Ancient gods of nature were often worshipped to ensure crops would grow and prosperity in other pursuits, such as fishing. The gods were also looked upon for protection. For example, Silvanus was thought to keep wolves away from killing cattle. In this article, you will learn information on nature gods associated with the Romans, Aztecs, and Japanese.
Silvanus , Roman
The Romans saw Silvanus as a spirit or god of the woods and field. Since he was viewed as a protector of forests, he was especially recognized in places where trees grew wild. Watching over the fields and the husbands who worked the land, Silvanus was also seen as a protector of the boundaries of fields. Protecting flocks of cattle, he was called upon to keep wolves away, as well as assist in the fertility of the cattle.
In regards to an estate, Silvanus was thought to appear in three different forms and was often referred to in the plural. For example, shepherds worshiped one form, while another form of a god watched over the point where an estate began.
Ebisu , Japanese
Fishermen worshipped Ebisu, who was known to watch over workingmen and provide good luck to those fishing the waters. Ebisu belonged to a group called the Seven Gods of Fortune, but he was the only one of the seven that came from Japan. Originally, the god was called Hiruko, which translated into ‘leech child.’
Hiruko was the first child of Izanagi and Izanami. He was born without bones as a consequence of his mother’s sin during the marriage ritual. Hiruko struggled to live, but because he could not stand, he was tossed into the sea in a boat made out of reed before he reached his third birthday. Eventually, he washed ashore and was cared for by the Ainu , an indigenous group of people that lived in Japan and Russia.
Legend has it that the child was weak, but was able to overcome many barriers. He grew legs when he was three years old and was transformed into the god Ebisu. He is described as being slightly crippled and deaf, but despite all of this , is still full of joy and fortune. Ebisu is depicted as wearing a tall hat and holding a rod and large sea bass in his hands. Jellyfish are also associated with the god.
Ebisu was also associated with guarding over the health of small children.
Xochipilli , Aztec
Not only was Xochipilli the Aztec god of flowers and maize, but he also presided over song, dance, art, games, and beauty. Aztec mythology mentions the god in stories regarding fertility and agricultural produce. Sometimes, he is mentioned in the same breathe as Tlalic (god of rain) and Cinteotl (the god of maize).