The “Triple Goddess” was an idea first proposed by Robert Graves in “The White Goddess” and nowadays taken as gospel by modern neo-pagan groups. However, I have a problem with it – for the following reason. The “Triple Goddess” supposedly represents three ideals of womanhood, Maid, Mother and Crone, or to put it another way:
- In the first stage of her life, a woman is a chaste virgin (Maid);
- Then as she enters adulthood, she becomes a dutiful wife and home-maker (Mother);
- Then she becomes a nice old Grandma (Crone).
Seen in this way, the Triple Goddess, far from representing the ideal of womanhood, represents the apotheosizing of a patriarchal, sexist and chauvinistic male idea of what womanhood should be.
If, however, The White Goddess had been written by a woman, i.e. a woman living in the twenty-first century, I suspect that the idea of a “Triple Goddess” would not have been proposed at all. Rather, she would have come up with the idea of a “Quadruple Goddess,” to wit:
- Mother; and
I.e. to represent the fact that in between being a Maid and settling down to become a Mother, most young women – and certainly all those of my acquaintance – want to spend several years going out and having a good time.
I appreciate the fact a lot of people might attach stigma to the idea. Indeed, I was wracking my brains to find an appropriate word to describe stage two: most of the epithets of which I could think have been or are used perjoratively. So in the end I just said to hell with it!
Now before I start getting criticised by the fluffy-bunnies for coming up with an idea at such variance to their cherished beliefs, I would like to back up my claim with some evidence, to wit: the phenomenon of the “Love Spell.”
I read a lot of neo-pagans say “Oh you cannot cast love-spells! It’s dangerous! It’s unethical! It would saddle you with lots of bad karma! It would mean interfering with someone’s free will! Think of everything that could go wrong!” Etc etc etc. So if Love Spells are so bad, how come they exist at all??? Unless the old village wise-woman – who existed to service the needs of the Maid, Mother and Crone – also serviced those of the “Whore” as well.
Herodotus writes about “sacred prostitution” or rather “sacred-random-sex-encounters” taking place in temples of Aphrodite, whilst even the Old Testament uses the word “Qadeshah” in some places to describe prostitutes – a word which literally means “a consecrated woman.” (The context was a mitzvah prohibiting women from being Qadeshahs, but at least it points to their existence.)
Thus there is a historical precedent for claiming that the Goddess has a “Whore-aspect,” yet a lot of neo-pagans are still buying into the Robert Graves inspired paradigm, thereby helping to stigmatise an aspect of feminity that many women want to indulge in.