For today’s post I would like to look at the different death Goddesses across different pantheons. In Greece she was Persephone and Hekate, in Egypt she was Nephthys and Isis, in Norse myth she was Hel and Freya, in Celtic Ireland she was the Morrigan, in Celtic Wales she was Rhiannon and Cerridwen, in Arthurian tales she was Morgana le Fay. This post will look, however briefly, at each of these guises. Some I have covered before, and many times at that. Others I have not written about here, but they are still very intriguing.
- Persephone~ The Goddess of both vegetation and spring, as well as the Queen of the Dead. She was daughter to Demeter and Zeus, and wife of Hades. Her famous tale of abduction is what she is best remembered for. She also is famously a lover of Adonis, and one of the mothers of Dionysus.
- Hekate~ The Goddess of witchcraft was a Titan who sided with the Olympians, and this showed her loyalty and power! She was allowed to choose anywhere to live. She chose the live in the Underworld. It was her who told Demeter she would help her find her daughter!
- Nephthys~ She is a Goddess of death and darkness who acts as a protectress of souls. She was sister to the other Gods, and daughter of Geb and Nut.
- Isis~ This Goddess of magic and witchcraft was most famous for bringing her brother-husband back from the dead. It is this control over both life and death that lands her on this list.
- Hel~ Daughter of Loki, and sent to the Underworld by Odin. Hel seemed to relish in her control over the majority of the dead (those that did not qualify for any of the halls).
- Freya~ Although she as a love Goddess, she also was someone who was associated with war. She even got first pick of all dead warriors for her hall. This along with her control of magic, prophecy, and witchcraft, show an association with the cycle of life death and rebirth!
- Morrigan~ This Irish war Goddess was a dark deity that is associated with the banshees. She controlled the tide of all wars, and in this way chose who would live and die during each battle!
- Rhiannon~ This sovereignty Goddess was one who is deeply associated with horses and a Faery Queen. She also had the Adar Rhiannon, songbirds who could lull the living to sleep and wake the dead! This is where her control of the cycle of birth and death makes her a death Goddess.
- Cerridwen~ A Goddess who had a cauldron that granted knowledge. She famously was second mother to Taliesin, and she had a very dark aspect. This is where I find her association with death, while less prevalent, as a crone she has the connection with the dying.
- Morgana le Fay~ Morgana was often portrayed as the sister of Arthur, however she was originally a Goddess. Her land of Avalon can be seen as a Faery Land, and also a land of the dead. It is where Arthur would await a time for his country to need him once again!
- Mythology by Edith Hamilton
- Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
- Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess by Stephanie Woodfield
- The Mabinogion translated by Sioned Davies
- Vita Merlini by Geoffrey of Monmouth
- Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes
- Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
- Avalon Within by Jhenah Telyndru
- Invoke the Goddess by Kala Trobe