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filled her with lies a nd deceit. He na med the
beautiful young ma iden Pandora, meaning
all gifts, because each of the gods and
goddes ses had presented her with a gift, e ach
one a source of misery to mankind.
Zeus brought her to a place where men
gathered a nd all who ga zed upon her were
entranc ed by her beauty. Howe ver, Pandora
opened the jar which conta ined all the gifts ,
troubles, strife and diseases which beset
mankind. Only Hope remained in the jar.
As a result, Pandora, the first woman, was
blamed for all the troubles which beset
mankind. Hermes ,mes senger of the gods,
wa s instructed to “put in her breast, lies,
persua sive words a nd cunning ways.”
Young boys a nd girls in ancient times
were familiar with these stories and hence
encouraged to view the female as the cause
of e vil in the world.
These impressions have persisted e ven
up to the present day in our Western c ulture.
The devaluation of the feminine per vade s
our culture with countless image s of women
portrayed a s se xual objects . The Pandora
of the modern age, created by the new
god of media, is suffering in simila r ways.
Young women are encouraged to see only
the outward attractions of bea uty, being
abnorma lly thin with blemish-free skin as
their ultimate goal in life.
Many of these stories portray women
either as the cause of all the problems in the
world or as existing only to serve men and
their desires. Where is their voic e?
In Western societies , older women are
often referred to as hags and treated with
disre spect. The origin of the word hag is
from “holy” and in the medieval myths of
the Grail legend it is the true knight who
treats the ugly, old woman with respect and
in return receives help and guidance in his
sea rch for the Holy Grail. Robert Johnson
in his book Femininity Lost and Regained
discusses the importa nce of regaining the
feminine dimension in our lives.
A Crone godde ss who ha s received bad
press is Hec ate, the Greek moon goddes s of
the night. She is the triple godde ss, mother
of Demeter and grandmother of Persephone.
Hecate is depicted a s having three fa ce s,
standing at the crossroads of three roads,
able to see in all directions at the same time
and accompanied by three dogs. As wise
Crone, she brings protection, abundanc e
and success and earlier myths associate
Hecate with the Great Ea rth mother.
She represents the three phases of a
woman’s life which are closely connected
to the three phases of the moon; as maiden,
the wa xing moon, as mother the full moon,
a nd, a s crone, she represents the wa ning
moon who ca n descend into the darkness
a nd bring illumination into women’s lives.
Hecate’s demise is most evident in the
pers ecution of the witches, especially in the
witch hunts of the Middle Ages and the
Inquisition. Women who practised the gifts
of he aling, had knowledge of the medicina l
purposes of herbs a nd who maintained and
treasured their connection to the earth,
were tortured, reviled and, in many cases,
burnt at the stake. During the Middle Ages,
Hecate became known as the Queen of
Witche s, a diabolical influence on women
who practised magic, midwifery or any of
the healing crafts. For many years, women
were barred from universities, unable to
a ssist their sisters in the miracle of birth,
usurped from their natural role a s healer, a nd
the word witch bec ame synonymous with
evil. What freedom did innocent women
have to speak their truth during these times
Legend of Baba Yaga
Baba Yaga is the archetypal witch of Russian
folklore. Baba Yaga, the Boney-legged, lives
in a log cabin that moves around on spindly
chicken legs. Baba flies through the air in
a mortar, using the pestle as a rudder and
swe eps away the tracks behind her with a
broom made out of silver birch. The keyhole
to her front door is a mouth filled with
sharp teeth and the fence outside is made of
human bones with skulls on top.
She is usually portrayed a s a fearsome
witch who loves to devour children, but in
some stories she is a bene volent chara cter
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