All homage to Hera, stately equal of Zeus.
Her power and position are put to great use.



Hera is a variation on the theme of the matriarchal Great Goddess.  The Great Goddess had many lovers and was extremely independent until the arrival of the patriarchal northern culture in the Mediterranean area (see Reisler's The Chalice and the Blade).  They brought their sky religion with its chief exponent, Zeus.

After a 300 year courtship, the fusion of cultures was consummated by the hieros gamos or Royal Marriage of Zeus and Hera.  Hera settled into her new role as exemplary wife, giving up her polyandrous lifestyle, but not her independence.  She became the pattern for all good married women, whose pasts are forgiven if not almost forgotten.  Hera is therefore the patroness and guardian of the institution of marriage, as well as the legitimate spouse of Zeus.  Many of today's conjugal unions are about healing the millennial split between patriarchy and matriarchy -- the war of the sexes -- through gender reunion.

Her authority over the marriage came from her originally wider interest in the lives of women in general.  She is also associated with certain aspects of fecundity and childbearing, even though her union with Zeus was not characteristically fertile.

She combines both earthy and lunar aspects in her personality, which makes her both practical and soulful.  Hera has a deep shadow nature, and she has the dubious distinction of being the most jealous character in mythology.

It may seem strange to link Hera with "The Hierophant," but not when certain elements are considered.  The sacredness of marriage is stressed in all the major religions of the world as a means of channeling the instinct of sexual desire, and fulfilling the mating instinct.

The Royal Marriage of Zeus and Hera also symbolizes wholeness of the individual personality.  The Hierophant exemplifies this male-female wholeness.  This prefigures the spiritual marriage of the soul with the celestial Lord, where the human soul is likened to a "bride."  In ancient times is marriage of god and mortal was celebrated anonymously with priestesses of the great goddess.

"The 'heiros gamos,' the sacred prostitute was the votary chosen to embody the goddess.
She was the goddess' fertile womb, her passion and her erotic nature. In the union with
the god, embodied by the reigning monarch, she assured the fertility and well-being of the
land and the people. . . she did not make love in order to obtain admiration or devotion
from the man who came to her, for often she remained veiled and anonymous; her raison
d'être was to worship the goddess in lovemaking, thereby bringing the goddess love into
the human sphere. In this union -- the union of masculine and feminine, spiritual and
physical -- the personal as transcended and the divine entered in. As the embodiment of
the goddess in the mystical union of the sacred marriage, the sacred prostitute aroused
the male and was the receptacle for his passion . . . . The sacred prostitute was the holy
vessel wherein chthonic and spiritual forces united.
" (Qualls-Corbett)

There are many kinds of hieros gamos unions: the primordial hierosgamos of Gaea and Uranus, the "sacred sex" with a hierodule or sacred prostitute, or sexuality in marriage blessed by the priesthood as the spiritual dimension of marriage.  Hera embodies the later kind.  In the balance of power, there are marriages of equals and there are marriages where one or the other spouse is generally dominant.

Existentially, there are many kinds of marriages: those based on contracts, children, shared interests, friendships, partnerships, polyamorous, alchemical and soul unions.  The best marriages put the union first, even above the children who then feel more secure.  They are a combination of partnership, friendship, sexuality, nurturing, acceptance and spirituality.  The link to the alchemical "chymical marriage" implies chemistry is significant.  Nevertheless, marriage is a crucible of spiritual transformation.

The Hierophant, the priest who joins people with one another and with God,  is associated with the astrological sign Taurus, and shares traits with Hera.  In her original cult-forms she was known as the "goddess of the yoke," "rich in oxen" (Taurus being the Bull), who kept sacred herds of cows.  She is "cow-eyed" for her large brown eyes.  As "goddess of the yoke" she prefigures the devotion to the sky principle seen in modern participants in Yoga (which also means "yoking").  The trump is associated with the rules of obedience and loyalty--to a guru, organization, work, country, etc.

On the physical plane, Hera manifests as the mating instinct, childbirth, parthenogenesis, and the flow of adrenaline especially in jealousy.  Emotionally she reflects the dual faces of marriage when perfected or thwarted.  Divorce is the cognitive notion associated with her, while her spiritual myth is the sacred marriage.

As an Olympian, Hera was the daughter of Cronos and Rhea.  She was the sister of Demeter, Hades, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus.  She was mother of Ares, Arge, Discordia, Eleithyia, Hebe and Hephaistos, and probably Typhon.

Hera knows how to play the societal game.  She teaches and upholds the traditions of society, giving and receiving advice.  When she wants to she displays loyalty, obedience, and discipline.  She makes authoritative allies and draws on the powers of moral law.  Hera was famous for her tirades against her husband because of his philandering.  The former plight of Princess Diana and her response to Prince Charles's affair was a classic Hera role.


Hera is a goddess distinguished by her great antiquity.  Her name means simply 'Lady," and her original consort was known simply as 'Hero," or Lord.  It is interesting to note that the very first temple at Mt. Olympus was hers.  It dates from the second half of the 7th Century B.C. to 1000 B.C.

She is also the official patroness of the OLYMPIC GAMES, which were originated by her muscular hero, Herakles (Hercules).  The fact that his twelve labors were in service to her is shown by his name being derived from her own.

The stories and rites surrounding Hera indicate an instinctual background as the mating instinct.  The antiquity of the goddess shows the instinctual nature of her origin.  This instinct seeks fulfillment of a particular sort which will not be sublimated to other goals.  It has very little to do with lust or sex, per se.  If this instinct is forced to deviate from its goal, it will instead turn negative, as Hera's personality shows.

The wifehood of Hera seeks as her essential mode-of-being the required marital union with her spouse on several levels.  She is not concerned merely with his physical fidelity (although it would be nice), or his ability to father children upon her, or be a responsive parent to the children.

Rather, she is driven by a compulsive necessity to be perfected through conjugal union.  The instinct for a multi-level intimate relationship is natural.  She wants to know the ins and outs of her spouse.  Their union must include physical, emotional, psychological or intellectual, and spiritual levels.

Curiously, like many "royal couples," Hera and Zeus are both siblings and mates.  This royal marriage was literalized in ancient Egypt, through sibling consorts for the pharaoh.  This symbolism of brother/sister love represents the restoration of bisexual totality.  It is a psychological resolution of original brother/sister duality.  They are aspects of the same essence.  Their re-union is expressed in an alchemical verse:

White-skinned lady, lovingly joined to her ruddy-limbed husband,
Wrapped in each other's arms in the bliss of connubial union,
Merge and dissolve as they come to the goal of perfection:
They that were two are made one, as though of one body.

On a more practical level, Hera cannot abide having a "token spouse" or an official husband who periodically checks in while he carries on his life elsewhere.  His proximity and commitment to her are critical.  She embodies the desire for the archetypal hieros gamos, or sacred marriage, which occurs between male and female on the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual planes of experience.

Even while dating, Hera is always looking for a potential spouse.  Hera feels essentially incomplete without a partner.  Marriage to her means fulfillment and satisfaction.  In contrast the Amazon likes the "thrill of the chase," while Aphrodite seeks immediate physical gratification, and Athena companionship or perhaps a useful business alliance.  Though their essence is Feminine, these forces operate in both men and women.

As wife, Hera wants to share her spouse's day-to-day activities.  You bet she wants to stay abreast of the business dealings.  Why, what if he should die, and she needs to take charge of the estate?  If another archetypal priority supersedes the Hera drive, she may avoid being prepared for such contingencies, yet fully able to take the reins of command.

Hera would probably prefer to have Zeus all to herself if her secret wish were know, but then how could he be Zeus in such a context?  If she got her wish, imagine how they would quarrel under such close confinement.  Each are accustomed to maintaining many outside interests.  Besides, in any setting, Zeus cannot bring her to fulfillment as long as he carries her own unlived masculinity or animus.

Hera wishes to experience depth of relationship with Zeus.  To really do that, she needs to develop a relationship with her own animus, but that may seems too abstract. Inner work may not come naturally to her, but therapy may become her refuge if she becomes a dissatisfied wife.  To her, marriage is no abstract institution.

She does not wish Zeus to assert his independence from wedlock with her.  She doesn't even wish him to turn inward on his own resources, as she probably needs to do.  If he follows his own inner feminine voice and becomes too introverted, she feels thwarted in her fulfillment since he may become emotionally unavailable.

He has turned inward to his brilliant daughter, Athena, his brainchild with all the ideas.  Hera can also be jealous of her spouse's attention to real children, parents, job, or other relationships.  This reaction veils an underlying fear of abandonment.

The fact is that Hera and Zeus are mutually dependent on one another for the fulfillment of this basic drive, the mating instinct.  Depending on the basic emotional adjustment of the personalities in the relationship, this will manifest as negative co-dependence, positive inter-dependence, or a combination of these patterns.

Marriage requires active listening, not just to the partner, but to one's deep self.  Problems in marriage reflect voices from the unconscious which need to be heard.  Marital problems are a product of the inner conflicts each of the partners bring to the relationship.

But these very problems, which crop up in the marriage arena, reflect unconscious forces which have the potential for bringing each partner to wholeness, the inner marriage within oneself.  It means integrating the other side of the personality so its energies can be used in constructive ways.  It is the marriage of the conscious personality and the anima or animus.

This is the daily confrontation of married life, getting up and going to bed together, merely being in one another's presence.  It is transformative; it is a yoga or "yoking" of individuals in the service of their union.  Marriage itself can be a spiritual path, or approached from a spiritual perspective.

Having meaningful interaction and true intimacy requires renewed concern for the "now."  The sacred marriage always takes place "now."  There is no emotional reliance on a golden, honeymoon past nor escape to an idealized future when "surely everything will be better."

The sacred marriage is an arena for individuation of the partners through the mutual give-and-take of everyday life.  The sacred marriage is no final act but requires periodic renewal.  This cyclic renewal is intrinsic to the Hera cult.  She was symbolically purified and renewed her commitment to Zeus in recurrent wedding ceremonies.  So when we choose in life to renew our marriage vows on an anniversary, we follow Hera's lead.

These multiple weddings indicate a return to the condition of unconscious, original identity.  At the time of the wedding, Zeus and Hera are truly one through the process of identification or participation mystique.  But, inevitably, another crisis situation creates a critical atmosphere, but it is a necessary prelude to conscious realizations.  And the cycle goes on...

In her article "Sexuality and Marriage: Divine Marriage or Divine Alchemy,"  Wendy Doniger (the Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religions at the Divinity), points out that sexual issues have always been at the heart of religion, with its concern for procreation, origins, birth, the survival of the human race. Rabbis, Christian clerics, Imams, and Brahmins have claimed the ultimate authority over sexuality until relatively recent times, and in many ways they still do.  She makes many good points about their assumption of dominion in this area of human life.

Why should a priest legislate sexuality? There are two sides to this question: Why should a priest want to interfere in this area, and  why should people allow him to do so? The answer to the first side is that sexuality is among the most basic of human needs, the key to the survival of human life. To control sexuality means to control everything that stems from it — politics, power, everything.  Moreover, that very same fact — that this force is so deeply imbedded in the human organism — suggests the answer to the second side of the question. For sexuality, like death, is an area of great vulnerability, mystery, danger; it is, ultimately, inaccessible to reason or to science. This is the shadowy place in which people feel a need for religion, where priests are invited to enter in or offer to enter in.

The sexual connection between god(s) and humans is often  envisioned as a kind of marriage — the hieros gamos of the ancient world, the nun’s wedding to Jesus — or as sexuality — the gloss on the Song of Songs, Bernini’s Saint Theresa, and so forth. But it is also envisioned as divorce or adultery. God’s abandonment of his worshipper and human adultery often become metaphors for one another.

Stories about human women and men become inextricably entangled in the toils of human sexual tragedy and take flight in the illusion provided by myth. But the banal and the magical are by no means mutually exclusive, for the royal road that connects myth and experience is a two-way stretch. The myth is a bridge between the actual human sexual experience and the fantasy that grows out of that experience and in turn transfigures it.

The meanings of these myths must be sought not merely in the superficial anthropomorphic forms and quasi-human events but in darker theological questions. Irrationalization occurs in mythology when ideas about men and women are transformed into myths about gods and goddesses, but the opposite process, rationalization, is equally common and important, when ideas about gods and goddesses are translated into myths about men and women.

Gender plays a central role in the wider religious concern with order. Broadly speaking, a structuralist might   say that, in religious thinking, gender/sexuality = culture/nature.  Religious communities and dogmas tend to disqualify the pieces that don’t fit their paradigm; if the paradigm is defined as male (as it usually is), they discard or devalue the female (or the homosexual, or the bisexual). Thus, women (and, sometimes, eunuchs or bisexuals) are usually cast as the villains in the founding myths dealing with such central religious topics as death, evil, and disease.

Traditional religions regard sexuality as, overwhelmingly, heterosexuality. What homosexual themes there are in traditional myths are seldom overt, because such myths almost always have, as a latent agenda, the biological and spiritual survival of a particular race, in both senses of the word: race as contest and as species ("us against them"), the "outnumber-them" agenda ("be fruitful and multiply").  Such myths regard homosexual acts as potentially subversive of this agenda (or, at the very least, irrelevant to it, perhaps not part of the problem, but certainly not part of the solution).

The ascetic aspects of Hinduism and Christianity, among other religions, create a violent dichotomy between heterosexual marriage, in which sexuality is tolerated for the sake of children, and  the renunciant priesthood, in which asceticism is idealized and  sexuality entirely rejected, or at least recycled. In this taxonomy, homosexual love represents what Mary Douglas has taught us to recognize as a major category error, something that doesn’t fit into any existing conceptual cubbyhole, "matter out of place" (in a word,  dirt). (Here we may do well to recall the ways in which homophobic language often employs "dirt" symbolism.) Traditional religious texts regard homosexual union not, like heterosexual marriage, as a compromise between two goals in tension (procreation and asceticism), but as a mutually polluting combination of the worst of both worlds (sterility and lust). The myths therefore seldom explicitly depict homosexual unions at all, let alone sympathetically.

Other mythologies of sex and gender are not necessarily open to more liberal constructions of gender than our own; some of them are simply open to different constructions from ours. Yet the very fact   that they explore options that we have not even considered gives them the power to make us notice the ways in which our own religious traditions legislate, often without our conscious knowledge, our sexuality.

Occupations associated with Hera include:


faithful spouse
"first mate"
first lady

"rich bitch"


Most of her stories are connected with her relationship with Zeus.  Some evidence in texts that a more equal power relationship than that presented in Homer.  Hera's main spheres of influence are marriage, weddings and childbirth. The divine marriage, hieros gamos, is critical to her cult (cf., Iliad XIV.152-353).  Hera shares with Gaia certain powers and conflict with the male.  Version that Hera created Typhon; Birth of Hephaistos; Attempted overthrow of Zeus by Hera, Poseidon and Athena.  Inherent dichotomy and contradiction in Hera (inversion of the good wife) seen in her: Marriage; Relationship with her children; Story of Ixion reflects her ties to the patriarchy.

The emotional dynamics of Hera revolve around being perfected or thwarted in her mission.  When she is thwarted she is essentially animus-possessed and rages against her "persecutors."  She becomes over identified with her own masculine aggressive side, and paradoxically rejects her own feminine identity.  She may be the victim of a negative mother complex, and be too one-sided.

Hera's jealousy is extreme enough to be called pathological.  She doesn't have jealousy as an emotion.  Hera is this archetypal form of jealousy of the spouse's attention.  To feel this feeling is a form of merging with the goddess -- an epiphany.  But it may feel more like being possessed by a demon or the "green-eyed monster."

On the positive side, Hera embodies the feminine portion of the transpersonal authority, the Self.  Inner contact with this archetype for a woman is an experience of the core of her being.  To be in harmony with herself, she must serve this inner dynamism.  We can view this modern worship of Hera by giving her our attention.

A neurotic or under-developed man would have to come to terms with the authoritarian aspect of the mother-complex.  A man involved in developing his "feminine" side would serve Hera over and against the logos principle, listening to his heart as well as his head.  This is generally a stage in the psychic life of men whose quest for the Self culminates in the PUER/SENEX reunion, which expresses itself through "masculine" symbolism (see Chapter XXI).  The man in touch with the deep values of spousal intimacy is her 'hero.'

The fulfillment and wholeness of Zeus and Hera consists of a dyadic relationship.  "Being a couple" is her big deal!  They are two-in-one, contained by their relationship, unless possessiveness flares up.  If they become estranged emotionally, she may repress the direct expression of her sexuality, projecting onto Zeus the fulfillment of her repressed desires.  He manifests it through an affair.  Psychologically, the "other woman," so despised, represents unknown aspects of her own being.

Hera wants to be in the presence of her beloved, because she derives her fulfillment through involvement.  She always expects a deeper commitment from her spouse than she will ever get, however.  The intense involvement is not always pleasant.  Zeus and Hera are the types who figure that "negative attention is better than no attention" in their exchanges.

Hera is first and foremost the dutiful wife of Zeus.  We might call her the wife of the CEO of Mt. Olympus.  She is as potent of a directing force as he is.  But in a patriarchal society her powers tend to appear in negative forms.  Managerial ability can become an exaggerated urge to control or have power over those closest at hand -- the family, who tend to resent it.

Zeus is notoriously promiscuous, and Hera directs a great deal of animosity at Zeus and his mortal and immortal paramours.  Hera can be both jealous (internal) and vindictive (extroverted).  She must have been kept pretty busy by Zeus' philandering.  She must have been in a perpetual tizzy, because the number of his liaisons is legendary.  But Zeus had no immunity against the onslaughts of Hera!  The masculine principle, as represented by Zeus, is far from omnipotent when challenged by her powerful contrary principle.

Hera is repeatedly the victim of her own powerful emotions.  The volcanic quality of her animus (inner masculinity) is embodied in Hephaistos, her lame son.  This issue of parthenogenesis was conceived without a father, from her jealous brooding.  As such, he came to rule volcanic activity, both physical and emotional.  When moody, Hera is capable of veritable explosions of strong emotions.

Hera is outspoken and she has a judgmental, scolding tongue.  But she is not always overt in her attacks.  Despite her moral indignation at the behavior of others, she is more than willing to manipulate the feelings of others to suit her own needs and desires.

The Hera personality is seen in the grande dame type of woman.  She is given to largesse or charitable activities.  She has an aristocratic aura which assumes a right to command, both activities and attention.  She is born-to-order and scarcely questions this destiny as anything other than her rightful position in life.  She may express herself through becoming a patron of the arts, or an administrator, (for example, a Dean of Women, or Board Member).

As the result of her strong social concerns, she pays special attention to keeping herself attractive.  She is always fashionable and publicly appropriate.  She has a strong sense of honor and duty.  Many find these qualities present in former First Lady, Nancy Reagan.  Before her, the personality of Jackie Kennedy fascinated the world.

Hera prefers to grapple with concrete details, rather than muse on intellectual theories or abstractions.  This can be valuable in coordinating an estate where there is always much to be done.  Even though she is a bit eccentric, her innate feel for social awareness allows her to integrate and maintain acceptance by those of all social levels.  Her mores will invariably reflect those of her surrounding culture.

Some people are grappling consciously with these emotional issues, and seeking the advice of the Goddess for solutions:  At we find: "UpdatingAphrodite" , an archetypal "advice" column written by Laura Shamas which explores questions about love and life from a mythological perspective.

          Q: Silly as this may seem, I have this internal struggle going on between my own "whom does the grail
          serve" between Aphrodite and Hera. I have been "claimed" by Aphrodite early and could not imagine a
          life without her beauty, strength, passion, dignity and sensuality that she has graced me with being a
          woman...But, I feel this other great pull of wanting to attract a life-mate. Certainly not Zeus with all his
          philandering, but, I know Aphrodite wasn't thrilled exactly her "partner" or the whole "till death do us
          part ritual" either and dallied around, quite nicely, thank you! And Hera was the one to call for the
          sacred marriage and also the queen of the Gods. So, how do I get the best of both worlds here? I want
          the two together and yet they seem so opposed. Please help me out here. - DIVINELY DEVOTED

          Dear "Divinely Devoted,"

          Your question does not seem silly at all. It's an important one. You have articulated something that lots
          of women feel, especially since we have "cultural reinforcement" (through media images, movies, etc.)
          that we should use Aphrodite's talents only as a means to lead to Hera's hieros gamos (sacred
          marriage), but not use the Goddess of Love's gifts after the altar. Aspects of both archetypes resonate
          with most women: how do we live with the tension between "loyal mate," keeper of the fidelity flame,
          and "sensual lover," the generative, female sexual spark--which may not be so easy to limit to just one
          partner? I think the answer to your question "Whom does the grail serve?" is: both of them, if you want
          a long-term relationship. Their realms are not as "opposed" as they might seem on first glance. And
          Aphrodite's stories highlight important points about how to keep a life-mate, whether male or female,
          interested for the long haul.


          In Book Five of Homer's Iliad, Zeus alludes to the realm of "marriage" as Aphrodite's sphere of
          expertise. He says to her:

          "Not to you, my child, have been given the works of war;
          you, rather, should attend to the charming works of marriage." (lines 428-30)

          It was Aphrodite who helped to save Hera and Zeus's marriage, by loaning Hera her Magic Girdle.
          Zeus could not resist his Queen when she was so fetchingly clad in the Love Goddess's lingerie;
          although Zeus had strayed (115 times!), he returned to Hera from his philandering thanks to the
          seductive girdle. Hera and Aphrodite's purpose is united in this story: to save the sacred cosmic
          marriage. This myth implies that Aphrodite is necessary to a marriage; Aphrodite's gifts helped Hera
          keep her marriage to the King of the Cosmos alive. Charming one's partner, even after years of
          marriage, is vital, according to this myth. Aphrodite and Hera went head-to-head on more political
          issues such as the beauty contest judged by Paris that became the beginning of the Trojan War (Grimal
          192). But in terms of preserving the "hieros gamos," the goddesses were in accord.


          But what of Aphrodite's own marriage? As you astutely point out, Dear Reader, she cheated on her
          lame husband Hephaestus by having a number of love affairs, the most famous ones with: Ares, the
          God of War; Hermes, the Trickster God of Communication and Commerce; Adonis, the younger hunk;
          and Anchises, the hottie in the hills. I think the message here is that as the Goddess of Love, she had to
          spread love around--to reach difficult arenas like war, via the realms of communication and business,
          the young and the old, with immortals and mortals alike. Although she was not faithful, her marriage
          was a source of power for Aphrodite. After all, she was married to a son of Zeus, and her husband
          loved her. Truly, madly, deeply.

          Hephaestus was jealous of Ares. According to Homer's Odyssey [Book Eight], when Hephaestus
          contrived to catch Aphrodite cheating with Ares, he built a magic net which was hung as a trap over
          the Love Goddess's bed. Although Hephaestus was lame, a wound he received when either his mother
          or father threw him from Olympus (both versions of his lameness are in the Iliad), the smithy was
          ingenious and creative. His web caught the lovers in flagrante delicto; the gods in Olympus came to
          see the cheaters on display, all but Poseidon laughing at them (Friedrich 63). Some mythographers have
          interpreted this "lovers trap" scene as a symbol of shame brought on her husband by Aphrodite; in other
          words, that the expression of female sexuality beyond the boundaries of marriage will bring public
          embarrassment--ridicule due to cuckolding.

          Aphrodite expert Paul Friedrich, however, sees the "lovers trap" scene as possibly illustrating
          Aphrodite's complete freedom from shame, in that she is allowed to go on her merry way afterwards
          with no change in status: a sign of her own high stature in Olympus and the power of love. In The
          Meaning of Aphrodite, Friedrich comments, too, that Book Eight of the Odyssey "raises serious
          questions about the symbolism of the relations between Aphrodite and Hephaestus" (64). Friedrich sees
          some significant positive elements in the A-H union. Friedrich asserts that far from lame, Hephaestus is
          one virile guy with a lot to offer a sexy gal: "his bellows as testicles, his hammer as a phallus, the gold
          he works as semen, and the fire of his great forge as the lust of sex" (65). This is not a guy who
          needed any sexual coaching; he sired lots of children, and not only with his wife. Aphrodite is an earth
          goddess who ascends to the sky; Hephaestus is a sky god who is cast below. Together, they move
          heaven and earth. She loves gold; he makes gold jewelry. Also, Aphrodite is dominant in their
          relationship, which doesn't sound like a bad deal.  So Aphrodite's own marriage has strengths that are       often overlooked.

LEARNING FROM THEIR STORIES.  How to work with the stories of both goddesses in order to find a partner? Embrace Aphrodite's gifts. Finding a life-mate will involve charming a suitor with The Goddess of Love's enticing whispers and laughter. And once you've found your lover, don't forget about Aphrodite's alluring ways, because those charms will reinforce your marriage (with pleasure!) if practiced regularly. Oh, and don't cheat as much as Aphrodite did. That's a lesson from Hera: be faithful in order to keep your marriage "sacred."

Keywords for Hera include,


divorce settlement
emotional blackmail

mental imagery
pillar of society
social obligation


A notion in our modern society which has a great dynamic effect on the domain of Hera is the concept of divorce.  Easy divorce has not been an option, historically speaking.  It is basically a new phenomenon.  We are so casual in modern society that relationships are considered "disposable" or re-cyclable through serial relationships.  With a 50% divorce rate for baby-boomers, and a 70% divorce rate for Gen-X, we have quickie "no-fault" do-it-yourself divorce.

Since the state of mind of the spouses is not identical coming into the marriage, there are usually differences in the adjustment to marriage.  Differences in tempo, maturity, and in the degree of spiritual development are typically causes of difficulty, according to Jung.  One partner is generally more psychologically complex than the other.  This partner is frequently capable of much faster spiritual growth, but may be erratic.

The spouse who is grounded in a positive relationship to the parents can generally adapt better.  They are not hindered by a deep-seated unconscious tie to the parents as divine, god-like beings.  They have successfully emancipated and therefore are more mature.  They come into marriage as adults rather than "adult children."

A complex nature has many facets, and this personality may seek to realize many of them as symbolized by the impulsive promiscuity of Zeus.  Versatility and spontaneity may have a certain charm, but it can mask an underlying impulsiveness.

Jung thought that a woman's spiritual life was contained in her relationship to her husband.  Conversely, a man is contained emotionally in his wife, according to his notion.  This may have been an accurate observation in his day of more traditional gender models.

However, the alternative lifestyle movement has produced many spiritually-oriented persons with commitments outside the Dyad.  For example, a woman devotee of a spiritual Master obviously is not wholly contained spiritually by her husband. He does not contain her entire spiritual animus projection.  She sees it in all her relations with significant others.  Likewise, a man involved in intensive social action such as counseling, has a vigorous emotional life outside the home.

These divided loyalties are actually healthier than the all-or-nothing proposition of having no essential obligations or binding interests outside of the marriage.  Nevertheless, the simpler spouse has the advantage of undividedness.  The other spouse may envy this condition, feeling outside the marriage.  This can become problematical, since it awakens longing for that particular bliss.

Maybe the spouse begins to fantasize it can be found in another lover.  Hera has radar for such impulses, and her insecurities are painfully aroused.  The specter of rivals begins to appear on the horizon.  Driven inward by disappointment, the spouse may become desperate or violent, exploding in a spasm of rage and manipulative tactics.  Forced to turn inward, the individual may be lucky enough to find an inner self-sufficiency which was latent potential all along.

As the possibilities of inner integration become more apparent to both spouses, they have the possibility of achieving the experience of an undivided self.  This is a quantum leap in consciousness which is equivalent to a metamorphosis.  This stage cannot come without confrontation of the anima/animus.  The constant animosity depicted in the Zeus-Hera configuration has a telos or goal.

Every phase of life has its particular psychological goals as well as physical changes.  One can always hope to be surprised in marriage by having one's own complexities answered by a corresponding diversity.

But progress may also be arrested at any stage of development with no further breakthroughs.  Things get stuck; there is a "stale-mate."  Consider the divorce rate.  Individual capacities for adjustment vary.  Remember, Hera remarries Zeus over and over again.  You might think they are trying to get it right.  Is the third time the charm?

There is pathology associated with this archetype including tragedy, yearning, jealousy, vindictiveness, and shrewishness.  In the extreme, it may lead to homicide.  Hera is shrewd.  This behavior, though inherent in her nature, is motivated by the attitude and behavior of her roaming spouse, Zeus.

It is purely reactionary, based on her compulsive, overwhelming need.  He never seems to settle down, content with the domestic routines.  When he persecutes her, through neglect or his affairs, she is distraught.  She reacts so strongly that she even becomes self-defeating and self-destructive.  In her negative phase, Hera is possessed by her animus reactions.  In myth she gave reactionary birth to many monster children, conceived by herself in the lonely brooding of rejection.

She projected this rejection by Zeus into the form of her own son, Hephaistos.  He is born of the primal Virgin-Mother.  His birth as a separate entity means she lost the possibility of developing her own deeply introverted creative processes.  If she could only have gotten a meaningful job.  She winds up rejecting her son as Zeus rejected her, passing on her rejection and abandonment issues inter-generationally.

With Prometheus, another son, she gave birth to her rebellious opposition to the dominion of Zeus, meaning she expelled her ability to gain in ego-consciousness.  Prometheus later has his own rebellious acts and conflicts with Zeus, carrying on the family tradition.

The combative Ares was the embodiment of her bloodthirsty rage, her egotism, and her jealousy.  Ares' warlike nature is an instinct which has wreaked havoc on mankind.  Finally, Hera goes really psychotic and expels the monster Typhon.  As this reptilian Godzilla-like beast, she goes through a radical regression to the most primitive level, bursts all fetters and runs amok.  With no limit to her destructive capabilities who knows what damage she might do.

At this point, the only hope is mitigation or litigation.  Perhaps it is time for another purification and transformation through a renewal of the sacred aspect of marriage.  In the Argive legends, Hera was known as "goddess of the yoke" and the meaning of yoga is "yoking" or "union."  In this sense, marriage is a yoga, an arena for spiritual development.  On the positive side, Hera was also Mother of the Charities (Faith, Hope, and Love), gaining thereby her affinity for charitable work.

Those identified too strongly with their persona as wife need to tap the deep resources of the animus.  No one can be reduced to their role, such as merely wife, mother, breadwinner, etc.  If a Hera-type has married a philander or liar they will become frustrated and embittered.  Even so, guilt or duty or other feelings may prevent them leaving a bad marriage.

She represses her natural response.  She may sublimate her rage in manual or mental work, rather than allowing herself to truly feel the energy and transmute it.  If abandoned, she may have trouble believing that the loss is permanent.  She believes in the fantasy of his return and eventual reconciliation.  This denial prevents grieving and blocks her process of recovery.

The alchemical notion of "the chymical wedding" returns marriage to its spiritual side as a participating factor in personal transformation.  Karen-Claire Voss Uses imagery from the Rosarium Philosophorum to illustrate this.  Both the texts and the iconography of the alchemical tradition of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are filled with allusions to ‘the chymical marriage,’ and some of the most beautiful and compelling images in the texts depict the conjunction of opposites as a royal marriage.  These descriptions and images occur with sufficient frequency to warrant comparison with the hierosgamos (sacred marriage), as understood in the discipline of history of religions.  We encounter the idea of the hierosgamos even before we embark on a hermeneutical discussion of the images that the work contains in the History of Religions.

The term hierosgamos is used generally to refer to the union between two divinities, or between a human being and a god or goddess, or between two human beings (under certain special conditions); more particularly, it is used to refer to the ritualized, public sexual union between the king and a hierodule (‘sacred prostitute’) in ancient Mesopotamia.  This union was accompanied by the belief that the human partners became divine by virtue of their participation in it.  It was thought, for example, that the priestess who took part in this ritual became the goddess Inanna in the same way as ordinary bread and wine are thought to become the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Roman Catholic celebration of the Eucharist.  Both ritual forms entail regeneration and transformation; in Mesopotamia, the hierosgamos was thought to insure the well-being of the king, the prosperity of the people, and the continued fertility of the land.

The belief that human beings could participate in the ontological condition of divinity through sexual union, through the body, is exceedingly ancient, but the hierosgamos is not merely an important element in an archaic religious tradition. It is also exceedingly persistent And, in my view, its persistence indicates more than a merely superficial connection between its manifestations in the ancient Near East and in the West; it has become associated with a spectrum of symbolic meanings so rich and compelling that they continue to reassert themselves over and over again.  Although the hierosgamos did not find its way into the official teachings of Christianity, for example, it is present nonetheless in the symbolism of Mary as the Bride of Christ.

The major difference between the significance of the hierosgamos in the ancient Near East and the Christian West is that its expression in the former context was bound up with an explicit, embodied praxis that necessitated ritual sexual union.  This gives rise to certain hermeneutical difficulties.  Scholars of religion sometimes deny or ignore the presence of the hierosgamos idea, or pronounce its use as a conceptual category invalid. Even those who do recognize its presence may yield to the prevailing wisdom that encourages the substitution of a part for the whole, and thus interpret the hierosgamos according to an allegedly higher, spiritualized ideal, having nothing to do with the body.  Analogous interpretations are offered for the hierosgamos theme in alchemical texts.  Yet, many of the alchemists appear to have undergone a complex experience involving mutual reciprocity between the events in the laboratory and within themselves of a kind that harkens back to, and carries forward, the imprint of a religious tradition that combined physical and spiritual levels of transformation.

A core of meanings associated with the hierosgamos that have persisted cross-culturally.  If anything, the symbolism became enriched by the addition of Christian doctrines, especially that of the Incarnation, which signified the union of human and divine. Many alchemical texts like the Rosarium insist on the interrelatedness of body and spirit. In seeking the ‘conjunction of opposites’ the alchemists were attempting to overturn the conventional conceptual dichotomization between spirit and body, and to offer in its place models that reflected their intuitions of ontological wholeness.  Therefore, when interpreting the hierosgamos theme in the context of the alchemical tradition we should keep in mind the fact that it is generally meant to include the body; it signifies not only idealiter but also realiter. An adequate hermeneutics of alchemical iconography can do justice to the multivalence of the hierosgamos images in texts like the Rosarium only by seeking to encompass the totality of their symbolic meanings.

The Rosarium Philosophorum contains twenty-one images, fifteen exhibit the hierosgamos in more or less explcit form; three others contain it implicitly.  Figure 1 shows a fountain fitted with three spigots.  The waters are the key to unlocking the meaning of this image, for the text explains that the waters flowing from each are really a single water --‘of which and with which our magistery is effected.'  The three waters evoke a hierogamy described in the Enuma Elish?, a Mesopotamian creation myth from around 1900 b.c.e., which relates how the primordial waters of Tiamat, ‘she who bore them all,’ and Apsu, ‘their begetter . . . commingle as a single body,’ and thus become the sole matrix from which everything emerges. The verse accompanying the figure heightens the correspondence between the alchemical fountain and the hierogamy that produced all life: ‘We (waters) are the metal’s first nature and only source; the highest tincture of the Art is made through us.’

In Figure 2 we see a king and queen dressed in elaborate robes.  Each holds a stalk ending in two flowers.  He stands upon the sun, she on the crescent moon.  Although their separateness is symbolically emphasized, they clasp hands as if to prefigure the ‘chymical marriage.’ A dove -- at once a mediating symbol as well as a further link with the hierosgamos, since it was associated both with Eros and with the powerful female divinities of  the ancient Near East --is shown hovering above them, holding its own stalk which perfectly intersects the cross formed by those held by the king and queen.  In Figure 3 the pair is naked; but, still wearing separate crowns, they proffer to one another a flower on a long stalk.  The banner over the king's head reads:  'O Luna, let me be thy husband'; the one over the queen's reads:  'O Sol, I must submit to thee.'  Once more, the dove appears between them, a flower in its beak.

In Figure 5, we see the king and queen in sexual embrace.  Figures 6-9 show the king and queen in hermaphroditic form, indicating successively deepening levels of conjunction, and depict them lying in a sepulcher. Their bodies are joined; they have two heads, but now wear a single crown.  Figure 11 is explicitly sexual.  The king and queen, each winged, wear two crowns, and are submerged in water.  Their limbs are entwined; her hand grasps his phallus; his left hand fondles the nipple of her breast; his right is under her neck, supporting her.  Figure 17 depicts the product of the union between the alchemical opposites in the form of the Hermetic androgyne. This offspring is not simply the end result of the marriage of opposites.  Figure 18 shows the lion eating the sun.  It is itself an implicit hierogamy because it is not fully differentiated from its parents, and continues to participate in its hierogamic beginnings.

Figure 19 provides an excellent example of the occasional coalescence of alchemical symbols and Christian symbols.  Mary is in the center, flanked by the Father and the Son who are about to crown her.  The Holy Spirit--in the form of a dove--hovers above.  In the background appear the words Tria and Unum.  This image clearly contains a rich variety of hierogamic themes.  First, there is the symbolic similarity between the three waters of the alchemical foundation we saw in Figure 1 and the Trinity.  Second, the Incarnation of God the Son was made possible by a hierogamy between Mary and the third person of the Trinity.  Third, the Incarnation of the Son entails an ontological condition of simultaneous humanity and divinity--a profound manifestation of hierogamy.

Like the marriage between the alchemical opposites, all these unions require mediation.  In the alchemical marriage, this function is often performed by Mercurius, whom Jung calls a ‘mediating symbol par excellence’; in the Rosarium, however, we have already seen the dove in the role of mediator.  In this figure we see it in that role too, poised above the crown that the Father and Son are about to place on Mary's head; it is now associated with the third person of the Trinity.  The fact that the dove was a symbolic attribute of the female divinities of the ancient near east underscores the con­clusion that Figure 19 is also a hierogamic image, albeit in Christianized form.

Figure 20, the last image in the series, depicts the risen Christ.  In his left hand, he holds a banner marked with a cross; his right gestures toward the now empty sepulchre.  That sepulchre unmistakably indicates that the completed alchemical process has involved the transformation, not the transcendence, of the body.  For if the alchemical work necessitated the transcendence of the body, one would not expect to find an empty tomb, but a tomb filled with the putrefying remains of the king and queen.  Instead, we see the risen Christ, the embodiment of the hierogamic union between human and divine.  In the view of the alchemist who wrote the Rosarium Philosophorum, the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body signified, not the suppression, or even the transcendence, of the physical body, but its glorification and perfection.

It is not surprising that the author of the Rosarium Philosophorum chose images of the hierosgamos to help convey something of the exquisitely subtle reciprocity invoked in the alchemical coniunctio.  The hierosgamos images of alchemy are profoundly eloquent expressions of the experience of the true adepts as they moved through the later stages of the work.  For those alchemists, all the elements of ordinary experience were sacralized.  The Philosopher’s Stone could be found everywhere; it was ‘walked on, children play with it’; it is familiar to all (people) both young and old, is found in the country, in the village, in the town.

Perhaps we are still capable of learning from the alchemists that what transforms common substance, that which is familiar to all, is no more – and no less – than a deeper apprehension of the significance of the Hermetic motto:  ‘What is above is just as what is below.’  This motto, so often quoted and equally often misunderstood, requires that we understand the radical implications of a ‘whole from which nothing is excluded.’ (Voss ).

Further reading concerning Hera includes the following:

ZEUS AND HERA, Karl Kerenyi
"Hera: Bound and Unbound," Murray Stein in SPRING JOURNAL
THE GODDESS, Christine Downing
MARRIAGE: DEAD OR ALIVE, Adolph Guggenbuhl-Craig, Spring Pub.
"Marriage as a Psychological Relationship," C.G. Jung (CW)
SMART WOMEN, FOOLISH CHOICES, Cornell Cowan & Melvyn Kinder
JEALOUSY, Nancy Friday
ON THE WAY TO THE WEDDING, Linda Leonard, 1986
"Individuation through Marriage," Verda Heisler, PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES,Vol. 1, No. 2, 1970
THE BED TRICK: Sex, Myth, and Masquerade, Wendy Doniger


For Hera marriage is a spiritual event which is only the beginning of her lifelong goal.  She gets married in church or the Temple, not in Reno or by the Justice of the Peace.  It is consecration, dedication, and consummation -- a eucharistic act.  The main spiritual content of Hera revolves around the hieros gamos, or sacred marriage.  On a personal level this means the reuniting of spirit, soul, and body.  It indicates a full knowledge of both the heights (Zeus) and depths (Hera) of one's character.  When the hieros gamos is consummated in our daily lives, it means that we have learned to apply our insights in practice.

When Jung speaks about the royal marriage, he tells us that the queen symbolizes the body, the king stands for the spirit, and the soul unites the two.  Therefore, our psyche is a half bodily and half spiritual substance.  When king and queen (animus/anima) are united, they form a magical hermaphroditic being which is a union of opposite energies.  We need to be related to another individual, according to Jung, to experience the full depth of our own psyche.

From an internal perspective, spiritual marriage is an inner experience which is not projected onto another living individual.  In the royal marriage of the soul with the Self, the projections of anima and animus have been returned to their proper level in the unconscious.  We do not make our mate carry an essentially religious function for us anymore.  The King and Queen are united, or conjoined, synthesizing the opposites.  But this cannot happen until one masters the problem of unconscious desirousness.  When the opposites to be united are the masculine consciousness (of our day world) and the feminine unconscious (the night world), this royal marriage is a transcendent symbol of the Self, and embodies the psychic totality of personal wholeness.

These statements need not be confused with erroneous notions concerning the so-called "soul-mate."  Each individual has a complete soul, and is a divine spark.  But when we choose to cast our lot with a life-mate there is a synergetic effect which transcends the qualities of the individuals involved, bringing a portion of the divine into manifestation.  It is not that a long-lost mate is rediscovered after separation on a higher plane.  Rather, that two compatible souls commit themselves to furthering the development of loving compassion in one another.  From the archetypal perspective, the whole object of marriage is to reach God.  Thus marriage is seen as a creative process of love where two souls care for one another in a reciprocal manner, furthering mutual spiritual aims.

Therefore, the Royal Marriage of Zeus and Hera means self-actualization within the boundaries provided by the institution of marriage.  Our partners are no longer required to live our own unlived potential.  Through withdrawl of projection onto the partner, we actualize our own potential.  Thus we find meaning in "the battle of the sexes."  We discover our own madness, as well as our own unique spirit.  This creates an increased sense of interiority which might be viewed as a thalamus or bridal chamber, a place where opposites merge.

According to Joseph Campbell, "Myth helps you to put your mind in touch with this experience of being alive. It tells you what the experience is. Marriage, for example. What is marriage? The myth tells  you what it is. It's the reunion of the separated duad. Originally you were one.  You are now two in the world, but the recognition of the spiritual identity is what marriage is. . . .  When people get married because they think it's a long-time love affair, they'll be divorced very soon, because all love affairs end in disappointment. But marriage is recognition of a spiritual identity. . . . By marrying the right person, we reconstruct the image of the incarnate God, and that's what marriage is.  The internal union of hieros gamos helps ensure the external reunion in a primary relationship. By discovering    splits within myself and healing them, I prepare for a spiritual identity. Otherwise my partner ends up carrying the burden of Eve, Helena, Mary or Sophia to compensate for my unresolved anima issues."

How does one choose the right person? Your heart tells you. It ought to. Your inner being.  That's the mystery. You recognize your other self?  Well, I don't know, but there's a flash that comes, and something in you knows that this is the one.  The Intuitive Self knows when the spiritual partner    arrives. By attending to the moment, I will have the perceptiveness to recognize the flash when it comes. If I am not listening, the flash will come and go without my noticing it.  Why is it that marriage is so precarious in our modern society?  Because it's not regarded as a marriage. I would say that if the marriage isn't a first priority in your life, you're not married. The marriage means the two that are one, the two become one flesh. If the marriage lasts long enough, and if you are acquiescing constantly to it instead of to individual personal whim, you come to realize that that is true - the two really are one. Primarily spiritually. The biological is the distraction which may lead you to the wrong              identification.

According to Campbell, the necessary function of marriage, perpetuating ourselves in children, is not the primary one; that's really just the elementary aspect of marriage. There are two completely different stages of marriage.  First is the youthful marriage following the wonderful impulsethat nature has given us in the interplay of the sexes biologically in order to produce children. But there comes a time when thechild graduates from the family and the couple is left.

Marriage is a relationship. When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship. The Chinese image of the Tao, with the dark and light interacting - that's the relationship of yang and yin, male and female, which is what a marriage is. And that's what you have become when you have married. You're no longer this one alone; your identity is in a relationship. Marriage is not a simple love affair, it's an ordeal. and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one. It is, in a sense, doing one's own thing, but the one isn't just you, it's the two together as one. And that's a purely mythological image signifying the sacrifice of the visible entity for a transcendent good. This is something that  becomes beautifully realized in the second stage of marriage, what I call the alchemical stage, of the two experiencing that they are one. . .

It's primarily a spiritual exercise, and the society is supposed to help us have the realization. Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of  man. We presume we make a commitment for  better or for worse.  That's the remnant of a ritual.  And the ritual has lost its force. The ritual that once conveyed an inner reality is now  merely form. And that's true in the rituals of society and in the personal rituals of marriage and religion. (Campbell).

The spiritual value of Gender Reunion and the "fertility bridegroom" has been sponsored by Chris King's Eden Diversity Project at and his listserve Wedweave.  There are discussions around issues such as Sacred Marriage: Relationship as Immortality.  All our cultural experience and individual conscious existence depends on the fabric of life, the germ line, and this comes not from male dominion, but from the mutual sexual relationship between the two genders. In this relationship, the female stands central as the sole bearer of cytoplasmic inheritance and the principal investor in time and resources. However the male likewise contributes genetically in full and pivotal share. Immortality is thus not the domain of one gender but of the relationship between woman and man. Cultures which fail to respect these socio-biological realities lead to gender oppression, especially the repression of women.

Attunement with the immortal continuity of life likewise comes from the relationship between woman and man, not from one gender alone. Each sex is sterile on its own and mortal as individuals. The family relationship is an embodiment of this ongoing immortal web of life. Relationship is conceived spiritually in the form of 'holy matrimony', the harmony that is produced from the creative relationship between woman and man. It is thus the sacred marriage in which we find God and Gaia, the Feminine face of deity, in divine union.

The healing of the epoch of male dominion requires mankind to atone for the errors of his ways and come to terms of learning, healing and new wisdom, but true liberation arises from reconciliation, not dominion in any form, male or female. The embodiment of reconciliation is forgiveness and the celebration of it is the sacred marriage. This marriage is by definition one in true freedom for each gender. That is its very sacredness - its complete freedom, combined with the devoted commitment to one another the marriage expresses.  This is a paradox of trust. It does not imply any form of possession. Solomon did not possess the Queen neither she him.

The Bridegroom archetype is in a sense the heroic journey of every shaman on the vision quest, every budding troubadour, and every knight of courtly love, from Dumuzi through Adonis to Lancelot.

                         Inanna sang: "Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom.
                                 My shepherd, I will drink your fresh milk.
                             Wild bull, Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick.
                                      I will drink your fresh milk....

The Jewish messiah is also a fully-human figure, traditionally a heroic priest or king who performs genuine social redemption of his people - inspiring long-term future goodness. David, Solomon and Cyrus represent different forms of 'anointed' or messiah, with Solomon figuring very strongly as the Bridegroom in his renowned sacred marriage with the Queen of Sheba, which is the subject of the Song of Songs, perhaps the most fertile passage ever written in both the mountains of sexual spice and the image of the beloved as the progenitor of fertility: "Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins and there is not one barren one among them"

                        I rose up to open to my beloved and my hands dropped with myrrh,
                      and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
                   I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone:
                      my soul failed when he spake : I sought him, but I could not find him;
                                  I called him, but he gave me no answer

Later Jesus adopted the Bridegroom archetype in the prophecy of Isaiah 61 in pronouncing his manifestation at the Nazareth synagogue, for which he was nearly thrown off a cliff.

                              He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation
                               as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments
                               and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels
                                  For as the earth bringeth forth her bud,
                                   and as the garden causeth the things
                                    that are sewn in it to spring forth
                                 so the Lord God will cause righteousness
                               and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

This set the tradition on to a new extreme Zoroastrian form of cosmic renovator, Jesus promising the Kingdom as the messiah ofhistory redeeming the Earth from the sins of woman, stemming from Eve and the Fall - the son of man, the archetype of Adam:

                                        And he said unto them,
                             Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast,
                                   while the bridegroom is with them?
                                       But the days will come,
                             when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them,
                                   and then shall they fast in those days.

This mission culminated in the Crucifixion, and the exaltation of Magdalen on the third day in the very tradition of Inanna repeating the very words of the Song of Songs calling for the lost Adonis:

                              'Woman, why weepest thou?' She saith unto them,
                                 'Because they have taken away my Lord,
                                and I know not where they have laid him' ...
                                      Jesus saith unto her, Mary.
                               She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni;
                                       which is to say, Master.
                                  Jesus saith unto her, 'Touch me not' ... ;

The rapid elevation of Jesus to cosmic Christ was followed by the suppression of the gnostics and the repression of women all round. Good cause for suspicion of Jesus and his motives, especially when certain gnostic texts had him say "I have come to destroy the works of woman", namely Eve.

However the fertility Bridegroom is a very different 'kettle of fish' from the ichthys of Christianity. Where Jesus was the bridegroom of the church on the marriage bed of the Cross, the fertility Bridegroom is the bridegroom of the immortal feminine face, embodied in Gaia - the living earth.  The fertility Bridegroom starts out by breaking all the curses ever made against women:

                                                   I unpronounce original sin.
                                           I unpronounce dominion over nature.
                                         I unpronounce the Anathema maranatha.
                                        I unpronounce the death curse on the witch.
                                            I unpronounce stoning for adultery
                                               or any other violent punishment.
                                      I apologise to all women for the sins of man.

and promises to stand beside women and men of like spirit to safeguard the future of life:

                        I vouchsafe to the immortal Feminine the troth of sacred marriage.
                              I promise to stand by the Bride whatever the cost
                         to culminate the patriarchal epoch for the future of life on earth.

This is literally turning the tables on the whole paradigm, giving not only women but men of like spirit, liberation from the binds of orthodoxy and the heritage of Armageddon. Women as a gender alone struggle to achieve an equality which will only be achieved slowly world-wide because of ingrained patriarchal supremacy in diverse cultures spanning all the continents. By the time eventual social change restores the freedom of women world-wide, nature will have been so damaged that our heritage of biodiversity will not be with us for the future of humanity and the unfolding of life. By forming a relationship now in which female and male meet in reconciliation, a broad consensus for feminine sustainability can be achieved in a way which would be impossible otherwise. It is possible to combine vehement and oceanic support for women's liberation and empowerment worldwide with constructive gender engagement.

Although the fertility principle and the sacred marriage rite extols sexual union, life, birth and spring as symbols of life burgeoning forth, rather than the cult of death, fertility in this sense does not imply rampant sexual reproduction, but furthering the ongoing continuity of life into the unfolding future - what furthers the sustainable diversity of life. Fertility thus comes with natural moderation of population. A key to this is women having freedom of reproductive choice. The key role of the fertility Bridegroom is to act as a healing catalyst, in cooperation with women and men of like spirit, to save the world's living heritage for the unfolding future, by liberating the paradigm into the epoch of the Tree. The key to the whole existential dilemma we face is saving as much of the diversity of life as possible now, so that those that follow us will have their rightful share of the diversity of life instead of a veritable genetic desert of our own making, caused by the selfishness and greed of what is almost a single generation.

King's group invites all women to join with with men of like spirit in forming a feminine Wisdom democracy to conceive apocalypsia the bridal unveiling and to fulfill the unfolding of the epoch of the Tree of Life, the liberation from prison of those that are bound and the Sakina of the dove of peace.

I covenant to abide by the ethics and conception of this democracy in apocalypsia in respect of the principle that all of us in our vision and divinity are incarnation equals - living partners moving on the face of the deep. This is to end the tradition of  the 'lord messiah' in being the humble follower of democracia - collective wisdom through peer review.

This division of sexuality and spirituality is rather recent in the history of religious experience. In most pagan societies, sexuality is seen as an important aspect of uniting the spiritual with the physical and with the worship of gods and goddesses. In many ancient cities, sacred prostitutes "served" at the temples in order to be the mediatrix between the gods and humans. One writer notes,

Now certainly I am not suggesting that true sexuality and spirituality should be untied in this way.
After all, this was what the Apostle Paul was trying to straighten out in the Corinthian church
because some of the believers were apparently still having intercourse with sacred prostitutes (I Cor.
6:15-20). In order to correct this perversion, he encourages the cultivation of a sexual relationship in
marriage as a prevention from this abundant "sacred sex." Apparently, even the married couples had
become abstinent as an overreaction to the Corinthian extremes and had thrown the sexual
relationship totally out of marriage. To this problem, Paul tells them to "stop depriving themselves,"
and to recultivate the sexual area of their marriage lest they be severely tempted by the culture (or
Satan). In similar fashion the Church has been reacting and overreacting on the relation of sexuality
to spirituality ever since.


Juno (Roman)
Lakshmi (Hindu)
Parvati (Hindu)


In addition to now-passed Princess Diana, there are other famous Hera women whose husbands are wealthy and powerful enough to challenge the limits of their marriage.  Ivanna Trump is another recent example; Jackie Onassis.

Hera has never been psychologically far from our thoughts.  She has appeared in the political arena as the thorny problem of the ERA amendment.  Increasing the political rights of women and ensuring equal pay for equal work, this Equal Rights Amendment has not been able to prevail over the socially dominant patriarchy.

It is interesting that Hera was known in the past as Era.  Thus, she is the underlying archetypal dominant of the ERA.  All those wives and mothers proclaiming their equality in the paternal society are devotees of Hera.  Working women who have experienced severe discrimination in the job market are now "venting their spleens."


Through dialoguing with Hera, we can learn about our unconscious attitudes toward marriage or bonding with a spouse.  She can show us how we subconsciously are feeling toward our spouse or the institution of marriage at any given time.

In active imagination she may appear as jealous, bitchy, vindictive, frustrated or argumentative, depending on how the primary relationship is going.  At least, when you agree to dialogue with her, she gets Her voice, at last.  She might appear as the elegant bride, or celestial queen.  If you have lost a loved one for whom you still grieve, she may appear as Hera Chera, who has lost her mate.

She can also inform us about our individuation process when she is seen as the Soul-as-Queen and her husband Zeus-the-King is Spirit.  Watch your dreams for images of weddings and nuptial festivities.  It is better for you to be a participating onlooker at these events, rather than the bride or groom.

Imagining oneself as the King or Queen without the proper protection from archetypal identification is probably grandiose fantasy, rather than true transformative process work. This would mean your ego or personality is too strongly identified with these powerful archetypes, and this means being in a state of possession or compulsive dominance of your life by the archetype.  As an observer you can appreciate the Royal Marriage taking place in your psyche with better results in daily life.

If you are dating, and are really looking for a potential spouse, or if you are engaged and fantasize continually about your impending marriage, you can bet Hera is at work in you.  For Hera, the accent is on the marriage itself, where a goddess such as Demeter primarily seeks a father for her children.

If you are single and considering marriage, ask Hera in dialogue just what type ofspouse will fulfill her requirements for a multidimensional relationship.  But remember, with Hera there will always be something that is not quite right, some fatal flaw to spoil the nuptial bliss.  Remember Hera was the most jealous woman in Greek mythology.

Ask Hera about her feelings concerning all the aspects of your relationship which include physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual bonding.  If your physical relationship is off you might want her to summon help from Aphrodite; if your spouse won't talk to you about meaningful issues of the day, perhaps Athena could help.

Gods and goddesses do not exist in vacuums or isolation.  Once you are familiar with the basic cast of players, you inner dramas can have dynamic interaction of several archetypes.  They can dialogue with one another, as well as you.  But, be careful--don't amass too much power in one place at once or you will be overwhelmed and unable to integrate the results of the exercise.

If you have ever been divorced, dialogue with Hera concerning this event.  She can inform you about subconscious currents which brought the downfall of the marriage.  You may have known the conscious reasons for your split, but there may be many unresolved issues remaining to explore with her help.


 1.  Despite current circumstances, at this point in your life, which do you prefer most -- to be married or single?  If you are single, do you find yourself continually "sizing up" eligible members of the opposite sex as potential mates?

 2.  When you date(d) do you see several others simultaneously (Aphrodite or Don Juan) or do you tend to focus on one lover at a time (serial monogamy)?

 3.  If you are married now, how do you feel consciously about your relationship on the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels?  Be honest with yourself.  Are you still as compatible as when you wed?  Are your growth rates similar or is one partner overly dependent or immature?

 4.  In what ways does your commitment to relationship limit your sense of personal freedom (Zeus); how does it expand your potentials?

 5.  In Hera's cult, her marriage was periodically renewed.  Can you do this within the context of one primary relationship for a lifetime, or have you been remarried instead?  Name 3 ways to keep the freshness of your marriage alive.

 6.  What makes the Hera-in-you jealous, vindictive, or explosive?  Do you repress her sharp tongue, or vent your wrath?  If so how do you deal with those feelings or resolve the situation?

 7.  Divorce is also part of the Hera syndrome -- a sort of metaphorical ritual purification when an outworn relationship has turned poisonous.  Briefly describe your emotional, intellectual and spiritual attitudes toward divorce in general.

 8.  Has the projection of your anima or animus ever fooled you into thinking you had met your soul-mate?  Do you have romanticized notions about the soulmate?  Each soul has the potential for wholeness within itself.  So partners may be well-suited but not necessarily "fated" for one another.  This sense of destiny comes from projecting our soul onto another, which sometimes results in unrequited love.

 9.  Are other gods intruding on your human marriage so that Hera feels shortchanged in time or depth of relationship?  For example, Aphrodite trying to steal one's spouse, or Athena making one's spouse workaholic.  Hephaistos might make a spouse seem dull and uninteresting, Demeter diverts most of the attention toward the children, while Dionysus upsets the home with crises produced by intoxication, and Artemis prefers to be independent and live in solitude.

 10.  Have you ever had to deal with an adulterous spouse?  How did you feel and react?  Did it destroy your relationship, ultimately?  How did you deal with rejection?

 11.  Can you remember any dreams of weddings from any period of your life?  If so, what elements within yourself do you think were uniting?  Consider the outer circumstances at the time.  You may dream of a positive experience of being the wedding partner of a sacred figure.  This is an inner experience of wholeness if there is a mysterious and divine emotional effect on you or you feel erotic bliss and union with the partner when it embraces you.

This is a dream of the Sacred Marriage, which may foretell its actualization in the future, or just show its potential.  It is a mystical reunion, which brings peace, yet is electrifying.  This is a dream of Hera the Perfected or Fulfilled One.

 12.  How do you feel about women's rights proposals such as the now-defunct Equal Rights Amendment (E.R.A.)?

13. Who are you looking to for assistance, direction or learning?  What law or rule do you feel you have transgressed?  And who would hold you accountable?  What traditions are you upholding or rebelling against?  What are you learning?


I.  Hieros Gamos and the Succession Myth
     A. Hieros Gamos: "sacred marriage"
        1. usually sky god and earth goddess
        2. aetiology of vegetation
           a. storm as sexual intercourse
           b. rain as semen
     B. Hieros Gamos I: Uranus and Gaia
        1. Uranus the first "evil":
           a. tries to stop the natural progression or order of things
           b. motivation: jealousy of children
        2. Gaia uses craft to retaliate
           a. wily Cronus responds to the challenge
           b. from the castration (separation) comes:
              1) Erinyes (Furies): avenging spirits
              2) Giants
              3) Aphrodite; represents sexual desire
           c. Uranus and Gaia are retired; become advisors (mainly)
        3. Progeny of Gaia and Pontus
           a. mostly monsters--e.g., Harpies, Sphinx, Gorgons, Cerberus
           b. mostly combinations of human and animal parts
           c.   Nereus, Old Man of the Sea:  had prophetic powers
     C. Hieros Gamos II: Cronus and Rhea
        1. Cronus is the first king; Golden Age for humankind
           a. told he will be replaced, so suspicious and clever
           b. swallows his 6 children, the "Olympians" to be
        2. Rhea advised by Gaea and Uranus: baby Zeus spirited away
           a. raised on Crete: reflects history
           b. Amalthea: goat-nurse
        3. Zeus comes of age
           a. Metis ("Cleverness") gives Cronus an emetic
           b. omphalos ("navel") stone
        4. Titanomachy (Clash of the Titans):
           a. old gods vs. new gods;
           b. brute physical force vs. mental and physical skill
           c. Themis and Prometheus side with Zeus
           d. Zeus releases Cyclopes and Hecatonchires; gets their help
           e. 10 year stalemate broken; Titans relegated to Tartarus
        5. Typhoeus (Typhon): Zeus' greatest challenge (Typhonomachy)
           a. dragon, son of Gaea and Tartarus
           b. represents the life-destroying negative side of the female
        6. Zeus defeats Giants
           a. "revenge children" of Gaia
           b. pile mountains on top of each other
           c. no wonder Zeus is a bit touchy.
    C.  Zeus as king
        1. Zeus appointed king (unlike his father)
        2. delegates authority (unlike his father)
        3. takes Metis ("Cleverness") as his first consort
           a. prophecy that he would be deposed by his son
           b. cleverly swallows Metis (unlike his father);
           c. she becomes subordinate to him; he becomes wise
        4. birth of Athena
           a. Zeus the new creator (male)
           b. creates from the head (mind)
           c. she is forever loyal to him; no threat
        5. defeat of Giants (Gigantonomachy)
           a. born from Uranus' genitals
           b. wild, primordial, natural forces
           c. order over nature


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File Created: 3/17/02      Last Updated: 8/16/02