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African Goddesses



In Sudanese Dinka mythology, she is the first woman. She is the patron goddess of women and gardens, and her emblem is a small snake.

This forest goddess is honored by the Yoruba of Nigeria. She instructs her followers in the use of medicinal herbs found in the African forests.

A Nigerian Yoruba goddess of wealth.

An oracular goddess of Ghana.

This goddess symbolizes welcome and is always placed above the door. Maidens receive her image from an elder mentor as they come of age, welcoming them into their motherhood role in the tribe. In Togo, a giant Akwaba always precedes the chief in tribal procession, signifying that the Mother and reverence for Nature are the foremost communal values.

She is the earth and fertility goddess of the Ibo people of Nigeria, as well as a goddess of the underworld. She is the daughter of the great god Chuku and is considered to be the mother of all things. In the beginning she gives birth, and at the end she welcomes the dead back to her womb. In Nigeria, where she is still worshipped, she has temples situated in the center of the villages, where she has a statue surrounded by the images of other gods and animals.

Mother of the sea in Benin. She is affectionate and nurturing to humans who honor her.

Aha Njoku
This popular goddess is worshipped by the Ibo people of Nigeria. She is responsible for yams, a central ingredient in the Ibo diet, and the women who care for them.

Aida Wedo
In Benin and Haiti she is the snake companion to Damballah-Wedo, the most popular god, who is also in snake form.

Yoruba goddess of wealth in all its forms.

(Ghana) An oracular goddess of justice.

An early goddess of the Yoruba of West Africa.
The spider goddess of Ghana, she is considered the creator's chief official, and a hero of many tales.

Asase Ya
(Asase Yaa) Ashanti earth goddess. Ghanian creator of humanity, and wife of Nyame. She was also the mother of the gods.

Goddess of wealth of the Gan people of Ghana.

Fertility goddess of the Kafa people of Ethiopia.

Hearth goddess of the Fon people of Benin.

A name given to a female vampire or werewolf in Surinam folk belief. At night, she transforms from human to animal form and travels around drinking human blood. According to belief, the best way to stop her is by sprinkling grains or seeds about, so she will be compelled to stop and pick them up. Another way of stopping her is by propping a broom, which she won't cross, against a door.

The goddess of possessions.

(Yoruba) Sister of Shango. She was sacrificed to make her younger brother, Shango, a stronger god.

Bele Alua
(Ghana) Tree goddesss

Bomo Rambi
A moon Goddess of Zimbabwe.

A sea goddess of Ghana, one of the minor deities.

(Sudan-Nuer) She is the goddess of rivers and streams and the source of life. Her children are Deng, Candit and Nyaliep.

A rain goddess of Zaire, depicted as a rainbow-colored snake. She took over her mother's duties as rain goddess when her mother was killed.

She is a creator goddess of Ghana, associated with the moon and sometimes considered male.

The goddess of streams in Sudan.

Dewi Nawang Sasih
In Sudanese myth, a celestial nymph who taught people how to cook rice. The myth says she gave the women a simple recipe; place one grain of rice in a pot, boil, and wait until it sub-divides again and again until the pot is full. Her one restriction was that no man ever touch a woman's cooking utensils. The people feasted fully, and easily, following her instructions until one king who felt above all others deliberately touched a cooking implement. The goddess in disgust departed the earth, and since that time it takes a whole bunch of rice to fill a pot, because although the grains swell up, they no longer divide and reproduce.

The generally benevolent creatrix goddess of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. There is, however, an awful aspect to her nature.

An African tree goddess.

Another form of the Yoruba goddess of divination.

Eka Abassi
The creator of life. Her son and consort was Obumo (god of thunder and rain)

Goddess of the family and guardian of destiny. One story relates that when she saw that her tribe was losing a battle, she offered herself as a sacrifice to save her people, and was buried alive on the battlefield; her tribe was saved.

An earth goddess married to the sky god, Ebore.

She was born in a village near a lake in Mali that was inhabited by a virgin-devouring dragon who each year claimed a village virgin as payment for the use of the lake's waters. The day came when Fatouma was the only eligible virgin remaining so she was left on the shore for the dragon to eat. Along came a hero named Hammadi who slew the dragon, married Fatouma, and lived happily ever after with her.

The daughter of Mawu. She is the goddess of fate of the Fon or Dahomey people of Benin, and she is saddened by the fighting among her mother's mortal children.

The moon goddess of Benin. She is the mother of all the stars (Gletivi). An eclipse is said to be caused by the shadow of the her husband when he comes to "visit".

The first woman of Liberia. Without a mate she gave birth to many beautiful daughters; they lived together in a village without men for many years. Eventually some men nearby trapped them all and Gonzuole, fearing for her daughters' safety, agreed to give them in marriage to the men.

The wife of the creator god I Kaggen (praying mantis) revered by men of the western bush.
The sun goddess of the Nkundo of Zaire was trapped by a man who was hunting during the night. She begged to be released and promised him much wealth for doing so, but the only wealth he wanted was her, so she agreed to marry him. Soon pregnant, she refused to eat anything but forest rats. Because it was known that a man had to provide for any whim of a pregnant woman, the man was kept very busy trapping for her. One night, however, she awakened to realize she was no longer pregnant. Shocked, she discovered the baby had slipped out of the womb and was already eating meat. He grew up to be the hero Itonde, who captured the heart of the Elephant Girl Mbombe.

A female spirit of the Zulus who makes the maize grow. The deity of agriculture, she is venerated in springtime.

The Dahomey mother goddess. Mother of the Sun god Maou and the Moon god Gou. Her totem was the chameleon.
Mami Wata
A water-spirit, sometimes described as a mermaid figure, who can found throughout the western coastal regions and into central Africa. Mami Wata is described as having long dark hair, very fair skin and compelling eyes. Although she may appear in dreams and visions to her devotees as a beautiful mermaid, she is also said to walk the streets of modern African cities in the guise of a gorgeous but elusive woman. She is interested in all things contemporary: some of her favorite offerings include sweet, imported perfumes, sunglasses and Coca-Cola. Nonetheless, the spirit appears to be related to other water spirits (known in Igbo, a language of southeastern Nigeria, as 'ndi mmili) who have a much longer history on the continent. Mami Wata's colors are red and white. Those she afflicts with visions and temptations, and who experience her as an obsession or an illness, may wear the red of sickness and dangerous heat. Others who have a more positive orientation towards the spirit may show their blessings by wearing white. Most devotees wear a combination of red and white clothing. Mami Wata is also said to have a number of avatars on earth- mortal women who have the same look as the deity and who act as her "daughters." Mami Wata may give wealth to her devotees, her "daughters" or to her (male) spouses, but she is never known to give fertility. Some Igbo stories suggest that the fish under the waters are her children, and that she uses them as firewood.
Mami Wata is sometimes seen as a metaphor for modern African conditions -- having the knowledge of global wealth and the desire for large-scale consumption, but lacking the actual wealth or access to the world's wealth that would enable Africans to participate in that system.
The Zulu goddess of rivers.

A Chaga folktale heroine.

The maiden created for Mwuetsi, in the mythology of the Makoni tribe of Zimbabwe. She bore to her husband grasses, bushes and trees.
Mawu is the Creator/Moon Goddess known among the people from the Dahomey region of West Africa, the female aspect of the divinity Mawu-Lisa. She is associated with the moon, night, fertility, motherhood, gentleness, forgiveness, rest and joy. The cosmology of the Fon has the Earth as floating on the water, while above circle the heavenly bodies on the inner surface of a gourd. The son of Mawu-Lisa, Da (Danh) the cosmic serpent, helps in ordering the universe; he had 3500 coils above the earth, and the same number below. Together these coils support Mawu-Lisa's creation. After creating the earth and all life and everything else on it, she became concerned that it might be too heavy, so she asked the primeval serpent, Aido Hwedo, to curl up beneath the earth and hold it up in the sky. When she asked Awe, a monkey she had also created, to help out and make some more animals out of clay, he boasted to the other animals and challenged Mawu. Gbadu, the first woman Mawu had created, saw all the chaos on earth and told her children to go out among the people and remind them that only Mawu can give Sekpoli - the breath of life. Gbadu instructed her daughter, Minona, to go out among the people and teach them about the use of palm kernels as omens from Mawu. When Awe, the arrogant monkey climbed up to the heavens to try to show Mawu that he too could give life, he failed miserably. Mawu made him a bowl of porridge with the seed of death in it and reminded him that only she could give life and that she could also take it away.

Mbaba Mwana Waresa
A beloved goddess of the Zulu people of Southern Africa, primarily because she gave them the gift of beer. She is the goddess of the rainbow, rain, harvest, and agriculture. The story of her search for a husband is well known, and recently appeared in a beautifully illustrated children's book.

Mother of the Woyo people of Zaire, and mother of Bunzi. When her husband found out he was not the father of Bunzi, he killed Mboze.

In Congo, she is the mother of the race of man (given life by Massim Biambe) with god Phebele.

She is the creator goddess of the Kikuyu who mothered nine daughters by Gikuyu.

The rain queen of the Lovedu people of the Transvaal.

Musso Koroni
The goddess of disorder among the Bambara of Africa and the first woman to be created. She is the daughter of the Voice of the Void, and wife of Pemba. She planted Pemba in the soil, but disliked his thorns and so forswore the god. Now she wanders the earth, causing sadness and disorder among mankind.

(Buganda) The first woman.

(Benin) Primal god of the Ewe people of the Dahomey, both male and female, who created the twins from whom all the Voodoo gods descended.

Nana Buluku
( Nana, Nan Nan, Nana Baruku, Na Na Baraclou, Boucalou ) As Nana Buluku she is the primordial creator goddess of the Fon Nation of Benin (Dahomey). As Nana Buruku she is first Grandmother to all the Divinities and first human woman in the religion of the Yorubas. It was of Nana that the Cosmic Twins Mawu and Lisa were born. From Mawu and Lisa came the Cosmic Egg, and the Cosmic Seed that germinated the Egg. This egg was formed about the center of Ashe, the realm of Ikode Orun. From this egg hatched the Great Irunmole. So Nana Baruku is the Womb of Olodumare, Mawu is the Cosmic Egg, and Lisa is Olodumare's Seed. Once set into motion, they are the creation of all that is, was and ever will be.
When the Orisha called Obatala formed the first human head upon the face of the earth, it was Olodumare who came down from the great Adobe of the Spiritual Realm, and breathed life into it. It was through the mysteries of the breath of Olodumare that Nana Baruku first came forth and took up residence within a clay figure, becoming the first living soul. Thus Nana Baruku was both Great Divinity, first of all ancestors, the great Grandmother of the Divinities, but also the Ancient Grandmother and progenitor of the human race.
In human form Nana Buruku was known by the name Ayizan. Ayizan, (Nanan) is envisioned as an ancient black grandmother, her face covered with palm fronds in honor of the palm trees which she used to create shelter upon earth. In her arms Ayizan carries a woven basket containing bark, roots, and herbs. Ayizan was the first human herbalist, sacred to her is the mandrake root, which resembles a human form and is a symbol of her human husband Osanyin. With her vast knowledge of herbs she attracted the attention of the Orisha Osanyin, whom took form and became known as Loco. In life Ayizan lived in a marshy swamp, she was a powerful ancestor who was unsurpassed in the knowledge of herbs and root magic. Sacred to her is quicksand, which surrounded her home and protected her from wild animals.

The goddesses of serenity.

A creator deity and earth goddess of the Yoruba.

(Osun) The Orisa of Love and Sensuality. The Yoruba peoples of Nigeria brought Oshun to the New World via Brazil and Cuba. She is depicted as an old wise woman sad at the loss of her beauty. Alternately she may be shown as tall, light brown-skinned and with the sensuality of a prostitute. She is patroness of rivers and the bloodstream, and wears seven brass bracelets. She wears a mirror at her belt to admire herself, is companioned by the primping peacock and cricket, and carries river water in her pot. Powerful spells are worked through this lady of opposites. Love and sensuality are the domains of Oshun. Tall and brown-skinned, she is patroness of rivers and the bloodstream, always carrying her mirror. Powerful love spells are worked through this Lady. Oshun, the Yoruba Goddess of Love and Life-Sustaining Rivers, is the Goddess of all the arts, but especially dance. Beauty belongs to Oshun and represents the human ability to create beauty for its own sake, to create beyond need. It is also said that she is the knitter of civilization, since great cities have been founded, for the most part, along rivers in order to supply water to their populations.

The Yoruba warrior goddess of the wind, the primeval mother of chaos, the mother of nine children (the nine tributaries of the Niger River). She creates change of fortune, and her power is associated with lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes and other storms, cemeteries and death. Her motherly strength inspires us to embrace change and learn from it.
Using her machete, or sword of truth, she cuts through stagnation and clears the way for new growth. She does what needs to be done. She is the wild woman, the force of change; also the queen of the marketplace and a shrewd businesswoman who is adept with horses. As the wind, she is the first breath and the last, the one who carries the spirits of the dead to the other world, which is why she is associated with cemeteries. Oya is tall, stately, and fierce in battle. She is the orisa of creative power and action. They say every breath we take is the gift of Oya. The other two Ancient Mothers are Osun and Yemaja.

The creator and sustainer of life in Ovambo mythology. The Ovambo, a matrilineal people, declare that 'the mother of pots is a hole in the ground; the mother of people is god.'

(Yemaja, Yemoja) She is one of the great goddesses of the Nigerian Yoruba. The Orisha of the Ocean and Motherhood, Yemayah was brought to the New World by the Yoruba people of Nigeria via Brazil and Cuba, where she has been venerated for centuries as Protectress during the middle passage of slavery. She was the sister and wife of Aganju, the soil god, and mother by him of Orungan, god of the noonday sun. She was said to be the daughter of the sea into whose waters she empties.
She is also an avatar of Mama Wata, the mother of waters. Even as she slept, she would create new springs, which gushed forth each time she turned over. The first time she walked on earth, fountains that later became rivers sprang up wherever she set foot. Sea shells, through which the priestesses and priests could hear the voice of the universe, were among her first gifts to the people.
She is known by different names in many localities; As Yemoja (Yemayah) she is the power (orisa) of the ocean and motherhood. She is long-breasted, the goddess of fishes, and wears an insignia of alternating crystal and blue beads. She has a strong, nurturing, life-giving yet furiously destructive nature. She is considered the Great Witch, the ultimate manifestation of female power.
As Yemanja (Imanje) in Brazil she is ocean goddess of the crescent moon, as Ymoa in West Africa she is the river goddess who grants fertility to women. In Cuba she is known as Yemaya (Yemaya Ataramagwa, wealthy queen of the sea; Yemaya Achabba, the stern goddess; Yemaya Oqqutte, the violent goddess; or Yemaya Olokun, the dream goddess). She is known as Agwe in Haiti. She is also referred to as Yamoja, which is a contraction of the the sentence "Iyamo eja", meaning "our mother" or "my mother of fishes". Among the Brazilian Umbandists, Yemaja is the goddess of the sea and patroness of shipwrecked persons. In Santeria, Yemaja (Yemaya) is the equivalent of the Catholic saint Our Lady of Regla. The river Ogun is associated with her, because the water of this river is considered to be a remedy for infertility.
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