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Author Topic: Goddesses or no?  (Read 2477 times)

Unakite5

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Goddesses or no?
« on: February 01, 2014, 08:50:41 pm »
Out and about on the interwebs, I've come across a few tidbits of information that I'd like to get your take on. I'm just a little curious about a few mythic figures. Namely, Medusa, Lilith, and Boudicca.

Do any of you consider Medusa a Goddess? I realize she was originally mortal in the myths, turned into a "monster" by Athena. A few places I've visited seem to see Medusa as the shadow aspect of Athena in an archetypal sense. Others seem to think she was originally a goddess demoted by the patriarchy. Of course, I don't know if I buy the pre-patriarchal matriarchy myth. However, lurking around, I know people have worked with her as a deity. Has anyone here done so? If you don't mind sharing, what was your experience like?

I have the same questions about Boudicca. I know she was a historical queen and somewhat (ok, no. Definitely) a badass. I've seen people mention her as a Goddess also. What is your take? Has anyone worked with Boudicca as a spirit/guide/deity?

And finally, Lilith. I know she's probably a pure demon and not a Goddess at all. Though, again, people seem to invoke her as a deity in ritual, especially in women-centered circles. These are braver souls than me. That is for sure. Because as far as I can tell, there is precious little in her mythology that would make her more than a storm demon.

Of course, I guess the underlying question is at what point do you think a mythic figure becomes a Deity?

Like, in the Christian scriptures, there is little on the surface of the texts to make Mary anything but a young Jewish woman. However, with all of the devotion and love from her followers, the titles She's accrued over time (Queen of Heaven?), I have no doubt She is a goddess. The same thing with Kwannon/Quan Yin. They both function as Goddesses.

So...again, what do ya'll think?
"Sophia is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her." Wisdom 6:12

Aiwelin

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2014, 09:45:39 pm »
Quote from: Unakite5;138570
I have the same questions about Boudicca. I know she was a historical queen and somewhat (ok, no. Definitely) a badass. I've seen people mention her as a Goddess also. What is your take? Has anyone worked with Boudicca as a spirit/guide/deity?

Of course, I guess the underlying question is at what point do you think a mythic figure becomes a Deity?

 
This is an interesting question!  I don't have much experience with your other examples, but I do honor Boudicca as a badass ancestor (spiritually, there's no way of knowing physically).  I turn to her for any work that requires badassedness, especially of the human variety - I also honor Macha, but I feel that She's a little less understanding about very human problems.

For the ancient Germanic and Celtic peoples, the answer seems to have been very fluid.  Woden was both listed as an ancestor and honored as a God by many of the Anglo-Saxon tribes that came to England.  Various Celtic clans and tribes would pay bards to compose poetry and song linking them back to their deities.  Just as the line between deity/nature spirit can get pretty fuzzy (think about river goddesses.. are they just really powerful nature spirits?  Goddesses who hold power over nature spirits?  Who knows!), the line between ancestors and deities was also very blurred, and imo continues to be very blurry today.
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Unakite5

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2014, 10:26:16 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;138579
For the ancient Germanic and Celtic peoples, the answer seems to have been very fluid.  Woden was both listed as an ancestor and honored as a God by many of the Anglo-Saxon tribes that came to England.  Various Celtic clans and tribes would pay bards to compose poetry and song linking them back to their deities.  Just as the line between deity/nature spirit can get pretty fuzzy (think about river goddesses.. are they just really powerful nature spirits?  Goddesses who hold power over nature spirits?  Who knows!), the line between ancestors and deities was also very blurred, and imo continues to be very blurry today.

 
Thanks for your input about your experience. Boudicca sounds like a great ally.

I agree with you the line does seem very blurry, still. Which seems quite fascinating. Have you ever read Wicca 404 by Esra Free by any chance? I suspect Wicca isn't your chosen tradition? She just says something really cool about how deities come into being. If I can find it, I'll post it.
"Sophia is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her." Wisdom 6:12

Valentine

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2014, 01:47:17 am »
Quote from: Unakite5;138570
Out and about on the interwebs, I've come across a few tidbits of information that I'd like to get your take on. I'm just a little curious about a few mythic figures. Namely, Medusa, Lilith, and Boudicca.

Do any of you consider Medusa a Goddess? I realize she was originally mortal in the myths, turned into a "monster" by Athena. A few places I've visited seem to see Medusa as the shadow aspect of Athena in an archetypal sense. Others seem to think she was originally a goddess demoted by the patriarchy. Of course, I don't know if I buy the pre-patriarchal matriarchy myth. However, lurking around, I know people have worked with her as a deity. Has anyone here done so? If you don't mind sharing, what was your experience like?

I have the same questions about Boudicca. I know she was a historical queen and somewhat (ok, no. Definitely) a badass. I've seen people mention her as a Goddess also. What is your take? Has anyone worked with Boudicca as a spirit/guide/deity?

And finally, Lilith. I know she's probably a pure demon and not a Goddess at all. Though, again, people seem to invoke her as a deity in ritual, especially in women-centered circles. These are braver souls than me. That is for sure. Because as far as I can tell, there is precious little in her mythology that would make her more than a storm demon.

Of course, I guess the underlying question is at what point do you think a mythic figure becomes a Deity?

Like, in the Christian scriptures, there is little on the surface of the texts to make Mary anything but a young Jewish woman. However, with all of the devotion and love from her followers, the titles She's accrued over time (Queen of Heaven?), I have no doubt She is a goddess. The same thing with Kwannon/Quan Yin. They both function as Goddesses.

So...again, what do ya'll think?

 
What's a goddess, in the end?  It's a word we use in English for a number of different words in other languages, but where we apply it is awfully fuzzy.  Is a nymph a goddess or a deity?  What about a river spirit?  What if it's a really big river?  What if it's a little spring?  Does a goddess have to be good?  Or big?  Immortal?  If people worship a dead mortal hero is that person a goddess?  How many of them have to, to make the shift?  What about mythological people who have a god/dess for a parent?  Herakles is deified, but Perseus isn't; the Minotaur is a monster, and Helen is just a human, but they both have Zeus for a father and a mortal mother, as Herakles does.  Are the Nereids goddesses?  Is Nereus a god?  These are very blurry lines, mostly defined by whim and preference.

Like, you're saying Lilith is a "pure demon."  What does that even mean?  What's your definition of "demon," and what's your definition of "goddess"?  More importantly, since I'm asking a lot of questions--not to make you feel bad, but because they're questions worth asking--what's your stake in it?  Like, if someone is a goddess, versus a demon or whatever, what does that mean for you in in relation to that someone?  What makes the distinction matter?  (I don't mean this rhetorically, to mean "It doesn't matter--ha!" I'm asking: what makes it matter?)
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Valentine

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2014, 01:48:58 am »
Quote from: Valentine;138593
Herakles is deified, but Perseus isn't; the Minotaur is a monster, and Helen is just a human, but they both have Zeus for a father and a mortal mother, as Herakles does.


Leave alone Dionysos, of course.  What I'm saying is, this is a messy subject.
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Unakite5

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2014, 02:53:42 am »
Quote from: Valentine;138593
Like, you're saying Lilith is a "pure demon."  What does that even mean?  What's your definition of "demon," and what's your definition of "goddess"?  More importantly, since I'm asking a lot of questions--not to make you feel bad, but because they're questions worth asking--what's your stake in it?  Like, if someone is a goddess, versus a demon or whatever, what does that mean for you in in relation to that someone?  What makes the distinction matter?  (I don't mean this rhetorically, to mean "It doesn't matter--ha!" I'm asking: what makes it matter?)

 
Ok. This is where I thank you for making me think and communicate effectively. Not even being facetious.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out a few things. Right now, I'm trying to make sure that I do my due diligence when investigating different deities, out of respect. I guess I'm just trying to balance people's personal gnosis with myth? Also, just learning that say Boudicca is an ancestral Spirit associated with Germanic and Celtic roots lets me know that it might not be appropriate for me to invoke Her in ritual, since Germanic and Celtic paganism isn't my path. Or, at least, it means that I must be cognizant of that fact and, again, do my due diligence to show the proper respect.

My stake here is, I guess, is should I reach out to Medusa, for instance 1. will someone be on the other line if I call? 2. Can I handle Her energy if She does respond.

And I do know one person's demon is another's dark goddess. I know much of this is subjective and that the God/desses themselves have "negative" and "positive" aspects--that the healer goddesses have cursed and the often feared underworld deities can show benevolent and kind faces. (The scare quotes are intentional, mostly because I think "dark" vs. "light" (as is black and white magick) language is kind of racist).

To clarify, when I said Lilith was "pure demon"--perhaps a poor choice of words--I meant that the idea that she was a goddess is fairly new. From my research, she was never deified by any group and she is probably not a feminist dark goddess. She was not, from what I gather, Inanna's handmaiden. She was always viewed as a demon. Or, a powerful Spirit that might cause someone harm. Going by her mythology, which seems to be contradicted by many folks UPG, I was trying to figure that out because I love the idea of the ass kicking, oppression fighting feminist figure. Excerpt, reading about Her yielded different results...

In all this rambling, did I answer your question?
"Sophia is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her." Wisdom 6:12

SerpentineSorcerer

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2014, 10:01:38 am »
Quote from: Unakite5;138597


My stake here is, I guess, is should I reach out to Medusa, for instance 1. will someone be on the other line if I call? 2. Can I handle Her energy if She does respond.


 
I'd be careful when wanting to speak to Medusa. When it comes to whether or not she is a goddess, I turn to the lore and the lore names her as one of the daughters of Phorkys and Keto, ancient gods of the sea who ruled over the darker and deep parts of the ocean depths and had power over sea monsters, whose siblings are Ekhidna, the great dragon Ladon, and the wise Graia. Her lover was Poseidon, who in the earlier stories in the lore did NOT bed in Athena's temple, and she birthed their children Pegasos and the giant Khrysaor. In many of the older stories I've seen her power over the storm and the dark, and the fierce powers of the wild have always been held up as on par with a gods. Though named as mortal, it takes the gifts of three olympians in order to grant Perseus the methods and means to "kill" her. Even then her power remains unbroken. Her power joins with Athena as she places it upon the aigis. Her blood, with it's power to either kill or fully regenerate, is a boon given to Asclepius (by Athena interestingly) when he porves himself worthy of the gods with his healing crafts. Even following her "death" she dwells in the houses of the Underworld, guarding it from foul things that lurk within and something even heroes like Odysseus and Herakles were worried about tangling with when they stole into the underworld. To me, that kinda paints the picture that even if she ISN'T a god, then she's close enough to count that I don't even bother asking twice.

If there is one thing I have gotten an impression of in my own meditations, it's that she comes across as a goddess, an older chthonic goddess, but still a goddess. She is keeper of that which lurks in the dark, the shadow we all fear. TO match her eyes is to face your own fear. In turn she also defends against fearsome things, as evidenced by the gorgon head reliefs that were put up in various places to ward off unclean spirits and unwelcome visitors.
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Aiwelin

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2014, 11:16:17 am »
Quote from: Unakite5;138581
Thanks for your input about your experience. Boudicca sounds like a great ally.

I agree with you the line does seem very blurry, still. Which seems quite fascinating. Have you ever read Wicca 404 by Esra Free by any chance? I suspect Wicca isn't your chosen tradition? She just says something really cool about how deities come into being. If I can find it, I'll post it.

 
I have never read it, but I'm interested in the part you mention.  You're correct, Wicca is not my wheelhouse (I am a member of a Wiccan tradition, but that mostly comes down to community and my desire to be a well-rounded Pagan clergyperson), I like to call myself a 'Heathen Druid', which I hope reflects my mix of Germanic and Celtic polytheism that's not quite strict enough to be called Recon.

Quote from: Unakite5;138597
I guess I'm just trying to balance people's personal gnosis with myth? Also, just learning that say Boudicca is an ancestral Spirit associated with Germanic and Celtic roots lets me know that it might not be appropriate for me to invoke Her in ritual, since Germanic and Celtic paganism isn't my path. Or, at least, it means that I must be cognizant of that fact and, again, do my due diligence to show the proper respect.


Yep, Boudicca is a firmly Celtic ancestral spirit.  But I personally don't have issue with others inviting her to ritual, whatever their path - I imagine she'd let you know pretty quick if she thought you were out of line; I'm not at all interested in policing that :).  In my Wiccan coven, we occasionally invite Thor or Frigga; and while that used to make me as a Heathen cringe, it's been my general impression that They appreciate the honor.
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Unakite5

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2014, 03:06:38 pm »
Quote from: SerpentineSorcerer;138603
I'd be careful when wanting to speak to Medusa. When it comes to whether or not she is a goddess, I turn to the lore and the lore names her as one of the daughters of Phorkys and Keto, ancient gods of the sea who ruled over the darker and deep parts of the ocean depths and had power over sea monsters, whose siblings are Ekhidna, the great dragon Ladon, and the wise Graia. Her lover was Poseidon, who in the earlier stories in the lore did NOT bed in Athena's temple, and she birthed their children Pegasos and the giant Khrysaor. In many of the older stories I've seen her power over the storm and the dark, and the fierce powers of the wild have always been held up as on par with a gods. Though named as mortal, it takes the gifts of three olympians in order to grant Perseus the methods and means to "kill" her. Even then her power remains unbroken. Her power joins with Athena as she places it upon the aigis. Her blood, with it's power to either kill or fully regenerate, is a boon given to Asclepius (by Athena interestingly) when he porves himself worthy of the gods with his healing crafts. Even following her "death" she dwells in the houses of the Underworld, guarding it from foul things that lurk within and something even heroes like Odysseus and Herakles were worried about tangling with when they stole into the underworld. To me, that kinda paints the picture that even if she ISN'T a god, then she's close enough to count that I don't even bother asking twice.

If there is one thing I have gotten an impression of in my own meditations, it's that she comes across as a goddess, an older chthonic goddess, but still a goddess. She is keeper of that which lurks in the dark, the shadow we all fear. TO match her eyes is to face your own fear. In turn she also defends against fearsome things, as evidenced by the gorgon head reliefs that were put up in various places to ward off unclean spirits and unwelcome visitors.

 
SerpentineSorcerer, I appreciate the fact that you've given me so much more information about Medusa. This isn't even a newbie board. :) and also, for the note of caution.

I wonder if my being drawn to Her is about facing fear. It's something I'll have to ponder.
"Sophia is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her." Wisdom 6:12

Unakite5

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2014, 03:26:03 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;138608
I have never read it, but I'm interested in the part you mention.  You're correct, Wicca is not my wheelhouse (I am a member of a Wiccan tradition, but that mostly comes down to community and my desire to be a well-rounded Pagan clergyperson), I like to call myself a 'Heathen Druid', which I hope reflects my mix of Germanic and Celtic polytheism that's not quite strict enough to be called Recon.



Yep, Boudicca is a firmly Celtic ancestral spirit.  But I personally don't have issue with others inviting her to ritual, whatever their path - I imagine she'd let you know pretty quick if she thought you were out of line; I'm not at all interested in policing that :).  In my Wiccan coven, we occasionally invite Thor or Frigga; and while that used to make me as a Heathen cringe, it's been my general impression that They appreciate the honor.

 
LOL. Yeah, now that you mention it, Boudicca probably isn't Someone to worry about not speaking up for Herself. :-) Maybe cultural appropriation is a bigger deal when say a white person invokes the Orishas out of the blue. It's not so much the Gods I worry about, but those who They have traditionally claimed. Does that make sense?

And, my bad. The part about egregores in Wicca 404 was a quote from Maeve Rhea. She talks about how the Great Goddess of Wicca (or, I translate The Cosmic All) and humanity both create Goddess and Godforms. The "People" (her capitalization) have a need. Humanity creates an image. The Cosmic All recognizes this. Over time, as more and more people venerate a would-be God/ess more and more energy builds up around it until finally, the Cosmic All breathes literal life into the Form. Like a hand in glove, Rhea writes, except the hand is sentient and independent--a real live Brighid, Aphrodite, or
Virgin Mary, etc...

I don't know if this translates well into Heathenry, but I thought it was interesting. :)
"Sophia is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her." Wisdom 6:12

Aiwelin

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2014, 07:41:25 pm »
Quote from: Unakite5;138632
LOL. Yeah, now that you mention it, Boudicca probably isn't Someone to worry about not speaking up for Herself. :-) Maybe cultural appropriation is a bigger deal when say a white person invokes the Orishas out of the blue. It's not so much the Gods I worry about, but those who They have traditionally claimed. Does that make sense?


That absolutely makes sense to me.  To be totally honest, the reason I first began exploring European cultures rather than other parts of the world was concerns about cultural appropriation.  I'm glad I went this direction, as I am very content with my path; but the original reason was a bit arbitrary.  Though we have done a few Vedic rituals as a family, to honor the ancestors of my husband and children..  Anyway, as someone who chose not to struggle with the tough gray areas of cultural appropriation vs. cultural borrowing by avoiding the question altogether, I'm honestly not the best person to ask ;)

Quote from: Unakite5;138632
And, my bad. The part about egregores in Wicca 404 was a quote from Maeve Rhea. She talks about how the Great Goddess of Wicca (or, I translate The Cosmic All) and humanity both create Goddess and Godforms. The "People" (her capitalization) have a need. Humanity creates an image. The Cosmic All recognizes this. Over time, as more and more people venerate a would-be God/ess more and more energy builds up around it until finally, the Cosmic All breathes literal life into the Form. Like a hand in glove, Rhea writes, except the hand is sentient and independent--a real live Brighid, Aphrodite, or
Virgin Mary, etc...

I don't know if this translates well into Heathenry, but I thought it was interesting. :)

 
I've come across this theory before, and it definitely intrigues me.  I tend towards thinking of deities as just another class of being, gradually coming into existence independent of humanity, but there's so much we do and cannot know about Them that I certainly think Forms are a valid theory.  I know some Heathens who believe it or something similar.  It's certainly a good explanation for a lot of pop culture Paganism as well..
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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2014, 08:32:39 pm »
Quote from: Unakite5;138597

In all this rambling, did I answer your question?

 
I'll respond to the rest in a bit, but I wanted to say: it's not me you're answering to!  I'm not your initiator, or your priestess, or involved in your religious life at all.  Whatever answers you come to are for you--I'm not here to interrogate you, just trying to help clarify things.
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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2014, 12:35:44 pm »
Quote from: Unakite5;138570
Out and about on the interwebs, I've come across a few tidbits of information that I'd like to get your take on. I'm just a little curious about a few mythic figures. Namely, Medusa, Lilith, and Boudicca.


 
Well, in Greece, there was a long and well-established tradition of hero and heroine cult activity: Helen, as just one example, *definitely* received some sort of devotion. My former professor, Jennifer Larson, wrote a book on Greek heroine cults (called, well, Greek Heroine Cults). So, within that context, one doesn't have to be a full-on "goddess" (and as Val said, what does that even mean?) to receive devotions.

As for Medusa, images of gorgons in general were used as apotropaic figures in a variety of contexts, which suggests that they were considered powerful.  I'm not aware of any actual cultic activity surrounding Medusa herself, but given the way Greek cults worked, there's no reason there couldn't be, then or now.

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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2014, 12:43:14 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;138593
What's a goddess, in the end?

 
I tend to be of the opinion that anybody who wants to be called a goddess and is powerful enough to smite me if I don't can be called a goddess. =P
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Re: Goddesses or no?
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2014, 05:57:25 pm »
Quote from: Jack;138790
I tend to be of the opinion that anybody who wants to be called a goddess and is powerful enough to smite me if I don't can be called a goddess. =P

 
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