The Witches' Goddess

Book Cover

(An Abbreviated List of World Goddesses)
The Witches' Goddess by Janet and Stewart Farrar *

Aditi: ('Limitless') Hindu Mother Goddess, self-formed, the Cosmic Matrix. Mother of the Sun God Mitra and the Moon God Varuna.

Ambika: Hindu, 'the generatrix,' wife of Shiva or of Rudra.

Annapurna: Hindu. Goddess who provides food; she lives on top of Mount Annapurna.

Aphrodite: ('Foam-Born') Greek Goddess of sexual love. She was born of the bloody foam of the sea where Cronus threw the genitals of his father Uranus after castrating him. Married, on Zeus's orders, to the lame Smith God Hephaestus, and unfaithful to him with the war God Ares. She was in fact an ancient East Mediterranean Goddess and can be equated with Astarte.

Arachne: Greek Spider Goddess. A Lydian girl skilled in weaving, she dared to challenge Athene to compete with her. The contest was held, and Arachne's work was faultless: impudently, it portrayed some of the Gods' less reputable deeds, including Athene's father Zeus abducting Europa. Furious, Athene turned her into a spider, doomed eternally to spin thread drawn from her own body. But the Spider Goddess is more archetypal than this story suggests: spinning and weaving the pattern of destiny like the Moerae or the Norns, and enthroned in the middle of her spiral-pathed stronghold like Arianrhod. Athene here represents Athenian patriarchal thinking, trying to discipline earlier Goddess-concepts.

Aradia: Italian (Tuscany) Witch Goddess, surviving there into this century. Daughter of Diana and Diana's brother Lucifer (i.e. of the Moon and Sun), she came to Earth to teach the witches her mother's magic.

Ariadne: Cretan and Greek. The daughter of King Minos of Crete, who with her her cunning thread helped Theseus find his way into the labyrinth to kill the Minotaur, and out again. She eloped with him, but he abandoned her on the island of Naxos. She was consoled by Dionysus, who in her Naxos cult was regarded as her consort.

Arianrhod: ('Silver Wheel') Major Welsh Goddess. Mother of Llew Llau Gyffes by her brother Gwydion. Her consort Nwyvre ('Sky, Space, Firmament') has survived in name only. Caer Arianrhod is the circumpolar stars, to which souls withdraw between incarnations; she is thus a Goddess of reincarnation. Honoured at the Full Moon.

Artemis: Greek Nature and Moon Goddess. Daughter of Zeus and Leto, and twin sister of Apollo (though a day older). She probably absorbed a pre-Indo-European Sun Goddess, and her twinning in classical legend with the Sun God Apollo may stem from this. The Greeks assimilated her to a pre-Greek mistress of wild beasts. Bears were sacred to her, and she was associated with the constellation Ursa Major.

Astarte: Canaanite version of Ishtar; fertility goddess. Chief goddess of Tyre and Sidon. Astarte was also the Greek form of the name Ashtart. Tends to merge with Asherat and Anat, and with the Egyptian Hathor. She came to Egypt; Rameses II built a temple honoring her, and she and Isis were said to be firm friends.

Athena: Greek, a Warrior Goddess, yet also one of intelligence and the arts of peace. Protector of towns, above all of Athens.

Banshee: (Bean Sidhe , 'Woman Fairy') Irish. Attached to old Irish families ('the O's and the Mac's'), she can be heard keening sorrowfully near the house when a member of the family is about to die. Still very much believed in, and heard.

Bast: Egytian Cat Goddess of Bubastis in the Delta. Originally lion-headed, she represented the beneficient power of the Sun, in contrast to Sekhmet who personified its destructive power.

Bean-Nighe: ('Washing Woman') Scottish and Irish. Haunts lonely streams washing the bloodstained garments of those about to die.

Befana: ('Epiphany') Italian Witch Fairy who flies her broomstick on Twelfth Night to come down chimneys and bring presents to children.

Binah: ('Understanding') Hebrew. The Supernal Mother, third Sephirah of the Cabalistic Tree of Life. She takes the raw directionless energy of Chokmah, the Supernal Father (the second Sephira), and gives it form and manifestation; she is thus both the Bright Mother, Aima (nourishing) and the Dark Mother, Ama (constricting).

Bona Dea: ('Good Goddess') Roman Earth Goddess of Fertility, worshipped only by women; even statues of men were covered where her rites took place.

Brighid, Brigid, Brigit, Brid: Irish Goddess of Fertility and Inspiritation, daughter of the Dagda; called 'the poetess.' Often triple ('The Three Brigids'). Her characteristics, legends and holy places were taken over by the historical St Bridget.

Cailleach Beine Brick: A Scottish legendary witch probably recalling an earlier local goddess.

Callisto: ('Most Beautiful') Greek Moon Goddess, to whom the she-bear was sacred in Arcadia. Envisaged as the axle on which everything turns, and thus connected with the Ursa Major constellation. Linked with Artemis, often called Artemis Callisto.

Carman: Irish. Wexford Goddess, whence Gaelic name of Wexford, Loch Garman (Loch gCarman).

Cerridwen: Welsh Mother, Moon and Grain Goddess, wife of Tegid and mother of Creirwy (the most beautiful girl in the world) and Avagdu (the ugliest boy). Owner of an inexhaustible cauldron called Amen, in which she made a magic draught called 'greal' ('Grail?') from six plants, which gave inspiration and knowledge. Mother of Taliesen, greatest of all Welsh bards. Most of her legends emphasize the terrifying aspect of the Dark Mother; yet her cauldron is the source of wisdom and inspiration.

Cliona of the Fair Hair: Irish. South Munster Goddess of great beauty, daughter of Gebann the Druid, of the Tuatha De Danaan. Connected with the O'Keefe family.

Clota: Scottish. Goddess of the River Clyde.

Cybele: Greek. Originally Phrygian, finally merged with Rhea. Goddess of Caverns, of the Earth in its primitive state; worshipped on mountain tops. Ruled over wild beasts. Also a Bee Goddess.

Dakini: Hindu. One of the Six Goddess Governing the Six Bodily Substances; the others being Hakini, Kakini, Lakini, Rakini and Sakini.

Dana, Danu: The major Irish Mother Goddess, who gave her name to the Tuatha De Danann ('Peoples of the Goddess Dana'), the last but one occupiers of Ireland in the mytholigical cycle.

Demeter: ('Earth-Goddess-Mother') Greek goddess of the fruitful Earth, especially of barley. Daughter of Cronus and Rhea. Her brother Zeus, tricking her in the form of a bull, made her the mother of Persephone.

Diana: Roman equivalent of the Greek Moon and Nature Goddess Artemis, and rapidly acquired all her characteristics. Like Artemis, classically regarded as virgin but originally a Sacrificial-Mating Goddess.

Dione: Phoenician/Greek. Also known as Baltis. A Nature or Earth Goddess, overlapping with Diana and Danae. Daughter of Uranus and Gaia. Married her brother Cronus, who gave her the city of Byblos.

Discordia: Roman Goddess of Discord and Strife, who preceeded the chariot of Mars. Greek equivalent Eris.

Ereshkigal: ('Queen of the Great Below') Assyro-Babylonian Goddess of the Underworld, sister of Ishtar (Inanna). Known as 'Star of Lamentation,' or sometimes simply as Allatu ('The Goddess').

Eris: Greek goddess of Discord.

Erin: Irish. One of the Three Queens of the Tuatha De Danann, daughters of the Dagda, who asked that Ireland be named after them.

Frigg, Freya: ('Well-Beloved, Spouse, Lady') Most revered of the Teutonic Goddesses. Wife and sister of Odin.

Gaia: ('Earth') The 'deep-breasted,' the primordial Greek Earth Mother, the first being to emerge from Chaos. She was regarded as creating the universe, the first race of gods, and humankind.

Glaisrig, Glaistig: A Scottish Undine, beautiul and seductive, but a goat from the waist down (which she hides under a long green dress). She lures men to dance with her and then sucks their blood. Yet she can be benign, looking after children or old people or herding cattle for farmers.

Gorgons, The: Greek. Three daughters of Phorcys and his sister Ceto. Winged monsters with hair of serpents, they turned men to stone by their gaze. They were Euryale and Stheno, who were immortal, and Medusa who was mortal and killed by Perseus.

Grian: ('Sun') Irish. A Fairy Queen with a court on Pallas Green Hill, Co. Tipperary. Also a general Goddess symbol.

Gruagach, The: ('The Long-Haired One') Scottish. Female fairy to whom the dairymaids used to pour libations of milk into a hollow stone.

Gwenhwyfar, Guinevere, Gueneva: Arthur's queen. Traces of Triple Goddess.

Hathor: Egyptian. An ancient Sky Goddess; Ra's daughter by Nut, or his wife; sometimes the wife or mother of Horus the Elder, Goddess of pleasure, joy, love, music and dancing. Protectress of women and embodiment of the finest female qualities.

Hecate: Greek, originally Thracian and pre-Olympian; at the same time a Moon Goddess, and Underworld Goddess and a Goddess of magic.

Hel, Hela: Teutonic Goddess of the kingdom of the dead, not considered as a place of punishment. Daughter of Loki and Angurboda, and sister of the Midgard serpent of the ocean encircling the Earth, and of the devouring Fenris-wolf. Half her face was totally black.

Hestia: ('Hearth') Greek. First daughter of Cronus and Rhea, and oldest of the Olympians. Goddess of domestic fire and of the home in general. Poseidon and Apollo both wanted to marry her but she placed herself under Zeus' protection as eternally virgin. She received the first morsel of every sacrifice. Roman equivalent Vesta.

Inanna: ('Lady of Heaven') Sumerian Queen of Heaven, Mother Goddess to whom the Semitic Ishtar was assimilated.

Isis: Egyptian. The most complete flowering of the Goddess concept in human history. Daughter of Earth God Geb and Sky Goddess Nut.

Kali: Hindu, Tibetan, Nepalese. Often called Kali Ma ('the Black Mother'). A terrible but necessary destroyer, particularly of demons, but also a powerful creative force, much misunderstood in the West.

Kundalini: ('Coiled') Hindu. The feminine Serpent Force, especially in its relation to organic and inorganic matter; the universal life-force of which electricity and magnetism are mere manifestations. Envisaged as moving in a left-handed spiral, when aroused in the human body, from the base of the spine up to the brain.

Lady of the Lake: Arthurian. In some legends Vivienne (or Viviane); in others, Vivienne was the daughter of the Lady of the Lake by Dylan, son of Arianrhod and Gwydion. In Thomas Mallory, the Lady of the Lake is called Nimue.

Lakshmi: Hindu Goddess of good fortune and plenty, and the personification of beauty.

Leannan Sidhe: Irish fairy lover, succubus. In the Isle of Man she is malevolent and vampiric.

Lilith: In Hebrew legend, she was Adam's first wife, who would not subordinate herself to him and was turned into a demoness.

Lorelei: German. A beautiful siren who sat on a cliff above the Rhine, luring boatment to their death with her songs.

Luna: The Roman Moon Goddess, identified with Diana and the Greek Selene.

Malkuth: ('The Kingdom') Hebrew. Personification of Earth, of the Earth-soul; the goddess in actual manifestation.

Mary Magdalene: Hebrew. Held in Christian tradition to have been a reformed prostitute; but there are no biblical grounds for this whatsoever.

Maya: Hindu. The Goddess of Nature, the universal creatress.

Medusa: Greek. The only mortal member of the three Gorgons. Her hair was turned to serpents by Athene because she dared to claim equal beauty with hers. Her gaze turned men to stone.

Minerva: Roman. Wife of Jupiter, forming a triad with his other wife, Juno.

Morgan: ('Of the Sea') Arthur's half-sister Morgan le Fay; but would seem to be a much older Goddess, possibly the Glastonbury Tor one, for her island is Avalon.

Neith: Egyptian. A very ancient Delta Goddess, protectress of Sais; her emblem was the crossed arrows of a predynastic clan.

Nemesis: Greek. Daughter of Erebus and Nyx. Goddess of divine anger, against mortals who offended the moral law, broke taboos or achieved too much happiness or wealth.

Nicneven: Scottish Samhain Witch Goddess. Tradition places her night according to the old (Julian) calendar, on 10 November.

Nimue: Arthurian. Thomas Mallory's name for the Lady of the Lake.

Nostiluca: Gaulish Witch Goddess.

Oshun and Oya: Nigerian, Yoruba tribe and Brizilian Voodoo. Sisters, daughters of Yemaja, and wives of the Thunder God Shango. Oshun was beautiful and Oya plain, and there was jealousy between them. Goddesses respectively of the rivers Oshun and Niger.

Pandora: ('Gift of All') The Greek Eve, fashioned in clay by Hephaestus on Zeus' orders to punish Prometheus for having stolen fire from heaven. Her name means that each God or Goddess gave her an appropriate gift. Zeus gave her a box which she must not open. She did open it, and all the evils that plague humankind came out of it. All that was left at the bottom was Hope.

Persephone: Greek and Phoenician. Originally a purely Underworld Goddess, became a corn-seed Goddess, daughter of Demeter.

Pythia: ('Pythoness') Greek. Serpent Goddess, daughter of Gaia.

Rhiannon: ('Great, or Divine, Queen'). Welsh fertility and Otherworld Goddess.

Sarasvati: Hindu. Wife of Brahma, born of his body. Goddess of speech, music, wisdom, knowledge and the arts.

Sekhmet: ('The Powerful') Egyptian Lioness-Goddess, Eye of Ra who was her father. Wife of Ptah as Goddess of the Memphite triad, and mother of Nefertum, God of the setting Sun (later replaced by Imhotep).

Selene: Greek Moon Goddess, daughter of Hyperion and Theia, and sister of Helios (the Sun) and Eos (Dawn); though sometimes said to be the daughter of Zeus or of Helios.

Sophia: ('Wisdom') A Gnostic Aeon; but Wisdom personified as female was earlier also characteristic of Hebrew and Greek-Hebrew thinking.

Tailtiu: Irish. Foster-mother of Lugh, who instituted the Tailtean Games, central event of the Festival of Lughnasadh (1 August), in her memory.

Tara: ('Radiating') Hindu Star Goddess, wife of Brihaspati (identified with the planet Jupiter), teacher of the Gods.

Tenemit: Egyptian Underworld Goddess, who gave ale to the deceased.

Tiamat: Assyro-Babylonian Primordial Sea Mother Goddess, the mass of salt waters, who with her mate Apsu (the sweet waters) begat the original chaotic world and who also symbolized it and ruled it.

Ulupi: Hindu. A Serpent Goddess, one of the Nagis, dwelling in Patala, the lowest level of the Underworld.

Valkyries, The: Teutonic. In late Scandinavian myth, they brought the souls of those slain in battle to Odin.

Venus: Roman. Originally a Goddess of Spring and protectress of vegetation and gardens, was a minor deity till she became assimilated to the Greek Aphrodite in the second century BC.

Vesta: ('Torch, Candle') Roman Goddess of fire, both domestic and ritual. Daughter of Saturn and Ops. Domestically she presided over the hearth and the preparation of meals.

Virgin Mary, The: Mother of Jesus.

Vivienne, Viviane: Arthurian. Sometimes referred to as the Lady of the Lake, sometimes as the Lady's daughter.

Yesod: ('Foundation') Hebrew. Ninth Sephira of the Cabalistic Tree of Life, sphere of the Moon and of the astral plane.

Zobiana: A medieval Witch Goddess name.

* Reprinted with permission from the authors. Please note - this version was edited by Amberlynne LaStrega who changed to "mortals/humankind" all references to "man/men/mankind." Also note, the book contains far more extensive information than is found in this document.

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