Like Hestia, my relationship with Hera came because of my status (in Hestia’s case, being a person in society) not because of any establish or mystic relationship. This is a far more ancient form of patronage, one that I am happy to have entered. That status, of course, is marriage.
My first glimpse of Hera really came in college. I can’t recall, but it was during either a Latin class or a Myth and Meaning course. My professor, whom I adored, had a habit of being distracted. More than myself, and she could derail at any given moment. One of these derails that day was about Hera and her status with the Hellenic pantheon. She had a bad rap, she said (and probably used those words, too) due to mythology. She seemed so petty and vindictive, cruel and insecure in her status. But that wasn’t Hera at all. Hera was Queen of the Gods and far older and more well-loved than we give her credit, her temples and shrine outnumbering Zeus’s.
Mythology was a way of keeping her down, I wrote in my notes that day, and starting seeing her myths in a different way. A wife keeping her marriage together, and what she could keep of her power and influence. My final for the Mythology course was writing poetry and I wrote horrible poetry about her and Zeus being the equivalent of the Clintons.
I’ve been with my husband in some capacity for about 9 years. The only ritual I’ve ever asked him to do with me was after the wedding, a simple offering to Hera. It was the final piece of the marriage process. Since moving into the new house, I’ve kept two small shrines together –Hera’s and our marriage. They seem so tied up with each other I put them on the same space. Hera’s is a collection of beautiful artwork, each a woman in her prime and a fan a friend brought me back from Spain. The marriage shrine is not just artifacts from my own engagement and wedding, but from friends.
I figured I should share the love. And what I get from Hera, from being under her patronage by reason of marriage, is just how much work a relationship really is. Just being in love isn’t enough, just building a home isn’t enough, but a constant valuation of what is important in the face of your life together, and no one persons power should be disabused. It needs to be brought together and combined in a way that makes sense.