Goddesses in the Dirt: Mists

An archaeologist unearths the Divine Feminine, one archetype at a time...

Goddesses in the Dirt - Issue #26: Mists

The word mist comes from the Greek mio, to close one's lips or eyes, or 'one who keeps silence.' It is the idea that the mist is a place of secrets, of transition, danger, and transformation, and is the root of the word mystery. The ancient Greek religion had cults called mysteries, which represented an opportunity for individuals to have a personal relationship with the gods. 

I have been fascinated by mists since I was little. When I lived in Greece as a college student, I visited the site of Olympia. Situated in a valley surrounded by cypress, it is a gorgeous setting for this collection of ancient buildings and the site of the ancient Olympic Games. My first day I got up very early and was shocked to see a thick layer of white clouds lying below the mountain peaks - similar to those in this photo - seemingly close enough to touch with your hands.

It was then I realized why the ancient Greeks felt that mists were the manifestation of beings more powerful than themselves. The goddess Athena is often referred to as appearing to Odysseus in the form of a mist:
When Odysseus had finished his tale, the king ordered him sped to Ithaca. The sailors put him down on the beach asleep. Athena cast a protective mist about him that kept him from recognizing his homeland. Finally the goddess revealed herself and dispelled the mist. In joy Odysseus kissed the ground. 

Mists are often associated with the supernatural even in modern culture. The writer Lawrence Durrell tells the story of a mist that enveloped a hiker on the island of Corfu, confusing and frightening him. The hiker said he heard voices emanating from the mist and months later inexplicably jumped from his Athens apartment, his phone found torn from the wall.

Mists keep things shrouded that are meant to stay secret. Another Greek goddess, Akhlys, was said to be found on battlefields, spreading mist over the eyes of the dying. 

In the Mayan cosmology a goddess named Ayauhteotl was said to control the mists as well as the light and dark beams that appear at sunrise and sunset. Interestingly enough, she was also known as the goddess of fame and glory.

I love this photograph, which captures the essence and magic of mists. It was taken by Magnus McMahon -  you can see this and more incredible photos like it on his blog here

Every now and then I enjoy watching the movie Legends of the Fall, the tale of three brothers whose lives become entwined with the same woman. The film score is a beautiful song entitled Twilight and Mist. Below is a clip and the lyrics, which speak to the evanescent nature of mists and their perpetual entanglement with the feminine archetype.

Twilight and Mist

As evening fell, a maiden stood
At the edge of a wood.
In her hands lay the reins
Of a stallion.
And ne'er I'd seen a girl as fair,
Heard a gentler voice anywhere.
Whispered, "Alas..."
She belonged, belonged to another--
Another forever.
Yes, she belonged to
the twilight and mist

Lyrics by Brock Walsh
Composed by James Horner

Photos courtesy of Magnus McMahon and Google images


  1. 'In the Mayan cosmology a goddess named Ayauhteotl was said to control the mists as well as the light and dark beams that appear at sunrise and sunset.'

    Is this Aurora?

    'Legends of the Fall' nearly ripped my heart out.

    A, I found this post to be quite timely. I believe we are entangled.

  2. This is absolutely beautiful Amanda. Often I think the mists cloaking the moon in the pine trees are what keep me in these woods when I think of moving away.

    Silence seems to be much on the mind of many in our neighborhood lately.

  3. Wait, wait...I'm not finished watching the movie! I'd forgotten how beautifully shot this film is. I must see it again. (Having three sons, it was a difficult one to watch the first time around.)

    Thank you for the added dimension to the already magical feeling surrounding mists. I never made the connection between mist and mystery before now!

    Beautiful post, Amanda.

  4. Amanda, this is all so new to me! I never quite understood the movie, but this explanation helps me see the layering involved here.
    Now, I want to see it again, and again.
    Thank you, so very much.

  5. Mist has always fascinated me. Your post has prompted me to fish out my cloud photos of recent years. I posted 14 of those I consider the best at my place. I hope you will forgive my piggybacking.

  6. Lovely post.Mysterious mist,we have lots of it here in Cornwall and when a sea mist slowly creeps across the land it is otherwordly!

  7. Amanda, you are the real goddess to have such an incredible and beautiful blog filled up with so wonderful stories, useful information and stunning pictures! Congratulations and wish you much more for 2012!!!

  8. I love mists and I love Legends of The Fall. There is a soft, ethereal quality about mists, very feminine and mysterious.

  9. Beautiful post Amanda...the mists are part of my every day heart mind and spirit..i am bewildered and mesmerized by them..from childhood to adulthood..till forever..and even in the end when we cross though them! Magnificent sharings as always!

    See you in the mists kindred! Gorgeous photos and imagery..thankyou for the magic you share!

  10. The mists seem to be getting thicker, deeper, ever more mysterious, with each passing year... find myself saying more often : Onward through the fog...

    Lovely reflections on the mists of mysteries more ancient than we know.

  11. we don't get mist too often here, but when we do i feel "understood". at first i didn't want to watch the video you posted because that movie makes me ache so....but i couldn't resist. ache is good. and that song! what a beautiful post, amanda.


  12. you are a wonderful teacher, amanda. i learn so much from you.

    i did not know the origin of mists. the accompanying photos are perfect and powerful. now i also understand the title of one of my very favorite and transformative books, the mists of avalon. (I'll bet you've read it).

    happy new year once again, friend ♥

  13. LOVED the mist stories! and love mist, actually...it's so ethereal. and you're on my sidebar, ok? happy new year and more things wondrous to be discovered in 2012! oh yeah. x janelle

  14. You ALWAYS come up with new things, and always beautiful pictures, and aah, I loved that film (I mainly loved the horses).
    When I was little, and feeling lost and unhappy (we must still talk about that "mystery" you had at 11), I so wished for a magic hiding cloak, and whenever a thick mist came and hid me and the world from me, I was magically happy.
    Please collect all your goddess stories and make a book from them!

  15. suze - i've no doubt we're entangled ;-)

    and yes, aurora is goddess of the dawn in greek mythology (not sure who controls the dusk!)

    rubye - mists, moon and pine trees are some of my favorite things. if i had all nearby i'd not be inclined to move either.

    as per silence - do you think we are on to something for 2012? i just read an article predicting that folks will begin to become annoyed with all our cellphone/smartphone usage. maybe we will just hang up and start listening to everything we're missing.

    jo - when i first discovered the connection between mists and mystery i was hooked....i love this stuff and so glad it finds such a lovely audience.

    rosaria - it's a long epic-y film. i watch the beginning and do something else (wash dishes after dinner!) during the war part and return when the characters return to montana!

  16. paul - i am honored that you would be inspired to share your beautiful photographs and i encourage everyone to visit paul's blog at Costo

    angela - i am envious of your cornwall mists!

    philip - poli efharisto filo mou!

    loree - i agree - mists are a feminine phenomenon (wow, that's a mouthful of a rhyme!)

  17. victoria - you make a very good point - mists can be bewildering - such as the one which encompassed the poor chap on corfu....i envision is as being a physical metaphor for our many mental states. it is what you make of it —

    owen - onward through the fog. that is a keeper!

    sherry - mist being rare in montana - never thought of that. you have so much else - wind, snow, sun. so when it happens it must be special. (curious as to what in the film made you ache...)

  18. kj - so embarrassed to admit i have not read the mists of avalon. now i must. putting it on my reading list thanks to you dear kj♡

    janelle - thank you darlin for dropping by and putting me on your bloggie bar...and yes, hoping for many wondrous discoveries in 2012! xx

    geli - i bet you have some awesome mists in usedom, yeah? i can see you as a little girl playing hide and seek in them...

    at some point i will have so many of these goddess postings that i will have already written a book (hehe)!

  19. Thanks for the history of the word mist... I never knew it's connection to 'mystery' but it makes sense!
    I live high up in the clouds here and when the mist comes, it always seems a little magical :-)
    (and Legends of the Fall is one of my favorites!)

    1. i bet the mists in your neck of the woods are fantastique!

  20. Magical mist! I love your photo of Olympus and it was interesting to hear the Greek take on it. My daughter was noticing all the mist imagery and symbolism in Jekyll and Hyde that she’s reading for English class. When I think of mists, I think of England. There was lots of mist in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the movie.) Your movie clip was gorgeous too.

    1. i remember those mists well from my time spent in england...and the smell of burning peatmoss to accompany it. i've not read jekyll and hyde but how astute of your daughter to note the symbolism - and i must see tinker tailor - i heard gary oldman does a bang up job.

  21. My friend you are like a siren of old. This blog is a gift.

    1. thank you yoli. i treasure being likened to a siren - but i promise i won't lure odysseus to the rocks!

  22. Mists.....ethereal, powerful...sometimes cold and cruek, sometimes warm and intoxicating... as a SF Girl, whose only other real home was in the UK for several years, I love them....have basked in them...wandered through them, breathed in their fragrances. (Yes, they do have a fragrance - depending on where you are, what season, what time of day...)

    I saw "Legends of the Fall" a few years ago on Netflix.... I loved it...and one of the most powerful elements was the music (you KNOW ME...I love that particular Muse)...thank you for the lyrics... I think I may see it again.

    Sending you many warm hugs,

    ♥ Robin ♥

    1. robin, you are the queen of mists living in sf as you do ~ i wonder if you ever get tired of them? i appreciate what you say about their many moods - powerful, sometimes cruel - sometimes intoxicating...yes to all of them.

      legends is a great film to veg out to when you have a quiet evening - but i skip over the war parts! hehe

      big hugs dear robin♡

  23. Dear Amanda,
    what a lovely post that speak volumes to me. I love mist too.;) I love all those in between weather phenomenon, just like I love twilight - not dark and not light. Mist is *not clear and not rainy* to me. I love the images it creates and the enchantment that it instigates. Indeed, here in Denmark we say that the Bog-lady is brewing, when mist covers the landscape.;)
    Loved all the images in the post below, so lucky you must feel to have such charming kids.
    Happy 2012 dear friend,

    1. we share so many similarities zuzana - i was just commenting on erin's blog about twilight and all those powerful in between times and weather moods - so prescient and laden with meaning. i love your allusion to the bog lady - i'd love to profile her at some point in my goddesses series, as she sounds like a colorful character!

      thank you for your new year's wishes and yes, i am feeling so grateful. blessings to you dear zuzana♡

  24. First thing that entered my mind was "mists of Avalon" which is a great book with magical mists - lovely to imagine. I adore mists, love the muffled sounds and eerie feel. The first time I was in California we saw the mist rolling in live a living thing - it was awesome.

    Lovely post,

  25. i am completely rivetted by your Goddesses in the Dirt series; and i love the mystery of mists - shrouding and revealing secrets as they move. thanks so much x

  26. Absolutely beautiful and so informative, as always, Amanda!!!

  27. Read your response and then my eyes landed on your response to Ru. The pine tree, in the Celtic birthday calendar, is The Particular -- much disillusion until it meets its ideal ...


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