Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Susan Hill


How are the women of ancient religions portrayed? Are the women of religion typical, everyday women or celebrated queens wrapped in gold? The truth is that no single image exists that can be pointed to as the iconic goddess. The idea of a female deity can be startling to those who practice in Abrahamic religions but the appearance of such a character has a role, if not a lead, in many world religions and myths. These goddesses act as role models and guides for many people, especially female worshippers. After the female deity is acknowledged and accepted as a integral part of myth and religion, the scholar then has to identify Her role in context of the religion's culture as well as the myths that surround the goddess. Many religions have cults or factions that celebrate one goddess from a group of many and that goddess stands for something important to her followers even though the goddess does not encompass every part of life. The three stages, or typical groups, of the goddess represent the roles that the woman will play throughout her lifetime (Scott & McClure 113) as daughter, mother, and widow. The most popular view of this is the archetype of the triple goddess, featuring the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. While traditionally, these three manifestations of the Goddess occupy very different places in the life cycle, some goddesses defy their traditional category and tend to share characteristics of all of the categories. Goddesses are able to cross many class and social status lines. These goddesses are able to relate to those at the top of society as well as those on the fringe of the society. The maiden Persephone, the mother Kali, and the crone Nephthys all are the rulers of their domain, the Underworld, as well as being a representation of their archetypal roles by completing many of the tasks associated with their title. This can be true for each of the goddesses discussed in this paper. Persephone was the sweet maiden while taking on the role as Queen of the Underworld. Kali is the mother of her people as well as the representation of everything dark and gory. Finally Nephthys is a woman who wants to be a mother while also being the friend to the dead and grieving. While this setting is apropos for the Crone Nephthys, it doesn't seem as fitting for the maiden or the mother. In the following work, the ideas of Maiden, Mother, and Crone will be explored and then placed into the context of three world religions. After each Goddess manifestation has been explored, their placement within the setting of the Underworld and how this is fitting to their character will also be explored.

Year of Submission



Department of Philosophy and Religion

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (1 volume)