Iris: Greek Goddess of the Rainbow & Messages


Iris is technically the Greek goddess of messages, the sky, and the sea, but she is best known for her duties as the goddess of the rainbow.

According to Homer’s Iliad, the Greek goddess Iris served as a messenger for the Olympian deities. Iris was a pleasant goddess who acted as a bridge between the gods and mortals. She served as a messenger from the gods on Olympus and brought news from the summit. Hermes, the new messenger of the gods, eventually took her place while she continued serving nectar to the Olympian gods.

Often depicted with a pitcher, some myths said Iris filled her pitcher with water from the River Styx – a mysterious body of water that serves as a symbolic boundary between our world and the hereafter. Numerous ancient Greeks believed that Iris served as a conduit between Earth and the divine, metaphorically represented by the rainbow.

In some communities, the goddess Iris is still well-known because of her rainbow symbolism. But who is the goddess Iris and how can you work with her?

Today, we’ll get to know more about the Greek goddess Iris, her origin, powers, and how to work with her on a spiritual level.

The Goddess Iris In History & Myth 

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Iris was the daughter of the sea god Thaumas and the Oceanid Electra. Many sources also say that Iris was related to several well-known people, including the Harpies Ocypete, Aello, and Celaeno. Some believe Iris is the sister of Arke, a Titaness who betrayed the Olympian gods and became a messenger goddess for the Titans instead. As a result, Iris and Arke were mortal enemies. Ancient records even claim that Iris is the fraternal twin of Arke.

Iris was married to Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, and the couple had a son, a minor god named Pothos. However, some sources state that their son’s name was Eros.=

The Dual Function of Iris: The Meaning of Her Name

The rainbow’s personification, Iris, was also a messenger from the gods. Since the rainbow appears to bridge the gap between the heavens and the ground, the Ancient Greeks united these two meanings into a single entity they called Iris. As a corollary, it made sense for its soul to act as a conduit between the divine and the human realm.

As expected, the goddess was given the name Iris, which is the Greek word for “rainbow.” Her name lives on in English in words like “iridescent,” which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “displaying hues like those of the rainbow.”

The Role of Iris as a Messenger

It was common practice for Iris to use her pitcher to bring the nectar to the gods and goddesses atop Mount Olympus. These main ancient Greek deities would sometimes ask Iris to convey their messages to other gods or humans. Her speed was so great that she could quickly get from Olympus to Earth or even to Hades.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

The ancient Greeks often ranked Iris as one of their most attractive goddesses. But the ancient Greeks called her “swift-footed,” which implies that she could act quickly in response to demands. She represents messengers and the exchange of information in folklore.

Iris’ Loyalty to Hera

Later poets attempted to split Hermes and Iris’ roles in the pantheon, with Hermes serving as a messenger to Zeus and the other gods while Iris became Hera’s devoted servant.

The Greek polymath Callimachus from the third century BC likens Iris to a hunting hound of Hera. He said that the goddess was ever there on Hera’s throne, ears perked up to hear her commands.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

In Euripides’ “Heracles,” Iris acts on Hera’s behalf by ordering Lyssa, the spirit of frenzy and wild fury, to drive Heracles mad so that he will kill his sons. Iris is also Hera’s messenger in Virgil’s “Aeneid.”

Iris in Greek Mythology

Multiple Greek tales feature Iris, a goddess discovered during the Titanomachy (the conflict between the Titans and the Olympians). She was an early supporter of the Olympians, including Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. During the Titanomachy, her job was to relay messages between Zeus, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes.

Homer frequently alludes to Iris’s appearance during the Trojan War. The most crucial thing she performed was returning a wounded Aphrodite to Olympus following Diomedes.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Iris had minor roles in the lives of several Greek mythological figures, including Heracles. Certain accounts say she witnessed Heracles murder his entire family because of the madness delivered by the goddess Hera.

Before Jason and the Argonauts could save the blind seer Phineus from the Harpies’ wrath, Iris appeared to him. Since the Harpies were her sisters, she begged Jason to spare them, and the Boreads did not kill them but instead drove them away.

Iris’s Appearance:

The goddess Iris often takes the form of a rainbow or a lovely young woman with wings.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Iris’s moods are said to be reflected in her hair color. Her hair is wavy, her eyes are a light purple color, and she wears rainbow earrings. Once upon a time, it was said that this rainbow incarnate connected the clouds to the ground below.

Greek art also often depicts Iris as a beautiful young woman with golden wings and a herald’s rod (kerykeion) or a water pitcher (oinochoe). Sometimes, she would serve nectar from her jug while standing next to Zeus or Hera in the artwork. People often confuse Iris with Hebe since they both serve as the gods’ cupbearers in the artwork.

Iris’s Powers:

Iris is a stunning young goddess whose main power is that of flight. In other accounts, Iris’s bright coat is what she uses to conjure up the rainbows she rides. Mythology says her wings were so brilliant and magnificent that they could illuminate even the deepest cave.

The goddess Iris’s speed is so phenomenal that she can quickly get from Olympus to Earth or even to Hades. The ancient Greeks called her “swift-footed,” which implies that she could act quickly in response to demands.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

To get about, Iris rides rainbows. Whenever a rainbow appears in the sky, it is said to be a portent of her arrival and a connection between the land and the heavens.

Iris has golden wings that allow her to soar to any part of the cosmos, as well as reach the bottom of the deepest waters. She can also travel to the depths of the Underworld much more quickly than any other deity.

How Do You Know If The Goddess Iris Is Calling To You?

The call of Iris, the rainbow goddess, and messenger of the gods, is certainly among those that most of us may be easily aware of. Life can be busy, but if you’ve been witness to several instances of a rainbow’s arrival or a beautiful sky with cotton clouds, pay attention. Iris may be tapping you to work with her.

However, if you want to be sure that you are being called, watch for these indicators.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Iris appears in your dreams.

You may dream about a winged goddess or being showered in vivid light. You may even dream of rainbows. If this happens a lot, the goddess of the rainbow may be reaching out to you.

You see rainbows in unexpected instances.

You’re probably a homebody or someone with a home-based career, so you don’t get out often. Yet in every instance where you walk out for some errands or even just to walk the dog, you see a rainbow. Coincidence? Or is Iris attempting to communicate with you?

You suddenly feel the need to get in touch with people you haven’t spoken to in some time.

This could be a friend from college, a cousin who lives in another state, or a favorite teacher now retired in the south of France. Life became so busy that you all lost touch, but one day you just felt like checking on them. And you’re pleased you did since they are either pleasantly surprised or say they’ve thought of you as well. That may be Iris, the messenger, working and calling you.

You’re interested in psychic messages and keep seeing reminders of psychic messages.

As the goddess of messages, Iris often has much to do with psychic messages. If this is something you’re interested in learning and if you’re seeing signs of this pop up, Iris may be trying to teach you her ways.

Symbols of Iris:

You should be aware of the symbols linked with Iris, the goddess of the rainbow. Knowing these symbols helps as you gradually observe the indications and learn more about her.

Rainbow – This is Iris’s preferred mode of transport

Caduceus – This is a winged staff with two entwined snakes that are frequently mistaken for Asclepius’ rod.

Pitcher – This is the vessel in which she transported the water from the River Styx.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Other symbols linked to the goddess Iris: 

  • Golden wings
  • Clouds
  • Fleur-de-lis
  • Sun/sunlight

The Greek goddess Iris is believed to have helped answer people’s prayers as well as been associated with messages, communication, and new ventures. She either alerted the other gods about their needs or met those needs herself.

How To Work With The Goddess Iris:

Before we go into how to work with the goddess Iris, let’s first learn about the two archetypes that represent her: the servant and the shapeshifter.

The Greek Goddess of the Rainbow was a devoted servant to Hera and the other Olympian Gods. At the same time, the goddess Iris uses her ability to shape-shift to deliver messages. When she does this, she takes on the appearance of the person who sent her the message.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

You should keep in mind, to deal with the Servant Archetype, that you need to look at the masters and petty tyrants that you defer to in your everyday life. Where are you giving up your power and acting the part of the servant?

You should also learn to let go of people or beliefs about yourself that are restricting and no longer serve a purpose for you.

The Shape Shifter, on the other hand, is an advantageous archetype to have if you are required to be adaptable or take on a variety of responsibilities. And this is something that Iris can teach you!

You should also consider your dark side, which poses the question of whether or not your capacity to shift colors like a chameleon displays a profound lack of self-assurance and an unwillingness to pick a course.

Devotional Acts to Iris

Iris is a goddess who has helped answer people’s wishes as well as being associated with messages, communication, and new ventures. She either alerted the other gods about their needs or met those needs herself.

Find a rainbow sun catcher and hang it in a window today to let Iris’s light brighten your home and give you a reason to feel optimistic. Buy a second one to keep you energized all day long, or at least a rainbow-colored car air freshener.

Throw some incense in the fire, maybe some lavender or violet. The combined effects of these two fragrant herbs elevate the energy of this goddess.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Or, perform any of these other devotional acts to Iris. 

  • Decorate your walls with stained glass.
  • Attend a show of fireworks.
  • Create a painting with a wide variety of vivid colors.
  • Try to get a glimpse of the rainbow reflected in the water while you tend to the plants outside.
  • Get some fresh air and take pleasure in the rain.
  • Listen to music that brings about a sense of serenity and revitalization within you.
  • Spend a day at the beach.
  • Go cloud gazing.
  • Decorate your room or workspace with fairy lights; extra points if you can find them in rainbow colors.
  • When someone needs a break, you should offer to run some errands for them.
  • Get yourself a sweet beverage, either hot or cooled.
  • Spend some time in the fresh air doing nothing in particular.
  • Gather the feathers that have an iridescent sheen to them.
  • Send a text message to people you’ve been meaning to get in touch with but keep forgetting about it. 
  • Experiment with a different color of makeup.
  • Give your space (or rooms) a fresh coat of paint.
  • Always treat your interns and assistants with respect!
  • Take a look at the night sky and the stars; there are more colors in just two things than you are ever going to be able to see.
  • When you see a rainbow, be sure to capture it on camera.
  • Wear more glitter and sparkles.
  • Every time you see a rainbow, say thank you to Iris.

Offerings For Iris: 

Iris, the goddess of rainbows and a messenger to the gods, travels between the underworld and the upper world. She appears as a beautiful young woman with wings riding a rainbow that is filled with hope.

In this guise, she is a symbol of the peace that follows a tumultuous time, the conclusion of the happenings of the last year, and the start of something fresh.

Even though Iris is typically portrayed in bas-reliefs and vases, very few sculptures of her have been created throughout history. There are no known sanctuaries or temples dedicated to the goddess Iris.

But there is evidence to imply that the worship of Iris took place in ancient times. Figs, cakes, wheat, and honey are among the traditional items that are presented to Iris as an offering.

  • figs 
  • honey 
  • white cake 
  • milk with cinnamon 
  • peaches 
  • any berries 
  • seeds (you can also toss them around for the birds. Iris will love that)
  • irises
  • prisms
  • stained glass art
  • lavender, myrrh, or frankincense 
  • multicolored candles
  • rainbow agate, rainbow fluorite, or rainbow moonstones

Typically, these offerings to Iris were used when someone needed to transmit a message successfully (literally or psychically).

What Can You Learn From Iris?

The Greek goddess Iris began to lose her status as a messenger goddess after Hermes emerged on the scene. Hermes was ultimately responsible for this decline.

Today, only a small fraction of people are familiar with Iris name. Although she is not the subject of any notable mythology of her own, the goddess Iris is in the stories of a great number of other well-known deities. 

However, in Greece, whenever there is a rainbow in the sky, those who do know Her say that the goddess Iris is moving, wearing her coat of colors and spanning the distance between the sea and the clouds. 

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

The Greeks said that while the goddess Iris was on her journey, she created the rainbow to bring beauty to the world. In the same way, when confronted with challenges in life, we need to keep our eyes peeled for the rainbow and try to look on the bright side of things no matter how dire the circumstances are.

Iris can show you how to make rainbows out of a storm. If you’re feeling that things aren’t going your way, maybe you need to take action (magickally or physically) to change your circumstances. Iris can help you figure out when and how to do this.

Iris was a goddess who served as a messenger. She delivered many different kinds of messages, and you can call on the Greek goddess Iris when you need a message delivered. She may be willing to help you with a spell for psychic messages or can ensure that your message actually gets across to someone else.

Spiritually, Iris can help you tap into the mystical power of the rainbow. As the bridge between the spirit realm of gods and the mortal realm, the rainbow is a mechanism that can metaphorically help you learn how to tap into your spiritual side while remaining grounded in the mortal realm.

Practically, Iris can teach you skills relating to shapeshifting, dream messaging, astral messaging, and weather magic.

My Experience Working With Iris

Winter, calm, safety, air, meditation, promises, and new beginnings are recurring ideas in Iris. Unicorns, rainbows, and the ocean are her talismans. This Greek messenger of the gods travels between worlds as a beautiful young woman riding a gleaming, optimistic rainbow. This incarnation of her symbolizes the quiet that follows the excitement of the previous twelve months’ worth of events and the start of a brand new one.

Iris encourages me to spread joy wherever I go by sharing news of good things to come and holding little (and simple) celebrations to commemorate them. These celebrations can be a few scoops of ice cream, eating my go-to comfort food, watching an episode of my favorite TV series or wearing my favorite colorful pajamas. 

In the event of a difficulty, Iris tells me to be forthright with those around me and not hide the truth. She’s inspired me to communicate with others in a blunt but kind way, delivering a clear message. As someone who used to skirt around the problem, I had a lot of work with Iris regarding my words and how I deliver messages. 

In mythology, when a witness or juror lied under oath, Iris would empty the river water from her pitcher onto their head. Along with spreading joy, truthfulness was another value held dear by the goddess. Big secrets and falsehoods might cloud my life, therefore my friends and family often encourage me to be open and honest with them. 

The Greek goddess Iris helps me find ways to be truthful yet graceful with others. Her messages are always clear yet they are delivered with the beauty of a rainbow. On a very practical level, Iris has encouraged me to think through my words clearly.

Iris, Goddess of the Rainbow

Legend has it that if we throw a drachma (old Greek currency) into the rainbow of Iris, we will be able to converse with anyone, no matter how far away they may be. However, I now only need to pick up my cell phone to enjoy a chat filled with laughter and good cheer.

Despite how hectic my schedule can get, Iris insists that I always find time to connect with others. Simply knowing that someone cares enough to take the time to call and check in can brighten someone’s day, no matter how trivial the gesture may appear. She helps me remain in contact with my loved ones without going overboard.

A phone call or Zoom session with someone we care about—be it a family member, friend, or former teacher—can help us feel better, improve our outlook, and spread joy and happiness. And Iris encourages this communication while teaching me to be truthful and faithful to myself.