Just for the hell of it, here’s my top 10 favourite deities from whatever mythology. All the gods/goddesses featured here are deities who I think are really cool, so it’s kinda hard for each god to top each other.
In India, Kartikeya is a god of youth and war. That alone is cool. He’s also somewhat seductive Sometimes he has more than two arms, which I like about Indian gods, especially if that includes multiple weapons. In Hinduism, he’s even referred to as the Ancient of Days, or Sanat Kumara (“always youthful”). And in Buddhism, he gets to be a bodhisattva dressed as a warrior. But he’s at the bottom of the list because, while he is cool for what he is, his peacock mount is often shown trampling a snake, which to me means another message of sublimation of desire and ego, which I philosophically disagree with, but not all depictions have this.
Set is the Egyptian god of chaos, the unseen, the mysterious, deserts, war, and storms, and he was associated with strength and fertility. Those are only some reasons he’s cool. A friend of mine said that after he defeated Apep, he absorbed his power. I can’t imagine how cool that’d be. Also, he is associated with Baal, a storm god who would later be known as Beelzebub in the Christian world.
Imagine that not only do we have a feathered, winged serpent or dragon, but that this serpent/dragon is a god and creator of humans. That itself is quite cool. He is also both heaven and earth, or the sacralized serpentine qualities.
Baal is a god of the Canaanites associated with storms and fertility and is known as a strong and potent god, one of the most powerful in the Canaanite pantheon. It is said that in Egypt he is equated with the wild god known as Set, and he is also known as Beelzebub in Judeo-Christian religion, thanks to the rivalry between Baal and Yahweh (a.k.a. Jehovah). The icing on the cake: he has horns as a sign of his power.
Agni is the Hindu god of fire who dates back to the old Vedic religion of India. He’s not just cool because he’s fire, but he also has eternal youth and immortality, since the fire is re-lit every day. And he must have an insatiable appetite because fire tends to be very consuming in its nature. That makes him important to me. Added to that, he is said to be closely related to the god Shiva.
I see him as a vibrant and interesting figure. A strong and bright god of war, whose virtue is his passion. Usually Asura refers to a group of entities, but in recognizing a god called Asura, I find a truly vibrant figure. Demonic yet bright.
Ishtar is the goddess of love, sex, and war, as well as life, death, and rebirth. For me, she is beautiful, and impressive. She’s a goddess of power, like a female expression of Baal/Bel. Known throught the Near East as many names: such as Inanna and Astarte, and in the Judeo-Christian world she became a demon called Astaroth. Truly, she is a vibrant goddess.
Why is Lucifer here in a list about gods? Because he’s sort of godlike, or may as well be. For me, Lucifer is an important embodiment of freedom and selfhood, and the virtue of independent thought and resisting conforming to authority. He is liberty, in a way, and truly devilish, dealing in the serpentine, and thus primal.
Shiva’s wife, Parvati (a.k.a. Shakti) is not just beautiful, but clearly extremely powerful. When her son Ganesh’s head was accidentally lopped off, her frenzy of rage and grief almost destroyed the universe. Her aspect Durga is one of the mightiest war gods ever. And another aspect, Kali, is even more terrifyingly powerful, to the point of a female expression of Chaos and pure power itself. Imagine a beautiful, powerful, and sensual earth mother, magnified greatly. Parvati and her aspects seem like a female expression of Shiva. Speaking of him….
In my opinion he is quite possibly the most powerful god in all mythology. He is so dynamic, so strong, so powerful, so wild, and so fertile and sensual. His association with the serpentine and the divine, and the primal, makes him so awesomely raw. I don’t even know if I can describe him properly. He’s just awesome. And so are his various incarnations, such as Rudra, Bhairava, and Mahakala.
Honorable mentions: Tezcatlipoca (Aztec mythology), Sekhmet (Egyptian mythology), Pele (Hawaiian myth), Kubera/Vaisravana (Hindu/Buddhist myth), Kama (Hindu myth), Okuninushi (Japanese myth), Arahabaki (pre-Shinto Japanese myth), Cybele (Phrygian myth), Brahma (Hindu myth), Sun Wukong (Chinese myth), Chi You (Chinese myth), Ne Zha (Chinese myth), Xi Wangmu (Chinese myth), Dionysus (Greek myth), Nuwa (Chinese myth), Yama (Hindu/Buddhist myth), and any wrathful deity in Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism.