The Goddesses

Deity of the Day for December 17th – Minerva, Roman Goddess

Deity of the Day


Minerva (Etruscan: Menrva) was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born with weapons from the godhead of Jupiter. From the 2nd century BC onwards, the Romans equated her with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of music, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic. She is often depicted with her sacred creature, an owl usually named as the “owl of Minerva”, which symbolizes that she is connected to wisdom.

Stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā (‘She who measures’), the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby calling her Menrva. It is assumed that her Roman name, Minerva, is based on this Etruscan mythology, Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, war, art, schools and commerce. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of her father, Jupiter (Greek Zeus).

By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have linked her foreign name to the root men- in Latin words such as mens meaning “mind”, perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- ‘mind’ (linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne/μνημοσύνη and mnestis/μνῆστις: memory, remembrance, recollection, manush in Sanskrit meaning mind).

Minerva was part of a holy triad with Tinia and Uni, equivalent to the Roman Capitoline Triad of Jupiter-Juno-Minerva. Minerva was the daughter of Jupiter.

As Minerva Medica, she was the goddess of medicine and doctors. As Minerva Achaea, she was worshipped at Luceria in Apulia where votive gifts and arms said to be those of Diomedes were preserved in her temple.

A head of “Sulis-Minerva” found in the ruins of the Roman baths in Bath

In Fasti III, Ovid called her the “goddess of a thousand works”. Minerva was worshiped throughout Italy, and when she eventually became equated with the Greek goddess Athena, she also became a goddess of war, although in Rome her warlike nature was less emphasized. Her worship was also taken out to the empire — in Britain, for example, she was conflated with the local wisdom goddess Sulis.

The Romans celebrated her festival from March 19 to March 23 during the day which is called, in the neuter plural, Quinquatria, the fifth after the Ides of March, the nineteenth, an artisans’ holiday . A lesser version, the Minusculae Quinquatria, was held on the Ides of June, June 13, by the flute-players, who were particularly useful to religion. In 207 BC, a guild of poets and actors was formed to meet and make votive offerings at the temple of Minerva on the Aventine Hill. Among others, its members included Livius Andronicus. The Aventine sanctuary of Minerva continued to be an important center of the arts for much of the middle Roman Republic.

Minerva was worshipped on the Capitoline Hill as one of the Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, at the Temple of Minerva Medica, and at the “Delubrum Minervae” a temple founded around 50 BC by Pompey on the site now occupied by the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva facing the present-day Piazza della Minerva.



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Deity of the Day for December 16th – La Befana, The Italian Good Witch

Deity of the Day

La Befana


In Italy, the legend of La Befana is one that is popularly told around the time of the Epiphany. What does a Catholic holiday have to do with modern Paganism? Well, La Befana happens to be a witch.

According to folklore, on the night before the feast of the Epiphany in early January, Befana flies around on her broom, delivering gifts. Much like Santa Claus, she leaves candy, fruit, or small gifts in the stockings of children who are well-behaved throughout the year. On the other hand, if a child is naughty, he or she can expect to find a lump of coal left behind by La Befana.

La Befana’s broom is for more than just practical transportation – she also will tidy up a messy house, and sweep the floors before she departs for her next stop. This is probably a good thing, since Befana gets a bit sooty from coming down chimneys, and it’s only polite to clean up after oneself. She may wrap up her visit by indulging in the glass of wine or plate of food left by parents as thanks.

So, where did La Befana come from? How did a kindly old witch become associated with the celebration of the Epiphany? Many of the stories behind La Befana involve a woman who is searching but unable to find the newborn infant Jesus.

In some Christian legends, it is said that Befana had been visited by the three Magi, or wise men, on their way to visit the baby Jesus. It’s said that they asked her for directions, but Befana wasn’t sure how to find the newborn infant. However, being a good housekeeper, she invited them to spend the night in her tidy little home. When the Magi left the next morning, they invited Befana to join them in their quest. Befana declined, saying she had too much housework to do, but later she changed her mind. She tried to find the wise men and the new baby, but was unable to, so she now flies around on her broom delivering gifts to children. Perhaps she is still searching for the infant Jesus.

In other tales, La Befana is a woman whose children have died in a great plague, and she follows the wise men to Bethlehem. Before leaving her house, she packs up some simple gifts – a doll that belonged to one of her children, and a robe sewn from her own wedding dress. These plain gifts are all she has to give to the infant Jesus, but she is unable to locate him. Today, she flies around delivering gifts to other children in hopes of finding him.

Some scholars believe that the story of La Befana actually has pre-Christian origins. The tradition of leaving or exchanging gifts may relate to an early Roman custom that takes place in midwinter, around the time of Saturnalia. Befana may also represent the passing of the old year, with the image of an old woman, to be replaced by a new year.

Today many Italians, including those who follow the practice of Stregheria, celebrate a festival in La Befana’s honor.




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Deity of the Day for December 12th is Frau Holle

Deity of the Day

The Legend of Frau Holle

In some Scandinavian traditions, Frau Holle is known as the feminine spirit of the woods and plants, and was honored as the sacred embodiment of the earth and land itself. She is associated with many of the evergreen plants that appear during the Yule season, especially mistletoe and holly, and is sometimes seen as an aspect of Frigga, wife of Odin. In this theme, she is associated with fertility and rebirth. Typically, she is seen as a goddess of hearth and home, although in different areas she has clearly different purposes.

Interestingly, Frau Holle is mentioned in the story of Goldmary and Pitchmary, as compiled by the Grimm brothers. In this context — that of a Germanic Cinderella-type tale — she appears as an old woman who rewards an industrious girl with gold, and offers the girl’s lazy sister an equally appropriate compensation. Legends in some parts of Germany portray her as a toothless hag who appears in the winter, much like the Cailleach of Scotland.

In the Norse Eddas, she is described as Hlodyn, and she gives gifts to women at the time of the Winter Solstice, or Jul. She is sometimes associated with winter snowfall as well — it is said that when Frau Holle shakes out her mattresses, white feathers fall to the earth. A feast is held in her honor each winter by many people in the Germanic countries.



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Deity of the Day for December 11th is Sunna, Goddess of the Sun

Deity of the Day


Goddess of the Sun


Sunna s (Sol) is the Sun personified in Norse mythology. She is described as the sister of the personified moon, Manni, the daughter of Mundilfari and is foretold to be killed by a monstrous wolf during the events of Ragnarok. She was a human who rose to the rank of Goddess due to the Gods. Sunna has blonde hair with golden curls that looked like rays of sunshine. Sunna like the ‘sun’ was always kind and generous to her people brining light wherever she went.


Rudolf Simek stated that Nordic Bronze Age archaeological finds, such as rock carvings and the Trundholm Sun chariot, provide evidence of the Sun having been viewed as a life giving heavenly body to the Bronze Age Scandinavians and that the Sun likely received an amount of respect.


The Sun is approximately 4.5 billion years old. As the largest object in the sky, the Sun is the source of light, heat, and life. It can also be a symbol of destructive power. Since earliest times, people in all parts of the world have observed the position of the Sun and its rising and setting throughout the year. Many cultures have created solar calendars to govern such things as the planting of crops and the timing of religious festivals. They have also given the Sun a major place in their mythologies, often as a deity.


When the world was created from the body of the dead giant Ymir by the triad Gods of Odin, Vili and Ve – the Sun, Moon and Stars were made from the gathered sparks that shot forth from Muspellsheim, the Land of Fire. Sunna drives the chariot of the Sun across the sky every day. Pulled by the horses Allsvinn and Arvak, the Sun chariot is pursued by the wolf Skoll. It is said that sometimes he comes so close that he is able to take a bite out of the Sun, causing an eclipse.


On Midsummer Eve, Sunna’s strength begins to decline, and those who honor her gather to celebrate this passage. For the Pagan religions of Northern Europe, this is the Sabbat of Midsummer. Songs are sung, poems are read, libations and toasts fill the air. In honor of the strength of light and warmth that are Sunna’s blessing, fire is a central part of the celebration at this Sabbat.

Despite the wolf Skoll catching and killing Sunna, not all is lost. Like the other Gods at the end of Ragnarok, light still shines on the Earth. Before her death, she gives birth to a daughter as beautiful as her mother and she shall ride her mother’s road. The daughter survives with the Sun to aid and guide humanity after the destruction of the world as we know it. She heals the world, knitting together the fragmented pieces of life after the chaos of Ragnarok.


Nordic Wiccan

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Deity of the Day for December 9th – Lilith

Deity of the Day


Lilith is the divine lady owl and the original bad-ass chick. She is often portrayed as a dark, winged, beguiling sorceress. Our most familiar image of Lilith comes from a terra-cotta relief from Sumer, dating back to about 2000 B.C.E. She is shown as an attractive winged woman with clawed feet. In modern times, she is popularly imagined as the beautiful vampire and the ultimate femme fatale. It is easy to envision Lilith as a raven-haired seductress draped in flowing black, her ebony wings swirling around her. She is thought to be ethereally beautiful, with pale skin, dark red lips, and perhaps a small flash of elongated teeth. Seductive, aggressive and dangerous—Lilith is all of these things.

According to the Zohar, a Kabalistic work from the thirteenth century, Lilith is described as a seductive redhead draped in crimson, wearing many “ornaments.” Oh, and there are also some passages about her having white skin, rosy cheeks and a seductive mouth, which seems to me like they are describing makeup and jewelry. While this make us roll our eyes and giggle today, that was very scandalous—downright provocative and dare we say, titillating—back in the thirteenth century. This version of Lilith illustrates her as a woman standing at the crossroads, waiting for some hapless male to wander into her trap so she can then pounce on him. (Gee, sounds like somebody in the old days was absolutely terrified of a woman’s sexuality and power, doesn’t it?)

To modern practitioners Lilith is a patroness of Witches and a goddess of sexuality, wisdom, female equality, power, and independence. While Lilith is not traditionally linked to a Tuesday, I don’t see why we couldn’t work with her on this day. Perhaps it’s time to make some new traditions. Sometimes you gotta go with your gut—personalize your witchery and magick! Go with what you think will work best for you. After all, Lilith’s feisty and fiery qualities are perfect for a Tuesday. Today is the ideal day for a big dose of in your face female empowerment! These aggressive and strong characteristics are just what is called for.


Book of Witchery
Ellen Dugan

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Book of the Goddess, The Goddess Prayer


Most high, omnipotent, good Goddess,
Praise, glory and honor and benediction all, are Thine.
To Thee alone do they belong, most High,
And all beings join hands in the circle of Thy love.

Praise be to Thee, my Goddess, with all Thy creatures,
Especially to my worshipful Sister Sun,
Which lights up the day, and through her dost Thou brightness give;
And beautiful is she and radiant with splendor great;
Of Thee, most High, the very image.

Praised be my Goddess, for Sister Moon and for the stars,
In heaven Thou hast formed them clear and precious and fair.

Praised be my Goddess for Sister Atmosphere
And for the rain and air and clouds and fair and every kind of weather,
By which Thou givest to Thy creatures nourishment.
Praised be my Goddess for Sister Water,
Which is greatly helpful and humble and precious and pure.

Praised be my Goddess for Sister Fire,
By which Thou lightest up the dark.
And fair is she and Gay and mighty and strong.

Praised be my Goddess for our sister, Mother Earth,
Which sustains and keeps us
And brings forth diverse fruits with grass and flowers bright.

Praised be my Goddess for those who for Thy love forgive
And weakness bear and tribulation.
Blessed those who shall in peace endure,
For by Thee, most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be my Goddess for our Sister Kali, the bodily death,
From which no being can flee.
Pity be on them who die unloved by the Goddess;
Blessed art those who find enlightenment in Thy most holy embrace,
For they will find the way home to Thy Summerland.

Praise ye and bless ye O Goddess, and give Her thanks,
And let all beings enjoy the nectar of Her ecstasy.

–ALP, from St. Francis.

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Book of the Goddess, Ninth Principle: Eris

Ninth Principle: Eris


9. Announce the religion of the Goddess to the world through good works, honest words and selfless acts of beauty and love.

The Goddess in her form Eris is the spirit of the ninth principle.

Eris is the Goddess of Chaos, but Chaos also engenders infinite beauty. Simple rules create chaotic systems which give rise to staggering amounts of complexity. Simple acts of kindness can create the context for other acts of kindness. Honesty in the face of a society built on lies can lay the basis for social change. One selfless act of love, like stepping in front of a tank, can elevate the consciousness of the entire world. Eris challenges fear, terror, war and violence by acts of beauty and love.

Good works include charity, but surpass the narrowest sense of the word of giving money and forgetting about it. Charity by itself is an empty gesture. True charity means attempting to build a society where the abundance can be shared without depriving anyone. This does not exclude giving money, time or energy to shelter, or give food for the needy, or sponsor socially beneficial programs. Rather it means that a society with hungry people, people without health care, people without housing, is an indicted society. By the power of Eris, we can create a just society where the abundance of the Goddess is shared by all.

This will necessarily be a difficult and chaotic transition. Eris will guide us through it.

The Goddess Eris helps those caught in the wake of Chaos to take the correct path and emerge unharmed. To sort the path out, she give us foresight into the future. When you need guidance in a time of chaos, call on her to give you vision.

The Invocation of Eris should be used when chaos, violence, or fear strikes you: “Blessed Eris. Take me to your place of stillness in the chaos around me so that I can see the path before me. I shall not fear. This will pass over me, and around me, and through me. I will be free; I will live in peace. Blessed be.”


Book of the Goddess
Anna Livia Plurabelle
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Book of the Goddess, Eighth Principle: Aphrodite

Eighth Principle: Aphrodite

8. Sexuality is Her sacrament; enjoy this gift and bless those who you share it with love and affection. Remember that overcoming jealousy is the cause of cessation of the cycle of rebirth.

The Goddess in her form Aphrodite is the spirit of the eighth principle.

Any act of sex which is done with pleasure and love is beloved by the Goddess. Pleasure is the striving of the body to merge with the inner beauty of the Goddess. Love is the emotion which draws two or more people to experience pleasure together.

Jealousy is the cause of rebirth. You should at all times strive to eliminate jealousy in word, thought and deed. This does not imply infidelity. You must be honest with your lover or lovers. Likewise, you cannot own their hearts. If they decide to break off with you, do not hold onto them in your heart, as this also makes your spirit heavy. The Goddess loves all of us and in her enfolding love we are all together in infinity.

Women and men were divided by the patriarchy on the basis of gender; these distinct roles were enforced so that the domination of men over women could take place. The patriarchs dictated that marriage would be a mirror of their hierarchical world, with men set over women. Eventually this was followed to its logical conclusion and love between persons of the same gender was oppressed. Furthermore, fixed gender roles were enforced. Males who acted like females or females who acted like males were ridiculed, beset with difficulties and if recalcitrant, murdered. A new civilization of the Goddess will have none of this.

Keeping aware of the civil legality of a particular expression of love, lovers of the Goddess will engage in sexuality without exploitation and with transparency. If civil laws are broken, the intent of the Goddess must be not broken. The Goddess does not want this gift to be wasted or stolen; it must be given in freedom and total mutual trust.

The Invocation of Aphrodite: “Blessed Aphrodite, gladden our bodies with your embrace. We honor your gifts of love and pleasure, and will not be jealous of your other lovers. Blessed be.”



Book of the Goddess
Anna Livia Plurabelle
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