Goddesses Dictionary

Goddesses Dictionary

 

A
Abeona (Italian)
Abeona was the pre-Roman goddess of departures and was often petitioned to provide for the safety of children as they embarked upon journies. Her sister was Adeona, goddess of safe and speedy returns, and they were often petitioned in tandem.
Abundantia (Roman)
A minor Goddess who personified abundance. She did not—apparently–have as large a following as Ops or Copia. Aside from being a minor Goddess, Abundantia, was also one of the Roman Public Virtues representing “Abundance, Plenty.” Roman culture also strove to uphold virtues which were shared by all of society for the common welfare of the Roman people. Abundantia represented the ideal of there being enough food and prosperity for all segments of society in Rome.
In later folklore, Abundantia seems to have entered homes during the night to bring prosperity. This versions  of  this Goddess or spirit of abundance may have traveled with Romans through different regions of the Empire and thus walked into local folklore.
See Abundia/Abonde, Habondia, Habonde, Herodiana, Herodiade, Erodiade, and Herodias in   The ABC of Aradia and Other Subjects .
Aetna (Sicilian)
Aetna was the presiding goddess of Sicily’s Mount Etna. Mount Etna is an active volcano. Many deities and spirits have been associated with Mount Etna in Sicily.
Adeona (Italian)
Adeona was the pre-Roman goddess of safe and speedy returns. Her sister was Abeona, spirit of departures. In particular, she was petitioned for safe and speedy return of children to the family.
Amalthea (Greek)
The she-goat that suckled the God, Zeus, as an infant. Her horns flowed with nectar and ambrosia.
Angitia, Angita (Italian)
An early Goddess of witchcraft and healing of the Oscan tribe. Angitia was associated with verbal and herbal charms, especially against snakebite. Her name referred to killing snakes through enchantment. The Romans sometimes associated her with Bona Dea, the “Good Goddess.” Angitia was honored in Italy’s Marsian district, which is still famous today for its witches. She was also identified with the sorceress, Marica.
Anna Perenna (Roman)
Goddess of the new year. Her feast was celebrated on March 15. Anciently, March 15 or March 25, according to some scholars, marked the beginning of the celebration of the Roman New Year.
Aphrodite (Greek)
The Goddess of beauty, desire, and love was not originally Greek. She was one of the ancient Goddesses of the East Mediterrian. Greek mythographers said she arose from the sea and travelled to the island of Cyprus, off the coast of Greece, and was sometimes called Cytheria. Aphrodite’s most famous center of worship was at Paphos, where the original white image of the Goddess was kept. Hence she was also called Paphian Aphrodite.
Aphru (Etruscan)
An Etruscan counterpart of the Greek Aphrodite and the Roman Venus. The month of Aprilis (April) was devoted to Venus. Aprilis may have derived from Aphru.
Aricia (Roman)
A minor Goddess, who ruled prophetic visions, which were received in wild places, far from human habitation. She may have been an aspect of Diana, as Aricia was the name of one of Diana’s shrines.
Artemis (Greek)
Goddess of the hunt and queen of the wild beasts. In Classical imagery, she is the maiden of the new crescent moon, appearing nude or in a short tunic, armed with a bow and quiver of arrows. Accompanied by a band of nymphs, she roamed the mountains and forests of Greece.
Artemis was the elder twin of the sun. Her mother, Leto, bore her without labor pains, and then Artemis assisted as midwife when Apollo was born. She was invoked by women while giving birth as Artemis Eileithyia. As one of her aspects was a bringer of fertility, offerings included fruit, animals, and clay phalli. Spindle-whorls loom weights, and shuttles have been found in shrines dedicated to Artemis. From inscriptions, it is known that woolen and linen threads wound on spools were offered as gifts, as well as clothes. In Athens, Artemis was honored with selenai, round honey cakes representing the moon.
Artemis was likewise the protector of human children and young animals. She is assumed to be a chaste, perpetual virgin, or perhaps a lesbian Goddess who avoids the society of males.
Her title, Apollousa, “the destructress”, referred to her arrows with which she could inflict sudden death and plagues.
Artio (Gaulish-Celtic)
A Goddess of wildlife who often took the form of a bear.
Artini (Etruscan)
A maiden Goddess in northern Italy; the Etruscan form of Artemis.
Aventina (Roman)
Many-breasted Diana, whose image was in a temple on Aventine Hill, in Rome.

 

B
Bona Dea (Roman)
An ancient Goddess, she was worshipped only by women in secret rites during December. Men were not permitted at these rites. The name literally means, “the Good Goddess” and may have been a title of the Goddess, Fauna or Fatua. In any case, the rites were always at some home of a distinguished Roman matron. During these rites, Bona Dea was revered as Goddess of fertility and abundance, and wine flowed freely in her honor.

 

C
Camenae, Camena, Carmenai (Roman)
Like the Fons, who were nymphs of fountains, the Camenae were demi-Goddesses of fresh water. They inhabited lakes, springs, and rivers. Uniquely, these nymphs were also Goddesses of prophecy and instruction. Their name means “foretellers.” Egeria at Nemi was the most famous of the Camenae.
On October 13, the Fontinalia, both the Camenae and the Fons were worshiped by throwing wreaths upon their waters.
The Romans indentified the airy Greek Muses of inspiration with the Camenae.
Carna (Roman)
Goddess of protection, and of health and well-being of humans, especially small children. She presided over the intestines, heart, and other human organs. Some scholars have described Carna as being a Goddess of good digestion. .When parents appealed to Carna, this Goddess would enter the home and perform certain rites to bar a strix from entering the house. The strix was sort of a supernatual screech owl. If this evil creature could, it would fly in at night and eat a sleeping child’s intestines so the child would not get good nourishment and waste away. Her festival took place on June 1. Carna was tradtionally offered bacon and beans.
Ceres, Kerres (Roman)
Goddess of the grain who presided over harvests. In August, women enacted secret rituals in her honor. The Cerealia on April 19 was celebrated to protect the crops and ensure a bountiful harvest. From her name, we have the word for a common breakfast item, “cereal.”
Cloacina (Roman)
Goddess in charge of the sewers. She is, therefore, a Goddess of sanitation in the modern sense of the word.
Copia (Roman)
A Goddess of plenty, her name survives in the word, cornucopia, “the horn of plenty,” which she, and other fertility or harvest Goddesses, were depicted as holding.
Cupra (Etruscan)
A Goddess of lightning, often depicted with a spear. An ancient Goddess of fertility, she formed a triad with the God, Tinia and the Goddess of Wisdom, Menvra. Her weapon, when depicted with Tinia and Menvra, was the thunderbolt.
Cybele (Phrygian)
A powerful divine image, the Mountain Mother, as Cybele was known in Phrygia, Anatolia, Cybele was described as a full-breasted, mature woman, crowned, bearing her symbols of grain and keys, arrayed in a robe of all colors of blossoms. Though she was a mother of all of nature, Cybele was not a gentle Goddess. She traveled in a lion-drawn chariot. Her consort was the dying and reborn God, Attis, who castrated himself after he betrayed Cybele with another female. Cybele had struck him with madness as punishment for not being loyal to her.
Romans were true polytheists and welcomed many foreign divinities into Rome. The cult of Cybele entered Rome in 204 bce. Hanibal of Carthage threatened Rome. Consultation of the Sibyline books revealed that the Carthaginian would only be defeated if the black stone of Cybele was brought with ceremony and honor to the Capitol. So the ancient image of Cybele was brought to Rome with her priesthood. Sure enough, the Romans defeated the Carthaginian in due time.
Unfortunately, Cybele’s priests were eunuchs, who had castrated themselves in a state of divine madness during initiation, something the Romans were never comfortable with. Nevertheless, in Rome, the Cybele ceremonies focused on springtime, March 15-27. They began with the triumphal entry of the young Attis, symbolized by a pine tree, into Rome. The evergeen was adorned with violets, which were considered to have sprung from the blood of Attis. The following day was one of fasting and mourning, with litanies of sorrow over the death of young Attis. On March 24, the “Day of Blood,” her chief priest, the archigallus, drew blood from his arms and offered it to her, to the music of symbols, drums, and flutes while the galli, her priests, whirled madly and slashed themselves to splatter the altar and the sacred pine with their blood. Finally, at Attis’ resurection, there followed jubilations and hymns glorifying his rebirth at the arrival of the new growing season. On March 27, the silver statue of the Goddess with the sacred stone set in its head was borne in procession and bathed in Almo, a tributary of the Tiber River.
The powerful image of death and rebirth in the cycle of seasons may have reinforced this attribute in other divinities in Roman thought. Or perhaps all the similarities were already there. The Romans identified her with the Goddesses, Ceres, Ops, Rhea, and Tellus.
Cybele was assigned several Roman titles, including Magna Mater and Mater Turrita

 

D
Damatres (Sicilian)
A title of Ceres and Proserpine, meaning “The Mothers.”
Dea (Roman)
Simply the Latin word for Goddess.
Dea Mors(Roman)
The name literally means “the Goddess Death,” possibly this is a title of another Goddess, or simply a feminine personification of death. Dea Mors is sometimes said to the the eldest of the Fatae. Dea Mors may also have been linked to Libitina, the goddess who presided over funeral services. It is possible that she was somehow linked to Proserpine, Queen of the Dead.
Devera (Roman)
This Goddess presided over brooms used to purify ritual sites.
Dia, Dea Dia (Roman)
Known as “the Goddess Dia,” her name indicates that Dia was one of Italy’s original Goddesses, but little information survived about her. dd>Her three day festival, Ambarvalia, was celebrated in May by her priesthood, the Fratres Arvales. They also tended her sacred grove, the Lucus Deae Diae, located along the River Tiber. If a tree in the grove or rotten limb was downed in a storm, the priests had to make offerings of sows or lambs. Iron was taboo in her grove. If an irongraving tool was brought into this sacred grove for purposes of cutting stone, the priests would offer a sow and a lamb as an expiatory sacrifice.
In ancient Roman religion, a “lucus” was a sacred grove. Lucus was one of four Latin words generally meaning “grove, forest, woodland, grove” (along with nemus, silva, and saltus). Lucus was primarily used as a religious designation.
Dea Dia was a very ancient Roman Goddess, associated the plowed field. She was apparently a Goddess of growth, who was concerned with the fertility of the field/earth and with the growth of the planted crops, especially grain. She was sometimes identified with the Roman Goddess of grain, Ceres, and sometimes with Ceres’ Greek counterpart, Demeter—as well as being identified with other Goddesses.
Diana (Roman)
The Classical western image of the Roman Diana is a maiden bearing a quiver and bow, who runs nude or in a hunting tunic through the moonlit forest with her pack of hounds. However, the Roman Diana was only depicted in this fashion after the Romans conquered Greece and assimilated their original Italian Diana into the powerful figure of Artemis, the Greek maiden Goddess of the hunt and moon.
Diana was first worshipped outdoors under the open sky. Diana’s name seems to have been derived from the Indo-European word for “light”. Possibly she was the Roman Goddess of both the moon and sun. For although the Etruscans of northern Italy had the sun God, Usil, and another young sun God, Apulu, the Romans apparently did not. The sun God, Apollo, was imported to the Roman pantheon from Greece during the Classical era–along with the maiden huntress image for Diana.
Yet in Rome, on Aventine Hill, Diana’s temple still had an ancient image that depicted her as a many-breasted mother of nature–similar to Diana of Ephesus. Women flocked to her temple at Aventine Hill to request aid in child bearing.
The whole figure of Diana is complex and rich indeed. She was known as Diana Trivia: Diana on the earth, Luna in the sky, and Proserpine in the underworld. At her shrine at Nemi, near Aricia, she formed another trinity with her servant and assistant midwife, Egeria the water nymph, and Virbius, a woodland God. One of her epithets was Diana Nemorisis or Diana of the Grove.
Diana’s feast day, the Nemoralia, was August 15, some sources say August 13. It was deemed to be the birthday of the Goddess. Reportedly women would each bake a cake for the household in Diana’s honor, around which white candles were set. A procession of women, with hounds on leashes, would journey to Aricia to offer thanks in Diana’s sacred grove and request the Goddess’s continued aid and a harvest free of storms. Diana’s festival in mid August was a holiday for Roman slaves.
In modern Italy, August 15 is a feast day of the Virgin Mary. The feast is known as the Ferragosto. It celebrates the Virgin Mary’s assumption into heaven and her coronation as Queen of Heaven. Whole villages participate or watch the procession in which the image of the Virgin is carried through the streets.
Dictynna (Cretan)
A Goddess of the island of Crete, apparently related to fishing. Her name means the “netted one” or “of the nets” and may refer to a fish Goddess providing an abundance of food

 

E
Edulica (Roman)
Protectess of children.
Egeria (Roman)
A female divinity at the Grove of Nemi. Egeria served as the Goddess Diana’s servant and assistant midwife. In Roman myth, Egeria was the most famous of the Camenae or nymphs inhabiting springs, fountains, or lakes. She had some connection to Vesta as well as Diana, for the Vestals ritually drew water from Egeria’s spring at Nemi for sacred purposes. Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, supposedly received instructions concerning the establishment of public worship in Rome from her. Egeria became the wife of Numa and served as his prophetic counselor.
Eileithyia (Greek)
Originally a Goddess in her own right, Eileithyia was a pre-Helenic divinity of birth, who spun the thread of life. She was later assimilated into the figure of the Greek Artemis. Artemis was invoked as Artemis Eileithyia by women giving birth. Later, the Romans applied the name of this ancient Goddess to the Ilithyiae, Goddesses associated with midwifery, including Juno Lucina and even Hecate.

 

F
Fata, Parca (Roman)
In Roman religion, sometimes there were references to only one Goddess of destiny instead of the three Fates. She was known as Fata or Parca.
Fata Diana (Italian)
Diana, as she survived in folklore as the faery Diana. She was invoked in spells for good fortune as well as love magic.
Fates, Fatum, Parace, Dii Involuti (Roman)
In Classical myth, three old women spun the fate of mortal human lives: Decima, Parca, and Nona. One carded the wool, then spinning the thread of life, another measured out the proper length after removing it from the spindle, and the third cut the strand with a pair of sheers. They were also known as the Fatas, and after the invention of the spinning wheel, they were described in folklore as using that rather than their original drop spindle.
As time progressed, the term fata began to be applied to supernatural beings or spirits inhabiting trees, springs, or other natural sites. The word eventually envolved into our English word, “faery” or “fairy.”
Fauna (Roman)
A nature Goddess, the companion or counterpart of Faunus. She was also identified with Feronia and Bona Dea. In modern times, she lends her name to all of the animal kingdom.
Febris (Roman)
Goddess of malaria and fever. Remedies or amulets that had eased the sufferings of someone when sick were given as offerings to this Goddess. She may have had some connection to Juno Februata, a Goddess of purification. Later, the Catholic church honored “Madonna della Febbre.”
Feronia (Roman)
A Goddess of the woods who was possibly of Etruscan origin. She had care of trees. Her temple stood in a grove, and slaves were set free at her shrine.
Flora, Fluusa (Roman)
A very ancient Goddess who was the embodiment of all flowering nature. She was originally worshipped from April 28 to May 3 with orgies. Flowers are the sex organs of plants, and the orgiastic rites were sympathetic magic to cause the plants to bloom well and bear fruit well. According to Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (1998), “There was joyful feasting beneath the flowers, everyone trying to outdo the rest in drinking, and dancing by the light of nocturnal torches. People also wore many-coloured clothing; but for the actresses in mime shows, striptease on the festival boards was obligatory.” (p. 69) In modern times, she lends her name to all of the plant kingdom.
Fornax (Roman)
The Goddess who presides over ovens and baking.
Fortuna (Roman)
The Goddess of destiny and luck. Her name means “she who brings,” impling she brings good fortune. She was sometimes depicted blindfolded, holding a cornucopia, meaning she would sometimes blindly dispurse her gifts of abundance and wealth. She was also known as Fortuna Virilis, a Goddess who made women irrisistable to men.
Fulgora (Roman)
Goddess of lightning.
Furies, Furiae, Dirae (Roman)
Chthonic spirits and Goddesses of vengence. They were invoked by pounding on the ground.

 

G
Graces, Graciae, Hora (Roman)
Three Goddesses said to frequently dance gracefully in the moonlight. They were charming, beautiful and gracious.

 

H
Hecate (Greek and Roman)
A pre-Helenic deity, the Goddess of magic and the underworld,. She had many similarities to Diana. She traveled at night with a pack of hounds. She was described as a triune deity, Hecate Trivia: Artemis on earth, Selene in the sky, and Hecate in the underworld. Modern Wiccans identify this triad as the Maiden (Artemis), Mother (Selene), and Crone (Hecate)–the threefold Goddess of the moon. Supposedly, this Maiden, Mother, and Crone triad was also illustrated by the Greek Goddess triad of Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate.
As Hecate Phosperous, meaning “Hecate the light-bearer,” she carried a lit torch.
After Hecate was adopted into the Roman pantheon, the Romans sacrificed black dogs and other black animals to her. Hecate was also the queen of the spirits of the dead, she was said to wander around tombs. At night she would appear at crossroads, accompanied by her train of spirits flying through the air with howling black hounds.
In Italy, the luci averni, woods surrounding Lake Avernus, were sacred to Hecate. The Cave of the Cumaean Sibyl was located near Avernus.
Horta (Etruscan)
A Goddess of agriculture and gardens. She gave her name to the practice of “horticulture.”

 

I
Intercidona (Roman)
A Goddess who first taught the art of cutting wood to make a fire.
Isis (Egyptian)
The supreme, most widely worshipped Goddess. The cult of Isis spread through Rome to the entire Mediterranian and up into the British Isles as well as into Asia Minor. Although her Egyptian name was Auset, she was most widely known as Isis, her Greek name. She had numerous aspects, attributes, and functions. She was often identified with the moon and presided over magic and healing. She was a protectress of sailors. Apuleius, 2nd century c.e., Roman philosopher and novelist, described the mystery cult of Isis in his The Golden Ass.

 

J
Jana (Italian)
A very ancient Goddess, whose symbol was a key, and she was known as the queen of secrets. The symbol of her consort, Janus, was a door or gate. She is sometimes associated with the moon.
Juno (Roman)
Goddess of women and wife of Jove Pater. The Matronalia was a festival held in her honor. Juno had a number of functions, aspects, epithets, and titles. For example, she was known as Juno Lucina, meaning Juno the light-bearer. In this aspect, she was a lunar Goddess, often paired with Diana, and depicted as holding a torch. Juno Lavinium was adorned with a garment and headgear made of goatskin, known as the februum, linking her to her aspect as Juno Februata, Goddess of purification.

 

K

 

L
Latona (Roman)
The “Titanis Latona” was a daughter of Phoibe and Koios. Her name, “Latona,” was a Latinization her Greek name, “Leto,” influenced by Etruscan “Letun.” In Roman mythology, Latona was best known as the mother of Diana and Apollo, and the story from Ovid of Latona and the Lycians.
When Latona was wandering the earth, after giving birth to Diana (Artemis) and Apollo (Apollon), she attempted to drink water from a pond in Lycia. However the Lycian peasants, possibly afraid of the wrath of Juno (Hera), refused to allow her to drink. They stepped in the pond waters and stirring the mud at the bottom in the waters. Latona transformed them into frogs for their inhospitality, “May you live forever in the mud of your pond!”—if they wished to keep strangers from their waters, then they could forever remain in its mud.
In Greek mythology, Leto gave birth to Artemis and Apollon at the island on the island of Delos, which—according the this tale–had been broken off from Sicily. In ancient Crete, this island was known as Letoai,  or Lato.
Silius Italicus Punica wrote in an invocation of Diana: “Come favorably, Diana, daughter of Latona, onto our undertaking.”
Laverna (Roman)
A Goddess of thieves, who were thus known as Laverniones. According to legend, thieves under her protection could safely hide their booty in a grove consecrated to her. She was represented as headless.
Leukothea, Leucothea (Etruscan)
Althogh her name is Greek and meant “White Goddess,” Leukothea may have been another title or name of the Etruscan moon Goddess. However, she was also associated with the sea and its tides–which are ruled by the moon. She was invoked by sailors to save them from shipwreck.
Libertas (Roman)
Goddess of liberty. Freed slaves often donned her liberty cap to indicate their new social status. Libertas was also depicted holding a liberty pole or with a cat at her feet. Sometimes, instead of a pole, she held a torch, like Diana Lucina and the modern American Lady Liberty.
Libitina (Italian)
Libitina was the goddess of funerals. Roman undertakers were known as libitnarii and maintained offices in her sanctuaries. Offerings were made to Libitina when a family reported a death.
Supposedly Libitina’s name became synonymous with death itself. She may be related to Dea Mors.
Losna, Lucna (Etruscan)
Goddess of the moon.
Lucina (Roman)
As a Goddess in her own right, Lucina was said to be a daughter of Juno and Jove Pater. She was associated with childbirth. Her emblem was the lady bug. The name, Lucina, meaning “light-bearer”, was also a surname of Juno and Diana. Lucina was honored in both September and December. Another festival was celebrated on March 1 and allowed matrons to assemble and implore for a happy posterity. Lucina was later canonized as Santa Lucia, or Saint Lucy.
Luna (Roman)
A minor Goddess of the moon, identified with Diana. Luna is sometimes depicted wearing a crescent. Luna’s name derives from the Etruscan moon Goddess, Losna or Lucna.
Lupa (Roman)
The name given to the she-wolf who nursed the children, Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.

 

M
Magna Dea (Roman)
A title often assigned to the Goddess Ceres, meaning the “Great Goddess.”
Magna Mater (Phrygian-Roman)
A Latin title meaning the “Great Mother”, which is the Roman name assigned to the Phrygian Cybele. Also Magna Mater Deorum, meaning “Great Mother of the Gods.”
Mater Larum, Lara (Roman)
An underworld Goddess, the “Mother of the Dead”, who are the lares or larvae.
Mater Turrita (Phrygian-Roman)
A Roman name for Cybele, mean “Mother Turrita”.
Meditrina (Roman)
Goddess of medicine, to which she gives her name.
Mellona (Roman)
A rustic Goddess of honey.
Mena, Mens, Menes, Meni (Roman)
She is the Goddess of menstruation. Mena’s name is related to the Latin word for “month,” mensis. Not much is known about the Roman Mena. Her name was preserved in a 5th century Latin document by St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God “…dea Mena, quam praefecerunt menstruis feminarum.” It seems the practical Romans had deities for everything. She may be related to the Greek “Mene,” which was another name of the moon Goddess, Selena.
Mene (Greek)
Another name of the moon-Goddess, Selena. She bore a daughter by Zeus, known as Herse, the personified dew, which formed mysteriously under the clear, night sky, bringing moisture to the plants after a day’s drying of the soil.
Menvra, Menrfa (Etruscan)
An important Goddess, she associated with two other major deities in the Etruscan pantheon, the God, Tinia, and the Goddess, Uni. Three temples were dedicated to this Etruscan triad, but as with most Etruscan deities, little information about their mythologies is available. However, she may have been a Goddess of the thunderbolt like Cupra. Menvra and Cupra formed also formed a triad with Tinia. The Goddesses were shown with Tinia, each holding a thunderbolt while Tinia himself held three.
Minerva (Italian)
An ancient Goddess, probably of Etruscan origin, as her name is apparently derived from the Etruscan Goddess Menvra. Minerva was a Goddess of handicrafts and her chief temple on Aventine was the center of worship for the Roman guilds. She was also a Goddess of intelligence or wisdom and a patroness of schools. The sacred animal of Minerva was the antelope, a prophetic animal. The eyes of the antelope were associated with sharpness of vision.
Muse, the Muses (Greek)
In Classical Greco-Roman religion and myth, a Muse was one of a group of Goddesses who inspired the creation and understanding of literature, knowledge, and the arts. The number and names of the Muses varied. The most standard list is Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Urania (astronomy), Polyhymnia (hymns, religious music), Euterpe (song and elegiac poetry), Terpsichore (dance and choral song), Melpomene (drama: tragedy), Thalia (drama: comedy), and Erato (erotic and/or love poetry). The orginal Greek name for one of the Muses was mousa. The modern English words “museum,” “music,” “bemuse,” “amuse,” and “amusing” all derive from the ancient Greek mousa.

 

N
Nox (Greco-Roman)
Supposedly an ancient deity, she was the Goddess of night. Her union with her brother, Erebus (Darkness), produced Dies (Day) and Aether (Air).

 

O
Orbona (Roman)
The Goddess who protects orphans.
Ops (Etruscan Roman)
An agricultural Goddess of abundance, personifying the earth’s riches. Her name was invoked by farmers to bless seeds before planting. She was associated with Saturn. Her festivals were the Opalia on December 19 and Opeconsia on August 25. In August, Ops was worshipped while touching the ground. From her name, we derive the word “opulence.”

 

P
Pessinuntica (Phrygian)
A title of Cybele meaning, “Mother of the Gods.”
Phersipnei (Etruscan)
Apparently the Etruscan counterpart to the Roman Proserpine and the Greek Persephone.
Pomona (Italian)
A Goddess of apples, orchards, fruit, and gardens. Her sacred grove was known as the Pomponal, near Ostia. Her priest at Rome was known as the Flamen Pomponalis.
Primigenia (Roman)
A title meaning “first-born” or “first-created”. Fortuna was sometimes called Fortuna Primigenia.
Proserpine, Prosperine, Prosperina (Italian)
Originally Proserpine was an agricultural Goddess who nursed the growth of the tender shoots in spring–possibly from the underworld.
In Sicily, Proserpine was called “the savior”, where images of the maiden and her mother, Ceres, were used for many centuries in place of the Virgin Mary and child. Proserpine was honored with bouquets of wild flowers or sheaves of grain. Later she absorbed the mythology and attributes of the Greek Persephone and was viewed as Queen of the Underworld. Hence, she was known as Stygian Proserpine.

 

Q
Querquenulanae Virae (Roman)
Green oak nymphs with prophetic powers.

 

R

 

S
Salcia, Salichia (Roman)
Goddess of saltwater and springs.
Salus (Roman)
Goddess of health, prosperity, and public welfare.
Selene, Selena (Greek)
A divinity of the moon, described as a Titaness who drove the moon chariot across the night sky. She fell in love with a youth, Endymion, who she cast into deep sleep. Interestingly, the cakes dedicated to the Greek moon Goddess, Artemis, were called selenai.
semnai, semnai theai
In Greco-Roman mythology, the semnai were Goddesses of vengeance. This name, like the name Eumenides (“Kindly Ones”), was a euphemism for the Erinyes (“Furies”). The name semnai literally meant “Venerable Ones” and semnai theai meant Venerable Goddesses.
Sharrat Shame (Babylonian)
A title of Ishtar meaning, “Queen of Heaven.”
Sophia, Pistis Sophia (Gnostic)
The name, Sophia, is Greek for “wisdom.” In Gnostic theology, she was the Holy Spirit of divine Wisdom; she came into existence before creation. The Gnostics were an amalgamation of Jewish and Greek philosophical pagan theology, which later formed into Christian Gnostic sects. The Catholic Church sought to stamp out the heresy of Gnosticism around the Mediteranean, but never quite eradicated the ideas behind it, which remanifested themselves from time to time in other religious movements.
Strenia (Italian)
A Goddess who was worshipped in Rome at the beginning of the new year in the springtime.
Susuri (Roman)
The personification of rumor, who kept company with Fama (fame), Credulitas (error), and Laetitia (unfounded joy)

 

T
Tellus, Tellus Mater, Terra (Roman)
The personified earth. See Madre Terra and Gaia hypothesis on The ABC of Aradia.
Tempestates (Roman)
Goddesses of storm and wind.
Thana, Thalnr (Etruscan)
Goddess of the dawn.
Titania (Roman)
A minor Goddess of the moon, later named Queen of the Faeries.
Tiu, Tiuv (Etruscan)
The deified moon.
Turan (Etruscan)
Turan was a love Goddess and is assumed to be a queen of life, probably influenced by the Greek Aphrodite and sometimes referred to by that name. Her name seems to derive from the same word as the Greek tyrannos, meaning “ruler.” She was mistress of life and sex and was associated with Zirna. Turan survived in folklore as Turanna, the good faery of peace and love in modern Italy.
Turanna (Italian)
A survival of the Etruscan Goddess, Turan, in folklore as a faery

 

U
Uni (Etruscan)
A Goddess in the divine triad which included the God Tinia and the Goddess Menvra. They clearly correspond to the Roman deities Juno, Jove Pater, and Minerva. The Etruscans apparently believed in a celestial council of 12, composed of Uni, Tinia, and Menvra, with 9 other deities.

 

V
Vegoia, Begoe (Estruscan)
When the Etruscans first settled in Tuscany, the Goddess Vegoia appeared to instruct them how to best form a civilization which would please the Gods. She taught them how to worship properly in rituals, how to divine through augury, and how to measure out land and set boundaries in human teritory. Boundaries between fields marked with stones acquired a numenous, or divine, force among many cultures in antiquity, as these were part of the marks that provided order.
Venus (Roman)
Originally a Goddess of beauty and protectress of gardens. Her symbols included wild strawberries, herbs, pinecones, and cyprus trees. Venus was a spirit of beauty and charm. Originally only bloodless sacrifices, such as garlands of vervain, were offered at her shrines, which were situated at large stones positioned next to tall trees. During the Classical era, this winsome Goddess of youthful love was assimilated into the complex figure of the Greek Aphrodite. The young and mischievious winged Cupid became her son as the Roman God of love. During the rule of the emperors of the Julii family, Venus acquired a matronly aspect, as Julius Caesar was supposedly descended from her. Julius Caesar specifically invoked her as his ancestress under the name, Venus Genitrix, and consecrated a temple to her in 46 bce.
Her festival, the Veneralia, was celebrated on April 1.
She is still invoked in love spells and love poetry.
Vesta (Roman)
Goddess of the hearth and the central divinity of Roman family life. Every hearth was her altar and every hearth fire her image. Daily offerings were made to Vesta by families at their hearths. The sacred fire which the city of Rome burned in Vesta’s round temple was tended by her priestesses, the Vestal Virgins.
It would have been a terrible omen if the sacred fire of Rome ever accidentally went out. The Vestals only doused the fire once a year on March 1 and then relit the fire. The eight days long Vestalia was celebrated starting on June 9 when barefoot Roman matrons offered food baked on their household hearths and the Vestal Virgins offered special salt cakes.
Vibilla (Roman)
A Goddess who directs travelers on their ways.
Vitula (Roman)
Goddess of mirth.

 

W

 

X

 

Y

 

Z
Zirna (Etruscan)
Either another name or another aspect of the moon Goddess. She is depicted with a half moon around her neck.

 

Notes by Myth Woodling

The above is hardly a complete list of Etruscan and Roman Goddesses, and it includes some foreign Goddesses as well. The Romans had a huge pantheon of deities that covered every major and minor aspect of Roman life. It would be near impossible to list them all here.

Etruscan literature and mythology has largely been lost. Hence, while they too had a large pantheon, sometimes all we have are names from inscriptions.

Readers may wonder why I included some minor deities and excluded well-known deities, particularly from the Roman group. For example, the Roman Goddess Bellona, the consort of the Roman God Mars. The Latin word for war, bellum derives from her name. It is clear that she was an important element of the militaristic Roman culture, however, my list originally began as a simple glossary of names used in my “Dianic Mythology”–in particular, names used in “Diana Nemorensis, or Diana of the Grove.”

I bandied about a variety of mythological names in the “Dianic Mythology”–far too many for footnotes. Yet, it occured to me that someone might not want go to the bookshelf and drag out a mythological dictionary simply to look up Pessinuntica, which is actually a title of Cybele. Of course, then I had to put in an entry for Cybele, and while I was at it, I decided to include Vegoia, an Etruscan Goddess who seemed to bear a distinct similarity to the Roman nymph Egeria.

Most all of these Goddesses could be linked to the personae of Diana, particularly as she survived during the Christian era.

Sources

Aaron J. Atsma, Mousai, Theoi Project, 2000-2011, accessed 9/26/11.

Raymond Buckland, The Witch Book, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wiccan and Neo-paganism, 2002.

Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, 1935.

Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Vols. 1 & 2, 1948.

Judika Illes, The Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods and Goddesses, 2009.

Patricia Monaghan, The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, 2002.

New Larouss Encyclopedia of Mythology, 1959, 1968.

Carole Potter, Knock On Wood and Other Superstitions, 1983.

Thalia Took, Dea Dia, 2004, accessed 7/1/2016.

Robert Turcan, The Cults of the Roman Empire, 1992, 1996.

Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome, 1998.

Patricia Turner and Charles Russell Courter, Dictionary of Ancient Deities, 2002.

Harry E. Wedeck and Wade Baskin, Dictionary of Pagan Religions, 1971.

Marta Weigle, Spiders and Spinsters, 1985.

The White Goddess Dea Dia – Goddess of growth, 2012, 2016, accessed 7/1/2016.

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The Aradia Charge

The Aradia Charge

I am Aradia
Daughter of the sea
And daughter of the wind
Daughter of the Sun
And daughter of the Moon
Daughter of dawn
And daughter of sunset
Daughter of night
And daughter of mountainsAnd I have sung the song of the sea
And I have listened to the sighing of the wind
I have heard the hidden secrets of the Sun
And I have drunk the tears of the Moon
And the sorrow of the sunset
I have lain ‘neath the darkest dark of night
And I have beheld the might of mountains

For I am stronger than the sea
And freer than the wind
I am brighter than Sun
And more changing than the Moon
I am the hope of the dawn
And the peace of the sunset
I am more mysterious than night
And older than the mountains
Older than time itself
For I am she who was
Who is
And who will be
For I am Aradia.

–written by Vivianne Crowley, 1968,
used with permission of author,
author retains copyright.

This marvelous piece of ritual poetry can be found in Vivianne Crowley’s wonderful book, Wicca, The Old Religion in the New Age, 1989, p. 174. The above brief passage is quoted as a sample of Dr. Crowley’s writing as a Wiccan high priestess. Anyone studying the Old Religion is encouraged to purchase her book.

According to private correspondence with Dr. Crowley on January 15, 2015, the Charge of Aradia was not created for use in a specific rite. “It’s something that just came to me when I was meditating as a visitation from the Goddess…. Since then I have used it as a charge, but I haven’t used it as an invocation.”

As this Charge was written in 1968, I believe it represents a significant and early example of Wiccan literature surrounding the figure of Aradia.

The Goddess Speaks: Aradia

The Goddess Speaks: Aradia

You are seeking me because you are in trouble. You know that you need to know more about yourself and the world, and you are running around seeking knowledge, going to gurus, taking thousands of seminars, looking for holy men or holy women. Stop. There is no need for this yearning and seeking and unending insecurity. If you do not find the answers within you, you will never find them outside.

I am Aradia, the avatar of the moon. I incarnated as a woman and walked among you. I have seen your poverty, your desparate lives, your need for love and food. I shared your misery for a long lifetime, and when I departed from your world, I left my instructions about what you should do when you need more advice and more power.

Once a month, when the Moon is full, come into my presence again. Gather in in some secret place–in the desert, a forest, the mountains or in state parks and national forests, in backyards and empty lots, or even on rooftops of your houses–whenever you can be alone with me.

Here we shall gather and adore the potent spirit of my Mother the Moon, Diana. She is the true teacher of all magic, from her comes the inspiration that will lead you on your path, hers is the magic that will awaken yours and empower those who are now weak and oppressed.

It was the Queen of the Moon who sent me, because there was so much pain and slavery among you. Diana despises slavery as the death of the soul. Freedom is the teaching she imparted to me, and by me to you, the freedom to live our lives according to her golden rule, “Do as thou wilt and harm none.” This is the only rule you need. If you can live like that, you need no more commands.

When you call me into the circle, wear only your skin. come skyclad, with no clothing to identify you with any time or century. This is the sign that you are really free. You are open to me. You shall be called witches, because you arre the Moon creatures who have returned to me. You are the magical folks, those who break the patriarchal rules, those who sow the seeds of the better future. Whatever your trouble is, tell me about it, and it shall be remedied.

then prepare a feast of cakes and wine, bless every morsel, bless every cup, and make a circle dance that wheels wild and free. Afterward feast in my honor. This will waken your own natural selves, will unbind your chains, will open the cages. Let the Full Moon inspire you while I walk among you, healing you or giving you balm for your ills.

I am still your teacher, the only female avatar, ignored for centuries, but now in free women multiplied. The great teacher lives in you now, in every breath and movement. I am waiting to reveal myself through your actions. “Trust yourself,” is my message, trust that your body will know when to say yes and when to say no. The burning times are over, but before the priests lose all their power, they will try their hardest to destroy you once more. You must be steady then, steady within your new-won self. Do not delegate power over your life or your sacred spirit to others.

Heaven’s gates open to those who know the way. Death you should not fear, my holy Mother will wait for you there. She takes good care of the dead and living, she guides reincarnation, she will inspire the unborn to seek willing and loving mothers. Go to her in all matters, and pray to the Full Moon. The ears of the Goddess are open, and her heart listens to yours. Make music and dance, for that is your life. Let the sorrows melt away, let miracles unfold that will answer all your questioning.

I am Aradia, the first teacher and avatar. Welcome to magic, my children, my witches, welcome to the Full Moon’s light.
–Zsuzsanna E. Budapest, Grandmother Moon 1991 (pp 86-87). Used here with permission.


Myth’s Notes

The above is one of several Goddess monologues in Z. Budapest’s books, Grandmother Time and Grandmother Moon. This particular Goddess monologue is placed under one of the Spring moons. If compared with the Vangtelo Charge and the Charge of the Goddess, it is obvious Z. Budapest has purposely incorporated elements from these invocations. Of course, she has updated and altered the message to explore Aradia from a slightly different angle. Both Grandmother Moon and its companion, Grandmother Time are excellent books and are presently being used as source material by the Dianic University On-Line.

Those who wish to contact Z Budapest or learn more about the feminist Dianic tradition, should contact:

Dianic University On-Line, Zsuzsanna Budapest, Founder
www.zbudapest.com/du
The Dianic University On-Line is open for registration, bringing together the diverse souls of women from all over the world, to learn and exchange ideas, and to enhance each other. We can widen the collective female imagination through Goddess and magical studies, connecting peace, ecology, freedom, and personal empowerment with happiness. We begin our journey around the sun and learn Dianic Witchcraft. We will study spells, rituals, and philosophy, traveling together, in destiny groups, learning about the Circle of Rebirth.

Z. Budapest is the author of several excellent books for Wimmin’s religion or Feminist Dianic Witchcraft. She founded the Susan B. Anthony Coven No. 1 on the winter solstice of 1971 and has been an important force in Wicca/Wicce since then. The above quotes not only are examples of spells invoking the Goddess Aradia, but likewise illustrate Z’s down-to-earth writing style about spellcasting and the modern Craft. Students of the Old Religion and women’s spitituality are encouraged to read her work.

Pagan Study of Gods & Goddesses for March 21 – The Goddess Ostara

ostarawitch

Ostara The Goddess of Spring

Areas of Influence: Ostara the Germanic Goddess heralds the beginning of spring. She is the Maiden Goddess, full of potential, representing the opportunity of growth and rebirth after the stagnation of winter.

There are several different translations of the meaning of her name:- East, dawn and morning light indicating the returning warmth of the sun’s rays and the lengthening days.

In Germany her warm nature is still marked by bonfires lit at dawn on the Spring Equinox.

The Goddess was also known as Eostre and although much of her story has been lost, her name lives on as it is the root of the English words for both Easter and oestrogen.

Origins and Genealogy: Very little is known about the origins of this Germanic Goddess. She has many similarities to the Nordic fertility Goddesses Frigg and Freya.

Strengths: A warm, dynamic and compassionate Goddess.

Weaknesses: Her lateness nearly caused the death of a small bird.

Symbolism: The Rabbits and painted eggs are both potent symbols of fertility, reflecting the nature of this spring Goddess.

When the Goddess came across a young bird that was dying of cold due to her late arrival, she warmed him up and turned him into a rabbit.

These ancient symbols are still found in our Easter celebrations today when the Easter bunny hides chocolate eggs for the children to find.

Festivals: Dates of festivals to mark this Goddess range from the Spring Equinox to the first full moon after the Equinox.

Traditionally people would dress up in new cloths, light bonfires at dawn and decorate eggs as offerings to the spring Goddess.

 

Ostara’s Archetype

The Maiden

The Maiden Archetype represents purity and the innocence of childhood, where the soul’s dreams, magic and make believe still prevail.

It is also an aspect of the Triple Goddess, together with the Mother and the Crone they represents the cycles of the moon and the different stages of a woman’s life.

Shadow Maiden is very self centered all, her dreams and energy is expended on achieving her own personal needs and goals.

These qualities reflect the nature of this Spring Goddess who stands on the cusp of womanhood. Her self-absorbtion meant she was late and nearly caused the death of a young bird but undeterred the resourceful Goddess transforms the bird into a rabbit.

 

How To Work With This Archetype

The Maiden

The Maiden is one of your Archetypes if you are life still in touch with your childhood intuition and fantasies and have used these to fulfill your dreams. Hence you can still have the Maiden Archetype at any time of life.

The Maiden reminds you to look after the magical child that lies within us all.

Shadow Maiden asks you to look at whether your dreams and aspirations are selfish and take no account of the needs of others.

____________________________________________________

 

Ostara/Eostre

Ēostre or Ostara (Old English: Ēastre [æːɑstre], Northumbrian dialect Ēostre [eːostre]; Old High German: *Ôstara ) is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages. Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others. As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend. Additionally, scholars have linked the goddess’s name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names (toponyms) in England, and, discovered in 1958, over 150 inscriptions from the 2nd century CE referring to the matronae Austriahenae.

Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. Particularly prior to the discovery of the matronae Austriahenae and further developments in Indo-European studies, debate has occurred among some scholars about whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede. Ēostre and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture and are venerated in some forms of Germanic neopaganism.

Etymology
Old English Ēostre continues into modern English as Easter and derives from Proto-Germanic *Austrǭ, itself a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂ews-, meaning ‘to shine’ (modern English east also derives from this root).

The goddess name Ēostre is therefore linguistically cognate with numerous other dawn goddesses attested among Indo-European language-speaking peoples. These cognates lead to the reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess; the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture details that “a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn is supported both by the evidence of cognate names and the similarity of mythic representation of the dawn goddess among various Indo-European groups” and that “all of this evidence permits us to posit a Proto-Indo-European *haéusōs ‘goddess of dawn’ who was characterized as a “reluctant” bringer of light for which she is punished. In three of the Indo-European stocks, Baltic, Greek and Indo-Iranian, the existence of a Proto-Indo-European ‘goddess of the dawn’ is given additional linguistic support in that she is designated the ‘daughter of heaven’.”

De temporum ratione
In chapter 15 (De mensibus Anglorum, “The English months”) of his 8th-century work De temporum ratione (“The Reckoning of Time”), Bede describes the indigenous month names of the English people. After describing the worship of the goddess Rheda during the Anglo-Saxon month of Hrēþ-mōnaþ, Bede writes about Ēosturmōnaþ, the month of the goddess Ēostre:

Eostur-monath, qui nunc Paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a Dea illorum quæ Eostre vocabatur, et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit: a cujus nomine nunc Paschale tempus cognominant, consueto antiquæ observationis vocabulo gaudia novæ solemnitatis vocantes.

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.

Jacob Grimm, *Ostara, and Easter customs
In his 1835 Deutsche Mythologie, Jacob Grimm cites comparative evidence to reconstruct a potential continental Germanic goddess whose name would have been preserved in the Old High German name of Easter, *Ostara. Addressing skepticism towards goddesses mentioned by Bede, Grimm comments that “there is nothing improbable in them, nay the first of them is justified by clear traces in the vocabularies of Germanic tribes.” Specifically regarding Ēostre, Grimm continues that:

We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ôstarmânoth is found as early as Eginhart (temp. Car. Mag.). The great Christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of OHG remains the name ôstarâ … it is mostly found in the plural, because two days … were kept at Easter. This Ostarâ, like the [Anglo-Saxon] Eástre, must in heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.

Grimm notes that “all of the nations bordering on us have retained the Biblical pascha; even Ulphilas writes paska, not áustrô, though he must have known the word”. Grimm details that the Old High German adverb ôstar “expresses movement towards the rising sun”, as did the Old Norse term austr, and potentially also Anglo-Saxon ēastor and Gothic áustr. Grimm compares these terms to the identical Latin term auster. Grimm says that the cult of the goddess may have worshiped an Old Norse form, Austra, or that her cult may have already been extinct by the time of Christianization.

Grimm notes that the Old Norse Prose Edda book Gylfaginning attests to a male being called Austri, who Grimm describes as a “spirit of light.” Grimm comments that a female version would have been *Austra, yet that the High German and Saxon peoples seem to have only formed Ostarâ and Eástre, feminine, and not Ostaro and Eástra, masculine. Grimm additionally speculates on the nature of the goddess and surviving folk customs that may have been associated with her in Germany:

Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the Christian’s God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy … Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing … here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great Christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.

In the second volume of Deutsche Mythologie, Grimm picks up the subject of Ostara again, connecting the goddess to various German Easter festivities, including Easter eggs:

But if we admit, goddesses, then, in addition to Nerthus, Ostara has the strongest claim to consideration. To what we said on p. 290 I can add some significant facts. The heathen Easter had much in common with May-feast and the reception of spring, particularly in matter of bonfires. Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate : I allude especially to the custom of Easter eggs, and to the Easter tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people’s amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences.

Grimm comments on further Easter time customs, including unique sword dances and particular baked goods (“pastry of heathenish form”). In addition, Grimm weights a potential connection to the Slavic spring goddess Vesna and the Lithuanian Vasara.

Locations, personal names, and the matronae Austriahenae
A cluster of place names in England contain and a variety of English and continental Germanic names include the element *ēoster, an early Old English word reconstructed by linguists and potentially an earlier form of the goddess name Ēostre. The Council of Austerfield called by King Aldfrith of Northumbria shortly before 704 convened at a place described in contemporary records both as in campo qui Eostrefeld dicitur and in campo qui dicitur Oustraefelda, which have led to the site being identified with Austerfield near Bawtry in the West Riding of Yorkshire.[10] Such locations also include Eastry (Eastrgena, 788 CE) in Kent, Eastrea (Estrey, 966 CE) in Cambridgeshire, and Eastrington (Eastringatun, 959 CE) in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The element *ēoster also appears in the Old English name Easterwine, a name borne by Bede’s monastery abbot in Wearmouth-Jarrow and which appears an additional three times in the Durham Liber Vitae. The name Aestorhild also appears in the Liber Vitae, and is likely the ancestor of the Middle English name Estrild. Various continental Germanic names include the element, including Austrechild, Austrighysel, Austrovald, and Ostrulf.

In 1958, over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to the matronae Austriahenae were discovered near Morken-Harff, Germany. Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet many are at least reasonably legible. Some of these inscriptions refer to the Austriates, evidently the name of a social group.

Theories and interpretations
Some debate has occurred over whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede’s, particularly in the 19th century before more widespread reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess. Writing in the late 19th century, Charles J. Billson notes that scholars before his writing were divided about the existence of Bede’s account of Ēostre, stating that “among authorities who have no doubt as to her existence are W. Grimm, Wackernagel, Sinrock [sic], and Wolf. On the other hand, Weinhold rejects the idea on philological grounds, and so do Heinrich Leo and Hermann Oesre. Kuhn says, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Eostre looks like an invention of Bede;’ and Mannhardt also dismisses her as an etymological dea ex machina.” Billson says that “the whole question turns […], upon Bede’s credibility”, and that “one is inclined to agree with Grimm, that it would be uncritical to saddle this eminent Father of the Church, who keeps Heathendom at arms’ length and tells us less of than he knows, with the invention of this goddess.” Billson points out that the Christianization of England started at the end of the 6th century, and, by the 7th, was completed. Billson argues that, as Bede was born in 672, Bede must have had opportunities to learn the names of the native goddesses of the Anglo-Saxons, “who were hardly extinct in his lifetime.”

Writing in the late 20th century, Rudolf Simek says that, despite expressions of doubts, Bede’s account of Eostre should not be disregarded. Simek opines that a “Spring-like fertility goddess” must be assumed rather than a “goddess of sunrise” regardless of the name, reasoning that “otherwise the Germanic goddesses (and matrons) are mostly connected with prosperity and growth”. Simek points to a comparison with the goddess Rheda, also attested by Bede.

Scholar Philip A. Shaw (2011) writes that the subject has seen “a lengthy history of arguments for and against Bede’s goddess Eostre, with some scholars taking fairly extreme positions on either side” and that some theories against the goddess have gained popular cultural prominence. Shaw, however, notes that “much of this debate, however, was conducted in ignorance of a key piece of evidence, as it was not discovered until 1958. This evidence is furnished by over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to deities named the matronae Austriahenae, found near Morken-Harff and datable to around 150–250 AD”. Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet most are in a complete enough for reasonable clarity of the inscriptions. As early as 1966 scholars have linked these names etymologically with Eostre and an element found in Germanic personal names. Shaw argues against a functional interpretation of the available evidence and concludes that “the etymological connections of her name suggests that her worshippers saw her geographical and social relationship with them as more central than any functions she may have had”.

Hares and Freyja
In Northern Europe, Easter imagery often involves hares and rabbits. Citing folk Easter customs in Leicestershire, England where “the profits of the land called Harecrop Leys were applied to providing a meal which was thrown on the ground at the ‘Hare-pie Bank'”, late 19th-century scholar Charles Isaac Elton theorizes a connection between these customs and the worship of Ēostre. In his late 19th-century study of the hare in folk custom and mythology, Charles J. Billson cites numerous incidents of folk custom involving the hare around the period of Easter in Northern Europe. Billson says that “whether there was a goddess named Eostre, or not, and whatever connection the hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British worship, there are good grounds for believing that the sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabitants of this island.”

Some scholars have linked customs and imagery involving hares to Ēostre and the Norse goddess Freyja. Writing in 1972, John Andrew Boyle cites commentary contained within an etymology dictionary by A. Ernout and A. Meillet, where the authors write that “Little else […] is known about [Ēostre], but it has been suggested that her lights, as goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring fecundity, and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity.” Boyle responds that nothing is known about Ēostre outside of Bede’s single passage, that the authors had seemingly accepted the identification of Ēostre with the Norse goddess Freyja, yet that the hare is not associated with Freyja either. Boyle writes that “her carriage, we are told by Snorri, was drawn by a pair of cats — animals, it is true, which like hares were the familiars of witches, with whom Freyja seems to have much in common.” However, Boyle adds that “on the other hand, when the authors speak of the hare as the ‘companion of Aphrodite and of satyrs and cupids’ and point out that ‘in the Middle Ages it appears beside the figure of Luxuria’, they are on much surer ground and can adduce the evidence of their illustrations.”

In popular culture and modern veneration
Jacob Grimm’s reconstructed *Ostara has had some influence in popular culture since. The name has been adapted as an asteroid (343 Ostara, 1892 by Max Wolf), and a date on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year (Ostara, 21 March). In music, the name Ostara has been adopted as a name by the musical group Ostara, and as the names of albums by :zoviet*france: (Eostre, 1984) and The Wishing Tree (Ostara, 2009).

In some forms of Germanic neopaganism, Ēostre (or Ostara) is venerated. Regarding this veneration, Carole M. Cusack comments that, among adherents, Ēostre is “associated with the coming of spring and the dawn, and her festival is celebrated at the spring equinox. Because she brings renewal, rebirth from the death of winter, some Heathens associate Eostre with Idunn, keeper of the apples of youth in Scandinavian mythology”.

Politically, the name of Ostara was in the early 20th century invoked as the name of a German nationalist magazine, book series and publishing house established in 1905 at Mödling, Austria.

Ostara is portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth in the TV series American Gods based on the novel of the same name. In the series, Ostara has survived into the modern age by forming an alliance with the Goddess of Media (Gillian Anderson) and capitalising on the Christian holiday. Odin (Ian McShane) forces her to accept that those who celebrate Easter are worshipping Jesus and not her, causing her to join his rebellion against the New Gods.

 

Reference
The Goddess-Guide.com

Wikipedia

Deities of the Spring Equinox

OSTARA

Deities of the Spring Equinox

Spring is a time of great celebration in many cultures. It’s the time of year when the planting begins, people begin to once more enjoy the fresh air, and we can reconnect with the earth again after the long, cold winter. A number of different gods and goddesses from different pantheons are connected with the themes of Spring and Ostara. Here’s a look at some of the many deities associated with spring, rebirth, and new life each year.

Asase Yaa (Ashanti)
This earth goddess prepares to bring forth new life in the spring, and the Ashanti people of Ghana honor her at the festival of Durbar, alongside her husband Nyame, the sky god who brings rain to the fields. As a fertility goddess, she is often associated with the planting of early crops during the rainy season. In some parts of Africa, she is honored during an annual (or often bi-annual) festival called the Awuru Odo. This is a large gathering of extended family and kinship groups, and a great deal of food and feasting seems to be involved.

In some Ghanaian folktales, Asase Yaa appears as the mother of Anansi, the trickster god, whose legends followed many West Africans to the New World during the centuries of the slave trade.

Interestingly, there do not appear to be any formalized temples to Asase Yaa – instead, she is honored in the fields where the crops grown, and in the homes where she is celebrated as a goddess of fertility and the womb. Farmers may opt to ask her permission before they begin working the soil. Even though she is associated with the hard labor of tilling the fields and planting seeds, her followers take a day off on Thursday, which is her sacred day.

Cybele (Roman)
This mother goddess of Rome was at the center of a rather bloody Phrygian cult, in which eunuch priests performed mysterious rites in her honor. Her lover was Attis (he was also her grandson, but that’s another story), and her jealousy caused him to castrate and kill himself. His blood was the source of the first violets, and divine intervention allowed Attis to be resurrected by Cybele, with some help from Zeus. In some areas, there is still an annual three-day celebration of Attis’ rebirth and Cybele’s power.

Like Attis, it is said that Cybele’s followers would work themselves into orgiastic frenzies and then ritually castrate themselves. After this, these priests donned women’s clothing, and assumed female identities. They became known as the Gallai. In some regions, female priestesses led Cybele’s dedicants in rituals involving ecstatic music, drumming and dancing. Under the leadership of Augustus Caesar, Cybele became extremely popular. Augustus erected a giant temple in her honor on the Palatine Hill, and the statue of Cybele that is in the temple bears the face of Augustus’ wife, Livia.

Today, many people still honor Cybele, although not in quite the same context as she once was. Groups like the Maetreum of Cybele honor her as a mother goddess and protector of women.

Eostre (Western Germanic)
Little is known about the worship of this Teutonic spring goddess, but she is mentioned by the Venerable Bede, who said that Eostre’s following had died out by the time he compiled his writings in the eighth century. Jacob Grimm referred to her by the High German equivalent, Ostara, in his 1835 manuscript, Deutsche Mythologie.

According to the stories, she is a goddess associated with flowers and springtime, and her name gives us the word “Easter,” as well as the name of Ostara itself. However, if you start to dig around for information on Eostre, you’ll find that much of it is the same. In fact, nearly all of it is Wiccan and Pagan authors who describe Eostre in a similar fashion. Very little is available on an academic level.

Interestingly, Eostre doesn’t appear anywhere in Germanic mythology, and despite assertions that she might be a Norse deity, she doesn’t show up in the poetic or prose Eddas either. However, she could certainly have belonged to some tribal group in the Germanic areas, and her stories may have just been passed along through oral tradition.

So, did Eostre exist or not? No one knows. Some scholars dispute it, others point to etymological evidence to say that she did in fact have a festival honoring her. Read more here: Eostre – Spring Goddess or NeoPagan Fancy?

Freya (Norse)
This fertility goddess abandons the earth during the cold months, but returns in the spring to restore nature’s beauty. She wears a magnificent necklace called Brisingamen, which represents the fire of the sun. Freyja was similar to Frigg, the chief goddess of the Aesir, which was the Norse race of sky deities. Both were connected with childrearing, and could take on the aspect of a bird. Freyja owned a magical cloak of hawk’s feathers, which allowed her to transform at will. This cloak is given to Frigg in some of the Eddas.

As the wife of Odin, the All Father, Freyja was often called upon for assistance in marriage or childbirth, as well as to aid women struggling with infertility.

Osiris (Egyptian)
Osiris is known as the king of Egyptian gods. This lover of Isis dies and is reborn in a resurrection story. The resurrection theme is popular among spring deities, and is also found in the stories of Adonis, Mithras and Attis as well.

Born the son of Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky), Osiris was the twin brother of Isis and became the first pharoah. He taught mankind the secrets of farming and agriculture, and according to Egyptian myth and legend, brought civilization itself to the world. Ultimately, the reign of Osiris was brought about by his death at the hands of his brother Set (or Seth).

The death of Osiris is a major event in Egyptian legend.

Saraswati (Hindu)
This Hindu goddess of the arts, wisdom and learning has her own festival each spring in India, called Saraswati Puja. She is honored with prayers and music, and is usually depicted holding lotus blossoms and the sacred Vedas.

 

Author

Patti Wigington
Published on ThoughtCo.com

Pagan Study of the Gods & Goddesses, Today, Adonis

Adonis

Adonis

Adonis is a seasonal life/death/rebirth God associated with Tammuz, Atunis, Baldr, Osiris, Attis and Jesus. The name means “Lord”

His feast day is the Adonia and was celebrated in what is now August. Young women mourn him on this day and plant seeds of quick blooming, short lived flowers in his honor.

Conception and Birth
King Theias (or Cinyras) of Syria (or Smyrna) had a daughter named Myrrha (or Smyrna if you prefer). She was quite lovely and he bragged that she was lovelier even than Aphrodite. Aphrodite decided that a man who was so enamored by a girl’s beauty, certainly deserved her love, and caused poor Myrrha to fall madly in love with her own father.

Of course, she was horrified at the thought that she should be feeling this way about her father and did her very best to ignore her feelings. But this only made things worse. She swooned at his smile and shuddered at his touch. She woke sweating in the night from dreams of him and then sobbed at the shame of it. She became depressed, spoke little and ate less. Her nurse, who had served her since birth could tell that something was wrong and pressed the girl until she finally revealed her horrible secret.

At first her nurse urged her to continue to suppress her feelings and tried to treat her with sleeping droughts and appetite stimulants and by diverting her attention with entertaining games, outings and stories. She even attempted to arouse her interest in other men, but to no avail. Myrrha was pining, and she was wasting away. Her nurse was certain she would die if something wasn’t done soon.

On a certain evening, when Myrrha’s mother had gone to celebrate the festival of Demeter, the nurse noticed the King was quite drunk. She led him to bed, and then led Myrrha to his side. Myrrha lay by her father in the darkness and they knew a night of passion like none known since. He was enamored, and begged to know who she was, but she would not tell him and promised to return only when it was quite dark. He agreed, and she returned night after night under cover of darkness.

One night, after they had made love she fell asleep. He lit a lamp and held it up and was horrified to see his own daughter laying naked beside him! He bellowed his rage and went for his sword, determined to kill her, but she fled outside and Aphrodite, took pity on her and turned her into a tree before he could reach her. Myrrha’s pain was so great, having lost her father’s love and her lover and having given in to shameful temptation that even as a tree, the girl wept sweet smelling resin that came to be known as Myrrh.

Sometime later, a boar came by and rubbed its tusks on the tree, causing it to split and the young Adonis emerged. Fearful that his father/grandfather would certainly kill him if he discovered him, Aphrodite scooped him up and took him to the underworld and asked its Queen, Persephone, to look after him.

Adonis grew in beauty and strength and both Goddesses fell in love with him. When Aphrodite wanted him back, Persephone refused and she kept him as her own lover in the Underworld.

Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, settled the argument, giving each Goddess his custody for one third of the year, and granting him a third of the year to himself. He chose, however, to stay with Aphrodite during that third.

Death
Aphrodite warned Adonis to stay by her side, but the boy loved to hunt and inevitably, he went out into the forest alone one day. Discovering his absence, Aphrodite rushed to his side, but too late. He lay dying having been gored in the groin by a boar. She arrived in time to catch his last breath. She sprinkled him with nectar, and red anemones sprang up where his blood stained the ground. For the first time, Aphrodite wished she wasn’t mortal, and cried out her lament to the skies that she could join Adonis in the underworld, but she knew it could not be.

Reference

Witchipedia

Adonis

Greek mythology

Adonis, in Greek mythology, a youth of remarkable beauty, the favourite of the goddess Aphrodite (identified with Venus by the Romans). Traditionally, he was the product of the incestuous love Smyrna (Myrrha) entertained for her own father, the Syrian king Theias. Charmed by his beauty, Aphrodite put the newborn infant Adonis in a box and handed him over to the care of Persephone, the queen of the underworld, who afterward refused to give him up. An appeal was made to Zeus, the king of the gods, who decided that Adonis should spend a third of the year with Persephone and a third with Aphrodite, the remaining third being at his own disposal. A better-known story, hinted at in Euripides’ Hippolytus, is that Artemis avenged her favourite, Hippolytus, by causing the death of Adonis, who, being a hunter, ventured into her domain and was killed by a wild boar. Aphrodite pleaded for his life with Zeus, who allowed Adonis to spend half of each year with her and half in the underworld.

The central idea of the myth is that of the death and resurrection of Adonis, which represent the decay of nature every winter and its revival in spring. He is thus viewed by modern scholars as having originated as an ancient spirit of vegetation. Annual festivals called Adonia were held at Byblos and elsewhere to commemorate Adonis for the purpose of promoting the growth of vegetation and the falling of rain. The name Adonis is believed to be of Phoenician origin (from ʾadōn, “lord”), Adonis himself being identified with the Babylonian god Tammuz. Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis (1593) is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book X.

Written By:

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Adonis

A tale as old as time

 

The myth of Adonis, a tale as old as time, is a legendary love story that combines tragedy and death on the one hand, and the joy of coming back to life on the other. The story of the impossibly handsome Adonis and his lover the goddess Aphrodite originally dates back to the ancient civilizations of the Near East. It was popular among the Canaanites, and very well-known to the people of Mesopotamia and Egypt as well, though referred to by different names in each civilization. It is the legend of the god of beauty who faced death when he was young, but came back to life for the sake of his beloved Aphrodite. The myth has been a source of great inspiration for many poets, artists and historians alike, leading to its widespread use as a major theme in literary and intellectual productions.

From The Canaanite Adon To The Greek Adonis

The god Adon was considered one of the most important Canaanite gods: he was the god of beauty, fertility and permanent renewal. The name itself, “Adon”, means “The Lord” in Canaanite. In Greek mythology and the Hellenic world generally, he was called Adonis, and became known by that name among those nations. Other adaptations of Adon in various civilizations include the Canaanite god Baal who was worshiped in Ugarit, and Tammuz or Dumuzi (meaning July) as he was known to the Babylonians. In Egypt, he was Osiris, the god of resurrection.

In addition to the god Adonis, the myth involves his everlasting mistress Astarte, the goddess of love and beauty. She was known as Aphrodite to the Greeks, and Venus to the Romans. Their stories were so intertwined that Adonis’ myth would be incomplete without mentioning Astarte and the legendary love story that brought them together.

When Aphrodite saw Adonis she was so amazed by his beauty that she decided to hide him from the rest of the goddesses.

The role that Cyprus played in transferring the myth of Adonis and Astarte from the Canaanite regions to the Greeks – and from the latter to the Romans – is a very significant one. However, perhaps due to the lack of Mesopotamian and Canaanite sources written about this legend (and often the ambiguity of such sources), the late Greek writings are the main references for this tale of eternal love. Hence, the myth is most popularly known as that of Adonis and Aphrodite, rather than Adon and Astarte.

Adonis in Greek Mythology

Based on the different Greek sources (such as Bion of Smyrna) and the other Roman references (like Ovid’s Metamorphoses) a general consensus on the story of Adonis and Aphrodite is as follows:

A great king called Cinyras (in some sources known as Theias, the king of Assyria) had a daughter named Myrrha, who was very beautiful. The king used to boast about his daughter being more beautiful than Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. When Aphrodite heard of this, she became angry and decided to retaliate. She used her son Eros, the god of desire and attraction, to make Myrrha fall in love with her father, and even deceived him into committing incest. When Cinyras discovered the trick, he swore to kill Myrrha, who in turn escaped from her father after realizing she was pregnant. Myrrha was ashamed and regretful of her heinous act, and pleaded to the gods to protect her. They answered her prayers by turning her into a Myrrh tree.

Nine months later, the Myrrh tree split off, and Adonis was born; he had inherited the beauty of his mother. When Aphrodite saw the boy, she was so amazed by his beauty that she decided to hide him from the rest of the goddesses, and entrusted him to Persephone, goddess of the underworld. Persephone began looking after the boy, and when he grew older and became more and more attractive, she fell in love with him.

A conflict then rose between Aphrodite and Persephone, who refused to give Adonis back to Aphrodite. Zeus, the king of the gods, intervened and ruled that Adonis to spend four months of the year with Persephone in Hades, the Underworld, then four months with Aphrodite, and the remaining four months however he wished. Because Adonis was so taken with the charm of Aphrodite, he devoted his free four months to her as well.

Adonis was well-known for his hunting skills, and in one of the hunting journeys in the Afqa Forest (near Byblos), Adonis was attacked by a wild boar and began bleeding in the hands of Aphrodite, who poured her magical nectar on his wounds. Although Adonis died, the blood blended with the nectar and flowed onto the soil where a flower sprouted from the ground, its scent the same as Aphrodite’s nectar, and its color that of Adonis’ blood – the Anemone flower. The blood reached the river and colored the water red, and the river became known as the “Adonis River” (currently known as Nahr Ibrahim or River Abraham), which is located in the Lebanese village of Afqa.

Worship of Adonis

Byblos was one of the main places in the ancient world that used to observe the rituals of Adonis, and actually brought back the practice of these ceremonies and rites well into the early centuries of Christianity. The writings of Lucian of Samosata in the second century CE played a major role in shedding light on the rituals that were widely practiced by the people of Byblos. His book On The Syrian Goddess (De Dea Syria) recounts his visit to the village Afqa, where he explains what he encountered.

According to Lucian, the people of Byblos believed the wild boar incident that befell Adonis happened in their country. To commemorate this event, they would smite themselves each year, mourn, and celebrate religious rituals and orgies while a great mourning prevailed over the entire country. When their beating and bewailing stopped, they would celebrate the funeral of Adonis, as if he had died, and then the next day announce that he had returned to life and was sent to heaven.

Another one of the Byblos region’s marvels is the river that runs from Mount Lebanon and flows into the sea. The River Adonis is said to lose its color every year and take on a bloody red hue, pouring into the sea and dyeing a large part of the beach red – a sign to the people of Byblos to start their time of mourning. It is believed that at this time of year, Adonis was wounded in Lebanon, and his blood went to the riverbed. One of the reasons given by Lucian – as told to him by one of Byblos’ wise men – explaining why the river turns red at this time of the year is the strong wind blowing soil into the river. The soil of Lebanon (and of this region particularly) is known for its red color, which, when mixed with the river water, turns it purple.

The Immortal Myth

The popularity of the story of Adonis and his mistress Aphrodite led to a revival of its rituals in many other Phoenician cities as well. It also spread across to the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, but with minor differences in adaptation, depending on the characteristics and features of each civilization. The essence of the legend, however, remains intact across all adaptations: a god of beauty and youth and his relationship with the goddess of love, along with the young god’s death and return to life being a metaphor of nature’s annual rebirth.

The myth of Adonis is closely related to the concept of vegetation and agricultural civilizations, such as Mesopotamia or the Canaanite areas (as the story originated in the Near East). The winter was a season of gloom and sadness for the inhabitants of these areas, whereas the spring and summer brought them the joy of new life. This myth is commonly believed to be an expression of its people’s thinking, reflections, and psychological perceptions.

Remnants of Adonis worship are still present in this day and age among some nations of the Levant, Mesopotamia, and even Persia/Iran, where it is manifested as part of spring folklore celebrations, like the Feast of Nauroz.

 

References:

APA Style

Azar, E. N. (2016, February 21). Adonis. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Adonis/
Chicago Style

Azar, Elias N. “Adonis.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 21, 2016. https://www.ancient.eu/Adonis/.
MLA Style

Azar, Elias N. “Adonis.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 21 Feb 2016. Web. 16 Mar 2018.
License
Written by Elias N. Azar, published on 21 February 2016 under the following license: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms.

La Fin

The Pagan Study of the Gods & Goddesses for March 14th – Ares

Ares

Ares

Greek God of War

Ares is the god of war, one of the Twelve OLYMPIAN GODS and the son of ZEUS and HERA. In literature Ares represents the violent and physical untamed aspect of war, which is in contrast to ATHENA who represents military strategy and generalship as the goddess of intelligence.

Although Ares embodied the physical aggression necessary for success in war, the Greeks were ambivalent toward him because he was a dangerous, overwhelming force that was insatiable in battle.

He is well known as the lover of APHRODITE, who was married to HEPHAESTUS, and though Ares plays a limited role in literature, when he does appear in myths it is typically facing humiliation. For example, one famous story of Ares and Aphrodite exposes them to ridicule by the gods when her husband Hephaestus trapped them both naked in a bed using a clever device he made.

The ROMAN COUNTERPART to Ares was MARS, who was known as a FATHER TO THE ROMAN PEOPLE. Because of this, he was a less aggressive and physical form, revealing a more calm and understanding demeanour.

Facts about Ares
Ares was most notably referred to as the God of War; he represented the unpleasant aspects of battle.
He was the son of Zeus and Hera, both of whom hated him (according to Homer).
Ares was most often characterized as a coward in spite of his connection to war; he responded to even the slightest injury with outrage.
According to some sources, Ares was described as Aphrodite’s lover and was held in contempt by her husband, Hephaestus. The affair between them was not a secret among the Olympians.
Ares was never very popular—either with men or the other immortals. As a result, his worship in Greece was not substantial or widespread.
He came from Thrace, home of a fierce people in the northeast of Greece.
His bird was the vulture.
The Amazons, warrior women, were his daughters. Their mother was a peace-loving nymph named Harmony.
Otus and Ephialtes, twin giants, imprisoned Ares for a lunar year by binding him with chains of brass; he was eventually rescued by Hermes.
Ares always took the side of Aphrodite in the Trojan War. He fought for Hector (a Trojan) until a Greek warrior pierced him with a spear that was guided by Athena. He then departed the battlefield in order to complain to Zeus about Athena’s violence.
Harmonia, Goddess of Harmony, was the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite.
Eros (more commonly known as Cupid) was also the child of Ares and Aphrodite.
Tereus, a son of Ares, was known to have inherited his father’s abhorrent qualities.
Ares was the biological father of at least three of Hercules’ enemies: Cycnus, Lycaon, and Diomedes.
Ares had a sister named Eris, who was the Goddess of Discord.
Hebe, another sister of his, was the Goddess of Youth.
Ares rarely figures into mythology stories, but when he does, he usually suffers some form of humiliation.
Ares was associated with two other war deities: Enyalius and Enyo.
Ares had many offspring, which is characteristic of nearly all of the notable Greek gods. He conceived more mortal children than divine children.
In art, Ares is generally depicted wearing a spear and a helmet.

 – Greek Gods & Goddesses, September 19, 2014

Ares

Ares was the god of war, and son of Zeus and Hera. He represented the raw violence and untamed acts that occured in wartime, in contrast to Athena, who was a symbol of tactical strategy and military planning.

What side of the Trojan War was Ares on?

He was disliked by both his parents. Whenever Ares appeared in a myth, he was depicted as a violent personality, who faced humiliation through his defeats more than once. In the Iliad, it is mentioned that Zeus hated him more than anyone else; Ares was also on the losing side of the Trojan War, favouring the Trojans.

He was the lover of his sister, Aphrodite, who was married to Hephaestus. When the latter found out about the affair, he devised a plan and managed to humiliate both of them. The union of Ares and Aphrodite resulted in the birth of eight children, including Eros, god of love.

Ares temples

There were few temples attributed to Ares in Ancient Greece. Sacrifices would usually be made to him when an army would march to war; Spartans would make sacrifices to Enyalius, another lesser god and son of Ares and Enyo. However, the name was also used as a byname for Ares.

Who were Ares companions?

When Ares went to war, he was followed by his companions, Deimos (terror) and Phobos (fear), who were the product of his union with Aphrodite. Eris, goddess of discord and sister of Deimos and Phobos, often accompanied them in war.

Reference

Greek Mythology

Ares

 

Ares was the Greek god of war and perhaps the most unpopular of all the Olympian gods because of his quick temper, aggressiveness, and unquenchable thirst for conflict. He famously seduced Aphrodite, unsuccessfully fought with Hercules, and enraged Poseidon by killing his son Halirrhothios. One of the more human Olympian gods, he was a popular subject in Greek art and even more so in Roman times when he took on a much more serious aspect as Mars, the Roman god of war.

FAMILY RELATIONS
Son of Zeus and Hera, Ares’ sisters were Hebe and Eileithyia. Despite being a god, the Greeks considered him from Thrace, perhaps in an attempt to associate him with what they thought of as foreign and war-loving peoples, wholly different from themselves. Ares had various children with different partners, several of whom were unfortunate enough to come up against Hercules when he performed his celebrated twelve labours. Ares’ daughter Hippolyta, the Amazon queen, lost her girdle to Hercules; his son Eurytion lost his cattle; and Diomedes had his horses stolen by the Greek hero. The courageous but warlike Amazons were also thought to be descendants of Ares.

Ares was noted for his beauty and courage, qualities which no doubt helped him win the affections of Aphrodite (even though she was married to Hephaistos) with whom he had a daughter, Harmonia, and the god of love and desire Eros. Hephaistos managed to entrap the lovers in an ingenious bed, and the tale is told in some detail in Book 8 of Homer’s Odyssey. Once caught, the punishment for Ares’ indiscretion was temporary banishment from Mount Olympus.

Described by Hesiod in his Theogony as ‘shield-piercing Ares’ and ‘city-sacking Ares,’ the god represented the more brutal and bloody side of battle, which was in contrast to Athena who represented the more strategic elements of warfare. In stories from Greek mythology, Ares was usually to be found in the company of his other children with Aphrodite, Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror), with his sister Eris (Strife), and with his charioteer Ennyo.

BATTLE WITH HERCULES
The most popular myth involving Ares was his fight with Hercules. Ares’ son Kyknos was infamous for waylaying pilgrims on their way to the oracle at Delphi, and so earned the displeasure of Apollo, who sent Hercules to deal with him. Hercules killed Kyknos, and a furious Ares engaged the hero in a fight. However, Hercules was protected from harm by Athena and even managed to wound Ares. Another myth and ignominious episode for Ares was his capture by the twin Giants Ephialtes and Otus when they stormed Mount Olympus. They imprisoned the god in a bronze jar (or cauldron) for one year and he was only freed through the intervention of Hermes.

THE TROJAN WAR
In Homer’s version of the Trojan War in the Iliad, Ares supports the Trojans, sometimes even leading them in battle along with Hector. The Iliad shows Ares in a less than positive light, and he is described as ‘hateful Ares,’ ‘the man-killer,’ ‘the war-glutton,’ and the ‘curse of men.’ Homer’s picture of Ares, like the above mythological tales, often demonstrates his weakness in comparison to the other gods. Ares is roundly beaten by Athena who, supporting the Achaeans, knocks him out with a large rock. He also comes off worse against the Achaean hero Diomedes who even manages to injure the god with his spear, albeit with the help of Athena. Homer describes the scream of the wounded Ares as like the shouts of 10,000 men. Fleeing back to Olympus, Zeus ignores the complaints of Ares but instructs Paieon to heal his wound.

ATHENS & CULT
Ares again upset the harmony of Olympus when he was accused of killing Poseidon’s son Halirrhothios near a stream below the Athenian acropolis. A special court was convened – the Areopagos – on a hill near the stream, to hear the case. Ares was acquitted as it was disclosed Halirrhothios had raped Ares’ daughter Alcippe. Thereafter in Athens, the Areopagus became the place of trial for cases involving murder and impiety.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the city’s strong militaristic culture, Ares was greatly esteemed in Sparta. Ares was not commonly worshipped but there were cult sites with temples dedicated to the god on Crete (he is mentioned in Linear B tablets from Knossos) and at Argos, Athens, Erythrae, Geronthrae, Megalopolis, Tegea, Therapne, and Troezon. He also had a cult in Thrace and was popular among the Colchians on the Black Sea.

REPRESENTATION IN ART
In ancient Greek Archaic and Classical art, Ares is most often depicted wearing full armour and helmet and carrying a shield and spear. In this respect, he may appear indistinguishable from any other armed warrior. Sometimes he is shown riding his chariot pulled by fire-breathing horses. The myth of Ares’ battle with Hercules was a popular subject for Attic vases in the 6th century BCE.

In later times, the Roman god Mars was given many of the attributes of Ares, although, as was typical of the Roman view of the gods, with less human qualities. In Roman mythology, Mars was also the father of Romulus and Remus (through the rape of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia), the legendary founders of Rome, and, therefore, the city achieved a sacred status. Like Athena for Athens, Mars was also the patron god of the Roman capital and the month martius (March) was named after him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Cartwright
Mark’s special interests include ancient ceramics, architecture, and mythology. He loves visiting and reading about historic sites and transforming that experience into free articles accessible to all.

Ancient History

BALDER ODINSEN (Norse)

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE

 

How Balder, the good and beautiful god, was done to death by a stroke of the mistletoe

A deity whose life might in a sense be said to be neither in heaven nor on earth but between the two, was the Norse Balder, the good and beautiful god, the son of the great god Odin, and himself the wisest, mildest, best beloved of all the immortals. The story of his death, as it is told in the younger or prose “Edda”, runs thus. Once on a time Balder dreamed heavy dreams which seemed to forebode his death.

Thereupon the gods held a council and resolved to make him secure against every danger. So the goddess Frigg took an oath from fire and water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds, and creeping things, that they would not hurt Balder. When this was done Balder was deemed invulnerable; so the gods amused themselves by setting him in their midst, while some shot at him, others hewed at him, and others threw stones at him. But whatever they did, nothing could hurt him; and at this they were all glad. Only Loki, the mischief-maker, was displeased, and he went in the guise of an old woman to Frigg, who told him that the weapons of the gods could not wound Balder, since she had made them all swear not to hurt him. Then Loki asked, “Have all things sworn to spare Balder?” She answered, “East of Walhalla grows a plant called mistletoe; it seemed to me too young to swear.” So Loki went and pulled the mistletoe and took it to the assembly of the gods. There he found the blind god Hother standing at the outside of the circle. Loki asked him, “Why do you not shoot at Balder?” Hother answered, “Because I do not see where he stands; besides I have no weapon.” Then said Loki, “Do like the rest and shew Balder honour, as they all do. I will shew you where he stands, and do you shoot at him with this twig.” Hother took the mistletoe and threw it at Balder, as Loki directed him….Read More

The Study of Pagan Gods & Goddesses for Monday, March 12

 

Horae

In Greek mythology the Horae (/ˈhɔːr/) or Horai (/ˈhɔːr/) or Hours (Greek: ὯραιHōraipronounced [hɔ̂ːraj], “Seasons”) were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time.

 

They were originally the personifications of nature in its different seasonal aspects, but in later times they were regarded as goddesses of order in general and natural justice. “They bring and bestow ripeness, they come and go in accordance with the firm law of the periodicities of nature and of life”, Karl Kerenyi observed: “Hora means ‘the correct moment’.”  Traditionally, they guarded the gates of Olympus, promoted the fertility of the earth, and rallied the stars and constellations. The course of the seasons was also symbolically described as the dance of the Horae, and they were accordingly given the attributes of spring flowers, fragrance and graceful freshness. For example, in Hesiod’s Works and Days, the fair-haired Horai, together with the Charites and Peitho crown Pandora—she of “all gifts”—with garlands of flowers. Similarly Aphrodite, emerging from the sea and coming ashore at Cyprus, is dressed and adorned by the Horai, and, according to a surviving fragment of the epic Cypria,Aphrodite wore clothing made for her by the Charites and Horai, dyed with spring flowers, such as the Horai themselves wear.

 

The earliest written mention of Horai is in the Iliad where they appear as keepers of Zeus’s cloud gates. “Hardly any traces of that function are found in the subsequent tradition,” Karl Galinsky remarked in passing. They were daughters of Zeus and Themis, half-sisters to the Moirai.

The Horai are mentioned in two aspects in Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns:

  • in one variant emphasizing their fruitful aspect, Thallo, Auxo, and Carpo—the goddesses of the three seasons the Greeks recognized: spring, summer and autumn—were worshipped primarily amongst rural farmers throughout Greece;
  • in the other variant, emphasising the “right order” aspect of the Horai, Hesiod says that Zeus wedded “bright Themis” who bore Diké, Eunomia, and Eirene, who were law-and-order goddesses that maintained the stability of society; they were worshipped primarily in the cities of Athens, Argos and Olympia.

First triad

Of the first, more familiar, triad associated with Aphrodite and Zeus is their origins as emblems of times of life, growth (and the classical three seasons of year):

First triad

  • Thallo (Θαλλώ, literally “The one who brings blossoms”; or Flora for Romans) or Thalatte was the goddess of spring, buds and blooms, a protector of youth.
  • Auxo (Αὐξώ. “Increaser” as in plant growth) or Auxesia was worshipped (alongside Hegemone) in Athens as one of their two Charites, Auxo was the Charis of spring and Hegemone was the Charis of autumn. One of the Horae, and the goddess and personification of the season of summer; she is the protector of vegetation and plants, and growth and fertility.
  • Carpo (Καρπώ), Carpho or Xarpo was the one who brings food (though Robert Graves in The Greek Myths (1955) translates this name as “withering”) and was in charge of autumn, ripening, and harvesting, as well as guarding the way to Mount Olympus and letting back the clouds surrounding the mountain if one of the gods left. She was an attendant to Persephone, Aphrodite and Hera, and was also associated with Dionysus, Apollo and Pan.

At Athens, two Horae; Thallo (the Hora of spring) and Carpo (the Hora of autumn), also appear in rites of Attica noted by Pausanias in the 2nd century AD. Thallo, Auxo and Carpo are often accompanied by Chione, a daughter of Boreas (the god/personification of the North Wind) and Orithyia/Oreithyia (originally a mortal princess, who was later deifyied as a goddess of cold mountain winds), and the goddess/personification of snow and winter. Along with Chione, Thallo, Auxo and Carpo were a part of the entourage of the goddess of the turn of the seasons, Persephone.

Second triad

Of the second triad associated to Themis and Zeus for law and order:

  • Diké (Δίκη, “Justice”; Iustitia for Romans) was the goddess of moral justice: she ruled over human justice, as her mother Themis ruled over divine justice. The anthropomorphisation of Diké as an ever-young woman dwelling in the cities of men was so ancient and strong that in the 3rd century BCE Aratus in Phaenomena 96 asserted that she was born a mortal and that, though Zeus placed her on earth to keep mankind just, he quickly learned this was impossible and placed her next to him on Olympus, as the Greek astronomical/astrological constellation The Maiden.
  • Eunomia (Εὐνομία, “Order”, governance according to good laws) was the goddess of law and legislation. The same or a different goddess may have been a daughter of Hermes and Aphrodite.
  • Eirene or Irene (Εἰρήνη. “Peace”; the Roman equivalent was Pax), was the personification of peace and wealth, and was depicted in art as a beautiful young woman carrying a cornucopia, scepter and a torch or rhyton.

Third triad

Hyginus (Fabulae 183) identifies a third set of Horae:

  • Pherusa (Substance, farm estates),
  • Euporie or Euporia (Abundance), and
  • Orthosie or Orthosia (Prosperity).

The Four Seasons

Nonnus in his Dionysiaca mentions a distinct set of four Horae, the daughters of Helios. Quintus Smyrnaeus also attributes the Horae as the daughters of Helios and Selene, and describes them as the four handmaidens of Hera. The Greek words for the four seasons of year:

  • Eiar (Spring),
  • Theros (Summer),
  • Phthinoporon (Autumn), and
  • Cheimon (Winter).

The Hours

Finally, a quite separate suite of Horae personified the twelve hours (originally only ten), as tutelary goddesses of the times of day. The hours run from just before sunrise to just after sunset, thus winter hours are short, summer hours are long:

The nine Hours

According to Hyginus, the list is only of nine, borrowed from the three classical triads alternated:

  • Auco, or perhaps Auxo (Growth, from the 1st triad),
  • Eunomia (Order, from the 2nd triad),
  • Pherusa (Substance, from the 3rd triad),
  • Carpo (Fruit, from the 1st triad),
  • Diké (Justice, from the 2nd triad),
  • Euporie or Euporia (Abundance, from the 3rd triad),
  • Eirene or Irene (Peace, from the 2nd triad),
  • Orthosie or Orthosia (Prosperity, from the 3rd triad) and
  • Thallo (Flora, from the 1st triad).

The ten or twelve Hours

This last distinct set of ten or twelve Hours is much less known:

  • Auge, first light (initially not part of the set),
  • Anatolê or Anatolia, sunrise,
  • Mousikê or Musica, the morning hour of music and study,
  • GymnastikêGymnastica or Gymnasia, the morning hour of education, training, gymnastics/exercise,
  • Nymphê or Nympha, the morning hour of ablutions (bathing, washing),
  • Mesembria, noon,
  • Sponde, libations poured after lunch,
  • Elete, prayer, the first of the afternoon work hours,
  • AktêActe or Cypris, eating and pleasure, the second of the afternoon work hours,
  • Hesperis, end of the afternoon work hours, start of evening,
  • Dysis, sunset,
  • Arktos or Arctus, night sky, constellation (initially not part of the set).

 

Horae

Horae(Ὧραι), originally the personifications or goddesses of the order of nature and of the seasons, but in later times they were regarded as the goddesses of order in general and of justice. In Homer, who neither mentions their parents nor their number, they are the Olympian divinities of the weather and the ministers of Zeus; and in this capacity they guard the doors of Olympus, and promote the fertility of the earth, by the various kinds of weather they send down. As the weather, generally speaking, is regulated according to the seasons, they are further described as the goddesses of the seasons, i. e. the regular phases under which Nature manifests herself.  They are kind and benevolent, bringing to gods and men many things that are good and desirable. As, however, Zeus has the power of gathering and dispersing the clouds, they are in reality only his ministers, and sometimes also those of Hera.  Men in different circumstances regard the course of time (or the seasons) either as rapid or as slow, and both epithets are accordingly applied to the Horae. The course of the seasons (or hours) is symbolically described by the dance of the Horae; and, in conjunction with the Charites, Hebe, Harmonia, and Aphrodite, they accompany the songs of the Muses, and Apollo’s play on the lyre, with their dancing. The Homeric notions continued to be entertained for a long time afterwards, the Horae being considered as the givers of the various seasons of the year, especially of spring and autumn, i. e. of Nature in her bloom and maturity. At Athens two Horae, Thallo (the Hora of spring) and Carpo (the Hora of autumn), were worshipped from very early ties. The Hora of spring accompanies Persephone every year on her ascent from the lower world; and the expression of The chamber of the Horae opens ” is equivalent to ” The spring is coining.”  The attributes of spring-flowers, fragrance, and graceful freshness-are accordingly transferred to the Horae; thus they adorned Aphrodite as she rose from the sea, made a garland of flowers for Pandora, and even inanimate things are described as deriving peculiar charms from the Horae. Hence they bear a resemblance to and are mentioned along with the Charites, and both are frequently confounded or identified. As they were conceived to promote the prosperity of every thing that grows, they appear also as the protectresses of youth and newly-born gods ; and the Athenian youths, on being admitted along the ephebi, mentioned Thallo, among other gods, in the oath they took in the temple of Agraulos.

In this, as in many other cases of Greek mythology, a gradual transition is visible, from purely physical to ethical notions, and the influence which the Horae originally had on nature was subsequently transferred to human life in particular. The first trace of it occurs even in Hesiod, for he describes them as giving to a state good laws, justice, and peace; he calls them the daughters of Zeus and Themis, and gives them the significant names of Eunomia, Dice, and Eirene.  But the ethical and physical ideas are not always kept apart, and both are often mixed up with each other, as in Pindar. The number of the Horae is different in the different writers, though the most ancient number seems to have been two, as at Athens but afterwards their common number is three, like that of the Moerae and Charites. Hyginus (Hyg. Fab. 183) is in great confusion respecting the number and names of the Horae, as he mixes up the original names with surnames, and the designations of separate seasons or hours. In this manner he first makes out a list of ten Horae, viz. Titanis, Auxo, Eunomia, Pherusa, Carpo, Dice, Euporia, Eirene, Orthosia, and Thallo, and a second of eleven, Auge, Anatole, Musia, Gymnasia, Nymphes, Mesembria, Sponde, Telete, Acme, Cypridos, Dysis. The Horae (Thallo and Carpo) were worshipped at Athens, and their temple there also contained an altar of Dionysus Orthus; they were likewise worshipped at Argos . In works of art the H orae were represented as blooming maidens, carrying the different products of the seasons.

 

References