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Ancient Gods of Agriculture

By Yona Williams    11/26/10

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Many cultures give praise to certain ancient gods and goddesses for showing them how to tend to their land. They believe it is because of them that their ancestors learned the ways of agriculture. In this article, you will learn about some of the deities associated with agriculture – some of which who had ties to the underworld, such as Osiris – an ancient Egyptian god who was known as an earth god.

Osiris – the Egyptians

To the Egyptians, Osiris was a rather ancient god – even pre-dating the Egyptian civilization. Myths speak of the god as a former king who taught his people how to sow seeds and harvest what the soil could give them. When Osiris was no longer a king among the living, he became an earth god associated with fertile soil, trees, and corn. As more time passed, the god later became the ruler of the Egyptian underworld called Duat.

During the time of his worship, the Moon was an important part of the ancient Egyptian belief system. There is a legend involving Osiris that says his body was torn into pieces and then made whole again. Since plant growth usually stays in line with lunar cycles, Osiris became linked to the Moon.

Cronus – the Greeks

The Greeks saw the god Cronus and the Romans viewed the god Saturn in a similar manner as the Egyptians looked upon Osiris. Cronus was one of the oldest gods associated with Greek myths. One of the earliest depictions of the god is a statue that dates back to 7000 BCE. Like Osiris, Cronus was believed to be a king of the living who taught his people the ways of agriculture. He also became an earth god linked to the harvest. It is not known if Cronus willingly relocated to the edge of Tartarus (the Greek underworld), but that is where he ended up. In the underworld, the lord and ruler was Cronus' son Hades (or Pluto).

Balder – the Nordics

The Sun is a significant component in myths regarding agriculture. Nordic lore says that the Sun god named Balder made a journey across the sky so that the darkness was giving life with energy. This also signified a rebirth of the Sun. The return of the Sun was very important to many different gods and male deities were known for fighting in favor of Balder's return. They were in charge of bringing the Sun back, while female deities worked on the renewal of Earth's fertility. These roles were highly important, as the Nordic people believed that the fight for life took place both on Earth and in the sky.


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