A SMALL DICTIONARY OF PAGAN GODS AND GODDESSES
by D.W. Owens
Copyright 1994. This work may be reproduced without permission, in its entirety and without alteration, together with the other four parts which make up the entire work, for free distribution. For any other distribution, please contact the author.
Contents / Foreword / AFRICA / AZTEC / CELTIC
CHINA / EGYPT / GREECE
GREECE (Continued) / JAPAN / MESOPOTAMIA / NORSE
NORSE (Continued) / NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN / OCEANIA (PACIFIC ISLANDS AND AUSTRALIA)
ROME / SANTERIA / SLAVIC / SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN INDIAN
Some time ago, for no particular reason, I started spending odd moments in the public library browsing through reference works about ancient religion. I started taking notes, more or less at random, about the gods and gradually accumulated information about some 330 pagan gods and goddessess. Not wanting all that work to go to waste, and not knowing what else to do with the information, I decided to make a small dictionary and place it on several bulletin board systems, in hopes that others will find this little work interesting and useful.
There is no pretense of original or exhaustive research here. The information is drawn from popular books and standard reference works such as can be found in any library. There have been many thousands of pagan deities, of course, and a truly complete listing of them is probably impossible. This little listing of only a a few hundred gods does not pretend to be any more than a random sampling of the riches of the pagan religious genius. Many will disagree with my choices -- why this god and not that one? Why was this pantheon ignored altogether? The answer is that the choices are almost completely arbitrary, being those gods I thought important or interesting enough to make a note of. I remind the reader that this is a little piece done in spare moments, and not a major scholarly work.
One caveat. Sources sometimes disagree with each other, and the pagan pantheons were quite fluid, changing all the time. One god would split into several, or several gods would merge into one, and often one god was considered an aspect or form of another god. The pagans borrowed deities from each other quite freely, and the various cults went in and out of fashion much the same way that rock groups go in and out of fashion in our own day. With that explanation (or excuse), I accept all blame for any truly glaring errors.
ANANASI (Various tribes) The spider. A trickster. A creator god. Something
of a scoundrel, but quite well liked. Many amusing and fanciful stories are
told of him.
ANYIEWO (Ewe) The Great Serpent who comes out to graze after the rain. The
rainbow is his reflection.
BUKU (Various West African peoples) A sky god sometimes worshipped as a
goddess. Buku created everything, even the other gods.
DANH also DAN AYIDO HWEDO (Dahomey) Snake god. The Haitians know him as
Dan Petro. The Rainbow Snake who encircles the world, Danh is often protrayed
with his tail in his mouth as a symbol of unity and wholeness.
DXUI (Bushman; to the Hottentots, TSUI; to the Xhosa and Ponda, THIXO) A
creator god. In the beginning, Dxui took the form of a different flower or
plant every day, becoming himself at night, until he had created all the
plants and flowers that exist.
ESHU (Yoruba) A trickster. A shape-shifter, Eshu can change his form at
will, and can even seem to be both huge and small at the same time. Eshu
confuses men and drives them to madness. But Eshu also knows all human
tongues and acts as a go-between for mortals and the gods.
GUNAB (Hottentot) The enemy of Tsui-Goab, Gunab lived under a pile of
stones. Gunab kept overpowering Tsui-Goab, but the god grew stronger after
each battle. Because he killed so many, Gunab is sometimes identified with
death. Creator of the rainbow.
GUA (Ga tribe of West Africa) God of thunder, blacksmiths and farmers.
Gua's temples are often found at blacksmith's forges.
KIBUKA (Baganda) A war god sent to save the Baganda people. The king of the
Baganda asked heaven for assistance in war, and Kibuka was sent to aid them.
Warned not to have anything to do with the enemy's women, Kibuka neverthelessm
made love to a woman prisoner. Unwisely, Kibuka confided in her, and after
escaping she told the enemy how Kibuka could be killed, by firing arrows into
the cloud where he was hiding. Kibuka flew off to a tall tree to die, and a
temple was built at the place where his body was found.
LEZA (Central Africa) "The One Who Besets." Known to a number of peoples,
Leza is the Supreme God who rules the sky and send wind and rain. Leza sits
on the backs of all people, and no one ever breaks free of him. Leza is said
to be growing old and so does not hear prayers as well as he once did.
MAWU-LISA (Ewe) The great god and goddess of the sun and moon. Lisa is the
sun and Mawu is the moon.
MULUNGU (East Africa) God, the Supreme Being.
The concept of a supreme being and creator is nearly universal in Africa,
although there are few temples to him. The titles which Africans have given
God are wondrous in their variety. A few of these are: Creator, Moulder,
Giver of Rain and Sunshine, he Who Brings the Seasons, He Who Thunders,
Ancient of Days, the First, the Limitless, the One Who Bends Even Kings, the
One You Meeet Everywhere, the Firelighter, Great Mother, Greatest of Friends,
the Kindly One, the Providence Who Watches All Like the Sun, the Great Pool
Contemporary of Everything, the Great Spider, the One Beyond All Thanks, the
Bow in the Sky, the Angry One, the Inexplicable.
NANAN-BOUCLOU (Ewe) The original god of the Ewe tribe, both male and female,
Nanan-Bouclou is much too remote for worship. In Haiti Nanan-Bouclou is
remembered as the god of herbs and medicines.
'NGAI (Masai) Creator god. At birth, 'Ngai gives each man a guardian spirit
to ward off danger and carry him away at the moment of death. The evil are
carried off to a desert, while the good go to a land of rich pastures and many
NYAME (Ashanti) Supreme God of Heaven, both the sun god and the moon
goddess. Nyame created the three realms, the sky, the earth and the
underworld. Before being born, souls are taken to Nyame and washed in a
golden bath, Nyame gives the soul its destiny and places some of the water of
life in the soul's mouth. The soul is then fit to be born.
NYASAYE (Maragoli, Kenya) Cheif god of the Maragoli. Spirits aid Maragoli's
work, and they are represented by round stones circling a pole which
represents the god.
NZAME (Fan people of the Congo) A vague and shadowy god whose likeness can't
be captured in wood, stone or metal. Nzame lived on earth with his three
sons, Whiteman, Blackman and Gorilla. Blackman, Gorilla and all their kinfolk
sinned against Nzame, and so Nzame took all his wealth and went to live with
his son Whiteman in the west. Gorilla and his kin went to live in the jungle.
Without he wealth, power and knowledge of Nzame, Blackman and his kin live a
hard life of poverty and ignorance, ever dreaming of the western land where
dwells Nzame and his favored son, Whiteman.
SAGBATA (Dahomey; to the Yoruba, SHAGPONA) God of smallpox. Sagbata's
shrines were painted with a design of small spots. Sagbata's priests fought
small pox with both prayers and medical knowledge, and wielded great power
over the people because they had learned how to use dried scabs both to
immunize themselves against the disease and to spread it. Smallpox was
considered a great disgrace and its victims were ostracized.
TANO (Ashanti) The second oldest son of God, and god of the river of the
same name. The gods of the other rivers and families in the same region are
all his family. Long ago Tano lost a singing match with Death. Tano and
Death sang defiance to each other for over a month, but neither could win so
they had to compromise. When someone is injured or falls ill, whichever god
arrives first will claim him. If Tano arrives first, the person will live,
but if Death arrives first the patient is lost.
TSUI' GOAB (Hottentots) "Wounded Knee," "Father of Our Fathers." A rain
god who lives in the clouds, a great chief and magician. Tsui' Goab made the
first man and woman from rocks. Several times Tsui' Goab died and rose again,
to great joy and feasting. Men invoke Tsui' Goab with the first rays of dawn
and give oaths in his name.
UNKULUNKULU (Zulu) "Old, Old One." Unkulunkulu was both the first man and
the creator, a god of the earth who had no traffic with the heavens.
Unkulunkulu showed men how to live together and gave them knowledge of the
world in which they lived.
YO (Dahomey) A trickster, neither god nor human. Yo's greed constantly gets
him in trouble. Mawu created him for no good reason. Yo is everywhere. You
can't kill him, you can't eat him, you can't get rid of him at all. Yo is the
only one of his kind. One is enough.
CHALCHIHUITLCUE Lady Precious Green, wife of Tlaloc. Goddess of storms and
water. Personification of youthful beauty, vitality and violence. In some
illustrations she is shown holding the head of Tlazolteotl, the goddess of the
witches, between her legs. Chalchihuitlcue is the whirlpool, the wind on the
waters, all young and growing things, the beginning of life and creation.
COATLICUE Earth monster. In the darkness and chaos before the Creation, the
female Earth Monster swam in the waters of the earth devouring all that she
saw. Wehn the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca decided to impose form upon
the Earth, they changed themselves into serpents and struggled with the Earth
Monster until they broke her in two. Coatlicue's lower part then rose to form
the heavens and her upper part descended to form the earth. Coatlicue has an
endless, ravenous appetite for human hearts and will not bear fruit unless
given human blood.
CINTEOTL The corn god, the giver of food, god of fertility and regeneration.
Cinteotl is protected by the rain gods Tlaloc and Chalchihuitlcue.
EUEUCOYOTL The Old, Old Coyote. Associated with gaiety and sex. A god of
spontaneity, of ostentatious ornament, of unexpected pleasure and sorrow. A
trickster and troublemaker. Considered unlucky.
HUITZILOPOCHTLI God of war, son of Coatlicue. Principal god of the Aztecs.
When Coatlicue became pregnant with Huitzilopochtli, her daughter Coyolxauhqui
incited her brothers, the Centzon Huitznahua (the Four Hundred Stars) to
destroy Coatlicue, because her pregnancy brought disgrace on the family.
Still in the womb, Huitzilopochtli swore to defend his mother and immediately
on being born put on battle armor and war paint. After defeating the Four
Hundred Stars, Huitzilopochtli slew his sister and cast her down the hill at
Templo Mayor where her body broke to pieces on striking the bottom. Priests
at Templo Mayor killed prisoners in the same way, these sacrifices being
replicas of mythical events designed to keep the daily battle between day and
night and the birth of the God of War ever in the minds of the people. Often
considered synonomous with QUETZALCOATL.
ITZCOLIUHQUI The Twisted Obsidian One, the God of the Curved Obsidian Blade.
God of darkness and destruction. Blinded and cast down from the heavens,
Itzcoliuhqui strikes out randomly at his victims.
ITZPAPALOTL Obsidian Butterfly. Beautiful, demonic, armed with the claws of
a jaguar. The female counterpart of Itzcoliuhqui.
MICTLAN Below the world of living men there are nine underworlds, the lowest
of which is Mictlan, the Land of the Dead ruled by Mictlantechupi and his
consort Mictlancihuntl. Souls who win no merit in life come here after death,
but they do not suffer as in the Christian hell. Instead they merely endure a
rather drab and colorless existence before passing again into the world of the
living. As a man disappears into the West, the direction of the dead, the
seeds of his rebirth are sown.
OMETEOTL "God of the Near and Close," "He Who Is at the Center," the god
above all, the being both male and female who created all life and existence.
Ometeotl is dualistic, embodying both male and female, light and dark,
positive and negative, yes and no. Ometoetol occupies Omeyocan, the highest
of the Aztecs' thirteen heavens, and the four heavens immediately below
Omeyocan are a mystery about which no one knows very much. Below the five
highest heavens is a region of strife and tempest, where Ometeotl breaks into
his many facets or aspects.
QUETZALCOATL The Feathered Serpent. The Precious Twin who lifts the sun out
of darkness, god of the winds and the breath of life, First Lord of the
Toltecs. Lawgiver, civilizer, creator of the calender. Demons tempted
Quetzalcoatl constantly to commit murder and human sacrifice, but his love was
too great for him to succumb. To atone for great sins, Quetzcoatl threw
himself on into a funeral pyre, where his ashes rose to the heavens as a flock
of birds carrying his heart to the star Venus. A frieze in the palace at
Teotihuacan shows his first entry into the world in the shape of a chrysalis,
from which he struggles to emerge as a butterfly, the symbol of perfection.
Quetzalcoatl is by far the most compassionate of the Azec gods -- he only
demands one human sacrifice a year. Often considered synonomous with
TEZCATLIPOCA The Prince of This World, the Mirror that Smokes, the One Always
at the Shoulder, the Shadow. A trickster, revered particularly by soldiers
and magicians. The name refers to the black obsidian mirrors used by
magicians which become cloudy when scrying. A god of wealth and power,
Tezcatlopoca's favors can only be won by those willing to face his terrors.
Ruler over the early years of a man's life.
TLALOC Lord of all sources of water, clouds, rain, lightening, mountain
springs, and weather.
TLALOCAN Kingdom of Tlaloc, a heaven of sensual delights, of rainbows,
butterflies and flowers, of simple-minded and shallow pleasures. Souls spend
only four years here before returning to the land of the living. Unless it
strives for higher and nobler things while living, a soul is destined for this
endless round of mortal life and Tlalocan. When a life had been particularly
evil, a soul might journey instead to Mictlan.
TLILLAN-TLAPALLAN The land of the fleshless. The Land of the Black and Red,
the colors signifying wisdom. A paradise for those who successfully follow
the teachings of Quetzalcoatl. Those souls who come to Tlillan-Tlapallan have
learned to live without fleshly bodies, a state greatly to be desired.
TLAZOLTEOTL Eater of filth, devourer of sins, goddess of witches and
witchcraft. Tlazolteotl has power over all forms of unclean behavior, usually
sexual. Confessing sins to Tlazolteotl, one is cleansed. The goddess has
four forms or aspects, corresponding to the phases of the moon: a young and
carefree temptress, the lover of Quetzalcoatl; the Goddess of gambling and
uncertainty; the Great Priestess who consumes and destroys the sins of
mankind; and frightful old crone, persecutor and destroyer of youth.
TONATIUH God of the Sun. Poor and ill, Tonatiuh cast himself into the
flames, and being burnt up, was resurrected. Daily Tonatiuh repeats his
passage across the heavens, down into darkness, and back again into the sky.
With him Tonatiuh carries all brave warriors who have died in battle and all
brave women who have died in childbirth. The greatest heroes Tonatiuh carries
with him to the greatest heights. In Tonatiuhican, the House of the Sun,
dwell those who have won even greater enlightenment than those who dwell in
XIPE TOTEC Lord of the Spring, god of newly planted seed and of pentitential
torture. A pockmarked saviour who tears out his eyes and flays himself in
penance to the gods, thus persuading the gods to give maize to men. Giving up
his pockmarked skin, Xipe Totec is then clad in robes of gold.
XIUHTECUHTLI Lord of fire, Lord of the Pole Star, pivot of the universe, one
of the forms of the Supreme Deity. The lord of every flame, from those which
burn in the temples to those which burn in the lowliest huts.
XOLOTL The god with backward feet who brought Man as well as Fire from the
underworlds. Bringer of misfortune. The evil aspect of the star Venus.
Quetzalcoatl's deformed twin.
ANGUS OF THE BRUGH Also OENGUS OF THE BRUIG God of youth, son of the Dagda.
In Ireland, Angus is the counterpart of Cupid. Angus' kisses turn into
singing birds, and the music he plays irresistably draws all who hear.
ARIANRHOD "Silver Wheel," "High Fruitful Mother." One of the Three Virgins
of Britain, her palace is Caer Arianrhod, the Celtic name for the Aurora
BADB A goddess of war. One of a triad of war goddesses known collectively as
the Morrigan. Bird shaped and crimson mouthed, Badb uses her magic to decide
battles. Badb lusts after men and is often seen at fords washing the armor
and weapons of men about to die in combat.
BRIGHID also BRIGIT. Goddess of healing and craftsmanship, especially
metalwork. Also a patron of learning and poetry. In Wales she is Caridwen,
who possesses the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration. The Celts so loved
Brighid that they could not abandon her even when they became Christians, and
so made Brighid a Christian saint.
CARIDWEN also HEN WEN; in Wales, BRIGHID "White Grain," "Old White One."
Corn goddess. Mother of Taliesen, greatest and wisest of all the bards, and
therefore a patron of poets. The "white goddess" of Robert Graves. Caridwen
lives among the stars in the land of Caer Sidi. Caridwen is connected with
wolves, and some claim her cult dates to the neolithic era.
CERNUNNOS Horned god of virility. Cernunnos wears the torc (neck-ring) and
is ever in the company of a ram-headed serpent and a stag. Extremely popular
among the Celts, the Druids encouraged the worship of Cernunnos, attempting to
replace the plethora of local deities and spirits with a national religion.
The Celts were so enamored of Cernunnos that his cult was a serious obstacle
to the spread of Christianity.
DAGDA Earth and father god. Dagda possesses a bottomless cauldron of plenty
and rules the seasons with the music of his harp. With his mighty club Dagda
can slay nine men with a single blow, and with its small end he can bring them
back to life. On the day of the New Year, Dagda mates with the raven goddess
of the Morrigan who while making love straddles a river with one foot on each
bank. A slightly comical figure.
DANU Mother goddess, an aspect of the Great Mother. Another of a triad of
war goddesses known collectively as the Morrigan. Connected with the moon
goddess Aine of Knockaine, who protects crops and cattle. Most importantly,
the mother of the Tuatha de' Danann, the tribe of the gods.
DIAN CECHT A healer. At the second battle of Moytura, Dian Cecht murdered
his own son whose skill in healing endangered his father's reputation. The
Judgments of Dian Cecht, an ancient Irish legal tract, lays down the
obligations to the ill and injured. An agressor must pay for curing anyone he
has injured, and the severity of any wound, even the smallest, is measured in
grains of corn.
DIS PATER Originally a god of death and the underworld, later the cheif god
of the Gauls. The Gauls believed, as their Druids taught, that Dis Pater is
the ancestor of all the Gauls.
DONN Irish counterpart to Dis Pater. Donn sends storms and wrecks ships, but
he protects crops and cattle as well. Donn's descendents come to his island
EPONA Horse goddess. Usually portrayed as riding a mare, sometimes with a
foal. Roman legionaires, deeply impressed with Celtic horsemanship, took up
the worship of Epona themselves and eventually imported her cult to Rome
ESUS A god of the Gauls "whose shrines make men shudder," according to a
Roman poet. Human sacrifices to Esus were hanged and run through with a
sword. For unknown reasons, Esus is usually portrayed as a woodcutter.
GOVANNON The smith god. The weapons Govannon makes are unfailing in their
aim and deadliness, the armor unfailing in its protection. Also a healer.
Those who attend the feast of Govannon and drink of the god's sacred cup need
no longer fear old age and infirmity.
LUG also LUGH, LLEU A sun god and a hero god, young, strong, radiant with
hair of gold, master of all arts, skills and crafts. One day Lug arrived at
the court of the Dagda and demanded to be admitted to the company of the gods.
The gatekeeper asked him what he could do. For every skill or art Lug named,
the gatekeeper replied that there was already one among the company who had
mastered it. Lug at last pointed out that they had no one who had mastered
them all, and so gained a place among the deities, eventually leading them to
victory in the second battle of Moytura against the Formorian invaders. (The
Formorians were a race of monsters who challenged the gods for supremacy in
the first and second battles of Moytura.) The Romans identified Lug with
Mercury. The most popular and widely worshipped of the Celtic gods, Lug's
name in its various forms was taken by the cities of Lyons, Loudun, Laon,
Leon, Lieden, Leignitz, Carlisle and Vienna.
MACHA "Crow." The third of the triad of war goddesses known as the Morrigan,
Macha feeds on the heads of slain enemies. Macha often dominates her male
lovers through cunning or simple brute strength.
MEDB "Drunk Woman." A goddess of war, not one of the Morrigan. Where the
Morrigan use magic, Medb wields a weapon herself. The sight of Medb blinds
enemies, and she runs faster than the fastest horse. A bawdy girl, Medb needs
thirty men a day to satisfy her sexual appetite.
MORRIGAN, THE also MORRIGU MORRIGAN A war goddess, forerunner of the
Arthurian Morgan La Fey. Like Odin, fickle and unfaithful, not to be trusted.
A hag with a demonic laugh, the Morrigan appears as a grotesque apparition to
men about to die in battle. Her name is also used for a triad of war
goddesses, who are often thought of as different aspects of the Morrigan.
NEMAIN "Panic." A war goddess.
NUADHU also NUD, NODENS, LUD. "Nuadhu of the silver arm." God of healing
and water; his name suggests "wealth-bringer" and "cloud-maker." At the first
battle of Moytura, Nuadhu lost an arm, and Dian Cecht replaced it with a new
one made out of silver. Because of this, Nuadhu was obliged to turn
leadership of the Tuatha de' Dannan over to Lug. People came to be healed at
Nuadhu's temple at Lydney, and small votive limbs made of silver have been
OGMIOS also OGMA "Sun Face." A hero god like Hercules, a god of eloquence,
language, genius. Generally portrayed as an old man dressed in a lion skin.
>From his tongue hang fine gold chains attached to the ears of his eager
SUCELLUS Guardian of forests, patron of agriculture. His consort is
Nantosvelta, whose name suggests brooks and streams. Sometimes considered
synonomous with Cernunnos or Daghda.
TUATHA DE' DANANN The divine tribes and people descended from the goddess
Danu. Skilled in druidry and magic, the Tuatha de' Danann possess four
talismans of great power: the stone of Fal which shrieked under the true heir
to the throne; the spear of Lug which made victory certain; the sword of
Nuadhu which slays all enemies; and the ever full cauldron of Daghda from
which no man ever goes away hungry.
Part 2 : CHINA / EGYPT / GREECE
AO The Four Dragon Kings Ao Chi'in, Ao Kuang, Ao Jun, and Ao Shun, gods of
rain and the sea. Subjects of the Jade Emperor.
CH'ENG-HUANG God of moats and walls. Every village and town had its own
Ch'eng-Huang, most often a local dignitary or important person who had died
and been promoted to godhood. His divine status was revealed in dreams,
though the gods made the actual decision. Ch'eng-Huang not only protects the
community from attack but sees to it that the King of the Dead does not take
any soul from his jurisdiction without proper authority. Ch'eng-Huang also
exposes evil-doers in the community itself, usually through dreams. His
assistants are Mr. Ba Lao-ye and Mr. Hei Lao-ye -- Mr. Daywatchman and Mr.
CHU JUNG God of fire. Chu Jung punishes those who break the laws of heaven.
KUAN TI God of war. The Great Judge who protects the people from injustice
and evil spirits. A red faced god dressed always in green. An oracle. Kuan
Ti was an actual historical figure, a general of the Han dynasty renowned for
his skill as a warrior and his justness as a ruler. There were more than 1600
temples dedicated to Kuan Ti.
KWAN YIN also KWANNON Goddess of mercy and compassion. A lady dressed in
white seated on a lotus and holding an infant. Murdered by her father, she
recited the holy books when she arrived in Hell, and the ruler of the
underworld could not make the dead souls suffer. The disgruntled god sent her
back to the world of the living, where Kwan Yin attained great spiritual
insight and was rewarded with immortality by the Buddha. A popular goddess,
Kwan Yin's temple at the Mount of the Wondrous Peak was ever filled with a
throng of pilgrims shaking rattles and setting off firecrackers to get her
LEI KUNG God of thunder. Lei Kung has the head of a bird, wings, claws and
blue skin, and his chariot is drawn by six boys. Lei Kung makes thunder with
his hammer, and his wife makes lightening with her mirrors. Lei Kung chases
away evil spirits and punishes criminals whose crimes have gone undetected.
PA HSIEN The Eight Immortals of the Taoist tradition. Ordinary mortals who,
through good works and good lives, were rewarded by the Queen Mother Wang by
giving them the peaches of everlasting life to eat. They are:
LI TIEH-KUAI Li of the Iron Crutch. A healer, Li sits as a beggar in the
market place selling wondrous drugs, some of which can revive the dead.
CHUNG-LI CH'UAN A smiling old men always beaming with joy, he was rewarded
with immortality for his ascetic life in the mountains.
LAN TS'AI-HO A young flute-player and wandering minstrel who carries a
basket laden with fruit. His soul-searching songs caused a stork to snatch
him away to the heavens.
LU TUNG-PIN A hero of early Chinese literature. Renouncing riches and the
world, he punished the wicked and rewarded the good, and slew dragons with a
CHANG-KUO LAO An aged hermit with miraculous abilities. Chang owned a
donkey which could travel at incredible speed. The personification of the
primordial vapor which is the source of all life.
HAN HSIANG-TZU A scholar who chose to study magic rather than prepare for
the civil service. When his uncle chastised him for studying magic, Han
Hsiang-Tzu materialized two flowers with poems written on the leaves.
TS'AO KUO-CHIU Ts'ao Kuo-Chiu tried to reform his brother, a corrupt
emperor, by reminding him that the laws of heaven are inescapable.
HO HSIEN-KU "Immortal Maiden Ho." A Cantonese girl who dreamed that she
could become immortal by eating a powder made of mother-of-pearl. She appears
only to men of great virtue.
P'AN-CHIN-LIEN Goddess of prostitutes. As a mortal, she was a widow who was
much too liberal and inventive with her favors, and her father-in-law killed
her. In death she was honored by her more professional associates and
eventually became the goddess of whores.
SHI-TIEN YEN-WANG The Lords of Death, the ten rulers of the underworld. They
dress alike in royal robes and only the wisest can tell them apart. Each
ruler presides over one court of law. In the first court a soul is judged
according to his sins in life and sentenced to one of the eight courts of
punishment. Punishment is fitted to the offense. Misers are made to drink
molten gold, liars' tongues are cut out. In the second court are incompetent
doctors and dishonest agents; in the third, forgers, liars, gossips, and
corrupt government officials; in the fifth, murderers, sex offenders and
atheists; in the sixth, the sacreligious and blasphemers; in the eighth, those
guilty of filial disrespect; in the ninth, arsonists and accident victims. In
the tenth is the Wheel of Transmigration where souls are released to be
reincarnated again after their punishment is completed. Before souls are
released, they are given a brew of oblivion, which makes them forget their
TI-TSANG WANG God of mercy. Wandering in the caverns of Hell, a lost soul
might encounter a smilng monk whose path is illuminated by a shining pearl and
whose staff is decorated with metal rings which chime like bells. This is Ti-
Tsang Wang, who will do all he can to help the soul escape hell and even to
put an end to his eternal round of death and rebirth. Long ago, Ti-Tsang Wang
renounced Nirvana so that he could search the dark regions of Hell for souls
to save from the kings of the ten hells. Once a priest of Brahma, he
converted to Buddhism and himself became a Buddha with special authority over
the souls of the dead.
T'SHAI-SHEN God of wealth who presides over a vast bureaucracy with many
minor deities under his authority. A majestic figure robed in exquisite
silks. T'shai-Shen is quite a popular god; even atheists worship him.
TSAO WANG God of the hearth. Every household has its own Tsao Wang. Every
year the hearth god reports on the family to the Jade Emperor, and the family
has good or bad luck during the coming year according to his report. The
hearth god's wife records every word spoken by every member of the family. A
paper image represents the hearth god and his wife, and incense is burned to
them daily. When the time came to make his report to the Jade Emperor,
sweetmeats were placed in his mouth, the paper was burned, and firecrackers
were lit to speed him on his way.
TU-TI Local gods. Minor gods of towns, villages and even streets and
households. Though far from the most important gods in the divine scheme,
they were quite popular. Usually portrayed as kindly, respectable old men,
they see to it that the domains under their protection run smoothyly.
YENG-WANG-YEH "Lord Yama King." Greatest of the Lords of Death. Yeng-Wang-
Yeh judges all souls newly arrived to the land of the dead and decides whether
to send them to a special court for punishment or put them back on the Wheel
YU-HUANG-SHANG-TI "Father Heaven." The August Supreme Emperor of Jade, whose
court is in the highest level of heaven, originally a sky god. The Jade
Emperor made men, fashioning them from clay. His heavenly court resembles the
earthly court in all ways, having an army, a bureaucracy, a royal family and
parasitical courtiers. The Jade Emperor's rule is orderly and without
caprice. The seasons come and go as they should, yin is balanced with yang,
good is rewarded and evil is punished. As time went on, the Jade Emperor
became more and more remote to men, and it became customary to approach him
through his doorkeeper, the Transcendental Dignitary. The Jade Emperor sees
and hears everything; even the softest whisper is as loud as thunder to the
AMMON Also AMON; AMUN; AMEN "Hidden." King of the gods of Egypt. Patron
of the Pharoahs. Originally a god of fertility, a local deity of Memphis.
Ammon became linked with the sun god Ra through the royal family, becoming
ANUBIS The jackal-headed god. Anubis can foresee a mortal's destiny and is
associated with magic and divination. Anubis supervises the weighing of the
soul when the departed are brought to the hall of the dead.
ASTARTE The Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ishtar, inducted into the Egyptian
pantheon and made a daughter of Ammon-Ra. Sometimes identified (or confused,
which is the same thing) with Isis.
ATUM The first of the gods, the self-created. By sheer will, Atum formed
himself out of the stagnant waters of Nun. Atum was bisexual and was
sometimes called "the great He-She." The Egyptians had two cosmogonies, one
taught by the priests at Heliopolis and the other by the priests at Memphis.
The priests at Memphis taught that Nun and Atum, together with Atum's children
Shu and Tefnut, were aspects or forms of Ptah.
BAST Also BASTET. The cat-headed goddess, a local deity of the delta. The
kindly goddess of joy, music and dancing. Cats were sacred to Bast as a
symbol of animal passion. Bast's devotees celebrated their lady with
processions of flower-laden barges and orgiastic ceremonies. Her festivals
were licentious and quite popular.
HATHOR A sky goddess, sometimes represented as a woman with cow's horns
between which hangs a solar disc, sometimes portrayed as a cow. Hathor
concerns herself with beauty, love and marriage, and watches over women giving
birth. Mother and wife of Ra. Hathor is also a goddess of death and offers
comfort to the newly dead as they pass into the afterworld.
HORUS The falcon-headed god. A complex deity with many aspects. Some of
them are: Horus the Elder, a sky god whose eyes are the sun and the moon,
continually at war with Set, the god of evil; Horus of the Horizon, symbolized
by the rising and setting sun; Horus the Child, whose frequent depictions as a
baby at the breast of his mother Isis influenced Christian images of the
Madonna and the Christ child; Horus, son of Isis, avenger of Osiris. There
were many others.
ISIS Wife and sister of Osiris (the ancients had nothing against a little
divine incest). The ideal wife and mother. Generally a goddess of the home
and person rather than of the temple and the priest. After the twenty sixth
dynasty, Isis is increasingly portrayed as a nursing mother, and her cult
eventually spread throughout the Roman empire.
MAAT Goddess of truth and justice. Her symbol is the feather.
MIN A god of fertility and sexual potency. An ancient god of pre-dynastic
origins. His symbol is the thunderbolt. As orgiastic festivials were held in
his honor, Min was quite a popular god.
NUN God of the primal waters. Nun was a mass of stagnant water which filled
all the universe.
OSIRIS At first the god of corn; later the god of the dead. Osiris brought
civilization to the Egyptians, teaching them the uses of corn and wine,
weaving, sculpture, religion, music and law. Set slew Osiris and dismembered
th body; but Osiris' consort, Isis, reassembled the body and brought Osiris
back to life. Osiris then retired to the underworld. Osiris is the god of
the Nile which rises and falls every year; the god of corn and the vine, which
flourish, die, and flourish once more; and the god of the rising and setting
PTAH The artificer. The creator god. According to the priests of Memphis,
the fount of all creation. God of artisans and artists, designers, builders,
architects, masons, metal workers. Ptah's consort is Sekhmut, goddess of war.
RA God of the sun; sometimes identified or considered synonomous with Atum.
Ra created man from his tears. At one time Ra became so digusted with men
that he orderd Hathor to kill them all. This Hathor did with such zeal that
Ra took pity on men and ordered Hathor to stop. Crazed with blood, Hathor
ignored the order, and Ra resorted to chicanery to save humankind. Ra mixed
beer with pomegranate juice and left pots of the concoction about the
battlefield. Thinking the mixture was blood, Hathor drank it greedily and got
too swacked to carry out her mission.
SEKHMUT Goddess of war and battles, consort of Ptah. Hathor took Sekhmut's
shape when she made war on men. Sekhmut is usually portrayed as a woman with
the head of a lionness, sometimes brandishing a knife in an upraised hand.
SET Red of hair and eyes, pale of skin, Set is the god of evil, of drought,
of destruction, thunder and storm. Set tore himself from his mother's womb in
his hurry to be born. Every month Set attacks and devours the moon, the
sanctuary of Osiris and the gathering place of the souls of the recently dead.
THOTH "Thrice Greatest." God of wisdom, music, magic, medicine, astronomy,
geometry, surveying, art and and writing. Historian, scribe and judge.
Thoth's priests claimed Thoth was the Demi-Urge who created everything from
sound. It was said that Thoth wrote books in which he set forth a fabulous
knowldege of magic and incantation, and then concealed them in a crypt.
(See also the section on Roman gods in Part 5)
ADONIS Beloved of Aphrodite, the central figure of a widespread fertility
cult, god of vegetation and re-birth. Adonis seems clearly linked with
Tammuz, the Assyro-Babylonion god who dies and rises again. Adonis is the
Greek version of the Phoenician term Adon, which means "Lord."
APHRODITE Goddess of fertility, love and beauty. When Zeus killed his
father, Uranus, he cut off his father's genitals and cast them into the sea.
The sea foamed and boiled and Aphrodite arose from the waters. As Aphrodite
stepped from the ocean, flowers grew wherever her feet touched. Paphos, the
place where Aphrodite supposedly rose from the waters, was her most important
place of worship, and at Corinth she was worshipped with sacred whores.
Aphrodite is clearly related to Ishtar and Astarte and very much loves the
company of the male gods. While married to Hephaestus, she also dallied with
Ares, Poseidon, Adonis, and Dionysius. Aphrodite is a complex, many faceted
deity. Among her many names are Melaina (the Black One), Androphonos (Killer
of Men), Epitymbidia (She Upon the Graves), Anadyomene (Rising from the Sea),
Urania (Sky Borne), and Pandemos (Goddess of All the People).
APOLLO God of light, god of prophecy and music, god of medicine, god of
flocks and herds, the divine archer, a pastoral god. Wise, beauteous, all-
knowing, ever just, ever young. Apollo urges forgiveness to all offenses,
even the blackest of crimes, so long as the offender was truly penitent.
After Zeus and Athene, the greatest of the Gods. Apollo's most important
place of worship was the famous temple at Delphi, where oracles prophesied in
his name. The Sybil at Cumae in southern Italy also foretold the future in
his honor. Paintings and statuary show him with his bow and lyre, which were
a gift from the infant Hermes. Apollo loved young men and young women alike,
though his affairs usually ended unhappily. Artemis is his twin sister, and
Horus is his counterpart in the Egyptian pantheon.
ARES; to the Romans, MARS God of war. The Greeks detested Ares.
Quarrelsome, spiteful, unfaithful, Ares loves only hatred, strife and
bloodshed. Ares was the first god to be placed on trial for murder, and the
place in Athens where he was supposed to be have been tried was called the
Aeropagus, the Hill of Ares. By custom trials for murder were held at the
Aeropagus. The Romans believed Ares to be the father of Romulus and Remus.
ARTEMIS Also PARTHENOS Fertility goddess, patron of maidens, goddess of
childbirth. Identified with the moon, as her brother Apollo is identified
with the sun. The Virgin Huntress, Mistress of Beasts, Lady of All Wild
Things, A Lion unto Women. Usually benevolent, but stern and demanding,
dangerous to cross. Artemis lived in Arcadia with a band of nymphs subject to
her strict discipline; those who dallied with men, as did Callisto, might be
shot down with an arrow or otherwise punished. No man or god ever gained the
love of Artemis. Artemis is virtually unbeatable in combat. The only one of
the immortals who ever bested her was Hera, who defeated Artemis on the
battlefield at Troy, whipped her with her own bow, and sent her fleeing in
ASCLEPIUS God of medicine and healing, son of Apollo. Originally a mortal.
So great was Asclepius' skill that he could revive the dead. Zeus killed
Asclepius after Hades complained that he was being cheated of his lawful due,
but Asclepius' virtues and good deeds won him a place among the gods. Those
who wished a cure of Asclepius would sleep in his temple, where he would
appear to them in a dream and advise them. Snakes are his symbol and were
allowed to wander freely in his temple at Epidaurus.
ATHENE; to the Romans, MINERVA Goddess of wisdom, of architects and
sculptors, of weavers, of oxen and horses. A goddess of war. Like Artemis,
an eternal virgin. Often associated with birds, particularly the owl. Athene
taught men to tame horses and invented the potter's wheel. Her city is
Athens, which she won in a contest with Poseidon.
CHARON The ferryman who carries dead souls across the river Styx to Hades.
His fee is one obol, which was placed in the mouth of the dead man before he
CRONUS The chief of the Titans, the race of giants who preceded the Olympian
gods. In very ancient times, Cronus was probably a corn god. Told that he
would be overthrown by one of his own sons, Cronus devoured them all as they
were born until his wife Rhea deceived him to save Zeus. Wrapping a stone in
swaddling clothes, Rhea gave the stone to Cronus and spirited Zeus away to a
hiding place. After defeating Cronus, Zeus imprisoned him and the rest of the
Titans, thus beginning the age of the Olympian gods.
DEMETER; to the Romans, CERES Goddess of grain and the fruitful earth. An
earth mother who was certainly one of, if not the oldest of the gods.
Demeter's immensely popular festivals, held twice a year at Eleusis, were so
highly revered that no initiate was ever known to break the vow of secrecy.
Demeter gave the gift of grain to men and instituted the Eleusinian Mysteries.
The nature of these Mysteries has been lost to us, though we know that the
mystery cults celebrated the Lesser Mysteries in February of every year and
the Greater Mysteries in September of every fifth year. Most likely the rites
included processions, ritual cleansing and religious dramas.
DIONYSIUS God of religious ecstasy and wine, accompanied always by satyrs and
nymphs. The force of life in all growing things. Dionysius is the Greek form
of Thracian and Phrygian deities of vegetation and fetility, who followers
worked themselves into a frenzy and ritually tore apart their god in the form
of a goat, a bull or a man. The cult survived the introduction of the
Olympian gods and proved so popular that it finally had to be accepted by the
Dorian Greeks. In the dark age which followed the decline of the Myceneans,
the cult of Dionysius spread rapidly, especially among women. His followers
were known as maenads (mad women) and it was best not to be near when their
frenzy came upon them. Animals, and sometimes people, were torn apart and
sometimes eaten in the belief that they were devouring the god himself.
Drunk, lawless and noisy, not terribly impressed by authority or convention,
the followers of Dionysius were often unwelcome. His worshippers danced
wildly, and his rites were designed to cleanse men of lowly irrational
emotions and desires.
ERIS The dark sister of Eros. Goddess of chaos and discord, Eris loves
confusion and conflict. It was Eris who gave the goddesses the golden apple
inscribed "To the Fairest," which set in motion the chain of events that led
to the Trojan War.
EROS God of love both heterosexual and homosexual, though his domain is not
limited solely to sexual love and includes love in all its broadest senses.
One of the oldest of the gods, the center of his worship was at Thespiae. The
ancient Greeks feared Eros. Eros can cause havoc, and there is an air of
maliciousness about him. Eros can drive men and women to noble self-sacrfice,
but he can also torture them to madness and drive them to self-destruction.
Lacking wisdom, moderns have made Eros contemptibly cute and sweet, and
GAIA "Mother of all things." The Earth itself, mother of the Titans, the old
gods. Usually represented as a giant woman. Before anything else existed,
there was only Chaos (the Void, the Nothingness, the Emptiness) and the Earth.
Gaia nurses the ill and watches over marriages. Gaia is an oracle as well,
and the temple at Delphi was hers before it was Apollo's. The Greeks had no
tales about Gaia, because she belonged to the distant past.
HADES Also PLUTO "The Unseen," "the Rich." God of wealth and the
underworld. Hades is stern but perfectly just, and rejects all pleas for
mercy, but he is in no sense evil or destructive. His realm is not a place of
flames and torment, as is the Christian hell. Most dead souls dwell on the
plain of Asphodel, where they wander aimlessly as mere shadows of their
earthly selves. The blessed go to the Elysian Fields, a place of great joy
and beauty, while the abominably wicked go to the dismal plain of Tartarus.
You're born, you live, you die, you go to Hades. End of story.
HEBE Goddess of youth and beauty. An eternally young girl, Hebe helps the
gods wash and dress themselves, though her main duty is to serve nectar and
ambrosia at their feasts. A minor but charming deity.
HECATE Goddess of black magic and evil ghosts. Often portrayed with three
faces: maiden, mother and crone. The poor and down trodden often turned to
Hecate for protection or vengance. Hecate defends children and appears with
her dogs at crossroads and tombs.
HELIOS God of the sun, the charioteer who drives the sun across the sky.
>From his great height, Helios sees everything and was often called upon to
witness contracts and oaths. From the fifth century onward, Helios was
considered identical with Apollo.
HEPHAESTUS; to the Romans, VULCAN The lame blacksmith god, patron of
craftsman and metalworkers, god of fire. The centers of his cult could be
found wherever metalworkers congregated and near volcanos. Hephaestus was so
ugly that his mother Hera kept him out of sight, and the other gods laughed at
his lame gait. In revenge, Hephaestus tricked the gods into giving him
Aphrodite for his wife, though he never succeeded in keeping her faithful.
Some scholars say Hephaestus' lameness was a reflection of an actual practice.
A skillful smith was a rare and valuable man, and tribes or villages would
often cripple a good smith to keep him from leaving or running away.
HERA; to the Romans, JUNO. Wife of Zeus, queen of the gods. Zeus is quite a
randy god, and Hera's domestic life with him is always stormy. Zeus and Hera
were on opposite sides during the Trojan War, and they squabble all the way
through the Iliad. At first a sky goddess, Hera later became the embodiment
of womanliness. Like Dionysius, Hera is a pre-Olympian deity whose cult was
so strong that it had to be adopted by the Dorian Greeks. Hera was worshipped
in high places, and her temples were built on mountain peaks. Her festival,
held at Argos and called the Heraia, involved athletic contests.
Part 3 : GREECE (Continued) / JAPAN / MESOPOTAMIA / NORSE
HERMES; to the Romans, MERCURY The messenger of the gods, the god of
eloquence, the god of luck. God of travelers, merchants and athletes.
Originally a pastoral and fertility god in Arcadia, in his oldest monuments
Hermes is represented simply as a phallus. Easygoing, kind and obliging,
Hermes is quite helpful to both gods and men, though he appears in some
stories as a trickster. Hermes invented the lyre, which he gave to Apollo to
get out of a mess he'd made by stealing Apollo's cattle. Hermes' image was
often found at crossroads and junctions, and he is shown with winged sandals
and a winged helmet. Hermes was quite popular.
HYPNOS God of sleep. Brother of Thanatos (Death). Hypnos has power even
over the gods.
IRIS Goddess of the rainbow. Like Hermes, a messenger for the gods. The
center of her cult was at Delos, and the proper offerings to her were dried
figs and honeycakes.
MOROS God of destiny. Dark, unknowable, all powerful. Even the gods are
subject to Moros.
MORPHEUS God of dreams. His name is the root word of "morphine."
NEMESIS Also ADRASTEIA Goddess of destiny and inevitability, the repayment
of sin and crime.
NIKE; to the Romans, VICTORIA Goddess of victory. Generally portrayed as a
winged maiden holding high a wreath of bay leaves, the victor's laurel. Her
most famous temple was in Athens.
OCEANUS Ancient god of the oceans, eventually displaced by Poseidon. With
his sister, Tethys, he had six thousand children, half of them sea spirits,
the other half river spirits.
PAN "The Pasturer," "the Feeder of Flocks." God of herds, fertility and male
sexuality. Pan has the horns and legs of a goat and plays a syrinx, a pipe
withs seven reeds. An ancient god, he has no moral or social aspect
whatsoever, and is simply the embodiment of pure, basic instinct. Some said
that Pan taught Apollo the art of prophecy. Pan especially loves mountains
and wild country. Pan has a dark aspect as well, causing men and animals to
go suddenly mad with terror in distant, lonely places. His name is therefore
the root word of "panic."
PERSEPHONE Also KORE "Maiden." Daughter of Demeter, wife of Hades. Hades
kidnapped Persephone and took her to the underworld to be his queen. When
Demeter heard, she wandered the earth in mourning, abandoning her
responsibilities, and the earth grew gray and barren. The growing famine
forced Zeus to demand that Hades return Persephone to the surface world. But
Persephone had eaten part of a pomegranate, and eating of the food of the dead
bound her to their world. Zeus and Hades struck a bargain -- Persephone would
spend seven months a year in the world of the living and five in the world of
the dead. When Persephone is in the world, her mother Demeter is content, and
te world blooms and lives. When she is in the underworld, Demeter mourns, the
world languishes, and we have winter.
POSEIDON God of the sea and earthquakes. Horses and bulls are sacred to him.
Originally the god of earth tremors, of vegetation and fecundity, Poseidon
fought for the Olympians against the Titans, and his reward after the victory
was dominion over the seas, lakes and rivers. Poseidon's fits of rage
manifest as storms, and seamen dread his anger. Bulls were thrown into the
sea as sacrifices to Poseidon. His amorous adventures played an important
role in Greek mythology, and he loved men no less than women.
THANATOS God of death. Sometimes portrayed as a winged spirit, at other
times as a man robed in black armed with a sword. Thanatos is not evil or
hateful. He is just doing his job.
URANUS Heaven personified. The son born to Gaia when she first emerged from
Chaos. Uranus' rain made Gaia fruitful, and she brought forth the Titans.
Jealous of his children, Uranus confined them to the earth, and Gaia conspired
wth Cronus, the boldest of her children, to overthrow him. Cronus castrated
Uranus with a sickle, only to be overthrown by Zeus in his turn.
ZEUS; to the Romans, JUPITER. "Cloud Gatherer." The ruler of the Olympian
gods, god of the sky, thunder, and lightening, the upholder of custom and
tradition. Zeus had many names. As Soter, he is know as the father and
saviour of mankind; as Herkeios, guardian of the home; as Xenios, keeper of
the rules of hospitality; as Ktesios, protector of property; as Gamelios, god
of marriage; as Zeus Chronius, god of the earth and fertility; as Zeus
Eluetherious, protector of freedom; and as Zeus Polieus, god of the civic
virtues. Despite all these duties, Zeus still had plenty of time to romp with
young girls and boys. His wife Hera persecuted his lovers, both mortal and
AJI-SUKI-TAKA-HI-KONE One of several thunder gods. Born noisy, he grew up
even noisier, and so they carry him up and down a ladder to quiet him. That
is why you can hear him receding and approaching.
AMA-NO-UZUME Fertility goddess. A companion of Ninigi, she performed a bawdy
dance hoping to entice the sun out of hiding. This dance symbolizes the
planting of seed which waits for the sun come after winter.
AMATERASU Sun goddess, ruler of the heavens. When her great enemy, the storm
god Susa-No-Wo, destroyed her fine palace, Amaterasu went to hide in a cave.
The other gods used all their magical tricks to get her to come out, to no
avail. In her absence, darkness and demons ruled the earth until Ama-No-Usume
lured Amaterasu out of the cave with a trick. With a comical and obscene
dance, he made the gods gathered at the mouth of the cave laugh. When
Amaterasu asked waht was going on, Ama-No-Uzume replied that they had found
another and better sun goddess. Amaterasu peeped out of her cave and saw her
own reflection in a mirror which Ama-No-Uzume had hung on a nearby tree.
Fascinated, Ameratasu drew a little closer for a better look, and the gods
grabbed her and hauled her out.
AMATSU MIKABOSHI "August Star of Heaven." God of evil.
BENZAITEN Goddess of love, one of the gods of happiness. Benzaiten rides a
dragon while playing a stringed instrument.
BISHAMON God of happiness and war, a strange combination. Bishamon protects
men from disease and demons. Bishamon was often portrayed wearing a wheel of
fire like a halo, which some see as the Wheel of Fate.
CHIMATA-NO-KAMI God of crossroads, highways and footpaths. Originally a
phallic god, his phallic symbol was placed at crossroads.
HO-MASUBI Fire god. His birth killed the creator goddess Izanami, and his
father, the creator god Izanagi, was so enraged with grief that he killed the
baby. From his blood came eight gods, and from the body came eight mountain
IZANAGI and IZANAMI Creator god and goddess sent down from heaven to build
the earth. The other gods and goddesses are their descendents, but when the
god of fire was born he burned his mother to death. Descending to the
underworld, Izanami became old and ugly. Izanagi followed her to bring her
back, but she forbade him to look at her. Izanagi looked anyway and Izanami
tried to imprision him in the underworld. Pursued by Izanimi's furies,
Izanagi escaped and sealed up the entrance to the underworld with a boulder.
Enraged, Izanami vowed to kill a thousand of Izanami's subjects a day, and
Izanami vowed to create fifteen hundred a day. So it was that Izanami became
the goddess of death and Izanagi became the lord of life.
KAWA-NO-KAMI God of rivers. Larger rivers have their own gods, but all
waterways are under Kawa-No-Kami's authority. When rivers flooded, the gods
were sometimes appeased with human sacrifices.
NAI-NO-KAMI God of earthquakes. A late addition to the Japanese pantheon,
Nai-No-Kami was inducted in the seventh century A.D.
NINIGI Grandson of Amaterasu, sent to rule the earth, the ancestor of all the
O-KUNI-NUSHI God of sorcery and medicine. Originally the ruler of the
province of Izumo, he was replaced by Ninigi, but in compensation he was made
ruler of the unseen world of spirits and magic.
SENGEN-SAMA Goddess of the sacred mountain of Fujiyama. At her shrine at the
top of the mountain, worshippers greet the rising sun.
SHINE-TSU-HIKO God of the wind. Shine-Tsu-Hiko fills up the empty space
between earth and heaven, and with his wife Shina-To-Be, he holds up the
SUSA-NO-WO God of storms, snakes and farming. Amaterasu's brother and
greatest enemy. From the moment he was born, he was a troublemaker. After
Amaterasu was finally taken out of her cave, Susa-No-Wo was punished. The
other gods shaved his beard and moustache, pulled out his fingernails, and
banished him to live as a mortal on the earth.
(Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian)
ANU The god of the sky, from whence the sun shines and the rain falls. Lord
of all, the fountainhead of order in both the natural and supernatural worlds.
The stars are his warriors, the Milky Way his personal highway. Anu dwells
exclusively in the celestial heaven. Unapproachable, remote and otherwordly,
he cares little about men and seldom intervenes in their affairs.
APSU The Abyss. The waters upon which the earth floats. When the gods were
first created, their noise disturbed Apsu, who complained to his mother, the
great dragon Tiamat. Tiamat made war on the gods and was slain by Marduk.
ANSHAR Father of Anu and all the other gods. His consort is his sister,
Kishu. Anshar is the male principle, Kishu the female principle. Anshar is
the sky, Kishu the earth. Anshar led the gods in the war against Tiamat.
EA Also ENKI "Lord of the Sacred Eye." God of water, supreme god of magic
and wisdom, patron of the arts. An oracle. Ea is the god of fresh waters.
Ea is portrayed as a goat with a fish's tail or a human with water flowing
from his shoulders. Mating with Ninhursag ("Lady Mountain") he created the
plants and gave men agriculture.
ENLIL The god of earth and wind. The master of men's fates. The god who
dries up the flood waters after the Tigris and Euphrates have overflowed their
banks; who brings rain; who fills the sails of ships and boats; who fetrilizes
the palm blossoms. The god who struggles against the suffering of the world.
Enlil's power moves all; he is the active principle which drives the earth.
Enlil sent the flood which destroyed all mankind except Utnapishtim and his
family. Enlil can be found in the howling storm and the ruins and ashes of
ERESHKIGAL Goddess of the underworld, consort of Nergal. Some consider her a
dark side or apect of Ishtar. When Ishtar descended into the underworld to
save Tammuz, Ereshkigal tricked her into leaving some part of her clothing or
insignias at each of the underworld's seven gates as she passed through them.
Standing naked at the seventh gate, Ishtar threw herself on Ereshkigal; but
like Samson shorn of his hair she was powerless. Ereshkigal confined Ishtar
in the underworld until the wily Ea contrived her release with a trick.
GILGAMESH Like Hercules, a hero-god, two parts divine and one part human.
The story of his adventures survives in an epic poem on twelve tablets dating
back to Akkadia in the middle of the second millenium B.C. Gilgamesh fought
and tamed the wild man Enkiddu. Despite the warnings of the priests and ill
omens from the sun god, Gilgamesh and Enkiddu set out upon a quest. Enkiddu's
death incited Gilgamesh to seek immortality, and after many adventures he
found at last Utnapishtim who survived the Great Flood and with his wife was
granted eternal life by the gods. Utnapishtim convinced Gilgamesh of the
futility of immortality.
ISHTAR; to the Sumerican INANNA; to the Egyptians, ASTARTE The greatest of
all the mother goddesses of the Mesopotamians. Goddess of fertility, goddess
of sex, goddess of the moon, goddess of war. Lady of heaven, lady of sorrow
and battles. The great lover, the great mother. The hero-god Gilgamesh
spurned her, ensuring his death. Venus is her star, and the lion is her cult
animal. Ishtar's love is all consuming and even deadly. An Egyptian
sculpture portrays her nude, standing on a lion, and holding a lotus blossom
(the symbol of life) in her right hand. Ishtar's worship involved phallic
symbols, sacred whores and painted priests in women's clothing. At her shrine
at Uruk the priestesses performed a sexual rite in her honor. A priestess
played the goddess; the priest who played the god was slain. The Christians
turned her into a demon, and she is mentioned as such in Milton's PARADISE
KINGU Tiamat's general in the war against the gods. Keeper of the tablets of
destiny, which hold the divine plan for all the cosmos. Ninhursag used
Kingu's blood to make the first man, and from this comes the demonic,
rebellious aspect of human nature.
MARDUK The great god of Babylon, King of Kings, Guardian of the Law, the
Great Sorcerer, the Great Healer, slayer of Tiamat. Marduk is Order fighting
against Chaos, the conflict from which all Creation emerges. Defeating
Tiamat, Marduk brought order and life to the world. When the tablets of
destiny were seized from Kingu, Marduk fastened to his own breast, and so
brought control of the earth under the divine authority of the gods. The
stele of Hammurabi shows Marduk on his throne with a horned headdress, giving
Hammurabi his ring and sceptre. The Amorites saw Marduk as a god of spring
and sunlight, of herbs and trees.
NEBO Also NABU God of writing and speech, speaker for the gods. Nebo
maintains records of men's deeds and produces them for judgment after death.
His symbol is the stylus.
NERGAL God of the underworld, mass destruction and plague, consort of
Ereshkigal. Thrown out of heaven, he stormed the underworld with fourteen
demons until Ereshkigal consented to marry him.
NINHURSAG Also MAAT "Lady Mountain." An earth mother. She mold the first
man out of clay and brought him to life with the blood of Kingu.
SHAMASH Also BABBAR, UTU The sun. Son of the moon god Sin, brother and
husband to Ishtar. The great god of justice. In Sumer, a god of divination.
The enemy of darkness and all the evil darkness brings. Every morning,
scorpion-men throw open the gates of his great palace, and Shamash mounts his
chariot. He then crosses the sky from one horizon to the other, casting his
rays upon the earth like a net, seeing all the evils and wrongs of the world.
Entering the earth on the eastern horizon, Shamash travels through the
underworld back to his palace. Shamash requires justice of earthly kings and
champions their subjects, especially the poor.
SIN The moon god. Wise and secretive, the enemy of all evil spirits. An old
man with a long beard who flies through the sky in his sailboat every night.
TAMMUZ Also DUMUZI God of the harvest. The god who dies and rises again.
The love of Ishtar killed him, and Ishtar fought Ereshkigal in the underworld
to bring him back.
TIAMAT; to the agnostics, LEVIATHAN Goddess of the primeval depths, the chaos
from which Marduk formed the world. She took the form of a dragon and swam in
the primal waters. Tiamat warred on the gods, spawning a brood of dragons,
sphinxes, scorpion-men and other demons and monsters for her army. Marduk
slew her, defeating her with magic and powerful winds. Splitting her in two,
Marduk cast one half of Tiamat into the sky to form the heavens and the other
he cast down to form the earth.
ANAT Goddess of love and war. Female counterpart of Baal-Haddad. Anat often
aids Baal-Haddad in his battles and takes his part in defeat.
ATHIRAT In the Bible, ASHERAH Mother of the gods, female counterpart of El.
Athirat persuaded El to give his blessing to a temple for Baal-Haddad after
his great victory over Sea, the god of chaos. Corresponds to Ishtar.
BAAL-HADDAD "The Mighty," "He who mounts the clouds." Son of Dagon, the corn
god. The executive of the divine assembly. Baal-Haddad dies and rises again
so that the world may live. Baal-Haddad is the champion of divine Order
against Chaos. LIghtening is his weapon, and he can be found in storms and
thunder. Defying Mot, the god of death, Baal-Haddad was swallowed up by the
god of death and taken to the underworld which Baal Haddad laid waste after a
terrible struggle. In the beginning of all things, Baal-Haddad warred with and
conquered Yamm the Sea, and so brought the unruly waters of Chaos under divine
authority and control.
The term "Baal" (alternate spellings: Beel, Bel) is not a proper name but a
title. It means simply, "Lord." To know the proper name of a god was t
possess great power, and so the proper name was often kept secret from anyone
who was not a member of the priesthood. Many local and regional gods were
therefore referred to simply as "Lord" -- Baal. The Baal of the Bible is most
often Baal Shamim, "Lord of the Skies." In Carthage, a colony of the
Phoenicians, the people worshipped Baal Hammon or Ammon, a sky and fertility
god whose symbol was the ram. The god of the Semitic nomad tribe of Zebulon
was the "Fly," or Beel-Zebul, Lord of Zebulon, often mistakenly called
EL "The Bull," the Father of Men, the Kindly One, the Compassionate. Creator
of all things, greatest of all the gods, father of the divine family, head of
the divine assembly.
KATHIRAT "The Skillful Ones." Minor goddesses who preside over childbirth.
MOT The god of death who rules the underworld amid wreckage and blackness.
SKILLFUL AND PERCIPIENT ONE, THE The divine artificer, patron of
craftsmanship and magic. The Skillful One made Baal-Haddad's weapons for the
struggle against Yamm and built the temple in which Anat and Baal-Haddad
YAMM THE SEA Aslo PRINCE SEA, OCEAN-CURRENT THE RULER God of primordial
chaos, much like Tiamat and Coatlicue. Baal-Haddad's enemy. Before the great
combat with Baal-Haddad, Yamm terrified the divine assembly of gods and sent
emissaries to demand tribute from them. Part of the tribute he demanded was
Baal-Haddad as a slave. Infuriated, Baal-Haddad drove the emissaries from the
assembly hall, lashing their buttocks and depriving them of all dignity. So
the war began.
AEGIR "Alebrewer." So called because Aegir loves to give feasts for the
gods. God of the sea. Saxon pirates gave to Aegir a tenth of their captives,
who were thrown into the sea.
ANGRBODA The giantess who mated with Loki to create Hel, Fenrir and the
BALDER A hero god, the god who dies and rises again. Fair skinned, fair
haired, wise and merciful, beloved of all. Loke tricked Hoder into killing
Balder, who had to be rescued from the underworld. According to the epic poem
VOLUSKA, Balder will come to rule again after Ragnarok.
BRAGI God of poetry and eloquence, husband of Iduun. It is Bragi's duty to
prepare Valhalla for new arrivals.
DONAR German god of thunder, forerunner of Thor. His symbol is the swastika.
Oak trees are sacred to Donar, as they are to Jove.
FENRIR Also FENRIS WOLF A monstrous wolf conceived by Loki. Fenrir was
raised in Asgard, the home of the gods, until he became so immense and
feroucious that only the god Tyr was brave enough to feed him. Tyr bound
Fenrir until the day of Ragnarok, when Fenrir will break loose to slay Odin.
FORSETI God of justice, the great arbiter, the god who "stills all strife."
Forseti dwells in a hall of gold and silver called Giltnir.
FREYR "The god of the world," son of Njord, husband of Freyja. God of
fertility, sunlight and rain, peace, joy and contentment. Freyr was
worshipped with human sacrifices and a kind of religious play in which men
dressed as women mimed and danced to the sound of chimes and bells. Freyr had
some association with the horse cult as well, and horses sacred to his service
were kpet near his shrines. Freyr and his sister/wife FREYJA were of the
Vanir, a family or race of gods which originally competed with the Aesir and
later became allies. The Vanir may have been the gods of an earlier
Scandinavian race who were adopted into the pantheon of later conquerors.
FREYJA Goddess of magic and death, goddess of sex, daughter of Njord, a
shape-shifter who often took the form of a falcon. When her husband Od
disappeared, Freyja wept golden tears. Donning a magical garment, Freyja
could fly long distances. Patroness of seithr, a practice in which a
sorceress would enter a trance to foretell the future. The women who
practiced siethr, who were know as Volva, wandered freely about the country
casting spells and foretelling the future. Freyja's worshippers involved
orgiastic rites which horrified and outraged the Christians. Half of all
those slain in battle belonged to Freyja, the other half belonging to Odin.
FRIGG Wife of Odin, mother of Balder, queen of Asgard. A fertility goddess.
HEIMDALL The god who guards the Bifrost Bridge which is the entrance to
Asgard. Heimdall can see for immense distances, and his ear is so sensitive
that he can hear the grass grow. On the day of Ragnarok, Heimdall will blow
the great horn Gjallarhorn, and in the ensuing battle he will slay Loki.
HEL Goddess of death. Daughter of Loki. Ruler of Niflheim, the land of
mists. Heroic souls go to Valhalla. Those who die of disease or old age come
to Niflheim. Surrounded by high walls and strong gates, Niflheim is
impregnable; not even Balder could return from there without Hel's
HERMOD A hero god. Hermod rode through the gates of Niflheim to rescue
Balder and found Balder seated on the right hand of Hel. Hel agreed to
release Balder on condition that all living things weep for him.
HODER Little is known about Hoder, other than that he is blind. Loki tricked
Hoder into killing Balder with a sprig of mistletoe. Hoder will join Balder
in the new world which will come into being when the present one is destroyed.
IDUNN Wife of Bragi, keeper of the golden apples of eternal youth. The giant
Thiazzi kidnapped her with the aid of Loki.
LOKI A trickster. Sly, deceitful, a master thief, not to be trusted.
Nevertheless, Loki is charming, witty, quite capable, and possessed of a
sardonic sense of humor which he aims at himself no less often than at others.
A shape shifter who can change into almost any animal form. Loki was involved
in many of the gods' adventures, usually because one of his tricks had made
some kind of a mess.
MIDGARD SERPENT The great snake which lies in the ocean and encircles the
world, its tail in its mouth. On the day of Ragnarok, the world will
disappear under the ocean's waters when the Midgard Serpent rises from the
sea. Thor will kill the Midgard Serpent but will be killed by the Serpent's
MIMIR The guardian of a spring of wisdom at the root of Yggdrasill, the world
tree which connects the lower and higher worlds and is the source of all life.
Odin gave an eye to drink from that spring.
NERTHUS An earth mother worshipped by the German tribe of the Suebi. Her
sacred grove stood on an island in the North Sea.
NJORD The chief of the Vanir, who warred with the Aesir. Lord of the winds
and of the sea, giver of wealth. Particularly revered on the west coast of
Sweden. In pagan days, oaths in law courts were sworn in his name. Njord may
be a masculine form of Nerthus.
ODIN Also OTHINN; WODEN; WOTAN A god of strife and war, magic and death.
The chief of the Aesir who lives in his hall Valaskjal in Sagard from which he
can look out over all the worlds. In his hall Valhalla, valkyries (female war
spirits) serve heros who have fallen in battle and will aid the god in the
great battle of Ragnarok. On Odin's shoulders perch two ravens, Hugin
("Thought") and Munin ("Memory") who can fly about all the worlds to bring
Odin knowledge. Odin often aids great heros but is quite fickle and can turn
against a man for any reason or none. Tales of Odin's treachery are not
merely Christian propaganda. Odin's worshippers themselves could be quite
sharp-tongued about Odin's unfaithfulness. Odin's worship involved human
sacrifices, who were generally hung from trees or gallows.
RAGNAROK "Destruction of the powerful ones." The Twilight of the Gods. The
time of fire and ice. The great battle at the end of time between the gods
and the Frost Giants in which the world will be destroyed and made anew.
Ragnarok will be preceded by three winters of bitter wars followed by the
Fimbulvetr, a winter so cold that the usn will give no heat. Then the forces
of evil will gather and make war on the gods.
THOR God of thunder. Huge, red-bearded, red-eyed, powerful. His weapon is
the magic hammer Mjollnir, which is augmented by a magic belt which doubles
Thor's strength, and iron gloves with which Thor grips Mjollnir. In some ways
Odin's rival, Thor is the god of law and order, the champion of the people.
Unlike Odin, Thor will keep faith. Oaths were sworn in Thor's name, which no
sane man would ever do with Odin. When Christianity came to Iceland, the
other gods surrendered meekly, but Thor fought to the bitter end. The Hammer
is Thor's sacred sign and is the most common image in Nordic art. The worship
of Thor survived well into the Christian age; little silver hammers were often
made in the smith's shop along with crosses and crucifixes.
TIWAZ The one-handed sky god and war god of the early Germanic peoples.
Tiwaz was worshipped with human sacrifices conducted in the deep forest.
Tiwaz is god of law and justice, and oaths were sworn in his name. His
functions were later taken over by Odin and Thor, though unlike Odin Tiwaz is
completely without deceit and guile. Tiwaz is also known as Irmin, and his
sacred pillar Irminsul symbollically held the universe together.
TYR God of battle, the only god with the strength and courage to bind Fenris.
Warriors marked their swords with a T to gain the god's protection. Tyr was
originally was Tiwaz, retained in a later pantheon but overshadowed by Odin
WELAND Also VOLUNDR; WIELAND; WAYLAND God of smiths and metal workers. Son
of the giant Wade. Weland has much in common with smith gods such as Govannon
and Hephaistos, which comes as no surprise. Technology and metalworking
spread slowly in the ancient world, usually on a person to person basis, and
highly skilled metalsmiths and other technical workers formed a virtual
international brotherhood similar to the Masons.
NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN
ANGUTA (Inuit/Eskimo) Gatherer of the dead. Anguta carries the dead down to
the underworld, where they must sleep with him for a year.
ANINGAN (Inuit/Eskimo) The moon, brother to the sun whom Moon chases across
the sky. Aningan has a great igloo in the sky where he rests.
Irdlirvirissong, his demon cousin, lives there as well. The moon is a great
hunter, and his sledge is always piled high with seal skins and meat.
ASGAYA GIGAGEI (Cherokee) The Red Man or Woman evoked in spells to cure the
ill. Asgaya Gigagei is either male or female, depending on the sex of the
ATIRA (Pawnee) The Earth, Sacred Mother of every living creature.
The Pawnee were hunters. When told to abandon hunting and settle down to
farming, their priest replied: "You ask me to plow the ground! Shall I take
a knife and tear my mother's bosom? Then when I die she will not take me to
her bosom to rest. You ask me to dig for stone! Shall I dig under her skin
for her bones? Then when I die I cannot enter her body to be born again. You
ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it, and be rich like white men! But
how dare I cut off my mother's hair? It is a bad law and my people cannot
AWONAWILONA (Pueblo Indians) "The One Who Contains Everything." The Supreme
God, the Creator of All. Before the creation there was only Awonawilona; all
else was darkness and emptiness. Both male and female, Awonawilona created
everything from himself and taking form became the maker of light, the Sun.
BIG HEADS (Iroquois) Demon gods. Giand heads without bodies which fly about
in storms. They find men very tasty.
BREATHMAKER (Seminole) Breathmaker taught men to fish and dig wells, and
made the Milky Way. When the virtuous die, they follow the Milky Way to a
glorious city in the western sky.
COYOTE (Southwestern Indians, but known in other areas as well) A trickster,
a clown. The creator and teacher of men. Like Loki, Coyote is always lurking
about, causing trouble and playing pranks. To the Zunis, Coyote is a hero who
set forth the laws by which men may live in peace. The Pomo Indians maintain
that Coyote created the human race and stole the sun to keep them warm. The
Montana Sioux say that Coyote created the horse.
The Chinook tell how Coyote and Eagle went to the land of the dead to bring
back their dead wives. On reaching the land of the dead, they found a meeting
lodge lit only by the moon which lay on the floor. Every night an old woman
would swallow the moon and the dead would appear in the meeting lodge.
Recognizing their wives among the spirits of the dead, the two gods devised a
plan. The next day, after the old woman had vomited up the moon and the dead
had disappeared, Coyote built a huge wooden box and placed in it leaves of
every kind of plant. Coyote and Eagle then killed the old woman, and Coyote
donned her clothes. When the time came, Coyote swallowed the moon. The dead
appeared, but Eagle had place the box outside the exit. When Coyote vomited
up the moon, the dead filed out and were trapped in the box. Coyote pleaded
to be allowed to carry the box, and Eagle gave it to him. But Coyote couldn't
waitto see his wife and opened the box. The spirits of the dead rose up like
a cloud and disappeared to the west. So it is that people must die forever,
not like the plants which die in winter and are green again in a season.
DEOHAKO (Iroquois/Seneca) Spirits of maize, beans and gourds who live
together in a single hill. Searching for dew, the maize spirit Onatha was
captured by the evil spirit Hahgwehdaetgah who took her off to the underworld.
Sun rescued her, and ever since she has remained in the cornfields until the
corn is ripe.
ESTANATLEHI (Navajo) First Woman's adopted daughter. To punish mankind for
pride, First Man and First Woman sent a plague of monsters to kill and devour
them. The time came when First Woman repented of the evils she and First Man
had visited upon men, and she sought a means for their deliverance. First
Woman discovered the infant Estanatlehi lying on the ground near First Woman's
mountain, and took her in. The infant Estanatlehi grew to adulthood in four
days. Making love with the Sun, she gave birth to the Twin Brothers who after
many adventures slew the monsters.
EVENING STAR (Pawnee) An evil star who drives the sun down out of the sky
and send his daughter to hinder Morning Star from the sun back up again.
FIRST MAN AND FIRST WOMAN (Navajo) In the beginning, First Man and First
Woman ascended from the underworld together with Coyote, leading the people
through trials and tribulations into the surface world which became their
home. Deciding that the sky was too empty with only Sun and Moon, First Man,
First Woman and Coyote gathered up glittering stones and placed them in the
sky to serve as stars.
GAHE Also GA'AN (Apache) Supernatural beings who dwell inside mountains.
The can sometimes be heard dancing and beating drums. Because they can heal
and drive away disease, they are worshipped. In the ritual dances of the
Chiricahua Apache masked dancers painted a different color for each point of
the compass represent all the Gahe except the Grey One. The Grey One, though
he appears as a clown, is really the mightiest of all the Gahe.
GLUSKAP (Algonquin) The Creator, or more exactly, the creator force.
Generally benevolent, but often whimsical. Gluskap created the plains, the
food plants, the animals and the human race from the body of the Mother Earth.
His rival was his wolf brother Malsum, who made rocks, thickets and poisonous
animals. After a long struggle Gluskap killed Malsum and drove his evil magic
under the earth. Gluskap drove away monsters, fought stone giants, taught
hunting and farming to men, and gave names to the stars. His work done,
Gluskap paddled towards the sunrise in a birch bark canoe. Some day he may
HINO (Iroquois) Thunder god, god of the sky. The Rainbow is his consort.
With his fire arrows, Hino destroys evil beings.
IRDLIRVIRISISSONG (Inuit/Eskimo) The demon cousin of the moon. Sometimes
Irdlirvirissong comes out into the sky to dance and clown and make the people
laugh. But if anyone is nearby, the people must restrain themselves or the
demon clown will dry them up and eat their intestines.
KACHINAS (Hopi) Nature spirits which inhabit and control everything --
animal spirits, spirits of departed ancestors, spirits of natural resources
such as wind, rain and thunder. Their exact number is not known, but at least
five hundred appear in the mythologies of the different villages.
KANATI (Cherokee) "The Lucky Hunter." Sometimes called First Man. He lives
with his wife Selu ("Corn") in the east where the sun rises, and their sons,
the Twin Thunder Boys, live in the west.
KITCKI MANITOU (Algonquin) The Great Spirit, the Supreme Being. The
Uncreated, the Father of Life, God of the Winds. The Great Spirit is present
in some way in nearly every North American Indian mythology.
MICHABO (Algonquin) The Great Hare. A trickster. A shape-shifter. Creator
of men, the earth, deer, water and fish. Michabo drives away cannibal
spirits. In the House of Dawn, Michabo is host to the souls of good men,
feeding them succulent fruits and fish.
MORNING STAR (Pawnee) A protector who leads the sun upward into the sky. A
NAGENATZANI (Navajo) Elder Twin Brother.
NESARU (Arikara) Sky spirit. In the beginning, Nesaru had charge over all
creation. Displeased with a race of giants in the underworld who would not
respect his authority, Nesaru sent a new race to the underworld to replace
them and sent a flood which destroyed the giants without destroying the new
men. When the new men cried out to be released from the underworld, Nesaru
sent the Corn Mother for their deliverance.
NOKOMIS (Algonquin) "Grandmother." The Sacred Earth Mother. Nokomis
nurtures all living things.
NORTH STAR (Pawnee) A creator god. Beneficiant and venerated.
OCASTA (Cherokee) "Stonecoat." The name comes from his coat which was made
of pieces of flint. Equally good and evil, Ocasta was one of the Creator's
helpers. Ocasta created witches and drifted from village to village stirring
up turmoil. Some women trapped Ocasta, pinning him to the ground with a stick
through his heart. The men cremated the dying Ocasta, who while burning on
his funeral pyre taught them songs and dances for hunting, fighting wars and
healing. Some of the men were granted great power and became the first
OLELBIS (Wintun, Pacific Coast) The Creator who lived in Olelpanti (Heaven)
with two old women. When the first people destroyed the world with fire,
Olelbis sent wind and rain to quench the flames, and repaired the earth.
Olelbis intended men to live forever. When they grew old, they were to climb
to heaven and join Olelbis in paradise. Olelbis set two vultures to the task
of building a ladder to Olelpanti for men to ascend, but Coyote persuaded them
to stop work.
RABBIT (Southeastern tribes) Like Coyote and Michabo, a trickster god.
Through a sly trick, Rabbit brought fire to man.
RAVEN (Northwestern tribes) Another trickster god. Very greedy, forever
seeking food. Raven stole the moon from a miser and placed it in the sky.
SEDNA (Inuit/Eskimo) Goddess of the sea and the creatures of the sea. A
one-eyed giant. A frightfull old hag, but she was young and beautiful when
her father threw her in the sea as a sacrifice. A sorcerer wishing to visit
Sedna must pass through the realms of death and then cross an abyss where a
wheel of ice spins eternally and a cauldron of seal meat stews endlessly. To
return he must cross another abyss on a bridge as narrow as a knife edge.
SELU (Cherokee) "Corn." Sometimes known as First Woman. Kanati's wife.
Selu created corn in secret by rubbing her belly or by defecating. Her sons,
the Twin Thunder Boys, killed her when they spied upon her and decided she was
SHAKURA (Pawnee) Sun god. The Pawnee performed their famous Sun Dance for
Shakura's sake. Young warriors attached themselves to tall poles with strips
of hide which were tied to sharp stakes. The stakes were driven through the
skin and flesh on the chest. The young brave would then support his entire
weight with the hide ropes as he slowly circled the pole following the sun's
movement in the sky. This lasted until the sun went down or the stakes ripped
out of the brave's flesh.
SOUTH STAR (Pawnee) God of the underworld, the opposite of North Star.
Magical and feared.
SUN (Cherokee) A goddess. When Sun's daughter was bitten by a snake and
taken to the Ghost Country, Sun hid herself in grief. The world was ever
dark, and Sun's tears became a flood. At last the Cherokee sent their young
men and women to heal Sun's grief, which they did with singing and dancing.
SUN (Inuit/Eskimo) A beautiful young maiden carrying a torch who is chased
through the sky by her brother Aningan, the moon. The planet Jupiter is the
mother of the sun and very dangerous to magicians. If they are careless, she
will devour their livers.
TEKKEITSERKTOCK (Inuit/Eskimo) The earth god, master of hunting to whom all
TIRAWA-ATIUS (Pawnee) The Power Above, creator of the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning Tirawa-Atius called the gods together to announce his plan
to create the human race and promised the gods a share of power for their
help. Shakura the Sun was assigned to provide light and heat, Pah the Moon
was assigned the night, and Tirwara-Atius placed the Evening Star, the Mother
of All Things in the west. The Morning Star he set to guard the east. After
the gods had raised dry land from the watery chaos, Tirawa Atius told Sun and
Moon to make love, and they gave birth to a son. He then told Evening and
Morning Star to make love, and they gave birth to a daughter. So the human
race was made.
All would have been well if Coyote had not stolen a sack of storms from
Lightening. Opening the sack, Coyote loosed the storms and so brought death
into the world.
THOBADESTCHIN (Navajo) Youngest Twin Brother.
THOUME' (Chitimacha) Thoume' taught the people to make clothing and fire,
and how to make love. After making the moon and the sun, Thoume' sent the
trickster god Kutnahin to teach medicine and food preparation to men.
Kutnahin traveled through the world disguised as a derelict covered with
TORNGASAK (Inuit/Eskimo) The good spirit, representing everything in nature
good and helpful to man.
TWIN THUNDER BOYS (Cherokee) The sons of Kanati and Selu. Kanati and Selu
live in the east, the Twin Thunder Boys live in the west. When thunder
sounds, the boys are playing ball.
WACHABE (Sioux/Osage) Black Bear. A guardian. Symbol of long life,
strength and courage.
_OCEANIA (PACIFIC ISLANDS AND AUSTRALIA)
AGUNUA (Solomon Islands) Serpent god. All other gods are only an aspect of
Agunua. The first coconut from each tree is sacred to Agunua.
ALULUEI (Micronesia) God of knowledge and navigation. Aluluei has two
faces, one to see where he is going, the other to see where he has been.
Aluluei makes his home on sandbars.
BUNJIL (Australian) A sky god. Bunjil made men out of clay while his
brother, Bat, made women out of water. To mankind Bunjil gave tools, weapons
and religious ceremony.
DARAMULUN (Australian) A sky god, a hero. There are many tales of his
adventures. Daramulun is usually portrayed with a mouth full of quartz and a
huge phallus, carrying a stone axe.
DREAM TIME (Australian) The period of creation when the gods brought the
world and all living creatures into being.
GIDJA (Australian) Moon god. In the Dream Time, Gidja created women by
castrating Yalungur, for which he was punished by Kallin Kallin. Gidja
floated out to sea and ended up in the sky, where he became the moon.
GREAT RAINBOW SNAKE Also JULUNGGUL, GALERU, UNGUR, WONUNGUR, WOROMBI,
YURLUNGGUR, LANGAL, MUIT and many others names. (Australian) The great giver
of life who lives in a deep pool, stretches across the sky and shines with
water drops, quartz and mother of pearl. In the Dream Time, the Great Rainbow
Snake created all the waterways and all living creatures. The Great Rainbow
Snake is the greatest of all the gods, and no wise man will dare offend him.
Many pools are sacred to him and must not be contaminated with blood.
Sorcerers perform their magic with pieces of quarts and mother of pearl,
because their iridescence holds the life force of the Great Rainbow Snake.
HINA Also HINE (Polynesia) Goddess of darkness, who brought death to
humankind by slaying the god Maui. While sailing with her brother Ru, she
drifted off to the moon, liked what she saw, and decided to stay, thereby
becoming Hina the Watchwoman and a patroness of travelers.
IO (New Zealand) "Io of the Hidden Face," "Io the Originator of All Things,"
"Io Eternal," "Io God of Love." Supreme being of the Maori, master of all the
other gods, known only to the priesthood.
KALLIN KALLIN (Australian) Chickenhawk. Kallin Kallin punished Gidja for
castrating his brother Yalungur, the Eaglehawk, by ambushing Gidja as he
crossed a bridge and throwing him into the ocean. Realizing that Yalungur was
now a woman and therefore no longer a member of the tribe, Kallin Kallin took
Yalungur as his wife and so established the custom among Australian aborigines
of taking wives from different communities.
KUKLIKIMOKU (Polynesia) God of war. His colors are red and yellow, and his
is the crested feather helmet of the Hawaiians.
MARRUNI (Melanesia) God of earthquakes. Marruni's tail terrified his wives,
so he cut it into pieces and from them made animals and human beings.
MAUI (Polynesia) "Maui of the thousand tricks." A trickster and a hero god.
Maui lived when the world was still being created, and fought on the side of
humankind, constantly struggling to get them a better deal. Maui raised the
sky and snared the sun. His death at the hands of Hina brought death into the
NAREAU (Micronesia) Actually two gods, Old Spider and Young Spider.
Creators and tricksters. Old Spider created the world from a seashell, but
the heavens and the earth were not properly separated, so Young Spider
enlisted the aid of Riiki, the eel, to fix the problem. They then created the
sun, moon and stars, and a great tree from which came the race of men.
OLIFAT (Micronesia) A trickster. Olifat invented the custom of tattooing.
Olifat loves pranks and is constantly spoiling food, ruining fishing trips and
seducing men's wives.
PELE (Polynesia) Goddess of volcanic fire and sorcery. Pele lives in Mt.
Kilauea in Hawaii. Altars to Pele are built beside lava streams, though only
those descended from her worship her.
QAT (Polynesia) Creator god. Qat was born when his mother, a stone,
suddenly exploded. Qat made the first three pairs of men and women by carving
them from wood and playing drums to make them dance. Qat stopped night from
going on forever by cutting it with a hard red stone, which is the dawn. Qat
sailed away in a canoe filled with all manner of wonderful things, leaving
behind the legend that he would one day return. When the Europeans first
came, many believed that Qat had finally come back.
RUA (Tahiti) The Abyss. God of craftsmen. Rua invented wood carving.
TAWHAKI (Polynesia) God of thunder and lightening. Noble and handsome.
TU (Polynesia) "Tu of the Angry Face," "Tu the Man Eater," "Tu the Lover of
War," "Tu of the Narrow Face." God of war.
WONDJINA (Australian) The primordial beings of the great Dream Time, who
created the world. They are shown in rock paintings with halos and no mouths,
their eyes and noses joined. The Wondjina give both rain and children, and
their paintings are touched up every year so that they will continue to bring
rain at the end of the dry season.
YALUNGUR (Australian) Eaglehawk. Yalungur defeated the terrible ogress
Kunapipi and became the first woman.
Part 5: ROME / SANTERIA / SLAVIC / SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN INDIAN /
(See also the section on Greek deities)
ANGERONA Goddess of secrecy. Angerone is portrayed with her mouth bound and
sealed, her finger raised to her mouth in a gesture of warning. The ancients
thought names powerful; the commonly known name of an individual or a
community was often not the real name at all, the real name being a closely
guard secret. Very probably the cult of Angerona guarded the secret name of
the city of Rome. Little else is known of her.
ATTIS A god of vegetation, similar to Tammuz and Adonis. Imported together
with his mother Cybele from Persia. Driven mad by the deranged love of his
mother, Attis castrated himself under a pine tree. Attis' priests were
BELLONA War goddess. Bellona's priests were recruited from the gladiators,
and emissaries were received at her temple.
CYBELE An Asian goddess adopted by the Greeks and Romans. A healer, mistress
of fertility and untamed nature, a protector in war. Cybele is always
accompanied by two lions. Cybele granted immortality to those who worshipped
her. Cybele's priests danced wildly and mutilated themselves. Her festivals,
held at the beginning of spring, were occasions for wild orgies.
FAUNA Goddess of fertility. Fauna's festival, which seems to have been quite
an orgy, was open only to women, being strictly forbidden to men.
FAUNUS God of crops and herds. An oracle. Faunus' temple, the Lupercal, was
supposed to have been the site where the she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus.
Goats and dogs were sacrificed at his festival, the Lupercalia, and priests
dressed in newly skinned goat hides whipped women who wished to become
pregnant with whips made of goatskin.
FEBRUUS The Etruscan god of the underworld, later associated with Dis Pater,
the Latin equivalent of Hades. The month of the dead, February, is named
FIDES God of faithfulness.
FLORA Goddess of flowers and blooming plants. Usually shown with a wreath of
flowers in her hair. A favorite deity of courtesans, Flora's festivals were
held in April and May.
FORTUNA Goddess of fate and chance. Fortuna's statue was kept veiled,
because she was ashamed of the capriciousness of her favors. Fortuna is
represented by the sphere, the ship's rudder, the cornucopia, and the wheel.
To this day, wheels of fortune can be found in casinos, and the wheel on the
tenth card of the Major Arcana is Fortuna.
GENIUS A guardian who protects both individuals and homes.
JANUS Guardian of entrances and exits, the opener of all things who looks
inward as well as outward, custodian of the universe. Janus' two-faced image
was usually displayed over doorways and gates. Janus signifies both past and
future wisdom. Janus is the god of beginnings, so the first month of each
year, the first day of each month, and the first hour of each day are
dedicated to him. Janus was the first god to be mentioned in prayers, even
LAR God of the house, a cheerful and beautiful youth.
MARS God of farming, war and springtime. Like the typical Roman citizen,
Mars was first a farmer and then a soldier. The wolf, the oak and the
woodpecker are sacred to Mars. Often identified with the Greek god Ares, but
the differences are more important than the similarities. For one thing, the
Romans liked Mars.
MITHRAS The god who dies and rises again, god of vegetation, the sun god, the
Savior who who redeems mankind from evil. A Roman version of a Persian god.
Especially popular among soldiers, Mithras was widely worshipped throughout
the Roman empire and gave Christianity a run for its money. Mithras' cult
served a number of purposes and its organization was highly complex. A temple
of Mithras served as a social club, a place of worship, a dramatic society, a
magical society, an officers' club, and much more. The worshippers of Mithras
conducted elaborate ceremonies to which no woman was admitted. The worship of
Mithras emphasized correct behavior in this world, which was the only way to
win the favor of the god in the next. There were different degrees of
initiation into the cult, each degree having its own name: the Crow, the
Secret, the Soldier, the Lion, the Fathers and many more on up to the King of
Kings, which was open only to those of royal blood. Initiates were placed
under a grating upon which a bull had been slaughtered and were drenched in
its blood, signifying the emergence from death to rebirth. Ceremonies
generally took place in caverns or rooms made up to look like caverns, and
involved the wild beating of drums, anointings with honey, the unveiling of
hidden statues, and the use of hallucenogenic drugs.
OPS Goddess of the harvest. Identified with the Greek goddess RHEA.
QUIRINIAS A mystery. Originally a war god of the Sabines, later a state god
o the Romans. One of the highest gods of ancient Rome, every bit as important
as Mars or Jupiter, yet almost nothing is known today of Quirinias or his
TELLUS MATER An ancient earth goddess. Pregnant cows were sacrificed on her
festival, April 15. Tellus is one of the very oldest gods, dating back to the
time before the Roman religion was formalized.
VESTA "The Shining One." Goddess of domestic life and the hearth.
Worshipped privately in the home and publicly in Vesta's temple. In the home,
Vesta lived near the hearth and was offered food and drink at every meal. The
Vestal Virgins served her, and (apart from mothers who were allowed to bring
offerings during festivals) were the only ones allowed to enter her temple.
The Vestal Virgins, chosen only from the nobility, tended a sacred fire which
was the symbol of the hearth of the nation. A strict vow of chastity was
imposed on the Virgins, and a Virgin caught breaking the vow was walled up
alive. In more than a thousand years, only twenty women were so punished.
AGAYU The volcano. Agayu grants protection from violence and chaos. His
colors are brown, red and green. Identified with St. Christopher.
BABALU AYE A god of health and healing, who concerns himself with the poor.
His colors are black, purple, and brown. Identified with St. Lazarus.
CHANGO Also SHANGO, XANGO Ruler of thunder and fire, a god of passion, power
and music. A hero in shining armor who uses lightening to increase the
fertility of the earth and his worshippers. Chango was an actual historical
figure who ruled as the fourth chieftain of Oyo, a city in modern Nigeria.
His colors are red and white. Identified with St. Barbara.
ELEGGUA Also PAPA LEGBA, EXU, ELEGBA A trickster. A god of travelers and
small children. The one who opens the way for seekers, the keeper of the
crossroads between the natural and supernatural worlds. Eleggua pushes or
tricks us beyond the limits of mundane existence, teasing and daring us to
greater heights. His colors are black and red. Identified with St. Anthony.
OBATALA Also OXALA, BATALA "The Old Man of the Mountains, "Chief of the
White Cloth." A god of mercy, purity and spirituality. King of peace. One
turns to Obatala for ethical guidance. His color is white. Identified with
the crucified Christ.
OCHUN Also OSHUN, ERZULIE, OXUM The River. Goddess of love, marriage, art,
joy, beauty, laughter, generosity, abundance, the erotic. Her colors are
yellow, amber and coral. Identified with Our Lady of Caridad.
OGUN Also OGOU-FERAILLE, OGUM A god of iron and machines, work, war and
death. A blacksmith, a soldier, a politician. The patron of truck drivers.
The civilizer, the one who clears the way through the wilderness with his
ever-present machete. His colors are green, red and black. Identified with
St. Anthony and St. Peter.
OLOKUN God of the ocean depths. God of the unconscious. His colors are
aqua, coral and crystal. Identified with La Diosa del Mar.
ORULA Oracle of the Ifa faith, concerned with human destiny. His colors are
green and yellow. Identified with St. Francis.
OYA Also YANSA, MAMAN-BRIGETTE Goddess of wind, justice and the dead. Her
symbol is the cemetary. Oya is sudden change, the whirlwind, revolution, the
huntress. Lightening and rainbows signal her presence. Her colors are brown,
wine, purple and black. Identified with St. Catherine and St. Theresa.
YEMAYA Also YEMONJA, LA BALIANNE "Mother of the Fishes." Ruler of the
ocean's surface, she works closely with Olokun, ruler of the ocean's depths.
Yemaya's love sustains life, her compassion comforts children in crises and
turmoil, her waves wash away all sorrow. Her colors are blue, white, and
crystal. Identified with Mary.
BABA YAGA Goddess of death and regeneration. Baba Yaga can appear as either
an old crone or a beautiful young woman. Baba Yaga lives in darkness and eats
people, but she has the gift of prophecy as well.
BELOBOG Also BELBOG, BELUN The White God, the god of the day, the god of
Heaven, the bringer of good luck, the god of heavenly light, the god of
happiness and peace, the judge who rewards good and punishes evil. A wise old
man with a long beard dressed in white, Belobog appears only during the day.
CHERNOBOG The Black God, the god of night, the god of Hell, the bringer of
evil luck, the god of infernal darkness, the opposite of Belobog in every way.
Chernobog and Belogbog are personifications of opposing principles of good and
evil, light and dark, chaos and order.
DAZHBOG A personification of the sun. Each morning Dazhbog mounts a diamond
chariot and drives forth from his golden palace in the east, starting the day
as a young man and ending the day as a dying old man. His attendants are two
virgins, the morning and evening stars; a wise old counsellor, the moon; seven
judges, the planets; and seven messengers, the comets. Dazhbog ages with the
year and takes on a different aspect with each season. Among other seasonal
aspects, he was worshipped during the harvest as Sventovit, whose name means
"Holy Light," and in winter as Svarozhich, the newborn winter sun.
DOMOVOI The protector of the house. Every home had its own domovoe who
dwelled behind the oven and who might abandon the house if he was not properly
honored. The Domovois protected not only the human inhabitants of the house
but their herds and household animals as well. In some areas the Slavs
believed that prosperity and well-being could not exist in a new house until
the head of the family died and became its guadian spirit.
KUPULA A goddess of water, sorcery and herbal lore. Kuplula personifies the
magical and spiritaul power inherent in water, and Kupula's devotees
worshipped her with ritual baths and offerings of flowers cast upon water.
Since fire as well as water has powers of purification, her worshippers also
danced aroudn and leaped over huge bonfires. Frequently her effigy was burned
or cast into pools of water. Kupula's cult preserved an extensive lore of
magical plants and herbs which gave men the power to read minds, control evil
spirits, find hidden treasures, and win the love of beautiful women.
MATI SYRA ZEMLIA Not a name, but a title which means Moist Mother Earth. An
earth goddess. The most ancient and possibly the most important of the Slavic
gods. Ever fruitful and powerful, Mati Syra Zemlia was worshipped well into
the twentieth century. Mother Earth was an oracle whom anyone could consult
without any need for a priest or shaman as a go-between. The Slavs felt the
profoundest respect for Mother Earth. Peasants settled property disputes by
appealing to Mother Earth to witness the truth of their claims, and oaths were
sworn in her name.
MOKOSH Also MOKYSHA, MOKUSH The goddess who both gives and takes life, the
spinner of the thread of life, the giver of the water of life. Mokosh later
became PARASKEVA-PIATNITSA, a goddess of spinning, water, fertility, health
PERUN Also PIORUN, PYERUN, PERON "Lord of the Whole World." God of thunder,
justice, and war, chief adversary of the Black God. Perun's weapons are
thunderbolts. The Slavs made sacrifices of goats and bulls to Perun in a
grove with an oak tree. With the coming of Chritianity, Perun merged with St.
Elijah, who is portrayed in icons flying across the sky in a chariot.
VED'MA A demon goddess who flies over the clouds and mountains on a broom or
rake. Ved'ma causes storms, keeps the water of life and death, and knows the
magical properties of plants. Ved'ma can be young and beautiful or old and
ugly as she pleases.
VELES Also VOLOS Veles was worshipped in two aspects. As Veles he is god of
death and the underworld, god of music, and a sorcerer. As Volos he is god of
cattle wealth and commerce. The worship of Veles vanished with the coming of
Christianity, but the worship of Volos survived as late as the eighteenth
ZORIA Also ZARIA The heavenly bride, goddess of beauty and morning. At down
her worshippers greeted her as "the brightest maiden, pure, sublime,
SOUTH AND CENTRAL AMERICAN INDIAN
AUCHIMALGEN (Araucanian, Chile) Moond goddess, wife of the sun. Only Auchimalgen cares anything for the human race, all the rest of the gods being utterly malevolent. Auchimalgen wards off evil spirits and turns red when some important person is about to die.
BACABS (Maya) The gods of the four points of the compass, who hold up the sky. The lords of the seasons.
CAMAZOTZ (Maya) Bat god, demon of the underworld.
CHAC (Mayan) "Lightening," "the Cutter," "Lord of the nine generations." Rain god. One of the four Bacabs, the Lord of the East. Portrayed as a red man with a long nose. Revered particularly by farmers.
CUPARA (Jivaro) Cupara and his wife are the parents of the sun, for whom
thye created the moon from mud to be his mate. The children of the sun and
moon are the animals, and among the animals is the sloth, who was the ancestor
of the Jivaro.
EK CHUA God of merchants and cacao growers. Black faced with a huge nose.
EVAKI (Bakairi) Goddess of night. Evaki places the sun in a pot every night
and moves the sun back to its starting point in the east every day. Evaki
stole sleep from the eyes of the lizards and shared it with all the other
HUNAB KU Also KINEBAHAN (Maya) "Eyes and mouth of the sun." The Great God
without Form, existing only in spirit. The chief god of the Mayan pantheon.
HURAKAN (Maya) God of thunderstorms and the whirlwind. His name gave us the
word "hurricane." At the behest of his friend Gucumatz, son of the Sun and
the Moon, Hurakan created the world, the animals, men and fire.
IMAHMANA VIRACOCHA and TOCAPO VIRACHOCHA (Inca) Son of the creator
Viracocha. After the Great Flood and the Creation, Viracocha sent his son
Imaymana Viracocha together with his brother Tocapo Viracocha to visit the
tribes and see if they still followed the commandments they had been given.
As they went, Imaymana and Tocapo gave names to all the trees, flowers, fruits
and herbs, and taught the people which of these could be eaten, which could
cure, and which could kill.
INTI (Inca) Sun god. Inti's image is a golden disk with a human face
surrounded by bright rays. Every day Inti soars across the sky to the western
horizon, plunges into the sea, and swims under the earth back to the east.
Inti's sons are Wirakocha, Pachacomac, and Manco Capac.
ITZAMNA (Maya) "Lizard House." Sky god and healer, son of Hunab Ku.
Founder of the Mayan capital city of Mayapan. God of drawing and letters,
patron of learning and the sciences. Itzamna can bring the dead back to life.
His symbol is a red hand to which the ill pray for healing.
IX CHEL (Maya) "Lady Rainbow." Consort of Itzamna. Goddess of the moon, of
weaving and of medicine. Her hands and feet are claws, and there are snakes
in her hair. Except for Hunab Ku, all the other gods are the progeny of Ix
Chel an Itzamna.
IXTAB (Maya) Goddess who rules the paradise of the blessed, who are served
magnificent food and drink in the shade of the tree Yaxche. For reasons
cmopletely obscure, Ixtab is portrayed as a hanged woman with a noose around
KAMI and KERI (South American generally) Kami and Keri were born into the
sky world as the sons of the jaguar Oka and a woman created by magic. Their
mother was killed by Mero, the jaguar's mother, and in revenge, Kami and Keri
burned her and themselves up in a great fire. Bringing themselves back to
life, they came to earth as human beings where the separated the heavens from
the earth, stolfe fire from the eyes of Fox, and made the rivers with water
stolen from the Great Snake. After teaching humans how to live together,
their work was done, and they climbed to a mountain peak where they
KONIRA WIRAKOCHA (Inca) The great god Wirkocha diguised as a traveler in
rags. A trickster, a prankster. No one knew who he was, and the people he
passed called him names. Yet as he walked, he created. With a word he made
the fields and terraced hillsides. Dropping a reed blossom, he made water
KUKULCAN (Maya) "The Feathered Serpent.) Serpent god. The city of Quirigua
was dedicated to his service. Roughly similar to Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs.
He is said to have built the great city fo Chicen Itza.
MAMA QUILLA (Inca) Goddess of the moon. Protector of married women. Her
image is a silver disc with a human face.
MANCO CAPAC (Inca) The son of Inti, also a solar god. The youngest of four
brothers, Manco Capac defied the eldest brother who greedily demanded all of
creation for himself. Sealing the eldest brother forever in a cave, Manco
Capac murdered another and frightened the third into fleeing, never to be seen
again. Thus gaining power over all the world, Manco Capac founded the city of
Cuzco and was worshipped as the Son of the Sun.
NGURVILU (Araucanian, Chile) God of lakes and seas. Ngurvilu prowls about
the waters in the form of a wild cat. It's tail ends in a huge claw, with
which Ngurvilu might attack any human out of sheer maliciousness.
PACHAMAC (Inca) God of the earth, creator god. Prior to the Incan conquest,
the Peruvians worshipped Pachamac as the supreme being. For political
purposes, the Incas were forced to adopt Pachamac into their own pantheon, but
his position was never very secure. The great Inca Atahualpa treated
Pachamac's priests with cold indifference, explaining to the Spanish
conquistador Francisco Pizarro that the god's oracle had made three ruinously
inaccurate prophecies. The Great Sun King even incited the Spaniards to
defile and loot the god's temple. They accepted the invitation
PILLAN (Araucanian, Chile) God of fire, thunder, and war, chief of all the
gods. Aided by brigades of evil spirits, pillan causes earthquakes and
volcanic eruptions, blights crops, creates storms and sends war.
SUPAI (Inca) God of death. A god of insatiable greed. The Incas sacrificed
over a hundred children a year to Supai and still he would not leave them
TONAPA Also TONAPA VIRACOCHA NIPACACHAN The great god Viracocha in human
form, traveling in disguise as an old man with a staff, preaching virtue to
the people, working miracles, sleeping in the fields with nothing but his
tunic for cover. Failing more often than succeeding, widely despised, Tonapa
departed across the sea.
TUPAN (Tupinamba, Brazil) God of thunder and lightening. A bulky young man
with wavy hair. Tupan likes to visit his mother often, and when he does the
passage of his boat causes storms. The Tupinamba respect but do not worship
VIRACOCHA (Inca) Literally, Sea-Foam. The Creator. The teacher of the
world. After the Great Flood, which covered even the highest mountains and
destroyed all life, Virococha molded new people out of clay at Tia Huanaco.
On each figure of clay he painted the many features, clothes and hairstyles of
the many nations, and gave to them their languages, their songs and the seeds
they were to plant. Bringing them to life, Viracocha ordered them to travel
underground and emerge at different places on the earth. Then Viracocha made
the sun and the moon and the stars, and assigned them to their places in the
sky. Raising up smaller Viracocha, the God ordered them to go about the world
and call forth the people, and see to it that they mulitplied and followed the
commandments they had been given. Some of the little viracocha went south,
some went southeast, while the God's two sons traveled northeast and
northwest. Viracocha himself traveled straight north. Some tribes had
rebelled, and these Viracocha punished by turning the people into stone. At
Pucara, forty leagues north of Cuzco, Viracocha called down fire from the sky
upon those who had disobeyed his commandments. Arriving at last at Cuzco and
the seacoast, Viracocha gathered together his two sons and all the little
viracocah, and they walked across the water until they disappeared.
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Ions, Veronica, EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY, Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1983
Moctezuma, Eduardo Matos, THE AZTECS, Rizzoli International Publications, 1989
Osborne, Harold, SOUTH AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY, Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1986
Parrinder, Geoffrey, AFRICAN MYTHOLOGY, Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1987
Perowne, Stewart, ROMAN MYTHOLOGY, Peter Bedrick Books, New York, 1984
Pinsent, John, GREEK MYTHOLOGY, Peter Bedrick books, New York, 1983
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Shawl, Nisi, "A Natural Wealth: The Gods of the African Diaspora," GNOSIS, Summer 1993
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Walker, Barbara G. THE WOMAN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYTHS AND SECRETS, Harper and Row, New York, 1983
- Category: Deity
A SMALL DICTIONARY OF PAGAN GODS AND GODDESSES