Throughout human history, childbirth and pregnancy have always been extremely dangerous undertakings. The path to motherhood, like any good rite of passage, led women very close to death. Even with today's scientific and medical advancements, women and their infants perish during pregnancy and childbirth all the time. It is no wonder then that every culture prays for protection of its women through this dangerous rite of passage. Here is a list of just some of the Gods and Goddesses concerned with pregnancy and childbirth.
Artemis - In Hellenic Lore, ''Artemis'' was the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of forests and hills, virginity/fertility, and the hunt and was often depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenic times she occasionally assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth and in Roman times she came to be identified with Diana. It is said that Artemis helped her mother Leto birth Apollo immediately after her own birth.
Bes - Bes is the ancient Egyptian protector of infants and pregnant women. He also protected against scorpion and snake bites. He was imaged as a small, dwarfish person wearing a lion skin or having features of a lion. His image was a popular amulet of protection.
Diana - The name Diana comes from Latin divios meaning "heavenly" or "divine".
Juno - Juno is the Roman Queen of the Gods, Goddess of women and protectress of the state. She is often associated with the Greek Hera and the Etruscan Goddesses Uni or Cupra. Together with Jupiter and Minerva she was part of the Capitoline Triad of the primary Gods of Rome and is the mother of Mars the tutelary God of Rome. The month June is named for Her and the first day of each month, the Kalends, is dedicated to Her.
Nuada - Nuada Airgetlám of the Silver Hand (Also spelled Nuadu, Nuadha, Airgeadlámh) was the God-King of the Tuatha Dé Danann before they came to Ireland and for some time after.
Selene - Selene (suh LEE nee) Σελήνη is the ancient Greek Titan Goddess and personification of the Moon. Selene drives her chariot silver drawn by two white winged horses or bulls across the sky each night. Sometimes she is riding a bull or a horse.
Tawaret - Tawaret is an ancient Egyptian Goddess associated with women and childbirth. Her appearance is a composite with the head of a hippopotamus, the tail of a crocodile and the body of a lion, with features of a heavily pregnant woman. Like Bes images of Tawaret were often kept in the home as protective amulets.
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