Our Pagan and Polytheist Heroes and Martyrs
This page is dedicated to all those throughout the generations who maintained their Polytheism, their devotion to their Gods, traditions, and ancestral ways despite opposition, torture, and death. This page is dedicated to all those whose lives and sometimes deaths may inspire us today to live lives more committed to our Gods and ancestors.
Over the next few weeks and months, I will add names to this page. I encourage those of you reading to send me those people –ancient and modern (you’ll notice I do include a few contemporary Heathens and Pagans) whom you feel qualify as our Heroes. Ancient Paganisms not only honored their ancestors as a core practice, but they also had hero cultus. It’s time this was restored.
Honoring the dead and honoring our heroes isn’t a practice just for shamans, spiritworkers, or priests. It’s something everyone, everyday can and should be doing. This is fundamental. One of the Delphic maxims reads: “Strive to be married.” Contemporary Hellenistai, according to one source, interpret this as “Strive to maintain a stable household.” Regular and consistent honoring of one’s dead is part of that household management. We are all engaged in restoring a sundered, broken body of traditions, traditions that were destroyed in what amounts to religious genocide. Our ancestors are the best source we have for reclaiming what was lost. They are our strength, our protection, our link with the past, our teachers for the future. Praise them. Ever, now, and always: praise them.
Julian the Martyr, often called “the Apostate”: 4th Century Roman emperor who attempted to restore Paganism as the dominant religious faith of the empire.
Hypatia: 4th Century Alexandrian scholar and Pagan. She was attacked and skinned by a mob of Christians because she was a woman, an intellectual force of her time, and because she refused to convert to Christianity.
Olvir of Egg: c. late 900s C.E., a Norwegian Heathen who continued to perform proper sacrifices to the Gods in defiance of the fanatic and King, Olaf Tryggvason. For his faith, he was murdered by Olaf.
Radbod of Frisia: (died 719 C.E.): Frisian monarch who refused baptism when told he would not join his ancestors after death. His words upon refusing, much loved by contemporary Heathens, are said to have been: “I would rather roast in hel with my ancestors than feast in heaven with a pacel of beggars.”
4500 Saxon Martyrs: murdered (beheaded) by Charlemagne in 782 C.E. for their refusal to convert to Christianity (i.e., for their refusal to abandon their ancestral traditions and indigenous religion and Gods).
Fuensanta Arismendi Plaza: 1950-2010, contemporary Heathen mystic, devoted to Loki, Sigyn, Andvari and the Gods of the sea. Her devotion was tremendous and she taught and inspired many in the contemporary community toward greater love and devotion to their Gods. She has been called on by several contemporary Northern Traditionalists for aid in deepening their devotional practices.
Alexei Kondratiev: 1949-2010, linguist, Celtic Pagan, devotee of Brigid, tremendous teacher, mentor, and scholar. He worked tirelessly throughout his life, not only to preserve the indigenous languages of the Celtic lands, but to revive and restore contemporary Celtic Paganism.
Len (Black Lotus) Rosenberg: (1951-2010), Shakta, Pagan teacher, storyteller, and devotee of Kali, Ganesh, Tara and many other Deities, he was partner of Alexei Kondratiev and with him co -founder of Mnemosynides Coven in NY.
Mbah Maridjan, the juru kunci of Mount Merapi: (died 2010). As juru kunci, he was responsible for making offerings to the mountain spirits. When the volcano erupted in 2010, Maridjan stayed despite orders to evacuate because he felt it was his duty to intercede with the spirit of Merapi and make sure the volcano would “breathe, not cough.” When the 1,000*C wind from the eruption hit him, he was in a position of prayer. He died there, just as he said he would. He’d been badly burned by the Volcano in 2006 so he knew exactly how he was going to die.
The Cacique Hatuey and the female war-leader Anacaona: Taino warriors who died fighting rather than submit to the Spanish (and their agenda of Christianization).
To all those who died at Yara where the blood of Taino martyrs soaked the earth. Their memory sings out through the trees that have sprung from the soil.
For Cochise and Geronimo, Victorio and Lozen and all those who resisted.
For the African men, women, and children in the MIddle Passage who jumped from the ships and embraced the sea rather than face life fettered. WE REMEMBER. For those who survived the passage and met in secret and taught their children the ancestral ways, even in the midst of slavery. WE REMEMBER.
Enhenduanna: Sumerian poet and priestess whose hymns in praise of her Gods remain today and are spoken in ritual by Pagans today.
Sabina Lampadius (c. 377 C.E.): a Roman priestess, she erected an altar to Attis and Rhea…in what later became the Vatican. Her inscription remains still.
To her father, C. Caeionius Rufius Volusianus Lampadius, a fervent advocate of the Pagan religion at a time when it was under fatal attack. May their names be praised.
All the Pythias who served their God Apollo as oracles at Delphi and elsewhere. May their devotion to their traditions, their Gods, and their craft be an inspiration to all of us today.
The Vestals: who protected Rome with their sacrifices. Let their piety be hailed.
Veleda: (c. 69 C.E.) highly respected Germanic prophetess and priestess of the Bructeri tribe). It is noted by Tacitus that she arbitrated disputes and successfully predicted the outcome of several military engagements between the Germanic tribes and Rome. Let us remember her example and that divination was once a sacred and highly respected craft.
Isaac Bonewits: (1949-2010) 20th century occultist, Pagan, environmental activist, author, bard, humorist, and family man. He founded Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF) in 1983. Per http://www.adf.org/about/leaders/isaac-bonewits/
Victor Anderson (1917-2001) and Cora Anderson (1915-2008): Founders of the Feri Tradition, an American, pre-Gardinerian initiatory system of witchcraft, heavily based on oral transmission of traditional lore.
Lawrence Durdin-Robertson: (1920-1994): co-founder and elder of the Fellowship of Isis.
Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson: (April 13, 1917-November 14, 2013): co-founder and elder of the Fellowship of Isis; gifted mystic, writer, and artist; beloved of Isis.
Sitting Bull: (1831-1890): holy man, protector of his people, a man who tried to defend and preserve his people’s traditions. May he be hailed.
Jehanah Wedgwood: (1940-2010): Druid Elder, poet, Grove mother of two groves: Monarch Bear Grove and Manannan Mac Lir Grove, both in San Francisco.
Hadrian: (P. Aelius Hadrianus, January 24, 76 CE-July 10, 138 CE): Roman Emperor (117-138); builder of Hadrian’s Wall (a major source of religious syncretism and knowledge of Roman Britain), the Pantheon and the Temple of Venus and Roma in Rome. He completed the Olympeion for Zeus in Athens; founded of the cults of Disciplina and Antinous; deified Trajan, Plotina, Matidia, Sabina, and Domitia Paulina; traveled widely and participated in many cults and mysteries, including the Eleusinian Mysteries (as an Epoptes or senior-grade initiate), and major cultist of Zeus and Serapis.
Sappho: (c. 630/612 BCE-570 BCE): one of Greece’s greatest and most honored lyric poets, from the isle of Lesbos; cultist of Aphrodite; the terms “sapphic” and “lesbian” (even in the ancient world) for female homoeroticism are attributable to her influence.
Flavius Eugenius: (?-died Sept. 6, 394 CE): Roman Emepror/usurper against Theodosius, who though nominally Christian, was the last Emperor to support the continued existence of Paganism. Previously, a grammar and rhetoric teacher!
Arbogast: (?-died Sept. 6, 394): Frankish general who put Flavius Eugenius into power as a contender for Roman Emperor, in the effort to re-establish the continuity of Paganism.
Ptolemy I Soter: (c. 367-283 BCE): former general of Alexander the Great, ruler of Egypt (323-283 BCE) and Pharaoh (from 304/5 BCE); established the Ptolemaic Dynasty; established the Graeco-Egyptian cult of Serapis.
Pancrates: (a.k.a. Pachrates; ?-late 1st/mid-to-late 2nd c. CE): Egyptian poet, prophet, priest and magician of Heliopolis; wrote poems on Hadrian and Antinous’ lion-hunt and a lost piece called Bochhoreïs; one spell in PGM IV attributed to him, which he gave to the Emperor Hadrian. More can be found here: http://aediculaantinoi.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/triads-of-antinous-27-three-poets/
Julian the Theurge: (?-second century CE): purported author of the Chaldean Oracles, who served Marcus Aurelius and was one of several possible contenders credited with the “rain miracle” during the emperor’s campaign against the Quadi; the Chaldean Oracles went on to be one of the most important ancient documents on theurgy and neoplatonism, commented on into the medieval Byzantine period and beyond. Re. rain miracle see: http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/rain.html.
The Sacred Band of Thebes: (died 338 BCE): group of 150 pairs of charioteers and chariot-warriors who were lovers, first organized in 378 BCE by Gorgidas, and defeated by Philip II of Macedon at the Battle of Chaeronea.
Cunobelinus: (late 1st c. BCE-40s CE): “king of the Britons” who came to power in c. 9 CE, fending off various tribes in the process of doing so; ally of the Romans who kept them at a distance during Caligula’s reign, but died, which left Claudius to conquer it easily; his name means “hound of Belenus.”
Boudicca: (died c. 50/61 CE) female leader of the Iceni tribe who lead an initially successful revolt against the Romans (allied with other tribes) for several years in Britain; cultist of Andrasta.
Arminius: (18/17 B.C.E. – 21 C.E.): leader of the Cherusci tribe in Germany, won several important battles against the Romans, decimating their legions in the TeutoburgForest and so putting a halt to further Roman insurgence into Germany.
Vettius Agorius Praetextatus: (c 315-384 CE): pontifex of Vesta, priest of Liber, and of the Eleusinian Mysteries, Praetorian Prefect and Consul. Led a Senatorial legation before Emperor Valentinian I in hopes of sparing several of his colleagues torture when they were accused of practicing magic. Also convinced Valentinian to rescind
his own edict which forbade night sacrifices during the Mysteries. Participated in the restoration of the Porticus Deorum Consentium in the Forum. Husband of Aconia Fabia Paulina.
Aconia Fabia Paulina: (d 384), wife of above. Initiate of the Eleusinian Mysteries and the Lernian Mysteries, hierophant of Hekate, tauroboliatus of Magna Mater, devotee of Ceres, Isis and Vesta. Mother and poet, whose funeral oration for her husband was inscribed on his monument.
Quintas Aurelius Symmachus: (c 345-402), Roman statesman and orator. Supporter of traditional Roman religion, who led an unsuccessful attempt to to keep the Altar of Victory in the Curia.
Raud the Strong: was a priest, warrior, and seidman who resisted conversion to Christianity in the 10th Century C.E. He was eventually tortured to death by Olaf Tryggvason for his refusal to convert. After his death, Olaf seized his wealth and baptized all Raud’s men. Those who resisted were tortured to death. Let us honor Raud the Strong and those of his men who remained faithful to the Gods even unto death.
The Norwegian Chieftain and priest of Maeren: (died c. 998 C.E.): slaughtered by Olaf Tryggvasion when the king destroyed the sacred images of Thor and the other Gods at the temple in Maeren
Tutankhamun: (1341 B.C.E – 1323 B.C.E.) successor to the infidel Akhenaton (may his name be cursed). He restored Kemetic religion, authorized the rebuilding of many temples that had been destroyed, moved the capital back to its traditional home, and modeled for new statues of the Gods to replace the defaced ones. Additionally, the discovery of his tomb in the 20th century was a boon for contemporary Paganism.
Socrates: (469 B.C.E.–399 B.C.E.) Often (falsely) accused even today of standing against the Olympian Gods, he took up his famous questioning method in deference to the Oracle of Delphi, who had declared him the wisest man in the world; he claimed to have a daimon who spoke to him and offered him guidance when he was about to go wrong. He claimed as one of his main teachers Diotima of Mantinea, a priestess. He was also the stater of the Euthyphro Dilemma, which was originally a question on the nature of piety but later became the single most effective challenge to the standard Western type of monotheism.
Marie Laveau: September 10, 1794 – June 16, 1881. The single most famous Voudou priestess, whose gravestone is still a place of pilgrimage for members of that religion.
Iolo Morganwg (Edward Williams): (1747-1826), poet, antiquarian, his work had tremendous impact on the Neo-Druidic movement. He started the Gorsedd, the Welsh druidic council which still holds annual bardic contests.
Harmodius and Aristogeiton: the tyrannicides (τυραννοκτόνοι) of Athens. In 514 BC they conspired to assassinate the tyrants Hipparchus and Hippias, and succeeded in killing Hiparchus. Harmodius was killed in the act, while Aristogeiton was arrested and tortured to death. A statue in their honor was first raised in 509, and they became not merely symbols of the Athenian democratic spirit, but objects of worship to whom miraculous powers were ascribed. The Athenian orator Lycurgus once boasted that while other Greek cities erect statues to athletes, Athenians give such honors only to successful generals “and those who have destroyed tyrants.”
Widukind: Saxon war leader who fought against Charlemagne at the height of Saxon wars.
The Stellinga: Referred to by the Christians as “children of the old law”. Heathen Saxons who rebelled, yet again, in 841-843.
Lady Sintana: (Candace Lehrman White: 1937-2010) Wiccan priestess and elder, founder of the Ravenwood Church and Seminary of Wicca in NC, she worked tirelessly to educate the public about her religion. In addition to being a center for the study of Wicca, Ravenwood Church also became known as a refuge for abused girls and battered women.
Scott Cunningham: (1956-1993) Wiccan writer and elder, his books were incredibly influential in bringing Wicca into the mainstream.
Eyvind Kinnrifi, Norwegian Aristocrat. He was tortured to death by Olaf for his refusal to abandon his Gods. He died when Olaf put a bowl of red-hot embers on his stomach, torturing him in this way until his body burst open. Some Heathens celebrate February 9 as his feast day.
Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus (Diocletian): (244-311 C.E.) Roman Emperor who tried to break the back of Christianity in Rome and preserve Roman ancestral practices. However imperfectly, he tried.
Merlin Stone: (1931-2011) professor of art history, sculptor, author of the influential book “When God Was a Woman.” This book had tremendous impact on the burgeoning Goddess spirituality movement when it was first published and led many, many people to Wicca, Paganism, and other forms of Goddess-respectful worship.
Ardath Elizabeth Saunders Stanford Bone Blossom: (1948-2011) priestess, teacher, wise woman, artist, Boneblossom was deeply involved with Starhawk’s “Reclaiming” and in 1979 formed a coven called the “holy Terrors” along with other members of Starhawk’s Iron Pentacle. She was the founder of Ouroborous Isis Gnosis coven in CT. She was a mentor and inspiration to many and will be deeply missed.
Cú Chulainn: Irish epic hero whose stories are recounted in the Ulster Cycle; protector of Ulaid, of Emain Macha (near modern Armagh) and of Mag Muirthemne (near Dundalk, Co. Louth). Named Sétanta (at his second conception), he gained the name Cú Chulainn (“Bitch of Culann”) after killing the guard-hound of the smith Culann, and–as was the custom in Irish law–fulfilling the hound’s role in its stead until another hound could be found to replace it. Cú Chulainn was conceived three times and born twice; two of his begettings were by the god Lug, while the final one was by Sualtaim mac Roích, and his second and third conceptions and final birth were by Deichtine, sister of the King of the Ulaid, Conchobor mac Nessa. Showing great warrior prowess and martial accomplishment from an early age, as well as the near-unique ability of ríastrad (“battle frenzy/warp spasm”), he eventually trains with the legendary woman warrior/seer Scáthach. His greatest feats took place during the Táin Bó Cúailnge (“cattle-raid of Cooley”), the centerpiece of the medieval Irish epic tradition, in which he not only fought the best warriors of Ireland in single combat to the death–including his foster brothers Lóch mac Emonis and Fer Diad–holding back the assembled army of Ireland under Medb and Ailill of Connacht, but also attacked the army head-on by himself in his battle fury after the death of the boy-troop of Ulster, killing thousands. He single-handedly defended Ulster from Samain until Imbolc, when the Ulaid were able to rise from their ces noinden (“debility of a ninefold period,” the result of a curse upon the Ulaid by the goddess Macha) and rout the army of Medb and Ailill. He had (through various lovers) three daughters, but his one son by the warrior-woman Aífe was slain by him in an honor-duel. His horses Liath Macha and Dub Sainglenn, his charioteer Lóeg mac Ríangabra, and his wife Emer ingen Forgaill Manáich, are closely associated with him in many tales; other lovers and companions included the otherworld swan-woman Derbforgaill, Fand (wife of Manannán Mac Lír), his foster-son Lugaid Riab nDerg, and his foster-brother Conall Cernach, who avenged Cú Chulainn’s death. Only through the inadvertent breaking of several of his gessi (supernatural injunctions/taboos) was his downfall brought about, in vengeance for the slaying of his enemy Cú Roí mac Dáiri. There are a number of modern Pagans within Celtic Reconstructionism who have restored his hero-cultus, often doing so on March 17, as well as honoring him on other occasions throughout the rest of the year (e.g. Samain and Imbolc).
Scathach: There is some question as to whether She is a Deity or a hero. Either way, honor is Her due. She was a mighty Irish warrior of legend, known not only for Her phenomenal skill in battle, but for the ability to teach these skills to others. Her name means “the shadow.” May Her cultus be restored.
Bronwen Forbes: (1963-2011): Wiccan elder, co-founder of Free Spirit Alliance, author and frequent contributor to Circle Newsletter and Witchvox. She died April 2011 of complications from cancer treatment. Her work inspired many.
Frank Chimes (Wulfmann): 13 July 1955 to 27 March 2011 was an Anglo Saxon Heathen and mystic. He was a mover and shaker in the Angelseaxisce Ealdriht, Hlaford of Ǣrest Mæþel, and a founding member of ‘A Heathen Thing.” He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about ancient Heathenry, the Anglo-Saxon Way, and the Anglian language and was a generous and loyal friend to many. He will be missed.
Ellen Cannon Reed: 1943-2003 was an Isian priestess and the author of several influential books including ‘The Witches Qabbalah’ and “Invocation to the Gods.”
Grey Cat: 1940-2012 was a Wiccan author, elder, and advocate for elders. She was the author of several books and a member of Covenant of the Goddess and Ar n’Draocht Fein as well as being the founder of the Northwind Tradition of American Witchcraft.
Patricia Monahan: 1946-2012: much loved Goddess Spirituality author and poet, an inspiration to many, Patricia Monahan died on November 11, 2012.
Deena Butta (1950-2013): Arch-priestess and powerhouse within the Fellowship of Isis, Deena Butta passed away on the morning of January 27, 2013 after a long battle with illness. She worked tirelessly within FOI in service to her Gods. May Anubis see her gently home.
Yana (murdered 2013): a Syrian polytheist and a martyr, denounced by her miserable cowardly shit of a brother, beaten, raped, and murdered by monotheistic terrorists in her native Syria. She loved her Gods. She died in devotion to Them. May she be hailed, remembered, and reverenced.
Iyazabal, daughter of a Phoenician priest and king, mighty queen, defender of polytheism, staunch opponent of monotheism, polytheistic martyr. Known by our monotheistic conquerors as “Jezebel.”
Jonas Trinkunas: (1939-2014): activist, visionary, high priest, and founder of Romuva.
Eddy Gutierrez (Hyperion): (1976-2014) rootworker, conjure man, priest, community leader, initiate of many traditions including Santeria, his work inspired many.
July Harrow: (1945-2014): Wiccan elder, counselor, and Co-founder of Proteus Coven, author of several books including “Wicca Covens.” She was a community leader and activist, the first Wiccan priest to be registered with the state of New York, founder of the Pagan Pastoral Counseling Network and head of the Pastoral Care and Counseling Department at Cherry Hill Seminary. A full bio may be found here.
Lucius Apuleius: author of “Golden Ass” and initiate of Isis.
Ap (Albert) van den Berg: (1952 – 2014: devout Heathen and dedicated lay person, devout Odin’s man with a deep love for Freya. He was to our faith like the roots of the Tree.
Loreion Vigne,: (died 2014) Priestess Hierophant in the Fellowship of Isis, founder of the Temple of Isis.
Giordano Bruno: (1548-1600): scientist, occultist, polytheist, visionary. Martyred by the Catholic Church.
Dr. Karen McCarthy Brown (d. 3/4/2015): anthropologist, initiate of Haitian Vodou, mambo, author of “Mama Lola,” professor emerita at Drew University.
Khaled al-Asaad (1934 – August 18, 2015): scholar, academic, and for forty years the custodian of the ruins of Palmyra. He was not a Polytheist or Pagan but he gave his life protecting a site of incalculable significance, a site containing temples, a sacred site when he was beheaded by Daesh, may they be cursed for refusing to give up its treasures. May his ancestors welcome him home.
Larry Daniel Kaufman (Died Dec. 2): Wiccan, saved four people during the San Bernardino shooting on Dec. 2, 2015, using his own body as a shield while helping them to escape. Read more here.
Allison, a Candomble priest was murdered September 2017 when a group of Christian evangelicals demanded he desecrate and destroy his shrines. He refused and they butchered him.
Ellen H., d. 2019: an artist, mystic, and deeply devout devotee of the Bacchic and Hellenic Gods.
In the meantime, there is a communal ancestor shrine here where one may light virtual candles to one’s honored dead.
Honor your ancestors. Honor them always.
Posted on October 6, 2014, in Ancestor Work, Ancestors, Hero Cultus, Pagan and Polytheist Heroes and Martyrs, Polytheism and tagged Ancestor Work, Ancestors, Hero Cultus, Pagan and Polytheist Heroes and Martyrs, Polytheism. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Our Pagan and Polytheist Heroes and Martyrs.