Saturday, December 24, 2011


Hymn To Hercules

The Fumigation from Frankincense.

Hear, powerful, Hercules untamed and strong,
to whom vast hands, and mighty works belong,
Almighty Titan, prudent and benign,
Of various forms, eternal and divine,
Father of Time, the theme of general praise,
Ineffable, adored in various ways.
Magnanimous, in divination skilled,
And in the athletic labours of the field.
'Tis thine strong archer, all things to devour,
Supreme, all-helping, all-producing power;
to thee mankind as their deliverer pray,
Whose arm can chase the savage tribes away:
Unwearied, earth's best blossom, offspring fair,
To whom calm peace, and peaceful works are dear.
Self-born, with primogenial fires you shine,
And various names and strength of heart are thine.
Thy mighty head supports the morning light,
And bears untamed, the silent gloomy night;
From east to west endued with strength divine,
Twelve glorious labours to absolve is thine;
Supremely skilled, thou reignest in heaven's abodes,
Thyself a God amidst the immortal Gods.
With arms unshaken, infinite, divine,
Come, blessed power, and to our rites incline;
The mitigations of disease convey,
And drive disastrous maladies away.
Come, shake the branch with thy almighty arm,
Dismiss thy darts and noxious fate disarm.


XV. Homeric Hymn to Heracles the Lion-Hearted (9 lines)

(ll. 1- I will sing of Heracles, the son of Zeus and much the mightiest of men on earth. Alcmena bare him in Thebes, the city of lovely dances, when the dark-clouded Son of Cronos had lain with her. Once he used to wander over unmeasured tracts of land and sea at the bidding of King Eurystheus, and himself did many deeds of violence and endured many; but now he lives happily in the glorious home of snowy Olympus, and has neat-ankled Hebe for his wife. (l. 9) Hail, lord, son of Zeus! Give me success and prosperity.

Heracles (play /ˈhɛrəkliːz/ herr-ə-kleez; Ancient Greek: Ἡρακλῆς, Hēraklēs, from Hēra, "Hera", and kleos, "glory"[1]), born Alcaeus[2] (Ἀλκαῖος, Alkaios) or Alcides[3] (Ἀλκείδης, Alkeidēs), was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus (Ζεύς) and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon[4] and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus (Περσεύς). He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι) and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves. The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.

Extraordinary strength, courage, ingenuity, and sexual prowess with females were among his characteristic attributes. Although he was not as clever as the likes of Odysseus or Nestor, Heracles used his wits on several occasions when his strength did not suffice, such as when laboring for the king Augeas of Elis, wrestling the giant Antaeus, or tricking Atlas into taking the sky back onto his shoulders. Together with Hermes he was the patron and protector of gymnasia and palaestrae.[5] His iconographic attributes are the lion skin and the club. These qualities did not prevent him from being regarded as a playful figure who used games to relax from his labors and played a great deal with children.[6] By conquering dangerous archaic forces he is said to have "made the world safe for mankind" and to be its benefactor.[7] Heracles was an extremely passionate and emotional individual, capable of doing both great deeds for his friends (such as wrestling with Thanatos on behalf of Prince Admetus, who had regaled Heracles with his hospitality, or restoring his friend Tyndareus to the throne of Sparta after he was overthrown) and being a terrible enemy who would wreak horrible vengeance on those who crossed him, as Augeas, Neleus and Laomedon all found out to their cost.

For more, see the Wiki: Here
Heracles (Ἡρακλἣς) was the mightiest and most famous of the Greek heroes. Heracles was the son of Zeus and Alcmene. The Romans identified him as Hercules. In fact modern scholars preferred to use his Latin name than the original Greek name. His name (Hercules) became synonymous for prodigious strength, courage, or size, eg. Herculean.

In the Etruscan mythology, his name was Hercle. Instead of being a son of a mortal woman Alcmene, both of his parents were immortal. He was the son of Tin or Tinia and of Uni. Tin was identified with the Roman Jupiter or the Greek Zeus, while Uni was Tin's wife and consort, who happened to be the Etruscan equivalent of the Roman Juno or the Greek Hera.

His deeds were fabulous for the courage and strength, which he displayed in performing them. His strength and courage, while he was performing the Twelve Labours and aiding the gods in their war against the Giants, had earned him immortality and lived among the gods at Olympus.

Yet, his strength would also cause him trouble, especially when he experienced one of his sudden and extremely frightening outbursts of rage that could have tragic consequences to those who happened to be near him. Though after the rage had passed, he showed a great deal of remorse and guilt that he would humbly submit to any punishment inflicted upon him. Yet, no hero submitted to so many punishments. He would even submit to punishment that most heroes would find too degrading, such as cleaning stable or serving as slave to a queen, who made him wear effeminate dress. Without his consent no one would have been able to punish him.

His stepmother, Hera, had always made Zeus' other lovers and children suffered for her husband's infidelities, but none were persecuted more at the hand of the goddess than Heracles.

Later writers tend to show Heracles in a more unflattering and comical light, yet his name and his deeds had being immortalised through timeless myths.


Birth of Heracles

Alcmene (Ἀλκμόνη) was the daughter of Electryon, king of Tiryns, and Anaxo. She married Amphitryon (Ἀμφιτρόων), son of Alcaeüs (Alcaeus).

According to the Shield of Heracles, Electryon's death was no accident; Amphitryon had violently killed the king, because he was angry over some oxen.

While Apollodorus says that Electryon's death was an accident. Taphians had raided the cattle from Electryon's pastures. Electryon's nine sons went to retrieve the stolen cows, but the sons of Electryon and the sons of Taphius killed one another in a battle. Electryon went on an expedition with Amphitryon to avenge his sons' death and recapture his cattle. Electryon had made Amphitryon promise not to have sex with his new wife until they returned from the expedition.

They had recovered the cattle from the Teleboans, when a bull had suddenly charged at the king and his newly married son-in-law, Amphitryon. Amphitryon tried to defend himself, swung his heavy club at the bull, but the weapon rebounded off the horn, hitting the king in the head. According to Shield of Heracles, Hesiod says that it was no accident. Apparently Electryon and Amphitryon had an argument over some oxen.

Sthenelus took advantage of his brother's death, seized power and exiled his nephew Amphitryon. Alcmene and her half-brother Licymnius fled with Amphitryon to Thebes.

At this time, Creon was king of Thebes, after the death of Laius. Creon purified Amphitryon for the killing the king and gave his daughter Perimede in marriage to Licymnius. According to Pausanias, Amphitryon and Alcmene lived near the Electran Gate, one of the seven gates of Thebes.

Alcmene remained faithful of her brothers' memory by refusing to lay with her husband until he avenged them against Taphian pirates. With Creon's aid, Amphitryon successfully led a campaign against the Taphians, but before his return, Zeus visited Alcmene in her husband's form and shared her bed.

Upon Amphitryon's return, slept with Alcmene, but discovered that she was no longer a virgin. The Theban seer Teiresias cleared up the mystery, that she was visited by a god and not to blame for losing her virginity prematurely.

Nine months after Zeus' visit, Zeus boasted that a day had come where a child would be born with his lineage that would rule the land around him. The goddess Hera's implacable hatred for all of Zeus' children had fathered on mortal women, made him swear that it would be so.

No sooner Zeus had sworn this vow, Hera arranged with her daughter Eileithyia, goddess of childbirth, to delay the delivery of Alcmene. Eileithyia sat outside of the room where Alcmene was in labour. By sitting with her legs cross and fingers intertwined, Eileithyia prevented Alcmene from pushing the babies out of her womb, for seven agonizing days.

Hera saw to that Sthenelus' son Eurystheus was born before Heracles. Eurystheus was born prematurely. Therefore, Eurystheus would be king of Mycenae and Tiryns, Zeus was furious at Hera, but could not revoke his vow.

Alcmene might have died in childbirth had not an attendant Galanthis tricked Eileithyia that the child have been delivered, surprising the goddess from holding back the delivery. Galanthis paid a high price for loyalty to Alcmene, when she tricked the goddess of childbirth. Eileithyia transformed Galanthis into a weasel. Alcmene bore twins, Heracles (Ἡρακλἣς) and Iphicles (Ἴφικλης); the second was a son of Alcmene by Amphitryon.

Alcaeüs was the name given to Heracles at birth (Heracles was named after his grandfather; Heracles didn't change his name until he went to Delphi for the first time).

According to Pausanias, the room that Alcmene gave birth to Heracles was called Alcmene's Chamber. His version about the hero's birth was slightly different to the usual account. Pausanias says that Hera had sent the Witches to delay or prevent Alcmene from giving birth, not Eileithyia. Also, it was Historis, Teiresias' daughter, who tricked the Witches, not Alcmene's servant Galanthis.

Having failed to prevent the birth, the goddess sent two snakes to kill the infants in their crib. Iphicles screamed in terror, but Heracles strangled both snakes, one in each hand. Amphitryon realised that Iphicles was his child, but Heracles belonged to the god. Other writers say that Amphitryon himself send the snakes to the infants' room to identify which child belong to the god.

According to Diodorus Siculus, Alcmene fearing Hera's wrath, abandoned her infant in the woods. Athena rescued the infant and brought the baby to Hera. Athena managed to persuade or dupe Hera into nursing the infant. Hera allowed the baby (Heracles) to suckle on one of her breasts, until the child bit very hard on her nipple. The goddess pushed the baby away from her nipple, spilling her milk across the heaven, forming the Milky Way. (So that was how this galaxy was created!)

The goddess told Athena to give the baby back to her mother to nurse. Athena returned child back to Alcmene, telling the mother to rear her own child. The irony of this situation is that Hera had actually saved her hated stepson's life by breast feeding him from her own breast.


Early Life

At some point of his young life, his name was changed from Alcaeus to Heracles (Ἡρακλἣς), which means Glory of Hera. The name means that he would obtain glory through Hera's enmity.

Many famous men were involved with his education. Amphitryon taught Heracles how to drive a chariot and Castor trained him in fencing. While the thief Autolycus, the son of Hermes, taught him how to wrestle, and the other son of Hermes, Harpalycus trained him in boxing. Eurytus, king of Oechalia, taught him archery. Linus, son of the Muse Calliope or Urania, taught Heracles music.

Teaching him music had end up in disaster, when his teacher, Linus struck the youth for his poor attention to music lessons. Heracles retaliated by striking him in the head with the lyre, killing Linus instantly. Heracles was acquitted of murder, but Amphitryon sends him to tend sheep on the farm in the countryside near Thespiae, to keep him out of trouble.

Here, at the foot of Mount Cithaeron, he killed a lion without weapon that were killing flocks of Thespius, king of Thespiae. The king was so impressed by his feat that Thespius entertained the youth as his guest for fifty nights. Each night Thespius would send one of his fifty daughters to the hero's room. Other writers say that he slept with all the king's daughters in a single night. Only one of Thespius' daughters refused to sleep with Heracles. Two of the girls bore twins to Heracles, and Heracles had total of fifty-one sons.


Among the Gods

According to Pausanias, it was Athena who brought Heracles from the funeral pyre at Mount Oeta to Olympus, home of the gods.

Heracles became a god, living in Olympus, because he had performed the twelve labours and aiding the gods in their war against the Giants. Since he saved Hera from being rape by the giant Porphyrion, Hera had little choice but to reconcile with Heracles. Hera allowed the hero to marry her daughter, Hebe, goddess of youth, and Heracles became father of Alexiares and Anicetus.

When Iolaüs (Iolaus) defended Heracles' children (Heraclids) against Eurystheus' persecution, Heracles and Hebe helped Iolaüs to win the battle. To read some more about Heracles' children, see Heraclids.

Heracles had also visited Philoctetes and persuaded the archer to rejoin the Greeks forces in the war against Troy. Philoctetes, at first, was reluctant, because Odysseus and Agamemnon were responsible for abandoning him on the island of Lemnos, when he was bitten by snake. For nine years, he had lived on the island, alone, and bitterly resented those who had left him behind. Odysseus had gone back to bring him back, because Heracles had given the bow to him, before he died. The Greek seer, Calchas had foretold that Troy can never be taken without the bow of Heracles. Philoctetes would have shot down and kill Odysseus, had the god Heracles not intervened. (See Fall of Troy, about Philoctetes).

When Odysseus went to the Underworld, Heracles was the last shade to speak to him. While his immortal soul went to Olympus, his mortal half went to the Underworld. He was also placed amongst the stars in the sky as a constellation Engonasin ("Kneeler", but this constellation is now called Hercules).

The cloak from the lion's pelt he had always wore, helped to identify Heracles in the classical art, with the hood over his head. He was normally depicted carrying either his club or bow and arrows.

From: here
Herakles had a number of cult titles. Most of these derived from towns where he was worshipped, or local myths about the hero:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Θηβαιος Thêbaios Thebaeus Of Thebes
Τιρυνθιος Tirynthios Tirynthius Of Tiryns
Βουραικος Bouraikos Buraecus Of Boura
Θασιος Thasios Thasius Of Thasos
Μαντικλος Mantiklos Manticlus Of Manticlus (hero)
Κυνοσαργες Kynosarges Cynosarges White Dog
Προμαχος Promakhos Promachus Champion
Παραστατης Parastatês Parastates Comrade, Assister
Ἱπποδετος Hippodetos Hippodetus Horse-Binder
Ρινοκολουστης Rhinololoustês Rhinocolustes Nose-Clipper
Ιποκτονος Ipoktonos Ipoctonus Killer of Vine Worms
Κορνοπιων Kornopiôn Cornopium Locust Scarer
Χαροψ Kharops Charops Bright Eyed
Αποτροπαιος Apotropaios Apotropaeus Averting God
Μονοικος Monoikos Monoecus Solitary
Αιγυπτιος Aigyptios Aegyptius Egyptian

Some general cult terms include:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Ἡρακλειον Hêrakleion Heracleium Temple of Herakles
Ἡρακλεια Hêrakleia Heraclea Festival of Herakles


Herakles had a variety of poetic epithets and titles:--
Greek Name Transliteration Latin Spelling Translation
Αναξ Anax Anax Lord
Λεοντοθυμος Leontothymos Leontothymus Lion-Hearted

ALEXI′CACUS (Alexikakos), the averter of evil, is a surname given by the Greeks to several deities, as--Zeus (Orph. De Lapid. Prooem. i.),--to Apollo, who was worshipped under this name by the Athenians, because he was believed to have stopped the plague which raged at Athens in the time of the Peloponnesian war (Paus. i. 3. § 3, viii. 41. § 5),--and to Heracles. (Lactant. v. 3.)

BURA′ICUS (Bouraïkos), a surname of Heracles, derived from the Achaean town of Bura, near which he had a statue on the river Buraïcus, and an oracle in a cave. Persons who consulted this oracle first said prayers before the statue, and then took four dice from a heap which was always kept ready, and threw them upon a table. These dice were marked with certain characters, the meaning of which was explained with the help of a painting which hung in the cave. (Paus. vii. 25. § 6.)

CHAROPS (Charops), bright-eyed or joyful-looking, a surname of Heracles, under which he had a statue near mount Laphystion on the spot where he was believed to have brought forth Cerberus from the lower world. (Paus. ix. 34. § 4.)

[MENUTES or] INDEX, the indicater or denouncer, is a translation of Mênutês, a surname of Heracles. Once, the story runs, a golden vessel had been stolen from the temple of Heracles at Athens. Heracles repeatedly appeared to Sophocles in a dream, until the latter informed the Areiopagus of it, and the thief was arrested, and confessed his crime. From this circumstance the temple was afterwards called the temple of Heracles Menytes, or Index. (Cic. de Div. i. 25; Hesych. s. v. mênutês; Sophokleous genos kai bios.)

MACISTUS (Makistos). A surname of Heracles, who had a temple in the neighbourhood of the town of Macistus in Triphylia. (Strab. viii. p. 348.)

MECISTEUS (Mêkisteus). Mecisteus occurs as a surname of Heracles. (Lycoph. 651.)

MONOECUS (Monoikos), a surname of Heracles, signifying the god who lives solitary, perhaps because he alone was worshipped in the temples dedicated to him. (Strab. iv. p. 202; Virg. Aen. vi. 831; Plut. Quaest. Rom. 87.) In Liguria there was a temple called Monoecus (now Monaco; Strab. Virg. ll. cc. ; Tacit. Hist. iii. 42; Steph. Byz. s. v.).

OLY′MPIUS (Olumpios), the Olympian, occurs as a surname of Zeus (Hornm. Il. i. 353), Heracles (Herod. ii. 44), the Muses (Olympiades, Il. ii. 491), and in general of all the gods that were believed to live in Olympus.

PALAEMON (Palaimôn), signifies the wrestler, as in the surname of Heracles in Lycophron (663).

PRO′MACHUS (Promakhos). The name Promachus, that is, "the champion," also occurs as a surname of Heracles at Thebes (Paus. ix. 11. § 2), and of Hermes at Tanagra (ix. 22. § 2).

Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.

HERAKLES was worshipped as the divine protector of mankind. He had a large number of shrines scattered throughout the ancient world and festivals were widely celebrated in his honour. His main cult centre was at Thebes, his place of birth according to myth.

In classical art Herakles was portrayed as a muscular man, with club and lion-skin cape.

The Herakleia were ancient festivals honoring the divine hero Heracles. The ancient Athenians celebrated the festival, which commemorated the death of Heracles, on the second day of the month of Metageitnion (which would fall in late July or early August), at the Κυνοσαργες (Kynosarges) gymnasium at the demos Diomeia outside the walls of Athens, in a sanctuary dedicated to Heracles. His priests were drawn from the list of boys who were not full Athenian citizens (nothoi). Many famous nothoi exercised there (such as Demosthenes) but it was probably not exclusively set aside for them. The Attic cults of Herakles were often closely connected with youth: at several of his cult sites there was a gymnasion attached, and there was a mythological tradition (perhaps originating in Boetia) that after Heracles died he was translated to Olympus, where he married Hebe, the personification of youth. Because of this Heracles is sometimes worshipped as a god and sometimes as a dead hero. In Thebes, the center of the cult of Heracles, the festivities lasted a number of days, and consisted of various athletic and musical contests (agones), as well as sacrifices. They were celebrated in the gymnasium of Iolaus, the nephew and eromenos of Heracles, and were known as the Iolaeia. The winners were awarded brass tripods.

From: Wiki
Also see:
Madness of Heracles
Twelve Labours of Heracles
Death of Iphitus
Death of Heracles

Disney vs Mythology Hercules Hercules portal, with info about her 12 Labors, associates, family, etc
Theoi: Herakles Cult 1 -- Part 2 -- Cult 3

Wiki: Roman Hercules
Labours of Hercules



The Life and Times of Hercules
Women and Hercules
The Labors of Hercules

Constellation myth/info:
Another (good site!)
And another
And one more

A few things about some Roman temples:
Aedes Herculis Musarum
Aedes Herculis Victoris
Ara Maxima Herculis
Templum Herculis Invicti
Aedes Herculis Custodis

Article about Roman Hercules

Roman coin:
Hercules, the Heavy Hitter

Roman-Gaulish associations:
Magisus: a Gaulish God, also known as Hercules Magesus (The Great One)
Ogmios: a Gaulish and Irish God, also known as Ogma, Ogmia
Ogmios Ogma and Heracles (Lucian)

Hercules -- Modern hymn
The Shield of Heracles

The Myth of the Birth of the Hero: II. The Circle of Myths: Hercules

CHAPTER XIX. Hercules- Hebe And Ganymede.

What Herakles Means to Me by Astalon
Warrior Archetypes X: Hercules - Heroic Insanity

Some info
Who was Hercules?
More You Should Know About Hercules

12 Labors

Heracles (Hercules)
Hercules 1 -- 2 -- 3

Herakles and Healing Cult in the Peloponnesos
Herakles in Cult describes some of the cult practices devoted to Herakles, as hero and god, throughout the Greek and Roman world.
Herakles in Classical Art
Relationships with the Gods
Women and Sexuality discusses Herakles as a lover and a husband, as well as his significant conflicts with Hera and the Amazons.
Monsters and Labors
Cross-cultural Connections
Moral Aspects of Herakles
Herakles in Popular Culture free/download-able book: Greek Hero Cults and Ideas of Immortality (has chapters on Hercules)


Hygiea with Asclepius

In Greek and Roman mythology, Hygieia (also Hygiea or Hygeia, Greek Ὑγιεία or Ὑγεία, Latin Hygēa or Hygīa), was a daughter of the god of medicine, Asclepius. She was the goddess/personification of health (Greek: ὑγίεια - hugieia[1]), cleanliness and sanitation. She also played an important part in her father's cult. While her father was more directly associated with healing, she was associated with the prevention of sickness and the continuation of good health. Her name is the source of the word "hygiene". She was imported by the Romans as the Goddess Valetudo, the goddess of personal health, but in time she started to be increasingly identified with the ancient Italian goddess of social welfare, Salus.

Hygieia's primary temples were in Epidaurus, Corinth, Cos and Pergamon. Pausanias remarked that, at the Asclepieion of Titane in Sicyon (founded by Alexanor, Asclepius' grandson), statues of Hygieia were covered by women's hair and pieces of Babylonian clothes. According to inscriptions, the same sacrifices were offered at Paros.

Ariphron, a Sicyonian artist from the 4th century BC wrote a well-known hymn celebrating her. Statues of Hygieia were created by Scopas, Bryaxis and Timotheus, among others, but there is no clear description of what they looked like. She was often depicted as a young woman feeding a large snake that was wrapped around her body or drinking from a jar that she carried.[5] These attributes were later adopted by the Gallo-Roman healing goddess, Sirona. Hygieia was accompanied by her brother, Telesphorus.

From: Wiki
Hygeia, the goddess of health, sanitation and hygiene, was the stepdaughter of Asclepius. She was worshipped alongside Asclepius in all his healing sanctuaries, or Asclepions.
Since ancient times, healers have noticed the close relationship between cleanliness and health. Pestilence and disease flourish where filth and impurities accumulate. Cleanse the body, both inwardly and outwardly, through diet, exercise, lifestyle and physical regimen, and most diseases are greatly ameliorated, or vanish of their own accord.
Personifying the value of diet and hygiene in health maintenance and disease prevention, Hygeia is the antithesis and complement to Asclepius. We look to Asclepius for medical miracles in times of crisis, nut first let us do all we can to maintain our health and prevent disease ourselves. The body has amazing powers of self healing if we keep it clean and live in accordance with Nature's laws.
In his book, Spontaneous Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil categorizes various approaches to the art of medicine as being either predominantly Asclepian or Hygeian. Most natural, holistic, alternative medical systems are in the Hygeian camp, whereas modern medicine is overwhelmingly Asclepian. The Hygeian approach, he maintains, is ultimately the most positive and empowering.
Hippocrates wasn't a fanatic or idealogue; he was, above all, eminently pragmatic, and believed in common sense to use whatever worked, and was most appropriate to the case at hand. But even though he believed in timely and heroic intervention where necessary, he was, in the balance, more Hygeian in his approach.

From: Here
Hygieia, one of the daughters of Asklepios (Asclepius) and granddaughter of Apollo, played an important role in the cult of Asklepios as a giver of health. She is often identified with health and is sometimes called The Health. She was worshipped and celebrated together with her father on many places (Asklepieion) of the Greek and Roman world.

The cult was known between the 7th and 6th centuries BCE as a local cult. It spread out after the recognition through the oracle of Apollo at Delphi and after the catasthrophic plagues in 429 and 427 BCE in Athens and in 293 BCE in Rome. The oldest Asklepieion seems to be at Trikke (the present day Trikala in Thessaly), while the biggest centres of worship were established in Epidaurus, Corinth, Cos and Pergamon. Pausanias noted some interesting details about offerings to Hygieia at the Asklepieion of Titane in Sikyonia, which was founded, according to him, by Alexanor the grandson of Asklepios. The statues of Health were covered by masses of women's hair consecrating to the goddess and the swathes of Babylonian clothing. The same offerings are also known from the inscriptions discovered in the Cycladic island Paros.

Hygieia was sung and represented by many artists from the 4th century BCE until the end of the Roman period. Ariphron, the Sikyonian, who lived in the 4th century BCE, was the author of a hymn celebrating her. The statues of Hygieia originated from well-known masters like Skopas, Timotheos (both of these works at the present time in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens), and Bryaxis. The Roman sculptors, as well, liked to create her image. Good examples of the Roman works of Hygieia are located in the museums' collections in Epidaurus, Herakleion, Nicosia and Rome. The late ancient ivory-cut relief from Walker's gallery in Liverpool is representing Hygieia in her typical form as a fine young woman feeding a huge sacred snake which is wrapped around her body. We learn from Pausanias about a special kind of big -- but not venomenal -- snake living in the region of Epidaurus. Sometimes Hygieia is accompanied by Telesforos, the dwarf with a cowl on his head, who is a symbol of the recovery. According to some myths he was the brother of Hygieia and a deity in Thrace.

With the increasing importance of Asklepios' cult during the Roman period, Hygieia was associated with the moon and her father, the most worshipped of the gods, and was considered as the equal of the sun. The name of Hygieia survives in present times in words such as hygiene. Her sacred snake together with the rod of Asklepios is the symbol for medicine.

From: Here
Hygia is Health, the divinity whose force fosters agreement among contrary qualities inside the body where it ought to flourish, and removes it from where it should not be. She is currently known, not as a deity or intelligent force, but as a passive bodily condition (to be acted upon or be left alone) opposite to that caused by disease; this condition, though regarded as a purely physical phenomenon, is nevertheless revered as a deity: "A people gets the gods which it deserves." (Cecil M. Bowra).

From Zeus to Hygia

Hygia is the daughter of Asclepius, the god that attends the ailments of each man or woman. Both are very important regarding health, yet the god of healing remains Apollo, who is Asclepius' father and represents purity itself. For sickness (it has been conjectured) is a form of pollution, whose secret paths must first be discovered through the obscure words of the god of oracles, son of Zeus:

"Loxias (Apollo, the Oblique) is the spokesman of Zeus, his father." (The Pythian priestess. Aeschylus. Eumenides 19).

Higher gods

Thus there are four generations between the ruler of Heaven and the health of mortals, who—to begin (or end) with—must remain the prey of unhealthy Death. This annoying circumstance is ordained by the MOERAE, and Zeus will not allow anything else; otherwise he had saved his own son Sarpedon 1, whom he loved, and he had abstained from smiting Asclepius with his thunderbolt when the latter started to raise the dead. This happened because men are not like the gods; and consequently Zeus also punished Prometheus 1 when he stole the divine fire and gave it to men, who in turn—following their own wisdom—employed it to cook and boil each other. Accordingly, the counsel of Apollo, "know thyself", has been taken as a reminder meaning "know that you are not a god", since the heart of man tends to forget that circumstance. And although all health comes from this god—called "the bright one"—it is also well documented that Apollo may descend from heaven "darker than night", letting fall upon men all kind of pestilences. Something similar could be said of his sweet sister Artemis, who is a giver of life and a deliverer, but also a slayer.

Closer to humans

These great gods are far away, and usually keep their distance:

"Shaker of Earth, as no wise sound of mind would you count me, if I fought you for the sake of mortals, pitiful creatures, that like unto leaves are now full of flaming life, eating the fruit of the field, and now again pine away and perish." (Apollo to Poseidon. Homer, Iliad 21.462).

Knowing or sensing this, humans invoke other gods, who, like Asclepius or Hygia, seem to dwell closer to them. This they do even when they are healthy, for sickness is an omnipresent threat:

"Truly blooming health does not rest content within its due bounds; for disease ever presses close against it, its neighbor with a common wall." (The Argive Elders. Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1001).

And even though they might not call them "gods", they will not cease to invoke them and desire what they represent, since no other circumstance can be sensed as so oppressive than to be afflicted with illness, which casts, before the eyes of the diseased, a dark shadow over the whole world and deprives life of its joy.


For the rest: Hygia
Orphic Hymn 68 to Hygeia (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.) :

"To Hygeia (Health), Fumigation from Manna. O much desired, prolific, general queen. Hear me, life-bearing Hygeia, of beauteous mien, mother of all; by thee diseases dire, of bliss destructive, from our life retire; and every house is flourishing and fair, if with rejoicing aspect thou art there. Each daidal art they vigorous force inspires, and all the world thy helping hand desires. Aides (Hades), life's bane, alone resists thy will, and ever hates thy all-preserving skill. O fertile queen, from thee for ever flows to mortal life from agony repose; and men without thy all-sustaining ease find nothing useful, nothing formed to please. Without thy aid, not Aides' self can thrive, nor man to much afflicted age arrive; for thou alone, of countenance serene, dost govern all things, universal queen. Assist thy mystics with propitious mind, and far avert disease of every kind."
HYGEIA was a minor divinity worshipped in conjunction with her father, the medicine god Asklepios, as the goddess of good health.

In sculpture she was represented as a woman holding a serpent in her hands, sometimes in a two figure statue standing beside her father Asklepios.
Also see:
Salus -- Roman goddess
Sirona -- Gaulish goddess

Hymn to Asklepios & Hygeia
THEOI Hygeia
THEOI Hygeia cult

Another page

Asklepios/Asclepius {God of the Week}



SELKET (Selqet, Serket, Serqet)
Symbols: Scorpion
Selket was the goddess of scorpians and magic. She was depicted in the form of a woman with a scorpian on her head.
Her roles in Egyptian mythology were many, mostly as a beneficial goddess. She watched over Qebehsenuef, one of the four sons of Horus, who in turn protected the intestines of the deceased. Other connections with the afterlife include her epithet, "Lady of the Beautiful Tent" which referred to her as a protector of the embalmer's tent. In the Afterlife she was said to watch over a dangerous twist in a pathway. She was also credited with guarding the snake, Apep following his imprisonment in the Underworld. Selket was also associated with childbirth and nursing. Contrary to her typical benficial characterization, she was also related to the sun's scorching heat. In the Book of the Dead, she is a protector of the deceased and his teeth are identified with hers.
Magically, Selket was a protector from venomous bites. She was the patroness of magicians who dealt with poisoness bites. Suprisingly though, it was usually Isis who was invoked in spells against scorpion stings.

Her name means 'She who causes to breathe' and refers to her power of protecting from, or curing poisonous stings of scorpions and serpents.

In Egyptian mythology, Serket (also spelt Serket-hetyt, Selket, Selkis, Selchis, and Selkhit) was originally the deification of the scorpion. Scorpion stings lead to paralysis, and Serket's name describes this, as it means (one who) tightens the throat. However, Serket's name can also be read as meaning (one who) causes the throat to breath, and so, as well as being seen as stinging the unrighteous, Serket was seen as one who could cure scorpion stings, and other poisons, such as snake bites.
In art, Serket was shown as a scorpion, or as a woman with a scorpion on her head, and although Serket doesn't appear to have had temples, she had a sizable priesthood. The most dangerous species of scorpion resides in North Africa, and its sting can kill, so Serket was considered a highly important goddess, and was sometimes considered by pharaohs to be their patron. As the protector against poisons, and snake bites, Serket was often said to protect the gods from Apep, the great snake-god of evil, sometimes acting as the guard when Apep was captured.
As many of the venomous creatures of Egypt could prove fatal, Serket was also considered a protector of the dead, particularly being associated with poisons, and fluids causing stiffening. She was thus said to be the protector of the tents of embalmers, and of the canopic jar associated with poison —the jar of the small intestine— which was deified as Qebehsenuf, one of the Four sons of Horus.
As the guard of one of the canopic jars, and a protector, Serket gained a strong association with Aset (Isis), and Nebet Het (Nephthys), who also performed a similar function. Eventually, long into Egyptian history, Serket began to be identified as Isis, sharing imagery, and parentage, until, finally, Serket became said to be merely an aspect of Isis.

Here are some Kemetic Texts about her:

(I am) Serqet, mistress of heaven and lady of all the gods.
I have come before you (Oh) King's Great Wife,
Mistress of the Two Lands,
Lady of Upper and Lower Egypt,
Nefertari, Beloved of Mut,
Justified Before Osiris Who Resides in Abtu (Abydos),
and I have accorded you a place in the sacred land,
so that you may appear gloriously in heaven like Ra.
-- Inscription in the Tomb of Nefetari, Serqet speaking to Nefertari

"I embrace with my two arms that which is in me. Everday I make protection for Qebehsenuef, which is in me. The protection of Osiris is the protection of Qebehsenuef, for Osiris is Qebehsenuef."
-attributed to Selkit in an inscription of an ancient canopic jar.

"The teeth of the Osiris Ani, whose word is truth, are the teeth of Serqet."
-Egyptian Book of the Dead,

Here are some sites with more information about her:
LadyMoondancer's Goddess Selket Page
Egypt: Serqet, Goddess of Scorpions and Venomous Creatures, Magical Protection and the Afterlife
Selket the Goddess of Magic
Goddess of Magic, Selket
Serket --
Selket statues
Dua Serqet -- a LJ community/Temple for Selket
Serket -- lists attributes and things



The Roman god of fire, especially destructive fire, and craftsmanship. His forge is located beneath Mount Etna. It is here that he, together with his helpers, forges weapons for gods and heroes. Vulcanus is closely associated with Bona Dea with whom he shared the Volcanalia, observed on August 23. This festival took place during the height of the Mediterranean drought and the period of highest risk of fire. On the banks of the river Tiber, fires were lighted on which living fish were sacrificed. His temples were usually located outside the cities, due to the dangerous nature of fire. In 215 BCE his temple on the Circus Flaminius was inaugurated. In Ostia he was the chief god as the protector against fire in the grain storages.
He is identified with the Greek Hephaestus.
FROM: "Vulcan"


Vulcan, in Roman mythology, is the son of Jupiter and Juno, and husband of Maia and Venus. He was god of fire and volcanoes, and the manufacturer of art, arms, iron, and armor for gods and heroes. Vulcan's analogue in Greek mythology is the god Hephaestus. He is also called Mulciber ("softener") in Roman mythology and Sethlans in Etruscan mythology.
His smithy was believed to be situated underneath Mount Aetna in Sicily. At the Vulcanalia festival, which was held on August 23, fish and small animals were thrown into a fire.
Vulcan's shrine in the Forum Romanum, called the Volcanal, appears to have played an important role in the civic rituals of the archaic Roman Kingdom.
Vulcan was the father of Caeculus.
A statue of Vulcan located in Birmingham, Alabama is the largest cast iron statue in the world.
To punish mankind for stealing the secrets of fire, Zeus, ordered the other gods to make a poisoned gift for man. Vulcan’s contribution to the beautiful and foolish Pandora, was to mold her from clay and to give her form. He also made the thrones for the other gods on Mt. Olympus.
FROM: Wikipedia "Vulcan"


The word 'volcano' comes from the little island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea off Sicily. Centuries ago, the people living in this area believed that Vulcano was the chimney of the forge of Vulcan - the blacksmith of the Roman gods. They thought that the hot lava fragments and clouds of dust erupting form Vulcano came from Vulcan's forge as he beat out thunderbolts for Jupiter, king of the gods, and weapons for Mars, the god of war. In Roman mythology, Vulcan, the god of fire, was said to have made tools and weapons for the other gods in his workshop at Olympus. Throughout history, volcanoes have frequently been identified with Vulcan and other mythological figures. Scientists now know that the "smoke" from volcanoes, once attributed by poets to be from Vulcan's forge, is actually volcanic gas naturally released from both active and many inactive volcanoes.
FROM: Volcano Mythology

Invocation of the God – Vulcan
Vulcan, master artisan, God of Fire,
We call upon you to join our rite this night.
We seek the flames of enthusiasm and strength,
That we might renew and strengthen our lives.
We kindle the sacred fires of creation,
Forging our tools with your guidance.
O blazing fiery Lord, bless this sacred rite
FROM: A Fire Ritual

Hymn to Vulcan:
STRONG, mighty Vulcan, bearing splendid light,
Unweary'd fire, with flaming torrents bright:
Strong-handed, deathless, and of art divine,
Pure element, a portion of the world is thine:
All-taming artist, all-diffusive pow'r,
'Tis thine supreme, all substance to devour:
Æther, Sun, Moon, and Stars, light pure and clear,
For these thy lucid parts to men appear.
To thee, all dwellings, cities, tribes belong,
Diffus'd thro' mortal bodies bright and strong.
Hear, blessed power, to holy rites incline,
And all propitious on the incense shine:
Suppress the rage of fires unweary'd frame,
And still preserve our nature's vital flame.
FROM: Orpheus



"Kakka went down the long stairway of heaven.
When he reached the gate of Ereshkigal, he said,
'Gatekeeper, open the gate to me!' (Sumerian Myth)

Ereshkigal is the Sumerian and Babylonian Death Goddess. She was the Queen of the Dead and of the Underworld long before she was joined by a male god (and then Nergal managed to become co-ruler of the Underworld only by raping her). Ereshkigal is so terrifying that the Sumerians never described Her in any detail, though the Babylonians said that when She was enraged, Her lips were black and Her face was a livid blue.
Ereshkigal has a palace in the Underworld and is due a visit by those entering. When Inanna, (Goddess of Life, Love and War) trespassed on Her domain by descending into the Underworld, Ereshkigal dealt with Her as She dealt with all newcomers to the Land of the Dead. At each of the gates of the Underworld, Inanna was ordered to remove a piece of jewelry or clothing until She stood before Ereshkigal naked. Ereshkigal then spoke a single word that slew Inanna instantly:

"She spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt
She struck her..."
(from "Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Underworld")

And then Ereshkigal hung Inanna's nude corpse up on a stake. The Goddess of Death had swallowed up the Goddess of Life. But having done so, Ereshkigal began to suffer the pains of childbirth. Yet the Goddess of Death could not give birth and so She lingered in misery.
At last, Enki, God of Abzu (the watery abyss and also semen) and Wisdom, grew anxious over Inanna's failure to return and so created two special beings to go to the Underworld and rescue Her. Being made as sexless neuters, the creatures did not violate the laws of the land of Death. They found Ereshkigal in Her painful and fruitless labor. They sympathized with Her pain, echoing Her cries and complaints. Grateful for their attentions, Ereshkigal offered them any gift they wanted. They asked for no gift but Inanna's body, still hanging from its stake. The Goddess of Death gave it to them and only then was Inanna restored to life with the Bread of Life and the Water of Life.
As a dark moon Goddess, Ereshkigal represents the devouring of life and its subsequent renewal. She rules over the magickal arts, secret knowledge, and oracles. Her animals are those that live beneath the earth - dragons, serpents and snakes - and those that love the night - owls, ravens, crows, black dogs and black horses.
© 1999, 2000, 2001 by Sarah Nunn

FROM: The Dark Goddesses

Ereshkigal: Goddess of the underworld, consort of Nergal. Some consider her a dark side or aspect of Ishtar. When Ishtar descended into he underworld to save Tammuz, Ereshkigal tricked her into leaving some part of her clothing at each of the underworld's seven gates as she passed thru them. Standing naked at the seventh gate, Ishtar threw herself on Ereshkigal; but like Samson shorn of his hair, she was powerless. Ereshkigal confined Ishtar until the wily Ea contrived her release with a trick.

FROM: Mesopotamian Dieties

Erishkigal (Babylon) "Queen of the Underworld" Death. Viewed by some as a demon. Ereshkigal, variously considered Inanna's sister or sister-in-law, was supreme goddess of the underworld. When angered, Ereshkigal's face grew livid and her lips grew black. She did not know why Inanna would visit her, but she allowed her in, and then instructed Namtar, her messenger and vizier, the Fate-Cutter, the herald of death, to release his diseases upon Inanna. Ereshkigal had a palace in the underworld and was due a visit by those entering. When Inanna trespassed on her domain, Ereshkigal "...fastened on Inanna the eye of death. She spoke against her the word of wrath. She uttered against her the cry of guilt. She struck her. Inanna was turned into a corpse,...And was hung from a hook on the wall."

When Nergal, the unsparing god of the underworld, arrived to give Ereshkigal a throne upon which to sit and give judgement, she offered him food, drink, a footbath, and enticed him with her body. Eventually he succumbed and they slept with each other for seven days. Enraged when he wished to leave her, she sent Namtar to heaven to request that the gods send Nergal to her to be punished as one of the few favors she had ever received. If they would not, she threatened to raise the dead who would then eat and outnumber the living. Nergal was brought back. In some versions of the myth, Nergal took control of Namtar's attendant demons, grabbed Ereshkigal from her throne by the hair, and threatened to decapitate her. In this position she proposed marriage to him. In both versions he accepted, they were married, and he became her consort.

Belit-tseri, the female tablet-scribe, knelt before Ereshkigal and Sumuquan, the cattle god resided in her underworld court. Heroes and priests resided there, as well, and mighty kings served others food. So we can see that Ereshkigal had actual, not referred, power. She ruled death as an equal portion of the span from creation to destruction. She judged and commanded both men and women. She had sexual autonomy and authentic agency. She acknowledged and displayed her rage without apology. She had genuine bargaining power and was able to use it even under extreme duress.

Inanna's Descent to the Underworld From the temples, Inanna prepared to descend into Kur, the Underworld. She put on the shugarra-crown, the small lapis beads around her neck, the double strand of beads at her breast, her gold bracelet. She put on her royal robe and put ointment on her eyes; she tied her breastplate to her chest and picked up the lapis measuring rod and line. Finally, she called to her servant, Ninshubur. "I am descending to Kur. 'If I do not return, set up a lamentation for me by the ruins. Beat the drum for me in the assembly places; circle the houses of the gods. Tear at your eyes, at your mouth, at your thighs; dress yourself in a single garment, like a beggar. Go to Nippur, to the temple of Enlil. When you enter his holy shrine, cry out: 'Oh Father Enlil, do not let your daughter be put to death in the Underworld!"" (Wolkstein & Kramer)....



Ereshkigal is the elder sister of Inanna. She represents the dark, cthonic side of the Eternal Feminine. While she is confined to Attalu, the realm of the dead, her power is felt in all realms. She is a Goddess who will have her due. Humans, men especially, ignore Ereshkigal at their peril. Those who do not know her, or pretend not to, are rootless and foolish.

Ereshkigal rules with her consort Nergal over Attalu and the seven Annunaki, dread judges of the Abyss.

Caves are especially fine places to invoke or commune with Ereshkigal, but any lonely place on a dark moon midnight is suitable.

FROM: "Ereshkigal"

(Irkalla) Queen of the Underworld, a chthonic goddess whose realm was the depths below the Inner Sea of Abzu. She was recognized as Guardian and Patroness of the Dark City. Together with her consort Nergal she rules this underworld, also called 'the big land', from which no-one returns.

One day Nergal was sent to Ereskigal from the heavens, with an offering of food. They proceeded to fall in love, and when Nergal had to leave, she threatened Anu that unless Nergal was send back to her, for ever, as a husband, she would revive the dead and send them back to earth, so that they would outnumber the living. Her minister Namtar had to go to heaven as her messenger, for Ereshkigal felt that she was already pregnant. He successfully relayed the message, for at last Nergal came storming down the stairs, broke down the seven gates and burst into the goddess' palace straight into her passionate embrace.

Ereshkigal is dark and violent, as befits her role as goddess of the underworld. As ruler over the shades, Ereshkigal receives the mortuary offerings made to the dead. Often praised in hymns, in the Sumerian cosmogony she was carried off to the underworld after the separation of heaven and earth.

FROM: Avatars of the Goddess

ERESHKIGAL: Ereshkigal is the Sumerian mistress of death and ruler of ARALU, the "Land of No Return." An ancient poem, "Hymn to the Locust-tree," explains that "Ereshkigal had received the underworld as her share" of creation. It is a dry, dusty place beneath Abzu, the "sweet waters of the underground." Aralu is a dimension of eternal darkness, a huge communal grave where languishing spirits eat dust and moan in sorrow. Another description from Sumerian myth states:
The pure Ereshkigal herself upon her throne,
The Annunake, the seven judges, pronounced judges, pronounce judgment before her,
They fastened their eyes upon her, they eyes of death.
At their word, the word which tortures the spirit...
The sick woman was turned into a corpse,
The corpse was hung from a stake.

One of the most complex ancient myths about the underworld involves the legend of Inanna (Ishtar in some translations), Ereshkigal's sister, who makes a disastrous trip to the place of the dead. The beautiful Inanna, determined to shame her sister, decides to travel to the underworld to mock Ereshkigal and her lowly status as ruler of the damned. She dons her most glamorous clothes and finest jewelry and sets out for Aralu. Word quickly spreads to Ereshkigal that her sister is coming, charming everyone in her path.

Ereshkigal becomes jealous and orders her guards to seize a garment from Inanna at each of the seven gates she must pass through on the way to the depths of hell. Inanna does so, arriving naked and enraged at her sister's throne. A heated argument erupts over the incident, and Ereshkigal has Inanna impaled on a hook, her her body quickly turns green and decays, much to Ereshkigal's delight. The CHTHONIC deity displays her sister's withered corpse as a trophy in the halls of Aralu.

Meanwhile, in the upper world, Inanna's handmaid, who knows of the sisters' feud, works for Inanna's release. After intervention from a number of Sumerian deities, Ereshkigal reluctantly agrees to give up her sister's corpse. The gods revive Inanna with water and the grass of life, but the judges of the dead will not let her leave the underworld until she finds a substitute to take her place in hell. Inanna agrees to send a replacement back to her sister's kingdom.

A ghastly demon escort sees Inanna back to the land of the living. Upon her return, she discovers that her husband, Dumuzi, rather than mourning her loss, as been celebrating her absence with wine, women, and song. She immediately selects him as her substitute and sends him to Aralu to suffer in her place. Inanna eventually pities Dumuzi's plight and works out an arrangement with Ereshkigal so that he has to stay in hell for only six months of the year.

Another legend tells how Ereshkigal used her wiles to trick NERGAL, a vain and lecherous warrior god, into taking up residence in the land of the dead. When Nergal ventures to the underworld to meet this legendary queen, Ereshkigal charms him into sharing her bed, knowing that this will seal his doom. After the seduction, the gods refuse to allow him to return to the upper world, so Nergal weds Ereskigal and becomes the king of the dead. Together the couple oversees the souls of those who have departed Aralu.

"The Encyclopedia of Hell." Miriam Van Scott. St. Martin's Press. ©1998
FOUND HERE: Ereshkigal


Ereškigal: Ereškigal, whose name can be translated 'Queen of the Great Below', is also known in Akkadian as Allatu. She is the goddess who rules the underworld, mother of the goddess Nungal and, by Enlil, of the god Namtar, who serves as her messenger and minister. Ereškigal's first husband was the god Gugal-ana, whose name probably originally meant 'canal inspector of An' and who may therefore have been identical with Ennugi. In the Sumerian poem 'Inana's Descent to the Underworld', Inana tries to gain entry to the underworld by claiming that she has come to attend the funeral rites of Gugal-ana, the 'husband of my elder sister Ereškigal'. The son of Ereškigal and Gugal-ana was the god Ninazu. In another tradition, Ereškigal married the god Nergal, as related in the poem 'Nergal and Ereškigal'.
Ereškigal lived in a palace located at Ganzir, the doorway to the underworld, protected by seven gates, all of which could be bolted and each of which was guarded by a porter.

"Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. An Illustrated Dictionary." Jeremy Black and Anthony Green. University of Texas Press, Austin. ©1992
FOUND HERE: Ereshkigal

Visiting Ereshkigal
A modern Hymn to Ereskigal
Another Descent of Ishtar text
The Marriage of Nergal and Ereshkigal
Ereshkigal and Kur - how Ereshkigal chose the Underworld for her domain


Scathach (Shadowed) Irish/Scottish. "Lady of Shadows", or, "of the Shadowy Isle". She is a warrior, with additional associations in smithcraft and oracular wisdom. She dwells in Albannach (Scotland), on (most tales agree) the Isle of Skye (Scaith), and is best known as the tutor of Cuchulainn in the arts of both love and war.
Scathach, Gaelic Goddess of the Dead

Scathach (skah-thahgh), the warrior-woman risen to divinity, is the Gaelic goddess of the dead, those slain in battle and the passage of the dead to Tir Nan Og. Once mortal, she was touched by the Tuatha de Dannan in a way usually only seen in the Sidhe. In her duties, she is similar to the Valkyrie of the Norse. She searches the battlefields for the souls of the slain, and guides them along the Imrama na Anam, or Death Journey (lit. "Journey of the Soul"), to Tir Nan Og, the Land of Eternal Youth and Beauty.

Scathach is said to be the daughter of the king of Scythia. Aoife, another fierce warrior queen, is reputed to be her sister, while Uathach, her daughter, is a fellow teacher at her school. She also has two sons named Cet and Cuar from an unnamed man and trains them within a secret yew tree. Another source tells that she is mother to three maidens named Lasair, Inghean Bhuidhe and Latiaran, the father being a man named Douglas.

However, although the warrior dead get preferential treatment, Scathach does guide those who did not die in battle when they get lost on the Imrama. The reason so many vision-seekers get lost on the Imrama is that Scathach does not guide the living. It is also the duty of Scathach to drop those who acted poorly in life on one of the mystical islands of the other world, where they pay their debts and learn their folly. Not many living mortals ever make it to Tir Nan Og successfully (Olsin being the most famous exception).
In the Ulster Cycle, she is a fearsome expert in the arts of war. It is to her that Cu Chulainn, the greatest of Irish warriors, comes in his youth to learn his craft. This teaching took place in Alba. It was from Scathach that Cu Chulainn received the 'Gae Bolg', his formidable barbed spear (or sword, in some versions) whose thrust was invariably fatal.

Scathach ("the shadowy one"), is a warrior queen and mistress of a school for young warriors. The school is located in Scotland on the island of Skye, reputedly named after Scathach; other sources say she's living in the Alps. She initiates young men into the arts of war, as well as giving them the "friendship of her thighs", that is to say, initiating them sexually. She grants three wishes to the hero Cuchulainn, because her daughter Uathach, being in love with him, has told him how to make her do it. The three wishes are to train him in the arts of war, to marry her daughter Uathach and to tell his fortune which she does by using imbas forosnai ("charm of the palms"), party foretelling the events of the Tain Bo Cuailgne (Cattle Raid of Cooley) in dark terms.

Scathach was also a potent magician. She had the gift of prophecy, and she foretold Cu Chulainn's fate during the course of Queen Madb's onslaught against Ulster.

Scathach's Prayer

I Call to you,
My brothers and sisters.
I Call to you,
Fellow sons and daughters.
I Call to you,
All ye children of the Turner Of The Wheel.
I Call to you,
As a fellow child,
To do battle by my side,
To aid me in the conquest of my foes.

Draw close to me now,
Brothers and Sisters of Death Herself.
Let my blade be as your blade,
My blood be as your blood,
My heart be as your heart,
My mind be as your mind.
Together we shall defeat all our foes,
Working as one, we shal vanquish all enemies.
United in heart, mind, body and soul,
All our foes will be destroyed before us.

Should silence, rather than anger, be needed,
We must blend with the shadows.
We must become as the shadows.
We shall move like Scathach Herself,
Silent, swift, sure and unerring.
From the shadows we will strike
With the speed of Death.
None shall expect us when we come for them,
None shall live when we find them.
For we are the Children of Death Herself.

Should anger be the greater part, however,
We shall strike with all the fury in our hearts.
Dougals' forging, Eiluneds' casting, Gwydions' treachery;
These have never been forgiven or forgotten by us.
Should they or any other attempt to stop us,
They shall meet the fury of our blades.
Empowered by Scathachs' great speed,
The speed of Death,
We shall destroy all who attempt to defeat us.
None shall survive our wrath.

It is only in the greatest of times,
The harshest and toughest of times,
That we shall Call upon the Wrath.
The Wrath of Scathach Herself.
All who see this great Wrath will cower before Her.
No smith, sorcerer or ruler shall stop us;
They will die all the swifter before Her.
The Dragon will come to us,
To give us his power and aid us in battle.
None shall stop the blood of our foes from feeding the land.

FROM: Scathach

Scathach (skah-thahgh), the warrior-woman risen to divinity, is the Gaelic goddess of the dead, those slain in battle and the passage of the dead to Tir Nan Og. Once mortal, she was touched by the Tuatha de Dannan in a way usualy only seen in the Sidhe. In her duties, she is similar to the Valkyrie of the Norse. She searches the battlefields for the souls of the slain, and guides them along the Imrama na Anam, or Death Journey (lit. "Journey of the Soul"), to Tir Nan Og, the Land of Eternal Youth and Beauty.

However, although the warrior dead get preferential treatment, Scathach does guide those who did not die in battle when they get lost on the Imrama. The reason so many vision-seekers get lost on the Imrama is that Scathach does not guide the living. It is also the duty of Scathach to drop those who acted poorly in life on one of the mystical islands of the other world, where they pay their debts and learn their folly. Not many living mortals ever make it to Tir Nan Og successfully (Oisin being the most famous exception).

In the Ulster Cycle, she is a fearsome expert in the arts of war. It is to her that Cu Chulainn, the greatest of Irish warriors, comes in his youth to learn his craft. This teaching took place in Alba. It was from Scathach that Cu Chulainn received the 'Gae Bolg', his formidable barbed spear (or sword, in some versions) whose thrust was invariably fatal.
Scathach was also a potent magician. She had the gift of prophecy, and she foretold Cu Chulainn's fate during the course of Queen Madb's onslaught against Ulster. * Summarised from an article by George Treanor, Secretary of the Irish Heritage Group.

FROM: Scathach, Gaelic Goddess of the Dead

("The Shadowy One" or "She Who Strikes Fear") Sgathach or Skadi. Irish/Scottish. Warrior woman and prophetess. The Goddess of martial arts. The destroyer aspect of the Dark Goddess. A great sword warrior and instructor. Patroness of martial arts, prophecy, blacksmiths and magic. Native to the Isle of Skye. Living in Albion (Scotland). Taught the martial art to Cuchulainn. Also, like her daughter Uathach ("The Very Terrible") his lover. Seductive female warrior with red hair, with a combination of leather and lace, silk and metal. Apparently, Scathach has often been mixed up with Skadi or Skadhi.

NAME: Scathach (pronounced Skaw - Thach) The Shadowy One, The Fierce Woman, She Who Strikes Fear, Scota, Scatha

SYMBOLS: Sword. Cauldron in some accounts.

USUAL IMAGE: An attractive athletic woman, with (according to some) red hair. Who, when in a battle rage would go red (very red) in the face and even have her arms swell in size.

HOLY BOOKS: Táin Bó Cualgne, the "Cattle Raid of Cooley" also known as The Tain, and "Death of Aoife's Only Son."

HOLY DAYS: None known.

PLACE OF WORSHIP: At the death of a relative or friend.

RELATIVES: Kerridwen ( Mother), Kyre & Ginevra (sisters), Gwyn ap Nudd (Husband), Uathach 'Spectre' (Daughter), Cuar & Cett (Sons 'names in question, but she did have at least two')

SYNODEITIES: All warrior woman goddesses.

FOR THE REST: Scathach


Why The Scathach Wear No Colors -- a modern telling

Myths associated with her:

The Combat of Ferdiad and Cúchulainn (full version)
The Courting of Emer


from Goddesses and Heroines
Exerpt from Goddess & Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

The goddess for whom Scandinavia was named dwelled high in the snow-covered mountains; her favorite occupations were skiing and snowshoeing through her domain.
The goddess for whom Scandinavia was named dwelled high in the snow-covered mountains; her favorite occupations were skiing and snowshoeing through her domain. But when the gods caused the death of her father Thjassi, Skadi armed herself and traveled to their home at Asgard, intent on vengeance. Even alone, she was more than a match for the gods, and they were forced to make peace with her.
Skadi demanded two things: that they make her laugh and that she be allowed to choose a mate from among them. The first condition was accomplished by the trickster Loki, who tied his testicles to the beard of a billy goat. It was a contest of screeching, until the rope snapped and Loki landed, screaming with pain, on Skadi's knee. She laughed.
Next, all the gods lined up, and Skadi's eyes were masked. She intended to select her mate simply by examining his legs from the knees down. When she'd found the strongest-thinking them the beautiful Balder's legs-she flung off her mask and found she'd picked the sea god Njord. So she went off to live in the god's ocean home.
She was miserable there. "I couldn't sleep a wink," Skadi said in a famous eddic poem, "on the bed of the sea, for the calling of gulls and mews." The couple moved to Thrymheim, Skadi's mountain palace, but the water god was as unhappy there as Skadi had been in the water. Thereupon they agreed on an equitable dissolution, and Skadi took a new mate, more suitable to her lifestyle: Ullr, the god of skis.
Text found HERE


Skadi, Snow-Shoe Goddess
"When wolves howl upon the mountain heights,
Swift beneath the northern lights,
Skadi comes skimming o'er the snow."

Early Norse myths talk about a ancient elemental deity known as Kari, who actually was the wind that blew down from the mountains. Kari was said to have mixed with mist and frost, and fathered Ymir, who was the first of the Giants. Ymir, in turn, spawned a race of His own kind. Unfortunately Ymir was slain by His own descendents and almost all the remaining Giants then drowned in Ymir's blood. The two who survived were exiled to a remote area of the world, located in the extreme northern reaches - an area of mountains, rocky wastes and snow that was called Jotunheim (from the word 'jotun' that meant 'devourer'.) In Jotunheim grows a huge, dense and mist-shrouded forest called 'Iarnvith' or Ironwood. Jotunheim is separated from Asgard by the river Iving, which never freezes over.

Because of the remoteness of the area, the two remaining Giants multiplied and reformed their race. Soon Jotunheim had three strongholds: Utgard, the chief city of Jotunheim; Gastropnir, home of the Rock Giantess Menglad; and Thrymheim ("house of uproar"), the mountain stronghold of the Frost Giant Thiassi (also called Thiazi, Thjatsi or Thjazi). Thiassi was well versed in magick and was a master shape-shifter who could turn Himself into almost any animal, although He most often assumed the shape of a huge eagle with sharp talons. In this form, Thiassi would leave the safety of Jotunheim and travel into the rest of the world. On one such foray, He made the mistake of stealing an oxen from the God Loki, who happened to be slumming about in the world of men. In the fight that followed, Thiassi was burned to death by the rest of the gods. Odin then took the eyes from the dead Frost Giant and flung them up into heaven where they shone thereafter as stars.

Thiassi had a daughter, the Frost Giantess Skadi (also spelled Skaoi, Skadhi or Skade). When her father Thiassi was slain by the gods, Skadi wanted to take revenge. Skadi left Jotunheim and traveled to Asgard to challenge the gods. The gods thought it wiser to reconcile and offered Her a marriage with one of Them. She was free to marry any god, but while She made Her choice She was only allowed to see the feet of the potential candidates. She noticed a very elegant pair of feet and, convinced that their owner was the fair god Balder (who was called 'the beautiful'), She choose them. Unfortunately for Her, those feet belonged to the older god Njord (also spelled Njordh). Njord is the god of winds, sea and fire and the guardian of all who make their living from the sea.

The marriage between Njord and Skadi was not a happy one. She wanted to live where Her father had lived, in Thrymheim in the snowy mountains, and Njord wanted to live in Noatun, His palace by the sea. So They agreed to spend the first nine days in the mountains and the following nine days by the sea. Njord hated the nine days He spent in the mountains and complained about the shriek of the winds and the howling of the wolves. And when Skadi spent the nine days by the sea She hated the yammering of the gulls each day at dawn.

Since the living arrangement did not work out, Njord and Skadi eventually separated. Skadi returned to Her beloved snowy home Thrymheim. It is said that later Skadi became friendly with Odin and had a few children with him; and also that She married the god Ull (also spelled Ullr), the god of justice and dueling.

Today Skadi lives at Thrymheim in the remote area of Jotunheim, happily traveling about in the winter wilderness on skies or snowshoes. As a Frost Giantess, Skadi is the embodiment of a winter goddess.

Skadi is associated with snow-shoes, skis, winter, frost, ice, snow, and wolves. Skadi is a good goddess to call upon for help in doing protective magick, or if you desire to reclaim your own wild nature and to go outside your own limits and boundaries. © 1999, 2000, 2001 by Sarah Nunn


Skadi, Winter Goddess
I've often thought of Skadi as the winter aspect of the great Huntress.
Her place is the wild, frozen North where she hunts with her wolf pack -
very appropriate for a frost giant and warrior goddess. Skadi once
challenged the gods of Asgard after Thor killed her father. In Norse
tradition a wrongful death requires a weregild (payment) to be given to
the wronged party. Skadi demanded marriage to one of the gods in payment.
She was granted this, but Odin restricted her in that she had to be
blindfolded and pick her husband by his feet. Skadi greatly desired to
have the beautiful god Balder as her husband. Believing that Balder would
naturally have the most beautiful feet, Skadi made her choice, only to
discover her new husband was the elder god Njord.
The marriage was not a success, as Skadi detested Njord's home by the
sea. He felt much the same about her beloved winter mountains, so they
Skadi is the patroness of hunters, skiers, female soldiers. Animals
associated with Skadi are the wolf and the poisonous snake. Call upon
Skadi when you are in need of justice or righteous vengeance, particularly
where an injury to your family is concerned.

Skadi is the Goddess of Winter and of the Hunt. She is married to Njord, the gloomy Sea God, noted for his beautiful bare feet (which is how Skadi came to choose him for her mate.) Supposedly the bare foot is an ancient Norse symbol of fertility. The marriage wasn't too happy, though, because she really wanted Baldur for her husband. She is the goddess of Justice, Vengeance, and Righteous Anger, and is the deity who delivers the sentence upon Loki to be bound underground with a serpent dripping poison upon his face in payment for his crimes. Skadi's character is represented in two of Hans Christian Anderson's tales: "The Snow Queen" and "The Ice Princess."
FROM: Norse Gods and Goddesses

A call to the Goddess--

Skadhi, shining snowshoe goddess,
Ice-bright beauty,
With winter's white the earth you warded.
Wise bride of gods;
Now comes springtide, snows are melting,
Soil awaits the plow;
Free frozen hearts, make us fruitful,
Skadhi, I summon thee!


When wolves howl upon the mountain heights,
Swift beneath the Northern Lights,
Skadhi comes skimming o'er the snow;
When it goes,
Her sweet buds will swell the bough,
Earth shall open to the plough.


It is night, and the air is chill. . . A wind from the glacier swirls around you, sweeping the night sky clean of all but the stars. They glitter in the darkness like chips of ice; with each breath, frost hangs in the air, but the furs you are wearing keep you warm.
In the distance, you can hear the call of a wolf, most lonely of sounds. You stand on a white slope; above you lift the mountains of Jotunheim where the frost-giants dwell, icy crags wind-sculpted into fantastic forms, trees of ice, frozen waterfalls. Upon the height a fortress clings, white walls gleaming in the starlight. A dark forest laps the slopes below.
Suddenly, a bluish radiance ripples above you as if a ribbon of light had been shaken across the sky. It shivers again, glows purple, lemon yellow, pale green. The crystal walls of the castle glimmer with rainbow refractions. Then the color fades; the night is dark once more. The howling of the wolves sounds again, closer. You still, listening. Are they coming this way? Suddenly you are aware of how alone you are in this waste of rock and snow.
You hasten towards the nearest patch of forest, sliding into the shadow of the tall evergreens. Peering from its shadow, you see a dark shape loping across the snow. In a moment it is followed by another. More come after-- grey wolves, white wolves, black wolves, running light-footed across the snow. You hold your breath, wanting to run with them, afraid to be seen.
As the last wolf passes another figure appears, tall beyond the height of mortals, clad in a white fur cloak with black boots and gloves and black hair flowing behind her. Swiftly she strides, her snowshoes bearing her across the surface of the snow. She carries a bow. Closer and closer she comes, running with the wolves. You shrink into the shadow of the tree. Her face is smooth, her gaze ice-chill. As she nears, she pauses, that icy gaze passes across the wood and your heart stills. Has she seen you? Then her lips draw back in silent laughter, she leaps forward and speeds away down the slope, and a desire you cannot resist draws you after her....
FOR THE REST: Skadhi: Wilderness Woman

The Marriage of Skadi and Njord
Skadi, Goddess of 'Skadi'
Women in Norse Myths
Someone's personal vision of Skadi
Skadhi: Wilderness Woman-- ritual, info and other things
An artist's painting of her