Meeting The Triple Goddess
We have spoken about The Horned God and mentioned very little about his counterpart, the Triple Goddess. I thought it was about time we introduced this all-encompassing female deity.
Just as Neometheus and I found it a challenge to put into words and describe the Horned God, so we have found the Triple Goddess. It seems this exercise of writing down our beliefs to share with you, dear readers, has really made us examine what we think and how we think of those that we honour.
Where do I begin? What do I say about someone, or something, that encompasses all life? Exactly that: She IS all life. Goddess Mother. She is the earth: She nourishes us, protects us, and it is to her womb we return when we die. ‘Mother’ earth, Gaia – all are names for the Goddess. She is the cycle of the seasons, She is the Moon, She is the keeper of magical power, She is Fertility, She is Creativity, She is Will. When we honour Her, and the Horned God, we are honouring the earth and the aspect of each season, each cycle of the moon. The two aspects – physical and divine – are intertwined.
So who IS the Triple Goddess? Brighid; Arianrhod; Epona; Ceridwen, Morrigan – are some of the more well-known names of the Celtic Goddesses. Then you have other Goddesses from Ancient times – Hecate, Diana, Aphrodite, Isis, and many many more, too numerous to mention. Some Pagans honour specific Goddesses such as these, and the particular aspect that each represents.
Other Pagans, including myself – and by extension, Neometheus, do not honour a specific Goddess; we honour the Triple Goddess. Why? Why not give her a name? Because to us, she is all of these Goddesses rolled into one, and yet none of them. They are a part of Her, and She of Them, and yet they are separate deities. Think of it as a hologram. To understand this concept, you have to forget the mundane world and enter the Divine world; a kind of dream vision, where things don’t work in terms of ‘reality’.
It is interesting to note that both the Morrigan and Hecate are Triple Goddesses in themselves; The Morrigan is A Goddess, and incorporates Macha, Anu and Badb. She is also known by other names, there are many variations and myths surrounding her, but essentially each of these has Her own characteristics, traits and mythology. Hecate is shown as actually having three faces. So the Triple aspect is repeated in other Goddesses.
The term ‘Triple Goddess’ refers to her changing role as Maid, Mother, Crone. The Crone is perhaps the least well loved, the least understood, and the image that has been most distorted through modern times… and we shall see why, as I explain each of these aspects.
It is worth mentioning here that it is very hard to pin down an EXACT mythology of the Goddess. As we have said earlier, Neopagans do not have a structure, nor scripture. Each is free to believe, honour, and follow the path in their own way. Therefore the below is MY interpretation of the Goddess, which will perhaps differ somewhat from other neopagans, yet will have the same underlying core values.
The Maid is of course, the young woman, a virgin, and who is pursued by the young lusty hunter, the Horned God. She is Spring; resurgence of life, the new bloom. She is hope in life, joy, youth, and new beginnings. She is potential.
Is the Lover of the Horned God: He has caught – and courted – Her, and they stand side by side, strong in love and equal in power. She is Strength, she is the protector. She is Creativity. She is Summer, sustenance, calm, strength and power. She is wisdom. Her power starts waning as autumn gives way to winter.
At the Harvest, the Horned God sacrifices himself, giving himself to the corn, and being ‘harvested’ by the Goddess, to make way for new life. As the sun wanes, so too does the strength of the Horned God, he sets sail – to the West, say some, to the Underworld, say others, to rest and regather his strength (as he goes so the sun goes, and thus we have winter – as the sun goes, so he goes… you can read it either way, this is the symbology of the Horned God).
The Crone is the old woman. Ugly? NO. Warty? NO. Wearing a black shroud and muttering over a cauldron? Quite possibly…
The Crone is the keeper of the deep mystical secrets, deep knowledge of the Otherworld, and of the after-life. The Cauldron is the tool with which She helps guides souls back into rebirth. The cauldron is also a symbol of the womb, as well as the keeping of magics. She is Wisdom, She is Magic. This doesn’t seem a lot to say about her, but they are the two most powerful things to have. She can see far beyond and is also known as the keeper of the web of the Wyrd (Fate). She is the Winter – cold, harsh winter. But as with all life – what has been given must be reaped; taken again.
As Maid, she gave life, bloom, love – she kept, sustained and nourished this as the Mother in Summer – and now, as life cycles round, she takes away again, even unto death. Yet she does not bring death – she is the knowledge of death, and the guardian of it (Just as the Horned God is). The earth needs to rest and gather its strength. She is the Dark Moon.
As such, she is perhaps the least of the aspects of the Goddess that a Witch will favour, or ask a boon of – not because she is less loved, but because her boons and knowledge are so powerful, one must be sure what she/he is doing when he/she casts a circle for the Crone. However, she is also the One that is called upon to diminish: to banish anything negative, to get rid of unwanted things in life, and to lessen power of something no longer needed.
At this point, the Horned God has become the ‘wise old man’.(Yes, I know I said he ‘went away with the Sun’, but this was allegorical, He simply metamorphosises into this other aspect). Think of Merlin: the only person, or character, depending on how you think of him – who incorporates the traits of the old Horned God. Wise, intelligent, also guardian of death – He is the Light in the Dark, the companion on the road – knower of deep magic and mysteries, friend to all the animals. He is calm, sure, patient, knowing all things come in time.
The Crone and the Horned God are not often – if ever – seen together, yet they are still equal counter-parts.
From this, it is easy to see why the crone has been distorted throughout history: the most to be feared, the darkest. Her image has been warped to an ugly old woman working horrible tricks to evil ends (Disney haven’t helped this image, yet they are not the only nor the first to project such a distortion), yet nothing could be further from the truth. With Light, there is dark; with warmth, the cold. So it is with Maid-Mother-Crone. She, the Crone, is the culmination and the balance of Her other two aspects.
The Mother Goddess is under my feet when I walk. She is the face of the moon at which I look. She is the strength in my heart and the song in my soul. She is the knowledge unknown. She is the power being tapped.
When I call on the Goddess, how can I describe to you how I feel? I know I am free. Absolutely, totally free, in my soul. I know I cannot be harmed, for She is in me and beside me. She is beautiful, wise. Is She benign? Yes, but not weak. She will not suffer foolish frivolity. She is honest love, deep passion, and raw power.
This is (my) Triple Goddess. I hope you have come to understand Her a little better, Her relationship with the world we live in, and Her relationship with us, as witches, neopagans, and/or simply people.