Sunday, October 26, 2008

Finding the Inner Goddess

by Nancy

Believe it or not, I got the idea for this blog in New York City. We recently spent a long weekend there, and one of the places we visited was the remodeled hall of Greek statuary at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you've ever been to the Metropolitan, you know spending a few days there would be easy, if not for having to eat, sleep, and leave at closing time. As a child, I loved the book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, about two children who take up residence--temporarily--in the museum. So I'm always happy to stop in there.

Renovations on the museum's front steps led us to enter through a lower entrance to one side of the main one. Because we came in this way, we entered the museum itself via the display of Greek statues. One of the first ones I saw is pictured at right, Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt. Some of you may remember that I loved Greek mythology as a child. My favorite Greek god was Hermes, the trickster, but my favorite goddesses were Artemis (Diana in Joan's favorite part of the world) and Athena (Minerva to the Romans). Artemis ran around in the woods whenever she felt like it, didn't have to wear long skirts, and hung out with animals. She also was an archer, which tied in nicely with my fondness for Robin Hood. So if your inner goddess is Artemis, you like the outdoors, enjoy animals, and prefer vigorous exercise.

Athena, of course, is the goddess who sprang full-grown from the head of Zeus (Jupiter). She was the goddess of wisdom, had an owl companion, and wore a warrior's helmet. She was often pictured with a shield and spear, which led me to think she probably kicked butt and took names, even if she did wear long skirts and even if war was technically the domain of Ares (Mars). There were several statues of Athena in the museum. This one turned out best in the pictures. Athena, to whom the Parthenon was dedicated, would be the inner goddess of someone who likes owls or maybe other raptors and is thoughtful but doesn't hesitate to act decisively when necessary.

I didn't see any statues of Hera (Juno), the queen of the gods and consort of Zeus. I was hoping for a nice one with peacocks. Hera was regal, jealous of Zeus, and fond of peacocks. I don't remember her as having any special area of expertise, but I could be mistaken. So if Hera is your inner goddess, you may like beautiful birds and enjoy wielding authority.

There were numerous statues of Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess who rose naked from the sea. But with judicious camera work, I got a photo that's G-rated. Why is she so rarely depicted fully dressed? Being the goddess of love and beauty doesn't require leaving little to the imagination, but maybe male sculptors liked her that way. She was also the mother of Eros (Cupid) and consort of homely, ingenious Hephaestus (Vulcan). So if Aphrodite is your inner goddess, you're very passionate and want to help the people around you find happy relationships.

I also didn't spot any statues of Hestia (Vesta), the goddess of hearth and home. She doesn't seem to get as much attention as some of the others, but hearth and home are as vital to comfort and safety now as they were in the Bronze Age. If your inner goddess is Hestia, you like nesting and the homely arts of cooking, baking, and perhaps sewing.

This last pair of busts is thought to be of Persephone (Proserpina), the queen of the underworld and consort to its dread god, Hades (Pluto), and her mother, Demeter (Ceres), goddess of the harvest. Persephone doesn't seem to have done much except draw the unwanted attention of Hades and then, after he took her to the underworld, make the mistake of eating half a dozen pomegranate seeds. Because those half-dozen seeds condemned her to spend half of every year in the underworld, Demeter mourned her absence and refused to make the plants grow. Thus winter came to the Greek world. If your inner goddess is Demeter, you're probably very good with plants and maybe even make your own cereal (Ceres being the root of that word).

My inner goddess is probably a melding of Artemis and Athena with a little Aphrodite thrown in. I prefer jeans to suits, though I like to look well turned out when the occasion requires it. A house without animals will never be a home to me, and I like sports like karate and archery and, once upon a time, softball and tennis. On the other hand, the outdoors now aggravates my allergies. I try to be thoughtful and act decisvely but don't always succeed, and I love owls. And I feel strongly about things if I feel anything at all. My homemaking is largely a matter of intention rather than execution, and I'm best with plants that people prefer to have die. I have zippo abililty at match-making. I know this, alas, from experience.

In the movies, Princess Leia is probably closest to Athena. For Artemis, I'd pick Lara Croft. I haven't seen a good Aphrodite on screen lately. I teach the silent film It, and I certainly think Clara Bow had the sex appeal and intense feelings. She didn't seem to do much toward matching other people up. Hera would be Dame Judi Dench as M. No one comes to mind for Ceres or Persephone.

Which goddess's traits do you embody? Can you think of movie or book characters who have some of these goddesses' characteristics?


Susan Seyfarth said...


Susan Seyfarth said...

Wow. The GR comes to MN. Batten down the hatches, ladies. The chook is back in town.


Now as for my inner there a greek goddess of laundry? No? Dishes? Hmmmm. Yelling at the children & tripping over Legos? Geez this is hard. How about one for clutter. Surely there's a goddess of clutter. Or maybe chaos. A woman in charge of an eternal whirlwind of game pieces, scrap paper, glue sticks, blocks & the occasional sippy cup of milk gone very very bad after being forgotten behind the couch for several days.

That's my girl. I'll take her.

limecello said...

I love the met! And have an inordinate love/knowledge of classical mythology... I used to have a great affinity for Athena then Ceres... but then started liking the lesser goddesses. Pomona had a great story [and the "inner" story with Anaxarete...] also it seems liked they'd stay out of trouble more :P
Maybe Samantha from Sex & the City and Aphrodite have a lot of the same characteristics ;)
Congrats on nabbing the GR, Susan!

Shannyn said...

Hey Susan - congrats on the GR! He must like the north. He spent yesterday here in IL.

This is a great post. I think at this point in my life, I'm most like Hestia, since everything revolves around my home. I am no domestic goddess and like Susan, I am always yelling at kids and tripping on Legos. But I love to bake. I find I do a lot of baking to reduce stress. I can ignore the clutter while I bake homemade cookies or muffins.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I’m much too ordinary to qualify as having heavenly traits. Yet I find myself sitting in judgement over you. Under Buddhist teachings the goddess of literature is Benzaiten. I’m sure you have a touch of her quality residing close to your heart. This post is proof. ---- Thank you, Eric

Louisa Cornell said...

YAY Smoov! Bundle the GR up please. We don't want him to freeze his feathers off!

I would have to go with Artemis as well. Love of nature and animals is me hands down. However, I do love to read, study, do research and learn languages so we need to throw Athena in there for good measure. I try to CHANNEL Aphrodite when I am writing. Time will tell if I am successful or not!

I could see Gerrard Butler as Ares. I'll have to think about the female stars.

Joan said...

Waving to Chaos!!!! I think the melding of that with the GR appropos :-) Take him Irish dancing with you today, Susan,

Oooooooo....goddesses. You know me, Nancy. I love the ancient times.

As to which is my inner goddess? Hmmm...

Artemis? Not so much. The vigourous exercise kind of put the brakes on that though I have higher hopes of increasing my exercising now that I have "Lord of the Dance" downloaded on my new iPod Nano :-)

Athena because I like the whole image of springing forward armed and ready to act decisively. Once my loyalty is gained I will go to the wall defend. I like owls well enough but really like hawks the best though seriously, is there a more impressive bird than the American Bald Eagle? Really.

Gotta throw in a pinch of Aprhrodite. I am nothing if not passionate and being a romance fiction author LOVE the HEA. Rising naked..not so much.Ack!

Now Vesta is a goddess I can identify with. Baking, home making, hearth tending. That's me. Made the best Apple Crumble the other day. Think sugar, cinnamon and butter on top of juicy apples.

But ultimately, I am the Goddess Sangria :-) Also discovered several years ago in NYC when I consumed an entire picture of Olive Garden's tropical sangria {giggle}

Anonymous said...

Nancy, this is a great post! I just read it to my son, who is right now reading an enormously popular series about a boy who is a half-blood greek god (the author is Rick Riordon, if any of you have kids in grade school--oh, and I've got the same editor as Rick! squee!). So we BOTH got to learn something this morning. :-)

I think I'd have to go with Athena for me. Lately at work it seems I do a lot of quick decision-making and then combination defense/negotiation to protect my position. It's exhausting, but I think suits me well. If I could do it for a couple less hours a day, I'd be really happy. ;-)

jo robertson said...

Wow, Nancy, great topic. I'd forgotten how much I'd forgotten about mythology!

I was always so rough-and-tumble as a girl that I would've thought of myself as Mars, god of war, no goddesses for this tomboy!

But in my old(er) age, I like to think of myself as Artemis, dispensing a little sage wisdom to all the younguns!

Congratulations, Susan! I think the chook needs to return to the Lair for a little R&R. Don't let the kiddies wear him out!

Nancy said...

Susan--you grabbed the bird! You haven't had him in a while, have you?

Aside from Hestia, the Greeks didn't seem to concern their gods with the business of ordinary living. There probably was somebody who dealt with chaos, though I don't know who. Everything you list would be essential to homemaking, which would be Hestia.

Limcello, I don't know as much about the lesser goddesses. I don't think they did things like meddle in wars, so they aren't as widely discussed. Samantha seems like a good choice. Very sexy but wanting other people to hook up, too.

Shannyn, that sounds very Hestia-ish. I envy all you bakers and cooks. These are skills in which I'm strictly recipe bound. We live with clutter. Coming to our house makes other people feel better about their own habits.

Eric--glad you liked the post.

Louisa, you also have all that musical ability, which would actually be Apollo's domain. Gerard Butler's a great choice. He could wear just about any cape and look terrific doing it!

Joan, I thought you might like this one. :-) "Lord of the Dance" has great music. Your feet'll be moving in no time! Yeah, the rising naked from the sea thing went out of vogue sometime during the Dark Ages. Except for Vikings, though I think they left out the naked part.

A bird more impressive than the bald eagle? Probably not.

The goddess Sangria, huh? LOL!

Kirsten, I really strongly recommend the D'Aulaires' book Greek Myths. Your son may be a little old for that if you're reading Riordan, but it has beautiful illustrations and clear explanations of each god's and goddess's origin and power. We have the first Riordan book here somewhere but haven't read it yet

jo robertson said...

And duh! That would be Athena, not Artemis. Outdoors and hunting? I think not!

Nancy said...

Jo, I'd bet the Greeks didn't want to encourage too much rough-and-tumble behavior among the women. Atalanta put the guys in their place speed-wise but then fell for a stupid trick, if I remember right, and lost the race.

We all need sage advice now and again, and that would definitely be Athena.

Nancy said...

Susan, I'm not sure it's safe to put you and the GR together for a long period. Is someone keeping an eye on you? Kirsten? Anyone?

Nancy said...

Jo, it's the "A" thing that's confusing. I made that same mistake several times typing this post.

Joan said...

I looked up a quick thing about was the nebulous mass from which all the other gods and goddesses were formed.

Thanks, Susan! {clink} Pass the Sangria!

Gerard Butler's a great choice. He could wear just about any cape and look terrific doing it!f

As long as he was JUST wearing a cape :-)

Minna said...

I don't have to look to Greece or Rome to find goddesses. Artemis'(Diana)Finnish equivalence is Mielikki, the Finnish goddess of forests and the hunt and she is said to have played a central role in the creation of the bear.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Smoov, way to go on the chook!

Nancy, what a brilliant post. Hmm, I think I'd be one of those very large Teutonic or Norse goddesses! Noisy as a valkyrie! Hey, I loved Mrs. Basil E too. My primary school library had it and nobody else could read it because I think I had it on permanent loan. Read it and re-read it. I'm not sure why - I had a happy childhood - but I loved stories about kids running away! And I too was a Greek myth junkie growing up. Loved fairytales too. I love thinking about archetypes. I think in terms of goddess, I'm probably Athena. Definitely not athletic enough to be Diana or regal enough to be Hera or beautiful enough to be Venus. I've always rather like the Persephone story - I think Hades was like a BAAAAAAD Regency rake (a bit like Kylemore?) and she ended up being madly in love with her dark, difficult husband.

Hmm, are any of the goddesses incurable romantics?

Anyway, I'm off for a few days. See you all when I get back!


Donna MacMeans said...

Nancy - I love visiting the Met. It makes me want to move to NYC just so I can hang out there on weekends. SO much to see (and the best museum gift shop ever).

I think I must have the moon goddesses inside. Artemis emerged in my first book and my second was tied closely to the phases of the moon (Sinda and Rhea are also names for the moon goddess in other cultures). But like you, I can identify with differnt elements of each of the goddesses. Hmmm...something like an internal clash of the titans (grin).

Great post!

Susan - what the heck you doing up so late? I figured those kids would have had you conked out by early evening (grin).

Suzanne Welsh said...

I'd say I was a mixture of Ilithyia, who was the goddess of childbirth and labour pains, and Athena, with a touch of Hestia thrown in.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Susan said: Surely there's a goddess of clutter. Or maybe chaos.

Susan, perhaps you have a bit of Caligo. She was called the mother of Chaos.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

GREAT post, Nancy and LURVE those piccies of Artemis and Athena!

Now was there ever a question about Aunty's (not so)inner goddess? As much as I like wielding authority... AHEM, I mean the crop! Peacocks are rather noisy, but I do love more colorful fowl... oh say, a certain GOLDEN variety?!?!

who can totally see Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the mischief maker Hermes (wearing winged sandals and not much else)!

Trish Milburn said...

I'd say I'm more like Artemis than the others. I do like the outdoors.

I'm hoping I get to go to the Met next month when I go to NYC.

Helen said...

Congrats Susan

Nancy what a great post I am not sure who I would be I do love animals and the outdoors and when I have the time I love cooking and being at home and I do so much enjoy helping people not sure whether I have helped anyone with the HEA though, I think maybe I have a bit of them all in me because I also am very protective of my family

Have Fun

Nancy said...

I've tried four times now to comment, and Blogger keeps diverting me to some nonexistent page that's supposedly log-in verification but is actually blank, then erasing my comments. Going to try again.

Suz and Joan, thanks for the info on chaos! Suz, you are definitely the queen of childbirth in the lair. Great mixture you chose for yourself. Joan, cyber-Sangria coming your way.

Nancy said...

Minna, how cool about Mielikki! I love bears.

Anna wrote: Hey, I loved Mrs. Basil E too. My primary school library had it and nobody else could read it because I think I had it on permanent loan. Read it and re-read it. That was me with the D'Aulaires' book. I think you have all of those goddesses in your, but I won't argue with the choice of Athena. If wish I had more of her in me.

Donna, I hung out in the gift shop bookstore area while my boys cruised Asian art. When I asked our son if he had any room in his suitcase, he said, eying me suspiciously, "A little. Why?" But the dh jammed most of my books into his bag, so the boy's became irrelevant. And yes, I can totally see your moon affinity!

"internal clash of the titans." Love it!

AC, you know you and your crop wield supreme power in the lair. Yeah, I can see Rhys-Meyers as Hermes, wingled sandals and all. He may even have the face to pull off the winged helmet . . .

Nancy said...

Suz, you are definitely the goddess of childbirth. I love the mixture you chose for yourself!

Trish, Artemis sounds fun. I suspect she had the most pure fun of any of the goddesses, but that's probably arguable.

Helen, glad you liked the post. You sound like a combination of Hestia, Artemis and Demeter (protective).

Minna said...

Well, bear was important for ancient Finns and other Finno-Ugric peoples. So important and probably holy animal, too, that there are hardly any rock paintings of bears. And we have huge amount of nicknames for bear. It wasn't a good idea to just say karhu, bear, because it was thought some bear might take that as an invitation.

Joan said...

Mielikki, the Finnish goddess of forests and the hunt and she is said to have played a central role in the creation of the bear.

I'll drink to that! (hic)

G. Sangria

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Nancy! Great post. I love all the creation myths and Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Totally engrossing reading material. I poured through it as a kid and kept right on reading about it right into adulthood. :>

I'd probably be a mix of Caligo, Selene, Hestia and Athena. Rough and tumble, some serious chaos thrown in along w/ the whole siren, hearth, animal loving deal. Ha!

Hey Susan, congrats on that bird coming north. He probably is spying on all of us again, so beware.

Minna, I love your additions to the blogs you always have something cool to add. I love the thing about the bear. Very cool about the bears. I love bears, BTW.

Nancy said...

Minna wrote: It wasn't a good idea to just say karhu, bear, because it was thought some bear might take that as an invitation.

I can see how a person might not want to issue casual invitations to bears! Have you ever seen the movie The Thirteenth Warrior? It has a Nordic setting, but the tribe menacing the heroes wears bearskins.

Joan, today you really are the Goddess of Sangria. *g*

Jeanne, sounds like a good mix to me! On a tangent to creation myths are flood myths. I didn't know, until my Ancient History professor told us, so many cultures had flood myths. He had us read part of Gilgamesh. I sort of wonder if these myths are really an exaggerated form of oral history, and I've been fascinated by the occasional History Channel programs about Noah and the flood.

Louisa Cornell said...

Nancy, I loved that movie The Thirteenth Warrior! It was just a great story and really well told.

It is interesting how many "primitive" cultures/mythologies show a deep respect for animals. My Creek Indian grandmother taught my brothers the proper prayers for deer hunting. Their friends are amazed because my brothers always take the biggest bucks and does and one brother even took down a huge wild boar with a bow and arrow. In our religion you pray before you go on the hunt that you prove to be a worthy adversary and that you kill without causing pain. Once the animal is taken before they do anything my brothers pray to the animal's spirit, asking forgiveness for killing it, praising its strength, courage and grace and thanking it for providing food for your family. We consider the animals superior to us and our brothers. My brothers learned the hard way that you kill only what you will eat. When they were young they shot a coot (that is a black, rather ugly bird)They brought it home to show Mom. She made them pluck it, clean it and then she cooked it and they had to eat it. They said it was HORRIBLE! But they never again killed something unless they intended to eat it!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

That's Great, Louisa! Good for your mother!

Nancy said...

Louisa, I admire your family's reverence for the natural world. I've read similar stories about Native American cultures.

I think 13th Warrior gets overlooked in the Banderas canon, but I thought he was wonderful in it. When I want to get into a mindset to write fantasy, I watch that movie. Alas, but I doubt it has the following to break through to BluRay.

Louisa Cornell said...

Nobody messes with the short round Creek woman. (that is what my brothers' friends call my Mom!)

Nancy, I agree that The Thirteenth Warrior is overlooked and I think it is one of the better things Banderas has done. There is something about one of those last scenes where the Norseman leader is sitting on that throne and his dog howls in mourning that gives me chills every time. I have it on VHS believe it or not and I need to get it on DVD as it is one of my favorites. I let my nephew borrow it and he loved it! It wasn't long after that that he saw 300 in the theatre and called me to say "You HAVE to see this movie. It is so cool. It is like that 13th Warrior thing, but it is a true story. Did you know that?" I just love it when that kid gets excited about history!

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