Athene Queen of Heaven
An ancient timeless disc predicted her existence long before her time. This disc she carried in her magical Aegis bag to bring her power and to reach for whenever she needed a shield. It shone bright silver and had a spiralling pattern of pictographs foretelling of her destiny.
She was Neith in Libya and Anatha in Palestine, she had many existences; the Sumerians knew her long before, as many more would as she journeyed.
The Pelagasions recalled how Goddess Athene was born by lake Tritonis in Libya and that she was nurtured by the Libyan Nymphs.
She came into being before there was even such a thing as fatherhood, whoever sired her it is sure that many adopted her as theirs.
Tritone was queen, the elder of the triad of river nymphs and she was the mother of Athene and of the nymph she became.
Apollodorus claimed that Athene was born to Zeus and merely raised by the river god Triton yet we now know that she was born from Zeus much later in her life when she burst roaring from his skull.
The first ever man it is said was Alalcomeneus. Tritone called upon him and he tutored young Athene as she would tutor humans forever afterwards.
She knew suffering from a young age and ever carried it in her heart. As would be the way of her priestesses in time to come she must succeed in pitched combat. She faired far better than intended; her closest companion died, Pallas, she loved her so.
Some say that Zeus was overseeing from afar, we do know he interfered in the mortality of very many, whole races indeed, so the death of one is well within his range of depravity.
So it was that Pallas was distracted, a spear blow she was well able of deflecting, their practice changed in that instant and the spear went home deep.
Athene suffered such grief. Pallas was so so dear to her and of far more value in life than her own life. She took her name. She took her name before her own; Pallas Athene.
She already had many names within her from her timeless existence and many more names and titles would be hers. She always carried the grief though.
Pallas means youth or maiden. Many such would stand in combat at great risk to their selves. Honour drove many a young woman to their deaths, seeking the right to become Priestess over all Priestesses.
Such was the way for virgin prophetesses who followed their love of the Queen of Heaven.
Some say she had a youthly father; a leader of tribes and lands who also took the name of Pallas. Pallas Triton. Yes this was in the times before there was even such a concept as fatherhood. Women were to the fore and credited with all nurtured futures and all past destiny.
Pallas was a monster. He was a winged goatish giant and he outraged her. Athene flayed his skin from him to add to her magical Aegis of forever chastity.
His daughter the virgin and would be Priestess stepped forward. She challenged Athene to combat. Here it was seen that Zeus interfered with destiny. There was a roaring of dragons. A myriad of dragons roared as Athene struck, the blow was not defended and another virgin fell at her feet.
She travelled the river Triton through many lands. Many virgins would fall.
Athene came to Iton where the Willow-Man Itonus adopted her and claimed her as his own. Thus she became the Willow-Goddess.
Let all willow be sacred and let Athene bring the rain as needed when called upon.
Here she was welcomed and treated fair.
Iodame the daughter of Itonus was curious of Athene, and thinking the night was the safe time, she crept into her precinct. Her father had founded a sanctuary for Athene and Iodame had become priestess there. She wanted to know more. She trespassed unknowing of Athene’s role as the moon goddess; in the light of the moon as she crept, the first thing she saw was Athene’s aegis, her magical bag. The face of a monster looked upon her and the horror of it changed her. Iodame the immortal Priestess is cast in stone.
On she travelled, towards her destiny. For Athene was to become Goat-Athene. As Laphria, as she became known, she married a Goat-King, the ceremony was on May Eve and as her priestesses have done so since so there is such a ceremony on that night still now in many lands. Still now.
Laphria (she who wins booty) was a goat goddess of the moon and soon to be of heaven.
As the Libyan girls wore a goat-skin apron so she can be seen in goat-skin; often a dress length waistcoat which trails the floor behind her. A chastity belt of goat-skin can be slid across the belt to the front of the dress as a symbol of purity and renewal.
Herodotus says, in Libya this was fringed with thongs not serpents, but they cannot fully emulate their goddess.
Ethiopian girls still wear these at times yet they attach cowries a Yonic symbol of the vulva.
At Sais they built her temples, still she travelled.
Athene became patroness of a pre-Hellenic medical cult of the moon. Her priestesses of the cult would gather at the oracular shrines of dead heroes and reincarnated them as serpents or crows.
So another title came to her, Caronis (the crow) who in time would become mother of Asclerius by Apollo.
She gained the title Coronis because of the oracular crow or raven and the title Hygieia because of her cures. Her following was building; her power was building.
Her all-heal was the mistletoe ixias, which is born by the ancient oak.
Each year at the cutting of the mistletoe the Oak King would be brought out from within the bark for sacrifice. At times a child would step forward as a surrogate and offer to die in his stead. The child being the Oak King for that moment, other years the king from within the oak would die for another to grow.
The method of death was the ‘oak sperm’; the juice of the mistletoe.
Athene took the power of this sperm and created healing powers.
She took to a great couch in Tegea in great splendour and her past heritage was seen to be true; she was Nieth, she was Anatha and she was the orgiastic moon goddess.
The Moon King chooses from her virgin priestesses each year. His passionate wedding marriage to her in its sacredness ensures the harvest.
And so, through Crete and onwards, she came to the city of Athenae. Her renown had come before her and she was welcomed as their goddess into the city which was hers even before she stepped through its gates.
Her travels from land to land and through flowing fluids had been observed, she was overseen by the deep one. Poseidon had seen her from his watery depths and he coveted her. He coveted her lands even more. In furious rage he spouted forth from his seas and stabbed downwards, deep into the land with his trident. Deep into the heart of the city.
The fresh waters of the River-Nymph who was Goddess of so many burst forth. Yes much of the city was destroyed but its energising waters mingled with the salts and pushed them back. The pool of Athenae can still be seen. From her Aegis she plucked out a gift of the land. The olive tree. The sacred olive tree which is her personification flourished and bloomed and protected the land. The city fell though. Poseidon in his rage saw that he had failed to take the city for his own so he brought forth a tsunami and deluged the bay.
Athene formed Athens above the flood, and it was hers then and it is hers now.
She shared her temples in Athens with Hephaestus (he who shines by day) as she was the moon goddess.
Her chief Athens priestess was of the lion clan.
Processions would be led around the city where all carried paralunes; white parasols of the moon.
Here she grew into her own. The patroness of smith-craft and all the technical arts.
All tools, weapons and utensils of her age are magical, they still are, and the Smith is a sorcerer.
If Athene is ever dethroned her smith becomes a god.
Smiths are so valuable that they could be hobbled, but to symbolise this many are shackled at the ankle during May celebrations.
She had many powers. Mainly that she was awesome. Her trees had sacred power. Her shield and Aegis were magical. She could curse. Turned Medusa. She was of the Harpies. Was the Graeae. She was many-fold and everywhere. She grew Spartis (or sown men) from serpent teeth. Turned nymphs to ants. Cast distortive glamours. She never loses. She is Athene.
Yes she was the Harpies, the Storm Winds, the Triple Goddess, the Sudden Destroyer.
She was the Graeae, all three of the grey ones were her; Engo (warlike), Pemphredo (Wasp) and Deino (terrible).
She was many-form.
Known as Gorgopis (grim-faced) also.
Zeus would have her as his, the claim of descendancy, offspring of his will. He desired her power; his power over her.
His claim would cause him pain, for an oracle came to him with dire news. Child of his loin would rise up to destroy him. This wise old woman who foretold such to him was sent by the one with a claim of great power. For she was ruler of all; The Earth Mother Goddess, and here spoke her avatar.
Zeus was filled with dread. He was filled with determination.
His dread plan to survive would cause him much suffering: to swallow whole all who came from him.
The power of Athene was strong; a great battle within. His head was in agony, his brain wailed, he was filled with the ancient cry of Libyan nymphs, “Olulu Ololu” – “Olulu Ololu”.
All help was sought. The rescuer who came, in truth was there to rescue Athene, for it is said that he loved her: Prometheus he came.
Bidding Zeus lay still, he placed his foot upon him and then with wedge and beetle he came to bare upon the very skull of the god.
Beating hard with the beetle maul upon the wedge the dome of the bone it split asunder.
A great goddess burst forth, in full armour, roaring for victory, “Olulu Ololu”. Athene returned to the world.
Some say however that she had changed. Zeus’ thoughts had engulphed her. Powerful as ever, yet she spoke for Zeus now. From now it would be priests who followed her. She cursed her familiar the crow as an oath to Zeus.
The ways of all women changed this day; some say forever.
Prometheus had saved his tutor, the woman he worshipped.
The people of Athens they spoke out in denial, that Prometheus was not the lover of their queen. Many say that this meant it must be so. For a deep connection linked their hearts and their destiny; her aid would empower him further but it would also bring his eternal suffering.
Because of her Prometheus was the creator of mankind. The half Titan half Nymph asked of her for her blessing and he shaped the river clay into people; Athene breathed life. Humanity was born anew.
Athene saw his greatness and his wisdom and she taught him architecture, astronomy, mathematics, navigation, medicine, metallurgy, and many other arts. He passed these on to mankind.
She would teach the science of numbers and all the domestic arts such cooking, weaving spinning, but first humanity would need fire.
Prometheus had fought alongside Zeus against Cronus but his support would only lead him so far. The power of fire was denied. His lover led him the way and Prometheus reach for the very heights to capture fire from the sky. How Zeus was enraged to see burning hearths appearing across the lands. As Prometheus taught so Zeus fumed. Zeus looks down and destroys, this is what he does. Humanity have been his target over and over again and still are. This day he roused to vengeance against a Titan of the Nymphs; Prometheus himself. The living death of the ripping birds is Prometheus’ screaming existence from then on.
Athene carried hurt and rage and this would be turned against others who went against her. The Gorgons; for they were beautiful. Their beauty was renowned. Stheino, Euryale and Medusa were admired and wished for by many. Word spread below the seas and now Poseidon heard of this beauty, of the wonderful Medusa in particular. He wooed her and would have her. They crept in the night into Athene’s temple and made love. The temple of the Moon-Goddess invaded in the night was an outrage that would be seen by her who is most powerful by night. Athene caught them and in her rage cursed Medusa into a winged beast with glaring eyes, protruding tongue, huge teeth, brazen claws and serpent locks. One look at her would turn any onlooker to stone so horrible now was she.
For all that Medusa ran and hid, her existence was a challenge heroes could not deny. One would succeed; Perseus. Athene created an image of Medusa so he would know her when he found her. Then when thus prepared she advised him of her hiding place and of how to approach, she even used her powers to guide his hand.
Athene gave two bottles of blood from Medusa to Asclepius the healer, left to raise the dead, right to instantly destroy. She fastened two drops to the serpent body of Erichthonius.
The head of the Gorgon was in place upon her ancient Aegis bag.
Adorned with hundreds of tassles of Cyclopean forged snaking-gold the writhing head would empower her forever as its ancientness was empowered even further. The prophesy was fulfilled just as the spiralling pictographs had timelessly spoken.
It was a magic bag.
Athene was magical. Pegasus born of the blood would be tamed by her. She created a golden bridle powerful enough to bring the Moon-horse under her control.
Athene the Goddess of war, a better fighter even than Ares, for she had beaten him twice. She was the Goddess of war and yet she took no pleasure in battle, for she preferred the settling of disputes; she wish always to uphold just law and always by pacific means whenever she could.
She bears no arms in times of peace, although her shining shield is always with her within the power for the Aegis bag. She most often turns to Zeus to be armed when the need comes. The spear is her choice.
She is the one to come to for strategy; wise captains will approach her before they go to war. Tactics and strategy from her win wars for many of the wise. For in battle Athene never loses.
Yet Athene is the champion of justice. There is great and powerful mercy within her heart. When courts are held if ever there is a split vote then Athene will hold the power for the casting vote – a casting vote which always votes for freedom. For where there is doubt of guilt there must be liberty.
When Zagreus was ripped asunder she rescued his heart and encased it in moulded gypsum; she breathed life and so he became a god.
The rage at times still burned and when Teiresias wandered too close to where she bathed and was suddenly transfixed by her naked beauty she blinded him. He stumbled away and eventually his mother found him and when she heard his tale she went to Athene and bagged forgiveness. Nothing could be undone but recompense could be made; Athene drew the ancient serpent from within her Aegis and bid it cleanse his ears. Thus, he was reborn and became the greatest seer. The very birds could be heard and understood; the prophetic birds.
She forgave the Goddess of lovers Aphrodite when she apologised. Athene had entered her rooms and caught Aphrodite weaving at a loom. Athene could create beauty and weave destiny but Aphrodite was for love and for nothing else. She must spend her time in love making and Athene told her so. Aphrodite promised that she would never work again in any way and Athene refrained from cursing.
Athene made a double flute from stag bones. The music was wonderful but some giggled when she played so she went to a pool and looked in as she played. Her cheeks puffed up and her face turned blue. She looked so silly that she cursed it and threw it away.
Athene invented the flute, trumpet, the earthenware pot, the plough, the rake, the ox yoke, the horse bridle, the chariot, and the ship.
When Athene invented the plough Myrmex the nymph claimed she had thought of it, so Athene turned her into an ant as punishment.
Cadmus travelled far erecting brazen cauldrons for Athene of Lindus as he went. He bought a cow with two white full moons and followed it till it could walk no more. Here he founded the city of Thebes and erected a stature of Athene using her Phoenician name of Onga.
Athene cut a beam from Zeus’ oak and it gave oracular guidance to the ship Argo.
She assisted Zeus in the summoning of Heracles when the terrible snake-feet giants attacked. She empowered Heracles with knowledge and tactics.
When the great Typhon attacks (in a later story) she sailed to empower Zeus to resist this beast. She perhaps sailed there to Zeus in the very first ship.
Athene changes into a sea eagle, a swallow, a vulture, a dove, lark, the diver bird Gannet, but the wise owl is her principal epiphany. On moonlit nights you may hear her manifestation and shall look for a silhouette among the trees.
Athene Queen of Heaven, Neith in Libya, Anatha of Palestine, River-Nymph, Pallas Athene, Willow-Goddess, Rain-maker, Goat-Athene, Laphria, Caronis, Hygieia, She Who Shines By Night, Patroness of Smith-craft, The Harpies, The Storm Winds, Triple Goddess, Sudden Destroyer, The Graeae, Three Grey Ones, Engo, Pemphredo, Wasp, Deino, Gorgopis, Moon-Goddess, Goddess of War, Champion of Justice, Athene of Lindus, Onga, Athene Queen of Heaven.
This piece was originally part of my research for a forthcoming graphic novel with artist Tony Lawrence, but for now I felt Athene deserved a blog of her own. Current artwork for this blog is from myself and Ana Maus. This is my interpretation from studying Graves’ Greek Myths and a few bits from the Iliad. Look out for the forthcoming Graphic Novel with Tony: Behold the God-slayer Typhon the Doom of Zeus.