In a time of very little power for women, female healers used their natural resources to heal and control the body and played an integral role in women’s health. When men wanted to dominate in the field of medicine, these once helpful and healing women were branded as evil and destructive witches.
Elen the Celtic Goddess
She is a goddess of wild places, especially the Celtic moorlands, the woods, and the heathlands. Seeking her out required going to these wild places and looking for her in every aspect of the wild lands. Elen is in the mist in the air and in the heartbeat of a tree.
The Story of Demeter and Her Daughter Persephone
The Greek goddess Demeter, the motherly goddess of harvest and agriculture, had a daughter with her brother Zeus
Why Ancient Greek Art Still Matters: A Comprehensive Study of Paganism in Art
. Many aspects of ancient Greek art are still evident in modern media, including statues of gods, goddesses, and even some of the minor deities that we never hear about today. There’s a reason why there’s still so much interest in these images after thousands of years: there’s more to them than meets the eye.
Abortion & Midwifery: A Glimpse into the History of Witchcraft
In the days before medical science was advanced enough to safely and effectively terminate pregnancies, women would turn to their midwives or herbalists, or witches to procure herbs that would help them safely abort their pregnancies.
The Secret Life of Lilith
According to legend, Lilith was the first woman and Adam’s first wife. Unlike Eve, she was supposedly created from the earth, who was created from Adam’s rib. The story goes that God felt that Adam could not have complete dominion over women if his only companion were taken from him, so he created Eve from Adam’s rib to serve as his partner and equal in the Garden of Eden.
Artemis & Apollo: The Twin Children of Leto and Zeus
Are you on a Hellenic path? Do you work with either of these deities? We would like to hear about your experience in the comments.
The Many Faces of Lucifer
In many faiths, Lucifer is an evil being who brought about the fall of humankind and has no redeeming qualities. In paganism, however, Lucifer can take on different roles depending on the religion or tradition you’re practicing. In some cases, he’s not even considered the bad guy; he’s seen as another deity in the pantheon that has gotten a bad rap over time, or simply isn’t regarded as evil at all but rather serves a positive role in your spirituality.
An introduction to “Satan” aka Lucifer
According to historians, the name Lucifer predates Christianity. The word comes from the Latin for light bringer and means truth. It was applied to the morning star, Venus, as a reference to its brightness in the sky. This is what probably started all these associations with Satan. In Christian folklore, Lucifer was an angel who fell from heaven after rebelling against God. He became known as Satan and was condemned to hell where he would rule over demons for eternity. There are many pagans that have different stories about Lucifer or Satan. For example, some believe that Lucifer was cast out because he wanted more power than god allowed him. Others say that there were two gods; one good and one evil. They both created humans so they could see which one they liked better. My personal view is that capital G “God” has a big ego (as is obvious from naming himself the one true god) and when Lucifer wanted to “bring light” (truth) out, God cast him down to earth to taint his credibility. Whatever you believe, there is long documented history and mythology associated with the name Lucifer, both good and bad.
Etymology of Lucifer
The name Lucifer comes from a Latin word meaning light-bearer. The root for all these terms is based on a specific interpretation of Isaiah 14:12, which states, How art thou fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the morning! As mentioned above, it’s thought that Venus was seen as a bringer of light in ancient times and so was associated with early forms of worship. As such, it’s possible that Lucifer may have been an earlier form of Venus that was later demonized and transformed into Satan.
History and Myths of Lucifer
Lucifer, AKA Satan and other aliases, has been a popular figure in history for many centuries. According to some scholars and myths, it was one of God’s greatest Angels who represented light and goodness before his fall from grace. Later in Christian mythology it came to represent rebellion and evil. In truth, he was an Angel created by God whose sole purpose was to protect humanity. He became disillusioned with what he perceived as unfair treatment by humans and rebelled against God. Another myth comes from Jewish lore where Lilith, also known as Adam’s first wife, left him because she refused to be subservient to him. One thing that Christians do not understand about Lucifer is that when he fell from heaven he did not become an evil entity. Some believe Lucifer chose to leave heaven, to be with Lilith. Some will say Lucifer tempted Cain into killing Able while others say that Cain killed Abel out of jealousy over their father’s favoritism. Still others say that Eve ate fruit from a tree while they were both in Eden and offered some to her husband; but he declined, knowing full well its consequences. The figure of the demon Lucifer is also found within Islam, though he is not thought of as synonymous with the figure of Satan. In Islam Lucifer is associated with the sin of wrath and was thought to have been formerly called Azazil or Uzayzil prior to his downfall.
In any faith, or mythology, stories evolve with time, and it can be hard to find “truth” or consistency. I find it best to reflect inward on what resonates!
Usage in Pop Culture and Politics
As pop culture gains popularity, so does public knowledge about all things Pagan. This has spurred many positive changes, like full inclusion in society for Pagans, but it’s also led to some misconceptions. Lucifer is a very important deity within Paganism and modern worshipers have been doing their best to clear up misconceptions about him and his role in popular media.
How People View Lucifer Today
Religious and non-religious folks alike tend to view Lucifer as Satan—the embodiment of evil, a diabolical and cruel character who does everything he can to ruin mankind. Lucifer’s evil status is derived from his fall in Christian theology, when he defied God by refusing to bow down to Adam, who was created after him. In some branches of Satanism, believers pay homage to both Jesus Christ and Lucifer at their ceremonies.
Megan Killion, aka Vehemence, is an entrepreneurial baby witch, who’s spent the last 15 years kicking ass and taking names in the B2B tech world. Megan has felt the calling of magick since she was a small child and found comfort and healing in energy work. The deeper she explored the more she felt she had “finally found a spiritual home”. Navigating the complex world of witchcraft wasn’t easy and eventually, she felt driven to create a safe place for spiritual nomads. She is committed to making Coven Cloud a place where spiritualists of all backgrounds can feel safe, included, and supported.
Overview and Comparison of Pantheons
With so many different pantheons out there, it can be difficult to know the difference between them, or be able to sort out which one’s which off the top of your head. We’re going to take a look at six pantheons in this blog, giving an overview of each and comparing and contrasting them in sets of two.
The pantheons we’ll be delving into today will be Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian, Norse, and Celtic. But first, what exactly is a pantheon? It’s a collection of all the gods of a specific polytheistic religion, tradition, or mythology. Some pantheons have less than 10 deities, while some have thousands.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the two most well known ancient pantheons out there.
Greek Vs Roman
Ancient Greek mythology predates that of the Romans by around 1,000 years. Despite that time difference, the two religions have much in common. This will be the only comparison in which we’ll be able to make a table like this because for every Greek God out there, there is a Roman counterpart. And it wasn’t just the original 12 Olympians that found themselves copied in Roman Mythology. The majority of lesser gods and goddesses, as well as personifications, like the Fates, found Roman Counterparts as well.
|Greek Pantheon||Roman Pantheon|
The mythologies of the Greek and Roman pantheons as we know them today were both compiled in literary works. Circa the 8th century BC, Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, detailing numerous Greek myths. Between 29 and 19 BC, Virgil composed the epic the Aeneid, which chronicled Aeneas’ travels to Italy from his home of Troy. Throughout the poem, Roman gods and goddesses are depicted, and, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, the myths and legends of Rome are told.
Gender and Appearance
So now that we’ve discussed the things that these two pantheons have in common, let’s take a look at their differences. First and foremost, despite the fact that we have the tendency to assign them genders, the Roman pantheon weren’t actually gender specific, whereas the Greek gods and goddess were, and were always assigned human-like traits.
The two mythologies also differed in the way they appeared to mortals. The Greek gods were beautiful in every way. They were, essentially, the perfect representation of human-like physical traits. This was not something that the Romans copied from the Greeks. In Roman mythology, the gods and goddesses did not have a physical form. Any depiction or representation of them in sculpture, painting, or pottery comes solely from the imagination of the sculptor, painter, or potter.
Though Greek mythology didn’t place much emphasis on the afterlife – as their importance was placed on life on earth, instead of the eventuality of an afterlife – we do know that the Underworld played a pivotal role in many of their myths. Unlike many other religions, however, the souls of the dead did not face judgement upon their death. Ruled by Hades and filled with rivers – Style, the most prominent of the Underworld rivers; the Acheron, the river of misery; the Phlegethon, the river of fire; the Cocytus, the river of wailing; and the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness – souls of the dead would arrive at the banks of the River Styx upon their death. Buried with a coin beneath their tongue with which to pay Charon, the Ferryman, they would be ferried across Styx and into Hades’ realm.
Roman mythology placed much more emphasis on mortals doing good deeds so that they would be rewarded in the afterlife. As usual, borrowing from Greek mythology, when a Roman soul left its body, the god Mercury would escort them to the River Styx, where they would wait to be carried into the Underworld by Charon. There, they would go in front of Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aenaeus, who would judge them and thus determine the next step of their journey. If they were deemed to have been good people in life, they would move on to paradise – ordinary people went to Asphodel Meadows, while warriors went onto the Fields of Elysium. If, however, they were deemed to have been bad people in life and had a debt to be paid, they would go to Tartarus, where they would be tortured by the Furies until their debt was paid.
Egyptian Vs. Sumerian
The Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations are often compared because of the fact that they’re two of the most ancient civilizations for which we still have written records. They both built their civilizations near fertile rivers – the Egyptians on the banks of the Nile, and the Sumerians on the floodplains of the Euphrates and Tigris. They also both created forms of writing, with the Sumerians’ Cuneiform being the oldest form of written language ever documented.
But that’s about where the similarities end. So let’s take a look at the differences between the two ancient civilizations.
Sumerian: The Sumerians were one of the first civilizations to develop a writing system emerging from the proto-writing of their ancestors. Their writing system was called Cuneiform after the wedge-shaped writing utensil they used. It was written on clay tablets and fired in a kiln to preserve the text.
Egyptians: The Egyptians used Hieroglyphics to document information and record history. Aside from being etched into temple walls and other sacred objects, they recorded stories, history, medical information, and rituals – among other things – on sheets of papyrus, which they made from reeds farmed from the Nile floodplains.
Sumerian: It’s difficult to pin down the exact pantheon of the Sumerians, as the clay tablets that have survived give different accounts. Some say that the original pantheon consisted only of the four main gods, An, god of the heavens; Enki, god of water, creation, and knowledge; Enlil, god of storms and wind; and Ninhursag, goddess of earth and fertility (some say that Ki was the goddess of earth, brother and consort to An). While others state that they worshipped The Seven Gods Who Decree, which included the four named above, as well as Utu, god of the sun, justice, and truth; Inanna, goddess of the love, beauty, sex, and war; and Nanna, god of the moon. The Sumerians also worshipped the Anunnaki, descendants of An and Ki, who were worshipped as Fate Deities.
Egyptian: The Egyptian Pantheon consisted of some main gods and goddesses, but in total, over 2,000 deities were worshipped throughout the land. The main deities worshipped in ancient Egypt were Osiris, god of the underworld; Isis, the Great Mother, wife of Osiris, goddess of magic, healing, fertility, motherhood, death, and rebirth; Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, god of the sky, hunting, and war; Set (or Seth), god of chaos, violence, and storms; Ptah, god of craftsmen, builders, and architects; Ra; the sun god; Hathor, “the Lady of the West,” goddess of motherhood and fertility; Anubis, god of death, embalming, mummification, cemeteries, and the afterlife; Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing; Bastet (or Bast), the cat goddess; and Amon, (prior to merging with Ra to become Amun-Ra) the “Hidden One,” god of the air.
The Sumerians: As the Sumerians were vulnerable to attack, they tended to live quite a volatile existence, their burial practices reflected that. They didn’t go to the great, elaborate lengths that many of the Egyptians went through to prepare their dead for the afterlife. Bodies were often wrapped in reed mats or placed in coffins and were buried in cemeteries, complete with markers, or under the homes of relatives in dug-out tombs.
The Egyptians: Though we all know about ancient Egyptian mummification, it was a practice that was usually only reserved for the wealthier members of society, as it was expensive and time-consuming. For the most part, upon their death, regular citizens were buried in simple pits in the desert. But for the wealthiest members of society, it was believed that the mummification and funerary process would prepare them for the afterlife. They were placed in elaborate sarcophagi with their organs placed in canopic jars placed in the tombs with them. Also in the tombs were items of importance, gold and jewels, food, clothing, and even their beloved pets. All things they would need to live happily in the afterlife.
The Sumerians: The Sumerian Afterlife was a dark, gloomy underworld known as Kur. It was overseen by the goddess Ereshkigal, and people wished to avoid going there for as long as possible. Despite being constantly hungry and thirsty, souls in the afterlife had nothing to eat or drink but dust, unless a family member visited their grave and left offerings of food and drink. Eternal existence in Kur was nothing but gloom, and souls were neither rewarded for their deeds in life nor punished for them. If Heaven is white and Hell is black, Kur was nothing but dull greyness. The only beings to avoid such a dull eternal afterlife were babies who were stillborn, who, according to Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh, would “play at a table of gold and silver, laden with honey and ghee.”
The Egyptians: The Egyptian beliefs of the afterlife were very different from the Sumerians. In ancient Egypt, when a person died, they would go in front of Anubis and Thoth in the Hall of Two Truths, where their heart was weighed on a scale against one of Ma’at’s (the goddess of truth and justice) feathers. If the heart was lighter than or balanced with the feather, it meant the person had led a good and decent life, and they would be deemed worthy enough to spend their immortal afterlife with Osiris in the Field of Reeds. However, if the heart was heavier than the Ma’at’s feather, it would be devoured by the crocodile-headed goddess Ammit, “The Devourer of the Dead,” and their soul would spend eternity restless and wandering. This was considered dying a second time.
Norse Vs. Celtic
Our last comparison in this blog is the pantheons of the Norse and Celtic mythologies. There are not many similarities between these two mythologies, aside from the fact that they were created within a couple hundred years of one another, as far as we can tell. A lot of their mythologies also come to us through written works, like the Greeks and the Romans. For the Norse, there is the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, and for the Celtics, there is Lebor Gabála Érenn, or the Book of Invasions. From these two works, we glean much of the information we know today about these ancient pantheons.
The Norse: The Norse pantheon consisted of two tribes of gods. The Æsir and the Vanir. The Vanir are considered Old Gods, and include:
- Njörðr, the god of merchants, the sea, and wealth.
- Freyr, god of abundance and fertility.
- Freya, sister to Freyr, goddess of love and fertility.
- Gullveig, the personification of gold.
- Nerthus, associated with fertility and goddess of water.
While the Æsir are the main pantheon of gods and goddesses of Norse mythology. Among the Æsir are:
- Odin, the Allfather and Chief of the Æsir. He was the god of poetry, war, wisdom, healing, and death, among many other things.
- Thor, the god of thunder, lightning, strength, sacred trees and groves, fertility, and was the protector of mankind.
- Baldr, the god of light, happiness, beauty, and love.
- Vidar, the god of vengeance.
- Vali, who was born solely for the purpose of avenging his brother Baldr.
- Bragi, the god of skaldic poetry.
- Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost, the bridge between Asgard and Midgard.
- Tyr, the god of war. He decides who it is that wins a battle.
- Ullr, son of Sif, Thor’s wife, god of archery.
- Forseti, the god of reconciliation and justice.
- Frigg, wife of Odin, Queen of Asgard, goddess of love and fate.
While the Celtic pantheon is a bit harder to tie down because there were so many gods and goddesses worshipped throughout the entirety of the mythology, we do know that the main pantheon consists of what is called the Tuatha Dé Danann. The most prominent members of the Tuatha Dé Danann include:
- The Dagda, who was the chief god of the pantheon.
- The Morrigan, the goddess of fate and war.
- Lugh, a master craftsman, warrior, king, and savior. Associated with law, truth, and oaths.
- Nuada Airgetlám, the first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann before they came to Ireland.
- Aengus, the god of love, youth, and poetic inspiration.
- Brigid, daughter of the Dagda, goddess of poetry, wisdom, healing, domesticated animals, blacksmithing, and healing.
- Manannán, king of the underworld and a god of the sea.
- Dian Cecht, god of healing.
- Goibniu, god of blacksmithing and metalworking.
The Norse: The Norse actually had five different realms to which the dead would go, depending on their nature during life. The most well-known of these realms is, of course, Valhalla, The Hall of Heroes, the realm where Vikings who died in battle would go, if deemed worthy by Odin. Folkvangr, The Field of the People, is where the other half of those slain in battle would go. It was ruled over by Freya. As for the other three realms, Hel, The Realm of Rán (also called the Coral Caves of Rán), and The Burial Mound (literally where a person was buried), there isn’t really any literature on who went where and why.
The Celts: The Ancient Celts tended to believe in reincarnation, and so would bury their dead with food, clothing, weapons, jewelry, and other goods they would need in their next life. The Celts didn’t have an “afterlife” or “underworld” as such, though they did have the Otherworld, which was a realm inhabited by fairy folk and other supernatural beings, who would often try and entice mortals to their realm. Some scholars claim that the Otherworld was the Celtic underworld, but there are not ancient texts to back that up.
Here is where you’re going to see some similarities between Norse Mythology and Celtic Mythology. As was often with ancient religions in those days, maybe of their holy days coincided.
|Date||Norse Holy Day||Celtic Holy Day|
|October 31st/November 1st – The end of Harvest Season||Vetrnaetr||Samhain|
|February 1st/2nd – The start of Planting Season||Disablot||Imbolc/Imbolgc|
|April 30th/May 1st – The start of Spring||Walpurgisnacht||Beltane|
|August 1st – The first harvest of the year||Freysblot||Lughnasadh|
Though there are so many different pantheons and mythologies out there, we thought we’d give you a little head start in your research (because who doesn’t love researching this kind of stuff, honestly), but comparing and contrasting six of the most well known mythologies out there.
Did we miss one you wanted to see? Let us know!
A Brief History of the Demonic Mother: Lilith
The origins of Lilith, the demonic mother of all evil spirits, can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia – the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern-day Iraq. This time period predates the biblical figures we are more familiar with such as Adam and Eve, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad by thousands of years. These ancient Mesopotamians believed in an unseen force behind all of creation that was both masculine and feminine at once, Lilith.
Lilith in Ancient Hebrew
According to ancient Hebrew mythology, Lilith was a young woman who became Adam’s first wife after he helped her to slay her would-be rapist. However, when she decided she wanted to have children, Adam refused, explaining that God had told him not to have any. Enraged by his defiance and incensed by his willingness to bow down to authority, Lilith ran away in despair. She then became Satan’s consort and gave birth to countless demons—including Samael and numerous Lilin; both are associated with vampires today. As punishment for her actions, God sent three angels—Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof—to chase down Lilith; they succeeded in capturing her but only managed to render her sterile before freeing her once again.
Lilith in Ancient Mesopotamia
One could argue that even as early as Babylonian demonology (circa 6th century B.C.), traces of Lilith can be found in Mesopotamian depictions of Inanna’s demonic alter ego, known as Lilith or Lilitu. Inanna was an important goddess with a multitude of responsibilities and duties within the ancient Sumerian culture. As patron of both sexual activity and fertility, she controlled women’s sexuality—but her husband Dumuzi was meant to take control after marriage. The demons Lilith, Ardat-Lili, and Irdu-kug were all considered by scholars to be evil counterparts to these roles of Inanna; it is from these texts that we get our modern image of Lilith as being a dangerous succubus. Interestingly enough, however, much like how depictions of zombies over time are quite different from their original concepts (primarily because zombies didn’t exist), there is not necessarily a direct connection between what we call demons today and those mentioned in ancient Mesopotamia. For example, although Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan sneaker brand may be called a demon shoe in casual conversation today, as some people believe that he has supernatural powers when wearing them on his feet, demonology refers instead to Biblical demons (disembodied spirits). This alone illustrates just how intertwined religion and philosophy have been throughout history. Religion isn’t necessarily science but does have scientific roots. Demonology hasn’t necessarily changed much either: very few practices have become more commonplace than speaking ill of another behind their back—and somehow somebody always finds out about it! Of course, we think you know better than to use your negative remarks towards others negatively. Right?
Lilith in Talmudic Literature
The Talmud, a central text in Jewish studies, includes not one but two stories about Lilith—the first female human, made from dust like Adam; and a demonic succubus who was responsible for death in childbirth (among other things). It’s perhaps no surprise that Babylonian demonology—and Mesopotamian culture at large—would be steeped in misogyny. But it is interesting that so many ancient civilizations had their own form of Lilith myths. Maybe it makes sense, though—after all, sometimes even moms can make your life a living hell. What better way to explain misfortune than by blaming it on an evil woman?
Lilith as a SuccubusSuccubi are often said to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men, thus producing demon children. Succubi are a standard feature of medieval European demonology. It was once believed that women could become succubi by performing evil acts in life; modern myths state that they are born as succubi, or can be turned into them by demons or devils. The incubi and succubi were thought to be servants of Satan, and may appear during a demonic ritual or in a place where an act of heresy has been committed.
Lilith as an Incubus
Lilith’s earliest depictions come from Mesopotamia, where she was believed to be a demon who would steal babies from their cribs. Ancient Near Eastern cultures thought that if a woman were to become pregnant, but did not want to raise a child, then she would employ a daimon—which is what scholars believe incubi and succubi are—to father her child.
The Origins of the Name Lilith
Where does a demoness get her name? Though little is actually known about Lilith, she’s considered to be one of two things. First, there’s a Judaic origin tale from before 1000 BCE in which a female entity named Lilitu fell from heaven and slept with men while they were sleeping, causing them to have unwanted pregnancies. She also was said to have caused other evils in society such as disease and death.