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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.