Think back to your childhood... What games or activities did you enjoy?
Playing mother to your favorite doll? Climbing a tree in the backyard? Or, maybe, you had your nose in a book, lost in a great adventure.
The activities we gravitated to as children can reveal a lot about us –– our temperament, our passions, and especially what we’re really like on the inside.
They can also reveal what goddess archetype we were most aligned with when we came into the world.
As a girl, you may have been innately drawn to the ways of Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt and Moon, who had an affinity for nature and is often portrayed holding a bow and arrow. Nowadays she'd most likely be considered a tomboy.
Maybe your greatest joy was to rock your favorite doll to sleep, revealing the energies of Demeter, Goddess of the Grain, who is also known as a mother archetype. Or, your love of reading and science revealed Athena, the Goddess of Wise Strategy and Crafts, stirring within you.
There is usually one natural or “signature” goddess with whom we align most strongly, yet we need the others to help us find balance in our lives.
(Insights on the energies of several of the most revered mythological Greek goddesses — and a few of the gods, too!— are below.)
For example, we can’t be pure Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, in our teen years, as her strong amorous energies combined with our adolescent hormones could earn us the label “easy” around campus....
We need Athena’s less emotional, level-headed and goal-oriented energies to balance and guide us to study as well.
As women, we all have different goddess energies arising from within us at different times of our lives. Yet, to discover and activate your signature goddess (the one that feels most like who you really are or long to be) can be greatly liberating, empowering and healing.
For when you align with her, you feel most like yourself, you are doing what you love, and you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that time feels suspended, just like when you were a child.
The reason you lose touch with your signature goddess and her archetypal energies — which most of us could so easily access in our youth — is that these self-defining inner forces are often swayed by the outer forces we are all exposed to, the expectations and limitations that are put on us by others.
Many women find themselves caught between the expectations of family, religion and culture, and the goddess inside.
When we effort to meet the standards of these outer expectations, we forget about the powerful archetypal energies within that can save us. Ultimately, however, it’s these strong instinctual inner forces that want their own way with us.
Part of surrendering to the goddess within has to do with consciousness raising, becoming aware that you have been relinquishing your inner goddess and authentic self to outer expectations and limitations.
There may also be a right time for remembering her and allowing her to blossom.
Women who were wives and mothers in the '50s were supposed to be fulfilled by these roles.
Yet, those whose signature goddess was Athena, for example — with her propensity for strategizing, goal seeking and achievements — would have felt painfully stifled by the cultural expectations, patriarchal dominance, and minimal career opportunities for women at that time.
Yet, the launching of the Women’s Movement in the '60s made it more and more acceptable from society’s perspective for women to find fulfilment in the workforce, and allowed “Athena women” to seek meaning in their lives through careers.
And now, in this new phase of the Women’s Movement, women (and men!) are being called to a deeper level of transformation…
According to Jean Shinoda Bolen, bestselling author of The Goddeses Within Everywoman and The Gods Within Everyman, the deities of Mt. Olympus, Greece represent innate ways of being and behaving inherent in both men and women.
“These characteristics are potentials in our psyches which come into the world with us, shape our personalities, and influence our fate.”
And, by embodying these feminine and masculine qualities, Jean continues, “the centered woman (and man) can discern, embody, act and grow.”
Listening to the call of the goddess and god within you (see below for more about the gods) is particularly helpful when you are experiencing emotional pain or undergoing a difficult transition...
Oftentimes, part of that pain or challenge can be due to archetypal loss and the need to be who you are from the inside out.
For many women, honoring the goddess within is something they can’t or don’t embark on until their middle years.
As they transition from the traditional roles of mother and wife, their children grown and gone –– and for many –– their marriages ended, they discover a time of profound self-discovery.
And the goddesses can really help, because when you become aware of their archetypes, and you start to realize that there has been a part of you that has always been a bit like that, you can give that goddess and yourself a chance to be who you really are.
To discover which goddess is your signature goddess, the following are the seven most revered mythological Greek goddesses and the archetypal energies they’re most noted for.
Which one feels like the most authentic you –– whose energies you’ve felt stirring within since you were a girl?
Here are just a few of the goddesses you might recognize stirring within you...
5 Mythological Greek Goddesses & Their Archetypal Energies
Hera (The Goddess of Marriage)
Marriage and partnership is important for a “Hera woman.” She has the need to select a partner wisely and much of her identity may be linked to this partnership or marriage. She considers marriage a sacred partnership and betrayal of this meaning can lead to possessiveness, rage and obsessiveness.
Demeter (Goddess of the Grain)
Known as the archetype of the Mother, Demeter represents a strong maternal instinct. Her energies may emerge through biological means, as a strong desire to be a mother, or may reveal themselves in the characteristic of being nurturing and giving in all relationships. Often, a “Demeter woman’s” challenge may be to take care of her own needs as well as the needs of others.
Artemis (Goddess of the Hunt & Moon)
Artemis’ symbol is the bow and arrow and the moon. She aims for goals or targets of her own choice. She is often a woman who has an affinity for nature. She’s a feminist, an environmentalist and can be a mystic. She appreciates what the indigenous people call the Great Mystery, the oneness that brings us all together.
Athena (Goddess of Wise Strategy & Crafts)
Athena was Zeus’ favorite child and the only one that he trusted with his symbols of power. She is depicted as either wearing armor or as a weaver with a spindle. She holds wisdom about how the world works and has a strong ability to think ahead. She does not become overcome by her emotions. Her shadow side reveals a woman who will “do what works,” even if unethical.
Aphrodite (Goddess of Love & Beauty)
Aphrodite women live their lives “in the moment.” They are creative; they are lovers. They are drawn to things for their beauty, be it a home, a relationship or a career, and throw themselves wholeheartedly into relationships or creative projects. Who or what they love is beautiful through their eyes. Every woman should have some Aphrodite to enhance the other goddess energies within her.
You may sense a few of these goddess energies within you (and more). And when the archetypal characteristics of one particular goddess is stronger than the others, you may identify her out as your signature goddess.
Yet, to realize your full potential you need to embrace and embody the Divine feminine AND masculine archetypes in you… the goddesses and gods within.
Archetypes are innate in all of us. Each one helps express different behaviors and personality traits in you, which may need to surface — or be tempered — so you can evolve. These include the masculine deities of Mt. Olympus, which represent innate ways of being and behaving inherent in both men and women.
These characteristics are potentials in your psyche which come into the world with you, shape your personality, and influence your fate.
And there aren’t only goddess energies within women… but also gods, whose liberating, empowering energies may be stirring within YOU.
Here are a few of the powerful male archetypes, which you may be experiencing within yourself and out in the world:
4 Mythological Greek Gods & Their Archetypal Energies
Apollo the Lawmaker (and God of the Sun), can help you make clear choices and decisions, so you can expand your business, meet your financial goals or get a project off the ground.
Hermes the Messenger opens you to moments of synchronicity and discovery. Hermes is that nudge within you, inviting you to explore new ideas, meet new people and travel.
Hephaestus the Craftsman or Craftswoman, Inventor & Loner, personifies our deep human urge to create objects that are functional and beautiful. And by marrying this god with Athena’s wise intellect, your work has a greater chance of being valued in the world
Poseidon’s domain is the sea of our dreams and emotions. Poseidon is the part of you drawn to explore (and express) the deeper realms within you. He can range from rageful to calm and serene. Athena’s wisdom and intellect complement Poseidon’s unpredictability and emotions.
When you live from an archetypal depth, getting to know, honor and activate the goddesses and gods within you, you experience a deeper level of meaning in your life as well as more freedom, power, and creativity.
Think Athena is your signature goddess? Or Artemis? And which of the gods do you feel may be stirring within you? Share your comments below!
Unleash your authentic power, potential, and creativity by cultivating access not only to the goddesses but also to the gods within you— during Jean Shinoda Bolen’s FREE class Gods in Every Woman (and Man): Discover Your Inner Hermes, Dionysus, Hephaetus to Liberate Your Full Expression
Did you discover something new from Jean about the goddesses or gods in this article? We’d love to hear from you!