On Ukraine, War and Goddess’s Protection by Judith Shaw

We have all been horrified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine as we witness the brutal bombardment of not only military sites but also of civilians, neighborhoods, hospitals, churches, historical sites and nuclear power plants. It has been called the first TicToc war as these images fill up our computers and cellphones, leaving peace lovers challenged to maintain their belief in peaceful resolutions to conflict

But with all eyes on Ukraines, let’s not forget about Syria and Russia’s entry into that civil war in 2015. What followed was the aerial bombardment of hospitals, schools and other civilian targets and the re-taking of Aleppo in 2016 with brutal force. Or, Yemen who has been experiencing similar and monstrous attacks on civilians by the Saudi monarchy with weapons supplied by the U.S. government.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a further escalation of the breakdown of the world’s power structure, illustrated by both the renewed growth of social justice movements and the brutal backlash against the people’s desire for equity. The invasion commenced as significant cosmic energies of Capricornian structure and hierarchy moved into the Aquarian energies of freedom, individual autonomy and an awareness of collective needs. Both Sky events and Earth events indicate the possibility of finally releasing ourselves from the dynamic of being ruled by powerful elites.  

From Ukraine we see incredible resistance and courage, allowing us to experience a glimmer of hope that a new society can be built out of the destruction – one which acknowledges our inner authority while allowing us to embrace our collective kinship and to leave behind the terror of hierarchical division. The Ukrainian people are an inspiration to us all – seeing their inner authority shine strong.

Ukrainian woman confronts Russian soldier, shouting “What the f*** are you doing in our land? You should put sunflower seeds in your pockets so that they will grow on Ukrainian land after you die.”

But the road to this new inner knowingness is long and filled with danger. Our ancestors have faced many such challenges in the past as conquerors conquered, people died and world events catapulted societies into the restructuring of power. Ancient peoples often looked to goddesses for protection from the dangers inherent in life.

Some protector goddesses have warlike qualities in that they are called on to defend their people from danger and foreign invaders. Other protector goddesses are mother goddesses who protect humanity by providing abundance, guidance, healing and the protection of women during childbirth. 

The Ukrainian people are descendants of Slavs who settled Ukraine in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.  Ancient Slavic people honored Mother Goddess Mokosh  who protected women, women’s work, fertility and childbirth.

In the 10th century, during the early years of Prince of Kyiv, Vladimir Svyatoslavich’s reign, he remained a stout defender of pagan gods. In a mostly male pantheon he recognized the importance of Mokosh and created a sanctuary which included a large statue of her.

Berehynia, originally a female spirit of light, merged over time with Mokosh becoming the Ukrainian Hearth Mother. With Ukrainian independence in 1991 she transformed again, becoming associated with nationalism and women’s empowerment. To Ukrainians she is now a Protector Goddess for the nation.  In 2001 a sculpture of Berehynia was erected on top of a tall column in Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in the center of Kyiv.

Egyptians looked to Serket, an aspect of Isis, for protection. Like Isis and her sister, Nephthys, she is associated with healing, magic, protection and the underworld. She is allied with the scorpion – well-known for protecting and carrying their young on their backs. She protects women and children. Depicted as a beautiful woman with arms spread wide in the gesture of protection and a scorpion on her head it was believed that she protected from venomous bites. Also seen as a scorpion with a woman’s head she could punish wrongdoers with her venom.

By Anonymous (Egypt) – Walters Art Museum: Home page 

Greeks sought protection for their country from Athena who was a friend to warriors. She was called on for help in matters of war and governance. Athena, expert strategist, is a Goddess of Wisdom and is associated with the olive tree – long a symbol of longevity and peace. 

By Maragathou – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Hindu Goddess, Kali is known as the Divine Protector of Earth. She is a Dark Mother Goddess who also also takes the role of Great Destroyer. Both as Destroyer who cleanses Earth of demons and as Warrior with the ability to protect and fight for what is right, she destroys illusions and prevents evil from taking control. 

Goddess Kali Battles Demons – By thesandiegomuseumofartcollection

Norse goddess Hlin whose name means “Protector” helps those blessed by Frigg escape from their enemies. She gives people the strength to face their problems.

Celtic Goddess, Elen of the Ways, is a different kind of protector goddess. She is an antlered goddess who rules the Ways, the Roads, the Passages of human life, both physical and spiritual. She is a Sovereignty Goddess, reminding us of our own agency to affect events – linking sovereignty to fertility and well-being. Elen of the Ways guides and protects us on both our physical and spiritual paths.

Elen of the Ways,painting by Judith Shaw
Elen of the Ways

Epona, Celtic Horse Goddess, protects animals and humans and bestows fertility and abundance on all. Epona’s energy can guides us away from hate and destruction toward fertility of body, mind and spirit. She helps us dream a new world into existence- one based on caring.

Epon, Celtic Horse Goddess

The Morrigan, Celtic Goddess of War, Sovereignty, Fertility and the Land, is a dark protector goddess who we mortals must approach with care. Her activities could foretell a warrior’s death in battle. She was seen shrieking over battlefields, striking terror in men’s hearts. She can appear as a flock of crows warning of war to come or as a raven feasting on the fallen. The Morrigan represents strength through struggle and the righting of wrongs. Hers is the message that for something better to come, something old and outdated must fall apart.

The Morrigan, Celtic War and Fertility Goddess, painting by Judith Shaw
The Morrigan

These goddesses and many, many others not mentioned here awaken us to the absolute necessity of re-integrating into our lives the “feminine” values of love and care for the collective which ensures ongoing fertility and abundance. Likewise they remind us that sometimes we must stand strong and fight in the face of oppression and violence.

Humanity has been at war for thousands of years but the invasion of Ukraine by Russia with its huge nuclear arsenal is making it apparent that the wars are no longer winnable. The old way of male, patriarchal power maintained by control of resources and aggressive militarism must end or human civilization will not survive. 

This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, sums it up well – “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” May the protective and healing powers of Goddess find its way into more and more human hearts.

I’ll leave you with this amazing music video by Yael Deckelbaum – a powerful anthem to the power of women to re-create the world.

I am currently donating 100% of the profit from the sale of prints of my sunflower paintings- Sunflowers for Peace. The donations will go to Choose Love‘s fund for Ukrainian refugee relief. I learned about Choose Love from Laura Shannon’s beautiful post on Ukrainian Women’s Peace Embroidery. Here are link to those prints in case you or anyone you know might like to donate in that way. Use the print to meditate on peace. This offer runs through March 26.

https://judithshawart.com/product/sunflower-spiraling-photo-print/, https://judithshawart.com/product/homage-to-van-gogh-photo-print/, https://judithshawart.com/product/sunflower-rising-photo-print/

Sources:Celebrate Pagan Holidays, Slavic Chronicles.com, World History Encyclopedia, Sons of Vikings, Ancient Egypt Online,

Judith’s deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is available now. You can order your deck from Judith’s website – click here. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of Her manifestations. She is now working on her next deck of oracle cards – Animal Wisdom. Originally from New Orleans, Judith makes her home in New Mexico where she paints as much as time allows and sells real estate part-time. Give yourself the gift of one of Judith’s prints or paintings.



Categories: Activism, Ancestors, civil rights, General, Goddess Spirituality, In the News, Paganism, Women's Agency, Women's Power

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31 replies

  1. Some of the greatest human tributes to the Goddess still stand on Holy Island in Wales and on the Boyne River and other places in Ireland where they are called ‘Brughan’ or ‘Bryn’ or ‘Bru’. In Modern Irish ‘broinn’ means ‘womb’.

    They are built in the form of the womb and birth canal of Sile (pronounced ‘Sheela’) the female Universal ‘Soul’. In Britain She is called ‘Sule’ (from which the English word ‘Soul’ is derived) and in German ‘Seele’, in Gaul ‘Celeste’ and in ancient Italy ‘Celestis’, ‘Heaven’.

    Her monuments were built with loving labor by the population in the days of the Matriarchy, a society that worshipped Fertility and Family. The Irish ones were recently found with carbon-isotope dating to date from 5300 BP, six hundred years before the Great Pyramids at Giza glorified conquering Pharaohs and two thousand three hundred years before the widespread Warrior Revolution remade society to center on Kings, warriors, war, conquest and pillage, worshipping the male Gods of Olympus, Zeus and later Jupiter and male warriors like Achilles. The resulting Greek Dark Age lasted for six hundred years, until about five ninety BCE.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All very true. Thanks for bringing up the etymology of goddess names – it really reveals a lot about the consciousness that was so very weakened by the patriarchal take-over. That’s why I think it is so important to know and honor the goddesses – We need a revolution of consciousness – one which brings us back to the worshipping of Fertility and Family – an understanding that we are all connected and only through loving and honoring all beings can this world of human’s survive.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. When the Romans, whose culture centered on war, came to Britain they mounted a ‘special military operation’ – does that sound familiar? – under Roman general Paulinus to destroy the Welsh Bryn Mawr, ‘Great Womb’. It was considered an ‘existential threat’ to Roman order – does that sound familiar?. The campaign is described by the Roman author Tacitus. It detonated a rising of the Britons against the Romans. It was led by Boudach, (Victorious One, Victoria) the Queen of the I Cein (pron ‘Ee Keyn, the People from Far Away’). Afterwards the Romans tried to trivialise Boudach’s rebellion by attributing it to jealousy and injured female pride. In truth it was an attempt to save the matriarchal culture of Celtic Britannia from destruction. Seventy thousand Romans perished in Boudach’s rebellion and she burned Londinium. She was defeated eventually but the Romans learned not to mess with the Goddess.

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    • All very true also. But I do wonder if in fact the Roman’s truly learned not to mess with the Goddess as their reign of terror continued for another 300 plus centuries in Britain. Military men still continue to believe they have supreme control. But in the end The Mother will win. But will we humans still be part of her family?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the Romans did continue on their brutal course for three more centuries, but they treated the Britons with caution, bribing their elite rather than bullying them. And of course the planet did rebel against their exploitation of the land. She yielded less and less until in the end they could not pay the legions or feed their people and the Western Roman Empire collapsed.
        The Goths did not conquer Rome, they looted the dying body.

        She, Donna Gaia Earth, will win. And She may wipe us from Her face like an annoying mosquito.
        I hope we can earn Her forgiveness and forbearance. Let us try!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was about 12 it came to me that war was obsolete because we could annihilate one another and the whole earth. War was stupid, I thought. I look back at that child-woman’s insight with a tortured soul because I was so hopelessly simple-minded. I didn’t know then that people (mostly men) liked to kill each other – not all of course, but the majority, or that having power over others meant so much… As a lifetime pacifist I have had to face these two facts over and over. Turning to the goddess offered me a way of seeing and being in the world that made sense out of what seemed to me to be insanity, and allowed me to be who I was and am. But I no longer embrace the goddess in her war- like aspects because doing so seems to put me back in the ring of patriarchy – a system that is destroying us all. This latest manifestation of the horrors of war both sickens and numbs me. I see nothing positive coming out of this atrocity, although my prayers are with the people…We know the goddess is immanent. We can call on her for protection but She does not stop war…if only She could. Judith, your paintings are stunning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sara,
      For me too – this ongoing display of war, hatred, greed and lust for power is sickening. Sometimes it makes it hard to function or to maintain hope. And no Goddess does not stop war. Goddess’s power lies in her values and how she affects our consciousness. Only humans can stop war. And that will only happen when enough people claim the consciousness of love, fertility and life! The terrifying thing is that time is very short for that to happen.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I love what you say about her values – yes we embrace her values…as for people awakening – well –

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Judith! Time is short. That is why as a man raised in warlike societies, trained as a volunteer citizen soldier in two armies to defend my community, I reject the values that glorify warriors and war. These will destroy us, and soon. Sometimes war is necessary, just as perspiration, defecation and urination are necessary. But they are not glorious.
        The values of the female Supreme Being worshipped by our ancient ancestors – Fertility, Family and Love – can save our planet and us.
        This must be done by ourselves. If we cannot save ourselves without supernatural help we will not deserve or receive it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aidan, Many, many women (but not all) and a growing number of men like yourself reject the glorification of war and violence. It’s hard to tell that when viewing our media but I have strong hope that it is growing rapidly.

          One of the things I loved seeing in Yael Deckelbaum’s music video is when she sang out her lyrics “Too many, too many, too many men…. What about the women” and the camera would go to the shots of the massive legions of men marching in military columns with their weapons and then cut to her audience full of women and men. Seeing the shining faces of young men raising their fights in solidarity with her message instead of identifying with or being threatened by calling out of men and the military gives me hope!

          It is believed that it only takes 3.5% of the population to change their consciousness for society as a whole to be changed. Here’s an interesting article on that if you are interested. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190513-it-only-takes-35-of-people-to-change-the-world

          Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Sara! If we humans cannot save ourselves we are not worth saving. We will be cast aside by our own folly as rubbish, a failed experiment of evolution. The values of the female Supreme Being, which are everywhere visible in the Universe, are the essential tool of our salvation, but it is up to us to use it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah
      I tried to get on to your home page but was led around in circles with tech jargon
      What I saw of your life-style looked quite Walden Pond-ish. Interesting, but quite different from the life I led in our outback, which was quite remote, mercilessly hot and actually often terrifying. Mother Nature here takes no prisoners. If you like me had to cross The Cobblers south of Mount Hopeless on the Strzelecki Track you would understand. Not many have done that and lived.

      Alas you are quite right, that child-woman was correct. Many of us lust after power and are happy to kill for it. Being brought up in Ireland, with parents who came from opposing sides, I saw what you saw, the abomination of war, though trained to participate in it, and thought to be potentially good at it. Thank Danu and Sile I was never compelled to kill humans. I was spared that, which I would compare to handling fresh human faeces with my bare hands.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. all I can say , is I don’t understand humans, this power house we have constructed upon this small blue planet, that ever drifts out in space . its as if we have never learned anything , from our Barbaric ways to this day , we readily destroy each other , when time is so limited here. Millions have poured there hearts out to there Gods and we get silence, no intersession. only more humans, expressing there own humans responses and even these, leading to more human aggression.Little buy little we destroy our selves , little by little we, destroy the only living planet known to hold life,Its as if,we will, the animal instants to kill our selves, forgetting, that’s its a true mystery / miracle that any of this exists at all.My heart is over whelmed , with the hurt , the pin of death and the ignorance of the human race . BB

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alma,
      My heart also hurts and breaks over the same thing. Time seems to be running short for humans to truly embrace the consciousness that you mention about life – “that’s its a true mystery / miracle that any of this exists at all”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Such despair. Paralyzing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rain,
        So true! I’ve found that for myself the only way to get past the paralyzing effect is to take some action, no matter how small. But the despair remains…..

        Liked by 2 people

        • All that is true. Remember the words of Don Quixote uttered by Peter O’Toole in ‘Man of La Mancha’.
          ‘To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to go where the brave dare not go.
          To love though unseen from afar, to fight without respite or pause, to strive with your last ounce of courage, to be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause’

          Your efforts may alone be puny, laughable, as mine are, but matched by hundreds of millions of others they will be meaningful. My family has waged war on waste in small domestic ways for years. If we go down, we go down fighting.

          Despair but do not give up, my dear Comrades!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Many thanks for this post and the wonderful images of the protective goddesses. And especially the photo of the woman confronting the soldier. I hope everyone who reads or hears or sees anything about this awful war will donate something (money, time, goods) to the Ukrainian people.

    I have long thought that Putin sees himself as a tsar. It’s worth remembering that Nicholas II (whose reign and life ended with the Revolution of 1917) was probably the stupidest person ever to sit on a throne. Putin may not be another Nicholas–he’s not stupid–but he craves the power of the tsars. Or maybe he’s a reincarnation of Josef Stalin. Either way, he deserves to get back the misery he’s sent out. It’s evil to wish death on someone, but……..well……what else does he deserve? He needs to meet Berehynia or Kali or the Morrigan face to face.

    Judith, I always love your paintings. Bright blessings to you and your work. And to all the people of Ukraine. Brightest blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Barbara,
    I’m not so sure it’s evil to wish death on someone who is committing the greatest evils that only leaders have the power to do. I see it more as wishing such a person, like Putin or Trump or Hitler or Stalin or many medieval kings and queens of Europe, or … the list is so long…. release from the misery of their pitiful hate filled lives,. I find myself in that same head space but dp wish such death to come from natural causes. After all death comes to us all as the War/Protector Goddesses remind us.

    I forgot to include in my post that I am currently offering to donate 100% of the profit from prints of 3 different sunflower paintings of mine – Sunflowers For Peace – to the Ukrainian refugee relief effort through Choose Love, a non-profit I learned about from Laura Shannon’s post on Ukrainian peace embroidery. Here’s a link if you want to share it with anyone. I’m going to add it to the bottom of my post now. https://judithshawart.com/product/sunflower-rising-photo-print/

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  7. Thanks Judith for mentioning all the Goddesses above and illustrating them with your lovely art. Females use their power in a positive way. We protect and use strategy to balance the world. Another one that comes to mind is Sekhmet, who was called upon by the Gods to rid the world of evil. She did not provoke conflict but used her protective lioness qualities and her wisdom to restore divine balance in the world. She is also associated with healing and the power to counteract illness. I created a painting depicting Sekhmet. Too bad I cannot share it here. Also, do not forget Artemis, who is like our modern day feminist. She demanded fairness, equality and justice for people (especially women and children) and animals.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jan,
    Thanks for mentioning Sekhmet and Artemis – both important archetypes of the protective qualities of Goddess. There are just so many to recognize and space in a post is limited. I’m grateful that we have this comment section so that the discourse can grow. I too wish you could post your painting of Sekhmet here.

    BTW – FAR is always open to guest posts so maybe you’d like to consider submitting an article about Sekhmet. If accepted you can include your painting in the post..

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  9. A wonderful post, Judith, and beautiful paintings! I’ve been heartened by all the people who I hear saying “could this be happening in 2022?” as if we are already beyond violent conflict. I don’t remember hearing that often before. There are so many other violent conflicts going on now or in the recent past that we should also be saying “could this be happening in 2022?” about, but at least I get the sense that some people are beginning to see the possibility of a world where conflicts are resolved through diplomacy and negotiation and other peaceful means, or where conflicts do not arise because people cooperate and collaborate. Art is such an important means of creating visions of a world without conflict, where maybe someday we can say “we don’t have these horrors anymore” instead of “could this be happening in 2022?” and your art is just such essential work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Carolyn,
      That is an interesting insight as to what that statement “could this be happening in 2022” means about the possibility of creating a new world where conflict and differences can be resolved peacefully. I’ll take every little bit of hope offered. And thanks for you support of art as a way of creating the visions that can help to create that world. Often it doesn’t feel like enough to me but it is the only thing I know how to do.

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  10. Thank you, Judith
    maybe I am the only male reading this blog, but I really enjoy the content, we have a saying in Arabic that says ” Beauty is in the eyes of the observer” and it can be also true when we speak about gods. it is not an abstract fact that people of antiquity do worship the gods they created, but maybe they were divine figures to give them hope and courage, but they did not worship them, we on the other hand do create our own gods and worship them.

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    • Jossef,
      I believe there are other men who read the FAR blog and we also have a few male contributors. All are welcome to the discourse.

      I agree with you in that the goddesses and gods of old most likely arose as archetypes to help humankind understand its place in the world. The creation myths found around the world are all so beautiful aren’t they. As to worship, I’m not sure. But certainly for me I look to Goddess, not as a woman directing events from some abode in the Sky, but as an archetype deeply connected to Earth who helps guide us into living in harmony with all beings on her great body.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have just watched the video, and tumbled down a rabbit hole watching more. All I can say is WOW!

    Like

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