Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto (Japanese: 天宇受売命, 天鈿女命) is the goddess of dawn, mirth, meditation, revelry and the arts in the Shinto religion of Japan, and the wife of fellow-god Sarutahiko Ōkami.
Ame-no-Uzume is the Shinto goddess of dawn, a master of merry-making, humor, and dancing. A highly positive kami (a type of god or spirit in the Shinto religion), her ingenuity brought Amaterasu, the sun goddess, back into the world, saving the earth from eternal winter’s night. A popular deity, Ame-no-Uzume is credited with the origination of the performing arts.
Ame-no-Uzume is very different from her mistress, however, being more inclined to joviality and creativity, which connect to the potential, creation, and happiness often associated with sunrise. Because of this, Ame-no-Uzume is often portrayed as smiling.
Traditional stories describe Ame-no-Uzume as wearing loose or revealing clothing, which other kami in these stories find comical, but Ame-no-Uzume is joyful and unconcerned. Unlike the very reserved and proper Amaterasu, Ame-no-Uzume is open, easygoing, and dedicated to bringing joy to the world. Her nature makes her a great diplomat, and she acts as one of Amaterasu’s most trusted servants.
Mirrors, a sacred symbol of the Imperial family, are often connected to Ame-no-Uzume because of the way the ocean on Japan’s eastern coast reflects the dawn sun like a mirror.
Ame-no-Uzume is credited with the creation of many Japanese art forms, such as kagura, a kind of dance telling the stories of kami, and some forms of comedy and theater such as the ancient noh. Ame-no-Uzume is often depicted in kyogen, a comedic theater tradition, and here she is often displayed semi-nude to comic effect. Because of these theatrical connections, Ame-no-Uzume is the goddess of revelry.
In relation to her husband, she is also considered an inari kami, or a goddess connected to kitsune, Japanese fox spirits known for their cunning and wiles.
“Ame no Uzume ‘s themes are honor, longevity, wisdom, psychic abilities, prosperity, protection and kinship. Her symbols are antique items, aged wines or cheese (anything that grows better over time) and sacred dances. A Japanese ancestral Goddess, Ame no Uzume’s magic is that of generating a long, happy life for Her followers. Shinto festivals in Her honor include special dances that invoke the Goddess’s favor for longevity, honor, prosperity, protection and a close-knit family. In some areas, people also turn to Her for foresight, considering Ame no Uzume the patroness of psychic mediums.
also known as Amaterasu-Ōmikami (天照大御神, 天照大神) or Ōhirume-no-Muchi-no-Kami (大日孁貴神) among other names, is the goddess of the sun in Japanese mythology. One of the major deities (kami) of Shinto, she is also portrayed in Japan's earliest literary texts, the Kojiki (ca. 712 CE) and the Nihon Shoki (720 CE), as the ruler (or one of the rulers) of the heavenly realm Takamagahara and the mythical ancestress of the Imperial House of Japan via her grandson Ninigi. Along with her siblings, the moon deity Tsukuyomi and the impetuous storm god Susanoo, she is considered to be one of the "Three Precious Children" (三貴子, mihashira no uzu no miko / sankishi), the three most important offspring of the creator god Izanagi.
Amaterasu's chief place of worship, the Grand Shrine of Ise in Ise, Mie Prefecture, is one of Shinto's holiest sites and a major pilgrimage center and tourist spot. As with other Shinto kami, she is also enshrined in a number of Shinto shrines throughout Japan.
Amaterasu, while primarily being the goddess of the sun, is also sometimes worshiped as having connections with other aspects and forms of nature. Amaterasu can also be considered a goddess of the wind and typhoons alongside her brother, and even possibly death. There are many connections between local legends in the Ise region with other goddesses of nature, such as a nameless goddess of the underworld and sea. It's possible that Amaterasu's name became associated with these legends in the Shinto religion as it grew throughout Japan.
In contrast, Amaterasu, while enshrined at other locations, also can be seen as the goddess that represents Japan and its ethnicity. The many differences in Shinto religion and mythology can be due to how different local gods and beliefs clashed. In the Meiji Era, the belief in Amaterasu fought against the Izumo belief in Ōkuninushi for spiritual control over the land of Japan. During this time, the religious nature of Okininushi may have been changed to be included in Shinto mythology. Osagawara Shouzo built shrines in other countries to mainly spread Japan's culture and Shinto religion. It, however, was usually seen as the worshiping of Japan itself, rather than Amaterasu. Most of these colonial and oversea shrines were destroyed after WWII.
Outside of being worshiped as a sun goddess, some have argued that Amaterasu was once related to snakes. There was a legend circulating among the Ise Priests that essentially described an encounter of Amaterasu sleeping with the Saiō every night in the form of a snake or lizard, evidenced by fallen scales in the priestess' bed. This was recorded by a medieval monk in his diary, which stated that "in ancient times Amaterasu was regarded as a snake deity or as a sun deity." In the Ise kanjō, the god's snake form is considered an embodiment of the "three poisons", namely greed, anger, and ignorance. Amaterasu is also linked to a snake cult, which is also tied to the theory that the initial gender of the goddess was male.
In general, some of these Amaterasu-dragon associations have been in reference to Japanese plays. One example has been within the Chikubushima tradition in which the dragon goddess Benzaiten was the emanation of Amaterasu. Following that, in the Japanese epic, Taiheki, one of the characters, Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞), made comparisons with Amaterasu and a dragon with the quote: “I have heard that the Sun Goddess of Ise … conceals her true being in the august image of Vairocana, and that she has appeared in this world in the guise of a dragon god of the blue ocean.”
Another tradition of the Heavenly Cave story depicts Amaterasu as a "dragon-fox" (shinko or tatsugitsune) during her descent to the famed cave because it is a type of animal/kami that emits light from its entire body.
Because Amaterasu has the highest position among the Shinto deities, there has been debate on her influence and relation to women's positions in early Japanese society. Some scholars have argued that the goddess' presence and high stature within the kami system could suggest that early rulers in Japan were female. Others have argued the goddess' presence implies strong influences female priests had in Japanese politics and religion.
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.