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Iris Greek Mythology

Updated: Feb 25

Rainbows are so beautiful, magical, and spiritual and have been around for aeons. Represented as a rainbow or a beautiful young maiden with wings so awe-inspiring and bright they could light up the darkest caverns, Iris was known as the female counterpart to Hermes—a messenger to the prominent gods and goddesses who lived at the top of Mount Olympus. Iris was also known to be the personal and loyal messenger of Hera, the goddess of woman, family, marriage, and childbirth.

A beautiful goddess, Iris played quite a large part in Greek mythology yet is rarely mentioned. Throughout mythology, Iris appears only as an errand-running messenger and is usually described as a virgin goddess. The daughter of Thaumas (the marine god) and Electra (the amber cloud nymph), Iris is depicted in ancient Greek paintings as a stunning winged woman holding a herald rod and sometimes a water pitcher.

Scooping water from the ocean in her pitcher and carrying it to the clouds, Iris created enchanting rainbows with the reflection from the sun on the ocean water in the clouds; this is how she became known as the rainbow messenger. Iris was known to either slide down the rainbow to deliver her message or appear as a physical rainbow, allowing the colourful arch to bridge the gap between the sea and the clouds or the heavens and the earth, linking the gods to humanity. She would also use her pitcher to serve nectar to the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus, allowing her to become the trusted messenger for the gods.

Principally associated with communication, messages, and new endeavours, Iris was also believed to aid in fulfilling humans' prayers by fulfilling them herself or bringing them to the attention of other deities. Able to travel in and out of the underworld, usually a one-way journey, she would quickly dive into the ocean or swim to deliver the royal sentiments. Iris was extremely faithful and loyal in her role, enabling her to be trusted with the most critical and influential messages from Greek gods and goddesses.

So, the next time you see a rainbow, take note of what you were previously thinking. Is Iris sending you a message, or has she come to forward your prayers to the higher realms? If life seems a little complicated when a rainbow appears to you, know that rainbows symbolize hope, faith, love, and new beginnings. There is so much to look forward to when a rainbow appears; all you have to do is believe.

Love and Light


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