The Virgin

Athena

The Virgin represents the process of self-birthing, also known as parthenogenesis, reproduction without fertilization. What does the Virgin birth really represent through this lens? The Virgin aspect is that part of a woman that is unowned or “unpenetrated” by a man/woman. The part that is untouched by her need for a man/woman or need to be validated, that exists wholly separate, in her own right. The coming into one’s self!

She does what she does not because of any desire to please, but because what she does is true.

She is not motivated by the need to be liked, to be approved of, to gain power over another, or to catch a love interest. She is motivated by a need to follow her own inner values, to do what has meaning or fulfills herself, apart from what other people think.

She is a pure essence of who she is and what she values. She remains untarnished and uncontaminated because she does not need to reveal who she is. She keeps herself sacred and inviolate, or expresses herself without modification to meet male standards. She has the ability to concentrate her attention on what she is doing, excluding everything that is extraneous to the task at hand or to the long-term goal.

Three Virgin Goddesses

There are three Virgin Goddesses in Greek mythology: Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and of the Moon; Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Crafts; and Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Temple (Bolen, 1985). Each was faced with similar challenges to develop their talents and focus on pursuing personal value in different ways.

Artemis forsook the city and avoided contact with men, spending time in the wilderness with her band of nymphs. Her adaptation mode was separation from men and their influence. Artemis women may be rugged individualists who go it alone and do what matters to them, without personal support or approval from men. She aims for her target and knows she will hit it. She often represents qualities idealized by the women’s movement and has concern for victimized, powerless women, and the young. In this respect, she is also a Warrior.

Athena joined men as an equal or as a superior. The coolest head in battle and the best strategist, her adaptation was identification with men as she became one of them. Women who have joined the corporate world and succeeded at traditionally male occupations have taken the Athena way. She can be companion, colleague, or confidante of men without developing erotic or emotional intimacy. Skills associated with Athena include planning, execution, strategy, practicality and tangible results. She values rational thinking and is ruled by her head rather than her heart and values the importance of keeping one’s head in emotional situations or conflict. Appreciating her intelligence, an Athenian woman develops a positive self-image.

Hestia followed an introverted way of adapting through withdrawal from men. She went inward, became anonymous in appearance, and was left alone. A Hestia woman may downplay her femininity, avoids competitive situations, and lives quietly tending to daily tasks or meditation that gives her life meaning. Her inward direction makes her focus on her inner subjective experience. She is totally absorbed when she meditates and can be in touch with values by bringing into focus what is personally meaningful.