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Cherokee Gods and Goddesses

The Cherokee people have a rich and complex mythology that includes a pantheon of gods and goddesses. These deities played significant roles in the Cherokee creation story and served as guides and protectors for the Cherokee people. Many of these gods and goddesses were associated with natural elements such as the sun, moon, and thunder.

One of the most important figures in Cherokee mythology is Unelanuhi, the goddess of the sun. She was believed to be wise and powerful, presiding over the Earth and all its affairs. Another notable figure is Ocasta, the fabled stone man. He was said to have been created by the Great Spirit and was known for his immense strength and knowledge. Other important deities include Kanati, the legendary mortal, and Selu, the goddess of corn.

The Cherokee gods and goddesses played a crucial role in the spiritual and cultural life of the Cherokee people. Through their stories and rituals, the Cherokee people sought to understand the world around them and to connect with the divine. Today, these deities continue to be an important part of Cherokee culture and heritage.

Origins of Cherokee Mythology


Cherokee mythology is a complex set of spiritual beliefs that revolves around a rich cosmology. The Cherokee people believe that the world is divided into three parts: the upper world, the middle world, and the lower world. The upper world is where the Cherokee gods and goddesses reside, while the middle world is where humans live. The lower world is believed to be the home of evil spirits and monsters.

Creation Myths

In Cherokee mythology, the world was created by a set of totemic creation spirits. These spirits are said to have formed the world and everything in it. The Cherokee people believe that signs, visions, dreams, and powers were all gifts of the spirits. One of the most well-known creation myths in Cherokee mythology is the story of the first man and woman, who were created by the Great Spirit.

According to Cherokee mythology, the Great Spirit is the creator of all things. The Great Spirit is believed to be an all-powerful and all-knowing being who created the world and everything in it. The Cherokee people believe that the Great Spirit is responsible for the balance of nature and the harmony of the universe.

Overall, Cherokee mythology is a fascinating and intricate belief system that has been passed down through generations. The cosmology and creation myths of Cherokee mythology provide insight into the spiritual beliefs and cultural practices of the Cherokee people.

Major Cherokee Deities

Unetlanvhi – The Great Spirit

Unetlanvhi is the Cherokee’s supreme being, and is often referred to as the “Great Spirit”. The Great Spirit is believed to be responsible for creating the universe and all life within it. Unetlanvhi is also responsible for maintaining balance and harmony in the world. The Cherokee believe that the Great Spirit is present in all things, and that all things are connected.

Kanati and Selu – The First Man and Woman

Kanati and Selu are the Cherokee’s first man and woman. Kanati is known as the “Lucky Hunter” and is responsible for providing food for the Cherokee people. Selu is known as the “Corn Mother” and is responsible for providing the Cherokee people with corn, which is a staple food. According to Cherokee mythology, Kanati and Selu had two sons, who went on to create the rest of humanity.

Aganunitsi – The Water Spider

Aganunitsi is a water spider that is revered by the Cherokee people. According to Cherokee mythology, Aganunitsi helped the Cherokee people survive a great flood by weaving a web that allowed them to escape to higher ground. The Cherokee believe that Aganunitsi is a symbol of perseverance and resourcefulness, and that those who possess these qualities will be blessed by the water spider.

Lesser Deities and Spirits

Yunwi Tsunsdi – The Little People

In Cherokee mythology, Yunwi Tsunsdi are a race of small, magical beings that live in the mountains and forests. They are known to be mischievous, but can also be helpful to humans. Yunwi Tsunsdi are believed to be protectors of the animals and plants of the forest, and it is said that they will punish those who harm them. They are also known to be skilled craftsmen and are said to have taught the Cherokee how to make pottery and baskets.

Nunnehi – The Immortal Beings

Nunnehi are a group of immortal beings in Cherokee mythology. They are said to live in the mountains and are known to be friendly to humans. Nunnehi are believed to be protectors of the Cherokee people and are said to have helped them in times of need. It is also believed that they have the power to heal and can communicate with animals.

Aniyvdaqualosgi – The Weather Workers

Aniyvdaqualosgi are a group of spirits in Cherokee mythology that are associated with the weather. They are said to control the winds, rain, and lightning. It is believed that they can bring good or bad weather depending on their mood. The Cherokee would often perform ceremonies to honor Aniyvdaqualosgi in order to ensure good weather for their crops.

Seasonal and Ritual Significance

Green Corn Ceremony

The Green Corn Ceremony is one of the most important ceremonies in Cherokee tradition. It is held annually in late summer when the corn is ready to be harvested. The ceremony is a way for the Cherokee people to express their gratitude to the deities for a bountiful harvest and to seek renewal and purification. During the ceremony, participants fast, pray, and perform a variety of rituals. The Green Corn Ceremony is a time for the Cherokee people to come together and celebrate their culture and traditions.

Winter Rituals

Winter is a time of reflection and renewal in Cherokee tradition. The Cherokee people believe that during the winter months, the spirits of the dead return to the earth to visit their loved ones. To honor their ancestors, the Cherokee hold a variety of winter rituals. One of the most important is the Ani-Tsutsa, or Little People, ceremony. The Little People are believed to be spiritual beings who live in the mountains and forests. During the ceremony, participants offer gifts to the Little People to ensure their protection and good fortune during the winter months.

Another important winter ritual is the Great New Moon Ceremony. This ceremony is held in December and marks the beginning of the new year. During the ceremony, participants fast, pray, and perform a variety of rituals. The Great New Moon Ceremony is a time for the Cherokee people to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the year to come. It is a time of renewal and new beginnings.

Overall, seasonal and ritual significance plays an important role in Cherokee tradition. These ceremonies and rituals serve as a way for the Cherokee people to connect with their culture, their ancestors, and the natural world around them.

Symbolism in Cherokee Belief

Sacred Numbers

In Cherokee belief, numbers hold significant meanings. The number 4 represents the four cardinal directions and elements, while the number 7 represents the seven clans of the Cherokee people. The number 12 is also significant, representing the twelve moons of the year. Additionally, the number 13 is considered sacred and represents the thirteen lunar cycles.

Animal Totems

Animal totems play a vital role in Cherokee spirituality. Each animal is believed to possess unique qualities and characteristics that can guide and protect individuals. The wolf is revered for its loyalty and strength, while the eagle symbolizes freedom and spiritual enlightenment. The bear represents courage and wisdom, and the deer is associated with gentleness and grace. The snake is seen as a symbol of transformation and healing.

Overall, the symbolism in Cherokee belief serves as a way to connect individuals to their spiritual roots and provide guidance in their daily lives. By understanding the meanings behind these symbols, individuals can gain a deeper appreciation for Cherokee spirituality and the natural world around them.

Modern Influence and Preservation

Cultural Revitalization

In recent years, there has been a strong push to revitalize Cherokee culture and traditions. This has included efforts to preserve and promote the Cherokee language, which is in danger of being lost. The Cherokee Nation has established language immersion programs for children, and there are also online resources available for those who wish to learn the language. Additionally, there have been efforts to preserve and promote Cherokee art, music, and dance. The Cherokee National Historical Society has established museums and cultural centers that showcase Cherokee history and culture.

Cherokee Language and Myth

The Cherokee language is an essential part of Cherokee culture and mythology. Many of the stories and legends of the Cherokee people have been passed down through the generations in the Cherokee language. There are many myths and legends about Cherokee gods and goddesses, such as Aguguq, the god of thunder, and Selu, the goddess of corn. These stories are an essential part of Cherokee culture and are still told today. Efforts to preserve the Cherokee language are essential to the preservation of Cherokee mythology and culture.