Ancient Greek and Hindu Goddesses as Archetypes of our Lives

beautiful Saraswati

Goddess News‘ axiom:

‘If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’

Goddess News, Spiritual Blog, Divine Feminine, Dr Joanna Kujawa, Spiritual Detective :).

I was thinking about all the possible topics for this month’s Goddess News newsletter (so many ideas!) but one thought kept coming back which came from a suggestion from one of the subscribers to ‘compare’ goddesses from different traditions. This is an immense undertaking and definitely can’t be done in one newsletter. However, it seems appropriate to discuss and compare goddesses that have been (or are) openly worshipped both in west and in the east. Although the focus of this newsletter is on secret and repressed traditions, we should also honour living traditions and see how we can add them to our lives. Here I have in mind the Hindu goddesses and the ancient Greek goddesses. Both have a very personal resonance for me that I would like to share with you.

ArtemisWhen I was a little girl, I was discontented with the images of what a girl/woman was supposed to be. I was never a girl who wanted to sit in a nice dress and wait for the hero to come back from his adventures. Don’t get me wrong – I liked the dresses, and I liked the boys, but I wanted my own adventures! I remember once reading a book about pirates that I had found in my grandfather’s closet, and at the age of nine I decided to be a pirate. It was a complicated decision because there were no pirate-girls around, and I wasn’t sure how I could do all the pillaging and travelling on a sailing ship in a nice dress yet command a respect among the bearded pirates. You see my dilemma?  Fortunately, at the time my mum gave me a book on ancient Greek gods and goddesses. It was the discovery of a lifetime for me. In it were goddesses who didn’t sit around and wait for the gods to come back from their adventures. They had adventures themselves. I’ll give a brief tour of the ancient Greek goddesses. There was Athena – the goddess of wisdom; Hera – the goddess of the hearth and a wife and mother; Aphrodite – the beautiful goddess of love who had unending love-affairs and was certainly no virgin; and there was Artemis – the goddess of the hunt but really an adventuress and very independent goddess who preferred to live outdoors and create her own adventures rather than sit on Mt Olympus and polish her nails. There were so many to choose from – I was in heaven!

goddessAs I grew up and became interested in spirituality, I began to be somewhat dissatisfied with theses goddesses because they were not goddesses of any conscience, and although they were immortal, they had absolutely no spiritual insight and could offer no guidance. This is where the Hindu goddesses come in. In many ways, they are very similar to ancient the Greek goddesses, as they occupy very similar domains. Saraswati, like Athena, is a learned goddess of wisdom but primarily of letters and music; Parvati is a bit like Hera the wife;  Radha is the romantic lover like Aphrodite; Sundari is the sensual aspect of Aphrodite (often shown in a sexual act on top of Shiva); and Durga/Kali the tiger-riding goddess is a more powerful version of the adventurous but short-tempered Artemis. Except there is one significant difference – they have the spiritual insight, they have the spiritual significance.

AphroditeThe goddesses of ancient Greece are like Hollywood stars, while the Hindu goddesses have a connection to the divine realm and their actions are focussed on the domain of the Self, of spiritual improvement, of reaching oneness with the divine. Saraswati studies the scriptures and her domain is sacred Wisdom; Radha is a lover but she is also a bhakti, as she represents the love and bliss of being within proximity of the divine; Sundari is sexual but also very powerful and uses sexuality to reach the divine. Thus, all of them share one purpose – to bring us closer to our highest spiritual potential through whatever gifts and means we have: intellectual prowess (Saraswati), heightened sexuality (Sundari), romantic longing (Radha), domestic chores (in a sense Parvati is the domestic goddess), the ability to create abundance (Lakshmi), and the ability to bring change even by drastic means (Kali).

This is an oversimplification but with good reason. What does this all mean for us – women and men?

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychotherapist and a rebellious student of Freud, thought that these kinds of primeval images are really archetypes in our psyche and they offer us choices and, in some circumstances, can also offer us guidance. Indeed, they can be used in deep analysis. So the question is: what goddess have you been unconsciously imitating in your psyche and consequently in your life? The same question applies to men as men can also be uncomfortably caught in a particular masculine archetype that do not serve them or testify to who they really are or aspire to be.

Alternatively, what goddess have you been trying to unconsciously manifest in your life as a partner?

The answer to these two questions (depending on your gender and sexual-preference) is very important.

Why? Because if these choices were made unconsciously this is where your unhappiness with your life and your romantic choices lies.

Once you identify your goddess – the one who you have unconsciously imitated or invited into your life – change her by bringing her to your awareness. This means you should now make a conscious choice, an aware choice within and without, in both your inner and in your outer life.

Practical application or Workbook for the Goddess News Spiritual Blog:

These questions should help you to identify your archetype and uplift it to another level:

  1. Are you a talented writer and speaker (good with words and concepts) or are musically talented? If so, the archetype is Athena/Saraswati and you can ask yourself how you can uplift/use these qualities to experience transcendence, the communion with the divine or service to the world (perhaps writing on spirituality, studying and teaching about spiritual paths and traditions or use your musical talents for similar purposes?)
  2. Are you an activist, a ‘destroyer’ of old or outdated values that do not serve us anymore? A passionate fighter for a cause? If so, the archetype is Kali and you follow the principles of change and justice.  Your goal might be to embrace everyone even the ‘enemies’ of the cause and experience oneness of all creation.
  3. Are you endlessly caught in romantic relationships that go nowhere? If so, the archetype is Aphrodite/Radha. You might want to uplift the romantic longing and ‘high’ to the longing for the Self because this is what you are really looking for on the deepest level – the oneness with the Beloved.
  4. Are you experimenting sexually? If so, the archetype could be Sundari and you are really looking for the beautiful principle of ‘Spanda’ – the feeling of heightened perception when you are one with another. In Spiritual Tantra, ‘Spanda” is the very vibration of the Universe and its creative power.
  5. If you are a domestic goddess – the archetype is Hera/Parvati and you are like the Mother Earth. You might extend your divine qualities of carrying and compassion to all creation in the understanding that on the deepest level we are all one.
  6. Are you a talented visual artist or are capable of creating effortless abundance in your life? If so, the archetype is Lakshmi and you can use your manifesting talents to bring abundance and beauty to the world.
  7. Are you an adventurer and traveller – the archetype is Artemis/Durga? How can you bring the world together with your unique perspective of diversity and Oneness as a divine calling?

Once again, your comments and support are the life of this newsletter and blog and are deeply appreciated and anticipated with great love.  If you would like to contribute some visual elements to the newsletter that would be wonderful.  Also, I attach a link to a brief promotional video that summarises the newsletter – edited by the talented Dr Karen Sutherland,

Sending love,


Goddess News

Spiritual Blog

Dr Joanna Kujawa

The Video:

Books to read 🙂

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18 Responses to Ancient Greek and Hindu Goddesses as Archetypes of our Lives

  1. Linda McLeod says:

    So interesting to align the greek and hindu goddesses! I loved the greek legends as a girl, amazing adventures & huge love stories, currently working with Kali, but, wonderful insights into aligning with different goddesses to engage different aspects.

    • Admin says:

      It is wonderful that we have connected on this level as well :). My experience is exactly the same. At times, we forget what has shaped us but it is important to uncover it and uplift it. And enjoy it! I know – all the adventures and romances – I loved them too! My life was made possible through their examples. And Kali is such a powerful archetype. It was my feeling that you are involved in creating a shift in human consciousness and there could be no more important task. Thank you 🙂

  2. Ian Robinson says:

    Hey Joanna… GREAT blog!! Thank you so much for going to such a lot of trouble on our behalf. I found everything you said to be of interest. (And most enlightening too.) What a lucky guy Shamir is!!!

    • Admin says:

      Haha, Thank you Ian – I will definitely tell this to Shamir (who, by the way, sends his love)! And thank you so so much. It i so wonderful to get such a positive response. I believe we are on the edge of a great spiritual shift. It is an exciting journey and I am so glad that we can undertake it together

  3. G. says:

    As a man this resounds profoundly with me, especially with my connection to Wisdom-Sohia. I also recommend the book on Godesses by Joseph Campbell

    • Admin says:

      Thank you. I plan to write much more on Sophia and Joseph Campbell whose work I love. So thank you for this reminder. Indeed, the next blog most likely will be about Campbell’s Journey of the Hero and (heroine). Thank you for your inspiring comments and continued presence here. It encourages me to write more :),

  4. KS says:

    Hi Joanna, thank you for this interesting comparisons of the Goddesses in both traditions…as a Hindu I naturally identified with the various Hindu Goddesses at different points/moments in my life…they were conveniently created (in exaggerated variety) to help us accept our own range of fleeting passing madness rising and waning with seasons of our lives…handy archetypes indeed to explain occasional morphing from being “Florence Nightingale” to “Kali” especially now when I am going through a divorce …Aaah but thankfully the wisdom of menopause also has the charm of Goddess Parvati restoring not just sanity, but urging kindness and compassion for some…All I know is, I’m all these glorious Goddesses rolled into one – the day I get them to peacefully sit at my kitchen table as One, will I truly Shine!!…So my dearest friend, won’t it be nice to simply imagine how that glorious day might be, when ALL the Goddesses happily arrive for high tea?:)

    • Admin says:

      Ah Kathy, thank you for your personal and touching comment, straight from the heart. I was hoping to hear from you. I also know that you are a beautiful and wise soul xxx. Your final comment reminds me of my favourite poem by Derek Walcott: ‘The time will come when with elation, You will greet yourself arriving at your own door, at your own mirror and each will smile at each other’s welcome…’ Yes when we are balanced, when we listen to our goddesses and honour them, we will gather them all within our being and we will shine, my friend and help others to shine! xxx

    • Linda McLeod says:

      It’s conversation like this that inspires and supports, wonderful goddess energies, full of humour, grace and fire!

  5. Hey Joanna,this looks like it could be a wonderful adventure. I look forward to reading your other blogs and maybe even continuing the conversation. I went to a good presentation on the Black Madonna (something I know you are interested in) when I was in the US recently. I am very interested in sow goddesses, the Greek goddess Demeter was a sow goddess in her early pre Olympian form. By the time she became ‘civilised ‘ in the Olympian pantheon this had long gone though pigs were still her sacred animal and were central to the rites at Eleusis.
    Marici is a Nepalese goddess of the dawn she is sometimes depicted as sow-headed or in a chariot being drawn by seven pigs across the sky (who said pigs can’t fly) Diamond sow: Vajra Varahi is an important Tantric diety, she is depicted as having a pigs head as well as a human head. Interesting considering the pig is at the centre of the wheel of ignorance. Did the Buddhists like the Christians surprise the power of the ancient symbol by loading it up with our human shadow hmmm

    • Oh autocorrect did a few strange things

      • Admin says:

        Yes, continuing a conversation – I am looking forward to this :). I want this blog (and the newsletter) to be as interractive as possible – so any ideas in this direction are welcome 🙂

    • Admin says:

      Thank you for sharing the Goddesss-details of your recent trip to the US, Marie. Yes, the Black Madonna – a fascinating topic that I will write about in one of the blogs. I love when people tell me their ideas and interests. There is a very famous Black Madonna in Poland – one of my first short stories is about her but I did nto undertdand her then as she was explained to me in an orthodox way. I did not know the depth of her symblism then – something to write about in the near future. Who knows – perhaps we have the chance to discuss it in Brisbane in one hte future talks :). I think the concept, the idea of a Goddess is very deeply planted in us and is resurfacing with great power now. So much to explore!

  6. G. says:

    Love to talk to anyone about this important subject. Please reach me via email
    I am a Jungian and have too few people to talk about this

  7. Jane says:

    Thank you for such an in-depth take!! Much appreciated.

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