Showing posts with label goddess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label goddess. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

One Man's God Special: Syncretism Part 2, the Greco-Egyptian Gods

In the mythologies of the Ancient World, there are two that really stand out. The Greek and the Egyptian.  Both cultures grew to great prominence and fundamentally shaped our world.  Both had fascinating tales of gods, monsters, and heroes. 

Thanks to the trade and eventual rule of the Ptolemaic Pharos, we have a set of syncretized Greco-Egyptian gods.

While I would happily sit here and talk about these gods in an academic sense, my goal with OMG is really to present these from the lens of D&D, and from the Deities & Demigods in particular.  I am going to stick with gods that were actually worshiped, or at least recognized.  For this, I am going to rely on the scholarship of others, in particular, that of Dr. Kathrin Kleibl at the German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven.  I am drawing heavily from her chapter (Chapter 41) in The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion.  She has written more, ok lots more, and her work could form the cornerstone of a new pantheon for a new Deities & Demigods II if such a thing were feasible. 

Ptolemaic Egyptian Mythos

In 323 BCE Alexander the Great controlled Egypt, his reign, however, was short-lived and his general Ptolemy took control and his family ruled until 31 CE when they were taken over by Rome. The famous Cleopatra (Cleopatra VII) was the last of their line. The Ptolemaic Pharos or Ptolemaic Kings were not Egyptian but were Greek.  They ruled and lived a Greek lifestyle.  Only Cleopatra is recorded to have actually learned some of the Egyptian languages.  The gods they created or were created around them had a unique blending of both Greek and Egyptian features.  Not just physical features, though that is true as well, but religious features and aspects.

Bust of Zeus-Serapis, Roman copy of a Greek original from the 4th century BC, from the Serapeum of Alexandria
Zeus-Serapis

By the time Ptolemy took the throne, there was already syncretism happing in the Egyptian worldview.  Serapis was a new popular god figure that combined Osiris with the Apis Bull.  In some places, Serapis had already supplanted Osiris as the main God.  Zeus-Serapis was an "artificial" conflating of Zeus with Serapis.  I say artificial because it was believed he was created by the ministers of Ptolemy I to have a God that could be worshipped by Greeks and Egyptians alike.  Newer research has shed some doubt on this interpretation, but for our uses here it does not matter his actual source, only what he became after that. 

Zeus was the god of the sky, Osiris was the god of the dead and the god of the Pharos.  Zeus-Serapis became the God of the Sun and of Healing. In this, he effectively takes over the "portfolios" of Apollo, Helios, and Ra. As protector of the dead, this also includes the benevolent nature of Hades.

Isis

Isis went from the wife of Osiris and potentially one of the most powerful goddesses in the myths to the Mother of the Gods and thus the pharos.  The Ptolemaic Pharos would often take on the epithet of "Sons of Isis."  Isis remained a popular goddess well into the Roman age.

Isis was also combined with Aphrodite, a goddess of unknown origin herself.  Given the connections between Isis and other goddess like Astarte, Innana, and Ishtar, this sets Isis up as the primary female divinity of the Ancient world. 

The "Mysteries of Isis" became a mystery religion that had some outward similarities to the Greek Eleusinian Mysteries associated with Demeter.  Her cult with tied to that of Zeus-Serapis, effectively becoming a Father and Mother figure to the Ptolemaic dynasty.  In this respect, she takes on the kinder natures of Hera and the dedication of Isis.  she would be the one called upon by women in childbirth. Especially when we consider what is going on with Horus.

Isis Aphrodite Isis and Horus

Horus/Harpokrates

To complete the "holy trinity" of Father-Mother-Child the Greeks renamed Horus, or 'Har-pa-chered' literally "Horus the Child." as Harpokrates.  Where he was envisioned as a child-like divinity.  Gone was the Avenger Horus and now we get a proto-Christ Child in his place. 

Images of Isis nursing the infant Horus would later go on to influence the depictions of the Virgin Mary with infant Jesus.

Anubis/Hermanubis

While not equated with any Greek God in particular Anubis appears as a guide to Isis and advisor of Zeus-Serapis.  Some of Osiris' duties as lord of the dead get transferred to Annubis.

In some cases, we have a syncretized Hermes-Anubis, or Hermanubis, as a psychopomp and protector of the dead. 

Seth

Going a touch outside of Dr. Kleibl's work we get the god Seth. Also known as Set and Suketh and Setekh.  He originally was the good protector god of Upper Egypt. But this was 3,000 years before the Ptolemies.  More time between us and the Ptolemies to be honest.  Over the centuries Set changed from this benevolent god to the murderer of Osiris and the force of all evil and chaos in the world.   

Seth was the name the Greeks called him, and they associated him most with the monster Typhon.  Interestingly enough, I find no conflation with Seth and Hades inDr. Kleibl's text.  While both were seen as dark, chthonic figures, the Greeks in Egypt did not equate them.  But there are still some.

Set/Nephthys and Hades/Persephone

While the associations are not perfect there is a similarity between the relationship of Set and Nephthys with that of Hades and Persephone.   Both Nephthys and Persephone are considered goddesses of the underworld and mourning. Both are attached to husbands they would rather leave.  Both Hades and Set are complicated gods that are often viewed as evil. Both have been accused of raping or at least coercing their future wives.  

I have not found any direct relationship to suggest that they were synchronized, the option certainly feels valid.  The conflation of Set with Hades is one of the suspected origins of the Christian Devil; in particular the association of the devil in the desert or "the wilderness" (in Matthew) when he tempts Jesus. Set is the god of the desert and wild places.  Though I am not aware of any scholarship that has uncovered a synchronized Set-Hades (see Serapis above).

Nephthys was also commonly conflated with the Greek Nys, Goddess of the Night.  As it turns out "Nephthys" is already the Greek name for the Goddess the Egyptians knew as Nebt-het or Nebhet.

Hermes Trismegistus

Not part of Dr. Kleibl's work, but one that really put me on the road to this. Hermes Trismegistus is the synchronized version of Hermes and Thoth.  Hermes Trismegistus may have been less of a worshipped figure and more of a translation error when the Greeks were translating the Egyptian writing (hieroglyphic and Demotic).  Hermes Trismegistus became more important in later medieval times as the author of the Hermetic Texts.  

Heka

This one is also not part of Dr. Kleibl's research but one of my own creations based on her, and other, research.   I talked about the Hecate / Heka connections back when I did OMG: Greek Myths and OMG: Egyptian Myths. With the loss of Isis as the Goddess of Magic we have Heka as the new Goddess of Magic and the Underworld.  Her relationship with Isis is the same as that of Ishtar with Ereshkigal.  This also makes her the perfect goddess of witches.  

Hecate was also conflated with the Egyptian Heqet, the Goddess that was the midwife to Isis when Horus was born. Indeed the Greeks also conflated her with Ereshkigal.  In this respect she could be considered the sister to the Mother Goddess Isis. 

Others

There were plenty more, but it is difficult to know whether these were worship syncretic gods or part of the Interpretatio graeca where the Greeks often substituted names of other gods for their own gods. 

For example, the Greek Asclepius is often equated with the Egyptian Imhotep to become the patron of Healing.   

The Greek Adonis is equated with the Egyptian Osiris, the Sumerian Dumuzid, and the Phoenician Tammuz to all be equivalent Gods of Agriculture and Grain.  This is the same "God figure" of James Frazer's "The Golden Bough."  Another god that fits this is the Greek God Dionysus, who is also conflated with Adonis and Osiris.

Looking over this "pantheon" I quickly note there is no god of war.  There was Montu for the Egyptians, but the "god of war" was also served by Anhur, Ra, Sekmet, and Set at various times.  The Greeks and Romans had Ares and Mars respectively in addition to Athena-Minerva.  You see more syncretism with Ares/Mars in later periods, especially with the gods of the Celts and European peoples. 

The Greeks did know of Anhur and they called him "Onuris."  This is the god of war and battle. His primary goal is to drive out the enemies of Egypt (and Greece).  If we were so inclined we could add all the "avenger" aspects lost by Horus when he became Harpokrates. In this, he takes on the role of Protector of Isis, which of course means the protector of Egypt and the line of the Pharohs. 

Game Play Uses

It was not AD&D that sent me down the road of this Ptolemaic Egyptian Mythos, but rather Gary Gygax's other game, Dangerous Journeys.  Gary's Ægypt fascinated me when I first read about it in the 90s.   So much so that when I wanted an Egyptian-like land I used large chunks of this along with Arypt from Mystara and Erypt from the World of Greyhawk.  All of this together gave me my Ærypt

While it would be best to use the Egyptian gods, RAW, from the Deities & Demigods, using these has appeal, even if I have no idea how the "Greeks" got into my world.  Maybe something else altogether is in order for that.  A future post maybe.

For this "new" Pantheon I would want to relate these Gods in AD&D terms.  This is after all the primary focus of One Man's God, not as a treatise on comparative religions. I also don't want or even need, D&DG-style stat blocks.  These are not "monsters" to be fought. 

I am taking the important bits from the AD&D D&DG, namely"power" levels of the various gods, their alignment, and their worshipper's alignments.   While not stated as "Domains" (that's a 3rd Edition term) I am using them here. These are roughly the same as 2nd Ed's "Spheres."

Serapis
Greater God
Alignment: Lawful Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any Good
Domains: Law, Sun, Sky (including storms and rains), the Dead, Rulers
Symbol: Sun

Isis
Greater Goddess
Alignment: Neutral Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any Good, Women (Mysteries of Isis)
Domains: Motherhood, the Home, Childbirth, Love, Fertility
Symbol: Moon or the Roman symbol for Venus

Harpokrates
Greater God
Alignment: Lawful Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any Good
Domains: Life
Symbol: Ankh

Seth
Greater God (or Intermediate God)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Worshipper Alignment: Any Evil
Domains: Darkness, Chaos, Desolation
Symbol: Coiled Snake

Nephthys
Greater Goddess (or Intermediate God)
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any
Domains: Night, Darkness, the Underworld
Symbol: Dark moon

Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus
Greater God (or Intermediate God)
Alignment: Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any
Domains: Knowledge, Wisdom, Secrets
Symbol: A circle within a square within a triangle within a circle.

Heka
Lesser Goddess
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any, Witches
Domains: Magic, Witchcraft, Childbirth, Darkness
Symbol: Crescent moon

Adonis (Dionysus-Osiris)
Lesser God
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: Any
Domains: Agriculture, Grain, Wine, Life-Death-Rebirth
Symbol: Sheath of grain

Onuris
Lesser God
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Worshipper Alignment: soldiers, warriors
Domains: War
Symbol: Spear 

Asclepius-Imhotep
Demigod
Alignment: Neutral Good
Worshipper Alignment: Any, Healers
Domains: Healing
Symbol: Scalpel 

What About the Demons?

This is all fun and everything, but what about the demons of this mythology?  We have a "devil" in the form of Seth.  I would say that given Egypt's history with demons that some would still be around, but maybe in an altered form.  I think given the Greek connection that Demogorgon would be a good choice too.  Especially if I move Seth over to Lawful Evil (more devil-like).

With the influences of the Greeks and Romans, Late Period Egypt had an increase in creatures that were more related to the Greek daimon.  Demons went from creatures that guarding firey gates to creatures that plagued the Earth with troubles. Egypt at this time was also part of the larger trade routes of first Greece then the Roman Empire, so many gods, goddesses, and demons were filtered through the lens of both ancient and "modern" Egyptian religion.

Guardian Demons

Gate, or Guardian Demons, or demon were the most common sort and were usually created by the Gods.  Their job was to keep mortals out of their realms.  They are demons in the sense that they are supernatural creatures that are neither mortals nor are they gods. These creatures were also described in funerary texts, their names or epithets placed on coffins to protect the dead. They were fierce creatures.  Apep and Ammit from the OMG Egyptian Myths could fit this role, but there are others with names like In-tep, Chery-benut, and Ikenty.  Ikenty was a large bird-like monster with the head of a cat.

Wanderer Demons

The other class of demons were the Earthly or wanderer demons, . These are the demons who cause problems on Earth, gave people nightmares, caused disease, and possessed humans.

I have a Part 4 of this series to do later.  I plan on incorporating some of the work of Prof. Panagiotis Kousoulis of the University of the Aegean, Greece.  Most of his work is in Greek, so I am digging around for English translations.  Part 4 takes this concept of syncretism and demons and dials it up.

But I need to do my Part 3 first.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

One Man's God: Japanese Mythos

D&DG Japanese Mythos
It's been a while I figure today is a good day for another One Man's God. A brief review of the purpose and "rules" here.

The purpose of One Man's God is to see how I can take the creatures of the various mythos as they appear in the Deities and Demigods and see how they could have been represented as AD&D demons. NOT Abrahamic religion demons, or even esoteric or occult demons, but AD&D demons as they appeared in and defined by the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II.  

That is my first rule.  So no need to come at me saying "X culture did not have demons."  Not only are demons in D&D not real, no demons are real, so by that logic no culture has demons, but all cultures have stories of demons and stories can be retold.

Also, this is NOT a criticism of the research methods of the original authors and researchers of the Deities and Demigods.  It is easy for me to criticize sitting here in my office chair in 2021 with access to pretty every written book, scholarly article, and more in any language at my fingertips.   They had the local library.  So another rule is I can't criticize the material based on what I can research now.  I can use research from now to help inform my opinions, but that is all.

I can look a little beyond my sources here (D&DG, MM, FF, and MM2) to see what could fit into these based on the rules above.  But I am not going to add to much more beyond that. That's what Monstrous Monday is for.

Ok? Cool?  Great! 

Today I want to hit one that was HUGE back in the 80s. Japanese Mythos

Growing up in the 80s you could not help be nearly overwhelmed with references to or from Japanese culture.  Well...not real Japanese culture, a weird American version of it for mass consumption.  Ninjas, karate, Richard Chamberlain running around in a kimono on TV in Shōgun, and more than I can remember.  I even got caught up in it all and found some Japanese myths to read, in particular the tales of Momotarō (the Peach Boy). 

It was odd that almost none* of what I read connected back to the myths in the D&DG.  Now I see that their myths are too widely varied, complex, and even some had not been translated to an easily consumable English version.  Some concepts in Japanese do not have good English equivalents. My first year in grad school I took Japanese as an extra elective, I found it extremely fascinating and remarkably difficult.  The Deities & Demigods even touches on this with the concept of Kami.  We would use the word like "god" or "spirit,"  even in the Goddess Amaterasu we get the word "Omikami" or more appropriately, Ōmikami.  

*I will talk about what did connect.

The Gods and Goddesses

Despite how interesting these myths are and how much they were likely used, there are only five pages of them in D&DG and only 13 entries.  There are heroes, which is really important for the tales, most of the stories of Japan are about the exploits of the heroes. Of these, I only recall reading about Yamamoto Date.  But that has far more to do with Me not reading everything on Japanese myths.

Of the Gods the best known are the trinity of Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess, "the great august deity"), Tsukiyomi (the Moon God), and Susanoo (the God of Storms and Seas).  Now, these are the stories I know well.  I am remarkably pleased that the depictions and stats match up well with my personal ideas of what these gods are.  Amaterasu is easily the most powerful god in this book, thankfully for the mortals, she is Lawful Good.  In my games, there was no greater foe of the undead than her. And let me just say I am so pleased the authors did not take the easy way out and make Susanowo Chaotic Evil and went with the more appropriate Chaotic Neutral.

A couple of Goddesses that I remember reading about didn't make it in.  I mean I easily see why, but still, it would have been nice to see them.

Ame-no-Uzume

Ame-no-Uzume is the Goddess of the Dawn and for her role in the story of Amaterasu and the Cave she is the Goddess of Revelry.  In many ways the "darker" versions of Amaterasu and Ame-no-Uzume can be found in my "Nox" and "Syla" the goddess of the Dusk and Near Dark.

But back to Uzume.  I am not the first to point this one out and many others more read than me have done a better job.  But if you want to bring Ame-no-Uzume all you need to do is turn a few pages back to the Indian myths and bring over the similarity named Ushas, the Goddess of the Dawn. Her stats are pretty much perfect as is.  

Isshin-ryū Mizo-Game
Mizo-Game

Oh, Mizu Game. How you have vexed me over the years.

So WAY back in the day I decided to take karate lessons, their was a local place that was offering Isshin-ryū Karate and I decided to join.  I spent a couple years doing it. I was good, not great, but I felt like it achieved my then goal of getting some extra exercise.  The important part for today is the Isshin-ryū patch.  I was told that the half-woman/half-dragon goddess on the patch was Mizo-Game a Sea Goddess.  So naturally, I wanted a character that worshipped her.  But outside of Isshin-ryū I could not find out anything about her.  And you know what?  I STILL can't.  Every so often I get the idea to search for her again and I have only limited success.

Now with this post, it's going to mess with my search algorithms even more! 

I had hoped to find a goddess I could borrow from other myths, like I do for Uaume, but nothing came up.  She would be a Lawful Neutral demigoddess of the sea.  She related to dragons and to the other gods.

Mizo Game in Isshin-ryū

Demons

While this is all fantastic. There are no monsters here, let alone any demons. 

A while back I talked about the Yaoguai or Chinese demons.   The name means something like "strange ghost" or "strange devil."  In Japan, similar creatures are called Yōkai. Which also means "strange apparition."

In my games, Yaoguai and Yōkai are both different lineages of demons that are related.   There are no creatures listed in the D&DG that would count.  The closest we get is the Ogre Mage, also called the "Japanese Ogre" in the Monster Manual.  BUT that creature is obviously based on the Oni. 

Are Oni demons or yōkai?  I am going to say no. The tales of Momotarō, also known as the Peach Boy, feature many Oni, and while they are powerful and even a little supernatural, but they are not really demons.  Sadly even branching out into the Oriental Adventures does not help here.  Though there are also Ushi-oni that are very much yōkai and Oni are said to have come from the "demon gate/"

For demons and yōkai it would seem I am on my own and I have a lot more research and reading to do.

No Yōkai here.

Expect to see some Yōkai in future Monstrous Mondays. Will I reclassify Oni as demons?  No idea yet.

It's too bad that with all the material out there on Yōkai that so little to almost none made it into AD&D.

There is only one more set of myths left in this series and I am hoping it will be a big one!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

One Man's God: Syncretism and the Gods

Hermes Trismegistus
Hermes Trismegistus
In the pages of the Deities & Demigods (or Gods, Demigods, and Heroes) the Gods and their Pantheons are fairly clean-cut affairs.  Greek over here, Egypt over there, Mesopotamia over there a little more. Norse WAY the hell over there.

In real-world mythology and religion, it doesn't work like that. Zeus was, and was not, exactly Jupiter. Ra was Ra, unless he was Amun-Ra or Aten.  Dumuzid was Tammuz, except for the times he was his own father. This is not counting the times when religions rise, fall, change and morph over the centuries. Today's God is tomorrow's demon.  Ask Astarte or the Tuatha Dé Danann how things fare for them now.

Gods are messy. 

It stands to reason that gods in your games should also be as messy. 

Now, most games do not have the centuries (game time) and none have the real-time evolution of gods in their games. We use simple "spheres" and give the gods roles that they rarely deviate from.  The Forgotten Realms is an exception since its published works cover a couple hundred years of in-universe time, but even then their gods are often pretty stable.  That is to make them easier to approach and to make sales of books easier.  The Dragonlance books cover more time in the game world, but their gods are another issue entirely.

While I want to get back to my One Man's God in the proper sense I do want to take this side quest to talk about Syncretism.

Syncretism

According to the ole' Wikipedia, "Syncretism /ˈsɪŋkrətɪzəm/ is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought."  For our purposes today we are going to confine ourselves to just gods.

For game purposes, I am going to use Syncretism as the combination of two or more gods into one.  The individual gods and the syncretized god are considered to be different and separate entities.

Now years ago when I proposed the idea that gods can be different than what is stated I go some grief online from people claiming that gods are absolute truth. For example, you can cast a Commune spell and speak to a god and get an answer.  But a commune is not a cell phone. It is not email. It is only slightly better than an Ouija board.  You have no idea who, or what, is on the other end.  If you are a cleric all you have is faith.

So what is a syncretic god like? Some examples from the real world and my own games.

Hermes Trismegistus

Our poster boy for syncretism is good old Hermes Trismegistus or the Thrice Great Hermes.  He is a Hellenistic syncretism of the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth.  Now, the DDG has these as very separate individuals.  Thoth is a Neutral Greater God of Knowledge, Hermes is a Neutral Greater God of Thieves, Liars, and more.  From this perspective, there does not seem to be an overlap.   But like I say above, gods are messy.  This figure is believed to have written the Corpus Hermetica, the collection of knowledge passed down to the various Hermetic Orders that would appear in later antiquity and during the Occult revivals.   Even then the Thrice Great Hermes of the Hellenistic period could be argued to be a completely different personage than the Thrice Great Hermes of the Hermetic Orders.

But is Hermes Trismegistus a God?  If you met him on the street would that mean you also met Hermes, Thoth, and Mercury? Or can all four walk into a bar together and order a drink? That answer of course is a confounding yes to all the above.  Though this is less satisfactory than say having stats for all four in a book.

The Triple Moon Goddess Heresy

Back when I was starting up my 4e game and deciding to set it in the Forgotten Realms I wanted to make sure I had a good grasp on the gods and goddesses of the world.  I was also already mulling some thoughts that would become One Man's God, so I decided to go full heretic.  I combined the moon goddesses all into one Goddess.  I also decided that like Krynn, Toril has three moons, but you can't see one of them.   I detailed that religion in my post Nothing Like the Sun... and I did something similar to Lolth and Araushnee in The Church of Lolth Ascendant.

Sehanine Moonbow, Selûne and Shar
Sehanine Moonbow, Selûne, and Shar by Ben Honeycutt

As expected (and maybe a little wanted) these tended to shuffle the feathers of the orthodoxy.  Thanks for that by the way.

This is all fun and everything, but what can I actually *do* with these?

Syncretic Gods make FANTASTIC witch and warlock patrons.

Witches in many pagan traditions in the real world believe that their Goddess is all goddesses.  That is syncretism to the Nth degree.  I already have a case with Hermes Trismegistus and the Hermetic Order. 

Here are some syncretic gods from antiquity and potential roles as patrons.

Apollo-Belenus, Patron of the sun and healing.  From the Greco-Roman Apollo and the Gaulish Belenus.

Ashtart, Patroness of love, marriage, and sex. Combines the Goddesses Aphrodite, Astarte, Athirat, Ishtar, Isis, and Venus. Sometimes depicted as the consort to Serapis.

Cybele, or the Magna Mater, Patroness of Motherhood and fertility. She combines many Earth and motherhood-related Goddesses such as Gaia, Rhea, and Demeter.

Serapis, the Patron of Law, Order, rulers, and the afterlife.  He is a combination of the Gods Osiris and Apis from Egypt with Hades and Dionysus of the Greek. Besides Hermes Trismegistus, he is one of the most popular syncretic gods and the one that lead archeologists and researchers to the idea of syncretism. 

Sulis Minerva, Patroness of the sun and the life-giving power of the earth. She is chaste and virginal where Ashtart is lascivious. 

And one I made up to add to this mix and smooth out some edges,

Heka, the Patroness of Magic. She combines Hecate, Cardea, (who might have been the same anyway), Isis, with bits of Ishtar (who has connections to Isis too), and Ereshkigal with some Persephone.

In my own games, I have always wanted to explore the Mystra (Goddess) and Mystara (World) connection.  

This also helps me answer an old question.  Why would a Lawful Good witch be feared or hated?  Simple that Lawful witch is worshiping a god that the orthodoxy deems as a heresy. 

A Witch (or Warlock) of the Tripple Moon Goddess in the Realms is going to be hated by both the followers of Selûne and Shar, even if they are the same alignment.  Cults are like that.

I am planning on expanding these ideas further. 

Another thing I want to explore is when a god is split into two or more gods or demons.  In this case I want to have some sort of divinity that was "killed" and from the remnants of that god became Orcus and Dis Pater, or something like that.  Orcus, Dis Pater (Dispater), and Hades have a long and odd relationship. This is not counting other gods that have floated in and out of Orcus' orbit like Aita and Soranus.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

One Man's God: Finnish Mythos

Suomi Neito the Maiden of Finland
"Suomi Neito" the Maiden of Finland.
She is in the shape of Finland.

Seems like a good day to talk about fallen gods and demons.  We are also getting into mythos I know less and less about. So let's begin our tour in a country I have always liked, Finland.

I don't think it is too much to say that the myths and characters presented in the Deities & Demigods for Finland are largely, if not exclusively taken from the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala.  I have a copy of the audio-book I had been meaning to listen to before this, but since I no longer drive to work it has been taking a bit longer to get through my backlist.   I have had some exposure to the myths in comparative mythology books and of course, every D&D gamers knows that Gary Gygax was also a big fan of these stories.

The Mythos of the Finnish people are maybe some of the most relatable to long time D&D players since so much of them have been adopted into D&D proper.  Goddess Loviatar and Mielikki have been adopted wholesale into the Forgotten Realms campaign and remained unchanged from the D&DG counterparts. Mordenkainen sounds like he could have been a traveling companion to Vainamoinen and Lemminkainen.  Let's also not forget the Louhi, the Witch Queen of Pohjola is also an alternate name/guise for Tasha/Iggwilv.  

It is hard to say if the Finnish Mythos have a more D&D feel to them because of how they are presented in the D&DG OR is because so much of D&D has strands of Finnish/Kalevala DNA in it.  Those ties only got deeper as the development of D&D from the early 70s to the 80s went on.  So it would then reason that any Finnish "demons" would convert over to AD&D demons fairly well.  

Except there is one little problem.

There are no monsters listed in the D&DG Finnish mythos that could even be considered demonic, with maybe one exception.  The mythos are filled with Gods, but they are more background to the stories of the heroes.  The Kalevala is a Heroic epic.  So it has more akin with the stories of Gilgamesh and Heracles than it does with say the neighboring Norse myths which tend to be more about the exploits of the Gods.

So let's look at what we have and expand it out.

Page from the D&DG featuring Louhi, Loviatar and Mielikki
Louhi, Loviatar and Mielikki
Loviatar/Louhi
There is not a single male D&D player aged 40 and up that doesn't know Loviatar from the D&DG. Expand that outward and there isn't a single Forgotten Realms player of any age that doesn't know Loviatar.  She is the beautiful, cold, and strikingly topless, Goddess of Pain.  She is the intersection of D&D Dungeon Masters and S&M Dungeon Masters. she has been sexed up and everyone knows her.

Or do they?

In the Kalevala Loviatar is the blind daughter of Tuoni/Tuonetar.  The part about the cold wind blowing is spot on, but she is also the mother of the Nine Diseases.  Back in my AD&D witch playtests (late 80s) I had a witch of Loviatar who specialized in disease spells. So I do recall reading that much then in this comparative mythology book. 

There is also some conjecture that in the earliest tales Loviatar and Louhi were the same characters. Called Louhi in some areas and Loviatar in others. Though I think you would have trouble telling a Forgotten Realms fan that their Maiden of Pain is an ancient wrinkled crone. 

At one point I wanted to stat out the nine sons (or in my mind, eight sons and one daughter) of Loviatar as demon-like monsters.  But I never got it to come together in a way I liked.  I may try again after reading the Kalevala. 

If Loviatar went in one direction, Louhi went in the opposite.   Loviatar might be more popular with the D&D crowd, but it is Louhi who is more well known.  A lot can be said about Louhi and maybe one day I'll devote some more time to her. We do know that she was the model/alternate name for Tasha/Iggwilv. Which brings up an interesting idea. We know she has a son and she is the main antagonist of the Kalevala, though she also sometimes helps the heroes.  

Side note: I am sorry, the whole time writing this I keep hearing "Bring me the Sampo!" from the 1959 movie "The Sampo" or better known here in the US and to MST3k fans as "The Day the Earth Froze."  It has been my tradition to watch an MST3k movie while decorating for Christmas ever since I first saw this one. 

I do find one thing about the whole Louhi/Iggwilv connection interesting.  You have a Finnish girl (Louhi) essentially kidnapped and raised by a Russian witch, Baba Yaga.  Allegorical of the Russian occupation of Finland from 1809 to 1917? Maybe.  OH! here is an idea.  The PCs need something from Iggwilv's past BUT her past is in Russia and Finland during the Victorian era.  Would give me a chance to play some Ghosts of Albion.  It would work well since the "Suomi Neito" or the Maiden of Finland is a concept similar to "Britannia" or "Éire / Ériu" and what the Protectors are. 

In the D&DG Louhi has 45 total levels of spell casting, she is certainly a very powerful character. She stole the sun and the moon for example. 

Edvard Isto The Attack
Edvard Isto "The Attack" 
The eagle of Russia attacks the Maiden of Finland.
Again her shape is the shape of the country.

Hiisi and Lempo
The closest thing we have to a demon is Hiisi the God of Evil.  I say closest, but the entry in the D&DG does not lend itself to being a demon.  Sure he is Chaotic Evil, but he seems to be more human or at least a giant. 

When doing my research I found that much like "The Devil" and "devils" Hiisi is both the name of a god of evil, evil beings in general and the place name where these beings are found.

We know from the D&DG that no evil creature can cause Hiisi damage.  Could it be that these evil creatures are his?   The plural of hiisi is hiidet. It usually translates to "malicious creature " or even demon.

Hiidet
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1 (1-3)
ARMOR CLASS: 5
MOVE:  12"/24"
HIT DICE:  10+30 (60 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  95%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil, Special
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2 fists or 1 weapon
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  2d6 x2 or 2d8
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  None
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1 or better weapon to hit, hide 90%, Immune to cold and fire
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  10%
INTELLIGENCE:  Animal (savage)
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (12' to 18' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Hiidet are often confused with hill giants, ogres, and trolls.  Each one is unique in that it takes on the coloration and form best suited to its chosen lair.  A Hiidet of the stoney mountains will appear to made of stone with moss-like hair.  One living in the forests will have brownish or greenish skin and leaf-like hair.  This camouflage is part of their demonic heritage and is set once they find a lair to settle in.  It does not change though as they move around.  It does confer a 90% chance that they will remain unseen in their lairs. 

Hiidet attack with their fists or a weapon. They are immune to the environmental effects of cold and are immune to both fire and cold effects including magic and dragon breath.

Hiidet are something of a cross-species between elementals, giants, and demons.  They are quick to anger and will lash out at anyone invading their lands, but they are also cowards who will avoid attacking large parties.  Their lairs are natural areas such as caves, or holes in the ground that would fit them.  They keep nothing of value, preferring to eat their victim whole.  Every so often though a rare magical item will be found in their lairs (10%). 

Lempo is a similar case.  There was a god (sometimes goddess), Lempo, of love, but of the irrationality of love that causes people to make bad decisions.  Lempo seems similar to the god Pan in many respects including his "demonization" by Christians.  Another character, Paha, is also mentioned. 

Lempo
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -1 or 9
MOVE:  24"/48"
HIT DICE:  6+6 (42 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  0%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  NA
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  NA
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Cause chaos
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1 or better weapon to hit, invisible
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil (Chaotic Neutral)
SIZE:  L  (12' to 18' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Lempo are nature and fertility spirits that have been corrupted by evil.  Their former function was to ensure fertility and crop growth, they became corrupted and now sow lasciviousness and chaotic behavior.  They cause faithful couples to stray and young people to behave in an erratic manner.

As spirits, they have no physical presence in the world. Though any weapon that can target ethereal creatures can strike them (AC -1).  Likewise they have no physical attacks save their corrupting influence.  The tactic of a lempo is to rest on the roof of a home to cause all inside to come under it's influence. Characters and creatures under 4 HD have no save and act in a chaotic manner.  Creatures 4hd and above are allowed a save vs. spells.

A priest of 4th level and higher can see the lempo, it appears as a humanoid shape (male or female) with a crow's head, feet, and wings.  The priest can "turn" this creature as if it were a wriath.  A result of T means the lempo has fled but is not destroyed.  A result of "D" means the lempo has been forced out of the spirit realm into the physical.  Here it may be attacked with magic weapons (AC 9), but it has no attacks to counter. 

If the lempo has fled or has caused enough damage in one village it will move on to the next one.

Lempo–Hiisi is also a trans-Neptunian trinary object along with Paha. Like many of these planetoids, they are named for creatures and characters from the underground, afterlife, and chthonic gods/creatures. 

Depending on your read, Hiisi, Lempo, and Paha could be three unique characters or one with two lesser cohorts, or the name of all such creatures.  

Finnish Maiden
I have mentioned her a few times above, but the personification of Finland is the Finnish Maiden.  I am not sure if there is any relation between them and Ukko's Air Maidens from the D&DG, but it does seem like there could be a thread connecting them.

"Suomi Neito" the Maiden of Finland with map of Finland
Finland and her maiden

She joins the others from nearby lands, Lady of the Mountains (Iceland). Ola Nordmann (Norway), Holger the Dane (Denmark), and Mother Svea (Sweden).

My feeling is there is a lot more to these myths and stories and like always the D&DG is just scratching the surface.  Again, this is not a bad thing.  The D&DG is not a textbook on mythology. 

ETA: I am also submitting this as part of November's RPG Blog Carnival.




Wednesday, May 20, 2020

OMG: Special Edition The Goddess of Magic

I want to get back to my One Man's God series, but before I do I want to take look at the various Goddess of Magic.

Hecate by Iren Horrors
One thing myths seem to have in common, at least the handful I have covered to date, is a Goddess of Magic.  These goddesses, while different in many respects and aspects, share something in common.  They have learned the secrets of magic and these secrets seem to be something only goddess are meant to know.

Here are a few an how I see them through the lens of a Goddess of the Witches.

Ereshkigal
The world's first goth-girl.  I talked a lot about her during my wrap-up of the Babylonian, Sumerian, and Akkadian myths.  She is the goddess of the underworld and the magic associated with that. Ereshkigal is often considered to be the dark half of her sister Innana/Ishtar.

Isis
Isis is the earliest Goddess of Magic of Egypt.
With Osiris and Horus (the divine child) they make up a Holy Trinity. She is the Goddess of marriage, motherhood, fertility, magic, healing, reincarnation, and divination, to name but a few. Isis is the patroness of priestesses. One myth has Isis poisoning the Sun God Ra, offering to save him only if he would reveal his secret name. At last, at the brink of destruction, Ra gives Isis his heart, with the secret name it held, and his two eyes (the Sun and the Moon).  Isis quells the poison and ends up with Ra’s supreme power. In time the great Eye was passed along to her son Horus.  Proclus mentions a statue of her which bore the inscription “I am that which is, has been and shall be. My veil no one has lifted”. Hence, to lift the veil of Isis is to pierce the heart of a great mystery.

Hecate
Hecate got her own OMG post a while back.
Hecate is, in Greek mythology, the Goddess of darkness, magic, and witchcraft.  She is the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria. Unlike Artemis, who represented the moonlight and splendor of the night, Hecate represented its darkness and its terrors. On moonless nights she was believed to roam the earth with a pack of ghostly, howling dogs. She was the Goddess of sorcery and witchcraft and was especially worshiped by magicians and witches, who sacrificed black lambs and black dogs to her. As Goddess of the crossroads, Hecate and her pack of dogs were believed to haunt these remote spots, which seemed evil and ghostly places to travelers. In art Hecate is often represented with either three bodies or three heads and with serpents entwined about her neck.
Of all the deities who have covens, Hecate’s covens are the most widespread and well known. Hecate was once a fairly benign goddess in early Greek times. She later became the dread Greco-Roman Goddess of ghosts, a close confidante of Persephone, and a patron of witches. The brutally wronged Hecuba of Troy was reincarnated as one of Hecate’s black dogs, which accompanied her on her night walks. When Hades kidnapped Persephone in the later Greek myth, farseeing Hecate was the only one who witnessed it. Hecate was worshiped at three-way crossroads at night even by ordinary Greek families and could ward off ghosts if properly propitiated. But Romans also believed She had more sinister worshipers; the witches and sorceresses who could coerce even the gods to do their will.

Freyja
Freyja is associated with magic, but mostly with seiðr. What is seiðr? Well, it is a bit of an odd translation but it usually refers to a pre-Christian pagan form of magic.  Today we would shorthand it and call it "witchcraft" but that is not exactly right.
I hope to cover her more when I finally get to Norse myths.

Ceridwen
Celtic Goddess of wisdom, intelligence, magic, divination, and enchantment. She is the Goddess of the cauldron. Popular among the Celtic Classical and Craft of the Wise Traditions.
Cerridwen’s cauldron has the power to return the dead to life.

Áine
Another  Celtic Goddess is the Irish goddess Áine.  She is also the Goddess of Summer.
I want to get back to Celtic myths soon.

Coyolxāuhqui
I forgot to mention Coyolxāuhqui last week when I did Central American myths.  She is the sister of Huitzilopochtli (the God of War in the D&DG).  She is most often depicted as the Goddess of the Moon when she was beheaded by her brother and he tossed her head into the sky.

Huitaca
Also known as Xubchasgagua she is the Goddess of arts, dance and music, witchcraft, sexual liberation, and the Moon. That is quite the portfolio.  Like many Goddesses, she is associated with the owl as her animal.  She is described as a "rebel Goddess." She is really the archetypical witch.
She is associated with the religion of the Muisca which is now Columbia in South America.

From D&D

Wee Jas
Wee Jas also got her own post a while back.  Wee Jas is what Hecate would be if she were a Suel god. Or more to the point the D&D version of Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, Witches, Ghosts, Necromancy and the Crossroads.   It is said that Wee Jas guards the doorways to the dead and the same is true for Hecate.  In fact, I have used them rather interchangeably for years.

I think for my own version of Wee Jas, I would start with the Dragon 88 version, add a little bit of what we saw in D&D 3.x, and then change her "Death" portfolio to "Spirits" ("Wee Jas" = "Ouija").  She can summon undead, and her priests may do so as well, but no raise dead spells.  I rather liked the Raven Queen from D&D 4 and 5, so pass off Wee Jas' control of Death (save for spirits) to the Raven Queen.  Since the Raven Queen is described as a young or new Goddess, it could even be that she is the daughter of Wee Jas.  Ioun was one of Wee Jas' first students.

Mystra
Mystra is the Forgotten Realms Goddess of Magic.  I have not talked much about her here because my knowledge of the Realms is limited.  But I have always wanted to explore the Mystra-Mystara connection.  Is there one? Likely not, but there should be at least in my games!

I am sure there are more, lots more even, but this is good for now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

OMG: Indian Mythos

One Man's God: Indian Mythos

It's 2020 and welcome back to my series One Man's God (OMG).  I look at the various gods, monsters and everything in between and see how well they could (or would or would not) fit into the AD&D 1st Monster Manual as demons.

Before I jump back in a few introductory notes.
I use the word "demon" a lot.  By this I don't usually mean the Christian meaning of the term, but rather the much more generic meaning as a usually evil spiritual creature.  This is important here since I am going to jump feet first into the Indian myths and they have a lot of demons, and many are called demons too.

I am also limiting myself to AD&D 1st edition here.  While I do draw from other editions and games, it is AD&D 1st ed I am most interested in.   How do these creatures and monsters fit the AD&D (not Earth's) cosmology?



So in preparation for this, I grabbed my copy of the Ramayana to help me out.  Though the focus here is not on the myths and stories themselves but rather on how the Deities & Demigods presents them.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to collect all the myths and stories of India collate them, sort them and then put them into a gamebook and have them make sense.  Indian myths, like and maybe more so than other mythologies in the D&DG, are far too dense and scattered over time to fit the needs of a book publisher with a handful of pages to spare.  So I am not going to fault the creative choices made by the authors and editors here.  The authors acknowledge this in their first sentence of text for these myths.   So the list of gods, goddesses and creatures here combine Hindu, Buddist, Shakta, Jainism, and other beliefs.  Much like India itself.

Indian mythology is ancient, with Hindu texts going back to at least 1500 BCE.  I remember reading the Rig Veda in college and the Ramayan a while back.  What struck me then and again now is how much color and vibrancy there is to these tales.  I could go on and on, but that is not focus here.

In the Indian Myths as presented in the D&DG there are many gods and goddesses that look monstrous but are not.  This will be a classic example of not judging someone by their looks.

Kali
Kali might be one of the more recognizable personas from the Indian mythos.  She gained notable status soon after the D&DG came out thanks to the Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom movie.  But Kali is much, much more complicated than that. Kali is needed and required in Hindu mythology she is the one who dances with Shiva to destroy and then rebuild, the world.  Here name means "Time" and thus is a complicated character. 
In the D&DG she is reduced to just a goddess that can instill fear in demons and devils. She should be more.

Rakshasa
The rakshasa from the MM (and every Monster Manual hereafter) is often described as a demon.  Throughout D&D's history they have been consistently Lawful Evil. They are featured in many of the ancient tales, and in the Ramayana in particular.  Originally I wanted to re-classify them as Chaotic Evil, but after rereading the Ramayana I think I'll stick with Lawful Evil, with some odd individuals as Lawful Neutral or even Lawful Good.  Even in some tales Shurpanakha, the demonic sister of Ravana, the rakshasa king of Lanka, becomes so good that her beauty comes back to her.

Vitra and Susna
Both of these creatures are described as "dragons", "serpents" or "snakes" and often as a demon of drought.  They are typically blocking rivers or damming up waters and Indra has to fight them.

In this case, he could be related to any number of world-threatening serpents such as Apep or even Azi-Dahaka.  I honestly could use the same stats for it as I did for Apep.  Or in his "human" form that of a Balor.



A bestiary of all the monsters and demons from India would fill their own book.  It would be a fun book too!

Though if I were to do such a thing I'd rather do it for Ghosts of Albion and set it in the early Victorian Age.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

OMG: Greek (and maybe Roman) Mythos, Part 3 Hecate

Hecate is getting her own post.

There is no way I am going to say everything about this Goddess; either for D&D or in general.  So keeping that in mind, let's go.

Hecate, or sometimes, Hekate, is the Goddess of Witches, Ghosts and the Crossroads OR she is a Titan. OR she is something different. 

Like some of the Olympian Gods, she is of the third or fourth generation.  Her Great grandparents are namely Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky), same as Zeus' own grandparents.  Their offspring was Crius, whom the D&DG gives as the Greater Titan of Gravity.  Gaia (Earth) and Pontos (Sea) gave birth to Eurybia (Winds and Constellations; things that seemingly comes from the sea). Crius and Eurybia give birth to Perses (Titan of Destruction). He joins with the Titaness Asteria the Titan of stars and nighttime oracles.  She herself was the daughter of Phoebe and Coeus, making her a half-sister to Leto the mother of Apollo and Artemis.   Though there are other claims to her parentage.  Some also claim she the daughter of Leto, which would make her Apollo and Artemis' half-sister.

Hecate then is the daughter of Peres and Asteria and of the same generation of Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, and Dionysus.  While she is their generation she is often considered to be a Titan.

Like many of the Greek and later Roman Gods, Hecate has more than one, in what D&D came to call Portfolio.  She is the Goddess of Nighttime as opposed to Nox the Personification of Night. She is the Goddess of Oracular power based on stars (as opposed to her semi-cousin Apollo who is the God of Oracles), one of the Goddess of the Moon.  Her torches light the night.  She is the goddess of the Crossroads. With her three faces, she can see the past, present, and future.  And most notably, she is the Goddess of Witchcraft, Creatures of the Night and Ghosts.
Due to her rather complicated lineage, she also has dominion over Earth, Sky, and Sea.

She has been associated with the Goddess Demeter having been mentioned int he Homeric Hymns to Demeter.  She is believed to have lit the way to Hades for Demeter to find Persephone. While Persephone is in the underworld she and Hecate are companions.  She helps Persephone on her trip to and from the underworld.  This gives us one of our first triple-goddesses, with Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate as the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

As a Goddess, she is often seen in the company of large dogs from the Underworld, the Hellhounds and common house cats.

She is depicted in the D&DG as being Lawful Evil.  I am not buying it.  Lawful I can live with, but so much of what she does is both good and evil that Lawful Neutral is the much better choice.

Hecate is one of the few gods that retains her name in both the Greek and Roman versions.  Though there is the Roman Goddess Trivia that also takes on some of what makes Hecate.

Goddess of Witchcraft
We know that many tablets and surviving scrolls have her mentioned in many curses and spells of protection against creatures of the night.  According to Hesiod, "Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods."

Interestingly enough her domain over witchcraft relates to her being worshipped by Circe and Medea. Medea, in fact, is called a Priestess of Hecate. Medea is almost always described as a witch.

Hecate also appears in Shakespeare's Macbeth and mentioned in Hamlet. Each time due to her association with witches.

Lampad the Nymphae Avernales
The lampads are described as Underworld Nymphs.  They were the constant companions to Hecate as a reward for Hecate taking part in the war against the Titans.  Sometimes described as the Daughters of Nyx or of Daimones, they share a similar relationship to Hecate as the forest nymphs do with Artemis.

Lampads appear in the Pathfinder game, in Bestiary 4.  Here is my interpretation.

Lampad (Nymph)
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d8 +16 (30)
Attacks: 0 (see below)
Damage: None
Special Attacks & Defenses: Cause feeblemindedness, malaise and death
Movement: 120’ (40’)
No. Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: IX, XI x 10
Alignment: Neutral (Chaotic)
XP: 100
Nymphs are stunningly beautiful female fey creatures that closely resemble elven women. The lampad are nymphs of the underworld and desolate places.  They appear similar to drow (dark elves), with grey ashen skin and long white hair.  Anyone that sees a lampad must make a save vs. spells or become feebleminded as per the spell.  If more than one lampad is present the victim is instantly killed on a failed save.
Lampads have the spell-casting abilities of a 6th level witch. They have their own language and speak common and the languages of the infernal realms.

Tears of the Lampad:  These tears are extremely magical if a tear touches a mortal (not an elf though) they must make a save vs. poison at -4 or enter into a depression so deep they are unwilling to move or do anything.  A victim will starve to death before they will attempt to bring themselves out of this malaise. Only a remove curse spell will allow them to return to their normal life.

The Empusa
I have used the Empusa many times in a lot of games.  I have often categorized them as Lilim, or the Daughters of Lilith (who also shares a lot with Hecate) but in ancient myth they are the daughters, or at least the offspring, of Hecate.

Empusa (Lilim)
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+4** (40 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws and 1 bite or 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d6 or 1d10
Special Attacks & Defenses:  Magic resistance (25%), Lilim abilities, magical abilities, +1 magic weapons to hit, Intelligence drain
Movement: 120' (40')
   Flying: 240’ (80’)
No. Appearing: 1d4
Save As: Witch 9
Morale: 8
Horde Class: X, XI
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
XP:  2,380
These are believed to be the daughters of Lilith or Hecate and the various proto-demons. They are the most “demonic” of all of the Lilim. The Empusae (or “forcers-in”), like all Lilim, can appear as a stunningly beautiful woman or as a demon. The demonic form of the Empusa is one of the most hideous of all of the Lilim. The body remains mostly humanoid and female but covered in fine scales. Its legs become like those of a horse or ass and end in hooves that are made of brass or bronze. Its back supports a set of large leathery bat-like wings, similar to that of a succubus. It is its head that features its most horrible transformation. The creature’s long flowing tresses are replaced with a mass of snakes similar to that of a medusa. Its facial features are blocked by an area of complete darkness, only it’s glowing eyes are visible. It is said among sages that face of the Empusa is not shrouded in darkness, but it is so horrible that our minds block the vision from us. It is also said that other demons can actually see the Empusa’s face and run in fear from it. Its former delicate hands now end in razor-tipped claws. A long reptilian tail completes the picture.
An Empusa can appear as human, or it can also shapeshift into a large dire wolf (statistics as per Dire Wolf).
Unlike the combat avoidant Succubus, Empusae live for battle. They can either use their natural claw/claw/bite routine or use a flaming sword that strikes for 2d6 points of damage plus 1d6 of flame damage. Empusa gain to hit and damage bonuses due to their high strength as well.
The touch of an Empusa drains the Intelligence of the victim at 1 point per barehanded, not weaponed, attack.



Hecate / Heka Connections
The Greeks and the Egyptians had a long and complicated relationship.  Greeks scholars used to say that everything they know came from the Egyptians.  Back when I was doing the research for OMG: Egyptian Mythos I came across this saying all the time.  This lead me to the Egyptian God of magic Heka.  Like many before I noticed some similarities with Hecate and Heka.  Both are their respective gods of magic. Both are heralded as "gifts" to the human race by their respective heads of their pantheon.  Despite the similar portfolios and similarity in names there is no linguistic connection between the two.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

OMG: One Man's God

I came to D&D back in the 70s via my interest in myths about the Gods and Heroes.   I was reading D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths when a friend lent me his copy of the Monster Manual.   The rest, as they say, is history.

One of my favorite books in the entire AD&D line was/is Deities & Demigods.  I have been mentally going back to that treasured volume since I picked up The Great Courses: Great Mythologies of the World.



The scholarship in D&DG is not University or scholarly level, but I give Rob Kuntz and James Ward many kudos, and really it was not supposed to be.  It was supposed to be a game book and in that it succeeds wildly.

But it all got me thinking about that old adage; "One man's God is another man's Devil."
What would it take to grab some of the evil monsters and revisit them as AD&D/OSR style demons, complete with their placement in the Gygax-ian Great Wheel?   One of my bigger misgivings about D&DG, despite how good it was, it did not try to integrate into the larger D&D view of the multiverse and planes.  Today I think that is perfectly fine, but then it bugged me more.

I guess in a way this is my gift to me of 1981 or so.

My plan is to go through the D&DG and take an extended look at the pantheons and the myths behind them and find some good bits (there are lots) and comment on some others and hopefully find some cool demons to fit the larger D&D world.

Ok, so I have a Ph.D., I can do academic rigor. That is not what this is about. This will not be a treatise of comparative religions or a dissertation.  This is blog post, with game material.  My audience is the same as Kuntz and Ward's, the D&D gamer.

The only thing I have not figure out yet is whether to do these as an OSR-friendly S&W/Basic-era format or as D&D 5.  Maybe both or one or the other as it strikes me.

I am not likely to include the non-human deities since they are already more integrated into the larger D&D mythos,  but I may focus on one or two that I want to expand on; Blibdoolpoolp and Vaprak the Destroyer come to mind for different reasons. Possibly Laogzed too.
I am also not going to go in order.  I have this notion of starting in the Fertile Crescent and working my way out, both physically and temporarily.   This is for my own education so I can mentally place various cultures in their proper times in relation to each other.
I also have not figured out what to do with beings that began as gods and later were transformed to devils, for example, Astártē to Astaroth.  I am planning on splitting up Greek and Roman, if for no other reasons to deal with some unique Roman ideas and dabble a little in some Etruscan myths and legends. Or maybe do an extended Greco-Roman-Etruscan post.

Love to hear suggestions and ideas.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Role Do Gods Play in Your Games?

Working out some details for my games and it got me thinking about gods.

I am toying around with the idea that the gods are nothing more that super-powerful mortals ala the D&D Immortals rules.  I am even tossing around this idea that the gods loose their powers and fall to the Prime Material.

For example, I was thinking of making many of the goddesses of magic, witchcraft and the like really powerful witches, they have just come to be regarded as goddesses. So Hecate, Wee Jas, and the like.
Doing something similar with the various pantheons also seems to fix a few issues I am currently running into in my world building.

What roles do the Gods play in your games?  Do you use them much?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Witch spells for Nox

I have expanded on my write-up on Nox, Goddess of the Near Dark, for the Petty Gods project.

Here are some new spells for followers of Nox and a new minion.

As always the material below (except the art) is released as Open under the terms of the OGL.

Section 15: "Witch Spells for Nox" Copyright © 2015 Timothy S. Brannan.

Summon Fyre Fae
Affiliation: Nox, Goddess of Near Dark
Level: Cleric (Nox) 3, Magic-User (Wizard) 3, Witch 3
Range: 150’ + 50’/level
Duration: Special (see below)
By means of this spell the cleric or witch may summon a Fyre Fae, a small pixie like creature the glows much in the same way as a Will O’ The Wisp.  The cast beeches a boon from Nox, who knows the location of hidden things, and summons the fyre fae to find what they seek.  The caster must be specific in what they are looking for and it must be within the range of the spell.  So for example a caster can ask “please help me find the key to unlock the door to the Dungeons of Dragoth-umar” if the key is within the range, then the fyre fae will find it and return to the caster. Requests like “help me find the safest route” or “help me find the way home” may not always have the most direct route, but they will lead the caster in generally the correct direction.
The duration of the spell is equal to 10 minutes plus 1 minute per level of the caster.  The spell though will always end once the last rays of the sun are gone and true night has started.  When the spell ends the fyre fae will disappear.
Attacked fyre fae also disappear.  Casters that summon the minions of Nox and attack them will also discover that they will no longer be allowed to summon a fyre fae.

Summon Gloaming
Affiliation: Nox, Goddess of Near Dark
Level: Cleric (Nox) 5, Magic-User (Wizard) 5, Witch 5
Range: 50’
Duration: Permanent/till dispelled
The followers of Nox know that her power lies not in light or dark but in the shadows and near dark in between.  While many know of the playful fyre fae that serve Nox, few know of her other servitors, the Gloamings.
A gloaming is a shadow-like creature that often takes the shape of a large, but indistinct animal. The gloaming summoned will attack a group of creatures that the caster chooses.  The gloaming will attack until the creatures or itself are dead.
The caster may summon 1 gloaming + 1 per every other level.  A summoned gloaming does not have the fear causing effects of a naturally occurring one.

Gloaming*
Armor Class: 14
Hit Dice: 5*
Alignment: Neutral
No. of Attacks:  2 claw / 1 bite + Fear
Damage: 1d4/1d4 1d6 + 1 point Strength loss + Fear
Movement: 45'
No. Appearing: 1d6, Wild 1d10
Save As: Fighter: 6
Morale: 12
Treasure Type: None
XP: 660

A gloaming is a shadow creature that is typically found in wild, untamed places.  Mostly discovered in the time between sunset and the full dark of night these creatures appear to be large, but indistinct shadow creatures. They are on four legs and stand about 3’ to 4’ high with a massive head. The only features that are distinct are their eyes which glow amber, red or green.  Sometimes confused with hell hounds, a gloaming is an undead creature. It is the undead creature of a large predatory animal, but it does not attack on sight.  Typically a gloaming will radiate an aura of fear (as per the spell, cast by a 5th level caster) to scare off interlopers.  Failing that they will attack with a claw/claw/bite routine.  Only on a successful bite attack will a gloaming drain 1 point of strength.
A gloaming is an undead creature and can be turned as a 5 HD creature (or as a Wraith, depending on your system of choice).

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goddesses of the Witches

Some things I have been playing around with for various books.  Didn't fit with anything I am working on now, but I don't want to go to waste.

Names of the Goddess
The Goddess is known by many names, but each is but an aspect of the true goddess.  What follows is a listing of Goddesses from Earth’s mythologies.  In each case a possible or likely alignment is included as well as areas of domains for clerics and witch coven spells. Descriptions of that Goddess’ coven might also be included.

Artemis
Witches who worship the Artemis aspect of the Goddess are on good terms with druids.  These witches are common in amazon societies. As a witch of Artemis a woman pledges never to copulate with a man.  These witches are both chaste and celibate.  These witches may also choose to take the bow and arrow as their weapon.
She is part of a trinity of Artemis (maiden), Hestia (mother), and Hecate (crone).
Alignment: N or CG
Areas of Influence:Hunting, Moon, Women

Astartë
Astartë (Ah-star TAY) is the goddess of love, fertility as well as war and lasciviousness (lust) to the ancient peoples of Canaan and Phoenicia, she was worshiped as far West as Carthage, Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus.  Her name and cult were derived from Babylonia, where as Ishtar, she represented the evening and morning stars and was accordingly androgynous in origin. Under Semitic influence, however, she became solely female, although retaining a trace of her original character by standing on equal footing with the male divinities. She represents the productive power of nature. She is also a moon goddess. Her symbol is the crescent moon with “horns” turned up.
She is related to the devil Astoroth, some say that she is now this devil, others say that that Astoroth is her son/consort.  Astoroth has also been associated with the Canaanite god of Thamudzi/Damuz.
Alignment: N or LN
Areas of Influence:Fertility, Magic

Athena
The Goddess of War and Wisdom sprang fully grown and armored from Zeus’, her father, head. She represents wisdom in matters of life and war.
Her worshippers are normally generals fighting just causes. The witches of this sect are usually on good terms with those of Artemis. This witch is favored in the Craft of the Wise tradition because of Athena’s renowned wisdom. They may choose the spear as their weapon.
Alignment: LG
Areas of Influence: War, Wisdom, Women

Bast
Bast is an ancient Goddess and the mistress of all cats.  Nearly every Find Familiar spell known invokes her name. Witches of Bast, few as they are, live a cat-like life style.  They prefer the comforts and leisure life that cats enjoy.  Then spend long afternoons lying in the sun and enjoying the sensuous side of life. Regardless, do not confuse leisure with laziness.  Witches of Bast are dedicated fighters of evil, in particular the workings of the minions of Set. Witches of Bast may choose weapon mastry in one edged weapon at the loss of one feat.  They also gain a +1 to hit and damage when fighting snakes.
Her consort is Aelurus, who appears as a tanned human male with a cat’s or lion’s head.
Alignment: NG or N
Areas of Influence: Cats, Good, Hunting

Brigit
Brigit, also known as Brigantia, Bridget, or Brigid, is the Celtic Goddess of the rivers and rural life. She is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery and Wisdom. She was raised on the milk creature of the other-world, a white, red-eared cow. Brigit is one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people. She appeared as Brigit to the Irish, Brigantia in Northern England, Bride in Scotland, and Brigandu in Brittany. Many legends are told about Brigit. Some say that there are three Brigits: one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts. This actually indicates the separate aspects of her Threefold nature and is a neat division of labor for a hard-working Goddess. Indeed, various interpretations of her name exist including, “Bright Arrow,” “The Bright One,” “the Powerful One” and “The High One,” depending upon the region and the dialect.
Her coven is known as the Daughters of the Flame.  These lawful good witches keep a holy flame burning at all times.
Part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), Morigann is the crone.
Alignment: NG or LG
Areas of Influence: Fire, Healing, Wisdom

Cardea
Often called the Roman Hecate, Cardea is the goddess of doors and the knowledge behind those doors.  Cardea is a capricious Goddess, often requiring her witches to memorize a section of poetry or building a center of learning in exchange for Her gifts of knowledge.  Cardea is open to all who wish to seek her out, but she makes no guarantees that her knowledge will be helpful to the seeker.
Alignment: CN or CG
Areas of Influence: Knowledge, Paths, Wisdom

Cerridwen
Celtic Goddess of wisdom, intelligence, magic, divination and enchantment. She is the Goddess of the cauldron. Popular among the Celtic Classical and Craft of the Wise Traditions.
Cerridwen’s cauldron has the power to return the dead to life.
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Intelligence, Magic, Wisdom

Danu
The Celtic Mother-goddess known as Danu to the Irish and Don to the Welsh (and simlar to the Greek Demeter below).  The race of the Tuatha deDannan means “The Children of Danu”. She is also the mother of many Irish Celtic gods Diancecht, Lir, Lugh, Oghma and others.  Dagda is alternately mentioned as her son or father.  She is fierce protector of home and hearth.
She is part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden), Danu (mother), and Morigann (crone).
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Earth, Fertility, Nature

Demeter
Also known as Kore. The great Greek Earth Goddess. She is the Goddess of grain and of the harvest. Her witch cults are among the oldest known. She goes down to the underworld to retrieve her daughter.  During this time winter covers the land. Origin of most of the “Descent of the Goddess” legends.
Alignment: NG
Areas of Influence: Earth, Fertility, Nature

Diana
Diana is the Roman Goddess of fertility, the hunt and forests. She is the roman equivalent of the Greek Goddess of Artemis.  But unlike Artemis, the witches of Diana are not required to be chaste or celibate. In the celebration of Beletane the witch copulates with a druid priest in order to bring fertility back to the earth.  Some have even become Tantric witches.  Obviously these witches are on very good terms with Druids.  Their religious practices are very similar to Druids and to that Artemis.
The covens of Diana are often very old and very popular. The Amazon tradition is often known as the Cult of Diana because of their fervent devotion to the Goddess.
Alignment: N or CG
Areas of Influence: Hunting, Moon, Women

Eir
Eir is the Scandinavian Goddess of Healing, and handmaiden of Frigg.  No one is Her equal when it comes to healing.  Her worshipers are all healers, either clerical or as herbal healers.  Her clerics and witches must never pick up a weapon in anger or vengeance.
She is depicted as been a slight woman with reddish-blonde hair and blue eyes. Her arms are muscular.  She commonly wears blue and red. Fires always light her temples and covens, which are known as centers of healing and succor.  She is known for her patience.
All her worshipers must take the healing and profession (herbalist) skills.
Alignment: NG
Areas of Influence: Healing, Peace

Gaea
Gaea (Gaia) is an Earth Goddess of Greek origin.  It is she who is ultimately responsible for all life. It is claimed that she emerged from darkness and mated with Uranus (the Sky god) and bore the twelve titans.
Alignment: N
Areas of Influence: Earth, Fertility, Nature

Hathor
Egyptian fertility Goddess.  She is the celestial cow who created the earth and the sun. As a cow goddess she ruled love, joy, merriment, music and dance.  She nourished the living with her milk , suckling Pharaoh and all others.  She is also known as the Goddess of love, music, song, and pleasure. In this aspect She has many followers among Lorelei and Tantric witches. She was one of the Egyptian gods that help guide the dead to the other side.
She is a Goddess that represents life, thus all her witches must be forces of life.  While some celebrate life, like the Lorelei and Tantric witches, others actively pursue careers to destroy those that threaten or mock life, such as the followers of Set or undead.
Alignment: CG
Areas of Influence: Creation, Fertility, Life, Magic

Hecate
Hecate is, in Greek mythology, the Goddess of darkness, magic and witchcraft.  She is the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria. Unlike Artemis, who represented the moonlight and splendor of the night, Hecate represented its darkness and its terrors. On moonless nights she was believed to roam the earth with a pack of ghostly, howling dogs. She was the Goddess of sorcery and witchcraft and was especially worshiped by magicians and witches, who sacrificed black lambs and black dogs to her. As Goddess of the crossroads, Hecate and her pack of dogs were believed to haunt these remote spots, which seemed evil and ghostly places to travelers. In art Hecate is often represented with either three bodies or three heads and with serpents entwined about her neck.
Of all the deities who have covens, Hecate’s covens are the most widespread and well known. Hecate was once a fairly benign goddess in early Greek times. She later became the dread Greco-Roman Goddess of ghosts, a close confidante of Persephone and a patron of witches. The brutally wronged Hecuba of Troy was reincarnated as one of Hecate’s black dogs, which accompanied her on her night walks. When Hades kidnapped Persephone in the later Greek myth, farseeing Hecate was the only one who witnessed it. Hecate was worshiped at three-way crossroads at night even by ordinary Greek families and could ward off ghosts if properly propitiated. But Romans also believed She had more sinister worshipers; the witches and sorceresses who could coerce even the gods to do their will.
Alignment: LE or LN
Areas of Influence: Ghosts, Magic, Moon, The Crossroads

Hel
One side of Hel’s face was that of a beautiful woman. The other half was that of a rotting corpse, green and black, or of a skull.  She ruled the realm of Niflheim, a huge black canyon in icy mountains, where those who did not die gloriously in battle went when their span of life was up. Niflheim was not burning but icy cold, filled with sleet, icy slush, cold mud and snow. Garm, the horrible hound whose breast was splattered with the blood of the dead, guarded the entrance. Her hall was called Damp-With-Sleet. Her plate was Hunger, Her knife Famine; Her two servants were both called Slow-Moving. Her bed was Sick-Bed, the stone at the entrance to her hall Drop-to-Destruction. So the Vikings described Her and Her home. Though the Vikings regarded her with horror, the common people worshiped her.
Alignment: NE
Areas of Influence: Death, Destruction, Evil

Hestia
Hestia is one of the Grecian hearth goddesses.  The Romans later called her Vesta.  Hestia was said to preside over all sacrifices.  One of the prohibitions was that should her fire ever go it, it could not be rekindled by an ordinary fire but only by the sun’s rays or by the friction of two pieces of wood.  As Vesta, the leaders of her cult were the Vestal Virgins (these were six girls from ages six to ten) who entered her college and stayed there for thirty years. Those breaking their vow of chastity were whipped to death or entombed.  Her witches will be the older women who have completed their temple service.
She is part of a trinity of Artemis (maiden), Hestia (mother), and Hecate (crone).
Alignment: LG
Areas of Influence: Hearth, Healing, Home

Holda
Holda, or Frau Holt, is the Goddess of Teutonic witches and Hags.  She is seen as both a caring mother and a frightening hag—a witch that calms children’s fears or eats them.  These polar opposites are common in many of the guises of the Goddess.  Classic witches typically honor her “good” side and Hags her “evil” one.  Holda is often depicted as riding a broom or a giant flying goose.  She can appear as a kindly old mother, a small child wearing all white or a viscous hag-like monster. She is the goddess of spinning, vegetation and children.  She is also a fertility goddess and her consort is known as the Wood Man.
The Oskorei, or the Furious Horde, a legion of fallen heroes and others, who have died before their time, similar to the Wild Hunt of the Celts or the Valkeries of the Norse, follow her on her nightly rides.
It is also believed that Frau Holt is the model for the children’s storybook character “Mother Goose”.
Alignment: CG or CE
Areas of Influence: Night, Mysteries, Witches and Hags

Ishtar
Ishtar of the Babylonians, and alternately Inanna of the Sumerians, represent the duality approach to the female deity, both are to be considered Nature deities; that is, human nature.  Both are the chief goddesses of their pathos, both are the goddesses of love, and therefore sexuality.  Also both are the goddesses of War, and therefore violence.  Their witches tend to have mercurial, almost chaotic personalities.  Covens tend to be very ancient and set in their ways.  Rituals will usually be consisted of old, lengthy litanies and sacrifices.  Ishtar’s witches are also as likely to pick up a weapon, as they are to use magic.
Alignment: CN
Areas of Influence: Love, Nature, War

Isis
Covens of Isis are old and represent ancient powers of the universe.  These witches are in tune with the fundamental powers and forces of the universe.  Isis’ name is called in rights of fertility.  She is also the patron Goddess of Magic.  There is much rivalry between Hecate and Isis in this category.  All of Isis’ covens are the paramount of good.  Isis is also a feminine ideal. With Osiris, Isis and Horus (the divine child) made up a Holy Trinity. She is the Goddess of marriage, motherhood, fertility, magic, healing, reincarnation and divination, to name but a few. Isis is the patroness of priestesses. One myth has Isis poisoning the Sun God Ra, offering to save him only if he would reveal his secret name. At last, at the brink of destruction, Ra gives Isis his heart, with the secret name it held, and his two eyes (the Sun and the Moon).  Isis quells the poison and ends up with Ra’s supreme power. In time the great Eye was passed along to her son Horus.  Proclus mentions a statue of her which bore the inscription “I am that which is, has been and shall be. My veil no one has lifted”. Hence, to lift the veil of Isis is to pierce the heart of a great mystery.
Alignment: NG or LG
Areas of Influence: Healing, Magic, Women

Kali
Kali is the supreme Dark Goddesses. It has been claimed that Her name is derived from the Hindu word for Time, yet also means, “black”. She is also called Durga.
Her very appearance is meant to terrify. She is black and emaciated, with fangs and claws. She wears a girdle of severed arms, a necklace of skulls or severed heads, earrings of children’s corpses, cobras as bracelets or garlands. Her mouth is smeared with blood.   Often She is shown standing or dancing on the corpse of the god Shiva; here, She feasts on his intestines.
Yet even Kali is not always dark. She also is a loving mother, and especially in that aspect is worshipped by millions of Hindus and her witches.
Her witches also see Kali as an Earth-Fertility Goddess, is thus worshiped by many Tantric witches. There are many parallels between the witch’s view of Kali and that of Ishtar.  Kali’s regular priests (Thuggee) see her as the destroyer and a Goddess of death.  Her witches, however, view Kali as the Force of Nature, a mother who can give life and take it away.  Witches of Kali generally have several Thuggee males in their covens as their strong arms.  Slaves are kept and human sacrifice is common.  Kali’s holiest nights are on the new moon and Wednesdays.
Alignment: CE
Areas of Influence: Death, Destruction, Fertility

Lilith
Lilith is many things, first woman, wife, mother of demons, consort to men, demons, devils and gods, witch, demon and Goddess.
Lilith was the first wife of Adam, the first man. Adam and Lilith never found peace together, for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent position he demanded. “Why must I lie beneath you?” she asked. “I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal”. She became proud and refused to lie beneath him during intercourse. This violated the command to be fruitful and multiply, since she was not being impregnated. Some traditions hold that she was impregnated and bore demons from him. Others claim She had two daughters with Adam. Naamah and Tubal are referred to as Cain’s sisters.  Naamah is the mother of many devils. He pushed the issue of her submission, and she uttered the Holy Name of God and flew away.
It is said that soon after Lilith left Adam he stood in prayer before his creator and said: “God of the World, the woman that you gave me has run away from me”. God tried to force her to return to Adam and sent therefore the death-angel Azrafil to her in the desert at the Red Sea, where she dwelled with the djinns, giving birth to countless demons.  Then God dispatched the three angels, Sanvai, Sansanvai, and Semangelof to bring her back. They caught up with her in the desert near the Red Sea, a region abounding in lascivious demons, to which she bore Lilim at the rate of more than one hundred a day. “Return to Adam without delay,” the angels said, “or we will drown you!” Lilith asked: “How can I return to Adam and be his woman, after my stay beside the Red Sea?” “It would be death to refuse!” they answered. “How can I die,” Lilith asked again, “when God has ordered me to take charge of all newborn children: boys up to the eighth day of life, that of circumcision; girls up to the twentieth day? Nevertheless,” she said, “I swear to you in the name of God who is living and exists, that if ever I see your three names or likenesses displayed in an amulet above a newborn child, I promise to spare it”. To this day they agreed; however, God punished Lilith by making one hundred of her demon children perish daily, and if Lilith could not destroy a human infant, because of the angelic amulet, she would spitefully turn against her own.  As late as the 18th century, mothers and children across many cultures took advantage of the protection offered by these amulets. Charms and rituals accompanied the use of the amulets, protecting mothers and infants from the retribution of Lilith. Baby girls were considered vulnerable in their first three weeks of life. Boys, on the other hand, were believed to be vulnerable for longer periods of time. Any boy under the age of eight was possible prey.
Alignment: CE
Areas of Influence: Evil, Moon, Women

Lovitar
Of the Finnish, “the people who ran from the woods,” few Goddesses are as evil and sadistic as Lovitar, Maiden of Pain.  Witches of Lovitar dispense pain to all of their enemies. Typical garb is white and all kinds of daggers are allowed as weapons.  Her coven spells deal primarily with pain and cold.
Alignment: NE
Areas of Influence: Cold, Evil, Pain

Mabd
The Queen of the Sidhe. Mabd is the prototypical elven Goddess of Celtic lore.  Her high time is the Summer Solstice. She is also known as Mab, Meave and to the Briton Celts, Titania. She is a mercurial Goddess that reflects the nature of the forest; life giving to some, deadly to others.
Witches of the Faerie Tradition honor Mabd and many of the Classical Traditions also pay her honor.
Alignment: CG or CN
Areas of Influence: Elves (Sidhe), Mysteries

Morigann
The Raven, the Celtic goddess of war.  Known as The Morigann, Morigan, Macha and Morigu.  She is the Goddess of war, battle and death, but not evil.
Part of a trinity of Brigit (maiden) and Danu (mother), Morigann is the crone.
Alignment: CN or CE
Areas of Influence: Chaos, War

Rhiannon
This Welsh Goddess is well known for her appearance in the Mabinagion.  In penance for a crime that she did not commit, she sat for seven years outside Pwyll’s palace and offered to carry any visitor on her back like a horse.  The singing of her three magic birds could be heard over the sea, could wake the dead and could lull the living to sleep.  She was also identified with Epona (a horse cult).  The Roman Calvary favored Epona and her shrines were covered with roses.
Alignment: CG
Areas of Influence: Horses, Fertility, Women

Tiamat
Tiamat is the great creation Goddess of water and chaos to the Sumerians.  She gave birth to all of the Sumerian (Babylonian) gods and ruled them all, until the god Marduk defeated her.  He used Her body to create the sky and earth.  She was described as a great dragon or a being of chaos. Like so many other destructive Goddesses, Tiamat is a Goddess of creation.  It is believed by the Sumerians that she created the world.  In Babylonian myths, Tiamat is a huge, bloated female dragon that personifies the saltwater ocean, the water of Chaos. She is also the primordial mother of all that exists, including the gods themselves.
The Cult of Tiamat is extremely far reaching.  The primary duties of her witches are to venerate Tiamat and destruction in any way they can and to spread the word of the cult.  Often “spreading the word” implies random acts of violence and attributing them to Tiamat herself.  It is her capacity as the dark Goddess of chaos and creation that attracts so many witches to her cult.
Her witches tend to belong to the Malefic or dark Tantric Traditions.
Alignment: CE
Areas of Influence: Chaos, Creation, Dragons, Water

Tlazolteol
Aztec witches who worship Tlazolteol, the Goddess of vice, are often tantric or malefic witches.  They spend a great amount of time on their appearance and try to look as desirable as possible. Once they have someone alone they will attempt to corrupt or kill them. Most prefer to corrupt others. Bards speak of a particularly successful witch of Tlazolteol who had been in the bedrooms of many of a particular country’s politicians.  Single handedly she had very nearly toppled the government through jealousy and deceit.
Tlazoteol is also seen as a necessary evil. She takes in filth and sin so it may be disposed of.   It is this aspect that she is most often worshiped and served by her witches.  Confessing ones sins to her or to her witches, one would be purified of those sins.  Mothers in childbirth often called on her aid. Her witches, learned in all manners sexual, are also skilled midwives and nursemaids, after all birth is a natural consequence of sex. Her witches are believed to be adulterous and women born under her sign (The Ocelot) were believed to become her witches.
She is seen as lustful maiden, mother or priestess and crone, devourer of youth, depending on her mood.  She is always depicted nude in all of her aspects, as the Mother she is seen having just given birth.  She wears a gold and turquoise necklace and her temples are adorned with gold bells.  Of note she is also sometimes depicted as wearing a conical “witch’s” hat.
Alignment: CE or CN
Areas of Influence: Chaos, Fertility, Trickery, Vice