed what had happened. Demeter was so angry that she withdrew herself in loneliness, and the earth ceased to be fertile. Knowing this could not continue much longer, Zeus sent Hermes down to Hades to make him release Persephone. Hades grudgingly agreed, but before she went back he gave Persephone a pomegranate (or the seeds of a pomegranate, according to some sources). When she later ate of it, it bound her to underworld forever and she had to stay there one-third of the year. The other months she stayed with her mother. When Persephone was in Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began. This myth is a symbol of the budding and dying of nature.

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