Browsed by
Tag: god bios

PBP Fridays: A is for Aker

PBP Fridays: A is for Aker

Alternate post title: Who The Hell Is On My Wall?

This is the hand-made painted tapestry that hangs over my shrine area:

Aker...?

I adore it. It was a gift from a one-time next-door-neighbor in Colorado, along with most of my other Egyptian paintings. It is one of my very favorite pieces my neighbor-artist graciously gave me.

I also don’t know, for sure, Who it depicts. I’ve run the gamut in my research and circled back, and forth, and sideways.

A lot of my sources suggest that these twin lions are, in fact, the lions of Yesterday and Today, Sef and Duau, which are akeru, the plural of the Egyptian god Aker, a pre-dynastic earth Netjeru. Other sources say this is Ruti, the “two lions.” Others say this pair is Shu and Tefnut, ancient gods of wind and moisture respectively.

Of course, since Kemeticism is full of polyvalent logic, this tapestry could easily depict all of the above. Conveniently, I am extremely fond of Shu and Tefnut, as well as deeply interested in Aker, so it’s pretty much a win-win situation for me.

For the purpose of this post, I’d like to talk a little more about Aker, Who is not one of the better-known deities of ancient Egypt. Aker is depicted as a single-bodied lion with a head at each end, symbolizing the rising and setting sun on the horizon; in this form, He is often shown with the barque of the sun god Ra on His back. The version we see in my tapestry, however, is of two physically-separate lions, with leopard-like spots, holding the sun rising or setting between two mountains. That sun-and-mountains symbol indicates the horizon, the akhet. Both two-headed and two-bodied versions of Aker can have human or lion heads, making Him occasionally a sphinx (or pair of sphinxes).

Aker, being the earth and the horizon, was both protector and gateway; He defended Ra and the king against serpents small and large, as well as allowing passage into and out of the underworld (which was His body). Because of His guardian aspects and funerary associations, twin lions were often placed near palaces, tombs, and thresholds as protectors and wards against evil. Additionally, Aker could neutralize poisons in those who had been stung by scorpions or bitten by snakes, or even had just swallowed something toxic. He was occasionally shown on protective amulets or apotropaic wands from the Middle Kingdom.

Some sources suggest that Aker’s differing depictions seem to have given clues to His intended role. As the two-headed horizon, He was a more passively beneficial earth deity that held the severed pieces of Apep imprisoned safely. In His form of two lions, however, He was more active in destroying evil, and references in the Pyramid Texts indicate the twin lions had to refrain from “seizing” the deceased king traveling through the underworld, which is likely why that depiction of Aker was more commonly featured on entryways to keep evil from passing through.

References include G. Pinch’s Egyptian Mythology, R. Wilkinson’s The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, G. Hart’s Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, and T. Siuda’s Kemet.org.

This post brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project.

Last year’s first A post was Apotropaic Deities.

God Bios: Seshat (Seshet, Sesheta)

God Bios: Seshat (Seshet, Sesheta)

Please note, lovely readers: All of this is a work-in-progress. It will change as I continue digging through books and other sources. Do not take this as a rock-solid encyclopedic entry at any point. :)

Hail Seshat, She of the Golden Scrolls and Infinite Ink!

attributes

– libraries
– all forms of writing and notation
— said to have invented writing (whereas Djehuty gave it to humanity)
— census
— accounting
— record-keeping
— recording lives and deeds of men on the leaves of the sacred persea tree
— recording the pharaoh’s speeches
— recording the inventory of foreign captives and goods
– involved in starting the foundations of major building projects (“stretching of the cord” ceremony)
— architecture
— surveying
– astronomy
– mathematics
– history

appearance

– a woman dressed in the long skirt and leopardskin of a Sem (funerary) priest
— the leopard/cheetah spot pattern of the Sem garb represented the stars, a symbol of eternity, and was associated with the night sky
– crowned by a seven-pointed star or rosette, crowned by downturned horns or a bow
— the horns/bow may be related to a crescent moon shape and thus to Djehuty, Her father or consort
– holding a palm stem, which is notched to denote years (especially the years of the pharaoh’s life/reign)
– holding other tools, such as the knotted cords used to survey land and buildings or a stake and mallet

relationships

– equated with Nebt-het and Nit
– consort to Djehuty (Thoth)
– daughter of Djehuty
– sister of Djehuty
– occasionally considered “just” a female aspect or version of Djehuty
– mother of Hornub, “gold Horus”
— linked to Aset (Isis)

epithets

– The Female Scribe (meaning of Seshat)
– The Seven-horned (Sefkhet-abwy)
– Mistress of the House of Books
– Mistress of the House of Architects
– Lady of Builders
– Foremost in the Library
– Mistress of Books
– Mistress of Potters

notes

– Seshat was the only female depicted in the act of writing, though others have been shown holding scribe implements.
– Spell 10 of the Coffin Texts states “Seshat opens the door of heaven for you.”
– She had priests, but no formal temple.

primary sources

– Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (Geraldine Pinch)
– Nebt-het: Lady of the House (Tamara Siuda)
– The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (Richard Wilkinson)
– The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses (George Hart)
– The Ancient Egyptian Prayer Book (Tamara Siuda)

PBP Fridays: L is for Lugh

PBP Fridays: L is for Lugh

When I wrote about Brigid, I said I’d also write about Lugh when the time came. Well, we’ve reached the Ls in the Pagan Blog Project, so time to step up! As with Brigid, I’m going to finally do the basic research I didn’t do as a pagan youth and really dig into Lugh’s mythology and characteristics before talking a little bit about my personal experience with and opinion of Him.

Please note, lovely readers: All of this is a work-in-progress. It will change as I continue digging through books and other sources. Do not take this as a rock-solid encyclopedic entry at any point. :)

attributes

– master of all skills
— He is a wright, a smith, a champion, a swordsman, a harpist, a hero, a poet and historian, a sorcerer, and a craftsman
— gained entrance to King Nuada’s court in Tara by having all these skills in one man
– harvest
— fertility of crops
– light
— the sun (this is only in modern interpretation; there is no historical basis for this)
— lightning
– storms
— creates storms when He spars with Balor
– warrior
— His spear was Gae Assail, the Spear of Assal, one of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann; also called “the famous yew of the wood” and/or “a yew tree, the finest of the wood”
— another spear was Areadbhair (“Slaughterer”), whose tip had to be kept immersed in a pot of water to keep it from igniting
— Lugh’s spear was so blood-thirsty that only by “steeping its head in a sleeping-draught of pounded fresh poppy seeds” would it rest and cease struggling to be let free to slay
— His sword was Fragarach, Manannan’s sword
— uses a sling-stone/sling-shot
—— “Lugh’s sling rod was the rainbow and the Milky Way which was called Lugh’s Chain.” (snippet from an untried online source)
– king
— Nuada of the Silver Hand made Lugh king of the Tuatha De Danann
– druidry
— shapeshifting
— magic
– games of skill, including ball games and horsemanship
— credited with creating Fidhchell, the classic Celtic boardgame
– oversees journeys (Julius Caesar)
– oversees business transactions (Julius Caesar)
— Lugh’s name may be derived from lugios, “oath”
— the Irish word lugh connotes ideas of “blasphemy, cussing, lies, bond, joint, binding oath”
– threes (triplets keep showing up in His myths)
– ravens
– lynxes

relationships

– Lugos was a consort of Rosmerta, a nature goddess
– Lugh was a consort of Dechtine, granddaughter of the Dagda
– husband to Bui and Nas, daughters of Ruadri, king of Britain, and Echtach and/or Englic
– father of Cuchulainn (by Dechtine) and Cnu Deireoil and Ibic (by Nas)
– son of Cian Mac Diancecht of the Tuatha de Danann and Ethniu Ni Bhaloir of the Formorians
– brother of Ebliu, wife of Fintan
– half-brother to Muirne of the White Neck
– foster child of Manannan Mac Lir and Tailtiu, wife of Eochaid Mac Eirc
– grandchild of Dian Cecht, Balor of the Evil Eye (whom Lugh slew in battle), and Ceithlenn
– His horse was Enbarr of the Flowing Mane, on loan from Manannan
– His dog was Failinis
– slain by Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, and Mac Gréine; drowned near Loch Lugborta

names and titles

– Lugh or Lug (Irish)
– Lú (Irish)
– Lugos/Lugus (Gaulish) (lacks the “master of all arts” attribute)
– Llew Llaw Gyffes (Welsh)
– Lugh Lámhfada (Lugh the Long-Handed)
– Lugaid
– Lugaidh
– Lonnansclech
– Luga
– Lámfada
– Lugh the Light
– Samildánach (“All Skills”)
– Ildánach
– mac Céin
– mac Ethlenn
– Maicnia (“boy-warrior”)
– Lonnbeimnech (“Fierce Striker”)
– “The Bright One with the Strong Hand” (Lleu’s epithet)

notes

– Lugos was the patron of Lugodunum (Lyons, France) in Gaul.
– Worshipped during the 30-day Lughnasadh festival, along with Rosmerta.
— Fertility magic during this festival was used for good crops and harvest.
— In Irish Gaelic, the word for August is lunasa.
– As king, He led the Tuatha de Danann to victory over the Formorians, slaying His grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, with a slingshot and turning that eye’s power back on the Formorians.
– Was prophecied to grow up and slay Balor of the Evil Eye, so Balor locked his daughter away; Lugh’s father found and seduced her, and she bore triplets, two of which were drowned, but Lugh survived and was rescued and fostered.
This is a great article about learning at Lugh’s feet.
A summary of some of Lugh’s myths and attributes.

My experience with Lugh was with Him in a strongly solar role; He was the first pagan god I encountered and spent time following, and I’ll probably always remember Him as the god in the sun Who taught me about the cycle of the seasons. True to my then-Wiccan roots, I followed Him as He crested in high summer, celebrated in August, and died with the harvest; as the sun, He was reborn at Yule, and I waited all the dark winter for His strength and light to return to my part of the world. (It’s important to note that this was about when I first started experiencing SAD – seasonal affective disorder – and so the mythological death of my god each autumn became inextricably linked with the physiological and psychological effects of winter-time depression.) Though Lugh as the sun was of primary importance to me, His mastery of all skills and patronship of human jacks-of-all-trades came in as a close second; as a scanner with a great deal of interests and hobbies, I was delighted to find a god who had more than one single specialty.

I later parted ways with Lugh, amicably and with gratitude, to follow in the footsteps of another deity: Sekhmet. I still feel a great appreciation for what He taught me and a great respect for Who He is.

In parting, a prayer to Lugh, found here:

Great Lugh!
Master of artisans,
leader of craftsmen,
patron of smiths,
I call upon you and honor you this day.
You of the many skills and talents,
I ask you to shine upon me and
bless me with your gifts.
Give me strength in skill,
make my hands and mind deft,
shine light upon my talents.
O mighty Lugh,
I thank you for your blessings.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

PBP Fridays: B is for Brigid

PBP Fridays: B is for Brigid

Before I encountered Sekhmet, nigh six years ago, I was an avid lover of Celtic mythology (even if I wasn’t a very good student of it). The two gods Who stood out to me then were Lugh and Brigid, and I want to talk about Them both as part of the Pagan Blog Project… both to remember my time with Them and to do some more thorough research that I hadn’t done when I was younger.

In fact, I think I’m going to cover the research portion with the same Cliffs Notes format as I’ve used for Nit and Nebt-het so far.

attributes

– poetry
– healing
– smithing
– fire
– all high things
— high-rising flames, highlands, hill forts, upland areas
— wisdom, excellence, perfection, intelligence, druidic knowledge
— skill in warfare, craftsmanship, medicine
—— goddess of warriors without status
– home and hearth
— protection thereof
—— protects livestock
— fertility and prosperity
—— aids women, especially in conception and childbirth
– holy wells and rivers
– goddess of the land (who would be married to the king)
— bringer of spring

relationships

– daughter of the Dagda + one of the Tuatha De Danann, a poet
– wife of Bres of the Formorians
– mother of Ruadan
– had two sisters of the same name: one was a goddess of healing, one a goddess of poetry, one a goddess of smithing
– half-sister to Cermait, Aengus, Midir, Bobd Derg
– owns two oxen, Fe and Men
– owns the “king of boars,” Torc Triath
– owns the “king of sheep,” Cirb
– equated to Minerva and Athena
– related to St. Brigid

names

– “Brigid” means “exalted one.”
– “Breo-saighit” means “a fiery arrow.”
– Other names/spellings: Brigit, Brighid, Brid, Bridget, Brighde/Bride, Fraid, Brigindu, Brigantia, Braga, Braganca, Brigantis, Bregenz, Bidang

notes

– Invented keening when mourning for Her son, who was killed in battle.
– Invented a whistle used for night travel.
– Her day is February 2, both St. Brigid’s Day and Imbolc/Imbolg.
– “At Luxeuil in the Saône valley of eastern France, … Bricta is specifically identified as the consort of Luxovius, a god of healing and light which may be cognate with Lug.”

Lady Augusta Gregory (Gods and Fighting Men, 1904):

[She is] a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble. And she was a woman of healing along with that, and a woman of smith’s work, and it was she first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night. And the one side of her face was ugly, but the other side was very comely. And the meaning of her name was Breo-saighit, a fiery arrow.

The Second Battle of Magh Turedh:

Bríg came and keened for her son. At first she shrieked, in the end she wept. Then for the first time weeping and shrieking were heard in Ireland. (Now she is the Bríg who invented a whistle for signalling at night.)

And now for some personal recollection.

When I worshipped Brigid, I did not comprehend or interact with gods as I do now. It’s a strikingly strong difference; today, I have very tangible, palpable experiences with my gods. Some 8-10 years ago, I didn’t – I just aimed my devotion, my love, and my prayers at Them and hoped They heard me. I would occasionally feel the presence of a god, but that was usually Cernunnos, not Brigid or Lugh.

Yet Brigid remained incredibly important to me, however little I studied Her, however little I directly experienced Her. I started calling February 2 the Day of Fire and looked to it as the first hope of spring, the first landmark that winter’s hold would begin to loosen over the snow-dowsed mountains. The time between my personal new year on Jan 15 and the Day of Fire on Feb 2 was a period of incubation and preparation for steering the new year, a time of imagining and planning how I would continue to build my own self.

Brigid, first and foremost to me, was the Lady of the Forge. Hearth-fire was well and good; it protected, it gave life through its warmth and light, but it was the heat and deep color of the forge that stood out the most to me. I was, and still am, ever-changing; the forge became a way to rebuild myself. When terrible things happened and stripped away parts of me, I knew I was only being melted down, the dross removed, in order to be reforged into a stronger, different person. I found comfort and security through radical changes and hard times by knowing that I was in Brigid’s forge, being improved time and time again.

I am still very fond of Brigid and Her Day of Fire, which is coming up rather quickly. Maybe I’ll reach out to Her once more.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

PBP Fridays: A is for Anhur

PBP Fridays: A is for Anhur

Anhur is an obscure Egyptian god, also known as Onuris to the Greeks. He originated near Abydos as a god of war and hunting, one of the few Egyptian hunting deities. His name means He Who Leads Back The Distant One; He plays the male lead in the myth of the Distant Goddess.

The myth, in short, tells the tale of the Eye of Ra becoming angry and leaving Kemet (Egypt) to go away, often to Nubia. The reason that the Eye goddess becomes angry can vary, but a frequent version of the myth tells how Ra sends his Eye to search for Shu and Tefnut, Who have gone off wandering in the world that is not yet done being created; when the Eye finds Them and returns Them to Ra, She finds that Ra has grown another Eye in Her absence. Angry with Her replacement, She storms off and wanders the desert, hostile and disconsolate.

In order to regain His protection under the Eye goddess, Ra sends a hunter-seeker to find Her and persuade Her to return. Depending on the version, the god Ra sends accomplishes this feat by a mixture of cajoling, praise, promises of riches and joys upon Her return, and reminders of the Eye’s duty to Her father. When the Eye comes back to civilized lands, She is met with rejoicing, offerings, and festivities by the people of Kemet.

Different gods can play the roles of the Eye and the seeker in this myth. Often, it’s Shu who is sent to bring His sister-consort Tefnut back; other times, it’s Djehuty in His baboon form that teases and flatters an Eye goddess like Hethert or Tefnut until She agrees to return. However, Anhur Himself is often the hunter who finds, and the Eye Who He brings back is Mekhit/Mehit or Menhit, the lioness Who then becomes His consort and wife. The meaning of Anhur’s name suggests the myth may have originated with Him, though Shu and Djehuty are more frequently cited in the retelling.

To make the myth deeper, Mekhit, The Completed One, could symbolize the full moon, and so Anhur bringing Her back could be interpreted as restoring the lost/wounded Eye of Heru to Heru-sa-Aset and restoring balance to the world.

As a war god, Anhur bore the title Slayer Of Enemies and was a patron of the Egyptian army and the archetype of the royal warrior. He was shown standing at the forefront of Ra’s barque to defend the sun god from enemies.

As associated with Shu, Anhur’s name could also mean Sky Bearer, and He was sometimes called Anhur-Shu. Anhur was also linked to Heru-wer as a saviour-through-war deity, earning Him the name of Ari-hes-nefer, Heru Of The Beautiful House. Other epithets include Bull of Thinis, Strong of Arm, High of Feather, The Good Warrior, and the Lord of Lances.

Anhur was depicted as a bearded man in a robe, wearing a four-feathered headdress similar to Shu’s, bearing a spear or lance; He was sometimes shown as lion-headed, as well. He usually holds a length of rope in His left hand, indicating His role in bringing back the leonine Eye of Ra.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

God Bios: Nit (Neith)

God Bios: Nit (Neith)

My lady Nit, please accept my humblest of apologies that I did not celebrate Your festival yesterday. May the research I do on You now be an offering, however small.

Please note, lovely readers: All of this is a work-in-progress. It will change as I continue digging through books and other sources. Do not take this as a rock-solid encyclopedic entry at any point. :) I will be doing similar information-compilations on other deities in my sphere of interest, as well; Nit just happens to be first.

attributes

– war
— makes warriors’ weapons
— protects dead bodies
— weaves the bandages and shrouds worn by mummies
— protects jackal-headed Duamutef (one of the Four Sons of Heru Who guards the canopic jar that stores the stomach) with arrows
— Eye of Ra
– hunting
– weaving
— great creatrix
— protector of women
— guardian of marriage
— weaves the bandages and shrouds worn by mummies
– the primordial waters of creation (Nun)
— great creatrix
— genderless / he-she
— associated with the Nile perch/lates-fish
— mother of crocodiles and snakes
– wisdom
– virgin goddess
— great creatrix
— created childbirth

forms

– human wearing the red crown, a weaver’s shuttle on Her head, or two arrows crossed over a shield
– lioness-headed
– crocodile-headed
– snake
– cow

symbols

– two crossed arrows over a shield (possibly originally a click beetle, found near water)
– Her symbol and part of Her hieroglyph resembles a loom
– Egyptian goad (cow prod)
– red crown of Lower Egypt
– when referred to as creatrix, Her name is written with the hieroglyph of an ejaculating phallus

relationships

– mother of Ra
– mother of Ap-p (by spitting into the Nun)
– mother of Sobek
– wife of Khnum
– wife of Set (Old Kingdom)
– wife of Sobek (after Set)
– mother of Twtw
– may be identified with Tanit, a goddess worshipped in north Africa by Berbers (Barbary…)
— Tanit is related to Astarte/Ishtar (Phoenician)
– assimilated Anouke (Asia Minor, worshipped by immigrants to Egypt)
– identified with Athena
– identified with Nebt-het and Seshat
– equated with Nunet
– associated with other cow deities, primarily Nut and Hethert
– associated with other weaving deities, primarily Tatet
– associated with Yinepu and Wepwawet (“Opener of the Ways”)
– equated with Mehet-Weret, the Great Flood

epithets

– Who Illuminated The First Face
– Mistress of the Bow
– Ruler of Arrows
– Great Cow Who Gave Birth to Ra
– She Who Saw Tem’s Birth
– Nit the Great
– Nurse of Crocodiles
– Opener of the Ways
– The Mother and Father of All Things
– The Eldest
– Mother of the Gods
– Mistress of Mendes

notes

– A great festival, called the Feast of Lamps, was held annually in her honor and, according to Herodotus, her devotees burned a multitude of lights in the open air all night during the celebration.
– Primary cult in Sais with Twtw and Tapsais.
– One of three tutelary deities in Ta-senet/Iunyt/Esna.
– Part of Ogdoad mythology.
– Four goddesses guard the dead and the Four Sons of Heru: Nebt-het, Nit, Aset, and Serqet. (And all four of them are in my lineup…)
– In the Contendings of Heru and Set, Nit recommended Heru-sa-Aset over Set as king to replace Wesir and recommended Set be given land and two wives (Anat, Astarte) in compensation.
– Garnet is considered to be associated with Her. (My birthstone.)
– Pyramid Texts: “May the terror of you come into being … like the Nit-crown which is on the King of Lower Egypt.”
– One of the oldest deities with a very widespread cult and sphere of influence/worship.

Barbara Lesko, The Great Goddesses of Egypt:

Unique Goddess, mysterious and great who came to be in the beginning and caused everything to come to be . . . the divine mother of Re, who shines on the horizon . . .

Proclus (412-485 AD) wrote that the adyton of the temple of Nit in Sais carried the following inscription:

I am the things that are, that will be, and that have been. No one has ever laid open the garment by which I am concealed. The fruit which I brought forth was the sun.

Primary Sources:

The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (Richard H. Wilkinson)
Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt (Geraldine Pinch)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neith