In modern forms of paganism, the triple goddess is the idealized and symbolic representation of the sacred feminine forces. She is known as the triple goddess, because her naturally occurring forms are recognized as the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. The triple goddess is understood to be the counterpart to the male oriented Horned God, symbolized as Dionysus, Pan and by many other names.
The sacred feminine works in polarity with the masculine forces in the universe. Although some modern traditions worship the triple goddess as their main deity, such as Dianic Wicca. In fact, the conceptualization of a single goddess form representing the triple goddess is a relatively new idea for pagans. This concept is one that is mainly ascribed to by modern Wiccans and some other types of neopagan traditions.
Most ancient traditions saw the Earth Mother as a single deity, but revered her in her various aspects.
These ancient goddess cults did understand the idea of the Earth Mother as a multiplicity, yet this was not a primary focus of their nature worship. Their primary interest with the triple goddess concept involved following the cycles of the moon, as most traditions were using a 13 month lunar calendar to follow the harvests and seasonal tides.
The revival of the triple goddess in modern paganism, probably has more to do with integrating the modern 12 month Roman calendar into current rituals and harmonization with the natural cycles today.
There are a trio of authors are primarily noted as having inspired modern worship and veneration of the triple goddess. These authors are Robert Graves, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Marija Gimbutas. Each has been praised and discredited for their works, but still have been influential on most goddess oriented belief systems and current forms of paganism.
The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth by Robert Graves is perhaps the most important modern work concerning the triple goddess. Most scholars will credit Graves for his contributions to modern paganism. In this work, he unifies the ideas of lunar symbolism with the Maiden, Mother and Crone. Graves goes at great length to elaborate on the triple goddess imagery in many cultures, as he believed they were related to the sacred trinity of the feminine or the triple goddess. He also writes in detail about the triple goddess being the ultimate muse of all poetic works throughout literary history.
Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion by Jane Ellen Harrison is primarily responsible for linking the triple goddess to ideas of modern feminism. Harrison is famously quoted from this book, having said, "The matriarchal goddess may well have reflected the three stages of a woman's life." Harrison discusses many types of symbolism related to the triple goddess, these include the Horae, the Graces, the Fates, the chronological seasonal tides and the monthly moon phases. She was responsible for making myth and ritual an emphasis of anthropological study, leading to the founding of the Cambridge Ritualists school. Although today, much of her work is considered less than academically noteworthy.
The Civilization of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas is also an important text in historical triple goddess research. Gimbutas focused her research on goddess cultures throughout the old European periods from 6500-3500 BCE. Her ideas have been widely influential within the New Age and ecologically based pagan groups, being dubbed the Grandmother of the Goddess Movement during the 1990s. Gimbutas attempted to translate iconography from Neolithic times and earlier European history, as evidence of the triple goddess being worshiped. The triple goddess was broken down into the powers of death, birth and regeneration, for purposes of her representations of ancient folklore. She has been criticized by many scholars, but has still left an overtone of influence on modern neopaganism.
To most neopagans, the triple goddess is viewed as a long surviving archetype in the human consciousness. As the triple goddess pre-dates numerous religions that have incorporated similar symbolism over the centuries, like the Hindu goddesses, the feminine forms in Voudou, the Holy trinity of Catholicism and similar beliefs in modern forms of Christianity. This archetype reveals itself in many ways and as having multiple faces, thus individual goddess representations may be understood to be the original triple goddess today.
No matter what the interpretation, the triple goddess remains alive and well in modern paganism.
The Maiden, Mother and Crone are being worshiped in places all around the world, this is true in places like Phoenix and other parts of Arizona too. For a brief introduction to the three aspects of the triple goddess, please read about her primary aspects by clicking on the list links that follow this article. The information maybe old hat to some readers, but is as timeless as the triple goddess herself.
Let everyone find peace and harmony in honoring the triple goddess, so that she remains alive and active in your personal life everyday.