Goddesses most often have feminine characteristics that are apotheosized in their pure form.
However, in some cases goddesses may embody neutral forms personifying both male and female characteristics (like Sophia), or they may even exhibit traits that are traditionally associated with the male gender (for example, Artemis).
Goddesses have been especially linked with virtues such as beauty, love, motherhood and fertility (Mother-goddess cult in prehistoric times), but because of their flexibility in gender portrayal, they have also been associated with ideas such as war, creation, and death.
For example, Campbell states that, "There have been systems of religion where the mother is the prime parent, the source... And in Egypt you have the Mother Heavens, the Goddess Nut, who is represented as the whole heavenly sphere".
Joseph Campbell: Well that was associated primarily with agriculture and the agricultural societies. The human woman gives birth just as the earth gives birth to the plants..woman magic and earth magic are the same. And the personification of the energy that gives birth to forms and nourishes forms is properly female.
It is in the agricultural world of ancient Mesopotamia, the Egyptian Nile, and in the earlier planting-culture systems that the Goddess is the dominant mythic form.
Polytheist religions, including Polytheistic reconstructionists, honour multiple goddesses and gods, and usually view them as discrete, separate beings.
These deities may be part of a pantheon, or different regions may have tutelary deities.
The reconstructionists, like their ancient forbears, honour the deities particular to their country of origin.
The English word follows the linguistic precedent of a number of languages—including Egyptian, Classical Greek, and several Semitic languages—that add a feminine ending to the language's word for god.
For example, Shaktism, the worship of the female force that animates the world, is one of the three major sects of Hinduism.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the highest advancement any person can achieve is to become like the great female Buddhas (e.g.
Arya Tara), who are depicted as supreme protectors, fearless and filled with compassion for all beings.
The primacy of a monotheistic or near-monotheistic "Great Goddess" is advocated by some modern matriarchists as a female version of, preceding, or analogue to, the Abrahamic God associated with the historical rise of monotheism in the Mediterranean Axis Age.