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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Goddess Hygeia

"Bright-eyed mother, 
highest queen of Apollo's golden throne, 
desirable, gently-laughing Hygeia."

Hygeia is traditionally envisioned as a beautiful young woman feeding a large snake entwined around her, often from a vessel held in her hand.
  • Sacred Animal: Snake
  • Roman Equivalent: Salus
  • Feast Day: February 26
Hygeia is the goddess of good health and healing. She protects against all potential dangers to health. The word hygiene derives from her name. She is the daughter of the divine healer Askelopios and may be venerated alongside her father. A theory exists that Asklepios' family is cobbled together of various independent healing deities, who were then worshiped together as a mini-pantheon. Although Hygeia is worshiped alongside her father, she is not particularly subordinate. (The Orphics claimed she was his wife.) She is a goddess in her own right who works with Asklepios. She may also be venerated independently. For more information, see also The Festival of Salus.

Offerings: People traditionally offered their hair to Hygeia in her shrines, attaching it to her statues. Clothing or fabric was apparently attached, too.

Invocation to Hygeia: 

"Hygeia, most revered of the blessed ones among mortals, 
may I dwell with you for what is left of my life, 
and may you graciously keep company with me: 
for any joy in wealth or in children 
or in a king's godlike rule over men 
or in the desires which we hunt with the hidden nets of Aphrodite, 
any other delight or respite from toils 
that has been revealed by the gods to men, 
with you, blessed Hygeia, 
it flourishes and shines 
in the converse of the Kharites (Charites, Graces);
 and without you no man is happy." 

~Ariphron, Fragment 813

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