Midwife Goddesses - Women’s Mysteries

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Midwife Goddesses
Women’s Mysteries

Midwives were demonized and yet there are midwife goddesses, too. These goddesses protect midwives but are also perceived as being midwives. Midwives are the heroines of the Jewish Bible (the prophetess Miriam and also Shifra and Puah are among the very few biblical women named for their own accomplishments).

Birth was considered sacred and magical but also a dangerous experience. Midwives in ancient times were affiliated with shrines and temples in Egypt, Sumeria, and elsewhere in Asia and Africa as well as among the Aztecs and Incas.

Midwife goddesses include the following:

Image Artemis is the sacred Greek midwife. Her first act upon being born was to help her mother give birth to Artemis’ twin, Apollo. Artemis was the Greek deity responsible for determining which women died in childbirth and which survived. (See DIVINE WITCH: Artemis.)

Image Brigid protects and sponsors midwives. Veneration of Brigid once extended throughout the Celtic world. Brigid’s associations with birth were so powerful that eventually a Christian myth would suggest that Brigid had traveled all the way to Nazareth to serve as the Virgin Mary’s midwife.

In the West Highlands, newborn babies were traditionally passed over a fire three times then carried around it deasil (in a sun-wise direction) three times before receiving the “midwife’s baptism” of water accompanied by an invocation of Brigid.

Image Hecate is the goddess with dominion over the borders between Life and Death. Her priestesses were midwives who assisted human souls’ transition over those portals. Their sacred emblem was the broom with which they purified the birthing chamber.

Image Heket may be the oldest Egyptian spirit of all. She is a spirit of childbirth and the protector of the dead and the newly born. She is associated with the tomb, birth, and resurrection and all the transitions between them. She helps place the child in the womb. Heket prevents miscarriage and stillbirth. She has dominion over contraceptives.

Heket, a frog goddess, may or may not derive from the same roots as Hecate, who considers frogs and toads among her holy animals.

Image Pachamama is the Andean Spirit of Earth. Peruvian midwives were understood to have a special relationship with her, to serve as her priestesses.