In ancient times women played a different role both in society and everyday life. They weren’t simply wives, lovers, and mothers – they had a profound connection with the forces of nature, life, and death. That link, often mysterious, was acknowledged and revered by everyone, finding a reflection in powerful female deities. Those goddesses represented the Divine in female form in the cultures all over the world. They had different names, features, and powers, but all of them were an example of amazing, strong women we could all learn from. Here are 7 ancient goddesses that are all about female power.
Bast (Ancient Egypt)
A cat-lady by day and a feline by night, Bast was one of the most revered goddesses in the Ancient Egypt. She was mostly associated with fertility, female secrets, women’s health, and, of course, cats. But she wasn’t just a protector of the household as she held the all-seeing powers of the Eye of Ra. She was also addressed when creating ointments and healing potions as she was known to fight plagues and diseases. As The Lady of Dread, she had a relentless side to her – a feline-headed female warrior who protected those in need.
Ishtar (Ancient Babylon)
Ishtar, also known as Inanna, is one of the earliest goddess mentioned in written scriptures. Being both the goddess of war and love, this goddess from ancient Mesopotamia influenced the images of deities that came later (like the gorgeous Aphrodite from the Greek mythology). She’s the daughter of Moon god Sin and the sister of Sun god Utu. Ishtar herself is associated with planet Venus, that’s why she has beautiful appearance and is connected with love and sensual desires. She is also a goddess of thunder and storm, often depicted alongside a lion, whose terrible roar can be compared with the sound of a storm. According to some myths she went to the Underworld to rescue her husband, Tammuz, others believe she went there to rescue her sister.
Aphrodite (Ancient Greece)
You’ve probably heard about Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, pleasure, beauty, and fertility. Often accompanied by Eros, the god of love, Aphrodite wasn’t just gorgeous – she was powerful and could bestow both blessings and curses on the people who worshipped her. She had a love affair with god Ares, played her part in the Trojan War, punished Hippolytus for ignoring love and beauty, and answered the prayers of Pygmalion, who fell in love with the beautiful statue he created and asked the goddess to make it alive. She was definitely a busy lady!
Parvati is the wife of Shiva, who is part of the Trimurti that creates, preserves, and destroys the whole Universe when the time comes. She’s an exemplary wife, Mother of the Universe filled with care for each and every living being, as well as mother of gods Ganesh and Kartikeya. But don’t be deceived by her pious and loving nature, because when evil deeds or demons disturb the balance in the world, she turns into a feisty, fearsome deity who can destroy the mightiest of beasts. One of her most powerful forms is Kali – the dark-skinned goddess that represents the raw power of Nature and tamas, one of the three main elements from which the whole Existence was created. Parvati is also the embodiment of Adi Shakti, the Great Goddess and the supreme energy from which everything was born.
Nemesis (Ancient Greece)
Nemesis is a Greek goddess of justice and retribution. She reviews all deeds of men and gods, punishing those who did wrong or acquired fortune that didn’t belong to him. She is the force of the cosmic justice, often called ‘inescapable’ or Adrasteia. She was the one who punished Narcissus for his arrogance and made him look into the well, where he saw his reflection and fell in love with it. The affection was so strong that he couldn’t look away and died like that, turning into the narcissus flower. She often appears with a sword in her hand and scales.
Before the advance of Christianity ancient Slavic cultures had their own gods and goddesses that were tightly connected to the forces of nature, life, and death. Jiva was a beautiful youthful goddess who represented Life itself. She was called The Giver of Life and was believed to connect the Soul to a human body when a baby was born, thus making her the goddess of birth and fertility as well. Young girls and women worshipped her in the beginning of the summer, offering her garlands of flowers, milk, honey, and grains, asking for love, good marriage, and happiness.
Pachamama (Ancient Incas)
Pachamama is the goddess of the Andean people who is still revered today. Ancient Incas worshipped her as the goddess of fertility and all life in general. From Quechua the name Pachamama can be translated as ‘Mother Earth’, which means she encompasses life in all its complexity. Her divine nature is all about femininity and generosity, which means she is closely connected to crops and women’s fertility. Offerings are still made to Pachamama in modern Peru to thank for the food and to invite abundance into one’s life.