Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt and one of the most well-known goddesses of ancient European origin, has survived through the ages in many aspects and names and continues to be revered in modern Wiccan practices as a moon-goddess and represented in popular culture. Her name means “maiden goddess,” associated with chastity, but also fertility. She is commonly depicted as the goddess of the hunt and of woodland animals and the moon. In art, she is most often shown holding a bow and arrow accompanied by hunting dogs or a game animal. According to Roman mythology, Diana was born, along with her twin brother Apollo, to parents Jupiter and Latona on the island of Delos.
While Diana is associated with the moon, Apollo is associated with the sun. While this is her most common origin, some believe she originated in prehistoric times as a mother-goddess by people living in matriarchal cultures. In Italy, Diana was at one time worshipped as the Queen of the Witches. According to the beliefs of the local religion Stregheria, Diana bore the seeds of all creation and therefore made the world. She created light and dark, keeping the dark and giving the light to her brother Apollo, whom she also created. When she created the Earth, she and Apollo came to live there and she began teaching magic, hence the beginnings of witchcraft. In modern times, a branch of Wicca is dedicated to Diana.
In ancient Rome, she was especially admired by slaves, who could receive protection in her temples. She is described as having a quick temper and in one myth she transforms a man caught spying on her while bathing into a stag, who is then hunted and killed by his own dogs. In popular culture, Diana is the subject of sculptures and paintings, mentioned in the Bible and in plays including “Romeo and Juliet” and is even closely linked to the superheroine Wonder Woman, who is named after Diana and the descendant of gods.
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