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Eeviee  Eeviee is offline
Join Date: 20 Jun 2012
Location: NY, USA
Posts: 439
Book of Shadows, Vol. I: "As Above" - III - The Empress - The Goddess

Three women make the central imagery of the card. Standing behind something, perhaps an alter. Perhaps emerging from a vessel, or a well. This stone structure is decorated in crescent moon shapes and partially covered by a thin see-through fabric. The fabric drapes over the structure, and in the foreground an albino hare stands upon it. This hare stares into the viewers eyes.

The left of the tree women appears the Mother aspect of The Goddess. She has long dark blonde/light brown, slightly curling hair complimenting her light to medium skin tone. Her eyes are dark. She wears hoop earrings, and through the shadows, some sort of necklace or collar is to be seen. Her dress is low-cut and purple, topped with what appears to be the same type of fabric covering the stone structure before her. Her lips are slightly parted and she looks forward, onto the viewer. In her right hand she holds a large bowl, filled with fruits; apples, perhaps peaches, and green grapes.

In the center of the trio of women stands the Crone aspect of The Goddess. She appears to be heavily armoured, or literally a part of a throne-like chair. Her skin is sallowed, showing signs of lines and age. About her face a blood-red flourish is visible inside a helmet of sorts. On the breast-plate of her armour, a circular emblem sits; perhaps a nod to the symbol of Venus/women. Behind her helmet is a rather luxurious chair. The back is padded, the top rail ends in down-and-inward curving decorative spirals. Atop the chair sits the Triple Goddess Emblem, of Waxing, Full and Waning Moons. They, like her armour, appears to be made of a tarnished brass or perhaps silver. The Full Moon at the center has a purple, rounded overlay, containing the Pentacle. This symbol is the same image that is found on the backs of the cards.

At the right of the women stands the Maiden aspect of the Goddess. She has long dark, straight hair. Her complexion is a rosy white, and she too, has dark eyes. Her lips almost appear to be parted, and she stares forward at the viewer. She wears a circlet of light fresh flowers atop her head; white, pink, perhaps yellow with the green stems. She appears to be wearing dangle earrings, and again, in the shadows a thick necklace/collar can be almost seen. Atop her left shoulder sits a bunch of the same flowers appearing in her hair, and her left wrist seems to be sporting a thick bangle bracelet as she reaches to help the Mother with the bowl. Like the Mother, she too is dressed in a purple dress, covered with a thin and see-through over-coat.

The Goddess card is very dark and full of shadows. The predominant colours are deep and rich. The background is a deep olive/forest green. The characters of the card are only touched with an unknown light source. The hare at the foreground seems to be spotlighted by whatever source of light.

From the LWB: "creativity, birth, abundance, fertility. [reversed] Lack of inspiration, barrenness."

Upon first sight of this card I was quite taken aback! I did not expect to see such a dark and ominous depiction of the loving Goddess of Pagan and Wiccan cultures. Some of it's imagery is strange and at first glance I did not understand this card one bit! I procrastinated on posting about this card due to my initial confusion, hoping that others would provide inspiration. After a lot of staring and pondering, I find that I'm rather fond of this card, and find more layers of meaning as time passes...

I believe the Mother aspect of The Goddess in this card to depict Demeter, especially with her bowl of fruits. Fruits are representative of harvest and abundance. Demeter was known for being not only a goddess of agriculture and of the Earth, but a Mother; the mother of Persephone. Demeter is often linked to the standard RWS Empress, as well. Demeter is also known as Ceres, "the Goddess of the Corn" (Mythology, Hamilton, p. 51). In ancient times it was thought that "the care of the fields belonged to the women" as the "business of men was hunting and fighting" (Hamilton, p. 52).

I believe the Maiden aspect of The Goddess in this card to depict Persephone. A noted goddess who is also a Daughter; the daughter of Demeter. In some mythos, Persephone is off picking wild-flowers prior to being tempted/tricked into the Underworld by Hades. The flowers upon this Maiden hint towards that conclusion. Flowers are also representative of spring, maidens, and abundance, as well as affection.

I believe that the Crone aspect of The Goddess in this card to be Demeter, struck by grief and the loss of her daughter Persephone to the Underworld and Hades. Demeter is said to make the Earth barren when her daughter spends her time in the Underworld, causing the season of Winter to rule the Earth.

The armour/chair upon/around the Crone shakes me. From my perspective, the armour is hinting towards the more destructive, war-like and vengeful aspects of the Crone. A helmet, in particular, is said to sometimes represent "being hard-headed and stubborn" or "may imply soldiers or war" (The Book of Psychic Symbols, Barnum, p. 228). Certainly, this fits the bill as her being Demeter struck by grief. I believe the throne/chair to represent her seat as ruler/caretaker of the Earth. Our leaders are that much more apparent when they are taking action that may upset and/or limit some. Barnum states that a Chair is representative of your "foundation, or belief system needs attention" and that a Throne is indicative of ego (p. 199). This chair also resembles a dining room chair, which Barnum states that it is "representing nutrition or sustenance" which is certainly the case for The Goddess card and it's particular mythos!

In The Witches' Goddess the Farrars write "The crops to which the Great Mother gave birth could be envisaged in two forms: as her annually dying and reviving son/lover or as her annually disappearing and reappearing Other Self, her daughter" (p. 86). Giving away more insight on The Goddess card, and The Goddess' relation to both her aspects and her consort through Wiccan and Pagan eyes. "Demeter had an only daughter, Persephone (in Latin Proserpine), the maiden of the spring" (Hamilton, p. 55). The Farrars give another name to Persephone "Kore, 'the maiden'," which again links Persephone to the Maiden aspect of The Goddess (Farrar & Farrar, p. 86). "One day when Persephone was picking flowers in the fields, [...] she stopped to admire a particularly beautiful narcissus. At this moment the ground opened, and Hades emerged and carried her down to his kingdom" (p.86). This links the Maiden aspect of The Goddess card to Persephone through the flowers appearing on her depiction. "[Demeter] lost her and in her terrible grief she withheld her gifts from the earth, which turned into a frozen desert. [...] At last [Demeter] came to the Sun, and he told her all the story: Persephone was down in the world beneath the earth, among the shadowy dead" (Hamilton, p. 55). The Farrars state that "Hades, ruler of the Underworld" who becomes Persephone's husband/host is also Demeter's brother (p. 86). "Then a still greater grief entered Demeter's heart. She left Olympus; she dwelt on earth, but so disguised that none knew her. [...] She seemed an aged woman" (Hamilton, p. 56). "Nothing grew; no seed sprang up [...] At last Zeus saw that he must take the matter in hand. He sent the gods to Demeter, one after another, to try to turn her from her anger, but she would listen to none of them. Never would she let the earth bear fruit until she had seen her daughter. [...] [Persephone] was the wife of one who was great among the immortals. And [the lord of the underworld] made her eat a pomegranate seed" (Hamilton, p. 59). "Zeus sent Hermes to command Hades to return Persephone to her mother. Hades obeyed - but before she left, he persuaded her to eat a few pomegranate seeds, symbol of indissoluble marriage" (Farrar & Farrar p. 87). When Persephone is brought back to Demeter, "All day they talked of what happened to them both, and Demeter grieved when she heard of the pomegranate seed, fearing that she could not keep her daughter with her" (Hamilton, p. 59). It was then decided that Demeter "must lose Persephone for four months every year, and see her young loveliness go down to the world of the dead" (Hamilton, p. 60). "Zeus proposed a compromise. Persephone should spend a third of each year with her husband in the Underworld, and the other two-thirds with her mother on Earth" (Farrar & Farrar, p. 87).

Demeter "was sorry for the desolation she had brought about. She made the fields once more rich with abundant fruit and the whole world bright with flowers and green leaves" (Hamilton, p. 60). "In the stories of both goddesses, Demeter and Persephone, the idea of sorrow was foremost. Demeter, the goddess of the harvest wealth, was still more the diving sorrowing mother who saw her daughter die each year. Persephone was the radiant maiden of the spring and the summertime, whose light step upon the dry, brown hillside was enough to make it fresh and blooming" (Hamilton, p. 61).

As for the darkness of the card, it fits perfectly, within the beliefs that The Goddess is the dark half to the light God. The Goddess rules over the Moon, symbolized by the Triple Moon symbol at the top of the card. This is how the Pagan/Wiccan Goddess got her 3 main aspects/faces, for the 3 visible phases of the Moon (Waxing, Full, and Waning). I assume that the unknown light source is coming from the Moon itself.

For the Hare at the forefront of the card, Hares are known for their pro-creative abilities. They are known for their ability to produce numerous offspring, and therefore indicate fertility and abundance. They are behind the saying "hop to it" which means "get going!" or represent "hopping from place to place" (The Book of Psychic Symbols, Barnum, p. 251). This would also enforce the active creation aspect of the card.

In regards to the necklaces/collars upon the Maiden and Mother, please see the Symbolism thread for this deck.

Share your thoughts and interpretations of The Goddess card with me! I'm particularly interested in hearing others interpretations of the alter/well and the chair/armour.

ETA: If the stone figure before/around The Goddess aspects is a well... I can see this being representative of The Goddess emerging from the Underworld and/or Primordial Waters. Both of which relate to The Goddess in Pagan and Wiccan beliefs. It would also provide a Water symbol, as The Goddess' first and primary attribute is to the Element of Water, which before I thought the card to be shockingly lacking.
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