Category Archives: Deities (individual)

Descriptions of various deities.

Thoth, Egyptian scribe god

Thoth
(rhymes with “both”)
Egyptian Pantheon
God of knowledge, occult wisdom & the moon. Patron god of scribes.
Also called Djhuti, Tehuti, Hermes Trismegistos
Husband of Maat, father of Seshat (though various versions of his family appeared through time)

His name carries two meanings: thought and time. We usually see him as a male figure with the head of an Ibis, but in the past he sometimes had the head of a baboon. Thoth invented the art of writing, and was the scribe of the underworld. Originally a moon god, he was associated with the phases of the moon, and thus with the ability to measure the passage of time and also with astronomy. In Khmun, his cult center, worshippers mummified and buried hundreds of ibises in his honor. He’s not the main character in many myths; more often, he appears as a wise counselor and a source of magical wisdom. He helped Isis bring Osiris back from the dead. Thoth himself is said to have written the most ancient parts of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. He was a favorite deity of the Golden Dawn, and Aleister Crowley invoked him and claimed to channel Thoth’s occult teachings through his Book of Thoth tarot deck. As the sun god Ra is associated with mortal life, Thoth is associated with the afterlife. He is the spiritual father of sacred geometry.

Symbols:

  • ibis
  • moon disk
  • papyrus scroll
  • often shown with baboons, or sometimes as a baboon himself
  • stylus & papyrus scroll

The Morrigan, Celtic warrior goddess

The Morrigan
Celtic Pantheon
Goddess of Battle, Strife, Victory
Her name may mean “Phantom Queen” or “Great Queen”
She is one of the Tuatha de Danann. In some myths she is a consort of Dagda

The Morrigan is a fierce warrior goddess, associated with life passages as well as literal battle. She is a shapeshifter who takes on many forms, human and animal, but she especially favors crows and ravens. In mythology, she sometimes use her shapeshifting ability to trick mortals into mistakes that would change their fates. She may also appear in various forms as an omen. Some consider her to be a psychopomp, escorting mortals between the worlds of the living and the dead. She also has an aspect a triple goddess — maiden/mother/crone, or birth/motherhood/death — though she’s mostly associated with the crone part of that trio. The Morrigan is strong and willful, and crossing her can be dangerous. But those she favors are able to draw from her strength, even if their own past has left them scarred. Some believe the Morrigan to be a precursor of the Morgan le Fay. Symbols:

  • Crow and Raven
  • Her sacred plants are mugwort and yew
  • Triple spiral
  • Art may show her as part bird, part woman

Artwork by André Koehne

Ganesh, Hindu god, remover of obstacles

Ganesh (गणेश))
Hindu Pantheon
Remover of obstacles, god of births & other beginnings, patron of arts and sciences, deva of wisdom
Other names: Ganesa, Ganesha, Ganapati
Son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of war god Kartikeya. There’s considerable debate about his wife, but two sons are attributed to him: Kşema (prosperity) and Lābha (profit).

Ganesh got his elephant head when, as a young man, he stood guarding his mother when Parvati was taking a bath. He did not know his father, so when Shiva came in, Ganesh blocked his path. Shiva’s angry glare burned his head to ashes. But when Shiva saw how sad this made Parvati he repented and gave his son an elephant’s head.

Ganesh is worshipped not only at the beginning of religious rituals, but also on secular occasions such as buying a new car or starting a new business. As the remover of obstacles, he is often called upon in practical matters, and invoked for the lucky beginning of all kinds of ventures.

Symbols:

  • One of his tusk is broken, because he used the end of it to write a holy text.
  • The color red is sacred to Ganesh.
  • In some stories the mouse at Ganesha’s feet, who serves as his mount, is the giant god Kroncha, put into rodent form to learn humility. In others he is tiny Mushika, symbolizing the god’s ability to accomplish things that seem impossible to humans.
  • Ganesh may hold a chakra wheel, a sacred conch shell, a lotus, a sacred thread, and an elephant goad

Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom & war

Athena (Ἀθηνᾶ)
Greek Pantheon
Goddess of wisdom, war, civilization, arts & crafts
Also called Pallas or Pallas Athena
Burst forth from the head of Zeus, armed and ready for battle. She swore to remain a virgin forever and never married.

Although she is a goddess of war, she comes to the fight in a spirit of justice rather than anger. She is the patron goddess of heroes and artists of all kinds. She shows up in many myths as the helper of heroes; she helped Jason get the golden fleece, Theseus slay the Minotaur, Perseus slay the Medusa, and Herakles complete his seven labors. She took her chastity very seriously, and no man was allowed to so much as see her naked. A man named Tiresias came upon her while she was bathing, and she struck him blind; however, the one glimpse of her naked gave him the wisdom to see the future and understand the speech of birds. She was a favorite of ancient Greek writers, and shows up to help heroes of the Illiad, the Odyssey, and many other works of literature. As goddess of wisdom and learning, she came to be a symbol of civilized life.

Symbols:

  • Owl
  • Shield made from the head of a gorgon
  • Spear & armor
  • Olive tree
  • She often holds Nike, the goddess of victory, in her hand

Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and war

Posted on
Category: Deities (individual)

Athena (Ἀθηνᾶ)
Greek Pantheon
Goddess of wisdom, war, civilization, arts & crafts
Also called Pallas or Pallas Athena
Burst forth from the head of Zeus, armed and ready for battle. She swore to remain a virgin forever and never married.

Although she is a goddess of war, she comes to the fight in a spirit of justice rather than anger. She is the patron goddess of heroes and artists of all kinds. She shows up in many myths as the helper of heroes; she helped Jason get the golden fleece, Theseus slay the Minotaur, Perseus slay the Medusa, and Herakles complete his seven labors. She took her chastity very seriously, and no man was allowed to so much as see her naked. A man named Tiresias came upon her while she was bathing, and she struck him blind; however, the one glimpse of her naked gave him the wisdom to see the future and understand the speech of birds. She was a favorite of ancient Greek writers, and shows up to help heroes of the Illiad, the Odyssey, and many other works of literature. As goddess of wisdom and learning, she came to be a symbol of civilized life.

 

Symbols:

  • Owl
  • Shield made from the head of a gorgon
  • Spear & armor
  • Olive tree
  • She often holds Nike, the goddess of victory, in her hand

Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love

Posted on
Category: Deities (individual)

 

Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη) / Venus
Greek / Roman pantheon
Goddess of love, beauty, passion, fertility
Also called Cytherea & Cypris
Sometimes considered the daughter of Zeus & Dione, sometimes born of seafoam. Wife of Hephaestos. She bore many children, but the most famous is Eros / Cupid.

In the earliest story of her birth, the titan Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his testicles into the ocean, and from the seafoam rising up from them Aphrodite was born, already a woman. Her beauty caused a lot of trouble among gods and mortals alike, because men all lusted over her and wanted to possess her. She was forced to marry the ugly and humorless Hephaestus, god of metalworkers, to keep everyone out of trouble. He considered himself to have gotten the good end of that deal, and in gratitude made her the cestus, a beautiful belt which unfortunately made her even more irresistible to men. Aphrodite herself was less pleased with the marriage and had many affairs, including with Ares and Adonis. In the Judgment of Paris, which started the Trojan War, she was named the most beautiful of women and awarded the golden apple. She is one of the most popular deities among modern Hellenists. Offerings include fruit, flowers, sweet incense & wine.

Symbols:

  • scallop shell
  • pearls
  • roses
  • dolphins
  • swans

Anubis, Egyptian god of the afterlife

Posted on
Category: Deities (individual)

Anubis
Egyptian Pantheon
God of Embalming who ushers the soul into the afterlife
Anput is both his consort and his female equivalent. Their daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet.

Anubis was originally the Lord of the Underworld, though in time Osiris replaced him in this context. He is sometimes shown as a jackal, sometimes as a human, but most often as a combination of the two. Since these wild dogs like to hang around tombs, people naturally came to associate them with the dead. Anubis himself rescued the murdered Osiris from oblivion by embalming him. His functions are those of a priest and psychopomp: He invented and oversees the process of embalming; he receives the mummy as it is brought into the tomb, and then ushers the soul to the Field of Celestial Offerings; and he monitors the Scales of Truth, which weigh the hearts of the dead. He is associated with the color black, because embalming methods of the day caused the corpse to take on a very dark hue.

Symbols:

  • Scale
  • Fetish
  • Flail
  • Oxhide hanging from a pole

Green Tara

Posted on
Category: Deities (individual)

Buddhist Bodhisattva

Buddha of enlightened activity, savior goddess of compassion

Mantra: Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

The word “tara” means star. The taras are a group of Buddhas particularly popular in Tibetan Buddhism, representing various spiritual attainments.Green Tara is a compassionate helper in difficult and dangerous situations. In her role as a savior, she is able to overcome despair in even the most hopeless situations. Modern Tibetans pray to her when they are sick, beginning a journey, or looking for success in some venture. But the first Dalai Lama also identified eight symbolic perils, representing negative thought modes, that Tara can help us overcome: lions (pride), wild elephants (delusion and ignorance), forest fires (hatred), snakes (jealousy), robbers (wrong views, including fanatical views), prisons (greed and miserliness), floods (desire and attachment), and demons (doubts caused by delusion).

 

Symbols:

  • Her lotus seat represents the purity of emptiness.
  • Her right hand gesture is the mudra of granting boons
  • Her left hand gesture is the mudra of refuge
  • Her left leg is relaxed in a pose of contemplation, while her right leg is outstretched and ready for action.
  • She holds a blue lotus, symbolizing purity and power.

For more information like this, consider signing up for Mimosa’s newsletter. It’s free, and you’ll even receive a free ebook too! You can check it out here: Free ebook & newsletter

Kwan Yin

Posted on
Category: Deities (individual)

Buddhist Pantheon (Chinese origin)

Bodhisattva of Compassion and Mercy, protector of women, children & sailors, patron of vegetarians

Also known by Guan Yin, Quan Yin,  Kannon (in Japan)

Kwan Yin is a goddess of compassion, whose name means “One who hears the cries of the world.” She is regarded as a feminine bodhisattva, an enlightened being. Her worship took its current form when Buddhism came to China. As the female analog of The Buddha of Mercy, Avilokiteshvara, she’s loved by all. One variation is Kwan Yin of 1000 Arms, who has vowed never to rest until she has freed all humankind from mortal suffering. People of certain walks of life and situations traditionally seek her  favor, and many of the symbols we see on statues reflect this. Here’s a key to some symbols and other features of statues, along with their meanings:

  • dragon for ancient wisdom and spiritual transformation
  • with a baby, giving strength and blessings to mothers and children
  • lotus for contemplation and purity
  • bottle of medicine, sometimes with a stream of water, for healing
  • sea serpent, as a protector of sailors
  • waterfall for tears of compassion
  • sprig of foliage from the weeping willow, also signifying tears of compassion
  • rice bowl, for having one’s material needs met
  • hand cupped in the yoni mudra representing the universal feminine
  • pearls of illumination

For more information like this, consider signing up for Mimosa’s newsletter. It’s free, and you’ll even receive a free ebook too! You can check it out here: Free ebook & newsletter