Goddess Hera – How this fascinating queen became vengeful

Goddess Hera is a fascinating queen in Greek Mythology. She is known as the queen of Greek Gods and Goddesses as well as the wife of Zeus – who always cheats on her. Today, she’s mostly remembered and known for her vengeful side, always pursuing women and Goddesses with whom Zeus forces a love relationship.

But, was it always like this? Is this accurate? Couldn’t Hera have her reasons? In this article, I’ll explain her story, her symbols, her archetype, and how she’s depicted in the wrong way today.

You may also find these other articles on her interesting:

You can watch my video below and continue reading this article for more details:

GODDESS HERA STORY - Goddess of Mar... x
GODDESS HERA STORY - Goddess of Marriage and the Queen of the Greek Gods

In Neo-Paganism, Hera fits the Mother Face of the Triple Goddess.

Hera, as well as other Greek Goddesses, are in my free Goddess Oracle! Use the button below to access it, flip a card and receive a message from a Goddess!

Zeus and Hera painting inspired by Rubens

Who is Goddess Hera? Unveiling the Queen

Goddess Hera is the Queen of the Greek Gods and her story, as well as her powers and traits, deserve to be analyzed and learned in a little more detailed way today. This is because the image of Hera today is erroneously associated with her jealous episodes towards Zeus’ infidelity cases and also with the ones in which she pursues and punishes Zeus’ lovers.

Many people also see Hera as a vengeful and cruel woman who pursues Herakles (Hercules is his Roman correspondent) and always punishes him. A TV series from the 1990s called “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” helped to cultivate this stereotype.

However, she is not limited to that. And, after getting to know her origins better, we can observe these features from a different perspective.

Hera by Marina Lacanna
Hera by Marina Lacanna

Hera is the third offspring of Kronos and Rhea

You probably know already that Kronos and Rhea had 6 children – and Kronos swallowed 5 of them because he feared he would be dethroned like he dethroned his father, Uranos, and saved his mother, Gaia. So, the 6 offspring of Kronos and Rhea were, in order:

  • Hestia, the Goddess of the hearth and fire;
  • Demeter, the Goddess of prosperity and agriculture;
  • Hera, the Queen of the Gods and protector of women;
  • Hades, the King of the Underworld;
  • Poseidon, the God of the seas and king of the waters;
  • Zeus, the King of the Gods and God of thunder.

Zeus, the youngest son, was not swallowed by his father. Rhea hid him so he could grow up. When Zeus learned about the fate of his siblings, he faced Kronos and freed each of them. After this, he became the King of Cosmos and took Hera as his wife, thus making her Queen.

Kronos and Rhea Offspring
Kronos and Rhea Offspring

The ancient cult of Hera

Now the story gets much better! Accordingly to Patricia Monaghan:

“the cult of Hera is much older than we think and Hera was already Queen even before the presence of Zeus”.

The Encyclopedia of Goddesses and Heroines

Hera was worshipped as a Triple Goddess. – and this “Triple nature” reminds us of the Goddess in Neo-Paganism and Wicca.

The marriage of Hera and Zeus that we know today was conceived for political reasons.

The ancient cult of Goddess Hera was so powerful that it could not simply be erased. Removing the female image and replacing it with a male one would be a really hard task. Then, Zeus did everything he could to marry her, so he could become king and not the other way around – let’s put it like this.

Evidence that she had an older cult is seen in celebrations such as competitions that took place every 4 years in the city of Argos. In these competitions, only women could run 160 yards, always in groups of 3 symbolizing Hera’s Triple nature. Three winners were given statuettes at her temple.

The Apotheosis of Aeneas - Johann Justin Preissler 1731-1732
The Apotheosis of Aeneas – Johann Justin Preissler 1731-1732

Hera and Zeus: a forged marriage?

As it seems, Hera and Zeus had a forged marriage. She never wanted to get married.

Zeus has always been known for shapeshifting into animals and into other things to seduce and rape women. And with Hera, it was no different. She didn’t give a damn about her brother. Why would she want to marry a rapist?

In order to get closer to her, he shape-shifted into a Cuckoo, her favorite animal. He got all dirty and wet and flew towards her. Goddess Hera took the animal in and suddenly found herself raped by Zeus.

After this episode, she felt ashamed of the situation and agreed to marry him as a way to maintain her dignity.

From this moment on, Hera and Zeus became a couple. Now she started her persecutions against Zeus’ lovers (or those who were also forced to have intercourse relations with him). It seems like a way to preserve the image of a good marriage, even if it was against her own will.

However, I personally think she should punish Zeus first, right?

Goddess Hera by Nuit from Tumblr
Goddess Hera by Nuit from Tumblr

The offspring of Goddess Hera

Hera and Zeus had some children. And they were:

  • Ares, the God of war;
  • Hebe, the Goddess of youth.

By herself, she had Hephaestus, the blacksmith God. Some say she considered him too ugly, so she despised him. Others say Zeus punished him for being a son of a single mother. In both versions, he suffered.

Hephaestus takes revenge on Hera

As an adult, Hephaestus decided to take revenge on Hera, his mother. He presented her with a bewitched throne made of gold. When she sat on the throne, she was trapped and was unable to leave.

Hephaestus magic was so powerful that nobody could get her out of there! Not even Zeus! Zeus then asked Hephaestus to undo the witchcraft spell and free his mother, but he refused.

To solve this problem, Zeus sent Dionysus to talk to Hephaestus. After getting him drunk, Dionysus asked what he would like in exchange for his wife’s freedom. Hephaestus replied that he wished to have Aphrodite, the most beautiful one, as a wife.

Upon learning of this, Zeus forced Aphrodite to marry Hephaestus so Goddess Hera was released. Yes, Aphrodite was treated like an object in this whole situation. Talking about her, there’s a passage in which Venus (Aphrodite’s Roman version) lends her girdle to Juno (Hera’s Roman version) who falls in love – again – with Jupiter (Zeus’s Roman version) like the image below:

Jupiter’s love for Juno rekindled when she puts on Venus’s Girdle - Giulio Bonasone 1546
Jupiter’s love for Juno rekindled when she puts on Venus’s Girdle – Giulio Bonasone 1546

Goddess Hera’s Archetype

Goddess Hera is the ultimate representation of dignity, commitment, companionship, and, therefore, marriage, even if forged.

Despite her moments of anger, she is not an evil Goddess. She is protective and she shows many traits of a Great Mother who protects and also breastfeeds the children of all women.

Hera also symbolizes nutrition and the power of protection. For this reason, she is symbolized by the cow.

The name “Hera” means “Our Lady” and the name Herakles, later known as Hercules, means “Glory to Hera”. Hercules erected temples in honor of Hera, who nursed him.

Hera GOddess symbols

The main symbols of Hera are:

  • Cow;
  • Milk;
  • Peacock.

Each one of these three symbols plays an important role in her story.

When we associate her with the cow, we bring her powers of protection and nutrition, breastfeeding, and taking care of newborns. Hera also protects women, especially pregnant women.

It is said that Hera suckled Hercules, even though she didn’t want to do it at first. While she slept, Zeus placed the newborn Herakles – his son with the mortal Alcmena – to take Hera’s milk and gain great powers from her – YES, his formidable powers come from her milk!

When Hera woke up and saw that there was a child breastfeeding her milk, she was startled and quickly removed her breast. The milk that flowed at this moment created a path of stars and gave rise to what we now call “The Milky Way”.

Other cow Goddesses are also associated with the Milky way, like the Egyptian Goddesses Nut and Hathor for example.

Now the peacock. The peacock represents beauty, exuberance, and majesty. These are all of her traits as the Queen of the Gods and the Cosmos. In the Orphic Hymn to Hera we find the following verse:

You send soft breezes to mortals such as nourish the soul,
And, O mother of rains, you nurture the winds and give birth to all.

The Orphic Hymn to Hera, verses 2 adn 3

When Goddess Hera is mostly associated with the wind and the air, the peacock also represents her nicely.

Hera's symbols
Hera’s symbols

Hera and the Garden of the Hesperides

Hera owns a garden in the west known as “The Garden of the Hesperides” where a single tree grows producing golden apples. She was given a branch with these apples from Goddess Gaia as a marriage gift, so she planted it.

The name of the garden is given for its guardians: The Hesperides, (usually) three deities associated with dusk and evening. They are daughters of Nyx, the primordial Goddess of Night. They guarded the garden for Hera.

A very important event in Greek Mythology is the Trojan War. All the steps that led to the war started when Eris, the Goddess of Discord, threw a golden apple among Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena during the wedding of Peleus and Thetis.

The golden apple of discord was actually an apple from Hera’s own garden!

Goddess Hera images

Below you’ll find some images of Goddess Hera formatted for Pinterest. Feel free to save them to your boards!

Conclusion

I hope now you can understand Goddess Hera better as a deity, as a woman, and as someone whose principles are so high that she prefers to protect them at all costs. Some interesting facts I’d like to highlight are the relation between her and Herakles, as well as the meaning of his name.

Did you know this before? I found it so interesting!

If you wish to learn how to energetically work with her – in witchcraft, Paganism, or even in a Wiccan ritual – I have also prepared an article to help you. Feel free to read “Working with Goddess Hera” and share your experiences with me there as a comment!

General FAQ

Who is Goddess Hera?

Hera is the Queen of the Gods in Greek Mythology. She is the wife of Zeus and she rules over the cosmos.

What powers does Hera have?

Hera has powers over the wind, the rain, and the nutrition of children. She also protects women, mainly pregnant women.

Who are the offspring of Hera?

With Zeus, Hera had Ares and Hebe. By herself, she had Hephaestus.

Hera is the Goddess of what?

Hera is the Goddess of Marriage and protector of Women and Children. She nourishes all life too.

What are the Symbols of Hera?

The main symbols of Hera are the cow, some milk and the peacock.

Photo of author

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