Quest Cycles Applying the Hero Quest to the crises in our lives Linda S. Griggs

Sacred Feminine

My Hero Quests keep leading me back to the sacred divine feminine,
as she has been understood and revered by the earliest humans.
These shrines explore her many different Goddess guises,
many of which are based on the images
collected by Marija Gimbutas in The Language of the Goddess
and the stories told by Demetra George in Mysteries of the Dark Moon.


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  • Inanna
  • great mother
    Great Mother
  • Lilith
  • lilith in desert
    Lilith in the Desert

  • life/death/life
  • perseph dem

Innana frontInannaInnana back

Great Mother Inanna (#8)

This shrine celebrates the ancient Sumerian goddess, Inanna, who descended into the Underworld, hung upside down on a tree – dead – for three days, and then was resurrected.

The similarity between this 1750 BC story and the story of Christ’s death and resurrection is remarkable. This similarity is underscored by the similarity of the images presented here:

            • On the front – a 16th century Irish crucifix
            • Inside left panel – an early Christian (Irish) cross
            • Inside right panel – a Sardinian goddess figure from 5000 B.C.
            • On the back – figures on Irish  gravestones
            • On top – an image of the bird goddess, Lilith

The script on this shrine is from the oldest known written language – 8,000 years old – and from Druidic “ogham” writing. The ogham letters on the front spell out “Great Mother Inanna” while those by the 5000 BC goddess figure spell out “Anu,” another name for Inanna.

great mothergreat mother


Great Mother (#40)

This shrine celebrates the nurturing I've come to feel from the Great Mother/Goddess.

On the front is a clay figure of myself as an early goddess form (4500 - 4000 BC). The disc on my right breast represents my breast cancer, which brought me to the Cauldron of the Goddess for transformation. That cauldron is represented by the hole in the rock at the base of the photograph.

Inside is the life/death/life cycle the Goddess presides over (represented by the red forms moving up and down the rock face on the left). On the right side is the Great Mother (as painted by Frida Kahlo) cradling a picture of me as a child.

The nurturing I feel in this shrine is expressed in a poem by Judith Duerk, “Circle of Stones”:

How might your life have been different, if,
deep within, you carried an image of the Great Mother,

and, when things seemed very, very bad,
you could imagine that you were
sitting in the lap of the Goddess,
held tightly . . .
embraced at last.

And that you could hear Her saying to you,
“I love you . . .
I love you and I need you to bring forth your self.”




Lilith – Owning Our own Anger (#22)

This shrine celebrates Lilith – Adam’s first wife – as an embodiment of the healthy anger and feminine strength that, I’ve learned, women with breast cancer (including myself) often find so difficult to express.

Lilith, as described by ancient Cabalistic and Sumerian texts, was created equal to Adam, but flew out of Eden in a rage when Adam wouldn’t let her “be on top.” Since then, she has been much maligned in religious texts as an evil she-demon. Recent scholarship (Mysteries of the Dark Moon, by Demetra George) has redeemed Lilith as a strong, independent female archetype: the Goddess dispalced by Yahweh 3,000 years ago.

This shrine shows the three faces of Lilith, as detailed by George:

•  Suppressed Lilith (on front) shows how Lilith felt in the Garden of Eden, and how it feels not to be free to express ourselves.

•  Exiled Lilith (aka - Screaming Meemie – inside left) shows how Lilith “acted out” after she fled from Paradise, and how we may hurt others with our overwrought or misdirected anger.

•  Redemptive Lilith (inside right) – shows how we can gather together our disowned parts and creatively, constructively express all of ourselves.

lilith in desert



Lilith in the Desert (#62)

This shrine depicts Lilith after she left the Garden of Eden. In exile in the desert, she joined forces with powerful male archetypes (Saturn and Mars) to become empowered as a fully-formed female archetype: Redemptive Lilith.

The clay goddess necklace and photos used in this shrine are mine. The clay figures of the golden bird goddess (Lilith) and the goat (Saturn) were made by Mary Ellen McNaughton.



Life/Death/Life Mother

This fabric and shell and bone collage was one of my first depictions of the Sacred Feminine. She's based on a figure called "Shaman Summons the Two-Headed Snake" by M.A. Belle of Sacred Arts. For me, she represents the life/death/life nature of the Sacred Feminine.

The Life/Death/Life Mother reminds me of the delicate balance between life and death, and of the necessity of looking “the beast” of my fears squarely in the eye. The Life/Death/Life Mother dances her bone-rattling answer to those fears beneath her own fierce ally (the snake), and on top of an ancient symbol of the Goddess (the double spiral).


perseph demperseph back










Persephone, Queen of the Underworld (#81)

The animal figures on this shrine (paired with my photos) tell the story of how Persephone became Queen of the Underworld - a powerful transformation that awaits each of us as a result of our Hero Quest descents.

On top, Demeter (large zebra) is unaware that her young daughter Persephone (small zebra) has attracted the interest of the God of the Underworld, Pluto (wildebeast). Ancient stories differ as to whether Pluto abducted Persephone into the Underworld, or she willingly chose to descend out of compassion for those suffering in Pluto's realm.

The result is the same: she made the descent. Once in the Underworld, she became Pluto's bride, coming into her own power as Queen (antelope figure with woman beneath her at back of the shrine). In that role, she aided those who came to the Underworld, comforting them and showing them the riches that exist there (in the unconscious).

Meanwhile, Demeter was distraught, searching everywhere for her daughter, but to no avail. In her desperation, she allowed everything on earth to wither and die (as suggested by the photo on the back). Finally a deal was struck whereby Persephone could return to Demeter, provided she didn't eat anything in the Underworld. However, because she ate 6 pomegranate seeds before making her ascent (some say Pluto tricked her; others say she deliberately ate them, knowing the consequences), she lives half the year with her mother on earth and the other in the Underworld with Pluto (as represented by the photo at the front beneath two of Ann Willey's portrait discs).

I love this myth for the allegory it presents of every woman's Hero Quest (as described by Demetra George in Goddesses in Everywoman: growing up and leaving our mothers, yet always returning with riches from our Underworld journeys.

gathering partsRedemptive Lilith: Gathering our Parts Together

Psyche & ErosPsyche and Eros

persephone et alpersephone et alPersephone: Queen of the Underwrold
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