Natib Qadish: Modern Canaanite Polytheism

 

Inner Sanctuary

Introduction to the Deities of Canaan

 

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Inner Sanctuary Table of Contents

Please visit Synopses of Ancient Stories and Texts to learn more about the deities

To listen to Ugaritic hymns to the Deities while you're reading, check out the musical arrangements in " The Oldest Song in the World."

 

 

Prayers and Blessings

Give peace, O father and the deities,Watercolor of Egyptian Eye, to represent all-seeing and all-knowing
And peace upon peace,
O 'Ilu and the Gracious Gods.

As transliterated from Ugaritic cuneiform:

šlm 'ab. w ỉlm
w šlm. šlm
'il w 'ilm n‛mm

As vocalized, with appropriate vowels added):

shalma 'abu wa ilūma
wa shalmi wa-shalami
'ilu wa 'ilūma naʻmīma

The word "shalam" means "peace, wellbeing, completion, wholeness."

(I patched this prayer together from transliterations and translations of ancient Ugaritic texts as given by Pardee, Dennis. Ritual and Cult at Ugarit. Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, Georgia, 2002; and Parker, Simon B., ed. Ugaritic Narrative Poetry. Society of Biblical Literature, U.S.A., 1997. See Resources.)

Peace to the deities
Peace to humanity
Peace to our assembly
Peace to your clan/family
Peace to you
Peace, peace, peace

As transliterated for Ugaritic letters:

yšlm lʼilm
yšlm ll’immu
yšlm lʼadm
yšlm lphrn
yšlm lʼumtyk
yšlm lk
šlm šlm šlm

As vocalized, with appropriate vowels added:

yishlam le-ʼilūma
yishlam le-l’immu
yishlam le-pukhri-ni
yishlam le-ʼumati-ka (-ki)
yishlam le-ka (-ki)
shalamu, shalamu, shalamu

(Of my own creation.)

Spin, Athirat, Spin
Spin, for Wisdom, Spin
Spin, Abundance, Spin
Spin, O Mother, Spin
Spin, Athirat, Spin

Ride, Shapshu, Ride
Ride, to Morning, Ride
Ride, to Evening, Ride
Ride, Life and Death, Ride
Ride, Shapshu, Ride

Sing, Nikkalu, Sing
Sing, for Marriage, Sing
Sing, to the Moon, Sing
Sing, the Orchards, Sing
Sing, Nikkalu, Sing

Roar, Anatu, Roar
Roar, Sisterhood, Roar
Roar, Warrior, Roar
Roar, Loyalty, Roar
Roar, Anatu, Roar

Stand, Athtartu, Stand
Stand, for Justice, Stand
Stand, Honesty, Stand
Stand, Integrity, Stand
Stand, Athtartu, Stand

(Modern, of my own creation.)

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Photograph of an Ugaritic stele of Athirat. She stands holding palm branches above two ibex.'Athiratu, Athirat, 'Athiratu, Asherah

'Athirat is the queen of the pantheon, co-owner and co-caretaker of the Universe. She is the nurturer, the wise leader, the giver of life, the tree of wisdom and life. She protects and cares for her family, which is most of the pantheon. She is keeper of the shore, and often sailors of ages past would call for her assistance to assure a safe arrival to port. In one of the tales, we see her spinning thread, and tending a cooking pot upon the shore of the sea. Date palm trees are sacred to 'Athirat, and some say that she is associated with snakes and dolphins. As a goddess known to the Hebrew, her name was Asherah, which means "straight" or "upright." Sometimes 'Athirat is called "'Ilatu" in Ugaritic or "Elat" in Hebrew which means "goddess." 'Athirat is called "mother" by all in the pantheon out of respect, whether or not she is that particular deity's biological mother.

 

 

 

Qudsh-wa-Amrur

Ugaritic literature refers to him as “the Fisherman.” He is a servant of 'Athirat.

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Ink and colored pencil drawing of Ilu, seated on throne and giving a gesture of benediction. One hand holds a cup and the other is raised to the chest with palm forward.'Ilu, Il, El

'Ilu is King of the pantheon, co-owner and co-caretaker of the universe, kind and benevolent father. He is compassionate and merciful, and he often appears in dreams to offer guidance and assistance to humans. 'Ilu lives in Mount Kasu at the source of two rivers, and in a palace that has seven doors. Because he lives so far away, 'Ilu often has Shapshu deliver his messages. 'Ilu, known for his vast wisdom, cares a great deal for the plight of human beings. The Hebrew called this god El; both 'Ilu and El mean "god." A bunch of grapes is offered to 'Ilu on the new moon of the month of Ra'shu Yeni ("New Wine"). 'Ilu often holds a marzichu, a feast, in honor of the rapi'uma (the shades of the deceased). In this Ugaritic image, he is seen in benediction or blessing pose.

 

 

Sha‘taqatu, Shataqat

'Ilu fashions Sha‘taqatu, the dragon, from mud in order to free King Kirtu from an illness. In order to complete his creation, 'Ilu holds up his cup of blessing to her and names her "Sha‘taqatu," "She who releases illness." Sha‘taqatu flies to King Kirtu and, using a wand, releases the knot of illness from his body. She washes the fever sweat from the king's brow, and returns his vitality to him by opening his throat--the throat is the seat of napshu: soul, vitality, appetite.

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Ba‘lu Haddi, Ba‘al Hadad, Ba‘al, Ba‘lu, Baal, Addu, Adad, Baal

Pen and ink, computer colored. Ba'al in smiting pose: he has one hand raised with a spear, and the other hand holds his staff of lightning which resembles a cedar.Ba‘lu Haddi, the Thunderer, often lives on impulse. This warrior battles the forces of Death (Motu) and Sea (Yammu). Ba‘lu Haddi ensures the life-giving rains, thus making the land fertile for agriculture. He fights these forces with his two clubs: Yagrush and Ayyamuri (Driver and Chaser). Ba‘lu Haddi lives atop his mountain, Tzapanu (also known as Tsaphon, Zapan, Sapan, Sapanu, Saphon). One of the two temples found in Ugarit was for the veneration of Ba‘lu Haddi. His lightning is compared to cedars.

Gapnu and 'Ugaru, Gapnu-wa-Ugaru, Gapnu-wa-Ugaru, Gupen-wa-Ugar, Gapen-wa-Ugar

Gapnu and 'Ugaru are both servants and messengers of Ba‘lu Haddi. They are Vine and Field, respectively. The name of the city "Ugarit" is related to the word for "field."

Pidray, Padraya
Tsallay, Talaya, Tallay
Artzay, Arsaya, Arsay, Aratzaya, Artsay

The three daughters or wives of Ba‘lu Haddi. Pidray and Tsallay signify mist and rain, while Artzay may signify flood or may represent Ba‘lu Haddi's chthonic and earthy nature while he was deceased and living among the rapi'uma.

Dagan, Daganu, Dagon

Ba‘lu Haddi's father and god of grain. The second temple in Ugarit was devoted to Dagan. In Mesopotamia, he has connections with dead and the judgment of the dead.

 

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Motu, Mot

Motu is the god of death. His appetite is insatiable, and his mouth is the grave. His realm is sometimes considered to be the desert, where very little can survive. In the tale of the "Birth of the Gracious Gods, Shachru and Shalimu," Motu is treated as if he were a grapevine, in need of pruning and training; this may have represented a synthetic magic technique to limit Death. In the Phoenician creation story, as recorded by Philo of Byblos, the word for firmament is mot, possibly making him a primeval element of the universe.

 

‘Athtar, ‘Athtaru

When Ba‘lu Haddi was swallowed by Mot, ‘Athtar, tried to take Ba‘lu Haddi’s place, making the land fertile. He was not nearly as successful as Ba‘lu Haddi. ‘Athtar is portrayed as young and rather disgruntled at his lot in life. He steps down voluntarily from the throne because he realizes he cannot fulfill Ba‘lu Haddi's role. ‘Athtar may be a god of irrigation, or an astral god (associated with Venus/morning & evening star), or both. He is associated with warriorhood, youth, and protection of personal property. Note that his name is similar to ‘Athtartu, but there his name ends only in -u not in -tu: the ending with the "t" is an indicator of feminine gender. ‘Athtaru and ‘Athtartu are two different deities.

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Pen and ink, computer-colored image of Anat, naked and enthroned, weilding an axe and a spear, and wearing a conical Egyptian crown.‘Anatu, ‘Anat

‘Anatu, the “impetuous adolescent” is loyal, quick to love, quick to defend. She does not fear; she is impulsive and passionate. She destroys all of her beloved Ba‘lu Haddi’s enemies, works with him to help him gain 'Ilu's permission to build his palace and establish his kingship. She is very loyal to those she cares about. She murders the mortal Aqhat because she wanted his bow. Warfare and loyaty are her spheres of influence.

 

Yatspan, Yatpan

He is a warrior and servant of 'Anat. He takes the form of a vulture or eagle. Yatspan assists to bring the downfall of the hero Aqhat. Later, he brags of his dead to Princess Pughat (Pujhat), Aqhat's sister, who is seeking to avenge her brother and thereby return fertility to the land.

 

A polymer clay sculpture of an Athtartu plaque. She is flat with breasts in relief.‘Athtartu, ‘Athtartu, Astart, Ashtart, Ashtarte, Astarte

She is a goddess of compassion, restraint, and peace. She prevents Ba‘lu Haddi from killing two messengers of Yammu. Some even call upon her to aid in divination. She was called “Ashtoreth” by the Hebrew, in order to discredit her and link her name with the Hebrew word for shame, “bosheth.” (See Did the Canaanites Worship Ashtoreth?)She is often seen in conjunction with ‘Anatu. She may be related to the Greek-named goddess Astarte, known in later Phoenician times, and as such, she is often compared with Ishtar and Inanna, however ‘Athtartu's nature in Ugaritic Canaanite literature and lore is more that of justice and balance instead of sex and warfare. ‘Athtaru is her brother.

 

 

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Acyrlic painting of a female sun in copper, gold, and red.Shapshu, Shapash, Shapsh

Shapshu is the radiant goddess of the sun. Often called the "Torch of the Deities," she is enlightenment and the messenger of 'Ilu, and can represent comfort and consolation. It is she who returns Ba‘lu Haddi to the living from the Betu Khupthti (House of Freedom) in the underworld. She visits and helps care for the rapi’uma, the spirits of the deceased, as she travels to the underworld each night and returns to the world of the living during the day. She can have a healing or cleansing ability to burn off the illness or venom like the sun burns away fog. She has a connection to horses.

 

 

 

 

Pen and ink, computer-colored image of Ptah wearing a wide Egyptian collar, a lapis-colored skull cap, and a shirt of gold scales.Kothar-wa-Khasis, Kathiru-wa-Khasisu, Kothar-wa-Hasis

God of magic and craftsmanship. His name means "Skilled with Both Hands" or "Deft and Clever." He built Prince Aqhat’s great bow, and the two magic clubs for Ba‘lu Haddi to vanquish Motu and Yammu. He is able not just to make items, but to enchant them. He makes his home in Memphis, Egypt or in Caphtor (identified as Crete or Cyprus) and may be related to the Egyptian Gods Ptah and Thoth. The picture to the right is of the Egyptian Ptah.

 

 

 

 

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Pen and ink, computer-colored image of Hazor Yarikh statue. He has a rough and weathered shape, his hands are rounded and fingers missing. He bears a down-turned crecent moon on his chest. He is stone grey against a night blue background.Yarikhu, Yarikh, Yareah, Yarik

God of the Moon, and the fertilizing, semen-like dew of night. He works with Khirkhibu in order to ensure his marriage to Nikkalu. Because he is the moon god, and because of the cycles of the moon, he may well assist in measuring time. He shows his left horn when the moon waxes and the right horn when the moon wanes. He has a connection with dogs.

 

Khirkhib, Hirhib

Known as the “Summer King,” possibly the father of Nikkalu-wa-Ibbu of the Orchards, or possibly an arranger of marriages. He may be divine or he may be human.

 

 

 

A photograph of a pewter pendent depicting a female tree with a crecent moon over her.Nikkalu, Nikkalu-wa-Ibbu, Nikkal, Nikkal-wa-Ib

She is goddess of the orchard, wed to Yarikh, receives his fertile dew. She may also be related to or the same as a Mesopotamian moon goddess Ningal. Her marriage to Yarikh would then also symbolize the meeting of the two cultures and the two moon deities. One of the oldest songs written in the world is an ode to this goddess. The picture to the right is not a Canaanite pendant, but a modern one.

 

Katharat, Kathiratu, Kathirat, Katharatu, Kotharat

Known as the seven goddesses, the bird-like ones, the Sparrows, they assist in conception and childbirth, and also assist in carrying out proper ritual action.

 

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Pen and ink, computer-colored image of two male deities standing with their right arms raised. One wears an fiery orange dawn-colored kilt and conical hat, the other wears a soft dusk turquoise kilt and conical hat. They have gold skin and stand out against a dark sky blue background.Shachru-wa-Shalimu, Shachru and Shalimu, Shachar and Shalim, Shacharu-wa-Shalimu

Shachru and Shalimu, the twin Gods, are also known as Dawn and Dusk, respectively. They were born with an insatiable appetite. The are also known as “the gracious Gods,” the “children of the sea,” and “the cleavers of the sea.”

Rahmayyu, Rahmay, Rachmay

Possibly another name for 'Athiratu or ‘Anatu; or possibly refers to a mortal woman. 'Athiratu-wa-Rahmayyu, or 'Athiratu and Rahmayyu is/are the mother of the twins Shachru and Shalimu.

 

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Pen and ink, computer-colored. Rashap, as portrayed in Egyptian iconography with a horned headdress and holding an ankh. His colors are red and black.Rashap, Rashpu, Reshef, Reshep, Resheph

Rashap is god of burning plague, pestilence, and healing. He, along with Choron, are often called upon to end a crisis. He may very well assist in providing care and attention to the rapi'uma. It is sometimes said that he has the horns of a gazelle. He is connected to horsemanship and warrior skills, and his colors are red and black. In Egyptian art, he often appears beside Min, a God of fertility, and Qadash, a goddess of Syrian roots, but whose identity is still in question. The picture to the right is from Egyptian art.

Choronu, Choron, Horon

The ancient Canaanites called upon the god Choronu to ensure that both parties keep faith in a treaty. He is also called upon in curses. He brings end to illnesses brought on by poisoning or poisonous scorpion stings and snake bites. Like Shapshu, Choronu has a connection to horses and marries an enigmatic figure known as Mare.

 

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Pen and ink, computer-colored image of Yam as portrayed in Egyptian iconography. Zigzags are alternating midnight blue and aquamarine, his face is gold. The background is a dark, churning sea-green.Yammu, Yamu, Yam

This god is also known as Prince Sea, Judge River (Nahar). He, and his sea serpent, Lotan (Litan), fight Ba‘lu Haddi for world domination. Yammu is known as a primordial force of nature, a deity of chaos. He is a deity of awesome, fearsome power; not a deity to be taken lightly. The zigzags represent the Egyptian hieroglyph for "water." He is a very powerful, primordial force of nature. The picture to the left is Yam as portrayed in Egyptian art.

Arshu, Arsh

Chthonic entity, Sea Monster and Servant of Yammu.

Atiku, Atik

The “Calf of El,” “the Quarrelsome One,” minor foe of Ba‘lu Haddi, supporter of Yammu, son of 'Ilu and 'Athiratu.

Ishatu, Ishat

Her name means “flame,” or “fire.” She is a supporter of Yammu, a minor foe of Ba‘lu Haddi, a daughter of 'Ilu and 'Athiratu.

Litan, Litanu, Lotanu, Lotan

Chthonic entity, sea serpent, supporter and servant of Yammu. Takes the form of a "sea monster" or a "sea serpent." This is probably the same entity, Leviathan, that Yahweh is known for defeating in Hebrew mythology.

Zabibu, Zabib

Her name may also mean “flame.” She is a supporter of Yammu, a minor foe of Ba‘lu Haddi. She is a daughter of 'Ilu, and possibly also of 'Athiratu.

 

 

The above information is compiled from many sources, some of which are listed below. Many of the deities' names have multiple different spellings because the names come from Semitic languages which have different sounds and alphabets from English. Transliteration is thus imperfect, and different scholars use different standards for transliteration.

For more about the deities, please see:

And see also the literature of Ugarit, to read the stories of the deities:

For more information about modern Canaanite religion, see:

For further information, please see Resources.

Color pencil drawing of repeated motifs of eyes within pyramids.

 

Back to TopWatercolor and colored pencil image of a horned headdress with a solar disk.

 

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All original written work on this site is copyright © 2005, 2008, 2011Tess Dawson, unless otherwise noted.
Please do not use without permission, proper crediting, and a link to my site.

All original artwork and photographs on this site are copyright © 2005, 2008, 2011 Tess Dawson, unless otherwise noted.
Please do not use without permission, proper crediting, and a link to my site.

This page is about Canaanite gods and goddesses, Canaanite deities, Canaanite gods, and Canaanite goddesses.

Natib Qadish: Modern Canaanite Polytheism is a site about Canaanite religion, also called Canaanite revivalism, or Canaanite reconstructionism. This site explores topics of interest for people who practice Canaanite religion, information regarding the ancient Canaanites themselves, and includes both ancient Canaanite religion and its modern counterpart. This page in particular covers topics such as deity, Canaanite gods, goddesses, and deities; early Hebrew gods, goddesses, and deities; and some of these deities are also listed in the Phoenician pantheon.