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Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology.

A water deity is a deity in mythology associated with water or various bodies of water. Water deities are common in mythology and were usually more important among civilizations in which the sea or ocean, or a great river was more important. Another important focus of worship of water deities has been springs or holy wells.

As a form of animal worship, whales and snakes (hence dragons) have been regarded as godly deities throughout the world (other animals are such as turtles, fish, crabs, and sharks). In Asian lore, whales and dragons sometimes have connections. Serpents are also common as a symbol or as serpentine deities, sharing many similarities with dragons.


American mythology

North American

Inuit

  • Aipaloovik, an evil sea god associated with death and destruction
  • Alignak, a lunar deity and god of weather, water, tides, eclipses, and earthquakes
  • Arnapkapfaaluk, a fearsome sea goddess
  • Idliragijenget, god of the ocean
  • Nootaikok, god who presided over icebergs and glaciers
  • Sedna, goddess of the sea and its creatures

Central American/Carribean

Aztec

  • Atlaua, god of water, archers, and fishermen
  • Chalchiuhtlicue, goddess of water, lakes, rivers, seas, streams, horizontal waters, storms, and baptism
  • Opochtli, god of fishing and birdcatchers
  • Tlāloc, god of water, fertility, and rain
  • Tlaloque, a group of rain, water, and mountain gods

Fon/Ewe

  • Agwé, a sea loa
  • Clermeil, a river loa
  • Mami Wata, a water loa
  • Pie, a lake and river loa

Mayan

Taíno

  • Atabey (goddess), Mother goddess of fresh water and fertility. Female counterpart of the god Yúcahu.

South American

Incan

  • Pariacaca, god of water and rainstorms
  • Paricia, god who sent a flood to kill humans who did not respect him adequately.

African mythology

Benin

  • Ezili, goddess of sweet water, beauty, and love

Dogon

  • Nommos, amphibious spirits that are worshiped as ancestors

Lugandan

  • Sezibwa, goddess of the Sezibwa River

Tonga

  • Nyami Nyami, a river spirit of the Batonga of Zambia and Zimbabwe

Yoruba

  • Oshun, a river orisha
  • Olokun, an ocean orisha
  • Yemoja, a river orisha and ocean orisha as well in new world Yoruba religions.

Western European mythology

  • Aspidochelone, colossal sea monster from the medieval bestiary Physiologus
  • Davy Jones, the Devil of the seas in Western piratical lore

Lusitania

  • Bandua, theonym associated with fountains
  • Duberdicus, god of the sea and rivers
  • Durius, personification of the Douro river

Indo-European mythology

Celtic

  • Acionna (Gaulish), a water goddess/genius loci of the Orleanais region and the Essonne
  • Belisama, goddess of lakes and rivers, fire, crafts and light
  • Boann, goddess of the River Boyne (Irish)
  • Condatis, (Gaulish), god of the River Wear and healing
  • Danu (Dana), Continental Celtic river goddess. Her Irish variation was an ancestor/mother goddess.
  • Dylan Eil Ton (Welsh)
  • Grannus, a god associated with spas, the sun, fires and healing thermal and mineral springs
  • Lí Ban (Irish), water goddess
  • Lir (Irish), god of the sea
  • Llŷr (Welsh), god of the sea
  • Manannán mac Lir (Manx, Isle of Man), god of the sea
  • Nantosuelta, river goddess of fire, the earth, healing, and fertility[1]
  • Nodens, god associated with healing, the sea, hunting and dogs
  • Sinann (Irish), goddess of the River Shannon
  • Sequana (Gaulish), goddess of the River Seine
  • Selkie

Norse-Germanic

  • Ægir, personification of the sea
  • Freyr, god of rain, sunlight, fertility, life, and summer
  • Nehalennia, goddess of the North Sea
  • Nerthus, mostly an earth goddess, but is also associated with lakes, springs, and holy waters.
  • Nine Daughters of Ægir, who personify the characteristics of waves.
  • Nix, water spirits who usually appear in human form.
  • Njörðr, god of the sea, particularly of seafaring.
  • Rán, sea goddess of death who collects the drowned in a net, wife of Ægir.
  • Sága, wisdom goddess who lives near water and pours Odin a drink when he visits.
  • Tiddy Mun, a bog deity once worshiped in Lincolnshire, England who had the ability to control floods.

Greek-Roman

Greek

Main article: Greek sea gods


  • Achelous, Greek river god
  • Aegaeon, god of violent sea storms and ally of the Titans
  • Alpheus, river god in Arcadia
  • Amphitrite, sea goddess and consort of Poseidon and thus queen of the sea
  • Anapos, water god of eastern Sicily
  • Brizo, goddess of sailors
  • Carcinus, a giant crab who allied itself with the Hydra against Heracles. When it died, Hera placed it in the sky as the constellation Cancer
  • Ceto, goddess of the dangers of the ocean and of sea monsters
  • Charybdis, a sea monster and spirit of whirlpools and the tide
  • Cymopoleia, a daughter of Poseidon and goddess of giant storm waves
  • Doris, goddess of the sea's bounty and wife of Nereus
  • Eidothea, prophetic sea nymph and daughter of Proteus
  • Electra, an Oceanid, consort of Thaumas
  • Eurybia, goddess of the mastery of the seas
  • Galene (Γαλήνη), goddess of calm seas
  • Glaucus, the fisherman's sea god
  • Gorgons, three monstrous sea spirits
  • The Graeae, three ancient sea spirits who personified the white foam of the sea; they shared one eye and one tooth between them
  • Haliae, sea nymphs
    • Naiades, freshwater nymphs
    • Oceanides, nymphs of freshwater sources
  • Hippocampi, the horses of the sea
  • The Ichthyocentaurs, a pair of centaurine sea-gods with the upper bodies of men, the lower fore-parts of horses, ending in the serpentine tails of fish
  • Leucothea, a sea goddess who aided sailors in distress
  • Nerites, watery consort of Ayodite and/or beloved of Poseidon
  • Nereus, the old man of the sea, and the god of the sea's rich bounty of fish
  • Oceanus, Titan god of the Earth-encircling river Okeanos, the font of all the Earth's fresh-water
  • Palaemon, a young sea god who aided sailors in distress
  • Phorcys, god of the hidden dangers of the deep
  • Pontus, primeval god of the sea, father of the fish and other sea creatures
  • Poseidon, Olympian god of the sea and king of the sea gods; also god of flood, drought, earthquakes, and horses. His Roman equivalent is Neptune.
  • Potamoi, deities of rivers, fathers of Naiads, brothers of the Oceanids, and as such, the sons of Oceanus and Tethys.
  • Proteus, a shape-shifting, prophetic old sea god, and the herdsman of Poseidon's seals
  • Psamathe, goddess of sand beaches
  • Scylla, a sea monster, later authors made up a backstory of her being a Halia transformed into a monster due to Circe's jealousy
  • The Telchines, sea spirits native to the island of Rhodes; the gods killed them when they turned to evil magic
  • Tethys, Titan goddess of the sources fresh-water, and the mother of the rivers (Potamoi), springs, streams, fountains and clouds
  • Thalassa, primordial goddess of the sea
  • Thaumas, god of the wonders of the sea and father of the Harpies and the rainbow goddess Iris
  • Thetis, leader of the Nereids who presided over the spawning of marine life in the sea, mother of Achilles
  • Triteia, daughter of Triton and companion of Ares
  • Triton, fish-tailed son and herald of Poseidon

Roman

  • Coventina, Romano-British goddess of a sacred spring at Carrawburgh on Hadrian's Wall
  • Fontus, god of wells and springs
  • Juturna, goddess of fountains, wells, and springs
  • Neptune, god-king of the sea. His Greek counterpart was Poseidon.
  • Salacia, goddess of saltwater. Neptune's consort.
  • Tiberinus, the genius of the river Tiber.
  • Volturnus, a god of the Tiber who may originally have been a god of all rivers

Hindu/Vedic

Varuna, the Lord of the All the Water Bodies

Matsya, the Fish Avatar of Vishnu

  • Ap, group of water goddesses
  • Apam Napat, god of fresh water, such as in rivers and lakes
  • Danu, goddess of primordial waters, mother of Vritra and the Danavas
  • Ganga, goddess of the Ganges river and purity
  • Makara, mystical creature of waters
  • Matsya, the fish avatar in the ten primary avatars of Hindu god Vishnu
  • Sarasvati, goddess of knowledge,music and the Sarasvati river
  • Tapti, goddess of Tapti river
  • Varuna, god of the water and the celestial ocean
  • Yami, goddess of Yamuna river

Ossetia

  • Donbettyr, master of all waters

Slavic

  • Kostroma, goddess of fertility. After discovering that her husband, Kupala, is her brother, she jumped into the forest lake (in other legends into the river Ra). After her death, she became a mavka (or rusalka).
  • Mati-syra-zemla, moist mother, also the earth goddess
  • Mokosh, moistness, lady of waters, goddess of moisture
  • Morskoi, the god and king of the sea
  • Rusalki, female ghosts, water nymphs, succubi or mermaid-like demons that dwell in waterways.
  • Veles, god of earth, waters, and the underworld
  • Vodyanoi, water demon who lived in lakes and rivers

Uralic mythology

Finnish

  • Ahti, god of the depths and fish
  • Iku-Turso, a malevolent sea monster
  • Vedenemo, a goddess of water
  • Vellamo, the wife of Ahti, goddess of the sea, lakes and storms.

Eastern European/Western Asian mythology

Armenian

Anahi ta, the divinity of "the Waters" (Aban) and associated with fertility, healing, and wisdom Astghik, goddess of water sources Tsovinar, goddess of seas and storms

Hittite

  • Aruna, god of the sea
  • Hatepuna, daughter of the sea

Lithuania

  • Bangpūtys, god of sea and storm
  • Laumė, goddess of wild spaces, including waters

Turkey

  • Ak Ana, Goddess of water

Afro-Asiatic mythology

Canaanite

  • Yam, sea god

Egyptian

  • Anuket, goddess of the Nile and nourisher of the fields
  • Hapi, god of the annual flooding of the Nile
  • Khnum, god of the Nile
  • Nephthys, goddess of rivers, death, mourning, the dead and night
  • Nu, uncreated god, personification of the primordial waters
  • Osiris, god of the dead and afterlife; originally god of water and vegetation
  • Satet, goddess of the Nile River's floods
  • Sobek, god of the Nile river, depicted as a crocodile or a man with the head of a crocodile
  • Tefnut, goddess of water, moisture and fertility

Jewish

Mesopotamia

  • Abzu, god of fresh water, father of all other gods
  • Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals
  • Enki, god of water and of the river Tigris
  • Marduk, god associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic
  • Nammu, goddess of the primeval sea
  • Nanshe, goddess of the Persian Gulf, social justice, prophecy, fertility and fishing
  • Sirsir, god of mariners and boatmen
  • Tiamat, goddess of salt water and chaos, also mother of all gods

Persia/Zoroastria

  • Ahurani, Ahurani is a water goddess from ancient Persian mythology who watches over rainfall as well as standing water
  • Anahita, the divinity of "the Waters" (Aban) and associated with fertility, healing, and wisdom
  • Apam Napat, the divinity of rain and the maintainer of order
  • Haurvatat, the Amesha Spenta associated with water, prosperity, and health in post-Gathic Zoroastrianism
  • Tishtrya, Zoroastrian benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility.

Sino-Tibetan/East Asian mythology

Ainu

  • Amemasu, monster in the lakes
  • Repun Kamui, god of the sea, often referring to orca

Chinese

File:鹿港新祖宮「慶端陽活動」.jpg

Chinese sea goddess Mazu

  • Ehuang & Nuying, goddesses of the Xiang River
  • Gonggong, red-haired dragon with the head of a man and water god who, together with his associate Xiang Yao, is responsible for the great floods
  • Hebo, god of the Yellow River
  • Longmu, goddess of the Xijiang River in the Lingnan area
  • Mazu, goddess of the sea and protector of seafarers
  • Tam Kung, sea deity worshiped in Hong Kong and Macau with the ability to forecast weather
  • Honorable Kings of the Water Immortals (Shuixian Zunwang)
    • Han Ao or Lu Ban, the inventors
    • Qu Yuan, Wu Zixu, and Xiang Yu, famous suicides lost in rivers
    • Yu the Great, tamer of China's Great Flood
  • Dragon Kings of the Four Seas
    • Ao Kuang, Dragon King of the Eastern Sea
    • Ao Qin, Dragon King of the Southern Sea
    • Ao Run, Dragon King of the Western Sea
    • Ao Shun, Dragon King of the Northern Sea

Indonesia

  • Dewi Danu, Balinese Hindu water goddess
  • Dewi Lanjar, Javanese Queen of the North Sea
  • Nyai Roro Kidul, Javanese Queen of the South Sea (Indian Ocean)

Japanese

See also: List of legendary creatures from Japan
  • Ebisu, god of fortunes and fishery, often being referred to marine megafaunas such as whales and whale sharks (hence being also called "Ebisu-shark")[2][3]
  • Hanzaki Daimyojin, gigantic Japanese giant salamander and master of the water
  • Kuraokami, one of Suijin
  • Mizuchi, Japanese dragon and sea god
  • Ōhoyamatsumi, god of mountains, sea and war
  • Ryūjin or Watatsumi, Japanese dragon and tutelary deity of the sea
  • Suijin, Shinto god of water
  • Sumiyoshi sanjin, god of ocean and sailing
  • Susanoo, Shinto god of storms and the sea
  • Watatsumi, dragon king and ocean god
  • Yamata no Orochi, serpentine monster but also regarded as an incarnation of violent river

Korean

  • Imoogi or Imugi, giant serpents of Korean folklore which later become true dragons
  • King Munmu, a king who wished to become a dragon before his death to protect Korea from the East Sea
  • Dragon King, an undersea deity believed to determine the fortunes of fishermen and sailors

Vietnam

  • Lạc Long Quân, legendary ancestor of Vietnamese people.
  • Cá Ông (Vietnamese name for blue whales, also dolphins and whale sharks in some cases), king of the sea and patron of fishermen.

Austronesian

Australia

Fiji

  • Dakuwaqa, a shark god
  • Daucina, god of seafaring

Hawaii

  • Kamohoalii, shark god
  • Kanaloa or Tangaroa, god of the ocean and magics and underworld with forms of cephalopod
  • Nāmaka, sea goddess
  • Ukupanipo, shark god who controls the amount of fish close enough for the fisherman to catch

Māori

  • Ikatere, a fish god, the father of all the sea creatures including mermaids
  • Rongomai, a whale god.
  • Taniwha, deities or monsters (often take forms resembling dragons)
  • Tangaroa, god of the sea
  • Tohora (Maori name for southern right whales), the great whale who saved legendary hero Paikea, famously known as the Whale Rider, (also the Maori name for humpback whales) from drowning and carried him to land. This led to the creation of New Zealand.

Phillipines

Samoa

  • Great Serpent Degei, the supreme God
  • Luagal, serpent god of the sea

Island Nations

  • Agunua, serpentine god of the sea of Solomon Islands
  • Ayida-Weddo, serpentine spirit among several island nations

References

  1. "Goddess Nantosuelta". 11 February 2012. https://journeyingtothegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/goddess-nantosuelta/. 
  2. 村上健司編著 (2005). 日本妖怪大事典. Kwai books. 角川書店. pp. 182. ISBN 978-4-04-883926-6. 
  3. 大藤時彦他 (1955). 民俗学研究所編. ed. 綜合日本民俗語彙. 第2巻. 柳田國男 監修. 平凡社. pp. 763. 
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