Growing up in Athens, mythology played an interesting role in how I came to conceptualize deities, spirituality, human weakness and quirkiness.
Known as the Goddess of Wisdom and Courage, Athena was a part of that dysfunctional yet highly entertaining family called the Ancient Greek Gods of Olympus. Curious, bold, intellectual, and rather stubborn, this grey eyed goddess, Zeus beloved daddy’s girl, was not one you wanted to mess with; because chances are when Athena said she was right, she most likely was.
As a child she was a curious “book worm,” always interested in learning and exploring new things. Emerging straight from Papa’s brain, this Goddess’s sense of justice, courage and integrity was her staple superpower.
Athena represents the part of female nature that’s been most suppressed throughout time. The part that illuminates our will and desires regardless of our physical appearance or reproductive function. In a world where women are expected to sit down and shut up, I find it refreshing to look back on myths depicting inspiring female figures who naturally embodied power and grace. Were we to deeply and authentically “know ourselves,” we would sense Athena’s strength lurking underneath our self-doubt and passivity.
Socrates, the Mac daddy of Western philosophy, understood that true wisdom lied in “knowing” the good, the bad and the ugly contained in who we are.
Would you say you’re at peace with your good, bad and ugly?
Growing up I had a hard time expressing myself—especially in that Athena, self-directing, sort of way. Introversion and at times extreme sensitivity were my ways of shielding myself from a world that I felt was constantly trying to mold and control me. My hair, nails, posture and temperament were constantly scrutinized and a topic of distress for me. Appearance seemed to define what kind of life I was going to have.
Looking back, my decision to go to law school and dabble in entrepreneurship was heavily influenced by a need to cultivate a sense of “self-rule” and feeling of “I’m allowed to do what I want.” Imagine, an Athena on steroids. After some time smoothing out those “power deficits,” I have come to appreciate her presence in a more balanced way and work to help more women experience the wonder of self-knowledge and expression.
Have you ever wanted to successfully run your own business? Give solid advice, or honor your voice?
Here are some questions to consider when exploring the power of your inner boss:
Do you feel comfortable standing your ground?
Do you feel like a sense of authority and ownership over your life?
Would you say you make courageous decisions?
Do you speak with eloquence and grace?
Do you at times neglect your emotions in favor of logic alone?
Do you wish you had stronger resolve to get things done?
Do you advocate for what you believe in?
Do you not like the idea of needing someone?
Do you give impartial advice and mediate disputes?
Do you feel like your worthiness depends solely on your achievements?
Athena energy is all about self-motivated action. In my new book The Miss Universe Club, I share several meditations that are helpful in bringing out that yang sort of energy into our daily life. Finding mental stillness in physical movement is one of them; that might sound counter intuitive but the truth is that when you are dancing, you have no time to be worrying about student loans or what so and so thinks of you.
Another way to channel Athena is through taking your grievance to paper. Allow time, (a glass of wine, perhaps) and the therapeutic nature of writing help you release an existing emotional block. Athena was anything but passive aggressive, and this strategy helps cool us down when the fire of emotion is a little too strong.
Lastly, ease up on yourself a little. List all the ways you appreciate who you are. Athena, I’m pretty sure, battled some perfectionist tendencies, always trying to prove that she was worth the love.
Good news: you don’t have to prove anything to anyone; you are enough, just as you are.
As with every entity there is always a shadow quality to be mindful of. In expressing our Athena energy we want to be careful to not be “too in our heads” and neglect our emotional intelligence.
As the story goes, Zeus literally swallowed Athena’s mother, Metis. Never allowing Athena to embrace her feminine function, therefore, leaving her out of touch with her need for physical nurturing, and her sensual side. Her inability to express vulnerability could come off as intimidating, and judgmental of others weaknesses.
In relationships, women with a strong sense of Athena energy are best suited with partners who share their intellectual curiosity, allow room for autonomy but also provide a safe space for incremental intimacy. While we all encompass Athena energy, it is wise to be mindful of how we direct it so that it is used to our advantage rather than in a way that is isolating. At best Athena infuses us with unwavering confidence, skill, and a sense of loving responsibility towards ourselves and our community. At worst, Athena is overbearing, controlling, judgmental and a bitter Type-A “bi*ch.”
Some “modern day Athenas” could arguably be Joan of Arc, Emma Watson, Michele Obama, and Arianna Huffington. All cool, calm and collected, they use their power to advocate for measures that promote a sense of collective justice and well-being.
Are you ready to stream your inner boss?
Author: Katerina Pappas
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wiki Commons