Sunday, June 26, 2011

Exploring the archetypes: Athena

This series of posts is going to be both collections of all information about a particular archetype in one place as well as an ongoing exploration of the archetype, it's mythological history, relations with other archetypes, whatever comes up.

Athena in Myth: a synopsis

Athena was the great Olympian goddess of wise counsel, war, the defence of towns, heroic endeavour, weaving, pottery and other crafts. She was depicted crowned with a crested helm, armed with shield and spear, and wearing the snake-trimmed aegis cloak wrapped around her breast and arm, adorned with the monstrous head of the Gorgon.

The more famous myths featuring the goddess Athena include:

■Her birth from the head of Zeus, fully-grown and arrayed in arms;
■Her contest with Poseidon for dominion of Athens in which she produced the first olive tree and he the first horse;
■The War of the Giants in which she buried Enkelados beneath Mount Etna and made her aegis from the skin of Pallas;
■The attempted rape of the goddess by Hephaestus, who spilled his seed upon the earth and produced Erikhthonios, who she then adopted as her own;
■The assisting of Perseus in his quest to slay the Gorgon and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece;
■The assisting of Herakles with his twelve labors;
■The weaving contest with Arachne who was transformed by the goddess into a spider;
The blinding of Teiresias for viewing her naked in the bath;
■The Judgment of Paris in which she competed with Hera and Aphrodite for the prize of the golden apple;
■The Trojan War where she sided with the Greeks in battle, but attacked their ships with a storm when they failed to punish Oilean Ajax for violating her Trojan shrine. 

From the Library of Halexandria

Another of the virgin goddesses.  Athena was like Artemis, but in Athena’s case, her adaptation mode was identification with men -- she became like one of them.  She became, in fact, the “father’s daughter”, valuing rational thinking and standing for the domination of will and intellect over instinct and nature.  She was protector, advisor, patron, and ally of heroic men, ruled by her head rather than her heart, kept her head in the heat of emotional situations, was invulnerable, avoided emotional or sexual entanglements with men (but with whom she worked closely as companion, colleague, or confidante), she thrived in the business/academic/ scientific/military/political areas, knew the “bottom line”, went for the practical and pragmatic, not swayed by “unprofitable” emotions or sentiment, understood the value of having a mentor, expected two-way loyalty, Goddess of health, planed ahead, analytical, uninterested in feelings and people, an affinity for computerese, thought linearly and clearly, attention to detail, organized (er), accepted reality and adapted, attracted to powerful men (“power is the best aphrodisiac”) and usually chose her man (and planed his “capture”), deliberate rather than impulsive, lived in her head, lived for her work, and never a child (she was born an adult).  Her Medussa qualities manifest in her “ability to intimidate others and to take away the spontaneity, vitality, and creativity of people who are not like her.”  She enjoys the companionship of others, but lacks emotional intensity, erotic attraction, intimacy, passion, or ecstasy; thus spared the deep despair and suffering that may follow bonding with others or needing them.

Tarot Correspondences

Each archetype has two corresponding Tarot cards: one from the Minor Arcana, which shows the archetype at it's healthiest - it's the way we can manifest their power and energy. The corresponding card from the Major Arcana, on the other hand, is the divine gift of the spiritual realm that they're seeking to manifest through us.

Page of Swords

The Page of Swords has the mental outlook and philosophy of a child, and she is constantly fascinated with matters of the mind. This is not to imply by any means that she is childish and immature; indeed, she is probably the most mature and mentally developed of the four Pages. She may not realize her full power at the moment, but she knows how to use what he has discovered to the best of her ability. A person shown by the Page of Swords will have a good balance between mind and heart; her emotions will not rule her but she will not have to think over every single decision she makes. She is the ideal emissary or ambassador since she seizes and exploits all opportunities that arise. She quickly adapts to changing circumstances and is gifted with eloquent speech. Unlike some of the "older" Swords court cards, the Page always expresses her true feelings, though she is always able to camouflage his true intent if she wants to. When she decides to throw away diplomacy and call things like he sees them, prepare for a serious reality check. The Page of Swords uses her blade to cut straight to the heart of a matter, ridding the area of cobwebs and red herrings that might lure you astray. Her appearance is often a challenge, to expand your mind and look at things in new ways that you hadn't thought of before. If you have been unable to see all the aspects of a situation, the Page will show you how, and aid you in uncovering that which is less than obvious. Understand the problem that you face, and in the process of learning you will often find an answer. Expand your mind, learn how to do new things and have fun doing them. Seek out the truth, regardless of the consequences, and try to become more adept in the use of your mind.

Justice (XI)

Justice typically refers to the immutable laws of the Universe, the invisible principles that keep everything flowing forward smoothly through infinite causal chains. These are laws that cannot be violated; only enforced. And the sword of Justice, double-edged as always, is ready to mete out punishment for those who have wronged, and to reward those who have done good deeds. The two most important laws governed by Justice are really two sides of the same coin. First comes the law of cause and effect, stating that all events are connected and each present state is the result of all past states. From the law of cause and order develops the law of Karma, showing that all your actions will return to you eventually. Before Justice, you have to answer for all your actions, right and wrong. Life, if nothing else, is fair. You do not get what you expect, or even what you want - you get what you deserve. And since you cannot change your actions once they have been made, if you want good things to happen you must be constantly making choices that will lead to those good things. This card can personify the attitude of a good judge. You may wish to take on this attitude to solve a problem in your life. The archetypal judge shown by Justice is not the blind courtroom statuette, but a figurehead of fairness and authority. Be right and reasonable in all your judgments - never take sides, never show mercy but never show excessive severity either. And before you judge others you must be prepared to judge yourself, and ensure that you are not guilty of the same errors as they. Righting any wrongs in your past must be done before you can attempt to right wrongs in your present.

Other Athena posts

The Athena archetype: an deeper look
Athena in myth
Archetypal relationships: Athena and Poseidon
Musings on Athena

Again, much of the above descriptions comes from The American Tarot Association, Goddess Power, The Library of Halexandria and from Wikipedia pages on the various tarot cards. All credit goes to them for their brilliant explorations of the archetypes and tarot cards. Make sure you check them out yourself and get their wisdom first hand (links are over there to the right.)

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