Mythology is replete with chthonic goddesses—frightening figures of the underground realm of the dead. Check some out this autumn season.
Death Gods: An Encyclopedia…
Where better to find underworld goddesses? Check out Ereshkigal, the sadistic underworld sister of Babylonian goddess Inanna, or Nephthys, hawk-headed Egyptian goddess of death AND childbirth, and her compatriot Ammut, crocodilian “Eater of the Dead.” Even the Inuit sea goddess Sedna is an underworld ruler too.
REF BL 545 .A24
Legends of Earth, Sea and Sky: An Encyclopedia of Nature Myths
Here, under “Earth and Earth Gods,” get a précis of earth goddesses’ roles in creation—and destruction, as in the Hindu Devi and the Aztec Coatlicue.
REF BL 435 .A53
Handbook of Norse Mythology
Hel, the Norse ruler of the nine worlds of Nilflheim and byword for the grave, was described in Snorri Sturluson’s Gylfaginning as half-blue, half-flesh color; not a pretty sight to meet in her Halls under the roots of the world tree.
REF BL 860 .L56
Routledge Handbook of Greek Mythology
Some versions of the Persephone/Demeter story make Demeter merely a domineering mother—but as Erinys she was one scary lady when angry, turning people into geckos, causing them to starve to death while eating, not to mention killing all plant life. See p.125-133 for a well-grounded account of the Persephone & Demeter myths.
REF BL 783 .H37
Women of Classical Mythology
Chthonia, “subterranean or goddess of the earth” was an epithet used not just by Demeter, but by Hecate, Nyx, and Melinoe; read here about them as well as Erinys, Rhea, Cybele, Gaea (mother of Titans and monsters),
REF BL 715 .B445
Goddesses in World Mythology
Look up “Hell” in the index of attributes to find a host of underworld goddesses, from the Polynesian ‘chaos mother’ Po to the dead-raising Devayani of the Indian subcontinent, and the Aztec Mictecacihuatl, goddess of death.
REF BL 473.5 .A66
* Warning: browsing reference books can be haunting!