Hera Goddess of Women: 10 Ways to Work With Her Energy
When I first started researching the goddess Hera, I had an entire conversation with my teenager about how the Greek pantheon were such a*holes. Including Hera. But the more I researched, the more I realized Hera Goddess of Women is much more than how the myths portray her. She’s not just a jealous goddess, trying desperately to wrangle in her womanizing husband and punish his mistresses. She is powerful and is returning in modern times in her most primordial, sovereign form. Come with me and meet the real Hera and learn how to work with her powerful energy in 10 modern ways.
Hera’s Table of Contents
Who is Hera Goddess of Women, Really?
If you look up who is Hera the goddess, the first thing you’ll find is that she is the goddess of “women and lawful marriage”. And, this is true, but we are missing out on some wholly important aspects of Hera if we reduce her to simply two domains. First, Hera is one of the only original and native goddesses to be included as one of the Twelve Olympians. Apparently, most of the Olympian gods were imported, so to speak, into the Greek (Hellenic) religion and mythos. Zeus, Demeter, Aphrodite, Athena, Artemis, Apollo, Ares, Hephaestus, Hermes, Hestia and Dionysus are not native to Greece. The cults of Poseidon and Hera existed in Greece long before Hellenic times. They are said to be of Pelasgian origin, which were the people in Ancient Greece before the Dorians rose to power.
From Earth Goddess to “Wife”
Hera, whose name likely originated as Yara, means “Year” and refers to her original dominion over the earth and the changing of the seasons. Some modern accounts claim her name means either “hero” or “lady”. I’ll let you decide. According to Jane Harrison in her 1928 work “Myths of Greece and Rome”, Hera is one of the true triple goddesses with a Maiden, Mother, and Crone aspect which predates the patriarchal Greek pantheon with ruler Zeus. Her temple, Heraion, was separate from Zeus’ temple and predates it by hundreds of years. According to Judika Illes, Hera was demoralized when the Dorians conquered Greece and placed into a pantheon where her power and sovereignty would be reduced to jealous Queen.
Desperate to Retain Her Power?
Before Hera was adopted into the Olympian pantheon, she was the Great Mother Goddess. A primordial cow deity who ruled with matriarchal power and of whom was considered the Lady of the Beasts. So, the idea that Hera’s whole M.O. is to run around and sneakily prevent her womanizing husband from coupling with others. OR to prevent those mistresses from having children to overthrow her own. These ideas might actually point to Hera being a goddess who is desperate to retain her sovereignty and power. She not only fights for her position as a primordial Earth Goddess but also fights for her people who were conquered and forced to attain a new religion (enter the Olympians). Her widely-known shrewd and jealous personality is the tragic, clear result of a society changing from a largely matriarchal religious view to a patriarchal one.
“The unseemly squabblings between Zeus and Hera are the outcome, not of conjugal jealousy, but of racial rivalry. Hera remains always the turbulent native princess, coerced but never really subdued by the alien conqueror.” ~ Jane Harrison, 1928
So, What is Hera the Goddess of?
We’ve said Hera is the Goddess of women, which is obvious from the Hellenic myths and pre-Hellenic evidence. However, she doesn’t just favor women, she is a fierce protector of women. Despite being portrayed as a JEALOUS goddess, one who wreaks havoc on her husband’s mistresses’ lives, she will protect the women who invoke her and are in need of her ferocity and independence. To me, Hera is Goddess of women, children, sovereignty, independence, protection, childbirth, fighting oppression and reclaiming what is ours.
Hera in the Hellenic Myths
Hera Goddess and Queen of the Olympians, is featured in many prominent Greek myths. She is born to Cronus and Rhea. And if you haven’t heard how her father swallowed her whole, you have now. In fact, Cronus decided to swallow his children as they were born so that he could remain in authority. Those children were Hera, Hestia, Demeter, Hades and Poseidon. Apparently their mother, Rhea, tricked Cronus into eating a rock instead of eating Zeus. Therefore allowing Zeus to grow up big and strong and one day conquer his father and the Titans. At some point, Cronus is tricked into drinking a poison that makes him vomit up the children he had originally ingested. Including Hera. The idea that Hera is born, killed, then reborn propitiates her domain over the life, death and rebirth cycle just as it does with her siblings.
Zeus Tricks and Marries Hera
Hera, being Zeus’ sister, also becomes his wife. But there’s a whole story behind how Zeus tricks her. He transforms into her sacred bird, the cuckoo, in order to deceive her. She holds Zeus in bird form against her chest and allows him to suckle. At this point, he’s sealed the deal and she is wed to Zeus and becomes Queen of the Olympians. Seems like a simple story, but I wonder if the cuckoo being her sacred bird, has anything to do with a particular battle between the Dorians and the pre-exisiting natives to whom Hera once belonged. So this story may show his dominance over Hera and also simultaneously the natives, of whom worshiped the cuckoo bird, as well.
Don’t take my word for it, and don’t stop reading the myths that feature Hera. You’ll see how deep and complex her story truly is!
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How does Hera manifest?
When Hera manifests in goddess form, she is a beautiful woman who wears a diadem and a veil. She holds a scepter with a lotus at its tip. The myths say that she shines like the sun and often rides in a chariot drawn by either horses or peacocks. An interesting take on Hera comes also from Jane Harrison’s Myths of Ancient Greece and Rome, in which Harrison claims Hera had three main forms: child, mother, and crone. These forms ruled over the seasons Spring, Summer/Autumn, and Winter. Therefore, Hera may appear in maiden form as a young girl, as a fertile or child-bearing mother, and as an old woman or hag. She is also known for her shapeshifting abilities.
How to Know She’s Calling You
The gods and goddesses call upon their devotees in different ways. This depends on the god/goddess and upon the individual. Here are a few ways you might be called by Hera:
- You hear or see her name multiple times in random places
- She comes to you in your dreams or in a vision
- Her sacred animals seem to follow you around (either in the physical or via signs on the TV, radio, computer, etc.)
- You feel drawn to work with you and you can’t explain why
- Hera’s sacred plants somehow make their way into your garden
- You may be getting married soon OR having a baby
- You are experiencing oppression in some way and Hera has come to lend you her strength
- You are of Greek descent
Hera Goddess Magical Correspondences
|Plants & Colors
Ways to Work with Goddess Hera
If you are being called to work with Hera Goddess of Sovereignty, there will be many different ways for you to get to know her. We recommend trying the ways we list here BUT more importantly, following your heart, intuition, and Hera’s word over ours.
1. Study and Research Hera’s TRUE Origins
If you haven’t already guessed, Hera’s origins are complex and I believe lead us to her true nature. Study and research all you can about this amazing goddess from primordial Greece. Her shrewd and jealous nature came much later on, following her native area being conquered by other foreign peoples. Start by reading about the Pelasgians and go from there. Then read the Hellenic myths and see how much her personality and characteristics changed.
2. Set Up An Altar for Hera
We know that Hera’s colors include yellow and gold. But I would venture to say, since she was originally an earth goddess and ruled the Wheel of the Year, earth colors are also appropriate for her altar. Greens, tans, and browns are all welcome on Hera’s altar. Since she was also Lady of the Beasts, consider adding her sacred animals to the altar perhaps with figurines or artwork. Dedicate the space to working with her and getting to know her.
3. Provide Offerings
By giving offerings to deities that we work with, we are showing these deities that we want a relationship with them. It’s sort of like giving gifts to a co-worker you enjoy being around or a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Or to show you are grateful for their presence in your life. Hera enjoys fine items like perfume and incense, but she also enjoys food, wine, honey, and flowers.
4. Stand Up For Yourself
Hera’s story is one of unraveling power in the face of predatorial enemies. Sadly, even after she’s married to Zeus, she does suffer abuse at his hands but yet continues to come back to him. If she’s entered your life recently, she might be urging you to stand up for yourself. To love yourself enough to stop any abuse or toxic relationships in your life. Ask for her help if indeed you need it. And don’t forget to seek help from the authorities if you feel your life is in danger in any way. Hera also reminds us to stand up for ourselves in a patriarchal and racist society.
5. Ritual Cleansing Baths
Hera is known to purify those who ask for it. And one myth tells of how she bathes in a sacred spring, sheds her skin like a snake, then emerges anew. Engage in a cleansing ritual bath and emerge anew just like the goddess Hera does. Take it a step further and add a bit of honey and flower petals in her name.
6. Dedicants “Shower” Yourself in Gifts
While Hera teaches sovereignty, she also teaches self love. Some scholars speculate that Hera’s wedding to Zeus may have inspired the modern day “bridal shower”. Apparently, to celebrate Hera’s marriage to Zeus, people would shower her with gifts. If you decide to devote yourself to Hera, buy yourself something lavish or indulge yourself in some way.
7. Work with Her Sacred Beasts
Since Hera is the Lady of the Beasts, consider working with her sacred animals. This can be in your spiritual practice via meditation and visionary work. Or you can volunteer at local bird rescues or animal shelters in her name. Her sacred animals include: cuckoo, carrion-crow, dove, peacock, hawk, cow, lion, snake, dragon, horse, crab, snail and other shelled creatures.
8. Visit Her Sacred Places in Greece
If you are lucky enough to make it to Greece, visit some of Hera’s sacred places. The River Asterion is said to be the place where she was raised. But Argos and Samos claim to have been the main centers of her cult. In addition, several cities claim to be the site of the Zeus-Hera wedding including Euboea, Samos, Cnossos in Crete, and Mount Thorax. Her sacred teple, the Heraion, is located on an unnamed road in Olympia and was one of the oldest.
9. Moon, Stars, and Sun Magick
Since Hera is also called the goddess of the sky and stars, she is linked to the sun and the moon and therefore can be invoked in these forms of magick. Moon magick is as simple as following and attuning to the phases of the moon and using those phases in your spells and rituals. Sun magick is about harnessing the sun’s energy through timing during the day OR via the seasons. And, since Hera is the “Year”, you can honor her in nearly any sabbat ritual throughout the year.