Guide to Worldwide Goddesses
“Mothers of the Earth,” “Queens of the Universe,” “Queens of the Heavens,” all are goddesses believed to be creators, lawmakers, prophets, healers, hunters, battle leaders, and truth-givers. Let's go back in time around the world and identify some important goddesses.
Many Indian tribes believe that life originated from females. Many also believe that all spirits that are life-giving forces, such as rain and corn, come from female deities.
- Sedna ruled over the sea animals. The Inuits (Eskimos) believed that she used ugliness as protection. Anyone who dared to look at her would be struck dead.
- Selu the Corn Mother of the Cherokee, cut open her breast so that corn could spring forth and give life to the people.
- Blue Corn Woman and White Corn Maiden were the first mothers of the Tewa Pueblo people. Blue was the summer mother; White was the winter mother.
- Three Sisters In the Iroquois tradition, the life-giving forces of corn, beans, and squash were given by the Three Sisters, who were thanked daily.
- White-painted Mother is the mother of Child of the Water, from whom all Apaches are descended. She keeps her child safe in her womb, slays all evil monsters, and keeps the world safe for Apaches.
- White Buffalo Calf Woman is the giver of the Pipe for the Lakota Indians. The Pipe represents truth.
- Chalchiuhtlicue was the goddess of all waters on earth, but especially associated with running water. She was frequently depicted as a river that nourished a prickly pear tree.
- Chicomecoatl was the goddess of corn and fertility. So important was corn to the Aztecs that she was also known as "the goddess of nourishment." She was sometimes depicted carrying the sun as a shield.
- Coatlicue was goddess of the earth and mother of all the gods. She also gave birth to the moon and stars. She was depicted wearing a skirt made of snakes.
- Xochiquetzal was goddess of flowers, dance, and love. Birds and butterflies loved her very much and were frequently in her company.
- The Chinese goddess Ma-Ku personifies the goodness in all people. She took land from the sea and planted it with mulberry trees. She freed the slaves from her cruel father.
- Kuan Yin represents wisdom and purity for the Chinese. She has a thousand arms, symbolizing her infinite compassion.
Ancient Greece and Rome
- Aphrodite was the Greek goddess who brought and maintained love in the world. Her Roman name was Venus.
- Artemis was the Greek goddess who ruled over the hunt and over women in childbirth. Her Roman name was Diana.
- Athena was the Greek goddess of crafts, war, and wisdom. Her Roman name was Minerva.
- Bona Dea was the Roman goddess of fertility. Her other name was Fauna. No man could be present at the annual festival for her in May.
- Demeter was the Greek goddess who made all things grow. Her Roman name was Ceres.
- Gaea was the Greek goddess of the earth. Her Roman name was Terra.
- Hera was the Greek protector of marriage and women. Her Roman name was Juno.
- Hestia was the Greek goddess of the hearth and home. Her Roman name was Vesta.
- Eos was the Greek goddess of the dawn. It was thought that she emerged every day from the ocean and rose into the sky on a chariot drawn by horses. The morning dew represented her tears of grief for her slain son.
- Isis invented agriculture. She was the goddess of law, healing, motherhood, and fertility. She is sometimes depicted with a disk from the sun between two cow horns on her head or a headdress in the shape of a vulture.
- Hathor the goddess of love and mirth, protected children and pregnant women. She embodied the sky and was often depicted as a star-speckled "Celestial Cow," or just with a cow head or cow horns.
- Nephthys was goddess of the dead. She was a kind and understanding companion to the newly dead as well as to those left behind. She was sometimes represented as a bird, or with hieroglyphics that spelled her name above her head.
- Nut represented the heavens and helped to put the world in order. She had the ability to swallow stars and the pharaohs and cause them to be born again. Her body was covered with painted stars. She existed before all else had been created.
- Sekhmet bloodthirsty goddess who attempted to destroy humanity.
- Pele is the powerful Hawaiian goddess of fire. She lived in the Kilauea Volcano and ruled over the family of fire gods. When she was angry she would erupt and pour fiery rock over the land.
- Hiiaka is the youngest sister of Pele. She is a fierce warrior and yet a kind and calm friend of humanity. She gave people the healing arts, creative arts, and the gift of storytelling.
- Danu was the goddess of the earth. She was mother of many important gods, as well as mother of the Tuatha De Danann, a mythological race of people who had great and magical powers.
- Brigit was a three-fold goddess. She ruled poetry and inspiration; healing and medicine; and war and weapons-crafting.
- The Irish goddess Cerrid gave intelligence and knowledge to humans.
- Caillech was the wisest woman. She ruled the seasons and the weather and was believed to have the power to move mountains.
- Ixchel was the goddess of the moon and the protector of pregnant women. She was often depicted as an old woman wearing a full skirt holding a serpent.
- Ixtab was goddess of the hanged. The Mayans believed that those who died by hanging went to paradise. Ixtab was depicted with a noose around her neck.
- Astarte was the goddess of love and fertility.
Freyja was the goddess of love and fertility. She was very beautiful and enjoyed music and song. Fairies were among her most beloved companions.
- Frigg was the goddess of the sky, marriage, and motherhood. It was believed that she knew the fate of each person, but kept it a close secret.
- Hel was the goddess of the dead and queen of the underworld. She was hideous and bad-tempered; her body was in partial decay.
- Norns were three sisters who lived around the tree of life. They controlled fate: Urth ruled the past, Verthandi ruled the present, and Skuld ruled the future.
- Ereshkigal was the goddess of the underworld. She was stubborn and temperamental and could be difficult to please. However, hymns and offerings to the dead could help to improve her mood.
- Inanna was the goddess of love, fertility, and war. Sometimes called "Queen of the Sky," her symbol was an eight-pointed star. Inanna was also queen of all beasts, and counted the lion as her special companion.
- Ninhursag was the goddess of earth and mother of the gods, as well as the creator of all plant life. When she was pleased, the ground was fertile and the seasons were rich. But when she was angry, fields would be barren.
Fact Monster/Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
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