View Full Version : Hags of Ancient Times

Moritz Suter
14th Apr 2002, 15:32
In Greek Mythology, dreadful and powerful women dominate the landscape. Some of my personal favourites are known as the Gorgons. There were three of them, all sisters, two of whom were imortal. The third, Medusa (http://www.paleothea.com/Pictures/Gorgon.jpg) was not. She had her head chopped off by the hero Perseus, son of the God Zeus, insodoing giving birth to Pegasus, but thats another story.

The two immortal Gorgons, were named Stheno and Euryale. They were covered in golden scales with hissing and writhing snakes for hair. All three were reputed to be unbelievably beautiful (http://www.paleothea.com/Pictures/GorgonMoore.jpg) at one time, and turned to stone anyone unfortunate enough to gaze upon them.

Interestingly, in Classical Mythology the sisters are usually depicted as ugly. This is because Medusa shagged Poseidon in the Temple of Athena. Athena was so enraged by this that all three sisters were cursed into hideousness. (http://www.paleothea.com/Pictures/GorgonPhoto.jpg)

Other fearsome ladies of antiquities were know as the Harpies. (http://www.paleothea.com/Pictures/RedHarpy.gif) Like the Gorgons, there were three Harpies and like the gorgons, they were sisters. Aello, Ocypete and Thyella were all daughters of Electra and always ravenously hungry. Often referred to as the 'Dogs of Zeus', the sisters were fierce indeed, flying about making their presence known with acts of unimaginable hostility and destruction. In Homer's 'Odyssey', the Harpies were know as storm winds, but in truth, the Harpies were merely the vengeful manifestation of the Goddess Athena, Goddess of wisdom and weaving, and a woman of inestimable beauty, a warrior daughter of Zeus. An indescribably glorious woman.

I wondered if perhaps my fellow Ppruners had some examples of women in their lives holding positions of responsible authority. Perhaps examples where unreasonable displays of histrionics, as depicted by the stories of the Harpy, gave way to reveal the true nature of the woman behind the beast?

Over to you, fellow scholars of antiquity.....


14th Apr 2002, 15:40
WELCOME BACK MORITZ , a victory for democracy.

Tartan Gannet
14th Apr 2002, 15:52
MS I was married to one!

Seriously, most "power" women I have found look remarkably unfeminine and downright ugly. Perhaps those aspects which appeal to men are sacrificed to become dominant?

14th Apr 2002, 15:56
Aye Moritz, ya are back: Did ya kiss and make up with Flaps?

She surely is a forgiving person for moderating ya back aboard.

As for Greek Mythology, don't know much about it.
I prefer to stick with the Norse Gods, Odin, his son Tor and them guys.
They lost power when sombody invented Jesus and socalled "Christianity".
I do think the Norse Gods should be re-instated so we can all look forward to going to Valhalla after we are done on earth.
Valhalla is a party place, ya eat good food and drink beer all the time.
(It is also specified that the beer is to be served by lusty maidens with big bosoms)

Hmm, my kind of place. ;)

14th Apr 2002, 16:38
As a Norse God myself, I fully agree that we should all be rehabilitated. Starting with me, as being demonised by christianity for millenia hasn`t been much fun.

Tartan Gannet
14th Apr 2002, 20:30
Has to Juno / Hera. Nice and curvy with a full figure, Gannet Bait to say the least!

Now what do others feel? Do you prefer Athena / Minerva or Venus / Aphrodite?

14th Apr 2002, 20:51
HARPIES is forever. :D

14th Apr 2002, 21:09

A Danann triune goddess of war who seems to have been triplicated as Macha, Badb, and Nemain. Equating each of these with more traditional triple goddess functions such as maiden, mother, crone, phases of the moon and so on is open to interpretation. Some mythographers have tried to work in the goddess Medb (or Maeve) into this equation.

The Morrigan used magic to assist her warriors, hovering over the battlefield to influence its outcome. Thus the Morrigan and her constituent goddesses were often manifested as crows or ravens present on battlefields. Her character might recall battles when druidesses and other Celtic women would stand behind their men and scream, chant, and conjure incantations against the enemy. This was a strategy to embolden their warriors and unnerve and frighten the enemy. Such was the scene, for instance, when Queen Boudicca's army attacked the Romans .

In Irish mythology the Morrigan appears in the first battle of Magh Tuireadh to help defeat the Fir Bolgs and the second battle of Magh Tuireadh to help the Dagda defeat the Fomorians. The Morrigan's magic worked on Indech, a Fomorian prince and son of Domnann, who was doomed after panicked. In a prelude to the second battle, she and the Dagda had a sexual union. This recalls the popular idea of the Goddess as representing the 'sovereignty of Ireland'. In order for the Goddess to bestow her favor, the king would have to marry with her in order to prevail over his enemies and rule over the land.


Aine is one of two sisters said to be responsible for the high status of women in ancient Ireland. She was an Irish goddess of love and fertility who frequently took mortal lovers. She is sometimes identified with Morrigan - the chief Irish war-goddess. 'Bright'. Irish sun and love and fertility goddess also associated with the moon. She was worshiped on Midsummer Eve.
With the Goddess Aine we find the Irish goddess comparable to the great goddesses of other pantheons, including Frigg in Scandinavia or Aphrodite in Greece. Although losing favor at the hands of the Christian monks, in Ireland around 500 BC, it is fairly well attested that several sites in Munster and Connaught were dedicated to her worship. Her cult even spread even to the Western Isles of Scotland.

Various accounts identify her as the daughter of the ocean god Manannan Mac Llyr, while others equate her to the Morrigu, or "Great Queen". Aine was the goddess of both poetry and madness with a stone of hers on her mountain, Cnoc Aine, that could bestow either poetry to the worthy or madness to her unfavored. Legend said that all the mad dogs in Ireland would congregate there.

The Goddess Bride, who had the epithet Cu Gorm (grey hound) and was also a goddess associated with poetry, was an earlier name of for Aine. Aine was also a goddess of healing associated with lakes and wells, as at Tobar-Na-Aine (Well of Aine) which, in Irish and IE fashion, was recognized as being able to restore life.


British Gods-Andrasta

Other Names: Andraste, Andate, Andarta
Andrasta ("Invincible One") was a warrior Goddess (also one of victory) of the Iceni tribe, who accepted sacrifices of hares and, perhaps humans. She is perhaps best known as the deity invoked by the Iceni warrior-queen Boudicca in her rebellion against Rome.

Dio Cassius says she made human sacrifices of captive Roman women to this god in AD 61. Boudica's daughters were raped by Roman soldiers in front of her, and in revenge when she sacked the Roman cities of Colchester, London and Verulamium, she sacrificed the women of these cities in unspeakable manner to Andrasta.

She is sometimes compared to the goddess Andarte, a deity worshipped by the Vocontii of Gaul.



Goddess of victory known from inscriptions in Britain. Thought to be the patron deity of the Brigantes tribe. Sometimes equated with the goddess Victoria. Portrayed with a mural crown, wings, spear and Aegis shield, usually associated with Minerva. Her consort was the god Bregans.

Kali/Shakti - India
Kali makes her 'official' debut in the Devi-Mahatmya, where she is said to have emanated from the brow of Goddess Durga (slayer of demons) during one of the battles between the divine and anti-divine forces. Etymologically Durga's name means "Beyond Reach". She is thus an echo of the woman warrior's fierce virginal autonomy. In this context Kali is considered the 'forceful' form of the great goddess Durga.

Kali is represented as a Black woman with four arms; in one hand she has a sword, in another the head of the demon she has slain, with the other two she is encouraging her worshippers. For earrings she has two dead bodies and wears a necklace of skulls ; her only clothing is a girdle made of dead men's hands, and her tongue protrudes from her mouth. Her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are besmeared with blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the breast of her husband.

The image of a recumbent Shiva lying under the feet of Kali represents Shiva as the passive potential of creation and Kali as his Shakti. The generic term Shakti denotes the Universal feminine creative principle and the energizing force behind all male divinity including Shiva. Shakti is known by the general name Devi, from the root 'div', meaning to shine. She is the Shining One, who is given different names in different places and in different appearances, as the symbol of the life-giving powers of the Universe. It is she that powers him. This Shakti is expressed as the i in Shiva's name. Without this i, Shiva becomes Shva, which in Sanskrit means a corpse. Thus suggesting that without his Shakti, Shiva is powerless or inert.


Coatlicue - Aztec

In the darkness and chaos before the Creation, the female Earth Monster swam in the waters of the earth devouring all that she saw. When the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca decided to impose form upon the Earth, they changed themselves into serpents and struggled with the Earth Monster until they broke her in two. Coatlicue's lower part then rose to form the heavens and her upper part descended to form the earth. Coatlicue has an endless, ravenous appetite for human hearts and will not bear fruit unless given human blood. One day while performing penance and sweeping at Coatepec, the chaste and pious Coatlicue discovers a ball of feathers. Wanting to save the precious feathers, Coatlicue places them in her waistband. However, when she later looks for the ball of feathers, it is gone. Unknown to her at the time, the feathers had impregnated her with the seed of Huitzilopochtli. Gradually Coatlicue grows in size until her sons, the Centzon Huitznahua, notice that she is with child . Enraged and shamed, they furiously demand to know the father. Their elder sister, Coyolxauhqui, decides that they must slay their mother. The news of her children's intentions terrifies the pregnant goddess, but the child within her womb consoles Coatlicue, assuring her that he is already aware and ready. Dressed in the raiment of warriors, the Centzon Huitznahua follow Coyolxauhqui to Coatepec. When her raging children reach the crest of the mountain, Coatlicue gives birth to Huitzilopochtli fully armed. Wielding his burning weapon, known as the Xiuhcoatl or Turquoise Serpent, he slays Coyolxauhqui and, cut to pieces, her body tumbles to the base of Coatepec.

Another version:
Earth goddess. Coatlicue conceived Quetzalcoatl, God of creation, after keeping in her bosom a ball of hummingbird feathers (the soul of a fallen warrior) that dropped from the sky. Quetzalcoatl, with Tezcatlipoca, pulled her down from the heavens, and in the form of great serpents, ripped her into two pieces to form the earth and sky. Coatlicue was known as "The Mother of Gods", "The Devourer of Filth", "Our Grandmother". She wears a skirt made of braided serpents secured by another serpent and a necklace of human hands and hearts with a human skull. Her feet and hands are adorned with claws. Coatlicue was seen as an insatiable deity feasting on the corpses of men. Her breasts are depicted as hanging flaccid from nursing. Also known as Teteoinan, (Teteo Inan), "The Mother of Gods", gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli (the Sun god). She was also known as Toci, "Our Grandmother", and known as Cihuacoatl, patron of women who die in childbirth. Cihuacoatl was transformed into modern Mexican culture as La Llorona, "The Weeping Woman", said to carry the body of a dead child and weep at night in city streets.

14th Apr 2002, 21:11
Hecate, Persephone, Demeter - Greece.

At night, particularly at the dark of the moon, this goddess walked the roads of ancient Greece, accompanied by sacred dogs and bearing a blazing torch. Occasionally she stopped to gather offerings left by her devotees where three roads crossed, for this threefold goddess was best honored where one could look three ways at once. Sometimes, it was even said that Hecate could look three ways because she had three heads: a serpent, a horse, and a dog.

While Hecate walked outdoors, her worshipers gathered inside to eat Hecate suppers in her honor, gatherings at which magical knowledge was shared and the secrets of sorcery whispered and dogs, honey and black female lambs sacrificed. The bitch-goddess, the snake-goddess, ruled these powers and she bestowed them on those who worshiped her honorably. When supper was over, the leftovers were placed outdoors as offerings to Hecate and her hounds. And if the poor of Greece gathered at the doorsteps of wealthier households to snatch the offerings, what matter?

Some scholars say that Hecate was not originally Greek, her worship having traveled south from her original Thracian homeland. Others contend that she was a form of the earth mother Demeter, yet another of whose forms was the maiden Persephone. Legends, they claim, of Persephone's abduction and later residence in Hades give clear prominence to Hecate, who therefore must represent the old wise woman, the crone, the final stage of woman's growth-the aged Demeter herself, just as Demeter is the mature Persephone.

In either case, the antiquity of Hecate's worship was recognized by the Greeks, who called her a Titan, one of those pre-Olympian divinities whom Zeus and his cohort had ousted. The newcomers also bowed to her antiquity by granting to Hecate alone a power shared with Zeus, that of granting or withholding from humanity anything she wished. Hecate's worship continued into classical times, both in the private form of Hecate suppers and in public sacrifices, celebrated by "great ones" or Caberioi, of honey, black female lambs, and dogs, and sometimes black human slaves.

As queen of the night, Hecate was sometimes said to be the moon-goddess in her dark form, as Artemis was the waxing moon and Selene the full moon. But she may as readily have been the earth goddess, for she ruled the spirits of the dead, humans who had been returned to the earth. As queen of death she ruled the magical powers of regeneration; in addition, she could hold back her spectral hordes from the living if she chose. And so Greek women evoked Hecate for protection from her hosts whenever they left the house, and they erected her threefold images at their doors, as if to tell wandering spirits that therein lived friends of their queen, who must not be bothered with night noises and spooky apparitions.

14th Apr 2002, 21:19
Oh MS you rang???
My best friend is Circe!!

14th Apr 2002, 21:27
Oh yeah she was the one who thought men were a load of swine, and I believe assisted them to become them. Nice lady.

Moritz Suter
14th Apr 2002, 21:56
Not entirely, Mr. Paterbrat,

...and if I might be so bold as to say, what a delight it is to be able to communicate with you again in this way.

Circe was the daughter of Hecate and the Sun God Helios. She was, therefore, the union of opposites, Hecate being of the dark moon. It was inevitable that she become a sorceress.

Of the many beguiling achievements of Circe (http://www.paleothea.com/Pictures/CirceBarker.jpg) is The Song of Danae is of note.

When Circe requested that Danae play a song, of course she complied. Circe requested a song about the forests and the place where Danae came from. After a bit of thought, Danae pulled out her lute and began to play a soft melody, resting near a fountain.

Danae's soft voice joined the lute as she sang of her home:

"Amongst the swaying trees,
with leaves of the fall's blood red
stood a cottage home,
a small comfortable homestead.
A true elven home,
its beauty was unsurpassed
the home itself was full of love
and a family's past.
Woman and man both lived in the quiet home
and to lands of peace and war,
across the earth and sea
they traveled these lands-singing for a fee.
Yet after every travel,
they returned to each others arms
each rested in their home, never fearing of any harm
when next they went to travel, another went along
it was a baby daughter, she learned their art of song."

Danae's voice became silent, and she allowed the lute's music to fade away gently.

It's not all bad news when it comes to Circe, Mr. Paterbrat. Feeling a tad insecure at the hands of powerful women?

May well have to get used to it!


Hagbard the Amateur
14th Apr 2002, 22:47
One of my favourites from Greek mythology was Eris, the goddess of chaos. Uninvited to a Saturday night rave thrown by the other Greek divinities for fear of her unpredictable nature, she decided to get her own back. She fashioned an apple of pure gold and inscribed upon it the word "Kallisti" or "To the fairest one." While the party was going on, she turned up at the front door and threw in the apple. The ensuing fight between the egoistic deities over the prize made her job a self creating good 'un.
Hail Eris.

15th Apr 2002, 17:25
How about Calypso, the worlds first psychotherapist?

tony draper
15th Apr 2002, 20:03
Never mind these foreign bloody gods, woss wrong with our home grown ones, Briget of the well, and Hern, the green man, Morrigan and the like
Bloody foreign gods to busy baggerin each other in the bushes to take note of us mortals. :p
Bring back the old religion I say.

15th Apr 2002, 20:08
Herr Daper!

Nice to have you back!

Where`ve you bin you daft b****r?

Tartan Gannet
15th Apr 2002, 20:26
Okey Orac or others, who was Sheila Na Gig?

:D :D :D :D

15th Apr 2002, 22:32
How about Magha?

A Princess of the ancient kingdom of Connaught, it was claimed, after she was taken prisoner by the warriors of Ulster that she was a witch. She was therefore rather ill-used, quite a few times, and before she died, she laid a curse on the Ulstermen that the next time the Kingdom was under threat, all their warriors would fall asleep.

Connaught raiders, commanded by Queen Medb ("Maeve") came looking for the most famous bull in all Ireland, the property of Daire, one of the Ulster chieftains. This was the famous Táin Bó Cúalnge ("Cattle Raid of Cooley"). The curse of Magha fell on Ulster, and all the warriors slept, and it was left to a mere boy, Chuchulainn, to defend Ulster single-handed, which he did until the warriors awoke.

The place where Magha was "executed" became known as Ard Magha ("Magha's Hill"), or Armagh.

15th Apr 2002, 23:19
How about entry 8 on page one Huggy? - See Morrigan

"A Danann triune goddess of war who seems to have been triplicated as Macha, Badb, and Nemain".

15th Apr 2002, 23:26
Saw that, Orac, but dismissed her as a Brit phenomenon. In the story of Magha as I was told it by a true Shanachie, Magha was not a goddess at all, but human. You could also include Morgan Le Fay...

15th Apr 2002, 23:28
Tartan: Sheila na Gig

Smiling lewdly out from rock carvings, this goddess of ancient Ireland can still be seen in surviving petroglyphs: a grinning, often skeletal face, huge buttocks, full breasts, and bent knees. What most observers remember best, however, is the self-exposure of the goddess, for she holds her vagina open with both hands. She is the greatest symbol of the life-and-death goddess left in Ireland, where her stones have in some cases been incorporated as "gargoyles" in Christian churches. Her name means "hag"; her grinning face and genital display are complicated by the apparent ancientness of her flesh. Laughter and passion, birth and death, sex and age do not seem to have been so incompatible to the ancient Irish as they are to the modern world.

Sheila na Gig (http://www.pantheon.org/areas/gallery/mythology/europe/celtic/sheila-na-gig.jpg)

15th Apr 2002, 23:34
Well Morris, put that way I suppose one could succumb to the delights of being in a powerful womans hands, as long as she kept the squeezing down to an acceptable level and the trasformations to something other than just another rooting snout in the herd, that is.
So Circe was a bit of a songstress as well as a mischievous bint with a wand eh? Ah well seems like Jason and his lads must have rubbed her up the wrong way then.

Tartan Gannet
16th Apr 2002, 02:43
Thanks Orac!

Seems to me that in all cultures and down the ages men have been fascinated by the woman who is both terribly ugly yet has tremendous sexuality.

I remember at school as a teenager there was a woman teacher in her late thirties. Her face was ugly to say the least yet for some reason many of the lads found her more erotic than some of the really pretty, girly, woman teachers we had.

I believe the French have the expression "jolie-lade" which encapsulates the concept of simultaneous beauty and ugliness.

Capt Vegemite
16th Apr 2002, 02:52
Herr draper....
Bloody foreign gods to busy baggerin each other in the bushes to take note of us mortals.

Raymondo the Buzzard of St Kilda springs to mind. :eek: