I have been fascinated with mythology since I was a child – specifically Greek and Roman mythology. I think it started when I took a class on Classical Mythology in 7th grade. Or maybe it was even before that. Regardless, as I went through the growing pains of middle school, junior high and high school, I turned to these stories for escape – and inspiration. And when all of my other friends were taking Spanish – a useful language for someone who was raised in Texas – I was taking Latin, just so I could learn more about these fabled heroes.
In truth, what fascinated me wasn’t the stories of the heroes – Aeneas, Hercules, Perseus – it was the heroines like Helen of Troy, whose face launched 1000 ships. And even more it was the Goddesses – Venus/Aphrodite, Diana, Athena, Juno/Hera… I continued my Latin “hobby” into college, finally gaining access to the heavily sought after Mythology course my final year as an undergraduate.
I’m not sure where I first heard of the Triple Goddess – maiden, mother, and crone – if it was in one of my many semesters of Latin in some story we were translating, in one of the Mythology courses I managed to finagle my way into, or in some book I read. But I was hooked. The more I learned, the more fascinated I became.
So who is this Triple Goddess? She is the Feminine Divine in all of her glory as the Giver of Life, Wielder of Death, and Regeneratrix. While the origination of the Triple Goddess is debated by archaeologists, evidence of her worship has been found along the Mediterranean Sea, in Great Britain, Greece, and in ancient Egypt (some credit the Goddess Isis as the original triple goddess rather than the Greek Triple Goddess: Persephone–Demeter–Hekate).
Regardless of Her origination, it is easy to see why she was worshiped in ancient agrarian societies. Ancient peoples had to do nothing more than look to the skies at night, to the phases of the moon to know She existed. Although many of us in modern day are so out of touch with the moon it would never occur to us that the moon was a symbol of the ebb and flow of life, in ancient times, the Goddess was celebrated for her three forms. The waxing (New) moon represented the Maiden in all her glory. She was possibility and potential; she was youth and vigor; she was adventurous and carefree; she was Spring in full bloom. As the moon became round and full, she represented the Mother – the Goddess in her ability to give birth to life. She was nourisher and nurturer; she was love and a lover; she was powerful and fiercely protective; she was fertility; she was the creator of all things; she was Summer and early Fall, and when people gave thanks for the Harvest, they gave thanks to Her. But with the passage of time, all things must change. As the light of the moon diminished, the Goddess too dimmed her light in preparation for the Great Rest. The waning moon represented the Crone, the Dark of the Moon, Winter, Death. She received the dead and prepared them for new life. She was magical, an oracle and wise woman. She was compassion and understanding; wisdom and justice. But she was not seen as weak, old, or feeble. She was celebrated for her inner strength, her knowing. She prepared the way and was herself born anew with each passing dark of the moon, with each passing Winter into Spring. The people knew the Dark of the moon may come, that Winter may be cold and fierce, but they also knew that their Goddess had not deserted them. She was merely preparing to give life again.
And so, too, our journey begins. As the people of old used the phases of the moon to represent the phases the Goddess passes through in Her life, so too we will use the Goddess as a guide on our own journey. A journey to our past, a journey of healing. And in the end, like the people of old, we will not be afraid of the Dark, of what is to come. We will celebrate it as part of this wonderful journey we call life.