Who doesn’t have a favorite god(dess) from Greek/Roman mythology? As a kid, I remember doing a project on Athena for school and remained interested in her for a long time. In my 20s, I began feeling more connected to Artemis because of her association to the moon. That connection peaked with the birth of my child; since then, I’ve felt less in need of her protection.
And there’s Hera, Demeter, Hestia, Aphrodite, Persephone, Hecate, Selene, Gaia, Rhea, Cybele, etc.
Recently, I started reflecting on the role of messenger due to this spiritual journey, which has me reading a lot about how people have received messages throughout time. Humans have spent a lot of time divining through ancient texts, sage advice, scrying, star-gazing meditating, praying, reading tarot, asking oracles, casting runes, studying numbers, storytelling, and creating scientific experiments. All of it is about finding a new way to look at something to get an answer that works best.
As I reflected on this, I thought, I wonder if there’s a messenger goddess. (Of course there is. There’s a goddess for everything). I knew about Hermes, the male messenger of the gods, but I rarely feel as connected to male archetypes….
Here is the one and only reason Iris (the Roman ‘Arcus’) is now my all-time favorite Greek/Roman Goddess:
Iris is a RAINBOW. Yeah, that’s right. Sometimes she’s depicted as traveling via rainbow, and other times, she IS the rainbow. BEST WOULD-YOU-RATHER EVER. As a card-carrying ’90s kid who loved Rainbow Brite, Lisa Frank, and constantly arranging all art supplies (and Skittles and M&Ms) in rainbow order (who else still does this?)…why didn’t anyone tell me about Iris? WHY?! She has wings. She’s described as “storm-footed,” “wind-footed,” and “rainbow-clad.” She carries a pitcher and a rod (tarot friends read: cup and wand!) She’s a goddess of both sea and sky and mainly serves as messenger to Hera.
So what other associations could be made with the rainbow goddess?
The rainbow appears as a positive message in most spiritual and cultural symbology — and currently as the universal, inclusive symbol for the LGBTQ+ community.
The 10 of Cups is where the rainbow consistently (and traditionally) appears in tarot. It represents a happy ending, an emotional fate. Iris’s messages were often fateful and those who ignored her did not find peace.
However, rainbows do not only appear exclusively in the 10 of the Cups. Rainbows are used throughout tarot decks and many tarot decks as a whole are like a rainbow, bringing messages to us through colorful imagery. Like Iris’s fateful messages, the cards are always reminding us to pay attention; ignoring the negative meanings can sometimes lead to a worse situation.
What about the Charkras?
When I think of rainbows lately, I think of the chakras. Just the associated colors alone create a rainbow. In fact, the chakra system is an almost too-perfect example of a rainbow bridge relaying messages between the divine and the material word. In many ways, we travel our chakras, and at the same time, they are us, just a Iris travels the rainbow and personifies the rainbow simultaneously. In both the chakra system and the Iris mythology, this colorful between-worlds path is balanced at the heartspace, joining the worlds and finding peace.
I have been given two spiritual names by magickal people over the years, one of which is “Rainbow Creatrix.” After learning about Iris, I am embracing that name more and more every day.
Atsma, Aaron J., Theoi Project (2000 – 2017), Netherlands & New Zealand <http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Iris.html>