No matter the culture, it’s easy to see myths as fantastical narratives of the lives of Gods and Goddesses, surrounded by mystical elements and events that go beyond the boundaries of reality. The religious foundations of these ancient mythologies are so powerful that today we might struggle to relate to them.
However, they're more approachable than we believe, Sometimes we're so distracted by all the mysticism, we forget or fail to acknowledge that they’re based on human experience.
These stories were created by our ancestors to explain their surroundings and they served as a comforting answer to all the things they failed to understand. Each God and Goddess has human qualities that makes them way more relatable to us than we think. Following this idea, in her book Goddesses in Everywoman, psychiatrist Jean Shinoda Bolen explores the similarities women have with certain mythological goddesses. In other words, she studies the archetypes of these characters and associates them to patterns and behaviors women have throughout their lives.
These imposing mythological figures have been highly used in psychology and psychoanalysis to explain a different types of behaviors or personality structures. Following the Jungian archetypal theory, Bolen classifies human characteristics according to mythological characters, which are based on humanity's understanding of life, to help women understand the basis of their own personality and being.
As she explains, certain women follow more "normalized" goals in life, like building a family life and getting married, which would be related to more traditional patterns or archetypes. On the other side of the coin there are also women who seek independence and have more self-centered goals, similar to many trailblazing characters. This exercise is not about finding one specific goddess and spotting similarities, it's not a checklist we need to go through. We are complex beings and this theory also takes into account the diverse personality patterns we follow. We can be associated with different goddesses according to specific characteristics they embody. Jean Shinoda Bolen’s idea is to help women understand themselves better and to see what are their goals, frustrations, sources of happiness, etc.
Of course, this article won’t give you all the answers nor will it provide a complete description of your own archetypes. Besides that, Shinoda Bolen’s study focuses only on Greek goddesses to create the different patterns. Here, our main purpose is to compile 7 mythological characters from different cultures, their symbology, and what they represent, so you can have some ideas to get the perfect tattoo. After all, tattoos can be the best way to constantly remind yourself of your goals, fears, and achievements.
See which of these goddesses best represents you and get that perfect tattoo.
For the Egyptians, Isis was the goddess of health, wisdom, and motherhood. She's the mother of Horus, one of the main deities in Egypt, and she represents the ultimate protector of the nation. As the patroness of nature, not only did she have the ability to heal anyone, she also held the power of resurrection. Isis represents alchemical transformation; in other words, she has the ability to take the most of any situation and transform it to work in her favor.
Her main symbols are the full moon, spreading wings, scorpions and cobras. If you're one of those people who always find a solution for everything, you can get a tattoo representing this powerful goddess.
Generally considered as an evil deity thanks to the many film representations, Kali actually represents fierceness. As one of the main Hindu deities, she's considered the universal mother. The popular misconception comes from the fact that she's considered a destructive character, but her job was to destroy evil and demons. Her visual representation involves knives, skulls and heads; that's why she's often seen as macabre. But in Hinduism, she's worshiped for her bravery and ferocity to destroy evil forces. Her symbols, of course, are blood, bones, skulls, and swords.
Greek goddess of hunt and wilderness, she's often classified in the Greek pantheon as one of the virgin deities, meaning, not married or associated with a man. Artemis embodies independence and self-sufficiency. Also, she's often seen as a fearless and audacious female character with a free spirit, but also a compassionate and caring personality. As a hunter and moon goddess, her main symbols are the moon, bow and arrow, but she's often represented surrounded by animals like stags, horses, dogs, birds, and nature.
Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of love, war, beauty, and fertility. She is now known to represent sensuality and passion. Contrary to the common perception of Inanna as a character that only follows her sexual drives, she was actually worshipped as the embodiment of femininity. For this civilization, sex and passions didn't have a negative connotation and were often seen as sacred. In archetypal terms, she embodies self-confidence, sensuality, and creativity. Her main symbols include a lion, a horse, a star inside a circle, and the skies.
After being abducted and married to Hades, she became Queen of the Underworld. According to the myth, after making a deal, she's to stay with her mother Demeter, goddess of the harvest, half a year, and the other half next to her husband in the Underworld. She's often associated with spring and nature. Persephone represents introspection and duality; on the one hand, she's imaginative and innocent, and on the other, she's perceptive and profound. Her symbols are pomegranates, lilies, crows, and bats.
Hathor is considered the Egyptian goddess of motherhood, love, joy, dance, and fertility. As motherhood is represented in archetypal theories, it can represent both the loving and nurturing characteristics of a woman, but also its controlling and overprotective features. This archetype doesn't refer just to being a mother, but nurturing and loving yourself and those around you. It's the representation of unconditional love. Cows, hippopotamus, Falcons, the sun, and the skies are symbols associated to Hathor.
Kwan Yin is the Buddhist Goddess of compassion and mercy. She doesn't care about sacrificing herself to help others. It's said that she refused to enter the heavens until the last being on Earth is saved. She's the embodiment of kindness and selflessness. She's often represented next to a willow branch, a lotus flower, and a dove.
Tattoos are a great way to express our desires and personalities. To do so, it's not necessary to get very specific or obvious designs; we can always find symbols that represent our dreams or goals. Check out these tattoo designs based on ancient symbols that will remind you of your free soul.