Athena is one of those goddesses that truly can make a huge difference in our craft but also in our spiritual journey in order to become a better new improved version of ourselves. Let’s learn all we need to know about this incredible goddess!
- Who is Athena?
- The myth of Athena: myth and origins
- What is Athena goddess of?
- How do you know that Athena is calling you?
- What are Athena’s symbols?
- My favorite books about Athena
- My favorite ritual with Athena
- Athena’s artwork
- Dawn’s Thoughts on The Goddess Athene
- The Birth of Athene
- Athena’s Relationships
- Athena’s Symbols and Sacred Objects
- More Information
At the beginning of January 2023, Magickal Spot partnered with and acquired an incredible website Witchipedia.com, founded by Dawn Black. Dawn created Witchipedia in 2006 as an online reference and collection of magical and spiritual information and resources for Witches, Pagans, Heathens, and anyone on a magical spiritual path.
Since our websites merged, some of our articles also had to merge.
Below you’ll find Dawn’s thoughts on this topic as well.
Who is Athena?
She was part of the very large group of the sons of Zeus, known to all for his constant infidelity towards his vengeful wife Hera, however, she could boast a certain uniqueness compared to his brothers and sisters: the myth tells that Athena was born directly from head of Zeus, who, after joining with Metis, devoured it together with the little goddess who was still in her mother’s womb.
Therefore, as the daughter of Metis, goddess of wisdom, and given birth by the head of Zeus, Athena could only be the goddess of reason!
The myth of Athena: myth and origins
Athena was born as an adult from the head of Zeus, who had swallowed his first wife Meti (council) for fear that she would give him a son superior to him. Hephaestus (or Prometheus) opened the god’s head with an ax and Athena emerged covered in armor (helmet and breastplate). The ancient epithet of Triteia (born of Triton or the roaring flood) would indicate that she was the daughter of the ocean.
According to Homer, the ocean was the origin of all things and all gods.
Athena had a prominent place in the Greek religion. His name was invoked, along with those of Zeus and Apollo, in solemn oaths.
Athens, which took its name from her, was the main center of her cult.
The names of the first priestesses of Athena – daughters of Cecrops – Aglauro, Pandroso, and Erse, mean “bright air”, “dew” and “rain”.
According to the work “On the Gods and the world” by Sallust, the Goddess was part of the cosmic Gods (Gods who make the world), who watched over the world itself and was linked to the ether.
What is strange is the way Athena was born and her appearance: according to the myth, the goddess was born already an adult and dressed in armor.
Why the Greeks felt the need to give birth to the already great goddess is easily explained by the fact that wisdom and prudence would not have been easily attributable to a child, even a goddess!
The presence of the armor in the myth reveals the warrior aspect of the goddess. Pay attention, however, to the fact that the war exalted by Athena was never comparable to the ruthless, irrational, and bloody war symbolized in mythology by the god Ares.
War, for Athena, had to be fought more with the mind than with weapons, more with strategies than with massacres. Think, for example, of the fact that the main warrior protected by the goddess was Ulysses himself, a soldier capable of distinguishing himself on the battlefield not for his muscles but for his cunning, a man who determined the victory of the Achaeans against the Trojans by designing the famous ploy of the wooden horse.
Athena was not interested in sex; once, it is told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Hephaestus tried to rape her but she managed to avoid him; despite this, he ejaculated on her leg; the seed fell on the earth and fertilized Gaia (always the Goddess) who rejected this son. Then Athena collected it (it was called Erichthonius, often translated as “a lot of earth”) in a basket and gave it to the daughters of Cecrops (later, Athena would punish Aglaurus for looking at the contents of the basket against the will of the Goddess). Erichthonius grew up and became the fourth King of Athens.
Athena played an important role in agriculture. The sowing season opened in Attica with three sacred plowing rituals, two of which in honor of Athena, the inventor of the plow.
Furthermore, it was Athena who taught how to attach oxen to the yoke and she had always given men the olive tree, just as she had invented dice for divination purposes (which later came into popular use, even if the art auspicious remained the prerogative of the aristocracy both in Greece and in Rome), the bridle, the loom.
Some Athenian noblewomen took care of the weaving of this peplos; the rite exalted another aspect of Athena, as the goddess was also considered the protector of the art of spinning and weaving. It was said that in ancient times, a girl had paid a high price for her pride: she, considering herself the best in the art of weaving, had dared to challenge Athena but the goddess had punished her by transforming her into a spider.
As a sort of Dante’s law of retaliation, the goddess, therefore, punished the girl by forcing her to spin and weave through her mouth (by means of which she had challenged the goddess) and to create no longer beautiful and colorful canvases but a gray canvas, fundamental for her same life. The name of this girl was Arachne, from which “arachnophobia” derives, a term indicating the fear of spiders.
As wise and rational as she was, then, Athena was still a goddess who could not accept and forgive what was considered the worst human sin: hubris.
The Greeks believed, in fact, that a man, despite his skills and his successes, should always have a certain humility: staining himself with arrogance and pride to such an extent that he no longer realizes his limits leads a man from the apex of success to the abyss of failure. It is clear that from the ancient Greek myths it is still possible, even today, to draw valuable food for thought.
What is Athena goddess of?
Athena, as well as a warrior goddess, is also the goddess of reason, of the arts, of literature and philosophy, of commerce and industry. She taught men to navigate, to plow fields, to yoke oxen, to ride, and to women to weave, dye, and embroider.
How do you know that Athena is calling you?
- If you dream of an owl, an animal representing wisdom
- If you feel you need to win a fight
- If you feel like you have to help others learning something they don’t know
- If you keep on seeing her symbols everywhere
Best ways to connect with Athena
Connecting with Athena is a wonderful experience and here come the best ways to connect with this powerful goddess:
Invoke her when dealing with some problem
You can invoke her to let her support you and help you deal with a problem from a place of wisdom and openness to learn any potential lesson she wants you to know to be a better person.
Spend some time outside
Athena is linked to the earth and to harvesting, so spending some time outside in nature can definitely be a great way to connect with her.
Educate yourself in magic and ask her to join you
If you want to learn more about magic or about anything else, you can ask Athena to join your study to be your guide and boost your focus and commitment to it.
Add a sigil dedicated to her, an image or a statue representing her when casting a spell
If you need some clarity, some reconciliation, and some wisdom, bring her energy to the casting so she can help you boost that effect and let your manifest your spells sooner.
How do you honor Athena?
You can honor Athena in many ways:
- You can practice the art of diplomacy in her name
- You can bring a statue or a picture of her on your altar
- You can plant some seeds and harvest them when ready
- You can study to learn something new
- You can cast a clarity and wisdom spell in her name
- Casting reconciliation spells
- Be humble in all you do
What are Athena’s favorite offerings?
- Honey (to sweeten situations and bring peace)
- Olive oil (as olive is a plant sacred to her)
- A statue or an image of an owl (an animal sacred to her)
- A journaling page where you write down the lessons learned (showing her how humble and open to new lessons you are)
Prayer for Athena
“My wise, strong, powerful and kind Athena
Let your balance between strength and kindness light my way
Be my mentor, be my teacher
Let the inner warrior within rise and rise…
So be it”
What are Athena’s symbols?
Sacred to the goddess were
- an olive tree,
- a rooster,
- an owl – in late classical age – animals later defined as demonic and linked to witches (being nocturnal) and as they were worshipers of Diana;
- a crow (which we also find alongside other divinities, in addition to Apollo, also in the north, among the Germanics – see Odin – but also as a companion of Celtic goddesses like Rhiannon and Morrigan);
- a snake (as being chthonic and linked to the ability to divine)
- a goat (animal also linked to many ancient divinities: an example above all Pan), with which it was often represented.
My favorite books about Athena
Athena’s Child: A spellbinding retelling of one of Greek mythology’s most important tales by Hannah Lynn
To learn more about Athena’s myth and story, this retelling is all you need to explore the different nuances of Athena’s personality and craft.
Athena by Susan Deacy
This is in-depth research of the ancient classic myth of Athena and her influences in literature, art, and popular culture. A must-read if you worship Athena or if you want to attract her into your life.
My favorite ritual with Athena
This ritual is great to help you find courage and strength
- A candle
- Sheets of paper and a pen
- Fireproof container
- A natural object that represents the energy of Athena
To prepare yourself to welcome Athena’s courage within you, start your ritual day with a walk in nature.
Since this warrior goddess is strongly linked to the world of men, the countryside – close to the city, orderly but at the same time spontaneous – is the ideal place.
If possible, choose an area where there are olive trees: according to the myth, in fact, this resilient and generous plant was a gift from Athena to men.
Next, make sure you are not bothered by phone calls, notifications, and assorted amenities on your walk. Give yourself at least half an hour of perfect solitude, walking without a specific destination. Think of the myths that speak of Athena’s courage and let your gaze wander: when you find an object that instinctively reminds you of the qualities of the goddess (it can be a twig, a stone, or anything else) pick it up and take it with you.
Back home, gather everything you need and take it to the space you have chosen to perform the ritual. Make yourself comfortable and remain for a few minutes of silence to focus your intentions, focusing on the idea of courage and how you want to manifest this quality in your life.
When you feel centered and ready, start writing down all the situations that you are unable to face or solve for lack of courage.
Write a single situation on each piece of paper, to give each event the right space. Then dedicate yourself to the visualization of Athena to invoke and welcome the energy of this archetype within you, focusing on her courage and her indomitable spirit.
While viewing, hold the object you collected on the walk-in your hand and imagine transferring the courage of the goddess into it.
When you feel that Athena’s energy is manifesting strongly, light the candle and slowly begin to burn the sheets of paper on its flame, one at a time. Observe the way the paper is consumed by fire, which represents the courage that will allow you to face situations in which you feel stuck.
Do not be in a hurry to conclude: in rituals, every gesture must be done intentionally and centered on the present moment. When even the last piece of paper has been used up, thank the goddess for her help and remain silent for a moment with her, then blow out the candle with your fingers.
Carefully put away the candle and the object in which you gathered Athena’s courage: they will be your personal talismans, to be used whenever you need more courage to face thorny situations in life or at work.
You can repeat the visualization every time you want to cultivate your relationship with the archetype Athena and awaken her fighting and resolute spirit within you.
There are many works of art in which this divinity was represented by the Greeks, but certainly a leading role in the exaltation and worship of Athena is constituted by the Parthenon, a temple symbol of Greece, located on the Acropolis of Athens. The temple was built at the behest of Pericles between 447 and 438 BC by the architects Ictino and Callicrate.
The name of the temple itself indicates that it is dedicated to the goddess Athena: Parthenos means, in fact, “virgin”, and this was the most frequent name of the goddess. Inside the octastyle temple, that is, with eight columns on each of the short sides, there was the cell dominated by the majestic sculpture of Athena by the greatest Greek artist: Phidias.
Today nothing of material remains of this impressive work, but it is still possible to reconstruct its appearance and characteristics based on the literary sources and some statuettes that reproduced the original sculpture.
First of all, the statue was chryselephantine, that is, made of gold and ivory, and was about twelve meters high. The goddess’s right hand rested on a column and showed the viewer a small statuette of Nike, the winged victory.
The left arm was extended along the leg and the hand proudly brandished a shield. The warrior character of the goddess was also represented by the presence of the spear and the armor with the representation of Medusa, the gorgon with a lethal gaze deceived and beheaded by Perseus with the help of Athena. Between the shield and the leg of the goddess, a snake peered out.
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Dawn’s Thoughts on The Goddess Athene
Athene is the Greek Goddess of wisdom, philosophy, strategy, strategic warfare, handcrafts (especially weaving), horses, vehicles, courage, inspiration, civilization, personal strength, justice and skill. She is the protector of clever and loyal women as well as clever and heroic men.
The name Athene probably means something like “The mind of God” or “divine intelligence”. Her name may be spelled Athene, Athena or Athina.
Athene is the patron Goddess of the city of Athens. According to legend, Athene competed with Poseidon for the honor. The God who gave the city the most useful gift won. Poseidon gifted the city with a spring and Athene gave them the olive tree, which provided food, fuel and cosmetics and was deemed most useful earning Athene the honor of patronage.
The Birth of Athene
According to legend, Zeus‘s first wife was Metis, Goddess of Wisdom. An oracle warned him that any child produced of the union would be greater than he, so he swallowed his wife to prevent this eventuality. Sometime later, Zeus suffered from an excruciating headache that he called the other Gods to help him, begging one of them to cut his head open to relieve the pressure.
Either Prometheus, Hephaestus, Ares or Hermes complied with a labrys (I believe Hephaestus is the most popular candidate) and Athena burst forth from Zeus’s head, fully armed and ready for battle.
Athene was loved by Hephaestus and perhaps it would have been a good match if she were not a sworn virgin. He attempted to seduce her, but she resisted and he spilled his seed upon the ground and from this Erikhthonios was born. Athene raised him as her own son.
Athena’s Relationships with Mortals
Athene is a Goddess who takes great interest in the welfare of her loyal mortal worshipers. The Mourning Athene is a moving bit of ancient Greek sculpture the illustrates Athene’s concern for her people. She is shown barefoot with her spear pointed down, taking a moment to remember those who have perished in war.
Athene helped Perseus slay Medusa. He gave her the Gorgon’s head which she wears upon her shield, the aegis.
Athena assisted Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.
Odysseus was a favorite of Athene and she appears prominently in Homer’s The Odyssey.
Athena also features prominently in The Iliad as she was intimately involved with The Trojan War. She competed with Hera and Aphrodite in the judgment of Paris where he declared Aphrodite the fairest, thus earning her gift of the love of Helen of Sparta, ultimately leading to the hostilities.
Troy was protected by the Palladion, a small statue of Athene that had fallen from the sky. Odysseus and Diomedes stole the Palladion allowing the Greeks to overcome the city. But Ajax raped the princess Kassandra in the temple of Athena within the city walls, earning Athene’s wrath and since the Greeks did not punish him suitably, Athene caused their ships to find trouble at sea.
Athene assisted Herakles in his labors.
Arakhne once boasted that she was a better weaver even than Athene and the Goddess challenged her to a weaving contest. Although Arakhne’s weaving was as good as Athene’s, the subject matter depicted on the tapestry was so disrespectful to the Gods that Athena turned her into a spider.
- Pallas Athene Possibly “Spear Brandishing” Athene, from the Libyan nymph Pallas
- Athene Polias Athene of the City
- Athene Ergane
- Athene Promachos Athene the first fighter. She who leads the battle.
- Athena Parthenos Athene the virgin
- Athene Atrytone Athene the unwavering
- Athene Glaukopis bright-eyed or silver-eyed Athene
- Athene Tritogenia Triton-born, sea-born OR trice-born or third born
- Athene Areia
- Athena Ageleia Athena the pillager, she who carries off the spoils
- Athena Hippeia Athena of the horses
- Athena Hygieia Athena the healer
Athene has been associated with the Roman Goddess Minerva, the Libyan and Egyptian Goddess Neith. Athena is often depicted in the company of the Goddess Nike.
Athena’s Symbols and Sacred Objects
- The owl – Athene is often pictured with an owl on her head. The owl is occasionally used in art to represent Athena. Some scholars believe that Athene was once an owl-shaped Goddess before she was anthropomorphic.
- The olive tree – The olive tree is Athene’s gift to humankind.
- The aegis – Athene’s shield is made from the skin of a giant and decorated with the fearsome head of a Gorgon.
- The Gorgon – The head of the Gorgon adorn’s Athena’s shield
- the Snake – Athene is often depicted in the company of a large snake which in art may represent female earth energy and wisdom
- The spear – Athene is often depicted carrying a long spear.
- The chariot – Athene is said to have invented the chariot.