The Gods

Deity of the Day for November 10th is Balder, Old Norse Baldr

Deity of the Day


Old Norse Baldr

The god of light, joy, purity, beauty, innocence, and reconciliation. Son of Odin and Frigg, he was loved by both gods and men and was considered to be the best of the gods. He had a good character, was friendly, wise and eloquent, although he had little power. His wife was Nanna daughter of Nep, and their son was Forseti, the god of justice. Balder’s hall was Breidablik (“broad splendor”).Most of the stories about Balder concern his death. He had been dreaming about his death, so Frigg extracted an oath from every creature, object and force in nature (snakes, metals, diseases, poisons, fire, etc.) that they would never harm Balder. All agreed that none of their kind would ever hurt or assist in hurting Balder. Thinking him invincible, the gods enjoyed themselves thereafter by using Balder as a target for knife-throwing and archery.

The malicious trickster, Loki, was jealous of Balder. He changed his appearance and asked Frigg if there was absolutely nothing that could harm the god of light. Frigg, suspecting nothing, answered that there was just one thing: a small tree in the west that was called mistletoe. She had thought it was too small to ask for an oath. Loki immediately left for the west and returned with the mistletoe. He tricked Balder’s blind twin brother Hod into throwing a mistletoe fig (dart) at Balder. Not knowing what he did, Hod threw the fig, guided by Loki’s aim. Pierced through the heart, Balder fell dead.

While the gods were lamenting Balder’s death, Odin sent his other son Hermod to Hel, the goddess of death, to plead for Balder’s return. Hel agreed to send Balder back to the land of the living on one condition: everything in the world, dead or alive, must weep for him. And everything wept, except for Loki, who had disguised himself as the witch Thokk. And so Balder had to remain in the underworld.

The others took the dead god, dressed him in crimson cloth, and placed him on a funeral pyre aboard his ship Ringhorn, which passed for the largest in the world. Beside him they lay the body of his wife Nanna, who had died of a broken heart. Balder’s horse and his treasures were also placed on the ship. The pyre was set on fire and the ship was sent to sea by the giantess Hyrrokin.

Loki did not escape punishment for his crime and Hod was put to death by Vali, son of Odin and Rind. Vali had been born for just that purpose. After the final conflict (Ragnarok), when a new world arises from its ashes, both Balder and Hod will be reborn.

In some versions it was his mother who had these disturbing dreams about his death.




by Micha F. Lindemans

Encyclopedia Mythica™

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Deities, The Gods | 1 Comment

Deity of the Day for November 3rd is Hades

Deity of the Day



In Greek mythology and legend, Hades is known as the god of the underworld. A brother of Zeus, when the world got split up into portions after the overthrow of their father, the Titan Cronos, Hades didn’t exactly get the best deal. While Zeus became king of Olympus, and their brother Poseidon won domain over the sea, Hades got stuck with the land 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.

Although he is the ruler of the dead, it’s important to distinguish that Hades is not the god of death  – that title actually belongs to the god Thanatos.

Hades’ best-known legend may well be his role in the tale of Persephone and her mother, the grain goddess Demeter. Persephone caught the eye of Hades, who took her back to the underworld, and Demeter’s grief caused the crops on earth to die. By the time Persephone got back to her mother, she had eaten six pomegranate seeds, and so was doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld. In a few modern, more sanitized versions of the story, Persephone is not held against her will but chooses to stay there for six months each year so that she can bring light to the souls doomed to spend eternity with Hades.

This rendering of the tale, however, does not seem to have much scholarly or academic evidence supporting it.

Hades also features prominently in the adventures of Hercules, or Herakles, and they battled each other several times. Hades presides over funeral rites, and those who are laid to rest with the proper rituals and ceremonies are welcome in the underworld. After death, the souls of those who have died must meet the ferryman, Charon, at the River Styx.

Once they have paid Charon for passage, they cross the Styx, and the Acheron, known as the river of woe, on their way to the underworld. Those who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay Charon – or whose bodies were not properly prepared and buried – were doomed to wander the land of the living, haunting the shores of the river for a hundred years.

Of note, Hades’ name has become a synonym for the realm of the underworld. So we have Hades the god, who rules Hades the place. The name, Hades, actually means invisible – in one legend, Hades was given a helmet of invisibility by the Cyclops, to use in the battle against the Titans.

He is typically portrayed as a dark, bearded man holding a pickaxe or staff that he uses to drive shadows ahead of him, as well as the key to the underworld. Hades is often accompanied by the black horses who pull his chariot, and his loyal watchdog, the three-headed Cerberus.

Interestingly, in addition to being a god of the underworld, Hades is also associated with the treasures held within the earth itself – gold, silver, and other mined bounty, as well as the seed-crops that flourish in the soil. Because of this, he is sometimes seen as a god of wealth and riches. Plato refers to Hades as Pluton, the giver of wealth. In Roman mythology and legend, Pluto has similar aspects to Hades.

References in pop culture include the role of Hades, as hilariously voiced by James Woods, in the Disney animated film Hercules, and the portrayal of Cerberus as a very large dog named Fluffy in the Harry Potter films. In the Percy Jackson movies, Hades is played by British comedian Steve Coogan, and he also makes a brief appearance in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, in the book Skin Game. Hades appears in countless video games, including the God of War franchise, the Final Fantasy series, and Age of Empires.




Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Deities, The Gods | 5 Comments

Gods and Goddesses of Death and the Underworld

Gods and Goddesses of Death and the Underworld

Death is rarely so apparent than it as at Samhain. The skies have gone gray, the earth is brittle and cold, and the fields have been picked of the last crops. Winter looms on the horizon, and as the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the boundary between our world and the spirit world becomes fragile and thin. In cultures all over the world, the spirit of Death has been honored at this time of the year.

Here are just a few of the deities who represent death and the dying of the earth.

  1. Anubis (Egyptian): This god with the head of a jackal is associated with mummification and death in ancient Egypt. Anubis is the one who decides whether or not one the deceased is worthy of entering the realm of the dead.
  2. Demeter (Greek): Through her daughter, Persephone, Demeter is linked strongly to the changing of the seasons and is often connected to the image of the Dark Mother and the dying of the fields. When Persephone was abducted by Hades, Demeter’s grief caused the earth to die for six months, until her daughter’s return.
  3. Freya (Norse): Although Freya is typically associated with fertility and abundance, she is also known as a goddess of war and battle. Half of the men who died in battle joined Freya in her hall, Folkvangr, and the other half joined Odin in Valhalla.
  4. Hades (Greek): Hades was the Greek god of the underworld – let’s look at some of his legends and mythology, and see why this ancient god is still important today.
  5. Hecate (Greek): Although Hecate was originally considered a goddess of fertility and childbirth, over time she has come to be associated with the moon, cronehood, and the underworld. Sometimes referred to as the Goddess of the Witches, Hecate is also connected to ghosts and the spirit world. In some traditions of modern Paganism, she is believed to be the gatekeeper between graveyards and the mortal world.
  6. Hel (Norse): This goddess is the ruler of the underworld in Norse mythology. Her hall is called Éljúðnir, and is where mortals go who do not die in battle, but of natural causes or sickness.
  7. Meng Po (Chinese): This goddess appears as an old woman, and it is her job to make sure that souls about to be reincarnated do not recall their previous time on earth. She brews a special herbal tea of forgetfulness, which is given to each soul before they return to the mortal realm.
  8. Morrighan (Celtic): This warrior goddess is associated with death in a way much like the Norse goddess Freya. The Morrighan is known as the washer at the ford, and it is she who determines which warriors walk off the battlefield, and which ones are carried away on their shields. She is represented in many legends by a trio of ravens, often seen as a symbol of death.
  9. Osiris (Egyptian): In Egyptian mythology, Osiris is murdered by his brother Set before being resurrected by the magic of his lover, Isis. The death and dismemberment of Osiris is often associated with the threshing of the grain during the harvest season.
  10. Whiro (Maori): This underworld god inspires people to do evil things. He typically appears as a lizard, and is the god of the dead.
  11. Yama (Hindu): In the Hindu Vedic tradition, Yama was the first mortal to die and make his way to the next world, and so he was appointed king of the dead. He is also a lord of justice, and sometimes appears in an incarnation as Dharma.

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Gods You Can Use In Your Spellcrafting

Gods You Can Use In Your Spellcrafting


Adonis: Greek; consort of Aphrodite. Also another name for “lord”. In Phoenician his counterpart is Astarte. A vegetarian God. Roman counterpart is Venus.

Apollo: Greek and Roman; twin brother of Artemis. God of the Sun, Light and the Arts.

Cernunnos: Celtic; Horned God and consort of the Lady. Also Kernunnos.

Eros: Greek; God of Romance and Passionate Love.

Hymen: Greek; God of Marriage and commitment. His counterpart is Dionysus.

Luce: Italian; Soulmate and Brother of Diana. Father of Aradia. God of the Sun and Light.

Osiris: Egyptian; counterpart of Isis. Over-all God form including vegetation and after-life.

Pan: Greek; God of Nature and the Woods, Laughter and Passion. Also music and personal abandon. Of course, you can refer to either the God and/or Goddess as merely Lord and Lady if it makes you feel more comfortable.

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Deity of the Day for Thursday, September 17th is Ogma, Celtic God

Deity of the Day


Celtic God


In Irish-Celtic myth, Ogma is the god of eloquence and learning. He is the son of the goddess Danu and the god Dagda, and one of the foremost members of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He is the reputed inventor of the ancient Ogham alphabet which is used in the earliest Irish writings.

In the final battle at Mag Tuireadh he managed to take away the sword of the king of the Fomorians, but had to pay with his life for this feat. His Celtic equivalent is Ogmios.

Ogma or Oghma is a character from Irish mythology. A member of the Tuatha Dé Danann, he is often considered a deity and may be related to the Gaulish god Ogmios.

He fights in the first battle of Mag Tuired, when the Tuatha Dé take Ireland from the Fir Bolg. Under the reign of Bres, when the Tuatha Dé are reduced to servitude, Ogma is forced to carry firewood, but nonetheless is the only one of the Tuatha Dé who proves his athletic and martial prowess in contests before the king. When Bres is overthrown and Nuadu restored, Ogma is his champion. His position is threatened by the arrival of Lugh at the court, so Ogma challenges him by lifting and hurling a great flagstone, which normally required eighty oxen to move it, out of Tara, but Lugh answers the challenge by hurling it back. When Nuadu hands command of the Battle of Mag Tuired to Lugh, Ogma becomes Lugh’s champion, and promises to repel the Fomorian king, Indech, and his bodyguard, and to defeat a third of the enemy. During the battle he finds Orna, the sword of the Fomorian king Tethra, which recounts the deeds done with it when unsheathed. During the battle Ogma and Indech fall in single combat, although there is some confusion in the texts as in Cath Maige Tuired Ogma, Lugh and the Dagda pursue the Fomorians after the battle to recover the harp of Uaitne, the Dagda’s harper.

He often appears as a triad with Lugh and the Dagda, who are sometimes collectively known as the trí dée dána or three gods of skill, although that designation is elsewhere applied to other groups of characters. His father is Elatha and his mother is usually given as Ethliu, sometimes as Étaín. His sons include Delbaeth and Tuireann. He is said to have invented the Ogham alphabet, which is named after him.

Scholars of Celtic mythology have proposed that Ogma represents the vestiges of an ancient Celtic god. By virtue of his battle prowess and invention of Ogham, he is compared with Ogmios, a Gaulish deity associated with eloquence and equated with Herakles. J. A. MacCulloch compares Ogma’s epithet grianainech (sun-face) with Lucian’s description of the “smiling face” of Ogmios, and suggests Ogma’s position as champion of the Tuatha Dé Danann may derive “from the primitive custom of rousing the warriors’ emotions by eloquent speeches before a battle”, although this is hardly supported by the texts. Scholars such Rudolf Thurneysen and Anton van Hamel dispute any link between Ogma and Ogmios.

A Proto-Indo-European root *og-mo– ‘furrow, track, incised line’ may be the origin of the stem of the name. In addition, Proto-Celtic had a causative verbal suffix *-ej– ~ *-īj-. A hypothetical Proto-Celtic *Ogm-īj-o-sogm-. This agent noun would therefore mean ‘furrow-maker, incisor’ and may have had a metaphorical sense of ‘impresser.’ therefore looks very much like an agent noun derived from a verb formed by the addition of this causative suffix to the stem *

The Irish god of writing, eloquence and poetry. Ogma was credited of being inventor of the Celtic writing systems that the Druids used for their magic. These scripts were known as Ogham.

Ogma was the son of Dagda and the goddess Danu. Some other writers say that Ogma and Dagda were brothers; in this version they were the sons of Eithne. Ogma had also being called the son of Elatha, the king of the Fomorians.

Ogma was one the seven champions in the First Battle of Moytura (Mag Tuired), but when Bres became the king of Tuatha dé Danann, Ogma was degraded into working on humiliating manual job of gathering firewood.
When Lugh went to Nuada, asking for a place to serve the king, Ogma seemed to be Nuada’s foremost fighter. During the second battle of Moytura, Ogma had killed one of the Fomorian leaders, named Indech, the son of Domnu.

Ogma had married Etain, the daughter of Dian Cécht. Ogma had a son named Caipre. Some say that he was the father of MacCuill, MacCecht and MacGrené (MacGrene), the three Danann kings who ruled Ireland, during the Milesian invasion, though other say that Neit was their father.
To the Celtic Gauls he was called Ogmios. According to both Gallic and Irish myths Ogma was a warrior god, depicted as a wrinkled old man, wearing lion’s skin cloak, carrying a bow and club. The Romans considered Ogmios as the Celtic equivalent of Hercules (Greek Heracles). They also depicting Ogimos as holding people chained to his tongue by their ears, to indicate he was the god of eloquence and poetry.

Author: Agaliha
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Deity of the Day for September 14th – Njord, Norse God of the Sea

Deity of the Day


Norse God of the Sea


In Norse Paganism, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Njörðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, in euhemerized form as a beloved mythological early king of Sweden in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, as one of three gods invoked in the 14th century Hauksbók ring oath, and in numerous Scandinavian place names. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.

The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”. It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed. However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings. The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun.

Njörðr’s name appears in various place names in Scandinavia, such as Nærdhæwi (now Nalavi), Njærdhavi (now Mjärdevi), Nærdhælunda (now Närlunda), Nierdhatunum (now Närtuna) in Sweden, Njarðvík in southwest Iceland, Njarðarlög and Njarðey (now Nærøy) in Norway. Njörðr’s name appears in a word for sponge; Njarðarvöttr (Old Norse “Njörðr’s glove”). Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.


Theories about Njord


Njörðr is often identified with the goddess Nerthus, whose reverence by various Germanic tribes is described by Roman historian Tacitus in his 1st CE century work Germania. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed *Nerþuz“Nerthus” being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around 1 CE. This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic god or, generally considered more likely, that the name may indicate an otherwise unattested divine brother and sister pair such as Freyr and Freyja. Consequently, Nerthus has been identified with Njörðr’s unnamed sister with whom he had Freyja and Freyr, which is mentioned in Lokasenna.


In Saami mythology, Bieka-Galles (or Biega-, Biegga-Galles, depending on dialect; “The Old Man of the Winds”) is a deity who rules over rain and wind, and is the subject of boat and wooden shovel (or, rather, oar) offerings. Due to similarities in between descriptions of Njörðr in Gylfaginning and descriptions of Bieka-Galles in 18th century missionary reports, Axel Olrik identified this deity as the result of influence from the seafaring North Germanic peoples on the landbound Saami.


Parallels have been pointed out between Njörðr and the figure of Hadingus, attested in book I of Saxo Grammaticus’ 13th century work Gesta Danorum. Some of these similarities include that, in parallel to Skaði and Njörðr in Skáldskaparmál, Hadingus is chosen by his wife Regnhild after selecting him from other men at a banquet by his lower legs, and, in parallel to Skaði and Njörðr in Gylfaginning, Hadingus complains in verse of his displeasure at his life away from the sea and how he is disturbed by the howls of wolves, while his wife Regnhild complains of life at the shore and states her annoyance at the screeching sea birds. Georges Dumézil theorized that in the tale Hadingus passes through all three functions of his trifunctional hypothesis, before ending as an Odinic hero, paralleling Njörðr’s passing from the Vanir to the Æsir in the Æsir-Vanir War.


In stanza 8 of the poem Fjölsvinnsmál, Svafrþorinn is stated as the father of Menglöð by an unnamed mother, who the hero Svipdagr seeks. Menglöð has often been theorized as the goddess Freyja, and according to this theory, Svafrþorinn would therefore be Njörðr. The theory is complicated by the etymology of the name Svafrþorinn (þorinn meaning “brave” and svafr means “gossip”) (or possibly connects to sofa “sleep”), which Rudolf Simek says makes little sense when attempting to connect it to Njörðr.



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Deity of the Day for August 31st is Bacchus, Roman God of Wine and Fertility

Deity of the Day


Roman God of Wine and Fertility

In Roman legend, Bacchus stepped in for Dionysus, and earned the title of party god. In fact, a drunken orgy is still called a bacchanalia, and for good reason. Devotees of Bacchus whipped themselves into a frenzy of intoxication, and in the spring Roman women attended secret ceremonies in his name. Bacchus was associated with fertility, wine and grapes, as well as sexual free-for-alls. Although Bacchus is often linked with Beltane and the greening of spring, because of his connection to wine and grapes he is also a deity of the harvest.

A celebration is held in his honor each year at the beginning of October.

Bacchus has a divine mission, and that is his role of “liberator.” During his drunken frenzies, Bacchus loosens the tongues of those who partake of wine and other beverages, and allows people the freedom to say and do what they wish. In mid-March, secret rituals were held on Rome’s Aventine hill to worship him. These rites were attended by women only, and were part of a mystery religion built up around Bacchus.

In addition to being the patron of wine and drink, Bacchus is a god of the theatrical arts. In his incarnation as the Greek Dionysus, he had a theater named for him in Athens. He is often portrayed as a slightly effeminate figure, prone to good humor and general bawdiness.

Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and is often portrayed crowed with vines or ivy. His chariot is drawn by lions, and he is followed by a group of nubile, frenzied priestesses known as Bacchae. Sacrifices to Bacchus included the goat and the swine, because both of these animals are destructive to the annual grape harvest — without grapes, there can be no wine.



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Deity of the Day for July 13 is Baldur, Norse God of Light

Deity of the Day

Baldur, Norse God of Light


Baldur was the son of Frigga and Odin, and the twin brother of Hod, or Hodur. Baldur’s name sometimes appears as Balder, or alternately Baldr. Baldur was beautiful and radiant, and was beloved by all the gods. Hodur, on the other hand, was dark and moody, spent a lot of time in darkness because of his blindness, and was generally unpopular with everyone he met.

In one famous story, after Baldur reveals that he’s been having foreboding dreams, Frigga asked all of nature to promise not to cause any harm to her beloved son.
From Sæmund’s Edda:
“On a course they resolved,
that they would send
to every being,
assurance to solicit,
Balder not to harm.
All species swore
oaths to spare him;
Frigg received all
their vows and compacts.”

Unfortunately, in her haste, Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant, so Loki – the resident trickster – took advantage of the opportunity and fooled Hod into killing his twin brother with a spear made of mistletoe. Baldur was later restored to life.

Because of the story of his life, death and resurrection, Baldur features prominently in Norse mythology. An important festival was held in honor of Baldur the Good at midsummer, because it was known to be the anniversary of his death and descent into the underworld. Celebrations were held involving big bonfires and outdoor festivities, much of which involved watching the sun rise and set. Bear in mind that in the extreme Northern latitudes inhabited by the Norse peoples, the sun never really sets at midsummer; instead, it touches the horizon and then rises again to begin a new day.

When Christianity moved into the Norse countries, Baldur’s celebration became the festival of St. John instead.


Author:aganism/Wicca Expert

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