hera

Goddesses of Sorcery

July, 2013

And ye shall be free from slavery

            Yesterday in the New Coven Lilith was talking about her studies at University. She is almost finished a bachelor’s degree in World Religions and is feeling confused about all the religions. “Which one is the right one?” she asks.  We discussed henotheism, a term which is often applied to Wicca and means the worship of one god while acknowledging the existence of other gods. Wiccans may call themselves henotheistic because they generally worship one Deity pair in one pantheon as their main Deities, while respecting other religion’s God-forms. For example, we may honour Anu and Cernunnos in our Circles but we still respect Shiva and Shakti (Hindu Gods) and other Gods from alternative religious paths.

It got me thinking about my reasons for being Wiccan. For many Witches it is the great personal freedom within our belief system that calls to us. We have the freedom to think for ourselves and to create our own connection with the Divine. It’s not through a Priest that we get the Word of God! That is neither done nor recommended. The training in authentic Wiccan Traditions, and that includes honest and well-written self-teaching books, leads the Seeker to find this connection through ritual, meditation, contemplation and other spiritual and magickal work. In Wicca, even though there is structured training, there are no “commandments” or “thou- shalt-nots.” Most Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede: An it harm none do as ye will, but it is not a rule, rather a guideline on how to live life.

What is slavery?

Slavery is the opposite of the Wiccan Rede. Rather than do as you will it is “do as I will”. Slavery is defined as forced labor or confinement including sexual slavery where the person is considered to be a “thing” and property of the master. According to the United Nations there are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. (1) There are other types of slavery, which are subtler such as the abuse of women and children, elder abuse, and any situation where a vulnerable person is manipulated and coerced to serve another person against their will.  Religious indoctrination leading to hate, elitism and mental, emotional, financial and physical control is also a type of slavery of the soul.

 

Hera Goddess against Slavery (2)

Some people invoke Hera as the Goddess who protects marriages but those who do have little understanding of her story. Historically Hera was known in Greece many generations before the patriarchal tribes of the north brought their sky-god Zeus. She was the main Deity worshiped there and thought to be the ruler of earth and all its dwellers. She was particularly the goddess of women and their sexuality and did not have a consort by her side. Hera was seen as a triple goddess with maiden, mother and crone aspects. As the maiden she was called Parthenia and seen as a virgin, not because she had no intercourse, but because she had no children and was therefore free of responsibility. As the Mother she was called Teleia (perfect one) and seen as the earth in summer and the mother in the prime of her life. Her third aspect was known as Theira (crone), the woman who has passed through child-bearing and lives again to herself. In honour of the three phases of  Hera, the ancient residents of Greece celebrated the Heraea, a competitive festival that dates to earlier times than the Olympics. In this festival women came to a field near Hera’s town of Argos for the 160 yard dash. They ran bare-breasted and with hair unbound in three age groups to honor the goddess’s three stages. There were three winners, each receiving identical olive crowns and each winner—young, mature and old—had the right to leave a statuette of herself in Hera’s shrine.

Because Hera’s religion was too strong to destroy, a marriage of convenience was forged between Zeus and Hera. Her favorite bird was a cuckoo and Zeus transformed himself into one and flew bedraggled into her lap. She held the poor bird to her breast where he became himself again and raped her. Shamed by the violation she agreed to become his wife. Later on she organized a failed revolt against him and Zeus chained her in the heavens to punish her until she promised never to challenge his authority again. Much of the rest of her story involves her efforts to sabotage Zeus’s happiness by thwarting his chasing of other women and goddesses. This story can be seen as a symbolic progression of the destruction of Goddess religions and the downfall of the rights of women.

If you feel that you are in a situation, physical, mental or spiritual, where you are being held captive, Hera is the Goddess that will help you regain your freedom. Since she is the ruler of all the dwellers on earth she can also be called upon to protect men, animals and the land, for she is the Mother of All and her love is poured out upon the earth.

correspondences (3)

Titles: Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Gods, Holy Mother, Creatrix, Goddess of Women, Protectoress of Married Women

Rules Over: womanly power, feminism,

Tarot Card: the empress

Days of the Moon: 10 -12

Month: May 16 – June 12

Holy Day: August 20th

Herbs: orris, myrrh

Flowers: poppy, lily, apple blossom

Trees: oak, willow, apple, pear

Fruits: apple, pomegranate

Animals: cow, peacock, cuckoo, lion

Elements: air, earth, water

Colors: white, gold, blue, green

Symbols: crown, lotus staff, apple scepter, tree pillar

Offerings: apples, pomegranates, lilies, poppies, myrrh, orris, any white flower

Suggested Mantra: wholeness

Suggested Affirmation: “I alone define who I am”

Similar Goddesses: Juno, Inanna, Danu (Anu), Frigga, Europa, Rhea

 

References and Appendices:

  1. 1.      The following statistics are from the UN GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking):  http://www.ungift.org/
  2. 2.      The Book of Goddesses and Heroines Patricia Monaghan, Dutton Publishing Co. Inc 1981. Llewellyn edition 1990, pages 152-154
  3. 3.      http://www.orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/Hera/
  • The Victims
    • The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age
    • An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year
    • 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries)
    • 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls
    • 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls
    • Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education
  • The Traffickers
    • 52% of those recruiting victims are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women
    • In 54% of cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of cases the recruiter was known to victim
    • The majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring
  • The Profits
    • Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are US$ 31.6 billion
    • Of this:
      • US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
      • US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
      • US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
      • US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
      • US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle East and North Africa
  • Prosecutions
    • In 2006 there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world
    • This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted in 2006

 

The Grove

June, 2010

Hera

HeraDrawing The Grove

Temperatures rise & the days lengthen. June brings with it the scent of jasmine on a warm breeze. The month bears the name of the Roman goddess Juno. I, like the Greeks of old, know her by another name. Hera is the child of titans Cronus &

Rhea.  From early on their relationship didn’t run smoothly.  Initially she refused his attempts until wily Zeus thought to transform himself into a cuckoo. When she held the shivering, miserable-looking bird to her breast he took his true form & ravished her. In her shame she had no choice but to marry him.

Hera was venerated as a mighty goddess by her own right in the ancient world. She was respected as a patroness of women & protector of marriage. She was honoured every four years at Olympia, where there was a festival held in her name. However, it is inevitable that she be defined by her relationship to Zeus. Tales of his extramatiral exploits are numerous, to say the least. Perhaps she can be forgiven for striking back from time to time.

Once Zeus fell for the charms of the Lybian queen Lamia. One version of myth says how Hera killed Lamia’s children & grief turned her into a monster.  She was cursed with the inability to close her eyes so that she would not be able to escape the image of her dead babes. Zeus softened the blow by allowing her to be able to take her eyes out to rest. Lamia grew envious of other mothers & ate their children.

Hera almost caught Zeus out once. Zeus turned the hapless Io into a white heifer.  However, she wasn’t completely fooled & demanded that Zeus give her the creature as a gift. Hera left Io to the care of  many-eyed Argus to keep her separated from Zeus. The king of the gods ordered Hermes to kill Argus. When Hera learned of this she placed all his eyes into the plumage of the peacock. Ever notice the eye-like pattern in its tail?

Hera’s parenting skills aren’t fantastic. Her marriage to Zeus yielded a small few minor goddesses, including Hebe goddess of youth, as well as war-god Ares. Homer’s account states that she is also the mother of the lame smithy-god Hephaetus. Hera became jealous of how Zeus produced Athena without her, so she managed to give birth to a child on her own. However she was so offended by the baby’s physical imperfections that she threw him from the heights of My Olympus. Hephaestus later got revenge on his mum for her rejection by crafting a throne for her which would not let her get up after she sat on it. The other Olympians begged him to free her but he refused until Dionysus got him drunk. Hephaestus was taken back to Olympus thrown over a mule. He eventually released Hera after being bribed with the offer of  Aphrodite for his wife.

Hera often comes across as the archetypal wicked stepmother. Consider her treatment of the hero Herakles, Alcemene’s son with Zeus. To be fair it would be hard for any woman to cope with knowing her husband spawned an offspring with another. Hera took her hurt & jealousy to extremes from the start. When Alcemene was pregnant with Heracles, Hera tried to prevent her giving birth by tying her rival’s legs into knots. The servant Galanthis tricked Hera by saying she’s already given birth. When Herakles was a newborn, Hera sent two serpents to kill him. The baby strangled both creatures & was found happily playing with their limp bodies.

The image of a wife left at home alone & crying in in the dark whilst hubby has his fun is all too easy to see, be it god or mortal. No doubt Hera may have a ‘human’ side where she weeps or gives way to darker emotions like sorrow or fury. Many have difficulty looking past the image of an angry, shrieking shrew. There is more to her than this, however. She possesses a deep, abiding strength & more patience than she’s often given credit for. It must take a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to endure the scandals & constant emotional drama life with a philandering partner of this magnitude would put her through. Hers is an enduring love. She must truly feel deeply for Zeus if she has remained by his side no matter what their life together has thrown at her.

Hera teaches us to acknowledge the flaws in others even if we can’t always accept them. Imperfection is inevitable; even the gods themselves have quirks or weaknesses. Don’t try to love someone because they are perfect; instead love them for who they are, warts & all. The flip side to this is that Hera urges us to develop

self-respect. It is no less loving to speak out with all the dignity of a queen if a situation or behaviour in another becomes unbearable.

Sure, she is the queen of heaven & mother of all. There’s no disputing that in many ways Hera is the ultimate wife. However, remember that she renews her virginity yearly by bathing in the sacred spring of Canathus at Argos. Family life doesn’t mean one must give up his or her identity. Certainly marriage doesn’t, & shouldn’t, require either partner to become a creature bent perfectly to suit the other’s will. In renewing herself on a regular basis she constantly reclaims the part of herself she holds most dear. Whilst her methods might lack in tact at times, Hera lives by her own terms.  For better or worse, she is herself.

Gems of the Goddess

February, 2010

Hera

Hera was the Greek Goddess of Love and Marriage (also known as “Juno” in the Roman pantheon).  She was the wife of Zeus and the Queen of the Olympians.  She was also considered the Goddess of the Sky and the Starry Heavens.

Hera was usually depicted with a crown on her head and holding a staff with a lotus tip.  She is also seen holding a hawk or a cuckoo bird.

She is considered to embody the Triple Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Crone.

Hera as Maiden was unmarried and virginal.  She then was married to Zeus, after being raped by him when he tricked her by posing as a cuckoo bird to get closer to her.  As time went on, Hera became a jealous spiteful person because Zeus was cheating on her.  On the outside, Hera showed herself as the loving wife and mother – everything in the marriage was perfect.  But on the inside, Hera was jealous.  In private, Hera made Zeus’s consorts pay.  As time went on, Hera got tired of chasing around Zeus’s consorts.  She was getting older and decided to live her life out with being in solitude.  This was the crone aspect.

Hera’s sacred animals are the peacock (pride) and the cow.  Many pictures will show her with peacocks or peacock feathers.  The crow and the pomegranate (symbol of marriage) were dedicated to her.

Hera reminds us that we must age gracefully.  As we grow older, we grow wiser from our experiences.  Hera has been described as a bitter woman but her experiences brought her to protect herself because of the betrayal by Zeus.  She also lived in a loveless marriage but she still managed to stay strong.  Hera is telling us no matter what we are presented with, it’s important to stay loyal to our commitments.