Ahemait, Goddess Of The Hyenas Picture

Hyenas are technically monotheistic, because they have one all-powerful goddess; but this goddess has several servants, some of whom are also considered gods.

Their chief Goddess is Ahemait, "Devourer Of The Dead." She has three heads. A war goddess, she is judge and jury and executioner all in one. She has an extremely foul temper, with her heads often arguing between themselves, but she is said to be fiercely protective of her offspring. The worship of Ahemait consists more of winning her favor than asking her protection--just as hyenas need to be subservient and deferential to their social superiors. The best piece of every feast is dedicated to Ahemait.

Her mate is Orthrus, "The Guardian." Also called "The Bearer of Death." To see him was an omen of coming death. On the battlefield, he would guarantee victory to the hyenas on whose side he fought. He is a ferocious, almost insane warrior, yet totally subservient to Ahemait--the perfect male hyena, in other words.

Their offspring, or attendants, are a host of magical warriors called The Bouda. These are usually mortals that become Bouda after death, as a reward for their bravery in life. It is the goal of every hyena warrior to earn the honor of becoming a Bouda, so they seek to amass as much glory in battle as possible.

There is also a legendary ancestress, Krokotta. She was a shape-shifting witch and a trickster god who played pranks on other animals and thereby obtained land and good things for the hyenas. She has the gift of being able to speak in all languages. Legend has it that she could not be killed, or that she is immortal, and still wanders the earth. Dying warriors destined to become Bouda, are "called by Krokotta." Krokotta is also said to be able to switch her gender, and one legend holds that she impregnated herself and bore the first mortal hyenas this way.

Hyenas value traits that many other creatures find repulsive or reprehensible, so naturally their hero would be a trickster goddess who always gets the better of her rivals. Cheating is not condemned. Courage, viciousness, and strength are admired. Intelligence is admired only in the ability to outwit one's opponents--not in how much information about the world one can memorize.

Hyenas don't really have much of a religion. They certainly don't have anything like a god of harvest or fertility, because "plants are what food eats." They have a goddess of war, to whom they appeal for victory--but since they assume victory shall always belong to them, it's more of a mere formality. To "appeal for help" would be viewed as a sign of weakness, and a lack of faith in themselves.

Their "mythologies" are more folktales about famous warriors of the past, and their exploits, than about the supernatural. Perhaps hyenas don't have much imagination, or never cared enough to wonder about the origins of the natural world, but they have no such stories.

The exception is their belief that it was a hyena that created the sun to warm a cold earth. When the plains began to run out of food and the prey species to starve, a hyena went to the volcano and stole some fire to warm the earth, but the fire got out of hand and threatened to burn the world. The hyena then had to set the fire into the sky. All the hyena clans worked together to encircle the fire and barked and laughed at it until it leaped into the air and got stuck in the sky. This myth is supposed to enforce the notion that it is better for hyenas to work together than to do things alone.

Another myth is similar to that of Maui pulling up the islands with his magic fish-hook: once, when there was no food because all of the prey animals had run away (or were too hard to catch because they could see for miles), a hyena began to dig in the flat earth to find something to eat, heaping the dirt up behind her. The other animals mocked her, but she kept digging. Every time she dug something up, however, one of the larger carnivores would steal it from her. Finally she had raised a mountain range between her clan and the other carnivores, and the prey animals, thinking they were safe, came out of hiding to graze. The hyena, alone with all these ungulates, then had all the food she could ever want.

The hyenas do not have a priesthood. The presiding Duchess of a territory, the General of a Brigade unit, or the chiefess of a clan, acts as priestess for any ceremonies. These are usually weddings or the presentations of pups destined to rule the clan, as well as rituals performed at the funerals of high-ranking hyenas or extremely courageous warriors. In battlefield situations, the highest-ranking officer serves as priestess.

The symbol of Ahemait is a triskele, or triple spiral, the three conjoined whirlpools symbolic of her three voracious heads.

It also stands for the three hyena virtues: Trust In Yourself, Support Your Clan, and Obey Your Leader.
Continue Reading: Sun