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This page contains Familiars inspired by African religions and mythology.

History

Traditional African belief is overwhelmingly monotheistic. There may be spirits and ancestors floating around, but there's only one God. Early missionaries made a complete pig's ear of their research in this respect and seem to have delighted in cataloging as many 'heathen' Gods as they could possibly get away with.

Gods & Deities

Ammit

Ammit, Soul Destroyer II Figure
Ammit (/ˈæmɨt/; "devourer" or "soul-eater"; also spelled Ammut or Ahemait) was a female demon in ancient Egyptian religion with a body that was part lion, hippopotamus and crocodile—the three largest "man-eating" animals known to ancient Egyptians. A funerary deity, her titles included "Devourer of the Dead", "Eater of Hearts", and "Great of Death".

Ammit lived near the scales of justice in Duat, the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against the feather of Ma'at, the goddess of truth, which was depicted as an ostrich feather (the feather was often pictured in Ma'at's headdress). If the heart was judged to be not pure, Ammit would devour it, and the person undergoing judgement was not allowed to continue their voyage towards Osiris and immortality. Once Ammit swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever; this was called "to die a second time".

Ammit was not worshipped; instead she embodied all that the Egyptians feared, threatening to bind them to eternal restlessness if they did not follow the principle of Ma'at.

 

Anubis

Anubis, Keeper of the Dead II Figure
Anubis (/əˈnuːbəs/ or /əˈnjuːbəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἄνουβις) is the Greek name of a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion.

Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts. Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the First Dynasty (c. 3100 – c. 2890 BC), Anubis was also an embalmer. By the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055 – 1650 BC), Anubis was replaced by Osiris in his role as Lord of the underworld. One of his prominent roles was as a god who ushered souls into the afterlife. He attended the weighing scale during the "Weighing of the Heart," in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead. Despite being one of the most ancient and "one of the most frequently depicted and mentioned gods" in the Egyptian pantheon, however, Anubis played almost no role in Egyptian myths.

Anubis was depicted in black, a color that symbolized both rebirth and the discoloration of the corpse after embalming. Anubis is associated with Wepwawet (also called Upuaut), another Egyptian god portrayed with a dog's head or in canine form, but with grey or white fur. Historians assume that the two figures were eventually combined. Anubis' female counterpart is Anput. His daughter is the serpent goddess Kebechet.

 

Apep

Apep the Chaotic Figure
Apep (/ˈæˌpɛp/ or /ˈɑːˌpɛp/) or Apophis (/ˈæpəfɨs/; Ancient Greek: Ἄποφις; also spelled Apepi or Aapep) was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma'at (order/truth). He appears in art as a giant serpent. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāpī, as it was written ꜥꜣpp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Ⲁⲫⲱⲫ Aphōph. Apep was first mentioned in the Eighth Dynasty, and he was honored in the names of the Fourteenth Dynasty king 'Apepi and of the Greater Hyksos king Apophis.

The etymology of his name (ꜥꜣpp) is perhaps to be sought in some west-semitic language where a word root ꜣpp meaning 'to slither' existed. A verb root ꜥꜣpp does at any rate not exist elsewhere in Ancient Egyptian. (It is not to be confused with the verb ꜥpı͗/ꜥpp: 'to fly across the sky, to travel') Apep's name much later came to be falsely connected etymologically in Egyptian with a different root meaning (he who was) spat out; the Romans referred to Apep by this translation of his name. Apophis was a large golden snake known to be miles long. He was so large that he attempted to swallow the sun every day.

Set eventually became thought of as the god of evil, and gradually took on all the characteristics of Apep. Consequently, Apep's identity was eventually entirely subsumed by that of Set.


Bastet

Bastet, Cat Goddess Figure
Bastet was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion, worshiped as early as the Second Dynasty (2890 BC). As Bast, she was the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt. Her name is also spelled Baast, Ubaste, and Baset. The two uniting cultures had deities that shared similar roles and usually the same imagery. In Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was the parallel warrior lioness deity to Bast. Often similar deities merged into one with the unification, but that did not occur with these deities with such strong roots in their cultures. Instead, these goddesses began to diverge. During the Twenty-Second Dynasty (c. 945–715 BC), Bast had changed from a lioness warrior deity into a major protector deity represented as a cat. Bastet, the name associated with this later identity, is the name commonly used by scholars today to refer to this deity.


Bennu

Bennu, the Sun Bird II Figure
The Bennu is an ancient Egyptian deity linked with the sun, creation, and rebirth. It may have been the inspiration for the phoenix in Greek mythology.

According to Egyptian mythology, the Bennu was a self-created being said to have played a role in the creation of the world. It was said to be the ba of Ra and enabled the creative actions of Atum. It was said to have flown over the waters of Nun that existed before creation, landing on a rock and issuing a call that determined the nature of creation. It was also a symbol of rebirth and was therefore associated with Osiris.

Some of the titles of the Bennu bird were "He Who Came Into Being by Himself", and "Lord of Jubilees"; the latter epithet referred to the belief that the Bennu periodically renewed itself like the sun. Its name is related to the Egyptian verb wbn, meaning "to rise in brilliance" or "to shine".


Hapi

Hapi, Tomb Keeper II Figure
Hapi, sometimes transliterated as Hapy, is one of the Four sons of Horus in ancient Egyptian religion, depicted in funerary literature as protecting the throne of Osiris in the Underworld. He is not to be confused with another god of the same name.
He is commonly depicted with the head of a hamadryas baboon, and is tasked with protecting the lungs of the deceased, hence the common depiction of a hamadryas baboon head sculpted as the lid of the canopic jar that held the lungs. Hapi is in turn protected by the goddess Nephthys. When his image appears on the side of a coffin, he is usually aligned with the side intended to face north. When embalming practices changed during the Third Intermediate Period and the mummified organs were placed back inside the body, an amulet of Hapi would be included in the body cavity.


Hathor

Hathor, Harvest Goddess II Figure
Hathor (/ˈhæθɔr/ or /ˈhæθər/; Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr; in Greek: Άθωρ, meaning "mansion of Horus") is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. Hathor was worshiped by royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as "Mistress of the West" welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.

The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows. Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is "housed" in her.

The Ancient Greeks sometimes identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite, while in Roman mythology she corresponds to Venus.


Horus

Horus, the Falcon God II Figure
Horus is one of the most significant deities in ancient Egyptian religion, who was worshipped from at least the late Predynastic period through to Greco-Roman times. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egypt specialists. These various forms may possibly be different perceptions of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner or peregrine, or as a man with a falcon head.
The earliest recorded form of Horus is the patron deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt, who is the first known national god, specifically related to the king who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death. The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris but in another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. Horus served many functions in the Egyptian pantheon, most notably being a god of the sun, war and protection.


Khepri

Khepri, the Morning Sun II Figure
Khepri (also spelled Khepera, Kheper, Khepra, Chepri) is a god in the ancient Egyptian religion.


Khepri was connected with the scarab beetle (kheprer), because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky. Khepri was thus a solar deity. Young dung beetles, having been laid as eggs within the dung ball, emerge from it fully formed. Therefore, Khepri also represented creation and rebirth, and he was specifically connected with the rising sun and the mythical creation of the world. The Egyptians connected his name with the Egyptian language verb kheper, meaning "develop" or "come into being".[1] Kheper, (or Xeper) is a transcription of an ancient Egyptian word meaning to come into being, to change, to occur, to happen, to exist, to bring about, to create, etc. Egyptologists typically transliterate the word as ?pr. Both Kheper and Xeper possess the same phonetic value and are pronounced as "kheffer".


Monthu

Montu, God of War II Figure
Montu was a falcon-god of war in Ancient Egyptian religion. Montu's name, shown in Egyptian hieroglyphs to the right, is technically transcribed as mntw. Because of the difficulty in transcribing Egyptian, it is often realized as Mont, Monthu, Montju, or Menthu.
Montu was an ancient god, his name meaning nomad, originally a manifestation of the scorching effect of the sun, Ra, and as such often appeared under the epithet Montu-Ra. The destructiveness of this characteristic led to him gaining characteristics of a warrior, and eventually becoming a war-god.


Neith

Neith, Goddess of War II Figure
Neith (/neɪθ/ or /niːθ/; also spelled Nit, Net, or Neit) was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty. The Ancient Egyptian name of this city was Zau.
Neith was a goddess of war and of hunting and had as her symbol, two arrows crossed over a shield. Her symbol also identified the city of Sais. This symbol was displayed on top of her head in Egyptian art. In her form as a goddess of war, she was said to make the weapons of warriors and to guard their bodies when they died.

Nephthys

Nephthys, Ruler of Death Figure
Nephthys is a member of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis in Egyptian mythology, a daughter of Nut and Geb. Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris and as the sister-wife of Set.
Nephthys is the Greek form of an epithet (transliterated as Nebet-het, and Nebt-het, from Egyptian hieroglyphs).The origin of the goddess Nephthys is unclear but the literal translation of her name is usually given as "Lady of the House," which has caused some to mistakenly identify her with the notion of a "housewife," or as the primary lady who ruled a domestic household. This is a pervasive error repeated in many commentaries concerning this deity. Her name means quite specifically, "Lady of the [Temple] Enclosure" which associates her with the role of priestess.


Petsuchos

Petsuchos Minister II Figure
Petsuchos is one of the forms of the ancient Egyptian deity Sobek (also called Sebek, Sochet, Sobk, and Sobki) that the Egyptians worshipped. He is associated with the Nile crocodile and is either represented in its form or as a human with a crocodile head. Sobek was also associated with pharaonic power, fertility, and military prowess, but served additionally as a protective deity with apotropaic qualities, invoked particularly for protection against the dangers presented by the Nile river.


Renenūtet

Renenet, Goddess of Wealth Figure
Renenūtet (also transliterated Ernūtet and Renenet) was a goddess of nourishment and the harvest in ancient Egyptian religion. The importance of the harvest caused people to make many offerings to Renenutet during harvest time. Initially, her cult was centered in Terenuthis. Renenutet was envisioned, particularly in art, as a cobra, or as a woman with the head of a cobra.

Sometimes, as the goddess of nourishment, Renenutet was seen as having a husband, Sobek. He was represented as the Nile River, the annual flooding of which deposited the fertile silt that enabled abundant harvests. More usually, Renenutet was seen as the mother of Nehebkau, who occasionally was represented as a snake also. When considered the mother of Nehebkau, Renenutet was seen as having a husband, Geb, who represented the Earth.

Later, as a snake-goddess worshiped over the whole of Lower Egypt, Renenutet was increasingly associated with Wadjet, Lower Egypt's powerful protector and another snake goddess represented as a cobra. Eventually Renenutet was identified as an alternate form of Wadjet, whose gaze was said to slaughter enemies. Wadjet is the cobra on the crown of the pharaohs.


Sekhmet

Sekhmet Aflame II Figure
In Egyptian mythology,Sekhmet /ˈsɛkˌmɛt/ or Sachmis (/ˈsækmɨs/; also spelled Sakhmet, Sekhet, or Sakhet, among other spellings) was originally the warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing for Upper Egypt, when the kingdom of Egypt was divided. She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.
Her cult was so dominant in the culture that when the first pharaoh of the twelfth dynasty, Amenemhat I, moved the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy, the centre for her cult was moved as well. Religion, the royal lineage, and the authority to govern were intrinsically interwoven in Ancient Egypt during its approximately three millennia of existence.


Set

Set, God of the Sands II Figure
Set or Seth (also spelled Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty) is a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Set is not, however, a god to be ignored or avoided; he has a positive role where he is employed by Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus' role as lord of the black land (soil).
In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris' wife Isis reassembled Osiris' corpse and resurrected him long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts. The death of Osiris and the battle between Horus and Set is a popular theme in Egyptian mythology.


Thoth

Thoth, Hieroglypher II Figure
Thoth was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma'at.

Thoth's chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks' interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering. In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.


Wepwawet

Wepwawet, the Vanguard II Figure
In late Egyptian mythology, Wepwawet (hieroglyphic wp-w3w.t; also rendered Upuaut, Wep-wawet, Wepawet, and Ophois) was originally a war deity, whose cult centre was Asyut in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis in the Greco-Roman period). His name means opener of the ways and he is often depicted as a wolf standing at the prow of a solar-boat. Some interpret that Wepwawet was seen as a scout, going out to clear routes for the army to proceed forward. One inscription from the Sinai states that Wepwawet "opens the way" to king Sekhemkhet's victory.


Creatures

Anansi

Anansesem II Figure
Anansi (/əˈnɑːnsi/ ə-nahn-see) is a African folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the spirit of all knowledge of stories. He is also one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore. He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy.


Stories of Anansi became such a prominent and familiar part of Ashanti oral culture that the word Anansesem—"spider tales"—came to embrace all kinds of fables. One of the few studies that examines the role of Anansi folktales among the Ashanti of Ghana is R.S. Rattray’s Akan-Ashanti Folk-Tales (1930). The tales in Rattray’s collection were recorded directly from Ashanti oral storytelling sessions and published in both English and Twi.

Peggy Appiah, who collected Anansi tales in Ghana and published many books of his stories, wrote:
So well known is he that he has given his name to the whole rich tradition of tales on which so many Ghanaian children are brought up – anansesem – or spider tales.
  — Peggy Appiah 

Catoblepas

Catoblepas Groundgazer II Figure
The catoblepas (pl. catoblepones; from the Greek καταβλέπω, (katablépō) "to look downwards") is a legendary creature from Ethiopia, described first by Pliny the Elder and later by Claudius Aelianus.
It is said to have the body of a buffalo and the head of a wild boar. Its back has scales that protect the beast, and its head is always pointing downwards due to its head being heavy. Its stare or breath could either turn people into stone, or kill them. The catoblepas is often thought to be based on real-life encounters with wildebeest, such that some dictionaries say that the word is synonymous with "gnu".

Eater of Entrails

Eton, Eater of Darkness II Figure
The Forty-Two Judges were the divine beings of the Egyptian after-life who presided over the Hall of Truth where the great god Osiris judged the dead. The soul of the deceased was called upon to render up confession of deeds done while in life and to have the heart weighed in the balance of the scales of justice against the white feather of Ma’at, of truth and harmonious balance. If the deceased person’s heart were lighter than the feather, they were admitted to eternal life in the Field of Reeds; if the heart were found heavier than the feather it was thrown to the floor where it was eaten by the monster Amemait (also known as Ammut, `the gobbler', part lion, part hippopotamus and part crocodile) and the soul of the person would then cease to exist. Non-existence, rather than an after-world of torment, was the greatest fear of the ancient Egyptian.
Although Osiris was the principal judge of the dead, the Forty-Two Judges sat in council with him to determine the worthiness of the soul to enjoy continued existence. They represented the forty-two provinces of Upper and Lower Egypt, and each judge was responsible for considering a particular aspect of the deceased’s conscience. Of these, there were nine great judges, Ra (in his other form of Atum) Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Isis, Nephthys, Horus, and Hathor. Of the other judges, they were depicted as awe-inspiring and terrible beings bearing names such as Crusher of Bones, Eater of Entrails, Double Lion, Stinking Face and Eater of Shades, among others (Bunson). The Forty-Two Judges were not all horrifying and terrible of aspect, however, but would appear to be so to that soul who faced condemnation rather than reward for a life well-lived. The soul was expected to be able to recite the Negative Confession (also known as the Declaration of Innocence) in defense of one's life in order to be considered worthy to pass on to The Field of Reeds.

Marid

Scorching Marid II Figure
In Arabic folklore and common mythology, a Marid (Arabic: مارد‎ mārid) is a large and powerful jinn. Marids are mentioned in pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and inside the One Thousand and One Nights.
Marids are often described as the most powerful type of jinn, having especially great powers. They are the most arrogant and proud as well. Like every jinn, they have free will yet could be compelled to perform chores. According to folklore they also have the ability to grant wishes to mortals, but that usually requires battle, imprisonment, rituals, or just a great deal of flattery.

Mummy

Mummy II Figure
A mummy is a deceased human or other animal whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack of air, so that the recovered body does not decay further if kept in cool and dry conditions. Some authorities restrict the use of the term to bodies deliberately embalmed with chemicals, but the use of the word to cover accidentally desiccated bodies goes back to at least 1615 AD.
Mummies of humans and other animals have been found on every continent, both as a result of natural preservation through unusual conditions, and as cultural artifacts. Over one million animal mummies have been found in Egypt, many of which are cats.

Olitiau

Olitiau, the Great Bat II Figure
An Olitiau is a gigantic cryptid bat (or flying reptile) hypothesized to exist in Central Africa. The word 'Olitiau' likely comes from a fusion of the Ipulo words “Ole” and “Ntya”, a name for ceremonial dance masks used to represent demons. The name may be used by the Ipulo to refer to demons in general rather than to the creature itself.
Olitiau are said to have 6–12 ft (2–4 m) wingspans. Their body is allegedly black, though their wings have been described as either dark brown or red. Their lower jaws are said to contain 2-inch (50 mm) long, serrated teeth with equal spacing between each tooth.

Ushabti

Ushabti II Figure
The Ushabti (also called shabti or shawabti, with a number of variant spellings, Ancient Egyptian plural: ushabtiu) was a funerary figurine used in Ancient Egypt.
Ushabtis were placed in tombs among the grave goods and were intended to act as substitutes for the deceased, should he/she be called upon to do manual labor in the afterlife. The figurines typically carried a hoe on their shoulder and a basket on their backs. They were usually written on by the use of hieroglyphs typically found on the legs. Called “answerers,” they carried inscriptions asserting their readiness to answer the gods' summons to work.
The practice of using shabtis originated in the Old Kingdom (c. 2600 to 2100 B.C.E) with the use of life-sized reserve heads made from limestone, which were buried with the mummy. Most ushabtis were of minor size, and many produced in multiples – they sometimes covered the floor around a sarcophagus. Exceptional ushabtis are of larger size, or produced as a one of-a-kind master work. Due to the shabti's commonness through all Egyptian timeperiods, and world museums' desire to represent ancient Egyptian art objects, the shabti is one of the most commonly represented objects in Egyptology displays. Produced in huge numbers, ushabtis, along with scarabs, are the most numerous of all ancient Egyptian antiquities to survive.

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