In Japanese religion, Yahata (八幡神, ancient Shinto pronunciation) formerly in Shinto and later commonly known as Hachiman (八幡神, Japanese Buddhist pronunciation) is the syncretic divinity of archery and war, incorporating elements from both Shinto and Buddhism.
Although often called the god of war, he is more strictly defined as the tutelary god of warriors. He is also the divine protector of Japan, the Japanese people and the Imperial House.
Hachiman, also called Hachiman-jin or Yahata no kami, is a special deity as he combines elements from both Shintoism and Japanese Buddhism. His name translates to God of Eight Banners which is a reference to the legend of the birth of the divine Emperor Ōjin and the eight banners in the sky that signaled it.
Hachiman is commonly viewed as a Japanese god of war but he’s mostly worshiped as a patron kami of warriors and archery, and not of war itself. The archer kami was initially worshiped near-exclusively by warriors and samurai but his popularity eventually extended to all people in Japan and now he’s also viewed as the patron kami of agriculture and fishing as well.
Over the years, Hachiman became much more than a samurai’s kami. His popularity grew among all the people of Japan and he started being worshiped by farmers and fishermen alike. Today, there are over 25,000 shrines dedicated to Hachiman across Japan, the second-highest number of Shinto shrines behind the shrines of the kami Inari – the protector deity of rice cultivation.
The most likely reason for the spread of Hachiman’s popularity is the intrinsic respect Japanese people have for their royalty and leaders. The Minamoto clan was loved as defenders of Japan and therefore Hachiman became worshiped as the Imperial patron and protector of the entire country
The fact that this kami incorporates themes and elements from both Shintoism and Buddhism also goes to show how loved he was by everyone in the island nation. In fact, Hachiman was even accepted as a Buddhist divinity in the Nara period (AD 710–784). He was called Hachiman Daibosatsu (Great Buddha-to-be) by the Buddhist and to this day they worship him as vehemently as the Shinto followers.
As a protector kami of all of Japan, Hachiman was often prayed to defend the country against its enemies. A couple of such occasions took place during attempted Mongol Chinese invasions in the Kamakura Period (1185-1333 CE) – the period when Hachiman’s popularity grew significantly.
The kami is said to have answered the prayers of his followers and sent a typhoon or a kamikaze – a “divine wind” in the sea between Japan and China, thwarting the invasion.
The two such kamikaze typhoons took place in 1274 and one in 1281. It should be said, however, that these two incidents are also often attributed to the gods of thunder and wind Raijin and Fujin.
Either way, this divine wind or kamikaze became so well-known as a “protective divine spell for Japan” that in World War II, Japanese fighter pilots screamed the word “Kamikaze!” while suicide-crashing their planes into enemy ships, in a final attempt to Japan from invasion.
Hachiman’s primary symbolism is not so much war but the patronage of warriors, samurai, and archers. He’s a protector deity, a sort of warrior-saint to all people in Japan. Because of this, Hachiman was prayed to and worshiped by everyone who wanted and needed protection.
The Morrígan or Mórrígan, also known as Morrígu, is a figure from Irish mythology. The name is Mór-Ríoghain in Modern Irish, and it has been translated as "great queen" or "phantom queen".
The Morrígan is mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death, or victory in battle. In this role she often appears as a crow, the badb. She incites warriors to battle and can help bring about victory over their enemies. The Morrígan encourages warriors to do brave deeds, strikes fear into their enemies, and is portrayed washing the bloodstained clothes of those fated to die. She is most frequently seen as a goddess of battle and war and has also been seen as a manifestation of the earth- and sovereignty-goddess,chiefly representing the goddess's role as guardian of the territory and its people.
The Morrígan is often described as a trio of individuals, all sisters, called "the three Morrígna". Membership of the triad varies; sometimes it is given as Badb, Macha, and Nemain while elsewhere it is given as Badb, Macha, and Anand (the latter is given as another name for the Morrígan). It is believed that these were all names for the same goddess. The three Morrígna are also named as sisters of the three land goddesses Ériu, Banba, and Fódla. The Morrígan is described as the envious wife of The Dagda and a shape-shifting goddess, while Badb and Nemain are said to be the wives of Neit. She is associated with the banshee of later folklore.
The Morrígan's earliest narrative appearances, in which she is depicted as an individual, are in stories of the Ulster Cycle, where she has an ambiguous relationship with the hero Cúchulainn. In the Táin Bó Regamna ("The Cattle Raid of Regamain"), Cúchulainn encounters the Morrígan, but does not recognise her, as she drives a heifer from his territory. In response to this perceived challenge, and his ignorance of her role as a sovereignty figure, he insults her. But before he can attack her she becomes a black bird on a nearby branch. Cúchulainn now knows who she is, and tells her that had he known before, they would not have parted in enmity. She notes that whatever he had done would have brought him ill luck. To his response that she cannot harm him, she delivers a series of warnings, foretelling a coming battle in which he will be killed. She tells him, "It is at the guarding of thy death that I am; and I shall be."
In the Táin Bó Cúailnge ("The Cattle Raid of Cooley"), Queen Medb of Connacht launches an invasion of Ulster to steal the bull Donn Cuailnge; the Morrígan, like Alecto of the Greek Furies, appears to the bull in the form of a crow and warns him to flee. Cúchulainn defends Ulster by fighting a series of single combats at fords against Medb's champions. In between combats, the Morrígan appears to him as a young woman and offers him her love and her aid in the battle, but he rejects her offer. In response, she intervenes in his next combat, first in the form of an eel who trips him, then as a wolf who stampedes cattle across the ford, and finally as a white, red-eared heifer leading the stampede, just as she had warned in their previous encounter. However, Cúchulainn wounds her in each form and defeats his opponent despite her interference. Later, she appears to him as an old woman bearing the same three wounds that her animal forms had sustained, milking a cow. She gives Cúchulainn three drinks of milk. He blesses her with each drink, and her wounds are healed. He regrets blessing her for the three drinks of milk, which is apparent in the exchange between the Morrígan and Cúchulainn: "She gave him milk from the third teat, and her leg was healed. 'You told me once,' she said,'that you would never heal me.' 'Had I known it was you,' said Cúchulainn, 'I never would have.' As the armies gather for the final battle, she prophesies the bloodshed to come.
In one version of Cúchulainn's death-tale, as Cúchulainn rides to meet his enemies, he encounters the Morrígan as a hag washing his bloody armor in a ford, an omen of his death. Later in the story, mortally wounded, Cúchulainn ties himself to a standing stone with his own entrails so he can die upright, and it is only when a crow lands on his shoulder that his enemies be
The Morrígan also appears in texts of the Mythological Cycle. In 12th-century pseudo historical compilation the Lebor Gabála Érenn ("The Book of the Taking of Ireland"), she is listed among the Tuatha Dé Danann as one of the daughters of Ernmas, granddaughter of Nuada.
The first three daughters of Ernmas are given as Ériu, Banba, and Fódla. Their names are synonyms for "Ireland", and they were respectively married to Mac Gréine, Mac Cuill, and Mac Cécht, the last three Tuatha Dé Danann kings of Ireland. Associated with the land and kingship, they probably represent a triple goddess of sovereignty. Next come Ernmas' other three daughters: Badb, Macha, and the Morrígan. A quatrain describes the three as wealthy, "springs of craftiness", and "sources of bitter fighting". The Morrígu's name is also said to be Anand, and she had three sons: Glon, Gaim, and Coscar. According to Geoffrey Keating's 17th-century History of Ireland, Ériu, Banba, and Fódla worshiped Badb, Macha, and the Morrígan respectively.
The Morrígan also appears in the Cath Maige Tuired ("The Battle of Magh Tuireadh"). On Samhain, she keeps a tryst with the Dagda before the battle against the Fomorians. When he meets her, she is washing herself, standing with one foot on either side of the river Unius. In some sources, she is believed to have created the river. After they have sex, the Morrígan promises to summon the magicians of Ireland to cast spells on behalf of the Tuatha Dé, and to destroy Indech, the Fomorian king, taking from him "the blood of his heart and the kidneys of his valour." Later, we are told, she would bring two handfuls of his blood and deposit them in the same river (however, we are also told later in the text that Indech was killed by Ogma).
As battle is about to be joined, the Tuatha Dé leader, Lug, asks each what power they bring to the battle. The Morrígan's reply is difficult to interpret, but involves pursuing, destroying and subduing. When she comes to the battlefield, she chants a poem, and immediately the battle breaks and the Fomorians are driven into the sea. After the battle, she chants another poem celebrating the victory and prophesying the end of the world.
In another story, she lures away the bull of a woman named Odras. Odras then follows the Morrígan to the Otherworld, via the cave of Cruachan, which is said to be her "fit abode." When Odras falls asleep, the Morrígan turns her into a pool of water that feeds into the River Shannon. In this story, the Morrigan is called the Dagda's envious queen, fierce of mood. She is also called a "shape-shifter" and a cunning raven caller whose pleasure was in mustered hosts.
The Morrígan is often considered a triple goddess, but this triple nature is ambiguous and inconsistent. These triple appearances are partially due to the Celtic significance of threeness. Sometimes she appears as one of three sisters, the daughters of Ernmas: Morrígan, Badb and Macha.Sometimes the trinity consists of Badb, Macha and Anand, collectively known as the Morrígna. Occasionally, Nemain or Fea appear in the various combinations. However, the Morrígan can also appear alone, and her name is sometimes used interchangeably with Badb.
The Morrígan is mainly associated with war and fate, and is often interpreted as a "war goddess". W. M. Hennessy's The Ancient Irish Goddess of War, written in 1870, was influential in establishing this interpretation. She is said to derive pleasure from mustered hosts. Her role often involves premonitions of a particular warrior's violent death, suggesting a link with the banshee of later folklore. This connection is further noted by Patricia Lysaght: "In certain areas of Ireland this supernatural being is, in addition to the name banshee, also called the badhb". Her role was to not only be a symbol of imminent death, but to also influence the outcome of war. Most often, she did this by appearing as a crow flying overhead, and would either inspire fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors. In some cases, she is written to have appeared in visions to those who are destined to die in battle as washing their bloody armor. In this specific role, she is also given the role of foretelling imminent death with a particular emphasis on the individual. There are also a few rare accounts where she would join in the battle itself as a warrior and show her favoritism in a more direct manner.
The Morrígan is also associated with the land and animals, particularly livestock. Máire Herbert argues that "war per se is not a primary aspect of the role of the goddess." Herbert suggests that "her activities have a tutelary character. She oversees the land, its stock and its society. Her shape-shifting is an expression of her affinity with the whole living universe." Patricia Lysaght notes that the Cath Maige Tuired depicts the Morrígan as "a protectress of her people's interests" and associates her with both war and fertility. According to Proinsias Mac Cana, the goddess in Ireland is "primarily concerned with the prosperity of the land: its fertility, its animal life, and (when it is conceived as a political unit) its security against external forces." Likewise, Maria Tymoczko writes, "The welfare and fertility of a people depend on their security against external aggression," and notes that "warlike action can thus have a protective aspect." It is therefore suggested that the Morrígan is a manifestation of the earth- and sovereignty-goddess, chiefly representing the goddess' role as guardian of the territory and its people. She can be interpreted as providing political or military aid, or protection to the king—acting as a goddess of sovereignty, not necessarily of war.
It has also been suggested that she was closely linked to the fianna, and that these groups may have been in some way dedicated to her. These were "bands of youthful warrior-hunters, living on the borders of civilized society and indulging in lawless activities for a time before inheriting property and taking their places as members of settled, landed communities." If true, her worship may have resembled that of Perchta groups in Germanic areas.
There is a burnt mound site in County Tipperary known as Fulacht na Mór Ríoghna ("cooking pit of the Mórrígan"). The fulachtaí sites are found in wild areas, and are usually associated with outsiders such as the fianna, as well as with the hunting of deer. There may be a link with the three mythical hags who cook the meal of dog flesh that brings the hero Cúchulainn to his doom. The Dá Chích na Morrígna ("two breasts of the Mórrígan"), a pair of hills in County Meath, suggest to some a role as a tutelary goddess, comparable to Anu, who has her own hills, Dá Chích Anann ("the breasts of Anu") in County Kerry. Other goddesses known to have similar hills are Áine and Grian of County Limerick who, in addition to a tutelary function, also have solar attr
There have been attempts by some modern researchers and authors of fiction to link the Morrígan with the character of Morgan, the latter often being depicted in the legend as a fairy or otherwise supernatural sister of King Arthur. Morgan first appears in literature in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th-century Vita Merlini as a goddess-like figure in no blood relation to Arthur, whom she takes to her Otherworld style land of Avalon following his mortal wound in a battle. In some Arthurian texts, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Morgan is portrayed as a hag whose actions set into motion a bloody trail of events that lead the hero into numerous instances of danger. Morgan is also depicted as a seductress, much like the older legends of the Morrígan, and has numerous lovers whom she might be even abducting for this purpose (as in some stories of Lancelot and Ogier the Dane, among others). The character is frequently depicted as wielding power over others to achieve her own purposes, allowing those actions to play out over time, to the benefit or detriment of other characters.
However, while the creators of the literary character of Morgan may have been somewhat inspired by the much older tales of the goddess, the relationship likely ends there. Scholars such as Rosalind Clark hold that the names are unrelated, the Welsh "Morgan" (Wales being the original source of the Matter of Britain) being derived from root words associated with the sea, while the Irish "Morrígan" has its roots either in a word for "terror" or a word for "greatness".
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.
In early Egyptian mythology, Anhur (also spelled Onuris, Onouris, An-Her, Anhuret, Han-Her, Inhert) was a god of war who was worshipped in the Egyptian area of Abydos, and particularly in Thinis. Myths told that he had brought his wife, Mehit, who was his female counterpart, from Nubia, and his name reflects this—it means (one who) leads back the distant one.
One of his titles was Slayer of Enemies. Anhur was depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe and a headdress with four feathers, holding a spear or lance, or occasionally as a lion-headed god (representing strength and power). In some depictions, the robe was more similar to a kilt.
Due to his position as a war god, he was patron of the ancient Egyptian army, and the personification of royal warriors. Indeed, at festivals honoring him, mock battles were staged. During the Roman era the Emperor Tiberius was depicted on the walls of Egyptian temples wearing the distinctive four-plumed crown of Anhur.
The Greeks equated Anhur to their god of war, Ares. In the legend of Olympian gods fleeing from Typhon and taking animal form in Egypt, Ares was said to have taken the form of a fish as Lepidotus or Onuris.
Anhur's name also could mean Sky Bearer and, due to the shared headdress, Anhur was later identified with Shu, becoming Anhur-Shu. He is the son of Ra and brother of Tefnut if identified as Shu.
Ares (/ˈɛəriːz/; Ancient Greek: Ἄρης, Árēs [árɛːs]) is the Greek god of courage and war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war and is the personification of sheer brutality and bloodlust, in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.
The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, "overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering. His sons Phobos (Fear) and Deimos (Terror) and his lover, or sister, Eris (Discord) accompanied him on his war chariot. In the Iliad, his father Zeus tells him that he is the god most hateful to him. An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized quality. His value as a war god is placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while Athena, often depicted in Greek art as holding Nike (Victory) in her hand, favoured the triumphant Greeks.
Ares plays a relatively limited role in Greek mythology as represented in literary narratives, though his numerous love affairs and abundant offspring are often alluded to. When Ares does appear in myths, he typically faces humiliation. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus, god of craftsmanship. The most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband's device.
The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people was given a more important and dignified place in ancient Roman religion as a guardian deity. During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures later became virtually indistinguishable.