Signature weapons of religions/gods

Reading about the badassery that is Hindu deities, one common theme is aspects of Brahman and avatars having preferred weapons. Krishna has his chakram, Rama has a bow and so on.

Sikhs are mandated by faith to carry a dagger, the kirpan, which apparently dates back to the early days when they were oppressed and signifies standing up for the weak.

In the Bible swords are mentioned quite a few times, but when JC wants to kick some ass he puts together a whip to drive the money lenders out of the temple.

Any other examples of links between weapons and religions and what the weapons represent?

Thor’s hammer and thunder?

Zeus was in the habit of throwing thunderbolts around. There are depictions of him holding a thunderbolt as a spear, however the heck that is supposed to work (although, on second though, in that particular image it looks more like it might be an asparagus).

Apollo and his sister Artemis were both archers, and the Greeks would explain sudden death or disease by them shooting their arrows at people.

Whereas Cupid’s arrows made you fall in love.

The legendary Kusanagi of Japanese seems to have some religious significance, although I don’t know that it’s a “Signature Weapon” of the Shinto religion.

Mars carried a spear (and often shield), Neptune a trident, and Jupiter, like Zeus, had a lightning bolt.

Odin has Gungnir.

I don’t know if you were looking for non-Hindu examples but Shiva is often depicted holding a trishula (a sort of bladed trident thingy.)

Diana, goddess of the hunt. Bow and arrow.

And, of course, Thor has Mjölnir. This would be lightning as a throwing-hammer, rather than as a spear in the (presumed) case of Zeus.

Zeus’ weapon was the keraunos. In paintings it looked like a short, double-ended trident, but in sculpture (I suspect because the points could be easily broken off) it was often rendered as a double-pointed spear, or something like a weaver’s shuttle. Your “asparagus” looks like an attempt to combine the two, with the “shuttle” having some of the detasils of the trident. Sometimes, probably because lightning can cause fires, the “:trident” looked more like flames.
I’ve written about this at length in an article on Thunderbolts in the magazine Parabola about 20 years ago. Interesting topic. The basic “double-tridenty” model appears to have been the ancient world’s image of the thunderbolt (They did NOT use our “ZigZag” lightning picture, although movies sometimes anachronistically show it on Roman regalia). The image seems to have originated in Egypt and Mesopotamias and spread outwards from there.

In India and points east, it became the Vajra, which was the weapon of the god Indra. The symbol was adopted by Jainists and Buddhists, as well, and was often seen in the hands of Budhist deities, as well. Buddhism spread it as far as Japan, just as the Roman Empire spread the Keraunos as far as Spain. So in the ancient world, the stylized thunderbolt, in the form of Keraunos or Vajra, extended from Spain in the West to Japan in the East.

Well, it’s one of the Imperial Regalia, and since the Imperial cult is a significant element of State Shinto, you could certainly argue that.

However, to my recollection, Kusanagi was never wielded by any of the Kami, only by the mortal descendents of Amaterasu (i.e., the Yamato Imperial dynasty)

Interesting stuff. Thanks!

Jesus Christ himself is often depicted carrying a shepherd’s crook, which in the right hands can fuck someone up pretty good.

The Jedi had their light-sabers, as well as some less-tangible but equally deadly weapons like the psycho-telekinetic choke-hold.

Oh, but that was just fiction you say!

Hermes and Mercury used to carry Caduceus.

With which he was stabbed after having been hanged and bound on the World Tree until he was dead. After which he lived again, with newfound knowledge and powers.

If that reminds you of anyone else, I’m sure it’s totally a coincidence, honest ;).

twitch Etymology geek sense…tingling…
You can’t have a double-pronged trident. A trident has three prongs. Says so on the tin. If you’ve only got two, what you’ve got is a bident.

Like that punk Pluto who maybe couldn’t afford three prongs (he totally could, he had dominion over precious metals and stones, what with their being found under the world. Hence, plutocracy). It’s actually a possible reason why everybody pictures devils with pitchforks.

Anyway, actual content :

  • Pallas Athena had a spear, shield (hoplon), breastplate and helmet as she was an avatar of strategy. So she was geared up like a typical Greek soldier.
  • Neptune/Poseidon had a trident (an actual one :)) because that’s both a weapon and a fisherman’s tool. Symbolic out the ass.
  • Speaking of tridents, the Japanese warrior god Bishamonten also has one. Not sure what’s up with that, you’d have expected a sword or a bow wouldn’t you ?
  • Vulcan/Hephaestus is typically depicted with a big ol’ hammer, but it’s more of a craftsman’s tool than a weapon per se - he was the IT geek of Olympus.
  • Hercules, who didn’t start out as a god but became one which says something about class mobility in the Ancient World, had a big fat club. Nothing phallic about that, no siree. Not even when he was held in captivity by Queen Omphale who forced him to do women’s work and took away his club for herself.
  • Priapus… naah, not gonna go there :smiley:

The Indian cult of Thugs carried a yellow scarf for the meeting with hitherto happy campers.

Twitch yourself. I didn’t say doubled-pronged – I said “double-ended” – it’s a short stick with three prongs on each end. Call it a “bi-trident” or a “hexadent” if this bothers you.

Here’s a picture of one on a coin:;_ylt=AwrB8pnj1FtTNgYADQaJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTIzYjJzYWZoBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAM5MDU3MDQ5NzNmOWY3ODFlMDJjZDhiNTYzYmUwOGUxZQRncG9zAzE1BGl0A2Jpbmc-?!k4E75KQ0EC7BPPGmkYz6!~~60_35.JPG&

Oh, all right. I’ll let you off with a warning this time.

But seriously, apologies for jumping the proverbial gun.