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Gods: Legends and Bios

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1 Gods: Legends and Bios on Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:45 am

CRONUS: Cronus, the son of Uranus and Gaia and the youngest of the twelve Titans. His wife was also one of the Titans, since he married his sister Rhea. Their offspring were Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus. Uranus hid his children away in the bowels of the earth (Tartarus) as he was aghast at the sight of them, in reality he was fearful of their great strength and power. Gaia found her offspring uncomfortable and also painful and when she found the discomfort too much to bear she hatched a plan, which was to end the passions of Uranus, so no more offspring could be produced and that would be the ending of her hurt. But to achieve this she required the help from one of her children. She asked them all, but only her youngest child Cronus would heed her call. To help Cronus accomplish his task Gaia gave him a adamantine sickle to serve as his weapon. Cronus lay in wait hidden from view, and when Uranus came to lay with Gaia Cronus struck. With one mighty blow from the sickle Cronus severed the genitals from Uranus' body. Once Cronus had castrated Uranus, he and his wife Rhea took the throne. Under their power a time of harmony and prosperity began, which became known as the "Golden Age"; a time when it was said that people lived without greed or violence, and without toil or the need for laws. But not all was well for Cronus, as it was fated that he would be overthrown by one of his own children. To prevent this from happening he began to swallow his newborn, taking them at birth then swallowing them whole, retaining them inside his own body where they could do him no harm.

HADES: Hades is the lord of the dead and ruler of the nether world, which is referred to as the domain of Hades or, by transference, as Hades alone. He is the son of Cronus and Rhea. When the three sons of Cronus divided the world among each other, Hades was given the underworld, while his brothers Zeus and Poseidon took the upperworld and the sea respectively. For a while Hades ruled the underworld together with Persephone, whom he had abducted from the upperworld, but Zeus ordered him to release Persephone back into the care of her mother Demeter. However, before she left he gave her a pomegranate and when she ate of it, it bound her to the underworld forever.

HELIOS: Helios is the young Greek god of the sun. Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot, pulled by four horses - Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon -- through the sky, to descend at night in the west. Helios once allowed Phaeton to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death. He was represented as a youth with a halo, standing in a chariot, occasionally with a billowing robe. A metope from the temple of Athena in the Hellenistic Ilium represents him thus.

HERMES: Hermes is the god of shepherds, land travel, merchants, weights and measures, oratory, literature, athletics and thieves, and known for his cunning and shrewdness. Most importantly, he is the messenger of the gods. According to legend, Hermes was born in a cave on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. Zeus had impregnated Maia at the dead of night while all other gods slept. When dawn broke amazingly he was born. Maia wrapped him in swaddling bands, then resting herself, fell fast asleep. Hermes, however, squirmed free and ran off to Thessaly. This is where Apollo, his brother, grazed his cattle. Hermes stole a number of the herd and drove them back to Greece. He hid them in a small grotto near to the city of Pylos and covered their tracks. Before returning to the cave he caught a tortoise, killed it and removed its entrails. Using the intestines from a cow stolen from Apollo and the hollow tortoise shell, he made the first lyre. When he reached the cave he wrapped himself back into the swaddling bands. When Apollo realized he had been robbed he protested to Maia that it had been Hermes who had taken his cattle. Maia looked to Hermes and said it could not be, as he is still wrapped in swaddling bands. Zeus the all powerful intervened saying he had been watching and Hermes should return the cattle to Apollo. As the argument went on, Hermes began to play his lyre. The sweet music enchanted Apollo, and he offered Hermes to keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre. Apollo later became the grand master of the instrument, and it also became one of his symbols.

PAN: The Greek god of shepherds and flocks, who was especially popular in Arcadia. He is a son of the god Hermes. He was depicted as a satyr with a reed pipe, a shepherd's crook and a branch of pine or crown of pine needles. He had a wrinkled face with a very prominent chin. On his forehead were two horns and his body was hairy. He was a swift runner and climbed rocks with ease. Pan belonged to the retinue of Dionysus. Pan was also a god of fertility, unbridled male sexuality and carnal desire. He chased nymphs through the forests and mountains in the shape of a goat. Pan was not very liked by the other Greek gods.

POSEIDON: Poseidon is a god of many names. He is most famous as the god of the sea. he division of the universe involved him and his brothers, Zeus and Hades. Poseidon became ruler of the sea, Zeus ruled the sky, and Hades got the underworld. The other divinities attributed to Poseidon involve the god of earthquakes and the god of horses. The symbols associated with Poseidon include: dolphins, tridents, and three-pronged fish spears. Poseidon was relied upon by sailors for a safe voyage on the sea. Many men drowned horses in sacrifice of his honor. He lived on the ocean floor in a palace made of coral and gems, and drove a chariot pulled by horses. However, Poseidon was a very moody divinity, and his temperament could sometimes result in violence. When he was in a good mood, Poseidon created new lands in the water and a calm sea. In contrast, when he was in a bad mood, Poseidon would strike the ground with a trident and cause unruly springs and earthquakes, ship wrecks, and drownings. Poseidon often used his powers of earthquakes, water, and horses to inflict fear and punishment on people as revenge. Though he could be difficult and assert his powers over the gods and mortals, Poseidon could be cooperative and it was he who helped the Greeks during the Trojan War. Poseidon is an essential character in the study of Greek mythology.

ZEUS: Zeus, the youngest son of Cronus and Rhea, he was the supreme ruler of Mount Olympus and of the Pantheon of gods who resided there. Being the supreme ruler he upheld law, justice and morals, and this made him the spiritual leader of both gods and men. Zeus was a celestial god, and originally worshiped as a weather god by the Greek tribes. These people came southward from the Balkans circa 2100 BCE. He has always been associated as being a weather god, as his main attribute is the thunderbolt, he controlled thunder, lightning and rain. Theocritus wrote circa 265 BCE: "sometimes Zeus is clear, sometimes he rains". He is also known to have caused thunderstorms. Before the abolition of monarchies, Zeus was protector of the king and his family. Once the age of Greek kings faded into democracy he became chief judge and peacemaker, but most importantly civic god. He brought peace in place of violence. In art, Zeus was usually portrayed as bearded, middle aged but with a youthful figure. He would look very regal and imposing. Artists always tried to reproduce the power of Zeus in their work, usually by giving him a pose as he is about to throw his bolt of lightening.

EROS: Eros, the Greek god of love and sexual desire. He was also worshiped as a fertility god, believed to be a contemporary of the primeval Chaos, which makes Eros one of the oldest gods. From the early legend of Eros it is said that he was responsible for the embraces of Uranus (Heaven or Sky) and Gaia (Earth), and from their union were born many offspring. Although one of the oldest gods, he was a latecomer to Greek religion. He was worshiped in many regions of Greece.this personified all the attractions that evoked love and desire, this included heterosexual and homosexual allurements. Eros is usually depicted as a young winged boy, with his bow and arrows at the ready, to either shoot into the hearts of gods or mortals which would rouse them to desire. His arrows came in two types: golden with dove feathers which aroused love, or leaden arrows which had owl feathers that caused indifference. Eros would make as much mischief as he possibly could by wounding the hearts of all, but according to one legend he himself fell in love. This legend tells us that Eros was always at his mothers side assisting her in all her conniving and godly affairs. The legend goes on to say that Aphrodite became jealous of the beauty of a mortal, a beautiful young woman named Psyche. In her fit of jealousy Aphrodite asked Eros to shoot his arrow into the heart of Psyche and make her fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. He agreed to carry out his mothers wishes, but on seeing her beauty Eros fell deeply in love with Psyche himself. He would visit her every night, but he made himself invisible by telling Psyche not to light her chamber. Psyche fell in love with Eros even though she could not see him, until one night curiosity overcame her. She concealed a lamp and while Eros slept she lit the lamp, revealing the identity of Eros. But a drop of hot oil spilt from the lamp awakening the god. Angered she had seen him Eros fled and the distraught Psyche roamed the earth trying in vain to find her lover. In the end Zeus took pity and reunited them, he also gave his consent for them to marry. There are variations of this legend but most have the same outcome.

GWYDION: Gwydion, one of the nephews of Math ap Mathonwy, and brother of Arianrhod. He contrived Gilfaethwy's rape of the maiden Goewin, Math's foot holder. He did this by starting a war with Pryderi of Dyfed, stealing his pigs, and thus taking Math away on campaign. But he and Gilfaethwy doubled back and Gwydion forced the other women to leave Goewin with Gilfaethwy, who raped her. When she confessed this to Math, he levied as punishment on his nephews that they spent three years as animals, Gwydion as a stag, a wild sow, and a wolf, breeding each year with his brother Gilfaethwy who was hind, boar, and she-wolf. They produced three offspring, whom Math made human and raised at his court. Afterward, they were restored to the court. Gwydion raised Arianrhod's virgin-born son Llew Llaw Gyffes, winning for him his name and arms by tricking his mother, and created a woman out of flowers to marry him. After that woman, Blodeuwedd, betrayed Llew to his death, Gwydion restored him to life and turned her into an owl.

ODIN: The chief divinity of the Norse pantheon, the foremost of the Aesir. Odin is a son of Bor and Bestla. He is called Alfadir, Allfather, for he is indeed father of the gods. With Frigg he is the father of Balder, Hod, and Hermod. He fathered Thor on the goddess Jord; and the giantess Grid became the mother of Vidar. Odin is a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom. He hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear, on the world tree. Here he learned nine powerful songs, and eighteen runes. Odin can make the dead speak to question the wisest amongst them. His hall in Asgard is Valaskjalf ("shelf of the slain") where his throne Hlidskjalf is located. From this throne he observes all that happens in the nine worlds. The tidings are brought to him by his two raven Huginn and Muninn. He also resides in Valhalla, where the slain warriors are taken. Odin's attributes are the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, the ring Draupnir, from which every ninth night eight new rings appear, and his eight-footed steed Sleipnir. He is accompanied by the wolves Freki and Geri, to whom he gives his food for he himself consumes nothing but wine. Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun. His other eye he traded for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, and gained immense knowledge. On the day of the final battle, Odin will be killed by the wolf Fenrir.

APOLLO: he son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. Apollo was the god of music (principally the lyre, and he directed the choir of the Muses) and also of prophecy, colonization, medicine, archery (but not for war or hunting), poetry, dance, intellectual inquiry and the carer of herds and flocks. He was also a god of light, known as "Phoebus" (radiant or beaming, and he was sometimes identified with Helios the sun god). He was also the god of plague and was worshiped as Smintheus (from sminthos, rat) and as Parnopius (from parnops, grasshopper) and was known as the destroyer of rats and locust, and according to Homer's Iliad, Apollo shot arrows of plague into the Greek camp. Apollo being the god of religious healing would give those guilty of murder and other immoral deeds a ritual purification. Sacred to Apollo are the swan (one legend says that Apollo flew on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans, he would spend the winter months among them), the wolf and the dolphin. His attributes are the bow and arrows, on his head a laurel crown, and the cithara (or lyre) and plectrum. But his most famous attribute is the tripod, the symbol of his prophetic powers. Apollo, as with Zeus his father, had many love affairs with goddesses and mortals. Apollo's infatuation for the nymph Daphne, which had been invoked by the young god of love Eros, because Apollo had mocked him, saying his archery skills were pathetic, and Apollo's singing had also irritated him. Daphne was the beautiful daughter of the river god Ladon, and she was constantly pursued by Apollo. To escape from Apollo's insistent behavior, she fled to the mountains, but the persistent Apollo followed her. Annoyed by this, she asked the river god Peneus for help, which he did. As soon as Apollo approached Daphne, he tried to embrace her, but when he stretched out his arms she transformed into a laurel tree. Apollo, distraught by what had happened, made the laurel his sacred tree.

MARS: The god of war, and one of the most prominent and worshipped gods. In early Roman history he was a god of spring, growth in nature, and fertility, and the protector of cattle. Mars is also mentioned as a chthonic god (earth-god) and this could explain why he became a god of death and finally a god of war. He is the son of Jupiter and Juno. Mars is portrayed as a warrior in full battle armor, wearing a crested helmet and bearing a shield.

HORUS: The name "Horus" is a general catchall for multiple deities. Conceived after the death of his father, Osiris, and who later avenged him. In all the Horus deities the traits of kingship, sky and solar symbology, and victory reoccur. As the prototype of the earthly king, there were as many Horus gods as there were rulers of Egypt, if not more. Horus deities are frequently depicted as hawks or hawk-headed men, though some are represented as fully human. The pharaoh was considered to be the Living Horus, the temporal stand-in for Horus in the earthly domain. Horus could be especially dangerous to those around him in his vision-deprived state, and during one battle in particular he managed to not only knock off the heads of his enemies but of the other deities fighting alongside him, thus plunging the world into immediate confusion that was only relieved when his eyes returned.

OSIRIS: Osiris was the Egyptian god of the underworld, although he was also worshipped as a fertility, resurrection, and vegetation god. He was married to Isis, a sky goddess. He was father to Horus, the god of sky, and protector of the dead. Osiris was killed by his brother Seth, who shut his body in a chest and threw it into the Nile, where it washed up onto the shore and was trapped in a huge tree. The King Byblos turned it into a pillar in his palace. Isis (who had been searching for her husband) discovered the trunk, and retrieved the trunk and the body. While Isis was away, Seth found the body, and chopped it up into many pieces, and scattered them throughout Egypt. Isis and her sister, Nephthys, found the pieces and made wax models of them to give to priests to be worshipped. When they found all of his pieces, they were so sad they wailed loudly enough for Re, the father god, to have pity on them. He sent Anubis and Thoth to help. They mummified Osiris, and put his body in a lion headed pier. Isis changed into a kite and fanned breath into Osiris. He was not allowed to stay in the land of the living, and was sent to the underworld to serve as king, and to judge the souls of the dead.

RE: The most important of the Egyptian gods, the personification of the (midday) sun. The sun itself was taken to be either his body or his eye (the 'Eye of Re'). It was said that Re traveled each day in his solar barque through the sky, starting in the morning. At night, Re journeyed through the underworld in another barque. And each night, the monster Apep would try to prevent the sun-god from emerging again: the eternal battle between light and darkness. The gods Seth and Mehen accompanied him and were often depicted defending Re's barque. Others believed that Re could be found at night in the underworld, consoling and giving support to the dead. Re was usually portrayed as a man with the head of a falcon, crowned with the sun disc encircled by the uraeus.

THOTH: Thoth was the god of wisdom, inventor of writing, patron of scribes and the divine mediator. He is most often represented as a man with the head of an ibis, holding a scribal palette and reed pen. He could also be shown completely as an ibis or a baboon. Myths concerning Thoth show him as a divinity whose counsel is always sought. His most significant role is during the battles of Horus and Seth. Thoth is a staunch supporter of Horus and his mother Isis, maintaining that Horus' claim to the throne is just and the murderous Seth has no right to the kingship of Egypt. Elsewhere Thoth is a reliable mediator and peacemaker. When the goddess Tefnut had a dispute with her father Re and absconded to Nubia, it was Thoth that the sun-god sent to reason with her and bring her home. Thoth was also present at the judgement of the dead. He would question the deceased before recording the result of the weighing of the deceased's heart. If the result was favorable Thoth would declare the deceased as a righteous individual who was worthy of a blessed afterlife. Thoth was also a lunar deity, and whatever form he took he wore a lunar crescent on his head.

THOR: Thor is the Norse god of thunder. He is a son of Odin and Jord, and one of the most powerful gods. He is married to Sif, a fertility goddess. Thor was usually portrayed as a large, powerful man with a red beard and eyes of lightning. Despite his ferocious appearance, he was very popular as the protector of both gods and humans against the forces of evil. He even surpassed his father Odin in popularity because, contrary to Odin, he did not require human sacrifices. The Norse believed that during a thunderstorm, Thor rode through the heavens on his chariot pulled by the goats Tanngrisni ("gap-tooth") and Tanngnost ("tooth grinder"). Lightning flashed whenever he threw his hammer Mjollnir. Thor wears the belt Megingjard which doubles his already considerable strength. Thor will kill this serpent but will die from its poison. His sons will inherit his hammer after his death.

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