The exploration of the world religions gives pause to the contemplation of the ancient deities from ancient cultures. Since these are not included in the contemporary world religions, it is very interesting to know that there are more than 2,500 recorded deities. One must start with the ancient religions to know the old gods.
- The Creator god is Ngombe or Zaire (central Africa). Keep in mind that the African continent is huge, and it includes many tribes, and religions, so what is mentioned here is not singular, not the only Creator god.
- Amma is another Creator god, from the Dogon of Mali, West Africa. His mythology is interesting because it may be tied into the practice of female circumcision. He created the sun and moon which led to the creation of black people from the sunlight and white people from the moonlight. Then he had to circumcise the earth goddess to impregnate her because her clitoris was an anthill. A jackal was produced. Next, he fertilized the earth goddess with rain to originate plant life and eventually all of mankind.
- Faro or Bambara from Mali, West Africa is an androgynous god known for birthing the first two humans (twins, brother and sister). He is also considered a sky and water god because he arrived during a drought and gave creation to the fish in the Niger river.
- Huitzilpochtli (blue hummingbird on left foot) was the sun and war god of the Aztecs. He sprang from his mother (Coatlicue) fully armed, and proceeded to slaughter his sister (the moon), and his 400 brothers (stars) to avenge his mom’s death. Athena the Greek goddess similarly sprang from her father fully armed. Eventually there seems to appear a common theme in religious belief and deities. Huitzilpochtli was fed human hearts from captives. Sacrificial material was plentiful because the Aztes warred a lot to appease the blood thirsty god. Evidently the blood cooled his heat.
- Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, was perhaps the most well known Aztec god. The god of the morning and evening star, the god of the wind, and the heroic Creator god. One story has him making mankind from his own blood. Then he changed into an ant to steal a corn kernel that was hidden inside a mountain by other ants. That’s how he provided food for mankind. Another story has him ascending to the underworld to retrieve bones and ashes of previous generations of mankind to create humans of the fifth sun. He got the goods from the underground rulers but dropped them. The broken bones account for mankind’s different statures.
- Tezcatlipoca (smoking mirror) also arrived fully armed from his mother, and destroyed his enemies. He and Quetzalcoatl restored the shattered universe to initiate the fifth(present ) sun. He is credited with transforming himself into an avatara Mix Camaxtli to create fire. Then he performed some deep magic to become known as a great magician . He became a large alligator (Cipactli) to drag the earth mother from primordial waters, and during the fierce struggle she bit off his right foot. He tore off her lower jaw to prevent her from sinking back in the waters. So, he won, and became a patron deity of young Aztec warriors. Sacrificial victims had their hearts torn out to honor the god.
- Istar (star of heaven) was a most influential goddess of ferility and war. She is symbolized by an eight pointed star, and commonly depicted with wings and weapons. Some spell her name as Ishtar. A lion accompanies her in many depictions. She had many devotees from ancient Babylonia as evidenced by the numerous altars, temples, inscriptions, and art objects honoring her. Her ancestry is from the moon god Sin and Anu the god of heaven. She was a moody daughter goddess who could go from very loving to warring with nations very quickly. Interesting, these goddesses of fertility and war, there is much that can be made of that heritage!
- Ninhursaga (queen of the mountain) was the mother goddess and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She has many synonyms; Ninmah (great queen), Ninmenna (lady of the diadem), and Sag-zu-dingirenak (midwife of the gods), to name some. Temple hymn sources define her as the one who nourished kings through her milk. Mainly, her symbol depicted in art is the omega. This symbol recognizes her great importance with the ancient cultures.
- Morrigan (queen of demons), also known as Morgen, Morgana, Maeve, Tara, and others, she was a goddess of war, fertility, and vegetation. She was able to shape shift as a raven or a crow, and foretell the battle outcome. She is more an intrinsic part of the land of Eire, rather than a tribal deity. Wells were sacred to her and she may have been associated with horse culture as Mare is the basis of her other names, Macha and Maeve. It is legend that she visited the great Irish hero, Cu Chulainn, on the battlefield and proceeded to nourish the soil of Eire with his blood.
- Brigit (exalted one) was a major pastoral deity - a wise woman. She was worshipped as a goddess of poetry, inspiration, smithcraft, and healing. Her celebrants used the festival of Imbolc (the first day of Spring) to honor her. 19virgins tended her shrine at Kildare keeping a fire going, and not allowing any man to pass through the hedge to her sanctuary. This lady of fire and sunlight was an inspirational muse who is even thought to have invented whistling. There was a great cult surrounding Brigit and the Catholic Church couldn’t trample her, so they made her a saint and explained that she had a nunnery at Kildare.
These are the top ten ancient deities that may grace our ancestral notions in a familiar sense or not. There are more top ten ancient gods to quench any curiosities aroused from my meger list. Egyptian, Shinto, Native American, Germanic, Greek and Polynesian cultures are additional starting places for gods and goddesses of old.
Text source - Encyclopedia of GODS, Michael Jordan