A Compilation of the Bear Goddesses put together by
Phoenix of Elder Mountain with personal writings intermixed.
Artemis, Artio, Bendis, Callisto, Hekate, Merope, Mielikki, Mi’kmaq Bear, Ursel and Vanth
“You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence.” When we heard this, we were filled with rage,we began crying out, saying “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”…
The name “Temple of Hadrian” is not really accurate, it is more a monument than a temple, and was dedicated to Artemis and the people of Ephesus. The temple was partially destroyed in the 4th century, and it was during the course of restorations that the four decorative reliefs were added to the lintels of the interior of the porch. In 381, the Christian Emperor Theodosius outlawed pagan cults throughout the empire. Not long after this, a curious relief was added to the so-called Temple of Hadrian and shows the great anti-pagan campaigner Theodosius and his family accompanied by gods including Artemis of Ephesus, Athena and Selene, this is when the first marketing of the feminine was used against the feminine.
BEAR SYMBOLISM Nations around the world…
Hibernating Bear Symbolism
Autumn & Winter (Season of Night)
Introspection and Inaction
Subconscious Soul (not
Awakening Bear Symbolism
Spring and Summer (Season of Fire)
The cities of Ephesus, Cyme, Myrine and Smyrna were founded by the Amazons which was an Artemis tradition according to tradition. The temple of Artemis in Ephesus is attributed to Otrere, the queen of the Amazons who raised it for the first time. Ephesus, some recall, was at some point called Smyrna, being so named after an Amazon Smyrna, who took possession of the city. Later the city Smyrna was founded from Ephesus by emigrants from this city. Because of Ephesus and because of their customs, the Amazons are regarded as worshipers and high priestesses of Artemis, a goddess who may assume different forms in its ancient shamanic traditions.
The once great shaman women of prehistory, buried under the piles of great destruction of writers, words, language and lastly Universities, had forsaken our grandmother ancestor’s destroyed, hidden and then evtually forgotten past, whose shamanic cultures and dream cultures before them, had faded into obscurity. Grandmother’s leadership had retained the connections of animism, dream walking and nature’s primal soul and astral gifts when our souls were all one with nature, the ocean, the real magic of mother earths consciousness that even the indigenous have forgotten in the ways of fully living it. This is what a sun cult after 3,000 years can do.
As we wake up to reclaim our birth rites as souls that are in bondage, some of us have pushed through all the obsticales and karma to walk agian on the dream planes of earth without seperation from our life here.
She Bear CALLISTO
In the evolution of the Goddess, Callisto’s attributes were handed over to Artemis and the quote above, Riot in Ephesus was long after writing was established. There are a few clues left in the writings such as Callisto is a pre-Hellenistic Goddess when Arcadia was invaded by the Greeks who had already destroyed their earlier grandmother cultures, and was regarded as a great She Bear only to be reduced to the lowest status of a Nymph.
Merope who was one of the seven sisters of the Pleiades was also all reduced to Nymphs and its interesting that two she bear goddesses would have that in common from completely different eras.
Callisto becomes a Bear, then a Constellation
The wife of the great Thunderer had long known this [that Jupiter ravished Callisto] but she deferred her grave punishment for an appropriate time. There was now no reason for delay, and the boy Arcas (at this very thing Juno felt pain) was born of his mistress. To this she turned both her eyes and her ferocious mind.
“Of course, that’s all that was left, adulteress,” she said, “for you to be fertile, and for my injury, by his birth, to become known, and my husband Jove’s shame to be proven. You will not go unpunished. I shall take away your beauty, with which you please yourself and please my husband, unruly girl.”
She spoke, and grabbing her in front by the hair flung her face down on the ground. The girl stretched out her arms in supplication. Her arms began to bristle with black shaggy hair, her hands to curve and grow into hooked claws and to function as feet, and the face once praised by Jove to be deformed by broad gaping jaws.
And lest prayers or prayerful words might move his spirit,
the ability to speak is snatched away.
An angry threatening voice full of
terror proceeds from a hoarse throat.
Her old mind, nevertheless, remained in
her, though she was made a bear,
and with constant moaning attested to her grief
and raised her hands, such as they were, to sky and stars
and felt, though she could not speak, the ungratefulness of Jove.
Ah! how often, not daring to
repose in lonely woods,
she wandered before her home
in fields that once were hers!
Ah! how often she was driven
among the rocks by the barking of dogs
and, though a huntress, fled
terrified in fear of hunters!
Often she hid when she saw wild
beasts, forgetting what she was,
and, though a bear, shuddered in the
mountains at the sight of bears
and feared wolves, although her father
[Lycaon, “Wolf-Man”] was among them.
Behold, the descendant of Lycaon, ignorant of his parent,
Arcas arrives, having reached almost fifteen years.
While he followed the wild beasts, while
he selected suitable woodlands, and surrounded
the Erymanthian forests with closely tied hunting nets,
he happened upon his mother, who stopped still at the sight of Arcas,
and seemed like one who recognized him. He shrank back
at the unmoving eyes endlessly fixed on him and was afraid,
unable to understand, and as she tried to come closer
he was about to fix her breast with his wound-making spear.
The Omnipotent One prevented him
and at the same time removed
both them and the crime; at the same time
snatching them on wind through the void
he placed them in the sky and made
them neighboring stars.
In the late 14th century, Nymph was explained as a class of semi-divine female beings from the Old French nimphe (13c.), from Latin nympha “nymph, demi-goddess; bride, mistress, young woman.” The Greeks felt that if they could remove power from the adult women (mothers) and the grandmothers (spiritual leaders) and put the maiden on the throne, he would have full power in society and he was right, it worked because maidens are in love with love and are not powerful like adult women and grandmothers. From the Greek nymphe (which means “bride, or young wife”) was transformed later to “beautiful young woman,” then lastly removing part of her humanness into idol “semi-divine being in the form of a beautiful maiden.”
Even the stories like Sedna and Blackfoot Bear woman are about loss of her traditions that died when the bondage of marriage created great limitation of expression of the greater self, the warrior self, the death and rebirth self the divine ceremonial powers of spiritual leadership of tribe and clan of woman. In Latin its called nubere “to marry, wed” and most women scholars know that the subjugation of bondage a female culturally to marriage and children in the maiden stage, rather than the adult stage.
The great she bear shaman women had lost the ability to protect children, even though some of what was left of Callisto, her own attributes were given over to the Greek goddess Artemis such as the owl, the bear, the moon and the huntress of the great forest. Then she became a nymph who eventually faded away into a much later story called myth and fairy-tales.
Callisto was always the powerful Bear Shaman woman and her powerful medicines of healing, of fierceness when it comes to protection of clan and tribe, of boundaries and making sure children protected, her rituals and rites hidden away from the rising kingdoms couldn’t be hidden forever and then, eventually they were forbidden and then forgotten that women were even the majority of shamans in every culture on earth. Those of us who reemerged into our living memories (visions) and dreams of our greatest ancestresses, their magical wisdom and their connection to mother earth as an indigenous cultures of red, black, white, brown and yellow peoples are very slowly re-emerging.
She Bear of the SAAMI
In the shamanic folklore of the Sami and other members of their language group, such as the Mansi and Khanty peoples of Russia, there is a creation myth of a human woman is a bear and she was the wise elder of the Sami. Then later in the evolution when shaman women were pushed out, she marries a bear and the reindeer from there forth, takes more importance as the shamanic animal. The bear is the prehistoric connection of women and shaman and she is usually a divinity born of the Goddess Mielikki.
Mielikki is a Finnish Goddess of Forests and mother of Nyyrikki and Tuulikki, a central deity in the creation of the bear and the women of the bear ancestry. Mielikki is known as a skillful healer who heals animals through her women and she has given woman the wisdom of the healing herbs. Her name is derived from the old Finnish word mielu which means luck. Mielikki gave the bear her claws and teeth in exchange for a promise to never harm humans, but this is a newer tale, one that is pagan, not shamanic, for humans do have bear souls and the human and bear soul can merge into one if the shaman is pure and powerful enough.
Bear worship doesn’t mean they worshiped bears as archaeologist as scientist suggest, no, its quite the contrary. Bear in shamanism means “animism”, where the woman or man has a human soul and a bear soul and can shape shift into either. The human soul lives inside the body, the bear soul within the bear and then the two can merge allowing the woman to roam as a bear. Nature and woman were never separated from her beginnings and could do this and some rare female shamans can do this today. Now even the rarest and purist shamans on earth spend a lifetime reattaining their animism souls.
Where the idea of worshiping animals or sacrificing animals come from? There was a period of time when early paganism still connected to the shaman cults certain had partial understandings, but that pretty much ended in the 3rd century bce. After that, certainty of humans falling asleep in a slow force of aggression and war that destroyed the indigenous, especially whites in the early years and by the 8th century almost all connection to previous indigenous whites were interfered with and at worse, corrupted.
In early Chinese and Ainu cultures, as well (Iomante) they too have Bear Shaman women, bear mothers as a creation story. Koreans in their folklore identify the bear as their ancestor and symbolic animal. According to the Korean legend, a god imposed a difficult test on a she-bear; when she passed it, the god turned her into a woman and married her. So much of the ancient artifacts, shamanic artifacts and archaeological objects of woman’s past, found over the last thousand years or two since writing was invented and woman was not allowed to learn to write or read, her story became a tool for power. Many mythologies which were women and goddesses were simply changed into male and the she bear was not immune to the change.
She Bear HECATE
Hecate’s wheel is a symbol which represents a woman’s whole life, symbolized as the Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Wise Elder. This labyrinth-like symbol has it’s origins in Greece where Hecate is known as a Guardian of the crossroads, which is older in story than the evolved pagan goddess of magic, witchcraft and sorcery. Cross roads meant to keep the demons, shadows and dark ones in the underworld, not to play around with them, even if in this incarnation your in a healing or mystics journey.
Goddess of the new moon Hecate, huntress of demon souls and ghosts who roam the crossroads (the veil in-between this middle world and the underworld), and a Goddess who had small household shrines, erected to ward off evil, not to welcome them into your body or your space. She was a benevolent deity and thus the Christians and Pagans both turned her into a malevolent power. Those who heal as women, especially in their late 40s until their crone or wise woman stage see this very clearly through experience, not knowledge of whats been handed down to us about Hecate.
Hecate is honored each November 30th at the festival of Hecate Trivia. The word Trivia originally refers to the Latin term for a place where “three roads meet,” which is you in your mundane life, and the demonic soul of karma in the underworld and the veil in-between both. In Hecate’s symbolism at a higher level rather than personal, is the symbols of the Waking World, the Dreaming Worlds and the In-between Worlds (between both waking and sleeping). Her most important cults were those of the Island of Samothrake, where she was worshiped as Goddess of the Mysteries.
Hecate, Artemis and Selene are one goddess in her triple form. She is the only rival to Venus who swept and assumed the diverse goddesses and turned them into love-maiden goddesses, loosing the mother and grandmother triplicity and its powers.
Artemis is known as the Goddess of the Triple Aspect because she has three identities: Artemis is the Huntress (Earth form and exorcist or demon huntress), Selene, Goddess of the Moon (Night) and Hecate, Goddess of the Death and Rebirth aspects of life (underworld).
Goddess of Mystery meant the great teachings for millions of years were not shared with men and were taught by grandmothers. Dionysus cults corrupted and stole the great teachings through the weaker of the tree stages of woman: The Maiden. Then Apollo and Dionysus under the pagan men corrupted it even further with black sex magic with the maiden. It was then, the maiden then turned her back on the grandmothers and thus the mothers were caught in the middle and destroyed.
The older pre-pagan cultures were women cultures of fire and leadership, so the fire goddesses like Bendis, Vesta, Durga and Sehkmet were extremely important as an older archaic culture of prehistory and fell under the dark goddess realms. In classical sculptures, Hekate was depicted in one of two ways: a woman holding twin torches (light bearer Goddess like Thor or Uranus); or as three woman standing back to back representing the fates and the three stages of womanhood. According to Pausanias, Alkamenes who was the first sculptor to portray her in the Triformis style of his art. There is a good example of an Hekate Trimorphis in the Vatican Museum and also one in Antiquities Museum of Leiden.
Pindar, Paean 2, Greek lyric 5th Century bce:
“It was the first of the month when this befell, and the gracious Hekata, was thereby sending us a message that was longing for fulfillment.” Offerings of fire were made to Hekate making her a Fire Goddess on the morning of the new moon and in some cultures on the full moon with moon cakes and fire (torches). According to fragmentary texts of the Chaldean Oracles, Hecate is connected to a maze which spiraled, connecting her to the serpent, but the mazes were associated with dances, not serpents.
Ancient women’s cultures included the symbolism of the serpent as healing, but this maze of Hecate’s was known as the “Stropholos of Hecate” or whats termed now as Hecate’s wheel, and what I call that ties it all together “Hekate’s Fire Wheel” referring to the leadership and power of woman in both knowledge and life and today, the Slavs and Balkans still have their fire wheels at the winter solstice in modern paganism.
Traditionally, the Hecate Maze has a Y in the middle, rather than the typical X shape found at the center of most labyrinths. Her wheel has been found in the 1st century c.e. on tablets, although there seems to be some question about whether the wheel shape itself as Hecate’s domain or that of Aphrodite, my intuition says they are Aphrodite because Venus/Aphrodite replaced all grandmother goddesses including Hecate.
Most of the classics link Hecate and Artemis Callisto together as Moon Goddesses, one a maiden and one a grandmother elder, one a new moon goddess and one a dark moon goddess, but there is a third linked and that is the Goddess Bendis, the Thracian Goddess. Bendis has a striking resemblance of Artemis who had already been acknowledged in antiquity, but to uncover the nature of this relationship, it is essential to compare Bendis with Artemis Mounychia, especially since their sanctuaries in Piraeus stood next to each other, likely not by accident.
In the Classical literature and in later traditions, Artemis was portrayed as a huntress; an amazon and wild deity of nature, a maiden. Artemis Mounychia, however, differed from this Classical image. The characteristics of this particular Artemis were in fact more similar to the Cult of the moon goddess: Hekate. Under the oriental influence, Bendis was often identified with Deities of the Night, namely Cottyto, Cybele, and Hekate. These deities were often associated with the life cycle.
On the island of Lemnos the worshipers of the Great Goddess of Lemnos (Aristophanes Women of Lemnos) practiced bear magic and was the connection between the Great Goddess of Lemnos and Bendis, traditionally accepted and documented by a depiction of huntress on a pottery shard from Lemnos from the archaic period. Bendis’s other names are Kotys (Thracian goddess), Cotis (Latin), Kotis (Greek), Ceotis, Ciotis (Romania) is a Thracian – Dacian goddess, venerated especially at the Thracian Edons, population that it is found between the Struma river and the Mesta river, in south Sofia.
In Antiquity they were stretched till Vardar river (Axios), but after the Macedonian expansion they were pushed to east, in Thracia. Strabon describes Cotis Goddess’ Cult as almost the same as Bendis goddess. He said that the Edons were playing some instruments that were issuing certain strange sounds, as thunders, caused by some big drums, probably, sound combined with some frantically strings accords, rituals as shamans, purifying their souls which is what the word Huntress means in Goddess languages.
As seen in the example of the Great Goddess sanctuaries, they are often ascribed to other female deities on the basis of similar characteristics and the dynamic nature of the cult of Bendis in Thrace. These sites are situated on the fringes of Thrace, in areas cohabited by peoples of both Greek and Thracian ethnicity. In Oisyme and Neapolis in the 6th century BCE, a small sanctuarymis dedicated to Parthenos, usually identified with Athena or Artemis.
The situation is similar in the case of Artemis Phosphoros at Odessos, documented by a dedication to Phosphoros on inscription from the 2nd century to the 1st century BCE, and the presence of Phosphoros is also attested in Byzantion, where Bendis is usually identified either with Artemis and Hekate. On the other hand in Abdera, Bendis is associated with Hekate only.
The reason for their association with Bendis is that the cults of Phosphoros and Hekate were accompanied by torch-lit night celebrations, similarly as in the case of Bendis in Athens. The name Phosphoros means ‘light-bringer’ or torch bearer and is assigned to Artemis, Hekate and Eos. In the Inland Thrace the cult of Phosphoros was documented in Kabyle, one of the royal Hellenistic cities of the 3rd century BCE by an inscription dated to 300–280 BCE and unfortunately, the location of the sanctuary of Phosphoros still remains unknown up to present, but the iconographical typology is well known from the coinage minted in Kabyle.
The female deity does appear to hold a patera and burning torches that became one of the symbols of the city in antiquity. The coins minted by the rulers of Kabyle adapt this iconography, and while the cult of Phosphoros is usually identified with Artemis, some of the attributes could also belong to the cult of Bendis, in particular the double length torch which resembles a spear, the short chiton, and the patera in her hands. The torch races of the neighboring cult of Bendis also connected with the Festivals of Hecate. Another fact pointing toward the pre-Classic beliefs, is that the Artemis Mounychia sanctuary had always been linked to the cult of Brauronian Artemis, where young Athenian maidens served as She-Bears.
Nonnus, Dionysiaca (Greek epic 5th Century ce) : “Already the bird of morning was cutting the air with loud cries on the island of Samothrake already the helmeted bands of desert-haunting Korybantes were beating on their shields in the “Knossian Dances. Leaping with rhythmic steps, and the Ox hides thudded under the blows of the iron as they whirled them about in rivalry, while the double pipe made music, and quickened the dancers with its rollicking tune in time to the bounding steps.
Aye, and the trees whispered, the rocks boomed, the forests held jubilee with their intelligent moving and shaking, and the Dryades did sing. Packs of Bears joined the dance, skipping and wheeling face to face; lions with a roar from throats mimicked the triumphant cry of the priests of the Kabeiroi, sane in their madness; the reveling pipes rang out a tune to honor of Hekate, divine friend of dogs, those single pipes, which the horn-polisher’s art invented in Kronos’s days.”
The Bear in many cultures is one of the very oldest relics of the Cave Grandmothers and later in the Artemisian cults of the grandmothers, having originated from their own Neolithic periods which were more connected with the nature, wild life, protection of life and healing and regenerative powers.
The maidens in Mounychia also similarly served as they did in Brauron, and this characteristic is what suggests to us the far older origins of this type of culture’s practice in Peiraeus, potentially preceding the Persian Wars. In Greek mythology, the Goddess Callisto or Kallisto was a nymph of Lycaon who was also transformed into a Bear, she was the Bear-mother of the Arcadians.
She Bear URSEL
Ursel, She-Bear – Whom the 9th day of July is dedicated. She comes from the Saxon culture and had a shrine at Cologne. Latin ursa, ‘a she-bear’ allied to Greek Ursa, ‘a she-bear’, (arktikos), ‘near the bear, northern’. The Celtic arto, Welsh arth, Sanskrit rksha-s, ‘a bear’. Ursel is a Goddess of the Moon; and Mother of the stars (night goddess) who is woman’s teacher of fearlessness and the martial arts.
She Bear ARTIO
Germano-Celtic Bear Goddess
Artio is also called Dea Artio and Andarta all names that relate to or directly mean “bear” (Monaghan, 2004). One of the best known pieces of evidence relating to Artio is an engraved statue found near Berne, Switzerland. The statue depicts a seated female figure, generally thought to be the goddess, holding a basket of fruit, facing a bear who is standing in front of a tree; an engraving on one side of the statue says: “to the goddess Artio” (Green, 1992).
A second find with in inscription was found in Bollendorf, Germany, and other evidence was in France (Green, 1992; Monaghan, 2004).While the areas Artio has been found in could be considered Germanic, the name is Gallic, and She is generally described as either Germano-Celtic or Romano-Gaulish (I favor the former myself). Although the imagery of the statue is obscure and there is a lack of literary evidence, most agree that Artio was likely a goddess of fertility and plenty, and possibly a patroness of hunters as well as protector of bears (Green, 1992; Markale, 1986).
Some also theorize that She was a more general goddess of the wilderness and wild things (Monaghan, 2004).Sources agree that She was also seen in the form of a bear, with Sjoestedt placing her in the category of zoomorphic goddesses alongside Epona (Sjoestedt, 1949). It seems likely that the bear goddess, Artio, was eventually replaced by a bear god, Artaios who was synchronized by the Romans to Mercury (Markale, 1986). References: Sjoestedt, M (1949). Celtic Gods and Heroes, Markale, J., (1986). Women of the Celts, Green, M., (1992). Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, Monaghan, P., (2004). Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore
She Bear MEROPE
Sister of the Pleiades – The Bee Goddess who was really a Bear Goddess – Bears and Bees are linked together all over the world in waking life and in mythology and in the ancient Near East and throughout the Aegean world, bees were seen as a bridge between the natural world and the underworld. This links the Bear of the Caves (underworld) to an earlier time before the Bear Goddess was reduced to a Bee as part of the eradication of the power of the grandmothers of the bear clans of an earlier time before men lead community.
Remembering that ancient men used languages, the creation of language as a tool of laws and regulation over women’s role in the great circle of society, tribe and culture, and with that came the changes of her life into smaller subservient myths. Bees were carved on tombs, the Mycenaean tholos tombs even took the form of beehives and we know through fairytales and nature that bees and bears have co-relationships.
Winged, armed with toxin, creators of the fermentable honey, seemingly parthenogenesis in their immortal hive, bees were emblems of Potnia, the Minoan-Mycenaean “Mistress” older than Demeter, who might sometimes be called “the pure Mother Bee.” If ever it is doubted that Demeter and the archaic Artemis as she was honored at Ephesus were Hellenic embodiment of the Great Mother. It should be recalled that “Not only the priestesses of Artemis at Ephesus were ‘Bees’, but also those of Demeter”, as Jane Ellen Harrison noted “and still, more significant, the Delphic priestess herself was a Bee”.
The Jewish historian Josephus correctly noted that the name of the poet and prophet Deborah meant “bee”. The Homeric Hymn to Apollo acknowledges that Apollo’s gift of prophecy first came to him from three bee-maidens, usually identified with the Thriae. Pindar too remembered that the Pythian pre-Olympic priestess of Delphi remained “the Delphic bee” long after Apollo had usurped and reduced the ancient oracle and shrine to a drug laden experience with Dionysus. The Delphic priestess in historical times chewed a laurel leaf, Harrison noted, “but when she was a Bee surely she must have sought her inspiration in the honeycomb.”
Beekeeping was a Minoan craft, and the fermented honey-drink was the old Cretan intoxicant, older than wine. Ernst Neustadt, in his monograph on Zeus Kretigenes, “Cretan-born Zeus”, devoted a chapter to the honey-goddess Melissa. The proto-Greek invaders, by contrast, did not bring the art of beekeeping with them. Homer saw bees as wild, never tame, as when the Achaeans issued forth from their ship encampment “like buzzing swarms of bees that come out in relays from a hollow rock” (Iliad, book II). Long after Knossos fell, for two thousand years, the classical Greek tongue preserved ” honey-intoxicated” as the phrase for “drunken” and obviously the effects of the drug and alcohol cult of Dionysus and Apollo’s shadow influences.
The Thriae who offered Apollo the gift of prophecy were a trinity of pre-Hellenic bee-goddesses in the Aegean. The embossed gold plaque, one of a series of identical plaques recovered at Camiros in Rhodes dates from the archaic period of Greek art, in the seventh century, but the winged bee-goddesses they depict must be far older.
Merope is one of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades and her name “Merope” seems to mean “honey-faced” in Greek, thus “eloquent” in Classical times, but surely at an earlier level her “face” was a bee-mask. Cretan bee-masked priestesses appear on Minoan seals. One of the mythographers recalled the tradition that “Merope” was the “bee-eater” in the old Minoan tongue, before the Hellenes came to the Aegean.
Orion was a suitor of Merope. His birthplace was Hyrai in Boeotia, an ancient place mentioned in Homer’s catalogue of the ships that set forth to fetch Helen home from Troy. According to Hesychius, the Cretan word hyron meant ‘swarm of bees’ or ‘beehive’. Like some other archaic names of Greek cities, such as Athens or Mycenae, Hyrai is plural, a name that once had evoked the place of “the sisters of the beehive.”
This name Merope figures in too many isolated tales for “Merope” to be an individual. Instead the “Merope” must denote a position as priestess of the Goddess. But surely Merope the “bee-eater” is unlikely to be always a bee herself. Though there is a small Mediterranean “Bird” called the Bee-Eater, which was known under that name to Roman naturalists Pliny and Aelian, this Bee-Eater was a SHE BEAR, a representative of Artemis. The goddess was pictured primitively with a she-bear’s head herself, and the bear remained sacred to Artemis into classical times.
At a festival called the Brauronia, pre-pubescent girls were dressed in honey-colored yellow robes and taught to perform a bear dance. Once they had briefly served Artemis in this way, they would be ready to be married. In later times, a Syriac Book of Medicine recommends that the eye of a bear, placed in a hive, makes the bees prosper. The bear’s spirit apparently watches over the hive, and this was precisely Merope’s role among the Hyrai at Chios.
She Bear Giants of Thrace – Agrius & Oreius
When looking for woman’s prehistoric shamanic and animist origins, before the written language one must not only think backwards, but walk backwards through history visually. So, lets go Goddess Bear Hunting, linking Hekate, Artemis and Bendis, along with the dogs of Hekate to the She-Bears – and the first one I come up with is Polyphonte (Πολυφόντη) a character in Greek mythology, being only a minor mythological figure the story of her life, contained in only one source, namely Antoninus Liberalis’s Metamorphoses.
Antonius cites Boeus’ second book, ‘The Origin of Birds’ as the source of the story, however Boeus’ entire work has been destroyed by the rising power of the patriarch, against the women’s traditions of the Dark Goddess. The only ancient text left says that the She Bears are little girls, young maidens but of course, that was not true. Bear medicine is one of the most powerful and dangerous and ceremony would have not allowed little girls to participate, only the adult mothers and grandmothers would have performed the bear rites and rituals. It was only later in these cultures when the original shamanic rites evolved into carnival and festivals.
Agrius and Oreius were a pair of half-human, half-Bear Thracian Giants. They were transformed into Birds of Prey and their names mean “the Wild” (Greek agrios) and “of the Mountain” (Greek oreios). Their parents were a bear and Polyphonte (Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 21 (trans. Celoria) (Greek mythographer 2nd Century ce.) :
Thrassa was the daughter of Ares and of Tereine, daughter of Strymon. Hipponous, son of Triballos [epony of the Triballoi tribe of Thrake], married her and they had a daughter called Polyphonte (Slayer-of-Many). She scorned the activities of Aphrodite and went to the mountains as a companion and sharer of hunting of shadows (slayer) with Artemis.
Aphrodite, whose activities Polyphonte failed to honor, made her fall in love with a Bear and coupled with this bear. Artemis seeing her, turned all animals against her of her old shamanic cave ways. Polyphonte, fearing this, she fled and reached her father’s house. She brought *42 children, Agrios and Oreios, huge and of immense strength. They honored neither but scorned them all. If they met a stranger they would haul him home to eat. Zeus loathed them and sent Hermes to punish them in whatever way he chose.
As a side note, I found the 42 children interesting because there is a biblical quote from 2 Kings 2 24 which states – ‘There came forth two she-bears out of the forest, which probably had been robbed of their whelps, and thereby made more fierce and outrageous; and tore forty and two children — (this also signifies, not only young children, but also those that are grown up to maturity).” In this extraordinary punishment, inflicted on these young persons, we have demonstration, that the curse which the prophet denounced against them was not owing, as some have supposed, to the peevishness of his temper, or the ebullition of his anger: “For though his rage had been ever so furious, it would not have supplied him with power to command these creatures to leave the woods at an instant, and to come to a place they did not frequent, as a public road must be supposed to be, in order to destroy these insolent youths.”
As punisher, Hermes decided to chop of their hands and feet. But Ares, since the family of Polyphonte descended from him, snatched her sons from this fate. With the help of Hermes he changed them into birds. Polyphonte became a small Owl whose voice is heard at night, as she is a portent of war and sedition for mankind. Oreios became an Eagle Owl, a bird that presages little good to anyone when it appears and Argios was changed into the Vulture linking her to the Underworld and Artemis Hekate Bendis.
Their female servant was changed into a Woodpecker and as she was changing her shape she prayed to the gods not to become a bird that is evil for humankind. Hermes and Ares heard her prayer because she had by necessity done what her masters had ordered, so the woodpecker became a good omen for someone going hunting or to the festival feast.”
Joscelyn Godwin writes that the old and new are divided by the Moon or Polar Cult and the Solar Cult, that the polar cult survived classical times in popular religion and magic. The Greek magical papyri contains many spells addressed to the Great Bear (Ursa Major), for example…
“Bear, Bear, you who rule the heaven, the stars, and the whole world you who make the axis turn and control the whole cosmic system by force and compulsion, I appeal to you, imploring and supplicating that you may do the the (think I desire), because I call upon you with your holy names at which your deity rejoices, names which you are not able to ignore…”
Bendis was a Thracian Goddess of the Moon, of the Forest, of the Hunt and of the Charms whom the Greeks identified with Artemis. By a decree of the Oracle of Dodona, which required the Athenians to grant land for a shrine or temple her cult was introduced into Attica by immigrant Thracian residents, and, though Thracian and Athenian processions remained separate, both cultures and festivals became so popular that in Plato’s time (c. 429-413 BCE) its festivities were naturalized as an official ceremonial of the city-state, called the Bendideia. Among the events were nighttime torch-races on horseback to show their Amazon skills, mentioned in Plato’s Republic, 328:
- “You haven’t heard that there is to be a torchlight race this evening on horseback in honor of the Goddess?” “On horseback?” said I. “Will they carry torches and pass them along to one another as they race with the horses, or how do you mean?” “That’s the way of it,” said Polemarchus, “and, besides, there is to be a night festival which will be worth seeing.”
The Goddess Bendis, which Herodotus wrote “she is adored by the Thracian people, when women were the leaders, being borrowed from the populations at the north, who can only be the Dacians,” – the culture of this goddess was confirmed by the archaeological discoveries (a head of bronze found at Costesti, a medallion of clay, discovered at Sarmizegetusa, and a bronze bust from Piatra Rosie).
Bendis, daughter of Apollodoros 1347 where the name is spelled as Oendis, that could be restored as Bendis, daughter of Drogedous from the sanctuary of Nymphs in Bourdapa. All three inscriptions are probably from Roman times. It is within the context of this nearby culture of Artemis Mounychia that we may begin to compare and secondarily reconstruct the characteristics which the cult of Bendis may have had in Athens.
From studying these sources, it appears that Artemis Mounychia was hence a deity of protection, one connecting women with the moon cycle cultures and one which represents bonding, not only of children, partners but the protection of human life and nature which is “fertility’ in its widest and most origin meaning.
The physical proximity of the Bendis temple to that of Artemis Mounychia, and the similarity of festival activities (such as the torch use in relation to the moon cycle) suggests a closeness in the orientation of these cults, one which is an essential consideration for any exploration of the cult of Bendis in a foreign context.
Bendis name is derivative from indo-european *bhendh, bond” and being of the eternal fertility, bonding is what keeps humans, their clans, races, and cultures together in the web of life of woman. From the 5th century BCE she was the culture of Athens in the ceremonies called “Bendideia” where there were 2 processions, one made by Athenians, the other by Thracians from Pireus.
The Temple of the Goddess Bendideion, was situated on the Hill of Munychia. At the beginning of the second century BCE, a temple of Bendis / Mendis existed on the western shores of Hebru.Later, another temple is mentioned near Ptolemais, in Egypt. Her cult was also present in Asia Minor-Bithinia.
On small statues and reliefs Bendis is represented wearing Thracian clothing and sometimes she has a spear in the left hand and a sacrificial cup on the right and on some coins she appears with 2 spears and a dagger, or with 2 torches, or a torch and a patera. She was identified with Artemis or Hecate. Some Romanian scientist believe she was the wife of Hercules from Thracian legends. The Thracian’s were an ancient ethnic group that inhabited most of what is today called Bulgaria.
Her cult survived during the period of Roman occupation, in the form of Roman Goddess Diana. The name of Diana can be traced in the Romanian words zana, sanziana (Sancta Diana) or cosanziana (Quo Sancta Diana). The Romanians of ancient (Thracians) called her Queen Hestia and her apprentices, were fire worshipers of the entire Thracianarea, from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, the Dnieper beyond Tisa, where she appears even in Vespri City.
“Thrace Mare” Geto-Dacian was since their beginnings, a peoples linked to this ancestral hearth of the Goddess. During the matriarch (around 1900 BCE), the head of the family were women, Gauls appear as independent people led by Queen Hestia. She held ritual worship of the sacred fire at the royal residence in the city of the Traco-Dacian.
Fire generally was maintained day and nigh and even the name Dacia, if etymologically discussed by researchers, have linked Bendis like Hekate with the cult of Fire and with fire in general, around which life carries the first tribal matriarchal society and then patriarchal and lastly royal.
In the Law of Manu, the Indian Daksa was the name of a god, Dachsina which means holy fire ceremony. Dacia was the country of the sacred fire, and the fir is generally honored locally. In connection with fire worship, ancestors were honored with a “River of Fire” in the village Comanita, of the Olt county. The matriarch Bendis, which initially the Queen of Thrace who after her death became the a Goddess. In the Lexicon of Hesighyos of Alexandria (c. V or VI), we find recorded:
Aristophanes says Bendis is a Thracian Goddess and that she was a Queen of the Amazons before Hestia (Vesta). Her names were Artemis Thraci; the Athenian Goddess and part of the Bendis celebrations. She was also Artemis Thraci, the ‘Great Goddess’ which carried out its activities around the Sacred Fire which was an act of prophecy (not the vapors). The Goddess Bendis also appears “symbolically embodying the woman warrior who has a tree branch (not olive) in her left hand and one branch in the other hand.
Daicoviciu Hadrian writes that Bendis was “the feminine divinity Dacian and Thracian Goddess of the Moon, the Forests and Charms”. Fire meant Heavenly Sun Worship and the Sacred Fire meant Moon Worship, which has survived until today, especially as the root of all pre-pagan Summer Solstice Festivals that have a bonfire. All counties Daco-Romanian carved sun appears as the Goddess of the sacred Fire. Daco-Romanian culture retains many vestiges of their matriarchy periods.
In Acau, Moinesti “a sanctuary was discovered a ritual complex consists of 21 female statuettes kept in a pot”. Of these, 15 are larger and placed on one “throne clay” and six figures “smaller without thrones and scenery.” They are called “The Goddess Council which represents the elder Grandmother Leaders”.
A “Great Goddess” was found in Trufesti in Botosani County, as in other parts; it was dated around 3000 bce and added to this, the statues of clay, “including a female deity embodying the cult of fertility and the wealth of the culture” discovered at Libcova, Caras Severin, clay figurines (today Dunareni), Dolj County, medallion clay with the image of the goddess Diana-Bendis. Vasile Parvan said that “the feminine deity was worshiped as Hestia heralded” meaning a high goddess of loam and nourishment (fertility) existence in Dacia “even before the arrival of the Iranians”.
Added to this, the statues of clay, “including a female deity embodying the cult of fertility, the wealth” discovered at Libcova, Caras Severin, clay figurines of meat (today Dunareni), Dolj County, medallion clay with the image of the goddess Diana-Bendis.
Great Goddess Bendis dealt with destiny, like the Fates and the Indo-European root bhend teonimului means to”tie” or “bend”, hence the Anglo-Saxon word or Germanicia binden bind, which was attributed to fate and in the shamanic cultures back then it would have applied to the she bear (shaman women). For binding is an old action of huntress in the form of shadows and the underworld and we know Hecate, Bendis and Artemis are bound as Huntresses of the Moon and not in the way later societies changed their shamanic warrior women origins. It is likely that after the conquest of Dacia Romanian, Bendis has been assimilated by the goddess Diana (Artemis in Greek).
The cult of the goddess Bendis was taken over by the Greeks, becoming the state cult in Athens since the fifth century BCE.Today called Kastella, later, after the second century BCE we can find a temple of the goddess on the western shore of Hebra, in the Balkans. Her cult is attested in Asia Minor, specifically in Bithinia, or even in Ptolemaic Egypt. The reliefs and statues of the goddess Bendis is represented wearing robes and cap trace trace (Phrygian Phrygians were Thracian) and sometimes she has a spear in her left hand and a cup in the right. On some coins, it appears either holding two spears and a dagger or two handles or a torch and a patera.
Geflügelte Vanth / etruskisch Etruskisch, Florenz, Museo Archeologico. Winged Vanth, relief Etruscan, end of the 4th century bce. High relief with winged female figure (Vanth). – Nenfro, found at Tuscania, grave of the gens Vipiana. Florence, Museo Archeologico.
She Bear VANTH
Shaman and walker between the worlds – Vanth was certainly misread and miscategorized, she was in the Etruscan mythologies in tomb paintings. What men never understood, and then when writing dissertations and historical accounts of ancient women, was that power meant dark goddess, strength in a divine way meant dark goddess and Vanth certainly falls under this category.
Tomb raiders and tomb scholars see these Goddesses as women who are like nurses today, that they took care of the dead… not so, the elder Grandmothers job was not to be responsible for the “physical” of dead but the ceremonies of endings in a shamanic ritual and rites. Many reasons there is art remaining in the funeral vaults was the taboo that great dishonor would fall upon them if they removed or destroyed these ancient goddesses. Today the rebels do the finishing jobs of destroying the physical, but the soul of this art was destroyed long ago.
Vanth is a female Guardian of the Underworld (not a demon) just like Hecate. A guardian was a shamanic term that meant the shadows were kept in the underworld and the living did not cross into the underworld unless they die and return to the place where karma exists. Karma did not always exist or exists in cycles, so the underworld at periods of time was not an appropriate description for dark goddesses. When the wars of the Kingdoms began to rise around 2500 bce, then the underworld could be linked with the living and the karmic dead. The grandmother cults made sure there would be no escaping of the shadow aspects of the living. That has long been eradicated when grandmother was forbidden to lead.
These were powerful chiefs of the Etruscan’s and associated with powers over both life and death, the underworld that is often accompanied either by additional Vanth figures or by another so called demon, Charun (later referred to as Charu). Both Vanth and Charun and what was left of their iconography after 400 BC, in the middle period of Etruscan art was hardly anything, although some earlier inscriptions mention her name but like all powerful grandmothers, they were removed and taken out, and certainly the same is true of Vanth and one who has no direct counterpart in Greek mythology by scholars, but by shamans, Artemis, Hekate, Bendis are all her counterparts.
She has been compared to the Greek Furies and like all real dark goddess elders, they are both benevolent and avenging. Her other attributes just like Hecate includes the possession of her sacred Torch, a key (or scroll), and she is shown often to be bare-chested with cross-straps across her breast,like Artemis, adorned with fur boots, a rolled short chiton. In fact her dress has been attributed by Scheffer as specifically the dress of the Huntress of the Moon (exorcist and demon slayer) which men’s religions wrote in the ‘rising’ writing languages as the opposite, a demon herself.
Vanth is involved in a variety of different types of scenes in Etruscan art; the most common types associate her presence with occasions of Huntress (slaying demons, slaughtering men who abolished nature and disrespected and murdered women in their sacred Temples), including scenes from the Trojan cycles. Occasionally she is shown rising up out of the ground in such contexts, as seen on an ash urn from Chiusi and sometimes she is even shown as a solitary figure decorating the sides of ash urns. Other scenes in which Vanth is present involve the meeting and escort of the dead (classic and traditional shaman women’s roles), and the role of the shaman pychopompos, who walked between the worlds.
Vanth is associated with death and the journey of the deceased to the Underworld, and the dark souls who roam from the living dead, she is present in scenes of the moment of death as well in scenes where the deceased is already fully dead and journeying to the Underworld. She is depicted as a benevolent psychopompian figure, in contrast to the menacing Charun, her sometime companion.
The materials that Vanth is identified as carrying, which include a torch as the torch can be used to light the way for travelers when they face darkness and it is a status symbol of a Holy Woman (goddess) and n indication of high ranking office (of the Grandmothers [elders]). Although all scrolls only apply to patriarchal written languages, they do stand as a symbol for the older dreaming cultures of Vanth, pre-history of wisdom of woman’s teachings of such matters of shamanism. After all, the Bird Clan (angel or wing depicted women are 95% sacred and holy).
She Bear Native American, BLACKFEET – BEAR WOMAN
I was going to copy and share here the Blackfeet Native American’s bear woman story on this page do not allow one to copy the text, so here is their page about their legend of bear woman, click here.
Mi’kmaq Bear Story – You can read the story here.
TEMPLES OF HEKATE HECATE (Cultures) Hecate’s Temple in Lagina in Turkey…
Carved Stone Relief from the First Century BCE at the Vatican Museum in Rome, depicting Hecate using torches in battle to save her Temple. (permissions: photos.com):
Советский – магия и доброта
Russian Bear cartoon, about animism, magic and kindness.
Sources: She Bear Artio is from the Germano-Celtic Bear Goddess @ http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2012/09/artio-germano-celtic-bear-goddess.html, http://www.holladaypaganism.com; http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/2012/09/artio-germano-celtic-bear-goddess.html