The Myth of Ambrosia and the Archetypal Project of Creative Womanhood


  • Christina Forbes-Thomas




Ambrosia, anima, archetypal psychology, Athene, creative womanhood, female empowerment, feminine wisdom, Gaia, hemispheres of the brain, imagination, Lycurgus, monotheism, myth, mythic identity, patriarchal oppression, polytheistic psyche, ritual art, soul, soul-making


The present research blends archetypal and feminist perspectives, along with current research into the hemispheres of the brain, to investigate the psychological implications of the pursuit and attempted murder of Ambrosia, a nymph and nursemaid to Dionysus, by King Lycurgus of Thrace in Ancient Greece. A depth psychological story of psychic activism, feminine liberation, and transformation, “Ensnare” builds around a single image from a piece of Greco-Roman artwork—the attack and attempted murder of Ambrosia by Lycurgus, whose deeds evoke the destructive forces of literalism, monotheistic temperaments, intolerance to diversity, exclusively rationalistic attitudes, and patriarchal systems that deaden the imagination and imperil the unfolding of soul. Theoretically, this project of creative womanhood relies upon Hillman’s (1975) four modes of re-visioning psychology: personifying, or imagining things; pathologizing, or falling apart; psychologizing, or seeing through; and dehumanizing, or soul-making. Following Hillman, “Ensnare” invites the reader to find and make soul through a non-literal attitude of fantasying that creatively engages the imagination and images of female empowerment from the myth. The aim of this imaginal engagement with the mythological figures of Ambrosia, Lycurgus, Gaia, and Athene is to discover and partner with the archetypal presences who supported Ambrosia’s liberation as we work to bring the meaning of her initiatory experience to our own ideas and ways of being.