Sunday, September 11, 2011

Libertas, Goddess of Freedom

The Awesome Woman of the Day for Sunday, September 11, 2011 is Libertas (Latin for ‘Liberty’), Goddess of Freedom. Libertas signifies the embodiment of freedom of action, freedom from restraint, independence, human rights, and related forms of personal and social liberty. In ancient Rome, Libertas was revered as one of the most important Virtues, along with Hope, Justice, Piety, and Courage. Associated with the granting of freedom to slaves, She was honored as the Goddess of freedwomen and freedmen. Depicted as a matron in long, flowing classical dress, this ancient image has survived on coins and other artifacts, and She often is shown holding both the Liberty Pole (vindicta) and Liberty Cap (pilleus). In some depictions Libertas wears a crown of Laurel leaves, sometimes She carries a spear, other times She is shown with a Cat at Her feet. For centuries and across cultural boundaries Libertas continues to signify Freedom; to this day She appears on currency and in paintings, sculptures, songs, stories, poems, and other literature around the globe.

Nowadays She is known as Lady Liberty.

Libertas began emerging in America as Lady Liberty during the colonial era as part of the American quest for political independence from Britain. The American patriot Paul Revere depicted Her image on the obelisk he created in celebration of the repeal of the Stamp Act. Thomas Paine, revolutionary author and American Founding Father, included Her in his poem, the "Liberty Tree," referring to Her as "The Goddess of Liberty." As America became a nation, Lady Liberty became part of the official symbology.

Her most famous representation, the Statue of Liberty, was a gift from France to the United States in honor of America's centennial. Originally called "Liberty Enlightening the World," the Statue of Liberty was designed by French Freemason and sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi with the assistance of engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. Her flowing gown is similar in design to depictions of Libertas in ancient Rome, and the head of Lady Liberty's statue wears a crown with solar rays, representing the seven continents and seven seas. The torch She holds in Her right hand, with arm extended toward the heavens, is the Flame of Freedom, and underneath Her feet are broken chains symbolizing the defeat of tyranny and enslavement. In Her left hand Liberty holds a tablet inscribed with July 4, 1776, the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of America as a nation.

The Statue of Liberty continues to be one of the most beloved of America's civic shrines. In 1984 the United Nations designated it as a World Heritage site, and each year She receives over 5 million visitors.

“"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries sheWith silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
(Excerpt from “The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, 1883)

Selena Fox, Founder and Priestess of Circle Network, offers the following meditation to invoke the aid of Lady Liberty:
Call to mind a habit you wish to break or a restrictive situation you seek release from. Imagine it taking the form of a chain binding you. For a few moments, experience its restrictions and the problems it causes. Then, invoking Lady Liberty’s aid, imagine Her presence and feel your chains falling away as She touches them with the Liberty Pole. Imagine Her placing Her Liberty Cap on your head, and as you experience yourself wearing Her Cap, allow guidance to come to you about specific things you can do in your daily life to break the habit or change the situation and take on healthier behaviors. Give thanks to Her and name and give thanks for each of the freedoms that you experience in your own life.

Long live Liberty, here and abroad.
Blessed Be!