Hera, a Greek goddess that was also called the Queen of Heaven, was a powerful queen in her own right long before her marriage to Zeus, the mighty king of the Olympian gods. The goddess Hera ruled over the heavens and the earth, responsible for every aspect of existence, including the seasons and the weather.
Honoring her great capacity to nurture the world, her very name translates as the “Great Lady.” Our word galaxy comes from the Greek word gala, meaning “mother’s milk.” Legend has it that the Milky Way was formed from the milk spurting from the breasts of the Greek goddess Hera, Queen of Heaven. Where drops fell to earth, fields of lilies sprung forth.
She was also worshipped as the Roman goddess Juno. The month of June (which is the most popular month for weddings) is named in her honor.
Hera’s Beauty and Marriage To Zeus
It is partly because of Hera’s great beauty, particularly her beautiful, large eyes, that she is linked to her sacred animal, the cow, and the peacock with its iridescent feathers having “eyes.” The cow symbolizes the goddess Hera’s nurturing watchfulness over her subjects, while the peacock symbolizes her luxury, beauty, and immortality.
In ancient times Hera was revered as being the only one of the Greek goddesses who accompanied a woman through every step of her life.
The goddess Hera blessed and protected a woman’s marriage, bringing her fertility, protecting her children, and helping her find financial security. Hera was, in short, a complete woman, overseeing both private and public affairs.
But it was Hera’s uncommon beauty that attracted the attention of her future husband, the lusty Zeus, who tricked Hera into taking him to her breast by changing himself into a small, frightened, and wounded bird that elicited her pity.
Once cradled in Hera’s bosom, Zeus changed back into his manly form and tried to take her. However she resisted his advances, putting him off until he promised to marry her. The delay only increased his desire for Hera. Once married, they had the longest honeymoon on record, lasting over 300 years!
Trouble In Paradise
Unfortunately, the goddess Hera’s life was not to remain so enviable. Once the honeymoon was over, Zeus reverted to his earlier “playboy” lifestyle, married or not. Compulsively seducing or raping whichever of the Greek goddesses or mortal women caught his wandering eye.
His amorous exploits left the regal goddess Hera feeling betrayed and humiliated on numerous occasions. To make matters even worse, Zeus often showed more favor towards the offspring of his illicit liaisons than he did to the children Hera bore him.
In Greek mythology, Hera, although wounded, remained faithful and steadfast in her loyalty to Zeus, electing instead to vent her fury on the other women rather than Zeus himself, even though it was usually Zeus who had deceived, seduced, or raped the innocent women.
This wasn’t always Hera’s reaction, however. On one occasion, she decided to give Zeus a “taste of his own medicine” by conceiving and delivering a child by herself, proving that she really didn’t need him anyway.
It didn’t work out quite as she’d hoped. She gave birth, as the sole parent, to Hephaestus (God of the Forge). Sadly he was born with a deformity that made him lame. Zeus was not impressed, and Hera rejected her son. Sending him away from Mount Olympus to grow up among the mortals.
At other times, in reaction to his continuing infidelities, the goddess Hera simply withdrew from Zeus and the other Olympian gods and goddesses and wandered around the earth, often in darkness, always eventually ending up back at the home where she’d spend her happy youth.
In spite of how he had mistreated her, Zeus did love Hera and, more than that, felt as if part of himself was missing when she was not there for him.
Once, panicked that Hera didn’t seem to be in any hurry to return this time, he invited her to a “mock” marriage ceremony that he’d arranged for a princess near her home.
She couldn’t help but be amused to discover him making his vows, not to a princess, but to a statue! Hera’s laughter broke the ice, and she forgave him and returned to Mount Olympus to resume her role as wife and queen.
It is unfortunate that it is not the goddess Hera’s nurturing or her steadfastness in the face of adversity that is remembered today, but mostly the stories of her jealousy and vindictiveness.
Some historians argue that the goddess Hera was unjustly portrayed in the famous stories of Homer, probably because he was himself victimized by a mean and shrewish wife.
More than any of the other Greek goddesses, Hera reminds us that there is light and dark within each of us and that joy and pain are inextricably linked in life. The Greek goddess Hera represents the fullness of life and affirms that we can use our wisdom to pursue any goal we choose.
Hera (also known as the Roman goddess Juno) is often represented by symbols associated with her regal yet generous behavior. It is not surprising that many of our icons representing love and marriage are derived from the ancient goddess symbols of Hera.
Since Milky Way, our galaxy, was created from milk that came from Hera’s breasts (at least according to the legend), it makes no wonder that it is often used as a symbol for this goddess. After all, she ruled over both heavens and earth!
Other Hera’s symbols are the seasons of the year, diadem (diamond crown) or tiara, spas, and baths.
Peacocks represent power, strength, divinity, honor, integrity, royalty, and confidence, all of which are the characteristics of Hera. That’s why it is hardly surprising that peacocks are one of the most common animal symbols of Hera.
Her other animal symbols are cows, eagles, crabs, snails, and other creatures with shells.
The Lily flower symbolizes purity and fertility. Just like the Milky Way galaxy, a lily is believed to be created from the milk that came out of Hera’s breasts. This is why this color is a common Hera symbol.
Her other plant symbols are poppy flowers, stephanotis, cypress, coconut, iris, white rose, waterlily, maple trees, and all white flowers.
Rose, iris, myrrh, civet, jasmine, patchouli, and stephanotis are all good perfume choices when you want to pay an hommage to Hera. They are all feminine and beautiful fragrances.
Gems and Metals
Silver is simple yet powerful and elegant. As such, it is a perfect precious metal to represent Hera. Her other symbols could be pearls, garnets, citrine, amber, diamond, platinum, and star sapphire.
Most often, Hera was depicted or described as wearing white or red. This is why these colors are great symbols of her. Other colors that can be used to represent Hera are royal blue, purple, rose, dark green, silver, and grey.
Meditations To Invoke The Goddess Hera
- Hera, let me honor my commitments and stay true to my beliefs.
- Great goddess, help me celebrate the power of my love today.
- Share your ability to recover from wounded pride, Hera, so that I can relinquish all shame and move forward on a more solid foundation.
- Thank you, Hera, for helping me to be friendly, loyal, and steadfast today.
- Hera, I join you in learning to communicate clearly, especially when it comes to expressing my needs.
- Hera, show me how to treat myself like royalty, for, after all, I am a queen.
- Goddess, help me admit that I don’t know everything.
- Hera, help me create quality time with my family.
- Goddess, I accept the responsibility for ensuring my own happiness and for seeing to it that my needs are met.
- Hera, help me to be open enough to reveal my feelings of vulnerability to others.
- Great goddess, lend me your unwavering judgment and penetrative insight.
- Hera, help me to not constantly compare myself to others.
- Goddess of love and marriage, remind me that I don’t have to have a partner to be in love, that I can be happily in love with life itself.
- Hera, empower me to acknowledge and express my feelings openly, honestly, and in the moment.
- Great goddess, teach me to find my greatest joy inside myself so that I can give joy in my relationships.
- Great goddess, help me to remain centered and emotionally available to others.
- Hera, remind me today that, like you, I am caring and have a good heart.
- Hera, help me appreciate my jealous feelings and realize that they are often a sign that I need to work on something in my own life.
- Goddess of love and commitment, help me to keep my environment peaceful and harmonious today.
Want To Bring More Hera Qualities Into Your Life?
- Surprise your partner with a romantic retreat. Book a room at a local hotel, and make it an evening to remember!
- Practice the Rule of 3’s in your relationships. For every negative thing that you are about to say, be sure that you have delivered three positive statements before you ask for change. Remember that it wasn’t Hera’s constant complaining that won Zeus’ heart, but her playful reinforcements.
- Take time to really focus your attention on someone you care about, listening to them with your whole heart.
- Memories are often the cement that holds relationships together. So dust off the photo albums. Pull out the images of a special trip or event and bring the memories of your most cherished moments into the light. Turn them over in your mind, polishing them until they glow. Then share them with your loved one.
- Don’t be afraid to speak your mind and let everyone else know what pleases you and what doesn’t. Everyone knew just where they stood with Hera, and they should with you as well.
- Learn to reach out and touch those you care about. Not in a sexual way, but with great love and affection. The skin is the largest sense organ in the body and the most often neglected.
- Like Hera, support and work to improve the public institutions in your community. Give your time, energy, or money, but make it a point to leave the world a better place for others.
- Surround yourself with Hera’s symbols. Think of her with appreciation as you dress in her colors and put on your diamond earrings. Keep a peacock feather hanging on the foot of your bed. Buy yourself a tiara and wear it around the house until you begin to feel like a Queen!
We hope you enjoyed this post. Be sure to check out some of the other goddesses we also write about. You can find the complete list of goddesses sorted across regions and religions here.
Featured Image Credit: Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons