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The Secret History of the Triple Goddess, Part 2

The Search for the Triple Goddess of Antiquity

By John Halstead

[Snip] Previously, in Part 1, I argued that Robert Graves Triple Goddess is a unique creation: a triunity, as opposed to a triplicity (like the Celtic Matres) or a triad (like the three Brigids). Graves’s Triple Goddess is Three-in-One — resembling the Christian Trinity — a living process, manifest in the phases of the moon, the seasons, and the female life cycle (maiden, mother, crone):

“As Goddess of the Underworld she was concerned with Birth, Procreation and Death. As Goddess of the Earth she was concerned with the three season of Spring, Summer and Winter: she animated trees and plants and ruled all living creatures. As Goddess of the Sky she was the Moon, in her three phases of New Moon, Full Moon, and Waning Moon. … As the New Moon or Spring she was a girl; as the Full Moon or Summer she was woman; as the Old Moon or Winter she was hag.” (The White Goddess, 1948)

In this part, Part 2, I will trace the evolution of the Greco-Roman triple goddess par excellence: Hekate-Diana. Many Pagans will be familiar with the Hekate (or Hecate) as a “triple goddess”, but she did not start out that way. The Greek goddess Hekate begins as a singular Great Goddess of heaven, earth, and sea in Hesiod. She then becomes a goddess of witchcraft and crossroads, and is syncretized with the Roman goddess Diana between the Hellenistic and Early Imperial periods. Finally, in Apulieus’ Golden Ass, Hekate-Diana becomes again a Great Goddess, syncretized with many others goddess, but still not yet recognizable as a truly triune Triple Goddess. Along the way, she takes the form of “triplicities” and “triads”, but only hints at a true triunity.

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