The Horae (Greek Goddesses of the hours) personified the twelve hours (originally only ten), as tutelary goddesses of the times of day. The hours run from just before sunrise to just after sunset, thus winter hours are short, summer hours are long. Here’s the list:
- Auge, first light
- Anatolê or Anatolia, sunrise
- Mousikê or Musica, the morning hour of music and study
- Gymnastikê, Gymnastica or Gymnasia, the morning hour of gymnastics/exercise
- Nymphê or Nympha, the morning hour of ablutions (bathing, washing)
- Mesembria, noon
- Sponde, libations poured after lunch
- Elete, prayer, the first of the afternoon work hours
- Aktê, Acte or Cypris, eating and pleasure, the second of the afternoon work hours
- Hesperis, evening
- Dysis, sunset
- Arktos or Arctus, night sky, constellation
An interesting practice to bring a deeper understanding of the Goddess energy, and a deeper connection to the rhythms of the day is to take a short moment to acknowledge each goddess at her approximate time. This can be as simple as a small salute or short hello. You might be pleasantly surprised at the magickal turn your life takes when you practice this consistently over time.
The Horae are the joyous goddesses of the seasons. Daughters of Zeus and Themis, they are spirits of abundance. The Horae organized the seasons and devised the earliest calendar, establishing the length of months, weeks, days, minutes, and hours. They are the goddesses of the correct movement, spirits of perfect timing.
They are the truthful ones who guard the gates of Olymus. Although described as the daughters of Zeus, legends suggest that they were the ones who raised Hera. (It’s been theorized that they were originally only Themis’ possibly parthogenic daughters. Later, when paternity became significant, Zeus was incorporated into the myth.)
In their earliest manifestations, there were only two or three Horae. Eventually, however, more joined them until there were twelve Horae. They are closely allied with Hera, Aphrodite, and Dionysus:
- The Horae open the gates of the sky for Hera.
- Hera can allegedly be contacted via the Horae. Contact them first and request that they intercede.
- The Horae are among those who greeted and clothed Aphrodite when she rose from the sea.
- They dance in the entourage of Dionysus.
- The Horae are Dionysus’ partners in viniculture, responsible for the ripening of grapes.
The blessings of the Horae are invoked on brides, weddings, and children.
The ancient Greeks did not have hours of fixed length as we do today. Instead they divided the hours of daylight into twelve portions identified by the position of the sun in the sky. Thus the length of the hour varied between the longer days of summer and shorter ones of winter.
The twelve Horai were not always clearly distinguishable from the Horai of the seasons who were also described as overseeing the path of the sun. From the Nonnus, Dionysiaca, a Greek Epic from the 5th century AD:
“The four Horai (Seasons) were greeted by the twelve circling Horai (Hours), daughters of Khronos (Chronos, Time), tripling round the fiery throne of the untiring Charioteer in a ring, servants of Helios that attend on his shining car, priestesses of the lichtgang each in her turn : for they bend the servile neck to the ancient manager of the universe.”