Evelyn De Morgan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
13 LITTLE KNOWN NATURE DEITIES
The ancients were closer to nature than we. Nightime was dark, seriously dark, untempered by street lamps, store lights, and the steady hum of our modern need for twilight. Only the communal fire offered safety from the terrors looming outside the common grounds. Unlike we, who tend to consider humans apart from and superior to nature, ancient cultures viewed themselves as part of a pattern of wholeness. The divine was immanent rather than than transcendent. Spirits, deities, and the activating forces of nature formed the web of life along with humans, and dwelt within the forms of trees, animals, rocks, mountains, rivers, and the like. Mother Earth was the all powerful goddess who gave birth to each form in the world and, upon death, received the form back into herself. Her greatness and glory were celebrated in the naming of sacred springs, wells, trees, mountains, forests, and all natural formations. Each place on earth held her indwelling spirit. Springtime plantings and April’s Earth Day provide a chance to pay homage to the natural splendor in which we live. In celebration of Gaia, here are several lesser known ancient nature beings associated with Mother Earth.
Abnoba – Celtic goddess worshipped in the Black Forest region, also the name of a mountain range. At one ancient shrine the name is added to that of the great goddess of the hunt, Diana. The roots of the word Abnoba pertain to river and tree, and possibly to naked.
Ash – Ancient Egyptian god of oases and vineyards. Wine jars were often inscribed “I Am Refreshed by Ash.” Evidence proclaims him an ancient deity of protodynastic times.
Cernunnos – Celtic horned god of the wild, made visible in all horned and antlered animals. His was the masculine power that mated with the feminine spirit, resulting in the perpetuation of life. The name itself means horned one. Of particular interest to me is his association with a two-faced Janus-like being by the Celts of the Iberian Peninsula.
Fan Cheng – Chinese god of the hibiscus. Each flower has its own deity, which to me is a wonderful tribute to nature. And I love hibiscus!
Idunn – Norse goddess of spring who guarded the sacred apples that kept the gods young, allowing only the gods to eat of the fruit. Her name means always young or the rejuvenating one. When Loki attacked her, he caused Idunn and her apples to fall into the hands of the enemy giants. The Norse deities began to wither and age, and Loki was charged with restoring Idunn and her apples to safety and glory.
Korrigans – Spirits of underground healing springs. They were fairy beings of ancient Britany who were beautiful, tiny, and so shining as to be translucent. At night a Korrigan’s form was that of a young maiden, but in the harshness of day she became a withered crone who could be dangerous to any man that interfered with her rituals or sacred ceremonies.
Jurate – Mermaid sea goddess of the Baltic who lived in an undersea castle made of amber and watched over fishermen, allowing them plentiful hauls.
Medeina – Lithuanian goddess of the forest whose sacred animal is the hare. She was a huntress protecting the forest and a she-wolf who ran with the wolves. Her name means tree. Shrines to her have been located in the form of stones with hollows that resemble wolf prints.
Ningikuga – Sumerian goddess of reeds and marshes who wore jewelry made of lapis lazuli, the gold flecked, dark blue gemstone. I find her interesting, as the dwellers of the southern marshlands were generally looked down on as a lesser class by the city folk of ancient Mesopotamia. She is sometimes associated with the great goddess Ningal and sometimes designated as Ningal’s mother.
Ops – Roman goddess of the fruitfulness of earth. She gave grain and fruit to the people and comes down to us in the word opulent.
Qocha Mana – Hopi white corn maiden, also known as Kachina and Goddess Yellow Woman. She gave the nourishing grain to her people.
Tacoma – Earth goddess of the Cascade Mountains who lived atop the snow-covered peaks of Mount Ranier. She was the protector of the natural, fresh waters and nourishment in the form of salmon.
Xochilpilli – Aztec earth god of maize and ecstatic song. His name translates to Flower Prince and pertains to the joy of the soul’s life. The Mayans worshiped him under the epithet Tonsured Maize God, and he was adorned with a mother-of-pearl pendant in the shape of a teardrop.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about these 13 little known ancient nature deities. Which one appeals to you the most? Here’s to a wonderful spring! I hope you receive all the splendor and blessings Mother Earth can give you.
Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Fantasy Romance