Gambling is almost as old as mankind. People have always loved to gamble as playing games of chance comes with a dose of adrenaline and excitement, plus, there is the possibility of earning extra cash without too much work.
If we go through the history of gambling, we’ll realise that the ancient cultures often used dice games or threw coins to resolve their disputes, earn their freedom, and even regain their possessions. It wasn’t easy to put their luck on a stake, so people turned to certain gods and asked for help.
Some of the most famous gambling gods and gods/goddesses of luck and fortune are:
- Hermes – The Greek God of Gambling
- Thoth – The Egyptian God of Gambling
- Mercury - The Roman God of Luck and Financial Gain
- Lakshmi – The Hindu Goddess of Wealth and Fortune
- Macuilxochitl – The Aztec God of Gambling
Of course, these gods had numerous other titles attached to their names and we’ve only mentioned some of them. Wondering whom else they prayed to? Make sure you read our blog to find out more!
Hermes – The Greek God of Gambling
Apart from being famous as the messenger of the gods and the guide to the Underworld, Hermes is the Greek God of gambling - the one that players prayed to prior to taking part in a gambling game. Being considered as the protector of human heralds, Hermes is also represented as a charlatan, able to outmanoeuvre the other gods for the good of the humankind or for his own reasons.
Thoth – The Egyptian God of Gambling
Having almost the same powers as Hermes, The Egyptian god of gambling – Thoth – is mostly known for being the God of wisdom, writing, science, magic, art, and the judgement. According to mythology, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to have children. Thoth was the one who gambled with the Moon for 5 days (or 1/72nd of the Moon’s light) and won. So, the fact that the ancient Egyptians prayed to Thoth prior to placing bets comes as no surprise.
Mercury - The Roman God of Luck and Financial Gain
Yet another god generally identified with the Greek Hermes, is the Mercury, Latin Mercurius, the Roman god of luck and financial gain. Son of Jupiter, Mercury is the fleet-footed messenger of the gods and goddesses. According to Roman religion, he is god of merchants, travelers, transporters of goods, as well as the protector of thieves and frauds.
Dažbog - The Slavic God of Fortune and Wealth
The next name on our list is one of the major gods of Slavic mythology – Dazbog (also known as Dazdbog, Dabog, and Dajbog), mentioned by a number of medieval manuscripts. Dazbog was a god of the Sun, flame and rain. Considered as an ancestral deity, a common role of a culture hero archetype in mythologies, he was known as a “giving-god”. If translated literally, the most adequate interpretation of Dažbog would be "dispenser of fortune".
Gefion – The Norse Goddess of Luck and Prosperity
Moving on to the Norse goddess of unmarried women – Gefion. According to Norse mythology, Gefion is a goddess connected to the Danish island of Zealand, the legendary Swedish king Gylphi, the famous Danish king Skjöldr, and is also known for investing, intelligence, and virginity. As per the Poetic Edda, Gefion was the 4th goddess of the Æsir, after Frigg, Sága, and Eir.
Gad - The Pan-Semitic God of Fortune
Usually portrayed as a male but sometimes referred to as a female, Gad was the pan-Semic god of fortune, also mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of Isaiah. The short quality of personal name Gad (meaning fortune and happiness) provides few hints about his character and identity. Assuming that Gad evolved as a personification, the worship of this deity has often been viewed as a particularly late religio-historical phenomenon.
Nezha (Li-Nezha) – The Chinese God of Gambling
Born as a young boy instead of an infant and living during the Shung dynasty, Chinese god of gambling Nezha was confronted by Ao-Ping, the son of the Dragon King. He won and killed his enemy but committed suicide to protect his family and the people. The mortals on the Earth began to worship him, asking for protection since the legend says people prayed to him to help them with lotteries and gambling.
Japan - Seven Lucky Gods
As per Japanese mythology, the Seven Lucky Gods (Seven Gods of Fortune) are said to bring good luck and are often symbolized in netsuke, paintings and sculptures. One of these gods’ characters, by the name of Jurōjin, is believed to be based on a historical figure. People worshiped this group of gods because of the importance of the number seven in Japan, a well-known signifier of good luck.
Macuilxochitl – The Aztec God of Gambling
We’re moving on to Macuilxochitl (Xochipilli, or ‘flower prince’) who supervises over different kinds of pleasures in life – suck as music, dancing, painting, writing, as well as games and gambling. He is one of five gods who represent excess and extravagance. The number five is also important as it represents this idea of excess in Aztec culture, so that’s probably why the Aztec people prayed and gave sacrifices to Macuilxochitl.
Nohoipili – The Gambling God of Navajo
Known as the Great Gambler, Nohoilpi is the Navajo god of gambling who simply enjoyed playing games and, as he was good at them, he would challenge people to play knowing he would win. At some point, Nohoipili had won houses with families living in them and enslaved these poor people. The gods then gave an average man special gambling powers to beat Nohoilpi and win the freedom of all those imprisoned. The people were released and Nohoilpi was sent up into the sky.
Lakshmi – The Hindu Goddess of Wealth and Fortune
Next one up is the Hindu Goddess of wealth and prosperity – Lakshmi and it is her name that someone calls when they need some gambling luck on their side. In honour of this Hindu goddess, the 5-day festival of lights Diwali, Divali, Deepavali is being held to celebrate the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. Around this time, many people gather to gamble and, of course, hope for a prosperous roll of the dice or a winning hand. So, it’s no secret that worshippers approach Lakshmi for any kind of good fortune when they need it.
Nortia - Etruscan Goddess of Fate and Chance
Known by her Latinized name of the Etruscan, goddess Nortia was famous for having influence in fate, destiny, chance, and time. Associated with the Roman goddess Fortuna, as well as Martianus Capella, lists Nortia along with other goddesses of fate and chance, just like Sors, Nemesis, and Tyche.
Tyche and Fortuna - Greek and Roman Goddesses of Luck and Fortune
Highly honoured and worshipped especially during the Hellenistic period, Tyche was the tutelary deity who governed wealth and fortune. She was so adored that the Greek cities even established their own iconic versions of the original Tyche called Tychai. This ritual was repeated in the iconography of Roman art, and even continued existing in the Christian period, often happening in the greatest cities of the empire.
Tyche’s Roman equivalent, Fortuna, is a Roman goddess considered to be in control of luck and fortune. Usually, she is portrayed with a horn of plenty as well as the wheel of fortune, turning and giving the directions of fate and luck.
Saint Cajetan - Patron Saint of Gamblers
The patron saint Gaetano dei Conti di Thiene, also known as St. Cajetan, was a well-known protector of gamblers who also helped the unemployed, gamers, document controllers. He also knew something of poverty and pestilence. Living from 1480 –1547, Saint Cajetan was an Italian Catholic priest and religious reformer, who co-founded the Theatines. Being recognised as a saint in the Catholic Church, Saint Cajetan’s feast day is 7 August.
We hope you had fun learning a bit more about these deities and the ancient cultures’ gambling traditions. If there are some other gods and goddesses on your mind that you think deserve to be on our list, make sure to tell us at our forum!
And, although praying will not help you win when playing games of chance, at least you’ll know you’re not the only one asking the gods for help.