Triple Goddesses: Philosophy
Earth Goddesses helped to define ancient gynocentric philosophy and religion. For Paleolithic and Neolithic women, the Earth Goddess was often fashioned as three deities, each serving a separate but related purpose. In ancient Europe, there are many examples of triple Goddesses, like the Fates, the Furies, the Graces, the Hours, the Matres and Matronae, and other such figures. The Ancient Greek Hecate, a three headed goddess of Thracian origin, guards crossroads.
There were local and practical uses of the Triple Earth Goddess, for example, as protector of families, an aid to midwives, and having a good time. Significantly, the Triple Earth Goddesses were used to define and support females' three roles as maiden, mother and crone. This female life-cycle motif was widespread across the world.
The Triple Earth Goddesses also represented female notions of their environment, of the Earth, ground and sky, the seasons, and astronomical events, such as the waxing, full and waning moon. There were also ontological meanings attached to the Triple Earth Goddesses.
They were endowed with female beliefs concerning birth, life and death and viewed as 'spinners' of the destiny of nonhuman and human animals. Death was part of a cycle of sex, birth, death, and rebirth, in which the Goddess reclaimed what was hers to give, and in which sex played a mysterious but central part.
Many of the meanings and philosophies transcribed to the Triple Earth Goddesses were inter-connected. For example, the seasons were part of a female life-cycle, with Spring as birth, Summer as maiden, Fall as mother, and Winter as crone. Robert Graves regarded the Triple Goddess of Birth, Love and Death as the continuing muse of all true poetry and speculatively reconstructed her ancient worship.
Earlier, Joan Harrison noted that Greek religion has a number of triple forms, or Women-Trinities. These gynocentric Goddesses may have reflected the three stages of a woman's life. Harrison wrote, “First it should be noted that the trinity-form was confined to the women Goddesses... of a male trinity we find no trace."
In psychology, the Triple Goddess as an archetype is discussed in the works of Carl Jung and Carl Kerényi, and the later works of their follower, Erich Neumann who argues that the Fates were "the threefold form of the Great Mother."
Jung suggested that the archetypal mother was a part of the collective unconscious of all humans. Ernst Whitmont suggests mother imagery underpins many mythologies, and precedes the image of the paternal father in many religious systems.v Kerényi argued that several Greek Goddesses were triple moon Goddesses of the Maiden-Mother-Crone type, including Hera and others.
Kerényi writes, "With Hera the correspondences of the mythological and and cosmic transformation extended to all three phases in which the Greeks saw the moon: she corresponded to the waxing moon as maiden, to the full moon as fulfilled wife, to the waning moon as abandoned withdrawing women".
In Mesopotamian theology, there is a Goddess triad of Inanna, Ishtar and Astarte; and, that of Qetesh, Astarte, and Anat. In Egypt, there are the Lion-headed Goddesses, Hathor, Bast and Sekhmet. And a Goddess triad of Hathor for Birth, Nephthys for Death, and Isis for Rebirth, is common.
In ancient Arabian religion, there was a triad of al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat. In South Asian mythology, there are three Mother Goddess, Parvati, Durga, and Kali. In Celtic mythology, there are Elaine as the Virgin, Margawse as the Mother, and Morgan as the Crone.
The Fates were three European mythological Goddesses. In ancient Roman religion and myth, the Parcae were the female personifications of destiny, often called the Fates in English. The Parcae were Nona, Decima and Morta.
Nona spun the thread of life from a stick onto her spindle. Nona was supposed to determine a person's lifespan on the day on which the name of the child was chosen, which occurred on the ninth day from birth for a male and the eighth day for a female. Decima measured the thread of life with her rod, and Morta cut the thread of life and chose the manner of a person's death.
The Fates or Moirai of Greek mythology were Clotho the spinner, Lachesis the allotter, and Atropos the unturnable. The Sudice are the "Fates" of Slavic mythology - spirits that meted out fortune, destiny, judgment and in some cases, fatality, when a child was born. One story is of three old women spinners who approach cradles of every newborn child, and foretell their fate.
The Norns, the Fates of Norse mythology were Urðr of the past, Verðandi of the present, and Skuld of the future. The three Norse Mother Goddesses were Freyja, Frigg and Skaði. There were also related female deities in Germanic paganism.
In Greek mythology, the Erinyes also known as Furies, were female underworld deities of vengeance. They were sometimes referred to as 'infernal Goddesses.' They are called Furies in hell, Harpies on Earth, and Dirae in heaven.
Grace is one of three or more Goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, and fertility, together known as the Charities or Graces. The usual list, from youngest to oldest is Aglaea for Splendor, Euphrosyne for Mirth, and Thalia for Good Cheer.
The Horae or Hours, were the Greek Goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. They were Thallo, Auxo and Carpo, who were Goddesses of nature. Horae could also be Eunomia, Diké, and Eirene, who were law-and-order Goddesses. The Matres and Matronae were female deities venerated in North-West Europe from the 1st to the 5th century AD.