Rivalry did not only reign among goddesses, and certainly the main cause of it was not always due to vanity or ego. Gods have also had their fair share of quarrels, many of them resulting in disaster or, at the very least, public humiliation, as is the case with Ares and Hephaestus. It is important that practitioners are aware of feuds between spirits, because when we invite them into our space, their energy or influence can affect our emotions —for better or for worse— and disrupt the harmony we have built. The ideal scenario for witches would be for them to work with deities that do get along. However, if you have experience working with them, you’ll know by now that there are occasions where it’s not a matter of choosing who you work with, but responding when a deity chooses you. This shouldn’t be disregarded, though. Remember that each spirit has dominance over different realms or elements, therefore, each of them will be able to assist or guide you in different ways for a specific reason. What I mean by this is that you shouldn’t reject a deity just because they don’t get along with other entities you’re working with. However, you should be cautious when dealing with them, and, naturally, keep your mentorships separate from one another. In this post, I’m going to walk you through one of the most controversial rivalries among Greek gods: Ares and Hephaestus.
Besides having the same love interest —oops, spoiler alert—, the other thing these gods have in common is their kin. Both Ares and Hephaestus are children of Zeus and Hera, making them brothers. Something I find very interesting is that they’re also related to the Fire element in their own way: on the one hand, Ares, as God of War, relates to Fire in a destructive and action-motivated way. While on the other hand, Hephaestus, as patron and God of Fire and Artisans, in a creation-like way. So, by taking this into account, you can have an idea of their personalities and abilities. What’s more, they’ve also been compared to each other in terms of their charm: Ares was described as heavenly handsome, whereas Hephaestus was said to be the ugliest of all the gods in Olympus.
It is not a secret that Aphrodite and Hephaestus’ marriage was not founded in love. The popular version of the story holds that the Goddess of Love’s beauty caused such a turmoil among her suitors, that Zeus decided to marry her to his least favored crippled son. Not happy with the nature of the union, Aphrodite refused to be faithful to the man she was forced to wed. Instead, she engaged in affairs with both mortals and gods, one of them being none other than the God of War himself.
I’ve heard versions of this myth that state that Ares and Aphrodite had a previous relationship prior to her marriage, and not wanting to let go of each other, they kept hanging out. They would usually meet at Hephaestus and Aphrodite’s place, while he was working in his workshop. Naturally, they tried —unsuccessfully— to be discreet, as they were well aware that the all-seeing Helios, God of the Sun, was watching their every move and would likely report their encounters to Hephaestus. That’s why they usually met at night. Ares would bring along a young soldier called Alectryon —which means “rooster”— with him whenever he visited the goddess. The soldier’s task would be to keep watch at the entrance of her home and warn them when Helios was out again.
Their affair couldn’t stay a secret for long, though. One night, after a long day, Alectryon fell asleep and failed to tell the lovers that the God of the Sun had already come out, so they didn’t worry about ending their visit any time soon. Helios witnessed as Ares and Aphrodite enjoyed each other’s company and immediately reported what he saw to Hephaestus. The God of Fire returned to his home and found them in his bed, just like Helios had told him. Although he was humiliated and furious, the god didn’t unleash his wrath upon his brother and wife, but rather left unnoticed and went back to his workshop to plan his revenge.
Hephaestus created a net made of gold with threads so thin that were almost invisible to the eye. He hung it over the bed, also known as Aphrodite and Ares’ love nest. He deceived his wife by telling her that he would be away for a couple of days and then went to hide, waiting for the show to start. The goddess, who had fallen into her husband’s trap, invited Ares to come over as usual. Again, Alectryon was watching the door. Some time during their love-making session, the net Hephaestus had set up snapped and fell over them, leaving them trapped and unable to escape. Alerted by their screams, Alectryon came in…and so did the God of Fire, who then went out and summoned all the gods that were nearby to come and see the spectacle. They laughed and pointed fingers at the couple in bed. It is safe to say that both Ares and Aphrodite were very embarrassed.
After some time, the God of Fire decided that they had had enough humiliation for one day and freed them from the net. From their affair was born their son Eros, God of Love and Sex. (If you want to dive into Eros’ mythology, don’t forget to check out Why Do Persephone and Aphrodite hate each other? post.) As punishment —according to some versions— declared by Zeus, the lovers were forbidden to see each other again. However, given the nature of their relationship, they didn’t follow this rule either, and kept meeting up, which later led to the birth of six more children: Anteros, Phobos, Deimos, Adrestia, Harmonia, and Hermaphroditus. The couple was not the only one who suffered a punishment. Once he was freed from the net, Ares turned the young soldier and watchman, Alectryon, into a rooster, forcing him to alert everyone when the sun came out for eternity.
If you’re still interested in working with these two (or three) deities, now you know how you should handle them. If you have altars for each of them, I suggest that you don’t have them next to each other, or at least keep Aphrodite and Ares on one end, and Hephaestus on the other, as far as possible. Ideally, never summon them at the same time nor in the same place. Speaking the name of their rival in their presence is, obviously, off the table as well. I know it’s difficult to be in the middle, it kind of feels like when two of your friends can barely tolerate each other and you try to keep things running smoothly between both parties individually. In the end, you’ll be able to adapt and get acquainted with the situation. Being honest to the deities you’re working with and asking them for advice is the best way to start, in my opinion. Let them know that you are working —or interested in working with— another deity they’re not very fond of and assure them that it won’t affect your relationship with them. You could also ask them if they are okay with you having new spiritual guidance and how would they feel comfortable proceeding. I think this is a great place to start because if you’re straightforward about it, they are less likely to feel betrayed and most probably will provide you with a solution so you can be certain that harmony will flow in your space and practice.
I hope you’ve found this post highly useful. Did you know about the rivalry between these spirits? Would you like to work with any or all three of them? Do you know any other gods or goddesses that don’t like each other you would want to work with? Let us know in the comments!