At the end of prehistory and the beginning of history, the goddess of grain became the goddess of writing. During that civilizing transition from agriculture to accounting, she channeled herself into the woman who originally designed numbers and letters. She was the patroness of mortal scribes as well as the scribe of the gods. So, Nisaba was worshiped in shrines and sanctuaries in major Sumerian cities. Sadly, as the patriarchs of the day fought back to reclaim male dominance, the Sumerian goddess Nisaba was replaced in Babylon by the god Nabu.
Elsewhere, Seshat, or “she who is the scribe” was the ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom who invented the stylus. The “mistress of the house of books” ruled over the clergy who oversaw the library in which the original scrolls were created to preserve knowledge. Heliopolis was the location of her principal sanctuary. As the divine measurer and scribe, Seshat appeared to assist the pharaohs in both of these practices. Of course, like Nabu before him, the cult of Thoth became prominent so he became the god of wisdom, and her priestesses were displaced by his priests.
Centuries later in ancient India, she appeared as Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom. She was first historically mentioned around 4,000 years ago, in the hymns of the Rigveda, which had been handed down through the oral tradition for countless generations. Although, in time, Anahitaeven emerged as the old Persian form of an Iranian goddess of wisdom derived from Avestan legends. The goddess of wisdom also manifested as Athena in the ancient Greek pantheon. She was subsequently syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva, as well. According to Mediterranean accounts, her role was that of a patroness of heroic endeavor and intellectual pursuit.
As the years passed, the goddess of wisdom took on a new form in Japan beginning in the 6th century. The Buddhist goddess Benzaiten held a biwa rather than a veena like Saraswati. Either way, the point is that as a kind of sacred bard, the lute is of particular interest to Sophia, especially in the East. In the West, she tends to find form in deities more like Saga, the Norse goddess of wisdom. She’s a knowledge-based deity from the Edda, a classic 13th-century manuscript. In that manifestation, her name means “she who sees and knows all things”.
The thing is that no matter what form the great ancestress sorceress might take, I will always adore the goddess of wisdom with the utmost devotion. Even the Crone aspect of the neo-pagan Triple Goddess has been my muse on numerous occasions. After all, Sophia assumes aspects of angelic power in Gnosticism. She also figures prominently in Theosophy and Anthroposophy, as well as Dianic Wicca, and other religions. There’s even a statue of Sophia in Sofia, for Goddess's sake. So, at least as far as I’m concerned, great mother Sophia is, and will forever remain, the greatest source of inspiration.
Praise be to the goddess of wisdom!