Athena of the High Places
Athena, motion and wisdom.
I pray, o goddess, who with fire's flickering light did bring us new health
I sing, o goddess, who with the fruits of your labor brings us joy
I sacrifice, o goddess, a portion of that which with your aid I have made
Blessed lady of the stove flames, in thanks I singBlessed Head is of the hearth and Home, in thanks I pray
Speciosam et fortis
Partis vestri munera nobiscum
Quia filii tui sumus
Ave Mater Dei
Dolor in silentio
Partis vestri munera nobiscum
A Prayer to Apollo
If ever, my lord, I have made you aware of me.
Grant me a boon.
If ever, my lord, I have sung a pleasing song.
If ever, my lord, I have written a pleasing poem.
Grant me your blessing.
But if ever, my lord, I have asked and been ignored
I beg of you now to hear me.
Grant me your guidance.
Grant me your grace.
Heal what ails me and keeps me in place.
If ever, my lord, I have spread word of you.
If ever, my lord, I have been a good man.
Grant me more time.
If ever, my lord, I have worshipped you rightly.
If ever, my lord, I have sacrificed for you.
Grant me health.
Athena, Goddess of Civilization
It is important to remember that Christianity, the religion as opposed to the cult, rose out of a Hellenized world. That throughout the Roman Empire, including Judaea, the Hellenic culture, language, and religion left a strong imprint on every religion, cult, and culture that existed within its borders.
Even before the advent of the Jesus Cult, which could well have been a cult that originated with the Adonis Cults of the region, there were philosophers, writers, and artists who often saw Zeus, or some other manifestation of the Sky God, such as Yahweh, as the supreme deity. Referred to sometimes as a prime mover, as Phanes, or as Eros, this theological formulation often had, like the Hindu Brahmin, an ability to manifest in many forms. Forms that were often seen as individual Gods, angelic beings, or even daemonic entities (think nature spirits, not evil ugly creatures from hell) and one of these was a manifestation of divine wisdom.
But unlike in a monotheistic system, in which one must bend over backward to excuse the existence or manifestation of a divine power as a form of a singular "God", sometimes rewriting their own theology to do it (Think of how the Church had to massage the myth of Jesus' birth in order to keep Mary pure enough to give birth to Jesus) a polytheistic system simply accepts these forms as either Gods or as aspects of Gods. The basic stories do not even have to match up, as a polytheistic system accepts that Gods can manifest in many forms to different people, often even contradictory forms as needed by the people who worshipped them.
Athena is one such goddess. Appearing in so many forms as to baffle the mind, yet one must ask, is what remains at the core of a goddess such as Athena common to all of these?
The answer might well be yes.
If we consider her many aspects, aspects of virginity, war, metal worker, artist, poetry, etc., we may find that all of these are aspects that lead us, at their most fundamental levels, to wisdom.
The wisdom to remain unhindered by the ties of marriage, something that in Athenian society usually bound a woman to a rather cloistered life.
The wisdom to act to protect, defend the city, which was at the heart of defending civilization itself.
The wisdom to work metal and not only develop the tools of life and war, but also develop it into art.
The wisdom of nurturing the arts and needful skills of women, such as weaving, for this was a contribution necessary to the well being of the people and their civilization.
You'll notice that there is something at work here, that Athena, divine wisdom, seems very well tied to the preservation and spread of civilization, and that as such it is possibly the one aspect of her that is not explicitly named, but which we moderns would do well to remember.
The she was, and is, Athena, Goddess of Civilization.
In your mercy guide us
Who with your inspiration are capable of so much love
Goddess guard us
In your grace keep us
Who in your light bathe in hopes of love returned
Goddess inspire us
In your warmth nurture us
Who in even the darkest of times seek only your holy passions
Goddess lead us
In your wisdom strengthen us
Who in your presence are weak and prey to our own temptations
Aphrodite love us
And to your bossom hold us
Who sing your holy name and praise all that you are
It means contriver, or designer, of plans or devices. Essentially, mechanic or engineer. And there are several other epithets and cult titles of Athena that point to this aspect of her. As Poliouchos, Alalcomenis, Eryma, etc., there is an implication of Machanitis, the contriver at work.
It is said of Athena that, like the spirit of Sophia and as the “Mover on the Waters” of later times and in Christianity, that she is a power, a force, that is always in motion. Always creating. Always putting things into motion. Athena is a force in the universe that is always creating new things, putting them into context of old things, and then acting upon them. Machanitis is also an aspect of wisdom, which often calls upon creativity and planning to engineer new ways of doing things, be it in war, in weaving, or cleaning your home, it is all the same force, the same spirit.
It is easy to put the Gods into little boxes, and many Pagans do just that, but it is my opinion that each God or Goddess can, by him/herself, form the basis of an entire philosophy or religion. This is especially true of the pan-hellenic deities, especially the big ones like Zeus, Athena, and Apollo. Just a cursory look at their many epithets is an indication of how these Gods were often turned to by their worshippers for everything.
Thus, I think, Athena is also Machanitis in that her power, her force of constant motion and contrivance, is also a force for restraint. She can help us contrive a balance in religion, allowing us to accept and love and worship the Gods, whether we turn to her for most of our needs or not, and in that machination (see what I did there?) she is also the contriver of Hellenismos as a whole. Hers is, perhaps, a power that opens us up to the influence and power of other deities because it would be unwise to put all of one’s eggs in one basket, even a divine one.