When we delve into the myths and stories of the different cultures, lesbianism does not seem to have almost any kind of prominence. There are goddesses who can have some relationship with beings of the same sex, but this is usually somewhat anecdotical in their stories and more than lesbians they would be considered bisexual or pansexual since they usually also have relationships with men. If we know that homosexual relationships in both sexes are as old as humanity, where are the lesbian goddesses?

Detail of "Diana en el Baño" by Francisco Reigón (1858)
Detail of Diana en el Baño by Francisco Reigón (1858)

The story has been told by men

The big problem in finding stories in which goddesses or female magical or spiritual beings who had relationships with other female beings is that the story, until relatively recently, has always been told by men, so we have only obtained their vision of the world by leaving aside the vision and experience of women. This does not mean that there were not, because as has happened with so many other things, until women have come to anthropology and history, we have not discovered that forgotten part: that of women.

In Rome, for example, we know that in the Bona Dea cult its rites were reserved for women, and as they were mystery rites in which men or representations of men or male animals were forbidden, we know even less than about the Eleusinian Mysteries, the mystery cults around Demeter and Persephone. The Bona Dea (which means The Good Goddess) is an epithet for a goddess whose real name was reserved for initiates. That is why Roman historians contemporary to the cult of her, all men, speculated on her true name and identity.

It is believed that being a goddess of abundance and fertility in the mystery rites of the Bona Dea sacred sexual practices were carried out, but only women participated in her worship. Some argue that these practices carried out between women could include dildos of some kind, but if even male representations were prohibited, phallic symbols may also be prohibited, and therefore dildos as well. That is why some current historians believe that if there were sacred sexual practices in their cult these would probably be lesbian and that their association with chastity would be a product of the fact that men could not participate or know anything about its mysteries and that is why they assumed that attribute to the Bona Dea.

Rediscovering Lesbian Goddesses

It may be that Bona Dea was not a lesbian goddess in herself but it is true that her cult was specifically feminine and probably the debauchery and disinhibition that it is speculated that her rituals would have lesbian practices were an accepted part of her cult. With this in mind, if we think of other goddesses whose worship was reserved for women or whose court was only made up of female beings, we could think that they would also be goddesses who would have some kind of connection with lesbianism.

In the same way, we could consider Artemis (Diana for the Romans) as a goddess linked to lesbianism since her entourage could only be made up of nymphs, women and other female beings. In fact, the Dianic traditions, mostly made up solely of women, have Diana as their main goddess and in many of them they have exclusive spaces for lesbian women. Although also in many Dianic traditions the Goddess is considered only as a divine force and not a complementary energy, either the God or another goddess.

Even so, if we want to rescue the polarity of complementary energies in a couple of lesbian goddesses, we will have to reinterpret the canonical because, remember, it has only been written by men. There as the myth of Medusa has been recounted to claim female power, we can take into account the myth of Callisto to understand a lesbian love.

According to the original myth, Callisto was a huntress nymph of Artemis’s courtship, and to be part of that courtship, Callisto had taken a vow of chastity. However Zeus fell in love with her and adopted the form of Artemis to seduce Callisto of her and thus leaving her pregnant with Arcas, the hero who gave rise to the Arcadians. After getting pregnant we find different endings to her story: either Artemis discovers that she has broken her vow, transforms her into a bear and hunts her down; Artemis upon discovering that this pregnant woman asks her about it and she replies that it is because of Artemis herself, after which the goddess gets angry and ends up having a result similar to the previous one; or it is Hera, jealous of the infidelity of her husband that turns her into Osa. But in all versions, Callisto, transformed into a bear, ends up being raised her to the heavens as the Great Bear and her son, Arcas, as the Lesser Bear.

A new version that does not blame Callisto and that offers us a new vision of lesbian love could be the following. Callisto was in love with Artemis so she joined her entourage as a hunter. Callisto and Artemis loved each other and from her love Callisto became pregnant. Zeus jealous of her, because he had been rejected by Callisto, turns her into a bear. Callisto the bear wanders from her losing more and more of her humanity until she is hunted by hers of her own son her arks on a hunt. Callisto flees until entering a sacred enclosure of Zeus, in which even men were prohibited from entering, repentant, and after the plea of his daughter Artemis, Zeus ends up raising Callisto and his son to heaven, turning them into the Great Bear and the Lesser Bear.

This may be just one of the versions in which Artemis and Callisto are lovers and have a lesbian relationship. In the same way we can do this with other goddesses by investigating their origins, their cults, their myths and stories and through personal gnosis. All those goddesses who had no interest in men but were still goddesses of the earth, fertility or abundance at some point in their history can be a great connection between divinity and lesbian relationships.

Roble Tormenta

Roble Tormenta

Guardian and Director of the Shrine of Eros, First Priest and Oracle of Eros. Wiccan and witch since 2004. Bearer of the Light of Hecate. Master in philosophy, community manager, editor and publisher, artist.
Roble Tormenta

Roble Tormenta

Guardian and Director of the Shrine of Eros, First Priest and Oracle of Eros. Wiccan and witch since 2004. Bearer of the Light of Hecate. Master in philosophy, community manager, editor and publisher, artist.

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