Being wise is about having good judgment, and it’s also about using that judgment combined with experience and knowledge. On a symbolic level, we could say that wisdom is gaining information around us, assessing it and formulating a conclusion that is helpful to ourselves or others. But wisdom means so much more than that, and the goddesses of wisdom can teach us more about this elusive concept.
We do this and strengthen our wisdom by thinking in terms of stories and narratives. We see purpose and direction even when it is not there, and we try to organize everything with a beginning, middle, and end. This is known as discerning, and it holds hands with wisdom.
While a computer is great at processing and analyzing figures to form a conclusion, human minds are exceedingly different. Ask a computer, “how long is a 1000-word essay” and it will give you a response based on artificial learning, algorithms, statistics, and data.
However, ask the same question to a human, and we draw from experience, draw conclusions. We think of arguments, rhetoric, symbolism and begin telling a story. This is the essence of wisdom, and why – a computer is masterful at churning figures and processing – it can never be truly “wise” even when powered by artificial intelligence.
It takes perception, exposure and discernment to employ wisdom in our lives and in daily choices. That said, we can look into myth and history to ascertain a more holistic understanding of what wisdom is. Learning about certain goddesses of wisdom is a great way to learn more and hone our deeper understanding of ourselves and the world.
A Word About Wisdom
One of the greatest consolations of getting old is growing wiser. Wisdom is so much more than simply being intelligent. After all, if intellect was the primary way of establishing truth, every smart person on the planet would agree on the way forward.
One of the first steps to becoming wise is realizing that you are not nearly smart enough to know everything, and that experience could teach you more about life than a textbook. Life has too many variables, and all of our definitions, manuals, and sciences and very crude, low-resolution approximations.
Wisdom bridges the gap between the observable mundane reality of life, the philosophical, and the spiritual. That said, let’s look at some Mythical and cultural characters that inspire us to see them as wise.
The ancient Greeks were huge contributors to western civilization as we know it today. They laid the groundwork for philosophy, science, art, and western political systems. We can safely say the Greeks had their fair share of wise ones in their midst – and the goddess Athena is an example of this.
The goddess Athena represents many of the Greeks’ contributions to western culture, from philosophy to olive oil to the Parthenon. Daughter of Zeus, Athena took part in the Trojan War and joined the Olympians in dramatic fashion. Her shrine was the Parthenon in Athens and she was also the patroness of the city. She was arguably, one of the most integral goddesses to the ancient Greeks, and hailed as the governess over wisdom, war strategy, navigation, agriculture, weaving, needlework and spinning.
It was Athena who became a goddess of crafts and skilled pursuits in general during peacetime. As a result of her patronage of skill, she became allegorized as a personification of wisdom and righteousness.
Athena is a perpetual virgin, which may also be symbolic of purity of thought, because virginity and wisdom combined implies clear, undistracted, pure thought. She was also (obviously) female, which could suggest wisdom in terms of using both the mind and the heart to render deep, complex insight.
The Egyptian goddess of Isis is kind of like a version of Athena. Or, to put it another way, Isis was also worshiped in ancient Greece, and there is evidence that Athena and Isis were meshed together and equally separate if not synonymous. At any rate, as an Egyptian goddess, Isis governed wisdom and magic.
Isis was also a lunar goddess. In terms of wisdom, we could say that she represents hidden meanings, and encourages humans to pierce through darkness and shadows in order to gain esoteric wisdom and insight. Both she as a goddess and her affiliate with the moon is feminine in symbolism.
This implies subtle wisdom. Rather than sun-god wisdom which, symbolically is assertive, active and maybe even tyrannical (at least in terms of mythological symbolism) – goddess-moon symbolism is a demure, cunning, understated wisdom. Neither associations are good or bad – they are just identifications of male/sun & female/moon energy when exploring wisdom of Isis.
In addition to magic and wisdom, Isis was also a deity of fertility, women, mothers and children. This implies wisdom in terms of family and teaching children. When we look to goddesses of wisdom, Isis shows us how to share knowledge of the cycles of life (as in birth and life as fertility implies). She also shows us how to raise our children to impact life-cycles in better ways in the future – essentially, extending insights in order to endow our children with the ability to make better choices for the sake of a better future.
She is a Norse goddess who rules domains of foresight, fertility, marriage and you guessed it, wisdom. She was the wife of Odin and the queen of Asgard. Frigg is strongly associated with Freya and the two names are often used synonymously. Historically, these were two separate goddesses that morphed into one over time.
What’s interesting about Frigg and her special brand of wisdom is that in Norse mythology, she was known as a volva which is one who is highly knowledgeable and practices the powerful art of seidr. Seidr is a Norse branch of divination that taps into nature, energy and time in order to foretell events. Through many years of teaching and practice, as a volva, Frigg was also adept at adjusting the future and changing outcomes.
Knowing this, we could say Frigg’s type of wisdom deals with magic and ritual. This is about gaining wisdom or being wise in the ways of the unknown, the ephemeral, and esoteric. As goddesses of wisdom go, Frigg dives deeply to explore, tap into and even adjust profound, arcane issues. In other words, her wisdom is about cracking open the big secrets.
This is a cherished Hindu goddess of creativity, communication, art, music and knowledge. Her name means “flowing woman” and she was originally considered a river goddess, protecting her namesake river which was crucial in sustaining the developing cultures of the early Indus Valley.
As she is a goddess of art and creativity, this is the kind of wisdom we are dealing with when exploring Saraswati for insights. This goddess reminds us that wisdom without art, creativity, music or communication isn’t much of a contender. Instead, drawing upon creativity to strengthen wisdom is one of Saraswati’s many assets.
That she is strongly associated with the river, and its life-giving flow is also noteworthy. Symbolically, water represents emotion, flexibility, and unique power. If you notice, water takes the path of least resistance, and it takes flexible wisdom to reveal different ways of strategies to approach or solve problems.
What’s more, water has the ability to change forms. This reminds us that wisdom must be flexible. After all, inflexible wisdom isn’t much more than opinionated stubbornness. So, when considering this goddess, think about adapting wisdom in fluid ways as this beloved Hindu goddess encourages.
Conclusion About Wisdom Goddesses
Wisdom reminds us that life is complex, tragic, mystical, cruel, and wonderful. Hopefully, these goddesses of wisdom are a reminder that being wise is far more complex than just being smart. It’s also more than making good choices. Both of these assets are vital to living well. However, true wisdom deals with observing, discerning, staying flexible, mindful and so much more.
By closely observing and learning about goddesses of wisdom, we can fully understand the nuances of deep insight and understanding. And, of course, these aren’t the only goddesses of wisdom. So, don’t stop here in your ongoing research into these savvy, fascinating deities.
Author’s bio: Laura C. Field is a household name when it comes to custom writing services. A studious person at heart, she specializes in anything that improves and enhances education.