Category: Gods and Goddesses


The Goddess Selene

SELENE was the Titan goddess of the moon. She was depicted as a woman either riding side saddle on a horse or in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged steeds. Her lunar sphere or crescent was represented as either a crown set upon her head or as the fold of a raised, shining cloak. Sometimes she was said to drive a team of oxen and her lunar crescent was likened to the horns of a bull. Selene’s great love was the shepherd prince Endymion. The beautiful boy was granted eternal youth and immortality by Zeus and placed in a state of eternal slumber in a cave near the peak of Lydian Mount Latmos. There his heavenly bride descended to consort with him in the night.

A number of other goddesses were also associated with the moon, however, only Selene was represented by the old Greek poets represented as the moon incarnate. Other Greek moon goddesses included Pasiphae, the Leukippides, Eileithyia, Hekate, Artemis, Bendis, and Hera (who sometimes doubled for Selene in the Endymion myth).

The Goddess Astarte

Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified evening star.

Astarte was accepted by the Greeks under the name of Aphrodite. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte’s greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite’s most common byname.

Other major centers of Astarte’s worship were Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. “She was often depicted on Sidonian coins as standing on the prow of a galley, leaning forward with right hand outstretched, being thus the original of all figureheads for sailing ships.”  In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. Coins from Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together.
Lady of Galera

Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.

Donald Harden in The Phoenicians discusses a statuette of Astarte from Tutugi (Galera) near Granada in Spain dating to the 6th or 7th century BC in which Astarte sits on a throne flanked by sphinxes holding a bowl beneath her pierced breasts. A hollow in the statue would have been filled with milk through the head and gentle heating would have melted wax plugging the holes in her breasts, producing an apparent miracle when the milk emerged.

The Syrian goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ʻAtarʻatah) was generally equated with Astarte and the first element of the name appears to be related to the name Astarte
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Celtic God Cernunnos

CERNUNNOS     (Pan-Celtic) [KER-noo-nos] Known to all Celtic areas in one form or another. The Horned God; God of Nature; God of the Underworld and the Astral Plane; Great Father; “the Horned One”. The Druids knew him as Hu Gadarn, The Horned God of fertility. He was portrayed sitting in a lotus position with horns or antlers on his head, long curling hair, a beard, naked except for a neck torque, and sometimes holding a spear and shield. His symbols were the stag, ram, bull, and horned serpent. Sometimes called Belatucadros and Vitiris. Virility, fertility, animals, physical love, nature, woodlands, reincarnation, crossroads, wealth, commerce, warriors. Cernunnos is a Greek name, one of the many names of the European Great Horned God. Whatever his original Celtic name might have been has been lost to history.

Cernunnos appears to have been recognized in the region of Gaul, that is now central France, as the God Dispater. He is typically drawn as a man bearing the antlers of a stag, not necessarily representing an animal spirit but a deity closely involved with animals and one that can transform instantly into animal shape. In the Celtic world, horns and antlers were generally regarded as symbols of virility and fertility. On the Celtic Gundestrup Bowl from Denmark, Cernunnos is attended by a boar – an animal revered by the Celts for its speed, pugnacity and magickal connotations – and on the same vessel he seems to be associated with a bull. This later link reappears on a stone relief from Reims. Cernunnos is also depicted in association with snakes, sometimes bearing rams’ horns, as on a stone relief found at Cirencester in England. His legs may be replaced by snakes, and at Sommerecourt (Haute Marne) a relief was found depicting the god in company with an unnamed goddess holding a basket and feeding a snake. The snake symbolism is generally associated with rejuvenation. Other reliefs show him holding purses of money.

He is equated with the Greek God Pan whose name means ‘all’. Both Cerunnos and Pan became the prototype for the Christian anti-God, Satan. This was not a judgment on the attributes of these deities, but rather a device for frightening the European populace away from the Old Religion.

Also: Cernawain; Cernenus; Herne the Hunter; Kernunos
deity hr

from:  http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/deitiesc.htmlImage

The Story of Blodeuwedd (from wikipedia)

The hero Lleu Llaw Gyffes has been placed under a tynged by his mother Arianrhod that he may never have a human wife. So as to counteract this curse, the magicians Math and Gwydion:
“     [take] the flowers of the oak, and the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet, and from those they conjured up the fairest and most beautiful maiden anyone had ever seen. And they baptized her in the way that they did at that time, and named her Blodeuwedd.     ”

Some time later, while Lleu is away on business, Blodeuwedd has an affair with Gronw Pebr, the lord of Penllyn, and the two conspire to murder Lleu. Blodeuwedd tricks Lleu into revealing how he may be killed, since he can not be killed during the day or night, nor indoors or outdoors, neither riding nor walking, not clothed and not naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made. He reveals to her that he can only be killed at dusk, wrapped in a net with one foot on a cauldron and one on a goat and with a spear forged for a year during the hours when everyone is at mass. With this information she arranges his death.

Struck by the spear thrown by Gronw’s hand, Lleu transforms into an eagle and flies away. Gwydion tracks him down and finds him perched high on an oak tree. Through the singing of an englyn (known as englyn Gwydion) he lures him down from the oak tree and switches him back to his human form. Gwydion and Math nurse Lleu back to health before mustering Gwynedd and reclaiming his lands from Gronw and Blodeuwedd.

Gwydion overtakes a fleeing Blodeuwedd and turns her into an owl, the creature hated by all other birds, proclaiming:
“     You will not dare to show your face ever again in the light of day ever again, and that will be because of enmity between you and all other birds. It will be in their nature to harass you and despise you wherever they find you. And you will not lose your name – that will always be “Bloddeuwedd (Flower-face).”[1]     ”

The narrative adds:
“     Blodeuwedd” means “owl” in the language of today. And it is because of that there is hostility between birds and owls, and the owl is still known as Blodeuwedd.
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Celtic God The Dagda

THE DAGDA: Ireland. “The Good God;” “All-Father;” Great God; Lord of the Heavens; Father of the gods and men; Lord of Life and Death; the Arch-Druid; god of magic; Earth God. High King of the Tuatha De Danann. He had four great palaces in the depths of the earth and under the hollow hills. The Dagda had several children, the most important being Brigit, Angus, Midir, Ogma, and Badb the Red. God of death and rebirth; master of all trades; lord of perfect knowledge.
He had a cauldron called The Undry which supplied unlimited food. He also had a living oak harp which cauesd the seasons to change in their order. He was pictured wearing a brown, low-necked tunic which just reached his hips and a hooded cape that barely covered his shoulders. On his feet were horse-hide boots. Behind him he pulled his massive 8-pronged warclub on a wheel.
Protection, warriors, knowledge, magic, fire, prophecy, weather, reincarnation, the arts, initiation, prosperity and plenty, music, the harp. First among magicians, warriors, artisans, all knowledge.
but looks a lot like it came from the book, “Celtic Magic” by DJ Conway.

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

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

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

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

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/celticdeities/p/DagdaProfile.htm

Celtic Gods and Goddesses

A good look at Celtic Gods and Goddesses.

Norse Gods and Goddesses

A look at some of the major Gods and Goddesses in Norse legend

Rhiannon is a prominent figure in Welsh mythology, mother to the Demetian hero Pryderi and wife to Pwyll (and later Manawydan fab Llyr). She is probably a reflex of the Celtic Great Queen goddess Rigantona and may also be associated with the horse goddess Epona.

She appears in both the first and third branches of the Mabinogi and is further mentioned in the early Arthurian prose tale Culhwch and Olwen.

Role in Welsh mythology

The First Branch

Upon ascending the magical mound of Gorsedd Arberth, the Demetian king Pwyll witnesses the arrival of Rhiannon, appearing to them as a beautiful woman dressed in gold silk brocade and riding a shining white horse. Pwyll sends his best horsemen after her, but she always remains ahead of them, though her horse never does more than amble. After three days, he finally calls out to her, and Rhiannon tells him she has come seeking him because she would rather marry him than her fiancé, Gwawl ap Clud. A year after their meeting, Pwyll accidentally and foolishly promises Rhiannon to Gwawl, before managing to win her back through outwitting, bloodying and dishonouring his rival.

Under the advice of his noblemen, Pwyll and Rhiannon attempt to supply an heir to the kingdom and eventually a boy is born. However, on the night of his birth, he disappears while in the care of six of Rhiannon’s ladies-in-waiting. To avoid the king’s wrath, the ladies smear dog’s blood onto a sleeping Rhiannon, claiming that she had committed infanticide and cannibalism through eating and “destroying” her child. Rhiannon is forced to do penance for her crime.

The child is discovered outside a stable by an ex-vassal of Pwyll’s, Teyrnon, the lord of Gwent Is Coed. He and his wife claim the boy as their own and name him Gwri Wallt Euryn (English: Gwri of the Golden hair), for “all the hair on his head was as yellow as gold.”Image The child grows to adulthood at a superhuman pace and, as he matures, his likeness to Pwyll grows more obvious and, eventually, Teyrnon realises Gwri’s true identity. The boy is eventually reunited with Pwyll and Rhiannon and is renamed Pryderi, meaning “loss”. Some time later, Pwyll dies peacefully and Pryderi ascends to the throne, marrying Cigfa and amalgamating the seven cantrefs of Morgannwg to his kingdom.

Interpretation as a goddess

The Mabinogi do not present Rhiannon as anything other than human. Scholars of mythology have nevertheless speculated that Rhiannon may euhemerize an earlier goddess of Celtic polytheism. Similar euhemerisms of pre-Christian deities can be found in other medieval Celtic literature, when Christian scribes and redactors may have felt uncomfortable writing about the powers of pagan gods. In the Táin Bó Cúailnge, for example, Macha and Morrígan appear as larger-than-life figures, but are never described as goddesses, very similar to the presentation of Rhiannon in the Mabinogion.

Proinsias Mac Cana states: “[Rhiannon] reincarnates the goddess of sovereignty who, in taking to her a spouse, thereby ordained him legitimate king of the territory which she personified”. According to Miranda Jane Green, “Rhiannon conforms to two archetypes of myth … a gracious, bountiful queen-goddess; and as the ‘wronged wife’, falsely accused of killing her son.”

Some scholars specifically identify her as a horse goddess cognate to Gaulish Epona, because of Rhiannon’s close association with horses in the first part of the story.

From Wikipedia

THE STORY OF ARIANRHOD:

Arianrhod  is a figure in Welsh mythology who plays her most important role in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi. She is the daughter of Dôn and the sister of Gwydion and Gilfaethwy; the Welsh Triads give her father as Beli Mawr.[1] In the Mabinogi her uncle Math ap Mathonwy is the King of Gwynedd, and during the course of the story she gives birth to two sons, Dylan Ail Don and Lleu Llaw Gyffes, through magical means.

According to the Fourth Branch, Arianrhod’s uncle Math fab Mathonwy would die if he did not keep his feet in the lap of a virgin when he was not at war. Gilfaethwy conceives a lust for Math’s original footholder, Goewin, and he and his brother Gwydion engineer a war with King Pryderi of Dyfed, forcing Math to leave his court. In his absence Gilfaethwy rapes Goewin, but is punished when Math returns (Math turns him and Gwydion into a series of mated pairs of animals). Math marries Goewin to alleviate her shame, but must find a new virgin to hold his feet.

Gwydion suggests his sister, Arianrhod. To test her virginity, Math tells her to step over his magician’s rod. On doing this, however, she immediately gives birth to a young boy, Dylan Ail Don, and another little scrap of a thing that is not coherently visible, although Gwydion puts the boy in a chest in his bedroom. Dylan becomes a sea god and is accidentally murdered by his uncle, the metalsmith Govannon, but his brother is later weaned by Uncle Gwydion here. However, Arianrhod is still angry about her humiliation at Math’s court. She places a tynged (a geis or curse) on the boy that he will never have a name unless she gives it to him. Gwydion disguises the boy as a shoemaker and returns to Caer Arianrhod; while Arianrhod is being fitted, she sees the boy killing a wren with a single stone and remarks that the fair-haired one (“lleu”) has a skillful hand (“llaw gyffes”). Gwydion reveals the disguise, and says she has just given her son a name – Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Arianrhod then places a second tynged on Lleu, that he would never take arms unless she armed him. A few years later Gwydion and Lleu return to Caer Arianrhod, this time disguised as bards. Gwydion is an accomplished storyteller and entertains her court. That night, while everyone sleeps, he conjures a fleet of warships. Arianrhod gives them weapons and armor to help her fight, thereby dispelling her second curse. When Gwydion reveals the trickery, Arianrhod places a final tynged on Lleu: he would never have a wife from any race that is on this earth now. Gwydion and Math eventually break this curse by creating a woman out of oak blossom, broom, and meadowsweet; she is named Blodeuwedd (“flower face”). With her curses, Arianrhod denied Lleu the three aspects of masculinity: a name, arms, and a wife.  From wikipedia.com

In Welsh medieval legend, Ceridwen (kair-id-wən), also spelled Cerridwen, was an enchantress, mother of Morfran and a beautiful daughter Creirwy. Her husband was Tegid Foel, and they lived near Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) in north Wales. Medieval Welsh poetry refers to her as possessing the cauldron of Poetic Inspiration (Awen) and the Tale of Taliesin recounts her swallowing her servant Gwion Bach who is then reborn through her as the poet Taliesin. Ceridwen is regarded by modern Wiccans as the Celtic goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration.

According to the late medieval Tale of Taliesin, included in some modern editions of the Mabinogion, Morfran (also called Afagddu) was hideously ugly, so Ceridwen sought to make him wise. She had a magical cauldron that could make a potion granting the gift of wisdom and poetic inspiration. The mixture had to be boiled for a year and a day. Morda, a blind man, tended the fire beneath the cauldron, while Gwion Bach, a young boy, stirred the concoction. The first three drops of liquid from this cauldron gave wisdom; the rest was a fatal poison. Three hot drops spilled onto Gwion’s thumb as he stirred, burning him. He instinctively put his thumb in his mouth, and instantly gained great wisdom and knowledge.

Ceridwen chased Gwion. He turned himself into a hare. She became a greyhound. He became a fish and jumped into a river. She turned into an otter. He turned into a bird; she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn. She then became a hen and ate him. When Ceridwen became pregnant, she knew it was Gwion and resolved to kill the child when he was born. However, when he was born, he was so beautiful that she couldn’t do it. She threw him in the ocean instead, sewing him inside a leather-skin bag. The child did not die, but was rescued on a Welsh shore – near Aberdyfi according to most versions of the tale – by a prince named Elffin ap Gwyddno; the reborn infant grew to became the legendary bard Taliesin.

From Wikipedia.

CERRIDWEN/CARIDWEN/CERIDWEN:  Wales.  Moon Goddess; Great Mother; grain Goddess; Goddess of nature.  The white corpse eating sow representing the Moon.  Wife of the giant Tegid and mother of a beautiful girl, Creirwy, and an ugly boy, Avagdu.  Welsh Bards called themselves Cerddorion (sons of Cerridwen).  The Bard Taliesin, founder of their craft was said to be born or Cerridwen and to have tasted a potent brew from Her magick cauldron of inspiration.  This potion, known as “greal” (from which the word Grail probably came), was made from six plants for inspiration and knowledge.  Gwion Bach (later called Taliesin) accidentally drank the remaining three drops of the liquid.  Her symbol was a white sow.  Death, fertility, regeneration, inspiration, magic, astrology, herbs, science, poetry, spells, knowledge.

From “Celtic Magic” by DJ Conway