Astraea – Ancient Greek Goddess of innocence

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Astrea, the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity, by Salvator Rosa
Astrea, the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity, by Salvator Rosa

Astraea was the goddess of innocence in Greek mythology. She was daughter of the Titans Astraeus, god of dusk, and Eos, goddess of sunrise. Meaning of her name is “star-maiden” and she was on the ground with people throughout the Golden Age of Man. Whenever the Iron Age dawned, bringing together distress and wickedness, Astraea left this earthly world and moved to the heavens where she changed into the constellation Virgo. She was very close to the goddess Dike, shield of honest judgment. This connection was also identified on the sky, there Libra, the symbolic representation of Dike, is located nearby Virgo. According to the myth, if Astraea returns to Earth a day, she’ll once more bring the utopia that has been through the Golden Age, bringing an end to human suffering.

She’s often portrayed as a winged woman, carrying a flashlight and the scales of justice. In some stories she is believed to have assisted Zeus in fight, and is occasionally depicted carrying his lightning bolts. Greek goddess Astraea can be associated to this Egyptian goddess Ma’at, that embodies the principle of appropriate relationship to all things and weighed against the spirits of mortals following their passing. She balanced a soul contrary to her feather of truth within her scales of justice. In Greece, Astraea decided if departed spirits could go to the Elysian Fields and eternal bliss, or be consigned into the Underworld for after redemption. She had been closely identified with Dike, the Greek goddess of justice, as well as Nemesis, the goddess of rightful indignation and because of enactment.

Astraea’s character is connected to the notion of renaissance, or renewal of civilization, and she’s linked to literature and poetry. The English poet Edmund Spenser cites her in the opening of Book V of The Faerie Queene, where he states she left behind her groom when she left Earth. John Milton also cites her in Paradise Lost.

According to ancient legends, even since the wheel of those ages turns once again toward light, Astraea will come back to Earth as an ambassador of the following Golden Age. Since she was the last of these gods to leave, maybe she’ll be the first to return as a harbinger of a new dispensation.

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