In her book ‘ Goddesses in Every Woman ‘, Jean Shinoda Bolen describes seven archetypal character structures using goddesses from Greek mythology. She distinguishes two main groups: the vulnerable goddesses, and the independent goddesses.
The independent goddesses are Athena , Artemis and Hestia . They are independent in the sense that they derive their happiness in life from achieving their personal goals. An Athena woman sets herself a materialistic goal, an Artemis woman an idealistic goal, and a Hestia woman a spiritual goal.
Each goddess has her strengths and pitfalls, her shadow sides and growth potential. It is the independent goddesses who are susceptible to developing a fear of commitment and who thereby have to learn about dependence in relationships and the vulnerability within themselves.
You focus on yourself
If you are strongly influenced by these independent goddess archetypes, then you do things in your life not to attract or please a man, but because you want to. This means that you are in touch with your inner strength and live a fulfilling life independent of your partner or children.
You need a highly focused awareness for this, because only in this way can you set and achieve your personal goals. Your own wishes are clear and ready for you and you often provide for 100% of your own livelihood. And what others want? You see that as their own responsibility! Your pitfall is that it is difficult to open up emotionally and your relationships often break down because of this.
This makes you independent and more prone to fear of commitment
Your independence lies in the fact that the source of happiness lies within yourself and your own goals and wishes. Even if a relationship breaks down, even if the relationship with your children deteriorates or a friendship is at an end. Of course this makes you sad, but in essence your life remains intact. How you appear in your life determines your well-being. Being able to bear this requires strong self-leadership.
It also means that from your highly developed autonomy there is often little connection with others. It scares you too much to lose your independence altogether. As soon as you counter this fear by actively avoiding relationships and connection, you are in the pattern of the fear of commitment.
What can help you with this is awakening the dependent goddesses within you so that they can counterbalance your excessive autonomy. From their natural strengths, which you may still see as ‘weak’ or ‘mushy’, you rediscover the true connection with the other in your relationships.
What Persephone teaches you
Persephone is a naive girl until she is kidnapped to the underworld, where she discovers her true power. She rules the underworld with Hades and even though she is eventually freed, Persephone returns every year. The talent of educated Persephone women is to connect intuitively with another, no longer shying away from the darkness in the other and themselves.
Anyone who exhibits patterns of commitment anxiety would like to share only beautiful moments, especially having fun together, only seeing each other on the good days. Anger, sadness and fear, there is no room for that, neither in yourself nor in the other. It reminds you too much of your vulnerability and the fact that in this life you have nothing under control in the end.
Persephone would say to you, “Life isn’t just beautiful, sweet, or fun. Honor also the darkness, in yourself and the other.”
What Demeter teaches you
Demeter is the goddess of grain and the archetypal mother who puts her children above all else. She knows: if I don’t feed them, they will die. A Demeter woman is generous and caring and often has few ambitions in work. Her strength lies in instinctively caring for others.
From a fear of commitment you are allergic to the claims that others – actually or in your experience – place on you. You don’t want to take care of anyone else and you don’t want someone else to do it for you. Your freedom is everything! But sometimes in life there is indeed a question of dependence, and care is needed for or by someone else.
Demeter would say to you, “Complete independence from others is an illusion. It is precisely within the loving connection with each other that you find your freedom.”
What Hera teaches you
Hera is in the wife of the adulterous Zeus. She is constantly trying to enforce his allegiance to her. Hera women are very focused on their husbands, they are loyal to the bone and derive their identity from being married. ‘Stand by your man’ is their motto.
As a fear of commitment, it is often in terms of relationship: ‘one strike and you’re out’. You are attuned like no other to the disadvantages of the relationship and the “bad qualities” of your partner. You send your partner out at the slightest thing, because: you can’t be messed around with. This way you block a deeper connection.
Hera would say to you, “Accept your partner’s mistakes too, for no one is without sin.”
Do you dare to let yourself be touched?
In mythology, these vulnerable goddesses went through a personal transformation. They suffered from the bad relations with the male gods, but eventually came out stronger. This is what you too can experience more in your life. The other person can actually hit you, but that pain is not permanent. Because you can convert your pain into personal growth, you no longer have to keep the other person at a distance.