Education all over the world focuses on mostly the male gods of times gone by. Sure, mention might be made of some pretty impressive female deities like Aphrodite, Juno, and Kali, but they rarely play a very important part of whatever’s going on.
The ladies outlined here, however, are something else.
Atalanta was abandoned on a mountaintop by her father and raised by bears and hunters from then on. She eventually became a feared and respected virgin huntress, only marrying Hippomenes after he beat her in a footrace, which he was only able to do after distracting her with golden apples. The pair ended up having a son but an angry Zeus turned them into lions in the end.
Bast, Bastet, or Basthet
Cat lovers today probably all long to have lived in the world of Ancient Egypt, where these creatures were worshipped as hugely powerful beings. This is where we find Bast, the cat goddess, who ruled fertility, health, and sensual pleasure.
In human form by day, she turned feline when the sun went down, fending off the serpents trying to seize power from her father, Ra.
The rise of the internet has seen us once more celebrating how awesome cats are, from funny videos starring them to the various games featuring them. Some could even put a little extra money in your pocket!
We use this incredibly cool Norse goddess’ name to refer to the underworld. When the native people of large areas of Finland, Norway, the Kola Peninsula in what is Russia today, and northern Sweden told people to go to Hel, they meant go see this deity. She reigned over a realm of the same name and received a portion of the dead.
Possibly the most badass of them all, Ixchel, sometimes referred to the aged jaguar goddess of midwifery, ruled over both war and childbirth.
Mazu, or Tin Hau
Born in the year 960 as Lin Moniang, Mazu was believed to guide ships safely to harbour during her childhood. In fact, she is still worshipped in some areas of China and Taiwan as the goddess of seafarers, striking fear into the hearts of pirates and warding off storms.
Princess Liễu Hạnh
When worshipping a particular deity becomes outlawed, you know there has to be something cool about them.
Venerating Princess Liễu Hạnh was utterly prohibited during the initial years of the North Vietnamese Communist Regime, which held power between 1953 and 2010, but women have started revering her again since the 1980s, so she’s a powerful force still. She rules over female emancipation and feminine power.
The Enûma Eliš is the Babylonian creation myth, recovered by Austen Henry Layard in 1849 from Nineveh’s ruined Library of Ashurbanipal. In this tale, Tiamat gives birth to the gods and goddesses of the world and then creates the earth itself. Then she gets into a major battle with her kids, but with a nickname like Chaos Monster, it is hard not to love her.