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Deity of the Month - Zeus

by Sam Stoker

Perhaps one of the most well known of the pagan gods, Zeus sits atop his throne on Mount Olympus, wielding lightning and ruling over the lesser gods. Zeus comes from Ancient Greek mythology and is revered as King of the Gods, Lord of the Sky and Thunder, and is another Allfather deity (and literal father to many!).

Often depicted as a white ageing man with a full beard and long hair, Zeus holds a thunderbolt and wears a toga. Child of the sibling Titans Cronus and Rhea, Zeus goes on to have seven wives, possibly five of whom were relatives, the last and perhaps most well known of course being Hera, his older sister.

Of his 20+ children - and some sources cite over 30 - the most famous include Persephone, Athena, Apollo and Artemis, and the Muses. Throughout history, Zeus has been known to be very busy seducing women and fathering more deities. He didn't stop at wives either. Sleeping with nymphs and humans too, Heracles was his final child.

Brother of Hades, Zeus gave his permission for Hades to marry Persephone and thus triggered seasonal changes (see our older piece on Persephone herself for the details there).

He was responsible for giving Pandora her infamous box, for imprisoning his own son Apollo, and in mythology, for transformed himself into many, many things including but not limited to a phoenix, a bull, a bear, a human shepherd, and his children, Artemis and Apollo. Pegasus, the winged horse, was used to carry his thunderbolts.

Equated with the Roman god Jupiter, Zeus has been worshipped throughout Ancient Greece, right up until 9th century CE when Christianity stamped out the last of local paganism. Zeus and many other Greek deities are worshipped today within Hellenic polytheism. The Roman takeover of Greece enshrined Zeus in history with the mixing and conflation of the two religions. During festivals, white animals would be sacrificed in his honour. Some cults sacrificed humans to Zeus too.

We wouldn't recommend doing that at the moment but if you feel called to worship Zeus, perhaps you could leave an offering of something a little more palatable!

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