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Ways of Worship: Athena

Hellenic Witch/Wiccan Worship of Athena

Athena is the Goddess of wisdom/knowledge, handicraft (crafts), and war/battle strategy. She is the daughter of Zeus and has no mother. The myth says Zeus had a severe migraine so he split open his head and out came Athena. Another variation is that she was banging her spear which caused the migraine or that she split his head open with the spear. No matter the lore Athena is one of the maiden or virgin Goddesses. This is largely contributed to the fact that Zeus didn't have sex to create Athena, instead having been created by thoughts or knowledge. Since she is a maiden Goddess. She has no children birthed from her, however, she does have an adoptive son Erichthonius of Athens. Her Roman form is Minerva. Athena resides on Mount Olympus and is one of the 12 Olympians. 

Most people know the lore of how Athens got its name; which is one of her more popular myths that inevitably comes up whenever we talk about geography, history, or the Gods. The myth I want to talk about is possibly one of the most widely controversial other than the marriage of Persephone. This is the myth of Medusa. Medusa is known as the most popular Gorgon sister and is often featured in stories like Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympian's series or the story of Perseus as the villain. While it's true she has a head full of snakes that turns people to stone and is told to be pretty ugly, in most tellings of the myth, is she actually the bad guy we make her out to be? 

WARNING: This myth talks about sexual assault if anyone may be triggered by this please skip over it or look up the myth of Athens. 

Let's take it back. Medusa was a beautiful young priestess who served in the Temple of Athena in Athens. She took a vow of chastity to honor the maiden Goddess she served. Her only real crime was her beauty and youth as Poseidon lusted heavily after her. To satisfy this he raped Medusa in Athena's temple thus breaking her vow. Medusa prayed to the Goddess and when Athena heard this she transformed the girl into a hideous monster with serpents for hair who's gaze would turn any mortal to stone. 

Many see this as Athena being angry at the broken vow and dishonor the act brought to her temple. As some legends go Athena blamed Medusa and created this transformation to punish and shame her into hiding. Others say this was an act of mercy. Medusa now had the power to protect herself from those who wished her harm and if that wasn't enough her hideousness would scare people away and stop anyone from raping her again. In modern times we have found that the second option is more likely as the symbol of Medusa was often used as an apotropaic* symbol.  It was also frequently found in what was considered an ancient women's shelter for abuse. She became a sign of power and protection even being featured on Zeus and Athena's shields. 

*Apotropaic: having the influence to avert evil and bad luck, a symbol of protection. 

Altar, Offerings, and Symbols

General Symbols: Sun, golden shield and helmet, spear, spindle, bowl, intertwined snakes, the Parthenon, the seven auras, and the number seven

Animals: Owl, dove, ram, eagle, tiger, leopard, and other cats

Plants: Geranium, tiger lily, oak, cypress, olive tree, Hellebore (Christmas and Lenten roses), and citrus trees

Gemstones/Metals: Onyx, ruby, star sapphire, turquoise, gold, lapis lazuli, and ivory

Color: Gold, orange, yellow, emerald green, and royal blue

Scents: Patchouli, dragonÍs blood, musk, indigo, orange blossom, cinnamon, and cedarwood

Prayer

Things to pray for are wisdom, knowledge, help with school work, helpful study tips that work for you, patience in crafts/education, battle strategy, guidance in an area of study, inspiration, guidance in your craft, and help in war. Don't forget that Athena believes in knowledge gained through hard work. If you walk into a test having done nothing to prepare for it but pray for good grades and the correct answers she probably won't help you. 

Invocation 
Athena, strong and beautiful—Ancient Warrior,
come enwrapped in your winged power.
Call upon your heartsong to open the skies.
Spread rainbow light across sea cliffs.
Cloaked in power, raise the sun,
piercing the gray mist at dawn.
Athena, oh great one! who defies time and challenges the form.
Free the words in our story and hold the ideal as our voice.
With the courage of a sacred warrior,
offer our hearts as a painted vessel to the heavens.

Prayer for Wisdom
Clear-eyed Athena, unrivaled in wisdom,
daughter of Zeus and Metis whose craft and wit
excelled among the mighty Titans: Athena,
I pray to you. Wise in all things you are, goddess;
your cunning and guile are well known. In time of war
you have no equal in tactics or in strategy;
many armies have you guided to victory.
In time of peace your blessings fall on those whose work
is of the mind–friend of the philosopher,
the scientist, the student. Advisor of kings,
patron of clever heroes and bold-hearted
adventurers, defender of the thinker,
mistress of reason and understanding, goddess
to whom a strong arm and a sharp sword are nothing
without the sense to wield them well and the insight
to know when words are worth more than weapons.
Athena, grant me a sound mind and steady temper,
bless me with good judgment, show me the long view.

Prayer
Athena, Goddess of Courage and Wisdom
Lend me Your Strength.
Help me slay my demons with kindness,
My adversaries with wit.
In doing so, I honor them as well as myself.
In this I pray,
Thank you Athena!

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