Inari Ōkami (Japanese: 稲荷大神), also called Ō-Inari (大稲荷), is the Japanese kami of foxes, fertility, rice, tea and sake, of agriculture and industry, of general prosperity and worldly success, and one of the principal kami of Shinto. In earlier Japan, Inari was also the patron of swordsmiths and merchants. Inari appears to have been worshiped since the founding of a shrine at Inari Mountain in 711 AD, although some scholars believe that worship started in the late 5th century.

By the 16th century, Inari had become the patron of blacksmiths and the protector of warriors, and worship of Inari spread across Japan in the Edo period. Inari is a popular figure in both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs in Japan. More than one-third (32,000) of the Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to Inari. Modern corporations, such as cosmetic company Shiseido, continue to revere Inari as a patron kami, with shrines atop their corporate headquarters.

Inari's foxes, or kitsune, are pure white and act as their messengers.

According to myth, Inari, as a goddess, was said to have come to Japan at the time of its creation amidst a harsh famine that struck the land. "She [Inari] descended from Heaven riding on a white fox, and in her hand she carried sheaves of cereal or grain. Ine, the word now used for rice, is the name for this cereal. What she carried was not rice but some cereal that grows in swamps. According to legend, in ancient times Japan was water and swamp land.

When reading about Shintoism, there’s one deity whose names you’ll see over and over again – Inari Ōkami, Ō-Inari, or just Inari. This kami (deity, spirit) is neither the most powerful deity in Shintoism, nor a Creator or a Ruler god of some kind.

And yet, Inari is the most popular and most commonly worshiped Shinto deity. About a third of all Shinto temples in Japan are devoted to this peculiar kami. So, who exactly is Inari and why is she or he so popular?

Inari is the Shinto kami of rice, foxes, agriculture, fertility, trade, industry, prosperity, and much more. Depicted as an old man, a young and beautiful woman, or an androgenous deity, Inari’s worship differs greatly depending on where in Japan you are.

Rice, foxes, and fertility seem the constants in Inari’s worship, as they are the base symbols of Inari. The very name Inari comes from Ine Nari or Ine ni Naru, i.e. rice, to carry rice, or rice load. Needless to say, with rice being such a popular food in Japan, the widespread popularity of Inari's cult is quite understandable.

As for the foxes – while their (positive) connection with rice is difficult to decipher, foxes are a popular symbol in Japan. The famous kitsune spirits (literally translating as fox in Japanese) were magical foxes with up to nine tails that could transform into people. Their preferred humanoid form was that of a beautiful young woman, which they used to trick, seduce, but also often help people.More importantly – foxes and kitsune spirits are said to be servants and messengers of Inari. The benevolent kitsune serve the rice kami whereas the malevolent ones rebel against the deity. In fact, many depictions of the deity, regardless of their gender, show Inari with foxes or riding a large white kitsune.

Inari is also a kami of dozens of different and completely unrelated things. She is a kami of agriculture, as well as of trade and prosperity. Fertility also remains a large part of Inari’s symbolism, not just in an agricultural sense but in terms of procreation as well.

In later periods, Inari became a kami of industry and progress as an extension of the prosperity symbolism. Tea and sake also became associated with Inari although we can’t really say why. Swordsmiths, blacksmiths, and swordsmen fell under Inari’s favor too, during Japan’s more militant periods in the Middle Ages.

Inari even became a patron kami of fishermen, artists, and prostitutes (not geishas) – as many of Inari’s shrines were built in the sections of towns and cities where these groups of people lived.

Such aspects associated with Inari were typically localized in one part of Japan or another. Eventually, some of them spread while others remain local.

Inari doesn’t just symbolize various things; they seem to be more than just one deity too. That’s why the kami is portrayed as both male, female, or androgynous – because it’s literally not just one person.

For example, Inari, the old man, is said to be married to the goddess of agriculture Uke Mochi. In other myths, Inari is herself an agricultural and fertility goddess with many names. Inari is even present in many Japanese Buddhist sects. In Shingon Buddhism, she is associated with the Buddhist concept of the divine feminine daikiniten as that too is connected to foxes.

There’s also the connection with another Buddhist deity Benzaiten, one of the Seven Lucky Gods. Inari is also often equated with the Shinto grain deity Toyouke. In fact, she or he is often viewed as a variant of either of the many different Shinto grain, rice, and agricultural deities.

The reason behind this is simple – Japan’s islands used to be made up of dozens of different small city-states and self-governing areas. This had continued for centuries before the eventual, slow unification of the country. So, as this happened, and Inari’s cult started spreading through the land, many such local agricultural deities began to be substituted by or conjoined with Inari.

Inari isn’t just a humanoid deity that gives rice and grain to people, of course. Despite the fact that most of her myths are localized and not widely spread, a through-line can be noticed – Inari is a shapeshifter.

This is a quality that the kami shares with her kitsune fox spirits who are also famous for their shapeshifting abilities. Like them, Inari also most commonly shapeshifts into a fox. Inari is also known to occasionally transform into a giant snake, a dragon, or a giant spider too.

Because Inari is essentially a collection of many local agricultural deities, there isn’t a solid base of myths about this kami as there is for others. One of the few widespread myths about Inari depicts her as a female kami that comes to Japan shortly after the islands’ creation. Inari came precisely at the time of a severe and long-lasting famine, riding on a white fox, and brought with them sheaves of grain to help the people in their time of need.The myth isn’t really anything elaborate, but it perfectly encapsulates what Inari is to the followers of Shintoism.

The Dagda (Irish: An Dagda) is an important god in Irish mythology. One of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Dagda is portrayed as a father-figure, king, and druid. He is associated with fertility, agriculture, manliness and strength, as well as magic, druidry and wisdom. He can control life and death, the weather and crops, as well as time and the seasons.

He is often described as a large bearded man or giant wearing a hooded cloak. He owns a magic staff, club, or mace (the lorg mór or lorg anfaid), of dual nature: it kills with one end and brings to life with the other. He also owns a cauldron (the coire ansic) which never runs empty, and a magic harp (uaithne) which can control men's emotions and change the seasons. He is said to dwell in Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Other places associated with or named after him include Uisneach, Grianan of Aileach, and Lough Neagh. The Dagda is said to be husband of the Morrígan and lover of Boann. His children include Aengus, Brigit, Bodb Derg, Cermait, Aed, and Midir.

The Dagda's name is thought to mean "the good god" or "the great god". His other names include Eochu or Eochaid Ollathair ("horseman, great father" or "all-father"), Ruad Rofhessa ("mighty one/lord of great knowledge") and Dáire ("the fertile one"). The death and ancestral god Donn may originally have been a form of the Dagda, and he also has similarities with the later harvest figure Crom Dubh. Several tribal groupings saw the Dagda as an ancestor and were named after him, such as the Uí Echach and the Dáirine.

The Dagda has been likened to the Germanic god Odin, the Gaulish god Sucellos, and the Roman god Dīs Pater.

Tales depict the Dagda as a figure of immense power. He is said to own a magic staff, club or mace which could kill nine men with one blow; but with the handle he could return the slain to life. It was called the lorg mór ("the great staff/club/mace") or the lorg anfaid ("the staff/club/mace of wrath"). His magic cauldron was known as the coire ansic ("the undry cauldron") and was said to be bottomless, from which no man left unsatisfied. It was said to have a ladle so big that two people could fit in it. Uaithne, also known as "the Four Angled Music", was a richly ornamented magic harp made of oak which, when the Dagda played it, put the seasons in their correct order; other accounts tell of it being used to command the order of battle. He possessed two pigs, one of which was always growing whilst the other was always roasting, and ever-laden fruit trees. He also described as being the owner of a black-maned heifer that was given to him for his labors prior to the Second Battle of Moytura. When the heifer calls her calf, all the cattle of Ireland taken by the Fomorians as tribute graze.

The Dagda was one of the kings of the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha Dé Danann are the race of supernatural beings who conquered the Fomorians, who inhabited Ireland previously, prior to the coming of the Milesians. The Mórrígan is often described as his wife, his daughter was Brígh, and his lover was Boann, after whom the River Boyne is named, though she was married to Elcmar. Prior to the battle with the Fomorians, he coupled with the goddess of war, the Mórrígan, on Samhain in exchange for a plan of battle.

Despite his great power and prestige, the Dagda is sometimes depicted as oafish and crude, even comical, wearing a short, rough tunic that barely covers his rump, dragging his great penis on the ground. Such features are thought to be the additions of Christian redactors for comedic purposes. The Middle Irish language Coir Anmann (The Fitness of Names) paints a less clownish picture: "He was a beautiful god of the heathens, for the Tuatha Dé Danann worshiped him: for he was an earth-god to them because of the greatness of his (magical) power."

The Dagda has similarities with the later harvest figure Crom Dubh.

The Dagda is said to be husband of the Morrígan, who is called his "envious wife"] His children include Aengus, Cermait, and Aed (often called the three sons of the Dagda), Brigit and Bodb Derg.He is said to have two brothers, Nuada and Ogma, but this may be an instance of the tendency to triplicate deities. Elsewhere the Dagda is linked exclusively with Ogma, and the two are called "the two brothers." In the Dindsenchas, the Dagda is given a daughter named Ainge, for whom he makes a twig basket or tub that always leaks when the tide is in and never leaks when it is going out. The Dagda's father is named Elatha son of Delbeath. Englec, the daughter of Elcmar, is named as a consort of the Dagda and the mother of his "swift son". Echtgi the loathsome is another daughter of the Dagda's named in the Banshenchas.

Before the Second Battle of Maig Tuired the Dagda built a fortress for Bres called Dún Brese and was also forced by the Fomorian kings Elatha, Indech, and Tethra to build raths. In the lead up to the Second Battle of Maig Tuired, when Lugh asks Dagda what power he will wield over the Fomorian host, he responds that he "[…] will take the side of the men of Erin both in mutual smiting and destruction and wizardry. Their bones under my club will be as many as hailstones under feet of herds of horses."

The Dagda had an affair with Bóand, wife of Elcmar. In order to hide their affair, Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore their son, Aengus, was conceived, gestated and born in one day. He, along with Bóand, helped Aengus search for his love.

Whilst Aengus was away the Dagda shared out his land among his children, but Aengus returned to discover that nothing had been saved for him. Aengus later tricked his father out of his home at the Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange). Aengus asked his father if he could live in the Brú for láa ogus oidhche "(a) day and (a) night", which in Irish is ambiguous, and could refer to either "a day and a night", or "day and night", which means for all time, and so Aengus took possession of the Brú permanently. In The Wooing of Étaín, on the other hand, Aengus uses the same ploy to trick Elcmar out of Brú na Bóinne, with the Dagda's connivance.

The Dagda was also the father of Bodb Dearg, Cermait, Midir, Áine, and Brigit. He was the brother of Oghma, who is probably related to the Gaulish god Ogmios; Ogmios, depicted as an old man with a club, is one of the closest Gaulish parallels to the Dagda. Another Gaulish god who may be related to the Dagda is Sucellus, the striker, depicted with a hammer and cup.

He is credited with a seventy- or eighty-year reign (depending on source) over the Tuatha Dé Danann, before dying at the Brú na Bóinne, finally succumbing to a wound inflicted by Cethlenn during the second battle of Magh Tuiredh.

In a poem about Mag Muirthemne, the Dagda banishes an octopus with his "mace of wrath" using the following words: "Turn thy hollow head! Turn thy ravening body! Turn thy resorbent forehead! Avaunt! Begone!", the sea receded with the creature and the plain of Mag Muirthemne was left behind.

In the Dindsenchas the Dagda is described as swift with a poison draught and as a justly dealing lord. He is also called a King of Erin with hosts of hostages, a noble, slender prince, and the father of Cermait, Aengus, and Aed.

Yarovit (Latin: Gerovit, Herovit, Polish: Jarowit) is a god of war worshipped by Polabian Slavs associated with fertility and agriculture. In interpretatio romana, he was compared to Roman god of war Mars. His feast probably fell on April 15 or May 10 - sowing festival. His symbol was a golden shield that was kept in his temple. Because of the identical first part of the name (jar(o)) he can be associated with the East Slavic god Yarilo, and because of the semantic similarity with Svetovit, some scholars suggest that both gods are related.

Scholars believe that Yarovit was a solar god in addition to being a god of war. This is to be proven by a large, artistic, golden shield belonging to a god that can represent the sun.On the tombstone, which was created in early Christian times, located in the Church of St. Peter in Wolgast there carved a figure with a spear, which is considered the image of Yarovit.

Scholars also believe that Yarilo is related to Svetovit. It is argued that the names of both gods mean the same: the name of Svetovit most likely comes from word svęt ("powerful, mighty") and -vit. The second similarity is the shield dedicated to Yarovit, which served to divination the victory during the war – the same function was performed by the white horse of Svetovit. Brückner suggested that first the name Yarovit was created and later Rani replaced him with Svetovit, because the first two parts have same meaning.

Yarovit could also be associated with fertility and agriculture (just like Roman Mars), and this may also tie him to Yarylo, whose name comes from a similar root. The curse spoken by Yarovit through the mouth of a pagan priest may indicate this:

“I am your god, I, who clothe the plains with grass and the woods with foliage, the produce of the fields and the trees, the offspring of the flocks and everything that is of use to man are in my power. I give these to my worshippers and take them from those who despise me. Tell then the inhabitants of the town of Hologost that they accept no foreign god who cannot help them, and that they suffer not to live the messengers of another religion who, I predict, will come to them.”

Perun (Cyrillic: Перýн) is the highest god of the pantheon and the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, law, war, fertility and oak trees. His other attributes were fire, mountains, wind, iris, eagle, firmament (in Indo-European languages, this was joined with the notion of the sky of stone, horses and carts, weapons (hammer, axe (Axe of Perun), and arrow), and war. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal.

In Slavic mythology, much like in Norse and Baltic mythologies, the world was represented by a sacred tree, usually an oak, whose branches and trunk represented the living world of heavens and mortals, whilst its roots represented the underworld, i.e. the realm of the dead. Perun was the ruler of the living world, sky and earth, and was often symbolised by an eagle sitting on the top of the tallest branch of the sacred tree, from which he kept watch over the entire world. Deep down in the roots of the tree was the place of his opponent, symbolised by a serpent or a dragon: this was Veles, watery god of the underworld, who continually provoked Perun by creeping up from the wet below up into the high and dry domain of Perun, stealing his cattle, children, or wife. Perun pursued Veles around the earth, attacking him with his lightning bolts from the sky. Veles fled from him by transforming himself into various animals, or hiding behind trees, houses, or people; wherever a lightning bolt struck, it was believed that this was because Veles hid from Perun under or behind that particular place. In the end, Perun managed to kill Veles, or to chase him back down into his watery underworld. The supreme god thus reestablished order in the world, which had been disrupted by his chaotic enemy. He then returned to the top of the World tree and proudly informed his opponent down in the roots "Well, there is your place, remain there!" (Ну, там тваё мейсца, там сабе будзь!). This line came from a Belarusian folk tale. To the Slavs, the mythological symbolism of a supreme heavenly god who battles with his underworldly enemy through storms and thunder was extremely significant.

While the exact pantheon characterization differed between the various Slavic tribes, Perun is generally believed to have been considered as the supreme god by the majority, or perhaps by nearly all Slavs, at least towards the end of Slavic paganism. The earliest supreme god was probably Rod; it is unclear precisely how and why his worship as the head of the pantheon evolved into the worship of Perun. Another candidate for supreme deity among at least some Slavs is Svarog.

Dionysus (/daɪ.əˈnaɪsəs/; Greek: Διόνυσος) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, festivity and theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth.

He is also known as Bacchus (/ˈbækəs/ or /ˈbɑːkəs/; Greek: Βάκχος, Bákkhos), the name adopted by the Romans; the frenzy he induces is bakkheia. Another name used by the Romans is Liber meaning "free", due to his association with wine and the Bacchanalia and other rites, and the freedom associated with it. His thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios ("the liberator"), his wine, music and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake of his mysteries are believed to become possessed and empowered by the god himself.

In his religion, identical with or closely related to Orphism, Dionysus was believed to have been born from the union of Zeus and Persephone, and to have himself represented a chthonic or underworld aspect of Zeus. Many believed that he had been born twice, having been killed and reborn as the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele. In the Eleusinian Mysteries he was identified with Iacchus, the son (or, alternately, husband) of Demeter.

Proserpina (/proʊˈsɜːrpɪnə/ proh-SUR-pin-ə, Latin: [proːˈsɛrpɪna]) or Proserpine (/proʊˈsɜːrpɪni, ˈprɒsərpaɪn/ proh-SUR-pin-ee, PROSS-ər-pyne is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were combined from those of Libera, an early Roman goddess of wine. In Greek she is known as Persephone and her mother is Demeter, goddesses of grain and agriculture. The originally Roman goddess Libera was daughter of the agricultural goddess Ceres and wife to Liber, god of wine and freedom. In 204 BC, a new "Greek-style" cult to Ceres and Proserpina as "Mother and Maiden" was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Libera and Ceres' temple on Rome's Aventine Hill. The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome's religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple's older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seem to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.

Just as Persephone was thought to be a daughter of Demeter, Romans made Proserpina a daughter of Demeter's Roman equivalent, Ceres. Like Persephone, Proserpina is associated with the underworld realm and its ruler; and along with her mother Ceres, with the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death and rebirth or renewal. Her name is a Latinisation of "Persephone", perhaps influenced by the Latin proserpere ("to emerge, to creep forth"), with respect to the growing of grain. Her core myths – her forcible abduction by the god of the underworld, her mother's search for her and her eventual but temporary restoration to the world above – are the subject of works in Roman and later art and literature. In particular, Proserpina's seizure by the god of the Underworld – usually described as the Rape of Proserpina, or of Persephone – has offered dramatic subject matter for Renaissance and later sculptors and painters.

In ancient Roman religion, Ceres (/ˈsɪəriːz/ SEER-eez, Latin: [ˈkɛreːs]) was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres". Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ludi Ceriales (Ceres' games). She was also honoured in the May lustratio of the fields at the Ambarvalia festival, at harvest-time, and during Roman marriages and funeral rites.

Ceres is the only one of Rome's many agricultural deities to be listed among the Dii Consentes, Rome's equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter (/dɪˈmiːtər/; Attic: Δημήτηρ Dēmḗtēr [dɛːmɛ́ːtɛːr]; Doric: Δαμάτηρ Dāmā́tēr) is the Olympian goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over grains and the fertility of the earth. She was also called Deo (Δηώ).. Her cult titles include Sito (Σιτώ), "she of the Grain", as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (θεσμός, thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; φόρος, phoros: bringer, bearer), "giver of customs" and/or "legislator", in association with the secret female-only festival called the Thesmophoria.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a religious tradition that predated the Olympian pantheon, and which may have its roots in the Mycenaean period c. 1400–1200 BC. Demeter was often considered to be the same figure as the Anatolian goddess Cybele, and she was identified with the Roman goddess Ceres.

Diana is a goddess in Roman and Hellenistic religion, primarily considered a patroness of the countryside, hunters, crossroads, and the Moon. She is equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, and absorbed much of Artemis' mythology early in Roman history, including a birth on the island of Delos to parents Jupiter and Latona, and a twin brother, Apollo, though she had an independent origin in Italy.

Diana is considered a virgin goddess and protector of childbirth. Historically, Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.[3]

Diana is revered in modern neopagan religions including Roman neopaganism, Stregheria, and Wicca. From the medieval to the modern period, as folklore attached to her developed and was eventually adapted into neopagan religions, the mythology surrounding Diana grew to include a consort (Lucifer) and daughter (Aradia), figures sometimes recognized by modern traditions. In the ancient, medieval, and modern periods, Diana has been considered a triple deity, merged with a goddess of the moon (Luna/Selene) and the underworld (usually Hecate).

Venus (/ˈviːnəs/, Classical Latin: /ˈwɛnʊs/; genitive Veneris /ˈwɛnɛrɪs/)[a] is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus became one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality. She is usually depicted nude in paintings.