The text on this page is used with permission from Oxford University Press from A Dictionary of World Mythology by Arthur Cotterell.
- The Haitian sea god. Elaborate ceremonies take place to feed this proud
deity, the Voodoo worshippers send down submarine palace ships loaded with
Ah Puch - The Mayan god of death. This deity was often portrayed as a skeleton or a bloated corpse adorned with bells. He was the chief of demons and he presided over the ninth and lowest underworld. In Modern folklore he survives as Yum Cimil, Lord of Death.
Ai Apaec - A late name for an active god of the Mochicha. From archaeological evidence, it seems that this civilization possessed a remote, almost indifferent supreme being and creator deity who was a sky god. Beneath his throne ranged the mobile Ai Apaec. This God shared the feline mouth of the creator deity and wore snake earrings and a jaguar head-dress. Ai Apaec might have been the son of the remote deity.
Amotken - The creator deity of the Selish, one of the oldest North American peoples. According to their beliefs, the universe comprises of an underworld, earth and heaven, all of the levels of habititation are supported by gigantic pillars or posts. Amotken dwells in heaven, solitary and alone. He is an old man, wise and kind, never changing in concern for his creation.
Angakoq - One of the names of the Eskimo shaman or medicine man. Both men and women can become medicine man, but it is said that women lack the courage to do evil. An Angakoq who can call down misfortune on his fellows is called ilisitsoq.
Asgaya Gigagei - Literally: Red Man. He was the thunder god of the Cherokees, a tribe long under the domination of the Iroqouis. The also have lesser gods known as thunderboys.
Ataensic - According to the Iroqouis, Ataensic was both the sky woman and earth goddess.
Atius Tirawa - The creator deity of the Pawnees, he is said to have ordered the courses of the sun and the moon and the stars. Atius Tirawa may have been created due to the influence of the European settlers who the Pawnee came in contact with.
Awonawilona - Literally: 'all-container'. The dual creator deity of the Pueblo Zuni. Awonawilona existed before all else and created life.
Bochica - The cultural founder hero of the Chipbcha Indians. Bochica arrived from the east and wandered the land as a bearded man. He instructed the Chipbcha in moral laws and taught them how to make things.
Chac - The Maya rain god, counterpart of the Aztec Tlaloc. Though portrayed with two curling fangs and tears streaming from his land, Chac was a friend of man, the lord of wind, thunder, lightning, rain and fertility. Chac was sometimes worshipped as four gods (the four cardinal points).
Chalchihuitlicue - Literal meaning: 'lady precious green'. She was the Aztec water goddess and was a personification of youthful beauty. She was portrayed as a river from which a prickly pear tree laden with fruit, which symbolized the human heart.
Chiminigagua - The creator deity of the Chibcha culture in Columbia. He made large black birds that carried light over the mountains, he left the rest of creation to others.
Cinteotl - The Aztec maize divinity. In April people offered him blood.
Coatlicue - Literal meaning: 'the serpent lady'. She was the Aztec earth goddess and the mother of the tribal god of the Aztecs.
Coyolxauhqui - Literally, 'golden bells'. When his mother, Coatlicue was pregnant for the last time, her offspring were horrified. Coyolxauhqui rushed ahead of his brothers and sisters to warn his mother, but the newly born son of Coatlicue came out and killed Coyolxauhqui and all of his brothers and sisters. When Coatlicue told her new-born about his sisters kindness, Huitzilopochti cut off the head of Coyolxauhqui and through it into the heavens as the moon, where the golden bells of his cheek still glitter.
Coyote - The trickster deity of the south-west American myth.
Damballah - The powerful serpent god of Voodoo mythology. In the sky above the island of Haiti, he manifests himself in the company of his wife Ayida as a rainbow. They encompass the world, entwined air serpents representing sexual unity.
Dohkwibuhch - In Snohomish mythology, the dilatory creator-changer deity.
Dzelarhons - The Frog Princess of Haida mythology. She arrived from the sea with six canoe loads of people, which means an entire tribe in an are where canoes reach 40-50 feet in length. Her husband was Kaiti, the bear god.
Dzoavits - A huge ogre. According to the Shoshoneans, Dzoavits stole the dove's two children.
Ek Chuah - Literally: 'black war leader'. This Maya deity, represented with a black rimmed eye, was fierce and violent. He also concerned himself with those who died in battle. A friendly aspect of his character was his patronage of merchants.
El Dorado - The gilded king. He was a priest king who ruled a kingdom that was paved and placed with solid gold. His body was covered in powdered gold.
Enumclaw - Literally thunder. Emumclaw was accompanied by his brother Kapoonis who was the god of lightning, while Emumclaw was the god of thunder.
Erzulie - The goddess of love in the Voodoo pantheon. Erzulie is not the earth mother nor the mother of men, but rather the goddess of elemental forces - the ideal, but tragic mistress.
Estsanatlehi - Meaning: 'the woman who changes'. The most respected deity of the Navaho Indians. This goddess is unique in the fact that she is always changing through and endless cycle of lives. She grows to be an old woman, but then grows young again.
Ghede - In the Voodoo mythology of Haiti, the hungry figure in the black top hat, long black tail coat, and dark glasses posted at the eternal crossroads, where pass the souls of the dead on their way to guinee, the legendary place of origin and the abode of the gods. He is the god of dead, but also the 'lord of life'.
Gluskap - Gluskap is a cultural founder hero who retired from the world after performing amazing feats on behalf of god and men.
Guinechen - Meaning: 'master of men'. The supreme being of the Auca tribes of Chile, the staunchest opponents of the Inca, and later Spanish, rule.
Hahgwehdiyu - In Iroquois mythology the good creator deity. He is the son of the sky goddess, Ataensic and the twin brother of Hahgwehdaetgah, the evil spirit. Hagwehdiyu shaped the sky with the palm of his hand, made his mothers face the sun and made the moon and stars from her breasts. He made her body the earth as a source of fertility.
Hiawatha - Iroquois tradition makes Hiawatha a sixteenth-century sage. He was instrumental in bringing about the five Iroquois tribes known as 'the five nations'.
Hisakitaimisi - Or Hisagitaimisi, the name means 'The master of breath', the supreme deity of the Creek Indian, the mound builders of the south-eastern United States.
Huacas - Sacred things.
Huitaca - The goddess of indulgence, drunkenness, and license.
Huitzilopochtli - The only deity of purely Aztec origin, his name meant 'blue humming bird on the left' and he was the god of war. He was believed to be the sun, the youngest warrior born each day. His symbols of authority correspond to that on the lord of flowers and the guardian of the souls.
Hunbab - Hunbab ku, 'the single god'. He is the remote creator deity in Maya belief and he was the one that renewed the world after its first three deluges.
Iglauk - One of the names of the Eskimo moon god. In Alaska Igaluk is the supreme deity: he directs natural phenomena. Under his authority are all the creatures the elsewhere belonged to the sea goddess Sedna.
Inti - The Inca sun god. He was looked upon as the ancestor of the Incas, whom he had sent down in order to assist the development of civilization.
Itzamna - In the Maya pantheon, the most active and important deity. Son of the creator Hunbab, Itzamma was the lord of the heavens, and also lord of the day and the night. He was represented as a kindly old man with toothless jaws, sunken sheeks and a pronounced nose.
Ixchel - In Maya mythology, the angry old woman who emptied the vials of her wrath upon the earth and assisted the sky serpent in causing deluge. Ixchel was a malevolent deity, the goddess of floods and cloud bursts.
Ixtab - The Maya goddess of suicide depicted as hanging from the sky with a rope around her neck and closed eyes and decomposing cheeks.
Iyatiku - The corn goddess of the Keresan Puebelos.
Jaguar - The fanged god of pre-Columbian region in South America. Statues of deities with staring eyes and double fangs exist dating from very early times.
Kasogonga - According to the Chaco tribes, the people were the original inhabitants of the Argentinean grasslands, the Pampas, rain was produced by a female spirit hanging in the sky known as Kasogonga.
Kici Manitu - Meaning: 'the great spirit'. The Supreme deity of the Algonquins, Kici Manitu was credited with the creation of earth, men, animals, and plants.
Kononatoo - Meaning: 'our maker'. The Warau Indians of Guiana believe that Kononatoo wished them to live in heaven.
Koshare - The Koshare were the first men in the minds of the Pueblo Indians. Today, the Koshare are clowns who enliven the Pueblo dance with their antics.
Kuat - The sun god in Kamaiuran mythology.
Kukulcan - Possibly the Mayan wind god, counterpart of the Aztec plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl. Kukulcan seems to be as much of a cultural founder hero as well as a god of the wind.
Kumush - Kumush was the old man of the ancients according to the Modoc Indians of northern California
Kururumany - According to the Arawak Indians who live in the Orinoco basin of South America, this deity was the creator of men.
Kwatee - Or Kivati, the changer or trickster god of the Indian tribes resident in the Puget Sound region of Washington. It was Kwatee and his assistants who transformed the ancient world into the world today.
Legba - Derived from the West African ancestor god Lebe, 'the old man at the gate' in the Voodoo cult of Haiti is Legba, a god identified with the sun.
Masewi - The twin brothers of Pueblo mythology are Masewi and Oyoyewa, whom the universal mother sent into the world to place the sun correctly in the sky and to assign people to their clans.
Mavutsinim - The Kamaiura Indians, the inhabitants of the Xingu river in Brazil, say that in the beginning there was only Mavutsinim, the creator.
Mictlantecuhtli - The Aztec god of death, who ruled the restful and silent kingdom of the dead Mictlan.
Napi - The word meant old man and he was the creator deity of the Blackfoot Indians, a tribe of the Algonquin stock. It is suggested the Napi is a god of light rather than a solar deity.
Nayenezgani - The 'slayer of the alien gods'. He dealt power full blows to the evil spirits threatening the world. He may be seen as a war god, but he is more of a cultural hero. Nayenezgani appears to be a god of light.
Ogoun - The Voodoo warrior hero of Haiti, a divinity related to the Nigerian iron god Ogun. When in possessions of a devotee the fierce god wants a strong drink he will yell, 'My testicles are cold'.
Oi - According to the tribes living along the Xingu river in Brazil, the remote past belonged to such legendary nations as the Oi. The people of Oi were very tall and sang in chorus as the walked.
Ometecuhtli - 'The dual god' is above the other gods in the Aztec pantheon, far above the events of the world, he is the master of duality and the source of all existence.
Pachacamac - Literally, 'earth maker'. An ancient creator deity of Peru. He may have originated among the coastal peoples as a fish god. The Incas adopted his cult and his name appears in the title of many rulers.
Pachamama - The earth goddess of the Incas. She received the sacrifices of llamas and other animals. Before the first Inca's entered their capital the killed a llama.
Page Abe - Literally, 'father sun'. Creator deity of the Tukano Indians.
Pamuri-mahse - In Tukano mythology, a semi-divine assistant of the sun god and creator.
Pinga - Pinga is a goddess that acts as the guardian of game, the controller of the hunt, the protectress of living and the helper of the angakut, 'medicine men'.
Potlatch - Literally, 'giving'. Potlach is an extravagant festival held on the northern Pacific coast in honor of Haida, the Noorka and the Kwakiutl.
Punotshiyo - According to the blackfeet, the earth belongs to Punotshiyo. He is highly respected and receives manyn sacrifices.
Quetzalcoatl - The plumed serpent god of Central America. He was the giver of breath and the god of the winds. At the same time he was a creator deity, identified with the son, the god who descended into the land of the dead, mictlan.
Sedna - The sinister sea goddess of Eskimo mythology. Only an angakoq could stand the hideous sight of her. Sedna was one who did not want to marry, turned down suitors, and only favored a bird or a dog. Her domain was Adlivun, housed the spirits of those who disobeyed her during life.
Si - The Mochica moon god. The great Si assumed the hegemony of the gods as he had the ability to control the elements, storms and the calendar.
Sinaa - The feline ancestor of the Juruna. Sinaa, like his father, had his eyes set in the back of his head. Sinaa was very old, but became young again each time he took a bath. The end of the world will come when Sinaa pulls down the giant forked stick that holds up the sky.
Sta-au - According to the Blackfoot Indians, the Sta-au were ghosts of the wicked people.
Tecciztecal - In Aztec mythology he was the old man who carried a large white seashell on his back. He was the old moon god and represented a male form of the planet, even its rising from the ocean.
Tezcatlipoca - Literally, 'smoking mirror'. His name refers to the black obsidian mirror used by Aztec magicians to descry the future. He was the patron of warriors, he was the original sun god turned into a tiger by Quetzalcoatl, he was a trickster god associated with witches, thieves and evil doers in general and last he was and all-powerful deity who could give or take life.
Tieholtsodi - In Navaho mythology, the water monster. He is king of the ocean.
Tlaloc - The rain god of ancient Mexico, worshipped by the Toltecs and the Aztecs. He was the controller of clouds, rain, lightning and mountain springs.
Tlauixcalpantecuhtli - A destructive deity identified with Venus in Tollan. In his several phases this deity, retained by the Aztecs, threatened ill to various social classes.
Tlazolteotl - In Aztec mythology the goddess of filth. She was associated with witchcraft and purification of sin. She was the power behind all forms of bad behavior, her special weapon was sex.
Tonapa - Or Conapa, his name meant 'heat bearing'. He was one of the assistants of the creator deity of Peru.
Tonatiuh - The Aztec sun god. Fourth in a series of suns, he gave power to warriors. Only through continual sacrifice and moral virtue would the sun be sustained.
Tonenili - The name of this rain god means 'water sprinkler'. A deity that is associated with having fun and being of a trickster nature, Tonenili carries a water pot and is represented by a masked man who enacts the part of a clown.
Tsohanoai - The Navaho Sun god. He is conceived as a man who carries the sun on his back.
Tulungusaq - The crow father in the myths of the Alaskan Eskimos.
Tzai-daltai - The fetishes worn by Apache Indians in New Mexico. They are usually carved from lightning river wood, generally pine or cedar. Tzai-daltai offer protection to the wearer.
Ueuecoyotl - The trickster god of Ancient Mexico: his spontaneity was greatly favored by the puritanical Aztecs.
Uixtocihuatl - In June the Aztec women celebrated the festival of this 'salt goddess'.
Vai-mahse - 'the master of animals'. Vai-mahse was looked upon as the most important spirit of the forest by the Tukano Indians. His body was that of a dwarf painted in red and he looked over the game of the hunter.
Viracocha - The supreme being of the Incas: a storm and sun god. He was Illa, 'light; Tici, 'the beginning of things; and Viracocha 'the lake of creation.
Watauineiwa - A benevolent sky god who made and sustained the world.
Wishpoosh - The beaver monster who refused to allow anyone to fish, according to the Nez Perce Indians of Washington.
Wiyot - Wiyot fathered a race of beings that preceded mankind according to certain Indian tribes of California.
Wonomi - Literally 'no death'. The sky father and the supreme being of the Maidu Indians of California.
Xipetotec - The flayed lord, an enigmatic Aztec deity. He was the lord of penitential torture, the symbol of sacrifice, the way of spiritual liberation.
Xiuhtecuhtli - The fire god in Aztec cosmology he was the great pillar running from the fire in the Aztec underworld through the fire in the homes of the earth.
Xochipilli - The Aztec god of flowers and the lord of souls.
Xochiquetzal - Literal meaning: the most precious flower. The Aztec goddess of the flowering and fruitful surface of the earth.
Xolotl - The dog or animal. An Aztec deity with a deformed shape, the bringer of misfortune.
Yanauluha - The great medicine man of Zuni mythology. His medicine staff is painted in bright colors and decorated with feathers and shells represents the foundation of the Zuni religion.
Yolkai Estsan - According to the Navahos, she was 'the white shell woman'. She is connected to the sea.
Yum Kaax - Literal meaning 'lord of the forests'. The Maya agricultural deity, under the protection of the rain god Chac.
Zombie - A soulless body. In the Voodoo culture of Haiti, a zombie is the slave of a magician. Ghede has the power to animate corpses as Zombies.