ATHENA (MINERVA)

ATENA (MINERVA)

A Hellenic goddess of wisdom, justice, strategy, courage, just wars, invention, crafts, weaving and embroidery. According to Plato her name means Divine Intelligence.

ABOUT GODDESS

Athena was the daughter of Zeus and Metis the goddess of wisdom who was swallowed by Zeus while being pregnant (the oracle told him, ‘if Metis gives birth to a daughter, the girl’s offspring will dethrone you’). After a couple of months Zeus was suffering from huge migraines so he called his son Hephaestus and ordered him to chop his head with an axe (labrys). After some hesitation he did it and then a woman jumped out of Zeus head wearing a full armour and shouted like warrior so loudly that both heaven and earth started to shake. From the historical point of view Athena’s cult seems to originate in Libya where she was associated with Neith and her name appears before the one of Zeus at the palace in Knossos (Crete).

Athena was a devoted guardian of Hellenic heroes, a protectoress and a counsellor for Perseus, Hercules, Theseus, Jason, Achilles and Odysseus during their epic quests.  She was the goddess of war but considered as an act of defending territory, house and family rather than bloodshed itself which was the domain of Ares. She was also the goddess of knowledge but I would say rather knowledge based on logics and thinking rather than inner feminine wisdom coming from the inside which is symbolized by the Tarot arcane of High Priestess. Athena was the patroness of literature and art but again she was rather attracted to philosophy than music and singing. Her ingenuity has become legendary and she was considered to invent many useful tools, however her most blessed gift for the human kind was an olive tree. Poseidon and Athena both wanted Athens to be their city so they started a competition, Poseidon struck the rock with his trident and a spring sprang up while Athena planted an olive tree and thus won the city for herself*.

Athena remained a virgin and never got married. However, she took care of Erechthonius, the child that was conceived when Hephaestus was trying to rape her and the semen fell on Gaia. When Erechthonius grew up, he became the king of Athens.  Despite many features of character which are traditionally considered to be male such as rationality and bellicosity Athena was not free from vanity. Together with Aphrodite and Hera she wanted the title of The Most Beautiful and when Prince Paris of Troy attributed it to Aphrodite, she swore revenge to him and his city. This is why she was supporting the Achaean troops and was helping the Hellens any way she could. Even having all the knowledge and mental abilities she was unable to admit that she was wrong. When a mortal woman named Arachne challenged her to a duel in embroidering and won it by creating the scenes of gods enjoying carnal pleasures with mortal women, Athena torn the material with anger. Arachne could not stand such injustice and she hanged herself which eventually made the goddess realise what she has done. She brought Arachne back to life and changed her into a spider so that she could keep weaving (this is why the fear of spiders is called arachnophobia)**. She was not the only victim of the goddess, unsonsciously Athena brought bad luck to satyr Marsyas. She invented aulos (flute) but when she started playing, she noticed in the river that her cheeks seemed deformed so she cursed the poor instrument and threw it away. Marsyas found it and started to play, he soon developed such skills that he became famous and some even considered him to be the best musician in the world. This of course made Apollo the god of music very angry and he challenged Marsyas to a duel. The competition was so fierce that it remained unsettled for some time until eventually Apollo was announced to be the winner. Furious god flayed Marsyas alive. One of explanations for Tiresias’ blindness is the fact that he saw Athena bathing and  in anger she took away his physical sight but in return she gave him an inner sight with the ability to see the future.

Athena plays a major part in the myths involving Orestes. Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and  Clytemnestra who was just a child when his father sailed away to fight Troy. Clytemnestra was not much loved by her husband and was hurt many times so while he was away she found herself a lover Aegisthus  whom she has lived for many years with and whom she had children with. When Agamemnon came back from Troy bringing with him a captive Cassandra Princess of Troy who already bore his twins, Aegisthus and Clytemnestra decided to get rid of her husband whose revenge would be fatal for both of them. When Agamemnon was stepping out of bath, Clytemnestra entangled him in a cloth net and then Aegisthus came out of the closet and killed the king.

When Orestes grew up, his sister Electra started to incite him to take revenge on the murderes of their father (do you remember what is Electra complex?) and eventually he killed Aegisthus and his own mother.  This made The Erinyes, goddesses of vengeance persecute him constantly until being unable to have even one moment of rest he fell into madness.  The Delphic Oracle suggested coming to Athens and undergoing a trial before a court of law on the Areopagus hill. The trial turned into a discourse over who in fact is more important, mother or father. The prosecutors were The Erinyes and Apollo was the defender.  In his defense speech Apollo deprived motherhood of any significance stating that woman is only a passive soil in which man sows his seed. Thus Orestes’ crime is justified because father is the only respectable parent.  In the final verdict the amount of votes for and against the matricide was equal but eventually Orestes was found free of charges because the ultimate vote belonged to Athena and she was pro-Orestes.

Athena had many nicknames. The most famous include Pallas (taken either from her Titan father in an alternative version of her origin or from her companion whom she accidentally killed and took her name as the sign of grief), Parthenos (‘Virgin’, the name of Parthenon in Athens come from this meaning), Promachos (‘the First Fighter’), Polias (‘of the city’, it shows her as the patron of various Hellenic cities and their civilization), Glaukopis (‘the Bright – Eyed’, a Homeric expression), Hippeia (‘Horse’, as the inventor of chariot) and Alea (she was worshipped under this name in Sparta and Arcadia).

In Rome Athena was named Minerva and she was venerated in so called the Capitoline Triad together with Jupiter and Juno. She was worshipped as Minerva Medica and had her temple on the Esquiline Hill; her celebration was called Quinquatrus and was taking place on March the 19th.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Athena’s main attributes are the Corinthian helmet, a spear and an aegis (shield). Aegis was a powerful weapon because the head of Medusa was placed on it (Medusa was one of three Gorgons, snakes were her hair and her eyes were turning into stone anyone who looked at her, she was killed by Perseus who cut her head off and gave it to Athena***). Her sacred animal was an owl and the plant attributed to her was an olive tree. She was traditionally depicted as a tall woman of classical facial features, majestic rather than beautiful. As Promachos she is depicted holding the small statue of goddess Nike in her hand.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The card of Athena shows the woman who enters male dominated world (typically male jobs, power, etc).  She becomes similar to them neverthelss keeping the mask of a typical woman (Athena’s logical reasoning and courage are attributed to men in culture but her fondness of embroidery and weaving are considered to be typically female). She prefers male companionship than female one and her success does not open the gate for other women****.The card shows ambition, bravery, recognition, focusing on an aim and a victory gained thanks to the intelligence and ingenuity (heroes owe their triumphs to Athena’s advice and guidance).

In a deeper psychological layer this card shows a woman who identifies herself with father not mother (Athena jumped out of Zeus’s head not his heart; from the symbolic point of view head is attributed to man while heart represents feelings i.e. women’s world). Negative: this card shows lack of spontaneity, high self-control or even fear of inner self (Athena keeps her virginity, she refuses any contacts with emotions, love, carnality and passion, she destroys Arachne’s embroidery showing her relatives enjoying carnal pleasuers). Woman may be afraid to do sth spontaneous because she does not know in what way others would perceive her and she may ‘lose face’.  Personally I perceive Athena as a poor little girl without mother and self-confidence who needs to be assured she is beautiful and this does not happen, she swears vengeance to the mortal who claimed that the beauty of another goddess is bigger (but as I wrote that is my personal perception).

Profession: scientist, academic teacher escpecially in the fields requiring precise and logical thinking such as mathemathics, physics, architecture, philosophy etc, inventor, boss, soldier, police officer, judge, lawyer, court worker, municipal official, someone whose work involves strategy and logistics, weaver, taylor, embroidery person, athlete

Advice

In this situation follow your brain, not your heart. Consult an expert. You need further education or studies. If your question concerns promotion at work or passing an exam, this card suggests success.

Your thoughts are your spear and shield, they help you to concentrate on your aim and to protect you from negative influences. Be courageous and do not hesitate to use your brain as your weapon.

You may behave as someone overwise and too quick to judge. Beware of haughtiness. Look closely before you take someone’s side.

Love

If you’re in the relationship: either the time for marriage or divorce. Strong position of a woman in a relationship. Guidance of a woman. Possessiveness. Complexes. Lack of emotional commitment in the relationship. Jealousy. Problems with women. Attempt to buy someone’s love. Calculating.

If you are single: a woman who feels very well in a male companionship but does not want to get involved. Complexes. Problems with acceptance of your body. Showing yourself as strong but feeling insecure inside. Following the advice of your brain, not your heart.

Finances

In the matter you are inquiring about the legal aspect is involved. Consult a lawyer or an educated person.  You may need further studies or courses. Introduce innovations in your work. Be active and do not fear challenges. In case of any discord, try to arrange a settlement first.

Health

Consult a doctor, this card suggests a specialist or a clinic. Migraines. Mental health. Endangered parts of the body: head and all its organs.

CARDS

Athena is a very important goddess and she appears in every deck I have come across.

Athena in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky (as Minerva)

Athena in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Athena in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Athena in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

Athena in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Athena in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Athena in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason

Athena in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst

Athena in The Oracle of the Goddess by Gayan Sylvie Winter&Jo Dosé

Athena in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

Athena in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (as Athena Glaukopis)

Athena in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Athena in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Athena in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock (and as Minerva on the second card)

Athena in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

Athena in The Goddesses Knowledge Cards by Susan Seddon Boulet&Michael Babcock

I am a bit confused by the image of Athena in the deck of Doreen Virtue. She is pretty and the message simple and clear, You know what to do. Trust your inner wisdom, and take appropriate action without delay. I agree that knowledge is Athena’s feature but it concerns the process of thinking itself as well as sense and logics while this message speaks about intuition and subconsciousness which is rather connected with goddesses possessing creative and magical abilities (my personal match for such message would be Sophia or Isis).

Athena in Ascended Masters by Doreen Virtue

Athena in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs (as Minerva)

Athena  in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

Athena in Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Athena is very adequately paired with the Major Arcane of Emperor in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano. The card of Emperor is the strongest male energy in Tarot.

In The Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr Athena represents the Arcane of Justice probably because the court in her city of Athens was situated on the Areopagus hill.

*There is evidence that Athena was venerated in Athens from the very beginnings of the city.

** It is believed that this myth does not come from the original Hellenic mythology but was added in the Roman era.

***There are various different explanation why was Medusa a monster. Most myths claim that all the Gorgons belonged to the first generation of gods, but in the Roman versions Medusa was initially a beautiful priestess of Athena who was raped or seduced by Poseidon. When the goddess caught them in her temple, she was so enraged that she changed Medusa into a monster (this version comes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses). The myth of Medusa is the base for many psychological interpretations including Sigmund Freud’s theory associating the punishment of Medusa with Athena’s hidden conflict with her father or the fact that Medusa might be Athena’s Shadow i.e. the dark part of personality that we prefer not to show to the world (for more information check this site and this blog). It must be also said that Medusa is a chtonic (Underworld) goddess closely associated with the symbol of serpent so killing her by a male hero led by male-like goddess is somehow symbolic.

****Margaret Thatcher is a modern example of Athena’s energy.

Based on Mity Greków i Rzymian by Wanda Markowska, Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine by Pierre Grimal, The Greek Myths by Robert Graves and Wikipedia.

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2 responses to “ATHENA (MINERVA)

  1. Thank you so much for this nice Website.

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