Zeus and his eagle. Antikensammlung Berlin

“O Zeus, much-honoured, Zeus supremely great, to thee our holy rites we consecrate, our prayers and expiations, king divine, for all things to produce with ease through mind is thine. Hence mother earth (gaia) and mountains swelling high proceed from thee, the deep and all within the sky. Kronion (Cronion) king, descending from above, magnanimous, commanding, sceptred Zeus; all-parent, principle and end of all, whose power almighty shakes this earthly ball; even nature trembles at thy mighty nod, loud-sounding, armed with lightning, thundering god. Source of abundance, purifying king, O various-formed, from whom all natures spring; propitious hear my prayer, give blameless health, with peace divine, and necessary wealth.” – Orphic Hymn 15 [3]

Zeus (zoos) is a Greek God and ruler of the Olympians. He is the Greek Sky God who rules over Mount Olympus, and splits his rule over the mortal realm with his siblings Poseidon and Hades. He is the last child of the titans Cronus and Rhea, and avoided being swallowed by Cronus only thanks to his mother.

According to some sources, Zeus is the ruler of the heavens and the governor of weather, but He is also associated with wisdom, awareness, authority, and justice. He wasn’t always the beloved Father of the Gods, and His rule was often challenged. Of these, one was Prometheus. He challenged Zeus by stealing the divine fire and giving it to the mortals. He also kept the identity of a mortal woman a secret, as it was said that her son was prophesied to become greater than his father. Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock where he was tormented for ages, and eventually he gave in and told Zeus that the woman is question was named Thetis. With this, Zeus stopped his pursuit of the woman and gave her to Peleus. However, the son born of this marriage became a celebrated Greek hero, one of the most famous: Achilles.


Zeus’ father was Cronus and his mother Rhea. Cronus had usurped control of the heavens from his father Ouranos and he was constantly wary of not having the same thing happen to him from his own children. To pre-empt any takeover he, therefore, swallowed all of his children: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon. However, Rhea saved her youngest Zeus by wrapping a stone in swaddling clothes and giving this to Cronus to swallow. Zeus was spirited away to Mt. Dikte on the island of Crete where he was raised by the primeval goddess Gaia (Earth), or in some versions by the Nymphs.

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Zeus also took many wives, and had many lovers. He eventually became married to Hera, but He still had lovers outside of this marriage. He is the father to several children. Some of them are Gods, like Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, and some of them are not. He was known for having many children and it is impossible to name them all.

If you want to honor Zeus in your practice, be mindful of His symbols, sacred plants and animals, and His story.

He is often seen with a lightning bolt, which He wielded in hand as a weapon. Other attributes and associates of Zeus include a throne, an eagle, and the aigis. He is often depicted robed or naked with a wreath of olive leaves crowning His head.

Zeus’ sacred animals were the eagle and the bull. In myth he abducted the youth Ganymede in the shape of an eagle and the maiden Europa in the guise of a bull.
His sacred plants were the evergreen holm oak and the olive tree. At the ancient oracle of Dodona Zeus’ priests were inspired by the rustling of oak-leaves, and at the Olympic Games victors were crowned with a wreath of olive-leaves picked from the god’s sacred grove.

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Sources
[1] Ancient History Encyclopedia – Zeus
[2] Greek Mythology
[3] Theoi.com
[4] GreekGodsAndGoddesses.net


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