Hephaistos Month of Devotional Thought: Day 3 – Symbols & Attributes

Χαίρετε πάντες!

Today we will delve into the symbols and attributes of Hephaistos.

The primary attributes of Hephaistos are, predictably, the tools of smiths: the hammer and tongs.  He is often depicted with these, they are the primary way to identify him in ancient art, though his crooked feet can also help.

K7.1Hephaistos

Hephaestus riding a donkey, you can see him holding his two main attributes, the hammer and the tongs. Athenian red-figure skyphos C5th B.C., Toledo Museum of Art. Taken from Theoi.com, 1 May 2017.

In terms of animals, the first sacred animal of his is the donkey, which he is often depicted as riding on it’s back in order to get anywhere, on account of his crooked feet. A sacred animal I found surprising was the crane. This is attributed to the fact that in his youth, he spent some time at the edge of the world-river Okeanos, where the cranes went for the winter. Crane head ornaments can be seen in some depictions of the saddle on Hephaistos’ donkey.Finally, at his temple near Mt. Etna, it is said that guard dogs dwelt in the sacred precinct, who would act friendly towards people coming with a pure heart, but who would bite those carrying the miasma of a crime with them, and chased away those living in debauchery and hadn’t purified themselves.

Finally, at his temple near Mt. Etna, it is said that guard dogs dwelt in the sacred precinct, who would act friendly towards people coming with a pure heart, but who would bite those carrying the miasma of a crime with them, and chased away those living in debauchery and hadn’t purified themselves.

There is one sacred plant that I could find, namely the fennel. This plant was used to carry around embers so that when a fire is killed, it can be easily relit. The fennel is also sacred to Prometheus, who used a fennel stalk to carry fire to humans, having stolen it from the Gods. This to illustrate the use and significance of the fennel.

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