The Triple Goddess is a term first popularised by the poet and scholar Robert Graves in the 20th century. He depicted the triplicity as Maiden, Mother and Crone and many neo-pagans have followed this imagery. While some scholars attributed the idea to the lively imagination of the poet, recent archaeology has made it abundantly clear that "Goddess Triplicities" are to be found throughout ancient Europe.
In Hinduism today, the triplicity of the Goddess in Shakta worship is of cardinal importance, and outside the Indo-European world the Triple Goddess is found in Africa and Asia.
How should the devotee of Our Mother God understand this universal image?
While many of us contemplate the single image of Our Mother, there has always been an important Trinitarian aspect to Her worship. Ironically the great Christian theologian, St. Augustine, mocked the pagans for their belief that the Triple Goddess could be One and also Three. After his conversion he found himself defending the masculinised version of the same doctrine!
There are, as usual, various patriarchal stumbling-blocks to avoid. The most prominent is the attempt to assimilate all three aspects of Dea to the moon. This, of course, comes from the early patriarchal phenomenon that archaeologists call "solarisation" – the process of re-assigning the higher (Solar and Celestial) symbolism to the masculine image and leaving the feminine with the lower (Lunar and Earthly) aspects.
Actually, the lunar aspect of the Trinity is the Daughter, and the contrast between the Solar Mother and Lunar Daughter is one of the beautiful and powerful aspects of Trinitarian Déanism.
The Mother and the Daughter, or Maiden, are typified by Demeter and Persephone. Indeed, the name De-Meter means simply "God [the] Mother" or "Mother God", while Peresphone was most often known by Her devotees as Kore, which means simply "Maiden" or "Daughter".
We understand at least a little about the Mother and Maiden aspects of the Triple Goddess, but what of the so-called "Crone"? The term "crone" does not originally signify an old woman. Indeed most ancient images of the Triple Goddess do not include an old woman. "Crone" comes from Greek cronos, meaning time. Thus the significance of "Crone" is identical to that of Kali, which comes from Sanskrit kala, also meaning time.
The Dark Mother, the third (or first) Person of the Trinity is often seen, from the human perspective, as Time the Destroyer. It is She who in-breathes all the worlds at the end of time, just as it is She who out-breathes them at time's beginning. She is beyond time and space and the whole of manifestation. She is called "dark" because we, as mortal, time- and space-bound creatures cannot really conceive of Her.
She is sometimes depicted as a very old woman (signifying Her association – from the human perspective – with Time and Death). She is sometimes depicted simply as one of a Triple Goddess group (signifying the triune nature of Dea). In truth, however, She is beyond Name and Form.
The Mother and the Dark Mother are, in Sanskrit terminology, saguna brahman and nirguna brahman – God with Form and God beyond all Form.
While the Déanic Trinity is often, and rightly, compared to the Christian Trinity, a comparison that is in many respects more helpful is with the Hindu Trimurti. As with the Trimurti, the three Persons of Dea are respectively the Creatrix, Preserver and Destroyer of the worlds. This truth is also reflected in such triple figures as the three Fates, Greek Moirae or Teutonic Norns, who are respectively the Spinner (creatrix), Weaver (Preserver) and Cutter (Destroyer) of the Thread of Life. This is in fact a relatively microcosmic reflection of the macrocosmic reality of the Holy Trinity.
God the Mother as Creatrix is a familiar truth. It is She Who has brought all things into being and Who is the Mother of All. When, at the dawn of time, souls became separate from Dea, ceasing to live in perfect union and bliss with Her, it is said that the Light of the Solar Mother became "too bright for us to look upon".
It was then that the Mother gave birth to a Daughter that was one with Her and yet apart from Her, so that the Daughter could take the Light of Dea into those places where Dea was not.
Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun in a gentler radiance, so the Daughter reflected the Mother's Light with a radiance that mortal beings can look upon.
However, there is also a Cosmic function performed by the Daughter: for if the universe were ever truly separated from the Mother, Who is its Creatrix and sole Source of being, it would instantly cease to exist. Thus the Daughter, in mediating the Mother to the created world, is the Preserver of its very existence.
Yet the world must end eventually, and the Dark Mother is called the Destroyer. This understanding of her, however is from the worldly perspective. She is the First Cause of all things and will be their Final End.
She is described as "Dark beyond the Light and Light beyond the Darkness". This means that she is the Dark that lies behind the Light of the Bright Mother, yet she is also the Light that lies beyond Her Own apparent darkness.
Just as, in Buddhism, Nirvana is confused with extinction (and from the mortal perspective is extinction), and yet is in fact the final bliss and liberation, so the "destruction of the world" is also its redemption; and the Daughter's vow to save all beings "even to the last blade of grass" (see Quan Yin), will, in its fulfillment, also be the in-breathing of the Dark Mother. So the Great Wheel of Creation comes full circle.
If this is hard to understand, please do not worry. Certain things are hard to understand from our human perspective, and have only been fully realised by a few great saints and sages among our foremothers.
For most of us, the love of our dear mother is sufficient to carry us through this life. The sweet lunar light of the Daughter and the healing touch of Her gentle Spirit are our guide through earthly existence and through the worlds to come.
The Mysteries of the Dark Mother are not necessary for most of us, and indeed it is unwise to approach them until one has reached a high level of spiritual advancement.
Nonetheless, the knowledge of the Trinity adds a fullness to our knowledge of Dea. Behind the often confused image of the Triple Goddess that one may glean from some modern sources lies a profound and beautiful Truth, that is indeed the very Secret of the Universe:
God the Mother
God the Daughter
And She Whose Name has not been spoken in this world.
Do you worship God as Mother? Have you read your Bible:
The Gospel of Our Mother God?
The Perfect Statement of the Feminine Holy Trinity: A beautiful exposition of the Filianic faith of the Triple Goddess for the souls of this late Kali Yuga
The Catechism of the Children of Dea: The complete faith of Feminine Trinitarianism in Q&A form
Feminine Trinitarianism: A discussion of the Filianic doctrine of the Trinity
The Three Fates and Other Reflections of the Feminine Holy Trinity
The Wheel of Life: The matriarchal teaching on life, death and rebirth
The World-Egg: The Mother-Daughter Creation
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Everything you have ever heard comes out of the patriarchal world-view. Its materialism, its religion, even its feminism. Here is the other way of seeing the world; the natural way: the way that everyone saw things before patriarchy and will again when patriarchy is long forgotten.