Olympian God Hephaestus' Justice Department

Post-life assessment done, human accountability begins with Hephaestus.
Text title Hephaestus
  • Warning the following post contains adult descriptions of volcano threat and judgement.

Summary of Contents: Hephaestus in Mythology | Arrival and Appearance | Queue on the Volcano | Hephaestus' Forge | Value of Gold | Halls of Learning | Pleasure and Sorrow | Hephaestus' Gift

Festival Day - 21 July

Olympian God Hephaestus in Mythology

God Hephaestus is listed as the son of Hera and Zeus. Legends told of how he was born lame and due to his ugliness his mother cast him into the ocean, where he lived for nine years.

When eventually welcomed back into the company of Gods he set up a forge workshop on Olympus. Hephaestus presided over metallurgy; Homer told of how he forged hero Achilles’ awesome armour.

In the Roman pantheon Hephaestus was honoured by the name Vulcan.

Olympian God Hephaestus Mythological references

Goddesses, Gods and You

What kind of Heaven do you expect. Soft fluffy paradise of eternity, or oblivion of nothingness? Out-of-body survival expert Margo Williams discovered a surprisingly simple system of management and afterlife recycling.

There are many goddesses and gods in the community. Speaking their name aloud evidently sends a signal; creates a link to wherever they are at any given moment. If it works for you as it worked for Margo, and they respond, be respectful but be yourself. Honesty and thoughtfulness are appreciated.

Sacrifice nothing but your time. Most of them seemed approachable and appreciated being remembered.

The ancient temples that still can be found in some places, although mostly broken, are huge monumental structures; impressive sacred spaces, their scale designed to impress, to be worthy of divine visitation.

However, it is not the size and splendour of any sacred space but the sincerity of the person seeking contact.

Photo image of Margo Williams in Africa
Margo Williams in Africa
"Are the legends of Hephaestus accurate?" Nick Hammond asked out-of-body survivalist Margo Williams.

Hephaestus' Arrival and Appearance

"All of that mythology may be true of Hephaestus, except the limp and the ugliness, but I didn’t have the courage to ask. Hephaestus is a ferocious God.

A shaft of white light pierced the air. Fire, smoke and shadow formed a swirling outline of a towering figure.

"The wine and incense are acceptable. Your words also," he said. "You speak well. I hope you are brave enough to come with me."

The smoke and fire cloud formed into a hard-faced dark-eyed, bearded male. A big god, greying brown hair curly to his shoulders.

He wore a grubby tunic that once might have been white. In Hephaestus' massive fist, a long thick metal rod with a T bar at the end. He jabbed it at me "You, who has climbed mountains can climb this one."

Queue on the Volcano

I arrived deposited at the foot of a volcano, its high summit loomed dark and dangerous above. Hephaestus had hold of my wrist and stomped up the mountainside.

Dragged me, carelessly it seemed for I banged into, over and between every rock on that long, hard painful ascent.

Most of the skin from my knees and elbows scraped away, my free hand reddened. I felt breathless, bruised and frightened as we approached the top. Close to the summit Hephaestus gave a last strong tug that carried me to the precipice edge.

"Now you can rest."

I sank to the ground, mindful of the drop. Stared down into a lava-fire filled crater. Air deadly hot with ash, every breath suffocated and burned.

"You have every right to feel trepidation." Hephaestus’ voice cut through the terrifying noise.

The air shimmered up from the lake of bubbling fire, it smelled pungent and deadly. I was not alone. Three frightened men sat close to the lip edge, helpless as spider prey.

The eldest-looking African; the other two Caucasian and only slightly younger; twenty-somethings. They looked surprised to see me, as I was to see them. Until sight of Hephaestus caused wide eyes and uncontrollable shaking down the line.

Hephaestus waved the flat T-bar rod at the queue and explained the situation. "Between them these young men took life seven times."

The youngest sat next to me. I grabbed his arm to hold on to him. Hephaestus hacked the rod sharp down onto my hand. In pain shock, instinctively I let go.

"Do you dare stand in the way of a God?"

I felt it sharp in my back.

"Your kindness could get you into trouble," he said low and threatening.

I feared what I expected to happen next.

"But I am pleased," he said at last. "Now stand!" He pointed the rod down the hillside. "Run! Run as fast as you can."

Hephaestus' Forge

Homer said Hephaestus' forge was located somewhere on Mount Olympus and maybe that is true, but I cannot confirm it.

Most times he took me there directly following the volcano run though, on rare occasion I approached it from outside, I saw extensive forest.

A large building open on one side, hard earth for floor. In the centre stood a huge furnace with a metal surround and grid on top. Blacksmith tools lay arranged on benches beside the furnace: pincers; enormous hammers and rows of huge irons.

Hephaestus worked at an anvil close beside the furnace. In profile he looked sharp-featured. The grubby white short-sleeved tunic now was protected by a leather apron.

He hammered. Clang! a pounding sound of metal violence; the concussion sent big showers of sparks that somehow fell on me wherever I tried to hide.

Mostly the sparks plumed up and fanned out like a volcano. Clang! Some flared into fiery winged creatures big as dragonflies, with teeth. I tried to swat one away but not before its bite burned me.

Hephaestus worked fast, Clang! Clang-Bang! Clang-Bang!

Storytellers mostly were not kind to Hephaestus. One told of how, in exchange for releasing his mother, Hera, from an ingenious-and-impossible-for-anyone-else-to-open golden throne trap, Hephaestus was granted Aphrodite as his bride.

One version of the story gossiped of her infidelity to him, with Ares, but I don’t know about that either because none of them ever commented on it.

If Hephaestus genuinely did share that with a mortal, in confidence, only a fool would repeat it or work it into a story to entertain the world.

Fire and burning metal were always close in the forge. Smoke and sparks filled its space almost as noxiously as in Hades’ great chamber in the Underworld. And it too was busy with people. I counted five men and three women.

Value of Gold in the Afterlife

A trio of heavy-muscled greasy-haired brutes, each nine or maybe ten feet tall, worked with Hephaestus that day. One stirred a vat filled with what looked like molten gold, nearby stood a row of stone moulds 10 inches high or so.

The heat-slickened helper stirring the gold seemed irritated by my presence and by my question. His smooth figure-of-eight ladling turned into a flattened circle. "Never be greedy," he replied, irritably. "Greedy for gold."

Hephaestus was busy near the furnace, hammering on a rounded red-hot piece of metal shaped like a collar.

"Lord of the Underworld," Hephaestus said without looking up. After the fitting was complete and a chain attached, he told me why that man was assigned to Hades. But not how he knew of the new-wearer's four separate cruelties to children.

A thin white woman next was ushered to the furnace-side, aged I guessed in her sixties. She looked terrified.

Halls of Learning

"Listen," Hephaestus glared down at me, "and listen well. You are going to decide where this woman goes. This is your task."

He gestured. "She married a drunkard; every night he came home the worse for drink and beat her. She suffered for years."

"Once she tried to run away, he caught her and locked her up for a week. Then he suffered what you mortals call a stroke. He was paralysed down one side and she had to care for him. She did not."

The woman followed the conversation, eyes closed.

"She would leave him in his own filth. She did not feed him regularly and through her lack of care, he died. She lived on for some years, in peace."

He stared hard at me. "There are three places this woman can go. Is she a m.......s?"

I did not want to make a decision. I just wanted to hug her.

"Do you send her to the D......r?" he asked.

The frightened woman looked up at me.

"Do you send her to the Lord of the Underworld?" He paused. "Or do you send her to the Halls of Learning where she will have to stay for some time? The choice is yours. I, the great and mighty Hephaestus, will not take 'No' for an answer."

I gave my answer, no hesitation. "That’s where she should go."

Hephaestus nodded to the assistant, the woman was led away. Then he turned to me. "If you had said the D......r, you would have followed."

Place of Pleasure and Sorrow

Mostly, that was what I experienced in Hephaestus’ forge. There seemed no evidence to support the legends of his genius craftsmanship in the creation of objects of beauty.

"There will be no volcano tonight," Hephaestus announced.

He looked different when next he arrived: tidy, his beard cut close and well-groomed. Surprisingly, he looked slightly younger, too and that night wore a spotless white robe; no apron.

It was quiet in the forge, not so hot. A single helper worked alone at the anvil by the furnace, hammering at something.

"I shall not put you through any tests. So be calm," he said. "There is no need to fear. I work on other things besides branding evil-doers."

He motioned me to sit on a small three-legged wooden stool; a partition shielded it from the furnace heat. "I do much useful work here. This forge can be a place of pleasure as well as sorrow."

That was the only occasion Hephaestus ever alluded to any of his other work. On a nearby bench lay a thick linked chain. He took an axe and chopped through one of the links; then handed me a knife. "You break a link."

I tried to cut through, sawed at the link, ineffectually. He brought the huge axe down, missed my fingers by a fraction of an inch, and cut it in two. "Try again," he gestured.

I couldn’t even scratch the metal with several attempts. His axe came down again and again to sever where I could not.

"Why can’t you break a link?"

Hephaestus' Gift

I said, "Mighty one I think it is impossible with this knife."

He handed me the axe. Its dead weight carried it to the floor from my fingers. I couldn’t lift it.

He picked up the knife and with just a single stroke cut through a link. He held it up to show how easy it was. "I am not really a cruel God," he continued. "Yes, many are sent to me for punishment, they suffer, you have seen this. And you have felt some."

The helper put down the hammer, then left the forge. It was strangely quiet in there with only the two of us.

"My tests are hard, I know you fear them and so you should. But this will not always be so." He reached down to the ground for something. "I am in a kindly mood, as today we are having much merriment at this great festival."

"Although you are not a goddess, I give you this."

He turned to me and grinned. In his huge hand he held a bunch of tiny yellow flowers.

Thank you for your company on this short introduction to god Hephaestus. If you would like to know more about Margo Williams' experiences and suggestions for how to survive in the hereafter, read this book. Now available from Amazon.

Book cover link to purchase Olympian Goddesses and Gods Consequence
Olympian Goddesses and Gods Consequence. Now available from Amazon.co.uk