Today I was overwhelmed with fungus and mushrooms and how they are important for us and our health. A fungus is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. With a production of Oxalic Acid and Calcium Oxalate fungus create our world, but that is another story. Mushrooms growing around us and we are not aware about their capabilities. Not only about mushrooms …
So maybe it will be also important to remind you about gods or goddesses with knowledge about healing processes. It is always good to have somebody who knows on your side…
In many magical traditions, healing rituals are performed in tandem with a petition to the god or goddess of the pantheon who is representative of healing and wellness. If you or a loved one is ill or off-kilter, whether emotionally or physically or spiritually, you may want to investigate this list of deities. There are many, from a variety of cultures, who can be called upon in times of need for healing and wellness magic.
So lets try to put them in one space, if somebody missing you can invite them …
ACESO or AKESO ( Greek )
- Aceso was the Greek goddess of the healing process and curing sickness and healing wounds. She was the daughter of Asclepius and Epione, sister of Iaso, Hygieia, Panacea, and Aegle. Her grandfather was Apollo. Unlike her sister Panacea (Cure-All) she represented the process of a curing rather than the cure itself.
AGWU NSI ( African )
- Agwu Nsi is an Nigerian god of medicine men, divination and healing. He is also god of poets, healing, and divine madness. He was worshiped for powers of healing with medicinal herbs.
- He would carry a staff in one hand and a machete like weapon in the other.
ALAUNUS or ALAUNIUS (Gaulish)
- was a Gaulish god of healing and prophecy associated with Greek god Helios–Apollo
- He does not have a specific role in Celtic Mythology or any mythological tales.
- Apollo (Attic, Ionic, and Homeric Greek: Ἀπόλλων, Apollōn (GEN Ἀπόλλωνος) is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo is considered to be the most Greek of all gods. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague.
- Apollo was a god of the sun and of healing magic.
- The son of Zeus by Leto, Apollo was a multi-faceted god. In addition to being the god of the sun, he also presided over music, medicine, and healing. He was at one point identified with Helios, the sun god. As the worship of him spread throughout the Roman empire into the British Isles, he took on many of the aspects of the Celtic deities and was seen as a god of the sun and of healing.
- Theoi.com says, “Apollo, though one of the great gods of Olympus, is yet represented in some sort of dependence on Zeus, who is regarded as the source of the powers exercised by his son. The powers ascribed to Apollo are apparently of different kinds, but all are connected with one another.”
- Marsyas was a satyr who once challenged Apollo to a music contest with the Muses as judges. They agreed that the winner could do anything they wanted to the loser. Apollo won (according to some versions, he cheated a bit) and had Marsyas flayed alive.
- Asclepius (Greek: Ἀσκληπιός Asklēpiós [asklɛːpiós]; Latin: Aesculapius) or Hepius was a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia(“Hygiene”, the goddess/personification of health, cleanliness, and sanitation), Iaso (the goddess of recuperation from illness), Aceso(the goddess of the healing process), Aglæa/Ægle (the goddess of the glow of good health), and Panacea (the goddess of universal remedy). He was associated with the Roman/Etruscan god Vediovis and the Egyptian Imhotep. He was one of Apollo‘s sons, sharing with Apollo the epithet Paean (“the Healer”). The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today.
- Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine. It is said that in return for some kindness rendered by Asclepius, a snake licked Asclepius’s ears clean and taught him secret knowledge (to the Greeks snakes were sacred beings of wisdom, healing, and resurrection). Asclepius bore a rod wreathed with a snake, which became associated with healing. A species of non-venomous pan-Mediterranean serpent, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus) is named for the god. He was originally called Hepius but received his popular name of Asclepius after he cured Ascles, ruler of Epidaurus who suffered an incurable ailment in his eyes.
- Also, Asclepius was a Greek god who is honored by healers and physicians. He is known as the god of medicine, and his serpent-draped staff, The Rod of Asclepius, is still found as a symbol of medical practice today. Honored by doctors, nurses and scientists alike, Asclepius was a son of Apollo. In some traditions of Hellenic Paganism, he is honored as a god of the underworld – it was for his role in raising the dead Hippolytus (for payment) that Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt.
- According to Theoi.com
- “In the Homeric poems Aesculapius does not appear to be considered as a divinity, but merely as a human being, which is indicated by the adjective amumôn, which is never given to a god. No allusion is made to his descent, and he is merely mentioned as the iêtêr amumôn, and the father of Machaon and Podaleirius. (Il. ii. 731, iv. 194, xi. 518.) From the fact that Homer (Od. iv. 232) calls all those who practise the healing art descendants of Paeëon, and that Podaleirius and Machaon are called the sons of Aesculapius, it has been inferred, that Aesculapius and Paeëon are the same being, and consequently a divinity.”
ANAHIT / Անահիտ (Armenian)
- was the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology
- Armenian stamp with the image of the cast bronze head (1th century BC), larger than life-size, once belonging to a statue. It was found in the 19th century near Satala, located close to the Armenian district of Erez/Yerznka. It is usually interpreted as representing either Anahit or Aphrodite. Now held in the British Museum.
ANAHITA ( Old Persian )
- is the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian goddess and appears in complete and earlier form as Aredvi Sura Anahita (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā), the Avestan name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of “the Waters” (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom.
AIRMED or AIRMID (Celtic)
- Airmed was one of the Tuatha de Danaan in the Irish mythological cycles, and was known for her prowess in healing those who fell in battle. It is said that the world’s healing herbs sprouted from Airmed’s tears as she wept over her fallen brother’s body. She is known in Irish legend as the keeper of the mysteries of herbalism.
- Priestess Brandi Auset says in The Goddess Guide: Exploring the Attributes and Correspondences of the Divine Feminine, “[Airmed] collects and organizes herbs for health and healing, and teaches her followers the craft of plant medicine. She guards the secret wells, springs, and rivers of healing, and is worshiped as a goddess of Wit chcraft and magic.”
- She is the daughter of Dian Cecht and sister of Miach, both well known healers of theTuatha De Danaan, the most ancient race of deities in Ireland.
- During a battle, King Nuada had lost his arm and asked Dian Cecht to fix it as he was the most known physician. He fashioned the King a silver arm. Miach knew that with his and Airmid’s abilities he could restore the kings actual arm. So together, in three days and nights they did just that. Their father Dian felt as though he’d been outdone by his son and became extremely jealous. In a fit of rage he slashed his son Miach, but Miach would just heal himself instantly. Finally, after many attempts, Dian Cecht gave him a blow to the head that killed him. Airmid buried her brother with much sorrow and came back to visit him daily.
- After one year, she found 365 healing herbs growing from his grave, each representing a cure for every part of the body. Airmid gathered the herbs systematically in her cloak and began healing those who needed help. Her father still hated Miach and overturned her cloak forever losing Miach’s gift to humanity. However, Airmid still remembered all of the medicinal properties of each herb. It is believed she moved far away from her father and spent her life healing the wounded. Now those in need of healing guidance pray to Airmid to share her knowledge and healing abilities.
ATEPOMARUS ( Celtic Gaul )
- was a healing god.
- Atepomarus, in the Celtic Pantheon plays a role similar to the Greek god Apollo. Atepomarus was a god more associated with healing however, although being a figure of the sun, spring, and sometimes associated with Cernunnos. His name meant “The Great Horseman” which is related to his appearance of being an up right horse, or a man with the lower half of his body resembling a horse. Most shrines atoned to Apollo had figures of Atepomarus to resemble that connection to what his role was in the Celtic Pantheon.
- The root “epo” refers to the word for “horse”, and the epithet is sometimes translated as “Great Horseman” or “possessing a great horse”.
- At some of Apollo’s healing sanctuaries (as at Sainte-Sabine, Burgundy) small figurines of horses were associated with him.
AJA ( Yoruba )
- Many practitioners of Santeria make offerings to Aja for healing magic.
- Aja is a powerful healer in Yoruba legend and thus, in Santerian religious practice. It is said that she is the spirit who taught all other healers their craft. She is a mighty Orisha, and it is believed that if she carries you away but allows you to return after a few days, you will be blessed with her powerful magic.
- In 1894, A. B. Ellis wrote in Yoruba-Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, “Aja, whose name appears to mean a wild vine… carries off persons who meet her into the depths of the forest, and teaches them the medicinal properties of plants; but she never harms anyone. Aja is of human shape, but very diminutive, she being only from one to two feet high. The aja vine is used by women to cure inflamed breasts.”
ARTEMIS ( Greek )
- Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, and represented by the bow and arrow.
- But, despite her own lack of children, Artemis was known as a goddess of childbirth, possibly because she assisted her own mother in the delivery of her twin, Apollo. She protected women in labor, but also brought them death and sickness. Numerous cults dedicated to Artemis sprouted up around the Greek world, most of which were connected to women’s mysteries and transitional phases, such as childbirth, puberty, and motherhood.
- Artemis is a daughter of Zeus conceived during a romp with the Titan Leto, according to the Homeric Hymns. She was the Greek goddess of both hunting and childbirth. Her twin brother was Apollo, and like him, Artemis was associated with a wide variety of divine attributes, including powers of healing.
BORVO ( Lusitanian and Celtic )
- In Lusitanian and Celtic polytheism, Borvo (also known variously as Bormo, Bormanus, Bormanicus, Borbanus, Boruoboendua, Vabusoa, Labbonus or Borus) was the Celtic God of Minerals and healing deity associated with bubbling spring water.
- Borvo was the Celtic god of healing and healing waters (or spas) and his worship was popular across much of western Europe.
- Borvo’s name means “One who boils”. He was the son of the the goddess Sirona, one of the Celtic goddesses of cattle. The devine companion or consort of Borvo was Damona, who was the Celtic goddess of cattle although in some areas, such as Saone-et-Loire in Bourbon-Lancy (France) he is accompanied by Bormana, who was the female equivalent of Borvo.
- Borvo was worshipped in areas with spas because the waters, especially thermal waters, were thought to have the capacity to heal.
- The remains of shrines to the god have been discovered in towns, such as Aix-en-Diois and Aix-en-Diois, principally in Gaul (modern day France).
- Inscribed tablets have been found which were offerings made by Borvo’s worshippers asking forhis help in healing themselves or someone they knew.
- Borvo was worshipped across most of western Europe, from Gaul to Portugal, the Netherlands and to the British Isles. He would have therefore been a well-known god in Celtic culture. The god seems to have been particularly poplular in areas, such as Bourbon-Les-Bains and Bourbon-Lancy, where a significant number of inscriptions have been discovered in these towns. The name Bourbon is thought to have originated from Borvo.
- Apollo, the Roman god of healing, and Borvo were usually joined with together as a latin version. Roman deities were often associated with Celtic gods due to a similarity in their powers, as in this case healing. Depictions of this kind were common during the time of Roman occupation of Gaul and other countries in Europe because it encouraged the idea of a harmonious relationship between the conquered Celts and the Romans.
- Numerous depictions have been found of Borvo in Europe with the most well-known one representing the god as a warrior, holding a helmet and shield , and facing a large,raised snake (Vicky in France). Borvo is also shown sitting on a rock holidng a cup of bubbling liquid (Vichy in France and Colbridge in England). Others depict him holding a bag of money, a plate of fruit as well as a goblet which indicates he may have also been associated with fertility and the prosperity of cities in some areas (Entrains in France).
- The influence of Borvo may still be found today with spas in Europe, such as the one at Bourboule in France, deriving an ancient link to the past in their literature
BABALU AYE ( Yoruba )
- Babalu Aye is an Orisha often associated with plague and pestilence in the Yoruba belief system and Santerian practice. However, just as he is connected with disease and illness, he is also tied to its cures. A patron of everything from smallpox to leprosy to AIDS, Babalu Aye is often invoked to heal epidemics and widespread illness.
- Catherine Beyer says, “Babalu-Aye is equated with Lazarus, a Biblical beggar man mentioned in one of Jesus’s parables. Lazarus’ name was also used by an order in the Middle Ages that was established to care for those suffering from leprosy, a disfiguring skin disease.”
BONA DEA ( Roman )
- Bona Dea is a goddess of fertility and women’s health. JTBaskinphoto / Getty Images
- In ancient Rome, Bona Dea was a goddess of fertility. In an interesting paradox, she was also a goddess of chastity and virginity. Honored originally as an earth goddess, she was an agricultural deity and was often invoked to protect the area from earthquakes. When it comes to healing magic, she can be called upon to heal diseases and disorders relating to fertility and reproduction.
- Unlike many Roman goddesses, Bona Dea seems to have been particularly honored by the lower social classes. Slaves and plebian women who were trying to conceive a child might make offerings to her in hopes of being granted a fertile womb.
Brighid, Brigit, Brigid or Bríg (Celtic)
- Meaning ‘exalted one’
- Brighid was a Celtic hearth goddess who is still celebrated today in many parts of Europe and the British Isles. She is honored primarily at Imbolc, and is a goddess who represents the home fires and domesticity of family life, as well as healing and wellness magic.
- She appears in Irish mythology as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the daughter of the Dagda and wife of Bres, with whom she had a son named Ruadán.
- It has been suggested that Brigid is a continuation of the Indo-European dawn goddess.[ She is associated with the spring season, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. Cormac’s Glossary, written in the 10th century by Christian monks, says that Brigid was “the goddess whom poets adored” and that she had two sisters: Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith. This suggests she may have been a triple deity.
BINDU ( Illyrian )
- God Bindu was the god of springs . Ancient beliefs of the Illyrian tribes which inhabited Bosnia and Herzegovina remained present in folk beliefs, mostly connected to the cult of water healing, in which the god Bindu is clearly manifested. When one analyses the folk cult of healing and the practice of it, which is essentially pagan in nature, then it is difficult to explain how that ancient system managed to survive in Bosnia especially in the midst of a strong expansion of Christianity and later Islam?! However, the answer should besought in the fact that Christianity, especially after the appearance of Bogomils, or Islam had enough influence to fully assimilate the Bosnian people and to fully disengage them from the ancient Illyrian religion. And that it is true is perhaps best shown by the cult of god Bindu. As it is known god Bindu was the god of springs of the Bosnian Illyrians whose spring-temples were found all over modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the neighboring Croatia. One of the best preserved holly places was found in Privilice near Bihać which is located in nature, next to a spring.
- At that location dozens of dedicated sacrifices to Bindu were excavated, as well as a chapel with numerous animal bones sacrificed in his honour.In the ritual practice of pilgrimage towards springs one can notice the influence of three religious cults of the Bosnian Illyrians: cult of the sun, cult of the moon and cult of Bindu. Cult of the sun: the largest number of holly and salutary springs are located on the east side of the settlement. One would visit it exclusively at dawn, before sunrise, in order to pray, wash one’s face and drink water. In such a way the diseased would expect the blessing of the sun which would shine the light and warmness on the person once
- it rose from the east.Cult of the moon: the holly springs were visited in the first week of the new moon, precisely on odd days i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.Cult of Bindu: after washing their faces and drinking water or placing it into vessels and carrying ithome, the diseased would leave some money next to the streams, usually coins, food, eggs or they would hang some of their clothes on the nearby branches.In the mentioned descriptions of rituals one can notice influences of three deities, which could point to the fact that Bindu was the son of the sun god and moon goddess and as their son he represented the perfect example of vitality and health which gives life and defeats evil, in this case over diseases. The sun that would appear in the east in the morning, according to folk belief the sun was “born”, and the first seven days after the appearance of the new moon undoubtedly point to the idea of renewal of life energy, health and generally luck and prosperity. The sick would ask for blessings from the heavenly deities who again resurrected in their eternal cycles and the manifestation of their divine power was exactly the water over which Bindu had patronage and power.During the beginning of the 20th century, Emilian Lilek, a professor from Sarajevo, recorded a dozen examples of spring worshiping in Bosnia, the springs were equated with healing powers. His ethnological work has been published in the National Museum BIH under the title “Religious antiquities from Bosnia and Herzegovina” in the chapter “Water worship”. Examples that professor Lilek gathered and recorded have, besides their ethnological value, a historic significance because they confirm the long practice of worshiping the cult of god Bindu, deity of the Bosnian Illyrians to whom spring were dedicated i.e. natural temples.
- It is clear that the Bosnian people haven’t forgotten about the religious practice
- of their ancestors which survived despite numerous restless decades which were characterized by the arrival of the Slavs and monotheism.
- In all of the descriptions one can clearly see the practice of pilgrimage towards the streams whose water was considered to have healing properties as well as the practice of leaving money as a gift, food or a piece of clothing which was a substitute for human or animal sacrifice.Behind such a ritual there existed a belief in a supernatural being, whose name was forgotten by the people, and to whom a sacrificial offering had to be made in order to get help i.e. help from disease.The following are only some of the examples given by professor Lilek: On the left side of the river Miljacka there is a spring Pišće-water, from which you mustn’t drink until you leave some money next to the stream or a piece of one’s clothing. Bosnian women visit Pišće-water before sunrise, leaving money next to the spring, and tying pieces of clothing onto the branches of the willow next to the stream.Catholic women visit the stream above Kovačević before sunrise and leave some money there.In Tešanj there is a stream outside the city where the Bosnian women bring their sick children, and bathe them in that water. When they head home they leave some money next to the stream, or they take off a piece of clothing from the child and leave it next to the spring.In Travnik there is a spring called Safa’s source and it is visited by Muslim’s and Christian’s alike,especially around May 6th, in particular those that have headaches or fever. They bathe themselves at the spring. When they head home they throw some money in the water or leave a piece of clothing there.In Pritoka next to Bihać there is a spring which is visited by sick people in order to bathe in it. If a diseased arrives who is also a sinner, the water from the spring disappears immediately, but if a man without large sins comes the water appears in order for him to bathe in it. The spring is gifted with money, clothes, etc.Next to Modriča there is a spring called Šičara. When someone has a fever, one visits the spring in the first week of the new moon’s appearance, Wednesday or Friday, and it bathes in its waters before sunrise. One leaves some money next to the spring or hangs a piece of its clothing onto a tree next tothe spring.In Tuzla there is a spring called Istočnik, Christians visit it during Friday or Wednesday, in the firs tweek of the new moon’s appearance. They bathe at the spring and leave some money or some food.
- Altar with dedication to Bindus Neptune from Privilica, National Museum in Sarajevo.
DIAN CECHT ( Irish )
- In Irish mythology, Dian Cécht (Old Irish pronunciation [dʲiːən kʲeːxt]; also known as Cainte or Canta) was the god of healing, the healer for the Tuatha Dé Danann. He was the father of Cu, Cethen and Cian. His other children were Miach, Airmed, Étan the poet and Ochtriullach. Dian Cécht is described as a son of the Dagda in the Dindsenchas. Through Cian, he is also Lugh‘s paternal grandfather. He appears in the mythological cycle of medieval Irish tales.
EPIONE ( Greek )
- In Greek mythology, Epione (Greek: Ἠπιόνη) is the goddess of soothing of pain; in fact, her name actually means soothing. She is the wife of Asclepius and mother to 5 daughters who all played some part in the healing process. Panacea, the goddess of medicines, and Hygieia, the goddess of health. She is probably also considered the mother of the physicians Machaon and Podalirius, who are mentioned in the Iliad of Homer
- Pain accompanies life on Earth, and humans have, it seems, always been finding and practicing various forms of pain management.The cultivation of the opium poppy plant dates back to the earliest years of human civilization, and opium use was well known in Ancient Mesopotamia. Pain arises in our physical bodies to alert us to possible malfunctions or problems within our human form. The ancient Greeks used several words to describe pain such as algos, pathos and odyni. They developed a belief that pain had the same value as treatment; a stance that occupied the thoughts of many historians, tragedians and philosophers. Pain at this time was treated in sanctuaries using a combination of religious rituals, incantations, tinctures and herbs.
EIR ( Norse )
Thank you Meredyth …
- Eir is one of the Valkyries who appears in the Norse poetic eddas, and is designated as a spirit of medicine. She is called upon often in women’s laments, but little is known about her other than her association with healing magic.
- Eir is the healer of Asgard, the “Norse Hygeia” as some call her. Her name simply means “healer”. It is disturbing to some to see her listed among the handmaidens of Mengloth, a Jotun goddess. However, it is clear to me that Eir and Mengloth are colleagues, and when Eir comes to work at Lyfjaberg, she defers to Mengloth whose “practice” it is out of courtesy, as I’m sure that Mengloth would defer to Eir were she to come assist in Asgard. (I don’t know if that ever happens, but I suspect that healers in general are less likely to care about politics and wars than those with other jobs.)
- Obviously, Eir’s world-energy is Asgard, the home of the warrior sky-gods … and it is not surprising that her specialty is surgery. The official healer of a warrior people would have to be skilled at healing battlefield wounds, gained in practice or otherwise. Eir knows how to open the body and do repair, to stanch blood, to heal massive injuries, to drag someone back from quickly approaching death due to physical trauma. She is the equivalent (and patron of) the ER surgeon who must face frightening wounds, and make on-the-spot judgments as to whether the patient can be saved. This is a different situation from making decisions about a longer, slower death from illness; Eir’s job is to make the snap decision in the moment between life and sudden death as the body lies bleeding out from the blow.
- Eir’s color is the red of fresh blood (although some have seen her to like green as well), and a magic charm pouch should be made of red cloth with blood-stanching herbs such as Yarrow or Bistort. Comfrey is traditionally one of Eir’s herbs, and it is a famous wound healer that speeds tissue repair. Red stones are also appropriate – she seems to be fond of garnets.
FEBRIS ( Roman )
- Followers of Febris prayed to her for relief from fever and malaria.
- In ancient Rome, if you or a loved one developed a fever – or worse yet, malaria – you called upon the goddess Febris for assistance. She was invoked to cure such diseases, even though she was associated with bringing them about in the first place. Cicero refers in his writings to her sacred temple on the Palatine Hilland called for the cult of Febris to be abolished.
- Artist and writer Thalia Took says,
- “She is the fever personified and Her name means just that: “Fever” or “Attack of Fever”. She may have been especially a Goddess of Malaria, which was notoriously prevalent in ancient Italy, especially in the swampy regions as the disease is transmitted by mosquito, and She was given offerings by Her worshippers in the hopes of being cured. The classic symptoms of malaria include periods of fever, lasting from four to six hours, which come in cycles of every two to three days, depending on the specific variety of parasite; this would explain the odd phrase “attack of fever”, as it was something that came and went, and would support Febris’s links with that specific disease.”
GLANIS ( Gaulish )
The Temple of Valetudo, about 39 BC, in Glanum.
- Glanis was a Gaulish god associated with a healing spring at the town of Glanum in the Alpilles mountains of Provence in southern France. There are cisterns at the site of the springs, where pilgrims may have bathed. Near one of them an altar to Glanis and the Glanicae was set up. The Glanicae were a triad of local mother-goddesses associated with the healing springs.
- The town, where a shrine to Glanis was erected in the 4th century BC, was itself named after the god. When it became a colony of the Roman Empire, the Romans followed their usual practice by absorbing Glanis into their pantheon, in the form of Valetudo. The worship of Glanis/Valetudo ended with the rise of Christianity and the destruction of Glanum in 270 AD.
HEKA ( Egyptian )
Heka was an ancient Egyptian deity associated with health and wellness. The god Heka was incorporated by practitioners into medicine — for the Egyptians, healing was seen as the province of the gods. In other words, medicine was magic, and so to honor Heka was one of the several ways to bring about good health in someone who was ailing. Heka was the Egyptian god of Magic and Medicine. Heka was depicted as a young, beautiful and healthy child god. In ancient Egyptian art children were illustrated with a finger pointing towards their mouth (sucking their thumb) or pointing towards the lips. The Hieroglyphic Symbol for a child was indicated by a finger inserted in mouth. As the god of magic Heka was associated with medicine and healing and the power of the written and spoken words. Magic, medicine, healing and religion were an integral part of everyday life in ancient Egypt. The priests of Heka were also trained as doctors and healers. Ancient Egyptian temples included a type of hospital where the priests of Heka practised their form of medicine and magic. In their roles of doctor and physicians the Priests of Heka were expected to be highly literate. The ability to read and write was essential as medical wisdom records were kept in the temples detailing knowledge of healing, diagnosis, medical procedures and remedies. Part of the ancient Egyptian medical kit was a container of papyrus scrolls with texts on illnesses and ailments that could be consulted. The mix of magic and medicine was also evident as a medical kit would also include various amulets and magical charms, such as the Eye of Horus. The ancient Egyptians believed that demons and evil sorcerers caused illnesses, accidents and infertility. Before any practical treatment was given to a patient various magic rituals and incantations were performed by the priests of Heka as part of treatment forming an integrated therapy for both physical and spiritual health. Magic was also used for protection against evil forces. In ancient Egypt, medicine and healing consisted of four components:
- Heka: The primeval potency that was identified with Heka
- Seshaw: The magical rituals were called Seshaw
- Rw: The magical and sacred texts were called Rw
- Pekhret: The medicinal prescriptions and physical treatments were called Pekhret
- The ancient Egyptian Medical kit and tools were inscribed on a temple relief at Kom Ombo
HYGIEIA ( Greek )
- Hygieia lends her name to the practice of hygiene.
- This daughter of Asclepius lends her name to the practice of hygiene, something that comes in especially handy in healing and medicine even today. While Asclepius was concerned with curing illness, Hygieia’s focus was on preventing it from occurring in the first place. Call upon Hygieia when someone is facing a potential health crisis that may not have developed completely yet. Hygieia was imported by the Romans as the goddess Valetudo, the goddess of personal health, but in time she started to be increasingly identified with the ancient Italian goddess of social welfare, Salus.
HOODED SPIRITS ( Romano-Celtic )
- Three Genii Cucullati and a goddess on a relief from Roman Britain
- The Hooded Spirits or Genii Cucullati are figures found in religious sculpture across the Romano-Celtic region from Britain to Pannonia, depicted as “cloaked scurrying figures carved in an almost abstract manner” (Henig, 62). They are found with a particular concentration in the Rhineland (Hutton). In Britain they tend to be found in a triple deity form, which seems to be specific to the British representations (De la Bedoyère).
- The hooded cape was especially associated with Gauls or Celts during the Roman period. The hooded health god was known as Telesphorus specifically and may have originated as a Greco-Gallic syncretism with the Galatians in Anatolia in the 3rd century BC.
- The religious significance of these figures is still somewhat unclear, since no inscriptions have been found with them in this British context (De la Bedoyère). There are, however, indications that they may be fertility spirits of some kind.
- Guy de la Bédoyère also warns against reading too much in to size differences or natures in the figures, which have been used to promote theories of different roles for the three figures, arguing that at the skill level of most of the carvings, small differences in size are more likely to be hit-or-miss consequences, and pointing out that experimental archaeology has shown hooded figures to be one of the easiest sets of figures to carve.
IANUARIA ( Celtic )
- Ianuaria is a Celtic goddess revered at the Burgundian sanctuary of Beire-le-chatel, a spring shrine at which images of Apollo, triple-horned bulls and doves were also dedicated. A small stone statuette from the temple depicts a young girl with curly hair, clad in a heavy-pleated coat and holding a set of pan-pipes. On the base of the statue is inscribed ‘Deae Ianuariae’. Nothing else is known about this goddess. She may have been a healing goddess: the spring was a healing shrine, and it is known that Ianuaria’s companion god Apollo was a healing god in both Celtic and Classical contexts. It is also possible that, since Apollo was a patron of music, and the goddess was depicted as holding panpipes, she was a goddess of music, which was perhaps perceived as a means of inducing the healing sleep.
- Her name sounds like “January,” and this Celtic goddess may well have been syncretized with the Roman god Janus after whom the month is named. Her shrine was located near Beire-le-Chatel in Burgundy, France.Richard Stillwell notes that the sanctuary’s “Walls were razed,” which is another way of saying that the Christians were particularly thorough in their destruction of this temple complex. From the multiple pieces of statues among the rubble, it looks like many deities were worshiped, and that the walls were erected to partition outdoor shrines.
There are two intact inscriptions, one to Ianauria and another to the Matrones. Ianauria’s dedication depicts a curly-haired child playing the pipes. Votive offerings to a Celtic equivalent of the Roman god Mars were often statues of children holding doves. The Celtic Mars deity is unrelated to the martial aspect of Roman Mars, and could possibly be related to Mars as a nurturing bird deity. See my earlier article on Mars as the Roman woodpecker god.
There were at least four large doves at the Beire-le-Chatel complex. The Celts, like the people in the pre-Indo-European cultures they assimilated, were primarily animal worshipers, with anthropomorphism of animal deities a by-product of Greco-Roman influence. Continental Celts probably worshiped a dove deity that became romanized as Mars or a feminine version of Janus. Since Turtledoves are usually conceptualized in pairs, it’s interesting that the god Mars is the father of twins and Janus has two faces. Note from the video below that the simple turr turr turr of the Turtledove would be easy to replicate on even a primitive flute.
IOVANTUCARUS ( Celtic )
- Mars Iovantucarus was a Celtic god who was associated with the Treveran healer-god Lenus Mars at his sanctuary at Trier. The name reflects the deity’s function as a protector of youth, and the temple was visited by pilgrims who often brought with them images of children, often depicting as holding pet birds as offerings to the god. At Tholey, also in Treveran territory, ‘Iovantucarus’ was also used as an epithet of Mercury
ISIS ( Egyptian )
- Isis is a goddess of both magic, death, healing and rebirth.
Although Isis’ main focus is more magic than healing, she does have a strong connection to healing because of her ability to resurrect Osiris, her brother and husband, from the dead following his murder by Set.
She is also a goddess of fertility and motherhood.
After Set murdered and dismembered Osiris, Isis used her magic and power to bring her husband back to life. The realms of life and death are often associated with both Isis and her faithful sister Nephthys, who are depicted together on coffins and funerary texts. They are usually shown in their human form, with the addition of the wings that they used to shelter and protect Osiris.
- She is the first daughter of Geb (the god of the Earth) and Nut (the goddess of the sky) born on the first day of the first years of creation. She is the sister of Osiris, who later became her husband, as well as Set and Nephthys. She bore a son by Osiris in the person of Horus. In Egyptian, she was known as Auset, Aset or Eset, words that were often associated with the word throne.
- Her Symbolism
Isis is depicted as a woman wearing a long sheath dress with and empty throne on her headdress. This symbolized her husband’s absence following his death and her role as seat of the power of the pharaoh. Alternatively, she is also seen as a woman with a headdress of a solar disc and horn. More rarely, she is a woman with the head of a cow.
In some forms, she is a woman with outstretched wings making her the goddess of the wind. Often she is shown with her child son, Horus, with a crown and a vulture. She is also often seen as a woman holding a lotus. In the heavens, her symbol is the star Sept (Sirius).
Her sacred animals include the cows, snakes and scorpions. She is also the patron of hawks, swallows, doves and vultures.
- Her Functions and Role
In Being the Most Powerful Goddess and as Goddess of Magic
She became the most of powerful of all the gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt – a throne originally held by the Sun god, Ra. Ra, depicted as the uncaring god, caused great suffering to the people during his reign. Aware of this, Isis – being the people’s goddess who helped her people in many ways, devised a plan to usurp the throne. She mixed some of Ra’s saliva with mud and created a very poisonous snake. The snake bit Ra that caused him great pain and suffering. Isis offered a cure for his predicament to which Ra eventually agreed. Isis told him that she would need his true name to perform the ritual. Reluctant at first, Ra gave in and as the goddess was performing her magic, she uttered his true name. Ra was healed yet the power over life and death was transferred to the goddess making her the most powerful of them all. This great power was used to the benefit of the people.
- In The Death of Osiris
Isis loved her brother Osiris dearly. When they married, Osiris became the first king of the Earth, and their brother, Set, became extremely jealous of that fact.
Set tricked Osiris into entering a box made especially for him out of cedar, ivory and ebony. Once in, Set sealed the box and threw it away in the river where it was carried to sea. The box was washed up in another country and settled on top of tamarisk tree when the water receded.
In a state of immense grief, Isis went into a fit of insanity, cut off her beautiful black hair, and tore her robes to pieces. Upon regaining emotional stability, she went forth looking for her husband.
She reached Phoenicia and was hired by Queen Astarte (unable to recognize her at first) to be the nurse of her infant son. Having developed a fondness for the infant prince, she decided to make him immortal. While Isis was holding the infant over the fire, Queen Astarte entered the room. Seeing her son smoldering in the fire, she quite instinctively and naively saved her son breaking the magic of Isis.
Queen Astarte demanded an explanation, ans so Isis revealed her true form and told the Queen of her quest to find her husband. The Queen realized that the box containing her husband was at the center of the castle – in the fragrant tamarisk tree. She promptly told Isis of this and Isis was able to find the remains of her husband.
She cradled his broken bones and returned to Egypt for a proper burial. She hid Osiris’ remains in the delta of the Nile. However, on a night of hunting, Set found the box and murdered Osiris once more. To ensure that Osiris would not return, he hacked the remains into 14 pieces and threw them in different directions. He hoped crocodiles would eat the flesh and never be found again.
The goddess Isis searched once more for the remains together with nine dutiful scorpions to accompany and protect her painstaking journey. Each time one piece was found, she promptly rejoined them to reform Osiris’ body. However, the goddess could only recover thirteen. A crab swallowed the last piece, Osiris’ penis. Isis then fashioned this body part out of gold and wax and attached them to make the body whole. As she invented the rites of embalming using her incredible words of magic, she resurrected Osiris.
They then magically conceived their only son, Horus – the sun god. With Horus, Osiris felt it was enough relief to her wife’s grief. He descended into Duat (the Underworld) and became Lord of the Underworld ruling the dead and the sleeping. However, his spirit would frequently visit his wife and their young Horus for guidance and love.
- Nurturing Mother
She is nurturing mother as depicted in her love and care for her son, Horus. The strong bond they had is evident in the ancient text that depicted the goddess as a phenomenal force in her son’s eventual defeat of Set. It is believed that she bestowed upon her son critical magical information that made her son overpower Set. In fact, in some stories, she hid her son until he was fully-grown and able to avenge his father’s death.
- Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood
She is revered as the mother-goddess by representing the maternal spirit in its purest form. She is the divine life giver. She is honored as the great mother of one of the most powerful gods, Horus. She is believed to be the mother of all pharaohs and ultimately, of the whole country of Egypt itself. She assimilated the role of Hathor and depicted nursing the child Horus. She is also revered because she afforded the Egyptians the knowledge of cultivation and the benefits of the Nile River. In fact, it is believed that the annual inundation of the Nile was Isis’ tears because of her husband’s death preceded by the appearance of the star Sept (Sirius) in the sky. This, to date, is known as the yearly celebration known as “The Night of the Drop”.
- Goddess of Death and Rebirth
She garnered this title after she was able to bring back to life her husband Osiris. She, together with her sister Nephthys, is associated with the realm of life and death especially found in funerary texts and in coffins. Both of them are shown as women with wings that protect Osiris.
- Lady of 1000 Names
Isis is known as the quintessential goddess because every symbol and goddess name always had a connection to her. She is a terrestrial, water and air goddess rolled into one. She was considered as the complete female from which all life form sprung.
- Some of her few known forms include:
Khut when she was a light giver
Usert when she was the mighty earth-goddess,
Thenenet when she was a great goddess of the underworld,
she was Sati when she shot forth the Nile flood,
as the embracer of the land and producer of fertility by her waters she was Anqet,
Ankhet when she was the giver of life,
Sekhet when she was a goddess that cultivated lands and fields,
Renenet when she was the goddess of harvest,
She was Tcheft as the goddess of food that were offered to the gods
Ament when she was the great Lady of the Underworld. She was responsible for transforming the bodies of the sacred dead who has been granted passage to live in the realm of Osiris
To say the least, she may have absorbed an assimilated function of some ancient goddesses like Nekhebet, Net, Uatchet, Bast, Mut and even Hathor as the history of Egypt changes.
- In the Book of the Dead, she is referenced as:
She who gives birth to heaven and earth
She who seeks the righteousness in her people
She who seeks justice for the poor people
She who knows the orphan
She who seeks shelter for the weak people
She who knows the widow spider
Her many titles include:
Queen of Heaven
Mother of the Gods
The Giver of Life
Lady of the Words of Power
Moon Shining Over the Sea
Isis of Panthea
Mistress of the House of Life,
She Who Knows How To Make Right Use of the Heart,
Light-Giver of Heaven
The Brilliant One in the Sky
Star of the Sea
Great Lady of Magic
The One Who is All
Lady of Green Crops
Cult of Isis
- She is revered al throughout Egypt. She had important temples and Statues across the country and in Nubia. One of her most important temples was that built in the island of Philae, near the first cataract. Her influence eventually spread towards the entire Greco-Roman empire. She was exalted in Alexandria as the patron of seafarers. She reached her peak as the most prominent deity in the basin of Mediterranean until 6th century AD.
- Her cult following even became the most formidable opponent of the Christian religion. Despite being pushed into almost obscurity, she has remained influential in many religions. Some scholars believed she was the reincarnated into Mary. She was the inspiration, when she was nursing the child Horus, of the acclaimed painting “Madonna and the Child”. Some early Christians even called themselves Pastophori, which means shepherds or servants of Isis. This word is the origin of the word pastor.
To date, Isis is still revered by the Wiccan religion.
IXTLILTON ( Aztec )
- The Little Black One in aztec mythology is the god of medicine and healing, the god of well-being or good luck. Ixtlilton was a gentle god, who emanated from an obsidian mask which brought darkness and peaceful sleep to children in their beds at night.
- Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, in his Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España (1570–1582), writes that when a child was cured, the parents would take into their home a priest who impersonated the god. At the house a feast was held that “consisted of dances and songs.” When the priest impersonating the god later left the house, “they gave him rugs or shawls.”
JENGU ( African )
- Water spirits that bring good fortune and cure disease for Sawa people
- Jengu worship centres on a secret society led by an individual known as the ekale. This person traditionally wears a mask at all meetings, though this practice all but died out by the mid-20th century. Anyone can supplicate the miengu, however, and the simplest rituals involve nothing more than prayers or sacrifices to the deities before fishing or traveling by water.
- Early jengu worshippers performed rituals in pirogues on the Wouri River, its tributaries and estuary, and on nearby islands. The person would first dress in ceremonial garb, a cape, skirt, and headdress of raffia fronds, and carry palm fronds and wooden paddles. He would then summon the miengu and offer them oblations of food and drink. He might also visit a jengu shrine further up the Wouri.
LENUS ( Celtic )
- Interior of the reconstructed temple on the Martberg, with a cult statue of Lenus Mars.
- The spring sacred to Lenus Mars near the temple ‘Am Irminenwingert’ overlooking Trier.
- Lenus was a Celtic healing god worshipped mainly in eastern Gaul, where he was almost always identified with the Roman god Mars. He was an important god of the Treveri tribe, who had large sanctuaries at medicinal springs at Trier and the Martberg by Pommern in what is now Germany. Two dedications to him are also known from southwestern Britain (Chedworth and Caerwent). Edith Wightman characterizes him as “one of the best examples of a Teutates, or god of the people, equated with Mars—protector of the tribe in battle, but also […] bestowed of health and general good fortune”
- He was an important god of the Treveri tribe, who had large sanctuaries at medicinal springs at Trier and the Martberg by Pommern in what is now Germany. Two dedications to him are also known from southwestern Britain (Chedworth and Caerwent). Edith Wightman characterizes him as “one of the best examples of a Teutates, or god of the people, equated with Mars—protector of the tribe in battle, but also […] bestower of health and general good fortune” (p. 211). His sanctuary ‘Am Irminenwingert’ at Trier had a large temple, baths, smaller shrines and a theatre; that on the Martberg also included a large variety of buildings, probably including rooms for health-seeking pilgrims to stay. Despite his associations with healing, Lenus Mars is depicted classically as a warrior with Corinthian helmet in a bronze statuette from the Martberg.
- His name most often appears in inscriptions as ‘Lenus Mars’, rather than ‘Mars Lenus’ as would be expected from other most syncretized names. At Trier, Lenus Mars’s divine partners were the Celtic goddess Ancamna and the Roman Victoria, as well as the Xulsigiae, who are perhaps water nymphs. An inscription from Kaul in Luxembourg appears to invoke Lenus Mars ‘Veraudunus’ along with the Celtic goddess Inciona.
- Lenus was not the only Celtic god identified with Mars by the Treveri; others, such as Iovantucarus (apparently a protector of youth), Intarabus, Camulos, and Loucetios were identified with Mars and perhaps, by extension, with Lenus. His name occasionally appears as ‘Mars Laenus’; the more usual form ‘Lenus Mars’ is accompanied by the epithets Arterancus and Exsobinus on one inscription each.
- In Britain, Mars Lenus may have been identified with Ocelus Vellaunus, on the evidence of this inscription on the base of a statue:
MAPONUS ( Celtic )
- Maponus is associated with hot springs and sacred wells.
- Maponus was a Gaulish deity who found his way into Britain at some point. He was associated with the waters of a healing spring, and eventually was absorbed into the Roman worship of Apollo, as Apollo Maponus. In addition to healing, he is associated with youthful beauty, poetry, and song.
HYMN TO MAPONOS AT MIDSUMMER
The sun sails high in a neverdark sky
And Maponos rides the tide of summer
Tall are the grasses grown in the fields
the Breeze sighs through them, singing of summer
The forests adorned with a crown of green
beneath plays the God, in the glades of summer
The harp of Maponos vibrates the air,
and late, in the twilight, still it’s summer
MENRVA ( Etruscan )
|Goddess of war, art, wisdom, and health|
|Menrva on a Roman As from Etruria|
- Menrva (also spelled Menerva) was an Etruscan goddess of war, art, wisdom, and medicine. She contributed much of her character to Roman Minerva, when that culture evolved
NODENS ( Celtic )
- Nodens (also known as Nudd and Nuada) – a God of Healing in Celtic Mythology
- Nudd was a god of the Welsh Celts in Britain and was associated with healing and the sea. He was the son of Beli, the god of the Sun, and the leader of the gods but could not rule after losing his hand in a battle. His brother Gofannon made a silver hand and so has a connection with amputees. His followers would make offering to him in the form of small bronze representations of body parts that afflicted them.
- He was associated with the symbol of the dog whose lick is said to have healing powers. (Dogs also had the power to enter and leave the Other-world unharmed in Celtic tradition and so could protect and guide those who had died). He is also depicted in temples with sun-rays surrounding his head and driving in a four horse chariot attended to by two winged genii and two Tritons. Salmon and trout symbols are also associated with the god. Many Celts believed the sick wold be cured if they saw a fish such as Salmon, Trout or eels.
- Nudd was also known as Nodens in Britain meaning “He who Bestows Wealth” as well as “Cloud Maker”.
- Dedications were found on plates and inscriptions to Mars Nodens at Lydney in Britain where the god was equated to the Roman god Mars. An inscription found at Hadrian’s Wall associates Nodens with the Roman god Neptune. Nodens is equated with Silvanus, the Roman god of forests, and suggests an association with hunting. An inscription found at Metz (Germany) with an association of Nosdatius to Mars also seems to be a dedication to Nodens.
- A large Roman-Celtic temple was built to Nodens on an ancient Iron Age fort in Lydney Park near the River Severn in Gloucestershire. The symbols of the Sun, water (such as mosaics of dolphins and sea monsters) and statues of dogs as well as offerings of arms by worshippers seem to confirm the god’s association with healing. Bronze reliefs of a sea god driving a chariot with tritons and fishermen also confirm the healing aspect of the temple complex. The remains of sleeping quarters seems to suggest worshippers would have slept at the temple where priests would have been in attendance.
- A Roman-Celtic shrine was also found in Lancashire where an inscription was found to Mars Nodens as well as statues. Inscriptions associating Nodens with the Roman god Neptune were found at the remains of a Roman fort and settlement at Chesterholm in Northumberland.
- The Welsh mythological king Ludd, also known as “Ludd of the Silver Hand”, was the equivalent of Nudd and Nodens. Ludd was the king of Britain who encountered three plagues. The first plague was the Cornanians, who were a race of dwarfs in Welsh mythology and were killed by Ludd. The second plague were the white and red dragons who were captured and buried in rocks. The third plague was that of a marauding giant whom Ludd defeated following a brutal fight. The town of Lydney in Gloucestershire and Ludgate Hill in London are named after Ludd.
- The Irish equivalent of Nudd was called Nuada. Nuada was the king of the ruling clan of gods called the Tuatha Dé Danann. He lost his arm in a battle and was dethroned because an Irish king was required to be physically intact. Nuada’s arm was replaced by a prosthetic silver arm by Diancecht, the god of healing and physician to the Tuatha Dé Danann. The prosthetic arm eventually became an arm of flesh and blood. Nuada reclaimed his throne from Bres after seven years and ruled for another twenty years before dying in battle.
- The legends are approximately the same. For example, Nuada loses his arm in a battle and had to abdicated. However he regained his throne seven years later and ruled for further twenty years. Nudd or Nuada died at the hands of Balor in his final battle. The god was also considered to be the divine ancestor of certain Irish tribes. The town of Maynooth (or “the plain of Nuada”) in County Kildare, Ireland is apparently named after the god.
- Remnants of the Celtic gods Nudd, Nodens, Ludd and Nuada may be found in present day Britain and Ireland.
OSANYIN ( African )
- He is syncretized with Saint Joseph. He represents the healer.
PANACAEA ( Greek )
- Panacaea’s magic potion was said to cure all the ailments of the world.
- Daughter of Asclepius and sister of Hygieia, Panacea was a goddess of healing by way of curative medicine. Her name gives us the word panacea, which refers to a cure-all for disease. She was said to carry a magic potion, which she used to heal people with any illness at all.
PATECATL ( Aztec )
- In Aztec mythology, Patecatl is a god of healing and fertility, and the discoverer of peyote as well as the “lord of the root of pulque “.With Mayahuel, he was the father of the Centzon Totochtin. In the Aztec calendar, Patecatl is the lord of the thirteen days from 1 Monkey to 13 House. The preceding thirteen days are ruled over by Mictlantecuhtli, and the following thirteen by Itztlacoliuhqui
SEKHMET ( Egyptian )
- In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet (also spelled Sachmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet and Sekhet; and given the Greek name, Sacmis that translates to “the Powerful One”), was originally the warrior goddess of Upper Egypt. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath created the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.
- Sekhmet became identified in some later cults as a daughter of the new sun god, Ra, when his cult merged with and supplanted the worship of Horus (the son of Osiris and Isis, who was one of the oldest of Egyptian deities and gave birth daily to the sun). At that time many roles of deities were changed in the Egyptian myths. Some were changed further when the Greeks established a royal line of rulers that lasted for three hundred years and some of their historians tried to create parallels between deities in the two pantheons.
- Her name suits her function and means, the (one who is) powerful. She also was given titles such as the (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Mistress of Dread, and the Lady of Slaughter.
- Sekhmet also was seen as a bringer of disease as well as the provider of cures to such ills. The name “Sekhmet” literally became synonymous with physicians and surgeons during the Middle Kingdom. In antiquity, many members of Sekhmet’s priesthood often were considered to be on the same level as physicians.
- In Tibet Sekhmet is known as Senge Dong-ma, lion-headed dakini, “Guardian of the Secret Tantric Teachings”. She is called Simhavaktra, in India where she also has a male reflection in the lion-headed incarnation of Vishnu, Narasimha. Pure shakti, she is doubtless a close relative to lion-mounted Durga, “Keeper of the Flame”. Another Egyptian name for Sekhmet is Nesert, the flame. In the ancient Near East she was called Anat, Ashtoreth and Astarte.
- Today many women view Sekhmet as a source of strength, independence and assertiveness, and commune with her frequency when these attributes need to be augmented or instilled. To some Sekhmet has become the symbol of the modern woman. She is approached as a healer, bringer of justice and as a guardian or protector, but the emphasis has shifted. It seems a natural progression that Sekhmet has transformed from what was almost a force of chaos into an icon of immanent female power.
- She is often represented as a woman wearing a red dress with the head of a lioness wearing a sun disc circled by a cobra on her head. She often holds the ankh – the symbol of life, when seated. When standing or striding, she is seen holding the papyrus specter symbolizing Lower Egypt. However, some scholars believe that she was a deity introduced to Egypt from Sudan because lions are plenty in that area.
- As a sun goddess, she is connected with the scorching, searing and burning heat of the sun. In this aspect, she was known by another name, Nesert that literally means flame. This sealed her fate as a terrifying goddess. Her title as the Red Lady associated her with desert where the heat of the sun reigns.
- She is associated with another feline and leonine goddess, Bastet. Sekhmet is known as Goddess of the West wearing red and Bastet is named the Goddess of the East dressed in green.
- Sekhmet is closely associated with the pharaoh and his kingship. She is believed to protect the pharaoh during war as the warrior goddess of Upper Egypt. She acquired the title “The Scarlet Lady” because of her lust for blood. In fact, celebrations and sacrifices are often offered to the goddess to appease her after the war and end the destruction.
- She is believed be a closely related aspect of Hathor. When Hathor was sent to the earth when Ra plucked her out of his brows, she turned to Sekhmet to avenge her father because the humans have not been true to the principles of Ma’at. However, she became so violent that she slaughtered humankind without limit and drank their blood. She became the fiercest of all goddesses. Ra, afraid of what her daughter had turned out, poured 7000 jugs of beer and pomegranate that dyed the Nile River red to resemble blood that the goddess swiftly drank. She became so drunk that Sekhmet slept for three days. Only by that trickery, when she awoke, she returned to her docile self as Hathor.
- Humankind was saved from the wrath of Sekhmet and it is celebrated and commemorated every year. Everyone drank beer stained with pomegranate as they worship Sekhmet: “The Mistress and Lady of the Tomb”, “The Gracious One”, “The Destroyer of Rebellion”, and “The Mighty One of Enchantments.
- Being the mother of a healing goddess, Sekhmet has her healing and protective aspects. While she may bring about disease and plague to those who wrong her as the Lady of Pestilence, she is also a master of the art of medicine as she provides the cure to various ailments she may have brought to man. She was the patron goddess of all healers and physicians. In fact, her priests were known to be very skilled doctors. As a result, the gruesome “Lady of Terror” becomes the benevolent “The Lady of Life”. She was mentioned numerous times in the various spells of The Book of the Dead as both a creative and vicious force. However, she is most known as the protector of Ma’at (balance or justice) with the epithet: “The One Who Loves Ma’at and Who Detests Evil”.
SERKET or SERQET ( Egyptian )
- Serket (also known as Selchis, Selkhit, Serqet Selkit, Selket, Serket-hetyt, Selkis, Selqet, Serkhet or Serquet.) is the goddess of fertility, nature, animals, medicine, magic, and healing venomous stings and bites in Egyptian mythology, originally the deification of the scorpion.
- Scorpion stings lead to paralysis and Serket’s name describes this, as it means “(she who) tightens the throat”, however, Serket’s name also can be read as meaning “(she who) causes the throat to breathe”, and so, as well as being seen as stinging the unrighteous, Serket was seen as one who could cure scorpion stings and the effects of other venoms such as snakebite.
- Serket is the Egyptian Goddess of the Scorpion. She takes the form of a woman with a scorpion in her head always ready to strike, or a scorpion’s tail with the head of a woman. More often, she just takes the form of the scorpion itself. Her name means one who tightens the throat or causes it to breathe. She is believed to have the power to heal people from poisonous bites of snakes and stings from bees and to protect people from scorpion bites.
- Considered as a patron for pharaohs, she has a dual role in Egyptian mythology as protector of right and punisher of the wrong. She protects pregnant mothers and children from venomous bites. In one myth, she protected the Goddess Isis and her infant son Horus from Set. She also is depicted as a protector of the deities from the great snake-demon known as Apep, even participating in his eventual capture.
- She is also believed to be a protector of the dead, preventing their bodies from stiffening caused by poisons and fluids. In line with this, she has become a protector of the tents of the embalmers. She was given the titles “Lady of the Beautiful Tent and “The Mistress of the Beautiful House” because of this. She also has a hand in protecting Qebesenuf and his canopic jar which was used to hold intestines. This duty resulted in her close association with several other deities who performed the same duties like Isis, Nephthys and Neith. In the afterlife, she continues to protect the dead by helping souls adjust to life in the Underworld.
- Her tight association with Isis and their related roles caused some historians to understand her simply as an aspect of Isis rather than as a goddess on her own. Some believe she is a form of Isis whose dominant cult following dates back as far as the first dynasty.
- Sometimes, her name is associated with the scorching heat of the sun. Together with Neith, she became one of the guardians of the marriage union by watching the sky and ensuring that no one will disturb Amun, The God Creator, and his wife.
- She is also the patron of healers as well as magicians.
- Although Serket had a large following of priests, there are no indications of any temples built to her honor. No historical reference or artifact can prove it, but there may have been temples built especially for her that were destroyed without leaving any trace of their existence.
SIRONA ( Celtic )
- The goddess Sirona was often honored near hidden hot springs. picturegarden / Getty Images
- In eastern Gaul, Sirona was honored as a deity of healing springs and waters. Her likeness appears in carvings near sulfur springs in what is now Germany. Like the Greek goddess Hygieia, she is often shown with a serpent wrapped around her arms. Sirona’s temples were often constructed on or near thermal springs and healing wells.
VEJOVIS ( Roman )
- This Roman god is similar to the Greek Asclepius, and a temple was erected to his healing abilities on the Capitoline Hill. While little is known about him, some scholars believe Vejovis was a guardian of slaves and fighters, and sacrifices were made in his honor to prevent plague and pestilence.
- Vejovis was portrayed as a young man, holding a bunch of arrows, pilum, (or lightning bolts) in his hand, and accompanied by a goat. Romans believed that Vejovis was one of the first gods to be born. He was a god of healing, and became associated with the Greek Asclepius. He was mostly worshipped in Rome and Bovillae in Latium. On the Capitoline Hill and on the Tiber Island, temples were erected in his honour.
- Though he was associated with volcanic eruptions, his original role and function is obscured to us. He is occasionally identified with Apollo and young Jupiter.
- Aulus Gellius, in the Noctes Atticae, written almost a millennium after; speculated that Vejovis was an ill-omened counterpart of Jupiter; compare Summanus. Aulus Gellius observes that the particle ve- that prefixes the name of the god also appears in Latin words such as vesanus, “insane,” and thus interprets the name Vejovis as the anti-Jove.
- He had a temple between the two peaks of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, where his statue carried a bundle of arrows and stood next to a statue of a she-goat.
- In spring, multiple goats were sacrificed to him to avert plagues. Gellius informs us that Vejovis received the sacrifice of a female goat, sacrificed ritu humano; this obscure phrase could either mean “after the manner of a human sacrifice” or “in the manner of a burial.” These offerings were less about the animal sacrificed and more about the soul sacrificed
To be continued …
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