Hera means Great Lady, and is the feminine form of the word hero. She represents everything that is stately, powerful and regal about the feminine. Hera is also referred to as ‘all-seeing’, or ‘ever-watchful’, casting her gaze over her kingdom with a penetrating eye.
In mythology Hera was Zeus’ consort and ruled over the heavens and the earth. She is the goddess of marriage, and represents the unity of two people in an unbreakable bond. Hera is the yearning that some women feel, to find completeness in communion with their chosen life partner.
Everything is sacrificed for this sacred attachment, and a Hera woman is ever loyal to her husband. In mythology however, Hera suffered greatly at the hands of Zeus and his serial infidelities. She responded each time with great fury directed at the ‘other woman’, but was always forgiving of her husband. This illustrates an important aspect of the Hera archetype; that her husband comes first in everything.
Along with Demeter and Aphrodite, Hera has the most power to dictate behaviour of all the goddesses, and enjoys great influence over her husband and family. She commands respect with her presence, and tends to rule rather than nurture. Hera has markedly positive and negative aspects and can bring tremendous joy or pain depending on her demeanour.
The Hera archetype embodies a woman’s longing for a husband, and without one, a strongly identified Hera women will feel incomplete. Because her husband is the centre of her focus, whether he is seen as a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ husband will also dictate the quality of her life.
If she is unmarried her sense of fulfilment can cause much grief and longing, Much as the Demeter woman longs for a child to complete her, the Hera woman longs for wholeness through the union of marriage.
The Ruler Character
The good wife: The Hera woman strongly identifies with her role as wife. She will not want to just live together, but seeks her fulfilment in the bond of marriage. This partnership is taken seriously, and is truly viewed as ‘for better or worse’. The Hera woman is the most unlikely of the female archetypes to ever seek divorce, and her wedding day will be a marked turning point in her life.
Before marriage the Hera woman likely enjoyed a wide social life, worked and had many friends. After marriage however, she tends to restrict her life to her immediate role as wife. She is willing to move if he needs to relocate, or to quite her job or education if he needs to spend more time at work. A Hera woman often looses touch with her friendships before marriage, and will naturally put everything into her new role as wife.
Focused on her husband: The Hera woman is very much focused on her husband. There is a definite order in place, and any children will understand that he comes first. She will likely want to check with her husband before making important decisions, and always saves the best for him. The Hera woman prefers to do things with her husband, and they tend to enjoy an extremely close bond.
Rage and activity: In the Greek myth Hera did not blame Zeus for his infidelities, but turned this into a vindictive rage that she unleashed on the other women. This archetype predisposes Hera women to ignore their husbands failings, and instead mis-place blame on those around her, such as her children or those close to her husband.
Because she is emotionally dependent on her husband, unleashing her true feelings on him is not an option. Unlike other archetypes that have a tendency to slip into depression when their expectations have not been met Demeter and Persephone the Hera woman launches into activity. This helps her to project a powerful front, when actually she may be feeling quite vulnerable.
Disappointment: The Hera woman, in her search for the ideal husband, may project the archetypal eus onto him. Hoping that when they are married he will transform into everything she wishes for. When this doesn’t happen, and he falls short of her expectations, she can turn angry and critical of him. She may even feel like he had tricked her, and try to manipulate him into the ideal she seeks.
Becoming stuck in a bad marriage: The Hera woman is predisposed to say yes to her first proposal of marriage. She would do well do consider this very carefully and be realistic about how much she knows the man she intends to marry, and what his true character is like. Of all the archetypes the Hera woman is most likely to stay married ‘for better or worst’ and when its for the worse she can suffer greatly, unable to walk out of a damaging situation. Because so much of her live will revolve around her husband, his character and ability to love and cherish her is absolutely key. This will be the difference of whether she lives a life of joy and fulfilment, or anger and disappointment.
Oppressed and oppressor: Hera’s happiness is dependent on the type of man she marry’s. If she chooses the wrong husband she may be unable to walk away; and if he is unfaithful she may become oppressed by her own rage and vindictiveness towards others. On the other hand the Hera woman is also predisposed to be the oppressor. This could be expressed in her judgemental attitude to other women who do not meet her standards, or through pity to women who do not have powerful husbands like herself. At the other end of the spectrum she may oppress in a more direct way through revengeful or destructive behaviours.
Destructive: The Hera woman is predisposed to revengefulness; either acting out or fantasising about destroying those who have caused her suffering. Because she is unlikely to blame her husband for any wrongdoing, her rage is displaced onto those nearby; usually other women, the children or anyone else involved. This tendency can become all consuming and she can lash out without thought.
Women: Hera women are unlikely to form close female friendships, and any close friends before marriage are usually left behind when she becomes a wife. Once married the Hera women relates to other women as half of a couple, and she likely sees single women as either a potential threat or irrelevant. The strongly identified Hera woman does all of her socialising as a couple, and any women she does befriend will be through her husband.
Partners: Hera women are attracted to strong, successful men; the struggling artist need not apply! However the combination of vulnerable little boy, and big powerful man are very endearing to the Hera woman.
Work: Like education, work is secondary for the Hera woman. It does not form part of her identity; rather it is just something she does. She may be exceptionally good at her work, but it will always be secondary to her main role as wife. She is willing to move jobs, or even drop work all together, depending on the needs of her husband.
Sexuality: For the Hera woman, sex and marriage come hand in hand. It is something she performs happily, but unless other archetypes are activated then she is unlikely to take great interest in it.
Marriage: This is the biggest turning point in a Hera woman’s life. Her husband is her primary source of meaning, and so her happiness is directly linked to how much she is cherished and appreciated. Many a Hera woman has felt disappointment with the realities of marriage, especially if their husband is ‘wedded’ to his job and doesn’t have enough time for her. To be fulfilled in marriage the Hera woman must have time with her husband and feel that her efforts are appreciated and reciprocated.
Children: The Hera woman does not have much maternal instinct, but will see having children as part of her wifely duty. She takes her husband’s side and will sacrifice her children’s best interests to meet his needs. If her husband confronts their children about something she never interferes or acts as a buffer. The children are on their own unless other archetypes are present.
Child: The Hera child can be seen playing house and looking after the needs of her husband and home. She does not want to be the ‘Mummy’ as Demeter does, but rather the Lady and ruler of the house.
Adolescent and young adult: The young Hera is likely in a long term relationship and dreams about becoming Mrs Somebody. She looks for a high-status man that can provide her with the emotional security she yearns for. She may go to College or University, but this is secondary to her finding a future husband to settle down with. If she does marry young she is happy to drop her career or studies to become a wife.
Mid-life: The quality and direction of a Hera woman’s middle years will depend a great deal on whether she’ s married, and to whom. A happy Hera is one who is in a stable marriage to a successful man who appreciates her. An unmarried or divorced Hera however, will be distraught. If a Hera woman is cheated on by her husband she will experienced deep rage, jealousy, and an urge for revenge against the woman involved. Or if her husband has not met her expectations then she may feel tricked and have turned into a stereotypical ‘shrew’ wife, scalding, nagging and manipulating her husband.
Later life: For the Hera woman who lives solely to be her husbands wife, widowhood is almost unbearable. She has not only lost her husband, but with it her sense of identity. Unless she has developed other goddess archetypes she may fall into a state of deep depression and feeling of insignificance. The Hera woman does everything with her husband, and sacrifices a great deal for him. It’s unlikely that she has any close friends or independent interests, and so this time can be especially painful. For those lucky Hera women who are able to enjoy their husbands company throughout their whole life, they feel very blessed.
Rooting your Ruler
Expand yourself: The Hera woman finds her main source of meaning in her role as a wife. This places her in a vulnerable situation if that role comes to an end through divorce or death. She may unconsciously allow her husband to make all the decisions regarding how she lives her life, and risks neglecting other important aspects of herself. When two people are married they tend to split the chores so that they specialise in certain areas, doing everything for the both of them.
A Hera wife may even take pleasure in saying that she doesn’t understand how to do something because ‘my husband always takes care of that’. To become a whole person it is important for the Hera woman to align herself with other female archetypes and develop those facets of herself that she has left dormant. By enriching herself she also enriches her husband and her abilities as a wife and confident.
Build communication and trust: An insecure Hera woman is susceptible to jealousy and humiliation in public if her husband is inattentive. This can be solved with communicating her feelings rather than shutting him out which will only alienate him further. Once he has proven his fidelity and support, the Hera woman can learn to trust her husband and ignore her jealous tendencies.
Transform anger into creative works: The goddess Hera had 2 sons, Ares the god of war, and Hephaestus the god of creative works. He had a forge inside a volcano which symbolises that intense rage can be used in a controlled way, to create works of art. Hera favoured Ares and so was consumed be her anger, the Hera woman however, has a choice. By channelling her propensity towards rage through creative action she can express it in positive ways. This could be done through drawing, painting, pottery, metal forging, sculpting, silver smithing, or any creative arts that uses the hands.
Letting go: If a Hera women experiences divorce or infidelity she may have a hard time letting go of the marriage. There is a tendency to hope for, and even expect, reconciliation. She must be realistic however. Only when she lets go can she learn to grow past this experience and set herself free from the roles of the oppressed and the oppressor. Learning to activate other goddesses will help her through this. difficult time.
Cycling oneself: The goddess Hera went through cycles each year, from Maiden, to the Fulfilled One to the Widow. If a Hera woman is unhappy with her situation then she can bring on this cycle by choosing an end to the marriage. By symbolically widowing herself she can become the maiden once again, and this time choose a more fulfilling marriage.
Nourishment: The Hera woman is unlikely to eat proper meals unless her husband is home, and this may extend to her children. This can effect her nutrition and respect for her own body temple. To work around this she can learn to make quick nutritious meals, in the form of smoothies, soups and salads, and try to make eating a beautiful and conscious experience.
Movement: The Hera wife loves to do things with her husband. If he’s not available for regular exercise this may take a back seat while she concentrates on running the household. If this is the case try to choose an activity that brings conscious awareness into your psyche. The idea is to raise self awareness of the body, root your energy, and celebrate your natural elegance. Tai chi, qigong, and yoga are all fantastic exercises for the Hera woman.
Your gift: The Hera woman’s gift is in the union of the masculine and feminine qualities in herself, making her a complete whole in her ideal state. Because of this she is able to form a sacred union with another in the communion of marriage. This makes her a loyal, strong, and faithful companion.
Hera’s wound, is that her powerful and venerated position can be undermined by patriarchy. In the myth this is when the worship of Hera as the goddess of sacred union, was reduced by the overtaking patriarchal culture, into the vindictive and shrewish wife. In practical terms this happens when a Hera woman marries someone who fails to cherish her and reflect the love and strength that she puts in. For Hera to share her gift and become her highest self she needs a strong and loving partner to mirror her own wholeness.