For Hera

This is a repost from Old KALLISTI. I am prioritizing the devotional poetry I had on the old blog because this devotional poetry is meant to be read as a public offering to a god. I have had to update the links due to link rot, but they should all take you where they originally went.

Background

Before you read the poem, there are some background things you should know about my interpretation of Hera. You will notice in a few moments that I refer to Hera once as having three aspects. This is based on several sources. First, when we look at her epithets, we see that she does have several that fall into set categories. Hera is parthenos, virgin; gamelia, of marriage; and khera, the widow (source: Neokoroi’s Hera page). Buxton states that “in the Boiotian city of Plataea, where she had, Pausanias reports, two statues, one as Numpheuomene (‘Bride’) and one as Teleia (‘Consummated’)” (Complete World of Greek Mythology, 70).

If we go directly to Pausanias, which we can do through the Perseus collection, we see a similar statement about Hera’s cult:

The story has it that in the old Stymphalus dwelt Temenus, the son of Pelasgus, and that Hera was reared by this Temenus, who himself established three sanctuaries for the goddess, and gave her three surnames when she was still a maiden, Girl; when married to Zeus he called her Grown-up; when for some cause or other she quarreled with Zeus and came back to Stymphalus, Temenus named her Widow. This is the account which, to my own knowledge, the Stymphalians give of the goddess (Pausanias 8.22.2).

As such, the “triple goddess” designation in my poem serves more to relate Hera to the cycle of a woman’s lifestyle than to make her conform to a modern female trinity; Hera has many epithets, not all of which fit into these categories.

Hera

You may know me from the sweep
of plains and the lowing animals,
cuckoos singing, nesting in baskets.
From me comes youth and discord.
From me all is born and fashioned.
From me you draw your first breath.
Look for me in the billowing white
bridal veil, the confetti of rose petals
falling on the floor, bruised underfoot.
For me you prepare wooden baskets.
For me you raise the goat’s neck to cut.
For me you scatter the sacred barley.
Build my temples from windswept
beach sand, bear icons that call me
virgin, queen of heaven, and widow.
In me flit the birds and toys of steel.
In me the electrostatic charges meet.
In me lies damnation and salvation.
Long before you worshiped me,
I gave birth: lightning passed through
me to strike primordial waters.
I am exhalation and inhalation.
I am the weight of the jungle air.
I am the humidity kissing your skin.
Know that I claim Rhea as mother,
Zeus the Thunderer as my co-ruler,
And my sons and daughters are many.

♨️

🙏

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