Wonder Woman Cameo

October 2nd, 2008 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

We recently acquired this striking coral cameo brooch, depicting Diana, the Roman goddess of the Moon- you  can see the crescent moon in her hair.  Diana was synonymous with Artemis of the Greek pantheon.

The style of the brooch is similar to other Mid Victorian “Etruscan Revival” pieces we have seen, with very delicate twisted wire ornamentation and richly colored gold, so we think the piece probably dates from the mid 1800’s, perhaps 1860-70.

Along with her lunar association, Diana was the goddess of the Hunt.  Diana was beautiful, fiercely independent and quick to anger, and is associated with both chastity and fertility. In the myth of Actaeon, Diana punished the youth who saw her bathing naked by transforming him into a stag and then setting his own hunting dogs to kill him—she’s often shown with bow and arrow and accompanied by a deer. You can see her quiver of arrows in our cameo.

In some traditions, goddess Diana created the world of her own being having in herself the seeds of all creation yet to come. It is said that out of herself she divided into the darkness and the light, keeping for herself the darkness of creation and creating her brother Apollo, the light. Goddess Diana loved and ruled with her brother Apollo, the god of the Sun. As time went on, the Earth was created and Diana descended to Earth, as did her brother Apollo. Diana taught magick and witches were born. One night using witchcraft in the form of a cat, His most beloved animal, Diana tricked Apollo. She gained entrance to His chamber where She seduced Him. From this union a daughter was born, goddess Aradia.

Diana remains an important figure in some modern mythologies. The Dianic tradition generally encourages creativity, celebrates diversity, and demands personal empowerment and responsibility.  Essentially, the Dianic tradition deals with Women’s Mysteries, and celebrates women’s bodies, experiences, the Divine Feminine, and the biology and culture of womanhood, rather than a rejection of men and the masculine.
Today there is a branch of Wicca named for her, which is characterized by an exclusive focus on the feminine aspect of the Divine.

In Italy the old religion of Stregheria embraced goddess Diana as Queen of the Witches, witches being the wise women healers of the time.

In comic book lore, the character of Wonder Woman, who hails from Paradise Island, is held to be a descendent of the gods and is of course, named after Diana.

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