Nott: Goddess of Death
I chose Nott as the final deity in the Theriomorph pantheon as all people end up in her embrace—the embrace of death. She is one of the most feared and least understood gods. Nott/Vor is the raven-haired goddess of night, sleep, dreams, the underworld, and of course, death. She guards and protects the deceased in her kingdom far from the living realm of family, friends, and the light of day. Though she never desired this dismal task, she undertakes it out without complaint.
All around the globe, death deities were revered in their respective pantheons as the concept of death and the afterlife are both feared and welcomed. Hades, the Roman god Pluto, was the Greek god who oversaw everything that happened in their multiple underworlds: the Asphodel Fields for common people, Mourning Fields for those who wasted their lives on unrequited love, Elysium for the few who earned an easy existence, and the rarely achieved Isles of the Blessed for those who were reborn several times and always returned to Elysium. The Blessed Isles was their version of eternal paradise. The final place that a deceased could be sent was Tartarus, a land far below the other realms of the dead where the wicked would be tormented for eternity. This collective was often referred to as Hades after the patron god of the dead.
Yet Hades, himself, was not an evil being. Stern and unyielding, he could not be swayed by prayer or worship. His personality was perfect for the keeper of the dead as it was only his unbending will that keeps those who perished in his domain. But do not confuse death with Hades, for death was personified by Thanatos. The Greeks also had independent deities for all related aspects including Morpheus god of dreams, Nyx the goddess of night, and Hypnos god of sleep.
In the Nordic religion, the goddess Hel ruled over the majority of the dead in her underworld abode that either took her name or was referred to as Helheim(r). She was half corpse and half living goddess, split right down the center of her body. Born from Loki, the god of mischief and the Jötunn, Angrboda, her siblings were just as monstrous as she. They were the world serpent, Jörmungandr, and Fenrir, a gigantic wolf. Hel’s personality is not as cold and distant as Hades, but she is greedy, cruel, and harsh.
Yet, like Hades, she was unsympathetic to pleas to return their loved ones. Hel did not reign over all of the dead, for just as in Greek myth, there were multiple afterlifes, each with its own patron deity. She was relegated to overseeing the common people. Hel inspired the idea of Nott’s one dead eye, while another Norse character inspired Nott’s name which I borrowed from the Jötunn goddess who oversaw night. The Nordic Nott was described as beautiful even though she was of the race of giants.
In ancient Egypt, Osiris became the god of the afterlife after he was slain and resurrected. He worked closely with Anubis, the jackal-headed god of crossing over, and Ma’at, the goddess of justice and cosmic harmony. When a person died, Anubis guided them along their journey to his/her final resting place. Along the way, the soul was tested and judged by Ma’at to see if the person’s heart and soul were worthy of attaining the afterlife. If found wanting, the person would be devoured by the monster, Ammit. There were many more challenges and tests before a worthy soul could reach the Field of Reeds—their heaven.
In Egyptian mythology, Osiris, Ma’at, and Anubis were not considered evil; in fact, they were often respected in a positive light. The same holds true for the Hindu god of death, Yama. Though he might be feared as the fate of souls was in his hands, he was not typically a cruel god.
In Theriomorph myth, Nott was born the goddess of night, sleep, and dreams. Only after being forced to flee underground did she take on the role of goddess of the underworld and death. She used dreams to commune with those in the lands of the living as well as her own daughter, Theri (Issaura). Nott is one of the few gods who is known by an alternate name, Vor, given to her by Giahem, the king of the gods, during their affair. Her beauty was cruelly destroyed, forever defaced by the goddess Crocotta, Giahem’s mate, when she discovered the lovers meeting in secret. Crocotta plucked out one of Nott’s eyes and would have ripped out the other if Giahem had not intervened and protected her by sending Nott to reign over the dead.
The raven is Nott’s animal form for ravens are carrion eaters, which have often been associated with the dead or dying. In Norse mythology, a pair of ravens, Huginn and Muninn, were pets of Odin, king of the gods. He sent them around the world to be his eyes and report on all that occurred. Mysterious and otherworldly, ravens have often been paired with witches and wizards. In reality, these birds are exceptionally smart and capable of problem solving and tool use.
Though Nott’s life’s story might appear tragic, she never complains. As a mother, she understands that her most cherished dreams and hopes flourish through her daughter, Theri, the moon goddess who promised to become the savior of the Theriomorph race. Nott might not have been worshiped as readily as the other deities, but she is always present and always waiting to meet you eye to missing eye.
Please Note that the images are from: https://corvadeobsidianablog.wordpress.com/ , https://sacredwicca.com/goddess-morgana and https://www.storytellerskgregory.com/blog/the-morrigan