Lethe names a river that runs through Hades. Drinking its waters causes amnesia. Dead souls entering Hades were required to sip Lethe’s waters in order to forget and wholly abandon their previous lives. The waters may also have sedative properties. According to one myth, Medea used Lethe River water to sedate the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece, thus enabling Jason to steal it.
Lethe is also the name of the presiding spirit of the Lethe River. She is the goddess of oblivion. She may be invoked to forget that which is too painful to bear. She also has the power to sever bonds lingering from past lives. Spirits usually have control over the antidotes to their domain, too. Lethe may be able to reawaken memories or reverse loss of memory. Lethe is sometimes used as a name for the realm of death; a synonym for the realm of Hades (but not the deity: they are clearly two distinct, very different spirits.) Lethe may have ruled an afterlife realm before the ascension of Hades and the Olympian spirits.
Lethe is the sister of Thanatos. She may be the mother of the Charites and the daughter of Eris.
- Olympian Spirits
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.