Saturday, March 10, 2012
Hera, Greek Queen of the Gods
Hera is the Greek Goddess of marriage, childbirth, women and Queen of the Greek Gods. Wife to Zeus and daughter to Rhea and Cronos, she was often depicted as a beautiful woman wearing a crown and holding a staff. She was one of the twelve Olympians and was the eldest of her siblings, she was said to be one of the most beautiful Goddesses, and her brother Zeus chased after her for sometime.
In the myth of how Zeus tricks and seduces Hera into becoming his wife, Zeus decides to disguise himself as a cuckoo to win Hera's affection. He appears on Hera's staff one day, and she decides to make him her pet. He was then able to change back to his natural form, seduce Hera and make her his bride. They had many children, some of which are Ares, God of War, Eileithyia, Goddess of Childbirth, and Eris, Goddess of discord. Zeus was known to be quite an unfaithful husband, having well known affairs was such Goddesses as Metis, Themis and Alcmene to name a few. This enraged Hera and made her very jealous. Many of her myths involve her torturing and persecuting many of the woman Zeus seduced, as well their children.
For example in the myth of Herakles, which is the son of Zeus and Alcmene, after Herakles is born, Hera sends two serpents to his bed at night. Alcmene is terrified and cried out, but Herakles woke up and strangled both serpents to death. Another myth is one that accounts for the creation of the Milky Way. It is said that Zeus tricked Hera into nursing the infant Herakles, and when she realized who he was, she quickly withdrew Herakles from her breast, and sprayed her breast milk across the sky. Which became the Milky Way. As Herakles grew older, Hera's jealousy, and her continuous acts of trying to be rid of him didn't end, and they had a very adversarial relationship.
When Herakles had to fight the many headed serpent water beast known as Lernaean Hydra, Hera sent crabs to bite him in order to distract him. In another myth, when Herakles was returning from retrieving the bull of Geryon, Hera sent the cattle a type of fly to give him a disease, and Herakles shot Hera in the breast with an arrow. Eventually Hera and Herakles patched up their differences, when Herakles saved Hera from the rape of the giant Porphyrion.
Zeus's affairs never seemed to end. One in particular involving Semele, the mortal daughter to the King of Thebes. Zeus fell in love with her the moment he saw her, and he impregnated her. When Hera found out, she disguised herself as the Semele's nurse and convinced her to have Zeus show himself to her in his true form. So when Zeus showed up with his loud thunder and bright lightning, he ended up killing her by the power of those forces. He was able to save her aborted baby, their son, Dionysus. Hera also had one other of Zeus's many lovers, Lamia Queen of Lybia, turned into a monster and murdered her children.
Hera's jealousy and wrath was well known. One can imagine the pain and suffering she went through at her husbands endless selfish affairs. Embarrassing and humiliating the Queen of the Gods, Hera was not going to stand for that. So one day, with the help of some of the other Gods such as Poseidon an Athena, she planned out a way to trick Zeus. She secretly drugged his drink one night and then bound him while he slept. When he awoke we was filled with anger, but could do nothing. Until the many handed giant Hekatonkheires came to his rescue and untied all the knots, setting him free. Zeus was so angry with Hera, that he took one of his thunderbolts and hung her in the sky with golden chains. It is said she wept until Zeus finally freed her.
To me Hera is a powerful and vengeful Goddess who is not afraid to fight for what is right, even if it means she could be putting her own life in danger. She embodies the strength of the Matriarch and courageous feminine energy. Hera was a very loved and respected Goddess, and she had many temples through the Greek world.
Her sacred animals are the peacock and the cow. The apple, pomegranate and poppy are also sacred to her. Lapis lazuli would be a good stone for Hera, and her colors are blue, white and black. Call on Hera when you need the powerful force of the Queen of the Gods, to fight for what is right in your own life.
Photo courtesy of wiccanbeauty.com
Posted by Tara at 11:07 AM