The Meanings & Origins of the Triple Goddess Symbol
With the current rise in popularity of the moon phases, it can be easy to overlook the meaning and history of these symbols. The Triple Goddess symbol, comprised of a waxing crescent, full moon, and a waning crescent, is often thrown into the mix of trending moon imagery but has deeper roots and more profound meaning than you may have expected.
The Triple Goddess symbol has been adopted by most witches, Pagans, Wiccans, and Neopagans as a sacred symbol. Perhaps you’re already quite familiar with the Triple Goddess symbol, and it already holds deep meaning to you, or maybe you’ve always felt pulled to it but don’t know why. Here is a past post where I talk about the Triple Goddess and also give you a free printable wall hanging, check it out!
Triple Goddess Symbol Meaning
If you’ve been curious about its purpose, that’s just where I’m going to start. I’ll be sharing the meaning behind this symbol and will also touch on its rich, and somewhat controversial, origins as well.
The most common meaning assigned to the Triple Goddess symbol is the maiden, mother, and crone. Each phase of the moon correlates with a phase of a woman’s life. Here’s a breakdown of each phase.
The Maiden: Represented by the new moon. The maiden embodies purity, youth, creation, pleasure, naivety, and new beginnings. The maiden invites you to explore your spirituality, sensuality, and creativity.
The Mother: Represented by the full moon. The mother embodies love, fertility nourishment responsibility, patience, gratitude, power, and self-care. The mother invites you to master giving and receiving love.
The Crone: Represented by the fading waning moon. The crone embodies endings, wisdom, death, acceptance, and culmination. The crone invites you to accept that without death there is no birth.
The mother, maiden, and crone is not the only way to honor and connect with this symbol. Here are some other meanings of the Triple Goddess symbol.
- Planes and realms: Earth, the underworld, and heaven
- Cycles: Life, Birth, Death, and ultimately rebirth as the moon phases continue
- Goddesses: Demeter, Persephone/Kore, Hecate
- A connection to all women and womanhood
- A connection to the divine feminine
What are the origins of the Triple Goddess?
Many support the theory that author Robert Graves spurred the origins of the Triple Goddess with his book, The White Goddess, published in 1948. It was after this that some believe the Triple Goddess, as we know it today, was born. Though there’s evidence that supports this theory, many think documentation of the Triple Goddess can be found much earlier in our history.
I’ll try not to nerd out on you too much in this post, but if you want to dig deep into some of the current literature and theories, I highly suggest reading John Halstead’s three-part series on the history of the Triple Goddess. Here’s part one, it’s long but well worth the read!
A variety of other scholars, practicing Pagans, and practicing Wiccans have also found clues that point to a Triple Goddess well before Graves’ time. Here’s a quick synopsis of my current understanding of the links from the past to our present Triple Goddess:
- In the 5th century BCE, the Goddess Hecate was depicted in sculpture as three Goddesses in one.
- From this time through the 2nd century CE a variety of texts can be found that reference triads of Goddesses and different phases of life, though none explicitly link them to the moon. Demeter, Persephone, and Hecate are all mentioned. See Halstead’s article for writings from some of these texts.
- The 3rd century CE Demeter is associated with the moon, and two different phases (new and full).
- 4th century CE a full connection is made between the moon and the Triple Goddess in a text by Servius. You can check out the translated excerpt in part 3 of Halstead’s writings.
As I said, this is my basic understanding of some of the theories that branch off from Graves’ hypothesis. I recommend you read up on it further if the topic has piqued your interest!
Why wear or use this symbol?
You don’t have to subscribe to Paganism or Wicca to enjoy this symbol. But if you’ve been sporting it, it’s sure nice to know the meaning behind it.
Wearing the Triple Goddess symbol can be a powerful reminder throughout the day of your connection to the divine feminine and all it represents. Personally, I enjoy wearing the symbol for its remainder of the constant flow of life, birth, death, rebirth. Using the symbol on your altar or in a sacred space can help call in this same energy.
Categorised in: Divination, Goddess, Moon phases, Symbolism
Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.