The Roman Empire was never shy about adopting deities from other lands. Isis, Mithra, Cybele all became wildly popular, perhaps because their cults were different from the staid Roman deities. All three of these cults came to Rome, but others had the Romans come to them.
Tag Archives: hunting
Silvanus was a popular god in Rome, up there with Jupiter and Mercury in terms of altars and other devotional evidence. As a god of the common people, he had a large audience, and soldiers, slaves and freedmen to spread his cult abroad.
His popularity worked both ways, too: a British craftsman explained his god Callirius as Silvanus, and many of the other examples in this post could have worked the same way.
We’ve all wondered what god Julius Caesar meant when he said that Mercury was the most important of all Gaulish gods. He was right in one sense, and wrong in another – there are many Gaulish Mercuries, and they have many different functions.
Nodons: healing god
It may seem strange that in Roman times the British god Nodens, famous for his healing shrine, was associated with Mars, a god more likely to do damage than to cure it. However, other Celtic “Mars” gods such as Lenus and Ocelus were healers, and not just to soldiers or men, but women and children.
Ullr and Skadi: on skis and skates
Skiing and skating were two early solutions to the problem of getting around in winter. The Norse deities Skadi and Ullr were famed for their skiing, and Ullr may have been an early snowboarder.
Cernunnos and Flidais post for Dun Brython
Check out my piece on Cernunnos and Flidais on the Dun Brython blog.
Perchta, Holda and the Wild Hunt
When we think of the Wild Hunt, we think of Odin, or his Germanic counterpart Woden. However, he was not the Hunt’s only leader. In this post I want to look at Perchta and Holda, and the specially feminine spin they gave their midwinter rout.
Angry Bird: Horus the Warrior
Horus is one of the oldest Egyptian gods, possibly reaching back to predynastic times. His conflict with Set, the desert-god, was one of the basic myths of Egyptian religion, long before Horus joined to the Isis-Osiris family.
I thought I was done with deer-goddesses, after the posts on Flidias, hunting goddesses and horned goddesses. Sometimes, however, you’re only done with a subject when it’s done with you. I couldn’t leave this topic without mentioning Carvonia, a Celtic goddess from Central Europe.
Thrymheim and Skadi
Only four Norse goddesses have homes of their own. Out of these, two are given to Frigg and Freyja, who are the preeminent goddesses of the pantheon and might be expected to own their own property. The other two are Saga and the giantess Skadi.
The latter is extremely interesting because we know that she inherited her home, Thrymheim, from her father, the giant Thiazi. What little we are told about the Aesir’s homes suggest that they created them from scratch – that Skadi inherits hers tells us that the giants are older beings than the gods. This is why the giants were often shown as knowing the history and layout of the cosmos so well that Odin would come and quiz them about it.