I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
Goddess Athena or Athene, often called Pallas Athena, was the Ancient Greek Goddess of wisdom, handicraft and warfare. She derived her name from the city of Athens. However, Athens wasn’t the only city whose patron Goddess she was. She was usually depicted wearing a helmet and spear, and sometimes also a Gorgonien, a special protective amulet. Her temples were fortified and stood at the centre of a city on the Acropolis.
Legend has it that Athena was born from the head of Zeus and entered a competition with Poseidon. The winner was going to become patron deity of the city of Athens. Athena won by creating the first olive tree. This warrior goddess meddled a lot with human events. Her feud with Aphrodite and Hera resulted in the beginning of the Trojan war. She was also said to have aided some of the heroes of Greek mythology. In a weaving competition, Athena stood against Arachne whom she afterwards turned into a spider, hence the term arachnophobe, describing a person who is afraid of spiders.
Plato's 50 Cents
Since the Renaissance, Athena has become a symbol of the arts, wisdom, classical learning, freedom and democracy in Western culture. Going back to the root of the Goddess Athena and her supposed naming, Plato has a unique view of its origin, however, what is of real importance here is the meaning he describes of those root words and names. This gives us indeed, an insight into the energy and meaning of Athena’s symbolism.
In Cratylus 407b, he writes:
“That is a graver matter, and there, my friend, the modern interpreters of Homer may, I think, assist in explaining the view of the ancients. For most of these in their explanations of the poet, assert that he meant by Athena ‘mind’ (noũs) and ‘intelligence’ (dianoia), and the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her; and indeed calls her by a still higher title, ‘divine intelligence’ (theoũ nóēsis), as though he would say: This is she who has the mind of God (a theonóa). Perhaps, however, the name Theonoe may mean ‘she who knows divine things’ (ta theia noousa) better than others. Nor shall we be far wrong in supposing that the author of it wished to identify this Goddess with moral intelligence (en éthei nóesin), and therefore gave her the name Etheonoe; which, however, either he or his successors have altered into what they thought a nicer form, and called her Athena.”
Defender & Peacemaker
Athena appears as a young woman, wearing a helmet, shield and spear, and is often shown accompanied by an Owl, as a symbol of watchfulness and wisdom. On her shield, a Gorgoneion amulet with the head of Medusa is depicted. Medusa was once raped by Poseidon, which was witnessed by Athena who then changed Medusa into a Gorgon with snakes on her head. She had the power to turn men into stone with her gaze alone. The depiction was a protective amulet that was believed to have warded off evil and danger.
Athena has many attributes that are her superpowers. These are rationality, intelligence, she is a powerful defender in war, but also a potent peacemaker, using her mental faculties for both strategy and diplomacy. Her weaknesses, by the same token, is that she is not usually emotional or compassionate, although she had her favourites according to mythology. Despite the fact that Athena did not have a spouse of consort, she was fond of Odysseus whom she helped whenever she could on his travels subsequent to the Trojan war.
In my romance novel In the Event of Love, the female protagonist Charlotte is the one keeping things together in her head. She thinks strategically, but also possesses diplomacy and is also working with artists. Even though she is in love with a man, she has a very pragmatic approach to building the foundations of their relationship and always finds solutions to all challenges, until her suppressed childhood trauma rears its ugly head.
For once, mere rationality doesn’t win the day and she has to open up to her emotional side to overcome these obstacles in order to grow beyond them.
Athena also lends inspiration. She is the Goddess of civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Her duties and areas of sovereignty are many, which shows us how important she was in Ancient times having so many things attributed to her. At the same time, this makes perfect sense, because she was born from the forehead of Zeus, the Third Eye, thus incorporating mental, as well as spiritual faculties. Intelligence and rationality are as much part of this as is divine inspiration and artistic creativity.