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Triple Moon Goddess: let's explore her mystery

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Also known as the triple goddess symbol, the triple moon symbol depicts a full moon with a crescent moon on the left and a waning crescent moon on the right.

Representing the changing phases of the moon, it is also said to harmonize with the phases of femininity. In some spiritual beliefs and cultures, it symbolizes the natural cycles of birth, life and death.

In many modern pagan traditions, the triple goddess honors the maiden, mother and elder, and is often associated with Artemis (the maiden), Selene (the mother) and Hecate (the elder).) The moon's rhythm and the female body generally operate on a 28-day cycle, so this is one of the reasons why the moon has been regarded over the centuries as possessing feminine energy.

This powerful symbol is used today by people practicing, for example, paganism, neopaganism and Wicca. It's been around for decades, yet has deep origins in the past.

So, what is the significance of the Triple Moon/Triple Goddess symbol?

Let's find out!

Meaning of the triple goddess symbol / triple wicca moon

The short and simple answer to what the Triple Goddess symbol represents is the concept of maiden, mother and old woman. However, the short answer doesn't provide much information for those not already familiar with this concept and/or Wiccan practices.

The 3 faces of the Celtic moon goddess

The maiden

The maiden is symbolically embodied by the new moon in this representation. The lunar phases are often seen as mirrors of a woman's life journey, or even the stages of reproduction, dividing life into three distinct segments. The initial phase corresponds to youth, portraying a vibrant and dynamic young woman commencing her voyage through life. This youthful figure is filled with enthusiasm to explore the myriad experiences life offers, yet she may still lack the valuable wisdom and life experiences that come with time.

Youth is intricately linked with the process of discovering spirituality and other facets of youthful existence, including sensuality. It also serves as a period where creativity can blossom and thrive, marked by the inception of new pursuits and self-discovery in the pursuit of personal goals. Among the prominent deities personifying the maiden archetype are Persephone, Artemis, Rhiannon, Freya, and Diana.

The Mother

Within this symbol, the Mother archetype is embodied by the full moon phase. The Mother, or the full moon aspect, signifies a phase of life characterized by mastery over various facets of existence and one's own identity. This aspect of the Triple Goddess represents not only love but also responsibility. This life stage often necessitates the cultivation of love, not only for others but also for oneself.

Additionally, it symbolizes power and the journey toward acquiring and utilizing power to bring positive manifestations into one's life and effectively manage that power. Learning to wield power responsibly and purposefully can be a significant challenge for women striving to embrace this phase. Some of history's most renowned motherly figures and deities embodying this archetype include Demeter, Selene, Ceres, Isis, Dani, and Badb.

The Crone

In the symbol, the waning crescent moon corresponds to the Crone, or the old woman. The Crone archetype is closely associated with wisdom, particularly the profound wisdom of acceptance - accepting the natural cycle of life and the inevitable mortality of every individual, including herself.

This aspect of the symbol holds significance because it represents a stage in life where one has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and is prepared for whatever lies ahead. Throughout history and mythology, prominent symbols of old age include Baba Yaga, Morrigan, Cailleach Bear, Hecate, and Kali.

The origins of the Triple Goddess/Triple Moon symbol

The origins of the Triple Goddess/Triple Moon symbol have sparked controversy and debate among scholars and historians. While Robert Graves (1895-1985), a poet and writer with expertise in mythology, is often credited with popularizing the symbol as we know it today, the concept of the Triple Goddess has ancient roots in various Mediterranean and Eastern European cultures.

Robert Graves made significant contributions to the study of mythology and introduced the idea of the Triple Goddess in his works "The White Goddess" and "The Greek Myths," both published in the 1930s. His interpretations and writings on the subject have had a lasting impact on modern understandings of the Triple Goddess.

However, it's important to note that the concept of a triple or triadic goddess figure, often representing aspects like maiden, mother, and crone, can be found in the mythologies and religious traditions of ancient civilizations predating Graves' writings. These traditions include those from the Mediterranean, Celtic, and Eastern European regions. The Triple Goddess, or similar triadic divine figures, were often associated with aspects of femininity, nature, and the cycles of life.

In summary, while Robert Graves played a significant role in popularizing the Triple Goddess symbol in modern times, the concept of a triadic goddess has ancient roots in various cultures, making it a subject of both historical and contemporary fascination and debate.

Ancient stories and cultural beliefs

Indeed, the concept of a triadic or triple goddess figure can be found in various cultures and mythologies, often representing different aspects of femininity, life cycles, and nature. These similarities across different cultures have fueled speculation and scholarly exploration, highlighting the universality of certain themes and archetypes in human history.

In Greek culture, Hera was sometimes seen as a triadic goddess, representing the stages of a woman's life. Similarly, the Moirai or Fates in Greek mythology, who controlled human destinies, are another example of a triad.

In Hinduism, the Tridevi (Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kali) are a well-known triadic representation of the divine, each embodying distinct qualities and roles. The concept of triadic goddesses is also found in ancient Celtic culture, with Brighid symbolizing aspects of blacksmithing, poetry, and healing.

Hecate, the focus of Robert Graves' work and a prominent figure in Greek and Roman mythology, has long been associated with the concept of a triple goddess. Her associations with Diana and Artemis, both symbolized by the moon, add depth to her symbolism.

The historical accounts, such as Lucan's reference to witches invoking Persephone as the third aspect of Hecate and Porphyry's writings about Hecate's connection to the phases of the moon, provide valuable insights into the evolution and understanding of the triple goddess concept over time.

These cross-cultural connections and historical references demonstrate the enduring fascination with the idea of a triple goddess and its significance in various belief systems and mythologies throughout history.

Who are the Greek moon goddesses? Hecate, Selene and Artemis

Are you familiar with the concept of the Artemis Triad or the Triple Goddess, where three goddesses were at times conflated or grouped together? These three deities consisted of Artemis, Selene, and Hecate.

In contemporary discussions, this grouping is commonly referred to as the Artemis Triad. However, within the context of Greco-Roman civilization, this triad went by various names. Artemis, one of the Olympian deities, held sway over domains such as hunting, wildlife, virginity, and the Moon. She was venerated as the protector of women and children, renowned for her healing abilities, and was recognized as the virgin goddess. She was the offspring of Zeus.

Selene, also known as Cynthia, represented another lunar deity and was believed to embody the radiance of the lunar star. As a daughter of the Titans, her siblings included Helios, the sun god, and Eos, the dawn goddess. Selene was envisioned as guiding her silver chariot through the night sky, symbolizing the moon. Her consort was Endymion, and together, they were believed to have numerous offspring. Iconographically, she was often depicted with horns, symbolizing the waning crescent phase of the Moon.

Hecate, an ancient Greek goddess, held associations with borders, barriers, crossroads, the night, magic, and witchcraft. She maintained a deep connection to the realm of spirits, ghosts, and the underworld. Many historical sources portray witches paying homage to her, highlighting her significance in magical and mystical practices. There is speculation that she may have originally been a Chthonic goddess with non-Greek origins.

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Artemis

The origins of the lunar goddess triad

In the realms of classical and Hellenistic religion, this triumvirate of goddesses enjoyed remarkable popularity, particularly becoming an integral facet of the public religious practices in Rome. Women were among their devout followers, drawn to these goddesses for their benevolent nature and their affinity for mothers and their children. Artemis, in particular, stood out as one of the most adored goddesses in the Hellenic world, with numerous temples and festivals dedicated to her honor. Similarly, shrines venerating Hecate could be found at various entrances.

The Romans, known for their penchant for adopting Greek deities, embraced this trio of goddesses into their pantheon. Selene assumed the name Luna, Artemis was transformed into Diana, and Hecate came to be known as Trivia in Roman worship. Over time, the Romans began to blur the distinctions among these three goddesses, a phenomenon that may have commenced in the Republican era, as suggested by depictions on coins. This amalgamation was largely due to their shared characteristics, most notably their feminine identity and their association with the moon. They were all believed to offer protection and favor to those who invoked their names. The concept of a divine triad, encompassing these goddesses, is part of a broader tradition of triple deities that can be found in mythologies across the globe. Some scholars propose that the grouping of goddesses into a triad could have been influenced by Celtic mythology, although this remains a subject of debate.

The cult of Hecate, Artemis and Selene

Much of our knowledge regarding the Triad of goddesses originates from the Roman period, spanning from the 1st to the 5th century AD. Prominent figures like Seneca the Younger and epic poets Statius and Nonnus make references to these goddesses. These sources illuminate that the triad consisting of Artemis, Selene, and Hecate was frequently venerated in sacred groves, often considered consecrated to Artemis. Furthermore, it appears that the Triad received reverence in sacred shrines dedicated to Hecate and Selene as well. In the eyes of their worshipers, the Triad possessed a collective array of attributes and powers drawn from all three goddesses.

During Roman times, they were regarded as the guardians of travelers and were closely associated with the spirit world. In Seneca's tragic work "Phaedra," the titular heroine turns to the Triad in her prayers, seeking their assistance in winning the love of her beloved.

It's essential to note that the worship of the moon through the Triad did not entail the erasure of the individual goddesses' identities or roles within Greco-Roman religion. Rather, they were often referred to in terms such as "Hecate the Triple Goddess" or "Selene of Three Faces," and their collective veneration stemmed from their interconnected associations, rather than the belief in a single deity.

Goddess of magic

It seems that the Triad was very popular with magicians and those who practiced magic, which was ubiquitous in the ancient world.

The evidence supporting the concept of the Triad of Hecate, Selene, and Artemis is notably drawn from surviving papyri discovered in the Egyptian desert, which contain records of magical incantations and spells.

Within these Greco-Roman magical papyri, there are numerous references to Hecate in her triple aspect, and specific mentions of her as an integral part of the Triad. Hecate was closely linked with magic and associated with witches, while Selene and Artemis were primarily associated with the moon and the night. The merging of these three goddesses into a single spell or ritual was believed to enhance its potency, and this practice became a customary convention.

In summary, triads of gods and goddesses were a common feature in the ancient world, and the trio of Hecate, Selene, and Artemis is no exception. It's important to emphasize that these deities were not considered aspects of a single god; rather, they were worshipped as a group due to their shared characteristics and attributes. This merging of deities, a practice particularly prevalent during the Roman Empire, indicates the popularity and significance of the Triad, particularly in the realms of witchcraft and magic, as attested by ancient magical papyri.

Chang'e: China's moon goddess

A little further afield, in China, other stories tell of Chang'e, the goddess of the moon.

Chang'e or Chang'o was the wife of the divine archer Houyi or Yi, who had killed nine of the ten suns ravaging the earth. His reward was the elixir of immortality.

The Chinese moon goddess, celebrated for her beauty in poetry and literature, found refuge on the moon when her husband, Hou Yi (known as Lord Archer), discovered that she had stolen the elixir of immortality bestowed upon her by the gods. Hou Yi's pursuit was thwarted by a hare, which refused to let the enraged husband pass until he pledged reconciliation.

Annually, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, the Chinese commemorate the memory of Chang'e through the "Mid-Autumn Festival" (Zhongqiu Jie). With the radiant full moon gracing the night sky, people indulge in "mooncakes" and exchange them as gifts with friends and neighbors. Many venture outdoors to observe the supposed silhouette of a toad on the moon's surface, as it is believed that this creature embodies Chang'e herself in accordance with legend. She was once known as Hong'e, but the name was deemed taboo when two Chinese emperors adopted it.

Traditional artwork often portrays Chang'e floating towards the moon, frequently featuring her palace in the background. Occasionally, the Hare is depicted alongside her, busily preparing the elixir of immortality. Statues of Chang'e more commonly depict her holding a lunar disk aloft in her right hand.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, when the full moon graces the night sky on the eighth lunar month, an outdoor altar is erected, facing the moon for the veneration of Chang'e. Fresh pastries are laid out on the altar, seeking her blessings, and she is believed to bestow her followers with beauty. Her tale is frequently employed as a cautionary narrative by older generations to caution young girls about the perils of succumbing to selfish desires.

Uses of the Pagan/Wiccan Triple Goddess symbol

Closer to home, Robert Cochrane (1931-1966) is credited with introducing the Triple Goddess concept into modern witchcraft practice, which would eventually lead to the creation of the contemporary symbol and its uses in Wicca and other types of witchcraft practiced today. Practical uses of the Triple Goddess in Wicca include prayer, ritual and even magical works.

In many magical circles, particularly of Celtic origin, the high priestess will wear crowns or head ornaments that feature this symbol prominently. Its significance in this context is feminine energy and psychic ability and would be used in rituals or ceremonies.

Today, many people wear the triple moon symbol as a representation of their spiritual beliefs. The symbol can also be found in the form of necklaces, rings and earrings. Many Wiccan objects such as spell books and altars are also adorned with the triple goddess symbol.

What does the seed represent?

In our creation of the triple Goddess, we have taken up the spiral.

The spiral has been found on many dolmens and tombs. Its true meaning is not known with certainty, but many of these symbols have been found as far away as Ireland and France. It is thought to represent the journey from inner life to outer soul or higher spiritual forms; the concept of growth, expansion and cosmic energy, depending on the culture in which it is used. For the ancient inhabitants of Ireland, the spiral was used to represent their sun.

But for us, this symbol of the spiral within the Goddess inspires another concept: that of the seed. And when we look at the Goddess, we see that she carries the seed.

But the seed of what?

Somewhere, this symbol delivers a message: that of rediscovering our inner soil, discovering that we carry the world within us, just as a woman carries a child in her womb. And so we rediscover our original dignity, our authentic being.

If the seed is not placed in the right soil, it cannot grow.

Man is the only being on earth who must actively participate in his own growth and flowering. He must consciously use his own thoughts, feelings and creative will.

He must beware of the bad gardener who wants to cultivate seeds other than his own, and of the one who wants to plant the wrong seed in his soil. There is no seed more beautiful than the one that each person is.

We are our own treasure, and above all, it's important to take care of the precious seed we have, because that's the blessing.

As you focus on this symbol, remember to take care of the precious within you. And ask yourself what seeds you want to bring into the world.

Why wear or use this symbol?

You don't need to be a follower of Paganism or Wicca to appreciate this symbol, but if you've chosen to wear it, understanding its significance can enhance your connection to it.

Wearing or using the Triple Goddess symbol serves as a potent daily reminder of your link to the sacred feminine divine and all it embodies. When incorporated into your altar or sacred space, it can help evoke that same divine energy.

Many women opt to wear jewelry featuring the Triple Moon symbol or place a representation of it on their altar to support their ritual practices.

For those new to ritual work, consider attending a new moon or full moon ritual, or venture into creating your own. Take time to acquaint yourself with the moon's phases and align your activities with the current lunar phase in your region. This practice allows you to harmonize with the natural energy available to you each day.

Men, too, can find value in adopting the Triple Moon goddess symbol. While it holds deep significance for women, men can draw inspiration from it and apply its wisdom to their own lives.

Whenever you encounter the Triple Moon symbol, let it serve as a reminder that you possess immense power to collaborate with the Divine, manifest your deepest desires, and connect with the wisdom inherent in your true self.

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