The Triple Goddess

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Modern statuette of the Triple Goddess, showing the Maiden with roses and a dove, the pregnant Mother with a sheaf of grain, and the Crone with a cauldron and an owl; the tree under which they stand reflects their stages in life: new leaves for the Maiden, ripe fruit for the Mother, and withered leaves for the Crone.

The Triple Goddess is a modern Neo-Pagan development of triple deities, based in part on those known in the classical world, such as the three Graces, three Seasons, and the three Fates. Some classical Greek and Roman goddesses ordinarily presented as singular entities were also worshiped in triadic form. Among these were Hera (girl, woman and widow), Diana (huntress, moon-goddess, and queen of the underworld) and triple-bodied or three-faced Hekate, goddess of the "Y" crossroads or trivium. Additionally, the ancient and contemporary Hindu Tridevi ("three goddesses") played a part in the evolution of Neo-Pagan goddess-veneration; this grouping generally consists of Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kali (or Durga or Parvati). In ancient Egypt, the triple moon crown, showing the waxing, full, and waning phases, was associated with several female deities. Representations of ancient triple goddesses varied widely, but they included three seated or standing women, or three women standing back to back, with one full face and two profiles visible. Other representations show three women holding symbols of their domains, such as Hecate, who holds torches, keys, and daggers.

Many Neo-Pagans honour the Triple Goddess as a synthesis of these and other triads. As part of their theology, Neo-Pagans tend to regard women's sexuality, fertility, and menopause or old age as ways in which all women embody the Triple Goddess. Others also posit different triads, portraying Brigid, for instance, as three female figures performing smithcraft, preparing medicine, and declaiming poetry.

Some, but not all, of the ancient triadic goddesses were associated with phases of the moon, giving rise to the modern triple moon symbol: New moon, full moon and waning moon, with the "horns" facing outward and the full moon in the center. In the third century B.C.E., Orphic tradition described the Fates and the moon phases as symbols of one another. This perception was not widespread until the rise of modern Neo-Paganism in the twentieth century. Hecate is now often referred to as Maiden, Mother, and Crone, a title derived from the work of the novelist, poet, and amateur scholar Robert Graves. Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition the deities within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan traditions on behalf of clients may work with the Triple Goddess when there are pending spiritual and magical issues regarding blessing and protection for girls and young women, womanly power, the wisdom that comes with age, and the conditions attendant on old age and death.

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