The Mother in the Sky. Queen of the Olympians. She is the Queen of the Olympians - and wife of Zeus - and holds dominion over marriage, the sky, and women.
In mythology, She is usually depicted as a beautiful woman with a crown on her head. Hera was worshiped mostly by women due to Her connection with them. Many women prayed to Hera with hopes of finding love and lasting marriage. Women would also pray to Hera for help falling pregnant and protection during childbirth, as she is closely connected with family and children. She may have also been one of the first Greek deities to have a dedicated enclosed-roof temple sanctuary at Samos around 800 BCE.
In general, Hera was worshipped in two main capacities: (1) as consort of Zeus and queen of heaven and (2) as goddess of marriage and of the life of women. The second sphere naturally made her the protectress of women in childbirth, and she bore the title of Eileithyia, the birth goddess, at Árgos and Athens. At Árgos and Sámos, however, Hera was even more than queen of heaven and marriage goddess. She was patron of those cities, which gave her a position corresponding to that of Athena at Athens. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
Lineage and Family Tree
Hera is well-known for being the wife - and sister - of Zeus, and she did not bear any children that were not His or Her own. She did, however, bear children on her own (with no father). You can see more of her family tree here.
Mother : Rhea
Father : Kronos
Siblings : Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia
Children : Hebe, Ares, Eileithyia, Hephaistos, Typhaon, and The Kharites
Hesiod, Theogony 921 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
“Lastly, he [Zeus] made Hera his blooming wife : and she was joined in love with the king of gods and men, and brought forth Hebe and Ares and Eileithyia.” [N.B. Hesiod says “lastly” because the marriage of Hera followed after Zeus’ seductions of the goddesses Metis, Themis, Eurynome, Demeter, Mnemosyne, and Leto.] - The Theoi Project
Homer, Iliad 5. 711 ff :
“Now as the goddess Hera of the white arms perceived how the Argives were perishing in the strong encounter [with the Trojans], immediately she spoke to Pallas Athene her winged words : ‘For shame, now, Atrytone, daughter of Zeus of the aigis: nothing then meant the word we promised to Menelaos, to go home after sacking the strong-walled city of Ilion, if we are to let cursed Ares be so furious. Come then, let us rather think of our own stark courage.’
So she spoke, nor did the goddess grey-eyed Athene disobey her . . . [The two travelled to Troy in Hera’s chariot.]
Now these two walked forward in little steps like shivering doves, in their eagerness to stand by the men of Argos, after they had come to the place where the most and the bravest stood close huddled about . . . there standing the goddess of the white arms, Hera, shouted, likening herself to high-hearted, bronze-voiced Stentor, who could cry out in as great a voice as fifty other men : ‘Shame, you Argives, poor nonentities splendid to look on. In those days when brilliant Akhilleus came into the fighting, never would the Trojans venture beyond the Dardanian gates, so much did they dread the heavy spear of that man. Now they fight by the hollow ships and far from the city.’
So she spoke, and stirred the spirit and strength in each man.” - The Theoi Project
Sacred Symbols of Hera
- Royal Sceptre - Hera was never seen without her sceptre.
Sacred Animals of Hera
- Cow - Hera was not fooled by the deception of Zeus during His affair with Io, when He turned Io into a cow. Hera devised a plan to get Io away from Zeus and to leave forever. Also, it is said that cows are a motherly animal and Hero chose the cow to be sacred to her.
- Peacock - It is said that Hera chose the peacock as sacred because she could see the eyes of Argos within them.
Sacred Plants of Hera
- Pomegranate - Hera chose the pomegranate due to its symbolism and relationship with marriages.
Like the post about Zeus, I know this was a lot of information. If you are looking to work with or worship Hera, I strongly urge you to learn all you can about Her. She is not a Goddess to deceive, and She does not take well to infidelity or lies. We can see that simply by the way She behaves with Zeus and His infidelities. If you are more interested in Her worship in a historical context or in the context of reconstructionist/revivalist Hellenismos, it is doubly-important to understand these things about Her, but to also understand the context of Her myths and stories.
If you would like to start building a relationship with Hera, I recommend the following.
- Construct a shrine or altar in Her name. As Goddess of women and protector of men, it would be fitting for anyone to construct an altar to Her. The altar should include Her symbols and a place for libations and offerings.
- Learn the pillars of Greek worship. This may not be necessary for a Wiccan, but I am a hard polytheist so I feel it is good for me to mention. There are several things that the ancient Greeks did before worshiping, and those include creating khernips and offering libations. You can learn about that HERE.
- Give daily offerings and practice daily devotion. If you need inspiration or want to use a premade devotional, CLICK HERE to view a list of Homeric Hymns.
Do you worship Hera or any other Olympian?
How do you feel about the myths of ancient Greece?