Discover the Deity: An Intro to the Greek Pantheon

TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains passing references to rape and other types of abuse.

Practitioners of Witchcraft and spiritual practices may choose to worship one or more Deities. This depends on the person’s beliefs, desires, and experiences. Deities, such as Gods, Goddesses, and other spirits, provide help and guidance. But how does one start, and how does one know which deity to choose? Well, sometimes you choose a Deity, and sometimes the Deity chooses you.

To be able to choose one or multiple deities, it is important to know their historical context, characteristics, and areas in which they can help you. This article will explore several Gods and Goddesses in Greek Mythology. We hope it serves as a guide for Deity worshiping to practitioners – beginners, intermediate, and advanced.

Their Origins

Let’s start with how Greek deities came to be. According to Hesiod’s Teogony, in the beginning, there was Chaos. From Chaos, emerged Eros (Love), Tartarus (the empty abyss beneath the earth), Nyx (the night), and Gaia (the Earth and mother of all). Gaia produced Uranus (Heaven), the Mountains, and the Sea. After that, Uranus and Gaia had children together: the Titans. The Titans, in turn, had children of their own, and this is when the Gods and Goddesses originated.

The Greek Pantheon (“Πάνθειον”, meaning “[temple] of all the gods”) is used to refer to the twelve most important Gods and Goddesses. They are also called “the 12 Olympians” because people believed they lived on top of Mount Olympus. We will begin with 5 Olympians that were born from the Titans Rhea and her brother Cronos (Time).

The Greek Pantheon Family Tree

These siblings are:

  • Zeus, God of the Sky.
  • Hera, Goddess of Marriage and Women (Zeuss wife).
  • Demeter, Goddess of Harvest.
  • Poseidon, God of the Sea.
  • Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth. She was one of the 12 Olympians but gave up her place so Dionysus could become an Olympian.
  • A special case is Hades, God of the Underworld. Hades was also born from Rhea and Cronos, but he never resided on Mount Olympus. Even though he is not an Olympian, he is as relevant as his five siblings.

Other five Olympians were born from Zeus and different women:

  • Dionysus (son of the mortal Semele), God of Wine. He took Hestia’s place in Mount Olympus.
  • Ares (son of Goddess Hera), God of War
  • Athena (daughter of the Oceanid Metis), Goddess of Strategy
  • Hermes (son of the Pleiad Maia), messenger of the Gods
  • Apollo (son of the Titan Leto), the God of the Sun, Music, and Poetry
  • Artemis (daughter of the Titan Leto) the Goddess of the Hunt. Artemis is Apollo’s twin sister.

The remaining two Olympians are:

  • Hephaestus, God of Fire. He was born of Hera alone, without Zeus.
  • Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. She was born from the genitals of Uranus after his son Cronos cut them off and threw them into the sea.

Other important deities are:

  • Hekate (daughter of the Titan Perses and the nymph Asteria), Goddess of Magic and Spells. Zeus gave her permission to live both in the Underworld and in the world of the living.
  • Persephone (daughter of Zeus and Demeter), Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld. As a young woman, she resided on Mount Olympus until Hades decided to take her to the Underworld as his wife.
  • Eris (daughter of Zeus and Hera), Goddess of Strife and Discord.

Zeus

Zeus is the God of the Sky and Thunder. He is also the God of Order, Law, Destiny, and Fate. Zeus is wise, just, and stern. He is a forceful warrior and his temper affects the weather. He succeeded in revolting against his father, the Titan Cronus. This is how he became the ruler of the world.

When he ascended to the throne, he divided the universe: Zeus took the heavens, Poseidon took the sea and Hades took the underworld. Even though he is married to Hera, he was unfaithful to her many times.

When setting up an altar, it is better to devote it only to Zeus, as he will appreciate it more. If this is not possible, you can set up a space in your altar for Zeus. Be careful if you have other deities in your altar. For example, Zeus has a good relationship with Hekate, but his relationship with Hera is complicated. Zeus does not have a good relationship with Eris either.

He might help you with topics such as good weather and storms. You can also come to him for legal matters, marriage issues, sex drive, and procreation. Try to be careful about the materials that you use to build his altar. He will take offense if you buy the cheapest materials possible. Instead, provide him with the best you can give him. Zeus enjoys depictions of himself, so include pictures or statues of him.

His symbols are the thunderbolt, the shield, the crown, and the royal scepter. Draw or include his symbols on your altar. The animals associated with him are the eagle, the bull, and the horse. A drawing or a statue of these animals would be a nice addition. The colors associated with Zeus are silver, blue, white, and gold. You could include candles of these colors. Some offerings for Zeus are wine, milk, or honey –even in their vegan version–, bread, fruit, olives, or meat. His sacred tree is Oak, so this could be an option for an offering.

Some devotional acts for Zeus include dancing in the rain or meditating during a rainy day. Besides, being involved in the political life of the party you are affiliated to is also a way of paying Zeus your respects. Other things you could do are listening to both sides of an argument before making a decision and taking charge or being a leader of some sort.

Statue of Hera

Hera

Hera is the Goddess of Women, Marriage, Childbirth, and the Family. She is Zeus’s wife and the Queen of Mount Olympus. She is compassionate and aware of everything that is happening. When setting up an altar, keep in mind she does not have a good relationship with Zeus or Zeus’s children with other women. She also does not enjoy Hephaestus’s company. She has a good relationship with her sisters Demeter and Hestia.

Hera might help you with affairs of the heart such as finding the best significant other for you or protecting your marriage. She might also provide safe childbirth and protection for your family, and even revenge towards an abusive partner.

She is associated with the peacock, the cuckoo bird and the cow, so you could include drawings or statues of these animals. Some offerings for Hera are milk and honey (or any vegan version of the two), bread, grains, homemade sweets, and fruit. You might also offer her flowers such as Lilies, white Roses, and Waterlilies. She enjoys incense such as Rose, Myrrh, Jasmine, and Patchouli. You could also include diadems or crowns and framed family photos on her altar.

The colors associated with Hera are white, gray, silver, royal blue, purple, and dark green. You can use candles of those colors. Also, you can include gemstones such as Pearl, Garnet, Citrine, and Amber. Another good addition is silver and gold jewelry, especially rings.

Some acts that can be performed to honor Hera are doing housework, being kind to children, and paying attention to your romantic partner. You could also spend quality time with your loved ones or take some time off to practice self-care.

Demeter

Demeter is the Goddess of Harvest and Agriculture. She is Zeus’s sister and Persephone’s mother. She is kind and gentle, but she protects her children very fiercely. When building an altar for Demeter, keep in mind that she dislikes Poseidon, who raped her. She really enjoys the company of her daughter Persephone and her sisters Hera and Hestia.

Demeter might provide help with justice, a good harvest, and fertility. She might also help bring a lost child home and she might provide an understanding of the cycle of life and death.

Some general symbols associated with Demeter are the harvest, the torch, bread and honey, the sheaves of wheat, and the cornucopia. You can include these on your altar.

The animals that have a correlation to this Goddess are all domestic pets such as cats and dogs, as well as lizards, snakes, lions, and cranes. Including drawings, pictures, or statues of these animals in the altar might be a good idea.

The flowers that you can offer Demeter are sunflowers, daisies, acorns, oak trees, poppies, and sheaves of wheat. The colors associated with her are dark brown, green, navy blue, and pink. Among the crystals that can serve as an offering we can find Tiger’s Eye, Carnelian, and Amber. You can also offer her Pearls, Emeralds, silver, and copper. Some scents that she might enjoy are Violet, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Cloves, and orange blossom.

To honor Demeter, you might bake bread, support local farms, walk barefoot in the grass, buy more fruit, plant flowers, or start a vegetable garden.

Poseidon

Poseidon is the God of the Sea, Earthquakes and Floods and Droughts. He is clever and creative. Like his brother Zeus, he has a bad temper that can cause bad weather conditions and even earthquakes. There is tension between Poseidon and Zeus, so don’t include them in the same altar.

One of the symbols associated with Poseidon is the trident. It is a good idea to decorate his altar with this symbol. You might offer him olive oil, white wine poured into water and ocean waters.

Water from rivers, lakes or rain might work too. You can decorate his altar with seashells and depictions of anything related to the ocean.

The animals that are associated with Poseidon are the dolphin and the horse, so they would be apt inclusions to his altar. The colors that correlate with the God of the Sea are blue, green, and silver, so you might want to include candles with these colors. Ocean and sea-scented candles are a good option. You might want to offer him Sea Salt and gems such as Pearls, sea glass, Blue Sapphires, or Aquamarine. You can also include art of hippocampus, ships, and sailors.

To honor Poseidon, you might go swimming or go fishing. Another good idea is to visit bodies of water and meditate next to them. If you cannot visit these places, you can watch videos of the ocean or visit aquariums. Supporting the conservation of the oceans and coral reefs might also please him.

An illustration of Hestia

Hestia

Hestia is the Goddess of the Hearth, the Home, Architecture, and Domesticity. She has a gentle and peaceful nature. She is humble and protective. Hestia has no enemies. She enjoys the company of her nephew Hephaestus and of her two sisters, Hera and Demeter.

Hestia might help with protection and guidance, especially in affairs about your home. She might help you get rid of negative entities in the home. Besides, she can help you with starting or tending to the hearth. She provides plenty of food and strong family bonds.

Some symbols associated with her are keys, kettles, and a living flame. You might want to offer her homemade meals and baked goods, as well as tea or sweet wine. Other suitable offerings are olive oil and scented candles. The colors associated with this Goddess are gold, silver, black, light purple, and dark red, so you might want to include some candles of these colors.

Hestia might also enjoy pottery, scents such as Lavender and Peony, and pictures of your loved ones, including your pets. As she is the Goddess of Architecture, you might also offer her pictures of your present home, your ideal home, or the houses where you have lived in in the past.

The animals associated with this Goddess are donkeys and pigs, so you can include depictions of them. Homegrown herbs would also be a good inclusion. When it comes to crystals, she might enjoy Amethyst and Garnet, as well as gold, silver, and brass. Do not forget to include candles and art, pictures or elements related to fire, bonfires, and even fireplaces. If you own a fireplace, it would be a good idea to build the altar for Hestia around it.

One devotional act to honor Hestia is, first of all, to offer her the first piece of your meal. Other activities include meditating next to a fire, cleaning the house, and cooking or baking. You can also learn more about your ancestors and remember them. Finally, take good care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually: your body is your home.

An illustration of Hades

Hades

Hades is the King of the Underworld. He is patient and merciless, but just. His wife is Persephone, Demeter’s daughter, who he kidnapped from Mount Olympus. Legend says that Persephone needs to spend four months a year in the Underworld, but she is free to return home during the rest of the year. Hades doesn’t have enemies, but he gets along with Hekate and some women like Aphrodite and Demeter would rather stay away from him.

Hades can help you overcome the fear of death and the unknown, as well as move on from a past situation. Hades also provides guidance with mental health issues and recovering from trauma. Please note that this is in no way a substitute for seeking medical advice. In turn, worshiping Hades is a good complement to the medical treatments that you might be receiving. Also, you can come to him for guidance on money and business, as well as spirit work in general.

Hades’s symbols are precious jewels, money, a key, and a scepter. Other things associated with him are darkness, cemeteries, crossroads, and the night time in general. The animals associated with Hades are black lambs, serpents, and owls. He also has a three-headed dog named Cerberus.

You might want to offer him coins, dark stones and crystals, wine, tobacco, and salt and spices. You can also include some herbs and flowers, such as mint, bay, lavender, roses, lilies, and daffodils. Other offerings that you can include in his altar are oils, especially olive oil and vinegar, shells and bones, and black tea. You can also include dried flowers and dirt. Choose incense that smells of Myrrh, Wormwood, Sandalwood, or Cinnamon. The colors associated with Hades are black, gray, and silver, so you can include candles of these colors.

To honor Hades, you might pay your respects to the dead, making them offerings and even setting up an altar for them. You can also tend to old graves in cemeteries or study burial rites of other cultures – please avoid cultural appropriation and respect spiritual etiquette if visiting a cemetery. Also, helping people who have experienced loss and caring for dogs are good ways of actively worshiping the King of the Underworld.

Photo by Grianghraf on Unsplash

Dionysus

Dionysus is the God of Wine, Fertility, Theater, and Religious Ecstasy. As he is the son of Zeus and the Seleme, a mortal woman, he is a demigod. He is wild and open-minded. He can be benevolent or vengeful. Dionysus is generally considered an outsider and did not have a good relationship with the other Olympians. Keep this in mind when building an altar.

This God might help you with good winemaking, a good harvest, and fertility. Also, you might ask him for guidance when performing in a play or other artistic event. He also helps achieve pleasure and relaxation.

The general symbols associated with him are the Thyrsus (a staff topped with a pinecone), the flute, and the tragedy and comedy mask. Also, the animals that correlate to Dionysus are felines, such as leopards, panthers, lions, and cheetahs, as well as snakes, bulls, and goats. You can keep this in mind when decorating his altar.

Some things that you can offer Dionysus are alcohol –any type–, as well as other substances. Please remember to make responsible use of these substances. You might also offer him fruit, especially apples and figs, olive oil, and honeyed milk (or its vegan counterpart). Some scents related to Dionysus are frankincense, musk, and grape or wine scent. The color associated with Dionysus is purple, so using purple candles on your altar is a good idea. He also enjoys flowers, especially Roses of any color, and his sacred plants are Ivy and Pine.

Some devotional acts to worship Dionysus are drinking alcohol, going to parties and dancing, and having a good time in general. You can also go to the theater or take part in a play. You might want to visit a vineyard, learn about winemaking or keep a garden with his sacred plants. You can also weave baskets for him or craft a Thyrsus.

Photo by Miti on Unsplash

Ares

Ares is the God of War, Strength, Courage, and Virility. He is brave but cruel. Due to his impulsive and warlike nature, he was not a well-liked God. He represents the physical, violent aspect of war.

When building his altar, consider that he and Athena are enemies. You can request Ares’s guidance with strength, courage, and the ability to defeat enemies. You might also come to him for help in battle, especially keeping a soldier safe.

When building an altar, consider the following information. The symbols associated with the God of War are the shield, the sword, the spear and the helmet. Other symbols are the armor, the flaming torch, and a chariot pulled by four fire-breathing horses. The animals associated with him are dogs, boars, vultures, snakes, and bulls. His colors are black, red, and purple. He might enjoy strong-smelling scents, such as Frankincense and whiskey. The crystals associated with Ares are Garnet, Bloodstone, and Ruby.

To worship Ares, you might learn about wars, watch action movies, and play action or war videogames. Other acts of devotion include being authentic as much as you possibly can, being loud and confident, and protecting those in need.

Athena

Athena is the Goddess of Wisdom, War Strategy, and Handcrafts. She is just, wise and creative. She represents the strategic and intelligent aspect of war. Athena and Ares don’t get along, so don’t place them on the same altar. You might seek Athena’s help with gaining wisdom and knowledge, especially if you obtained it through hard work. In this sense, she might help with academic assignments and inspiration. She provides patience in crafts and education, guidance in an area of study, and help in war.

Athena’s general symbols are the Sun, the spear, the spindle, and a golden shield and helmet. She is also associated with intertwined snakes and the number seven. The animals that correlate to this Goddess are owls, doves, eagles, rams, and felines. The plants associated with Athena are Oak, Cypress, Citrus trees, the Olive tree, and Geraniums. Some crystals you can offer her are Onyx, Ruby, Gold, Lapis Lazuli, and Turquoise.

The colors associated with her are orange, yellow, emerald green, and royal blue. Candles of these colors are a good addition. For scents, choose Patchouli, Musk, orange blossom, Cinnamon, and Cedarwood.

To honor Athena, you can try reading, taking up a new hobby, and paying attention in your classes. You can also learn self-defense or play a game that involves strategy. Another good devotional act is embracing your curiosity and always learning new things.

An infographic for which Greek Deities to keep away and which Deities to keep close when building your Altar.
An infographic for which Greek Deities to keep away and which Deities to keep close when building your Altar.

References

Futurism on Religion

Verene Snopek
Verene Snopek

Verene Snopek is a Content Writer at Aquamarine Content. She is a Cancer Sun, Gemini Moon, and Libra Rising. A Jane of all trades, she is a certified clinical psychologist specializing in CBT and DBT. This cat lover also works as a professor of History, Literature, and Ethics in a Teacher Training College. She is interested in past lives and energy healing and has been learning about Astrology and Tarot reading for over a year. Her favorite crystal is Amethyst and her favorite Tarot card is The Lovers.

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