Monday, April 30, 2012

Goddesses in the Dirt: Gift of the Double Axe


Unearthing the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time...


When I was in graduate school, I wrote my thesis on the Minoan culture of Crete, specifically their ivory objects and figurines. Years later, when my father traveled to Greece on a cruise, he returned with a gift for me:

I had this in my hands at his bedside when he was dying. The gift was a silver necklace from the island of Crete, in the shape of a double axe.

When my father gave it to me for Christmas, years ago, he told me it was a symbol of power and he thought it appropriate for me to have it. I don't know how much Dad knew about this symbol. Normally an axe would be considered a tool of war, but the double axe of Crete is actually an ancient ceremonial symbol reserved primarily for females.


The ancient Greek word for the double axe is labrys, which is the root of the word labyrinth.
 One of the most famous labyrinths is that of the Minotaur of King Minos of Crete. When King Minos' wife gave birth to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull creature, he locked it away in an elaborate labyrinth so he couldn't escape. As a blood sacrifice, the Minotaur was provided an annual tribute of seven young men and seven young women from Athens as long as he lived. In the last group of men and women to arrive was Theseus, a son of Poseidon. King Minos' daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus and helped him to kill the Minotaur by giving him a ball of yarn with which he could find his way through the labyrinth.


Both the double axe and the labyrinth are associated with the Goddess. The labyrinth, according to D. J. Conway, is the "path leading back to the center" and "regeneration through the Great Mother." The double axe is thought to resemble the shape of the Goddess as butterfly, which signifies life, death and resurrection, as well as the crescent moon, also associated with the Goddess. The axe was used for ceremonial purposes which were believed to have been conducted by priestesses who held positions of power within Minoan culture.


While my dad probably was not aware of the fact that women were strong and powerful in this culture, I cherish the gift as an appreciation and celebration of personal power.  The necklace is not something I'll probably wear, because it simply is too big a piece of jewerly. Instead, it's on display where I can see it every day when I get up, entwined with a necklace my mother used to wear.


It's message to me is clear....

....of the power of women, the current need in our world for rebalancing male and female energy, and the rebirth of the Divine Feminine.


Thank you, Dad♡

38 comments:

  1. I have often read your posts and marveled at the lessons you tell.But today, this two sided axe and what it represents has caught my attention and started my little noggin cells to turn.My art noggin of course.The symbol itself and the definition of Labyrinth.."path leading back to center"...Mmmm...I have a feeling these may find their way into art somehow.
    As always friend,thank you for the lesson.
    big hugs,Cat

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    1. i hear those art noggin cells turnin and look forward to the creative things they come up with ;-)

      xoxo

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  2. It strikes me that the double ax recalls the cross and thatyour mother's necklace next to it is a cross with a figure of the Virgin Mary on it. Both figures of the all powerful women in two very different religions. The feminine divine transcends centuries, cultures and creeds it would seem.

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    1. i was thinking that, too, paul. the divine feminine does indeed transcend cultures and centuries

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  3. Another wonderful lesson for me. Perhaps your father knew a bit about the axe. It seems appropriate for you.

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    1. i'd like to think maybe he did know a little bit about the necklace's history.. ;-)

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  4. Teared up at the end, Amanda.

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    1. we are long overdue for this rebalancing, so it's an emotional thing~

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  5. HI Amanda..wow...Gorgeous symbol..and so deeply special your father gave it to you..how sacred and special..what a touching story..beautiful!! Hugs..and beautiful symboligy..so neat I recently did an art post on sacred labyrinths and mother...and your mention of the double axe/maze and butterfly is also synchronisitc for me in some creations I did..how cool..now holds deeper meaning with what you have written here. We seem to love the same symbols..
    I always enjoy my visits here..you are fabulous!
    Wonderful post!
    Victoria

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    1. sacred labyrinths and mother - we are on the same page, victoria. i will look forward to reading that post~

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  6. Your father knew you too well...I think you should try wearing the necklace....it is a symbol of much love for you....and it's power is unknown until you wear it.....He knew instinctively that it was perfect for you...for some reason....the mystery is the path.....

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    1. i will give it a try and wear it - but first it needs a good polishing!

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  7. Hi Amanda. Suze from Analog Breakfast directed me here, telling me she was sure there was something in this post for me. She was right. I have been studying the Goddess since 1994 and am now working on a novel that I'd love to talk to you about. We just went to Greece and Turkey and saw the Palace of Knossos on the island of Crete - from the Minoan civilization. It was a very powerful site. So lovely to meet you, Amanda.
    Karen

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    1. karen - would love to hear about your novel - do send me an email telling me more. (and lucky you to have just gone to greece and turkey!)

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  8. A powerful post Amanda. I know how much you must cherish that necklace and its symbol. Who knows ... Perhaps your father knew something about the symbolism of the axe. I really love all the secrets behind these ancient symbols.

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    1. you and michelle think the same thing...that my dad knew more about the necklace than perhaps i realized.

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  9. Interesting, as alwyas, I have seen many such symbols in Crete but never gone deeper into its meaning. As I remember they are for example sculptured in some stones in Crete
    thanks for this explanation!

    Life and travelling
    Cooking

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    1. another symbol used a lot in minoan culture was the bull's horns, and this was definitely sculptured into stone.

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  10. When your Father saw the silver double-headed axe....he thought of you. Whether he knew it's true historical meaning or not - is moot. He was compelled to choose it...it resonated with him.....and with you.

    It is beautiful in its simplicity....that's part of its power. I love that you have paired it with your Mum's Medallion of the Virgin Mary...together, they both say so much....reveal so much about your wonderful parents - and about their beautiful daughter.

    Memories are so strong, so vibrant...yet there is something comforting about being able to hold a tangible object in ones hand....

    You remain in my thoughts daily....

    Love,

    ♥ Robin ♥

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    1. i am convinced now, dear robin. thank you for sharing this.....it seems that this necklace was destined to take on even more meaning after my dad's passing. yet another of life's mysteries ;-)

      you and paul both mentioned how curious that both mom's necklace and the one dad gave me symbolized the divine feminine, but in different ways. i appreciate this insight and will look at both necklaces with new eyes from now on. yes, there is something very comforting about holding a tangible object in one's hand..

      sending love, dear robin, and thanks.

      xoxo

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  11. I think it's amazing that of all the symbols and trinkets that your father could have brought back from Greece for you, he chose this one. I think he truly knew what a powerful force you are x

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  12. Interesting history on the double ax. Thanks for sharing that. And your father's wisdom.

    The recovery of the divine feminine. Including the Holy Spirit of the Judeo-Christian thought. For Christians, particularly, the feminine member of the Holy Trinity.

    Time for rebalancing. Yes. But a dangerous time. When women are asserting authority in society, and eliciting anti-women responses from men. Consider the sexual politics being fought out in the US currently over "family planning." Sigh.

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

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    1. it is a dangerous time, but also a time filled with possibility for many things positive. i am very interested in your statement about the feminine member of the holy trinity. I was planning a post on this and would love to learn what you know.

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  13. I always thought how clever Ariadne was - such a simple idea! Women power, yes, it often does not lie in bodily power but in looking at things from a different angle (which women can obviously do well)(and which drives my husband crazy, haha!). Your Dad was so proud of you, do you know that, Amanda? This beautiful gift shows you how much!

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    1. thank you, dear geli ;-)

      sometimes the most insightful ideas or solutions to problems are the most simple. yes - looking at things from a different angle.....we could definitely benefit from that!

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  14. Oh, it's a lovely piece of jewelry, Amanda, and says a lot about your dad, too. Another gift to remember him by. I don't care how big it is, I'd wear it with pretty ruffled blouses!

    Labyrinth as "path leading back to the center" and "regeneration through the Great Mother." Wow, so interesting to read this and learn of the history of the double axe. My son is addicted to sketching out mazes, I'm going to have to give him this news. :)

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    1. how interesting that you son is addicted to sketching out mazes - as with escher prints they can be incredibly engaging~

      i will try to be bold and take your suggestion about wearing the necklace!

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  15. to rebalancing, then. yes. the photo of the two necklaces entwined says so much.

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  16. oh i love it - and my guess is that your father knew of the significance of the symbol and knew how appropriate it was for you too; so glad you have both these special pieces x

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    1. i am too, val. the necklaces are by my bedside where i can see them every morning and remember both my parents~

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  17. you often bring me to the divine, amanda. it is similar to when i first read 'the mists of avalon.' the power of the goddess is here.

    the "path leading back to the center": isn't that the truth, we are on that path together, so many of us, even when alone in loss and grief.clearly your Father infused himself in that double ax as well. that you have 'tangled' it with your Mother's medal: well, i swallow in reverence.

    about my Father's visits: flowers appear where they should not and sometimes cannot: one pink petunia from dry crusted dirt in a broken flower box in his backyard. a dancing daffodil when there is no breeze. i have become convinced: i look for my Father's flowers and i am always surprised when they appear. i hope you will see or feel something somehow this way. i think you will. what an intense time, yes? i imagine sometimes the love is overwhelming. and for that, i think
    grief must be worth it.

    with love always
    kj

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    1. you were the one who brought me to marion zimmer's book and i will always be grateful to you for that.

      and now this story of your father's visits via flowers....

      oh kj, that is incredible. really. how much comfort this must bring you.

      in that same vein, if i dare, i will start to look for yellow roses and sunflowers to begin appearing in my life (my dad's favorites....)

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  18. I traced that labyrinth twice with my finger to see the in-out-in pattern, so complex and yet simple. And the two gifts that you have from your parents represent the same thing - seemingly complex, yet also so simple and true. It's a wonderful story, told by a child whose parents appear to have loved and known her.

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    1. thank you for these words, mim...they bring me so much comfort♡

      i am now going back to the labyrinth to trace the pattern..

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  19. When power is balanced, we are all empowered. What beautiful gifts, brought to me through these symbols this evening.

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  20. What a wonderful father-daughter story, Amanda. Your dad had a sixth-sense about the strength of his daughter. It is a lovely remembrance of both parents in a place that keeps them at the forefront of your thoughts.

    I loved reading the story of the labyrinth and the significance of the maze.

    Bises,
    Genie

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Thank you for visiting♡