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Have you heard of the Greek mythological story of Hades and Persephone? I’m sure you have at some point in your life as it’s one of the well known Greek myths. Hades was the brother of Zeus and the god of the underworld. Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of nature.
Persephone Taken To The Underworld
Hades was love stricken by Persephone and kidnapped her, he traveled above ground to pursue her, while she was gathering flowers in a field. Hades confided his secret to his brother Zeus, asking for help; the two of them concocted a plan to trap her. As Persephone played with her companions, both Gods caused the ground to split underneath her. Persephone fell beneath the Earth and Hades stole her to the Underworld where he made her his wife. Persephone was very unhappy, but after some time, she came to love the cold-blooded Hades and lived happily with him.
Demeter Searches For Persephone
Demeter hurried back to where she had left her daughter, horrified to find her missing, she asked all as to the whereabouts of her beloved daughter. No one could tell her anything at all and the furious Goddess said that they couldn’t protect her child. Demeter cursed all the nymphs into becoming women with plumed bodies and scaly feet, called the sirens. The river Cyane was the only one who helped Diameter by washing over the belt of Persephone, indicating that something very suspicious had happened. Demeter went absolutely mad and hunted for her daughter everywhere. The Goddess even disguised herself as an old lady with a lighted torch in her hands roaming the Earth for nine long days and nine long nights. Finally, she met Hekate, the deity of magic, witchcraft, spirits and crossroads, at the dawn of the 10th day who had sorrow at her dismal condition and asked her to seek help from the all seeing Helios, the sun god. Helios told Demeter how Hades had dragged her daughter, Persephone, into the underworld.
Persephone In The Underworld
Demeter, Persephone’s mother, begged her brother Hades to let Persephone back to live above the underworld, denoting that the young Persephone was not supposed to live in the underworld. Hades conversed with Zeus and they both decided to allow Persephone to live on earth for six months each year and the other half of her time would be in the Underworld.
Before Persephone left the underworld, she was persuaded to eat four seeds of a pomegranate. Ancient mythology says, to eat the fruit of one’s captor meant that one would have to return to that captor or country, so Persephone was doomed to return to the underworld for four months of the year. But she was allowed to spend the remaining two-thirds of the year with her Earth Mother, Demeter.
The myth of Hades and Persephone is associated with the arriving of Spring and Winter, when Persephone comes to the earth, it’s springtime and when she descends to Hades, it is winter. This symbolises the changing of the seasons and cyclical everlasting time.
The disappearance and the return of the goddess Persephone were the occasions of grand festivals in ancient Greece, among them the Elefsinian rites, whose secrets were very closely guarded and little is known about them today. Some experts in this field believe the rites or mysteries gave birth to the idea of a more perfect life after death, and thus helped lay the foundation for the coming of Christianity, which upholds the idea of everlasting life.
The basic tenet of this story is that energy never dies, even when we pass on, we are always forevermore. We are eternal beings.
Let us know your take on this mythological tale below.
Creator God. Baiame is a creator god, revered as the supreme being and instrument of good, principally by the Wiradyuri and Kamilaroi groups of aborigines in the southeast of Australia. His chief consort is generally referred to as BIRRAHGNOOLOO. In other aboriginal traditions he is known as Twanyrika….
Creator goddess. She is recognized by several aboriginal clans as the chief consort of BAIAME, the creator god. Revered as the all-mother of humankind and creator of living things on earth, her role largely parallels that of Baiame. Traditions suggest that during the Dreamtime she planted vegetation as she moved through the primordial world, fashioning creatures from clay and breathing spirit into human beings. Her eldest son is DARAMULUM or Gayandi, regarded as an intermediary between Baiame and humankind….
Creator god. Otherwise known as Gayandi he is the son of BAIAME and BIRRAHGNOOLOO and is worshiped principally by the Wiradyuri and Kamilaroi groups of aborigines in the southeast of Australia, who regard him as an intermediary between his father, the supreme being, and the human race. To an extent this role may have developed through Christian missionary influence….
With the costs of higher education at an all-time high, the American Dream of a college education can seem like just that — a dream.
Personification of evil. This demonic deity stands opposed to BAIAME, the creator spirit who represents good in the world. He is generally recognized as an offspring of Baiame who once lived in the sky but fell from grace during the Dreamtime and was sent to the underworld as its ruler. From there he now dispenses death and sickness….
Creator goddess. Also known as Kunapipi, she is extensively revered by aborigines in northern Australia, including the Yolngu people. Her cult bears some similarity to that of the Greek mother goddess DEMETER and to Tantric cults in India. For this reason the cult is thought to have been introduced from Asia to Arnhem Land and then to other parts of the Australian continent as early as the sixth century. Mythology indicates that Gunabibi has been perceived as a deity who came from the sea or the rivers during the Dreamtime but who reigns now over dry land. Among modern aborigines she is the subject of esoteric rituals which also involve the great serpent Yulunggul with whom Gunabibi has been closely involved….
A god of earthly knowledge and physical might, created by Altjira to ensure that people did not get too arrogant or self-conceited. He is åśśociated with victory and intelligence. Australian aboriginal
A lecherous spirit who surprises women by burrowing beneath the sand. He was alive, and wandered the earth with his father, Njirana, during the Dreamtime. Jumu, Australian aboriginal
Animistic spirit. Invoked at the ceremony of initiation by the Binbinga people once living on the west side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Katajalina is reputed to live in an anthill and to carry off the spirit of the young initiate, kill him and then restore him to life as an adult. His presence is announced in the noise of the bull-roarer….
Is a serpent from an Aboriginal tale, “The Flood and the bird Men”, told by Kianoo Tjeemairee of the Murinbata tribe. There are many names for the Rainbow serpent in Aboriginal mythology, depending on location and language. It is a powerful symbol of fertility and creation. Australia
Animistic spirits. Malevolent beings who conceal themselves in undergrowth and rock crevices and manifest as animals and birds, including eagles, crows, owls, kangaroos and emus. Kutji are considered to have taken over wild creatures if their behavior åśśumes unfamiliar patterns. Only shamans may contain the influence of these spirits. Otherwise, they possess the potential to inflict disease and death on to human beings….
Creator god. Chiefly revered among the Kurnai Koori aborigines in Victoria State. The Southern Lights or Aurora australis are regarded as a sign of his displeasure when the law and order given to humankind by the gods are abused. His son is Tundun, who is responsible for the secret ceremonies originally divulged only to men and including the initiation rights of påśśage from boyhood to maturity. When these were revealed to women, the Dreamtime ended, a period of chaos ensued and Mungan Ngour elected to live henceforth in the sky….
Creator god. Chiefly revered among the Wiimbaio aborigines living in the area of the Murray River, he is believed to have created the land of Australia and then brought law and order to humankind. His son is Gnawdenoorte….
Snake god. His consorts include the snake goddesses Mantya, Tuknampa and Uka. He is revered mainly by tribal groups living on the western seaboard of the Cape York peninsula in northern queensland. Taipan has the typical attributes of many other Australian snake gods, including the Rainbow snake. He exercises judgment over life or death and possesses great wisdom, a universal characteristic of serpents. He is able to kill or cure and is the deity who originally fashioned the blood of living things during the Dreamtime. The imagery of the snake god is closely linked with aboriginal shamanism and with the healing rituals of shamans….
The first woman. Australian Aboriginal
Lizard men. Australian Aboriginal
Sisters who were daughters of Djanggawul. Australian Aboriginal
A snake-god of Rain and fertility. Australian Aboriginal
“Navajo has a very rich culture, history, beliefs and tradition making them an exceptional group in the world. Navajo people also have a set of mythological characters that form their beliefs and traditions. They have lots of gods and goddesses that have distinct roles and powers as what people perceive about them. To get started, take note of the given list below and get familiar with the Navajo gods and goddesses.
It means “Woman who changes.” At times, this is called as the Earth goddess, however, more as a seasonal deity of Navajo. Her appearance changes from being youthful to mature to old woman just like how the seasons change. Estsanatlehi is living on great water located in the west portion of her husband’s square house.
The Navajo myth states that Yebaad (First Woman) and Yebaka (First Man) observed a black cloud that descended on to the mountain. They saw a baby girl who is Estsanatlehi. She had been the daughter of Yadilyil (sky god) and Naestsan (Earth Goddess). They took her home and in only 18 days, she grew up into adulthood.
Tonenili (Water Srinkler)
Tonenili is the Navajo Indians’ god of rain. He takes control of the sky water as opposed to seas, rivers and lakes. He carries the water into some Navajo pantheon major deities.
He is the god of farming and of household in the Navajo myth. He is considered as the benevolent deity who is responsible for curing diseases and aiding mankind. Hastsehogan got a malevolent aspect in which he also casts evil spells.
Yolkaiestsan (White Shell Woman)
Based on the Navajo myth, she has been created the same time like her Estsanatlehi. In other myths, Yolaiestan has been created by some gods during the time when they brought to life the artistic women depiction formed through white shells.
Tsohanoai (The Sun Bearer)
Tsonahoai is the god of sun of Navajo. In other myths, he has been depicted as the man who carries sun in the sky right on his back. Some myths state that he has been depicted as the warrior on a horseback who carries the sun which serves as the gleaming shield.
He is the god of gambling in Navajo myth. He was the renegade Tsohanoai’s son. Nohoilpi descended to Earth to teach his own gambling games into different tribes. He abused his own power through besting the people in all games and collected his winnings through enslaving them to establish a city for his glory.
Tklehanoai (Night Carrier)
He is the father of Tsonahai (the sun god) and he carries the moon right on the back while his son bores the sun all throughout daytime in the sky.
Hastseoltoi is the goddess of hunting of the Navajo people. She has been Nayanazgeni’s wife, the war god. She is carrying 2 arrows on both hands and is wearing bow case and a quiver.
They are only some of the Navajo gods and goddesses who make great significance to their beliefs and myths. As you familiarize yourself with the Navajo myth, you will found out more names of gods and goddesses.”
Good spirit that lived under the ice and helped with hunting and fishing.
Evil god of the sea that ould hurt boating by biting them.
Mother goddess of childbirth.
Gatherer of the dead. Anguta carries the dead down to the underworld, where they must sleep with him for a year.
The moon, brother to the sun whom Moon chases across the sky. Aningan has a great igloo in the sky where he rests. Irdlirvirissong, his demon cousin, lives there as well. The moon is a great hunter, and his sledge is always piled high with seal skins and meat.
God that lived in the sea, whose movements created the waves.
God that lived on land and controlled the movements of the whales.
God of merchants and cacao growers. Black faced with a huge nose.
The demon cousin of the moon. Sometimes Irdlirvirissong comes out into the sky to dance and clown and make the people laugh. But if anyone is nearby, the people must restrain themselves or the demon clown will dry them up and eat their intestines.
Evil Earth spirit with the appearance of a dog.
Goddess of the sea and the creatures of the sea. A one-eyed giant. A frightfull old hag, but she was young and beautiful when her father threw her in the sea as a sacrifice. A sorcerer wishing to visit Sedna must pass through the realms of death and then cross an abyss where a wheel of ice spins eternally and a cauldron of seal meat stews endlessly. To return he must cross another abyss on a bridge as narrow as a knife edge.
A beautiful young maiden carrying a torch who is chased through the sky by her brother Aningan, the moon. The planet Jupiter is the mother of the sun and very dangerous to magicians. If they are careless, she will devour their livers.
God of the Earth that was the most powerful and owned all of the deer.
The earth god, master of hunting to whom all deer belong.
Old woman deity that was able to walk on water.
The good spirit, representing everything in nature good and helpful to man.”
“Korean gods are some of the most fascinating of world mythology. From Jumong, the master archer who founded Korea, to the amazing gods Jeju island, this is a list of fascinating Korean gods.
1) Jumong – The Master Archer Who Founded Korea
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According to legend Jumong was almost never born. His mother was the goddess Yuhwa who gave birth to an egg. King Keumwa stole the egg, and tried to destroy it. He went to a stable to have it trampled by horses, but none of the horses would trample it. He then left it in the forest, but none of the animals in the forest would even go near it. He tried to keep Yuhwa from keeping the egg warm so that whatever was inside would die. However, the father of the egg was the sun god Haemosu. Haemosu used a ray of light, to shine down on the egg, and keep it warm so it could hatch.
At this point King Keumwa gave in, and the god Jumong hatched from the egg. Jumong grew up to be an adult in only 30 days. As an adult he could shoot an arrow with pinpoint accuracy. This talent would be invaluable to him. Unfortunately, the king’s sons resented Jumong’s talent, and made this clear. Since Jumong was not welcome, he decided to leave, and try to unify the Gojoseon territories which had been broken up by the corruption of the Han dynasty.
King Keumwa chased him down, and cornered him at the Kaesa River. Jumong was kind hearted, and didn’t want to harm the king. He instead shot an arrow in the river, and gave orders to the fish. They formed a bridge out of their bodies, and allowed him to cross. The king and his men pursued him, but once Jumong reached the other side, the bridge collapsed and the pursuers fell into the river.
Dangun was the legendary god founder of the ancient kingdom of Gojoseon. Gojoseon began ruling northern Korea in 2333 BC. Dangun was the son of Ungyo, a bear turned goddess who married Hwanung. Dangun established the walled city of Asadal, and named his new kingdom Joseon, although it is now referred to as Gojoseon which means ‘old Joseon’. This kingdom would last from 2333 BC to 108 BC. Dangun not only created the first korean kingdom but also created the Korean race itself. Dangun ruled for a total of 1000 years before choosing to become a spirit, and live a life of meditation at the Heavenly Lake on Mt. Paektu.
Hwanung is the ‘Supreme Divine Regent’, son of the ‘Lord of Heaven’, and father of Dangun, who founded the first Korean kingdom. He appointed ministers of clouds, rain, and wind, and worked with them to create laws and moral codes. He also took it upon himself to teach humans arts, medicine and even agriculture.
Hwanung had a deep desire to leave heaven and live on Earth, among the valleys and the mountains. Hwanin, who was the ruler of the heavens and Hwanung’s father, permitted this. Hwanung left for Earth with 3000 followers.They landed on Baekdu Mountain, where Hwanung founded Sinsi, the ‘City of God’. He gave himself the title of ‘Heavenly King’. There was a sandalwood tree in the area they had descended to. Everyday a bear and a tiger came to the sandalwood tree to pray to Hwanung. One day Hwanung decided to give the tiger and bear twenty bulbs of garlic, and some divine mugwort each. He told them that if they were to eat nothing but the garlic and mugwort and stayed in a cave away from sunlight for one hundred days, he would turn them into humans.
Both the tiger and the bear agreed, and went back to their caves. The tiger couldn’t hold back its hunger and left the cave before even 21 days were up. The bear, however, stayed true to her word, and after only 21 days was transformed into a beautiful women. She was so grateful that she would honour Hwanung everyday with offerings. Unfortunately, over time she had grown lonely and prayed to Hwanung for a child. Hwanung decided to make her his wife, and she gave birth to the god Dangun. The name Dangun, means ‘Altar Prince’, and ‘Sandalwood’.
Hwanin has many names, Heavenly King, Highest Deity, God of Heaven, and sometimes just Heaven. He is essentially the Korea’s version of Zeus, or Odin, although he certainly has traits of his own. He is the father to all other Korean gods, but also the Sky God. Another interesting name of his, is Okhwang Sangje, “Highest Deity the Jade Emperor”.
In Korean mythology, the gods Hwanin, Hwanung, and Dangun represent a threefold conception of divinity. Hwanin is the transcendent source and god of Heaven, Hwanung is the god of the world between Heaven and Earth. Dangun is the final representation, and is the god of Earth, and its link to Heaven.
5) Munjeon Bonpuri “Annals of the Door”
This myth centres around a father (Namseonbi) and mother (Yeosan Buin) of seven children. The mother is a hard working, and digilant mother, where as the father is layabout, and a gambler. The mother toils to raise money for the family, which Namseonbi then wastes. Since they were stuck in this cycle of poverty, they lacked food to give their children nourishment, and clothes to keep them warm. The mother, Yeosan Buin, thought of a clever idea to break them out of this sick cycle. She sold her most valued heirlooms and bought fancy clothes for her husband, and then told him to use the leftover money to buy grain. Grain was cheap in their village, but by travelling to villages where it was normally more expensive, they could make a profit. When Namseonbi went to other villages to sell the grain, he spent the profit on rice wine, and gambled the rest. He even sold the expensive clothes he had, just to gamble that away too.
Noiljadae was the daughter of the owner, of the inn Namseonbi was currently staying at. Noiljadae forced forced Namseonbi to live in a small hut, he made himself. Namseonbi turned blind from the food he had to eat eat. Noiljadae even murdered Namseonbi’s wife when she came to look for him. Noiljadae disguised herself as Yeosan Buin, and erscorted Namseonbi back to the village with. She still believed he was rich, and was plotting to steal from him. Her plot didn’t last. Namseombi and his family managed to stop Noiljadae. Seocheon, the god of flowers, revived Yeosan Buin. Each member of the family became the guardian deities of different parts of the house. Yeosan Buin became the goddess of the kitchen, hearth, and fire. Namseonbi became the defender of the dark fertilizer shed. Five of their seven children became Korean gods who defended each cardinal direction, North, West, East, South, and Centre. The last two became the guardians of the back door, and front door respectively. Noiljadae became the goddess of the bathroom.
Hwangok was a mysterious princess from India, who came to Korea after being sent by the gods to marry the god Kimsuro. However, there are no Indian records of such a princess ever existing. Despite this, there are 6 million Koreans today who claim to be descended from her. After marrying the god, she explained how she came to arrive in Korea. The god Sange Je had spoken to her parents in a dream, and told them to send her to Kimsuro. She travelled for two months across the sea, and came across a rare peach, called a Beondo, which only appeared every 3000 years. There were countless maidens who wanted to marry Kimsuro, but none could entice him. He knew in advance that a woman had been sent by the gods, and was waiting for her to arrive. His servants saw her boat, and informed him of her arrival. Not long later they had gotten married.
Nine lords, ruled the region of Kaya, one ruler from each of the main city-states. However, the power being split between nine people caused a lot of tension. To resolve the issue, the nine lords prayed to Hwanin for a leader to come down from the heavens and rule over all of them. After praying to the supreme deity, a voice came from the heavens and spoke the people of the Kaya region. Hwanin sent down a golden chest, which held six eggs.
The god Kimsuro and his five subordinates hatched from the eggs. Kimsuro took control of the nine cities and became ruler of the entire region. Kimsuro was evidently a strong leader, which is emphasised by the fact that he grew to nine feet tall only days after his birth, as did all of his subordinates. He defeated the god Talhae in a duel, and proved his strength beyond doubt. Unlike some gods of Korean mythology Kimsuro was not satisfied with a normal human for a wife, and refused to marry until a bride had been sent from the heavens. This wife turned out to be Hwangok, the Indian princess.
8) Igong Bonpuri: The Story of Hallakgungi
Hallakgungi is the deity that looked after the realm of the Fields of Seocheon, which translates to ‘flower fields of the west’. The story of Hallakgungi, begins with his grandparents. One of which was poor, and one of which was rich. They both turned 40 on the same day, and even though one was rich, and one was poor, they were both childless. Each of them prayed for a child, and both of their prayers were answered. One of them received a boy, and the other received a girl. When the children grew older they married each other, and soon the girl (Wongang Ami) became pregnant.
Before she could give birth, the boy (Sara Doryeong) dreamt that the supreme deity was calling him, and wanted him to govern the Fields of Seocheon. They both set off to travel to the fields of Seocheon, but Wongang Ami couldn’t finish the arduous journey, while still pregnant. Doryeong resorted to selling her, and her unborn child for coins, and continued the journey alone. Before parting with them, he broke his comb in half, and told his wife to give it to their child when they want to find their father. Later she gave birth to a son, and named him Hallakgungi. Hallakgungi would go on to become the next caretaker of the Fields of Seocheon, after finding his father.
9) Solmundae Halmang
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Solmundae Halmang is a giant goddess who would shape the island of Jeju in a number of shocking ways. Solmundae is a goddess who shaped Jeju Island, in Korea. Her name means ‘Grandmother’ in English. She can turn into a giantess which is so tall that the highest mountain on Jeju Island only reaches her elbow, and if she were to step into the deepest river, the water wouldn’t go higher than her ankle. Grandmother created the 360 mountains of Jeju, when she ate millet porridge. The porridge caused the giant to suffer from diarrhoea, which created all 360 mountains. There is an island near Jeju Island which used to connected to the mainland, but Grandmother had to urinate and as a result cut the land with her burst and caused part of the island to drift away. The land that drifted away became Udo island.
Solmundae Halmang, and Solmundae Halubang (Grandfather), were both hungry and went fishing in Sopchikochi. There method of fishing was creative, to say the least. Grandfather took off his clothes and jumped into the water, which caused such powerful waves that the fish were blown towards Grandmother. Grandmother opened her legs, and allowed all of the fish to blow into her vagina. Grandmother, was quite proud of how tall she was, but considering her actions that pride could easily have been called arrogance. She was so proud of her height, that she wanted to test it against the water, and see if any river on Jeju was deep enough to engulf her completely. The deepest river could only reach her ankle, so she tried a lake. But, the deepest lake could only reach her knee, so she resorted to trying the Mulchangoli ocean. However, Munchangoli was a bottomless ocean, and so she never returned from its depths. The Korean gods that inhabit Jeju are some of the most fascinating in Korean mythology.
10) Koeulla, Pueulla and Yangeulla
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Three Korean gods are responsible for the population of one of Korea’s largest islands. These three Korean gods are brothers who lived together on Jeju island. They are the children of Halmang, the giantess. They would spend their time hunting animals, and enjoying the land. At this point there weren’t any humans living on Jeju island, but this changed when the gods found a mysterious chest on the island. Curiosity filled them, they opened the chest and there was a messenger inside. The messenger informed the gods that inside the chest were gifts from the ruler of Pyeongyang.
The chest contained a calf, a colt, and five grains of rice (barley, rice, soybean, foxtail millet, and millet), but more significantly, there were three brides inside the chest. The messenger left on a cloud, and each of the gods took one of the brides for themselves, and formed their own clans on different parts of the island. This is where Jeju’s three major clans originate from, although all of the clans claim to be descendants of the first born of the gods. Legend says that all of Jeju’s current clans descended from these three mythical clans.”
“In Korea, there are few creation myths that start from the beginning, the very beginning. In a few oral traditions, a primal chaos exists until, unexpectedly, a crack appears, separating earth from sky. But these myths, those that survive, are not the colorful intricate histories of the Theogeny or the Enuma Elish.
Korea’s most treasured myth is that of its own creation from an existing earth and the humans already living upon it.
This is the myth of Tangun.
The story goes that a Heavenly Prince, Hwangun looked down at earth and desired to possess it and rule over mankind. His father, the Ruler of Heaven, Hwanin knew that his son would bring happiness to human beings and, looking at the earth, chose Mount Taebak as a suitable place for his son to go to earth. Hwangun arrives beneath a sandalwood tree where he creates a holy city. He brings with him three heavenly seals, somewhat mysterious in nature, and 3000 loyal subjects from heaven, which are possibly spirits. In addition, Hwangun brought three ministers, the Earl of Wind, the Master of Rain, and the Master of Clouds. Different accounts of the myth tell that Hwangun either taught or took charge of 360 areas of responsibility, like agriculture and medicine. The story moves now to a bear and a tiger, both desiring to become human beings. Set the task of shunning sunlight and eating only the food given to them by Hwangun (some mugwort and twenty cloves of garlic), the bear succeeds in earning Hwangun’s approval while the tiger fails to fast, fleeing into the forest. The bear becomes a beautiful woman, Ungyo (bear woman) and becomes the wife of Hwangun. Their son is Tangun, the King of Sandalwood. Tangun becomes the first king of Korea, calling his country choson and ruling for 1500 years. After this time he retreats to Taebak-san to become a mountain god.
Though the myth of Tangun begins with an already existing earth, it still bears some resemblance to the later portions of other creation myths. Like Marduk in the Enuma Elish, Hwangun descends to earth to create a paragon of cities, the City of God. Like the Enuma Elish and the Theogeny the parentage of the heroic king Tangun is very important as with Marduk in Zeus. In other ways, the myth is very different, having a scholarly air in contrast to the violence and melodrama of the other myths. Unlike the Enuma Elish and the Theogeny, the myth of Tangun portrays divine forces as a civilizing influence, bringing law and culture to humanity. The heavenly prince neither kills nor overthrows anyone to gain his power over Korea. Instead he brings down loyal subjects and ministers to establish a working, exacting government and teaches humanity 360 different useful ways of working. Korea is not created violently, but with a comforting feeling of calm efficiency.”
“China is an ancient country full of mysteries and many Chinese deities and immortals can be found in China. The ancient Chinese believed in these gods, goddesses, magical beings, dragons, and ghosts and prayed to them for help. Below is a list of the 10 most famous Chinese gods and goddesses in Chinese mythology.
1. Guanyin 观音
Guanyin, also known as Guanyin Pusa, is Chinese “Goddess of Mercy”. She is considered to always help the distressed and hungry and gives comfort and aid wherever it is needed. Among all the Buddhist Bodhisattva, Guanyin is the most well-known one in China and liked by both young and old people.
2. Jade Emperor 玉皇大帝
Jade Emperor (or Yuhuang Dadi in mandarin Chinese) is considered the highest deity ruling the universe in Chinese Taoism. In Chinese mythological stories, he is the most powerful god and controls all gods from the Buddhist and Taoist and other religions. Jade Emperor is worshiped by ordinary Chinese people throughout all China.
3. Wangmu Niangniang 王母娘娘
Wangmu Niangniang, or the Queen Mother of the West, is the highest goddess and is the wife of the Jade Emperor in Taoism. She commands all female gods and is also a god of happiness and longevity and has magic pills which can make people live forever. She owns a Heavenly Peach Garden in which magic peach trees grow. The peach can make people perpetually young.
4. Yan Wang 阎王
Yan Wang is Chinese god of death who commands all the gods of the underworld. He has a filing book which records the life and death of every person. He gives appropriate punishment according to the conduct of each’s acts during his lifetime.
5. Long Wang (Dragon King) 龙王
Long Wang, or Dragon King, is the Chinese god of the sea. He rules his own royal court and commands all creatures in water. The Dragon King also controls the rain and winds and can bring rainfall to the earth according to the order of Jade Emperor.
6. Nüwa 女娲
Nüwa is the Chinese goddess who created human beings. It was said she molded yellow mud into a figure like her, which was then alive and became the first human being. Nüwa is also known for mending the sky with five-colored stones.
7. Nezha 哪吒
Nezha is a great teen deity in Chinese mythology. Nezha was most well-known for assisting Jiang Ziya against the Shang Dynasty in the 16th-century Chinese novel Fengsheng Yanyi. In Journey to the West, Nezha was a general of the heaven. She fought the Monkey King and helped him defeat powerful demons.
8. The Eight Immortals 八仙
The Eight Immortals
The Eight Immortals are a group of legendary immortals in Chinese mythology. Each Immortal has his/her own power tool to bestow life or destroy evil. They live on five islands in the east China’s Bohai Sea including the famous Penglai Island in Shandong province.
9. Caishen 财神
Caishen is god in charge of wealth in Chinese mythology. Chinese people especially businessmen often offer sacrifices to Caishen at home or shops, hoping to become richer with the help of this “Chinese god of money”. He is usually depicted in red clothes holding a golden rod.
10. Chang’e 嫦娥
Chang’e is the Chinese goddess of the Moon and the wife of Hou yi, a hero who shot nine suns in the ancient mythology of China. During the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn festival, Chinese people usually offer moon cakes and stare at the moon in hopes of seeing her.
Other Chinese gods and goddesses:
Yuelao 月老 – Chinese god of love
Fuxing 福星 – Chinese god of happiness
Gonggong 共工 – Chinese god of water
ZhuGeliang 诸葛亮 – Chinese god of wisdom
Tudiye 土地爷 – Chinese earth god
XieZhi 獬豸 – Chinese god of justice
Shennongshi 神农氏 – Chinese god of medicine
Jiutianxuannv 九天玄女 – Chinese goddess of war
Xihe 羲和 – Chinese god of sun”
“Hindus acknowledge that, at the most fundamental level, God is the One without a second — the absolute, formless, and only Reality known as Brahman, the Supreme, Universal Soul. Brahman is the universe and everything in it. Brahman has no form and no limits; it is Reality and Truth.
Thus Hinduism is a pantheistic religion: It equates God with the universe. Yet Hindu religion is also polytheistic: populated with myriad gods and goddesses who personify aspects of the one true God, allowing individuals an infinite number of ways to worship based on family tradition, community and regional practices, and other considerations.
Here are just some of the many Hindu gods and goddesses:
Brahma, the Creator
Brahma is the first member of the Hindu Trinity and is “the Creator” because he periodically creates everything in the universe. (The word periodically here refers to the Hindu belief that time is cyclical; everything in the universe — except for Brahman and certain Hindu scriptures — is created, maintained for a certain amount of time, and then destroyed in order to be renewed in ideal form again.)
Vishnu, the Preserver
Vishnu is the second member of the Hindu Trinity. He maintains the order and harmony of the universe, which is periodically created by Brahma and periodically destroyed by Shiva to prepare for the next creation.
Vishnu is worshipped in many forms and in several avatars (incarnations). Vishnu is an important, somewhat mysterious god. Less visible than nature gods that preside over elements (such as fire and rain), Vishnu is the pervader — the divine essence that pervades the universe. He is usually worshipped in the form of an avatar (see below).
Shiva, the Destroyer
Shiva is the third member of the Hindu Trinity, tasked with destroying the universe in order to prepare for its renewal at the end of each cycle of time. Shiva’s destructive power is regenerative: It’s the necessary step that makes renewal possible.
Hindus customarily invoke Shiva before the beginning of any religious or spiritual endeavor; they believe that any bad vibrations in the immediate vicinity of worship are eliminated by the mere utterance of his praise or name.
Ganapati, the Remover of Obstacles
Ganapati, also known as Ganesha, is Shiva’s first son. Lord Ganapati, who has an elephant head, occupies a very special place in the hearts of Hindus because they consider him the Remover of Obstacles. Most Hindu households have a picture or statue of this godhead, and it’s not uncommon to see small replicas of Ganapati hanging from rearview mirrors of cars and trucks!
Avatars of Vishnu
The literal meaning of the word avatar is “descent,” and it’s usually understood to mean divine descent. Avatars are savior forms of a god that descend to earth to intervene whenever help is needed to restore dharma (moral order) and peace. Two of Vishnu’s ten avatars are Rama and Krishna.
Rama is one of the most beloved Hindu gods and is the hero of the Hindu epic called the Ramayana. He is portrayed as an ideal son, brother, husband, and king and as a strict adherent to dharma. Millions of Hindus derive satisfaction from reading and recalling Rama’s trials and tribulations as a young prince who was exiled from his kingdom for 14 years.
If one Hindu god’s name is known and recognized throughout the world, it is Krishna. Hindus identify Krishna as the teacher of the sacred scripture called the Bhagavad Gita and as the friend and mentor of prince Arjuna in the epic the Mahabharata.
For his devotees, Krishna is a delight, full of playful pranks. But most of all, Lord Krishna’s promise to humanity that he will manifest himself and descend to earth whenever dharma declines has sustained Hindu belief in the Supreme Being over thousands of years.
Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning
Saraswati is the consort of Brahma the Creator and is worshipped as the goddess of learning, wisdom, speech, and music. Hindus offer prayer to Saraswati before beginning any intellectual pursuit, and Hindu students are encouraged to offer prayers to her during the school/college term and especially before and during examinations.
Lakshmi is the goddess of good fortune, wealth, and well-being. As the consort of Vishnu, she plays a role in every incarnation. (She is Sita, wife of Rama; Rukmini, wife of Krishna; and Dharani, wife of Parashu Rama, another avatar of Vishnu.)
Durga Devi is a powerful, even frightening goddess who fights fiercely in order to restore dharma (moral order). Yet, while Durga is terrifying to her adversaries, she is full of compassion and love for her devotees.
Indra, the King of Heaven and lord of the gods
Indra wields a thunderbolt and is a protector and provider of rain.
Surya, the sun
Surya (or Soorya) is a golden warrior arriving on a chariot pulled by seven white horses.
Agni, the fire god
Agni holds a special place in Hindu fire ritual to this day as the sacrificer (the priest who performs the ceremony); the sacrifice (the ritual fire and the offerings made into it); and the witness to all rites.
Hanuman, the monkey king and devoted servant
Hanuman is featured in the great Hindu epic the Ramayana. He earned his path to deification by performing feats of strength, devotion, and courage while helping Rama (an avatar of Vishnu) in countless exciting incidents.”
“Tawa (also spelled Taiowa, Taawa, and other ways): The Hopi sun god. According to Hopi mythology, Tawa was the first being in existence.
Sotuknang (also spelled Sootukwnangw and other ways): Nephew of Tawa and creator of the universe under his uncle’s direction.
Koyangwuti (also known as Kookyangwso’wuuti): Spider Woman, the special benefactor of the Hopi tribe. She created humans from clay (with the assistance of Sotuknang and/or Tawa), and was also responsible for leading them to the Fourth World (the present Earth.) Her Hopi name is pronounced similar to koh-kyang-woo-tee or koh-kyang-so-woo-tee, and in English she is sometimes known as Old Spider Woman or Spider Grandmother.
Kokopelli (also spelled Kookopölö, Kokopele, Kokopeli, and many other ways.) This is the best-known of the Hopi kachina spirits, a fertility spirit associated with the robberfly (pölö in Hopi), represented in dance and art as a well-endowed humpbacked man.
Kachinas (also spelled Katsinas, Katsinam, Katsinim, and other ways): This is a collective Hopi term for supernatural spirit beings, revered by the Hopi and other Pueblo peoples. There are hundreds of different Hopi katsina spirits; some of the most important include Eototo (weather spirit and chief of the kachinas), Angwusnasomtaka (Crow Mother, mother figure of all the kachinas), Kokopelli (the fertility spirit), Koshari (a sacred clown), Mongwa (owl spirit and enforcer of the law,) Angak’china (Long Haired kachina, a spirit of rain and flowers), and Mana (corn maidens, spirits of agriculture.) Kachina spirits are channeled by the Hopi in sacred dances with elaborate ritual dance costumes, and figurines of these sacred dancers are carved from cottonwood root (see our Hopi kachinas art page for pictures of these kachina figurines and links to traditional Hopi artists selling them.)
Cheveyo (also spelled Tseeveyo, Chaveyo, Chevayo, and other ways): An ogre kachina, often used as a bogeyman to frighten naughty children.”
“Before the beginning of time, there was Ginnungagap – a bottomless abyss, which separated the icy land of Niflheim and the fiery land of Muspelheim. These two realms rose in power and clashed; the burning frost turned into water drops and the water drops turned into life.
The first living being was Ymir, a hermaphroditic giant who was created from those life-giving drops of water and whose death was brought about by Odin and his brothers. Odin, Vili, and Vé, Ymir’s descendants, fashioned the Nordic mythological universe from his blood, bones, flesh, teeth, hair, eyelashes, brains and skull.
The Norse gods belong to two major clans: Æsir and Vanir. Odin, Frigg, Thor, Loki, Balder, Hod, Heimdall and Tyr are the most elevated representatives of Æsir and are known as the main gods. The second clan, Vanir, contains the fertility gods and count Njord, Freyr, and Freyja as their most notable members. Despite the antagonism between them, it was necessary for the two families to combine their powers and ideals for all to prosper.
The Norse Gods & Goddesses Odin
The supreme deity of Norse mythology and the greatest among the Norse gods was Odin, the Allfather of the Aesir. He was the awe-inspiring ruler of Asgard, and most revered immortal, who was on an unrelenting quest for knowledge with his two ravens, two wolves and the Valkyries. He is the god of war and, being delightfully paradoxical, the god of poetry and magic. He is famous for sacrificing one of his eyes in order to be able to see the cosmos more clearly and his thirst for wisdom saw him hang from the World Tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and nine nights until he was blessed with the knowledge of the runic alphabet. His unyielding nature granted him the opportunity to unlock numerous mysteries of the universe.
Odin’s wife, Frigg, was a paragon of beauty, love, fertility and fate. She was the mighty queen of Asgard, a venerable Norse goddess, who was gifted with the power of divination, and yet, was surrounded by an air of secrecy. She was the only goddess allowed to sit next to her husband. Frigg was a very protective mother, so she took an oath from the elements, beasts, weapons and poisons, that they would not injure her brilliant and loving son, Balder. Her trust was betrayed by Loki, a most deceitful god.
Frigg and Odin are the parents of Balder, who was described as living between heaven and earth. Balder was the epitome of radiance, beauty, kindness and fairness. He was believed to be immortal, but he was killed with mistletoe – the golden bough that contained both his life and his death.
Loki was a mischievous god who could shape-shift and can take up animalistic forms. He conceived a scheme to cause the death of Balder. Upon learning that mistletoe was the only thing that could hurt Balder, he placed a branch into the hands of the blind god, Hod, and tricked him into throwing it at Balder, killing him.
Thor was Odin’s most widely-known son. He was the protector of humanity and the powerful god of thunder who wielded a hammer named Mjöllnir. Among the Norse gods, he was known for his bravery, strength, healing powers and righteousness.
Freya was one of the most sensual and passionate goddesses in Norse mythology. She was associated with much of the same qualities as Frigg: love, fertility and beauty. She was the sister of Freyr.
Freyr was the god of fertility and one of the most respected gods for the Vanir clan. Freyr was a symbol of prosperity and pleasant weather conditions. He was frequently portrayed with a large phallus.
Heimdall, known as the ‘shiniest’ of all gods due to him having the ‘whitest skin’, was a son of Odin who sat atop the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge that connects Asgard, the world of the Aesir tribe of gods, with Midgard, the world of humanity) and remained forever on alert; guarding Asgard against attack.
Hel was the goddess and ruler of the Norse underworld of the same name (also known as Helheim). She has pale skin and appears to be death-like. She nurtures and houses any who enter her realm.
Vidar was another son of the supreme god and Grid (a giantess), and his powers were matched only by that of Thor.
Vale was the son of Odin who avenged Balder’s death by killing Hod, the god who pierced Balder with mistletoe.
The richness of the Norse mythology and folklore continues to mesmerise people of all ages and backgrounds. Immersed in the sagas, we let our imagination go wild, as we learn of old worlds and consider new and exciting interpretations.”
“In 1325 AD, the Aztec people moved to an island in Lake Texcoco to set up their capital, Tenochtitlán. The story goes that they saw an eagle holding a rattlesnake in its talons, perched on a cactus.
Believing this vision was a prophesy sent by the god Huitzilopochtli, they decided to build their new home on that exact site. And so the city of Tenochtitlán was founded.
To this day, this story of their great migration from their legendary home of Aztalan is pictured on the coat of arms of Mexico.
It is clear, then, that mythology and religion played a key role in Aztec culture.
The Aztecs believed in a complex and diverse pantheon of gods and goddesses. In fact, scholars have identified more than 200 deities within Aztec religion.
The Aztec gods were divided into three groups, each supervising one aspect of the universe: weather, agriculture and warfare.
Here are 8 of the most important Aztec gods and goddesses.
Huitzilopochtli – ‘The Hummingbird of the South’
Huitzilopochtli was the father of the Aztecs and the supreme god for the Méxica. His nagual or animal spirit was the eagle.
Unlike many other Aztec deities, Huitzilopochtli was intrinsically a Mexica deity with no clear equivalent in earlier Mesoamerican cultures.
He was also the patron of war and the sun, and of Tenochtitlán. This intrinsically tied up the “hunger” of gods with the Aztec penchant for ritual war.
His shrine sat on top of the pyramid of Templo Mayor in the Aztec capital, and was decorated with skulls and painted red to represent blood.
In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli was engaged in a sibling rivalry with his sister and the goddess of the moon, Coyolxauhqui. And so the sun and the moon were in a constant battle for control of the sky.
Huitzilopochtli was believed to be accompanied by the spirits of fallen warrior, whose spirits would return to earth as hummingbirds, and the spirits of women who died during childbirth.
Tezcatlipoca – ‘The Smoking Mirror’
Huitzilopochtli’s rival as the most important Aztec god was Tezcatlipoca: god of the nocturnal sky, of ancestral memory, and of time. His nagual was the jaguar.
Tezcatlipoca was one of the most important gods in post-classic Mesoamerican culture and the supreme deity for the Toltecs – Nahua-speaking warriors from the north.
Aztecs believed that Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca together created the world. However Tezcatlipoca represented an evil power, often associated with death and cold.
The eternal antithesis of his brother Quetzalcóatl, the lord of the night carries with him an obsidian mirror. In Nahuatl, his name translates to “smoking mirror”.
Quetzalcoatl – ‘The Feathered Serpent’
Tezcatlipoca’s brother Quetzalcoatl was the god of winds and rain, intelligence and self-reflection. He plays a key role in other Mesoamerican cultures such as Teotihuacan and the Maya.
His nagual was a mix of bird and rattlesnake, his name combining the Nahuatl words for quetzal (“the emerald plumed bird”) and coatl (“serpent”).
As the patron of science and learning, Quetzalcoatl invented the calendar and books. He was also identified with the planet Venus.
With his dog-headed companion Xolotl, Quetzalcoatl was said to have descended to the land of death to gather the bones of the ancient dead.
He then infused the bones with his own blood, regenerating.
Coatlicue – ‘The Serpent Skirt’
Venerated as the “mother of gods and mortals”, Coatlicue was the feminine god who gave birth to the stars and moon.
Her face was made up of two fanged serpents, her skirt of interwoven snakes and she wore a necklace of hands, hearts and a skull.
Coatlicue was as feared as she was beloved, symbolising the antiquity of earth worship and of childbirth. She was also associated with warfare, governance and agriculture.
In Aztec mythology, Coatlicue was a priestess who was sweeping a shrine on the legendary sacred mountain Coatepec, when a ball of feathers fell from the sky and impregnated her.
Tonatiuh was the sun god, depicted as a symbolic sun disk, or sometimes as a squatting man with a disk on his back.
Tonatiuh was a nourishing deity who required sacrificial blood to provide warmth to the people. He was also the patron of warriors.
In many post-classic Mesoamerican cultures, the hearts of sacrificial victims were seen as symbolic nourishment for the sun.
Tonatiuh was the god most associated with ritual sacrifice; he needed the nourishment to defeat darkness on a daily basis.
Soldiers would be tasked with defeating and rounding up prisoners of war, many of which would be chosen as sacrificial victims for him.
Tlaloc – ‘He Who Makes Things Sprout’
The enigmatic god of rain, Tlaloc was represented wearing a mask with large round eyes and long fangs. He bore a striking familiarity to Chac, the Maya rain god.
Tlaloc was seen both as a benevolent deity, providing life-giving rain to crops, but also as an unforgiving and destructive being who sent storms and drought.
He was associated with any rain-related meteorological events, such as storms, floods, lightning, ice and snow.
He also ruled the other-worldly paradise of Thalocan, which hosted the victims of floods, storms and diseases such as leprosy.
Tlaloc’s main shrine was the second shrine after Huitzilopochtli’s, on top of the Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan.
Chalchiuhtlicue – ‘She Who Wears a Green Skirt’
The wife (or sometimes sister) of Tlaloc, Chalchiuhtlicue was the goddess of running water and all aquatic elements.
Like other water deities, Chalchiuhtlicue was often associated with serpents. She was mostly depicted wearing a green or blue skirt from which flows a stream of water.
Chalchiuhtlicue was also the patroness of childbirth and a protector of newborn babies.
In Aztec mythology, she played a key role in the Mexica version of the deluge myth. However, despite bringing forth a cataclysmic flood, she transformed humans into fish – thereby saving them.
The festival of Chalchiuhtlicue usually involved rituals such as fasting, feasting, bloodletting and brutal human sacrifice – sometimes even including that of women and children.
Xipe Totec – ‘Our Lord the Flayed One’
The god of agricultural fertility, Xipe Totec was usually represented wearing a flayed human skin symbolising the death of the old and the growth of new vegetation.
The gruesome-sounding Nahuatl moniker originated from the legend where the Aztec god flayed his own skin to feed humanity.
Xipe Totec was usually venerated with human sacrifice, carried out during the March festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli – which literally translates as “flaying of men”.
A prisoner would be tied to a stone and given a macuahuitl – a wooden club with obsidian blades – made of feathers instead of knives – and made to ‘fight’ an Aztec warrior.
His skin would then be ritually flayed and worn by reenactors of Xipe Totec who were then worshipped and treated as gods.
These reenactors would then be killed and have their hearts cut out, their skins worn by Aztec priests for 20 days and then shed to represent the rebirth aspect of Xipe Totec.”
“There were over 250 deities in the pantheon of the Maya and, owing to the mass burning of their books by Bishop Diego de Landa in 1562, much information about the gods (and Maya culture) was irretrievably lost. The Quiche Mayan religious text, the Popol Vuh, gives one set of names for the gods which the Yucatec Maya knew by other names.
Some gods remain unidentified while others’ provenance is unclear or has become conflated with still other deities or with Christian concepts. Scholars are hardly in agreement over the age and prestige of the `king’ of the gods, Hunab Ku, for example, whom some claim an ancient lineage for while others maintain a post-conquest status. Some scholars adamantly defend their definition of a certain god while other scholars maintain an opposing one and there is strong evidence for the truth of both sides. The following list, then, is by no means comprehensive as far as defining every god the ancient Maya worshipped in every region, village, or city but attempts to be comprehensive in detailing as much as is presently known about the gods and hopes to do so concisely.
`A’ A Maya god of death whose name is not yet known. He is depicted ruling a part of the underworld surrounded by the bones of his subjects. His symbols are a skull and obsidian knife, both related to the practice of human sacrifice.
Acan The god of intoxication, wine, and the art of brewing Balche (a kind of strong mead). His name means either `belch’ or `groan’ and he is associated with the Lacandon Maya god of drunkenness Bohr (also known as Bol).
Acat The god of the art of tattooing and patron of tattoo artists, Acat is also associated with the growth and development of fetuses. He is further designated by the names Acat-Cib and Ah – Kat.
Ah-Bolom-Tzacab The leaf-nosed god of agriculture (also known as Ah-Bolon-Dz’acab).
Ah-Cancum A god of hunting.
Ah-Chun-Caan A tutelary deity, he provided protection at sunrise and sunset.
Ah-Chuy-Kat A minor god of war whose name means Fire Destroyer.
Ah-Ciliz The god of solar eclipses.
Ah-Cun-Can A war god known as the Serpent Charmer.
Ah-Cuxtal The god of birth. His name means `Come to Life’ and he was responsible for the safe delivery of babies into the earthly realm, both physically and spiritually. After a birth he would wash his hands and then move on to the next one.
Ahau-Chamahez One of two great gods of medicine and healing (with Cit-Bolon-Tun) known as the Lord of the Magic Tooth.
Ahluic The god of merchants and material wealth often depicted as a member of a triad, with the deities Chac and Hobnil.
Ahmucen-Cab A creator god who, according to the Chilam Balam creation story, covered the faces of the thirteen gods of the day and let them be captured by the nine gods of the night. During this captivity, he spread seeds and set boulders across the land which grew out of the darkness. This act of creation was later un-done and re-worked by the Becabs.
Ah-Hulneb A minor god of water.
Ah-Kin A deity who is an aspect of the sun god (Kinich Ahau) and controls drought and disease (also known as Ah-Kinchil).
Ah-Kumix-Unicob These were minor water gods who attended to Cenotes and pools.
Ah-Mun A god of fertility and protection who was also a personification of Maize.
Ah-Muzencab The deities who presided over and cared for bees. They are also associated with air elemental spirits.
Ah-Patnar-Unicob These deities were elemental gods of water. They were the lords of the Eight Day Rain Ceremony during which they were celebrated.
Ah-Pekku A god of thunder.
Ah-Puch A god of death, darkness, and disaster but also of regeneration, child birth, and beginnings. According to the Quiche Maya, he ruled over Metnal (Xibalba) while according to the Yucatec Maya he was one of many of the Lords of Xibalba. He is associated with Cizen, Yom Cimil/Yum Cimil (though Cizen seems to consistently be imagined more darkly).
Ah-Tabai The god of the hunt and protector of animals.
Ah-Uaynih The goddess of sleep. She was especially helpful in putting men to sleep.
Ah-Uncir-Dz’acab The god of natural healing.
Ah-Uuc-Ticab A Chthonic deity.
Ah-Wink-Ir-Masa A nature goddess who protected wild animals, she is associated with deer.
Ah-Xoc-Xin The god of poetry and music, he was an aspect of the sun god Kinich Ahau.
Ahau-Chamahez A god of medicine and healing.
Ahau-Kin An aspect of the sun god also known as Jaguar Lord and Lord of the Underworld.
Ahmakiq A god of agriculture and cultivated crops.
Ahulane A war god associated with archery and known as The Archer.
Ajbit One of the thirteen gods who assisted in the creation of human beings from Maize following two previous failed attempts.
Ajtzak One of the thirteen gods involved in the attempts to create human beings.
Akhushtal The goddess of childbirth.
Akna A title applied to Akhushtal, among other goddesses, which means `Our Mother’, and was closely associated with those deities concerned with fertility and childbirth.
Alaghom-Naom-Tzentel The goddess of thought and intellect. She was also known as Ixtat-Ix.
Alom One of the thirteen gods who participated in the creation of human beings. After the successful third attempt, he became known as Hunahpu-Guch.
Bacabs The four gods of the winds and the directions who hold up the four corners of the world. In Yucatec Maya they are known as Muluc (of the east) Kan (of the south) Ix (of the north) and Cauac (of the west). Muluc and Kan generated positive energies while Ix and Cauac brought negative forces. This confluence of negative and positive energy enabled the early gods to create human beings and the physical and non-physical worlds. They are associated with the deities Acat, Akna, Backlum Chamm, and Chin.
Backlum Chaam One of the Bacabs or an aspect of the Bacabs, he is the god of male sexuality.
B’alam The Jaguar deities who protect individual communities against external threat. They also guard and protect people in daily life.
The B’alams In the Quiche Maya tradition the Balams were the four gods who made possible the creation of man after two previous failed attempts. They were known as B’alam Agab (Night Jaguar) B’alam Quitze (Smiling Jaguar) Iqi B’alam (Dark Jaguar) and Mahucatah (Not Right Now). According to one myth, their fellow gods grew jealous of their abilities and so clouded their sight, rendering them mortal.
Bitol One of the thirteen gods who participated in the creation of human beings. After the successful third attempt, he became known as Ixmacane (he is the early version of Ixmacane, a later god).
Bolon-D’zacab The lightning god and patron of the harvest.
Bolontiku A group of nine chthonic beings of the underworld, they were associated with regeneration.
Buluc-Chabtan Also known as `God F’, this deity is the god of war, violence and death to whom human beings were sacrificed regularly. In the Dresden Codices he is depicted as being eaten by maggots. He is further depicted setting homes on fire, killing people, and roasting them on skewers over a fire.
Cabaguil One of the thirteen gods who assisted in the creation of human beings. His name means `Heart of the Sky’.
Cabrakan Also known as Caprakan, he was the god of earthquakes and mountains. He was the son of the gods Vucub Caquix and Chimalmat and plays a significant role early in the Popol Vuh where he is defeated by the Hero Twins as is his brother Zipacna.
Cacoch A creator god who presides over creativity and communication (especially relating to divine communications).
Cakulha A lesser god of lightning bolts who, with his brother Coyopa, assist the supreme god of lightning, Yaluk, in creating the storms sent by the rain god Chac.
Camalotz The servant of Alom who, after the second attempt at creation, beheaded most of the people in the world in order that the gods could begin again. His name means `Sudden Blood-letter’.
Camazotz The bat god of Xibalba who feeds on blood. In the Popol Vuh he tears off the head of one of the Hero Twins, Hun Hunahpu, who is then revived by his brother. Camazotz was then defeated and cast out of creation.
Camaxtli The Maya god of fate who was known to the Aztecs as Mixcoatl or Mixcoatl-Camaxtli. He was associated with war, hunting, and creation and was credited with bringing fire to earth.
Caprakan See Cabrakan
Cauac One of the four Bacabs, Cauac controls the westerly direction and the west wind. Also known as Zac-Cimi.
Chac The supreme god of storms and rain and associated with agriculture and fertility. He was known as the Lord of the Rains and Winds and maintained important water sources such as cenotes, wells, streams, and springs. He was widely popular and prayers and sacrifices were frequently offered to court his favor and that of the four, lesser, chacs. A lord of the sky, he was the sworn enemy of Camazotz of Xibalba and was thought of as a caring, if unpredictable, deity.
Chacs These were four weather spirits, located at each of the corners of the world, who were under the command of the great god Chac and did his bidding.
Chac-Uayab-Xoc The protector of fish and patron of fisherman.
Chamer One of the gods of death and regeneration of Xibalba.
Chen Also known as Chin, she was the goddess of maize, magic, and a councilor to the kings. She was also closely associated with homo-erotic relationships and homosexuality. According to the priest Las Cassas, she introduced homosexuality to the Maya nobles who encouraged their children to enter into homosexual marriages. She is associated with the moon and, sometimes, is depicted as a male deity.
Chicchan These were four rain gods, from the four corners of the world, who were associated with the Bacabs.
Chin Widely known as the Maya goddess of homosexuality. See Chen.
Chirakan-Ixmucane A creator goddess who was formed out of four earlier creators and listed among the thirteen divinities who first engaged in the creation of human beings.
Cit-Bolon-Tum One of two great healer gods (with Ahau-Chamahez).
Cizin Also known as, or associated with, the names Kisen, Yom Cimil, Yum Cimil, and Ah Puch, he was a god of death who lived in Xibalba (Metnal to the Quiche Maya) and is often pictured as a dancing human skeleton smoking a cigarette. He is further identified by his `death collar’ of human eyes dangling from nerve endings. Cizin came upon one suddenly and without warning but was accompanied by a foul smell and so was called `The Stinking One’. Unlike the other death god aspects with whom he is associated, Cizin is not associated with regeneration or re-birth. He keeps the souls of evil people in the underworld where they are subjected to his torments and trickery. Post-conquest, he became closely identified with the Christian devil.
Colel Cab An earth goddess who cares especially for the bees. She is still invoked by modern-day Maya Daykeepers in chants to ward off attacks on nests, remedy nest problems, and aid hive keepers with their bees.
Colop-U-Uichikin God of the sky and particularly of eclipses.
Cotzbalam A servant of Alom who followed after Camalotz after the failed second attempt at creation and devoured the bodies of the people who were beheaded. His name means`Crunching Jaguar’.
Coyopa A lesser god of sound and of thunder who works with his brother Cakulha under the guidance of the supreme god lightning, Yaluk, to create the storms sent by the rain god Chac.
Cuchumaquic A lord of Xibalba whose name means `Blood Gatherer’. He is the father of the goddess Xquic and grandfather of the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque.
Cum Hau A god of death and regeneration who lived in Xibalba.
`E’ An agricultural god whose name is not yet known.
Ekchuah A god also known as Ek Ahau and, earlier, as only `God M’. He presides over and protects travelers, merchants, and warriors and is depicted as a dark-skinned male carrying a bag over his shoulder. He is also recognized as the patron and protector of cacao and cacao products.
El Gran Dios `The Great God’ who was the god of the Christians and dwelled in the seventh level above the earth. In some stories he is associated with Hunab Ku. This figure is a late, post-conquest, addition to the Maya pantheon
`F’ A god of war associated with human sacrifice and repeated victories over Ekchuah. He is also known as Buluc-Chabtan. See Buluc-Chabtan.
Four Hundred Boys Considered to be patron deities of alcohol and, later, the Pleiades. In the Popol Vuh, the Four Hundred Boys were youths who wished to build a hut on the beach but could not lift the massive tree they had cut down to use as the main support column. They asked the giant Zipacna, who was reclining nearby, for help. Zipacna agreed to use his great strength to move the tree but mocked the boys for their weakness and their inability to do so themselves. The boys agreed together that Zipacna should be killed but he overheard their plan, tricked them into thinking he was dead, and killed them. They ascended into the heavens and may be seen today as the star cluster known as the Pleiades. Zipacna was later killed by the Hero Twins.
Gucumatz This god is one of the most important, if not the most important, in the pantheon of the Maya. The name Gucumatz (also Gukumatz) is the Quiche Maya designation for the god known to the Yucatec Maya as Kukulcan and most famously, in the Nahuatl language, as Quetzalcoatl (`the plumed serpent’ or `the quetzal-featherd serpent’) who was worshipped as early as the first century BCE at the great city of Teotihuacan. Gucumatz is identified as one of thirteen deities who shaped the world and created human beings. From Gucumatz, humans learned the rules of law, agriculture, literacy, the arts, medicine, architecture, construction, hunting, fishing, and all other aspects of civilization. He is said to have come from the sea, conveyed to the people his gifts and ruled wisely over them, and then returned to the sea, promising to come back one day. The god of all four elements, he was also the representation of the co-mingling of good and evil, light and darkness, and so became a central figure in many of the myths of the Maya and popularly depicted, in various forms, in virtually every city-state. As Kukulcan, he is the great plumed serpent who glides down the steps of El Castillo at Chichen Itza on the spring and autumn equinoxes and is thought to bring positive energy to the earth and to those present at his descent.
Gucup Cakix This deity, also known as Vucub-Caquix (which means `Seven Macaw’) is depicted in the Popol Vuh as an arrogant bird demon who pretended to be both the sun and the moon and thus threw life out of balance until he was defeated by Hunahpu and Xbalanque, the Hero Twins. He was the father of Cabrakan and Zipacna who were also overthrown by the famous twins.
Hacha’kyum An astral god who created the stars by scattering sand into the sky. He was the patron deity of the Lacandon Maya.
Hapikern An adversarial deity, Hapikern is the world-girdling serpent who is perpetually at war with his brother, Nohochacyum, the great god of creation and protection, and is fated to be destroyed by that god in a final battle. His other brothers are Usukun, Uyitzin, and Yantho, all three of whom are haters of humanity, and also the brother of Xamaniqinqu, the god of merchants and travelers.
Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque (also given as Ixbalanque) are the two great mythical heroes of the Maya whose story is preserved in the Quiche Maya work `The Popol Vuh’. They were born of the virgin goddess Xquic after the severed head of their father, Hun Hunahpu, spit into her hand from a calabash tree in the underworld of Xibalba. Raised by their mother and grandmother the twins became great ball players, excelling at `the game of the gods’, Poc-a-Toc. Once attaining manhood, they avenged themselves on the Lords of Xibalba, who had murdered their father and uncle, by accepting their invitation to the underworld where a series of traps and tests awaited them. They escaped the traps and snares set for them and defeated the forces of chaos and darkness. They then attempted to bring Hun Hunahpu back to life and, though they succeeded in putting his body back together and reanimating him, he could not return to the earth above. The twins promised him, however, that humans would pray to him for hope and comfort and he would be remembered and honored. The promise was kept as Hun Hunahpu became the Maize god, a dying-and-reviving god figure, who appears on earth as corn. Ascending from Xibalba, they meant to stop in the middle world of the earth but continued climbing up the World Tree and into paradise where, even then, they desired to climb higher and so became the sun and the moon (in another version the gods reward them for their victory by turning them into the sun and the moon). The Hero Twins have been thought to represent the legitimacy of the Maya ruling class, though this theory has been disputed. There is no doubt that their story was very popular among the Maya as the twins are depicted in art work throughout the region, often playing their famous game. Based upon these paintings, it seems clear there were many tales concerning the hero twins which have been lost and the Popol Vuh is the only surviving text of their story.
Hobnil A god of agriculture and prosperity and a member of a triad with the deities Ahluic and Chac.
Hozanek A god of the south, associated with the Bacab Cauac and the color yellow. He is a son of the great couple Itzamna and Ixchel.
Hun-Batz One of the two stepbrothers of the Hero Twins (the other being Hun-Chowen) also known as `One Howler Monkey’ and depicted as a howler monkey. Along with his brother, he is the patron god of artists and writers.
Hun-Came Also known as Hun-Cane, he is a lord of the underworld who, along with Gucup Cakix, kill Hun Hunahpu, the father of the Hero Twins. He is later killed by them.
Hun-Chowen One of the two stepbrothers of the Hero Twins (the other being Hun-Batz) he is depicted as a howler monkey. Along with his brother, he is the patron god of artists and writers.
Hunab-Ku While Gucumatz was the most popular god, Hunab-Ku is considered the supreme deity of the pantheon of the Maya, known as `Sole God’. While some scholars have asserted his antiquity, he seems most likely a concept which arose following the Christianization of the Maya during the Spanish Conquest and closely resembles the Christian god. He is invisible and without form but can be apprehended through his aspect in the god Itzamna, referred to as his son. Hunab-Ku is the husband of Ixazalvoh, the divine mother, associated with water, life, and weaving. Some inscriptions refer to him as `The Eyes and Ears of the Sun’ in substantiating the claim that, like the Christian god, he is ubiquitous and knows all.
Hun-Hunahpu Also known as The Maize God, Huh Hunahpu died but was regenerated by his sons, and returns to life as maize (corn) and so is identified as a dying-and-reviving god figure. The father of the great Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque. Hun-Hunahpu and his twin brother, Vucub Hunahpu, were demi-gods who, after the creation of the world, became proficient in the `ball game of the gods’, Poc-a-Toc. The lords of Xibalba, beneath the earth, became enraged by the noise of the twins and so devised a plan to get rid of them. They invited the young men to the underworld to play a game of Poc-a Toc. Before the game could begin, however, the twins were tricked by the Xibalbans and killed. Hun-Hunahpu’s head was placed in the axis of a calabash tree which grew heavy with strange fruit. The young virgin Xquiq came upon the tree and, reaching for the fruit, was asked by the head to open her palm. Hun Hunahpu’s head spat into the maiden’s hand and she became pregnant with Hunahpu and Xbalanque. The head then sent the girl to live with his mother, Xumucane.
Hunahpu One of the great Hero Twins who feature prominently in the myths of the Maya and in the text of the Quiche work, the Popol Vuh. Son of Hun Hunahpu amd Xquiq, Hunahpu is the god of the evening who restores the stars to the sky and, with his brother, Xbalanque, defeated the lords of Xibalba and created order on the earth. He is associated with the sun and, in some myths, is the sun himself.
Hunahpu-Gutch The name which the god Alom took after the successful third attempt at creating human beings.
Hunahpu-Utiu A deity among the original thirteen who assisted in the creation of human beings.
Hun-Nal-Ye A god of salt water and the sea who was the patron of sharks.
Huracan Also known as `Heart of the Sky’ and `One-Leg’, Huracan is a storm god. In the Popol Vuh he is the supreme creator of earth who thinks existence into being, participates in the creation of human beings, and sends the great flood to destroy his inferior creations. He is further referred to as Lord of the Whirlwind and credited as one of the gods (sometimes the sole god) to give fire to humans.
`I’ An early goddess of water presiding over the sea, springs, and wells whose name is unknown but is thought possibly to be `Ixik’.
Itzamna Considered the founder of the Maya culture, patron and protector of priests and scribes, Itzamna is an extremely important and popular god. Like Gucumatz, he taught the people the arts of literacy, medicine, science, art, sculpture, and agriculture. He created and ordered the calendar and instructed humans in the proper cultivation of maize and cacao. He is a creator and healer who can resurrect the dead. In later, post-Colombian writings, he is referred to as the son of Hunab-Ku and takes on many of the characteristics associated with the Christ figure. He is associated with the prophet Zamna, who brought the sacred writings to the city of Izamal on the command of the great goddess and also with Kinich Ahau, the sun god. In one myth he is the father of the Bacabs.
Itzam-Ye Also known as Itzam-Yeh, The Serpent Bird, The Celestial Bird, and The Way of Itzamna, Itzam-Ye was a deity in bird form which nested in the axis of the great Ceiba tree, the World Tree, which connected the underworld with the middle world (earth) and upper world. From its perch, Itzam-Ye could see all of creation and knew all the secrets of all three planes of existence. Images of the bird god in the sacred tree have been found throughout many Maya sites and, usually, engraved on temples and shrines where the Daykeepers would chant and cast the spells which protected the world from chaos and maintained order. Itzam-Ye was considered a master of the spiritual world and well versed in what, today, would be considered sorcery and magical arts.
Ixazaluoh A goddess associated with water and weaving.
Ixazalvoh The Divine mother and consort of Hunab-Ku, Ixazalvoh is the goddess of water, life, and weaving. She also presides over female sexuality and childbirth and is known for her powers in healing. Her oracles were considered important conduits for divine messages for the people.
Ixbalanque One of the great Hero Twins whose adventures are told in the Popol Vuh. See Xbalanque.
Ixchel Known popularly today as `the rainbow goddess’ because her name could be translated as `Lady Rainbow’, Ixchel is associated with many different aspects of life and cosmology. Although images of her in modern times almost universally depict her as an attractive young woman with long, dark hair seated on, or near, a rainbow, ancient Maya images consistently portray her as an old, plump woman with sharp features and jaguar ears, often wearing a headpiece with a live serpent springing forth and carrying a water jug. Ixchel has been associated with the so-called `goddess O’ of the Dresden Codex, obviously a rain deity, and so is thought to be a goddess of the rain, perhaps a consort of Chac. She is, however, also associated with war as she is sometimes depicted in ancient images with claws and surrounded by or adorned with bones. Diego de Landa reported that she was the “goddess of making children” and also of medicine. Evidence suggests that Daykeepers and physicians consulted with Ixchel in their arts but, at the same time, she is associated through other evidence with the moon and mutability and, further, with weaving and the arts. According to a Verapaz myth, she was the consort of Itzamna and bore him thirteen sons. Whatever her main provenance was, it is certain that she was greatly venerated by women and, especially, those who were pregnant or wished to become so. Her shrine on the island of Cozumel was extremely popular and became one of the most important pilgrimage sites for the ancient Maya. The island which Cortez named the Isla Mujeres (Island of women) was so designated because of the number of goddess statues found there, Ixchel among them. Shrines to Ixchel may still be seen throughout the Yucatan today, especially on Cozumel, where her image has become conflated with that of the Virgin Mary and the two now share the veneration and prayers of the women who continue to make the pilgrimage to the island.
Ixcuiname The goddess of the four ages of womankind (though whether this means four time periods in which women have existed or the four stages in a woman’s life of child, maiden, mother, crone is unclear). Her name is interpreted as `Four Sisters’ or `Four Faces’. She has been associated with the four creator gods Alom, Bitol, Qaholom, and Tzacol and, through this relationship, became known as Chirakan-Ixmucane, one of the thirteen deities who created human beings.
Ixmacane One of the thirteen gods who participated in the creation of human beings, his name is the final form of the deity originally called Bitol (although the same name has been applied to other gods in their `final form’ following creation).
Ixmucane One of the thirteen gods who participated in the creation of human beings according to one version of the myth. Also a version of the name Xumucane, the grandmother of the famous hero twins, who, with her husband, Xpiayoc, created humans from maize and are considered the oldest and wisest deities in the Maya pantheon.
Ixpiyacoc The name of the creator god Tzacol who, after the successful third attempt at creating human beings split into two separate entities and became both Tzacol and Ixpiyacoc. Also a variant spelling of Xpiayoc, the husband of Xumucane, who helped in creating humans from maize.
Ixtab Also known as `Rope Woman’, Ixtab was the goddess of suicides and, particularly, those who died by hanging. She is depicted as the rotting corpse of a woman hanging from a noose in the heavens which appears in the Dresden Codex. As suicide was considered an honorable alternative to living among the Maya, self-inflicted death guaranteed one an instant passage to paradise, by-passing the dark and dangerous underworld of Xibalba. Ixtab would escort the souls of suicides to paradise where they would enjoy eternal pleasure surrounded by other blessed souls such as those who died in battle, in childbirth, as sacrificial victims, or on the ball court playing Poc-a-Toc.
Ix-Tub-Tun A serpent deity who spits precious stones and is associated with rain.
`K’ The name by which the god K’awi (or K’awiil) was formerly known. K’awai is the patron god of royalty, kingship, and the nobility.
Kan One of the principal Becabs, Kan known as the Upholder of the South.
Kan-U-Uayeyab A patron god of cities, guardian of urban communities.
Kan-Xib-Yui One of the creator gods who is sometimes mentioned as one of the original thirteen who created human beings. Probably originally a local fertility deity who was included as a creator-god, he does not appear on all lists of the thirteen.
Kianto Also known as Kiant, he is the god of unwelcome influences which were designated primarily as disease and foreigners.
Kichigonai In the Quiche Maya tradition, Kichigonai is the creator of day and the god of light.
Kinich Ahau The sun god known as `Face of the Sun’ and sometimes referred to as Kinich Ajaw. He was a god of healing and medicine. The later god, Hunab Ku is thought to be a conflation of Kinich Ahau and the Christian God. In some early myths, Kinich Ahau is the consort of the goddess Ixazalvoh whereas post-conquest stories place the divine mother with Hunab Ku.
Kinich Kakmo The patron god of the city of Izamal, a solar deity who was represented by a macaw.
Kisin Another name for Cisin, the most commonly depicted god of death, but also the name of an earthquake god associated with the ongoing enmity between Nohochacyum and Hapikern and the Yantho Triad.
Kukulcan See Gucamatz
`L’ A god of the evening, of darkness and night whose name is not yet known.
Maize God A dying-and-reviving god figure in the form of Hun Hunahpu who was killed by the Lords of Xibalba, brought back to life by his sons, the Hero Twins, and emerges from the underworld as corn. The “Tonsured” Maize god or “Foliated” Maize god are common images found throughout the region. He is always pictured as eternally young and handsome with an elongated head like a corncob, long, flowing hair like corn silk, and ornamented with jade to symbolize the corn stalk.
Mam A title of respect meaning `Grandfather’ and applied to a number of different Maya deities including earth spirits, mountain spirits, and the four Bacabs. The god known as Mam Maximon is a post-conquest god of travelers, merchants, witchcraft, and bad luck that was conflated with the Christian figure of Judas and in modern times is part of the celebrations surrounding Holy Week.
Manik The god of sacrifice, of sacrificial victims, and of purifying suffering.
Mitnal Also known as `Metnal’ , this is the Quiche Maya word for the Underworld and corresponds with the Yucatec Maya vision known as Xibalba. According to the Popl Vuh, Mitnal was a dark land flowing with rivers of blood.”
“Japan’s Shinto tradition is strongly tied to nature, with a firmly rooted belief that kami, or gods, are almost everywhere. The introduction of Buddhism to Japan added another group of venerable deities to worship. While there are countless deities, we’re going to take a closer look at ten that are commonly represented in Japan.
Jizo Outside of Japan, Jizo is known as Ksitigarbha (from Sanskrit), and he is a Bodhisattva—a practitioner of Buddhism who has deferred their own enlightenment to help others along the path. As a guardian of travelers, small statues of Jizo can be found alongside roads or at temples. Jizo is also a notable guardian of children, particularly those who have died before their parents. It’s believed that such children cannot cross the Sanzu River (think the River Styx) on their way to the afterlife, and so Jizo hides them in his robes and crosses, to save them from an eternity of piling rocks along the riverbank. Jizo statues are sometimes adorned with small toys, bonnets and bibs, put there by grieving parents as an offering for his protection in their passing. As a guardian of the deceased, Jizo statues are also common in graveyards.
Raijin & Fujin
Raijin is a kami of lightning, thunder and storms, and Fujin is the kami of wind. They are often depicted together, with Raijin on the left—typically carrying a hammer, surrounded by drums—and Fujin on the right—holding a bag of wind, hair wildly askew. As gods of weather, Raijin and Fujin were feared as much as venerated, and are thought to be responsible for the kamikaze divine wind that helped ward off the Mongols when they invaded for the second time in 1281. They can often be seen standing guard at the entryways of both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples throughout Japan.
Anyo & Ungyo This pair of Buddhist deities are known as Nio, benevolent guardians who stand watch at the entrance of temples, which are often referred to as nio-mon (literally “Nio Gate”).They represent the cycle of birth and death. Agyo is typically depicted bare-handed or wielding a massive club, his mouth open to form the sound “ah,” which represents birth. Ungyo is also often depicted bare-handed, or else holding a large sword. His mouth is closed to form the sound “om,” which represents death. Although they can be found at temples throughout the country, perhaps the most famous depiction of Agyo and Ungyo is at the entrance to Todaiji Temple, in Nara Prefecture.
Inari Not to be confused with the foxes he uses as worldly messengers, the kami Inari is a Shinto deity of many important things—rice, sake, tea and prosperity. The kami is sometimes depicted as a bearded man riding a white fox, though Inari has also been depicted as a long-haired woman carrying rice. Shrines to Inari are easily recognized by the abundance of fox statues on the premises, as well as long rows of torii gates—like at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto!
Kannon Kannon is another Bodhisattva, one who presides with Amida Buddha in the Pure Land, which is often depicted as a mountainous island paradise. She is the goddess of mercy and compassion, and has several distinct depictions, including that of Senju Kannon—or the 1,000-armed Kannon—as well Juichimen Kannon, who has 11 faces. It is also said that when Christianity was outlawed during the Edo Period (1603 – 1868), some practitioners used the depiction of Kannon holding a child as a substitute for the Virgin Mary and Jesus in order to secretly continue to practice their faith in public. There are many pilgrimages dedicated to Kannon, such as the Saigoku Pilgrimage, which involves practitioners visiting 33 Buddhist temples throughout the Kansai area.
Benzaiten Also referred to as Benten, Benzaiten is a Buddhist patron deity of the arts and femininity, and was often venerated by geisha. She is also the only female among Japan’s “Seven Gods of Fortune,” and is worshipped as a goddess of luck. She has a strong association with the sea, and is often depicted riding a large sea dragon, or playing a biwa, a type of Japanese lute. There is a legend that says she tamed a five-headed dragon who plagued coastal fishing communities with her extraordinary beauty, and that the dragon rests at Ryuko-ji (literally “Dragon’s Mouth Temple”) in Enoshima.
Izanagi & Izanami ja.wikipedia.org Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto are the Shinto deities at the center of Japan’s creation myth, and the mother and father of all gods. Unsure of how to create order from chaos, they plunged a jeweled spear into the primeval gulf between heaven and earth. The drops that fell from the tip of the spear created land.
Soon after, they began to give birth to the kami that would inhabit it. Izanami was burned to death when she gave birth to the fire god, Kagutsuchi. Stricken with grief, Izanagi visited the Land of the Dead, Yomi, determined to bring her back. He was horrified to find his wife no more than a decaying, maggot-filled corpse, and he fled in revulsion back to the entrance. He sealed her inside, and she became a goddess of the dead, determined to take 1,000 lives every day to avenge her shame. In turn, Izanagi decided 1,500 people would be born every day.
Ebisu, sometimes referred to as Yebisu, is the patron deity of fishermen and tradesmen, and another of Japan’s “Seven Gods of Fortune.” He is often depicted as a plump, happy fisherman who carries a fishing rod in one hand and a red snapper in the other. The snapper also symbolizes fortune, as its name in Japanese, tai, is phonetically similar to the word for an auspicious or celebratory occasion, omedetai. Some legends identify Ebisu’s origin as that of the first god birthed by Izanagi and Izanami, the misconceived Hiruko, who was malformed and cast into the sea. Others say he was the son of the hero deity Okuninushi, the “Great Land Master.”
He is commonly sighted on cans of the beloved Japanese beer, Yebisu.
Tengu Although Tengu aren’t exactly deities, they’re significant and legendary figures in the Shinto pantheon, and Japan’s yokai folklore tradition. They’re quite bird-like, and are characterized by their long, red noses, their physical strength and magical powers, incredible prowess in martial arts and, of course, their ability to fly.
They were initially considered adversaries of Buddhism, as they would pursue practitioners and attempt to subvert their beliefs to lure them away from enlightenment. Over time their image changed, and they came to be seen as protectors or guardians, though they’ve maintained their reputation as occasional tricksters.
Amaterasu Amaterasu Omikami is the Shinto sun goddess from which the Japanese imperial family claimed descent. It’s said that she was birthed from the left eye of Izanagi when he washed the remnants of the underworld from his face after fleeing from his wife, Izanami.
One popular story about Amaterasu involved a fight with her tempestuous, violent tempered brother Susano-O. After the fight, she fled into a cave, which caused the world to plunge into darkness. To lure her out of the cave, the other gods staged a raucous celebration at the entrance. When her curiosity piqued, Amaterasu went to see how they could entertain themselves with the absence of light. When she exited the cave, the other gods placed a shimenawa (sacred straw rope) in front of the entrance so that she couldn’t return to hiding.
The Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture is her primary place of worship, and one of the most significant Shinto shrines in all of Japan. One of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the Sacred Mirror, is preserved within.”
A postulated preternatural being, usually, but not always, of significant power, worshipped, thought holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, or respected by human beings. They assume a variety of forms, but are frequently depicted as having human or animal form. Sometimes it is considered blasphemous to imagine the deity as having any concrete form. They are usually immortal. They are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions much like humans. Such natural phenomena as lightning, floods, storms, other “acts of God”, and miracles are attributed to them, and they may be thought to be the authorities or controllers of every aspect of human life (such as birth or the afterlife). Some deities are asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, to be the givers of human law and morality, to be the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, and to be the designers and creators of the Earth or the universe. Some of these “gods” have no power at all-they are simply worshipped.