The Goddesses Disagree: Athena, Artemis, and Hecate

Athena, Velletri, 425 BC (Wikipedia)

“Do something that matters. Help transform the world, change the political situation, weave a tapestry or create a useful tool, write a book that teaches people how to be civilized and lawful. You can do it. Your mother raised you for this,” says Athena for the thousandth time with an impatient roll of her sky blue eyes.

“No, no, no!” says Artemis with angry tears flooding her cheeks. “Let me be with trees and wild things and walk with my dogs. I don’t want to deal with the politics of war or feel responsible to fix the human mess. I’m broken and lost in Athena’s urban world. Take me to the forest.”

Artemis, Leochares, 325 BC, Louvre

Athena Goddess of the Metropolis and Artemis Goddess of the Wild have argued in my head for years. When I was a girl, I was all Athena like my mother. Achieve, achieve, achieve. Get the best college board scores and the biggest scholarship. Be president of student council. Athena energy exhausts me now, but she persists.

When I grew older and met my husband, I saw the power of Artemis, although I didn’t know her name. I learned it is not a waste of time to watch a sunset or spend time in nature. I learned the power of the wild feminine in childbirth and nursing. After Vic’s death, I found animals and trees as comforting and constant as humans, but Athena was back with demands in a few years.

“I’m too tired to push,” I tell her now. She doesn’t give up easily. “Let me rest in nature. Don’t demand unreachable goals—always more, more, more. Artemis is my Goddess now.”

Hecate, William Blake, 1795, Creative Commons

As I listen to this endless inner conflict, I hear about the serious illness of my dear friend since 1967. With that startling information, Hecate, Goddess of the Night and Crossroads, swoops in to settle my conflict.

“Life and death matter,” says Hecate,” and love. You saw how little Vic’s achievements meant in the face of death. Remember those first years without him when you wept and did ritual every day, when you didn’t need to accomplish more than that? It’s time to BE and remember what you know. I’m the Goddess of the waning moon, at the end of the natural cycle. Your sick friend is in the waning of his life and so are you.

Evening New Moon (Artemis)

Waning Morning Moon (Hecate)











“It’s true and it’s hard,” I whisper.

“Your time on earth is precious and short,” says Hecate. “Honor Artemis, the crescent moon, as she watches over the forest. Make offerings to me, the waning moon at the crossroads of life and death.

“Forgive yourself for doubt and inner struggle when there’s no clear path ahead, but let go of Athena, even if she calls your name. Her goals are not yours. Not now. Let the lunar goddesses guide you through the pandemic night.”


Do you have inner voices that keep driving forward in a world that no longer exists? How are you handling the issues and conflicts of your new world? I feel for friends who have put out new books during this time or others who have started new businesses. They need to learn a whole new way to contact the world. The ambitious voice in me needs to be hushed for now, but I know she’s always waiting to help if I need hr. For another post about Artemis, see Lessons from Artemis: Goddess of the Wild. For a post about Hecate relevant to the politics of our time, see Have They Forgotten They Are Mortal? Lessons from Hecate.

  1. Dear Wise Woman, Teacher and Friend! Thank you so much for writing this post because I can resonate deeply with those argumentative Goddesses! For after spending three months gathering up and editing poems for my second collection, Athena two weeks ago, instructed me to gather my Animus Diet and Divine Hermaphrodite essays in order to, not only write a new lengthy post/poem, but then magically turn them into a new book … all by springtime!

    Artemis, quite understandably was/is outraged, following my quiet turning away from the world in order to birth to my second child! Wow Elaine! Thank you so much for helping me make more sense of what’s been going on for me too! I’m thinking Hecate has intervened by sending me down that rabbit hole … where instead of writing, I’m being told by Her to read, read and read some more before I am to meet with and learn from the great Goddess Sophia.

    Somehow, in this post I have found myself today and for that I am deeply grateful! In pure synchronicity I’m writing from my own sick bed where I’ve spent a few days now exhausted and recovering from heavy cold symptoms and sinusitis, unlike your dear friend whose life is waning. Perhaps the spring is too ambitious I tell Athena. She looks at me in Her knowing way and says, perhaps not spring, but it must be done! Deep sigh! Love and light, Deborah.

    • I love your response, Deborah. How do we get these archetypal goddesses to make peace with each other? For me, the bottom line is Hecate because of my age and the state of the world. I’m laughing at your Athena-within, not satisfied and wanting more with hard and clear deadlines. She is a war goddess, after all, but don’t we have enough of that? Artemis is my ally in resisting the pushing when I don’t have the will and can’t find a clear path, but hearing about my friend sent me down my own rabbit hole. It was a reminder of what matters which is day-to-day peace, gratitude, and honoring the gift of life. I can put down my weapons and let the process unfold in the dark of the waning moon. I like imagining that Hecate will guide us to Sophia with her torches lighting the path.

      I’m sorry you’ve been sick. I’m glad it’s not covid (again) and I’m glad you will recover. Pushing my projects when life feels so upsetting and unsure makes me sick, too. I tend to get hit in the belly so I had to fast on our Thanksgiving Day, but I’m recovering now. Let’s both hold our own with Athena who has many wonderful ideas but can be a little domineering and pushy. If we reason with her (How she loves Reason!), she’ll understand. A deep sigh from here, too, as I send you love and safety, as well as light to you and Lin. And a gentle slow pace.

      • Oh, I love imagining that Hecate will guide us both to Sophia with her torches lighting the path! Now there’s an image to swirl around in the darkness and bring forth the dreams. I can almost see Her torches lighting the way back up to the world above. However, as I’m cosy down here in my rabbit hole, I think I’ll stay and leave with Persephone in the spring, or beyond.

        Yes! Athena with her hard and clear deadlines, Artemis naturally resisting and Hecate showing us a third way. A third way that will lead us to Sophia. Thank you for the gift of your muse as finally I can see what’s been going on these past months. Wow! I’m definitely going to weave all this into whatever comes out of my own rabbit hole but for now … I’m nestling down!

        I’m so pleased to hear that you’re feeling better Elaine and listening to Artemis who loves you and cannot bear to see you, Her beloved child in pain. Yes, now is not the time, for too much blood has been split. Perhaps now is the time to bend our knees and follow Hecate down into her dark cave, where we can remember our promise before we came to honour the gift of life.

        My dear friend I write now in tears because of the wisdom, truth and beauty that you so willingly share with others. You are my inspiration and spurs! Perhaps, perhaps it was Sophia herself all those years ago that led me to you. In sisterhood and in soul, Deborah.

        • No spurs, Deborah. And no whips. I also won’t scold when a plan needs revision. You were there for me when I wrote “Wild Nights” which I have yet to offer to the world in a digestible form. It’s snowing here and cold, so it’s cave time. Last night had clear skies for a while, so I got a glimpse of the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction. They’re very close and will merge visually on December 21.

          First thing I do in the morning is take a walk to the forest with the dogs no matter how cold and windy it is–with a little whining and a sense of heroics. When I talk to others on line who can’t leave their homes, I’m grateful for all this space where I don’t have to wear a mask. All this space where I feel safe and protected in the forest. Yes to inspired sisterhood! With love and hope, E

  2. I think Apollo needs to add two cents worth. So I dug out this poem I wrote this Spring to share. Is it non-sequitur? No doubt, my apologies. Your post is so gorgeous, so full of wisdom and light, the reflected light of the moon.
    Fred Weiner

    The Light of Sense

    In the half light
    of early morning,
    my attention is on
    the blood-red glow
    behind closed eyelids;
    pressure steady on sitting bones;
    the pulpy side-to-side, out-and-in
    belly movement of breath.

    I wonder at this light,
    calling it “just physical,”
    familiar, nothing special,
    though after all, it is the sun
    filtered through atmosphere and glass
    that’s the source of it;
    I wonder at the infinite play of it,
    as when lemon tinged
    in a cloudless sky,
    it streaks the world’s rim
    at twilight, then sinks and dissolves
    as the mountains sing praises.

    Mystics say the core of it
    is the same as my own.
    I don’t know about that,
    but sense that should I act
    as if it were true,
    there would rise up
    a luminous world.

    • Your poems are always welcome, dear friend. I especially love the last stanza and the “as if” exercise. And the miracles and mercy of “just physical.” I get excited every clear night here when I can see Jupiter and Saturn moving closer and closer together. That must be an incredible vision in your AZ skies.

      Instead of meditating first thing in the morning, I pull on snow pants and insulated boots and tromp around in the cold with a few inches of snow. The dogs insist and it’s another kind of meditation for me. Sending you love, peace, light, and safety, Elaine

  3. I read a poem yesterday that expresses my thoughts on the conflicting forces which drain our energy: “Learning to Retire” by Marilyn MacEntyre. Here is an excerpt, perfect for the season of Advent:

    You are rich in all you have
    let go. Loss leaves fissures and scare, but now you know
    that preparation, and completion are the same. The day’s
    demands are permissions: Take the walk. Read another chapter.
    Offer yourself to the evening alone. Or take the road past
    banks of jasmine and wild grasses, between cliffs, across the bridge
    to where welcome awaits you. Home is not a place, but a way
    of being, knowing where to find the teabags and what to resume.

    I find comfort in the choosing and in the “letting go,” a challenge for a goal-driven personality like mine. May you find comfort in these sentiments and continued good health as the year wanes. Hugs!

    • Marian, I laughed with delight at this line: “knowing where to find the teabags…” I drink green tea and know where the tea bags and loose green are stored. I liked turning my personal conflict into goddess mythology. I’m not sure it worked for anyone else, but it worked for me. Hecate, the old Crone who watches us in the night, is the best for me now. I can’t seem to get any goals together and I’m not sure I’ll see my NC son at Christmas because of covid restrictions in his state and mine. It feels safest to ask him to stay home, put up a few Solstice/Christmas lights, and be grateful I’m not sick and a vaccine is coming in the future. I just have to make my way through the winter, but the beautiful birds at the feeder cheer me. Be well and be safe.

      • My children and their families live close by, but we didn’t get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas looks doubtful. I rejoice that you are not sick and a vaccine is coming in the future. Through this whole ordeal, nature seems unaffected, and I’m so grateful that the birdie at the feeder cheer you. 🙂

  4. Dear Elaine,

    Turning my personal conflicts into mythology — or, to say it the other way around, finding the myths that describe my conflicts — is, along with reflecting on my dreams, the way it works best for me. Seeing the tiny microcosm of my life reflected in the macrocosmic archetypes fills me with meaning and wonder and comforts and heals my soul, as it does for yours. I read a quote just yesterday on the internet which I can’t locate now, I think it might have been by James Hillman, that says this is exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. It was something about how the goal of therapy is to develop the soul and a sense of imagination. We have been doing our own therapeutic soul-making by accessing and finding meaning in the imaginative images of myths that show us the workings of our souls.

    I would like to think I could become conflict-free one day, if only on my death-bed, when death settles our conflicts once and for all. But until then, I expect we need these conflicts because they create the energy that keeps us going every day. Without some kind of friction between the opposites, there is no life. A new relationship with Hecate became the sacred third, the new life and comforting resolution that your conflict brought to mind. Her words are very wise, indeed: “Forgive yourself for doubt and inner struggle when there’s no clear path ahead….Let the lunar goddesses guide you through the pandemic night.”

    Thank you for sharing them here. With love, Jeanie

    • Jeanie, your book ‘The Soul’s Twins’ is here on my desk and I’m re-reading. Since I’d read it once a while back, I put up an Amazon review, but I need to read and reflect on the ideas again and see where they take me at this confusing time. I know I’ll make new inner discoveries.

      About archetypal realm, have you listened to ‘What’s Happening in the Stars Right Now’ by Rick Tarnas? You probably know his book ‘The Passion of the Western Mind.’ He taught at California Institute of Integral Studies and is a gifted mythologist, astrologer, and philosopher. He gives a context for what we’re going through at this time of paradigm shift: Tarnas has a unique perspective that gives me hope.

      I don’t imagine myself becoming conflict-free–as I once thought was possible. I also once imagined I’d reach a state of enlightenment in this lifetime. Ha! So now I’m happy to muddle along with my dreams and mythology and other inner work mixed with a few daily walks in the fields and forest. I remember the beauty of winter flowers in FL and I rely on the sky and birds for color now. I look forward to reading what you wrote about Sophia. Marion Woodman found the Divine Feminine in Sophia and it connected to her strong Christian roots. I’m struggling with holiday time as many people are since I don’t think it’s safe for my son to travel here and I’m concerned about covid levels in his area of North Carolina. How odd it will be to spend Solstice without a family gathering, but I can still light candles and hang a few lights and ornaments. Blessings to you and your family. May you be safe and well, Elaine

  5. A deep sigh of gratitude and appreciation from my side Elaine and for the fulsome responses from others. For me it’s a strange time, being as I am here in my own old home up on the highveld. We were due to return to Plettenberg Bay this coming Sunday but clearly life had other plans and now we’re leaving for home on Sunday next week by when as much as possible will be completed here in Johannesburg. I can only trust in the process of up and down, plans changing. While all is happening, and it’s been far too busy, I’m taking any opportunity I can to rest and be restored instead of doing all sorts of other things that need my attention. The extra week means I can pace myself better. I had my first summer swim this very afternoon. O it was refreshing!

    I hadn’t thought of where I am with regard to Artemis and Hecate and I am grateful that this has been articulated by you. I resonate with this and I’m allowing Hecate to take the lead. Two friends recently died from Covid related illnesses in Plettenberg Bay – they shouldn’t have … I really don’t like ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ but really they shouldn’t have. A great loss to the arts community … so this gives me more to ponder and digest and value the small things that bring so much. I hope you’re feeling tons better. Love, Susan

    • Susan, any chance for rest and restoration–and refreshment–seems the right thing to do. I’m so sorry to hear about your friends in Plettenberg Bay. I’m with you. They shouldn’t have died! Our governments could have honored Mother Nature and followed the advice of medical experts. We did a terrible job in this country and I quake every time I read some still think covid is a hoax. The dark side of the unconscious has won at a time when we needed enlightened leadership, and the damage is horrifying.

      I’m feeling physically better and the sun is shining behind thin clouds today, but yesterday I faced that my son in North Carolina will not visit here this December. I’d rather have our Solstice ritual online than have either of us get sick. The ICU beds are nearly full in his area and covid is raging. I worry about him every day although he’s careful, but there is always risk. I’m relieved he won’t travel and sad I won’t see him for holidays this year, but I hope it won’t be too long. We should have put Athena in charge of the government covid plan. She would have done it right.

  6. I think that I hardly can add something as I read the comments of Deborah. (we might both appreciate her for looking out of her cosy hole, again and again, to send us such a love and light. Even when she is sick.) There is no doubt that I learn by your wisdom whenever I read something from you. And surely it will be an endless school season for me.

    • Thank you, Aladin. I hope Deborah is well now, but it’s wonderful to hear from her or you any time. I’m glad you learned a little more about Greek mythology from this piece. It helped me clarify the inner arguments that happen–especially when so much time is spent alone. Blessings and safety to you.

  7. I tell you, my dear friend, that I have learned and am learning a lot from your writings. That is an appreciation for me, and I am very grateful to have you both as my friend and teachers. Therefore, you will never be alone. Be safe and tuned.

    • Thank you, Aladin. I also appreciate your writing and love of mythology and Jung. Be safe and healthy across the sea. Someday we’ll be on the other side of this pandemic year.

  8. Oh, Elaine, this post is so beautifully written, and I love not only reading it, but also the responses from the poets who so faithfully follow you. Deborah gave words to what I was feeling:
    “I write now in tears because of the wisdom, truth and beauty that you so willingly share with others. You are my inspiration!”
    as did Fred:
    “Your post is so gorgeous, so full of wisdom and light, the reflected light of the moon.
    It resonates wonderfully for me to turn my personal conflict into goddess mythology.
    Artemis and Hecate are my guides now, and I continually work to let go of Athena pushing me beyond my limits. This chronic illness saps me of so much energy and functionality in the outer world, which is what I was so identified with for over 60 years. I am imagining a ritual where I can thank Athena for all she pushed me to do (and for her willingness to step in when necessary, while also making offerings to Hecate.
    I am sorry to hear about the illness of your dear friend, as well as the fact that your beloved NC son will not be joining you for Christmas. There is always so much sadness to hold, especially now, and giving it over to the lunar goddesses allows me to let go and breathe more deeply.
    Sending solstice blessings your way,

    • Thank you, Anne. You make me grateful and inspire me to keep writing my posts every other week. I always find goddess stories helpful as I try to understand myself and life. That Athena drive has persisted since I was a kid. I think she’s finally backing off now that the constant fatigue of Meniere’s Disease (my chronic illness) makes it clear I can’t rise to her high expectations now. I love your idea of creating a ritual to thank Athena. And it’s always good for me to include Hecate.

      There is so much sadness–more and more as I/we get older. I need to remind myself repeatedly that my family is making small sacrifices and we’re OK and my sons are healthy. Others are not doing well and many haven’t survived this pandemic, plus there are more deaths ahead. I don’t want to be morose, but remembering keeps my struggles in perspective. Thank you for your kind comments, Anne, and your solstice blessings which I send also to you. Unless the weather forecast changes drastically, it will be cloudy here tomorrow night, but I saw Jupiter and Saturn sparkling two nights ago and I’ll see their exact conjunction the way we experience so much these days: on line!

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