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Iroquois Mythology Gods and Goddesses

Iroquois Mythology Gods and Goddesses

Iroquois mythology is a fascinating subject that has captured the imagination of many people. It is a rich and complex tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. The Iroquois people have a deep respect for nature and the spirits that inhabit it. They believe that everything in the world has a spirit, and that these spirits can be called upon to help or harm people.

One of the most interesting aspects of Iroquois mythology is the pantheon of gods and goddesses that they worship. These deities are believed to have control over various aspects of the natural world, and are often invoked in times of need. Some of the most prominent gods and goddesses in Iroquois mythology include Hawëni, Sky Woman, and Geha.

The creation myths in Iroquois mythology provide fascinating insights into the origins of the universe and the beings that inhabit it. Two prominent creation stories are Hawëni and the Creation of the New World and Sky Woman and the Birth of the Twin Gods. These stories explain how the world was created and how the various gods and goddesses came into being. Overall, Iroquois mythology is a rich and complex tradition that provides a unique perspective on the natural world and the forces that govern it.

The Creation Story

Iroquois mythology provides fascinating insights into the origins of the universe and the beings that inhabit it. The creation story of the Iroquois people is a prominent part of their mythology and is divided into two main parts: Sky Woman and Turtle Island.

Sky Woman

According to the Iroquois creation story, the universe was created by Sky Woman, who fell from the sky and landed on the back of a giant turtle. Sky Woman was pregnant and gave birth to twin sons, who would later become the creators of the world. The twins were Good Spirit and Bad Spirit, also known as Flint and Sapling.

Turtle Island

Turtle Island is the name given to the land that the Iroquois people believe they were created on. According to the creation story, after Sky Woman gave birth to her twin sons, she died. Her body was buried on the back of the giant turtle, which then grew into Turtle Island. The twins then created the world by shaping the land and the creatures that inhabit it.

The creation story of the Iroquois people is a fascinating example of how different cultures explain the origins of the universe. The story of Sky Woman and Turtle Island is an important part of Iroquois mythology and provides insight into the beliefs and values of this Native American tribe.

The Great Spirits

The Iroquois people believed in many great spirits, each with their own unique powers and responsibilities. Two of the most prominent spirits were the Great Peacemaker and Awenhai.

The Great Peacemaker

The Great Peacemaker was a powerful spirit who brought peace and unity to the warring Iroquois tribes. He was said to have been born to a virgin mother and was known for his wisdom and diplomacy. The Great Peacemaker was also responsible for creating the Iroquois Confederacy, which united the five tribes of the Iroquois people into a single powerful nation.

Awenhai (Sky Holder)

Awenhai was another important spirit in Iroquois mythology. She was known as the Sky Holder and was responsible for holding up the sky above the earth. Awenhai was also believed to be the mother of the thunderbirds, powerful spirits who controlled the weather and protected the Iroquois people from harm.

The Iroquois people believed that the Great Peacemaker and Awenhai were powerful and benevolent spirits who played an important role in their lives. They were revered and respected, and their stories were passed down through generations as a reminder of the importance of peace, unity, and respect for the natural world.

The Twin Gods

In Iroquois mythology, the Twin Gods are a prominent pair of deities often associated with creation and balance. They are also known as the Good Mind and the Bad Mind, the Right-Handed Twin and the Left-Handed Twin, and Sapling and Flint.


Tawiscara is the Bad Mind, who is often depicted as a serpent or dragon. He is associated with negative qualities such as jealousy, anger, and greed. According to legend, Tawiscara was responsible for bringing death and disease into the world.


Sapling, on the other hand, is the Good Mind, who is associated with positive qualities such as love, peace, and harmony. He is often depicted as a young man or a sapling. According to legend, Sapling was responsible for bringing life and growth into the world.

The Twin Gods are often depicted as opposing forces, representing the struggle between good and evil, light and dark, and life and death. They are also seen as complementary forces, representing the balance between different aspects of the universe. The Twin Gods play an important role in Iroquois mythology, and their stories continue to be passed down through generations.

Nature Spirits and Deities


In Iroquois mythology, Thunderspirits are one of the most powerful and revered nature spirits. They are believed to control the weather and are associated with thunder and lightning. The Thunderspirits were said to be born from the union of the Sky Woman and the West Wind. There are four Thunderspirits, each associated with a different direction: the East, West, North, and South. They are often depicted as birds with thunderbolts in their beaks.

Onatah (Corn Spirit)

Onatah, also known as the Corn Spirit, is a central figure in Iroquois mythology. She is a benevolent spirit who is responsible for the growth and harvest of corn, which is one of the most important crops in Iroquois culture. Onatah is often depicted as a beautiful young woman with long hair and a cornstalk headdress. She is said to reside in the cornfields and is honored with offerings of tobacco and corn.

Overall, the nature spirits and deities in Iroquois mythology are deeply intertwined with the natural world and the daily lives of the people. They are revered and respected for their power and influence, and are an important part of the rich cultural heritage of the Iroquois people.

Ceremonial Figures

The Iroquois people have a rich tradition of ceremonial figures in their mythology. These figures are often associated with specific aspects of nature and are believed to have the power to influence the world around them.


Hadui is a powerful figure in Iroquois mythology who is associated with the sun. According to legend, he is responsible for bringing light and warmth to the world each day. He is often depicted as a fierce warrior, with a bow and arrow in hand, ready to defend his people against any threat.

Eithinoha (Maple Sap Woman)

Eithinoha, also known as Maple Sap Woman, is a goddess in Iroquois mythology who is associated with the maple tree. She is said to have taught the Iroquois people how to collect sap from the maple tree and turn it into syrup. In some versions of the story, she is also credited with teaching the people how to make maple sugar.

Overall, these ceremonial figures play an important role in the mythology of the Iroquois people. They are seen as powerful beings who have the ability to influence the world around them and are often revered and respected by members of the community.

Cultural Heroes

The Iroquois mythology is rich in tales of cultural heroes who played significant roles in shaping their society. Two prominent cultural heroes are Hiawatha and Deganawida.


Hiawatha was a great orator and a skilled diplomat who played a crucial role in the unification of the Iroquois confederacy. According to legend, Hiawatha lost his wife and daughters to a terrible disease, which left him grief-stricken and alone. In his despair, he met a prophet who showed him a vision of a great tree, whose branches symbolized the unification of the Iroquois tribes. Hiawatha took this vision to heart and, with the help of the prophet and his own oratory skills, convinced the tribes to join together in a confederacy.


Deganawida was another cultural hero who played a vital role in the establishment of the Iroquois confederacy. According to legend, Deganawida was born with a speech impediment, which made him an outcast in his community. However, he was blessed with the gift of prophecy, which allowed him to see the future and predict events. Deganawida used his gift to convince the tribes to join together in a confederacy and to establish the Great Law of Peace, which governed the Iroquois society.

In conclusion, Hiawatha and Deganawida are two of the most prominent cultural heroes in Iroquois mythology, whose contributions to their society are still celebrated today.

Legendary Beasts and Monsters

Flying Head

One of the most terrifying creatures in Iroquois mythology is the Flying Head. This monster has a human-like face with long, sharp teeth and wings like a bat. It is said to fly through the air at night, looking for victims to devour. The Flying Head is often associated with death and destruction, and its appearance is said to be a bad omen.

Stone Giants

Another fearsome creature in Iroquois mythology is the Stone Giant. These giants are said to be enormous beings made entirely of stone. They are known for their immense strength and are said to be able to crush anything in their path. The Stone Giants are often associated with mountains and rocky terrain, and they are sometimes blamed for landslides and other natural disasters.

Overall, the Iroquois have a rich and varied mythology, full of fascinating gods, goddesses, and monsters. The Flying Head and the Stone Giants are just two examples of the many strange and wonderful creatures that populate this ancient tradition.