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I was recently re-watching the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Masks, (because I'm not a nerd even a little bit), and an interesting thought struck me: the culture portrayed in that episode seems to have had a pantheon centered around an incredibly cruel, if not outright evil, torturer-Queen deity named Masaka. The other gods from her pantheon seem to either be hiding from her, fearing her, or trying to counter her influence. This is not unlike the episode Devil's Due, in which another society seems to hold the negative deity, a devil-figure named Ardra, above all others.
It made me wonder, have any historical cultures revered a negative or evil deity as their primary or most-powerful figure? Obviously plenty of primary deities (such as Zeus or Odin or even the Old Testament Yahweh) have been shown to be cruel, callous, or capricious at times, but these gods are also heavily tied to ideas like justice, courage, or mercy. They are, ultimately, positive forces in the universe and toward humanity.
Have any societies held a strictly evil or malevolent deity above all others?
EDIT: In response to several commenters, I thought I'd clarify: I'm talking about gods whose own worshippers considered the god a force of evil, not those who are interpreted as such by outsiders, and certainly not a discussion of whether religion itself is positive. I'm saying that Zeus, Odin, and the Judeochristian God are all viewed by their followers as "good." Were any pantheon-topping gods seen by their own worshippers as primarily malevolent, rather than benevolent?
This is kind of tough to answer, as few people look upon themselves as "evil", and there are adherents to pretty much every religion that will happily tell you everyone else is worshiping devils.
That being said, the best candidate I can think of is the Thuggee (Thugs). Yes, we got the word from a historical people. This was a society in India that believed they were descended from Kali (Hindu goddess of death), and made their living by murdering travelers and caravans. Its debatable how religious they actually were though. There are millions of modern-day Kali worshipers who would quite strenuously object to any insinuation that Kali is an "evil" goddess.
Cultural depictions of spiders
Throughout history, spiders have been depicted in popular culture, mythology and in symbolism. From Greek mythology to African folklore, the spider has been used to represent a variety of things, and endures into the present day with characters such as Shelob from The Lord of the Rings and Spider-Man from the eponymous comic series. It is also a symbol of mischief and malice for its toxic venom and the slow death it causes, which is often seen as a curse.  In addition, the spider has inspired creations from an ancient geoglyph to a modern steampunk spectacle. Spiders have been the focus of fears, stories and mythologies of various cultures for centuries. 
The spider has symbolized patience and persistence due to its hunting technique of setting webs and waiting for its prey to become ensnared. Numerous cultures attribute the spider's ability to spin webs with the origin of spinning, textile weaving, basket weaving, knotwork and net making. Spiders are associated with creation myths because they seem to weave their own artistic worlds.  Philosophers often use the spider's web as a metaphor or analogy, and today terms such as the Internet or World Wide Web evoke the inter-connectivity of a spider web. 
What was Abraham’s religion before God called him?
Abraham is called the friend of God, the father of the Jews, and the father of the faithful. He is honored by Jews, Muslims, and Christians as a great man, but what religion did he follow before being called by Yahweh?
Abraham was born and raised in Ur of the Chaldees, which is in modern Iraq, near Nasiriyah in the southeastern part of the country. Joshua 24:2 says that Abraham and his father worshiped idols. We can make some educated guesses about their religion by looking at the history and religious artifacts from that period.
Ur of the Chaldees was an ancient city that flourished until about 300 BC. The great ziggurat of Ur was built by Ur-Nammu around 2100 BC and was dedicated to Nanna, the moon god. The moon was worshiped as the power that controlled the heavens and the life cycle on earth. To the Chaldeans, the phases of the moon represented the natural cycle of birth, growth, decay, and death and also set the measurement of their yearly calendar. Among the pantheon of Mesopotamian gods, Nanna was supreme, because he was the source of fertility for crops, herds, and families. Prayers and offerings were offered to the moon to invoke its blessing.
When God called Abraham (then called Abram) in Genesis 12:1, He told Abraham to leave his country, his kindred, and his father’s house. Everything familiar was to be left behind, and that included his religion. We do not know what Abraham knew about the true God at that point, but it is likely that he had received some instruction from his father, as each generation passed down their history to the next. As a worshiper of other gods, Abraham must have been surprised to receive a direct revelation from Yahweh. The moon god and other deities were distant objects of worship, and they did not personally interact with men. Abraham obeyed God’s call, and, when he arrived in the land of Canaan, he built an altar to Yahweh at Shechem (Genesis 12:7). The text indicates that God’s appearance to Abraham was a deciding factor in his choosing to worship Him. Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham’s departure from Ur was an example of faith in action.
Abraham continued to learn about this God he now worshiped, and in Genesis 14:22, following the example of Melchizedek, Abraham calls Yahweh “the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” This statement shows that Abraham set Yahweh above and apart from the moon god. His decision to worship God alone was settled in Genesis 17, when God established the covenant of circumcision with him. God appeared to Abraham, saying, “I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). In verse 7 God said the covenant He established with Abraham was to be everlasting and that He alone was to be God to Abraham and his offspring. Abraham chose to follow God alone, and he demonstrated his commitment by circumcising every male in his household.
Though Abraham forsook moon worship, the worship of heavenly objects became a continual problem with his descendants. Many times in the Old Testament, God rebuked the children of Abraham for their idolatry and renewed His call to worship Him alone. In Deuteronomy 17:2&ndash5, God specified the punishment for idolatry&mdashdeath by stoning. Moses described idolatry as doing what is evil in the sight of God and transgressing His covenant. Much later, King Hoshea of Israel was defeated and the people taken captive. Second Kings 17:16 says the defeat happened because the people “bowed down to all the starry hosts.” In 2 Kings 23:4&ndash5 King Josiah of Judah led a revival of Yahweh worship and deposed the false priests who burned incense to the sun, moon, and stars.
God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, wants people to worship Him, not the things He created. In Romans 1:18&ndash20, we are told, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities&mdashhis eternal power and divine nature&mdashhave been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” When we worship creation instead of the Creator, we exchange the truth about God for a lie (Romans 1:25) and reject what God has revealed about everything in life. God saved Abraham out of idolatry, changed his name, and called him to follow Him. As a result of God’s blessings to Abraham, the whole world is blessed (Genesis 18:18).
Zoroastrianism: History, Beliefs, and Practices
Originally printed in the January - February 2003 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Contractor, Dinshaw and Hutoxy. "Zoroastrianism: History, Beliefs, and Practices." Quest 91.1 (JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2003):4-9.
By Dinshaw and Hutoxy Contractor
Zoroastrianism, although the smallest of the major religions of the world in the number of its adherents, is historically one of the most important. Its roots are in the proto-Indo-European spirituality that also produced the religions of India. It was the first of the world's religions to be founded by an inspired prophetic reformer. It was influential on Mahayana Buddhism and especially on the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. To the latter three, Zoroastrianism bequeathed such concepts as a cosmic struggle between right and wrong, the primacy of ethical choice in human life, monotheism, a celestial hierarchy of spiritual beings (angels, archangels) that mediate between God and humanity, a judgment for each individual after death, the coming of a Messiah at the end of this creation, and an apocalypse culminating in the final triumph of Good at the end of the historical cycle. —Editor
ZOROASTER WAS THE PERSIAN PROPHET on whose teachings the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism is based.The name by which he is commonly known in the West is from the Greek form of his original name,Zarathushtra, which means "Shining Light."
Date of Zoroaster
Scholars differ considerably about the date of Zoroaster's birth. Greek sources place Zoroaster at 6000 years before the death of Plato, that is, about 6350 B.C. Archeological remains in Turfan, China, state that Zoroaster was born "2715 years after the Great Storm," placing his birth at 1767 B.C. The latest dates for his life come from Persian writings that place him 258 years before Alexander, that is, about 600 years B.C. Many other scholars place Zoroaster's birth between 1500 and 1200 B.C.
According to Annie Besant in her lectures on Four Great Religions, the Esoteric Tradition dates the beginning of Zoroastrian teachings far earlier than any of those dates. That Tradition is based on two kinds of records. First, the Great Brotherhood has preserved the ancient writings, stored in underground temples and libraries. There are people today and have been those in the past who have been permitted to set eyes on these ancient writings. Second, there are the imperishable records of the Akasha itself.
According to these records, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism are the two oldest religions of our modern humanity. The Iranians, in their first migration into Iran, were led by the great teacher Zoroaster, who belonged to the same mighty Brotherhood as Manu of the Indic tradition and was a high Initiate of the same Great Lodge, taught by the same primordial Teachers, called the Sons of the Fire. From this great teacher came down a line of prophets, who superintended the early development of the Iranian peoples and all of whom bore the name Zoroaster. The Zoroaster the Greeks refer to may have been the seventh Zoroaster in this line of prophets.
Birthplace of Zoroaster
Scholars are equally divergent about the birthplace of Zoroaster. They suggest such locations aseastern Iran, Azerbaijan (south of the Caspian Sea), Balkh (the capital of Bactria, in present dayAfghanistan), Chorasmia and Sogdia (in present-day Tajikhistan), or near the Aral Sea (in present-day Khazakhstan).
Zoroastrianism flourished during three great Persian Empires. The first was the Achaemenian Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great (ca. 585 -529 B.C.). He established an empire that extended from Asia Minor in the west to India in the east and from Armenia in the north to Egypt in the south. Cyrus showed great respect for the nations he had conquered. He allowed them to govern themselves and to follow their own religious beliefs. When he invaded Babylon, he set the Jewish captives free to return to their country, Judea, and even provided them with resources to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, which had been razed by the Babylonians. For these deeds, Cyrus is mentioned in the Old Testament (Isaiah 45.1 -3) as a savior and as "the Anointed One."
The Achaemenians had constant conflict with the Greeks in the west of their empire. Darius, a successor of Cyrus, dispatched 600 ships and a large land force to capture Athens. The Achaemenians were on the Plain of Marathon, and their ships were to sneak towards Athens and surprise the city. When the Greeks heard of the Persians' plan, they sent one of their runners, Phillippe, to Athens to warn the citizens there. The distance from Marathon to Athens was 26 miles and this run has been immortalized in the Marathon races held all over the world. The Persians had to withdraw from that battle.
The Achaemenian Empire came to a close with the rise of Alexander, who in 334 B.C. conquered Persia, plundered the treasury, and burned the libraries in Persepolis. Many of the priests were killed, and these priests were considered to be the living libraries of the religion, since they had committed to memory most of the sacred texts. Alexander is thought of as "the Great" by the Greeks, Egyptians, and others but is known as "the Accursed" by the Persians. Alexander died young, and the Greek-based Seleucid Empire, which succeeded him, lasted a relatively short time.
About 250 B.C., the Parthian tribe from northeast Iran overthrew the Greeks and established an empire that was just as extensive as the Achaemenian Empire. The Parthians were also Zoroastrians and were also tolerant of the religious beliefs of conquered lands. During the approximately five hundred years of the Parthian Empire, there were continuous battles with the Romans. The Roman Empire extended to Scotland in the west. However, in the east, they were stopped by the Parthians. The Romans never took to Zoroastrianism but instead practiced Mithraism, in which the deities Mithra and Anahita were worshipped. The Romans established Mithraic temples throughout the western part of their empire, many of which are still standing today. During the five hundred years of the Parthian Empire, Zoroastrianism was quite unregulated, and hence differing forms of the religion developed.
To counteract the resulting chaotic state of the religion, the Sasanians (who were also Zoroastrians) rose up against the Parthians and overthrew them in 225 A.D. The Sasanians wanted to unify Zoroastrianism and to establish rules about what Zoroastrianism was and what it was not. A High Priest was established, who was next to the King in authority. Zoroastrianism was made the state religion of the Empire, and conversions were actively made to counteract the proselytizing zeal of Christians. This missionary activity shows that Zoroastrianism was really a universal religion and not an ethnic religion, limited to one people.
The Sasanian Empire lasted till 641 A.D., when the Arabs invaded Persia and established Islam in the land. The new regime gave the local population three choices: conversion to Islam, payment of a heavy tax imposed on nonbelievers (called the Jizya tax), or death. The Arabs mistreated the Zoroastrians in many ways and made life very difficult for those who chose not to convert. Consequently, in 936 A.D., a group of Zoroastrians from the town of Sanjan in the Khorasan Province of Iran made their way south to the port of Hormuz on the Persian Gulf, from where they set sail for India. They spent nineteen years on the island of Div before making final landfall on the western coast of Gujerat.
These immigrants to India became known as the Parsis (that is, "those from the Persian province of Pars"). The Parsis prospered in Gujerat and later on began to move out to other parts of India. They particularly excelled and prospered when the British established themselves in India.
Meanwhile, the Zoroastrians left behind in Iran continued to suffer under very adverse conditions. When the prosperous Parsis in India heard of the woeful plight of their coreligionists, they dispatched emissaries to Iran, notably Maneckji Hataria in 1854. He spent many years in Iran, rebuilding educational and religious institutions and helping the Zoroastrian community there to regain its social strength. In 1882, he was successful in persuading the Islamic Qajar King to abolish the burden of the Jizya tax.
Today, the Zoroastrian community in Iran is doing well and has an unusually high number of successful people. Within the past few decades, there has been an emigration of Zoroastrians from Iran and India to the Western world. These two communities, the Iranian and Indian, are now united, go to the same fire temples, intermarry, and prosper in harmony.
In Zoroastrian cosmology, the head of the manifested universe is Ahura Mazda, the "Wise Lord." He is the universal and pervasive source and fountain of all life. But behind or beyond Ahura Mazda is Zarvan Akarana, Boundless Time and Boundless Space, the unmanifested absolute from which the manifested Logos, Ahura Mazda, came forth.
Ahura Mazda is depicted in the Zoroastrian scriptures as a kind of trinity: "Praise to thee, Ahura Mazda, threefold before other creations." From Ahura Mazda came a duality: the twin spirits of Spenta Mainyu (the Holy or Bountiful Spirit) and Angra Mainyu (the Destructive or Opposing Spirit). The twin spirits are popularly thought of as good and evil, but rather they are two principles that represent all the opposites of life. In her lecture on "Zoroastrianism," Annie Besant has this to say of them:
Good and evil may be said to only come into existence when man in his evolution develops the power of knowledge and of choice the original duality is not of good and evil, but is of spirit and matter, of reality and non-reality, of light and darkness, of construction and destruction, the two poles between which the universe is woven and without which no universe can be. . . . There are two names again that give us the clue to the secret, the "increaser" and the "destroyer," the one from whom the life is ever pouring forth, and the other the material side which belongs to form, and which is ever breaking up in order that life may go on into higher expression.
After the trinity of Ahura Mazda and the twin spirits that emanated from him is a sevenfold expression of the divine reality. These seven are called the Amesha Spentas or Holy or Bountiful Immortals, the Highest Intelligences. They are sometimes thought of as archangels and sometimes as aspects of Ahura Mazda himself. These seven mighty intelligences are also guardians of various kingdoms of nature. They are as follows:
Ahura Mazda himself. Just as the One Wise Lord is part of a trinity including also the twin spirits of bountiful increase and of destructive opposition, so too is he one of the sevenfold intelligences. The One Lord is present everywhere.
Vohu Manah, Good Mind. It is divine wisdom, illumination, and love—the mental capacity to comprehend the next one of the Amesha Spentas, Asha Vahishta. Vohu Manah is associated especially with the animal kingdom.
Asha Vahishta, Highest Truth. Often translated as "righteousness," the word asha is etymologically the same as the Sanskrit term rta, and thus is the dharma or Plan by which the world exists. Asha Vahishta is the order of the cosmos, the ideal form of the universe. It is associated with the element of fire.
Khshathra Vairya, Desirable Dominion, is divine strength and the power of Ahura Mazda's kingdom. In theological terms, it represents the Kingdom of Heaven in human terms, it represents the ideal society. Khshathra Vairya is associated with the sky and with the mineral kingdom. Human beings can realize the power of Khshathra Vairya when they are guided by Good Mind and Highest Truth.
Spenta Armaiti, Holy or Bountiful Devotion, theologically is the attitude of piety and devotion ethically, it is the attitude of benevolence. It is associated with the element of earth.
Haurvatat, Wholeness, is the state of perfection, complete well-being, spiritual and physical integrity. It is associated with the element of water.
Ameretat, Immortality, is the state of immortal bliss. It is associated with the plant kingdom.
These seven can be thought of either as cosmic principles or as human principles (the macrocosm-microcosm). It is through our use of a good mind (Vohu Manah), practicing love and devotion (Spenta Armaiti), and following the path of righteousness (Asha Vahishta) that we can bring about the ideal state of things (Khshathra Vairya), in which ultimately perfection (Haurvatat) and immortality (Ameretat) will prevail. Human beings are not bystanders in life. We are the prime agents through whose actions the promise of Ahura Mazda will be fulfilled. With Ahura Mazda, we are co-creators of the ideal world.
Under the Amesha Spentas are other intelligences called Yazatas, sometimes compared to angels. Together with human beings, the Yazatas are the hamkars or helpers of Ahura Mazda.
Zoroastrianism views the world as having been created by Ahura Mazda and as meant to evolve to perfection according to the law or plan of Asha, the divine order of things. The law of Asha is the principle of righteousness or "rightness" by which all things are exactly what they should be. In their most basic prayer, the "Ashem Vohu," repeated every day, Zoroastrians affirm this law of Asha: "Righteousness is the highest virtue. Happiness to him who is righteous for the sake of righteousness." This is the central concept in the Zoroastrian religion: Asha is the ultimate Truth, the ideal of what life and existence should be.
Duality exists as part of manifestation, but human beings also have freewill to choose between the dual opposites. As they have the power of choice, they have also the personal responsibility of choosing well. Spenta Mainyu, the Bountiful Spirit, promotes the realization of Asha. Angra Mainyu, the Destructive Spirit, violates Asha. We have a choice between them, between spirit and matter, between the real and the unreal.
Personal salvation is attained through making the right choice. And the salvation of the world, called "Frashokereti," is the restoration of the world to its perfect state, one that is in complete accord with Asha. As human beings make the right choices in their lives, they are furthering the realization of Frashokereti.
Life after Death
What happens after death? According to the Zoroastrian tradition, after the death of the body, the soul remains in this world for three days and nights, in the care of Sraosha, one of the Yazatas or angels. During this period, prayers are said and rituals performed to assure a safe passage of the soul into the spiritual realm. On the dawn of the fourth day, the spirit is believed to have crossed over to the other world, where it arrives at the allegorical Chinvat Bridge.
At the Chinvat Bridge, the soul meets a maiden who is the embodiment of all the good words, thoughts, and deeds of its preceding life. If the soul has led a righteous life (one in accord with the divine Plan), the maiden appears in a beautiful form. If not, she appears as an ugly hag. This image, fair or foul, confronts the soul, and the soul acknowledges that the image is an embodiment of its own actions and thereby judges itself, knowing whether it is worthy to cross over the bridge to the other side or must return to earth to learn further lessons.
By another account, after the soul meets its own image, it appears before a heavenly tribunal, where divine justice is administered. Good souls go to a heaven called Vahishta Ahu, the Excellent Abode. Evil souls are consigned to a hell called Achista Ahu, the Worst Existence. One account reflects a belief in reincarnation the other does not.
In the oldest Zoroastrian scriptures, heaven and hell are not places, but states of mind that result from right or wrong choices. Zoroaster spoke of the "drujo demana" or "House of Lies" and the "garo demana"or "House of Song," to which souls are sent. Some say that the fall of the soul into the House of Lies means a return of the soul to earth, the realm of unreality or lies.
Zoroastrianism places great emphasis on purity and not defiling any of the elements of Ahura Mazda'screation. For that reason, traditionally, neither burial nor cremation were practiced by Zoroastrians. Instead, dead bodies were taken to a Tower of Silence and laid out under the sun, where vultures devoured them. At the present time, there is great controversy about this practice.
Fire is the major symbol in Zoroastrianism and has a central role in the most important religious ceremonies. It has a special significance, being the supreme symbol of God and the divine Life. In Zoroastrian scriptures, Ahura Mazda is described as "full of luster, full of glory," and hence his luminous creations—fire, sun, stars, and light—are regarded as visible tokens of the divine and of the inner light. That inner light is the divine spark that burns within each of us. Fire is also a physical representation of the illumined mind.
Zoroastrian places of worship are called Fire Temples. In them an eternal flame is kept burning with sandalwood and frankincense. The first fire to be lit upon an altar is said to have been brought down from heaven by Zoroaster with a rod.
When the Parsis fled from Iran and settled in India, fire was again brought down from heaven by lightning to create the sacred symbol of Ahura Mazda. The fire altar where that historic fire is still burning is an important pilgrimage site for the Parsis. Because the fire is such a sacred and holy symbol, the fire temples are open only to Zoroastrians.
Today, Zoroastrians do not proselytize, and consequently Zoroastrians are born to the faith. If a Parsi woman marries outside the religion, her children cannot be Zoroastrians, but if a man marries outside, his children can become Zoroastrians, although his wife cannot. No doubt these restrictions are later aberrations not befitting the lofty ideals and teachings of the religion.
The Zoroastrian scriptures are called the Avesta, and the ancient language in which they are written is called Avestan. That language is closely related to the Sanskrit of the ancient Vedic hymns. The term Zend Avesta refers to the commentaries made by the successors of Zoroaster on his writings. Later, commentaries to the commentaries were written in the Persian language of the Sasanian Empire, which is called Pahlavi. So the Zoroastrian scriptures are in several languages and their composition spans vast periods of time. Yet they are fragmentary because of the destruction of written texts and the persecution of priest-scholars by foreign invaders.
The oldest part of the Zoroastrian scriptures are the Gathas, which are the direct teachings of Zoroaster and his conversations with Ahura Mazda in a series of visions. The Gathas are part of a major section of the Avesta called the Yasna, a term literally meaning "sacrifice," consisting of texts recited by priests during ceremonies. The Vendidad is a manual in the form of a catechism giving rules of purification and for preventing sins of both commission and omission. The Khordeh Avesta or "Little Avesta" includes invocations with beautiful descriptions of the Yazatas or angelic intelligences.
Fundamental Moral Practices
The basic moral principles that guide the life of a Zoroastrian are three:
Living these three principles is the way we exercise our freewill by following the law of Asha. These three principles are included in many Zoroastrian prayers, and children commit themselves to abide by them at their initiation ceremony, marking their responsible entry into the faith as practicing Zoroastrians. They are the moral code by which a Zoroastrian lives.
Another culture that also has a cat goddess is Hinduism — an ancient religion practiced mainly in India. In general, the cats form a less prominent role in this pantheon, but the deities coming from the subcontinent were powerful entities that had a close connection to humanity.
Realm: The goddess Parvati
Modern Cat Breed: Toyger
Dawon, or Gdon, is the sacred tiger that was given to the goddess Parvati as a gift from the other gods, representing her power. Dawon serves as Parvati’s steed in battle, and it attacks enemies with its claws and fangs. It was often shown as a Ghatokbahini, or a lion-tiger hybrid.
As you might guess from the name, the Toyger cat has stripes that resemble a tiger’s, making it a pretty easy pick as Dawon’s modern little sibling. Toygers are known for being good partners to humans, like Dawon served as Parvati’s partner. They can even be trained to walk on leashes — which isn’t quite the same as riding into battle, but getting a leash on your cat might count as a battle.
Are there any gods or godlike entities in D&D associated primarily with fear?
I have been looking through the list of deities in the 5e Player's Handbook, as well as some of the big nasties in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but there don't appear to be any deities that are associated specifically and primarily with fear.
Tharizdun is associated with darkness and madness, and Demogorgon is pure gibbering madness indeed, all of the Demon Princess are obviously terrifying to behold. Star Spawn and Elder Evils are similar, in that they are undeniably terrifying, but they aren't driven by the desire to cause fear. For all of these creatures, fear is a natural secondary response to the other horrors that they want to bring to pass. It isn't their driving force or domain.
I'm looking for something that is primarily associated with pure fear. For example, a god of violent conquest will cause fear on accident as its followers rampage through a peaceful countryside with the goal of claiming the land for themselves I'm searching some something that would have its followers rampage through the countryside for no other reason than causing fear.
Does such a thing exist in any edition of D&D? Any setting is fine, since this is for a Planescape campaign, using Sigil as the primary hub for the players all the deities are equally relevant! I'm perfectly happy to homebrew my own fear-based deity, but if something already exists, I'd love to be able to make use of it.
How the Vikings Worked
Vikings were pagans -- they worshipped a pantheon of multilpe gods and goddessess, each one representing some aspect of the world as they experienced it. Scandinavians eventually converted to Christianity, but more slowly than other peoples of Europe. There was no central church in any of the Scandinavian kingdoms, nor were any of their religious traditions consistently written down. As a result, Viking religion was highly personalized and varied from one place to another. It evolved over time to a greater extent than codified religions usually do [source: Wolf].
Central to their religion were two groups of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir. The gods lived in Asgard, a kingdom that was connected to mortal Earth (known as Midgard) by a rainbow bridge known as Bifrost. The pantheon included Odin, the primary god, Thor, the hammer-wielding god of thunder, and Frejya, the goddess of fertility and beauty. There were also evil giants, dark elves and dwarves. The gods were destined to fight against the giants and other evil forces in a battle known as Ragnarok. Norse prophecy predicted that the gods would lose this battle, allowing Asgard, Midgard and the entire universe to collapse into darkness and chaos.
Warriors who died nobly in battle could end up in Valhalla, a sort of warrior heaven where everyone gets to fight alongside Odin, die, feast and do it all over again the next day. They were escorted to Valhalla by the Valkyrie, which were sort of like warrior angels who assisted Odin. In truth, there were no female Viking warriors -- Scandinavian society was primarily patriarchal, with men holding most political and economic power.
When wealthy or powerful Vikings died, their body may have been burned on a boat along with many of their possessions, or they may have been entombed in a barrow, a large earthen chamber. In either case, pets and sometimes slaves were sacrificed and buried (or burned) along with the Viking. There is also evidence that Scandinavians offered ritual human sacrifices in religious ceremonies [source: Wolf].
Vikings didn't write down their history (except for the occasional runestone inscription) until they had converted to Christianity. Any history prior to that was passed on through an oral tradition carried on by skalds. Skalds were Scandinavian bards who recited epic poems (called sagas) recounting the deeds of famous Viking kings and lords. These poems could be incredibly long and detailed. Some of the sagas were eventually written down in later eras, but most of them are lost to history.
These are the Viking traditions, but what about that symbol most often associated with the Vikings: the horned helmet? We'll look at the military and nonmilitary technology used by the Vikings in the next section.
The Shani Mantra is used by Hindu traditional practitioners during the 7.5-year Saade Sati period, to escape the adverse effects of having Saturn in (or near) one's astrological house.
There are several Shani Mantras, but the classic one consists of chanting five epithets of Shani Bhagwan and then bowing to him.
- Nilanjana Samabhasam: In English, "The one who is resplendent or glowing like a blue mountain"
- Ravi Putram: "The son of the sun god Surya" (called here Ravi)
- Yamagrajam: "The elder brother of Yama, god of death"
- Chaya Martanda Sambhutam: "He who is born to Chaya and the sun god Surya" (here called Martanda)
- Tam Namami Shanescharam: "I bow down to the slow-moving one."
The chant is to be performed in a quiet place while contemplating the images of Shani Baghwan and perhaps Hanuman, and for the best effect should be intoned 23,000 times over the 7.5-year period of Saade Sati, or an average of eight or more times a day. It is most effective if one can chant 108 times at once.
How Did People Worship Zeus?
The ancient Greeks worshiped Zeus in nearly every home, with altars to the deity often placed in residential courtyards, shrines inside houses, offerings of wine and prayers offered throughout the day. Communities often erected shrines to Zeus on hilltops.
According to Theoi Project, a website exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art, offerings of wine were poured near outdoor shrines in hopes that Zeus would bring rain in times of drought.
University Press Inc., which maintains the Ancient Greece website, also indicates that worshippers of Zeus saw the god primarily as a weather deity, which is why they tended to build altars to him on mountaintops, as close as possible to the sky. They believed that thunder came from Zeus hurling thunderbolts and that the rain and wind were his to command. An oracle for Zeus existed in Dodona, in northern Greece, where priests interpreted the sounds of wind in the branches of sacred oak trees as messages from the god.
The Theoi Project indicates that most ancient Greeks believed Zeus was a great protector of all people, regardless of age, social status or level of wealth. They also believed he ruled over all other gods and goddesses.
In ancient Egypt, gods and goddesses were the depiction of all the fundamental necessities required for sustaining life. Many cults developed and many associations were made because of the interconnection between these life requirements. Put simply, anything that made life possible was represented by an ancient Egyptian god or goddess.
28 thoughts on &ldquoTop 10 Most Worshiped Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses&rdquo
I thought Amun Ra and Ra were the same people? What about Ra’s three forms the Kheprea the beetle in the morning, Ra in the afternoon, and Atum the moose god in the evening?
never mind I just found out that Ra and Amun would merg together to form Amun-Ra
What about neith she she gave birth to the earth and a lot of gods/goddesses. She also is the goddess of war.
Amun Ra and Ra are mostly the same, Ra being the god of the sun and Amun being the actual sun disk. And yeah, Kheprea in the morning, Ra in the afternoon, and Knume in the evening. Ra created Kheprea and Knume when he was the only god in the world. Ra created them out of his lonelyness.
I just realised that my people (Maori) definitely came from Egypt. Because the word “rā” means “sun” or “day” in our language
Amun literally translates into invisible or infinite
It is a personification of sun merging himself into space
Both together are space and star
A indefatigable union
I think that all these facts sre true indeed and it was a great help indeed. You see it has helped in my Ancient Egypt project inmy school .As I am a 9 year old the teachers have given us a 20 page task to be completed in 8 week and it’s not as easy as you think . So this website has been of great help and I am so very pleased. Just a thought but you could have added the sky goddess Nut and take away Hathor the goddess of mother hood . But other than that great website ! I recommend this a lot !
I learned that by comparing this list, all gods and goddesses of Egypt were conquered by the 10 plagues from the God of Moses and Aaron and the Israelites. Amen to the end of rule of Amun-Ra, ancient and always.
Yes, the MostHigh won. I am actually reading a book on wattpad right now about the battles and defeat of the Egyptian gods b
Actually these gods & goddesses never warred with the Israelites deity, this history predates Gideon & Judea history of Yahweh. These gods & goddesses were mere master builders of the attributes of royalty bestowed upon them. If you pay attention the title Pharoah was after the Golden dynasties. Notice how each Egyptian god or goddess took a place of laborer in Heaven not the Author of time, who they all paid respect to but never Named.
The multiplicity counterpart roles and relationships the deities of ancient Egypt transverse is very intricate. The Egyptians perceived life and the divine intricacies behind it in a outstandingl intricate and multi layered existence. The God’s all had various yet simultaneous relationships to each other and purposes served by them. Being so ancient a belief system evolving over many many centuries that is today lost in concept and practice we can only connect educated dots so to speak where much is concerned.
I thought that Horus was the god of the pharaoh. Also, where is Isis?
no pharaoh is basically the living Horus, Horus fought seth i believe for egypt, he won and owns egypt. plz correct me if i’m wrong
No I pretty sure thats the way it went i might be wrong but that is pretty much what I’ve read everywhere so yeah
So what happened is basically this
Ra/Amun-ra depending on the period we’re talking about was the first pharaoh of the Gods, as he aged he heard a prophecy that a child of the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb would succeed him. Unwilling to relinquish the position he ordered the god of the wind Shu, Nuts father to separate the lovers Nut and Geb however Nut was already pregnant. Thus Ra forbade her birth her children on any day of the year to protect his position.
To combat this Nut gambled with the moon god Khonsu to procure enough moonlight to create the last five days of our current year (according to myth there was once only 360 days to the year). She birthed each of her five children on one of these days her children were Osiris, Set, Isis, Nepthys, and Horus. Isis married her brother Osiris and Set his sister Nepthys, these relationships will be important later on. Isis poisons Ra with the venom of a snake mixed with Ra’s own saliva to form a ‘super toxin’ that causes Ra to become extremely ill, Isis feigns concern and as the goddess of magic ‘stumbles’ upon a cure to Ra’s affliction. To be cured Ra gives Isis his true name, which in turn gives Isis control over his very being. Isis cures Ra but forces him into retirement with her new power over him, placing Osiris on the throne to become the new pharaoh fulfilling the prophecy that first caused Ra concern.
Osiris’s dynasty was prosperous, many gods appreciating a new younger pharaoh however Osiris’s brother Set was discontent. He plotted to overthrow his brother by laying an intricate plot, he brought an enchanted sarcophagus to present to Osiris as a gift saying it would mould itself only to fit the true pharaoh. Many gods tried to fit in out of sport to test the claim and none fit properly into it, when Osiris tried it he fit just as Set had proclaimed however Set’s lackeys and allies secured the lid to the sarcophagus before Osiris could exit and sent him off to an unknown corner of Egypt. Set then claimed the throne as it’s next heir, becoming a tyrannical pharaoh.
After this point the story has a few inconsistencies, Isis is either pregnant before Osiris is trapped or falls upon his phallus later in despair. Whatever the case though she births her brother and son Horus ‘the avenger’ (Egyptian pharaonic lineages are confusing, the gods sometimes even more so)
Here I’m going to skip a lot of details, we’re discussing the pharaoh of the gods not how they were raised.
Horus avenges his father/brother by killing his uncle/brother and then assumes the position of pharaoh himself supported by his mother/sister Isis. Osiris in turn becomes the pharaoh of the deceased ruling the afterlife just as Horus rules the realm of the living.
I’m a fan of Wadjet, that’s a goddess associated with the Cobra, protector of Egypt and even protector of Ra at times, linked to the Eye of Ra, as she nested on his crown, and in that role went from spiting venom into the eyes of her enemies to spiting fire instead. She had become so revered at times she was considered one and the same as MUT, second on the list. I am not exactly sure if it was referring to her or Apep but I seen a quote say “To be respected but never trusted” given Wadjet is considered extremely good I guess I mistook it for a comment about Apep, who is a major snake or serpent antagonist of Ra.
Either way, I think she is cool.
What about Isis? Goddess of motherhood and love.
I would like to point out that Hathor and Sekhmet are one and the same, just different aspects of the same being.
The myth goes that the people complained to Ra that Sekhmet who loved violence and whose main task was to crush Ra’s enemies and would often ‘drink the blood of Ra’s enemies’, was instead slaughtering both those of good and evil (worship/do not worship Ra) alignment in Egypt. They pled for Ra to restrain her however he did not have the strength to restrain her directly whilst still maintaining his duties. Still he couldn’t let the people that worshipped him to continue to suffer, thus he had them present Sekhmet with barrels of wine dyed or naturally red and had the people tell Sekhmet that it was the blood of Ra’s enemies. Delighted by the chance to guzzle more of Ra’s enemies blood Sekhmet drank/skulled the wine and grew so drunk she fell asleep.
As she slept Ra transformed her into a goddess with attributes the exact opposite of her previous self, her love of war changed to love of life, her destructive tendencies changed to protective ones, etc.
Ra maintained the ability to awaken Sekhmet in times of war, however she remained as Hathor the majority of the time due to her uncontrollable nature as Sekhmet.
Now I’ll admit that I’ve greatly summarised this myth, however that doesn’t change my justification for my point above. Hathor and Sekhmet are two aspects of the same deity, just as Kephri is an aspect of Ra. Although Ra was the main aspect worshipped and both Sekhmet and Hathor were worshipped to a great extent, they should still at least have given a nod to this fact of the goddesses duality even if they placed her two personalities into separate slots.
I think the only two faced deity that can be given a single slot with such duality is Janus
Is Horus the grandson of Ra yes or no ? And is Anubis and Horus brothers yes or no ?
Yes Horus is Ra’s grandson, and Anubis is Horus’s uncle. (He is Ra’s son)
Depends. Horus and Anubis are typically half brothers (both fathered by Osiris). In some myths from the Old Kingdom, Horus is instead Ra’s son. Pharaohs would have legitimized their rule by being the “living Horus”, heir to Ra.
Many similarity with Indian God’s and goddess.. God mother Mat.. In India.. Depending on language.. Calling different names of mother God.. Like Matha, Amma, Amman, etc.. And mother God is assisting Lion also..
Other God.. Sun, Moon, air, fire, sky water, etc.. Also similar.. Only the Name and smaller changes are there because of language geographical change..
Indian calling “Sanadana dharma” (external duty) is following around worldwide based on geographical atmosphere.. Nature and elements are considered God’s.. Etc.. Energy sources in the universe are treated as God’s..
Rights way of living with many engineering, medical and architectural worlds..
I feel like a few of these gods are similar to the bible stories. Is this true?
Susan,Who ever taught the the biblical story of the ten plagues ,must have misinterpreted it…
The ten plagues were curses that the God of the Israelites placed on Egypt each time that Ramses harded his heart& refused to set the Israelites free from captivity…
This had nothing to do with overthrowing the Egyptian Gods
i think ra might be the strongest (except for amun ra) because ra created the earth therefor he created the other gods case closed
what about anuke and anuket? anuke: ancient goddess of war, and is lesser known Anuket: river goddess of the nile!!
Many ancient egyptian gods were merged with ra and many were created by him such as rival goods like path Isis and Apep
The mythology varies based on what city you’re in. In Iunu (Heliopolis), Atum or Ra was the creator of the world, with Shu, Tefnut and the other Ennead gods. In Memphis, Ptah created everything by speaking its secret name. In Hermopolis Magna, the 8 ogdad gods created the world.