Celebrate Your Woman’s Soul with Juno

In ancient Roman times, a woman’s soul was called her “juno,” after the goddess of the same name.  A man’s soul was his “genius.”  These weren’t simply two words for the same thing, but rather a “genius” had a masculine aspect and “juno” a feminine one.  Well, we all know what happened.  The word “juno” disappeared, leaving women without their souls.  While the word “soul” is supposedly not for one gender or the other, the subservient place of women in many religions does seem to argue that perhaps the idea of our souls still lingers in obscurity.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, we all know that we really DO have souls, and many of us do feel as if our souls do have a uniquely feminine aspect.  But, when we lost the word for them, we also left behind perhaps outdated notions of what our souls are like and what we should be doing with them.  And as long as no one was thinking about our junos, no negative connotations could be attached to them in the media or society in general, as they have to other feminine aspects of ourselves.

Which leaves us with an opportunity.  We can imagine our “junos” in any way we wish, in any form that expresses our truest and deepest feelings about this essential aspect of ourselves.  We can bring them into our lives however is most meaningful to us. We can give our daughters their “junos” from the youngest age as they watch us celebrate ours. 

Let’s get started envisioning and celebrating our “junos” this coming month, June, the month sacred to the goddess Juno.  Here are some things I plan to do:

Spend time thinking of an image or montage of images to use when I think of my juno.  Of course, my juno already exists and I am quite familiar with her, having lived in close quarters for half a century.  But sometimes, when we let our minds roam freely and pick up on what images wander past, we can find out things about parts of us that we did not consciously know.  We might also want to periodically re-imagine our junos.  I would think that my Summer Solstice season juno will be different from that I imagine on the Winter Solstice.  For some reason, a butterfly has come into my mind this morning, so, for today, my juno looks like a butterfly.  I’ll think about what that means.

Give my juno an opportunity to connect with other junos by going for a nature walk today.  That way she can make friends with the junos of birds, animals, fish, and a wide variety of native wildflowers and trees.  She will become part of them and they will become part of her, and thus me.

Express my juno’s passion for a better world by doing at least one activist thing (hopefully more).  I do believe that most of our commitment to social activism comes from our junos.  Our junos “hear the cries of the world” and need to do something.  When we don’t answer their call to action, our junos become frustrated, sad, and depressed.

Celebrate the emerging junos of other women by going to a graduation party and a baby shower.  I don’t have any June weddings to go to this month, but my friends and their daughters are making many new beginnings.  Their junos are delighted and my juno wants to be part of the merriment.

Give my juno the mission of helping me get to know her better.  As a 21st century woman who has just been introduced to the idea of my soul as a specifically feminine aspect, I haven’t had much time to contemplate all that this means.  But the implications are vast – women are uniquely sacred (just as men are also uniquely sacred); women must be represented in all endeavors because we are the holders of the junos without which the world is unbalanced; when I explore my juno, I also come to understand my own spirituality and creativity in a way I could not have before, since both these come, I believe, from our junos.

If you have ideas about your junos I would love to hear them.

                                                                              ~ Carolyn Lee Boyd

Source:
Monaghan, Patrician.  The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines.  St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2000.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Medusa
    May 26, 2008 @ 18:12:30

    Interesting that the word for a man’s soul, “genius,” (at least in English) came unattached from the spiritual “soul” meaning” and attached itself instead to intellectual brilliance (for both men and women.) What do you make of that?

    It would be interesting for someone who has more knowledge than I do about this to weigh in, but here is my guess. “Juno” and “Genius” seem to have a slightly nuanced meaning of “soul” — a bit of the spirit of the Goddess/God. Over time, the word “juno” was dropped and “genius” was used instead. Whether it was totally ungendered or whether it still had some of the “male” divinity aspect to it, I don’t know, but in any case, we women lost the feminine aspect of our “junos.” It may have been a short move to one of the current meanings of any talent so special it seems to have something of the Divine about it — “She has a genius for watercolors,” for example. Then, when the talent for intellectual pursuits became most important, it may have become a short slide to the current meaning you mention, that of being someone who is smart or adept in a particular intellectual area – “She is a math genius.” Anyway, it’s interesting to contemplate!

    Reply

  2. donna
    May 28, 2008 @ 15:02:13

    This is an interesting topic to contemplate … my soul work is on-going.

    D~

    Glad you found it interesting! Thanks!

    Reply

  3. motherwintermoon
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 18:34:32

    Thank you, Carolyn, I loVe the idea of a Junobration! It’s definitely long overdue! That is my suggestion – gather a few women together for a Junobration, with chocolate Goddesses from chocolatedeities.com for dessert! Goddesses and chocolate always go together. 🙂

    I’ve always loved chocolate for celebrations! How about some chocolate mint tea — mint is kind of Goddess-ish, I think. I found some and planted it in my garden this year and it is delish. I wish I could reach across the computer and share it with everyone!RE: Medusa’s question. The etymology of the Latin word “genius;” it originally meant “deity of generation and birth.” As time went on and the word was adopted into the English language, it became a word used to describe “a person of exceptional intellect.” I expect this was because of the advent of monotheism and the unwillingness to use the word as associated with polytheism.

    This is really interesting! Thanks for this information. I hadn’t come across it before, but it really does illuminate how the word has changed and why.

    Reply

  4. Grace
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 18:12:03

    “Juno”, huh??? What a wonderful new term to learn…thank you for that.

    Getting in Touch with my inner Juno is definitely an awesome act of inner journeyism. Manifesting it outwardly, my bliss.

    Thanks for showing your Juno all over this blog 😉 and the world at large!

    And thanks for showing YOUR Juno! I love that thought — getting in touch with your inner Juno!

    Reply

  5. cliodhna
    Jun 11, 2008 @ 16:38:36

    a thought on the first post about genius.. maybe because we attach so much importance to the mind, we forget we are not the mind at all. That having a brilliant mind is seen as more important than anything else.

    cool information (says my mind 🙂 ) i never knew this before. I love the name Juno.
    I was thinking about what my Juno was when I was reading the post and I paint my Juno all the time. All the women in my pictures are my Juno, just all different aspects.

    That’s a very interesting thought about the mind — I’m so glad that people are using the post as a taking off point for discussion — that’s what was intended! And I love your insight about your paintings! Thanks for commenting!

    Reply

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