Baal's Cedar: Natib Qadish, Canaanite Religion
Natib Qadish, a polytheistic religion which reveres the Canaanite deities, is based on ancient culture and the cuneiform texts found at the city of Ugarit. The Canaanites lived 3200 years ago in the areas of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine.
I share articles and commentary rooted in polytheistic, Near Eastern, Levantine, Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Natib Qadish perspectives. I teach about the deities, festivals, cultures, divination, magic, divination, and beliefs.
The Iluma, the Canaanite Pantheon
’Ilu, Ilu, El: King of the Pantheon, Father of Years, known as the kind, compassionate, and benevolent one. He is never angry and does not punish his immortal and mortal children. Thought of as being far away, he is often reachable through his wife Athiratu. He lives on Mount Kasu.
’Aṯiratu, Athirat, Asherah: Queen Mother of the Pantheon, Co-creatress of the Universe. Known as wise and nurturing, but not to be slighted. Biblical peoples may have continued to venerate her throughout the first half of the Hebrew Bible. Some believe the Shekhina of today’s Judaism hearkens back to her.
Šapšu, Shapshu, Shapash: Goddess of the Sun, Torch of the Deities. Warm and loving, associated with horses, goes to visit the underworld at night. She often delivers messages for Ilu. Shapshu and Yarikhu are siblings.
Yariḫu, Yarikhu, Yarikh: God of the Moon, Lamp of the Deities, whose night dew fertilizes Nikkalu. He is sometimes portrayed as “horned,” symbolic of the “horn” of the crescent moon.
Nikkal, Nikkalu-wa-Ibbu, Nikkal-wa-Ib: Goddess of the Orchards, or perhaps related to the Sumerian goddess Ningal. Nikkalu's name means “Fruitful and Beautiful.” She is Yarikhu's wife. The oldest recorded piece of music in the world is a hymn to this goddess. For links to recordings of this song, see Canaanite Music Link Bazaar.
Rašpu, Rašap, Rashap, Reshep, Reshef: God of healing, burning plague, and warfare. He is sometimes associated with gazelles. In Egyptian stelae, a composite "Semitic" goddess Qudshu, stands between the god Rashap of war and plaque, and the god Min of fertility.
Kaṯiru-wa-Ḫasisu, Koṯaru-wa-Ḫasīsu, Kothar-wa-Hasis, Kathir-wa-Khasis: Skillful and Clever. Known as the craftsman and mage god, possibly related or cognate to Egypt’s Ptah or Thoth.
‘Anatu, Anat: The Adolescent Warrior Goddess, loyal and loving with a short temper. Supporter of Ba‘lu. Said to wade in the gore of her enemies. Scholars now believe that she is not sexually active, contrary to what older scholarship states.
‘Aṯtaru, 'Athtaru, Athtar: god of protection, warriors, youth, and personal property. He also sees to irrigation of fields and tries to substitute for Ba‘lu when Ba‘lu dies in the Ba'lu Epic tale from the city of Ugarit.
‘Aṯartu, 'Athtartu, Athtart: originally a goddess of justice, balance, treaties, and perhaps even hunting. Possibly also a goddess of stars. She later morphs into the goddess known as Astarte in Greek and the Babylonian Ishtar. In the bible she is known as “ashtoreth” to link her name with the word “boseth” which means “shame.” she seems to have a peaceful nature in Canaanite mythology. She is 'Athtar's sister, and a steady and true friend of her sister 'Anatu.
Ba‘lu, Ba'al, Ba'lu Haddu, Ba‘al Hadad: the Thunderer, the Storm God, fights the forces of Motu (Death) and Yammu (Sea), the Ba‘al Epic is the most extensive piece of literature left to us from the Canaanites. Often he is just called "Ba'lu" or "Ba'al" but his full name is "Ba'lu Haddi." "Ba'lu" or "Ba'al" are simply titles which mean "lord" and are applied to more gods than just this storm god.
Dagan, Dagnu: God of Grain and Ba‘lu’s father.
Yammu, Yam: God of Sea and River and sometimes chaotic weather patterns. Ba‘lu, using Kathir’s magic weapons, fights Yammu for his position in the pantheon. One of Yammu’s “henchmen” is Litan, a sea-serpent and later known as the biblical Leviathan.
Ḥoron, Ḥoronu, Choron: A chthonic god of purification, exorcism, cleansing, and protection. He is associated with snakes and scorpions, and bears the ability of dispersing venom.
Mot, Motu: God of Death, Heat-Death, and Sterility. His mouth is the devouring mouth of the grave. The Canaanites never make offerings to Motu.
Lilith is not a part of the Canaanite pantheon. Lilitu originates as Lamashtu, the Sumerian evil spirit. The Canaanites, specifically the Ugaritans, knew of Lamashtu, and warded against her. Lamashtu and Lilitu were known as evil entities who harmed infants and pregnant women.
Note: Deities have multiple combinations of names because names can change over time and because the Ugaritans often did not write down vowel sounds. However, scholars and linguists reconstruct vocalizations on the basis of texts from Ugarit written in Akkadian--a syllabic language--and by comparative studies with other Semitic languages such as Aramaic, Hebrew, and Arabic. The diacritics--markings on some letters--demonstrate letters found in Ugaritic cuneiform for which there are no English representations. Sometimes instead of using the diacritics, people will simply write out the sounds using combinations of letters. For instance an ḥ such as in the name Ḥoron represents a sound similar to that in the Jewish festival Channukah or in the name Bach. Sometimes the sound is written out like "ch" instead of ḥ. However, it does not represent the sound made by the ch in the word "cheese" but instead more like a rough "h" peculiar to Semitic languages. I've tried to include here many, if not most, of the different possible spellings for these deities so when you see alternate versions of these names, you'll know who's whom.
This list of deities is by no means exhaustive and covers primarily deities known in the Late Bronze Age (1200 BCE, 3200 years ago) in the Canaanite city of Ugarit. The deities themselves were known in the area as far back as the Middle Bronze age at least, and their worship lasted into the Classical age. Their worship is now being revived, especially in the religion of Natib Qadish, and in the offerings and worship of many other Canaanite, Phoenician, and Carthaginian polytheists.
Photo Credits: Image of a Canaanite god, likely Ba'al Hadad the storm god, in smiting pose. Photographer: Jastrow. Photo released into Public Domain, and accessed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baal_Ugarit_Louvre_AO17330.jpg
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