Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of February 8th, - February 14th, 2008

The Queen of Heaven

Columns Archive

Juno (Hera)

  According to the classics, Juno (Hera) is the Queen of Heaven. She was the elder sister and wife of Jupiter (Zeus). In astrological circles Juno has reincarnated as one of the four large asteroids. Mythologically Juno deals with the legality and sanctity of marriage and child birth, anchors to family values. Her virginity was periodically restored, either annually or every seven years depending on different variations of the myth. Paradoxically, this made her a virgin goddess of childbirth.

  Astrologically Juno is concerned with the responsibilities of relationship; the letter of the law is important. It is both strength and shield. She wields it when it is to her advantage and hides behind it when a more defensive strategy is needed. Juno gives full measure, but expects full measure in return.

  But she's so much more than just that.

  Juno is just one part of the Great Goddess. She is the Moon, the Eternal Feminine. In Christian circles this archetype manifests as Mother Mary, virginal mother of the Messiah.

  The Moon is the goddess in three forms; Artemis, Demeter and Juno. As a youth she is maiden goddess of the chase, Artemis; as Mother Earth she manifests as woman in a cornucopia of sensual and earthly delights, giving of her body and soul; and as Juno she is the waning Moon in maturity, a matron in command of her world, sacred as crone.

  It is as a crone that Juno greets Jason, to test him. He carries her across the stream, or, in a variation on the myth, she lifts him up and places him atop the bundle she is already carring and lightly ferries him across to the other shore.

  Jason quickly deduces that he is working with a goddess, crone though she may seem.

  Juno is also Queen of the Night with her many children- the stars, hours and seasons, but also the deer, owl, raccoon and all those who would put on the dark mask and call shadow friend. In one version of the myth the 'Horae' were said to have raised her. Some have speculated whether or not the name 'Hera' (Juno) in fact derives from 'hora,' season or hour.

Egyptian Nut

Nut arching high overhead

  In her earliest work, the Iliad, Hera's (Juno's) oft used epithets as the 'Ox-eyed' Queen of Heaven, links her to Hathor, Egypt's Cow Goddess. From there we stretch our imaginations across the night sky to visions of Nut, forever giving birth in the east to the Sun and stars as they rise, swallowing them as they set in the west. Juno's archaic association was largely with cattle in Greece. She was especially venerated in "cattle-rich" Euboea.

  Mythologically Juno is often associated with her throne. From Mother Earth these 'thrones' were crafted, be they menhir, megalith, maypole or temple. Her throne represents the markers used to provide fixed frames of reference to observe the night skies, to capture elusive elements of time, these imaginary heavenly circles, which slip in a continuous stream like so many sands through the hourglass.



  In the myth of Juno and Ixion, Jupiter invites Ixion to Olympus (to the sky) where he is so smitten by Juno (the Moon and stars) that he attempts to 'court' her, to use her for his own purposes. At Jupiter's orders Juno substitutes an image of herself made of cloud. Ixion lies with it as Jupiter watches from above. The night sky often hides the stars in cloud. Entrapped while trying to fiddle with the divine machinery, Ixion is caught with his proverbial pants down. His punishment?

  Jupiter orders Mercury to bind Ixion to a winged fiery wheel, a burning solar wheel, that is always spinning across the sky. Those who watch the stars observe a wheel which has no beginning and no end. There's always next week. What happens next? The beat goes on.

  And on and on.

  Move over Atlas.

  Greek altars of classical times were always under the open sky. The Greek temples dedicated to Hera (Juno) at Samos in 800 BC were among the earliest and most extensive anywhere.

  In fact, some archaeological evidence would seem to suggest that worship of Juno may date further back than worship of Jupiter. Juno commands repect, and tells Jupiter so in no uncertain terms.



  "I am Cronus' eldest daughter, and am honorable not on this ground only, but also because I am your wife, and you are king of the gods."

  But where Ixion fails, Vulcan (Hephaestus) succeeds. Juno produced Vulcan by immaculate birth (sound familiar?), but he was ugly so Juno threw him out of Olympus. According to some myths, he fell for nine days before landing on the island of Lemnos, fracturing his hip as he did so. After he returned to Olympus Vulcan made a magical golden throne as a gift for Mom, but when she sat in it, it held her fast. Although all the other gods pleaded with him, he would not let her go until Bacchus was able to get him drunk.

  As the Moon and the night sky, Juno is Queen of Heaven and all she surveys. As Mother Earth, the Moon is the crops and the fields, the meadows and the mountains. Her bones are the stones of Deucalion. In buiding thrones of stone or temples of marble, the bones of the (Earthly Moon) Mother are being used to observe the motions of the (Heavenly Moon) night sky.

  Juno gave birth of herself, to her own child, and this child has the power to 'capture' her movements, to hold her fast in the throne.

  Vulcan had determined how to map the night sky, crafting his earthly markers of wood and stone. He had the power to bind and release the powers of heaven through his divine craft.

  But Vulcan's troubles in early life were not all in vain. Having determined how to read the wheel of heaven, he becomes an incredible artisan and is able to reach up into the tree of life and pluck off Venus as his wife.

  But that's another tale.


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