A to Z Challenge Folklore

Experiments Galore: Hephaestus #folklore #AtoZChallenge

X is for eXperiments

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

If you’d rather check out my book review for today, go here.

Learn more about the challenge here.

I first took notice of Hephaestus in the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan.

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Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology edited by William Smith [1849]

Hephaestus is the god of fire, especially in so far as it manifests itself as a power of physical nature in volcanic districts, and in so far as it is the indispensable means in arts and manufactures, whence fire is called the breath of Hephaestus, and the name of the god is used both by Greek and Roman poets as synonymous with fire. As a flame arises out of a little spark, so the god of fire was delicate and weakly from his birth, for which reason he was so much disliked by his mother, that she wished to get rid of him, and dropped him from Olympus. But the marine divinities, Thetis and Eurynome, received him, and he dwelt with them for nine years in a grotto, surrounded by Oceanus, making for them a variety of ornaments. (Hom. Il. xviii. 394, &c.) It was, according to some accounts, during this period that he made the golden chair by which he punished his mother for her want of affection, and from which he would not release her, till he was prevailed upon by Dionysus. (Paus. i. 20. § 2; Hygin. Fab. 166.)

Although Hephaestus afterwards remembered the cruelty of his mother, yet he was always kind and obedient towards her, nay once, while she was quarrelling with Zeus, he took her part, and thereby offended his father so much, that he seized him by the leg, and hulled him down from Olympus. Hephaestus was a whole day falling, but in the evening he came down in the island of Lemnos, where he was kindly received by the Sintians. (Hom. Il. i. 590, &c. Val. Flacc. ii. 8.5; Apollod. i. 3. § 5, who, however, confounds the two occasions on which Hephaestus was thrown from Olympus.) Later writers describe his lameness as the consequence of his second fall, while Homer makes him lame and weak from his birth.

After his second fall he returned to Olympus, and subsequently acted the part of mediator between his parents. (Il i. 585.) On that occasion he offered a cup of nectar to his mother and the other gods, who burst out into immoderate laughter on seeing him busily hobbling through Olympus from one god to another, for he was ugly and slow, and, owing to the weakness of his legs, he was held up, when he walked, by artificial supports, skilfully made of gold. (Il. xviii. 410, &c., Od. viii. 311, 330.) His neck and chest, however, were strong and muscular. (Il. xviii. 415, xx. 36.)

In Olympus, Hephaestus had his own palace, imperishable and shining like stars: it contained his workshop, with the anvil, and twenty bellows, which worked spontaneously at his bidding. (Il. xviii. 370, &c.) It was there that he made all his beautiful and marvellous works, utensils, and arms, both for gods and men. The ancient poets and mythographers abound in passages describing works of exquisite workmanship which had been manufactured by Hephaestus. In later accounts, the Cyclopes, Brontes, Steropes, Pyracmon, and others, are his workmen and servants, and his workshop is no longer represented as in Olympus, but in the interior of some volcanic isle. (Virg. Aen. viii. 416, &c.)

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The Magic of the Horse-Shoe by Robert Means Lawrence [1898]

Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, the Hephaestus of Grecian mythology, was also the patron of blacksmiths and workers in metals. He was the great artisan of the universe, and at his workshop in Olympus he fashioned armor for the warriors of the heroic age. On earth volcanoes were his forges, and his favorite residence was the island of Lemnos in the AEgean Sea. Beneath AEtna, with the aid of those famed artisans, the Cyclops, he forged the thunderbolts of Jove; and there also, according to tradition, were made the trident of Neptune, Pluto’s helmet, and the shield of Hercules. Hephaestus was thus a controller and master of fire.

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Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi

The ancient mythos of the Lame God was preserved in the Greek mythology where we find the god Vulcan/Hephaestus thrown from Mount Olympus by his father. Vulcan suffered a broken leg that never completely healed, and he was known as the Lamed One. Vulcan, of course, was the god of fire and the forge, symbols of the blacksmith. The Lame God figure also appears in northern Europe in the tale of Wayland Smith.

*More can be read in the book.

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Enchantment of the Faerie Realm by Ted Andrews

Hephaestus/Vulcan (Greco-Roman) – god of fire and metalworking.

*More can be read in the book.

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The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes


Hephaestus is the Greek sacred smith. Like Brigid, he is a fire spirit, in his case Lord of the Forge’s Eternal Flame. Hephaestus’ own forge was believed located within Mt Aetna. (The Romans identified the Sicilian spirit Vulcan with Hephaestus; however, Vulcan was specifically the spirit of Mt Aetna, the volcano, rather than a sacred smith.)

Hephaestus was unique for a Greek god, who are typically described as perfect physical specimens. Hephaestus was described as misshapen and ugly. Some stories suggest that his mother, Hera, was so appalled when she saw her deformed child that she flung him from Mt Olympus; another version of the story suggests that it was Zeus who did the flinging, enraged when Hephaestus sided with his mother during a quarrel.

Like a fallen angel, Hephaestus fell for nine days and nights, landing in the sea where beautiful water spirits rescued and raised him, teaching him the art of smithcraft.

His first projects involved creating beautiful jewelled ornaments for these mermaids. He eventually constructed a palace and forge under a volcano on the island of Lemnos. Eventually, the gods discovered what marvelous, magical crafts Hephaestus could create and subsequently welcomed him back to Olympus.

Hephaestus was usually depicted as a large, lame, bearded man bent over his anvil. He walks with the shaman’s limp. Homer described him as walking with a stick or cane. According to another myth, Hephaestus was unable to walk unassisted so he created the first robots: a pair of incredibly beautiful, naked, life-size mechanized women crafted from gold. One walked on either side of him.

The agora (marketplace) of Athens was dominated by the Hephaistheum: a temple dedicated to Hephaestus and Athena. Snakes are Hephaestus’ sacred animals.

*More can be read in the book.

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Further Reading:

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Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

Hephaestus is the Greek god of fire, but he is also a blacksmith and craftsman. He is associated with volcanoes, metalworking and more. He made the winged helmet and sandals for Hermes, the armour for Achilles, the Aegis that Athena usually carries around, and some fine traps for gods – such as the net he caught Ares and Aphrodite in – among other things. Except for in the Iliad, he is married to Aphrodite – according to Homer he is married to Charis, the youngest of the Graces or Charities. Homer probably wanted Hephaestus to have a faithful, kind wife. According to Homer, he also built automatons, especially the handmaidens made of gold that assisted him while walking (which he later replaced with mechanical legs), and some guard dogs of gold and silver that would never age.

According to most myths, he was born lame and thrown from Olympus by Hera who wanted a perfect son. This, of course, caused more damage. The Nereid Thetis – Achilles’ mother – raised him. He was thrown a second time from the sky by Zeus when he interceded for Hera during an argument his parents were having. It took Dionysus making him drunk to get him to return to Olympus.

Hephaestus is usually depicted as a burly man, in a simple sleeveless tunic, with the tools of his trade with him: an anvil, hammers, tongs, bellows and more. His workshop was first atop Mount Olympus, but in later myths his workshop is beneath a volcano and he also has an entourage of giant Cyclopes who work with him.

Despite his great gift of being able to craft anything, the other Olympians unjustly rejected him because of his disability – including his wife, Aphrodite. Perhaps it’s best for him to be married to Charis, instead. At least in those myths, he has plenty of offspring.

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Hephaestus in Modern Culture

Disney’s Hercules

Hephaestus is the Olympian God of the forge. As the God of the forge, he can create almost any weapon imaginable; he is also the creator of Zeus‘ thunderbolts.

Learn more here
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Percy Jackson book series by Rick Riordan

Hephaestus is the god of forges, fire, technology, craftsmen, sculptors, volcanoes, and blacksmiths. He is a son of Hera. His Roman counterpart is Vulcan.

The Lost Hero

Hephaestus appears in the dream of one of his son’s, Leo Valdez, using an old dream radio, and talks to him, (with bits of Wheel of Fortune cutting in) giving information about why Olympus was closed down and the Giants being the sons of Gaea and Tartarus. He is shown to view Percy as an ingrate for refusing immortality. He transports Festus‘ head back to Bunker 9 when Leo crashes him, surprising his friends with an act of kindness when he deigns to be “unsilent” and help Leo.

Learn more here
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Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV series

Hephaestus, the God of the Forge, is the son of Hera. Hera banished Hephaestus from Olympus because he is disfigured or scarred on the left side of his face and for being disappointed in him. However, Hephaestus was still the craftsman of the Gods. He designed and built many unbeatable weapons for the Gods and their heroes.

Hephaestus met Hercules during Young Hercules. Hercules helped him get back on his feet after being thrown out of Olympus and Hephaestus helped him out of a few situations.

Learn more here
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Hephaestus in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Hephaestus

Hephaestus is the Greek god of fire, volcanoes and craftsmanship. He can make anything – and experiments a lot. He got divorced from Aphrodite a long time ago and married the youngest of the Graces and is quite happy. Despite the way his family treats him because of his disability, he still loves them and makes some trinkets for them from time-to-time. He prefers living beneath a volcano that shall not be named with his wife and Cyclopes – and any apprentices brave and strong enough to entreat him.

See him in action:

Origin of Irascible Immortals (Origin of the Fae #7)

What do you think of Hephaestus? Where did you hear about Hephaestus for the first time? Any folklore about Hephaestus you’d like to share? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.

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