According to a lot of Wiccan traditions, the Goddess takes a three-fold form, known as the Triple Goddess. Her aspects, known as the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, are aligned with the phases of the Moon’s cycle as it orbits the Earth-the waxing crescent, the Full Moon, and the waning crescent. These aspects are also the three phases of a woman’s life in terms of physical reproduction which is before, during, and after the body’s ability to have a child.
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What are the origins of the triple goddess?
The Mother, Maiden, and Crone is not the only way to connect with this symbol. There are are some other meanings of the Triple Goddess symbol. Although numerous evidences support the theory of the origin of the triple goddess, many think documentation can be found much earlier in our history.
A variety of other who practicing Pagans and practicing Wiccans have also found clues that point to a Triple Goddess well before Graves’ time. Let have a look at a quick synopsis of my current understanding of the links from the past to our present Triple Goddess.
- The Goddess Hecate was depicted in sculpture as three Goddesses in one, in the 5th century BCE.
- From the time through the 2nd century CE a huge range of texts were found that reference triads of Goddesses and different phases of life, though none explicitly link them to the moon. Demeter, Persephone, and Hecate are all mentioned. See Halstead’s article for writings from some of these texts.
- According to some scientific theory, the 3rd century CE Demeter is associated with the moon and two different phases.
- In the 4th century CE, a full connection is made between the moon and the Triple Goddess in a text by Servius. You can check out the translated excerpt in part 3 of Halstead’s writings.
The Maiden aspect make even with the crescent-to-waxing phase of the Moon and represents the youthful phase of a woman’s life. This is also the time of growth, reflected by the waxing of the Moon as it moves toward fullness. Based on the cycles of Nature, the Maiden is associated with dawn, sunrise, and the Spring season.
The Maiden is known as the representation of beauty, fresh potential, and new life. In human beings, she is associated with the qualities of innocence, youth, self-confidence, intelligence and independence, and activities relating to exploration, discovery, self-expression, and creativity. Wiccans used to worship the Maiden in the form of the Greek goddesses Persephone and Artemis, the Celtic Rhiannon, and/or the Nordic Freya, among others.
At the Full Moon, the Maiden becomes the Mother who gives birth to all of the abundances on Earth. She is related to midday, and her season is Summer, the lushest time of year, with forests and fields flourishing and young animals growing into maturity. In the human empire, she is associated with nurturing, responsibility, adulthood and the fullness of life.
As the giver of life, she has a great connection with manifestation. In reality, the Mother is considered by many Wiccans to be the most powerful of the Goddess’ three aspects, and it was a “Mother Goddess” archetype that inspired Gerald Gardner’s vision of the divine feminine. Goddesses who are known as the Mother at many Wiccan altars take in the Greek Demeter and Selene, the Roman Ceres, and the Celtic Danu and Badb.
According to the Moon wanes and the darkness of the night sky grows, the Crone steps into her power. The Crone is the wise elder aspect of the Goddess and governs aging and endings. It also stands for the death and rebirth, and past lives, as well as transformations, visions, prophecy, and guidance.
Despite the fear as an archetype for millennia, she is the one who reminds us that death is part of the life cycle, just as the Moon's dark phase precedes the New Moon. The Crone is often stood for goddesses associated with death and the underworld, such as the Greek Hecate, the Russian Baba Yaga, and the Celtic Morrigan and Cailleach Bear.
The Triple Goddess is also indeed a diverse and complex expression of the divine feminine. She provides constant opportunities to learn and grow through connecting to her three aspects for those who worship her. Whether you identify the ancient goddesses as aspects of the Triple Goddess, or simply honor the Maiden, Mother, and Crone archetypes, you can make a conscious effort to align your worship with the cycles of the Moon for an even deeper, more rewarding spiritual connection.
Why wear or use these symbols?
Wear the Triple Goddess symbol can be a powerful reminder throughout your day to your connection to the divine feminine and all it represents. I enjoy wearing the symbol for its the remainder of the constant flow of life, birth, death, rebirth. Using the symbol on your altar or in sacred space can help call in this same energy.
If you’re looking for a wearable reminder of the Triple Goddess, you can check out the wonderful collection in Witchcraft 101 here.