Ancient Names: Beyond Jupiter and Mars

We’re all familiar with the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons of mythological deities, from Adonis and Athena to Zeus, but there a number of other ancient names from other cultures with their own pantheons of intriguing god and goddesses.  We’ve delved into the some of the most intriguing mythologies—Egyptian,  Phoenician, Norse, Celtic, Indian, African, et al– and discovered some striking ancient names for the intrepid baby namer.


ÁINE (AWN-ya)– Irish Celtic goddess of love, summer, wealth and fertility

AINO (EYE-no)  —  A Finnish mythological water sprite

ALAAfrican (Nigerian) creator goddess and earth mother

ANAHITA —  A Persian mythological goddess of river and water

ANCASTA – A Celtic goddess worshipped in Roman Britain

ANNIKKI (accent on the first syllable) —  A forest goddess in Finnish mythology

ANU Irish Celtic goddess of fertility, magic, moon, air and prosperity

ASTARTE — Ancient Phoenician goddess of love, fertility, motherhood and war (morphed into Greek mythology as Aphrodite)

ASTRILD – Norse goddess of love

ATLA—Norse water goddess

BELISAMA – A Celtic goddess of light and fire

BRANWEN –Irish Celtic goddess of love, beauty, sexuality and the sea

BRIGHID (pronounced breed) —  Irish goddess of fertility and creativity, martial arts and healing

DAMARA – Celtic fertility goddess worshipped in Britain, associated with the month of May

DANU —  Irish Celtic mother of the deities , goddess of rivers, water, magic, prosperity and wisdom

ELAINE – A Welsh Celtic maiden moon goddess

ELLI—Norse goddess of old age who managed to defeat Thor in wrestling

FREYA – Norse goddess of love, beauty, war, magic and wisdom; the most beautiful of the goddesses

INANNA —  A Sumerian goddess of the earth, sky and love—and also war

ISIS – an Egyptian goddess, known as mistress of charms or enchantments

KALMA – Finnish goddess of death and decay (maybe skip this one)

KALI – Hindu goddess of power (and—oops—destruction)

LAKSHMI—Hindu goddess of beauty and prosperity, purity, chastity and generosity

LEZA  — African goddess of protection and divination

LISSA —  In African mythology, goddess of the sun, the moon, and the supreme god of all things

MACHA (MOK-ah)  — one of three Irish Celtic war goddesses

MAEVECeltic goddess of earth, fertility and war

MORRIGAN – Celtic Queen of fairies and witches, goddess of war and revenge

NEITH —  An Egyptian goddess of the hunt and of war

NIAHM (neev) – Irish Celtic goddess of beauty and brightness

OLWENWelsh Celtic goddess of flowers and springtime

PARVATI—Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion

RAKAIndian goddess of the full moon

RANA/RANIA—Norse goddess of the sea

RHIANNON – Welsh goddess of the moon and inspiration

SEQUANA — Goddess of the source of the River Seine

SESHETA —  Egyptian goddess of learning and writing

SIDDHI—Hindu goddess of success

SULLA/SULIS – Celtic goddess of hot springs, healing (also the name of a Roman emperor)

TAMESIS – Anglo-Celtic river goddess who gave her name to the River Thames.

TANIT/TANITHPhoenician goddess of love, fertility and the heavens, including the stars and moon

TAMRA – Ancient Cornish river goddess

TARAImportant and compassionate Hindu goddess of peace and protection; probably the oldest goddess still worshipped in modern times

TOZI —  Aztec goddess of healing and sweet water

UMA – Hindu goddess of self-sacrifice and love

XILONEN (zil-o-nen) –A beautiful goddess in Aztec mythology

ZARYA – In Slavic mythology, a goddess and protectors of warriors



ABELLIO –Celtic god of the apple tree

ADAD – the Mesopotamian god of thundery weather

ANGUS Og – Irish Celtic god of youth, love and beauty

ARAWN—Welsh Celtic god of the hunt and the underworld

AGANJU —  An African (Yoruba) deity, ruling volcanoes, the wilderness and the river

ASHUR —  The supreme deity of the Assyrian Empire, creator of all things

BRANIrish Celtic god of health

BRAHMA – The Hindu supreme deity, creator of the universe

EBISHU — In Japanese mythology, the god of luck and labor, fishermen and fortune

GANESHA Indian elephant deity of knowledge, education, wisdom and wealth

GWYDION—Welsh Celtic god of enchantment, illusion and magic

KRISHNAPart of the Hindu Trinity, considered by some the Supreme Being

LLEW Llaw GyffesCeltic god of healing, poets, sorcerers and waters

LOKINorse god of fire, trickster god

LUGH/LLEW(loo) — Celtic sun god, god of war, magic and good harvest

MANU – The Indian mythological progenitor of mankind

MUNGOAfrican (Kenyan) rain god

ODINNorse god of all men, father of all gods

OSIRISAfrican god of the dead, ruler of the underworld

RAIDEN – In Japanese myth, the god of thunder and lightening

RAMAIndian hero god, preserver of families, destroyer of evil

SETHAfrican god of chaos

TALIESINWelsh Celtic god of song and poetry

TANE (tah-neh) —  Maori protector of birds and forests

THORNorse god of thunder and battle

TIKIGod of stone in Norse mythology

VIDAR–  A silent Norse god known for his great strength

VISHNU God of courage, knowledge and power

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8 Responses to “Ancient Names: Beyond Jupiter and Mars”

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Charlotte Vera Says:

May 14th, 2010 at 3:11 am

Very fascinating list! It threw me for a bit of loop to see Krishna listed as part of the Hindu Trinity. In most Hindu traditions Krishna is understood to be one of Vishnu’s many avatars (incarnations). Vishnu, in turn, is a part of the Hindu Trinity. Brahma is the creator, Shiva the destroyer, and Vishnu the maintainer/preserver. I’ve never seen Krishna defined as one of the trinity before.

Krishna also appears in Buddhism and the Baha’i faith.

Linelei Says:

May 14th, 2010 at 5:56 am

This is one of my favorite categories of names, because many are rare and beautiful but also steeped in incredible meaning. I would encourage anyone interested in these names (even Kalma) to look further than the definitions listed here, as gods and goddesses have complex and multi-layered histories and meanings.

Sachiko Says:

May 14th, 2010 at 7:01 am

I’ve always loved Danu and Tane. We actually have nicknamed one of our kids Loki.

I’d add Idunne / Idony to the list– Norse goddess of spring and renewal.

babynamesrule Says:

May 14th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Didn’t know about Tara! That’s cool. Gives it a little more edge.

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

May 14th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Some of these are really beautiful: Aine, Astarte, Lakshmi, Olwen, Angus, Osiris– all of them really.

The great thing about names of deities is that they never really go out of style and keep from being trendy.

Rita Says:

May 14th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I second Sachiko’s suggestion of Idony. One of my favourite names!

Branwen, Freya, Niamh, Arthur, and Thor (or Thora) are all great!

rainstripe Says:

May 15th, 2010 at 10:39 am

The names I like the most are:

Dearest Says:

May 16th, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I’m really wondering where you get your Norse Mythology information from.
Astrild is not a goddess, it’s the old Nordic name for Cupid/Amor. Rana/Rania are not forms of the Norse Rán/Rån as far as I know. Ran was a sea goddess, but Rana and Rania are never mentioned
Elli was not a goddess of old age, but the personification of old age. And she always defeated Thor in wrestling.
And Tiki is just silly. It’s the first man of Maori mythology according to wikipedia, and that’s all I can find of it.

Other interesting ones to add:
Idun – guardian of the apples of immortality
Mist – a Valkyrie
Sol – rides the chariot that pulls the sun across the sky
Sif/Siv – wife of Thor
Dana – One of Heimdall’s wives
Eisa – Loki’s daughter, fire-giantess (!)
Dufa/Duva – One of Heimdall’s 9 mothers, a ‘billow maiden’
Nanna – Baldr’s wife
Sigyn/Signy – Loki’s wife
Eir/Eira – goddess of healing
Kara – A Valkyrie
Svava – A Valkyrie
Vor – Goddess of vows and marriage, nothing could be hidden from her
Saga – Friend of Odin, goddess of sagas, poetry and history
Rind – One of Odin’s wives
Laga – Water goddess of springs and wells
Laufey – Loki’s mother
Ty/Tyr/Tivar/Tiw/Tew/Tiu – god of war
Sindri – Dwarf, excellent blacksmith!
Ivaldi – Sindri’s father
Magni – Thor’s son
Logi – a Fire giant
Modhi/Modi – Thor’s son, Magni’s half-brother
Aegir – God of oceans, father of the ‘billow maidens’
Annar/Onar – dwarf, father of Jörd, Odin’s wife and Thor’s mum
Ymir – The origin of the world, it grew from his body
Mimir – Guardin of the ‘Well of the Highest Wisdom’
Heimdall – guards the entry to the realm of the Gods
Hermod – Messenger god, equivalent of Hermes

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