Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Before I can proceed, I must make a clear distinction between the various forms that Hera seems to take in our religion. Hera is, in myth, the daughter of Kronos and Rhea, the Titan rulers of the Cosmos. Among her siblings she counts Zeus, who would become King of Heaven, the Cosmos, and of Gods and Men. He would also become her husband, making her the Queen of Heaven, of Gods and Men, and of mighty Olympus itself.

Hera has a variety of aspects in the mythic cycles, and these are maiden, as the young goddess who fights the Titans along with the other children of Kronos and Rhea she is warrior, as wife of Zeus is is goddess of marriage, as goddess of marriage she is goddess of vows, queen, and avenger. She is also, through proxy, a goddess of childbirth and of child rearing, though these are aspects we rarely see in myth except when she is seen as the demented tormentor of Herakles, the crippler of Hephaestos, or the indifferent mother of Ares.

The myths reflect, only slightly, the nature of this Goddess, but it does point into some directions that I have always taken to be pointers rather than actual paths. My distinct understanding of Hera is only somewhat based on her myths, but more based on the truth that Hera, among the Goddesses of Greece, was one of the most revered and most widely worshipped in all of Hellas. Only Athena is likely to have had more wide spread worship.

Maybe I am naive, but I don't think her cults, her temples, and her power among the people of Greece would ever have been so vast if she were truly the vile shrew that she is often said to be in the myths.

The Maiden Hera:

In the myths, Hera has a daughter named Hebe. In many ways, Hebe is really little more than a young replica of Hera herself, and in my opinion, Hebe and Hera are the same deity in different aspects. In my worship, Hebe is placed on her altar as a reminder of her purity, as virgin or maiden, though the myths do say that Hebe is eventually united with Heracles as his wife, but more on this later.

The Matronly Hera:

Hera as wife and as woman in full bloom is the Goddess in her most fully manifest form. In this form the goddess is avenger of wrongs, keeper of oaths and vows, punisher of evils, and goddess of woman as keeper of the home (note, this does not mean housekeeper). In this aspect, I see Hera as a protector of the home in a similar way as Hestia, but not in the sense that our homes are her home the way one can see Hestia.

Hera the Queen:

Hera is Queen of Heaven. As Juno, the Romans saw her as one of the triumvirate of gods who were highest in the land, with Jupiter and Minerva, and among the Greeks she was Matron Goddess of cities, and protector of civilization. In my worship, this aspect of Hera is roughly the equivalent of the worship of Mary as Queen of Heaven, but unlike Mary, who is subject to God and who has no power without God, Hera is a Goddess, powerful and fully realized, and not really requiring any God, even the King of Heaven, to make her own will known. Hers is not the subservient will of Zeus, it is her own.

Hera Polias:

Like Athena, Hera was a goddess of the people, of the cities, and of civilization that these cities were bringing into being. As such she was the protector of cities, inspirer of heroes, and the punisher of the crimes man commits against their own interests (like crimes against their wives and children.) In my worship, this aspect of the goddess takes second seat to Athena Polias, but I often consider them both when I meditate on such divine forms.

This is the beginning for me of an exploration of what I know, may not know, and what the goddess herself may choose to throw at me. Hera can be harsh, a goddess of such power would almost have to be, and I hope I am up to the tasks ahead of me.

Yesterday, before I lit the altar of Hera the protector that sits at my front door, I took it apart and cleaned it. I cleaned off the statue of Hebe, the decorations to give the altar beauty, and added salt to the canister in which I will be burning incense daily to the goddess. I prayed to her and asked for her guidance and protection, and having bought special incense for her, I lit it and the candle I bought for her, and began my journey.

Wish me luck!

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