From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!
Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities.
Ancient Gods of Syria
So I recently read a blog that said if you want to pray for help for Syria, then pray to the old gods of Syria. I think that is an interesting idea. Who would know the people, their needs, their problems and the sources of dissension more accurately? Who would want healing and unity more? Send them the energy to help them heal their people. For non-polytheistic Pagans, who the gods of the region are may seem unimportant to you but think of it in terms of context. For hard polytheists, it would be important to know who the gods of Syria are. For soft polytheists, it may be important to know to who they are similar. Alternatively, ask your own divinities to relay your prayers/gifts/well-wishes to their Canaanite brethren.
(Typically I only cover the masculine divinities for this blog, but today I will include the feminine too. I readily admit I am unfamiliar with the area and the pantheon so I will apologize in advance for any errors that I create or miss. Comparisons are my opinion only and meant only to bring some familiarity to a pantheon that is relatively unknown. I highly suggest you use this list as a starting place for your own studies.)
Miscellaneous sources provide the names of Canaanite deities in various periods. The Ugaritic deities are the best known because of the number of religious texts from the 15th & early 14th century BCE. This is most likely an incomplete list as I was interested in covering only the well known divinities that maybe of help in Syria. Deities have multiple names because names change over time and because the Ugaritans didn’t write down vowel sounds. The names are reconstructed by linguists on the basis of texts written in other Semetic languages.
Anatu, Anat: described as an adolescent warrior goddess with a short temper but a strong sense of loyalty; probably has associations with hunting too. Artemis comes immediately to mind.
‘Atartu, ‘Athtartu, Athtart: goddess of compassion, restraint, justice, treaties, balance and peace; called Ashtoreth by the Hebrews, often compared with Astarte, Ishtar and Innana. Reminds me of Athena.
Athiratu, ‘Athiratu, Atiratu, Athirat, ‘Atirat, Asherah, Elat: Queen and mother of the pantheon, Co-creator of the Universe; known to be the nurturer and associated with the sea, proper order, marriages, ibex and date palms; mentioned in the Hebrew bible. Rhea, Kybele comes to mind.
‘Attaru, ‘Athtaru, Athtar: God of protection, youth, personal property, warriors and irrigation of fields. Reminds of of Ares/Mars.
Ba’lu, Haddi, Ba’al Hadad, Ba’al, Ba’lu, Baal, Addu, Adad, Baal: a god of storms and justice who fights the forces of the sea (Yammu) and death (Motu) with his clubs Driver (Yagrush) and Chaser (Ayyamuuri); a son of El and also associated with bulls, he is the reigning king of the pantheon; known to be impulsive, honored for providing life-giving rains making the land fertile for agriculture. Reminds me of Zeus/Jupiter.
‘Ilu, Ilu, El: supreme deity of the pantheon and known as the father of men, gods and creatures, known as “Father of Years” and “the Bull God”; described by a modern devotee as kind, compassionate and benevolent though rather distant but reachable through his wife, Athiratu; often appears in dreams or has Shapshu deliver his messages. Reminds me of Saturn/Kronos and Ptah.
Kothar-wa-Khasis, Kathiru-wa-Khasisu, Kothar-wa-Hasis: God of magic and craftsmanship, his name means “Skilled with Both Hands” or “Deft and Clever”. Hephaistos immediately comes to mind.
Nikkal, Nikkalu-wa-Ibbu, Nikkal-wa-Ib: Goddess of Orchards and wife of the moon, her name means fruitful and beautiful. Calls Idunn to mind.
Raspu, Rasap, Rashap, Reshep, Reshef: God of Healing, Pestilence and Warfare, known as “Lord of the Arrow”; often paired with Choron to end conflicts; connected with gazelles, horsemanship, red, black and warrior skills. Apollo immediately comes to mind.
Shapshu, Shapshu, Shapash: Goddess of the sun associated with horses, healing, comfort and consolation; messenger for Ilu; called “Torch of the Deities”; she visits the underworld each night and helps care for the rapi’uma, the spirits of the dead. Reminds me of Sunna or Amaterasu.
Yarikhu, Yarikh, Yareah, Yarik: Moon god, “Lamp of the Deities”, provider of the nightly dew that nourishes his wife’s (Nikkal) orchards; sometimes portrayed horned; connected with dogs. Brings Men and Khonsu to mind.
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