LIVING GOD & LIST
Eternal law is comprised of those laws that govern the nature of an eternal universe. It is the moral law; the law of nature. It is the law which God in the creation of man infused into him for his direction and preservation. An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law. [Christian v. United States, 46 Fed. Cl. 793, 796 (Fed. Cl. 2000)].
Historically, many notions of rights were authoritarian and hierarchical, with different people granted different rights, and some having more rights than others. For instance, the right of a father to respect from his son did not indicate a right for the son to receive a return from that respect; and the divine right of kings, which permitted absolute power over subjects, did not leave a lot of room for many rights for the subjects themselves.
The divine right of kings, divine right, or God's mandate is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm. It implies that only God can judge an unjust king and that any attempt to depose, dethrone or restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase "by the Grace of God", attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.
“Law is an ordinance of reason for the common good, promulgated by the one who is in charge of the community” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I-II, 90, 4; CCC 1976). Law is primarily a reasonable plan of action, “a certain rule and measure of acts whereby man is induced to act or is restrained from acting” (S.t., 1–2, q. 90, aa. 1, 3; S.c.g., 3, 114).
Eternal Law is the Divine Wisdom of God which oversees the common good and governs everything. Eternal law is God’s plan to lead all creation towards God’s eternal salvific plan to be holy and blameless before Him through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4–5). God, as “Being-itself”, is able to promulgate such a law as God the Creator’s reason is also perfect wisdom. Everything in nature reflects the Eternal Law in their own natures (S.T. I-IIae, 91, 2). Things act according to their nature, so they derive their proper ends (final cause) according to the law written into their nature.
Divine Law is the historical laws of Scripture given to us through God’s self-revelation. Divine law is divided into the Old Law and the New Law, which correspond to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible (q91, a5). The Old Law, revealed by God to Moses, “is the first stage of revealed Law. Its moral prescriptions are summed up in the Ten Commandments” (CCC 1962). It has an extrinsic focus — motivated by fear — and promises earthly rewards (such as social peace). It expresses immediate conclusions of the natural moral law.
The New Law perfects the Old Law. The New Law, through the teachings of Jesus — commands internal conduct — and reaches us by divine love — promising love and heavenly reward. The New Law “is the Holy Spirit given through faith in Christ, which heals and is expressed through love.”It gives interior strength to achieve what it teaches. It is also a written law found in Christ’s teachings (in the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, etc.) and in the moral catechesis of the apostles, summed up in the commandment of love.
Natural Law is “the rational creature’s participation in the eternal law” (ST I-II, Q. 91, A. 2.). “The highest norm of human life is the divine law — eternal, objective, and universal — whereby God governs us according to His wisdom and love. God makes Man a sharer in His law so Man can recognize the unchanging truth” (DH 3). The natural law “hinges upon the desire for God and submission to Him, as well as upon the sense that the other is one’s equal” (CCC 1955).
It is “natural” as it consists of Reason given to us by the “higher reason” of the divine Lawgiver. They are natural as they are objective principles which originate in human nature (GS 16; DH 14). The natural law is universal because it encompasses every person, of every epoch (cf. CCC 1956): “it is immutable and permanent throughout history; the rules that express it remain substantially valid” (CCC 1958).
Every man is bound to live by his rational nature, guided by reason. The natural law expresses the dignity of the person and determines the basis for his fundamental rights and duties (CCC 1956, 1978). The first principle of the natural law is “good is to be done and pursued, and evil avoided” (q94, a2, p. 47; CCC 1954). All other precepts of natural law rest upon this. The Church, through its Magisterium, is the authentic interpreter of the natural law (cf. CCC 2036). Since mankind is subject to sin, grace and Revelation are necessary for moral truths to be known “by everyone with facility, with certainty and no error.”
Human Law is the interpretation of natural law in different contexts (ST II.I.95–97). Natural law is a foundation for moral and civil law. Government laws are dictates of practical reason from the precepts of Natural Law.
Law is not about individual morality. Individual vices should be legislated against when they threaten harm to others. Rulers of the State should take the general moral precepts of nature and specify them into State laws, e.g., the repugnance of murder is legislated into punishments.
Hierarchy of Law
For Aquinas, human laws are derived from natural law which is a participation in the eternal law. Therefore, eternal law is at the top, followed by natural law, and then human law. Divine law is the revealed law of God to man, while natural law is the imprint of eternal law on the hearts of men.
Aquinas identified four categories of law: (1) eternal law, which is coextensive with the divine mind and with the overall purpose and plan of God; (2) natural law, which addresses mankind's proper participation in eternal law but is discovered by reason without the assistance of revelation and promulgation; (3) divine positive law, also a part of the eternal law, which pertains to the sacraments and ordinances necessary to the attainment of mankind's supernatural end made known by revelation; and (4) man-made positive law, which regulates the affairs of mankind not specifically addressed by God's law (e.g., laws that regulate such things as corporations, stocks, bonds, wills, and trusts) or which mandate the natural law with the power of the state.
LDS sources affirm laws roughly corresponding to each of these four types. Unlike traditional Jewish and Christian theologies, which place God outside of, and antecedent to, nature, however, LDS theology places God within nature.
"Divine" laws are instituted by God to govern his creations and kingdoms and to prescribe behavior for his offspring. Such law, in the terms of Acquinas's categories, would be divine positive law (i.e., law existing by virtue of being posited or enacted by God). Some Latter-day Saints believe that "eternal" law is self-existent, unauthored law, which God himself honors and administers as a condition of his perfection and Godhood. It should be noted that the adjectives "divine" and "eternal" do not have fixed usages in writing (see Time and Eternity).
Latter-day scriptures and other sources do not explicitly state that eternal law exists independently or coeternally with God. This characteristic of eternal law is sometimes inferred, however, from two concepts that do have support in scripture and other LDS sources:
1. God is governed (bound) by law. Latter-day scriptures state that "God would cease to be God" if he were to allow mercy to destroy justice, or justice to overpower mercy, or the plan of redemption to be fulfilled on unjust conditions (Alma 42:13). Scriptures further state that "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say" (D&C 82:10), implying that God by nature and definition—not by any external coercion—is righteous and trustworthy. Some Church writers have said that "[God] himself governs and is governed by law" (MD, p. 432) and that "the Lord works in accordance with natural law" (DS 2:27). They likewise speak of "higher laws" that account for providence and miracles.
2. Intelligence and truth were not created; they are coeternal with God. "Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence" (D&C 93:29-30). Joseph Smith expanded upon this teaching in his king follett discourse, stating that "we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos…. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element…had no beginning, and can have no end…. The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coeternal with God himself" (TPJS, pp. 350-53). If truth and intelligence were not created by God and are coeternal with him, it may be that they are ordered by and function according to eternal laws or principles that are self-existent. This may be implied in Joseph Smith's phrase "laws of eternal and self-existent principles" (TPJS, p. 181).
Consistent with the eternal laws, God fashions and decrees laws that operate in the worlds he creates and that set standards of behavior that must be observed in order to obtain the blessing promised upon obedience to that law. Joseph Smith taught that "[God] was the first Author of law, or the principle of it, to mankind" (TPJS, p. 56).
Latter-day scriptures emphasize the pervasive nature of divine law: "[God] hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons" (D&C 88:42). "This is the Light of Christ…which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne" (D&C 88:7, 12-13).
These same sources suggest, however, that divine law operates within the domain to which it inherently pertains or is assigned by God and, therefore, has limits or bounds: "All kingdoms have a law given; and there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions" (D&C 88:36-38).
The above references apparently pertain to descriptive law—that is, the divine law that operates directly upon or through physical and biological orders (see Nature, Law of).
Other laws of God are prescriptive. They address the free will of man, setting forth standards and rules of behavior necessary for salvation and for social harmony. Latter-day Saints embrace such prescriptive commands of God as found in the ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Latter-day revelation also confirms that blessings and salvation come through compliance with divine laws: "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated" (D&C 130:20-21). "And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a Terrestrial Kingdom, or that of a Telestial Kingdom" (D&C 88:21).
Of these prescriptive laws or commandments of God, LDS teachings tend to emphasize the following characteristics: (1) the extent of the divine laws revealed to mankind may vary from dispensation to dispensation, according to the needs and conditions of mankind as God decrees; (2) they are given through and interpreted by his prophets; (3) they are relatively concise, but "gentle" or benevolent, given to promote the happiness he has designed for his children (TPJS, pp. 256-57); and (4) they are efficacious for mankind as God's harmony with eternal law was, and is, efficacious for him, and will bring to pass the exaltation of his righteous children.
DISPLAYING FEATURED SPIRITUAL BEINGS AND DEITIES ARTICLES
Jesus, religious leader revered in Christianity, one of the world’s major religions. He is regarded by most Christians as the Incarnation of God. The history of Christian reflection on the teachings and nature of Jesus is examined in the article Christology. Ancient Jews usually had only one name,…
Isis, one of the most important goddesses of ancient Egypt. Her name is the Greek form of an ancient Egyptian word for “throne.” Isis was initially an obscure goddess who lacked her own dedicated temples, but she grew in importance as the dynastic age progressed, until she became one of the most…
Buddha, (Sanskrit: “Awakened One”) the founder of Buddhism, one of the major religions and philosophical systems of southern and eastern Asia and of the world. Buddha is one of the many epithets of a teacher who lived in northern India sometime between the 6th and the 4th century before the Common…
Zeus, in ancient Greek religion, chief deity of the pantheon, a sky and weather god who was identical with the Roman god Jupiter. His name clearly comes from that of the sky god Dyaus of the ancient Hindu Rigveda. Zeus was regarded as the sender of thunder and lightning, rain, and winds, and his…
Shiva, (Sanskrit: “Auspicious One”) one of the main deities of Hinduism, whom Shaivites worship as the supreme god. Among his common epithets are Shambhu (“Benign”), Shankara (“Beneficent”), Mahesha (“Great Lord”), and Mahadeva (“Great God”). Shiva is represented in a variety of forms: in a pacific…
Athena, in Greek religion, the city protectress, goddess of war, handicraft, and practical reason, identified by the Romans with Minerva. She was essentially urban and civilized, the antithesis in many respects of Artemis, goddess of the outdoors. Athena was probably a pre-Hellenic goddess and was…
Apollo, in Greco-Roman mythology, a deity of manifold function and meaning, one of the most widely revered and influential of all the ancient Greek and Roman gods. Though his original nature is obscure, from the time of Homer onward he was the god of divine distance, who sent or threatened from…
Horus, in ancient Egyptian religion, a god in the form of a falcon whose right eye was the sun or morning star, representing power and quintessence, and whose left eye was the moon or evening star, representing healing. Falcon cults, which were in evidence from late predynastic times, were…
Krishna, one of the most widely revered and most popular of all Indian divinities, worshipped as the eighth incarnation (avatar, or avatara) of the Hindu god Vishnu and also as a supreme god in his own right. Krishna became the focus of numerous bhakti (devotional) cults, which have over the…
Aphrodite, ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, identified with Venus by the Romans. The Greek word aphros means “foam,” and Hesiod relates in his Theogony that Aphrodite was born from the white foam produced by the severed genitals of Uranus (Heaven), after his son Cronus threw them…
Prometheus, in Greek religion, one of the Titans, the supreme trickster, and a god of fire. His intellectual side was emphasized by the apparent meaning of his name, Forethinker. In common belief he developed into a master craftsman, and in this connection he was associated with fire and the…
Odin, one of the principal gods in Norse mythology. His exact nature and role, however, are difficult to determine because of the complex picture of him given by the wealth of archaeological and literary sources. The Roman historian Tacitus stated that the Teutons worshiped Mercury; and because…
Re, in ancient Egyptian religion, god of the sun and creator god. He was believed to travel across the sky in his solar bark and, during the night, to make his passage in another bark through the underworld, where, in order to be born again for the new day, he had to vanquish the evil serpent…
Dionysus, in Greco-Roman religion, a nature god of fruitfulness and vegetation, especially known as a god of wine and ecstasy. The occurrence of his name on a Linear B tablet (13th century bce) shows that he was already worshipped in the Mycenaean period, although it is not known where his cult…
Lilith, female demonic figure of Jewish folklore. Her name and personality are thought to be derived from the class of Mesopotamian demons called lilû (feminine: lilītu), and the name is usually translated as “night monster.” A cult associated with Lilith survived among some Jews as late as the 7th…
Satan, in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the prince of evil spirits and adversary of God. Satan is traditionally understood as an angel (or sometimes a jinnī in Islam) who rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven with other “fallen” angels before the creation of…
Hades, in Greek mythology, god of the underworld. Hades was a son of the Titans Cronus and Rhea, and brother of the deities Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, and Hestia. After Cronus was overthrown by his sons, his kingdom was divided among them, and the underworld fell by lot to Hades. There he ruled…
Cronus, in ancient Greek religion, male deity who was worshipped by the pre-Hellenic population of Greece but probably was not widely worshipped by the Greeks themselves; he was later identified with the Roman god Saturn. Cronus’s functions were connected with agriculture; in Attica his festival,…
Artemis, in Greek religion, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, and vegetation, and of chastity and childbirth; she was identified by the Romans with Diana. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. Among the rural populace, Artemis was the favourite goddess. Her…
Muse, in Greco-Roman religion and mythology, any of a group of sister goddesses of obscure but ancient origin, the chief centre of whose cult was Mount Helicon in Boeotia, Greece. They were born in Pieria, at the foot of Mount Olympus. Very little is known of their cult, but they had a festival…
Anubis, ancient Egyptian god of the dead, represented by a jackal or the figure of a man with the head of a jackal. In the Early Dynastic period and the Old Kingdom, he enjoyed a preeminent (though not exclusive) position as lord of the dead, but he was later overshadowed by Osiris. His role is…
Vishnu, (Sanskrit: “The Pervader”) one of the principal Hindu deities. Vishnu combines many lesser divine figures and local heroes, chiefly through his avatars, particularly Rama and Krishna. His appearances are innumerable; he is often said to have 10 avatars—but not always the same 10. Among the…
Osiris, one of the most important gods of ancient Egypt. The origin of Osiris is obscure; he was a local god of Busiris, in Lower Egypt, and may have been a personification of chthonic (underworld) fertility. By about 2400 bce, however, Osiris clearly played a double role: he was both a god of…
Thor, deity common to all the early Germanic peoples, a great warrior represented as a red-bearded, middle-aged man of enormous strength, an implacable foe to the harmful race of giants but benevolent toward mankind. His figure was generally secondary to that of the god Odin, who in some …
Heracles, one of the most famous Greco-Roman legendary heroes. Traditionally, Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene (see Amphitryon), granddaughter of Perseus. Zeus swore that the next son born of the Perseid house should become ruler of Greece, but—by a trick of Zeus’s jealous wife,…
Ares, in Greek religion, god of war or, more properly, the spirit of battle. Unlike his Roman counterpart, Mars, he was never very popular, and his worship was not extensive in Greece. He represented the distasteful aspects of brutal warfare and slaughter. From at least the time of Homer, who…
Kali, (Sanskrit: “She Who Is Black” or “She Who Is Death”) in Hinduism, goddess of time, doomsday, and death, or the black goddess (the feminine form of Sanskrit kala, “time-doomsday-death” or “black”). Kali’s origins can be traced to the deities of the village, tribal, and mountain cultures of…
Trinity, in Christian doctrine, the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. The doctrine of the Trinity is considered to be one of the central Christian affirmations about God. It is rooted in the fact that God came to meet Christians in a threefold figure: (1) as…
Persephone, in Greek religion, daughter of Zeus, the chief god, and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture; she was the wife of Hades, king of the underworld. In the Homeric “Hymn to Demeter,” the story is told of how Persephone was gathering flowers in the Vale of Nysa when she was seized by Hades…
AnubisGod of dead, embalming, funerals, and mourning ceremonies
Jackal-headed godSon of Set and Nephthys, given to Osiris by Nephthys to protect from his father
BastCat goddessKnown to protect pregnant women and children. She is also involved in celebrations. The protector of Ra, his third eye.
HapiGod of the Nile
IsisGoddess of magic, marriage, healing, and protectionShe is the wife and sister of Osiris and the mother and sister of Horus. When Osiris died, she resurrected him with magic by reattaching his limbs.
KhnumRam-headed god, and god of the Nile River.Ra's aspect in the evening
KhonsuGod of the moonKnown in legend Nut gambles with him to add 5 days on to the end of the year to give birth to Horus, Osiris, Set, Nephthys, and Isis. Also known as the demon days.
MaahesEgyptian lion-headed god of warThe son of the creator god Ptah, as well as the feline goddess Sekhmet
MafdetGod of justiceExecutioner of criminals, protector of the King's chambers
NutWife of Geb
SekerFalcon godPrimary god of the Memphis necropolis
SetGod of chaos/change, deserts, storms, foreignersAlso spelled Sutekh, Setesh, Seteh, Seth). Mortal enemy and brother to Osiris, Husband to Nephthys. He killed his brother Osiris because of jealousy. No one can really describe what he is. He is a human hybrid, half human mixed with an unknown creature. It is sometimes called the set animal
ThothScribe God of Knowledge, the Moon, Measurement, Wisdom, the Alphabet, Djeru, Records, Thought, Intelligence, Meditation, the Mind, Logic, Reason, Reading, Hieroglyphics, Magic, Secrets, Scribes, and WritingAlso known as Djehuti
Then gods were born within them." The first "God" (in the mythological term) is Nammu, Goddess of the primeval sea, "the mother who gave birth to heaven and earth": Then Nammu gave birth to An (God of the Heavens) and Ki (Goddess of the Earth).
1) Tiamat –
Tiamat, depicted as a dragon, being attacked by Marduk, in ‘Enuma Elish’.
Depicted as the primordial goddess of the oceans, Tiamat is possibly one of the earliest known Babylonian entities used for Chaoskampf, a myth that portrays the momentous battle between a hero and a chthonic monster. To that end, the very portrayal of Tiamat as one of the Mesopotamian gods in the ancient motifs takes a paradoxical route, with one ‘side’ showing how she epitomized the beauty of the feminine, while the other showcasing how she represented the chaotic scope of primordial origins. In essence, the first part of her mythos projects the goddess as the creator, who in sacred bond with freshwater sources (represented by god Apsû), gives birth to the cosmos and its successive generations.
However, the second part of the Chaoskampf makes Tiamat the antagonist, with her taking the form of a giant dragon to wreak havoc on the younger generation of gods (as an act of revenge, instigated by the murder of her husband Apsû). She is also said to have created the first batch of monsters and ‘poison-filled’ dragons, and ultimately ends up being slain by god Marduk, who in turn then proceeds to construct both heaven and earth from her remnant body.
As for the historical side of affairs, there are theories that suggest that Tiamat as a Mesopotamian goddess was worshiped as a part of the cult of Nammu (a primeval goddess, being the Sumerian equivalent to Tiamat). Interestingly enough, Dr Harriet Crawford has observed how the middle Persian Gulf region exhibits the ‘mixture’ of waters with the mingling of freshwater from the Arabian aquifers and the saltwater from the seas. Dilmun, the origin place of many Mesopotamian myths, is also thought to have been located in the country of Bahrain (which in Arabic translates to ‘two seas’).
2) Enlil –
Ur-Nammu standing before the seated Enlil
Enlil was considered as one of the Mesopotamian gods in the supreme triad, along with Anu (god of the heavens, also known as An) and Enki (god of wisdom and earth). This brings us to the question – what natural (or supernatural) element did Enlil himself represent? Interestingly enough, this is where the historians and linguists are baffled alike, with the very Sumerian word “líl” meaning ‘ghost or even haunted’. To that end, Enlil could be interpreted as ‘Lord ghost’, but that wouldn’t make much sense, especially given the importance of Enlil in Sumerian religion. So as a re-interpretation (with practicality taken into consideration), Enlil may have been portrayed as the ‘Lord of Air’ or basically a deity representing the sky and atmosphere.
However, in terms of the history of religion, Enlil, the patron deity of the city of Nippur, was much more than a master of a singular elemental force. In fact, in various Mesopotamian inscriptions and tablets, he had been described with different exalted epithets, including the ‘King of all lands’, the ‘Father of black-headed people’ (referring to Sumerians) and even the ‘Father of Gods’. In that regard, Enlil was often projected as one of the most powerful deities who maintained his rebellious and often whimsically wrathful nature.
Pertaining to the latter quality, it was Enlil who brought upon the great flood upon humanity (according to the Akkadian epic Atra-Hasis, circa 18th century BC), after being perturbed by their higher rate of fertility and the general ‘noise’ they made (that disturbed his sleep). However, his divine ‘colleague’ Enki, the god of earth, intervenes and warns a human sage named Atrahasis – who in turn proceeds to build an ark, thus mirroring the later Biblical story of Noah, along with numerous other ancient tales of the flood.
3) Enki (Ea) –
Image Source: Ancient Encyclopedia
As we fleetingly mentioned before in the earlier entry, Enki (known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology), was one of the other important Mesopotamian gods of the supreme triad. Commonly translated as the ‘Lord of the Earth’, Enki had also been depicted as a deity of creation, crafts, intelligence and even magic. Interestingly enough, many of the initial Sumerian texts also refer to Enki’s virile masculinity, sometimes in overtly sexual tones – though the literary scope in itself probably wanted to indicate the ‘creative’ ability of Enki, as opposed to eroticism. For example, one text refers to how the semen of the god endowed the vitalizing nature of fresh water.
Often considered as the patron deity of the city of Eridu (in southern Mesopotamia), Enki was said to have resided in a unique geographical location known as abzu (Akkadian apsû), attended by his seven mythical sages. In accordance with Mesopotamian cosmic geography, the abzu pertained to the ocean underneath the earth; and for that matter, even Babylon was touted to be built atop an abzu.
In many Sumerian sources, he is also mentioned as being the son of primeval goddess Tiamat (mentioned in the first entry). According to those legends, it was Enki who took the fight to his father Apsû after he learned that Apsû was planning to kill all the younger gods. He was also said to have created the first humans (when depicted as Ea) from clay, in a bid to gather ‘free’ laborers for the gods.
4) Marduk –
Marduk depicted at Mesopotamia’s heritage in Musée du Louvre. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Probably most famous as the patron deity of Babylon itself, Marduk as one of the major Mesopotamian gods formed an important part of the Babylonian pantheon, which in itself suggests a shift in cultural prominence from the ancient Sumerians to the later Babylonians. To that end, Marduk was portrayed as the very King of Gods (or even Storm God), draped in royal robes, whose fields of ‘expertise’ ranged from justice, healing to agriculture and magic. Historically, the famous ziggurat of Babylon was also dedicated to Marduk, which in itself was probably the (literary) model for the Biblical Tower of Babel.
In terms of mythology, Marduk was the son of Enki (mentioned in the previous entry), and he was responsible for defeating and killing Tiamat, the primeval goddess who took a dragon form to challenge many of the younger gods. Marduk then proceeded on to ‘source’ the rivers Tigris and Euphrates from the slain goddess’ eyes, while her body was carved up to create heaven and earth.
Once again reverting to history, Marduk was by far the most important Babylonian god (among the Mesopotamian gods), with his worship almost bordering on monotheism. And while his origins probably lied in the rustic agricultural god named Asarluhi (who was symbolized by a spade), Marduk, as opposed to many other gods, was said to reign directly from his temple (and stronghold) Esagila in Babylon. This symbolic significance rather fueled the extension of the actual Esagila complex, which was completed in its final form by the famed Nebuchadnezzar II, circa 6th century BC. As a matter of fact, Marduk as a deity was held in such a high regard in the lands of Babylonia that even ‘foreign’ Persian (Achaemenid) emperors like Cyrus and Darius projected themselves as the chosen of the god.
5) Ishtar (Inanna) –
A Mesopotamian goddess of contrasting traits, Ishtar (or Inanna in Sumerian) was projected as the female divine entity of beauty, sex, and desire, while at the same time being the symbolic purveyor of war and combat. And is often the case with mythology, her later Babylonian legends diverged from the earlier Sumerian tales, with the (Babylonian) Epic of Gilgamesh representing the goddess as a femme fatale who turns vengeful after being rejected by the hero Gilgamesh.
Suffice it to say, among the Mesopotamian gods and goddesses, as could be comprehended from her representative traits, Ishtar tended to be associated with sexuality, even since the Sumerian times – and such she was the patron goddess of sacred prostitutes. And while her earlier tales present her as being coyly amorous, with uttering like “plough my vulva, man of my heart” (excerpt from a Sumerian poem), the latter Akkadian ‘evolution’ transforms her into a more assertive personality, with one line from the Epic of Gilgamesh saying – ‘let us enjoy your strength, so put your hand and touch our vulva!’.
As for the historical side of affairs, the ancient city of Erbil (also known as Arbela or Urbilum in Sumerian) had always been an integral part of even the Old Assyrian state, circa 2050 BC. Occupying a strategic position at the foothills of Zagros mountains, the city was the center for the worship of the Assyro-Babylonian goddess (in her war-like avatar). To that end, several of the Assyrian kings even prayed in her temple before their military campaigns and actions of wars. And beyond just war ceremonies, the temple was viewed as a fortified sanctuary for Assyrian queens during their pregnancy. And as a demonstration of the Assyrian elites’ association to war (as a ritual extension of their power), some of the newborn princes were even breastfed by the priestesses of Ishtar.
6) Sin (Nanna) –
Sin (or Nanna in Sumerian, not to be confused with the Norse deity) was the tutelary god of Ur, one of the major ancient Mesopotamian urban centers that originally occupied a coastal position near the mouth of river Euphrates (in what is now southern Iraq). Associated with the moon, Sin was represented as the bull, with the symbol alluding to the resemblance of the waxing moon to the horns of the animal. Interestingly enough, this mythic connection to the moon also associated Sin to fertility, on account of menstrual cycles corresponding to the timings of the moon’s periodic ‘shape-shifting’.
However, most importantly, ancient Mesopotamians ascribed an astronomical angle when it came to studying of Sin. In essence, the religious scope of this deity often translated to (unintentional) scientific analysis, with scribes maintaining records on the radiance along with the paths and cycles of the moon within particular time-frames. These records were compiled to keep an eye on future omens that were thought to have the potential to decide the course of important events.
As for the historical significance of Sin, the moon god was clearly one of the major Mesopotamian gods in the early part of the Sumerian period, partly fueled by his genealogical pedigree – which projected him as the first-born of Enlil (summarized in entry 2). He was also portrayed, during various time-periods, as the father of two major divine entities – Utu (the sun god) and Inanna (the goddess of beauty).
7) Shamash (Utu) –
Part of the diorite stele with the Hammurabi Code that depicts the seated Shamash.
The Akkadian god Shamash was probably directly derived from the Sumerian counterpart Utu, with both entities being projected as the god of the sun and divine justice. However, interestingly enough, while Utu had been depicted as the son of Moon god Sin (summarized in the earlier entry), Shamash, as one of the Mesopotamian gods, was represented as the son of Enlil (summarized in entry 2). In any case, Shamash (or Utu) was one of the most important deities in the ancient Mesopotamian culture, attested by the fact that the entity was mentioned as early as circa 3500 BC (5,500-years ago) in the nascent forms of Sumerian writings.
Now when it comes to historical connection, Shamash is most famously known to feature in the renowned law code of Hammurabi (18th century) BC, with the Babylonians attributing the very provision of land laws to the divine entity. His image did match with such characteristics, with Shamash being portrayed as an old wise man with long beard seating on a royal throne, haloed behind his shoulders by the effulgent rays of the sun – and his role ‘modestly’ defined as being the governor of the whole universe.
This representation took a more a symbolic route during the later Neo-Assyrian Empire, with the god depicted as just a solar disc with wings. And even more intriguingly, unlike other capricious Mesopotamian gods, Shamash tended to be portrayed as an undoubtedly righteous divine being, which made his role rather ambiguous and yet crucial in the vibrant mythos of the city-states. His immense popularity among the populace is also suggested by three different ancient cult centers in all of Mesopotamia – Larsa and Eridu in (southern) Sumer, along with Sippar in (northern) Akkad.
8) Nisaba –
A depiction of goddess Nisaba, with symbols of nature, dating from 2430 BC. Source; Pergamon Museum, Berlin
The Sumerian civilization can be credited with many of humanity’s cultural inventions and achievements, including the world’s oldest known pieces of literature. To that end, Sumerians even had one of the Mesopotamian gods dedicated to pursuits of writing (much like Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and scribes in Indian mythology), and she was called Nisaba (or Nissaba).
Probably having her origins from a grain goddess, circa 2700 BC, Nisaba later became the primary deity of the Mesopotamian city of Eresh. She was often portrayed as the primary scribe of the gods and keeper of both divine and mortal accounts. Interestingly enough, with varied myths followed in different city-states of ancient Mesopotamia, in some tales, Nisaba was represented as the daughter of Enlil (the entity mentioned in the second entry). However more famous stories establish Enlil as being the son-in-law of Nisaba.
In any case, beyond confusing genealogy, Nisaba had always been represented as an ally of the powerful (albeit capricious) god Enlil. To that end, one of the oldest known literary works in human history, known as the Kesh Temple Hymn (also called the Liturgy to Nintud), inscribed circa 2600 BC, comprises eight set of songs – all of which are attributed to Nisaba, who goes on to praise Enlil. In essence, the Kesh Temple Hymn was presented as the work of gods, possibly to endow it with an air of legitimacy (and sanctity) during the ancient times. The first paragraph of the ancient literature piece roughly reads like this –
The princely one, the princely one came forth from the house. Enlil, the princely one, came forth from the house. The princely one came forth royally from the house. Enlil lifted his glance over all the lands, and the lands raised themselves to Enlil. The four corners of heaven became green for Enlil like a garden. Kesh was positioned there for him with head uplifted, and as Kesh lifted its head among all the lands, Enlil spoke the praises of Kesh.
9) Ashur –
Ashur represented by an entity in a winged disc with a ring in one hand (symbol of God-given kingship). Source: The British Museum.
Ashur (or Assur) pertains to the interesting synthesis of an ancient city and its patron deity, with the latter originating as an East Semitic god mainly worshiped in the northern regions of Mesopotamia, along with the north-eastern regions corresponding more-or-less to the realm of Old Assyria. To that end, there is a theory that the god himself was the deified form of the Old Assyrian capital Assur, an urban center that dates back from 3rd millennium BC.
In essence, Ashur, as one of the Mesopotamian gods, rather signified the clash of cultural overtones between the northern and southern parts of Mesopotamia. For example, by Hammurabi’s time, Marduk replaced Enlil as the chief deity of the majority of the southern Mesopotamian lands. Almost as a reactionary process, Ashur took the position of Enlil (and his mythic lineage) in northern Mesopotamia, and this religious shift extended till the period of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In fact, many of the Assyrian imperial propaganda inscriptions went on to mention how their conquered subjects’ gods have abandoned them, overshadowed by the rising power of Ashur.
The geopolitical scenario of the Assyrian Empire rather favored such contrived outlooks, with their eponymous royal capital of Ashur being transformed into a city of lavish palaces, imposing temples and even cultural centers for learning. This emphasis on the intrinsic ties between Assyrian imperialism and the divine entity even led to the adoption of king names that included the word ‘Ashur’, like Ashurnasirpal, Esarhaddon (Ashur-aha-iddina), and Ashurbanipal.
10) Ninkasi –
For our last entry, we decided to take a lighter route by summarizing about Ninkasi, the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer (and alcohol). Symbolizing the role of women in brewing and preparation of beverages in ancient Mesopotamia, this enigma among the Mesopotamian gods (whose actual depictions have not survived the rigors of time) historically also alluded to how beer consumption in itself was an important marker for societal and civilized virtues. To give an example, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the wild man En-kidu “did not know how to eat bread, / nor had he ever learned to drink beer!”, with the latter phrase suggesting how drinking beer was seen as a ‘quality’ of a civilized person.
And since we are talking about history, like many of the oldest cultural achievements pertaining to humanity, the oldest recipe for brewing beer comes from the land of Mesopotamia. These earliest beers were possibly concocted with the aid of barley that was extracted from bread. To that end, some of the excerpts from a 3900-year-old Sumerian poem honoring Ninkasi (the Hymn to Ninkasi), translated by Miguel Civil, read like this –
As for the veneration of the gods scholars of Egyptology doesn't know exactly how this was made during the oldest times, or at what point in history the main gods had cult areas replaced by temples of their own.
One clue might be the god Min (see him) who obviously had a very old cult at Koptos in Upper Egypt where two statues of him larger then life size were found in the late 1800s. They had no doubt been situated within a sacred area or by a shrine of some sort, but no remains are left to reconstruct what it may have looked like.
After the formation of two separate countries along the Nile (Upper and Lower Egypt) a typical building came to be in each part, which more or less symbolized the country itself in both a religious and political way and underlined its national identity.
It's most likely that local temples made of clay and reed originally were the cult buildings used by tribes along the Nile, and with time two shrines were specified where people could make offers to the main gods. Through their different designs it's easy locate the origin of old writings found since their depictions were incorporated into the hieroglyphic signs at an early stage (shown to the right of each illustration above).
Per-wer, meaning "the Great House", stood for Upper Egypt, and Per-nu, "the House of Flame" was the cupola shaped roofed national temple of Lower Egypt.
They are both attested for already during the reign of pharaoh Aha at the beginning of the first dynasty where they are present on a famous wooden label.
If at this stage, all mayor gods were worshipped in these buildings is not known.
With time the temples were elaborated to be great stone building just for a few very popular gods and goddesses which had fame over the centuries throughout the long Egyptian history. Minor gods had small shrines or were venerated in the homes.
When the goddesses and gods were depicted with a human body the variety wasn't so big in the way they were dressed. Less then half a dozen types of garments covers almost all of them. From the beginning they all wore white dresses, or at least single colored. This tradition slowly changed over the years and with time the colors and patterns became elaborated. The peak was reached during the Greco-Roman period when they were seen in outfits like actors in a costume spectacle in a theatre.
Excluding the mummy-like creations, here is a type description in brief:
Tunic with suspenders.
Male garment, ending above the waist
and popular in all times. Example: Re.
Dress with suspenders.
Female garment, ended above the waist,
and was usually white. Example: Hathor.
The short loincloth
Short and skirt-like garment and popular from earliest times. Example: Asar-hap.
The short-sleeved overall
From the earliest times very common
tight female garment. Example: Isis.
The full-length dress
Unusual, sleeve-less and for goddesses.
Went up to the neck. Example: Seshat.
Notice that long sleeves were not in fashion in any era of Egyptian history, at least for the gods and goddesses. Their dresses were to a great extent similar to those worn by the upper classes in society during daytime and evenings, and mostly indoors.
The gods had a lot of different things to put on their heads, and they surely did. In bright contrast to the stereotyped positions of their bodies the painters and sculptors were keen on giving the heads as much attention as possible. This was obviously initiated by pharaoh himself or the priesthood in order to give their favorite gods as much promotion as possible. The different crowns could give a hint where the god originally came from, and by wearing the combined crown for the whole country, the message was given that this god or goddess was important to all Egyptians. To make them conspicuous all crowns, hats etc. were adorned with plumes, horns, snakes, flowers, sun discs, leaves etc painted in bright colors. Especially during the Greco-Roman era the fantasy and elaboration was significant.
Deshret Hedjet Peshent Peshent Atef Atef with horns Khepresh
EGYPTIAN CROWNS: The red one was from Lower and the white from Upper Egypt.
The double crown represented the whole country. The Atef-crown was worn by Osiris and the type with horns and the sun disc by Re-Horakhte and other gods. The blue helmet-like came during dynasty 18 and was worn by kings and the god Amon.
Headgears of the gods
Besides royal crowns the gods had a lot of other symbols and things to wear upon their heads. In some cases the headgear was necessary to identify the deities in ques-tion, when they were dressed the same, as they often were. Here is a selection of per-sonal things helping to identify which goddess is depicted in case the written hiero-glyphs don't give a clue. The following objects below are shown as they looked when the bearer in question was facing right.
Neit had the a stylised form of her shield and crossed arrows on her head. Isis wore a throne on top, a rather uncomfortable one it seems, and Maát had her standing ostrich feather she was named after. Nephtys had a building topped with a bowl-like object (for collecting rain water?) and Nut had a pot (or a broad vase) upon her head.
Selkhet wore the dangerous scorpion (without its deadly sting), and Seshat had the holy Persea-tree with two horns over it as her personal sign. Anat had a stylized cow's uterus as her token. Hathor had several objects in her hat box like cow's horns with the sun disc and her favorite musical instrument - the sistrum, which was a rattle.
Most of these 18 objects worn upon their heads were unique for just one female deity, but Hathor's solar disc in variations and Anit's object could be worn by others.
Especially the sun (symbolizing the god Re) was seen above the heads of many gods.
All paintings, drawings, sculptures and reliefs in Egypt followed a traditional scheme, and changes came slowly with time. Some artistic features did not alter anything at all, and remained unchanged for over 3.000 years. The way of depicting people are among these unaltered expressions of art. The body was normally in profile except for the torso which was shown from the front like the eye, to make the face more expressive. The gods (and kings) depicted were seldom empty handed - they usually carried various objects, and the symbolic meaning of some are still obscure to Egypto-logists. The gods usually had the well known ankh-sign in one of their hands, with the general meaning "life", and also to be interpreted as joy of living. Since the Egyptian religion offered eternal life for those who had behaved well on earth, we don't know if this sign of life meant the next or the present one - or possibly both.
The other hand was holding a staff or scepter of some kind, and here we have half a dozen types. Goddesses usually had a scepter topped with a flower in different colors (like a white lily from the Nile) but this was seldom seen among the gods, possibly because it gave a more soft impression to the observer.
Very common through all times was the Was-scepter for "command" (see pictures below) and some gods, like Ptah and Osiris, had their own type of this staff.
1) Sceptre with flower often carried by goddesses.
2) The herdsman's crook of god Anedjti, patron of shepherds and protector of domesticated animals. 3) Was-sceptre, stood for domination and power.
It was very common among gods/kings in all times.
4) Staff of creator Ptah formed of four "djed-pillars" of order and stability (possibly a human spine).
5) Outfit of Osiris: crook and flail (cattle breeding and farming) plus the Was-sceptre and ankh-sign.
The world creators in breef:
ATUM from Heliopolis made everything (even himself) of his own sperm through masturbating or spitting. He then created woman from a bit of flesh from his hand.
PTAH from Heliopolis in Lower Egypt made the world by simply saying words and made earth raise from the water, very similar the story in the Bible.
RE (also from Heliopolis) is told in a rather late poetic legend to be the creator by using a tear from his eye to build all the world.
KHNUM from the island Elephantine at Aswan in the south, was the creator who made the world and all its people on his potter's wheel. The stuff was mud from the Nile.
KHEPER (representing Re) made all other gods from matter taken from his own body. He also created life (symbolically) every morning by commanding the sun to rise.
AMON from Thebes was during the New Kingdom vaguely connected to the creation of the World, saying that he once (like Atum) had created himself at the dawn of time.
THOTH was in Khemenu (Hermopolis) in Upper Egypt, the maker of the world and the first ones he helped to life were four frogs and four snakes, the so called Ogdoad.
The first family
The family from which all people in the world came was Shu, the god of cool air and his wife and sister Tefnut, goddess of rain, warm dew and moisture. They had the twins Geb who was god of the earth and Nut the goddess of the sky.
Before they had any children they were separated by command of the solar god Re and Geb wept over his loss and his tears made all the seas and oceans of the world.
One legend tells that Re for some reason (possibly jealousy) had become angry with Nut and laid a curse on her telling that none of her coming children could be born on any one day of the year. This was a big setback for Nut and Geb who were just planning to raise a family. In their agony they turned to the god of wisdom - Thoth, for advice. He went to his superior, the shadowy and not often depicted moon-god Aah who was in charge of the Egyptian moon-calendar. This old table of time consisted of 12 months of 30 days together making the moon-year of 360 days.
Thoth made Re a proposition to gamble about the matter and they started to play a game of dice resulting in victory for Thoth. He thereby won the moonlight of the five additional days of the true year (in this case July 14 to 18) and gave it to Geb and Nut who used them for the births of their children. Thus the curse of Re had no effect upon them because their children could all be born outside Aah's moon calendar. In the years to come Nut gave birth to five of the most prominent deities of Egypt: Year 1 - Osiris. Year 2 - Horus (the Elder). Year 3 - Set. Year 4 - Isis. Year 5 - Nephtys.
The origin of Universe.
One of the oldest and best known legends comes from Heliopolis and goes like this:
From the beginning there was nothing but a water chaos called Nun, and from that came the god Atum, who had created himself. From matter taken from his own body, he made Shu, the god of the air and Tefnut, goddess of moisture and rain. They in turn had the twins Geb, the earth-god, and Nut, the goddess of the sky.
From these two (Geb and Nut) then came all other Egyptian gods and goddessses.
Shu was often seen holding up the sky (his daugter Nut) with his son Geb lying under- neath (picture below). This family of four was the very foundation upon which the world existed as they represented the basic elements: earth, water, air and sky.
Air-god Shu holding up the sky-goddess Nut supported by two versions of Khnum. Lying down: earth-god Geb.
The first gods.
1) The old tradition from Heliopolis (Iunu) just north of Memphis in Lower Egypt said the creation of all the gods was made by Kheper, who was another form of their local sun god Re.
He was self-produced and made the other gods out of the matter of his own body. He was the father of many gods like Osiris, Nephtys, Isis, Set, Horus and others.
2) The priests from Hermo- polis in Upper Egypt declared for their part that Thoth was the primeval god and created the first four couples that built up everything. The first pair was Nun and Nuntet (snakes), who represented and dwelled in the mass of water from which everything emerged. The second was Heh and Hauhet (frogs), who stood for indefinite time and long life. The third was Kek and Keket (snakes), who embodied darkness, and the fourth pair was Niau and Niaut (frogs) representing the void. During the New Kingdom the two latter were replaced by Amon and Amonet.
3) In Sais (in the delta in Lower Egypt) the priests taught the people that their own mighty godd- ess Neit was behind the origin of the other gods. She was self-begotten and self-produced and mother of the mighty solar god Re.
4) Another story tells that the creation of The World was wet and dark and Atum-Re arose from the Nun and appointed the eight reptile gods above (the so called Ogdoad) to their proper places and brought order from chaos. Here the frogs Niau and Niaut have been changed for Amon and Amonet which tells that this version is of later date (New Kingdom) when Amon had reached a lofty position among the gods.
Creation of man.
A very old legend in Egypt told that mankind was divided into four types when they were made on the potter's wheel by the great creator Khnum. He made them all out of mud of various colors from the Nile.
The order in which they were made was as follows: First was - Romut, meaning "men", and these were the Egyptians them- selves. The second to come from the potter's wheel was - Áamu, the people from the desert mountains east of the Nile. This name was later also used for Asians in general.
Number three, called - Temehu, was the fair skinned people from the Mediterranean coast west of the Nile Delta and the oases west of the Nile Valley.
The last to be made was - Nehesy, the black people to the south of Egypt, below the province of Nubia.
Notable is that the names of these people seem to be very old and originating from the early times when the Egyptians didn't have a name for Asians, which they surely encountered well before the first dynasty as shown in archaeology remains.
According to another (much younger) legend mankind was created from a tear that fell from the eye of the god Re, and turned into men and women. The fair-skinned Libyans, considered as "cousins" by the people in the Nile valley, were formed in the same way. The two other people have a tear from Re as their origin too, but in a more irregular way.
The Court in the Underworld
When a person had died he was taken to Underworld where his deeds in life were taken to the Court of Osiris for the final judgement. Since this place also was called "The Island of Fire" it's quite obvious that the Egyptians had knowledge about the burning interior of the Earth though they had no volcanoes in their own country. Before coming there the dead person had to pass a labyrinth of gates and doors and answer questions correctly to pass through. The lion-god Aker let him through the last gate and he was facing the fourteen members of the jury in the Tribunal Hall. There he was allowed to speak about his behavior on Earth. (Shown in the upper left in the picture below).
Then god Anubis took him into the courtroom presenting him the scale where his heart would be put in balance with the feather of the goddess Máat, patroness of truth and harmony. The procedure was recorded by Thoth - the god of writing and wisdom. Sometimes Thot's animal (a baboon) was sitting on top of the scale ready to adjust the result using a sliding weight.
The deceased enters from the left guided by Anubis. His heart is placed on the scales and the result is recorded by Thoth. Then Horus takes him in front of the judge Osiris for the final verdict. Behind the throne stand Isis and Nephtys.
If the heart of the deceased wasn't too heavy with sins from his life on Earth, he went through and could continue his voyage to the afterlife and was granted a plot of land in the "Field of the Reeds". This was the paradise for the ancient Egyptians - to grow crops for eternity in a land that was the very image of the Nile Valley they just had left.
If he failed the test on the other hand - his heart was immediately devoured by the beast Ammut sitting under the scale ready to have a good blow-out. In that case the dead faced the most horrible future imaginable for the Egyptians - he was denied an eternal life in the land in the West and his soul would be restless forever.
The seven steps to Paradise
1. Crossing the celestial river by Nemty to the "Land in the West".
2. Passing through gates and labyrinths by answering questions.
3. Being let into the great Court of the Underworld by the god Aker.
4. Addressing a jury of 14 judges about the deeds during life on Earth.
5. Taken by Anubis to "Balance of Truth" to weigh his heart for sins.
6. If the heart wasn't heavy, brought by Horus to Chief Judge Osiris.
7. Entering the "Fields of the Reed" (Paradise) and get eternal life.
The mighty Titans were a powerful race that ruled the world before Olympians, in a time of the Golden Age of men. They were immortal giants of incredible strength and knowledge of old religion rituals and magic. They are also known as the Elder Gods and their dwelling place was at Mount Othrys. In Greek culture they were interpreted as personifications of the earth (Gaea) and the sky or heavens (Uranus).
The first generation of Titans were descendants of Gaea and Uranus who originally gave birth to Twelve Titans, six males and six females. Males were Coeus, Cronus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus and Oceanus and females were Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Rhea, Theia, Themis and Tethys. They arose to power when Cronus, in a plot with his mother and his brothers, castrated his father Uranus and took the rulership of Cosmos from him. More details about this conflict can be found in the Genesis
During this reign, some brothers and sisters consorted with each other while others consorted with sons and daughters of their relatives and gave birth to the second generation of Titans. Hyperion and Theia gave birth to Eos, Helios and Selene, while Coeus and Phoebe brought forth Leto and Asteria. Oceanus and Tethys gave birth to Oceanids and Potamoi who are in general not referred as Titans. However, an Oceanid Clymene, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, helped Iapetus to continue the next generation and bore him Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus and Menoetius. Crius and his half-sister Eurybia, a daughter of Gaea and Pontus, brought forth Astraeus, Pallas and Perses and, eventually, Cronus and Rhea gave birth to younger gods, Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia and Demeter who rebelled against Cronus and his followers and later defeated them in a ten-year war, known as Titanomachy. They called themselves the Olympian Gods, after Mount Olympus which was their main dwelling place, and became the new rulers of Cosmos.
First generation of Titans
Coeus Crius Cronus
Titan of intelligence and farsight Titan of heavenly constellations Titan of time and the ages
Hyperion Iapetus Mnemosyne
Titan of light Titan of mortal life span Titaness of memory and remembrance
Oceanus Phoebe Rhea
Titan of all the salt water on earth Titaness of prophetic radiance Titaness of fertillity and motherhood
Tethys Theia Themis
Titaness of all the fresh water on earth Titaness of shining Titaness of divine law and order
Second generation of Titans
Atlas Eos Epimetheus
Titan of endurance Titaness of the dawn Titan of afterthought
Helios Leto Prometheus
Titan of the sun Titaness of modesty and motherhood Titan of forethought
The following categories are designed for ease of reference and are not meant to be definitive.
REALMS OF THE GODS
OLYMPIAN GODS, MAJOR
Aphrodite (18 pages), Apollo (9 pages), Ares (13 pages), Artemis (15 pages), Athena (9 pages), Demeter(15 pages), Dionysus (14 pages), Hephaestus (12 pages), Hera (6 pages), Hermes (13 pages), Hestia (1 page), Poseidon (6 pages), Zeus (8 pages)
OLYMPIAN GODS, MINOR
Arce, Asteria, Astraeus, Atlas, Aura, Briareus, Clymene, Coeus, Crius, Cronus, Cyclopes, Dione, Epimetheus, Eurynome, Hecatoncheires, Hyperion, Iapetus, Lelantus, Leto, Menoetius, Metis, Mnemosyne, Oceanus, Ophion, Pallas, Perses, Phoebe, Prometheus, Rhea (6 pages), Tethys, Theia, Themis, Titanides Elder, Titans Elder <<more>>
Amphitrite, Ceto, Charybdis, Doris, Eurybia, Galatea, Glaucus, Ichthyocentaurs, Leucothea, Nereids, Nereus, Palaemon, Phorcys, Poseidon (6 pages), Proteus, Psamathe, Scylla, Sirens, Telchines, Thaumas, Thetis (4 pages), Triton <<more>>
Britomartis, Cabeiri, Chiron, Curetes-Dactyls, Dionysus (14 pages), Dryads, Echo, Hermes (13 pages), Naiads, Nymphs (numerous pages), Oreads, Palici, Pan, Potami, Priapus, Satyrs, Silens, Silenus, Zagreus <<more>>
Achlys, Adicia, Aedos, Aletheia, Amphilogiae, Androctasiae, Apate, Aporia, Arete, Ate, Bia, Cacia, Caerus, Coalemus, Cratus, Deimus, Dike, Dolus, Dysnomia, Eleus, Elpis, Enyo, Eris, Erotes, Eucleia, Eunomia, Geras, Horcus, Hybris, Hypnus, Hysminae, Irene, Keres, Lethe, Limus, Litae, Lyssa, Machae, Momus, Neicea, Nemesis, Nike, Oneiri, Peitho, Penia, Pheme, Philotes, Phobus, Phonoi, Poenae, Ponus, Porus, Pseudologi, Sophrosyne, Soteria, Thanatus, Zelus <<more>>
PHRYGIAN & THRACIAN GODS
The major gods of Ancient Roman religion
Gods and goddesses were grouped in various ways. The Di Selecti were considered the 20 main gods, while the Di Consentes comprised the 12 principal deities at the heart of the Roman Pantheon. Though taken from the Greeks, the grouping of 12 gods has pre Hellenic origins, probably in the religions of Lycian and Hittite, both Anatolian peoples.
The gilt statues of the 12 adorned Rome’s central forum. The six gods and six goddesses were sometimes arranged in male-female couples: Jupiter-Juno, Neptune-Minerva, Mars-Venus, Apollo-Diana, Vulcan-Vesta and Mercury-Ceres.
The Di Consentes, with their Greek counterparts in parenthesis:
1. Jupiter (Zeus)
King of the gods; son of Saturn, brother to Neptune, Pluto and Juno (also her husband); god of sky and thunder; patron god of Rome
Jupiter. Credit: Jean-Pol Grandmont (Wikimedia Commons).
2. Juno (Hera)
Queen of the gods; wife and sister of Jupiter, daughter of Saturn, sister of Neptune and Pluto, Mother of Juventas, Mars and Vulcan; protector of Rome’s women; patron goddess of Rome
3. Minerva (Athena)
Born of the head of Jupiter after he impregnated his sister Metis, ripped their daughter from her womb and ate her; goddess of wisdom, arts, trade and strategy.
4. Neptune (Poseidon)
Brother of Jupiter, Pluto and Juno; god of freshwater and the sea, earthquakes, hurricanes and horses; often depicted with his trident.
5. Venus (Aphrodite)
Mother of the Roman people; goddess of love, beauty, fertility, sex, desire and prosperity; patron of wine
Three statuettes of Venus. Credit: Pymouss (Wikimedia Commons).
6. Mars (Ares)
Son of Juno (without Jupiter); god of war; guardian of agriculture; embodiment of virility and aggression; father of Romulus — founder of Rome
7. Apollo (Apollo)
The Archer; son of Jupiter and Latona; twin of Diana; god of music, healing, light and truth. Apollo is one of only a few Roman gods who kept the same name as his Greek counterpart.
Emperor Constantine was said to have had a vision of Apollo. He went on to use him as one of his key symbols until his Christian conversion.
8. Diana (Artemis)
Daughter of Jupiter and Latona; twin of Apollo; goddess of the hunt, the moon and birth
9. Vulcan (Hephaestus)
God of fire, volcanoes, metal work and the forge; maker of the weapons of the gods
10. Vesta (Hestia)
The sacred fire of the Vestal Virgins (all female and Rome’s only full-time priesthood); daughter of Saturn and Ops; goddess of hearth, home and family
11. Mercury (Hermes)
Son of Maia and Jupiter; god of profit, trade, eloquence, communication, travel, trickery and thieves; guide of dead souls to the underworld
12. Ceres (Demeter)
The Eternal Mother; daughter of Saturn and Ops; goddess of agriculture, grain, women, motherhood and marriage; the lawgiver
The Capitoline Triad
The Capitoline Triad. Credit: Camelia.boban (Wikimedia Commons).
The three main Roman gods, known as the Capitoline Triad, are Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. The Capitoline Triad replaced Archaic Triad of Jupiter, Mars and earlier Roman god Quirinus, who originated in Sabine mythology.
All ancient civilizations on our planet have gods and goddesses, or at least important, mythical leaders who created the world and could be called on in times of trouble, or to ask for good harvests, or to support the people in wars. Commonalities are widespread. But ancient people configured their pantheon of gods whether they were all powerful or part human, or stuck to their own realm or visited on earth, meddling directly in the affairs of humans.
The cross-cultural study is a fascinating one.
Most schoolchildren can name at least some of the nine major Greek deities, but the list of gods in ancient Greece runs into the thousands. The Greek creation myth begins with the god of love, Eros, who creates the sky and the earth and makes them fall in love. From their perch on Mount Olympus, the major gods such as Apollo and Aphrodite acted like and even associated with, humans, leading to god/human hybrids called demigods.
Many of the demigods were warriors, who walked and fought alongside humans in the stories written down in the Iliad and Odyssey. These 14 gods and goddesses are the most important.
Ancient Egyptian gods are recorded on tombs and manuscripts beginning in the Old Kingdom of about 2600 BCE and lasting until the Romans conquered Egypt in 33 BCE. The religion was remarkably stable throughout that time, made up of gods who controlled the sky (the sun god Re) and the underworld (Osiris, god of the dead), with one brief adventure into monotheism under the New Kingdom reign of Akhenaten.
The creation myths of ancient Egypt were complex, with several versions: but they all start with the god Atun, who creates order from chaos. Monuments, texts, and even public offices bear the marks of Egypt's myriad gods. These 15 stand out as being the most significant religiously or the most prominent in terms of the political power of their priesthoods.
In Norse mythology, the giants came first, and then the Old Gods (the Vanir) who were later supplanted by the New Gods (the Aesir). The Norse myths were written down in fragments until The Prose Edda, compiled in the 13th century, and they include pre-Christian stories of the great deeds of old Scandinavia and the myths of its creation.
The Norse creation myth is that the god Surt both creates and destroys the world. Modern-day moviegoers know of the likes of Thor and Odin and Loki, but a tour of just 15 of the most common Norse gods will better illuminate their pantheon.
The Romans sustained a religion that adopted most of the Greek gods for their own with different names and slightly different myths. They also incorporated without too much discrimination the gods of particular interest to a newly conquered group, the better to foster assimilation in their imperialistic ventures.
In Roman mythology, Chaos itself created Gaia, the Earth, and Ouranos, the Heavens. A handy crosswalk between 15 similar Greek and Roman gods—Venus is Aphrodite in Roman clothing, while Mars is the Roman version of Ares—shows just how similar they were.
The Hindu religion is the majority religion in India, and Brahma the creator, Vishnuthe preserver, and Shiva the destroyer represent the most significant cluster of Hindu gods.
The Hindu tradition counts thousands of major and minor gods within its ranks, who are celebrated and honored under a wide variety of names and avatars.
Familiarity with 10 of the most widely known offers an insight into the rich tapestry of ancient Hindu belief.
The Late Postclassic period Aztec culture of Mesoamerica (1110–1521 CE) worshiped more than 200 different deities spanning three broad classes of Aztec life—the heavens, fertility and agriculture, and war. To the Aztecs, religion, science and the arts were interconnected and meshed almost seamlessly.
The Aztec cosmos was tripartite: a visible world of humans and nature lay suspended between supernatural levels above (illustrated by Tlaloc, god of thunderstorms and rain) and below (Tlaltechutli, the monstrous earth goddess).
Many of the gods in the Aztec pantheon are much older than the Aztec culture, called pan-Mesoamerican; these ten deities will help you learn of the Aztec cosmos.
The Celtic culture refers to an Iron Age European people (1200–15 BCE) who interacted with the Romans, and it is that interaction that provided much of what we know of their religion. Mythologies and legends of the Celts survive as oral tradition in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Germany.
But early druids didn't commit their religious texts to paper or stone, so much of Celtic antiquity is lost to modern-day students. Luckily, after the Roman advance into Britain, first the Romans and then the early Christian monks copied down the druidic oral histories. Nearly two dozen Celtic deities remain of interest today, including the shape-shifting goddess Ceridwen to the horned fertility god Cernunnos.
The Japanese religion is Shinto, first documented in the 8th century CE. The Shinto creation myth has an agricultural bent to it: the world of chaos was changed when a germ of life created a muddy sea, and the first plant eventually became the first god. It combines a traditional pantheon of gods, including a creator couple Izanami ("He who invites") and Izanagi ("She who invites"), with a borrowing from Japan's neighbors and an ancient homegrown animism. These ten are selected as the most universal of the Japanese gods and goddesses.
The Maya predate the Aztec, and like the Aztec, based some of their theology on the existing pan-Mesoamerican religions.
Their creation myth is narrated in the Popul Vuh: six deities lie in the primordial waters, and eventually create the world for us.
Mayan deities rule over a tripartite cosmos and were applied to for assistance in war or childbirth, they also ruled over specific periods of time, having feast days and months built into the calendar. The nine listed here include the creator god Itzamna and the moon goddess Ix Chel.
Ancient China worshiped a vast network of local and regional mythological deities, nature spirits, and ancestors, and reverence for those gods persisted well into the modern era. Over the millennia, China has embraced and developed three major religions, all established first in the 5th or 6th century BCE: Confucianism (led by Confucius 551-479 BC), Buddhism (led by Siddhartha Gautama), and Taoism (led by Lao Tzu, d. 533 BCE).
Important and lingering figures in the historical texts include Eight Immortals, Two Heavenly Bureaucrats, and Two Mother Goddesses.
Among the most ancient of cultures, the people of Babylon developed a diverse melting pot of deities, derived from the older Mesopotamian cultures. Literally, thousands of gods are named in Sumerian and Akkadian, some of the oldest writing on the planet.
Many of the Babylonian gods and myths appear in the Judeo-Christian bible, early versions of Noah and the flood, and Moses in the bullrushes, and of course the tower of Babylon. Despite the vast number of individual gods in the various sub-cultures labeled as "Babylonian," 15 of these deities retain historical significance.
Name of Religion
(By # of members) Date FoundedClassification
(Name of Deity) Members 18 and over
(Estimated % of 2001 population of "religious" age 18+ adults, total 166,887,700)Definition - from Merriam Webster Online Dictionary (based on the print version of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition) unless otherwise specified 1.-35. Christianity
Click for a detailed listing of 35 Christian religious denominations.
[Includes approximately 130 million Young Earth Creationists, who believe Earth is about 6,000 years old.] 1st century A.D. Monotheistic-
Christianity - "the religion derived from Jesus Christ , based on the Bible as sacred scripture, and professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies" 36. Judaism2nd Millenium B.C. Monotheistic-
Judaism - "a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions" 37. Islam7th century Monotheistic-
Islam - "the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet" 38. Buddhism6th century B.C. Undefined
Buddhism - "a religion of eastern and central Asia growing out of the teaching of Gautama Buddha that suffering is inherent in life and that one can be liberated from it by mental and moral self-purification" 39. Hinduism2nd millenium B.C. Henotheistic
The worship of one god without denying the existence of other gods
Hinduism - "the dominant religion of India that emphasizes dharma [way of higher truth] with its resulting ritual and social observances and often mystical contemplation and ascetic practices" 40. Unitarian Universalism16th century Undefined
Unitarian Universalism- "Tolerance of others and their beliefs as well as an acceptance that Truth changes and has to be sought after are two very important principles that guide the church along with life, liberty, and justice. The highest values...are integrity, caring, compassion, social justice, truth, personal peace, and harmony. One of the founding principles was that humans were not born into sin...Without original sin, there is no need to be saved...There is no condemnation to hell...One should live morally not to save his/herself but to better the world, for his/herself and those after him/her. They believe the final authority is in the hands of the individual. One can seek guidance from texts such as the Bible and spiritual leaders because they are respected but it is in one's heart and soul that he/she can find the truth. This religion is based on freedom and no one should look down on others."
- Religious Movements Page
University of Virginia
Dec. 27, 2005
41.-165. Other unclassified - Click for a detailed listing of 124 groups N/A N/A
Other unclassified - In addition to the thirty religions identified in this chart, there is a continuous growth in the United States of "other" religions: new religious movements (sometimes referred to as "cults" or "sects"), spinoffs of mainstream religions, and religions that emerge with the development of new technology (internet religions, for example). 166. Neo-PaganismUnknown Polytheistic - Many Gods
Neo-Paganism - "a heterogeneous group of new religious movements, particularly those influenced by ancient, mainly pre-Christian and sometimes pre-Judaic religions. Often these are Indo-European in origin, but with a growing component inspired by other religions indigenous to Europe, such as Finno-Ugric, as well as those of other parts of the world... Neo-paganist beliefs and practices are extremely diverse. Some Neo-pagans tend towards a syncretic melding of various religious practices, folk customs and ritual techniques. Others observe a specific ancient religion to a degree that can border on historical reenactment. Still other Neo-pagans practice a spirituality that is entirely modern in origin."
Dec. 27, 2005
167. Wiccan16th century Polytheistic - Many Gods
Wiccan - "a religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature, and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles"168. Spiritualism19th century Undefined
Spiritualism - "The main belief of Spiritualists is that a spirit world coexists overlapping the material world. When a person dies, his or her soul moves to the spirit world and will continue to progress for eternity. Each progression of the soul takes it closer to God. People can develop their souls through developing spiritual qualities in either this world or the next. Spiritualists' belief in the afterlife differs from other religions such as Christianity in that they believe the spirits of the dead can communicate with the living through mediums and psychics, and that they actively act as guides to help the living develop their souls."
- Religious Movements Page
University of Virginia
Dec. 27, 2005
169. Native American ReligionCan be traced back 30,000 to 60,000 years Undefined
Native American Religion - "The religion of Native Americans has developed from the hunting taboos, animal ceremonialism, beliefs in spirits, and shamanism embraced by those early ancestors... Beyond the directly inherited traditional Native American religions, a wide body of modified sects abounds...The religions do share some common tendencies. Religion tends to be closely related to the natural world. The local terrain is elevated with supernatural meaning, and natural objects are imbued with sacred presences. Ceremonial rituals involving these supernatural-natural objects are meant to ensure communal and individual prosperity. These common underlying features unite a diversity of contemporary Native American sects... Ceremony plays a vital, essential role in Native American religions."
- Religious Movements Page
University of Virginia
"Native American Spirituality"
Dec. 27, 2005
170. Bahaism19th century Monotheistic-
Bahaism - "a religious movement originating in Iran in the 19th century and emphasizing the spiritual unity of mankind" 171.-298. New Age - Click for a detailed listing of 127 groups 1960s Undefined
New Age - "of, relating to, or being a late 20th century social movement drawing on ancient concepts especially from Eastern and American Indian traditions and incorporating such themes as holism, concern for nature, spirituality, and metaphysics" 299. Sikhism1500 Monotheistic -
Sikhism - "a monotheistic religion of India founded about 1500 by Guru Nanak and marked by rejection of idolatry and caste" 300. Scientology1953 Undefined-
"Scientology...does not enforce a particular doctrine or belief relating to God or a Supreme Being"
(Email to ProCon.org
from James Garner of
the Church of
Scientology - "The word Scientology literally means 'the study of truth.'...Scientology is the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life. The Scientology religion comprises a body of knowledge extending from certain fundamental truths. Prime among these: Man is an immortal, spiritual being. His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime. His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized ? and those capabilities can be realized. He is able to not only solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability. In Scientology no one is asked to accept anything as belief or on faith. That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true. An individual discovers for himself that Scientology works by personally applying its principles and observing or experiencing results."
- Scientology website
Dec. 27, 2005
301. HumanismUnknown Undefined
Humanism- "a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason" 302. Deism17th century Monotheistic-
Deism - "a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe" 303. Taoism6th century B.C. Undefined
Taoism -"a Chinese mystical philosophy traditionally founded by Lao-tzu in the 6th century B.C. that teaches conformity to the Tao by unassertive action and simplicity...a religion developed from Taoist philosophy and folk and Buddhist religion and concerned with obtaining long life and good fortune often by magical means" 304. DruidismUnknown Polytheistic -
Druidism- "Modern Druidism is one of the Neopagan family of religions, which includes Wicca and recreations of Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Roman and other ancient Pagan religions. Some present-day Druids attempt to reconstruct the beliefs and practices of ancient Druidism. Other modern-day followers of Druidism work directly with the spirits of place, of the gods and of their ancestors to create a new Druidism... Most modern Druids connect the origin of their religion to the ancient Celtic people."
- Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Dec. 27, 2005
305. Zoroastrianism6th century B.C. Monotheistic -
Zoroastrianism - "a Persian religion founded in the 6th century B.C. by the prophet Zoroaster, promulgated in the Avesta, and characterized by worship of a supreme god Ahura Mazda who requires good deeds for help in his cosmic struggle against the evil spirit Ahriman" 306. Eckankar1965 Undefined
Eckankar - "Eckankar teaches simple spiritual exercises to experience the Light and Sound of God. These exercises also help us Soul Travel, to move into greater states of consciousness. A spiritual exercise can be as simple as relaxing and singing the word HU, an ancient name for God."
- Eckankar website
Dec. 27, 2005
307. Cao Daism1926 Monotheistic-
(Duc Cao Dai)
Cao Daism - "Caodai refers to the supreme palace where God reigns. The word is also used as God's symbolic name. Caodaism is a syncretistic religion which combines elements from many of the world's main religions, including Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, as well as Geniism, an indigenous religion of Viet Namâ€¦[Cao Daists] believe in reincarnationâ€¦ One can break free of the reincarnation cycle by 'cultivating self and finding God in self'...If they have purified themselves spiritually, and fulfilled all of their duties, they may reincarnate to another, happier life on earth. Or they might attain Heaven or Nirvana."
- Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Jan. 9, 2006
308. Santeria18th century Polytheistic -
Santeria - "a religion practiced originally in Cuba in which Yoruba deities are identified with Roman Catholic saints"
309. Rastafarianism1930s Monotheistic -
Rastafarianism - "a religious cult among black Jamaicans that teaches the eventual redemption of blacks and their return to Africa, employs the ritualistic use of marijuana, forbids the cutting of hair, and venerates Haile Selassie as a god" 310. ShintoismUnknown Polytheistic -
Shintoism - "the indigenous religion of Japan consisting chiefly in the cultic devotion to deities of natural forces and veneration of the Emperor as a descendant of the sun goddess" 311. The Druze9th Century Monotheistic-
The Druze - "started in the 9th Century CE as a break-away group from Islam... After the death of their leader Baha al-Din in 1031 CE, their religion became exclusive: they do not accept converts; they do not marry outside their faith... The Druse hold the Qur'an to be sacred, but look upon it as an outer shell, holding an 'inner, esoteric meaning'...They are firmly monotheistic, believing in a single God. He has no partner or son; he is not part of a Trinity...They recognize seven major prophets, including Adam, Abraham, and Jesus. They reject the concept of the virgin birth, and believe that Jesus was the son of Joseph."
- Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Dec. 27, 2005
312. Ethical Culture1876 Undefined
Ethical Culture - "a humanistic religious and educational movement inspired by the ideal that the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane society"
- American Ethical Union
Dec. 27, 2005
313. Sant Mat13th century Undefined
Sant Mat - "...was a loosely associated group of teachers that assumed prominence in the northern part of the Indian sub-continent from about the 13th century. Their teachings are distinguished theologically by inward loving devotion to a divine principle, and socially by an egalitarianism opposed to the qualitative distinctions of the Hindu caste hierarchy and to the religious differences between Hindu and Muslim."
Dec. 27, 2005
Here is a list of the 12 most well-known Greek Gods and Goddesses in ancient Greek mythology:
Zeus (King of the Gods) ...
Hera (Goddess of love and heaven) ...
Poseidon (God of the sea) ...
Demeter (Goddess of the bountiful harvest and the nurturing spirit) ...
Ares (God of war) ...
Hermes (God of the roads) ...
Hephaestus (God of fire)
The Strongest GODS
Though according to some sources Zeus might be the claimed most powerful god, but he is also the youngest in the elder gods (From eldest to youngest - Hestia, Hera Demeter, Poseidon, Hades, Zeus) . All are wickedly powerful and well powerful to withstand each other.
Loki is a malevolent Nordic god who can transform into people and animals to enact his pernicious schemes. Loki's weirdest moment occurred when he made a bet with a giant who had been employed to build a protective wall for the gods. The giant was offered the goddess Freya if he could complete the wall on time. However, the giant used a stallion who hauled the bricks much faster than the gods expected.
Faced with losing the bet and being killed by his fellow gods, Loki transformed himself into a mare and wooed the giant's stallion. The ensuing `act of love' led to Loki giving birth to an eight-legged spider-horse (for whatever reason). With his stallion occupied by Loki, the giant lost the bet and was killed by Thor.
Chinnamasta is known as Chinnamunda in Buddhist tradition. | Source
Origin: Northern India; Nepal.
This Hindu and Buddhist goddess of self-sacrifice and sexual restraint cut off her own head and enjoys parading around with it while three spurts of blood flow from her open neck. As if it couldn't get any weirder, her severed head and two of her attendants drink the spurting blood.
Chinnamasta literally means `she whose head is severed' and there are several myths regarding why this occurred. One legend claims that a number of Hindu gods and demons churned the ocean to extract an immortality elixir. Chinnamasta is said to have drunk the demon's share of the spoils before decapitating herself to prevent them from reclaiming it. Another myth states that Chinnamasta and her attendants were bathing for too long, leading to their extreme hunger. Like any merciful goddess, she satiated their appetite by decapitating herself and allowing them to drink her blood.
The Greek god, Pan, enjoying a goat. | Source
Origin: Ancient Greece
Pan has the hind legs and horns of a goat, and is one of the oldest Greek deities. He is the god of shepherds, flocks, hunters, forests, and pastoral music. However, he is also a fertility symbol with a ravenous sexual appetite. Indeed, one legend claims that Pan was the progeny of a union between Odysseus's lonely wife and her 108 suitors.
Suffice to say, Pan would attempt to copulate with anything that moved, including goddesses, nymphs, women, men, and even animals. Pan attempted to seduce the nymph, Syrinx, and pursued her when she ran away. When Syrinx's sisters turned her into a reed, the love-struck Pan created the `pan flute' from her remains. The nymph, Echo, also refused Pan, prompting the angry god to order his minions to kill her.
Our favorite sex-pest was rejected again when the nymph, Pitys, fled his lecherous advances. To escape him, the other gods turned her into a pine tree! Even more bizarre, though fitting for a fertility symbol, was Pan's ability to duplicate himself into a swarm of Pans. These recreations were variations on the original theme, with goat-like attributes and lustful urges. Pan is also one of the few gods to have actually died, though it is unclear how this occurred.
A figurine that is probably of Inanna. | Source
4. Inanna (Ishtar)
Origin: Mesopotamia (Iraq)
Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of sex, war, and fertility. She later became known as Ishtar, and is associated with lions and the planet Venus. Inanna is known for her capricious and prolific sexual desires and unions. She was once raped by a lowly gardener called Shukaletuda while she slept under his poplar tree. In a fit of rage, she turned the rivers to blood, covered the Earth with storms, and tormented the people with disease. She eventually found her attacker and killed him.
Inanna has a tendency to kill or sacrifice her lovers. In the Epic of Gilgamesh she tries to seduce King Gilgamesh. When he refuses, she releases the Bull of Heaven in an attempt to kill him. Gilgamesh's refusal focuses on his concern for the fate of her numerous past lovers. This includes the speckled allallu-bird whose wing she broke, the lion who she dug a pit for, the horse who she consigned to being whipped and lashed, the shepherd who she turned into a wolf, and the gardener who she turned into a dwarf.
When Inanna gains access to the underworld to attend the funeral of the Bull of Heaven (who Gilgamesh killed), the ruler, Ereshkigal, makes her pass through seven gates. At each gate she is told to remove a piece of clothing or jewelry until she is naked and powerless. The audacious Inanna sits on Ereshkigal's throne and is punished by being turned into a corpse and hung upside-down from hooks. Many of the gods blame Inanna for her fate, but Enki decides to rescue her. As no-one can leave the underworld, a deal is struck in which someone must take her place. Inanna refuses to sacrifice one of her servants, but she has no problem with Ereshkigal taking her husband, Dumuzi, who she thought hadn't mourned her enough. The poor Dumuzi is dragged into the underworld by demons, and Inanna has the temerity to mourn him.
Cronus eating Zeus' brother Poseidon. | Source
Origin: Ancient Greece
Cronus was leader of the Titans; a pantheon of Greek gods that came before Zeus. Uranus and the goddess Gaia were parents of all the Titans, and Cronus was their preeminent and jealous son. When Uranus hid some of Gaia's children in a deep abyss called Tartarus, Gaia asked her remaining children to castrate Uranus. The psychotic Cronus stepped up to perform the deed. He scythed off his fathers genitals and threw them into the sea where they bubbled up and spawned the goddess, Aphrodite.
After freeing Gaia's children (which included the Cyclopes), Cronus decided to re-imprison them, claim Uranus' throne, and marry his own sister, Rhea. Gaia then predicted that one of Cronus' children would overthrow him. As a paranoid lunatic, Cronus decided to eat his children as they were born to prevent this from transpiring. However, Rhea and Gaia hid baby Zeus, giving Cronus a rock wrapped in baby clothes to eat instead. The unhinged cannibal ate the rock, and Zeus grew up to fulfill the prophecy. Cronus was thrown into Tartarus, though he may have been released to rule over a distant land. Indeed, the Romans later adopted him as the god, Saturn.
Sheela Na Gigs showing us her bits. | Source
6. Sheela Na Gigs
Origin: Ireland and Britain
Sheela Na Gigs literally means "the old hag of the breasts". The name refers to a number of stone figurines from Ireland and Britain depicting a woman with an exposed and exaggerated vulva. Popular myths claim she was a lustful pagan goddess who threw herself at men by showing them her `lady parts'. Most men rejected the old hag, though when they occasionally accepted, Sheela transformed herself into a beautiful woman and granted kingship to the lucky man.
Sheela Na Gigs is also known as a fertility goddess, and her figurines have been used at weddings and births. Another theory relates her to the pagan practice of anasyrma, in which women lifted up their skirts to scare off evil spirits! This would suggest that Sheela was a protector against evil.
Isis is depicted with a throne on her head. In this figurine, she nurses Horus. | Source
Origin: Ancient Egypt
This Egyptian goddess of nature, motherhood, and magic married her brother, Osiris, who was lord of the underworld. Osiris warred with their other brother, Set, leading to Osiris being killed and scattered into fourteen pieces across Egypt. The grief-stricken Isis scoured the country to retrieve the pieces, but there was one piece she couldn't find. Apparently, Osiris' manhood had been swallowed by a fish.
Isis used her magic to rebuild Osiris' body. In place of his genitals she used a golden phallus. Isis imbued Osiris with temporary life, and had sexual intercourse with his gold-augmented corpse. Osiris died again soon after, and the necrophile goddess gave birth to Horus. Isis had to protect Horus from Set until he was old enough to claim power by defeating his uncle. Indeed, the name Isis means `throne', making her a symbol of the pharaoh's power.
The smartly dressed Baron Samedi. | Source
8. Baron Samedi
Baron Samedi is a voodoo god of the dead, though he is frequently associated with obscenity, chaos, debauchery and intoxication. Perhaps the weirdest thing about this god is his appearance. He is a reanimated skeleton who wears sunglasses, a top hat, and a tuxedo. Samedi also sports cotton nasal plugs, resembling a corpse prepared for burial.
Baron Samedi's job is to greet the dead when they die, before leading them to the underworld. He also digs their graves and ensures their corpses rot in the ground to prevent them returning as zombies. In his spare time he loves drinking rum, smoking cigars, chasing women, and swearing profusely. However, he is also a curer of disease and protector from death, as only he can decide when a person crosses into the afterlife.
A bust of Dionysus from the 2nd century. | Source
Origin: Ancient Greece
Dionysus is the Greek god of wine, intoxication, chaos, and ritual frenzy. With a résumé like that, he was always going to be a bit weird. This androgynous god began life as a premature baby when his mother died after gazing upon the glory of his father, Zeus. Unable to survive on his own, Zeus sewed Dionysus into his thigh until he was able to be reborn.
Myths tell us that Dionysus was brought up as a girl to hide him from Zeus' wife, Hera. He became a bisexual god, and his rituals involved transvestism and the blurring of sexual roles. When discovered by Hera, he was driven mad and forced to wander the Earth. On at least two occasions he was kidnapped by sailors, though Dionysus turned the oars of their boats into snakes and the sailors into dolphins. When Dionysus was helped by King Midas, he gave Midas the power to turn objects into gold. However when King Lycurgus offended him, Dionysus convinced Lycurgus that his son was a patch of ivy to be cut to pieces. He then told the population that their famine would only end when Lycurgus was dead. The people tore the King to pieces.
The young Dionysus was lured into a cave by the Titans (older gods) who proceeded to slit his throat, boil and roast his flesh, and eat him for dinner. Attracted by the sweet smell, Zeus arrived, resurrected his son, and killed the Titans. Dionysus also had the power to bring the dead back to life, and he used this to restore his mother. A further power was his ability to induce mass hysteria and madness. This led to a number of dissenters being torn to pieces by his cult of female followers. Mimicking his own death, cannibalism sometimes followed.
The Christian God. | Source
10. The Abrahamic God
Despite the many weird stories that appear in the Bible, the Christian god is widely worshiped. In one such story, God is busy destroying the city of Sodom with fire and brimstone. He instructs his Jewish followers to flee the carnage, but specifically tells them not to cast their eyes upon his shameful annihilation of the heretics. Unfortunately, the wife of Lot is unable to resist this temptation. She turns to witness the destruction and is transformed into a pillar of salt. God knows why, literally.
Another bewildering story is that of Abraham and his son, Isaac. God dares Abraham to demonstrate his faith by sacrificing his son. The unerringly devoted Abe places Isaac on an alter and is about to slit his throat when God relents, claiming it was all a test. One has to wonder how Isaac felt about all this.
Finally, there is the notion of God being three entities in one. One of these is Jesus, who is created when God impregnates the Virgin Mary with himself, is born into the world, espouses his own magnificence for a few decades, is summarily executed by the Romans, and is resurrected to show us he's not really dead. It turned out that the Christian God wanted to be executed so his act of self-sacrifice could somehow overturn the sins of all humankind.