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.
Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, beauty, pleasure, passion and procreation. She was syncretized with the Roman goddess Venus. Aphrodite's major symbols include myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans. The cult of Aphrodite was largely derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite's main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus, Corinth, and Athens. Her main festival was the Aphrodisia, which was celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess. She was also the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of "sacred prostitution" in Greco-Roman culture, an idea which is now generally seen as erroneous.
In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from the foam (ἀφρός aphrós) produced by Uranus's genitals, which his son Cronus has severed and thrown into the sea. In Homer's Iliad, however, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. Plato, in his Symposium 180e, asserts that these two origins actually belong to separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania (a transcendent, "Heavenly" Aphrodite) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite common to "all the people"). Aphrodite had many other epithets, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult. Thus she was also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus), because both locations claimed to be the place of her birth.
In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the god of fire, blacksmiths and metalworking. Aphrodite was frequently unfaithful to him and had many lovers; in the Odyssey, she is caught in the act of adultery with Ares, the god of war. In the First Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, she seduces the mortal shepherd Anchises. Aphrodite was also the surrogate mother and lover of the mortal shepherd Adonis, who was killed by a wild boar. Along with Athena and Hera, Aphrodite was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War and she plays a major role throughout the Iliad. Aphrodite has been featured in Western art as a symbol of female beauty and has appeared in numerous works of Western literature. She is a major deity in modern Neopagan religions, including the Church of Aphrodite, Wicca, and Hellenismos.