Hello again, believers and nonbelievers, and welcome to Part 2 of my The Wicked + The Divine Deity Field Guide. Like last time, we will be investigating the history and lore associated with some of the gods represented in the series. Because the series is ongoing and we learn more about each character with every issue, I’d like to make a few remarks and corrections about Part 1 of the guide before we delve into new territory. When I wrote Part 1 of the field guide, information about the god Baal was still being deliberately withheld by the writer. This was important to the narrative, as he was a suspect in a murder and tension was building, but it made my job much more difficult. I assumed, therefore, that “Baal” was Baal-hamon, a fire god whose followers reportedly burned their children alive. In The Wicked + The Divine #4, however, it is revealed that he is actually Baal Hadad (more commonly just called “Hadad”), a god of storms and lightning. Considering that the in-universe theologian drew the same initial conclusion that I did, however, I don’t feel too bad about my deductive powers.
The Morrigan, likewise, was a mysterious character, because the reader was initially led to believe that she was dead. This was actually a trick played by Baphomet, which is in keeping with my assumptions about him being a slightly ridiculous sort of “poser” god, without the same gravitas as most of his divine counterparts. The Morrigan is very much alive, and reflecting the triple nature I mentioned briefly, is actually three entirely separate people depending on her mood.
Now that some of last month’s baggage is picked up, I am pleased to present Part 2 of the deity field guide: arranged, researched and extensively guessworked by yours truly.
Translation: “wāt” meaning “inspiration”, “wut” meaning “fury” and/or “wods” meaning “possessed”
Unlike his Norse counterpart Odin, almost nothing is known about the Anglo-Saxon and Germanic god Wōden. Though the two gods emerged from the same mythology, the Migration Period in Europe (about 400–800 AD) led many tribes and ethnic groups to separate, and caused religions to likewise break into smaller subgroups. The etymology of the name leads scholars to believe that Wōden was a god associated with intense passion, inspiration, and prophetic poetry. During the 8th and 9th centuries, it became fashionable for Anglo-Saxon royalty to claim descent from Wōden. Because Christianization took place during this period and worship of Wōden as a god was necessarily discouraged, he was re-conceptualized as an ancient king, rather than a deity. Gillen and McKelvie’s Wōden seems to deliberately embody some of the mystery associated with the deity: he wears a Daft Punk-style helmet and full-coverage Tron gear, leaving none of his skin visible. While it’s unclear whether or not Anglo-Saxon religion had concepts parallel to the Norse Valkyries or Valhalla, WicDiv Wōden has both, and he states, vaguely, “I don’t do anything myself, but I’m a maker”, reflecting the concept of Woden as a deity of inspiration.
Translation: Originally “Meneswā”, “she who measures”
Minerva is a bit of a paradoxical character as far as The Wicked + The Divine is concerned. In mythology, Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, art, commerce, and strategy, and is significant for having been born clothed, armed, and fully grown, literally emerging from the skull of the god Jupiter. As wisdom is typically associated with maturity, this makes sense from a symbolic point of view. However, the Minerva of the comic is—at twelve years old—by far the youngest of the gods, and seemingly far too young to be a pop star. Like the mythological goddess, WicDiv Minerva is accompanied and symbolized by an owl, but hers is mechanical, and she refers to it as an Owlphone. Minerva’s tender age does make sense insofar as Minerva is also traditionally a goddess of virginity, and since all the other members of the pantheon seem to be banging each other with enthusiasm and regularity, it’s more than safe to assume that Minerva is the exception. In Lucifer’s words, “She’s twelve, even I wouldn’t.”
Translation: “Lady of Heaven”
Inanna is the most significant female deity of ancient Mesopotamia, associated with both love and war, and linked to the planet Venus, which—because of its unusual position in the sky—seems to jump from one horizon to the other between morning and evening. In myth, Inanna is capricious, independent, sexual, and determined, and often seems to make a point of throwing her weight around in an otherwise all-male pantheon of Sumerian gods. The duality and fluidity of her nature seems to reflect upon gender as well, for although Inanna herself is always depicted as physically female, intersex people, gender-atypical people, and “feminine men” were widely involved in the cult of Inanna. Though the genders of the reincarnated gods in The Wicked + The Divine do not necessarily reflect their mythological genders, the one depiction of Inanna so far is fairly androgynous, and though Lucifer refers to Inanna as “he,” Kieron Gillen deliberately declined to use gendered pronouns when discussing the cover of #6 so as not to “gender-binary tease”.
Translation: “force”, or “necessity”
Ananke is on another level, so to speak, compared to the other gods of Greek mythology. She is the most powerful of the Fates and decides the destiny of all things, making her a force that even the actions of the gods have no influence over. As a personified concept, she is rarely depicted in physical form, but was associated with the spindle (being, metaphorically, a “weaver” of fate). In the comic, Ananke does not seem to be part an official part of the pantheon—unless the comedy/tragedy mask symbol is hers, and I have reason to believe it isn’t—but is responsible for guiding and controlling the reincarnated deities. She was present at the last Recurrence as well as the current one, and is always an elderly woman wearing a mask.
As of this most recent issue, we still have two or three gods who are not clearly identified. One is the mentioned-but-incredibly-vague “Tara”, whose name could refer to at least five different deities, and two symbols on the cyclic wheel that remain blank. The comedy/tragedy mask could be Ananke, though she had no symbol in the last pantheon’s wheel and was present nonetheless, suggesting that she is more of a camp counselor than a participant. If the mask symbol represents Tara, it means she could be a Tibetan/Nepalese Buddhist deity with as many as twenty-one forms, but the “masks” used to represent that Tara are very different from the symbol used in the comic.
It seems that I’ll have to return for a riveting Part 3 as the series continues, so stay tuned and give appropriate thanks to your deity or concept of choice for the fascinating series that the Gillen/McKelvie team continues to churn out.