Cardea is known through Greek and Roman mythology as the ‘Goddess of the Hinge’ who protects the family, particularly the children, by keeping evil spirits from crossing the thresholds of their homes.
Her name comes from the Latin word cardo, which means hinge, pole, axis, or juncture. The word cardo shares the same root as the word cardiology, meaning ‘connected to the heart’ or the center. She encompasses the broader symbolism as the pole or axis of the spinning earth.
Cardea is closely associated with the ancient Roman God Janus, the God of beginnings and endings, who was also known to watch over doorways. Janus is depicted as having two faces which, like a door, allowed him to see both past and future, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. Our month of January is named for him as it marks the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
According to legend, Janus was so enamored of Cardea that as a token of his affection, he gave her the hinge as her emblem, and the power to control them. With this, she could keep the doors and windows shut tight to prevent evil spirits and witches from passing through. While hinges may seem insignificant, having control of them provided Cardea with great power that she used for good. Because of her gift, Cardea was revered as the protector of children.
Together, Janus and Cardea are often spoken of as ‘Dieties of the Home’, guarding doors and boundaries, and ultimately protecting the domicile and family within.