Tag Archive: reason


Goddess Amaltheia

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“Amaltheia’s themes are success, humor, reason, devotion and providence. Her symbols are goat, cornucopia and stars.  In Greek mythology, this she-goat Goddess nourished Zeus as an infant. In later years, Zeus broke off one of Her horns, which became the cornucopia, providing sustenance for all earth’s creatures. For Her diligence and service, Amaltheia was transformed into the constellation Capricorn, where She remains.

This astrological sign begins on the first day of winter with the power of logic and reason to guide action, balanced by a keen sense of humor when the going gets tough. Those born under this sign strive tenaciously for success, like the stubborn goat they are.

To improve your personal tenacity, make a paper horn filled with fruit. From now until the end of the year, eat a piece of fruit each day named after the area of your life in which you need Amaltheia’s diligence. Take that energy with you each day so that by the end of the year you will achieve success.

Other ways of emphasizing Amaltheia’s power include keeping the image of a goat (perhaps cut out of a magazine, or one made of stone on your altar or in another place of honor today, carrying fortitude-inspiring herbs like gingerroot and carnation, or tucking in your pocket for the day stones that inspire victory (like marble).”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

amaltheia

“The Childhood of Zeus” by Jakob Jordaens

Patricia Monaghan wrote: “Whatever the name of Zeus‘ Cretan nurse (see Adamanthea), She fed the infant god on the milk of this magical nanny goat.  When he grew up, Zeus broke off one of Amalthea’s horns and gave it to his nurse; it then turned into the magical ‘cornucopia’.  Just as the magic goat could produce milk rich and copious enough for a god, so part of Her could provide sufficient nourishment for the children of earth.  After thus providing for humankind, the one-horned nanny disappeared into heaven, where She was transformed into the constellation Capricorn” (p. 41).

“In some traditions, the goat’s skin became the Aegis, the legendary shield of Athena.” [1]

 

 

 

Sources:

Lindemans, Micha F. Pantheon.org, “Amaltheia“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Amalthea”.

 

Suggested Links:

Theoi.com, “Amaltheia“.

Wikipedia, “Adamanthea“.

Wikipedia, “Amalthea“.

Goddess Samjuna

“Ushas” by Lisa Hunt

“Samjuna’s themes are knowledge, learning, excellence and reason. Her symbols are walnuts (the mind). In Hindu tradition, this Goddess is the source of all conscious thought and action. Her name even means ‘consciousness’, and She is the patroness of learning, reason, logic and knowledge.

Every year at this time, the Nobel Prize is awarded for mastery in chemistry, medicine, literature and peace keeping. It is a time to revel in humankind’s achievements and limitless potential for good, motivated by Samjuna’s gentle leadings.

To honor this Goddess and the people who have achieved the pinnacle of what She represents, spend time enriching your mind today. For instance, you might read field manuals applicable to your career to advance your knowledge, watch educational television; go to a library, and perhaps donate to its shelves some old books that you no longer read; organize a local reading group for improved literary appreciation; or turn off the television and engage in intelligent conversation for mutual edification. The options here are limitless.

For a Samjuna charm that improves conscious awareness and your reasoning powers, carry a shelled walnut today. The shape of this nut equates to the mind. Eat this at the end of the day to internalize her power for thoughtful actions.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Surya and Sanjana

According to Patricia Monaghan, “‘Knowledge’ was the Indian wife of the sun [Surya], whose brilliance finally so tired Her that Samjuna hid in the wilderness disguised as a mare, leaving behind a replica of Herself [Chhaya or Savarna].  But he discovered Her ruse and transformed himself into a stallion to seek Her and, finding Her, to have intercourse with Her.  From this union came the twin gods of agriculture , the horse-headed Aswins.  Samjuna agreed to return to the sky with the sun god, but first She had Her father [Vishwakarma] trim away some of the sun’s rays to diminish his brightness.  From the extra pieces of the sun were fashioned the weapons of other gods”  (p. 272).

“The Goddess Within Painting” by Louise Green

“Saranya, or Saraniya (also known as Saranya, Sanjna, or Sangya) is the wife of Surya, and a Goddess of the dawn and the clouds in Hindu mythology, and is sometimes associated with Demeter, Greek Goddess of agriculture. According to Max Müller and A. Kuhn, Demeter is the mythological equivalent of the Sanskrit Saranyu, who, having turned Herself into a mare, is pursued by Vivasvat, and becomes the mother of Revanta and the twin Asvins, the Indian Dioscuri (the Indian and Greek myths being regarded as identical). She is also the mother of Manu, the twins Yama and Yami. According to Farnell, the meaning of the epithet is to be looked for in the original conception of Erinys, which was that of an earth-Goddess akin to Ge, thus naturally associated with Demeter, rather than that of a wrathful avenging deity. [1]

“She is considered as the Goddess who gave birth to all animals.  She is also thought to be the Vedic Mare Goddess.” [2]

 

 

 

Sources:

Indianetzone.com, “Saranyu“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Samjuna”.

Wikipedia, “Saranyu“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Crystalinks.com, “Gods and Goddesses of Ancient India“.

Held, Catherine Anne. Dreamhorsewomen.wordpress.com, “Saranyu: the Runaway Horse Goddess: Part I” & “Saranyu: the Runaway Horse Goddess: Part II“.

Wikipedia, “Chhaya“.

The Goddess of Reason

“Goddess of Lughnasadh” by Shadowmagi

“The Goddess of Reason’s themes are logic, reasoning, learning and the conscious mind. Her symbols are a crown of oak leaves (representing the seat of the divine). While this lady had no other specific designation other than the Goddess of Reason, She dispenses the power of knowledge to those who seek Her. The French honored this Goddess with celebrations at Notre Dame, the world’s most acclaimed center of scholarship. Traditionally, the women depicting Her wore a blue robe and red cap, then were crowned in laurel at the end of a processional.

To improve awareness and logical abilities, tuck a bay leaf in your shoe today so the Goddess of Reason walks with you. Or, wear any garment with predominantly blue or red coloring to invoke Her powers through color therapy!

Today is an excellent day to take up any course of study you’ve been considering. Burn incense blended from dried sage (for wisdom), rosemary (for memory improvement), and mint (for alertness). If possible, pre-prepare the incense at noon to accent conscious awareness and the rational self. Move your study tools through the smoke of the incense, saying:

“Goddess of Reason, see my desire
Ignite in me knowledge’s fire!”

Finally, wax an oak leaf (press it in waxed paper with an iron) and keep it in a book that you’re studying. This keeps reason with you while you read.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

So here’s what I found on this “Goddess of Reason”…

“During the French Revolution, on 10 November 1793, a Goddess of Reason (most likely representing Sophia (wisdom)) was proclaimed by the French Convention at the suggestion of Chaumette. As personification for the Goddess, Sophie Momoro, wife of the printer Antoine-François Momoro, was chosen. The Goddess was celebrated in Notre Dame de Paris (She was put on the high altar in the Cathedral).” [1]

“Mademoiselle Maillard” by Jean Francois Garneray

Now, other sources (mainly Catholic and a few anti-Illuminati sites) say that a prostitute, half clothed, was laid out on the altar.  They say the part of the Goddess was played by Marie-Therese Davoux (nicknamed Mademoiselle Maillard), a French opera singer/dancer, who was crowned as the Goddess of Reason at the Festival of Reason.  However, Wikipedia states that it was Sophie Momoro (née Fournier), who played the part of the Goddess at the cult’s infamous “Festival of Reason” on 20 Brumaire, Year II (November 10, 1793). [2]

Procession of the Goddess of Reason by Henri Renaud

On Bartleby.com, it reads: “The Goddess of Reason was enthroned by the French Convention at the suggestion of Chaumette; and the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was desecrated for the purpose. The wife of Momoro the printer was the best of these goddesses. The procession was attended by the municipal officers and national guards, while troops of ballet girls carried torches of truth. Incredible as it may seem, Gobet (the Archbishop of Paris), and nearly all the clergy stripped themselves of their canonicals, and, wearing red nightcaps, joined in this blasphemous mockery. So did Julien of Toulouse, a Calvinistic minister.

“Mrs. Momoro, it is admitted, made one of the best goddesses of Reason, though her teeth were a little defective.”—Carlyle: French Revolution, vol. iii. book v. 4.

 

 

 

Sources:

Bartleby.com, “Goddess of Reason“.

Wikipedia,”Antoine-François Momoro“.

Wikipedia, “Goddess of Reason“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Birkhead, Alice. Heritage-history.com, “Story of the French Revolution“.

Chair, Renée Casin. Napoleonicsociety.com, Marie-Therese Davoux, nicknamed Mademoiselle Maillard (1766-1856)“.

Doorzicht.eventwebsitebuilder.com, “Festival of Reason“.

Hollis, Edward. The Secret Lives of Buildings, “Notre Dame de Paris“.

Hughman, James. Nourishingobscurity.blogspot.com, “[goddess of reason] whom to believe“.

Jamesford. Patheos.com, “Recalling the Goddess of Reason“.

Wikipedia, “Cult of Reason“.

Goddess Themis

“Libra” by *moonmomma

“Themis’s themes are justice, equity, reason, morality, organization, foresight, karma and truth. Her symbols are balanced items and scales. In Greek tradition, Themis personifies the law in both spirit and deed. She regulates karmic order in the cosmos and presides over matters of moral judgment. Today, Themis strengthens the voice of consciousness and the gift of foresight within us, becoming a sound counsellor in difficult decisions and offering balanced perspectives.

Bearing in mind Themis’s legal theme, tend to any pressing legal matters today. If a court matter is pending, check on it. If you need to catch up on past-due parking tickets, do so. Themis will help resolve any matter of law in the most equitable manner possible.

Should you actually have to go to court today, carry an image of a scale or any balanced geometric figure in your pocket to invite Her assistance. Themis lives in just actions and orderliness, so just by treating people fairly and organizing your day, you invoke Her presence.

Throughout the day, take an extra moment to consider the repercussions of your actions, both mundanely and spiritually. Consider this a time to balance your karmic check book and make right some wrongs in your life. Also, be honest in your words and thoughts today. This honors and pleases this Goddess greatly.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Themis” by Michele-lee Phelan

The ‘steadfast one,’ the daughter of Gaia, was the earth Goddess personified as an unshakable power.  By Homer‘s time, She had come to signify a second powerful steadfastness: the social contract among people living on the earth (similarly Fides).  One of the most ancient and most hallowed of Goddesses, Themis later became a vague and abstract personality.  Yet evidence of Her original precedence is suggested: no Olympian gathering could take palace unless She called it, and neither could any divinity lift the cup of nectar before She had drunk.

In the language of Her people, themis was a common as well as a proper noun, the former indicating the power of convention, of whatever is fixed in society as steadfastly as the earth beneath us.  The personification of such social cohesion, Themis was shown bearing a pair of scales; as the fruitful earth, She was shown holding the cornucopia.  She was mother of the seasons, or Horae, Goddesses who determined the proper moment for the fruitful earth’s budding and exhaustion, and the proper times as well for human events.  One of Themis’ daughters, the fierce Dike, was Her own maiden self, a stern, uncompromising virgin.

Her other children were the Horai [Eunomia (‘lawful order’), Dike (‘justice’), and Irene (‘peace’)] and the Moirai (the spinning, allotting and cutting fate Goddesses).

Themis ruled prophesy, for She knew human nature and the nature of human society and so could predict the outcome of any struggle; thus She shared with Mother Gaia the famous Delphic Oracle.  For Her worship, She demanded group dancing, the symbol of group’s bonding through graceful action.  Eldest of Greek Goddesses, She was the first to whom temples were built, for before Her there was no human community to offer worship” (Monaghan, p. 294 – 295).

“The only consort for Themis mentioned in the sources below is Zeus.

“Justitia” by Howard David Johnson

A Roman equivalent of one aspect of Hellenic Themis, as the personification of the divine rightness of law, was Iustitia (Anglicized as Justitia). Her origins are in civic abstractions of a Roman mindset, rather than archaic mythology, so drawing comparisons is not fruitful. [Themis is] portrayed as an impassive woman, holding scales and a double-edged sword (sometimes a cornucopia), and since the 16th century usually shown blindfolded.” [1]

Themis armed with sword and balance scales (Legislative Council Building, Central, Hong Kong)

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Themis”.

Wikipedia, “Themis“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Artesia. Goddessschool.com, “Themis: Voice of the Earth“.

Donleavy, Pamela & Ann Shearer. From Myth to Modern Healing: Themis: Goddess of Heart-Soul, Justice and Reconciliation.

Gill, N.S. Ancienthistory.about.com, “Lady Justice“.

Goddess-guide.com, “Themis the Greek Goddess“.

Harrison, Jane Ellen. Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Religion.

Theoi.com, “Themis“.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, “The Camenae“.

Wikipedia, “Lady Justice“.

Willow Myst. Order of the White Moon, “Themis“.

Goddess Chup

“Autumn Harvest” by Kandra Orr

“Chup’s themes are the harvest, reason, weather and providence. Her symbols are acorns, oak, rainwater and fire.  As a Native American Goddess of food, Chup is the founder of our feast today, the Miwok Acorn Feast.*  She oversees nature’s energies, specifically those of wind, rain and fire, and teaches people to use a combination of reason and their emotions to solve difficult problems.

This is an event of the Miwok people, who gather today as they have for thousands of years to celebrate the harvest through ritual and feasting. Acorns get made into breads and soups, having been a regional staple for early peoples.

Therefore, I advocate finding some creative uses for acorns, perhaps making them into runes or using them to mark the sacred circle in the east, west and south (the elemental regions that correspond to Chup).

To increase your reasoning skills, especially for a pressing situation, try this Chup spell: The next time it rains, gather the rainwater and warm it, gently blowing over the top of the pan three times and saying:

‘By Chup’s sensible winds, let this magic begin.
Within this water I bind keenness of mind.
By the fire actuate, all confusion abates.’

To this water add some spearmint leaves and a pinch of rosemary to augment conscious thought, then drink the tea to start the transformation process.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

My goodness, this Goddess was difficult to find!  I came across a Mayan moon Goddess called Ix-Chup and an Ainu moon/sun Goddess, Chup-Kamui, but no Chup.  After searching through Miwok mythologies, stories and lists of their spirits (they seem to have had a very animistic world view), and even Miwok baby names, I came across a blog entry called “Just Call me Chup, the Chumash goddess of wind“.  Yes!  A clue!  After Googling “Chumash goddess Chup”, I came across this paper on escholarship.org entitled, “The Integration of Myth and Ritual in South-Central California: The “Northern Complex” by Travis Hudson and Thomas Blackburn.  After searching the PDF file I downloaded, I came across this piece of information:

“Gaia” by Susan Seddon Boulet

Tsúqqit [Earth Goddess and creator of the human race with the help of Her five divine borthers], as mother of mankind and provider of knowledge, seems equivalent in some ways to earth; this suggests a secondary (or even primary?) Sky Father-Earth Mother theme with parallels elsewhere in southern California.  The apparent Chumash equivalent is Chup, described as a provider of food and an important female supernatural being.  It is interesting that Chup was frequently associated with the deer in Chumash ritual practices; for example, an ‘antap costumed as a deer opened the Earth ceremony, and deer-tibia whistles were used by the ‘antap during the ritual.  The ‘antap were also said to have played these whistles at Iwihinmu, where the appearance of deer apparently had ritual significance.  The Chumash, like the Kitanemuk, also believed Sun and Earth were in balance with one another; this recalls the Kitanemuk belief that Sun and Tsúqqit were opponents in the celestial peon game…” (p. 237).

In her book, Goddess in a Box, Nancy Blair writes: “It’s nearly impossible to name only one attribute of this many-named Spirit Mother of the California Chumash people.  She is the guardian of family and nation, intelligence, creativity and weather – the basic elements of life.  She is the One in All, as so many female deities are.  Her ritual name is Hütash.  In many Native American languages, there are dozens if not hundreds of words to describe the natural World.  One name doesn’t fit all contexts” (p. 43).

Earth Mother/Sky Father

Hope B. Werness writes: “Hutash (Chup or Shup in secular contexts). The Chumash and other California natives worshipped the earth as Hutash, a feminine being, source of all sustenance.  Highly sacred, Hutash possessed will, reason, emotions and power.  Her three aspects were wind, rain and fire – white, blue or black and red respectivley, depicted in the rainbow, a sign of plenty and good luck.  Hutash was depicted as a large encompassing disk or circle in Luiseno and Diegueno sand paintings and in Chumash rock paintings.  The Chumash believed the earth and heavens were equal and complementary forces, mirroring one another” (p. 139).

“Sadness of Gaia” by Josephine Wall

“In the Chumash story ‘The Rainbow Bridge,’ the Earth Goddess Hutash created the first people on Santa Cruz Island from seeds She gathered from a magic plant. One day Hutash’s husband, the Sky Snake (the Milky Way), gave the people the gift of fire. This gift warmed them and was used to cook food, which helped the people to grow strong and thrive. Soon the island became overcrowded. Hutash decided that some of the people would have to move to the mainland, and that’s how the Chumash came to populate the coastal mainland and what are now known as the Channel Islands.” [1]

“Earth Goddess” by Robert Florczak

 

* Please note: It was pointed out to me by a person of Miwok descent that Chup is indeed a Chumash Goddess derivative of a Mayan Goddess.  There is no indication of a Goddess linked by that name to the Miwok and furthermore that there are no legends on such a Goddess. It is apparent that Patricia Telesco cross miss identified nations with the Acorn Festival and the Chumash – totally different peoples and different histories.  My only thought on this is that as with many of her posts, Telesco meant to compare and illustrate the common essences of the two different cultures.

 

 

Sources:

Blair, Nancy. Goddess in a Box, “Chup“.

Hudson, Travis & Thomas Blackburn. Escholarship.org, “The Integration of Myth and Ritual in South-Central California: The ‘Northern Complex’“.

Native-languages.org, “Kitanemuk Legends“.

Weareca.org, “The Chumash Creation Story“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Bsahighadventure.org, “The Chumash Creation Myth“.

Ortiz, Beverly. Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, “Miwok People” (p. 1094 – 1096).

Heizer, Robert & William C. Sturtevant. Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 8: California, “Kitanemuk“, (p. 567 – 568).

Leeming, David Adams. Creation Myths of the World: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1, “Miwok“.

Rain.org, “The Rainbow Bridge, a Chumash Legend“.

Suntree, Susan. Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California.

Wikipedia, “Miwok Mythology“.

Goddess Astraea

Art by Lisa Iris

“Astraea’s themes are excellence, learning, purity, justice, knowledge, reason and innocence. Her symbols are stars.  This Greek Goddess motivates fairness and virtue within us. She empowers our ability to ‘fight the good fight’ in both word and deed, especially when we feel inadequate to the task. According to lore, She left earth during the Iron Age because of man’s inhumanity to man. She became the constellation Virgo.

In astrology, people born under the sign of Virgo, like Astraea, strive endlessly for perfection within and without, sometimes naively overlooking the big picture because of their focus on detail. Astraea reestablished that necessary perspective by showing us how to think more globally. To encourage this ability, draw a star on a piece of paper and put it in your shoe so that your quest for excellence is always balanced with moderation and sound pacing.

To meditate on this Goddess’s virtues and begin releasing them within, try using a bowl (or bath) full of soapsuds sprinkled with glitter (this looks like floating stars) as a focus. Light a candle nearby and watch the small points of light as they dance; each one represents a bit of magical energy and an aspect of Astraea. Tell the Goddess your needs and your dreams, then float in Her starry waters until you feel renewed and cleansed.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Art by Kagaya

Astraea (“the star maiden”) was a daughter of Themis and Zeus, “She lived on earth in the Golden Age when all lived in peace together.  But as humankind grew more and more violent, the gods abandoned this world and retreated to the heavens.  Patient and hopeful, Astraea was the last of the immortals to leave, but finally even She was forced to abandon the earth” (Monaghan, p. 57).

“Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, She ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo the scales of justice She carried became the nearby constellation Libra, reflected in Her symbolic association with Justitia in Latin culture. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with Her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which She was the ambassador.

Astraea is always associated with the Greek Goddess of justice, Dike, who used to live on Earth but left, sickened by human greed. Astraea is sometimes confused with Asteria, the Goddess of the stars and the daughter of Koios and Phoebe.” [1]

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Astraea”.

Wikipedia, “Astraea“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Gods-and-monsters.com, “Astraea of Greek Mythology“.

Theoi Greek Mythology,Astraea“.

Hermaphroditos

“Hermaphroditos’ themes are balance, masculinity, femininity, honor, reason and leadership. Symbols are two-sided items and Yin/Yang symbols.  This androgynous deity was once the son of Hermes, but he loved the nymph Salmakis so much that the lovers became one body and soul, neither the male nor the female being discernible. In this form, Hermaphroditos reminds us that the Goddess is also God, blending the best of both sexes together into powerful, productive energy.

At the midpoint of the year we take a moment’s pause from the Goddess to honor Her consort and other half, the God, represented by fathers everywhere. Take time to thank the special men in your life and pamper them today. Ask Hermaphroditos to show you the Goddess within them, and how God and Goddess work together, making each person unique.

In magic traditions, the God aspect is the conscious, logical force of the universe who offers us the attributes of leadership, reason and focus.

This persona and energy is part of the Goddess – one cannot be serparated from the other.

This is a good day to look withing yourself, find both aspects of the divine and concentrate on bringing them into balance. If you’re normally headstrong, back off a bit. If you’re normally a wallflower, get daring! If you like to plan, become spontaneous – and so forth. Hermaphroditos will show you the way.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“The Nymph Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” by François-Joseph Navez

“In Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes, messenger of the gods, and Aphrodite, Goddess of love.  The boy was so beautiful that a nymph named Salmacis fell in love with him and prayed that they would be united forever. The gods granted her the wish one day when Hermaphroditus came to the fountain where she lived. As he was bathing, Salmacis embraced him and pulled him underneath the water, and their bodies merged into one. The result was a person with the figure and breasts of a woman but with the sex organs of a man.

Other versions of the story claim that any man who bathed in the fountain was transformed into a half man, half woman just like Hermaphroditus. It was also said that the waters of the fountain caused anyone who drank from it to grow weak. The original story appears in the [Book IV of] Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid. The English writer Edmund Spenser includes the notion of such a pool, which weakened those who drank from it, in the Faerie Queene.” [1]

“Hermaphroditus’ name is derived from those of his parents, Aphrodite and Hermes [and is the basis for the word hermaphrodite].  All three of these gods figure largely into the Greek tradition of fertility gods and all possess distinctly sexual overtones. Sometimes, Hermaphroditus is referred to as Aphroditus. Half-siblings of Hermaphroditus include the phallic god Priapus and the youthful god of desire Eros.

Contrary to Patricia Telesco’s account, another version of Hermaphroditus’ story goes like this: “Hermaphroditus was raised by nymphs on Mount Ida, a sacred mountain in Phrygia. At the age of fifteen, he grew bored of his surroundings and traveled the cities of Lycia and Caria. It was in the woods of Caria that he encountered Salmacis the Naiad in her pool. She is overcome by lust for the boy, and tries to seduce him, but is rejected. When he thinks her to be gone, Hermaphroditus undresses and enters the waters of the empty pool. Salmacis springs out from behind a tree and jumps into the pool. She wraps herself around the boy, forcibly kissing him and touching his breast. While he struggles, she calls out to the gods in prayer that they should never part. Her wish is granted, and their bodies blend into one intersexual form. Hermaphroditus, in his grief, makes his own prayer: cursing the pool so that any other who bathes within it shall be transformed as well.” [3]

“Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” by Jean François de Troy

Salmacis is a very interesting character to me.  “In Greek mythology, Salmacis was an atypical naiad who rejected the ways of the virginal Greek goddess Artemis in favour of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon (though see also Dercetis).

‘There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or archery:
unfit for footraces. She the only Naiad not in Diana’s band.
Often her sisters would say: “Pick up a javelin, or
bristling quiver, and interrupt your leisure for the chase!”
But she would not pick up a javelin or arrows,
nor trade leisure for the chase.
Instead she would bathe her beautiful limbs and tend to her hair,
with her waters as a mirror.’

Ovid, Metamorphoses. Book IV, 306-312.

“The Water Nymph” by Herbert James Draper

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, she becomes one with Hermaphroditus, and Hermaphroditus curses the fountain to have the same effect on others. However, it’s very likely that Ovid fabricated the entire tale himself – his use of ‘praetereo, dulcique animos novitate tenebo’ could be read in several ways, as ‘novitate’ could be translated as either something strange or something new, which would imply that it was a new tale. Salmacis could also have been intended simply as a contrast to the previous tales in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as others involve a dominant male pursuing an elusive female.” [4]

One blogger writes that this minor Greco-Roman deity of bisexuality, effeminacy, sexuality and fertility “except for one myth of his own life appears no where else in Greek or Roman mythology .  His character suggests very little about his personality.  Hermaphroditus is literally the combination of the male and female aspects, which I suppose, depending on how you look at it, can be both a positive and a negative trait.  But considering his final wish, Hermaphroditus sounds like an angry and bitter person, one who wishes others ill in order to make them suffer the pain he also suffered.  There was no logical reason for him to ask for the pool to be cursed (but then, when has anything truly been logical in myths?)” [5]

Herm of Aphroditus at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm.

“The oldest traces of the cult in Greek countries are found in Cyprus. Here, according to Macrobius (Saturnalia, iii. 8), there was a bearded statue of a male Aphrodite, called Aphroditos by AristophanesPhilochorus in his Atthis (ap. Macrobius loc. cit.) further identified this divinity, at whose sacrifices men and women exchanged garments, with the Moon. A terracotta plaque from the 7th century BC depicting Aphroditos was found in Perachora, which suggests it was an archaic cult.

The deification and the origins of the cult of hermaphrodite beings stem from Eastern religions (see Ardhanarishvara – the composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvat), where the hermaphrodite nature expressed the idea of a primitive being that united both genders. This double sex also attributed to Dionysus and Priapus – the union in one being of the two principles of generation and conception – denotes extensive fertilizing and productive powers.

This Cyprian Aphrodite is the same as the later Hermaphroditos, which simply means Aphroditos in the form of a herm (see Hermae), and first occurs in the Characters (16) of Theophrastus.  After its introduction at Athens (probably in the 5th century BCE), the importance of this deity seems to have declined. It appears no longer as the object of a special cult, but limited to the homage of certain sects, expressed by superstitious rites of obscure significance.” [6]

 

 

Sources:

Hellenica, “Hermaphroditus“.

Myths Encyclopedia, “Hermaphroditus“.

Sita. A Witchy Life, “Weekly Deity: Hermaphroditus“.

Wikipedia, “Hermaphroditus“.

Wikipedia, “Salmacis“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Theoi Greek Mythology, “HERMAPHRODITOS“.

Wikipedia, “Aphroditus“.

Wikipedia, “Metamorphoses“.

Wikipedia, “Salmacis (fountain)“.

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