Tag Archive: snakes


Goddess Minerva

“A Song for Athena” by Elfin-Grrl

“Minerva’s themes are earth and home.  Her symbols are owls, snakes, olive trees and geraniums.  This Etruscan/Italic Goddess blended the odd attributes of being a patroness of household tasks, including arts and crafts, and also being the patroness of protection and of war. Today She joins in pre-spring festivities by helping people prepare their lands for sowing and embracing the figurative lands of our hearts, homes and spirits with Her positive energy.

In ancient times, this was a day to bless one’s land and borders. Gifts of corn*, honey and wine were given to the earth and its spirits to keep the property safe and fertile throughout the year. In modern times, this equates to a Minerva-centered house blessing.

Begin by putting on some spiritually uplifting music. Burn geranium-scented incense if possible; otherwise, any pantry spice will do. Take this into every room of your home, always moving clockwise to promote positive growing energy. As you get to each room, repeat this incantation:

‘Minerva, protect this sacred space
And all who live within
By your power and my will
The magic now begins!’

Wear a geranium today to commemorate Minerva and welcome Her energy into your life.”

* Corn is the name for whatever cereal grain is in common use. The Roman cereal crops were wheat and barley, and they also used millet.

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

Minerva (EtruscanMenrva) was the Roman Goddess whom Romans from the 2nd century BCE onwards equated with the Greek Goddess Athena. She was the virgin Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, dyeing, crafts, the arts, science, and magic.  She is also believed to be the inventor of numbers and instruments.  She is often depicted with Her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva“, which symbolizes Her ties to wisdom.

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess Meneswā ‘She who measures’, the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, Menerwā, thereby calling Her Menrva.  Menrva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva. Extrapolating from Her Roman nature, it is assumed that in Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the Goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of Her father, Jupiter. It is possible that such a Goddess was “imported” to both Greece and Italy from beliefs originating in the Near East during the extreme antiquity. The very few extant Lemnian inscriptions suggest that the Etruscans may have originated in Asia Minor, in which case subsequent syncretism between Greek Athena and Italic Minerva may have been all the easier.

As Minerva Medica, She was the Goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, She was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in Her temple.

“Athena” by InertiaK

Her worship as a Goddess of war encroached upon that of Mars. The erection of a temple to Her by Pompey out of the spoils of his Eastern conquests shows that by then She had been identified with the Greek Athena Nike, bestower of victory. Under the emperor Domitian, who claimed Her special protection, the worship of Minerva attained its greatest vogue in Rome. [1]

In Fasti III, Ovid called Her the “Goddess of a thousand works.” Minerva was worshipped throughout Italy, though only in Rome did She take on the warlike character shared by Athena. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, She was conflated with the local wisdom Goddess Sulis.

The Romans celebrated Her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the neuter plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, an artisans’ holiday. A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion.

In 207 BCE, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.

Minerva was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, at the Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the “Delubrum Minervae” a temple founded around 50 BCE by Pompey on the site now occupied by the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva facing the present-day Piazza della Minerva. [2]

Visit Roman Empire & Colosseum, Myths About the Roman Goddess Minerva and Theoi Greek Mythology, Athena Myths sites to read Her myths and stories.  Also see Roman Myth Index, Minerva, Roman Mythology Index.

Goddess Benten

“Benten’s themes are luck, wealth and beauty. Her symbols are boats, dragons, guitars, snakes and saltwater.

As the Japanese Goddess steering the New Year’s Treasure Ship, Benten is a perfect figure to call on for financial improvements this year. She is the only Goddess of luck in Japan – the sole female among the Seven Gods of Fortune, and is referred to as queen of the seas and patroness of gamblers. Japanese woman invoke her to bring beauty and fortune into their lives; for she resides over love, eloquence, wisdom and the fine arts.  She is the patroness of geisha and those who take joy in the arts. Benten is depicted as riding a gold dragon, playing a biwa (guitar), and sending out white snakes with her missives. Her robe bears a jewel that grants wishes.

To welcome Benten’s prosperity into your home, sprinkle a little saltwater on the threshold today. Or, to generate beauty within and without, soak in a bath of Epsom salts while listening to guitar music.

The Shigoto Hajime festival honors the beginning of the work week in Japan, where it is believed that good omens for work begin today. If you want to get a peek at how your employment will fare this year, try divination by dice (a traditional gambler’s tool). Hold one die in your hand, ask for Benten to provide a sign, then roll it. The results can be interpreted as follows:

(1) a negative omen;
(2) feeling torn between two good options;
(3) a good omen;
(4) financial security;
(5) not much material change, but improvements in interoffice relationships;
(6) an excellent omen; roll again If you get two more sixes, Benten’s treasures will be yours!”

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

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “among the seven Japanese divinities of good luck, only one was a goddess: Benten, who brought inspiration and talent, wealth, and romance to those who honored her.  Benten was also queen of the sea, a dragon woman who swam in state through her domain with a retinue of white snakes.  In her dragon body she protected her devotees from earthquakes by mating with the monstrous snakes who thrashed under the Japanese islands.  But she could also wear the form of a lovely human woman, and in this form she was usually portrayed, mounted on a dragon who was both her steed and her paramour” (p. 69).

saraswati benzaiten_saraswati

Benten, also called Benzaiten “is the Japanese name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries, mainly via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. She is also mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Japanese lute, in contrast to Saraswati who holds a stringed instrument known as a veena. Benzaiten is a highly syncretic entity with both a Buddhist and a Shinto side.

Benzaiten as a female kami is known as Ichikishima-hime-no-mikoto.  Also, she is believed by Tendai Buddhism to be the essence of kami Ugajin, whose effigy she sometimes carries on her head together with a torii. As a consequence, she is sometimes also known as Uga Benzaiten or Uga Benten. Shrine pavilions called either Benten-dō or Benten-sha, or even entire Shinto shrines can be dedicated to her, as in the case of Kamakura’s Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine or Nagoya’s Kawahara Shrine.” [1]

il_fullxfull.361170508_aluv

“Japanese Goddess of Sea” by KatyDidsCards

In Japanese mythology “…Benten was said to have descended to earth where she met and married a dragon in order to stop him eating young children. Because of this, she is sometimes depicted as riding a dragon in art.

Another legend tells of how the goddess helped the young poet Baishu. He had found a poem written by a maiden and had fallen in love with her, despite never having seen what she looked like. Praying to the goddess for help, Benten arranged for the young poet and the girl to meet outside the shrine. Later, it turned out that the young girl Baishu had fallen in love with was actually the soul of the women he later met and married.

chineese-goddess

8-Armed Benzaiten (Jp. = Happi Benzaiten 八臂弁財天)
At Hoan-den (Enoshima Island in Japan)
Kanagawa Pretectural Asset, Kamakura Period

In art, Benten is sometimes shown with snakes. Some statues of her reveal eight arms, six of these which are raised and the hands holding different objects. These include a bow and arrow and two hands are folded in prayer” [2] as well as a sword, a jewel, a wheel, and a key.

From The White GoddessArea of Influence:

Water, Words, Speech, Eloquence, Music, Knowledge, Fortune, Beauty

il_570xN.365169550_j2cu

“Benzaiten (Benten) Shinto Goddess of Music & Luck” by LaPetiteMascarade

Pantheon: Japanese

Abode: Caverns

Animals: Dragons, Sea Serpents

Colours: Bue, Silver, White, Yellow

Crystal: Conch, Mother of pearl, Iron, Gold

Direction: East, West

Element: Air, Water

Musical Instrument: Lute

Offerings: Honey, Yellow flowers, Wild berries

Planet: Venus

Plant/Tree: Lotus, Waterlillies, Yellow flowers

Symbols: Sword, Bow and arrow, Wheel, Key, Axe, Spear, Pestle

Tarot Card: Cups

Time: Summer Solstice

 

 

 

Also known as: Benjaiten, Bensai-Ten, Benzai-Ten, Benzai-Tennyo, Benzaiten, Ichiki-Shima-Hime, Sarasvati, Zeniari, [3]; and according to Thalia Took, “Benzaiten is also linked to Kwannon or Kwan Yin, the sometimes female, sometimes male Bodhisattva of compassion in Buddhism.” [4]

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, “Benten“.

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

Slayford-Wei, Lian. Humanities360.com, “The History and Significance of the Goddedss Benten“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Benzaiten“.

The White Goddess, “Benten – Goddess of everything that flows“.

Wikipedia, “Benzaiten“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

A-to-Z Photo Dictionary: Japanese Buddhist Statuary, “BENZAITEN, BENTEN“.

The Broom Closet, “Benten: Japanese Goddess of Eloquence“.

Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, “Benten“.

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Benten“.

Lindemans, Micha. Encyclopedia Mythica, “Benten“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Benzaiten“.

 

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