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Goddesses are strong, independent individuals who can shoulder the world’s burdens. And that’s exactly how we’d describe our mothers, too! Yes, we might occasionally fight with them, but when it’s all over, we always come right back to where it all started. We’re glad there’s a day to celebrate their beauty, strength and grace.

All of this got us thinking about how ancient the celebration of motherhood actually is, finding itself cemented in practically every culture and civilisation since the dawn of creation. There’s no life without mothers, so here are five interesting maternal goddesses from Greek mythology that you’ve most likely read about…and perhaps some you’re discovering for the first time!


So this is how mythology works: there are aspects of life that have always been viewed with the utmost sanctity and importance, and with time, these elements take on human characteristics. In the ancient world, depending on the land to provide you with sustenance was a big thing, and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, was responsible for this. She represented the earth’s natural bounty, as well as the changing seasons: for there to be life, there must also be death.

The most famous story surrounding Demeter involves the abduction of her daughter, Persephone, by Hades, the god of the underworld, who wanted to make her his bride. As any mother would, Demeter searched high and low for Persephone. As a result, things began to die all around her. This got to such a bad point that Zeus, the king of the gods and the person who had originally given Hades permission to kidnap Persephone, intervened to prevent the destruction of life on earth.

Hades agreed to let Persephone return to the world above, but only on the condition that she hadn’t eaten anything from the underworld. Unfortunately, Persephone had already eaten some pomegranate seeds, binding her to the underworld for those months in the year we associate with winter (or a general reference to any seasonal period when the earth produces nothing). When Persephone returns to the living world to see her mother, Demeter allows things to grow once more. And thus we have the creation of the seasons!


Admittedly, Hera gets a bit of a bad rap as a jealous and vengeful goddess. But when you think about it, she had to put up with a lot of her husband’s infidelities. By the way, her husband was Zeus, the king of the gods, making her the ultimate queen, a title we’re proud to bestow on our majestic mommas. She’s often pictured in a solemn mood while enthroned, unfailingly putting on a brave face.

As the goddess of women, family, and childbirth, she presided over and blessed all births and happy marriages. The great thing about this is that Hera doesn’t easily bestow her godly patronage to just anyone. Actually, it’s the more ordinary figures of ancient Greek mythology that come to her attention, usually mothers and those faithful in their marriages.

While the Greek myths associated with Hera portray her as an angry deity having to deal with illegitimate offspring, we like to think of it differently. She could act in ways women living under ancient Greek patriarchies and misogyny couldn’t – by taking her matters into her own hands!


Yes, Greek mythology experts and enthusiasts, we hear you shouting: “But Hestia was a virgin goddess!” And we’re well aware of that. But there’s more to motherhood than just the obvious. We think it’s also about the atmosphere of comfort and security a mother naturally creates in the home, which is what Hestia represented.

The hearth (home fire) in ancient times would have been a source of life, providing warmth, light, the cooking of food, and a sense of protection. All of these aspects fall under the domesticity Hestia sought to protect. She was a very modest and introverted goddess, focused more on bringing calm and harmony to everyday life.

The story goes that her father, the titan Cronus, ate all of his children out of fear of being overthrown. Hestia was technically the eldest of her siblings and so was eaten first. When Zeus planned to free his brothers and sisters, she was the last to be regurgitated, and therefore the last to be “born”. She was thus dubbed the ­eldest and the youngest of the gods, a humble description yet not lacking in wisdom.


As the daughter of Gaia and the mother of six Olympians, Rhea is yet another ancient Greek figure dubbed as a “mother of the gods”. When her husband, Cronus, decided to eat all of his children as a preventative measure against anyone overthrowing him, Rhea was instrumental in saving her offspring.

When her son Zeus was born, Rhea knew he would suffer the same fate as his siblings. So she hid him in a cave on the island of Crete, where she instructed a golden dog to guard a goat that suckled the infant. When it was time to present her child to Cronus, she deceived him by wrapping a stone in swaddling clothes.

Ancient Greeks believed that Rhea, the Great Mother, eased childbirth. Truly the example of maternal instinct: protecting your children no matter the cost!


Being dubbed the goddess of motherhood and fertility was more a result of Leto’s situation than anything primordially bestowed upon her. When Leto became pregnant with Zeus’s child, Hera, in her usual vengeful way, convinced the nature spirits to make all lands shun her – she was incapable of giving birth on any form of land.

What Hera’s proclamation didn’t cover, however, was whether the land had to be attached to the earth. Poseidon, the god of the sea, took pity on Leto in her overburdened state, and directed her to the floating island of Delos, where she gave birth to the twin gods, Artemis and Apollo. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, was born first, and despite only being a few days old, helped her mother birth her twin brother, the god of music, healing, and poetry. Yet another ancient story to make us proud of maternal persistence in the face of adversity!

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