Birth of Athena

Birth of Athena

Birth of Athena

My favorite books as a child were stories from ancient Greek history and mythology. They challenged my imagination – for example, the story that Athena, the goddess of wisdom and military victory, was born out of Zeus’s head because Zeus had swallowed her pregnant mother, Metis, the goddess of crafty thought and wisdom, fearing that their children would outsmart him and rule the world. When the time came for Athena to be born, Zeus developed a terrible headache, and so the smith god, Hephaistos, opened Zeus’ head with an axe. Out of the crack Athena stepped out, fully grown and in full battle armor.

I thought this and other similarly mind-boggling scenarios could not have happened in our usual physical world, but rather in some parallel, metaphysical and metaphorical reality that mirrored our world but was more unstable and fluid. That parallel world of gods and titans was one gigantic, swirling, and never ending cataclysm of creation – the proto-world giving birth to concepts, ideas, laws, and various archetypes. Their reflections then populated our physical world as material objects visible to our mortal eyes, or physical and metaphysical laws comprehensible to our mortal minds.

Thus, the incomprehensible and indescribable in human terms birth of a goddess is reflected in our physical world as a much simpler story involving cannibalism, headache, axe, and the birth of a fully grown adult from a cracked skull.