The Maiden is the first aspect of the Goddess, presented to us as a young woman, blossoming into womanhood, exploring her sexuality and learning of her beauty. She is most often depicted as a teenaged girl or a woman in her very early twenties.
Unlike the images of young women in many patrifocal religions, the Maiden is not necessarily depicted as a virgin in most Goddess traditions. In Catholicism, Mary is depicted not only as a virgin maiden, but continues to be a virgin throughout the duration of her lifetime, regardless of the fact that she was married and gave birth to a child. This has more to do with the taint patrifocal religions assign female sexuality than anything else. But because women’s sexuality is not denigrated in Goddess traditions, there is no need to associate virginity with the Maiden Goddess.
In fact, the Maiden Goddess is seen as a particularly sexual being. Because she has just bloomed into her womanly form, she is particularly interested in her body and what it can do. She is interested in her beauty, and she learns to manipulate the affections of other’s based upon her feminine wiles.
Some might take offense at my use of the word manipulate in the preceding sentence, but in fact, that is what sexuality is about, both on the part of the male and the female. Flirtation, courting and other manners of getting the attentions of the opposite sex is certainly a form of manipulation. It is not manipulation with malicious intent, to be sure, but when you attempt to curb the attitudes or thoughts of others through your own appearance or behavior, this is a form of manipulation, and by no means negative.
Because the Maiden is associated with the first blossoming of womanhood, adulthood and sexuality, she is associated with the Springtime. Just as her body develops breasts and she becomes sexually capable, so too does the Earth mimic her development. Flowers bloom, the Earth awakens from the deep sleep of winter and begins to procreate again. Animals lie with one another, flowers are pollinated. Spring is a time for new beginnings. It is the counterpart to the winter of Death.
Just as Spring is the counter to Winter, so too is the Maiden the counter to the Crone. The Crone is the embodiment of death, and subsequently rebirth, and it is through the aspect of the Maiden that the Crone is able to pass from this world and be reborn. As the young Goddess delves into her sexuality, and eventually becomes pregnant, the Elder Goddess may pass away and give her life that the Maiden may become Mother, and one day, Crone. The cycle is never ending.
The Maiden takes the Green Man (Horned Lord, many other names in many other cultures) as her consort. In some cultures, the Green Man may be her brother or even her son. At first glance, the courtship between the Maiden and the Sun God seems ripe with incest, because he is always somehow related to her. But if you read the myths associated with the Mother Goddess and how it came to pass that she became pregnant, you will usually find that she became pregnant by her husband, who has to give his life for one reason or another, and she agrees to bring him back into he world as the child in her womb. In essence, she gives birth to her husband, rather than taking her son as her lover. This is even true in the Catholic goddess vision: Jesus was the son of God, but he was also God. Because this idea is confusing and can lead to ideas of incest much like I discussed above, the Christian church left Mary a virgin, thus bypassing the whole sexual encounter, and thus the issue of incest altogether.
Maiden Goddess of Note include:
Diana, Persephone, Kore, Bleudowedd, Artemis, Ariadne, Hestia,
Athena, Aphrodite, Minerva, and Venus.