In the ancient Neolithic
times (6,000-3,500 BCE) in Libya, three nymphs dressed in goatskins came across a child on the shore of Lake Triton. They raised the child, called Tritogenia, and in adulthood the child became known
as Neith, the snake goddess. The snake represented feminine wisdom, female intuition,
and prophecy. The followers of Neith brought their religion to Crete at about
4,000 BCE and eventually the Greeks and Thracens from the first Minoan age worshipped her.
Pallas Athene, called
Minerva by the Romans, was not born of a woman in a conventional way. The Titaness, Metis, known for her wisdom, was the original
guardian of the planet Mercury. Finally yielding to a persistent Zeus, she became
pregnant. When Gaia told her grandson that he would be overthrown by the son
of this first born, who would be a daughter, he did what his father and grandfather before him had done when faced with the
fear of losing power. However, he did not wait for the child to be born as they
had done, he swallowed the very pregnant Metis. Metis was not destroyed, but
continued to give her wisdom from within Zeus.
time later, Zeus began suffering from horrible headaches. He went to his son
Hephaestus (Vulcan), who was blacksmith to the gods, and asked him to make him a hammer so that he could split open his head
and release the cause of his pain. Hephaestus did as he was asked and when he
split his fathers head open, out sprang Pallas Athene, fully-grown, wearing armor and brandishing a sword. Of the three virgin goddesses, she was called the Maiden (Parthenos) and the Parthenon was her temple.
It is said there
was a friendly contest between Athene and Poseidon for control of a certain strategic city.
Poseidon created the horse as his entry and Athene created the olive tree. When
Poseidon presented the horse, Athene came forward and tamed it and bridled it so it could have useful purpose. The city was named Athens for Athene. She became the patron
goddess, the Parthenon was built and she has been forever associated with Athens. Considering
she is credited with giving us the flute, the trumpet, the potters wheel, the first pottery, cooking, the rake, the plough,
the ox yoke, wool-working, weaving, embroidery, the chariot, shipbuilding and many of the healing arts it is no wonder she
is credited with bringing the quality of humanity into civilization and with civilizing humanity. The owl and the olive tree were sacred to her she was the embodiment of wisdom, reason and purity.
The wisdom of Athene
was not simply intellectual wisdom. Her wisdom was the inner wisdom of the Goddess,
the intuitive knowledge that is useful in life. She is considered to be the upholder
of law and justice. She upholds those laws of the land through which justice
closely connected to Pluto, because she originally came from water, Athene is also closely aligned with Zeus (Jupiter). She is the goddess most like him in nature, a true daughter of her father and is often
called mother-hating. She is patriarchal in nature, but her wisdom is the inner
intuitive female wisdom. When she came into prominence, the Myceneans led by
Perseus were invading Greece. The matriarchal system was being destroyed and
the patriarchal Myceneans were taking over. With the help of Athene, who lent
him her shield so he would not have to look at the face of the Medusa, which turned men to stone, Perseus decapitated the
Gorgon Medusa, the crone of the triad matriarchs. The crone was gone but Athene
prevailed as Pallas Athene, the daughter of a male god, borne without a woman. As
the patriarchs took over, women became powerless in the eyes of the state and were stripped of all rights. They were prohibited from taking part in commerce, government and most importantly, education. As the ages passed and laws became more and more anti-matriarchal, it appeared that Pallas Athene was also
anti-matriarchal. It is important to remember that Pallas Athene is a goddess
of truth and justice and these involved the laws of the land. Until modern history,
the laws of the land were anti-matriarchal and pro-patriarchal. Children and
possessions were always judged as belonging to the man. It is only in the past
hundred years that women have begun to get custody of children in divorce cases or retain any property rights. As women gain more rights and freedoms, the female wisdom is rising to its natural state and Athene is
rising back to her true status, that of the elevated Goddess wisdom.
The Romans worshipped
Athene (Minerva) as a goddess of war and battle, but Athene was never one to go into battle without exhausting all avenues
of diplomacy. She would rather settle arguments in a dignified peaceful way than
battle it out with weapons. She was, however, a brilliant strategist and a formidable
foe on the battlefield where her wisdom prevailed.
was Zeuss favorite child and she was honored second only to him. The father and
daughter bond was established as strongly in this relationship as the mother and daughter relationship was established between
Demeter and Persephone.
The Athenian Archetype
is well established and is somewhat of a stereotype to us today in the woman who dresses in a suit and carries a briefcase
to a job in the arena that once belonged to men only. She enjoys overpowering
men the workplace and is commonly seen as somewhat of an amazon. But as in all
stereotypes, it is not an accurate one and focuses in one aspect of the archetype in a negative way. She appears to have no emotional sensitivity. However, with
the emergence of the super-mom in the 80s the Athenian Archetype has taken on a new significance. She juggles career, family and home with finesse and manages to be the compassionate, sensitive, industrious
and ingenious modern woman of the age. Her personification is coming to the forefront
as women take back the roles they once had in a matriarchal society of the ancient past.
Athene, unlike her
father, was not one given to sexual passions or love. She approached Hephaestus
and asked him to forge her a suit of armor and he replied that he would do it for love.
She misunderstood what he meant and thinking he meant he would do it without charge out of love for her, she agreed. When he delivered the armor he tried to take advantage of her and she fought him off. He ejaculated on her thigh and in disgust she wiped it off and tossed it to the ground. From this wasted sperm sprang Erichthonius, known as the child of Athene. Erichthonius instituted the patriarchal lineage to the right of inheritance and the bloodline through the
father in Greece. He became a king of Athens and instituted the worship of Athene
at her temple.
whom Artemis had torn to bits for gazing on her nakedness, Athene responded to the same situation by striking Tiresias blind. She later gave him something to soften his situation.
She gave him inner vision and the gift of prophecy. Athene did like her
beauty acknowledged, and was one of the goddesses that Paris had to choose between when trying to decide the most beautiful. Athene offered her bribe, victory in battle, while Hera offered all of Asia and Aphrodite,
who ultimately won, offered true love.
The position of
Pallas Athene in the birth chart determines the area of the natives wisdom. If
her position is dominant there is most often a projection of the father upon the daughter in childhood that the child will
have to break through the armor of to focus on their own inner wisdom. It can
be a significant struggle and may come as a shock when the outer armor of protection is penetrated and the self emerges.
article has addressed the role of Pallas Athene in the chart of women for the most part, so a word on how she works in the
chart of a man is needed here. Pallas Athene has a softening affect on a mans
chart. He is more likely to integrate compassion and sensitivity in his normally
rational, scientific view on things. He too has an inner wisdom that makes his
knowledge useful in life. In short, there seems to be a stronger connection between
the left brain (rational) and the right brain (emotional).
The asteroid, Pallas
Athene, along with Ceres, Juno and Vesta, lies in the Asteroid Belt, between Mars and Jupiter.
Her orbit takes about five years which means that about every five years we have another opportunity to get in touch
with our inner wisdom. These are the cycles when, if we are in some competition,
we have the chance to be victorious. Athenian pursuits involve wisdom, mental
and physical skills, and competition and seen to be the best way we have to progress as individuals.
I strongly suggest
that for a deeper understanding of the Pallas Athene archetype, as well as the other asteroid goddess archetypes, you read
Asteroid Goddesses by Demetra George, with Douglas Bloch. This intensive study
goes into much more depth than is allowed me here. I have touched on prominent
aspects of Pallas Athene, but she is so faceted and has so much depth that I cannot do her justice in the few words Ive applied
Goddesses by Demetra
George with Douglas Bloch
Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope by Ariel Guttman & Kenneth Johnson