Goddess

A goddess is a deity.[1] Goddesses have been linked with virtues such as beauty, love, motherhood and fertility (Mother-goddess cult in prehistoric times). They have also been associated with ideas such as war, creation, and death.

In some faiths, a sacred female figure holds a central place in religious prayer and worship. For example, Shaktism, the worship of the female force that animates the world, is one of the three major sects of Hinduism.

The primacy of a monotheistic or near-monotheistic "Great Goddess" is advocated by some modern matriarchists as a female version of, preceding, or analogue to, the Abrahamic God associated with the historical rise of monotheism in the Mediterranean Axis Age.

Polytheist religions, including Polytheistic reconstructionists, honour multiple goddesses and gods, and usually view them as discrete, separate beings. These deities may be part of a pantheon, or different regions may have tutelary deities.

Amsterdam - Museum Willet-Holthuysen 18
Aphrodite is the ancient Greek goddess of beauty and love.

Etymology

The noun goddess is a secondary formation, combining the Germanic god with the Latinate -ess suffix. It first appeared in Middle English, from about 1350.[2] The English word follows the linguistic precedent of a number of languages—including Egyptian, Classical Greek, and several Semitic languages—that add a feminine ending to the language's word for god.

Earth or Mother Goddesses

Ancient Egyptian Goddess
The head of an Egyptian goddess. The gender is suggested by the lack of a beard, and the simple hairstyle points to the divine status of the subject.

Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, a 1988 interview with Bill Moyers,[note 1] links the image of the Earth or Mother Goddess to symbols of fertility and reproduction.[3] For example, Campbell states that, "There have been systems of religion where the mother is the prime parent, the source... We talk of Mother Earth. And in Egypt you have the Mother Heavens, the Goddess Nut, who is represented as the whole heavenly sphere".[4] Campbell continues by stating that the correlation between fertility and the Goddess found its roots in agriculture.[5]

Historical polytheism

Ancient Near East

Mesopotamia

Inanna was the most worshipped goddess in ancient Sumer.[6][7][8] She was later syncretized with the East Semitic goddess Ishtar.[9] Other Mesopotamian goddesses include Ninhursag, Ninlil, Antu and Gaga.

Ancient Africa (Egypt)

Goddess Neith E3730 mp3h8826
A statue of the Egyptian war goddess Neith wearing the Deshret crown of northern (lower) Egypt, which bears the cobra of Wadjet.

Canaan

Goddesses of the Canaanite religion: Ba`alat Gebal, Astarte, Anat.

Anatolia

  • Cybele: Her Hittite name was Kubaba, but her name changed to Cybele in Phrygian and Roman culture. Her effect can be also seen on Artemis as the Lady of Ephesus.
  • Hebat: Mother Goddess of the Hittite pantheon and wife of the leader sky god, Teshub. She was the origin of the Hurrian cult.
  • Arinniti: Hittite Goddess of the sun. She became patron of the Hittite Empire and monarchy.
  • Leto: A mother Goddess figure in Lykia. She was also the main goddess of the capital city of Lykia League (Letoon)

Pre-Islamic Arabia

In pre-Islamic Mecca the goddesses Uzza, Manāt and al-Lāt were known as "the daughters of god". Uzzā was worshipped by the Nabataeans, who equated her with the Graeco-Roman goddesses Aphrodite, Urania, Venus and Caelestis. Each of the three goddesses had a separate shrine near Mecca. Uzzā, was called upon for protection by the pre-Islamic Quraysh. "In 624 at the battle called "Uhud", the war cry of the Qurayshites was, "O people of Uzzā, people of Hubal!" (Tawil 1993).

In fact, in ancient times, the goddess and god were known as Allat and Allah, or what would better be termed as deities representing "husband and wife".[10]

According to Ibn Ishaq's controversial account of the Satanic Verses (q.v.), these verses had previously endorsed them as intercessors for Muslims, but were abrogated. Most Muslim scholars have regarded the story as historically implausible, while opinion is divided among western scholars such as Leone Caetani and John Burton, who argue against, and William Muir and William Montgomery Watt, who argue for its plausibility.

Indo-European traditions

Pre-Christian and pre-Islamic goddesses in cultures that spoke Indo-European languages.

Indian

  • Ushas: is the main goddess of the Rigveda.
  • Prithivi: the Earth, also appears as a goddess. Rivers are also deified as goddesses.
  • Agneya: or Aagneya is the Hindu Goddess of Fire.
  • Varuni: is the Hindu Goddess of Water. Bhoomi, Janani, Buvana, and Prithvi are names of the Hindu Goddess of Earth.

Iranian

  • Anahita: or Anahit, or Nahid, or Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā, or Aban: the divinity of "the Waters" and hence associated with fertility, healing, beauty and wisdom.
  • Daena: a divinity, counted among the yazatas, representing insight and revelation, hence "conscience" or "religion".
  • Spenta Armaiti: or Sandaramet, one of the Amesha Spentas, a female divinity associated with earth and Mother Nature. She is also associated with the female virtue of devotion (to family, husband, and child). In the Iranian calendar, her name is on the twelfth month and also the fifth day of the month.
  • Ashi: a divinity of fertility and fortune in the Zoroastrian hierarchy of yazatas.[11]

Greco-Roman

Ceres statue
Statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture
  • Eleusinian Mysteries: Persephone, Demeter, Baubo
  • Artemis: Goddess of the wilderness, wild animals, virginity, childbirth and the hunt.
  • Aphrodite: Goddess of Love and Beauty.
  • Athena: Goddess of crafts, strategy, wisdom and war. Athena is also a virgin goddess.
  • Dione: An early chthonic goddess of prophesy.
  • Eris: Goddess of chaos.
  • Gaia: Primordial Goddess of the Earth. Most gods descend from her.
  • Hecate: Goddess of sorcery, crossroads and magic. Often considered a chthonic or lunar goddess. She is either portrayed as a single goddess or a triple goddess (maiden, mother, crone).
  • Hera: Goddess of family and marriage. She is the wife of Zeus and the queen of the Olympians. Mother of Ares.
  • Hestia: Goddess of the hearth, home, domesticity, family and the state. Eldest sibling of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hera and Demeter. Hestia is also a virgin goddess.
  • Iris: Goddess of rainbows.
  • Nike: Goddess of Victory. She is predominantly pictured with Zeus or Athena and sometimes Ares.
  • Selene: Goddess of the Moon.

Celtic

Goddesses and Otherworldly Women in Celtic polytheism include:

The Celts honored goddesses of nature and natural forces, as well as those connected with skills and professions such as healing, warfare and poetry. The Celtic goddesses have diverse qualities such as abundance, creation and beauty, as well as harshness, slaughter and vengeance. They have been depicted as beautiful or hideous, old hags or young women, and at times may transform their appearance from one state to another, or into their associated creatures such as crows, cows, wolves or eels, to name but a few. In Irish mythology in particular, tutelary goddesses are often associated with sovereignty and various features of the land, notably mountains, rivers, forests and holy wells.[12]

Germanic

Freia Gestures to Hyndla by Frølich
The goddess Freyja is nuzzled by the boar Hildisvíni while gesturing to Hyndla (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.

Surviving accounts of Germanic mythology and Norse mythology contain numerous tales of female goddesses, giantesses, and divine female figures in their scriptures. The Germanic peoples had altars erected to the "Mothers and Matrons" and held celebrations specific to these goddesses (such as the Anglo-Saxon "Mothers-night"). Various other female deities are attested among the Germanic peoples, such as Nerthus attested in an early account of the Germanic peoples, Ēostre attested among the pagan Anglo-Saxons, and Sinthgunt attested among the pagan continental Germanic peoples. Examples of goddesses attested in Norse mythology include Frigg (wife of Odin, and the Anglo-Saxon version of whom is namesake of the modern English weekday Friday), Skaði (one time wife of Njörðr), Njerda (Scandinavian name of Nerthus), that also was married to Njörðr during Bronze Age, Freyja (wife of Óðr), Sif (wife of Thor), Gerðr (wife of Freyr), and personifications such as Jörð (earth), Sól (the sun), and Nótt (night). Female deities also play heavily into the Norse concept of death, where half of those slain in battle enter Freyja's field Fólkvangr, Hel's realm of the same name, and Rán who receives those who die at sea. Other female deities such as the valkyries, the norns, and the dísir are associated with a Germanic concept of fate (Old Norse Ørlög, Old English Wyrd), and celebrations were held in their honor, such as the Dísablót and Disting.

Pre-Columbian America

Aztec

Toci and Xochiquetzal, Two Aztec Goddesses WDL6731
Xochiquetzal (left) and Chalchiuhtlicue (right) as depicted in the Tovar Codex.

Other

The Inca pantheon included: Pachamama, the supreme Mother Earth, Mama Killa, a moon goddess, and Mama Ocllo, a fertility goddess.

The main goddesses in the Maya pantheon were Ixchel, a mother goddess, and the Maya moon goddess. The Goddess I presided over eroticism, human procreation, and marriage. Ixtab was the goddess of suicide.

Folk religion and animism

African religions

クマリnepalネパールImg683
A Nepali girl being worshipped as a living Goddess, called a kumari

In African and African diasporic religions, goddesses are often syncretized with Marian devotion, as in Ezili Dantor (Black Madonna of Częstochowa) and Erzulie Freda (Mater Dolorosa). There is also Buk, an Ethiopian goddess still worshipped in the southern regions. She represents the fertile aspect of women. So when a woman is having her period not only does it signify her submission to nature but also her union with the goddess. Another Ethiopian goddess is Atete—the goddess of spring and fertility. Farmers traditionally leave some of their products at the end of each harvesting season as an offering while women sing traditional songs.

A rare example of henotheism focused on a single Goddess is found among the Southern Nuba of Sudan. The Nuba conceive of the creator Goddess as the "Great Mother" who gave birth to earth and to mankind.[13]

Chinese folk religion

  • Mazu is the goddess of the sea who protects fishermen and sailors, widely worshipped in the south-eastern coastal areas of China and neighbouring areas in Southeast Asia.
  • The Goddess Weaver Zhinü, daughter of the Celestial Mother, wove the stars and their light, known as "the Silver River" (what Westerners call "The Milky Way Galaxy"), for heaven and earth. She was identified with the star Westerners know as Vega.[14]

Shintoism

Goddess Amaterasu is the chief among the Shinto gods, while there are important female deities Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, Inari and Konohanasakuya-hime.[15]

Hinduism

Durga Mahisasuramardini
The Hindu warrior goddess Durga killing the buffalo-demon Mahishasura.

Hinduism is a complex of various belief systems that sees many gods and goddesses as being representative of and/or emanative from a single source, Brahman, understood either as a formless, infinite, impersonal monad in the Advaita tradition or as a dual god in the form of Lakshmi-Vishnu, Radha-Krishna, Shiva-Shakti in Dvaita traditions. Shaktas, worshippers of the Goddess, equate this god with Devi, the mother goddess. Such aspects of one god as male god (Shaktiman) and female energy (Shakti), working as a pair are often envisioned as male gods and their wives or consorts and provide many analogues between passive male ground and dynamic female energy.

For example, Brahma pairs with Sarasvati. Shiva likewise pairs with Parvati who later is represented through a number of Avatars (incarnations): Sati and the warrior figures, Durga and Kali. All goddesses in Hinduism are sometimes grouped together as the great goddess, Devi.

The Shaktis took a further step. Their ideology, based mainly on tantras, sees Shakti as the principle of energy through which all divinity functions, thus showing the masculine as depending on the feminine. In the great shakta scripture known as the Devi Mahatmya, all the goddesses are aspects of one presiding female force—one in truth and many in expression—giving the world and the cosmos the galvanic energy for motion. It expresses through philosophical tracts and metaphor, that the potentiality of masculine being is actuated by the feminine divine. More recently, the Indian author Rajesh Talwar has critiqued Western religion and written eloquently on the sacred feminine in the context of the North Indian Goddess Vaishno Devi.[16]

Local deities of different village regions in India were often identified with "mainstream" Hindu deities, a process that has been called Sanskritization. Others attribute it to the influence of monism or Advaita, which discounts polytheist or monotheist categorization.

While the monist forces have led to a fusion between some of the goddesses (108 names are common for many goddesses), centrifugal forces have also resulted in new goddesses and rituals gaining ascendance among the laity in different parts of Hindu world. Thus, the immensely popular goddess Durga was a pre-Vedic goddess who was later fused with Parvati, a process that can be traced through texts such as Kalika Purana (10th century), Durgabhaktitarangini (Vidyapati 15th century), Chandimangal (16th century) etc.

Abrahamic religions

Judaism

According to Zohar, Lilith is the name of Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time as Adam. She left Adam and refused to return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with archangel Samael.[17] Her story was greatly developed during the Middle Ages in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar and Jewish mysticism.[18]

The Zohar tradition has influenced Jewish folkore, which postulates God created Adam to marry a woman named Lilith. Outside of Jewish tradition, Lilith was associated with the Mother Goddess, Inanna – later known as both Ishtar and Asherah. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh was said to have destroyed a tree that was in a sacred grove dedicated to the goddess Ishtar/Inanna/Asherah. Lilith ran into the wilderness in despair. She then is depicted in the Talmud and Kabbalah as first wife to God's first creation of man, Adam. In time, as stated in the Old Testament, the Hebrew followers continued to worship "False Idols", like Asherah, as being as powerful as God. Jeremiah speaks of his (and God's) displeasure at this behavior to the Hebrew people about the worship of the goddess in the Old Testament. Lilith is banished from Adam and God's presence when she is discovered to be a "demon" and Eve becomes Adam's wife. Lilith then takes the form of the serpent in her jealous rage at being displaced as Adam's wife. Lilith as serpent then proceeds to trick Eve into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge and in this way is responsible for the downfall of all of mankind. It is worthwhile to note here that in religions pre-dating Judaism, the serpent was associated with wisdom and rebirth (with the shedding of its skin).

The following female deities are mentioned in prominent Hebrew texts:

Christianity

Sophia design
Virgin Sophia design on a Harmony Society doorway in Harmony, Pennsylvania, carved by Frederick Reichert Rapp (1775–1834).

In Christianity, worship of any other deity besides the Trinity was deemed heretical. The veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, as an especially privileged saint has continued since the beginning of the Catholic faith. Mary is venerated as the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Church, Our Lady, Star of the Sea, and other lofty titles. Marian devotion similar to this kind is also found in Eastern Orthodoxy and sometimes in Anglicanism, though not in the majority of denominations of Protestantism. That being said, the Virgin Mary is not a goddess.

In some Christian traditions (like the Orthodox tradition), Sophia is the personification of either divine wisdom (or of an archangel) that takes female form. She is mentioned in the first chapter of the Book of Proverbs. Sophia is identified by some as the wisdom imparting Holy Spirit of the Christian Trinity, whose names in Hebrew—Ruach and Shekhinah—are both feminine, and whose symbol of the dove was commonly associated in the Ancient Near East with the figure of the Mother Goddess.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe, though don't directly worship, in the existence of a Heavenly Mother who is the female counterpart of the Heavenly Father. Its adherents also believe that all humans, both men and women, have the potential to become as Gods, through a process known as exaltation.

In Mysticism, Gnosticism, as well as some Hellenistic religions, there is a female spirit or goddess named Sophia who is said to embody wisdom and who is sometimes described as a virgin. In Roman Catholic mysticism, Saint Hildegard celebrated Sophia as a cosmic figure both in her writing and art. Within the Protestant tradition in England, the 17th-century mystic universalist and founder of the Philadelphian Society Jane Leade wrote copious descriptions of her visions and dialogues with the "Virgin Sophia" who, she said, revealed to her the spiritual workings of the universe. Leade was hugely influenced by the theosophical writings of 16th-century German Christian mystic Jakob Böhme, who also speaks of Sophia in works such as The Way to Christ.[19] Jakob Böhme was very influential to a number of Christian mystics and religious leaders, including George Rapp and the Harmony Society.

Feminism

Isis Musei Capitolini MC744
Roman, Hadrianic period, statue of Isis in marble from the Musei Capitolini.

Goddess movement

At least since first-wave feminism in the United States, there has been interest in analyzing religion to see if and how doctrines and practices treat women unfairly, as in Elizabeth Cady Stanton's The Woman's Bible. Again in second-wave feminism in the U.S., as well as in many European and other countries, religion became the focus of some feminist analysis in Judaism, Christianity, and other religions, and some women turned to ancient goddess religions as an alternative to Abrahamic religions (Womanspirit Rising 1979; Weaving the Visions 1989). Today both women and men continue to be involved in the Goddess movement (Christ 1997). The popularity of organizations such as the Fellowship of Isis attest to the continuing growth of the religion of the Goddess throughout the world.

While much of the attempt at gender equity in mainstream Christianity (Judaism never recognized any gender for God) is aimed at reinterpreting scripture and degenderizing language used to name and describe the divine (Ruether, 1984; Plaskow, 1991), there are a growing number of people who identify as Christians or Jews who are trying to integrate goddess imagery into their religions (Kien, 2000; Kidd 1996,"Goddess Christians Yahoo Group").

Sacred feminine

The term "sacred feminine" was first coined in the 1970s, in New Age popularizations of the Hindu Shakti. Hinduism also worships multitude of goddesses that have their important role and thus in all came to interest for the New Age, feminist, and lesbian feminist movements.[20]

Metaphorical use

The term "goddess" has also been adapted to poetic and secular use as a complimentary description of a non-mythological woman.[21] The OED notes 1579 as the date of the earliest attestation of such figurative use, in Lauretta the diuine Petrarches Goddesse.

Shakespeare had several of his male characters address female characters as goddesses, including Demetrius to Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream ("O Helen, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine!"), Berowne to Rosaline in Love's Labour's Lost ("A woman I forswore; but I will prove, Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee"), and Bertram to Diana in All's Well That Ends Well. Pisanio also compares Imogen to a goddess to describe her composure under duress in Cymbeline.

Neopaganism

Most Modern Pagan traditions honour one or more goddesses. While some who follow Wicca believe in a duotheistic belief system, consisting of a single goddess and a single god, who in hieros gamos represent a united whole, others recognize only one or more goddesses.

Wicca

Triple-Goddess-Waxing-Full-Waning-Symbol
The lunar Triple Goddess symbol.

In Wicca "the Goddess" is a deity of prime importance, along with her consort the Horned God. Within many forms of Wicca the Goddess has come to be considered as a universal deity, more in line with her description in the Charge of the Goddess, a key Wiccan text. In this guise she is the "Queen of Heaven", similar to Isis. She also encompasses and conceives all life, much like Gaia. Similarly to Isis and certain late Classical conceptions of Selene, she is the summation of all other goddesses, who represent her different names and aspects across the different cultures. The Goddess is often portrayed with strong lunar symbolism, drawing on various cultures and deities such as Diana, Hecate, and Isis, and is often depicted as the Maiden, Mother, and Crone triad popularised by Robert Graves (see Triple Goddess below). Many depictions of her also draw strongly on Celtic goddesses. Some Wiccans believe there are many goddesses, and in some forms of Wicca, notably Dianic Wicca, the Goddess alone is worshipped, and the God plays very little part in their worship and ritual.

Goddesses or demi-goddesses appear in sets of three in a number of ancient European pagan mythologies; these include the Greek Erinyes (Furies) and Moirai (Fates); the Norse Norns; Brighid and her two sisters, also called Brighid, from Irish or Celtic mythology.

Robert Graves popularised the triad of "Maiden" (or "Virgin"), "Mother" and "Crone", and while this idea did not rest on sound scholarship, his poetic inspiration has gained a tenacious hold. Considerable variation in the precise conceptions of these figures exists, as typically occurs in Neopaganism and indeed in pagan religions in general. Some choose to interpret them as three stages in a woman's life, separated by menarche and menopause. Others find this too biologically based and rigid, and prefer a freer interpretation, with the Maiden as birth (independent, self-centred, seeking), the Mother as giving birth (interrelated, compassionate nurturing, creating), and the Crone as death and renewal (holistic, remote, unknowable) — and all three erotic and wise.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ First broadcast on PBS in 1988 as a documentary, The Power of Myth was also released in the same year as a book created under the direction of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

References

  1. ^ Ellwood, Robert S. (2007). The Encyclopedia of World Religions (Rev. ed.). New York: Facts on File. p. 181. ISBN 1438110383.
  2. ^ Barnhart (1995:323).
  3. ^ "Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth - Season 1, Episode 5: Love and the Goddess - TV.com". TV.com. CBS Interactive.
  4. ^ p. 165, 1988, first edition
  5. ^ pp.166–7, (1988, first edition)
  6. ^ Wolkstein, Diane; Kramer, Samuel Noah (1983). Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer. New York City, New York: Harper&Row Publishers. p. xviii. ISBN 0-06-090854-8.
  7. ^ Sylvia Brinton Perera, Descent to the Goddess (Toronto 1982) re Inanna and Ereshkigal.
  8. ^ Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea (1998). Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Daily Life. Greenwood. p. 182. ISBN 978-0313294976.
  9. ^ Collins, Paul (1994). "The Sumerian Goddess Inanna (3400-2200 BC)". Papers of from the Institute of Archaeology. 5. UCL. pp. 110–111.
  10. ^ "Allah, Divine or Demonic? Chapter Fifteen". Balaams-ass.com. 1 June 1984. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  11. ^ Taheri, Sadreddin (2014). "Goddesses in Iranian Culture and Mythology". Tehran: Roshangaran va Motale’at-e Zanan Publications.
  12. ^ Wood, Juliette (2001). The Celts: Life, Myth, and Art (New ed.). London: Duncard Baird Publishers. p. 42. ISBN 9781903296264.
  13. ^ Mbiti, John S. (1991). Introduction to African Religion (2nd rev. ed.). Oxford, England: Heinemann Educational Books. p. 53. ISBN 9780435940027.
  14. ^ Chang, Jung (2003). Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (reprint ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 429. ISBN 1439106495. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Amaterasu". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  16. ^ http://www.kalpazpublications.com/index.php?p=sr&Uc=9788178355900&l=0
  17. ^ "Samael & Lilith - Unexplained - IN SEARCH FOR TRUTH". rin.ru.
  18. ^ Schwartz, Howard (2004). Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 218. ISBN 0195358708.
  19. ^ Böhme, Jacob (1622). The Way to Christ. William Law (trans.). Pater-noster Row, London: M. Richardson.
  20. ^ Kinsley, David (1988). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition (1st ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780520908833. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  21. ^ OED: "Applied to a woman. one's goddess: the woman whom one ‘worships’ or devotedly admires."

Further reading

  • Dexter, Miriam Robbins, and Victor Mair (2010). Sacred Display: Divine and Magical Female Figures of Eurasia. Cambria Press.
  • Barnhart, Robert K (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology: the Origins of American English Words. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-270084-7
  • Gorshunova . Olga V.(2008), Svjashennye derevja Khodzhi Barora…, ( Sacred Trees of Khodzhi Baror: Phytolatry and the Cult of Female Deity in Central Asia) in Etnoragraficheskoe Obozrenie, n° 1, pp. 71–82. ISSN 0869-5415. ‹See Tfd›(in Russian).
  • Taheri, Sadreddin (2014). "Goddesses in Iranian Culture and Mythology". Tehran: Roshangaran va Motale’at-e Zanan Publications. ISBN 9789641940821.
Aphrodite

Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, which is named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite's major symbols include myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans.

The cult of Aphrodite was largely derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite's main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus, Corinth, and Athens. Her main festival was the Aphrodisia, which was celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess. She was also the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of "sacred prostitution", an idea which is now generally seen as erroneous.

In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from the foam (aphrós) produced by Uranus's genitals, which his son Cronus has severed and thrown into the sea. In Homer's Iliad, however, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Plato, in his Symposium 180e, asserts that these two origins actually belong to separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania (a transcendent, "Heavenly" Aphrodite) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite common to "all the people"). Aphrodite had many other epithets, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult. Thus she was also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus), because both locations claimed to be the place of her birth.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and metalworking. Despite this, Aphrodite was frequently unfaithful to him and had many lovers; in the Odyssey, she is caught in the act of adultery with Ares, the god of war. In the First Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, she seduces the mortal shepherd Anchises. Aphrodite was also the surrogate mother and lover of the mortal shepherd Adonis, who was killed by a wild boar. Along with Athena and Hera, Aphrodite was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War and she plays a major role throughout the Iliad. Aphrodite has been featured in western art as a symbol of female beauty and has appeared in numerous works of western literature. She is a major deity in modern Neopagan religions, including the Church of Aphrodite, Wicca, and Hellenismos.

Artemis

Artemis (; Greek: Ἄρτεμις Artemis, Attic Greek: [ár.te.mis]), in the ancient Greek religion and myth, is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the Moon, and chastity.

Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the patron and protector of young girls, and was believed to bring disease upon women and relieve them of it. Artemis was worshipped as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth and midwifery along with Eileithyia. Much like Athena and Hestia, Artemis preferred to remain a maiden and is sworn never to marry.

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities and her temple at Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Artemis' symbols included a bow and arrow, a quiver and hunting knives and the deer and the cypress were sacred to her. The goddess Diana is her Roman equivalent.

Athena

Athena or Athene, often given the epithet Pallas, is an ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare, who was later syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva. Athena was regarded as the patron and protectress of various cities across Greece, particularly the city of Athens, from which she most likely received her name. She is usually shown in art wearing a helmet and holding a spear. Her major symbols include owls, olive trees, snakes, and the Gorgoneion.

From her origin as an Aegean palace goddess, Athena was closely associated with the city. She was known as Polias and Poliouchos (both derived from polis, meaning "city-state"), and her temples were usually located atop the fortified acropolis in the central part of the city. The Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis is dedicated to her, along with numerous other temples and monuments. As the patron of craft and weaving, Athena was known as Ergane. She was also a warrior goddess, and was believed to lead soldiers into battle as Athena Promachos. Her main festival in Athens was the Panathenaia, which was celebrated during the month of Hekatombaion in midsummer and was the most important festival on the Athenian calendar.

In Greek mythology, Athena was believed to have been born from the head of her father Zeus. In the founding myth of Athens, Athena bested Poseidon in a competition over patronage of the city by creating the first olive tree. She was known as Athena Parthenos ("Athena the Virgin"), but, in one archaic Attic myth, the god Hephaestus tried and failed to rape her, resulting in Gaia giving birth to Erichthonius, an important Athenian founding hero. Athena was the patron goddess of heroic endeavor; she was believed to have also aided the heroes Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, and Jason. Along with Aphrodite and Hera, Athena was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War. She plays an active role in the Iliad, in which she assists the Achaeans and, in the Odyssey, she is the divine counselor to Odysseus.

In the later writings of the Roman poet Ovid, Athena was said to have competed against the mortal Arachne in a weaving competition, afterwards transforming Arachne into the first spider; Ovid also describes how she transformed Medusa into a Gorgon after witnessing her being raped by Poseidon in her temple. Since the Renaissance, Athena has become an international symbol of wisdom, the arts, and classical learning. Western artists and allegorists have often used Athena as a symbol of freedom and democracy.

Demeter

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter (; Attic: Δημήτηρ Dēmḗtēr, pronounced [dɛːmɛ́ːtɛːr]; Doric: Δαμάτηρ Dāmā́tēr) is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito (Σιτώ), "she of the Grain", as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (θεσμός, thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; φόρος, phoros: bringer, bearer), "Law-Bringer", as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and which may have its roots in the Mycenaean period c. 1400–1200 BC. Demeter was often considered to be the same figure as the Anatolian goddess Cybele, and in Rome she was identified as the Latin goddess Ceres.

Devi

Devī (Sanskrit: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for "goddess"; the masculine form is Deva. Devi – the feminine form, and Deva – the masculine form, mean "heavenly, divine, anything of excellence", and are also gender specific terms for a deity in Hinduism.

The concept and reverence for goddesses appears in the Vedas, which were composed in the 2nd millennium BCE; however, they do not play a central role in that era. Goddesses such as Parvati and Durga have continued to be revered into the modern era. The medieval era Puranas witnessed a major expansion in mythology and literature associated with Devi, with texts such as the Devi Mahatmya, wherein she manifests as the ultimate truth and supreme power. She has inspired the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.The divine feminine has the strongest presence as Devi in Hinduism, among major world religions, from the ancient times to the present. The goddess is viewed as central in Shakti and Saiva Hindu traditions.

Diana (mythology)

Diana (Classical Latin: [dɪˈaːna]) is a Roman goddess of the hunt, the Moon, and nature, associated with wild animals and woodland. She is equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, and absorbed much of Artemis' mythology early in Roman history, including a birth on the island of Delos to parents Jupiter and Latona, and a twin brother, Apollo, though she had an independent origin in Italy.

Diana was known as the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, along with Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry. Oak groves and deer were especially sacred to her. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities; Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.Diana is revered in modern Neopagan religions including Roman Neopaganism, Stregheria, and Wicca. From the medieval to the modern period, as folklore attached to her developed and was eventually adapted into neopagan religions, the mythology surrounding Diana grew to include a consort (Lucifer) and daughter (Aradia), figures sometimes recognized by modern traditions. In the ancient, medieval, and modern periods, Diana has been considered a triple deity, merged with a goddess of the moon (Luna/Selene) and the underworld (usually Hecate).

Durga

Durga (Sanskrit: दुर्गा, IAST: Durgā), identified as Adi Parashakti, is a principal and popular form of Hindu Goddess. She is the warrior goddess, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity and dharma of the good. She is the fierce form of the protective mother goddess, willing to unleash her anger against wrong, violence for liberation and destruction to empower creation.Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon, often defeating Mahishasura (lit. buffalo demon).

The three principle forms of Durga worshiped are Maha Durga, Chandika and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi who is of the combined power and form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and of Chamunda who is a form of Kali created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda. Maha Durga has three forms: Ugrachanda, Bhadrakali and Katyayani. Bhadrakali Durga is also worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga.

She is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman. One of the most important texts of Shaktism is Devi Mahatmya, also known as Durgā Saptashatī or Chandi patha, which celebrates Durga as the goddess, declaring her as the supreme being and the creator of the universe. Estimated to have been composed between 400 and 600 CE, this text is considered by Shakta Hindus to be as important a scripture as the Bhagavad Gita. She has a significant following all over India, Bangladesh and Nepal, particularly in its eastern states such as West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam and Bihar. Durga is revered after spring and autumn harvests, specially during the festival of Navratri.

Gaia

In Greek mythology, Gaia ( or ; from Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Γῆ Gē, "land" or "earth"), also spelled Gaea (), is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess. She is the immediate parent of Uranus (the sky), from whose sexual union she bore the Titans (themselves parents of many of the Olympian gods) and the Giants, and of Pontus (the sea), from whose union she bore the primordial sea gods. Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.

Greek mythology

Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.The Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most likely by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC; eventually the myths of the heroes of the Trojan War and its aftermath became part of the oral tradition of Homer's epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.

Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods, heroes, and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence.Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes.

Kali

Kali (, Sanskrit: काली, (IAST: Kālī), also known as Kālikā (Sanskrit: कॉलिंका) or Shyāmā (Sanskrit: श्यामा), is a Hindu goddess. Kali is one of the ten Mahavidyas, a list which combines Sakta and Buddhist goddesses.Kali's earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces. She is the most powerful form of Shakti. She is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of the Kulamārga, a category of tantric Saivism. Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as the divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India.

Lakshmi

Lakshmi (; Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी, IAST: lakṣmī) or Laxmi, is the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. She is the wife and shakti (energy) of Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism Tradition. With Parvati and Saraswati, she forms Tridevi, the holy trinity. Lakshmi is also an important deity in Jainism and found in Jain temples. Lakshmi has also been a goddess of abundance and fortune for Buddhists, and was represented on the oldest surviving stupas and cave temples of Buddhism. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and Southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi with minor iconographic differences.Lakshmi is also called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or gunas, and is the divine strength of Vishnu. In Hindu religion, she was born from the churning of the primordial ocean (Samudra manthan) and she chose Vishnu as her eternal consort. When Vishnu descended on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as his respective consort as Sita and Rukmini. In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings. Lakshmi is considered another aspect of the same supreme goddess principle in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism.Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. She typically stands or sits like a yogin on a lotus pedestal and holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life: dharma, kāma, artha and moksha. She is often depicted as part of the trinity (Tridevi) consisting of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati.

Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for Lakshmi by the 1st millennium BCE. Lakshmi's iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia, estimated to be from the second half of the 1st millennium CE. The festivals of Diwali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honor.

List of Forgotten Realms deities

This is a list of Forgotten Realms deities. They are all deities that appear in the fictional Forgotten Realms campaign setting of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.

The deities of other Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings, including those of the default (or "core") setting for the Dungeons & Dragons game, are not generally a part of Forgotten Realms. However, there is some overlap, especially among the deities of nonhuman races. Lolth, the principal deity of the drow in the Forgotten Realms, is specifically described as being the same deity as Lolth in other campaign settings. No mention is made as to whether other deities shared between Forgotten Realms and other campaign settings are intended to represent the same divine entity.

Deities are included in this list only when documented in a Forgotten Realms-specific source or otherwise clearly indicated as existing in the setting. For deities in the core setting, see List of deities of Dungeons & Dragons.

List of Greek mythological figures

The following is a list of gods, goddesses and many other divine and semi-divine figures from Ancient Greek mythology and Ancient Greek religion. (The list does not include creatures; for these, see List of Greek mythological creatures.)

Norse mythology

Norse mythology is the body of myths of the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition.

The source texts mention numerous gods, such as the hammer-wielding, humanity-protecting thunder-god Thor, who relentlessly fights his foes; the one-eyed, raven-flanked god Odin, who craftily pursues knowledge throughout the worlds and bestowed among humanity the runic alphabet; the beautiful, seiðr-working, feathered cloak-clad goddess Freya who rides to battle to choose among the slain; the vengeful, skiing goddess Skaði, who prefers the wolf howls of the winter mountains to the seashore; the powerful god Njörð, who may calm both sea and fire and grant wealth and land; the god Frey, whose weather and farming associations bring peace and pleasure to humanity; the goddess Iðunn, who keeps apples that grant eternal youthfulness; the mysterious god Heimdall, who is born of nine mothers, can hear grass grow, has gold teeth, and possesses a resounding horn; the jötunn Loki, who brings tragedy to the gods by engineering the death of the goddess Frigg's beautiful son Baldr; and numerous other deities.

Most of the surviving mythology centres on the plights of the gods and their interaction with various other beings, such as humanity and the jötnar, beings who may be friends, lovers, foes or family members of the gods. The cosmos in Norse mythology consists of Nine Worlds that flank a central tree, Yggdrasil. Units of time and elements of the cosmology are personified as deities or beings. Various forms of a creation myth are recounted, where the world is created from the flesh of the primordial being Ymir, and the first two humans are Ask and Embla. These worlds are foretold to be reborn after the events of Ragnarök when an immense battle occurs between the gods and their enemies, and the world is enveloped in flames, only to be reborn anew. There the surviving gods will meet, and the land will be fertile and green, and two humans will repopulate the world.

Norse mythology has been the subject of scholarly discourse since the 17th century, when key texts were brought to the attention of the intellectual circles of Europe. By way of comparative mythology and historical linguistics, scholars have identified elements of Germanic mythology reaching as far back as Proto-Indo-European mythology. During the modern period, the Romanticist Viking revival re-awoke an interest in the subject matter, and references to Norse mythology may now be found throughout modern popular culture. The myths have further been revived in a religious context among adherents of Germanic Neopaganism.

Oh My Goddess!

Oh My Goddess! (Japanese: ああっ女神さまっ, Hepburn: Aa! Megami-sama), or Ah! My Goddess! in some releases, is a Japanese seinen manga series written and illustrated by Kōsuke Fujishima. It has been serialized in Afternoon since September 1988; the individual chapters are being published in tankōbon by Kodansha, with the first released on August 23, 1989; the final volume of the manga series, volume 48, was released on July 23, 2014, marking nearly 26 years of publication. The series follows college sophomore Keiichi Morisato and the goddess Belldandy who moves in with him in a Buddhist temple; after Belldandy's sisters Urd and Skuld move in with them, they encounter gods, demons and other supernatural entities as Keiichi develops his relationship with Belldandy.

The chapters have been adapted into an original video animation produced by Anime International Company (AIC), and an anime series which aired from 2005 to 2006. Additionally, AIC has developed two OVAs and a film, and OLM, Inc. has also developed an anime series as well. Companies have developed thousands of types of merchandise, such as video games, and a light novel.

The manga series has been licensed for an English-language release by Dark Horse Comics. The OVA was licensed by AnimEigo, while the film was licensed by Geneon Entertainment, and the various TV series was licensed at various points by Media Blasters, ADV Films and Funimation.

Parvati

Parvati (Sanskrit: पार्वती, IAST: Pārvatī) or Gauri (Sanskrit: गौरी, IAST: Gaurī) is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love, beauty, marriage, children, and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power. Known by many other names, she is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Supreme Hindu goddess Adi Parashakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. She is the Mother goddess in Hinduism, and has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India. Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses (Tridevi).Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector, the destroyer (of evil) and regenerator of the universe and all life. She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and queen Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha, Kartikeya, Ashokasundari. The Puranas also referenced her to be the sister of the preserver god Vishnu. She is the divine energy between a man and a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti. She is also one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism.With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha. She is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, and her statues and iconography grace Hindu temples all over South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Persephone

In Greek mythology, Persephone ( pər-SEF-ə-nee; Greek: Περσεφόνη), also called Kore ( KOR-ee; Greek: Κόρη; "the maiden"), is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable, majestic queen of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. She becomes the queen of the underworld through her abduction by and subsequent marriage to Hades, the god of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis, and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In some versions, Persephone is the mother of Zeus' sons Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed

robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina.

Saraswati

Saraswati (Sanskrit: सरस्वती, IAST: Sarasvatī) is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. She is a part of the trinity (Tridevi) of Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva to create, maintain, and regenerate-recycle the Universe, respectively.The earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in the Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic period through modern times of Hindu traditions. Some Hindus celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring, and also known as Saraswati Puja and Saraswati Jayanti in so many parts of India) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write the letters of the alphabet on that day. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India, as well as some Buddhist sects.

Venus (mythology)

Venus (, Classical Latin: ) is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus became one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

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