Achelois (pronounced “A-khe-LO-ees”) was a minor Greek goddess from ancient times. She was one of the deities, many of them female, identified with the moon and its monthly cycle. Achelois has been translated in English as “she who washes away pain”, and she was often looked to by the ancient Greeks as a source of comfort and healing.
Achelois was associated with the oracle at Dodona, located in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece. The Dodonian Oracle is widely believed to be one of the oldest Hellenic (Greek) oracles. Oracles acted as intermediaries between people and gods, and were viewed by many as the means by which the gods could speak directly with humans. Homer, famous for writing the Iliad and the Odyssey, chronicled the Dodonian Oracle which dates back as far as 2,000 BCE.
While the Dodonian Oracle was known for its association with major Greek deities, including Zeus, the king of the gods on Mt. Olympus, the oracle also frequently directed that sacrifices should be made to Achelois. These sacrifices were meant to act as a request for her assistance in curing illness.
In order to receive word from the gods, such as an order to make sacrifice to Achelois, a priest or priestess at the Dodonian Oracle might listen to the rustling of oak leaves, or the chiming sounds of bronze pieces hung from tree branches, similar to the wind chimes we know today
According to Greek poet Tzetzes, Achelois was one of the Muses, a group of goddesses dedicated to inspiring literature, science and the arts. Alternatively, she is said to be the daughter of Asclepius, god of medicine, and Epione, goddess of the soothing of pain
Achelois is also thought to be the surname, or family name, of the Sirens, daughters of the river god Achelous. The Sirens famously lured sailors toward the rocky coastline, leading to many shipwrecks
Achelois further serves as a general name for water nymphs, minor female nature deities
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