The God of Wealth and Other Deities of Prosperity and Money

Gold coins
brightstars / Getty Images

Mankind's quest for abundance can probably be traced back to the earliest years of human history—once we discovered fire, the need for material goods and abundance wasn't far behind. It's no surprise, then, that every culture in history has had a god of wealth, a goddess of prosperity, or some other deity associated with money and fortune. In fact, there's a theory that that affluence in the ancient world, along with improvements in standards of living, may have actually inspired the philosophies of several major religious practices and belief systems. Let's take a look at some of the best-known gods and goddesses of wealth and prosperity from around the world.

Key Takeaways

  • Nearly all religions in the ancient world had a god or goddess associated with wealth, power, and financial success.
  • Many wealth deities are related to the business world and commercial success; these became more popular as trade routes and commerce expanded throughout the world.
  • Some prosperity gods are connected to agriculture, in the forms of crops or livestock.

Aje (Yoruba)

In the Yoruba religion, Aje is a traditional goddess of abundance and wealth, often associated with the businesses of the marketplace. She is selective about where she grants prosperity; those who make offerings to her in the form of prayers and good works are often her beneficiaries. However, she is known to simply show up at the market stall of those she deems worthy of bounty and blessings. Aje often slips into the market unannounced and selects the shopkeeper she is ready to bless; once Aje enters your business, you're bound to make a profit. Subsequently, there is a Yoruba saying, Aje a wo ‘gba, which means, “May profit enter your business.” If Aje decides to stay permanently in your commercial business venture, you'll become very wealthy indeed—be sure to give Aje the accolades she deserves.

Lakshmi (Hindu)

Close-up Of Laxmi Statue Against Red Brick Wall
Chayapon Bootboonneam / EyeEm / Getty Images

In the Hindu religion, Lakshmi is the goddess of both spiritual and material wealth and abundance. A favorite among women, she has become a popular household goddess, and her four hands are often seen pouring gold coins, indicating she will bless her worshipers with prosperity. She is often celebrated during Diwali, the festival of lights, but many people have altars to her in their home all year round. Lakshmi is honored with prayers and fireworks, followed by a large celebratory meal in which the family members exchange gifts, to mark this period of wealth and bounty.

Lakshmi is a bestower of power, wealth and sovereignty upon those who have earned it. She is typically portrayed wearing a lavish and expensive costume, with a bright red sari and bedecked in gold ornaments. She grants not only financial success, but also fertility and abundance in childbearing.

Mercury (Roman)

In ancient Rome, Mercury was the patron god of merchants and shopkeepers, and was associated with trade routes and commerce, in particular the grain business. Much like his Greek counterpart, the fleet-footed Hermes, Mercury was seen as a messenger of the gods. With a temple on the Aventine Hill in Rome, he was honored by those who wanted to find financial success through their businesses and investments; interestingly, in addition to being connected to wealth and abundance, Mercury is also associated with thievery. He is often portrayed holding a large coin purse or wallet to symbolize his ties to money and good fortune.

Oshun (Yoruba)

A group of Cuban women take part in the
AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images

In a number of African traditional religions, Oshun is a divine being associated with love and fertility, but also financial fortune. Often found in the Yoruba and Ifa belief systems, she is worshiped by her followers who leave offerings at river banks. Oshun is tied to wealth, and those who petition her for assistance can find themselves blessed with bounty and abundance. In Santeria, she is associated with Our Lady of Charity, an aspect of the Blessed Virgin who serves as the patron saint of Cuba.

Plutus (Greek)

Representation of Plutus
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

A son of Demeter by Iasion, Plutus is the Greek god associated with wealth; he is also tasked with choosing who deserves good fortune. Aristophanes says in his comedy, The Plutus, that he was blinded by Zeus, who hoped that removing Plutus' sight would allow him to make his decisions in an unbiased manner, and select recipients more fairly.

In Dante's Inferno, Plutus sits at the Third Circle of Hell, portrayed as a demon who represents not just wealth but also "greed, the craving for material goods (power, fame, etc.), which the poet considers to be the greatest cause of troubles in this world."

Plutus, in general, wasn't very good about sharing his own wealth; Petellides writes that Plutus never gave anything to his brother, even though he was the richer of the two. The brother, Philomenus, didn't have much at all. He scrapped together what he had and bought a pair of oxen to plow his fields, invented the wagon, and supported his mother. Subsequently, while Plutus is associated with money and fortune, Philomenus is representative of hard work and its rewards.

Teutates (Celtic)

Teutates, sometimes called Toutatis, was an important Celtic deity, and sacrifices were made to him in order to bring about bounty in the fields. According to later sources, like Lucan, sacrificial victims were "plunged headfirst into a vat filled with an unspecified liquid," possibly ale. His name means "god of the people" or "god of the tribe," and was honored in ancient Gaul, Britain and the Roman province that is present-day Galicia. Some scholars believe that each tribe had its own version of Teutates, and that the Gaulish Mars was the result of syncretism between the Roman deity and different forms of the Celtic Teutates.

Veles (Slavic)

Veles is a shapeshifting trickster god found in the mythology of nearly all Slavic tribes. He is responsible for storms and often takes the form of a serpent; he is a god highly associated with the underworld, and is connected with magic, shamanism, and sorcery. Veles is considered a god of wealth in part due to his role as a deity of cattle and livestock—the more cattle you own, the wealthier you are. In one myth, he stole sacred cows from heaven. Offerings to Veles have been found in just about every Slavic group; in rural areas, he was seen as the god who saves crops from destruction, either by drought or floods, and so he was popular with peasants and farmers.

Sources

  • Baumard, Nicholas, et al. “Increased Affluence Explains the Emergence of Ascetic ...” Current Biology, https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(14)01372-4.
  • “Diwali: The Symbolism of Lakshmi (Archived).” NALIS, Trinidad & Tobago National Library and Information System Authority, 15 Oct. 2009, http://www.nalis.gov.tt/Research/SubjectGuide/Divali/tabid/168/Default.aspx?PageContentID=121.
  • Kalejaiye, Dr. Dipo. “Understanding Wealth Creation (Aje) Through the Concept of Yoruba Traditional Religion.” NICO: National Institute for Cultural Orientation, https://www.nico.gov.ng/index.php/category-list/1192-understanding-wealth-creation-aje-through-the-concept-of-yoruba-traditional-religion.
  • Kojic, Aleksandra. “Veles – The Slavic Shapeshifting God of Land, Water and Underground.” Slavorum, 20 July 2017, https://www.slavorum.org/veles-the-slavic-shapeshifting-god-of-land-water-and-underground/.
  • “PLOUTOS.” PLUTUS (Ploutos) - Greek God of Wealth & Agricultural Bounty, https://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Ploutos.html.