Deities

Gods of the Ancient Greeks

Gods of the Ancient Greeks

 

The ancient Greeks honored a wide variety of gods, and many are still worshiped today by Hellenic Pagans. For the Greeks, much like many other ancient cultures, the deities were a part of daily life, not merely something to be chatted with in times of need. Here are some of the best-known gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon.

•Aphrodite, Goddess of Love

Aphrodite was a goddess of love and romance. She was honored by the ancient Greeks, and is still celebrated by many modern Pagans. According to legend, she was born fully formed from the white sea form that arose when the god Uranus was castrated. She came ashore on the island of Cyprus, and later was married off by Zeus to Hephaistos, the deformed craftsman of Olympus. A festival was held regularly to honor Aphrodite, appropriately called the Aphrodisiac. At her temple in Corinth, revelers often paid tribute to Aphrodite by having rambunctious sex with her priestesses.

•Ares, God of War

Ares was a Greek god of war, and son of Zeus by his wife Hera. He was known not only for his own exploits in battle, but also for getting involved in disputes between others. Furthermore, he often served as an agent of justice.

•Artemis, the Huntress

Artemis was a Greek goddess of the hunt, and like her twin brother Apollo possessed a wide variety of attributes. Some Pagans still honor her today because of her connection to times of female transition. Artemis was the Greek goddess of both hunting and childbirth. She protected women in labor, but also brought them death and sickness. Numerous cults dedicated to Artemis sprouted up around the Greek world, most of which were connected to women’s mysteries, such as childbirth, puberty, and motherhood.

•Athena, the Warrior Goddess

As a goddess of war, Athena often shows up in Greek legend to assist various heroes — Heracles, Odysseus and Jason all got a helping hand from Athena. In classical myth, Athena never took any lovers, and was often revered as Athena the Virgin, or Athena Parthenos. Although technically, Athena is a warrior goddess, she is not the same sort of war god that Ares is. While Ares goes to war with frenzy and chaos, Athena is the goddess who helps warriors make wise choices that will eventually lead to victory.

•Demeter, Dark Mother of the Harvest

Perhaps the best known of all the harvest mythologies is the story of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter was a goddess of grain and of the harvest in ancient Greece. Her daughter, Persephone, caught the eye of Hades, god of the underworld.By the time she finally recovered her daughter, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld.

•Eros, God of Passion and Lust

Ever wonder where the word “erotic” comes from? Well, it has a lot to do with Eros, the Greek god of and lust. Often described as a son of Aphrodite by her lover Ares, the god of war, Eros was a Greek god of lust and primal sexual desire. In fact, the word erotic comes from his name. He is personified in all kinds of love and lust — heterosexual and homosexual — and was worshipped at the center of a fertility cult that honored both Eros and Aphrodite together.

•Gaia, the Earth Mother

Gaia was known as the life force from which all other beings sprang, including the earth, the sea and the mountains. A prominent figure in Greek mythology, Gaia is also honored by many Wiccans and Pagans today. Gaia herself caused life to spring forth from the earth, and is also the name given to the magical energy that makes certain locations sacred.

•Hades, Ruler of the Underworld

Hades was the Greek god of the underworld. Because he’s unable to get out much, and doesn’t get to spend a lot of time with those who are still living, Hades focuses on increasing the underworld’s population levels whenever he can. Let’s look at some of his legends and mythology, and see why this ancient god is still important today.

•Hecate, Goddess of Magic and Sorcery

Hecate has a long history as a goddess, from her days in pre-Olympian times to the present. As a goddess of childbirth, she was often invoked for rites of puberty, and in some cases watched over maidens who were beginning to menstruate. Eventually, Hecate evolved to become a goddess of magic and sorcery. She was venerated as a mother goddess, and during the Ptolemaic period in Alexandria was elevated to her position as goddess of ghosts and the spirit world.

•Hera, Goddess of Marriage

Hera is known as the first of Greek goddesses. As wife of Zeus, she’s the leading lady of all the Olympians. Despite her husband’s philandering ways — or perhaps because of them — she is the guardian of marriage and the sanctity of the home. She was known to fly into jealous tirades, and wasn’t above using her husband’s illegitimate offspring as weapons against their own mothers. Hera also played a crucial role in the story of the Trojan War.

•Hestia, Guardian of Hearth and Home

Many cultures have a goddess of hearth and domesticity, and the Greeks were no exception. Hestia was the deity who watched over the home fires, and offered sanctuary and protection to strangers. She was honored with the first offering at any sacrifice made in the home. On a public level, Hestia’s flame was never allowed to burn out. The local town hall served as a shrine for her — and any time a new settlement was formed, settlers would take a flame from their old village to the new one.

•Nemesis, Goddess of Retribution

Nemesis was a Greek goddess of revenge and retribution. In particular, she was invoked against those whose hubris and arrogance got the better of them, and served as a force of divine reckoning. Originally, she was a deity who simply doled out what people had coming to them, whether good or bad.

•Pan, the Goat-Legged Fertility God

In Greek legend and mythology, Pan is known as a rustic and wild god of the forest. He is associated with the animals that live in the woods, as well as with the sheep and goats in the fields.

•Priapus, God of Lust and Fertility

Priapus is best known for his huge and constantly erect phallus, but he was also considered a god of protection. According to legend, before his birth, Hera cursed Priapus with impotence as payback for Aphrodite’s involvement in the whole Helen of Troy fiasco. Doomed to spend his life ugly and unloved, Priapus was tossed down to earth when the other gods refused to let him live on Mount Olympus. He was seen as a protector deity in rural areas. In fact, statues of Priapus were often adorned with warnings, threatening trespassers, male and female alike, with acts of sexual violence as punishment.

•Zeus, Ruler of Olympus

Zeus is the ruler of all the gods in the Greek pantheon, as well as the distributor of justice and law. He was honored every four years with a great celebration at Mt. Olympus. Although he is married to Here, Zeus is well known for his philandering ways. Today, many Hellenic Pagans still honor him as ruler of Olympus.

 

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Deities of Ancient Egypt

Deities of Ancient Egypt

The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were a complex group of beings and ideas. As the culture evolved, so did many of the deities and what they represented. Here are some of the best-known gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt.

•Anubis, God of Funerals and Embalming

Anubis is known as being a jackal-headed god of the dead, but he plays a significant role in the tale of Isis and Osiris. Find out why Anubis was important to the ancient Egyptians.

•Bast, the Cat Goddess

In ancient Egypt, cats were often worshipped as deities, Bast was one of the most highly honored feline gods. Also called Bastet, she was a goddess of sex and fertility. Originally, she was portrayed as a lioness, but was sometimes portrayed with kittens beside her, as an homage to her role as a goddess of fertility.

•Geb, God of Earth

In the ancient Egyptian religion, Geb is known as the god of the earth and is the first king of Egypt. He is often portrayed lying beneath the sky goddess, Nut. In his role as a god of earth, he is a fertility deity. Plants grow within his body, the dead are imprisoned inside him, and earthquakes are his laughter. He is more than a god of the surface of the earth – in fact, he is a god of everything contained within the earth.

•Hathor, Patron of Women

In Egyptian religion, Hathor was a predynastic goddess who embodied femininity, love and the joy of motherhood. In addition to being a symbol of fertility, she was known as a goddess of the underworld, in that she welcomed the newly departed to the West

•Isis, Mother Goddess

Originally a funerary goddess, Isis was the lover of Osiris. After his death, she used her magic to resurrect him. Isis is honored for her role as the mother of Horus, one of Egypt’s most powerful gods. She was also the divine mother of every pharoah of Egypt, and ultimately of Egypt itself.

•Ma’at, Goddess of Truth and Balance

Maat is the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. She is married to Thoth, and is the daughter of Ra, the sun god. In addition to truth, she embodies harmony, balance and divine order. In Egyptian legends, it is Maat who steps in after the universe is created, and brings harmony amidst the chaos and disorder.

•Osiris, King of Egyptian Gods

Osiris was the son of earth and sky, and beloved of Isis. He is known as the god who taught mankind the secrets of civilization. Today, he is honored by some Pagans as a god of the underworld and of the harvest.

•Ra, the Sun God

Ra was the ruler of the heavens. He was the god of the sun, the bringer of light, and patron to the pharaohs. According to legend, the sun travels the skies as Ra drives his chariot through the heavens. Although he originally was associated only with the midday sun, as time went by, Ra became connected to the sun’s presence all day long.

•Taweret, Guardian of Fertility

Taweret was an Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility – but for a while, she was considered a demon. Associated with the hippopotomus, Taweret is a goddess who watches over and protects women in labor and their new babies.

•Thoth, God of Magic and Wisdom

Thoth was an Egyptian god who spoke as the tongue of Ra. Find out what’s special about this ibis-headed deity of ancient Egypt, and how he factors in to the story of Isis and Osiris.

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Gods of the Celts (Just A Few)

Gods of the Celts

Wondering about some of the major deities of the ancient Celtic world? Although the Celts consisted of societies all over the British Isles and parts of Europe, some of their gods and goddesses have become a part of modern Pagan practice. Here are some of the deities honored by the ancient Celtic peoples

•Brighid, Hearth Goddess of Ireland

A daughter of the Dagda, Brighid is one of the classic triple goddesses of the Celtic pantheon. Many Pagans honor her today as a goddess of the hearth and home, and of divination and prophecy.

•Cailleach, Ruler of Winter

Cailleach is known in parts of the Celtic world as the hag, the bringer of storms, the Dark Mother of the winter months. However, she features prominently in mythology and is also a creator goddess.

•Cernunnos, Wild God of the Forest

Cernunnos is the horned god found in many traditions of modern Paganism and Wicca. He is an archetype found predominantly in Celtic regions, and symbolizes fertility and masculine energy.

•Cerridwen, Keeper of the Cauldron

Cerridwen is known in Welsh mythology as the keeper of the Cauldron of the Underworld in which knowledge and inspiration are brewed. She is considered a goddess of prophetic powers, and because her symbol is the Cauldron, she is an honored goddess in many Wiccan and Pagan traditions.

•The Dagda, Father God of Ireland

The Dagda was a father god of the Celtic pantheon, and plays an important role in the stories of the Irish invasions. Learn about the Dagda, and how he ended up making himself lose his own power.

•Herne, God of the Wild Hunt

In British lore, Herne the Hunter is a god of vegetation, vine, and the wild hunt. Similar in many aspects to Cernunnos, Herne is celebrated in the autumn months, when the deer go into rut. He is seen as a god of the common folk, and is typically recognized only around the Windsor Forest area of Berkshire, England.

•Lugh, Master of Skills

Lugh is the Celtic god honored for his skills and gifts as a craftsman. He is the god of blacksmiths, metal-workers and artisans. In his aspect as a harvest god, he is honored on August 1, on the festival known as Lughnasadh or Lammas.

•The Morrighan, Goddess of War and Sovereignty

The Morrighan is known as a Celtic war goddess, but there’s a lot more to her than that. Learn about this ancient patron of Celtic warriors, and why some Pagans still pay her tribute today.

•Rhiannon, Horse Goddess of Wales

In the Welsh mythological cycle, the Mabinogion, Rhiannon is known as a goddess of the horse. However, she also plays a crucial role in the kingship of Wales.

•Taliesin, Chief of the Bards

Although Taliesin is a documented historical figure in Welsh history, he has managed to become elevated to the status of a minor god. Learn why this patron of bards and poets is so important in Welsh myth cycles.

•Sheela-na-Gig

Although not an official goddess in Celtic myth and legend, this mysterious carving is found in many forms all over the United Kingdom and Ireland, and some scholars suspect a connection to fertility rituals. Who is the Sheela?

 

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Offerings to the Gods – What’s an Acceptable Gift?

Offerings to the Gods

What’s an Acceptable Gift?

In many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, it’s not uncommon to make some sort of offering or sacrifice to the gods. Bear in mind that despite the reciprocal nature of our relationship with the divine, it’s not a matter of “I’m offering you this stuff so you’ll grant my wish.” It’s more along the lines of “I honor you and respect you, so I’m giving you this stuff to show you how much I appreciate your intervention on my behalf.”

So the question arises, then, of what to offer them? Different types of deities seem to respond best to different kinds of offerings. For example, you wouldn’t offer flowers to a war god, would you? When making an offering, it’s important to think about what the god represents. The Roman Cato described an offering for agricultural prosperity: Make offerings to keep your oxen in good health. Make the following sacrifices to Mars… three pounds of wheat, four-and-a-half of lard, four-and-a-half of meat and three pints of wine. While it’s probably not necessary to go that far and offer up enough food to feed a small army to your god, the passage does illustrate the fact that our ancestors thought enough of their gods to take their offerings very seriously.

In general, bread, milk and wine are nearly always appropriate for any deity. Here are some ideas for specific offerings you can make to deities, based upon the types of gods they are:

Hearth and Home Gods:

  • Food: Bread and grains, cooking oil, salt
  • Drink: Milk, wine, cider
  • Herbs: Rosemary, thyme

Gods of Love and Passion:

  • Food: Eggs, honey, apples
  • Drink: Wine, fruit juice
  • Herbs: Lavender, sandalwood

Garden/Nature Deities:

  • Food: Bread, cornmeal, fruit
  • Drink: Milk, water
  • Herbs: Bay

Gods of Prosperity and Abundance:

  • Food: Grains, dairy products like cheese or eggs
  • Drink: Milk, beer
  • Herbs: Mint, pennyroyal, catnip

Ancestor Spirits:

  • Food: Any meal from your family’s table
  • Drink: Drinks from the family table
  • Herbs: Sage, sweetgrass

Childbirth or Fertility Godesss:

  • Food: Eggs, baked sweets like cookies
  • Drink: Milk (including breast milk)
  • Herbs: Rose, sandalwood, apple blossoms

 

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Appropriate Worship – Honoring the Gods the Right Way

Appropriate Worship – Honoring the Gods the Right Way

One issue that comes up often for people learning about modern Pagan spirituality is the concept of appropriate worship. There tends to be some question about what, exactly, is the right offering to make to the gods or goddesses of one’s tradition — and how we should honor them when making those offerings.

Let’s imagine that you have two friends. First, we have Jill. She likes French cuisine, Meg Ryan movies, soft music and expensive wine. She’s someone who lets you cry on her shoulder when you’re feeling blue, and she offers some wise and thoughtful insight when you can’t solve a problem on your own. One of her best qualities is her ability to listen.

You also have a friend named Steve. He’s a lot of fun, and sometimes shows up at your house at midnight toting a six-pack. Steve likes watching movies with lots of explosions, took you to your first Metallica concert, and can rebuild a Harley with his eyes closed. He eats mostly bratwurst and Funyuns, enjoys picking up strippers at bars, and is the guy you call when you want to have a good time.

When Jill comes over, are you going to have a nice quiet dinner with a glass of wine and Josh Groban playing in the background, or are you going to hand her a cheeseburger and a beer, pull out the Wii for a round of God of War, and stay up until 3 am seeing who can burp and fart the loudest?

Likewise, if Steve shows up, are you going to do things that he enjoys, or are you going to say, “Hey, Steve, let’s watch Steel Magnolias and talk about our feelings?

Much like our friends Jill and Steve, the gods have certain things they like and value, and certain things they don’t. To offer one of them something better suited to another is not only disrespectful, it shows that you really don’t know them at all and worse yet, haven’t even taken the time to learn about them. What do you think Steve is going to say when you offer him a vegetarian soup and turn on some chick flick? He’s going to bail, that’s what he’s going to do. Because not only did you present him with something he dislikes, but you’re showing a fundamental lack of knowledge of someone you claim is your friend.

Sure, you love Jill and Steve equally, but they’re not the same person, and they don’t have the same likes and dislikes. The gods are the same way — you may honor both Aphrodite and Mars, but that doesn’t mean Mars wants to you to leave him a bouquet of flowers and a glass of milk while you sing him Kumbaya. You can also be sure that Aphrodite probably isn’t interested in offerings of blood and raw meat, or warrior chants.

The idea of right or appropriate worship is not about someone telling you what’s “right or wrong.” It is simply the concept that one should take the time to do things – including worship and offerings – in a way that is conducive to the demands and needs of the god or goddess in question.

When you honor the gods, take the time to put some thought into it. Ask yourself what it is you hope to obtain by making the offering — are you trying to gain something, or merely show your appreciation and gratitude to the Divine? Learn about the types of deities you’re about to honor, and study the specific gods and goddesses of your tradition, so that when you do make an offering or present a ritual in their name, you can do so in a way that truly does them honor.

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Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

Do Wiccans and Pagans Believe in God?

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Deity of the Day for November 18th – Priapus, God of Lust and Fertility

Deity of the Day

Priapus

God of Lust and Fertility

 

Priapus was a minor Greek fertility god best known for his large and permanently erect phallus. He was the son of Aphrodite, but there’s some question as to whether his father was Pan, Zeus, Hermes, or one of Aphrodite’s other numerous lovers. Priapus was a protector of gardens and orchards, and is typically portrayed as a homely old man with a raging erection.

According to legend, before his birth, Hera cursed Priapus with impotence as payback for Aphrodite’s involvement in the whole Helen of Troy fiasco. Doomed to spend his life ugly and unloved, Priapus was tossed down to earth when the other gods refused to let him live on Mount Olympus.

He was raised by shepherds, and spent a lot of time hanging out with Pan and the satyrs. However, all this cavorting in the forest with the fertility spirits proved frustrating for Priapus, who remained impotent.

Eventually he tried to rape a nymph, but was thwarted when a braying donkey alerted her to his presence. He pursued the nymph, but the other gods helped her hide by turning her into a lotus plant.

In some stories, his lust left him with a permanent erection, and in others, he was punished by Zeus for the attempted rape by being bestowed a set of huge (but useless) wooden genitalia.

In the Greek countryside, Priapus was honored in homes and gardens, and doesn’t appear to have had an organized cult following. He was seen as a protector deity in rural areas. In fact, statues of Priapus were often adorned with warnings, threatening trespassers, male and female alike, with acts of sexual violence as punishment.

His name gives us the medical term priapism, which is a condition in which a man can’t get rid of his erection, despite a lack of stimulation, within four hours. It is actually considered a medical emergency.

 

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Deity of the Day for November 17th – Lakshmi

Deity of the Day

Lakshmi

Hindu Goddess

Areas of Influence: The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi is the Goddess of abundance, not only of material wealth and prosperity but also spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Lakshmi is one of the Mother Goddesses, She represents the creative, feminine aspect of the divine. In this role she is addressed as Mata.

Lakshmi is also the Goddess of light as she is celebrated at Diwali, known as the festival of light.

Definition of Lakshmi: Her name is derived from the Sanskrit word “laksya” meaning aim or goal as she represents what human beings should be striving for. Her name can also be spelt Laksmi and Laxmi.

Genealogy : In Hindu mythology, like the Greek Goddess Aphrodite she was born out of the churning of the seas.

She is the consort of Vishnu. When he comes to earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna she is at his side as Sita and Radha.

Symbols of The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi

The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi is depicted with beautiful eyes and a golden complexion, wearing sumptuous robes of red and gold. She has four arms suggesting her dominion over the four directions.

From the lowest hand golden coins fall, representing wealth and luxury that she dispenses to all who worship her without greed, according to their dharma.

Sacred Plant: She is often depicted on a seated on a lotus flower, holding lotus buds in her upper pair of limbs.

Sacred Animal: Elephants accompany this Goddess, anointing her with water. She is also shown riding a white owl, reminding us not to seek prosperity out of selfish desires but to keep our eyes open for opportunities for spiritual enlightenment.

Lakshmi Mantra: There are numerous mantras (A series of sacred words repeated to produce a desired result) dedicated to the this Goddess one of my favourites is

Om Hreem, Shreem, Kleem Maha Lakshmi Namaha

Ideally this should be repeated 108 times for 40 days for maximum benefit. The easiest way is to use mala beads so you can keep count . Any repetitions will be encourage her assistance, especially if chanted on a Friday.

Festivals: The main festivals are Diwali and Kojagari when special Pujas are performed in her honour.

Lakshmi’s Archetype

The Mother:

The Mother Archetype is a life-giver and the source of nurturing, devotion, patience and unconditional love. The ability to forgive and provide for her children and put them before herself is the essence of a good mother.

In its shadow aspect the Mother can be devouring, abusive and abandoning. The shadow Mother can also make her children feel guilty about becoming independent and leaving her.

The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi is referred to as Mata, the Mother, all the world is born through her energy. She is also a great provider, bestowing spiritual and material wealth.

How To Work With This Archetype

The Mother:

It is not necessary to be a biological mother to have this Archetype. It can refer to anyone who has a lifelong pattern of nurturing and devotion to living things.

You are exhibiting the features of the shadow Mother if you smother your children and are over protective.

Encourage independence and allow children to make mistakes but be available to give care and advice when it’s needed.

The other shadow Mother is the one that abandons her children, or is so busy that she has no time for nurturing her young.

Courtesy of Goddess-Guide.com

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