Hettienne Ma

The role of the Goddess Archetype in Spirituality, Psychology and Relating

In The way of the heart on August 11, 2010 at 7:00 am


The ancient god and goddess mythologies form a crucial part of our collective archetypal unconscious. Within each and every man and woman the gods and goddesses are acting out their archetypal roles. By understanding which goddesses you are keeping alive, you are closer to understanding your own psyche.

These goddesses also exist in our energy fields. They have huge fields of energetic power and control in both the astral, psychic and spiritual realms. We are not dancing alone! Who are your dancing partners?

By identifying your governing archetypes (in the goddesses in this instance) you are in a position to identify compelling behaviour and feeling patterns. Through the study of the inner goddesses you can empower yourself through the power of acceptance, awareness, observation and SURRENDER!

The various goddesses are aspects of the Supreme Mother Goddess. These aspects and goddesses have the power to heal or to disrupt.

Several of these goddesses underlie a woman’s behaviour and psychological style. Men too, are influenced by the goddess types. The goddesses reflect feminine energies in the male psyche, although men usually experience them as being more external to themselves in the shape of women they are attracted to or else have strong reactions to.

Men also experience the goddesses projected onto the women around them, as indeed, the world is a mirror to us all.

All of men’s relationships with women are determined by one or more of the goddess energies and their particular archetypal energies.

One can assume that a certain predisposition to specific archetypes are brought into existence at birth. One is born into a karmic life stream; into a body and personality type which genetically and psychically are already programmed with the lineage of seven generations. From there on you are imprinted and conditioned by those around you, observing and experiencing all through your own personal lens and filter. Therefore pecific goddesses will be awakened and cultivated at various stages in one’s life.

Every archetype has its pros and cons or negatives or positives, depending on its reason for being in your consciousness. For instance, the price for living a protective goddess might be the loss of vulnerability and intimacy. It is theproverbial ‘pact with the devil’* that is made – ‘I scratch your back and you scratch my back’ said tongue-in-cheek, but be aware of the price that you will be paying. Usually, when the crisis occurs in one’s own life and journey, you realise that the price exacted by ‘her’ is too high, and then the journey of transformation starts, as you overcome the belief system, the conditioned fear, the fight or flight response, etc etc.

In some instances you might need to cultivate a certain goddess and in another you would have to let go of a goddess. Your responsibility is to become aware of which goddess/es are currently living in your psyche; decide whether she still serves her purpose; decide whether she is now bringing more harm than healing and then to make the choice as to let her go or to invite her sister into your psyche.

Cultivating a goddess into your consciousness or letting one go from your mode of behaviour and perceptions is not always a simple and straightforward task, but more likely one that will call for great determination and perseverance.

There are three categories of goddesses: virgin, vulnerable and alchemical.

All the goddesses are potential patterns in the psyches of all women, yet in each individual woman some of these patterns are activated/developed and others are not. The ones that are developed become your personal archetypal patterns.

Women are born with an inherent disposition towards certain archetypes – these are then either activated or suppressed, depending on the influential factors., i.e.

Family environment:

The expectations of the child’s family support some goddesses and suppress others. If a family disapproves of a girl’s inherent goddess, she may learn not to act her natural self and her self-esteem will suffer.

Hormonal changes:

activate certain goddesses in a woman’s life and cycle. Pregnancy is a major factor in activating Demeter.

Different stages of life will also activate certain goddesses.

The Vulnerable Goddesses:

Hera, Demeter and Persephone

These represent the traditional female roles of wife, mother and daughter. These are the relationship oriented goddesses, whose identity depends on having a significant relationship. These three suffered rape, abduction, domination and humiliation by male gods. Each experienced powerlessness.

Hera responded with rage and jealousy;

Demeter and Persephone responded with depression.

The Virgin Goddesses:

Artemis, Athena and Hestia

These represent the independent, active, non-relationship aspects of women’s psychology.

Artemis and Athena are outward focused, achievement-oriented

Hestia is inwardly focused.

These three represent inner drives in women to develop talents, pursue interests, solve problems, compete with others, express themselves articulately in words or through art forms, or lead contemplative lives.

The virgin is that part of a woman that is untouched by her need for the validation of a man; that part that exists wholly independent from a man.

The Alchemical Goddess:

Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. She has the power to transform patterns and behaviour in your life. Often this process turns your life completely upside down as you find yourself acting in completely uncharacteristic ways. Her energy leads you into a gentler and freer space, but not without its turmoil and often, social disapproval. Aphrodite will challenge you into your deepest feminine space of sensuality and beauty.

Which Goddess?

The different goddesses (aspects of a woman’s psyche) will vie for dominance. Some will dominate the woman to such an extent that other valuable goddesses will never be allowed a turn to come to the fore.

When a woman allows others to decide for her what attributes are more valuable, she will never discover her own potential or true nature.

One needs a well-developed sense of self in order to assess the goddesses. It is to take them all into consideration when a decision has to be made. It is not to view the situation and reactions in an emotional light, but to be able to weigh up the pros and cons and then to decide which one will serve the best.

As long as one reacts unconsciously and subconsciously in an certain addictive pattern of behaviour, you are allowing the goddess to control you.

You need to become aware of which goddesses have been activated in you;

Assess which goddesses have been suppressed;

Decide which ones you would like to activate and/or cultivate in order to serve your goal and personal mission.

It is necessary for the self to rule : as long as the ego just goes along with whichever goddess rules for the day or moment, you are in the grip of an unconscious or out of control pattern of behaviour.

The other extreme is when too many goddesses are present and trying to dominate – this results in feelings of chaos and confusion. You end up feeling overwhelmed and might move into panic, flight or freeze up and do nothing.

As long as the ego is biased and insists on repressing some of the goddesses, tension and conflict in the inner self will remain. This can lead to acting out (binging, etc.) in order to relieve some of the tension. As long as this is unconscious behaviour, you will tend to ‘forget’ appointments, ‘forget’ promises and undertakings, sabotage yourself, miss opportunities, become sick in order to avoid confrontation, etc.

Say, Demeter in you, promised to do something for someone and Artemis resents this dependency, Artemis will conveniently forget to fulfill the promise. As you disapprove of artemis and her independence subconsciously, and you have always repressed Artemis, you are unaware of these feelings, and you are completely in the dark and innocent , of having forgotten the promise.

Psychosomatic illnesses are symptoms of repressed goddesses. The independent Athena, who never asks for help and never seems to need anybody, may develop asthma attacks. This is the only way her ego can allow dependent Persephone to get some maternal nurturing.

Moods can also reflect suppressed goddesses.

Often one behaves like two different people and the shifts in one’s personality can lead to confusion.

When one goddess dominates, a woman will be consistently introverted or extraverted. However, when two or more goddesses dominate, this will not be the case.

Awareness brings empowerment

Once you become aware of the goddess archetypes within, through observing yourself, you can learn to listen to the voices within. You can distinguish between who is speaking and become aware of the goddess influencing you in that situation. When they represent conflicting aspects of yourself that you must resolve, you can tune into the needs and concerns of each goddess, and then decide for yourself what is most important.

When some of the goddesses are only known through moods, tantrums and addictions, you will need to spend time discovering who they are.

‘Once a woman can tune in to the different parts of herself and can listen, observe, or feel her differing priorities and competing loyalties, she can then sort them out and measure their importance to her. She then can make conscious choices: when conflicts arise, she decides what priorities to place above others, and what course of action she will take. As a result, her decisions resolve inner conflicts instead of instigating internal wars.’ – Jean Bolen.

The wounded Goddess in us

The religious, patriarchal ‘father image’ has distorted and tyrannized our view of women. This single archetype has been completely distorted and has led to betrayal and abandonment of the ‘mother’, both human and divine. The goddess wounds started more than four thousand years ago when the patriarchal cultures began forcefully taking control from the matriarchal cultures. The evolution of Greek myth and religion is very different to that of Christianity and Judaism with their one father God. The Greek religion retained both father and mother divinities but it is obvious that they struggled with the opposites of these archetypes – the polarity of the yin and yang, the mother and father, the masculine and feminine.

……. more on the patriarch to follow.

* devil and devi seem very close in language – is this one of the ways in which devi become demonised?

  1. yes, and poor Artemis the independent virgin huntress, was raped by Orion, so she took up a scorpion and stung and killed him. But she realised that destruction and creation are the soul's evolution through love, so she flung his body into the night sky where he became a beautiful constellation

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