Throw Athena a Party, Please
The story of Athena as the patron of Athens is well known in mythology….or at least it seems well known. The tale of how she came to be patron because she offered the Olive tree--which is far more useful than the saltwater sea offered by her competitor, Poseidon—is taught almost universally.
But there is a little bit more backstory here that shines a whole new light on this “virgin” goddess. A good bit of patriarchal sophistry happened behind the scenes that made this victory of hers a half-assed one at best and took away a lot of her feminine teeth. For what they don’t tell you is that she won fair and square in a vote of the people. In God versus Goddess, the lady took the field. Now, there happened to be one more woman than man in the populace, and boy-howdy did that piss off the brotherhood. So they demanded concessions (Why the ladies conceded is beyond me…) that led to this ‘For-the-ladies’ goddess becoming an ‘All-for-the-father’ deity.
Women gave up their citizenship, their right to vote, and the matrilineal right of descent. And their bad-ass, snake-lovin’, skin-wearin’, winged Amazon of a goddess became…something else. She got neutered. Which is pretty much what happened to women power when the Greeks set up shop.
Twenty-five hundred years later, we are just now seeing the true rise of women again. I think it is way past time that we took another look at the true face of Athena. She wasn’t actually a Greek goddess, she was a Minoan goddess. She was the daughter of a winged giant, Pallas, and when he got fresh with her, she killed him and stole his wings for her feet. She skinned him and made herself a shield. This lady took no shit. In her original form, her familiar was the serpent and she was the protector of the family, the hearth and the home. She ruled the tools of domestic creativity and salvation, the pot, the loom and the spindle. She gave power to the women who ran them and blessed the people who lived within them. Athena made community & civilization possible by protecting the arts of the women.
Unlike our present culture where the reptile is looked upon with distaste, back in the day, the serpent was a helpmate and hugely welcome in the home. It ate rodents, and every house had a small, friendly snake in the storeroom to protect the home’s food supply. Additionally, its ability to shed its skin and renew itself was a powerful symbol that gave hope to all beings. For if this lowly creature can refresh itself with the cycles, so too, can we. Put two and two together and Pallas Athena was a goddess that served practically in present time, and also gave hope to future time.
What’s not to like?
To honour her in the best way they knew how, once a year the citizens would take her statue from the temple and carry it through the streets to the sea where they would wash and dress her in fine new clothes. This was thought to renew her strength so that she could serve the women for the coming year in their guise as mistresses of household industry and family unity.
So. There isn’t a temple to Pallas Athena down the street, is there? And, most of us don’t have a statue of her in our homes (I do. But she is my girl, yo.). The old ways of honouring the deific are past and it is up to all of we neo-pagan, spirit-lovers to feel the goddess inside our skin. Do you understand? As the Aquarian Age rises and new time comes to bear, we can no longer look outside of ourselves to find Athena. She lives inside you. They all do. The God and Goddess are a very special part of our being, and we can call upon them at any time. Sometimes, we have to ritually call that forth and treat those aspects so specially that we feel the spirit within us. We move from an external wishing to an internal knowing.
Athena is she and she is me. And when I need to have wings on my feet and skin on my shield and an owl on my shoulder so that I can see the long view of what I need for my tribe, and a snake at my feet to eat those buggy enemies I deserve to be able to summon that in a blink. It is my feminine right. This is what living with goddess means to me.
Let’s get down to it, shall we?
A large bowl (copper or wood would be ideal, but don’t stress it), a large sea shell, a strong piece of amethyst, good Himalayan salt, Rose oil or rose petals/ rosewater, blue candle, a clean hairbrush, a very pretty sarong or robe, a journal with a satisfying pen, and a spanky new pendant, bracelet or earrings.
Anytime. Absolutely anytime. Close to your birthday would be great; head of the new year would be great. Heck, whenever you feel like you need to set yourself up for the next cycle would be great. You have the option to supercharge this by planning ahead to the moon cycle—new to full—and setting your water outside to charge with the amethyst in it. But if that doesn’t fly and you want to do this right now, go ahead. It only matters that you do it.
Laya Mantra—Ek Ong Kaur-a, Sat-a Nam-a, Siri Wha-a, Hey Guru
I am, I am
Be certain that the house is clear of distractions, and that you can have some sacred space to yourself. I, personally, would do this in the bath, but if your space does not suffice, please feel free to get creative. You really want to have some peace and quiet. You also want the space to be clean—both physically and energetically, so if you need to sage the place, please do. Be sure to THOROUGHLY dismiss any spirits or entities that intent to mislead, misdirect cause mischief or harm. Get rid of them!
Bring all of your tools into the space; Put on some mantra music, or something that you find spiritually elevating. You will want to be ready to chant by the time you are ready to begin.
Prepare the water by filling the bowl, beginning to chant the Laya mantra. The water should be comfortably warm, but not hot. Drop the amethyst in the water. Keep chanting as you add the salt to the water, just a few pinches, but enough to turn it salty. Dress the brush with a bit of rose oil, or rosewater. Add a drop or two into the salt water.
Then get naked. The rest of the ritual is to be done skyclad. Get comfortable, laying out a towel if you are someplace where the bowl does not fit easily to receive the water. Get centered. Finish the laya mantra and move on to I am, I am.
Here is the point where you want to become the goddess. Think of yourself as Athena, embody all of the qualities she offers to you. Your skin is her skin, you are you are. I am, I am. Take the large sea shell and scoop the water from the bowl. Wash your feet with it, be loving. Wash your hands with it, be loving. Wash your shoulders and your arms. Pour the water over your body, rubbing it in, and really loving yourself and honouring the vessel that honours Athena. When you feel refreshed, take the brush and brush through your hair. Keep chanting. Make this a sensuous act, really love yourself. Bless yourself. Understand that you are the mistress, the protector, the keeper of the mission of woman. You bless all that is created in the home, knowing that this role may re-invent itself a hundred times over and always be new.
When you feel it, when you really know, go ahead and take the sarong or the robe and dress yourself with it. Bring the candle, the journal and your jewelry to your altar space and set up shop. Have a seat.
Light the candle, place the jewelry next to it and start to write. Just write. Let her flow through you without conscious thought. There is no direction here, you are accessing the part of you that is Athena. Let the words flow from your pen, trusting who she is. (Remember: she was the protector of the family, the hearth and the home. She ruled the tools of domestic creativity and salvation, the pot, the loom and the spindle. She gave power to the women who ran them and blessed the people who lived within them. Athena made community & civilization possible by protecting the arts of the women.)
If at any point, the words become dark or mean, stop immediately and banish that dirty little shit. Burn that paper. All that comes from your pen should be from the part of you that has access to the deific realm, and if we are working with the goddess that protects and elevates women…it shouldn’t be rude. Firm, maybe. But never rude.
Keep writing until your pen stops and you feel like you are forcing it. Then bring the candle close enough that you can use its light to read what you have channeled for yourself. Understand it. If you feel the need to clarify or organize it, please do. This is an Athenian manifesto of how you can move in the world of creation as a woman. It has messages for you as you move forward.
Then fold it up and put it someplace where you will find it at some point, but it isn’t in your face. Put on the jewelry, and be prepared to use that jewelry as a reminder of Athena in your life whenever you need it.
Leave the candle burning for as long as is safe. Close the space by thanking the goddess for her time and attention, but stating clearly that the work is done for today. Clean up the bowl and put everything back where it belongs. The amethyst can go on your altar, or into the moon to clean.
Good luck & wahe guru.