Also known as:
Thrace; Dacia; Scythia
Bendis is so primordial her origins are lost in the mists of time. Thracian immigrants brought her to Greece, where she became very popular. By approximately 428 BCE, Bendis had an official state cult near Athens. The Thracians themselves may have received her from their neighbours, the Dacians, whose kingdom was mainly in what is now Romania and Moldova but also incorporated parts of modern Bulgaria, Hungary, and Ukraine. Bendis may originally be of Scythian origin.
What is now known of Bendis tends to be filtered through Greek vision. Although honoured, she was also considered disreputable, a goddess of foreigners. She never shed her Thracian identity (unlike Dionysus, who was incorporated into the Olympian pantheon). The Greeks identified Bendis with Artemis and Hekate, although she is even more intensely lunar than either.
Bendis’ name is interpreted as “moon” or “to bind.” “Binding” may indicate marriage or shamanism: Bendis binds different realms together. She is the mother of the now nameless spirit called the Thracian Rider, Horseman, or Hero. Her procreative powers are so great that she brought forth her son from herself without male assistance. Mother and son may be venerated together. Post-Christianity, veneration of Bendis was transferred to Mary and local female saints.
Bendis is at home in the wild and in the city. She is a spirit of divine ecstasy and passion. Bendis epitomizes lunar, female power. She is petitioned for fertility, successful childbirth, protection, good health, and good fortune.
Back in the day, Bendis was described as wearing a peaked Thracian hat, cloak, short tunic, and fox-skin boots; she may or may not have updated her wardrobe.
In the forth century BCE, Bendis was depicted with a group of male devotees, winners of nocturnal races in her honor; the men are depicted as significantly smaller than she is and display erect phalli. In the second century BCE, Bendis’ peaked Thracian hat is sometimes designed to resemble a phallus.
Torch, spear, dagger, bow and arrows in quiver, cup, staff, phallus
Bendis is accompanied by an en-tourage of Nymphs, maenads, and satyrs. She is closely allied with Artemis.
Moon; Bendis is especially powerful during waning and dark moon phases. She is also the goddess of the winter sun.
Fox, deer, leopard, snake
Mounts: A doe or a leopard; Bendis rides a chariot drawn by three winged horses.
Sacred days: She had various festivals throughout the year: two were celebrated at the full moons just preceding or coinciding with the solstices; her festival, the Bendidaea, featured ecstatic dancing, sexual rites, and nightly footraces with torches. Eventually the Athenian government banned all her rituals except for the races. Other rituals were forced underground and practiced in secret.
Shrine: In approximately 430 BCE, a group of Thracians requested permission from the Athens government to erect a shrine for Bendis in Piraeus. Eventually there would be two shrines: one for Thracians, another for Athenians.
Lunar images and images of her sacred animals.
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
Bendis In Greek mythology, a Thracian goddess of the moon, identified by the Greeks with Artemis, Hecate, and Persephone. Bendis’s worship was introduced into Attica by Thracians and was very popular during Plato’s time. A public festival called the Bendideia was held annually at which there were torch races and a solemn procession of Athenians and Thracians at the Piraeus, a promontory outside Athens.
Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante