Deities

Deity of the Day for November 16th – Poseidon, The Greek God

Deity of the Day

 

Poseidon

The Greek God

 

Poseidon the Earth Shaker:

In Greek mythology and legend, Poseidon is the god of the sea. However, his domain includes some aspects of the land as well, and in fact he is known as “earth-shaker” in many stories, because of his penchant for causing earthquakes. Poseidon was responsible, according to Greek legend, for the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, which was all but destroyed by a giant quake and tsunami.

The Battle for Athens:

One of the twelve gods of Olympus, Poseidon is a son of Cronus and Rhea, and brother of Zeus. He battled Athena for control of the city which would later become known as Athens, in honor of the victor of that dispute. Despite Athena’s role as the patron goddess of Athens, Poseidon played an important role in the city’s daily life, sending a giant flood to punish the Athenians for not backing him in the fight.

Poseidon in Classical Mythology:

Poseidon was a very important deity in many Greek cities, including but not limited to Athens. He was honored on a regular basis with offerings and sacrifices, particularly by sailors and others who made their livings from the sea – fishermen, and those who lived along the coastlines wanted to keep Poseidon appeased so he wouldn’t cause a devastating earthquake or flood.

Sometimes horses were sacrificed to Poseidon – the sound of his roaring waves were often associated with horses’ hooves – but Homer describes in the Odyssey the use of several other animals to honor this deity:

Take an oar, until one day you come where men have lived with meat unsalted, never known the sea… and make a fair sacrifice to Lord Poseidon: a ram, a bull, a great buck boar.

Pausanias described the city of Athens and its Hill of Horses, and makes a reference to both Athena and Poseidon as being connected to the horse.

There is also pointed out a place [not far from Athens] called the Hill of Horses, the first point in Attika, they say, that Oidipous reached–this account too differs from that given by Homer, but it is nevertheless current tradition–and an altar to Poseidon Hippios (Horse God), and to Athena Hippia (Horse Goddess), and a chapel to the heroes Peirithous and Theseus, Oidipous and Adrastos.

Poseidon also makes an appearance in stories of the Trojan War – he and Apollo were sent to build walls around the city of Troy, but the King of Troy refused to pay the reward he had promised them. In the Iliad, Homer describes Poseidon’s rage, in which he explains to Apollo why he is angry:

I walled the city massively in well-cut stone, to make the place impregnable. You herded cattle, slow and dark amid the upland vales of Ida’s wooded ridges. When the Seasons happily brought to an end our term of hire, barbaric Laomedon kept all wages from us, and forced us out, with vile threats.

As vengeance, Poseidon sent a giant sea monster to attack Troy, but it was killed by Heracles.

Poseidon is often depicted as a mature, muscular and bearded man – in fact, he looks remarkably like his brother Zeus in appearance. He typically is shown holding his powerful trident, and is sometimes accompanied by dolphins.

Like many ancient gods, Poseidon got around quite a bit. He fathered a number of children, including Theseus, who slew the Minotaur on the Isle of Crete. Poseidon also impregnated Demeter after she had rejected him. In hopes of hiding from him, Demeter turned herself into a mare and joined a herd of horses – however, Poseidon was smart enough to figure this out and turned himself into a stallion. The result of this not-entirely-consensual union was the horse-child Arion, who could speak in the human tongue.

Today, ancient temples to Poseidon still exist in many cities around Greece, although the best-known may well be the sanctuary of Poseidon at Sounion in Attica.

 

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Deity of the Day for November 15th – The Dagda, Father God of Ireland

Deity of the Day

The Dagda, Father God of Ireland

 

In Irish legend, the Dagda is an important father figure deity. He is a powerful figure who wields a giant club that can both kill and resurrect men. The Dagda was the leader of the Tuatha de Danaan, and a god of fertility and knowledge. His name means “the good god.”

In addition to his mighty club, the Dagda also possessed a large cauldron. The cauldron was magical in that it had an endless supply of food in it — the ladle itself was said to be so large that two men could lie in it. The Dagda is typically portrayed as a plump man with a large phallus, representative of his status as a god of abundance.

The Dagda held a position as a god of knowledge as well. He was revered by many Druid priests, because he bestowed wisdom upon those who wished to learn. He had an affair with the wife of Nechtan, a minor Irish god. When his lover, Boann, became pregnant Dagda made the sun stop setting for nine entire months. In this way, their son Aonghus was conceived and born in just one day.

When the Tuatha were forced into hiding during the invasions of Ireland, the Dagda chose to divide their land among the gods. Dagda refused to give a section to his son, Aonghus, because he wanted Aonghus’ lands for himself. When Aonghus saw what his father had done, he tricked the Dagda into surrendering the land, leaving Dagda with no land or power at all.

 

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Deity of the Day for November 14th – Diana, Goddess of the Hunt

Deity of the Day

Diana, Goddess of the Hunt

Many Pagans honor the goddess Diana in her various aspects. Particularly in feminist and NeoWiccan traditions, Diana holds a place in the heart of a number of modern magical practitioners.

Much like the Greek Artemis, Diana began as a goddess of the hunt who later evolved into a lunar goddess. Honored by the ancient Romans, Diana was a huntress, and stood as a guardian of the forest and of the animals who resided within. Despite her virginal status, Diana later became known as a protector of women in childbirth.

A daughter of Jupiter, Diana’s twin brother was Apollo. There is significant overlap between the Greek Artemis and the Roman Diana, although in Italy itself, Diana evolved into a separate and distinct persona.

In Charles Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, he pays homage to Diana Lucifera (Diana of the light) in her aspect as a light-bearing goddess of the moon, and details the birth of her daughter, Aradia. Obviously, there is some discrepancy between Leland’s interpretation of Diana as mother, versus the traditional Roman mythology which names her as a virgin.

Many feminist Wiccan groups, including the aptly-named Dianic Wiccan tradition, honor Diana in her role as the embodiment of the sacred feminine. She is often associated with the powers of the moon, and in some classical artwork is portrayed wearing a crown that features a crescent moon. She is typically presented carrying a bow, as a symbol of her hunt, and wearing a short tunic. It is not uncommon to see her as a beautiful young woman surrounded by wild animals. In her role as Diana Venatrix, goddess of the chase, she is seen running, bow drawn, with her hair streaming behind her as she takes pursuit.

Don’t let Diana’s lovely appearance fool you into thinking she’s all kindness and beauty. In one myth about Diana, the goddess is out hunting in the woods and takes a break so she can bathe in a stream. While doing so, she is observed by a young man, Actaeon, who has wandered away from his own hunting party. Foolishly, Actaeon reveals himself, and confesses that Diana is the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. For whatever reason – and scholars tend to vary on this – Diana turns Actaeon into a stag, and he’s promptly chased and torn to bits by his own hounds.

 

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Deity of the Day for November 12th – Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter

Deity of the Day

 

Cailleach, the Ruler of Winter

 

The goddess known as Cailleach in Scotland and parts of Ireland is the embodiment of the dark mother, the harvest goddess, the hag or crone entity. She appears in the late fall, as the earth is dying, and is known as a bringer of storms. She is typically portrayed as a one-eyed old woman with bad teeth and matted hair. Mythologist Joseph Campbell says that in Scotland, she is known as Cailleach Bheur, while along the Irish coast she appears as Cailleach Beare. Her name is varied, depending on the county and region in which she appears.

According to The Etymological Dictionary Of Scottish-Gaelic the word cailleach itself means “veiled one” or “old woman”. In some stories, she appears to a hero as a hideous old woman, and when he is kind to her, she turns into a lovely young woman who rewards him for his good deeds. In other stories, she turns into a giant gray boulder at the end of winter, and remains this way until Beltane, when she springs back to life.

Cailleach rules the dark half of the year, from Samhain to Beltane, while her young and fresh counterpart, Brighid or Bride, is the queen of the summer months. She is sometimes portrayed riding on the back of a speeding wolf, bearing a hammer or a wand made of human flesh.

Interestingly, even though Cailleach is typically depicted as a destroyer goddess, she is also known for her ability to create new life. With her magical hammer, she is said to have created mountain ranges, lochs, and cairns all over Scotland. She is also known as a protector of wild animals, in particular, the deer and the wolf, according to the Carmina Gadelica.

In some Irish counties, Cailleach is a goddess of sovereignty, who offers kings the ability to rule their lands. In this aspect, she is similar to the Morrighan, another destroyer goddess of Celtic myth.

 

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Deity of the Day for November 10th – Durga, The Mother Goddess

Deity of the Day

Goddess Durga

The Mother Goddess & Her Symbolism

 

Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. Since time immemorial she has been worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures – Yajur Veda, Vajasaneyi Samhita and Taittareya Brahman.

The Meaning of “Durga”

The word “Durga” in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of “Durga” is “Durgatinashini,” which literally translates into “the one who eliminates sufferings.” Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

The Many Forms of Durga

There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, et al. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon “Mahishasur”. Her nine appellations are Skondamata, Kusumanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayani, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri.

Durga’s Many Arms

Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions.

Durga’s Three Eyes

Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as “Triyambake” meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

Durga’s Vehicle – the Lion

The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolises her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.

Durga’s Many Weapons

  • The conch shell in Durga’s hand symbolizes the ‘Pranava’ or the mystic word ‘Om’, which indicates her holding on to God in the form of sound.
  • The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand “Mother Durga” is indicating her control over both aspects of energy – potential and kinetic.
  • The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt in one’s convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.
  • The lotus in Durga’s hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called “pankaja” which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and greed.
  • The “Sudarshan-Chakra” or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.
  • The sword that Durga holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is symbolized by the shine of the sword.
  • Durga’s trident or “trishul” is a symbol of three qualities – Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) – and she is remover of all the three types of miseries – physical, mental and spiritual.

Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of “Abhay Mudra”, signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her devotees: “Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears”.

 

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Deity of the Day for November 8th is Brigid, Celtic Goddess

Deity of the Day

Brigid

Celtic Goddess of Fire

Brigid, the Celtic goddess of fire (the forge and the hearth), poetry, healing, childbirth, and unity, is celebrated in many European countries. She is known by many names, including that of Saint Brigid who is, perhaps, the most powerful religious figure in Irish history.

Here we will relate the myths of the goddess Brigid. The legends of Saint Brigid are equally compelling, and you can use this link to read them. Brigid’s role as an ancient Triple Goddess and the issue of whether or not Saint Brigid was actually a mortal women can be found in:

 Brigid : Goddess or Saint?

Born at the exact moment of daybreak, Brigid rose into the sky with the sun, rays of fire beaming from her head. She was the daughter of Dagda, the great ‘father-god’ of Ireland.

In Druid mythology, the infant goddess was fed with milk from a sacred cow from the Otherworld. Brigid owned an apple orchard in the Otherworld and her bees would bring their magical nectar back to earth.

It is said that wherever she walked, small flowers and shamrocks would appear. As a sun goddess her gifts are light (knowledge), inspiration, and the vital and healing energy of the sun.

Brigid became the wife of Bres, an Irish king. Together they produced three sons, each of them became a famous warrior. Brigid and her husband came from two warring tribes and hoped their marriage would end the enmity between their kin.

Unfortunately, it did not. But, as it turns out, the battlefield death of their son Ruadan assured Brigid’s role as a goddess of peace and unity.

A major battle between the two families was about to begin.

Brigid’s eldest son, using the knowledge of metalsmithing that he had learned from his mother, struck the first blow, killing the smith of the opposing army.  But as the warrior fell to the ground, he managed one last blow before he died and Ruandan was also killed.Brigid’s grief was enormous–for the continual hatred between the two sides of her family and for the death of her son. Her lamentations were so loud they were heard throughout Ireland and so heart-rending that both sides left the battle and forged a peace. The goddess Brigid is said to have originated the practice of “keening”.

She is also credited with the invention of whistling, which she used to summon her friends to her side.

Eventually the love and respect for the goddess Brigid brought unity to the Celts who were spread throughout Europe. Regardless of their differences, they all agreed upon her goodness and compassion.

One of the most popular tales of the goddess Brigid involved two lepers who appeared at her sacred well at Kildare and asked to be healed. She told them that they were to bathe each other until the skin healed.

After the first one was healed, he felt only revulsion for the other and would not touch him to bathe him. Angered, Brigid caused his leprosy to return. Then she gently placed her mantle (cloak) around the other leper who was immediately healed.

Ireland is full of springs and wells named after the goddess Brigid. Symbolically, water is seen as a portal to the Otherworld and as a source of wisdom and healing.

There is a saying that Brigid rewards any offering to her, so offerings of coins were often tossed into her wells…the forerunner of the modern custom of throwing a penny into a fountain while you make a wish.

At her most famous shrine Brigid taught humans how to gather and use herbs for their healing properties, how to care for their livestock, and how to forge iron into tools. As a goddess of childbirth and protector of all children, she is the patroness of midwifery.

This shrine, near Kildare, was located near an ancient Oak that was considered to be sacred by the Druids, so sacred in fact that no one was allowed to bring a weapon there.

The shrine is believed to have been an ancient college of priestesses who were committed to thirty years of service, after which they were free to leave and marry.

During their first ten years they received training, the next ten were spent tending the sacred wells, groves and hills of the goddess Brigid, and the last decade was spent in teaching others.

Nineteen priestesses were assigned to tend the perpetual flame of the sacred fire of Brigid. Each was assigned to keep the flames alive for one day. On the twentieth day, the goddess Brigid herself kept the fire burning brightly.

The goddess Brigid was also revered as the Irish goddess of poetry and song. Known for her hospitality to poets, musicians, and scholars, she is known as the Irish muse of poetry.

The Christian monastery eventually built upon the site of her sacred shrine continued this tradition and became known as a great European center of learning and culture. Indeed, it was instrumental in preserving much ancient learning and literature during the Dark Ages.


The Feast Day of Brigid, known as Imbolc, is celebrated at the start  of February, midway through the winter. Like the goddess herself, it is meant to give us hope, to remind us that spring is on its way.

The lessons of this complex and widely beloved goddess are many.

 The Celtic goddess Brigid lends us her creativity and inspiration, but also reminds us to keep our traditions alive and whole. These are gifts that can sustain us through any circumstance.

Her fire is the spark of life.

Source:

The Goddess Gift

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Deity of the Day for November 5th – Frau Holle

Deity of the Day

 

Frau Holle

 

In some Scandinavian traditions, Frau Holle is known as the feminine spirit of the woods and plants, and was honored as the sacred embodiment of the earth and land itself. She is associated with many of the evergreen plants that appear during the Yule season, especially mistletoe and holly, and is sometimes seen as an aspect of Frigga, wife of Odin. In this theme, she is associated with fertility and rebirth. Typically, she is seen as a goddess of hearth and home, although in different areas she has clearly different purposes.

Interestingly, Frau Holle is mentioned in the story of Goldmary and Pitchmary, as compiled by the Grimm brothers. In this context — that of a Germanic Cinderella-type tale — she appears as an old woman who rewards an industrious girl with gold, and offers the girl’s lazy sister an equally appropriate compensation. Legends in some parts of Germany portray her as a toothless hag who appears in the winter, much like the Cailleach of Scotland.

In the Norse Eddas, she is described as Hlodyn, and she gives gifts to women at the time of the Winter Solstice, or Jul. She is sometimes associated with winter snowfall as well — it is said that when Frau Holle shakes out her mattresses, white feathers fall to the earth. A feast is held in her honor each winter by many people in the Germanic countries.

 

 

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Deity of the Day for November 3rd – Oya

Deity of the Day

Oya

 

In Yoruba mythology, Ọya (Alternative spellings: Oiá, Iansã, Iansan), is the Undergoddess of the Niger River. Ọya has been syncretized in Santería with the Catholic images of the Virgin of Candelaria.

She is seen in aspects as the warrior-spirit of the wind, lightning, fertility, fire, and magic. She creates hurricanes and tornadoes, and guards the underworld. She is the spirit of tornadoes (which are said to be her whirling skirts as she dances), lightning, and any kind of destruction. Beyond destruction, Ọya is the spirit of change, transition, and the chaos that often brings it about. She owns the marketplace, as the Yorubas have a saying “Life is a Marketplace and our true house is in heaven”. She is also the giver of life. She lives at the gates of cemeteries (as opposed to the entire underworld), which reveals her in her aspect as the facilitator of transition.

Ọya, when danced, often carries a horse tail. Her clothes have all the colors but black. She has a facial expression of really big and open eyes; she breathes and blows up her chins, and often screams.

Ọya’s close association with the passage from life into death also means she is one of the only Orisha who is worshiped alongside the Egungun (ancestors), whose cult is most often kept separate from that of the Orisha. The reason she is worshiped with the ancestors is because the beloved dead are her children. In the stories of the faith, she can transform herself into a water buffalo. One of her preferred offerings is the eggplant.

Name

In Yoruba, the name Oya literally means “She Tore”. She is known as Ọya- Iyansan, Ọya – the “mother of nine.” This is due to the Niger River (known to the Yoruba as the Odo-Ọya) traditionally being known for having nine tributaries. In Brazil, in Candomblé, she is generally saluted with the phrase “Èpa heyi!” while in Cuban-derived Yórùbá traditions, the faithful often salute her by saying “Hekua hey Yansa.”

Connection to Other Orishas

She is closely associated with many Orishas, but most especially Chango, Oggun, Ọba (Obba), Yewá/Euá and Ochún/Oxum. Oya is believed to have been Shango’s favourite wife. She is also called “the one who uses air as her cutlass”, “the one who wraps herself in fire, like a cloth”, “the one who puts on trousers to go to war”, and “the one who grows a beard to go to war”. She was known to lead Shango in battle, which makes sense physically as Ọya is the Orisha of lightening, and Shango is the Orisha of thunder (lightning always precedes thunder).

As the deity of the wind, Ọya manifests in Creation in the forms of sudden and drastic change, strong storms, and the flash of the marketplace. Her representation of natural disasters and death is not as arbitrary as it may seem, these factors often serving as a means of creation for her.

Ọya is said to have a sister named Ayao who is received by some of her initiates. The ritual and existence of Ayao is questionable, and it is hard to trace her origins outside of the Lukumi system. Ayao is mentioned in books by Lydia Cabrera and surfaced in the United States in the mid-nineties (1994–1995).

Syncreticism

Ọya has been syncretized in Santería with the Catholic images of the Our Lady Of Candelaria (Saint Patron of the Canary Islands in Spain) and St. Therese of Lisieux, and her feast day is February 2.

In some places of Brazil like Salvador, Ọya, also known as “Iansan” or “Yansã”, belongs to the mystical cast of the religion Candomblé and has been merged with the Catholic figure of Saint Barbara. Thus, as the saint, she is celebrated on December 4.

 

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