Mythology Monday: Iris, the Greek Goddess of Rainbows

A messenger. That’s the way I’ve always seen rainbows. A fantastically beautiful promise that somehow, things will work out. That there is a reason to smile. That the Earth sees you. That the sky smiled at you.

What must it have been like in ancient times to see these lovely colors arching through the sky and not know what they were? It surely would have been both mysterious and thrilling. If you didn’t know what formed a rainbow, it would have been easy to imagine a goddess wielding a pitcher of water, filling the clouds with rainwater from the sea.

In Ancient Greek mythology Iris was the goddess of rainbows and a messenger of the goddess Hera. She was the daughter of Thaumas, a sea god, and Elektra, a cloud nymph. It was Iris who filled the clouds with rainwater, using her pitcher to fill them from the oceans. I can imagine her traveling through the sky, the brilliance of her dress leaving sparkling waves of pink, orange, green, blue and purple in its wake. When you saw a lovely rainbow in the sky, you might have thought that she was bringing you a message, straight from the gods. A message that you were cared for. And that the heavens saw you.

Even though ancient mythologies sometimes seem silly to us now when examined through the lens of science and the things we know now to be true, it is still incredible to see how ancient people’s ideas of natural phenomena still resound with us today. To me, a rainbow is a gorgeous message of hope, a meeting between water and the sky in a symbol of promise. Truthfully, even though we are millenniums apart, are we really that different?

Wishing you a lovely Monday, keep smiling and never stop searching the skies for Iris,


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