Last month we celebrated St. Eligius Day. The patron saint of metalworkers and goldsmiths, St. Eligius has been safeguarding craftsmen for centuries. But there are other artisan patron gods and goddesses who gained fame by crafting jewels and weapons for many of the more well-known mythological figures.
Often mystical gods oversaw numerous realms. For example, Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire and volcanoes was also the patron of craftsmen, especially blacksmiths. Hephaestus was a sought after craftsman who worked primarily in metals. In fact, he is credited with being the maker of Zeus’ thunderbolts and the arrows that Eros the god of love always carried, as well as, the shield for Achilles. Worshiped primarily in Athens, to this day the Temple of Hephaestus still stands.
Not a part of the world one normally associates with mythological characters; Hadur was the Hungarian god of fire, war and was also the acclaimed metalsmith to all the rest of the gods. In fact, legend has it that Hadur created the fabled Sword of God carried by Attila the Hun.
The capital of ancient Egypt, Memphis, was created by Ptah, an Egyptian deity who was also the patron god of craftsmen and architects. Ptah was such an important figure that Memphite theology believed he created the entire universe as well as all the other gods in it. Ptah, along with Seker, god of the dead and another patron of craftsmen, divided the labors of overseeing all these artisans. Ptah became responsible for the stoneworkers, while Seker guarded the metalworkers. Seker, also the falcon god, is said to have fashioned the silver coffin of Sheshong II, a ruler during the 22nd dynasty and one of the only kings whose tomb was never robbed and vandalized .
silver coffin of Sheshong II : Photo courtesy of setkenblog.blogspot.com
Again like Hungary, one doesn’t expect to read about Finnish mythology. The Eternal Hammerer, Seppo Illmarinen is to this day, still a very popular folkloric character. He was the god credited with creating the sky and a blacksmith who was able to fashion anything from the most popular metals of the day, including gold, silver, copper and brass.
While it may seem as though all mythological figures associated with metalworkers and craftsmen are male there is one important goddess to be mentioned. Celtic Saint Brigit is the goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft and is also the patron saint of dyeing, weaving and blacksmithing. She was so popular both the Celtic Christian and Roman Catholic Churches made her a true Saint.
So as you can see there were Metal Gods way before Rock-n-Roll was invented. ;)