Happy Theogamia!


Hera, by Richard FranklinThe Theogamia was this ancient Greek festival celebrating, literally, the gods’ marriage. All the rituals took place in the temple of Hera, and the whole thing appeared to be in honor of the goddess in her role as Protectress of Marriage. Now, when we talk about Hera these days, we tend to discuss her primarily as the shrewish cucquean who caused so much trouble for Zeus’s flings and for Heracles. But despite the common depiction of her as vindictive and vain and her marriage as a battleground, there are still myths in which she and Zeus are assumed to have a solid relationship.

Furthermore, she’s a goddess that women can identify with, she works hard, not just to get rid of the competition, but to make herself the best wife she can possibly be. She bathed once a year in a sacred spring to restore her virginity – that oh-so-important status for Greek women – and even borrowed Aphrodite‘s divine girdle to make herself extra sexy for her man.

The Theogamia, says Mikalson in The Sacred and Civil Calendar of the Athenian Year, may have been celebrated exclusively by women. It seems possible that if ever having only myths written down by male authors would make a difference in the illustrating a particular goddess, it would make a difference in the imagining of Hera. What I wouldn’t give to be able to travel back and meet a woman celebrating this festival and ask her what myths the millenia have allowed to fade. The Theogamia was celebrated on the 27th of the month of Gamelia – the lunar month generally associated with January – and I think that would make the correct time to celebrate it right about now!


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