The most ancient Goddess. This figurine was unearthed at the campsite of a nomadic tribe of people who lived even before the Neanderthals. Carbon dating puts the age of the site at Berekhat Ram (in the modern-day Golan Heights region) between 232,000 and 800,000 years ago. From scoria stone these ancient worshipers carved the figurine which, according to the Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society, "might be considered the earliest manifestation of a work of art." This discovery is a phenomenal indicator that our worship of the divine feminine -- the Blessed Mother still venerated as Mary, Kali, and Kwan Yin today -- could have extended fully 200,000 plus years earlier than the Willendorf goddess.
Aker (Akeru, Akerui):
In ancient Egypt Aker guarded the gates of the dawn from which the Sun rose each morning. Aker provided a safe passage for the barque of the Sun during its nightly journey through the underworld. (He ruled over the meeting point between the eastern and western horizons in the underworld) Aker was portrayed as a double-headed lion or two lions sitting back-to-back. Between the lions hangs the Sun. In this way they formed the "Akhet symbol", which symbolized the horizon. (with one head facing the east and the other head facing the west, they witness the sun rise and set) Sometimes the lions were portrayed bearing the Akhet on their backs. The two lions were called "Sef" which means yesterday and "Duau", which means today. Because Egyptians believed that the gates of the morning and evening were guarded by Aker, they often placed statues of lions at the doors of their palaces and tombs. This was to guard the households and tombs from evil spirits. Eventually they gave these statues human heads and this type of statuary was called a Sphinx.
Ammut (The Devourer):
Ammut was a very important deity to the Egyptians because she was present in the Hall of Ma'at for the Weighing of the Heart in judgement for the Afterlife. It was Ammut who would devour the souls of those who's hearts proved heavier than Ma'at. This was a terrifying prospect for the Ancient Egyptians. It meant the end of existence, for they would never meet Osiris and live forever in the Fields of Peace.
Amon (Amen, Amun, Ammon, Amoun):
The word Amen means "what is hidden", "what is not seen", "what cannot be seen". Amon was said to be a god who protected the weak from the strong, and he was an upholder of justice. Ammon was the Egyptian Ram God. According to murals at the ancient temple of Luxor, this fertility god assumed the form of the reigning king in order to procreate, and divinify, the royal lineage. The transformation of horned beast to god reflects the animal's crucial importance in Neolithic herdsman culture. The patron of Thebes, Ammon spoke through oracles and was equated by the Greeks with Zeus. In his name we find the universal sound (amen, amin, aum) whose utterance was holy. Those who requested favors from Amon were required to demonstrate their worthiness or to confess their sins first. The strength of a god would add power to the position of a Pharaoh. But as Amon grew in popularity, his priests grew increasingly powerful in influence and wealth, and they often attempted to assert themselves in the political arena. When the Queen Hatshepsut (see her below) found supporters among the priests of Amon, she honored their god by claiming that he was her father and she built her temple in Deir el-Bahri in his honor. Smart Lady! This political maneuvering helped to destroy Amon's popularity, and thus lessen the power the priests held. Amon's wife was the mother-goddess "Mut" and his son was the moon, "Khensu".
Anahita was a Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. She was known as the "Lady of Beasts and Goddess of Sacred Dance". Anahita was also known as Persian Artemis, reflecting her similarity to both Ishtar, Astarte and Venus. This mother-goddess was ruler of waters, the stars and Fate. She was a motif on the most ancient Greek monuments, and her wings associate her with Nike-Athena's powers of flight and sureness. Her sacred beasts were the bull and lion, the latter connecting her to both Sumerian Lilith and Diana of Ephesus. In the Mithraic mystery religion, Anahita is the female creative principle.
While most Moon legends personify the Moon as female, some do portray the Moon as male, such as the Inuit tribe's tale of "Anningan". The Inuit have lived and traveled throughout the northern parts of the world for thousands of years. Their tale of Anningan speaks of a stubborn Moon who chases his sister, Malina (the Sun), around the Earth. Indeed, Anningan is so persistent that he neglects to eat. As a consequence he becomes thinner and thinner until he is forced to come down to Earth and hunt for food. Each month, the Moon disappears from the sky for three days. According to this tale, this is so Anningan can satisfy his ravenous hunger.
Anubis (Yinepu, Anpu):
Anubis, the original Egyptian God of the Underworld and jackal-god of mummification. (I say original because his role was usurped by Osiris as Osiris rose in popularity). Anubis assisted in the rites by which the dead were admitted to the underworld, such as the weighing of the heart in the Hall of Ma'at. The Hall of Ma'at was where the deceased would be judged for worthiness and acceptance into the Afterlife. If the heart was free from the impurities of sin the deceased would enter the Afterlife. Anubis was worshipped as the inventor of embalming and it was he who embalmed the dead Osiris, thereby helping to preserve him that he might live again. Anubis had three major functions: He supervised the embalming of bodies, he received the mummy into the tomb and performed the "Opening of the Mouth" ceremony, and he then conducted the soul in the Field of Celestial Offerings. It is also Anubis that protects the dead from Ammut, the "Devourer". Anubis was also the keeper of poisons and medicines. Most importantly though, Anubis monitored the Scales of Truth in the Hall of Ma'at to protect the dead from deception and eternal death. Anubis was often seen accompanying Isis. Anubis was the son of Nephthys, and his father was Osiris. One myth says that Nephthys got Osiris drunk and the resultant seduction brought forth Anubis. Yet another says she disguised herself as Isis and seduced Osiris and subsequently gave birth to Anubis. Anubis was also worshipped under the form "Upuaut" meaning "Opener of the Ways", and this form appeared with a rabbit's head.
Aphrodite was the Greek goddess who brought and maintained love in the world. She represents both carnal and heavenly love. (Her Roman name was Venus). At her birth from the ocean (Aphrodite anadyomene, emerging from the sea) as depicted by Botticelli in the painting "Birth of Venus", she came ashore on the islands of Cypress and Paphos, and flowers sprung up as she walked. In the "Primavera" (or Spring) painting by the same artist (originally displayed as a companion to Birth of Venus), she is depicted as the dignified and powerful Aphrodite pandemos (queen of all), and is shown presiding over the seasonal round of fertility and growth. In ancient Greek writings she was also refered to as Aphrodite melaina (the Black One) and Aphrodite epitymbidia (She Who Waits Upon the Graves). These names point to her dark side: we prefer her as a goddess of love, passion and growth, but, as in many other older mythologies, these positive things point to their flip side of loss, decay and death, all part of her connection to the seasonal round. And along with Aphrodite comes...
The 3Graces (Out of alpha-numeric order because they belong beside Aphrodite ;o)
Attendants of Aphrodite, their names were Aglaia (Brilliance), Thalia (Flower-Bringer), and Euphrosyne (Heart's Joy). They gave humankind the enchantment of beauty along with refinement and gentleness. And they provided the ability to give and receive with a feeling of graciousness. According to the old Greek beliefs, these three were present at all weddings.
Apollo was the god of archery, medicine, music and prophecy... and later a god of light and youth. His oracle-shrine was at Delphi. (He was adopted by the Romans from the Greeks, and was the only deity common to both under the same name). Apollo was known as a personification of the sun.
Aradia, the strong, lovely and charismatic Dianic Goddess. Her name is derived from Herodias, queen of witches. She was the daughter of the Moon goddess Diana. A timeless spiritual entity, embodying Kore in her power, Aphrodite in her beauty, and Diana in her courage and love of wild places. She was sent to Earth as prophetess of the religion of witchcraft, with the mission of protecting women from oppression. With her broomstave of power, her cloak of mystery, and her knowledge of every plant. Aradia taught women how to invoke the full Moon at midnight.
Ariadne, the High Fruitful Mother, is a lunar fertility Goddess whose athletic prowess evolved into huntress Diana and many-breasted Ephesian Artemis. Serpents, symbolic of rebirth, were ritually handled by her oracle-giving priestesses, whose bare-breasted costumes suggest the sacred role of sexuality in the culture. Trances and ecstatic dance celebrated the annual rebirth of Ariadne's son-lover Dionysos (Deo Knossos). The sudden end of Crete's peaceful matrilineal Golden Age through flood and earthquake gave rise to the Atlantis legend.
Airmid is an Irish Goddess of Healing, who teaches us the magical and healing properties of herbs and flowers. Airmid was a goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan, daughter of Dian Cécht (god of medicine), and sister to Miach. She was the goddess of medicine, and of witchcraft and herb lore, for she knew the uses of every plant. She helps her father guard the secret Well of Healing. When Dian Cécht discovered his son, Miach, was a better physician than he was, he killed him. Airmid gathered the herbs that grew from Miach's grave and used them to cure illnesses. She had them arranged systematically on her cloak, according to their usage. Her father overturned the cloak so that they were all mixed up, so that she, and humans, would not learn the secret of immortality that was possible with their use.
Arianrhod is a Welsh Goddess called High Fruitful Mother, Star Goddess, Sky Goddess, Goddess of Reincarnation, and Full Moon Goddess (Or Celtic Moon-Mother Goddess). Arianrhod appears in the Mabinogion, known as the sister of Gwydion ap Math ap Mathonwy. They are both the children of Don. The tale says that when Math lost his footholder, it was Gwydion who elected to have his sister taker her place. The footholder of Math was supposed to be a virgin, and so Arianrhod was put to the test. Arianrhod had to step over the wand of Math. When she did so, she prematurely gave birth to twin sons: Dylan (a sea creature) and Lleu (also described as a blob). The tales regarding Lleu and Dylan are wide and varied. Arianrhod often represents cosmic time. She is also portrayed as a vessel which carries the dead. She represents the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, and she represents beauty, fertility, and reincarnation. She is the mistress of the otherworldly tower of initiation, Caer Sidi, where poets learn starry wisdom and where the dead go between incarnations. She is the giver of life, but also the taker of life, for for all must return to her in the end. She is the Guardian of the sacred wells and protector of the doorway into the physical world.
Artemis was the Greek goddess who ruled over the hunt, over the wild, and over women in childbirth. (Her Roman name was Diana). Her domain is the moonlit forest, where she roams with her band of nymphs, bearing the bow and quiver, and protecting the pregnant beasts and their young. Artemis was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis was the goddess of nature, and therefore of the harvest also. Because she's a moon goddess, Artemis is sometimes associated with the goddesses Selene and Hecate. Although traditionally the friend and protector of youth, especially young women, Artemis prevented the Greeks from sailing to Troy during the Trojan War until they sacrificed a maiden to her. According to some accounts, just before the sacrifice, she rescued the victim, Iphigenia. Like Apollo, Artemis was armed with a bow and arrows, which she often used to punish mortals who angered her. In some legends she is praised for giving young women who died in childbirth a swift and painless death.
The original bread of life. Hebrew and Canaanite women molded loaves of this figure which were blessed and ritually eaten, the precursor of the communion wafer. Her idols were found under every green tree and were carved from living trees or erected as poles or pillars beside roadside altars. Crude clay images of her as tree of life later evolved into the more refined Syrian Artemis. Ancient sexual rites (dismissed to this day by male scholars as cult prostitution) associated with worship of Asherah insured that matrilineal descent patterns, with their partnership rather than dominator values, would continue. Hebrew priestly iconoclasts finally uprooted Asherah, supplanting matrifocal culture with patriarchy. Our Judeo-Christian inheritance of this law of the Levites, passed on by the Roman Empire, is one source of present-day sex inequality.
The Lady of the Beasts. Along with Lilith she is one of the principal Elohim (this Hebrew plural word means goddesses and gods, though translated as God by biblical revisionists for the past 2,000 years) of the Semites of Phoenicia. Consort to Baal, she is depicted with two foals in ecstatic dance, her typically upraised arms grasping serpents. She was the Great Goddess, all-powerful, creating-preserving-destroying, an embodiment of Mother Nature. Also known as Ashtoroth, in some poses she is identical with images of Kali, while in her role of virgin she is an ancient prototype of Mary.
Aten, Aton (The Sun God):
Egyptian God Aten was depicted as a Sun disk with rays reaching to the earth. At the end of the rays were human hands which often extended the Ankh to the Pharaoh. Aten was called the creator of man and the nurturing spirit of the world. Aten was solely worshipped by Pharoah Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) and his first wife Nefertiti and this caused much discord in the kingdom. Akhenaten's successors did all they could to erase Akhenaten and his beloved Aten from the public eye. Eventually, Akhenaten became abandoned and the name "Akhenaten" was called a "heretic king."
Athena, also called "the bright eyed", was the Greek goddess of crafts, war, and wisdom. (Her Roman name was Minerva). Athena was not generated by any woman, for she leaped from the head of Zeus, already adult, and dressed in her armor. (Zeus had deceived his pregnant wife with cunning words and assimilated Athena into his own body). She was Zeus' favorite child. He entrusted her with his shield, adorned with the hideous head of Medusa the Gorgon, his buckler, and his principal weapon, the thunderbolt. A virgin goddess, she was called Parthenos (the maiden). Athena was originally a woman-identified goddess who protected the home and family. Later, the Greek culture usurped her as their goddess of war. In the most ancient account, the "Iliad", Athena is a Goddess of ferocious and implacable fight but, she is a warrior only to defend the State and the native land against the enemies. She was known for her intellectual clarity and deep wisdom. Athena has come to be a role model for women who move and live in the patriarchal world of business or academia, yet remain centered and focused on women's wisdom. She was chosen patroness of the city of Athens because she gave the sustaining olive tree to the Greeks. Her owl companion, is the birth consecrated to her, and can often be seen accompaning her. Athena held more power than many deities, for she could hurl the thunderbolt, carry her own aegis and was endowed with the power of prophecy.
Foliate Head images were central to the ancient Celtic cultures of pre-Christian Europe and symbolized fertility, prophecy, inspiration and regeneration. By 400 B.C.E such heads were being carved in stone, showing leaf foliage sprouting from the mouth. This art form spread into the Romanesque and Gothic chapels and cathedrals, and is viewed by scholars as the resurfacing of Druidic tree worship and Dionysiac mystery themes originally suppressed by the church. Green Man is the husband man/caretaker of nature, the male counterpart of the Great Mother Goddess venerated since neolithic times. (Examples: Dijon, Llangwm, Suton Benger, and Neptune).
Redeemer of Humanity. An emanation of Amitaba, the Buddha of Infinite Radiance, this six-armed deity is also known as the Padma-Pani (Lotus Bearer). In his role as Bodhisattva of Compassion, he manifests divine beneficence in all directions. The most important figure of Tibetan spiritual tradition, he was the first to utter the pivotal mantra AUM MANE PADME HUM, and the first Being to enunciate the Bodhisattva vow of perpetual reincarnation to help mankind on the redemptive path toward cessation of suffering.
The Goddesses of Avalon were: Blodeuwedd, Arianrhod, Rhiannon, Cerridwen, and Branwen. I will cover all of them individually in the library. Other Goddess which have connections with Avalon include Brigit, Anu, Danu, and Morgan.