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HESTIA (VESTA)

HESTIA (VESTA)

A Hellenic goddess of house, home, hearth and family as well as order and organisation. Hestia is Cronus and Rhea’s eldest daughter and a sister to Demeter, Hera, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. She has never got married nor had children herself.  There was Hestia’s sacred hearth in every house,  village or town of the ancient Hellenic world and the first offering was always dedicated to this goddess. Her name means hearth, fireside. She was venerated in Rome as Vesta and considered to be one of the top deities of a Roman pantheon.

ABOUT GODDESS

Hestia was highly respected for her immaculate nature. She disapproved bloodshed, did not participate in wars and intrigues, did not gossip nor was spiteful. She valued peace most and apparently was disgusted by the behaviour of Olympic deities because she gave her place in the council of gods to Dyonisos as soon as he came to the mount (there could be no more than twelve deities in the Olympian council). Despite Poseidon and Apollo’s wooing she decided to stay a virgin.

Hestia was particularly respected as a goddess literary closest to people. She resembles an Egyptian goddess Maat in the way that she does not appear in a lot of myths and does not have many temples, she is, however, a base of social order in Hellas and her cult is manifested through rituals. A hearth was situated in the centre of a Hellenic house, giving the inhabitants warmth and shelter when darkness fell, being a place where both sacrifices were offered to gods and food was prepared for people. When a baby was born, it was carried around a hearth and the family was asking the goddess for blessings, the child was then put on a cooled down ash of a heart to introduce it to heaven and earth. A marriage rite in ancient Hellas focused on a hearth too; a bride’s mother was lightning a torch up in the hearth of her house and was carrying it in a procession to newly-weds’ house where a new fire was lit up, from that moment marriage was considered to be concluded. Prayers have always begun with invoking Hestia, women have asked her to protect their children and grandchildren; she was also called upon before setting off a journey to help travellers come back home safely. It was a form of an early divination to observe a smoke from burning altars to see whether gods accepted the offering or not: if the smoke was rising straight to heavens, it was an omen of gods’ grace but if the smoke was circling down among altars, it signified that deities were not supportive.

Her sacred flame was present in every Hellenic settlement, people were watching over it carefully because if fire extinguished, it would signify gods’ disgrace (on a more practical level it was not easy to rekindle it in the times when matches have not been invented yet). The flame was only extinguished to be ritually renewed during the purification ceremonies. When ships were leaving Hellas to start a new colony, there was always a flame from the city they were setting off. This flame burning in a new place was a symbol of unity between the colony and its hometown. Outlaws and those escaping a vengeance or being chased, found a refugee by her altar, no one could hurt them from that moment on because they were protected by the goddess.

Hestia’s cult as Vesta has developed in a special way in Rome where her temple was the only sacral building of a round shape and having a roof to protect the sacred flame against the rain. Similarly to the inhabitants of Hellas, Romans also believed that fire represented their state and it was essential to keep it burning, however according to Georges Dumezil* they have associated Vesta strictly with earth and its burning core hidden under a crust which was sometimes breaking through  e.g during the eruption of a volcano. They also noticed the connection of fire with the nature’s cycles, cultivation and life, especially with the beginning of life**. Also similarly to Hellas, Vesta’s altar was a hearth in atrium; she was likewise associated mainly with women who generally functioned in a family space, not a public one. Interestingly, when it comes to order of Roman prayers Vesta was called upon as the last deity, not the first one as in Hellas.

Vesta’s sacred fire was watched over by six (seven in the end-stage era of Rome) vestal virgins i.e. Vesta’s priestesses. The service at the temple lasted thirty years; Rome’s high priest (pontifex maximus) was choosing girls of preschool age originating from the patrician families who were to move to a three storey building of Atrium Vestae near forum.

220px-Vestalvirgins11

Here is the reconstruction.

220px-Casa-vestali

There were twelve younger girls in the house apart from main vestal virgins, they were adepts who were preparing themselves to the service in the goddess’ temple and vowed chastity for thirty years (it liberated them from the custody of their fathers and other men, a vestal virgin was the daughter of a state). The thirty years of service was divided into three decades: for the first ten years they were learning, for the next ten years they watched over the fire and for the last ten years they were teaching young girls. There were not many requirements for a girl to become a vestal virgin, she only had to be healthy and sane, both her parents had to be alive and Roman citizens (at first only patricians, later also plebeians were included). In case of one of vestal virgins’ sudden death, candidates to take her place were presented, the only requirement was woman’s good opinion; she didn’t have to be neither a child nor a virgin, usually young widows or even divorcees were appointed (although divorcees were considered to bring bad luck). Vestal virgins were easily recognised by their apparel, apart from a regular tunic and stola, they were wearing a white woollen fillet called infula, a white woollen veil worn during rituals and sacrifices called suffibulum,  white and red woollen ribbons symbolising Vesta’s fire and the vow of chastity and a long shawl draped over a left shoulder called palla.

200px-Vestalin

Vestal virgins’ duties included keeping the fire from extinguishing (allowing that happen was punished by flogging), bringing water from a sacred spring, taking care of sacred objects such as palladium***, preparing ritual food and mola salsa, a mixture of salt, flour and wheat, which was later used to sprinkle animal victims. Vestal virgins were so respected that they were often put in charge of executing testaments  (this is what Julius Cesar and Mark Anthony did among others). Any inhabitant of Rome could receive fire to take it to their house and in the times of Empire, Vesta’s hearth was considered to be the emperor’s household fire.

Breaking the vow of chastity was punished by being buried alive in a tomb on Campus Sceleratus (Evil Field) with a supply of food and water for a couple of days only. This way of punishing resulted from the interdiction of spilling blood and burying within the city limits. During one thousand years of Vesta’s fire cult only several of such cases were noted. The one from 114 bC is particularly interesting when as many as three Vestal virgins Aemilia,  Marcia and Licinia were condemned death for ‘multiple adultery’; most probably their processes were fabricated and they became scapegoats. Evidence against them included the Sibylline prophecies and witnesses describing literally orgies taking place in the Vestal house; the process itself was provoked by a thunder striking a travelling girl so superstitious Romans immediately thought of that as of gods’ anger and started to search for a reason***. According to the legend Rhea Silvia, daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa was also punished this way. Numitor’s brother seized the throne and forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal virgin hoping this will prevent her from giving birth to a potential avenger who in turn would deprive him of power. However, Mars the god of war took advantage of Rhea Silvia who gave birth to twins Remus and Romulus. Children were left in a forest to die there, luckily their divine father sent a she-wolf to feed them with her own milk. Shame on him that he show no similar care about their mother and did not save her from the consequences that she had to face because of him; after all such deux ex machina (unexpected turn of events) is often featured in myths of Hellenic gods who seduced mortal women.

This story may be the symbol of how women were treated in Rome, it must be noted that comparing with average female inhabitants Vestal virgins were an exception. They were ‘the daughters of Rome’, so did not belong to their fathers, brothers or sons, they were respected, could act independently, vote, possess and manage property, give oaths because their word was trusted without question. They were free to travel in a carriage preceded by a lictor, they were participating in celebrations and performances with the right to sit in a reserved place of honour and had right to free a condemned prisoner (which they showed by touching him,  also if a person sentenced to death saw a Vestal on his way to an execution place was automatically pardonned). Because of Vestal virgins’ immaculate reputation they were entrusted with particularly valuable state documents such as treaties. Their person was sacrosanct so every attack on a Vestal virgin was considered to be a coup d’etat and punished by death for treason.

The chief Vestal (Virgo Vestalis Maxima or Vestalium Maxima – ‘the greatest, the eldest of Vestals’) was the only woman to be included in the College of Pontiffs gathering all the high priests of native Roman cults. After 30 years of service a former Vestal virgin was obtaining a pension and had the right to leave the temple, get married and give birth to children. A marriage to a former Vestal was considered to be a huge honour and very lucky. Emperor Elagabalus did something more and married a Vestal virgin Aquilia Severa who was an officeholder at the time of her marriage. It was a very logical thing to do from his point of view as a follower of Eastern religions (vide post about Ishtar and the instytution of sacred marriage between a king and a high priestess), however the Romans considered it to be a sacrilege.

The flame in the temple was renewed every year on March 1st and the goddess’ festival called Vestalia was celebrated between 7th and 15th of June. The temple was the place where no one except of Vestal virgins had access to but on the first day of festival mothers were allowed to enter it to bring the offering of food.

Vesta’s flame had been burning in Rome for about nine centuries until it was extinguished in 391/394  of our era when Emperor Theodosius forbade any other religions than Christianity. According to contemporary recordings Serena, a Christian and Emperor’s adopted daughter, entered Vesta’s temple, took a necklace off the statue of Rhea Silvia and put it on. An old woman, Coelia Concordia, the last Virgo Vestalis Maxima, got indignant seeing such an act of sacrilege and prophesied a punishment to her. Indeed, Serena had later the dreams about her own death (and she died executed during the siege of Rome in 409, accused of conspiring with the enemy and high treason). An old Vestal was not the only one who got outraged at what Theodosius was doing; plenty of Romans was saying aloud that the sack of Rome in 410 by the Visigoths led by King Alaric and the following fall of an actual power of Roman Empire was a punishment for a Christian annihilation of cults celebrating deities who were protecting the Eternal City for almost one thousand years.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Some  sculptures of Hestia remained presenting her as a majestic woman wearing simple clothes and a veil and holding a stick or a staff in a hand. She was, however, mainly represented by a hearth and a burning flame itself.

Hestia

DIVINATION MEANING

PERSON

In positive meaning the person shown by this card is peaceful and balanced, often working in the profession dealing with implementing law or ensuring that everything is done in accordance to procedures. Somebody who values tradition and order and does not want to violate them. In negative meaning a person who is passive, conformist, shallow and superficial; possibly avoids making decisions and wants to make everybody happy. This person may be too strict and rigid and sticks to the decision made earlier no matter what. A person who is very much devoted to family and house.

Profession: an official, a clerk, a police officer, a firefighter, an auditor, a controller, an architect, an interior designer, parent working at home or a housewife/househusband, a clergy person, a priest/priestess, a monk/nun.

ADVICE

This cards concentrates mostly on family life as well as law&official cases. Make sure everything is ok in these areas of your life. Try to smooth over disputes with your loved ones, Hestia encourages you to be gentle. Even if you disagree with somebody, you do not have to impose your own opinions on them. Remember that holding grudges and keeping anger inside is mostly harmful to you.

Perhaps you do not have your own space in the house or it is only the place to sleep before you leave early for work. Your home should be your retreat and shelter from rush, stress and anger , not another source of them. If you cannot stand the atmosphere at home, this card definitely suggests moving out. You choose who should be in your environment. Either biological or emotional family gives us support and the feeling of continuity and belonging to a larger whole. Home is above all the feeling of belonging.

It is good to take care of your flat or house because your environment influences directly your mood, the level of energy and the ability to regenerate. This card suggest a major clean up or repairs, throwing unnecessary things away and rearranging your space. If you live in a house without a fireplace, you may consider installing it; you would be surprised how much it may improve the spirits at home.

In the situation you are inquiring you should act honestly and lawfully, otherwise consequences may be very serious.

This card also suggests a certain ritual: regardless of your religion or lack of faith, you should light a candle and/or an incense at least for a couple of minutes every day and while staring at it rethink your day, attitude and behaviour. Learn from your mistakes and then clean your mind from negative thoughts. We are accustomed to the fact that altar is situated at church and yet even the simplest domestic activities may be sacred. It is worth to follow the ancient who offered sacrifices and prepared food on the same hearth. What is intended for the body must be paired with what is intended for the spirit.

Never let your inner flame extinguish. Soul needs warmth to bloom.

Family. Home. House or flat. Religion. Law. Rules. Tradition. Journey. Celebrations and festivals. City.

LOVE

If you are in the relationship: Marriage or official confirmation of a relationship. Do not forget to fan the flame in the relationship, otherwise it will be extinguished. Provide warmth in mutual relations. A moment when casual matters begin to dominate reality.

If you are single: Perhaps you pay too much attention to external aspect of romantic relationship. If you want your partner to declare their feelings, propose and start a family too fast, you may startle a potential candidate. Beware of thinking I want to be in a relationship with anyone, just not to be alone. Reluctance to engage emotionally. An inner need to remain single.

FINANCES

Promotion. A strong position. Respect of co-workers. Restriction of freedom. An influence of law or office on your work and the way it functions. An official control in your workplace. To resolve the problem you are inquiring you should follow precisely the letter of the law. Work at home.

HEALTH

Fever. Inflammation. Body temperature fluctuations. Exacerbation of medical conditionPatient care at homeExcess or lack of energy.  Endangered parts of the body: heart, arteries, reproductory system, small intestine.

CARDS

As I mentioned above Hestia/Vesta was manifesting herself through the fire itself, not necessarily through statues. This is why I appreciate the cards from Thalia Took and Kay Stevenson’s decks which represent her in this way:

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (as Vesta)

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Hestia in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle deck by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Hestia in The Goddess Oracle deck by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Hestia in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton (as Vesta)

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

Hestia in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews (as Vesta)

Hestia in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Hestia in Oracle of the Goddess by Anna Franklin&Paul Mason (as Vesta)

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

Hestia in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue (as Vesta)

Hestia in Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue

Hestia in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs (as Vesta)

Hestia in The Goddess Power by Cordelia Brabbs

Beware! Hestia from Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton (as Vesta) will hit you with a candlestick in a momentgrinrotfl2!

Hestia from Goddesses&Sirens by Stacey Demarco&Jimmy Manton

Hestia with her lips pumped up with silicone in Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

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

Hestia as Ten of Cups in in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Hestia in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

*Georges Dumezil, a French philologist exploring the roots of proto-Indo – European, presents numerous similarities between the Vedic (Agni), Persian and Hestia/Vesta cult of fire. The cult of fire and purity remained to this very day in the Zoroaster rites. Similarities with Celtic goddess Brigid are obvious, too.

** Esoteric tradition recognises Fire as the beginning, the first element followed by Water, Air and Earth. First four figures of Major Arcana in Tarot correspond to this division: The Mage, The High Priestess, The Empress and The Emperor as well as the traditional order of Minor Arcana: Wands (Fire), Chalices (Water), Swords (Air) and Coins (Earth).

***It also included protecting sacred objects such as palladion, a wooden statue of Pallas Athena which as the legend says was saved by Aeneas from burning Troy. Palladium was the symbol of city and its civilisation.

**** Additionally these are recordings of stories which seem very similar to Middle – Age legends. One of them tells the story of a Vestal virgin Tuccia who brought the water from the Tiber to the temple of Vesta in a sieve to prove her innocence (told by Pliny the Elder). Another legend speaks about a Vestal virgin Aemilia who let the sacred flame extinguish by accident and asked Vesta to protect her against the punishment. She rekindled the flame miraculously by throwing a piece of garment on the coals of the hearth (it brings the resemblance with Brigid and clooties).

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, Wikipedia and http://books.google.pl/books?id=cRS3E3u3HuAC&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=114+b.c.+vestal+virgins&source=bl&ots=KmguiRMVfX&sig=i6sp2-vfotMzp9TBhRX_reS2n7g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1nu3T6SZCdDHtAbez7nzBw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=114%20b.c.%20vestal%20virgins&f=false , http://www.roman-colosseum.info/roman-clothing/vestal-virgins-clothing.htm .

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DEMETER (CERES)

DEMETER (CERES)

A Hellenic goddess of sowing, cultivating, harvesting and the birth – death-rebirth cycle, the second child of Cronus and Rhea and the mother of Kore Persephone. When the Olympic gods seized the power over the Earth, she became responsible for maintaining its fertility. She was taking care of the soil and the crops and it was Demeter who taught people how to grow grains, how to make bread and how to cultivate vegetables and fruit. Her name may be derived from the words ‘deus/dyeus’ and ‘meter’, when put together this signifies ‘goddess – mother, divine mother’. In Rome she was venerated as Ceres.

ABOUT THE GODDESS

The cult of Demeter was one of the oldest in the Hellenic world, she is mentioned together with Kore and Poseidon in the tablets at Pylos dated around 1400-1200 before Christ (‘two mistresses&the king’). There is also an assumption that she was forming the Triple Goddess as Mother together with Kore (Maiden) and Hekate (Crone). Demeter has been associated with Kore, her daughter with Zeus to the point that they were known as ‘two goddesses’.

Kore was a young girl when she was playing on the meadow with fellow nymphs on a sunny day. Her mother allowed her to weave wreaths from all the flowers but a narcissus dedicated to the gods of the Underworld. Unfortunately, Kore forgot her mother’s warning and picked this flower. It brought the darkness over the meadow, the ground cracked and a chariot led by black horses  emerged from the abyss. It was Hades, the lord of the Underworld, he captured Kore and abducted her to his realm below the surface of the earth. It was all so sudden that nobody was able to react or even realise that Demeter’s daughter disappeared. Only Cyane (Kyane), a water nymph and Kore’s companion, heard her friend’s cry and hurried to save her. However, it was too late and one of the horses kicked her in the shoulder so she could only massage the sore spot and cry after Kore. Terrified Demeter kept searching for her daughter everywhere but she did not realise that Zeus had promised his daughter as a wife without her mother’s knowledge and consent.

When Demeter found out about the conspiracy (either from all-seeing Helios the sun god or Hekate, goddess of the night and witchcraft), she became so furious  that she cursed the earth and told her not to raise crops until her daughter comes back to her. This interrupted the order of the seasons so plants began to wither and people started to complain they would not be able to gather them and they would suffer from hunger.  Zeus had no option but to return Kore to her mother. However, the girl was lured to eat a couple of grains of pommegranate in the Underworld and this made her belong there forever. In the end the gods and goddesses entered into a compromise: Kore was to spend one third of the year with her husband as Persephone the Queen of the Underworld but for the remaining two thirds she could return on the surface and enjoy the time with her mother. This is how the Hellens understood the seasons change: in winter the earth was saddened by the absence of Kore Persephone together with Demeter and in spring and summer when she was coming back, the earth was showing joy by letting leaves and blossoming the flowers.

Eleusis was the goddess’ sacred place and this is where the Eleusinian mysteries were established. For more than two thousand years the history of Demeter and Kore Persephone was celebrated in secret ceremonies and it was one of the most important cults in the whole Hellenic world. It is impossible to recreate these rites now but they were probably concentrating on fertility and rebirth and some symbols may have been taken by Christianity (such as accepting bread or drinking wine; also the holiday of the Assumption of Mary has a pagan character, she is venerated as Our Lady of Herbs in Poland).  To find more about the ceremonies please visit this site. It is also believed that the first letter of Demeter’s name (Delta in the Greek alphabet) has the shape of the womb and therefore is the symbol of life, conquering death and bliss.

Demeter does not often appear in epic poems but apart from the story of Kore she is mentioned in some other myths. In the story of Tantal, the king of Phrygia who invited the Olympians to the feast and served them the body of his son to check if they recognize the meat, Demeter is so plunged in grief after the loss of Kore that she eats a piece but vomits immediately when she realizes what she ate. In another myth she is pursued by Poseidon but she is so disguised by his desire that she assumes the form of mare to avoid any contact with him. Poseidon finds her, however, and takes the form of stallion to cover her. She later gives birth to a daughter Despoina (Mistress of the House) whose name was not allowed to be pronounced and a horse Arion with black mane and tail. Demeter becomes furious and goes to the river to wash her anger away. During the wedding of Cadmus and Harmonia she drinks too much wine and sleeps with Iasion in a ploughed furrow which later results in the birth of their son Ploutos (or in another version twins Ploutos&Philomeus and another son called Korybas). However, jealous Zeus kills Iasion with a thunderbolt.

It is also believed that because of her nickname Thesmosphoros (Giver of Customs) Demeter was associated with the sanctity of marriage and with the religious law in the earliest times. The goddess has also her vengeful aspect as Demeter Erinys.

Personally I like and respect this goddess a lot because of her uncompromising attitude, standing up for her child, serenity and friendliness towards mortals. She never hurt any of them and was very fond of people,  she even wanted to give immortality to one of them. When she refused to protect the Earth after Kore’s abduction, she assumed the human body and moved in to the royal court of Eleusis as the nanny of Prince Demophon (Triptolemus). To make him immortal she put him into a sacred fire one evening to burn out his mortal weakness but this ritual was broken by the queen, boy’s mother so he never fully acquired divine powers. He was, however, initiated as the first human being into the Eleusinian mysteries.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

Demeter’s attributes were ears of grain, daffodils (Kore was captured by Hades when she cut a daffodil), poppies,  sheaves, siecles and plows.  The bird mostly associated with her was a crane and the most common sacrifice was made of sow.

She was also traditionally associated with horses, one of the aspects of her cult was Aganippe (Night-Mare, The Mare who destroys mercifully), a black winged horse, and some of her idols showed her as mare – headed with a mane entwined with snakes, holding a dolphin in one hand and a dove in another one.

Demeter was usually depicted sitting and either holding a torch (because she was searching for her daughter day and night) or snakes. She is also portrayed riding a chariot driven by horses.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

The person who is shown by this card is mostly concentrating on family and house. Children’s material needs are important for her. In negative her whole life revolves around children, she is overprotective and does not let her children grow up.

Advice

This is the time to take care of your family, either on material or emotional level. Show affection to your loved ones.  Children are very important for you. You feel separation from your child. Help your children but do not live their lives. Everything and everyone has to grow up.

If you are thinking about starting a family, this card confirms it is a good choice.

In its negative aspect the card of Demeter tells about family issues, especially with children, relationships between parents and children growing apart and economic problems.

Mother. Maturity. Possible pregnancy. Childbirth. Natural law. Marriage. Abundance. Protection. Help. Journey. Contact with nature.

Love

If you’re in the relationship: this card suggests you have big maternal needs and if you do not have your own children yet, this inner yearning for a child will be growing. If you have children, this card may suggest you are concentrating on them and neglecting your partner. Marriage.

If you are single: your strong relation with mother may disturb you in establishing a healthy and long-term relationship. This card may also suggest you want to have a child rather than a relationship with another person. Single parenting.

Finances

Investments in land or stock exchange. Your company is undergoing changes. Profit gained thanks to secret knowledge. Insecure moment.

Health

Time to change your diet. Eat more unprocessed, natural food like vegetables, fruit and grains. Lack of nutrients. Digestive system. Insomnia and problems with sleeping. Emotional tension.
Endangered parts of the body: digestive system.

CARDS

Demeter is also one of the most popular goddesses and she appears in nearly all the decks I came across, the only exception is the deck of Doreen Virtue.

Demeter in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky, a beautiful picture full of symbols associated with Demeter and Kore Persephone

Demeter in Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews

Demeter in Ancient Feminine Wisdom by Kay Stevenson&Brian Clark

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

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

Demeter (with Kore Persephone as Two Goddesses) in The Goddess Wisdom Cards by Jill Fairchild, Regina Schaare & Sandra M. Stanton

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

Demeter…

…and Ceres in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst (the author made a huge faux pas and no one corrected her: Ceres WAS NOT a Greek but Latin goddess…what is the point of making a distinction between Demeter and Ceres if it may seem they are both from the same country??? I like the idea of pregnant Demeter though)

Demeter in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr

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

Demeter in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took (as Ceres)

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

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

Demeter as Magician in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano, I have to disagree with such assignment because the card of Magician the first Major Arcane is traditionally associated with the element of Fire&the energy of Mercury while Demeter clearly represents the element of Earth

Two cards of Xena-like Demeter from Mythic Oracle by Carisa Mellado&Michele-lee Phelan

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, Wikipedia and http://www.pantheon.org/articles/e/eleusis.html.

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.