Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Triple Goddess: Doppelgangers in The Vampire Diaries

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: Anyone who watches The Vampire Dairies knows that the CW's hit series has doppelgängers coming out of its ears. Veteran doppelgängers Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce have been part of the show's core story since its inception. But, with the introduction of Amara, the oldest of the Petrova doppelgängers, at the beginning of the show’s fifth season, we begin to see patterns that link Elena, Katherine, and Amara to the deity of the Triple Goddess, which consists of three phases of life: Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

The concept of the Triple Goddess, or Triple Deity, can be found in some of the most well-known and established canons, such as Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Norse mythologies. You might recognize the concept from the stories of the Fates (come on, you've seen Hercules, right?), or even from the Christian Holy Trinity.  In each of these mythologies, the Triple Deity is seen as a symbol of unity, power, and greatness, and often represents three aspects of the world, such as past, present, and future, or heaven, earth, and the underworld.

So, now that we know all about the Triple Goddess, how does this correlate to The Vampire Diaries?

Well, in Neopaganism, the first phase of the Triple Goddess is the Maiden, which represents youth, excitement, and new beginnings. Like Elena in The Vampire Diaries, the Maiden also possesses a "carefree erotic aura." As the youngest of the doppelgängers, Elena embodies these qualities most prominently.

Despite her countless hardships and losses throughout the seasons, such as the death of her birth parents, adoptive parents, guardians, and friends, Elena has remained alarmingly optimistic and confident. After all, throwing raging college parties, falling off of buildings for fun, and taking trips to deserted islands in Nova Scotia to raise the world's oldest immortal being certainly make Elena an exemplary model of a contemporary, supernatural Maiden.

On the other hand, Katherine, everyone's favorite 500-year-old vampire, embodies the qualities of the second phase: the Mother. The qualities of ripeness and fertility appropriated to the Mother fit Katherine most because she is the only doppelgänger we know of to have a child. More significantly, however, the Mother possesses the qualities of life, sexuality, and power.

Oh, Katherine. Ever the nurturer.
Katherine is not shy about using her sexuality to get what she wants. She toyed with both Stefan and Damon in 1864 to make sure they wouldn't turn against her, and she faked a relationship with Mason Lockwood in Season 2 in order to get her hands on the Moonstone. Katherine is also very conscious of her power and often uses it to her advantage. Turning Caroline into a vampire, triggering Tyler Lockwood's werewolf curse, and compelling Aunt Jenna to stab herself with a knife in Season 2 are just a few of examples how Katherine exercises her power over others.

In addition, it is interesting to note that Katherine's daughter, Nadia, makes a significant appearance in Season 5 of The Vampire Diaries, reinforcing Katherine's designation as Mother.

Finally, the Crone of the Triple Goddess, also referred to as the hag in colloquial folklore, is known for her knowledge, tranquility, empathy, and supernatural wisdom that comes from her proximity to death. Though Amara, the oldest doppelgänger and the first Anchor to The Other Side, is arguably not tranquil (i.e. Crazypants), is is important to realize she possesses a distinctly Crone-like attitude toward death. In Season 5 Episode 7, "Death and the Maiden" (and no, we don't think the title is a coincidence either!), Amara yearns for the peace death will bring her.
"I've been in Hell for two thousand years.... Let me die"
In the very same episode, a spell was done to disconnect Amara as the Anchor to The Other Side. During this spell, the unity of the Triple Goddess played a very important role.

In Neopaganism, a religion often associated with witchcraft practices, the symbol of the Triple Goddess is the Triquetra interlaced with a circle.
The Triquetra, or Trinity Knot, represents the three entities of Maiden, Mother, and Crone coming together as one. When the spell that bound Amara to The Other Side was broken, this was the symbol that formed on Bonnie's Grimoire after Elena, Katherine, and Amara shed their blood to complete the spell, reinforcing just how important this concept is to The Vampire Diaries.

Now, though the notion of the Triple Goddess was only just explicitly demonstrated in The Vampire Diaries' fifth season, the idea of three women representing a powerful union is not something new to the show. In Season 2 Episode 21, "The Sun Also Rises," Klaus prepared to break the curse that suppressed his werewolf entity. For those of you who might not recall, the spell to break the curse called for the sacrifice of a doppelgänger, a vampire, and a werewolf, for which Elena, Aunt Jenna, and Jules, were to be sacrificed respectively. When Stefan offered himself in the place of Jenna for the ritual, Klaus retorted, "Oh, I don't know. I rather appreciate the symmetry of three women. Three goddesses." Unfortunately, as you absolutely remember, Stefan's proposition for trade was unsuccessful, and Aunt Jenna perished.

But, perhaps the most significant representation of the Triple Goddess in The Vampire Diaries since the doppelgängers in Season 5 goes back even further. The friendship of Elena, Caroline, and Bonnie represents a power beyond face value. Until Season 4, the trinity consisted of Human, Vampire, and Witch. Each woman's "species," if you will, embodies qualities similar to the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, respectively.

The Humans in The Vampire Diaries represent life, vitality, and, not unlike the Maiden, the ability to hope for new beginnings (or the hope to escape the evil clutches of a hungry vampire). The Vampires possess a significant amount of power, a quality designated to the Mother. They have the ability to compel people, which can be considered a manifestation of power itself, if not a handy tool to cover up plot-holes. Finally, the Witches in the show often have contact with the spirits of deceased witches and other supernatural beings. As stated previously, this close proximity to death and a strong connection to the supernatural elements are prominent characteristics of the Crone phase of the Triple Goddess.

Knowledge warms our hearts too, ladies!
The Vampire Diaries' certainly knows how to subtly incorporate established and complex mythologies into the show's plotlines. The appearance of three doppelgängers at once was superbly awesome while we had it, but as one of the many Triple Goddess structures in the show, we know Elena, Katherine, and Amara's connection to one another will long outlast their brief meeting in "Death and the Maiden."

We can't wait to see what badass women will be a part of the next Vampire Diaries Triple Goddess.

Written by: Milena
Milena is one half of the awesome team that created Red Herry. When not deciding which fictional vampire is her favorite, she enjoys cats, corn on the cob, and forcing the Harry Potter books onto unsuspecting children.
Follow Milena on Twitter: @RazberryBattle 

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