Athena, or Pallas Athena as she is also called, is the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, artistic inspiration, civilization, law, just warfare and mathematics. Minerva, Athena’s Roman counterpart, embodies similar attributes. When she is Pallas she takes on rulership of war, but she is cast in the role of mediator or strategist rather than combatant. She also invented the horse-bit, which allowed horses to be tamed. Although her Greek myth is powerful, Athena is thought to have originated much earlier. Her mother was Metis, a Greek goddess of wisdom. According to Hesiod’s account of the weddings of Zeus, the King of the Gods chose Metis as his first wife. She was “the most knowing,” as the word metis is interpreted, or “of many counsels.” As Metis was about to give birth to the Goddess Athena, Zeus deceived his pregnant wife and assimilated her into his own body. Mother Earth and Father Sky had advised him to do this to prevent any of his descendants from supplanting him as he did his own father. It was destined that the most brilliant children were to be born to the Goddess Metis: first, the daughter Athena, and later a son. Zeus’s ploy failed, and Athena sprang fully formed from Zeus’s forehead, clothed in her famous armor. She subsequently became his favorite child.
Athena’s icons were her golden helmet and her shield, or Aegis, on which an image of Medusa figured as a prominent feature. Medusa was the guardian of ancient female wisdom, medha. Athena was a powerful single goddess; romance and marriage were not part of her paradigm. Her constant companion was Nike, goddess of victory. The city of Athens was named for her in gratitude for her gift of the olive tree, and she is the patron of the city.
Athena is most commonly described as “bright eyed,” and the owl, whose eyes are the most striking feature, is the bird consecrated to her. Perhaps it is because owl eyes face forward, and are so large, that the bird is also a symbol of wisdom. In Classical Greek myths, which had diminished the powers of earlier goddesses, Athena never marries, earning the title Athena Parthenos-Virgin Athena. In earlier times the term virgin signified a single and independent woman and was not an indication of sexual status. She is the first of the three “virgin” Goddesses, also known as Maiden or Parthen: Athena, Artemis and Hestia. This is the origin of the name of the most important temple dedicated to her, the Parthenon, which sits high on the Acropolis, overlooking Athens.
Athena became the goddess of philosophy in Classical Greece during the late 5th century BC. In poetry she is seen to be the incarnation of wisdom, reason and purity. She is the patroness of various crafts, especially weaving. Weapons and metalwork also fell under her patronage. She is therefore similar to the Egyptian Goddess Neith who was a goddess of weaving and metal craft. Athena appears in Greek mythology as the patron and helper of many heroes, including Odysseus, Jason, and Heracles. Although Athena is a goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without purpose and preferred to use wisdom to resolve conflict—wits rather than weapons. The goddess only encouraged fighting as a last resort. As patron of Athens she fought in the Trojan War on the side of the Achaeans.
One of the largest asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt, now frequently used in astrology, is also named for her. Pallas (Athena), was the second asteroid discovered after Ceres, and one of the largest in the Solar System. Pallas Athena is possibly the largest irregularly shaped body in the Solar System (the largest body not rounded under its own gravity), and thought to be a remnant protoplanet.
The first four asteroids were planets for fifty years, and their use in astrology helps to balance the genders of the planets. Although there were twelve Olympians, six male and six female, the planets that bear their names include only one goddess, Venus, and the Moon. Athena teaches us the faculty of reason and of thinking first before acting. We can learn from her and stop to pause and breathe before reacting. If we let the goddess Athena guide and inspire us, we can avoid most battles.
Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA www.newworldlibrary.com
About The Author: Julie Loar is the multiple award-winning author of six books and dozens of articles. She has a BS in Psychology, has done postgraduate work, and has been certified in numerous professional training and development programs. Julie was a Human Resources executive in two major corporations, and an independent training consultant, working with large companies. Her latest book, Goddesses For Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around the World, (available at Satiama) has won three national awards.
Her popular astrology feature appears in ATLANTIS RISING magazine, and she is a featured contributor on John Edward’s web site, InfiniteQuest.com where she has her own internet TV show. She has traveled to sacred sites around the world, researching the material for her books and teachings. Each year she leads a sacred journey to Egypt. Visit her at http://www.julieloar.co