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Ancient Deities: Religions, Mythology & Pagan Traditions

Many ancient deities are based on the patterns and power of nature: spring, solstice, harvest, the sun, the moon, storms, fire and so forth. Some still form the fabric of modern life in ways that we usually don’t consider. For example, the months or the year and days of the week are almost exclusively names after ancient gods and goddesses.

Expressions of gratitude for the abundance all around us and the blessings of the natural world are present in every spiritual tradition. Many of our holidays including Christmas and Easter are based on ancient pagan celebrations. The selections below include information, mantras and songs in honor of these aspects of our lives.

Chandra God of the Moon Ancient Deities
Chandra, Hindu God of the Moon

Mantras & Info for Selected Ancient Deities

Some ancient deities have morphed over time or been absorbed or adopted into new religions. For example, some experts believe that the sun god played a large role in early Christianity. For example, in the iconography of Jesus, He is often depicted with a sun around his head. This is not as well-known as depictions of a halo indicating holiness. 

The following ancient deities (mostly Hindu) are included in this article:

  • Agni Deva (Fire)
  • Astara/Ostara (Spring)
  • Bhudhaya (Mercury)
  • Brihaspataye (Jupiter)
  • Chandra (Moon)
  • Gange Mata (Ganges River)
  • Jagadambe Ma (Divine Mother)
  • Kujaya (Mars)
  • Mataji and Babaji
  • Medicine Buddha
  • Shani (Saturn)
  • Sukraya (Venus)
  • Surya (Sun)

Agni Deva: Ancient Deity of the Fire Element

Symbolic and physical fire have been associated with religious traditions around the world for ages. Agni Deva is the masculine deity meaning holy fire or spiritual fire in the Hindu tradition.

Fire is the perfect metaphor for release and the transformation of unwanted patterns, situations, and personal characteristics. Fire is an expression of both light and heat—two fundamentals for the sustenance of life.

“Agni” is the Sanskrit word for “fire.” Fire can take many forms in the universe  including lightning, the rays of the sun, physical fire and divine radiation.

Read full article about Agni, Lord of fire. 

Ancient Deities of Spring: Goddess Astara or Ostara

Astara or Ostara is the Germanic goddess of spring. She is a deity meaning hope and return to life. Her name (also spelled Eostre)  is the root of the spring celebration now known as Easter. She is associated with many Easter customs including Easter eggs and rabbits.

Astara’s name means “star” or “to shine.” She is also sometimes referenced as a goddess of the dawn, a bringer of light after the dark night. Others consider her to be synonymous with Freya, the Norse goddess. Historically, the Babylonians, the Sumerians, and the Persians revered Ostara as the goddess of spring and fertility. They held feasts in honor of the miraculous rebirth of life on earth after the long winter. 

Read full article about Astara/Ostara.

Ancient Deities of Mercury: Bhudhaya

Bhudhaya is the Hindu god ruling the planet Mercury. The astrology mantra for Mercury (Bhudhaya) includes the seed syllable “bum” which connects to the fundamental vibration of the planet Mars. The mantra for Mercury is ” Om Bum Bhudhaya Namaha” meaning, “I offer salutations for the transformation of the energy of mercury.”

In Vedic astrology, the planet Mercury is associated with intelligence, logic, speech and friendship. Mercury also governs memory and transportation. Mercury is a messenger, delivering thoughts from one person to another or back and forth between celestial beings.

The Greek god Hermes is the same as the Roman god Mercury, known as the most clever of the gods and the winged messenger ruling over wealth, good fortune and commerce.

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

Ancient Deities of Jupiter: Brihaspataye

In Vedic astrology, Jupiter is known as Guru (spiritual teacher), Devaguru (teacher of the gods) and Brihaspati (Lord of Light). Jupiter is a planet of work, development, education and higher spiritual insight.

Some astrologists view Jupiter as the planet of optimism, success and generosity. Jupiter is immense, mature and benevolent. The astrology mantra for Jupiter (Brihaspataye) includes the seed syllable “brim” which connects to the fundamental vibration of the planet Mars.

The lyrics for this mantra are “Om Brim Brihaspataye Namaha” meaning “I offer salutations for transformation of the energy of Jupiter.”

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

Ancient Deities of the Moon: Chandra

Chandra, the ancient deity of the moon in the Hindu tradition, is also associated with the night, vegetation and plants. Chandra is sometimes called Soma, a name that refers to the sap or juice that is the lifeblood of plants. In the Greek and Roman religions, the moon was personified as the goddess Selene.

The astrology mantra to the moon includes the seed syllable “cam” which connects to the fundamental vibration of the moon. In the Hindu tradition, the deity ruling over the moon is called Chandra. The name Chandra means “bright and shining” in Sanskrit. The moon in Vedic astrology represents the mind, including thoughts, feelings, and psychology.

The lyrics to this mantra are: Om Cam Chandryya Namaha. This means something like, “I offer salutations for the positive transformation of the energy of the moon.”

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

Ganga Mata: Embodiment of the Ganges River

Gange Mata is a Hindu goddess personifying the Ganges River. She is a deity associated with forgiveness and purification. Water is a symbol of purity in many spiritual traditions, used for cleansing and baptism.

Ganga is often depicted riding on a Makara, an animal with the head of a crocodile and the tail of a dolphin. The crocodile represents the lower self or the reptilian mind over which Ganga has gained mastery. 

The Ganges river is viewed as a gateway to heaven. The ashes of the deceased are thrown into the river to be carried peacefully from this world to the next. Bathing in the Ganges river is also viewed as a spiritual ritual. The Vedas and Puranas, Hindu scriptures, view the Ganges as the most sacred river on earth.

Jagadambe Ma: Mother of the Universe

Jagadambe Ma means “mother of the world” or “mother of the universe.” The term is used for many goddesses including Adi Shakti, Parvati, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Sita and Radha. There are temples in India dedicated specifically to Jagadambe including the Devi Jagadambe Temple in Madhya Pradesh and the Shree Jagadamba Devi Temple in Kerala.

The Divine Mother plays a huge role in Hinduism, sometimes receiving even more attention and devotion than God in masculine form. Each goddess has multiple attributes. Goddesses are often known by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of names. Each name emphasize a particular quality of the goddess. “Shakti” is a general term for the energy that pervades the universe and gives rise to all form and action.

Ancient Deities Ruling Mars: Kujaya

The astrology mantra for Mars (Kujaya) includes the seed syllable “kum” which connects to the fundamental vibration of the planet Mars. In Vedic astrology, Mars signifies younger siblings, especially a younger brother. Mars is associated with conflict and war on the one hand and valor and defense on the other. On the physical level, Mars is related to the muscular system.

In ancient Rome, Mars was the god of war and agriculture. The Greek equivalent is Ares, specifically known as the god of the spirit of battle. Ares was less popular than Mars as he was directly associated with brutality and slaughter.

The lyrics for the mantra associated with Mars are “Om Kum Kujaya Namaha.” The means something like, “I offer salutations for transformation of the energy of Mars in my astrology and my life.”

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

Ancient Deities of Hinduism: Mataji and Babaji

Mataji is venerated as a yogic master representing the Divine Mother. Mataji is the sister of Babaji, an ancient Indian yogi known as the eternal youth. Although Mataji is the spiritual equal of Babaji, she has chosen the role of disciple to her brother.

Mataji and Babaji are an example of the Hindu tradition of saints and deities appearing in both masculine and feminine form, in this case some view them as siblings rather than as romantic partners.

In the tradition of paired deities, the male aspect worships the feminine principle of energy and the female aspect worships the male principle of consciousness. Mataji is the embodiment of compassion. 

Read full article on Mataji and Babaji.

Medicine Buddha: The Healing Doctor

Healing has been a significant part of some Buddhist sects. The Medicine Buddha is one of eight healing Buddhas. There are seven other emanations of the Medicine Buddha, each which his own color and pure land. These lands are created as a form of compassionate action on the part of the buddha. They are havens for spiritual dedication.

The blue Medicine Buddha is often depicted holding a medicinal plant called myrobalan in his hand. Some believe the plant reduces inflammation and internal bleeding. The Medicine Buddha often holds an alms bowl or a medicine jar in the other hand. The Medicine Buddha is also associated with the semi-precious gemstone lapis lazuli.

Read full article on the Medicine Buddha.

Ancient Deities Ruling Saturn: Shani

In Vedic astrology, Saturn is the bearer of karma. Saturn is slow-moving, taking two and a half years to move from one zodiac constellation to another. Saturn brings responsibility and discipline.

Saturn is personified in Hinduism as Shani, an incarnation of Krishna. Approximately every thirty years, Saturn returns to the original place in the natal chart, bringing good or challenging experiences based on the individual’s actions during that period.   

The astrology mantra for Saturn (Sanaya) includes the seed syllable “sam” which connects to the fundamental vibration of the planet Mars. The lyrics are “Om Sam Sanaya Namaha” meaning “I offer salutations for transformation of the energy of Saturn.”

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

Ancient Deities Ruling Venus: Sukraya

Venus represents marriage as well as other partnerships. Venus also represents the relationship between the individual and finances or material possessions. In the Hindu tradition, Sukraya is the ruler of the planet Venus.

Venus is considered to be a refined planet. In order to attain happiness, the individual must change their perceptions in life and balance their karma. Material possessions and partnerships alone will not yield ongoing happiness.The astrology mantra for Venus (Sukraya) includes the seed syllable “sum” which connects to the fundamental vibration of the planet Mars.

The lyrics to this mantra are “Om Sum Sukraya Namaha” meaning I offer salutations for transformation of the energy of Venus.”

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

Ancient Deities of the Sun: Surya

Surya is a Hindu deity who is the source of light or life. Surya is a sun god with a golden chariot driven by Aruna, a personification of the dawn. The chariot is pulled by seven horses representing the seven chakras or energy centers.

The sun is usually associated with the masculine; the moon with the feminine. In ancient Egypt, the sun is associated with Horus, Ra and Osiris. Horus represents the rising sun, Osiris the setting sun, and Ra represents the sun’s zenith. Astrologically speaking, the sun is an expression of the outward self, the self that “shines” towards others. 

Additional names for the Hindu sun god include Bhaskaraya (the illuminator) and Mitraya (friend of all). 

Read full article about Astrology Mantras.

About the Author

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.

Kathleen Karlsen Sacred Mantras & Symbolic Art

About Kathleen’s Books

Vocal Medicine reveals Kathleen Karlsen’s personal journey and years of research into mantras, chanting and kirtan. Learn more about using mantras and singing to invigorate your life! Explore the chakras and the impact of sound in every area of your life. 

Flower Symbols by Kathleen Karlsen features fascinating information about the folklore of the world’s most beloved flowers. Flowers accompany us in nearly every major event in life. This book is a perfect gift for every flower lover in your life! 

Deity Art

Deities of East and West including Hindu gods and goddesses, angels, nature spirits and buddhas. Unique inspirational artwork from multiple traditions. Produced in the United States. Flat rate shipping $4.95 per order (US only), unlimited items. Wholesale pricing available on request.

More about sacred symbols on the web: Yantra Blessings

Resources to Explore

Articles on ancient deities and related topics on this website.

Ancient Deities

Ancient Deities Article Summary

This article on ancient deities includes representations of God from many traditions including pagan, Hindu and Buddhist. Many ancient deities are based on the patterns and power of nature: spring, solstice, harvest, the sun, the moon, storms, fire and so forth. Some still form the fabric of modern life in ways that we usually don’t consider. Ancient Deities introduces these beings and provides videos with mantras or songs for each.

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