Aries Goddesses: The Double Axe of Crete

Eva Krocher CC BY-SA 2.5-Labrys_Kettenanhänger

Labrys of Crete  (author Eva Krocher CC BY-SA 2.5)


“Courage is acting in spite of fear.”   Goddesses for Every Day

Aries is a Cardinal Fire sign that begins at Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, the time of equal day and night.  The character of Aries is the force of spring emerging out of the collective dissolution of the twelfth sign Pisces.  Aries is irresistible force, and represents the principles of resurrection and individualization, the symbolic point of all beginnings, and onset of the circle of the seasons.  Aries has traditionally been represented by the Ram, and its energy tends to be pioneering, initiating, headfirst, impulsive and adventurous.

The Goddess Sign for Aries is the Double Ax of Crete, called a labrys, a ritual implement that was wielded by a priestess.  The labrys was a symbol of royal power and was not a weapon, although it may have been an implement in the sacrifice of sacred bulls.  The word comes from the same root as labyrinth.  The earliest labyrinths were found in Southern Europe and date to 4,000 years ago, although the labyrinth at the Minoan site on the island of Crete is likely older.  Aries are pathfinders, and walking the sacred path of a labyrinth, wielding the Double Ax, seems a fit metaphor for the pioneers of the zodiac.  Aries goddesses include gentle goddesses of spring who embody new beginnings, the light of dawn, cyclical renewal of the Earth, and the rebirth of life.  In contrast, Aries goddesses are also pioneers who blaze new trails, courageous leaders and fierce warriors who have the will to do battle.  The quality of vision, enabling Aries to move forward in the direction of the new path, is vital.  Aries goddesses are independent, possessing a keen sense of adventure, and they understand that courage is acting in spite of fear.

Aditi, whose name means “limitless,” is the Hindu goddess who is clothed with the Sun.  She is said to be the self-formed Mother of Worlds.  She is sometimes seen as a cosmic cow that supplies milk that is a redemptive drink called amrita.  She gave birth to the twelve spirits of the zodiac, called Adityas, who are her children.  One of them rules each month.

Eostre, pronounced Yo-ster, is the Germanic goddess of spring.  She is also called Ostara, or Eastre, and her name is the origin of the world Easter. She is a goddess of dawn, rebirth and new beginnings. Her festival is celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring, when she is invoked at dawn with ritual fire that is seen to quicken the land.  Persephone is the Greek goddess of cyclical rebirth.  Each year when she returned to the surface of the earth from the Underworld, and was reunited with her mother Demeter, the world bloomed again.

Nike is the Greek goddess who embodies the idea of victory in every aspect of life, including athletics.  Because of this, designer Jeff Johnson, hired by footwear entrepreneur Phil Knight, recommended using her name.  The power of the ancient goddess manifested in the most successful shoe company ever.  Proving that size is not a measure of power, Nike was sculpted by the Greeks as a tiny winged figure.

Reindeer Goddess is a Siberian reindeer spirit and guardian of all newborns, especially those born in spring.  German archeologists discovered a complete female reindeer skull mounted on a seven-foot ritual pole that had fallen into an ancient sacrificial lake near Hamburg. Aged antlered females such as this were sacred to ancient tribes and their shamans.  Among ruminants such as deer, it is the elder females who become the pathfinders and leaders of the pack.

Gendenwitha is an Iroquois dawn goddess whose name means “she who brings the day.”  She is seen in the form of Venus as the morning star. Olwen is a Welsh goddess of spring and sunlight whose streaming yellow hair flows behind her like sunlight as she moves.  Her name means “white path,” and it is believed that she leaves a trail of white clover as she passes and awakens the meadows of spring.

Theia is one of the Titans, the powerful beings who preceded, and gave birth to, the Greek Olympians.  Her parents were Gaia and Ouranos, the earth and sky, and her name is generally translated as “goddess.”  Two of her children were Helios, the sun, and Selene, the moon—the lights of heaven.   Inanna is an ancient Sumerian goddess of love and wine, but also battle.  She was known as the “holy virgin,” which at that time, meant she was an independent goddess who never married.  She is often shown standing on two griffins, female mythical beasts with lion bodies and eagle wings.  Like other goddesses, Inanna made an annual descent into the underworld and a triumphant return.

Al Uzza was an early desert goddess of pre-Islamic Arabia, and part of a trinity of goddesses that includes Al Lat and Al Menat.  Her name means the “powerful one,” or “mighty one,” and she was worshipped as the morning and evening stars.  She was the young maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess and was shown as a mighty warrior riding astride a camel.

Eris is the Greek goddess of discord and strife.  Her mother was the primordial goddess Nyx, whose name means “darkness” or “night.”  Her name was translated into Latin as Discordia.  Her Greek opposite is Harmonia, whose Latin counterpart is Concordia.  True to her nature, she is now also the dwarf planet who caused the demotion of Pluto.  The Greek poet Hesiod describes two very different goddesses named Eris, or strife, in his Works and Days.  “So, after all, there was not one kind of Strife alone, but all over the earth there are two.  As for the one, a man would praise her when he came to understand her.  But the other is blameworthy, and they are wholly different in nature.”  The archaic definition of strife was earnest endeavor, which seems more like honest striving and healthy competition.  It is also like the friction that promotes growth.  Seen in this way, the principle of discord, or strife, is the motive force of growth that yields the pearl in the oyster.

As the time of the Aries goddesses begins at spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, we can choose to awaken from the quiet inner time of winter and emerge renewed. We may choose to do battle with our inner demons, finding strength and courage in the example of these goddesses.  Or, we might take the path of rebirth and plant the seeds that will blossom as the realization of our hearts’ desires.


Based on and excerpts from Goddesses for Every Day © 2010 by Julie Loar.   Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA