Meet the feisty ladies who demonstrate the spiritual idea of the Divine Feminine.
Juggling a demanding day job with looking after children and pets, all while keeping a beady eye on the man in their life, is what these women do best. But we're not talking about 21st century career women; these superwomen are the mythological goddesses of the ancient world!
Before the arrival of the three single-god religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, older belief systems had a cast of colourful gods and goddesses. Essentially, many of the female deities were just as important and powerful as their male counterparts.
Goddesses ruled the heavens in many different forms, from the warrior queen goddesses of Briton, Scandinavia and Germany, to the Greek and Roman goddess symbols of civilisation, to the fearsome and mystical female deities of Hinduism, ancient Egypt and Buddhism.
Sacred Feminine Although no records survive, some writers have theorised that pre-historical society was female-centred because women were seen as the magical source of new life. In following ages, goddesses held onto their status even as the world around them became more masculine. This is because the ancients held the balance of masculine and feminine, at least in spiritual matters, to be important. Nature worship was practised and key aspects of the natural world, such as Mother Earth, were given a female identity. The goddesses of the ancient world were vibrant characters who in some ways represented the concerns of their followers and in other ways inspired awe with their power and majesty. They were true superwomen, who both mortal men and women turned to for help and guidance. The idea of the 'divine feminine' was obscured as the three new monotheistic, paternalistic religions grew in influence. This subjugation of the female aspect is contrary to the natural order. Both male and female aspects are of equal importance. To live a harmonious life, it is essential to acknowledge and accept the masculine and feminine aspects of your personality because we all have a measure of both despite our physical gender.
Find your goddess Power Take a look at these goddesses from across the globe. Diverse in nature, all are strong symbols of divine femininity - sometimes flawed but always powerful. Choose the goddess who appeals to you the most and ask her for guidance in a particular area of your life.
FREYA Norse Goddess Queen of the mythical maidens called the Valkyrie, who decides which warriors will live and which will die in battle. Fearsome and beautiful Freya and her ladies collect the souls of dead warriors from the battlefield and escort the chosen to Valhalla (the Viking's version of heaven). But Freya has a softer side, too. She is an ancient fertility goddess who has the power to bestow love, to heal illness and is a protector of women. She represents the free force of nature and the power of female sexuality. She rides her chariot across the sky pulled by huge cats, which were her sacred animal. Ask Freya: *For help with affairs of the heart *For help to start a family *For protection *For healing
MINERVA Roman Goddess Leaping fully formed from her father Jupiter's head, Minerva is arguably the most powerful goddess in Roman mythology. Ruler of wisdom, art, poetry, crafts, medicine, business and magic, Minerva played a central role in Roman spirituality. She is often compared with her Greek counterpart, Athena, but Minerva is less of a war goddess than Athena. Minerva showed her followers that intellect and study could win more battles than brute force. Minerva is a goddess who shows human the scope of their creative potential; she encourages communication and the exchange of ideas. She is a teacher and an inventor. But she is also a warrior, fighting with words and ideas to defend what she believes in. Ask Minerva: *For help in your studies *For help at work *For inspiration and creativity *To increase your personal power
BRIGID Celtic Goddess A popular pre-Christian pagan goddess, especially in Ireland, Brigid is a mother goddess. A fiery deity, she brings warmth back to the land with the promise of Spring at her festival of Imbolc, held on February 1st. Brigid protects women during pregnancy and childbirth. She also presides over hearth and home, offering harmonious domesticity to her followers. Strongly connected to the Druid faith, Brigid is patron of bards and poets. Brigid is sometimes said to be the Lady of the Lake character in Arthurian stories. Ask Brigid: *To keep your loved ones protected *For help with artistic endeavours *For a peaceful home life
TARA Buddhist Goddess A goddess of compassion who seeks to guide her followers to enlightenment, her love for human beings is said to be boundless. Tara protects travellers both in on earthly journeys and on spiritual ones. According to myth, Tara was born from a lotus flower formed by the tears of another Buddhist deity who had wept at the suffering he'd seen on earth. So Tara is the embodiment of compassion. Tara appears in different colours, representing various qualities. Green Tara symbolises acts of compassion and good works, while White Tara symbolises introspection, meditation and peacefulness. Ask Tara: *For protection in your everyday journey *For protection during meditation and other spiritual practices *To help you be compassionate to others and to yourself
KALI Hindu Goddess This truly ferocious divine feminine brandishes a sword in one of her four hands and the severed head of a demon in another. With a terrifying expression on her face, she stands with one foot on the chest of her husband, the god Shiva. But Kali's wrath is turned against the evils of the world in fierce protection of her followers - she is a goddess of salvation. The husband underfoot is not an act of violence, but Shiva is attempting to ground Kali and calm her righteous fury. Kali's other hands are raised in a blessing to her followers. Kali is a Mother Goddess in a different mould to other religions. She destroys impure things so that better can be created. She is the slayer of fear and evil. She slices away human ego with a swing of her sword in her quest to release us from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. She is goddess of truth and true spiritual consciousness. Ask Kali *To empower you *To make you fearless *To shine her light of truth into your life