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Inventing a Goddess – Combining Paradigms

There are several tangled backstories to this tale.  Many are threads that go back a score or more years (score sounds much more elegant than 20, which just makes me feel old!).  A few are knotted and loop  back around.  So I will begin at the title and work back from there: Inventing a Goddess.

Rather that starting completely from scratch, I decided to mix in some personal figures I had already started working on.

When I was in middle school, I came up with the epithet Red Raven.  I never ended up using it as a magical name or for any other purpose, but always loved the sound and the image.  Last year, I began encountering a spirit guide during my hedge-crossing and started referring to her as the Red Raven.  Not an ancestor, or human spirit, or a specific goddess from an established pantheon, she seemed to an abstraction of  the huntress/warrior/fire goddess archetype.  Over time, I had journeys that introduced a black-haired and black clad goddess and then a white-robed, blonde goddess.   I was really digging the red, black, and white theme since I had been incorporating that trio elsewhere.  The imagery overall was perfectly my aesthetic, unencumbered by historical lore or modern practice.  Incorporating these unusual figures into my invented cosmology was a perfect fit for exploring these entities!  Overlaying the three guides was pretty seamless, but it took a little tinkering.

Step 1: Retrofit the 6 forces into 3 pairs.
Since I had three divine guides and six forces, the forces would need to be paired two to a guide. I ultimately made Unknown/Chaos, Consciousness/Order, and Energy/Matter pairs.  I went back and forth between  my creation story and my brainstorming.  In some cases, the creation story was edited to add a familial relationship based on these pairings.

I had already paired Consciousness/Order in my mind since they were both very cerebral in nature.  Consciousness is thought (awareness) and Order is thinking (logic).    Chaos and Energy could have had a link, but good old E=mc² settled Energy and Matter as being a pair instead.  As a nod to my rejected musing that Energy and Chaos felt somewhat linked, I embellished my Creation story to personify Energy as being be bit rebellious and behaving less like its “mother” Order and more like its “mother” Chaos.  In the end, the Unknown and Chaos were left as the third pair and were ultimately a better fit.

The pairs thus became:   Unknown and Chaos, Consciousness and Order, and Energy and Matter.

Step 2: Layering the two paradigms
I made a list of what I already had observed or learned in my journeys about the Black, White, and Red goddesses.  I also included the trinities of realm, goddess aspect, and moon phase for comparison.  Lo and behold, many of the symbols lined right up with the ones I had brainstormed for each force!  I knew I was on the right track.  Assigning a pair to each of the colors was as easy as placing it under the corresponding keywords.

Black

White

Red

underworld upperworld middleworld
crone maiden mother
waning moon full moon waxing moon
sickle weaving energy
night intuition fire
crow white hare creativity
destruction owl warrior
snake reindeer red raven

Unknown + Chaos

Consciousness + Order

Energy +Matter

The table below shows the correspondences in another way by using  previous brainstorming for the elemental forces and marking the duplicate Black, White, and Red symbols from above in bold.  The italicized items at the bottom were original to the Black, White, and Red list so I assigned them as seemed appropriate.

  Unknown

 Chaos

Consc.

  Order

  Energy

  Matter

night primal ocean moon Logic/Wisdom sun earth
death destruction Sky/Heaven justice fire nature
underworld war  the soul  time male female
crone evolution  intuition  physics warrior the five senses
silence creation  empathy  structure passion animals
oblivion trickster  spirituality   north star creativity fertility
transcendence temptation  divination owl art/craft ancestors
mystery sickle  rabbit (lunar) bear spear, arrow love
black crossroad upperworld  ritual red horns, fur
crow west maiden smith stag
cave snake dawn
weaving    middleworld
    mother
5 Black 3 Black   5 White 2 White  5 Red 2 Red

As you can see, the overlap breaks down as my pairings predicted with the black symbols corresponding to the Unknown and Chaos, white to Consciousness and Order, and red to Energy and Matter. In retrospect, I guess I could’ve skipped trying to pair up the elemental forces beforehand and relied upon step 2 to make the groupings for me.  Nevertheless, I think creating a trinity from my six elemental forces based on that paradigm’s internal logic produced some valuable insight and added to my Creation narrative.  In this case, the results of blending the two systems was astoundingly tidy, but it’s always good to ensure one is not merely shoehorning one system into the mold of another.

Step 3. Evaluating the results.
Although divvying up my elemental forces between my three divine guides ended up being an almost perfect fit, a curious anomaly emerged.  For all three colors, one force was much more strongly aligned than the second force assigned to the same color.  The Black goddess was more like the Unknown than Chaos, the White goddess was more similar to Consciousness than Order, and the Red goddess had more in common with Energy than Matter.

I had naively assumed that each guide would represent a equal blend of her two associated forces like a coin with two similar, but unique faces.  Having my goddesses be mostly one over the other kind of made the secondary force seem, well, secondary rather than a total of 6 unique forces.  

Was my cosmology all wrong?  Are six forces redundant when three will do? Math is hard!

The idea of demoting Chaos, Order, and Matter to lesser or secondary forces felt just as cruddy as when Pluto got downgraded to a dwarf planet.  I just couldn’t do it.

But being attached to my forces is a good thing!  It meant that they were already growing personalities rather being a collection of astrophysics jargon and psychology buzzwords.

Prodding that sentiment a bit, it felt most natural to view the the goddess as a personification of her primary force, giving a face to the name: the Black goddess guide represented the Unknowable, White symbolized Consciousness, and Red embodied Energy.

So what I really needed was three more guides!

further reading:
Grimoire of the Vokaor
Owlsiprit, Katara Zunmir’s site

related post:
Inventing a Goddess – Creation
Inventing a Goddess – How Many?
Inventing a Goddess- Colors
Inventing a Goddess – Archetypes

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