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Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Crafts in Greek Mythology
Greek "Virgin Goddess" Archetype
Athena was the Greek Goddess of Mythology and of Wisdom and Crafts, a good strategist, and a “Father’s Daughter”. She was a stately and beautiful warrior goddess, the only Olympian goddess portrayed wearing armor. But the visor of her helmet was worn pushed back to reveal her beauty. Because she presided over battles in wartime and domestic arts in peacetime, Athena was normally shown with a spear in one hand and a bowl or spindle in the other.
She was dedicated to chastity and celibacy, and the protector of her chosen heroes of Athens, her namesake city. The Greeks gave Athena credit for giving humanity the bridle to help tame horses, inspiring shipbuilders in their craft, and teaching people to plow, rake, ox, yoke and drive a chariot. Her special gift to Athens was the olive tree. Athena was known for her excellent planning and purposeful thinking abilities. Practicality, tangible results, and rational thinking are hallmarks of Athena’s particular wisdom. She had a very strong will, and valued her intellect over her emotional instincts. Her spirit is found in the city, as the wilderness was the domain of Artemis.
Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom
Athena Was A Favored Child of Zeus
Myth has it that Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom, sprang to life as an adult by popping out of Zeus’s head. He “gave birth” to her after experiencing a very bad headache! Although Metis was her Mother, Athena never acknowledged this fact. She was a protector, advisor, patron and ally of heroic men. She helped Perseus slay the Gorgon Medusa, the female monster who had snakes for hair. Athena assisted Jason and the Argonauts build their ship before they set out to capture the Golden Fleece. She looked after Achilles during the Trojan War, and later aided Odysseus on his journey home. Besides championing individual heroes and being the Olympian closest to Zeus, Athena always sided with the Patriarchy.
Athena is the feminine archetype known for her practical solutions and winning strategies. She was able to keep her head while caught in an emotional situation, and could develop good tactics in the midst of a conflict. Normally when someone makes decisions based on their head instead of their heart, they are complimented that they “think like a man.” When Athena has other Goddesses present in her personality makeup, she can be an ally of other women. If she is motivated by Hera to need a mate to feel complete, Athena can assess the situation and devise a plan to get her man. If she is trying to find funding for a women’s health clinic, her political skills will aid her in assessing which is the best way to do so.
When Athena is ruler of a woman’s psyche, she is motivated by her own priorities. She focuses on what matters to her, rather than on the needs of others, much like Artemis. Athena differs from Artemis because she likes to be in the company of men. She does not withdraw from them, but loves being in the midst of male action and power. The virgin Goddess element helps her to avoid romantic and sexual entanglements with men. She likes being a companion, colleague, or confidante of men without developing erotic feelings or emotional intimacy. Her orientation to the world is her pragmatic attitude, her conformity to traditional standards and a lack of idealism. Athena is the perfect “sensible adult” even while very young.
Athena shows up in educated women who have high paying careers, and her business acumen enables her to make points effectively when political or economic considerations are important. She can think far ahead in order to further her own career goals, or may use her weapons to be a companion and mentor to further a man’s career if she is interested in him. Athena is often called a “Daddy’s Girl”, because she naturally gravitates towards men who have responsibility, authority or power. She often forms mentor relationships with men who share her interests.
Athena wears armor to protect herself from feeling pain, both hers and others. But she has an advantage over Artemis, because Athena does not take competition personally. She can coolly assess what the situation is when she is distanced from it. Women who need to cultivate their “inner Athena” can do so by getting more educated or by learning a trade. This stimulates her abilities to learn facts, think clearly, prepare for exams and stay calm when she is taking tests. She needs to be objective, impersonal and skillful. A woman who becomes a nurse or doctor because she cares about others is acting on her Athena traits. She has to be dispassionate while she observes a patient so she can utilize her logical thinking skills to help the patient. Sometimes Athena is developed out of necessity, as a young girl who is being molested. She must hide her feelings and become numb and out of touch with them until she becomes safe again. She may have to strategize in order to survive when she is being victimized until she can get away from the situation. Athena’s “ever-near” archetype needs to be able to come closer whenever a woman needs to think clearly in an emotional situation.
Goddess Athena Is Wise and Self Reliant
Athena the young girl is very bright for her age and wants to know how everything works. She will be her Father’s favorite and he may brag that she “is just like him.” This can backfire when an Athena has a Father who is too busy to notice her, and this may cause her to not develop her skills as well. Her Mother will not understand why she’s not a “girly girl” unless the Mom is an Athena woman herself. It can be hurtful to the daughter if the Mother does not accept her for what she is. In this case, Athena will reject her Mother and feel that she is incompetent. An Athena who has two professional parents, or even one ambitious one will grow up with a positive self image.
Athena girls know how to fix a car, work with tools and are great with computers. They can also excel at sewing or weaving. They are not very hormonal and will probably hang around with boys who share their interests. They observe what the other girls do just enough to manage to fit in, although they probably think much of the worry about clothes and makeup is just silly. Athena plans ahead for college and a career, and her early adult years are normally very productive ones as she begins to achieve her goals. They do not plan to be “saved” by marriage, but if they do marry will run a very efficient household. She is a great researcher, teacher and gravitates towards law, science or math fields, the old fashioned traditional male fields. Athena usually lacks close women friends as she is most comfortable with men. She is often happy with the status quo since she is close with men, but will be annoyed with other women who are not as successful as she at navigating around in a man’s world.
Athena will choose a man carefully while acting like his “right hand woman.” Soon she will be managing his career and making the decisions before he even realizes it. Her advice and counsel are perceptive and helpful. She has no patience with dreamers or starving artist types. She is only attracted to successful and powerful men.
Athena's Temple in Greece
Athena Does Not Need A Man
Athena women are often out of touch with the needs of their bodies. She is not particularly sexy, flirtatious or romantic, unless she has some Aphrodite or Hera in her. She is able to remain celibate for long periods of time. If an Athena woman marries and does not cultivate traits from the more romantic Goddesses, she may regard sex as part of the marital agreement or as a calculated act. When she decides to be sexually active, she will investigate and study sex until she has mastered it just like any other task. It is companionship and loyalty that Athena women seek. She will expect a spouse to be faithful as part of their agreement, and if he does not, she will get rid of him without too much emotion. On the same note, if she likes the lifestyle she has with this man, she may decide to look the other way and stay with him. She is a Mother who gets along better when her children are older and she can relate to them as teens or young adults.
To live as Athena, the Greek Goddess of Mythology in Wisdom, means to largely live inside your head and to act purposely in the world. She needs to develop the emotional aspects of herself, and may be unable to do this unless she loses or has a very ill child, or if her husband demands a divorce. Athena does tend to push others away and intimidate them, because her practicality and rationality can become boring to those who spend much time with her. She can be unsympathetic to the moral and spiritual issues that other people are facing, so can become very lonely and distant from those around her. The Goddess Athena was never a child, she was born an adult. So she needs to learn to find that “inner child” and look at life from a different perspective. She must learn to laugh, play and cry, so she can understand what it feels like to know more ranges of emotion. It can be helpful to an Athena woman to find a woman mentor whom she respects so she can learn from her. She must find out about Matriarchal values, as she never knew her Mother enough to get close to her and have talks about such matters. Once she can try to understand her own Mother better, then her intellectual curiosity will lead her to study up more on emotion and women’s issues. Once an Athena woman can look at life from a different point of view, her relationships with other people can change for the better.
© 2011 Jean Bakula