Achelous He Who Washes Away Care
Achelous is king of Greece’s river spirits. He was venerated throughout Greece and southern Italy. Achelous’ primary role was to ensure the successful maturity of young men. He also begets bodies of water, including streams, rivers, and springs, and so is the spirit to petition if you desperately need a new source of water. River spirits are traditionally associated with fertility, and Achelous is certainly fertile. He is the father of Nymphs, Sirens, and many sea spirits. Achelous and Heracles competed for the same woman. While battling, Heracles ripped off one of Achelous’ horns. (That he was capable of battling Heracles is testament to Achelous’ own power.) Achelous’ blood spilled on Earth, fertilizing her: the Sirens emerged from this union in similar fashion to the birth of Aphrodite. (Alternative myth: Achelous is their father; their mother was a Muse; and they were conventionally conceived.) Achelous was an extremely important spirit: • Zeus himself instructed that offerings be made to Achelous. • Achilles is described as venerating Achelous. Masks were made in Achelous’ image. Small images of his head were worn as amulets. A spirit of prosperity, some theorize that his is the true horn of plenty.
He typically appears as a bull with a human face, but he is a skilled shape-shifter, sometimes appearing as a man with a bull’s face. He is a horned spirit, but one horn is broken or missing. He may appear in the guise of a merman with a long, curved fish tail or a long snake tail. Water flows from his long beard like a waterfall.
Achelous doesn’t like being alone. He is traditionally honored together with his daughters, the Nymphs. Alternatively, surround him with mermaids or Sirens.
A single horn Animal: Bull Offering: Young men used to cut their hair and dedicate it to Achelous in exchange for guidance and protection or as fulfillment of a vow made to him.
Achilles; Nymphs; Sirens