Last summer when I visited Bozeman for the first in a long time, I noticed how many rainbows appeared in the sky. At home, seeing a rainbow is a relatively rare occurrence. But it seems that in the Gallatin Valley, the mountains blocking clouds result in the short rainstorms that tend to produce rainbows. As with at home, they tend to appear in the North.
So because of this I’ve come to associate Iris, the Greek goddess of rainbows (that’s what her name literally means) with Bozeman. She is a messenger of the Olympians, and come down to Earth on her rainbow. Perhaps the Greeks believed that whenever a rainbow was sighted she was on one of her errands. One book I read said that she was in particular the messenger of Hera, whereas Hermes was a messenger of the Olympians in general, and Zeus in particular. Certainly though, she is an older divinity than Hermes, and the rest of the Olympians. Iris is the daughter of the sea god Thaumas and Elektra the ocean nymph. Like her sisters the Harpies, she is depicted as winged. That’s about all the information about her that’s available, but I often wonder if in modern times, we might be able to learn more about the lesser known deities through our experiences with them.
In Norse mythology, the Aesir are believed to travel to Midgard, the Earth on Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. So from both these sources we can see that the ancients as rainbows as symbolizing a connection between Earth & Sky, our world and the divine one. So whenever I see a rainbow, I’m reminded that the Gods are closer than we think.
Dear readers, if you have any thoughts or experiences about Iris or rainbows in other spiritual contexts, please share in the comments below and link to a post if you have one.