Eileithyia

Eileithyia is the ancient goddess of childbirth, midwifery, and birthing pains. Eileithyia is believed to be a Minoan goddess assimilated into the Greek pantheon as Hera’s daughter. She works very closely with Hera and is Hera’s weapon in her struggle to prevent Zeus’ other wives from giving birth and threatening the sovereignty and statues of her own children. Without Eileithyia’s cooperation, labour cannot go well and perhaps cannot occur at all.

Eileithyia was venerated by pregnant women and those in labour to provide safety success and to lessen pain. Although comparatively little attention is paid to her in mythology books, she was actually subject of great popular veneration; she had many shrines and was considered an extremely significant deity.

ALSO KNOWN AS:

Eleutheria; Ilithyia; Genetyllis

ORIGIN:

Crete

FAVOURED PEOPLE:

Midwives

ICONOGRAPHY:

A woman bearing a torch or with hands upraised, as if beckoning. Some times there is one Eileithyia, but sometimes she is portrayed as a pair of spirits.

ATTRIBUTE:

Torch

Spirit allies:

Eileithyia may be venerated alongside Hera and/or Artemis.

Sacred site:

The Cave of Eileithyia near Knossos, Crete, is allegedly her birthplace and was an important pilgrimage site; she is associated with caves, in general. Eileithyia was a widely venerated goddess with shrines throughout Greece.

OFFERINGS:

Ex-votos (milagros) in the shape of breasts; incense; water

SEE ALSO:

  • Artemis
  • Hera
  • Leto
  • Semele
  • Zeus

SOURCE:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

FURTHER READING:

Related Articles

Hebe

Hebe Flower of Youth ORIGIN: Greece Hebe is the beautiful daughter of Hera and Zeus, sister of childbirth goddess, Eileithyia. Hebe is the goddess of…

Zemele

Zemele Mother of the Earth ORIGIN: Phrygia Once a very important goddess in her own right, Zemele is now overshadowed by her son, Dionysus. The…

Leto

Leto : The Obscure One; The Hidden One; The Forgotten One ALSO KNOWN AS: Latona (Rome) Mythology books are often dismissive of Leto: she’s portrayed…

Dione

Dione, water goddess of fertility and divination, is a shadowy figure in Greek mythology: she’s Zeus’ first wife. Dione and Zeus presided over the Oracle…

Hera

Hera (lady) In Greek mythology, pre- Hellenic goddess, later said to be the wife of Zeus; sister of Demeter, Hades, Hestia, Poseidon, and Zeus. In…