Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Megalithomania

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 1, 2014

Hosted by Andrew Collins, author of Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, plus The Cygnus Mystery and From the Ashes of Angels, alongside Megalithomaniac Hugh Newman, author of Earth Grids.

Join Andrew Collins and Megalithomania on its unique tour of the Cradle of Civilisation and the traditional Garden of Eden. Visit some of the world’s most ancient and sacred archaeological sites including Göbekli Tepe, the oldest stone temple complex, the ancient city of Harran with it’s astronomical tower.

Explore the 10,500 year-old Karahan Tepe, that has T-Shaped megalithic pillars and is the sister site to Gobekli. Explore Sanliurfa, the ancient Christian city of Edessa, birthplace of Abraham; and the traditional area of the Garden of Eden, home of the Watchers and Nephilim of the book of Enoch, and the Annunaki of Sumerian myth and legend.

We cross Cendere Bridge, explore the Karakus Tumulus, and Arsemia, and we climb Mount Nemrut for a spectacular sunset. We also visit the Gate of Mehr, a megalithic temple that looks alot like Puma Punku in Bolivia, with its sophisticated stonework.

Both Andrew and Hugh will be presenting evening lectures throughout the tour, plus they will be discussing theories and new research on site. We are hoping to meet Klaus Schmit, the primary achaeologist at Gobekli Tepe, who carbon dated the site back to around 12,000 BC.

Megalithomania

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The primordial being

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 31, 2014

Viswakarma

Tvaṣṭṛ

In Vedic religion, Tvaṣṭṛ is the first born creator of the universe. The term, also transliterated as Tvaṣṭr, nominative Tvaṣṭā, is the heavenly builder, the maker of divine implements, especially Indra’s Vajra and the guardian of Soma. Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned 65 times in the Ṛgveda and is the former of the bodies of men and animals,’ and invoked when desiring offspring, called garbha-pati or the lord of the womb.

Tvaṣṭṛ is sometimes associated or identified with similar deities, such as Savitṛ, Prajāpatī, Viśvakarman and Puṣan. He is the father of Saranyṇ, who twice bears twins to Vivasvat (RV 8.26.21), Yama and Yami, also identified as the first humans. He is also the father of Viśvarūpa or Triśiras who was killed by Indra, in revenge Tvaṣṭṛ created Vrtra a fearsome dragon. Surprisingly he is also inferred to as Indra’s father.

Tvaṣṭṛ is a solar deity in the epic of Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. He is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi, and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god Surya. The sr name of south Indian goldsmiths Tattar is probably derived from the term Tvoshtar.

Viswakarma

Tvaṣṭṛ is the visible form of creativity emerged from the navel of the invisible Viswakarma (“all-accomplishing, maker of all,” “all doer”), the personified Omnipotence and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda.

In later puranas Vishwakarma is sometimes identified with vedic Tvastar. Silpi Vishwakarma is the designer of all the flying chariots of the gods, and all their weapons and divine attributes. Vishwakarma/Tvostar is also credited with creating the missiles used in the mythological era, including the Vajra, the sacred weapon of Lord Indra, from the bones of sage Dadhichi. He is regarded as the supreme worker, the very essence of excellence and quality in craftsmanship.

Viswakarma is the presiding deity of all craftsmen and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic Brahman/Purusha, a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic man or it means Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle.

Vishwakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Brahman) in the Rig Veda, from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvastar emerging from Vishwakarma. In the later puranic period this concept paved the way to the imagery of Padmanabha and Sadasiva.

Hindu scriptures describe many of Vishwakarma’s architectural accomplishments. Through the four yugas (aeons of Hindu mythology), he had built several towns and palaces for the gods. Among them were, in chronological order, Svarga (Heaven) in the Satya Yuga, Lanka in the Treta Yuga, and Dwarka (Krishna’s capital) in the Dwapara Yuga.

Viswakarma is also supposed to have built Dwarka overnight. During the time of the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna is said to have lived in Dwarka, and made it his “Karma Bhumi” (center of operation). This land now located in today’s Gujarat has become a well known pilgrimage for the Hindus.

Since Vishwakarma is the divine engineer of the world. As a mark of reverence, he is not only worshiped by the engineering and architectural community but also by all professionals. It is customary for craftsmen to worship their tools in his name.

Silpy Vishwakarma is attributed a putative birthday by the Hindu religion. The more philosophical minded argue that it is impossible for the original Creator of everything to be born on a particular day.

In Rigveda he is described as Swayambhu so it is a contradiction in terms since that presupposes another creator for Vishwakarma. The Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated in all parts of India, especially in Bihar, Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Dehradun and Manipur.

Vishvakarma [ God ] created five prajapathies – from his five faces such as Sadyojāta,Vāmadeva, Aghora,Tatpuruṣha,Īsāna. They are Manu, Maya, Twosta, Silpy, Viswajna and their respective Rishis.

Vishwakarma Day

Vishwakarma Day is celebrated to worship Vishwakarma, a Hindu god. Vishvakarma was the divine architect, and one of the fourteen precious things born of the Samudra manthan. He constructed the holy city of Dwarka where Lord Krishna ruled, the Maya Sabha of the Pandavas, and was the creator of many fabulous weapons for the gods. He is also called the divine carpenter, is mentioned in the Rig Veda, and is credited with Sthapatya Veda, the science of mechanics and architecture.

It is celebrated on September 16 or 17 (in some states in India, like Karnataka, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orrisa, and Tripura). The festival is observed primarily in factories and industrial areas, often on the shop floor. Vishwakarma is known to be the divine engineer since the Puranic age. As a mark of reverence he is worshipped not only by the engineering and architectural community, but also by all professionals.

Artisans, craftsmen, mechanics, smiths, welders, industrial workers, factory workers, and workers of all kinds worship Lord Vishwakarma on this day and pray for a better future, safe working conditions, and above all success in their respective fields. Workers also pray for the smooth functioning of various machines. It is customary for craftsmen to worship their tools in His name. Workers refrain from using the tools while doing so.

Special statues and pictures of Lord Vishwakarma are normally installed in every workplace and factory. All workers gather in one common place and perform the puja. In many factories owner and employees worship vishwakarma ji for the good working of their works.

As per Indian mythology Vishwakarma puja (reverence) is also celebrated a day after Diwali, along with Govardhan Puja.

The Vishwakarma (or Visvakarma) community refes to themselves as the Viswabrahmin, and are sometimes described as a caste. The community comprises five sub-groups – carpenters, blacksmiths, bell metalworkers, goldsmiths and stonemasons – who believe that they are descendants of Vishwakarma, a Hindu deity. They worship various forms of this deity and follow five Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda, and Pranava Veda.

Rathakāra/Takṣā

Tvaṣṭṛ is also referred to as Rathakāra or the chariot maker and sometimes as Takṣā in Ṛgveda. The term Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Mitanni treaty, which establishes him as a Proto-Indo-Iranian divinity.

As per Ṛgveda Tvaṣṭr known as Rathakāra belongs to clan of the Bhṛgus. Similarly, as mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, Tvaṣṭr or the Rathakāra is Śukrācārya’s son, Śukrācārya (the mentor of the demons) is Bhṛgu’s grandson and Vāruṇibhṛgu’s son.

Brahman/Purusha

In early Vedas, Purusa meant a cosmic man whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. This was one of many creation theories discussed in the Vedas. In Yajurveda purusha suktha and in the 10th mandala of the Rigveda the character and attributes of Tvaṣṭṛ are merged with the concept of Hiranyagharbha/Prajapathy or Brahma/Purusha.

In Upanishads, Purusa concept no longer meant a being or cosmic man. The meaning evolved to an abstract essence of Self, Spirit and the Universal Principle that is eternal, indestructible, without form and all pervasive.

The Purusa concept is explained with the concept of Prakrti in the Upanishads. The universe is envisioned, in these ancient Sanskrit texts, as a combination of perceivable material reality and non-perceivable, non-material laws and principles of nature.

Material reality, or Prakrti, is everything that has changed, can change and is subject to cause and effect. Purusa is the Universal principle that is unchanging, uncaused but is present everywhere and the reason why Prakrti changes, evolves all the time and why there is cause and effect. Purusa is what connects everything and everyone, according to various schools of Hinduism.

Ymir

Purusa parallels Norse Ymir (Ymir, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn), a primeval being born of primordial elemental poison and the ancestor of all jötnar, with the myth’s origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.

Ymir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material, in the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, and in the poetry of skalds.

Taken together, several stanzas from four poems collected in the Poetic Edda refer to Ymir as a primeval being who was born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar and lived in the grassless void of Ginnungagap.

Ymir birthed a male and female from the pits of his arms, and his legs together begat a six-headed being. The gods Odin, Vili, and Vé fashioned the Earth (elsewhere personified as a goddess; Jörð) from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the hills, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir’s flesh and blood (or the Earth and sea).

In the Prose Edda, a narrative is provided that draws from, adds to, and differs from the accounts in the Poetic Edda. According to the Prose Edda, after Ymir was formed from the elemental drops, so too was Auðumbla, a primeval cow, whose milk Ymir fed from. The Prose Edda states that three gods killed Ymir; the brothers Odin, Vili, and Vé, and details that, upon Ymir’s death, his blood caused an immense flood.

Scholars have debated as to what extent Snorri’s account of Ymir is an attempt to synthesize a coherent narrative for the purpose of the Prose Edda and to what extent Snorri drew from traditional material outside of the corpus that he cites.

The primordial being

By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to other primordial, sometimes hermaphroditic or twin beings in other Indo-European mythologies and have reconstructed elements of a Proto-Indo-European cosmological dissection.

Citing Ymir as a prime example, scholars J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams comment that “the [Proto-Indo-European] cosmogonic myth is centered on the dismemberment of a divine being—either anthropomorphic or bovine—and the creation of the universe out of its various elements”.

Further examples cited include the climactic ending of the Old Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge where a bull is dissected that makes up the Irish geography, and apparently Christianized forms of the myth found in the Old Russian Poem of the Dove King, the Frisian Frisian Code of Emsig, and Irish manuscript BM MS 4783, folio 7a.

Other examples given include Ovid’s 1st century BC to 1st century AD Latin Metamorphoses description of the god Atlas’s beard and hair becoming forests, his bones becoming stone, his hands mountain ridges, and so forth; the 9th century AD Middle Persian Škend Gumānīg Wizār, wherein the malevolent being Kūnī’s skin becomes the sky, from his flesh comes the earth, his bones the mountains, and from his hair comes plants; and the 10th century BC Old Indic Purusha sukta from the Rig Veda, which describes how the primeval man Purusha was dissected; from his eye comes the sun, from his mouth fire, from his breath wind, from his feet the earth, and so on.

Among surviving sources, Adams and Mallory summarize that “the most frequent correlations, or better, derivations, are the following: Flesh = Earth, Bone = Stone, Blood = Water (the sea, etc.), Eyes = Sun, Mind = Moon, Brain = Cloud, Head = Heaven, Breath = Wind”.

Adams and Mallory write that “In both cosmogonic myth and the foundation element of it, one of the central aspects is the notion of sacrifice (of a brother, giant, bovine, etc.). The relationship between sacrifice and cosmogony was not solely that of a primordial event but the entire act of sacrifice among the Indo-Europeans might be seen as a re-creation of the universe where elements were being continuously recycled. [ . . . ] Sacrifice thus represents a creative re-enactment of the initial cosmic dismemberment of a victim and it helps return the material stuff to the world”.

Tuisto

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto (or Tuisco) is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Vedic Tvastar.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. The most frequently occurring, “Tuisto”, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root *tvai- “two” and its derivative *tvis- “twice” or “doubled”, thus giving Tuisto the core meaning “double”.

Any assumption of a gender inference is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, reads “Tuisco”. One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic *tiwisko and connects this with Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, giving the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation would thus make Tuisco the son of the sky-god (Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

In the 1st century AD, Roman historian Tacitus writes in his ethnographic work Germania that the Germanic peoples sing songs about a primeval god who was born of the Earth named Tuisto, and that he was the progenitor of the Germanic peoples. Tuisto is the Latinized form of a Proto-Germanic theonym that is a matter of some debate.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum'; see Autochthon (ancient Greece)). These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

Tacitus’s report falls squarely within the ethnographic tradition of the classical world, which often fused anthropogony, ethnogony, and theogony together into a synthetic whole. The succession of father-son-three sons parallels occurs in both Germanic and non-Germanic Indo-European areas. The essential characteristics of the myth have been theorized as ultimately originating in Proto-Indo-European society around 2,000 BCE.

According to Rives (1999), the fact that the ancient Germanic peoples claimed descent from an earth-born god was used by Tacitus to support his contention that they were an indigenous population: the Latin word indigena was often used in the same sense as the Greek autochthonos, meaning literally ‘[born from] the earth itself’ (from χθών – chthōn “earth”).

Lindauer (1975) notes that, although this claim is to be judged as one made out of simple ignorance of the facts on the part of Tacitus, he was not entirely wrong, as he made the judgement based on a comparison with the relatively turbulent Mediterranean region of his day.

The order in which one god gives has a son which in turn has three famous sons has a resemblance to how Búri has the son Borr who in turn has three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé. Same tradition occurs with the Slavs and their expansion, in the legend of Lech, Čech and Rus.

In 1498, a monk named Annio da Viterbo published fragments known as “Pseudo-Berossus”, now considered a forgery, claiming that Babylonian records had shown that Tuiscon or Tuisto, the fourth son of Noah, had been the first ruler of Scythia and Germany following the dispersion of peoples, with him being succeeded by his son Mannus as the second king. Later historians (e.g. Johannes Aventinus) managed to furnish numerous further details, including the assertion by James Anderson that this Tuiscon was in fact none other than the biblical Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.

Tuisto/Ymir

By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to Tuisto, the Proto-Germanic being attested by Tacitus in his 1st century AD work Germania and have identified Ymir as an echo of a primordial being reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European mythology.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.

Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

Jacob (2005) attempts to establish a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-) Vedic Indian mythology: as Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Vivaswān, is said to have been the grandfather of the twins Yama and Yami, so Jacob argues that the Germanic Tuisto (assuming a connection with Tvastr) must originally have been the grandfather of Ymir (cognate to Yama). Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the Vedic progenitor of mankind, as a son of Vivaswān, thus making him the brother of Yama/Ymir.

Dyēus

Dyēus (also *Dyēus ph2ter, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. This deity is not directly attested; rather scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples.

Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr). Estonian Tharapita bears similarity to Dyaus Pita in name, although it has been interpreted as being related to the god Thor.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus were sometimes redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god, but in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes, and his dominance over other gods, were transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Dyēus’s name also likely means “the daytime sky”. In Sanskrit as div- (nominative singular dyāus with vrddhi). Its singular means “the sky” and its plural means “days”. Its accusative form *dyēm became Latin diem “day”, which later gave rise to a new nominative diēs. The original nominative survives as diūs in a few fixed expressions.

Finnish taivas Estonian taevas, Livonian tōvaz etc. (from Proto-Finnic *taivas), meaning “heaven” or “sky,” are likely rooted in the Indo-European word. The neighboring Baltic Dievas or Germanic Tiwaz are possible sources, but the Indo-Iranian *daivas accords better in both form and meaning. Similar origin has been proposed for the word family represented by Finnish toivoa “to hope” (originally “to pray from gods”).

Tinia (also Tin, Tinh, Tins or Tina), the main Etruscan god, the ruler of the sky, is similar to the Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter. He is the husband of Uni, the main goddess of the Etruscan pantheon, and protector of Perugia. She is the same as the Roman Juno, and the Greek Hera, in Greek mythology the goddess of marriage, life and love, and one of the Twelve Olympians.

Together Tinia and Uni begot Hercle, a divine hero in Greek mythology – the greatest of the Greek heroes. Tinia, Uni and Menrva was one of the three main Etruscan Gods. Ani was also a god of the sky who lived in the highest level of the heavens. His name may be linked to the Roman god Janus.

Hindu mystics knew from their experience, that verbal descriptions of the Supreme Reality can be Incomplete and hence resorted to Mythology to convey the feeling of their communion with god. Vedic Seers composed hymns eulogizing the sentient beings guarding all Natural  and Supernatural phenomena and called them Devas that stems from the Sanskrit root ‘Div’meaning the ‘Shining One’.

The derived term ‘Deus’ or ‘Dios’ from the same root, is still used to refer to God in modern European languages and even in the translations of the New Testament of Bible. The oldest texts detail 33 principle Devas who were the guardians of Nature and Cosmic Creation.

They are the 12 Adityas or Solar gods, including Indra, Surya, Mitra and Varun, the 11 Rudras (the Manifestations of Lord Shiva), the 8 Vasus or Elemental gods, such as Vayu, Agni, Antariksh and Dyaus, the Sky God, Prajapati Brahma, and Shri Hari Vishnu.

The ancients especially venerated the Adityas and Vedas are full of hymns dedicated to Indra, Agni, Surya, Varun and the like. The 12 Adityas correspond to the 12 Solar months and represent different attributes of social life. Interestingly, these 12 Adityas were adopted into Chinese and Japanese Buddhism as guardians of the monasteries covering the four main directions, four semi-directions, above, below and the Sun and Moon.

Deva is a Sanskrit term meaning god, deity, or celestial being. It is rendered as Ten 天 in Japan (天 literally means Heaven or Celestial). The Deva are deities borrowed from Hindu mythology and adopted into Chinese and Japanese Buddhism as guardians of the monasteries of Esoteric Buddhism. They appear frequently in Japanese mandala. Among the 12, Bonten (Brahma) and Taishakuten (Indra) serve in the highest position. Also known as the Twelve Gods Protecting the World.

About the sumerian term AN/DINGIR

Manu and Yemo

Analysis of different Indo-European tales indicates the Proto-Indo-Europeans believed there were two progenitors of mankind: *Manu- (“Man”; Indic Manu; Germanic Mannus) and *Yemo- (“Twin”; Indic Yama; Germanic Ymir), his twin brother. Cognates of this set of twins appear as the first mortals, or the first gods to die, sometimes becoming the ancestors of everyone and/or king(s) of the dead.

The Germanic languages have information about both Ymir and Mannus (cognates of *Yemo- and *Manu- respectively), but they never appear in the same myth, rather they appear only in myths widely separated in both time and circumstances.

Mannus

Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. Tacitus wrote that Mannus was the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones. Tacitus is the only source of these myths.

In discussing the German tribes Tacitus wrote: In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Istvaeones.

Some people, inasmuch as antiquity gives free rein to speculation, maintain that there were more sons born from the god and hence more tribal designations—Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii—and that those names are genuine and ancient.

Mannus again became popular in literature with the 16th century, after works published by Annius de Viterbo and Johannes Aventinus purported to list him as a primeval king over Germany and Sarmatia. In 1845, F. Nork wrote that the names of the three sons of Mannus can be extrapolated as Ingui, Irmin, and Istaev aka Iscio.

A Roman text (dated CE 98) tells that Mannus, the son of Tuisto, was the ancestor of the Germanic people, according to Tacitus, writing in Latin, in Germania 2. We never see this being again, but the name Allemagne is interpreted (perhaps by folk etymology) as “all-men” the name for themselves.

Minos

Minotaur

A few scholars like Ralph T. H. Griffith in the 1800s have claimed a connection between Mannus and the names of other ancient founder-kings, such as Minos, a king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa, of Greek mythology, and Manu, in some Hindu traditions a title accorded to a progenitor of humanity.

Every nine years, Minos made King Aegeus pick seven young boys and seven young girls to be sent to Daedalus’ creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by the Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in the underworld. The Minoan civilization of Crete has been named after him by the archaeologist Arthur Evans.

Vaivasvata Manu

Vaivasvata Manu, whose original name was Satyavrata, is the 7th Manu and considered the first king to rule this earth, who saved humanity from the great flood – after being warned of it by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, who had also advised him to build a giant boat.

The story is mentioned in early Hindu scriptures such as the Satapatha Brahmana, and it has often been compared with the popular traditions of a Great Deluge from other cultures around the world, particularly that of Noah’s Ark. Because Manu was believed to be absolutely honest, he was initially known as Satyavrata (“One with the oath of truth”). Vaivasvata Manu ruled as King Manu. His wife was Sraddha.

According to the Matsya Purana, the Matsya Avatar of Vishnu is believed to have appeared initially as a Shaphari (a small carp), to King Manu (whose original name was Satyavrata), while he washed his hands in a river. This river was supposed to have been flowing down the Malaya Mountains in his land of Dravida (South India).

The little Fish asked the king to save Him, and out of compassion, he put it in a water jar. It kept growing bigger and bigger, until King Manu first put Him in a bigger pitcher, and then deposited Him in a well. When the well also proved insufficient for the ever-growing Fish, the King placed Him in a tank (reservoir), that was two yojanas (16 miles) in height above the surface and on land, as much in length, and a yojana (8 miles) in breadth.

As it grew further King Manu had to put the fish in a river, and when even the river proved insufficient he placed it in the ocean, after which it nearly filled the vast expanse of the great ocean.

It was then that He (Lord Matsya), revealing Himself, informed the King of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. The King built a huge boat which housed his family, 9 types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth, after the deluge would end and the oceans and seas would recede. At the time of deluge, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha appeared as a rope, with which Vaivasvata Manu fastened the boat to horn of the fish.

According to the Matsya Purana, his boat was perched after the deluge on the top of the Malaya Mountains. This narrative is to an extent similar to other deluge stories, like those of Ziusudra (also Zi-ud-sura and Zin-Suddu; Hellenized Xisuthros: “found long life” or “life of long days”) of Shuruppak listed in the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the deluge, Akkadian Atrahasis (“extremely wise”), Utnapishtim (“he found life”), as well as biblical Noah (“rest”).

Near East

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system. His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus.

Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) were apparently depicted, sometimes, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep”, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters. Around the excavation of the 18 shrines found on the spot, thousands of carp bones were found, consumed possibly in feasts to the god.

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water, in Babylonian mythology.

Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur/Abzu) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall. She is not well attested in Sumerian mythology, but may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions.

Enki was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna, his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

The Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’water’ (or ‘semen’) zu=’to know’ or ‘deep’ was the name for fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E2-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu/Namma, the Goddess sea (Engur/ Abzu), the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Enki then advises that the gods create a servant of the gods, humankind, out of clay and blood.

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is ‘creatrix’, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations.

In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Although there are no early precedents for it, some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, later makes war upon them and is killed. When she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, she is then slain by Ea’s son, the storm-god Marduk. The heavens and the earth are formed from her divided body.

In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur. After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat and constructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs, Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was slain by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually slain by Marduk.

According to one traditional story, Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat. Enûma Elish.

Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa.

Enki assembles a team of divinities to help him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners”. He tells his motherAdapa, the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”.

Man

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person”) is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). The Slavic forms (Russian muzh “man, male” etc.) are derived from a suffixed stem *man-gyo-.

The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily “adult male human” but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, “someone, one” or humanity at large (German Mann, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna “man”).

More restricted English terms for an adult male were wer (cognate: Latin vir; survives as the first element in “werewolf”) and guma (cognate: Latin homo; survives as the second element in “bridegroom”).

However, man in traditional usage refers to the species, to humanity as a whole. Equating the term for the male with the whole species is common in many languages (e.g. French l’Homme). For example, the German equivalent of man is “Mensch” which is male grammatically, but refers to a person in general, of either gender.

*Mannaz or *Manwaz is also the Proto-Germanic reconstructed name of the m-rune ᛗ. Mannaz represents the human race, humanity, the shared human nature within each individual. We are all members of the human family, yet alone in life and in the final journey into death. Mannaz symbolizes creativity, intelligence, forward planning, and speech and implies co-operation between individuals for the common good.

In Hindu mythology, Manu is the name of the traditional progenitor of humankind who survives a deluge and gives mankind laws. The hypothetically reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form *Manus may also have played a role in Proto-Indo-European religion based on this, if there is any connection with the figure of Mannus — reported by the Roman historian Tacitus in ca. AD 70 to be the name of a traditional ancestor of Germans and son of Tuisto; modern sources other than Tacitus have reinterpreted this as “first man”.

“Mazda”, or rather the Avestan stem-form Mazdā-, nominative Mazdå, reflects Proto-Iranian *Mazdāh (female). It is generally taken to be the proper name of the spirit, and like its Sanskrit cognate medhā, means “intelligence” or “wisdom”. Both the Avestan and Sanskrit words reflect Proto-Indo-Iranian *mazdhā-, from Proto-Indo-European *mn̩sdʰeh1, literally meaning “placing (*dʰeh1) one’s mind (*mn̩-s)”, hence “wise”.

Some etymologies treat the root as an independent one, as does the American Heritage Dictionary. Of the etymologies that do make connections with other Indo-European roots, man “the thinker” is the most traditional — that is, the word is connected with the root *men- “to think” (cognate to mind).

This etymology presumes that man is the one who thinks, which fits the definition of man given by René Descartes as a “rational animal”, which is also the basis for Homo sapiens. A second potential etymology connects with Latin manus (“hand”), which has the same form as Sanskrit manus, and is the source of French main, “hand”.

Another speculative etymology postulates the reduction of the ancestor of “human” to the ancestor of “man”. Human is from *dhghem-, “earth”, thus implying *(dh)ghom-on- would be an “earthdweller”. The latter word, when reduced to just its final syllable, would be merely *m-on-.

This is the view of Eric Partridge, Origins, under man. Such a derivation might be credible if only the Germanic form was known, but the attested Indo-Iranian manu virtually excludes the possibility. Moreover, *(dh)ghom-on- is known to have survived in Old English not as mann but as guma, the ancestor of the second element of the Modern English word bridegroom.

In Etruscan mythology around the mun or muni, or tombs, were the man or mani (Latin Manes), the souls of the ancestors. In iconography after the 5th century BC, the deceased are shown traveling to the underworld. In several instances of Etruscan art, such as in the François Tomb in Vulci, a spirit of the dead is identified by the term hinthial, literally “(one who is) underneath”.

Mania is the goddess of the dead in Etruscan and Roman mythology. not the same as the Greek goddess of insanity, Mania. She ruled with Mantus and was the mother of the Lares, Manes, ghosts, and other spirits of the night. Mantus is the god of the underworld and husband of Mania in both Etruscan and Roman mythology. They liked the city of Mantua, which may have got its name from Mantus.

Manu – The First Man

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A World Turned Upside Down: The Inversion of Sacred Symbols

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 30, 2014

The values held by our modern society can be said to be a complete reversal of those held by preceding cultures rooted in spiritual truths. The accelerating contempt for tradition has led the masses to believe ancient wisdom and its myths to be mere foolishness, that only the world of the senses is real, there is nothing which lies beyond; or, if it be conceded that higher realms do indeed exist, they are of minor importance, earthly life takes precedence now, let us leave death to worry about the hereafter.

In every spiritual tradition, symbols were implemented in initiatic practices to act as a bridge between this world and the world unseen. The realm beyond, incapable of being expressed in ordinary language, was represented through the use of symbols. These sacred symbols acted as supports which could transport an initiate into higher realms of being, while simultaneously acting as conduits to channel Divine Knowledge unto to the realm of manifested existence, following the hermetic adage ‘As above, so below’.

In recent times, however, this ancient wisdom has been denied and rejected, now considered to be nothing but superstitions of the past, inapplicable to our ‘advanced’ modern civilization. Nevertheless, remnants of this knowledge of the power behind sacred symbols has survived, but not without corrupt distortions and misuse of the teachings.

The slow decay of spiritual practices over the centuries has given way to the anti-traditional movement of our times, a movement which rejects both tradition and the spiritual principles it represents in cultures throughout the world. Most people today remain unconscious of their anti-traditional mentality, which has been instilled through generations of cultural conditioning, having been raised to understand their materialistic, unspiritual worldview to be ‘just the way things are’ in terms of everyday reality. Even those who consider themselves religious hardly act any differently from all the rest; once Sunday prayers are finished, the return to secular, ‘ordinary’ life resumes.

There are others, however, who play a conscious role in the destruction of spirituality, humans who assist in manifesting malefic forces into the corporeal realm in which we reside. Ancient knowledge that has survived into the present age is now being distorted and inverted to suit the intentions of the few ‘Elite’ of the anti-traditional movement, who seek to break all ties humanity once had to the higher realms, effectively destroying any defense we might have had against the impending breach of the lower realms into our world.

Evil, whether in its brute, unconscious form, or in its manifestation through pernicious, intelligent beings, has subtly spread into our realm. Humans who have acted either knowingly or unconsciously have participated in the reversal of symbols and the inverted direction human activity is taking. ‘As below, so above’; the gates of the underworld are opened, as all hell prepares to break loose.

Before undertaking the current study of symbols, a note must be made concerning the topic of evil. Many today do not believe in such a concept, either due to conditioning by materialist scientific views on the one hand, or by watered-down New Age teachings on the other, which suggest that if we are all One, then evil is only an illusion. This last point is a common misconception.

The unmanifested Divine realm remains situated above duality, transcending all concepts of positive/negative, good/evil; the Infinite reduces all existence to metaphysical Zero. We, on the other hand, reside in the manifested physical realm, the world of relativity, individuality, and division, where the forces of good and evil have very real effects on our lives. In other words, angels and demons are just as real, or unreal, as ourselves.

Holding the concept of duality in mind, it must be understood that all symbols hold both a benefic and a malefic character, depending on the intention, or charge, of the image. Having no original tradition of its own, Evil must use pre-existing spiritual systems and invert the practice to achieve its subversive ends.

The symbols to be analyzed here presently are instantly recognizable, if not notorious in character. What were once held to be the most sacred of symbols have now been twisted into icons of evil, and the frequency of which we are exposed to such images is staggering, along with the implications of such mass propagation of inverted tradition.

A World Turned Upside Down: The Inversion of Sacred Symbols

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Reclaiming the Spiritual Symbols that Have Been Hijacked and Used Against Us

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 30, 2014

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Supermodel Kate Moss looking demonic and posing with an inverted crucifix,

whilst dressed as the bride of Christ

Spiritual symbols are powerful. Beneath the veneer of social norms they are being used in a hidden war. Not only have dark forces propagated the symbols of black magic into millions of unsuspecting homes, but additionally many of the world’s great spiritual symbols of light have been demonized.

For thousands of years forces of darkness have tasked themselves with the aim of destroying spirituality and suppressing consciousness. They have infiltrated spiritual groups, organizations and schools (such as the Freemasons, the Catholic Church etc.); have hijacked their spiritual texts, teachings, symbols and knowledge; and have then shut it away, distorted, destroyed and suppressed it.

What we have been left with is a trail of smeared esoteric knowledge and infiltrated spiritual schools throughout human history, where spiritual symbols of light are given a bad name, inverted and used against us.

Reclaiming the Spiritual Symbols that Have Been Hijacked and Used Against Us

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The Pyramid of “Things that Matter”

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 30, 2014

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Psychosocial Health

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The Armenian calendar

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 30, 2014

Man by nature is superstitious, mostly driven by fear of the unknown. A sudden thunderstorm could wash away the year’s crops, an unwanted frost, destroy the harvest. Volcanic eruptions, floods, locust infestations, all added to the confusion and suspicion of activities of a higher nature. Thus man started watching the skies for tell tale signs of the next disaster.

For eons man watched the sun rise and set, the moon change cycles and the constellations move across the night sky. Man soon realized that the moon and stars had set patterns, and by careful observation these cycles could be used in planning the planting and harvesting seasons. Thus, calendars were born.

Armenian Calendar

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Odin/Óðr – Frigg/Freyja

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 30, 2014

Odin

Wōđanaz or Wōđinaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of a god of Germanic paganism, known as Odin in Norse mythology, Woden in Old English, Wodan or Wotan in Old High German and Godan in Lombardic.

Wōdanaz is associated with poetic or mantic qualities, his name being connected with the concept of *wōþuz, “furor poeticus” (poetic fury), and is thus the god of poets and seers. He is a shapechanger and healer, and thus a god of magicians and leeches. He is associated with the Wild Hunt of dead, and thus a death deity. He is also a god of war and bringer of victory.

Less is known about the role of Wodan as receiver of the dead among the more southern Germanic tribes. The Roman historian Tacitus probably refers to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos, “the leader of souls”.

Wace also identifies Wotan with Mercury. Viktor Rydberg, in his work on Teutonic Mythology, draws a number of other parallels between Odin and Mercury, such as the fact that they were both responsible for bringing poetry to mortals. Similarly, Ammianus Marcellinus most likely references Odin and Thor in his history of the later Roman Empire as Mercury and Mars, respectively, though a direct association is not made.

This, however, underlines a particular problem concerning ancient Greek and Roman sources. Historians from both cultures, during all periods, believed the deities of foreign cultures to merely be their own gods under different names.

Such an example may be found in Herodotus’ association of an Egyptian Ram-headed god (most probably Amun) with Zeus. Later Medieval historians followed the older tradition and likewise made such associations. Scholars continue to debate the historical evidence with some suggesting there are valid connections that should be taken as historical fact.

Parallels between Odin and the Celtic god Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry and both have ravens and a spear as their attributes. Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples.

Paulus Diaconus (or Paul the Deacon), writing in the late 8th century, tells that Odin (Guodan) was the chief god of the Lombards and, like earlier southern sources, he identifies Odin with Mercury in his History of the Lombards. Because of this identification, Paulus adds that the god Guodan, “although held to exist [by Germanic peoples], it was not around this time, but long ago, and not in Germania, but in Greece” where the god originated.

As the chief god of the Germanic pantheon, Odin received particular attention from the early missionaries. For example, his day is the only day to have been renamed in the German language from “Woden’s day”, still extant in English Wednesday (compare Norwegian, Danish and Swedish onsdag, Dutch woensdag) to the neutral Mittwoch (“mid-week”), while other gods were not deemed important enough for propaganda (Tuesday “Tiw’s day” and Friday “Frige’s day” remained intact in all Germanic languages, except Icelandic). “Woden’s day” translates the Latin Dies Mercurii, “day of Mercury”. This interpretatio romana of the god is due to his role as the psychopomp.

For many Germans, St. Michael replaced Wotan, and many mountain chapels dedicated to St. Michael can be found, but Wotan also remained present as a sort of demon leading the Wild hunt of the host of the dead, e.g. in Swiss folklore as Wuotis Heer. However, in some regions even this mythology was transformed so that Charlemagne led the hunt, not Odin.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Woden was more often euhemerised than demonised. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, Woden appears as a perfectly earthly king, only four generations removed from Hengest and Horsa, though up to the Norman conquest and after there remained an awareness that he had once been “mistaken” for a god.

Snorri Sturluson’s record of the Edda is striking evidence of the climate of religious tolerance in medieval Iceland, but even he feels compelled to give a rational account of the Aesir in his preface. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from Troy, etymologizing Aesir as derived from Asia.

Some scholars believe that Snorri’s version of Norse mythology is an attempt to mould a more shamanistic tradition into a Greek mythological cast. In any case, Snorri’s writing, particularly in Heimskringla, tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl’s archeo-anthropological theories. Details of the Migration period of Germanic religion are sketchy, reconstructed from artifacts, sparse contemporary sources, and the later testimonies of medieval legends and placenames.

The Anglo-Saxon tribes brought their pagan faith to England around the 5th and 6th centuries and continued in that form of worship until nearly all were converted to Christianity by the 8th century. The Anglo-Saxon kings claimed descent from Woden. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Britonum, Woden had the sons Wecta, Baeldaeg, Casere and Wihtlaeg, who in turn were ancestors of the royal houses of the Heptarchy.

Other manifestations of Woden in England are confined to a scattering of place-names and an even smaller number of literary mentions in the Old English poems Maxims I (line 132) and in the so-called Nine Herbs Charm (line 32).

Lombardic Godan appears in the 7th century Origo Gentis Langobardorum. According to the legend presented there, Godan’s wife, Frea favoured the Lombards, at the time still called Winnili, and tricked Godan into helping them by having the women of the Winnili tie their hair in front of their faces. Godan thought that they were warriors with impressive beards and named them Langobardi (“longbeards”).

Depictions of warriors in the 6th to 7th century, performing a ritual dance show one dancer in a wolf-costume and another wearing a helmet with two birds’ heads (in Anglo-Saxon iconography, two dancers with such helmets are attested on the Sutton Hoo helmet, but not the warrior in wolf-costume).

Both figures are armed with spears and swords. The scene is mostly associated with the cult of Wodan/Wodin. The horned helmet has precedents in similar ritual dances in depictions dating to the Nordic Bronze Age, but the re-interpretation of the “horns” as birds of prey appears to be a development original to the 6th century. The twin dancers may correspond to the twin sons of the sky-god, known to Tacitus as Alcis.

With the rise of the cult Wodan/Wodin in place of Teiwaz in the course of the Migration period, Tyr ultimately became a son of Odin in Eddaic mythology (and both Tyr and Odin remain associated with wolves). The two birds’ heads on the dancers’ helmets have a parallel in the two ravens of Eddaic Odin, Hugin and Munin.

Another recurring scene shows a warrior fighting two wild beasts (wolves or bears, compared to the Eddaic Geri and Freki). Thus, Spiedel (2004) connects Geri and Freki with archaeological finds depicting figures wearing wolf-pelts and frequently found wolf-related names among the Germanic peoples, including Wulfhroc (“Wolf-Frock”), Wolfhetan (“Wolf-Hide”), Isangrim (“Grey-Mask”), Scrutolf (“Garb-Wolf”) and Wolfgang (“Wolf-Gait”), Wolfdregil (“Wolf-Runner”), and Vulfolaic (“Wolf-Dancer”) and myths regarding wolf warriors from Norse mythology (such as the Úlfhéðnar).

Parallels in the 6th- to 7th-century iconography of Vendel period Sweden (Öland; Ekhammar), in Alemannia (Gutenstein; Obrigheim) as well as in England (Sutton Hoo; Finglesham, Kent) suggest a persisting “pan-Germanic” unity of a wolf-warrior band cult centered around Wodan/Wodin in Scandinavia, in Anglo-Saxon England and on the Continent right until the eve of Christianization of England and Alemannia in the 7th century.

Scandinavian Odin emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, Vendel artwork (bracteates, image stones) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri’s tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by Aesir intruders from the Continent.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Vé and Vili and together with these brothers he cast down the frost giant Ymir and created the world from Ymir’s body.

Attributes of Odin are Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He employed Valkyrjur to gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök.

They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), Odin’s residence in Ásgarðr. One of the Valkyries, Brynhildr, was expelled from his service but, out of compassion, Odin placed her in a hall surrounded by a ring of fire to ensure that only the bravest man could seek her hand in marriage.

She was rescued by Sigurd. Höðr, a blind god who had accidentally killed his brother, Baldr, was then killed by another of Odin’s children, Váli, whose mother was Rindr, a giantess who bore him fully grown and vowing not to even bathe before he had exacted vengeance on Höðr.

According to the Hávamál Edda, Odin was also the creator of the Runic alphabet. It is possible that the legends and genealogies mentioning Odin originated in a real, prehistoric Germanic chieftain who was subsequently deified, but this is impossible to prove or disprove.

It was common, particularly among the Cimbri, to sacrifice a prisoner to Odin before or after a battle. Steve Pollington suggests that worship of Wōdanaz became popular as the leaders of Germanic warbands (who would naturally favour a god that might bring victory) gained prominence over the traditional kings in a period of increased militarisation in response to Roman expansionism.

Pollington also notes another theory, that Wōdanaz is a mythological representation of the actual elder leaders of groups of youth who practiced a particularly wild style of fighting, a practice which later evolved into that of the berserkers.

Wuodan was the chief god of the Alamanni, his name appears in the runic inscription on the Nordendorf fibula. Pagan worship disappeared with Christianization, between the 6th and 8th centuries in England and Germany, lingering until the 11th or 12th century in Iceland and Scandinavia. Remnants of worship were continued into modern times as folklore.

It has been argued that killing a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in battle was well-documented, and in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.

Adam of Bremen in the 12th century relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hanged from the branches of the trees.

As the Swedes had the right not only to elect a king but also to depose a king, the sagas relate that king Domalde and king Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine.

Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance. A notable example is the sacrifice of King Víkar that is detailed in Gautrek’s Saga and in Saxo Grammaticus’s account of the same event. Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds. The king drew the lot and was hanged.

Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer, since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivals of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblót “in summer, that is the sacrifice for victory”.

The goddess Freyja is described as an adept of the mysteries of seid (shamanism), a völva, and it is said that it was she who initiated Odin into its mysteries. In Lokasenna, Loki verbally abuses Odin for practising seid, condemning it as an unmanly art.

A justification for this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that in following the practice of seid, the practitioner was rendered unmanly. Another explanation is that its manipulative aspects ran counter to the male ideal of forthright, open behaviour.

Odin was a compulsive seeker of wisdom, consumed by his passion for knowledge, to the extent that he sacrificed one of his eyes to Mímir, in exchange for a drink from the waters of wisdom in Mímir’s well.

Further, the creation of the runes is attributed to Odin and is described in the Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál. He hanged himself from the tree called Yggdrasill whilst pierced by his own spear in order to acquire knowledge.

He remained thus for nine days and nights, a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

The purpose of this strange ritual, a god sacrificing himself to himself because there was nothing higher to sacrifice to, was ostensibly to obtain mystical insight through mortification of the flesh.

Some scholars see this scene as influenced by the story of Christ’s crucifixion; and others note the similarity to the story of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment. Kimberley Christine Patton discusses the issue but concludes that “the specificity of its cultic features do not require the influence of Christianity”

It is in any case also influenced by shamanism, where the symbolic climbing of a “world tree” by the shaman in search of mystic knowledge is a common religious pattern. We know that sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears.

Additionally, one of Odin’s names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasill—therefore means “Ygg’s (Odin’s) horse”. Another of Odin’s names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Odin’s desire for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, in order to obtain the mead of poetry.

Etymology

The attested forms of the theonym are traditionally derived from Proto-Germanic *Wōđanaz (in Old Norse word-initial *w- was dropped before rounded vowels and so the name became Óðinn).

Old Norse had two different words spelled óðr, one an adjective and the other a noun. The adjective means “mad, frantic, furious, violent”, and is cognate with Old English wōd. The noun means “mind, wit, soul, sense” and “song, poetry”, and is cognate with Old English wōþ. In compounds, óð- means “fiercely energetic” (e.g. óð-málugr “speaking violently, excited”).

Both Old Norse words are from Proto-Germanic *wōþuz, continuing Pre-Germanic *wātus. Two extra-Germanic cognates are the Proto-Celtic *wātus “mantic poetry” (continued in Irish fáith “poet” and Welsh gwawd “praise-poetry”) and the Latin vātes “prophet, seer” (a possible loan from Proto-Celtic *wātis). A possible, but uncertain, cognate is Sanskrit api-vat- “to excite, awaken” (RV 1.128.2). The Proto-Indo-European meaning of the root is therefore reconstructed as relating to spiritual excitation.

Meid suggested Proto-Germanic *-na- as a suffix expressing lordship (“Herrschersuffix”), in view of words such as Odin’s name Herjann “lord of armies”, drótinn “lord of men”, and þjóðann “lord of the nation”, which would result in a direct translation of “lord of spiritual energy”, “lord of poetry” or similar. It is sufficient, however, and more common, to assume a more general meaning of pertinence or possession for the suffix, inherited from PIE *-no-, to arrive at roughly the same meaning.

If it originally started out in a laryngeal consonant, the suffix could be the thematic variant of the famous “Hoffmannsches Possessivsuffix” or more succinctly “Hoffmann-Suffix”, named after its discoverer Karl Hoffmann, and nowadays commonly reconstructed as *-h₃on- ~ *-h₃n-, i. e., *-h₃n-o-, also found in Latin Neptūnus and Portūnus, theonyms likely derived from *neptu- “moist substance” and portus “port” respectively.

Rübekeil (2003:29) draws attention to the suffix variants *-ina- (in Óðinn) vs. *-ana- (in Woden, Wotan). This variation, if considered at all, was dismissed as “suffix ablaut” by earlier scholars.

There are, however, indications from outside Old Norse of a suffix *-ina-: English Wednesday (rather than *Wodnesday) via umlaut goes back to *wōđina-. Rübekeil concludes that the original Proto-Germanic form of the name was *Wōđinaz, yielding Old Norse Óðinn and unattested Anglo-Saxon *Wēden, and that the attested West Germanic forms are early medieval “clerical” folk etymologies, formed under the impression of synchronic association with terms for “fury”.

The pre-Proto-Germanic form of the name would then be *Wātinos. Rübekeil suggests that this is a loan from Proto-Celtic into pre-Proto-Germanic, referring to the god of the *wātis, the Celtic priests of mantic prophecy, so that the original meaning of the name would be “he [the god/lord] of the Vates”, which he tentatively identifies with Lugus.

Schaffner, however, has drawn attention to a third suffix variant *-una- in Old Danish *Óðon (< *Óðunn), attested in Old English as Ōdon. He argues that this is the original form of the name: *Wōđunaz, derived from the above-mentioned noun *wōþuz with the above-mentioned (“lordship”?) suffix *-na-. The other suffix variants *Wōđinaz and *Wōđanaz would then both be secondary reformations.

The lack of the expected umlaut in Old Norse Óðinn does suggest that this form arose due to secondary replacement of the suffix, and thus, contra Rübekeil, cannot be original, regardless of whether the original suffix had a or u. The pre-Proto-Germanic form would then be *Wātunos or perhaps *Wātūnos < *Wātuh₃nos, should the Hoffmann suffix be involved. (In any case, the original accent could not have been on the first syllable, as the *þ appears voiced to *ð due to Verner’s law).

Adam von Bremen etymologizes the god worshipped by the 11th-century Scandinavian pagans as “Wodan id est furor” (“Wodan, which means ‘fury’”). An obsolete alternative etymology, which has been adhered to by many early writers including Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, is to give it the same root as the word god itself, from its Proto-Germanic form *ǥuđ-. This is not tenable today according to most modern academics, except for the Lombardic name Godan, which may go back to *ǥuđanaz.

Óðr

In Norse mythology, Óðr (Old Norse for the “Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager”, as a noun “mind, feeling” and also “song, poetry”; Orchard (1997) gives “the frenzied one”) or Óð, sometimes angliziced as Odr or Od, is a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja.

The Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, both describe Óðr as Freyja’s husband and father of her daughter Hnoss. Heimskringla adds that the couple produced another daughter, Gersemi.

A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, generally that he is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities. The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá).

In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”. It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession”.

Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt- “to fan”.

Frigg and Freyja

Frigg (sometimes anglicized as Frigga) is a major goddess in Norse paganism, a subset of Germanic paganism. She is said to be the wife of Odin, and is the “foremost among the goddesses” and the queen of Asgard. The English term Friday derives from the Anglo-Saxon name for Frigg, Frige.

Frigg is the mother of Baldr. Her stepchildren are Thor, Hermóðr, Heimdallr, Týr, Bragi, Víðarr, Váli, Skjöldur, and Höðr. Frigg’s companion is Eir, a goddess associated with medical skills. Frigg’s attendants are Hlín, Gná, and Fulla.

Old Norse Frigg (genitive Friggjar), Old Saxon Fri, and Old English Frig are derived from Common Germanic Frijjō. Frigg is cognate with Sanskrit prīyā́ which means ‘wife; dear/beloved one’ which is the derivation of the word sapphire.

The root also appears in Old Saxon fri which means “beloved lady”, in Swedish as fria and Danish and Norwegian “fri” (“to propose for marriage”) and in Icelandic as frjá which means “to love.” All of these names, as well as the words friend and affray are ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root pri- meaning ‘to love.’

Frigg’s hall in Asgard is Fensalir, which means “Marsh Halls.” This may mean that marshy or boggy land was considered especially sacred to her but nothing definitive is known. The goddess Saga, who was described as drinking with Odin from golden cups in her hall “Sunken Benches,” may be Frigg by a different name.

Frigg appears primarily in Norse mythological stories as a wife and a mother. She is also described as having the power of prophecy yet she does not reveal what she knows. Frigg is described as the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over the universe.

The asterism Orion’s Belt was known as “Frigg’s Distaff/spinning wheel” (Friggerock) or “Freyja’s Distaff” (Frejerock). Some have pointed out that the constellation is on the celestial equator and have suggested that the stars rotating in the night sky may have been associated with Frigg’s spinning wheel. The Norse name for the planet Venus was Friggjarstjarna ‘Frigg’s star’.

In Norse mythology, the feminine Fjörgyn (Old Norse “earth”) is described as the mother of the god Thor, son of Odin, and the masculine Fjörgynn is described as the father of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin. The original meaning of fjörgynn was the earth, cf. feminine version Fjorgyn, a byname for Jörð, the earth.

Both names appear in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. A number of theories surround the names, and they have been the subject of scholarly discourse.

In the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna 26, Frigg is said to be Fjörgyns mær (“Fjörgynn’s maiden”). The problem is that in Old Norse mær means both “daughter” and “wife,” so it is not fully clear if Fjörgynn is Frigg’s father or another name for her husband Odin, but Snorri Sturluson interprets the line as meaning Frigg is Fjörgynn’s daughter (Skáldskaparmál 27), and most modern translators of the Poetic Edda follow Snorri.

The other piece of evidence lies with the goddess Fjorgyn, who is the mother of Thor, and whose name can be translated into Earth. Since Fjorgyn is not only the name of a goddess, but the feminine byname for Earth, it is relatively safe to assume that “mær”, in this case, means “daughter”.

In Norse mythology, Freyja (Old Norse the “Lady”), stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freija, Frejya, Freyia, Frøya, Frøjya, Freia, and Freja, is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.

Freyja is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century; in several Sagas of Icelanders; in the short story Sörla þáttr; in the poetry of skalds; and into the modern age in Scandinavian folklore, as well as the name for Friday in many Germanic languages.

She has numerous names, including Gefn, Hörn, Mardöll, Sýr, Valfreyja, and Vanadís. Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir.

Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr is her hall, Sessrúmnir.

Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names.

The name Freyja is often translated into a title meaning ‘lady’, from Proto-Germanic *fraw(j)ōn, cognate with, for example, Old Saxon frūa ‘lady, mistress’ and Old High German frouwa (compare modern German Frau ‘lady’). The theonym Freyja is thus considered to have been an epithet in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unattested. The connection with and possible earlier identification of Freyja with Frigg in the Proto-Germanic period is a matter of scholarly debate.

Like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō.

Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to lack of evidence.

Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples.

Regarding a Freyja-Frigg common origin hypothesis, scholar Stephan Grundy comments that “the problem of whether Frigg or Freyja may have been a single goddess originally is a difficult one, made more so by the scantiness of pre-Viking Age references to Germanic goddesses, and the diverse quality of the sources. The best that can be done is to survey the arguments for and against their identity, and to see how well each can be supported.”

There has also been speculations about her connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain and her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE “Isis” of the Suebi.

Starting with scholar Gabriel Turville-Petre, scholars such as Rudolf Simek, Andy Orchard, and John Lindow have theorized that Gullveig/Heiðr is the same figure as Freyja, and that her involvement with the Æsir somehow led to the events of the Æsir–Vanir War.

In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, a figure by the name of Gullveig is burnt three times yet is three times reborn. After her third rebirth, she is known as Heiðr. This event is generally accepted as precipitating the Æsir–Vanir War.

Outside of theories connecting Freyja with the goddess Frigg, some scholars, such Hilda Ellis Davidson and Britt-Mari Näsström, have theorized that other goddesses in Norse mythology, such as Gefjon, Gerðr, and Skaði, may be forms of Freyja in different roles and/or ages.

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The boundary between Earth and the Underworld

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 29, 2014

In Jungian psychology, the psychopomp (from the Greek word psuchopompos, literally meaning the “guide of souls”) is a mediator between the unconscious and conscious realms. It is symbolically personified in dreams as a wise man or woman, or sometimes as a helpful animal. In many cultures, the shaman also fulfills the role of the psychopomp.

This may include not only accompanying the soul of the dead, but also vice versa: to help at birth, to introduce the newborn child’s soul to the world. This also accounts for the contemporary title of “midwife to the dying”, or “End of Life Doula” which is another form of psychopomp work.

Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage.

Frequently depicted on funerary art, psychopomps have been associated at different times and in different cultures with horses, whip-poor-wills, ravens, dogs, crows, owls, sparrows, cuckoos, and harts.

Classical examples of a psychopomp are Charon or Kharon, the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx (meaning “Hate, Detest”), a river in Greek mythology that formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld (often called Hades which is also the name of this domain’s ruler), or Acheron, a river located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead, Hermes and Mercury.

Styx was also the name of the daughter of Oceanus, a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the divine personification of the World Ocean, an enormous river encircling the world, and Tethys, an archaic Titaness and aquatic sea goddess and daughter of Uranus (meaning “sky” or “heaven”) and Gaia (“land” or “earth”; also Gaea, or Ge), and goddess of the River Styx itself.

She was wife to Pallas and bore him Zelus, Nike, Kratos and Bia (and sometimes Eos). Styx supported Zeus in the Titanomachy where she was the first to rush to his aid. For this reason her name was given the honor of being a binding oath for the gods.

The gods were bound by the Styx and swore oaths on it. The reason for this is during the Titan war, Styx, the goddess of the river Styx, sided with Zeus. After the war, Zeus promised every oath be sworn upon her.

Zeus swore to give Semele whatever she wanted and was then obliged to follow through when he realized to his horror that her request would lead to her death. Helios similarly promised his son Phaëton whatever he desired, also resulting in the boy’s death.

According to some versions, Styx had miraculous powers and could make someone invulnerable. According to one tradition, Achilles was dipped in it in his childhood, acquiring invulnerability, with exception of his heel, by which his mother held him. This is the source of the expression Achilles’ heel, a metaphor for a vulnerable spot.

The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, and Cocytus all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which is also sometimes called the Styx, primarily a feature in the afterworld of Greek mythology, and similar to the Christian area of Hell in texts such as The Divine Comedy and Paradise Lost.

Phlegyas, son of Ares and Chryse or Dotis, was king of the Lapiths in Greek mythology. He was the father of Ixion and Coronis, one of Apollo’s lovers. While pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis fell in love with Ischys, son of Elatus. When a crow informed Apollo of the affair, he sent his sister Artemis to kill Coronis. Apollo rescued the baby though and gave it to the centaur Chiron to raise. Phlegyas was irate and torched the Apollonian temple at Delphi, causing Apollo to kill him.

In the Aeneid of Virgil, Phlegyas is shown tormented in the Underworld, warning others not to despise the Gods. In the Thebaid of Statius, Phlegyas is entombed in a rock by Megaera (one of the Furies) and starves in front of an eternal feast.

In the Divine Comedy poem Inferno, Phlegyas ferries Virgil and Dante across the river Styx, which is portrayed as a marsh where the wrathful and sullen lie. Phlegyas was the mythical ancestor of the Phlegyans.

The ferryman Charon is believed to have transported the souls of the newly dead across this river into the underworld, though in the original Greek and Roman sources, as well as in Dante, it was the river Acheron that Charon plied.

Dante put Phlegyas over the Styx and made it the fifth circle of Hell, where the wrathful and sullen are punished by being drowned in the muddy waters for eternity, with the wrathful fighting each other.

In the catabasis mytheme, heroes – such as Heracles, Orpheus, Aeneas, Dante, Dionysus and Psyche – journey to the underworld and return, still alive, conveyed by the boat of Charon.

The Sanzu River (Sanzu-no-kawa), or River of Three Crossings, popularly believed to be located in Mount Osore, a suitably desolate and remote region of northern Japan, is a Japanese Buddhist tradition and religious belief similar to the River Styx. It is believed that on the way to the afterlife, the dead must cross the river, which is why a Japanese funeral includes placing six coins in the deceased’s casket.

Rasa (rásā) means “moisture, humidity” in Vedic Sanskrit, and appears as the name of a western tributary of the Indus in the Rigveda (verse 5.53.9). In RV 9.41.6, RV 10.108 and in the Nirukta of Yaska, it is the name of a mythical stream supposed to flow round the earth and the atmosphere, as with Oceanus, also referring to the underworld in the Mahabharata and the Puranas, as with Styx.

The corresponding term in Avestan is Ranha. In the Vendidad, Ranha is mentioned just after Hapta-Həṇdu, and may possibly refer to the ocean (Sethna 1992). Rivers, such as the Sapta Sindhu (“seven rivers”), play a prominent part in the hymns of the Rigveda, and consequently in early Vedic religion. It may have been derived from an older Proto-Indo-Iranian hydronym, as a cognate name, hapta həndu, exists in the Avestan language.

A recurring theme in the yajur veda is that of Indra slaying Vritra (literally “the obstacle”), liberating the rivers; in a variant of the myth, Indra smashes the Vala cave, releasing the cows that were within. The two myths are separate however, rivers and cows are often poetically correlated in the Rigveda, for example in 3.33, a notable hymn describing the crossing of two swollen rivers by the chariots and wagons of the Bharata tribe, 3.33.1cd Like two bright mother cows who lick their youngling, Vipas and Sutudri speed down their waters.

Vaitarna or Vaitarani (defined as Vai, meaning truly, and tarini, meaning saving) river, as mentioned in the Garuda Purana and various other Hindu religious texts, lies between the earth and the infernal Naraka, the realm of Yama, Hindu god of death, and is believed to purify one’s sins.

Furthermore, while the righteous see it filled with nectar-like water, the sinful see it filled with blood. Sinful souls are supposed to cross this river after death. According to the Garuda Purana, this river falls on the path leading to the Southern Gate of the city of Yama. It is also mentioned that only the sinful souls come via the southern gate.

However, other texts like the Harihareshwara Mahatmya in the Skanda Purana mention a physical river as well, that joins in the eastern ocean; he who bathes in it is supposed to forever be free from the torment of Yama.

It is equivalent to the Styx river in Greek mythology and is associated with the Vaitarani Vrata, a religious practice to carry out certain obligations with a view to achieve divine blessing for fulfillment of one or several desires, observed on the eleventh day of the dark phase of the moon i.e, Krishna Paksha of Margashirsha in the Hindu calendar, wherein a cow is worshiped and donated, which is believed to take one across the dreaded river as mentioned in the Garuda Purana, verses 77-82.

Etymologically, vrata, a Sanskrit word, means to vow or to promise. Derived from the verbal root ‘vrn’ (‘to choose’), it signifies a set of rules and discipline. Hence ‘Vrata’ means performance of any ritual voluntarily over a particular period of time.

The purpose is to propitiate a deity and secure from it what the vrati, the performer wants. This whole process, however, should be undertaken with a sankalpa or religious resolve, on an auspicious day and time fixed as per the dictates of the Hindu religious almanacs called panjika.

Vratas – self-control – form the core of the practices of Jainism. Sādhus and sādhvīs (monastics) follow the five mahavratas “great vratas” while śrāvakas and śrāvikās (layfolk) follow the five anuvratas “minuscule vratas”. There are also several common fasts which are also termed vratas.

A vrata may consist of one or more of several actions. Such actions may include complete or partial fasting on certain specific days; a pilgrimage or tirtha to a particular place or places; a visit, darśana, pujas and homas and recitation of mantras and prayers.

According to Hindu texts, vratas assist the practitioner to achieve and fulfill their goals as they bring divine grace and blessings. Sometimes, close relatives or family purohits may be entrusted with the obligation of performing the vrata on behalf of another person.

The object of performing vrata is as varied as the human desire, and may include gaining back lost health and wealth, begetting offspring, divine help and assistance during difficult period in one’s life. In Ancient India, vratas played a significant role in the life of individuals, and it continues to be practiced in modern times as well by a number of Hindus.

In ancient times some believed that placing a coin, usually an obolus or danake, in or on the mouth of the deceased would help pay the toll for the ferry to help cross the Acheron River which would lead one to the entrance of the underworld. If someone could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, it was said that they would never be able to cross the river or have to wander the shores for one hundred years. This ritual was performed by the relatives.

The variant spelling Stix was sometimes used in translations of Classical Greek before the 20th century. By metonymy, the adjective stygian came to refer to anything dark, dismal, and murky.

The name Charon is most often explained as a proper noun from charon, a poetic form of charopós, “of keen gaze”, referring either to fierce, flashing, or feverish eyes, or to eyes of a bluish-gray color. The word may be a euphemism for death.

Flashing eyes may indicate the anger or irascibility of Charon as he is often characterized in literature, but the etymology is not certain. The ancient historian Diodorus Siculus thought that the ferryman and his name had been imported from Egypt.

Charon is depicted frequently in the art of ancient Greece. Attic funerary vases of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. are often decorated with scenes of the dead boarding Charon’s boat. On the earlier such vases, he looks like a rough, unkempt Athenian seaman dressed in reddish-brown, holding his ferryman’s pole in his right hand and using his left hand to receive the deceased. Hermes sometimes stands by in his role as psychopomp. On later vases, Charon is given a more “kindly and refined” demeanor.

Most accounts, including Pausanias (10.28) and later Dante’s Inferno (3.78), associate Charon with the swamps of the river Acheron. Ancient Greek literary sources – such as Pindar, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, and Callimachus – also place Charon on the Acheron.

Roman poets, including Propertius, Ovid, and Statius, name the river as the Styx, perhaps following the geography of Virgil’s underworld in the Aeneid, where Charon is associated with both rivers.

He is the son of Nyx and Erebus (“deep darkness, shadow”). Nyx and Erebus were brother and sister.

Erebus was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod’s Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos.

Erebus features little in Greek mythological tradition and literature, but is said to have fathered several other deities with Nyx; depending on the source of the mythology, this union includes Aether, Hemera, the Hesperides, Hypnos, the Moirai, Geras, Styx, Charon, and Thanatos.

In Greek literature the name Erebus is also used of a region of the Greek underworld where the dead pass immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus.

The perceived meaning of Erebus is “darkness”; the first recorded instance of it was “place of darkness between earth and Hades”. Semitic forms such as Hebrew ˤerev, ‘sunset, evening’, are sometimes cited as a source. However, an Indo-European origin for the name is possible from PIE *h1regʷ-es/os-, “darkness” (cf. Sanskrit rájas, Gothic riqis, Old Norse røkkr).

According to the Greek oral poet Hesiod’s Theogony, Erebus is the offspring of Chaos, and brother to Nyx: “From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bore from union in love with Erebus”, Hesiod, Theogony (120–125).

Nyx (“Night”) is the Greek goddess (or personification) of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation, and was the mother of other personified deities such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death).

Her appearances are sparse in surviving mythology, but reveal her as a figure of such exceptional power and beauty, that she is feared by Zeus himself. She is found in the shadows of the world and only ever seen in glimpses.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, Nyx is born of Chaos. With Erebus (Darkness), Nyx gives birth to Aether (Brightness) and Hemera (Day). Later, on her own, Nyx gives birth to Moros (Doom, Destiny), Ker (Fate, Destruction, Death), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), the Oneiroi (Dreams), Momus (Blame), Oizys (Woe, Pain, Distress), the Hesperides (Evening, Sunset), the Moirai (Fates), the Keres, Nemesis (Indignation, Retribution), Apate (Deceit), Philotes (Friendship, Love), Geras (Old Age), and Eris (Strife).

Geras, the god of old age, was considered a virtue whereby the more gēras a man acquired, the more kleos (fame) and arete (excellence and courage) he was considered to have. Geras was depicted as a tiny shriveled-up old man. Gēras’s opposite was Hebe, the goddess of youth. His Roman equivalent was Senectus. He is known primarily from vase depictions that show him with the hero Heracles; the mythic story that inspired these depictions has been entirely lost.

In his description of Tartarus, Hesiod locates there the home of Nyx, and the homes of her children Hypnos and Thanatos. Hesiod says further that Hemera (Day), who is Nyx’s daughter, left Tartarus just as Nyx entered it; continuing cyclicly, when Hemera returned, Nyx left.

This mirrors the portrayal of Ratri (night) in the Rigveda, where she works in close cooperation, but also tension, with her sister Ushas (dawn).

Nyx took on an even more important role in several fragmentary poems attributed to Orpheus. In them, Nyx, rather than Chaos, is the first principle from which all creation emerges.

Nyx occupies a cave or adyton, in which she gives oracles. Cronus – who is chained within, asleep and drunk on honey – dreams and prophesies. Outside the cave, Adrasteia clashes cymbals and beats upon her tympanon, moving the entire universe in an ecstatic dance to the rhythm of Nyx’s chanting.

Phanes, the strange, monstrous, hermaphrodite Orphic demiurge, was the child or father of Nyx. Nyx is also the first principle in the opening chorus of Aristophanes’ The Birds, which may be Orphic in inspiration. Here she is also the mother of Eros.

Hubur (ḪU.BUR, Hu-bur) is a Sumerian term meaning “river”, “watercourse” or “netherworld”. A connection to Tiamat has been suggested with parallels to her description as “Ummu-Hubur”. Hubur is also referred to in the Enuma Elish as “mother sea Hubur, who fashions all things”.

The river Euphrates has been identified with Hubur as the source of fertility in Sumer. This Babylonian “river of creation” has been linked to the Hebrew “river of paradise”. Linda Foubister has suggested the river of creation was linked with the importance of rivers and rain in the Fertile Crescent and suggested it was related to the underworld as rivers resemble snakes.

Delitzch has suggested the similar Sumerian word Habur probably meant “mighty water source”, “source of fertility” or the like. This has suggested the meaning of Hubur to be “river of fertility in the underworld”.

Gunkel and Zimmern suggested resemblance in expressions and a possible connection between the Sumerian river and that found in later literary tradition in the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47) likely influencing imagery of the “River of Water of Life” in the Apocalypse (Revelation 22).

They also noted a connection between the “Water of Life” in the legend of Adapa and a myth translated by A.H. Sayce called “An address to the river of creation”. Samuel Eugene Balentine suggested that the “pit” (sahar) and “river” or “channel” (salah) in the Book of Job (Job 33:18) were referencing the Hubur.

In Sumerian cosmology, the souls of the dead had to travel across the desert or steppe, cross the Hubur River to the mountainland of Kur. Here the souls had to pass through seven different walled and gated locations to reach the netherworld. The Annanuki administrated Kur as if it were a civilized settlement both architecturally and politically.

Frans Wiggermann connected Hubur to the Habur or Khabur River, the largest perennial tributary of the Euphrates in Syrian territory and far away from the Sumerian heartland. There was also a town called Haburatum east of the Tigris.

Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area.

From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah.

Since the 1930s, numerous archaeological excavations and surveys have been carried out in the Khabur Valley, indicating that the region has been occupied since the Lower Palaeolithic period. Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri.

The Khabur River is sometimes identified with the Chebar, the setting of several important scenes of the book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, including the opening verse. Those who challenge the identification assert that the Khabur is too far north to be associated with the Chebar. Instead, their likely candidate is the Shatt el-Nil, a silted up canal toward the east of Babylon, which may be the ka-ba-ru waterway mentioned among the 5th century BCE Murushu archives from Nippur.

Wiggermann suggested that as the concept of the netherworld (as opposed to an underworld) in Sumerian cosmogeny lacked the modern concept of an accompanying divine ruler of a location underneath the earth, the geographical terminology suggested that it was located at the edges of the world and that its features derived in part from real geography before shifting to become a demonic fantasy world.

The river plays a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with the Sumerian paradise and heroes and deities such as Gilgamesh, Enlil, Enki and Ninlil. The god Marduk was praised for restoration or saving individuals from death when he drew them out of the waters of the Hubur, a later reference to this theme is made in Psalm 18 (Psalms 18).

The Hubur was suggested to be between the twin peaks of Mount Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain to the east in front of the gates of the netherworld through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span.

Masis is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural ‘Masiq’ may refer to both peaks. The History of Armenia derives the name from a king Amasya, the great-grandson of the Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

The corresponding location in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. Jeffrey H. Tigay suggests that in the Sumerian version, through its association with the sun god Utu, “(t)he Cedar Mountain is implicitely located in the east, whereas in the Akkadian versions, Gilgamesh’s desitination (is) removed from the east” and “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon”.

One theory is that the only location suitable for being called a “cedar land” was the great forest covering Lebanon and western parts of Syria and, in consequence, “Mashu” is the whole of the parallel Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, with the narrow gap between these mountains constituting the tunnel.

The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains”, from the Babylonian for twins. The “twins”, in Semitic mythology, were also often seen as two mountains, one at the eastern edge of the world (in the lower Zagros), the other at the western edge of the world (in the Taurus), and one of these seem to have had an Iranian location.

Siduri, the alewife, a wise female divinity associated with fermentation (specifically beer and wine), lived on the shore, associated with “the Waters of Death” that Gilgamesh had to cross to reach Utnapishtim, the far-away. Siduri’s name means “young woman” in Hurrian, and may be an epithet of Inanna.

In the earlier Old Babylonian version of the Epic, she attempts to dissuade Gilgamesh in his quest for immortality, urging him to be content with the simple pleasures of life. In the later Akkadian (also referred to as the “standard”) version of the Epic, Siduri’s role is somewhat less important.

It is left to the flood hero Utnapishtim (the Mesopotamian precursor of Noah) to discuss issues of life and death. Siduri, nonetheless, has a long conversation with Gilgamesh, who boasts of his exploits and is forced to explain why his appearance is so haggard.

When he asks for help in finding Utnapishtim, Siduri explains the difficulties of the journey but directs him to Urshanabi, the ferryman, who may be able to help him cross the subterranean ocean and the ominous “waters of death”.

Several scholars suggest direct borrowing of Siduri’s advice by the author of Ecclesiastes. The advice given by Siduri has been seen as the first expression of the concept of Carpe diem although some scholars see it urging Gilgamesh to abandon his mourning, “reversing the liminal rituals of mourning and returning to the normal and normative behaviors of Mesopotamian society.”

Siduri has been compared to the Odyssey’s Circe. Like Odysseus, Gilgamesh gets directions on how to reach his destination from a divine helper. In this case she is the goddess Siduri, who, like Circe, dwells by the sea at the ends of the earth.

Her home is also associated with the sun: Gilgamesh reaches Siduri’s house by passing through a tunnel underneath Mt. Mashu, the high mountain from which the sun comes into the sky. West argues that the similarity of Odysseus’s and Gilgamesh’s journeys to the edges of the earth are the result of the influence of the Gilgamesh epic upon the Odyssey.

The Sumerian myth of Enlil and Ninlil tells the tale of the leader of the gods, Enlil, being banished to the netherworld followed by his wife Ninlil. It mentions the river Hubur and its ferryman, SI.LU.IGI, described as a man, who crosses the river in a boat. Themes of this story are repeated later in the Epic of Gilgamesh where the ferryman is called Urshanabi, the Sumerian equivalent of Charon.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Urshanabi is a companion of Gilgamesh after Enkidu dies. They meet when Urshanabi is involved in the curious occupation of collecting an unintelligible type of “urnu-snakes” in the forest.

Urshanabi’s ferry is at first powered by unintelligible “stone things”, that are destroyed by Gilgamesh, who proceeds to power the boat with 500 wooden stakes he has to make to replace the “stone-things”.

He is banished from Kur by the immortal survivor of the flood Utnapishtim for no discernible reason, possibly for conveying Gilgamesh across the Hubur. They both ferry back to Uruk where they behold its splendour. In later Assyrian times, the ferryman became a monster called Hamar-tabal and may have influenced the later Charon of Greek Mythology.

In another story a four-handed, bird demon carries souls across to the city of the dead. Several Akkadian demons are also restrained by the river Hubur. The river is mentioned in the Inscription of Ilum-Ishar, written on bricks at Mari.

Nergal, god of the netherworld, is referred to as “king Hubur” in a list of Sumerian gods. The word is also used into the Assyrian empire where it was used as the name of the tenth month in a calendar dated to around 1100 BC. There was also a goddess called Haburitim mentioned in texts from the Third dynasty of Ur.

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Mercury – the god of transformation, communication and bounderies

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 29, 2014

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Mercury

Mercury, named after the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger to the gods, is the smallest and closest to the Sun of the eight planets in the Solar System, with an orbital period of about 88 Earth days. Seen from Earth, it appears to move around its orbit in about 116 days, which is much faster than any other planet. It has no known natural satellites.

Its orbit, like that of Venus, is inside the earth’s own orbit, so it is never further than 28 degrees away from the sun as viewed from earth (elongation). Consequently Mercury is always in the same sign as the sun or in an adjacent sign.

Like Venus, Mercury can be both an evening star or a morning star. It is an evening star and located before the sun in the zodiac when it descends after the sun on the western horizon and a morning star when it rises before the sun on the eastern horizon.

The earliest known recorded observations of Mercury are from the Mul.Apin tablets. These observations were most likely made by an Assyrian astronomer around the 14th century BC.

The cuneiform name used to designate Mercury on the Mul.Apin tablets is transcribed as Udu.Idim.Gu\u.Ud (“the jumping planet”). Babylonian records of Mercury date back to the 1st millennium BC. The Babylonians called the planet Nabu after the messenger to the gods in their mythology.

The ancient Greeks of Hesiod’s time knew the planet as Stilbon, meaning “the gleaming”, and Hermaon. Later Greeks called the planet Apollo when it was visible in the morning sky, and Hermes when visible in the evening.

Around the 4th century BC, Greek astronomers came to understand that the two names referred to the same body, Hermes, a planetary name that is retained in modern Ermis.

The Romans named the planet after the swift-footed Roman messenger god, Mercury (Latin Mercurius), which they equated with the Greek Hermes, because it moves across the sky faster than any other planet. The astronomical symbol for Mercury is a stylized version of Hermes’ caduceus.

Enki

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)), a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, was associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

Enki was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer). Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.

Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)), a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki in Sumerian mythology. Isimud is readily identifiable by the fact that he possesses two faces looking in opposite directions.

Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.”

A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

Nisaba

The Sumerian goddess Nanibgal, also Nisaba or Nidaba, the Sumerian goddess of writing, astronomy, accounting, learning, grain and the harvest, was often praised by Sumerian scribes. In the Babylonian period, she was replaced by the god Nabu, who took over her functions at the office of patron of the scribes. In some instances, Nisaba was his instructor or wife before he replaced her.

Many clay-tablets end with the phrase, (DINGIR.NAGA.ZAG.SAL; nisaba za-mi), “Nisaba be praised” to honor the goddess. She is considered the teacher of both mortal scribes and other divine deities. Her sanctuaries were E-zagin at Eresh (Uruk) and at Umma.

The god of wisdom, Enki, organized the world after creation and gave each deity a role in the world order. Nisaba was named the scribe of the gods, and Enki then built her a school of learning so that she could better serve those in need. She keeps records, chronicles events, and performs various other bookwork related duties for the gods. She is also in charge of marking regional borders.

As the goddess of knowledge, she is related to many other facets of intellectual study and other gods may turn to her for advice or aid. Some of these traits are shared with her sister Ninsina. She is also associates with grain, reflecting her association with an earth goddess mother.

On a depiction found in Lagash, Nisaba appears with flowing hair, crowned with horned tiara bearing supporting ears of grain and a crescent moon. Her dense hair is evoked in comparison in the description of similarly hairy Enkidu in the Gilgamesh epic.

As with many Sumerian deities, Nisaba’s exact place in the pantheon and her heritage appears somewhat ambiguous. Nisaba is the daughter of An and Urash, a goddess of earth and the mother of the goddess Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh, and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh. However, Urash may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Urash even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Urash in later times.

From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag (earth and mother goddess). Therefore, the two goddesses may be one and the same. Nisaba is the sister of Ninsun. If Urash and Ninhursag are the same goddess, then Nisaba is also the half sister of Ninhursag, Nanshe and in some versions Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War), the god of Lagash, identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identified.

Nabu

Nabu, the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit), and as the grandson of Ea/Enki, was associated with Mercury.

Originally, Nabu was a West Semitic deity introduced by the Amorites into Mesopotamia, probably at the same time as Marduk shortly after 2000 BC. While Marduk became Babylon’s main deity, Nabu resided in nearby Borsippa in his temple E-zida.

Nabu was first called the “scribe and minister of Marduk”. During the Babylonian New Year Festival, the cult statue of Nabu was transported from Borsippa to Babylon in order to commune with his father Marduk.

Nabu later became one of the principal gods in Assyria and Assyrians addressed many prayers and inscriptions to Nabu and named children after him. Nabu was the god of writing and scribes and was the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, in which the fates of humankind was recorded. He was also sometimes worshiped as a fertility god and as a god of water.

His symbols are the clay writing tablet with the writing stylus. He wears a horned cap, and stands with hands clasped, in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rides on a winged dragon (mušhuššu, also known as Sirrush), initially Marduk’s.

His power over human existence is immense because Nabu engraves the destiny of each person, as the gods have decided, on the tablets of sacred record. Thus, He has the power to increase or diminish, at will, the length of human life. As the god of wisdom and writing, he was equated by the Greeks to either Apollo or Hermes, the latter identified by the Romans with their own god Mercury.

Tashmetu

The etymology of Nabu is disputed. It could be derived from the root nb´ for “to call or announce”, meaning something like “He who has called”. Nabu’s consort was Tashmetum (Tashmetu). She is called upon to listen to prayers and to grant requests.

Tashmetum and Nabu both shared a temple in the city of Borsippa, in which they were patron deities. Tashmetum’s name, which means “the lady who listens,”. She is also known as Tashmit and Tashmetu, and she was known by the epithets Lady of Hearing and Lady of Favor.

Ninshubur

Ninshubur, the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Ninshubur, with a sanctuary, the E-akkil (House of lamentation) temple i Akkil, was a goddess in her own right. Her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods. As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky.

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.

Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld.

Papsukkal

Papsukkal, identified in late Akkadian texts and is known chiefly from the Hellenistic period, is the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon. He becomes syncretised from Ninshubur. His consort is Amasagnul, an Akkadian fertility goddess mentioned in documents from the Hellenistic period at Uruk, and he acts as both messenger and gatekeeper for the rest of the pantheon. He is the regent of the 10th month in the Babylonian calendar.

Išum

The Sumerian figure of Endursaga, meaning lofty mace, is the herald god in the Sumerian mythology, who leads the pantheon, particularly in times of conflict. He develop into Ishum, a minor god in Akkadian mythology, in Akkadian times. Ishum, who may have been a god of fire and, according to texts, led the gods in war as a herald, but was nonetheless generally regarded as benevolent.

Ishum, known particularly from the Babylonian legend of Erra and Ishum, is the attendant of Erra, the Akkadian god of mayhem and pestilence, who is responsible for periods of political confusion, known from an ‘epos’ of the eighth century BCE.

The Epic of the plague-god Erra, a politico-religious composition from the time of Nabu-apla-iddina, ca. 887-855, which endeavors to provide a theological explanation for the resurgence of Babylonia following years of paralysis, begins its tale of distress with the reign of Adad-apla-iddina. Erra, whose name means “scorched (earth),” is accompanied by Išum, “fire,” and disease-causing demons called Sibitti.

In the epic that is given the modern title Erra, the writer Kabti-ilani-Marduk, a descendant, he says, of Dabibi, presents himself in a colophon following the text as simply the transcriber of a visionary dream in which Erra himself revealed the text.

The poem opens with an invocation. The god Erra is sleeping fitfully with his consort, but is roused by his advisor Išum and the Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti), who are the sons of heaven and earth – “champions without peer” is the repeated formula – and are each assigned a destructive destiny by Anu.

The Seven are known from a range of Akkadian incantation texts: their demonic names vary, but their number, seven, is invariable. Machinist and Sasson (1983) call them “personified weapons”. Walter Burkert noted the consonance of the purely mythic seven led by Erra with the Seven Against Thebes, widely assumed by Hellenists to have had a historical basis.

The Sibitti call on Erra to lead the destruction of mankind. Išum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail. Foreign peoples invade Babylonia, but are struck down by plague. Even Marduk, the patron of Babylon, relinquishes his throne to Erra for a time.

Tablets II and III are occupied with a debate between Erra and Išum. Erra goes to battle in Babylon, Sippar, Uruk, Dūr-Kurigalzu and Dēr. The world is turned upside down: righteous and unrighteous are killed alike. Erra orders Išum to complete the work by defeating Babylon’s enemies. Then the god withdraws to his own seat in Emeslam with the terrifying Seven, and mankind is saved. A propitiatory prayer ends the work.

The Erra text soon assumed magical functions. Parts of the text were inscribed on amulets employed for exorcism and as a prophylactic against the plague. The poem must have been central to Babylonian culture: at least thirty-six copies have been recovered from five first-millennium sites – Assur, Babylon, Nineveh, Sultantepe and Ur -more, even, as L. Cagni points out, than have been recovered of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The five tablets containing the Erra epos were first published in 1956, with an improved text, based on additional finds, appearing in 1969. Perhaps 70% of the poem has been recovered. The text appears to some readers to be a mythologisation of historic turmoil in Mesopotamia, though scholars disagree as to the historic events that inspired the poem: the poet exclaims (tablet IV:3) “You changed out of your divinity and made yourself like a man.”

The Sun and the Moon

Ishum is the brother of Shamash (Syriac šemša or šimšu, Hebrew šemeš and Arabic šams), meaning “Sun”, a native Mesopotamian deity and the Sun god in the Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian pantheons, corresponding to Sumerian Utu. Shamash was the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria.

Both in early and in late inscriptions Shamash is designated as the “offspring of Nannar”; i.e. of the Moon-god, and since, in an enumeration of the pantheon, Sin (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn) generally takes precedence of Shamash, it is in relationship, presumably, to the Moon-god that the Sun-god appears as the dependent power.

Such a supposition would accord with the prominence acquired by the Moon in the calendar and in astrological calculations, as well as with the fact that the Moon-cult belongs to the nomadic and therefore earlier stage of civilization, whereas the Sun-god rises to full importance only after the agricultural stage has been reached.

The two chief centres of Sun-worship in Babylonia were Sippar, represented by the mounds at Abu Habba, and Larsa, represented by the modern Senkerah. At both places the chief sanctuary bore the name E-barra (or E-babbara) “the shining house”—a direct allusion to the brilliancy of the Sun-god.

Nanna (Sumerian: DŠEŠ.KI, NANNA), commonly designated as En-zu, which means “lord of wisdom”, was the god of the moon in the Sumerian mythology, while Sin was the god of the moon of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

The Semitic moon god Su’en/Sin is in origin a separate deity from Sumerian Nanna, but from the Akkadian Empire period the two undergo syncretization and are identified. The occasional Assyrian spelling of NANNA-ar Su’en-e is due to association with Akkadian na-an-na-ru “illuminator, lamp”, an epitheton of the moon god. The name of the Assyrian moon god Su’en/Sîn is usually spelled as EN.ZU, or simply with the numeral 30.

Nanna is the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sin’s worship were Ur, named E-gish-shir-gal (“house of the great light”), in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran, named E-khul-khul (“house of joys”), in the north.

It was at Ur that the role of the En Priestess developed. This was an extremely powerful role held by a princess, most notably Enheduanna, daughter of King Sargon of Akkad, and was the primary cult role associated with the cult of Nanna/Sin.

The cult of the moon-god spread to other centers, so that temples to him are found in all the large cities of Babylonia and Assyria. A sanctuary for Sin with Syriac inscriptions invoking his name dating to the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE was found at Sumatar Harabesi in the Tektek mountains, not far from Harran and Edessa.

During the period (c.2600-2400 BC) that Ur exercised a large measure of supremacy over the Euphrates valley, Nanna/Sin was naturally regarded as the head of the pantheon. It is to this period that we must trace such designations of Nanna/Sin as “father of the gods”, “chief of the gods”, “creator of all things”, and the like.

The “wisdom” personified by the moon-god is likewise an expression of the science of astronomy or the practice of astrology, in which the observation of the moon’s phases is an important factor.

Sin had a beard made of lapis lazuli and rode on a winged bull. The bull was one of his symbols, through his father, Enlil, “Bull of Heaven”, along with the crescent and the tripod (which may be a lamp-stand).

On cylinder seals, he is represented as an old man with a flowing beard and the crescent symbol. In the astral-theological system he is represented by the number 30 and the moon. This number probably refers to the average number of days (correctly around 29.53) in a lunar month, as measured between successive new moons.

An important Sumerian text, “Enlil and Ninlil”, tells of the descent of Enlil and Ninlil, pregnant with Nanna/Sin, into the underworld. There, three “substitutions” are given to allow the ascent of Nanna/Sin. The story shows some similarities to the text known as “The Descent of Inanna”.

His wife was Ningal (“Great Lady/Queen”), a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology. Ningal was daughter of Enki and Ningikurga (“Lady of the Pure Reed”), a goddess of reeds and marshes. She is chiefly recognised at Ur, and was probably first worshipped by cow-herders in the marsh lands of southern Mesopotamia.

Together with Ningal he got Utu/Shamash (“Sun”), Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus), and in some texts, the Sumerian storm-god Ishkur, called Adad in Akkadian and Hadad in Aramaic. All three are usually written by the logogram IM. In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon, which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. The tendency to centralize the powers of the universe leads to the establishment of the doctrine of a triad consisting of Sin/Nanna and his children.

Lamassu and Shedu

The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal, the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon, with lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu) and the god Išum with shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu). The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, were placed as sentinels at the entrances.

In art, lamassu were often depicted as hybrids with a bull or lion’s body, eagle’s wings, and human’s head. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant “protective spirit”.

The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser. In this case, the lamassu was used as a symbol of power: The Assyrians typically placed lamassu is at the openings of cities and palaces, so that everyone who entered would see it. From the front it appears to be standing and from the side walking. This was intentionally done to make it seem powerful.

The lamassu in real life is very tall, and there are still surviving figures of lamassu in bas-relief and some statues in museums, most notably in the British Museum in London, the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and the Oriental Institute, Chicago.

The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin which were depicted with different iconography.

Although “lamassu” had a different iconography and portrayal in Sumerian culture, the terms lamassu, alad, and shedu were used to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian empire. Female lamassus were called “apsasû”.

In Hittite the Sumerian form LAMMA is used both a name for the so-called “Tutelary deity” identified in certain later texts with Inara and a title given to various other tutelary or similar protective gods.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were known as shedu, storm-demons, represented in ox-like form.” They were represented as winged bulls, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective jinn of royal palaces. From Chaldea, the term shedu traveled to the Israelites. The writers of the Tanach applied the word as a dialogism to Canaanite deities.

Demons in the Hebrew Bible are of two classes: the se’irim (“hairy beings”) and the shedim. The se’irim, to which some Israelites offered sacrifices in the open fields, were satyr-like creatures, described as dancing in the wilderness (Isaiah 13:21, 34:14). “The Israelites also offered sacrifices to the shedim (Deut. xxxii. 17; Ps. cvi. 37)”.

In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish demonology and Christian tradition, a demon is a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.

Thoth

The Greeks also saw parallels between Hermes and the Egyptian scribe god Thoth, one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon,  who was, however, associated with the moon. The Greeks related Thoth to their god Hermes due to his similar attributes and functions. In addition, Thoth was also known by specific aspects of himself, for instance the moon god Iah-Djehuty, representing the Moon for the entire month.

One of Thoth’s titles, “Three times great”, was translated to the Greek Trismegistos making Hermes Trismegistus, or in combination with the Egyptian god of the dead Anubis, as Hermanubis. In this latter form, the Egyptianized Hermes/Hellenized Anubis served primarily as the conductor of the dead, psychopomp (from the Greek word psuchopompos, literally meaning the “guide of souls”), on their journey through the afterlife.

Thoth (also Thot or Thout), from Greek thṓth, is the Greek version derived from the Egyptian letters ḏḥwty. Not counting differences in spelling. The Egyptian of ḏḥwty is not fully known, but may be reconstructed as *ḏiḥautī, based on the Ancient Greek borrowing Thōth or Theut and the fact that it evolved into Sahidic Coptic variously as Thoout, Thōth, Thoot, Thaut as well as Bohairic Coptic Thōout.

The final -y may even have been pronounced as a consonant, not a vowel. However, many write “Djehuty”, inserting the letter ‘e’ automatically between consonants in Egyptian words, and writing ‘w’ as ‘u’, as a convention of convenience for English speakers, not the transliteration employed by Egyptologists. Djehuty is sometimes alternatively rendered as Jehuti, Tahuti, Tehuti, Zehuti, Techu, or Tetu.

According to Theodor Hopfner, Thoth’s Egyptian name written as ḏḥwty originated from ḏḥw, claimed to be the oldest known name for the Ibis although normally written as hbj. The addition of -ty denotes that he possessed the attributes of the Ibis. Hence his name means “He who is like the Ibis”. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him.

Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and shmounein in the Coptic rendering. In the Hellenized culture of Roman Egypt, Hermes was associated with esoteric lore on magic, medicine, theology, and astrology.

In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at, his wife) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat.

Thoth’s roles in Egyptian mythology were many. He served as a mediating power, especially between good and evil, making sure neither had a decisive victory over the other. He also served as scribe of the gods, credited with the invention of writing and alphabets (i.e. hieroglyphs) themselves.

In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A’an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased’s heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma’at, was exactly even.

The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced. He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. Divine) law, making proper use of Ma’at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them.

Compare this to how his feminine counterpart, Ma’at was the force which maintained the Universe. He is said to direct the motions of the heavenly bodies. Without his words, the Egyptians believed, the gods would not exist. His power was unlimited in the Underworld and rivaled that of Ra and Osiris.

The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic. The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, land surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine.

In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

Thoth had many names and titles, like other goddesses and gods. (Similarly, each Pharaoh, considered a god himself, had five different names used in public). Among the names used are A, Sheps, Lord of Khemennu, Asten, Khenti, Mehi, Hab, and A’an.

Thoth has been depicted in many ways depending on the era and on the aspect the artist wished to convey. Usually, he is depicted in his human form with the head of an ibis. In this form, he can be represented as the reckoner of times and seasons by a headdress of the lunar disk sitting on top of a crescent moon resting on his head.

When depicted as a form of Shu or Ankher, he was depicted to be wearing the respective god’s headdress. Sometimes he was also seen in art to be wearing the Atef crown or the United Crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. When not depicted in this common form, he sometimes takes the form of the ibis directly.

He also appears as a dog faced baboon or a man with the head of a baboon when he is A’an, the god of equilibrium. In the form of A’ah-Djehuty he took a more human-looking form. These forms are all symbolic and are metaphors for Thoth’s attributes. The Egyptians did not believe these gods actually looked like humans with animal heads. For example, Ma’at is often depicted with an ostrich feather, “the feather of truth,” on her head, or with a feather for a head.

Seshat

The feminine counterpart of Toth was Seshat (also spelled Safkhet, Sesat, Seshet, Sesheta, and Seshata), the Ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. She was seen as a scribe and record keeper, and her name means she who scrivens (i.e. she who is the scribe), and is credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying. These are all professions that relied upon expertise in her skills. She is identified as Safekh-Aubi in some late texts.

Mistress of the House of Books is another title for Seshat, being the deity whose priests oversaw the library in which scrolls of the most important knowledge were assembled and spells were preserved.

One prince of the fourth dynasty, Wep-em-nefret, is noted as the Overseer of the Royal Scribes, Priest of Seshat on a slab stela. Heliopolis was the location of her principal sanctuary. She is described as the goddess of history.

In art, she was depicted as a woman with a seven-pointed emblem above her head. It is unclear what this emblem represents. Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 BCE) called her Sefket-Abwy (She of seven points). Spell 10 of the Coffin Texts states “Seshat opens the door of heaven for you.”

Usually, she is shown holding a palm stem, bearing notches to denote the recording of the passage of time, especially for keeping track of the allotment of time for the life of the pharaoh. She was also depicted holding other tools and, often, holding the knotted cords that were stretched to survey land and structures.

She is frequently shown dressed in a cheetah or leopard hide, a symbol of funerary priests. If not shown with the hide over a dress, the pattern of the dress is that of the spotted feline. The pattern on the natural hide was thought to represent the stars, being a symbol of eternity, and to be associated with the night sky.

As the divine measurer and scribe, Seshat was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh in both of these practices. It was she who recorded, by notching her palm, the time allotted to the pharaoh for his stay on earth.

Seshat assisted the pharaoh in the “stretching the cord” ritual, a ritual related to laying out the foundations of temples and other important structures in order to determine and assure the sacred alignments and the precision of the dimensions.

Her skills were necessary for surveying the land after the annual floods to reestablish boundary lines. The priestess who officiated at these functions in her name also oversaw the staff of others who performed similar duties and were trained in mathematics and the related store of knowledge.

Much of this knowledge was considered quite sacred and not shared beyond the ranks of the highest professionals such as architects and certain scribes. She also was responsible for recording the speeches the pharaoh made during the crowning ceremony and approving the inventory of foreign captives and goods gained in military campaigns. During the New Kingdom, she was involved in the Sed festival held by the pharaohs who could celebrate thirty years of reign.

Later, when the cult of the moon deity, Thoth, became prominent and he became identified as a god of wisdom, the role of Seshat changed in the Egyptian pantheon when counterparts were created for most older deities. The lower ranks of her priestesses were displaced by the priests of Thoth. First, she was identified as his daughter, and later as his wife.

After the pairing with Thoth the emblem of Seshat was shown surmounted by a crescent moon, which, over time, degenerated into being shown as two horns arranged to form a crescent shape, but pointing downward (in an atypical fashion for Egyptian art). When the crescent moon symbol had degenerated into the horns, she sometimes was known as Safekh-Aubi, meaning she who wears the two horns. In a few images the horns resemble two cobras, as depicted in hieroglyphs, but facing each other with heads touching.

Hermes

The mythology of Hermes, an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and Maia, eldest of the seven Pleiades, suggests a Mesopotamian origin in his parallels with the Babylonian scribe god. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

Hermes, the second youngest of the Olympian gods, is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife.

He is protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade. In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind.

His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol is the herald’s staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

The earliest form of the name Hermes is the Mycenaean Greek, *e-ma-a2 (e-ma-ha /Ermāhās/), written in the Linear B syllabic script. Most scholars derive “Hermes” from Greek herma, “prop, heap of stones, boundary marker”, from which the word hermai (“boundary markers dedicated to Hermes as a god of travelers”) also derives.

The etymology itself is unknown (probably not an Indo-European word). R. S. P. Beekes rejects the connection with herma and suggests a Pre-Greek origin. “Hermes” may be related to Greek hermeneus (“interpreter”), reflecting Hermes’s function as divine messenger. The word “hermeneutics”, the study and theory of interpretation, is derived from hermeneus.

Plato offers a Socratic folk-etymology for Hermes’s name, deriving it from the divine messenger’s reliance on eirein (the power of speech). Scholarly speculation that “Hermes” derives from a more primitive form meaning “one cairn” is disputed. In Greek a lucky find is a hermaion.

Sarama

It is suggested that Hermes is cognate of the Vedic Sarama, a mythological being referred to as the bitch of the gods, or Deva-shuni (devashunī).

She first appears in one of Hinduism’s earliest texts, the Rig Veda, in which she helps the god-king Indra to recover divine cows stolen by the Panis, a class of demons. This legend is alluded to in many later texts, and Sarama is often associated with Indra. The epic Mahabharata, and some Puranas, also make brief reference to Sarama.

Early Rig-Vedic works do not depict Sarama as canine, but later Vedic mythologies and interpretations usually show her as a bitch. She is described as the mother of all dogs, in particular of the two four-eyed brindle dogs of the god Yama, and dogs are given the matronymic Sarameya (“offspring of Sarama”). One scripture further describes Sarama as the mother of all wild animals.

Orientalist Max Müller suggests that the word Sarama may mean “the runner”, with the stem originating from the Sanskrit root sar (“to go”), but he is unable to account for the second part of the name, ama.

Professor Monier-Williams translates Sarama as “the fleet one”. The etymological treatise Nirukta by Yaska mentions that Sarama derives her name from her quick movement. Mahidhara, a commentator of the Vajasaneyi Samhita, states that Sarama is “she who entertains (remante) the gods”. More broadly, Sarama has also come to mean any female dog or bitch.

There are two epithets for Sarama in the original Rig Veda. Firstly, she is described as supadi, which means “having good feet”, “fair-footed” or “quick”, an epithet only used for Sarama in the text. Her other epithet is subhaga – “the fortunate one”, or “the beloved one” – a common epithet of the Ushas, the Dawn. Sarama’s other name Deva-shuni means “divine bitch” or “bitch of the gods”.

Mercury

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon, Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.

Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes, known also as Di or Dei Consentes (once Dii Complices), a list of twelve major deities, six gods and six goddesses, in the pantheon of Ancient Rome. Their gilt statues stood in the Forum, later apparently in the Porticus Deorum Consentium.

Mercury, considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology, is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld.

His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark”, Latin “margō”, and Welsh Cymro) and Greek (by analogy of Arctūrus), as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

In Virgil’s Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome. In Ovid’s Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.

Mercury has influenced the name of many things in a variety of scientific fields, such as the planet Mercury, and the element mercury. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury’s swift flights from place to place. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.

Because Mercury was not one of the early deities surviving from the Roman Kingdom, he was not assigned a flamen (“priest”), but he did have his own major festival, on May 15, the Mercuralia. During the Mercuralia, merchants sprinkled water from his sacred well near the Porta Capena on their heads.

Turms

In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms, the god of trade and merchandise, and messenger of the gods, both of which share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. One form of him, Turns Aitas, was the leader of the dead, often painted with winged shoes and a herald’s hat, very similar to Hermes and Mercury.

Lugus

When the Romans described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana. Mercury in particular was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered.

Julius Caesar in his De Bello Gallico identified six gods worshipped in Gaul, by the usual conventions of interpretatio romana giving the names of their nearest Roman equivalents rather than their Gaulish names. He states that for the Gauls the worship of Mercury was the most important or perhaps most widespread out of all the gods.

According to him “Mercury” was the god most revered in Britain and Gaul, describing him as patron of trade and commerce, protector of travellers, and regarded as the inventor of all the arts. This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta, in Gallo-Roman religion a goddess of fertility and abundance.

A relief from Autun (ancient Augustodunum, the civitas capital of the Celtic Aedui), shows Rosmerta and Mercury seated together as a divine couple. She holds a cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae) or horn of plenty, a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts, with Mercury holding a patera at her left side.

A bas-relief from Eisenberg shows the couple in the same relative positions, with Rosmerta securely identified by the inscription. Rosmerta holds a purse in her right hand and a patera in her left.

However, most of our sources concerning Celtic Lugus are Insular Celtic, while sources discussing Gaulish Lugus are rare, although his importance is manifest from the numerous toponyms containing the name (Lugdunum etc.).

Lucanus mentions three Celtic gods: Teutates, identified with Mars or Mercury, Esus, identified with Mercury but also with Mars, and Taranis, identified with Jupiter, as a warlord and a sky god.

Teutates receives as human sacrifices drowned captives and fallen warriors. Esus also accepts as human sacrifices prisoners who are hanged on trees and then dismembered. Human sacrifices to Taranis are made by burning prisoners in wooden casks.

Lugus is not mentioned by Lucanus at all. The suggestion of Rübekeil (2003:38), in view of his hypothesis of a Celtic origin of the Germanic god discussed above, is that Lugus refers to the trinity Teutates-Esus-Taranis considered as a single god.

An etymological reflex of Celtic Lugus is possibly found in Loki, a Germanic god described as a “hypostasis of Odin”. A likely context of the diffusion of elements of Celtic ritual into Germanic culture, are tribes such as the Chatti, traditionally considered a Germanic tribe, but many of their leaders and their settlements had Celtic names, who lived at the Celtic-Germanic boundary in Hesse during the final centuries BC.

Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.

Lugus was a deity of the Celtic pantheon. His name is rarely directly attested in inscriptions, but his importance can be inferred from place names and ethnonyms, and his nature and attributes are deduced from the distinctive iconography of Gallo-Roman inscriptions to Mercury, who is widely believed to have been identified with Lugus, and from the quasi-mythological narratives involving his later cognates, Irish Lugh Lámhfhada (Lugh of the Long Arm) and Welsh Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lleu of the Skillful Hand).

It is possible that Lugus was a triune god, comprising Esus, Toutatis and Taranis, the three chief deities mentioned by Lucan. The “threefold death” in Celtic human sacrifice may reflect the triplicity of this god.

The exact etymology of Lugus is unknown and contested. The Proto-Celtic root of the name, *lug-, is generally believed to have been derived from one of several different Proto-Indo-European roots, such as *leug- “black”, *leuǵ- “to break”, and *leugʰ- “to swear an oath”, It was once thought that the root may be derived from Proto-Indo-European *leuk- “to shine”, but there are difficulties with this etymology and few modern scholars accept it as being possible (notably because Proto-Indo-European *-k- never produced Proto-Celtic *-g-).

In Celtic areas, Mercury was sometimes portrayed with three heads or faces, and at Tongeren, Belgium, a statuette of Mercury with three phalli was found, with the extra two protruding from his head and replacing his nose; this was probably because the number was considered magical, making such statues good luck and fertility charms. The Romans also made widespread use of small statues of Mercury, probably drawing from the ancient Greek tradition of hermae markers.

Odin

Wōđanaz or Wōđinaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of a god of Germanic paganism, known as Odin in Norse mythology, Woden in Old English, Wodan or Wotan in Old High German and Godan in Lombardic.

Wōdanaz is associated with poetic or mantic qualities, his name being connected with the concept of *wōþuz, “furor poeticus” (poetic fury), and is thus the god of poets and seers. He is a shapechanger and healer, and thus a god of magicians and leeches. He is associated with the Wild Hunt of dead, and thus a death deity. He is also a god of war and bringer of victory.

Less is known about the role of Wodan as receiver of the dead among the more southern Germanic tribes. The Roman historian Tacitus probably refers to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos, “the leader of souls”.

Wace also identifies Wotan with Mercury. Viktor Rydberg, in his work on Teutonic Mythology, draws a number of other parallels between Odin and Mercury, such as the fact that they were both responsible for bringing poetry to mortals.

Similarly, Ammianus Marcellinus most likely references Odin and Thor in his history of the later Roman Empire as Mercury and Mars, respectively, though a direct association is not made.

This, however, underlines a particular problem concerning ancient Greek and Roman sources. Historians from both cultures, during all periods, believed the deities of foreign cultures to merely be their own gods under different names.

Such an example may be found in Herodotus’ association of an Egyptian Ram-headed god (most probably Amun) with Zeus. Later Medieval historians followed the older tradition and likewise made such associations. Scholars continue to debate the historical evidence with some suggesting there are valid connections that should be taken as historical fact.

Parallels between Odin and the Celtic god Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry and both have ravens and a spear as their attributes. Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples.

Paulus Diaconus (or Paul the Deacon), writing in the late 8th century, tells that Odin (Guodan) was the chief god of the Lombards and, like earlier southern sources, he identifies Odin with Mercury in his History of the Lombards.

Because of this identification, Paulus adds that the god Guodan, “although held to exist [by Germanic peoples], it was not around this time, but long ago, and not in Germania, but in Greece” where the god originated.

As the chief god of the Germanic pantheon, Odin received particular attention from the early missionaries. For example, his day is the only day to have been renamed in the German language from “Woden’s day”, still extant in English Wednesday (compare Norwegian, Danish and Swedish onsdag, Dutch woensdag) to the neutral Mittwoch (“mid-week”), while other gods were not deemed important enough for propaganda (Tuesday “Tiw’s day” and Friday “Frige’s day” remained intact in all Germanic languages, except Icelandic). “Woden’s day” translates the Latin Dies Mercurii, “day of Mercury”. This interpretatio romana of the god is due to his role as the psychopomp.

For many Germans, St. Michael replaced Wotan, and many mountain chapels dedicated to St. Michael can be found, but Wotan also remained present as a sort of demon leading the Wild hunt of the host of the dead, e.g. in Swiss folklore as Wuotis Heer. However, in some regions even this mythology was transformed so that Charlemagne led the hunt, not Odin.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Woden was more often euhemerised than demonised. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, Woden appears as a perfectly earthly king, only four generations removed from Hengest and Horsa, though up to the Norman conquest and after there remained an awareness that he had once been “mistaken” for a god.

Snorri Sturluson’s record of the Edda is striking evidence of the climate of religious tolerance in medieval Iceland, but even he feels compelled to give a rational account of the Aesir in his preface. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from Troy, etymologizing Aesir as derived from Asia.

Some scholars believe that Snorri’s version of Norse mythology is an attempt to mould a more shamanistic tradition into a Greek mythological cast. In any case, Snorri’s writing, particularly in Heimskringla, tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl’s archeo-anthropological theories. Details of the Migration period of Germanic religion are sketchy, reconstructed from artifacts, sparse contemporary sources, and the later testimonies of medieval legends and placenames.

The Anglo-Saxon tribes brought their pagan faith to England around the 5th and 6th centuries and continued in that form of worship until nearly all were converted to Christianity by the 8th century. The Anglo-Saxon kings claimed descent from Woden. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Britonum, Woden had the sons Wecta, Baeldaeg, Casere and Wihtlaeg, who in turn were ancestors of the royal houses of the Heptarchy.

Other manifestations of Woden in England are confined to a scattering of place-names and an even smaller number of literary mentions in the Old English poems Maxims I (line 132) and in the so-called Nine Herbs Charm (line 32).

Lombardic Godan appears in the 7th century Origo Gentis Langobardorum. According to the legend presented there, Godan’s wife, Frea favoured the Lombards, at the time still called Winnili, and tricked Godan into helping them by having the women of the Winnili tie their hair in front of their faces. Godan thought that they were warriors with impressive beards and named them Langobardi (“longbeards”).

Depictions of warriors in the 6th to 7th century, performing a ritual dance show one dancer in a wolf-costume and another wearing a helmet with two birds’ heads (in Anglo-Saxon iconography, two dancers with such helmets are attested on the Sutton Hoo helmet, but not the warrior in wolf-costume).

Both figures are armed with spears and swords. The scene is mostly associated with the cult of Wodan/Wodin. The horned helmet has precedents in similar ritual dances in depictions dating to the Nordic Bronze Age, but the re-interpretation of the “horns” as birds of prey appears to be a development original to the 6th century. The twin dancers may correspond to the twin sons of the sky-god, known to Tacitus as Alcis.

With the rise of the cult Wodan/Wodin in place of Teiwaz in the course of the Migration period, Tyr ultimately became a son of Odin in Eddaic mythology (and both Tyr and Odin remain associated with wolves). The two birds’ heads on the dancers’ helmets have a parallel in the two ravens of Eddaic Odin, Hugin and Munin.

Another recurring scene shows a warrior fighting two wild beasts (wolves or bears, compared to the Eddaic Geri and Freki). Thus, Spiedel (2004) connects Geri and Freki with archaeological finds depicting figures wearing wolf-pelts and frequently found wolf-related names among the Germanic peoples, including Wulfhroc (“Wolf-Frock”), Wolfhetan (“Wolf-Hide”), Isangrim (“Grey-Mask”), Scrutolf (“Garb-Wolf”) and Wolfgang (“Wolf-Gait”), Wolfdregil (“Wolf-Runner”), and Vulfolaic (“Wolf-Dancer”) and myths regarding wolf warriors from Norse mythology (such as the Úlfhéðnar).

Parallels in the 6th- to 7th-century iconography of Vendel period Sweden (Öland; Ekhammar), in Alemannia (Gutenstein; Obrigheim) as well as in England (Sutton Hoo; Finglesham, Kent) suggest a persisting “pan-Germanic” unity of a wolf-warrior band cult centered around Wodan/Wodin in Scandinavia, in Anglo-Saxon England and on the Continent right until the eve of Christianization of England and Alemannia in the 7th century.

Scandinavian Odin emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, Vendel artwork (bracteates, image stones) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri’s tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by Aesir intruders from the Continent.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Vé and Vili and together with these brothers he cast down the frost giant Ymir and created the world from Ymir’s body.

Attributes of Odin are Sleipnir, an eight-legged horse, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He employed Valkyrjur to gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök.

They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), Odin’s residence in Ásgarðr. One of the Valkyries, Brynhildr, was expelled from his service but, out of compassion, Odin placed her in a hall surrounded by a ring of fire to ensure that only the bravest man could seek her hand in marriage.

She was rescued by Sigurd. Höðr, a blind god who had accidentally killed his brother, Baldr, was then killed by another of Odin’s children, Váli, whose mother was Rindr, a giantess who bore him fully grown and vowing not to even bathe before he had exacted vengeance on Höðr.

According to the Hávamál Edda, Odin was also the creator of the Runic alphabet. It is possible that the legends and genealogies mentioning Odin originated in a real, prehistoric Germanic chieftain who was subsequently deified, but this is impossible to prove or disprove.

It was common, particularly among the Cimbri, to sacrifice a prisoner to Odin before or after a battle. Steve Pollington suggests that worship of Wōdanaz became popular as the leaders of Germanic warbands (who would naturally favour a god that might bring victory) gained prominence over the traditional kings in a period of increased militarisation in response to Roman expansionism.

Pollington also notes another theory, that Wōdanaz is a mythological representation of the actual elder leaders of groups of youth who practiced a particularly wild style of fighting, a practice which later evolved into that of the berserkers.

Wuodan was the chief god of the Alamanni, his name appears in the runic inscription on the Nordendorf fibula. Pagan worship disappeared with Christianization, between the 6th and 8th centuries in England and Germany, lingering until the 11th or 12th century in Iceland and Scandinavia. Remnants of worship were continued into modern times as folklore.

It has been argued that killing a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in battle was well-documented, and in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.

Adam of Bremen in the 12th century relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hanged from the branches of the trees.

As the Swedes had the right not only to elect a king but also to depose a king, the sagas relate that king Domalde and king Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine.

Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance. A notable example is the sacrifice of King Víkar that is detailed in Gautrek’s Saga and in Saxo Grammaticus’s account of the same event. Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds. The king drew the lot and was hanged.

Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer, since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivals of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblót “in summer, that is the sacrifice for victory”.

The goddess Freyja is described as an adept of the mysteries of seid (shamanism), a völva, and it is said that it was she who initiated Odin into its mysteries. In Lokasenna, Loki verbally abuses Odin for practising seid, condemning it as an unmanly art.

A justification for this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that in following the practice of seid, the practitioner was rendered unmanly. Another explanation is that its manipulative aspects ran counter to the male ideal of forthright, open behaviour.

Odin was a compulsive seeker of wisdom, consumed by his passion for knowledge, to the extent that he sacrificed one of his eyes to Mímir, in exchange for a drink from the waters of wisdom in Mímir’s well.

Further, the creation of the runes is attributed to Odin and is described in the Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál. He hanged himself from the tree called Yggdrasill whilst pierced by his own spear in order to acquire knowledge.

He remained thus for nine days and nights, a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

The purpose of this strange ritual, a god sacrificing himself to himself because there was nothing higher to sacrifice to, was ostensibly to obtain mystical insight through mortification of the flesh.

Some scholars see this scene as influenced by the story of Christ’s crucifixion; and others note the similarity to the story of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment. Kimberley Christine Patton discusses the issue but concludes that “the specificity of its cultic features do not require the influence of Christianity”

It is in any case also influenced by shamanism, where the symbolic climbing of a “world tree” by the shaman in search of mystic knowledge is a common religious pattern. We know that sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears.

Additionally, one of Odin’s names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasill—therefore means “Ygg’s (Odin’s) horse”. Another of Odin’s names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Odin’s desire for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, in order to obtain the mead of poetry.

Etymology

The attested forms of the theonym are traditionally derived from Proto-Germanic *Wōđanaz (in Old Norse word-initial *w- was dropped before rounded vowels and so the name became Óðinn).

Old Norse had two different words spelled óðr, one an adjective and the other a noun. The adjective means “mad, frantic, furious, violent”, and is cognate with Old English wōd. The noun means “mind, wit, soul, sense” and “song, poetry”, and is cognate with Old English wōþ. In compounds, óð- means “fiercely energetic” (e.g. óð-málugr “speaking violently, excited”).

Both Old Norse words are from Proto-Germanic *wōþuz, continuing Pre-Germanic *wātus. Two extra-Germanic cognates are the Proto-Celtic *wātus “mantic poetry” (continued in Irish fáith “poet” and Welsh gwawd “praise-poetry”) and the Latin vātes “prophet, seer” (a possible loan from Proto-Celtic *wātis). A possible, but uncertain, cognate is Sanskrit api-vat- “to excite, awaken” (RV 1.128.2). The Proto-Indo-European meaning of the root is therefore reconstructed as relating to spiritual excitation.

Meid suggested Proto-Germanic *-na- as a suffix expressing lordship (“Herrschersuffix”), in view of words such as Odin’s name Herjann “lord of armies”, drótinn “lord of men”, and þjóðann “lord of the nation”, which would result in a direct translation of “lord of spiritual energy”, “lord of poetry” or similar. It is sufficient, however, and more common, to assume a more general meaning of pertinence or possession for the suffix, inherited from PIE *-no-, to arrive at roughly the same meaning.

If it originally started out in a laryngeal consonant, the suffix could be the thematic variant of the famous “Hoffmannsches Possessivsuffix” or more succinctly “Hoffmann-Suffix”, named after its discoverer Karl Hoffmann, and nowadays commonly reconstructed as *-h₃on- ~ *-h₃n-, i. e., *-h₃n-o-, also found in Latin Neptūnus and Portūnus, theonyms likely derived from *neptu- “moist substance” and portus “port” respectively.

Rübekeil (2003:29) draws attention to the suffix variants *-ina- (in Óðinn) vs. *-ana- (in Woden, Wotan). This variation, if considered at all, was dismissed as “suffix ablaut” by earlier scholars.

There are, however, indications from outside Old Norse of a suffix *-ina-: English Wednesday (rather than *Wodnesday) via umlaut goes back to *wōđina-. Rübekeil concludes that the original Proto-Germanic form of the name was *Wōđinaz, yielding Old Norse Óðinn and unattested Anglo-Saxon *Wēden, and that the attested West Germanic forms are early medieval “clerical” folk etymologies, formed under the impression of synchronic association with terms for “fury”.

The pre-Proto-Germanic form of the name would then be *Wātinos. Rübekeil suggests that this is a loan from Proto-Celtic into pre-Proto-Germanic, referring to the god of the *wātis, the Celtic priests of mantic prophecy, so that the original meaning of the name would be “he [the god/lord] of the Vates”, which he tentatively identifies with Lugus.

Schaffner, however, has drawn attention to a third suffix variant *-una- in Old Danish *Óðon (< *Óðunn), attested in Old English as Ōdon. He argues that this is the original form of the name: *Wōđunaz, derived from the above-mentioned noun *wōþuz with the above-mentioned (“lordship”?) suffix *-na-. The other suffix variants *Wōđinaz and *Wōđanaz would then both be secondary reformations.

The lack of the expected umlaut in Old Norse Óðinn does suggest that this form arose due to secondary replacement of the suffix, and thus, contra Rübekeil, cannot be original, regardless of whether the original suffix had a or u. The pre-Proto-Germanic form would then be *Wātunos or perhaps *Wātūnos < *Wātuh₃nos, should the Hoffmann suffix be involved. (In any case, the original accent could not have been on the first syllable, as the *þ appears voiced to *ð due to Verner’s law).

Adam von Bremen etymologizes the god worshipped by the 11th-century Scandinavian pagans as “Wodan id est furor” (“Wodan, which means ‘fury’”). An obsolete alternative etymology, which has been adhered to by many early writers including Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, is to give it the same root as the word god itself, from its Proto-Germanic form *ǥuđ-. This is not tenable today according to most modern academics, except for the Lombardic name Godan, which may go back to *ǥuđanaz.

Óðr

In Norse mythology, Óðr (Old Norse for the “Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager”, as a noun “mind, feeling” and also “song, poetry”; Orchard (1997) gives “the frenzied one”) or Óð, sometimes angliziced as Odr or Od, is a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja.

The Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, both describe Óðr as Freyja’s husband and father of her daughter Hnoss. Heimskringla adds that the couple produced another daughter, Gersemi.

A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, generally that he is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities. The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá).

In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”. It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession”.

Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt- “to fan”.

Tiwaz/Tyr (Nordic)

Tiwaz is named for the Norse god Tiw, after whom Tuesday is named. Tiw is the Norse equivalent of Zeus or Jupiter. He was the god of war and justice, fair law and regulation, and success through sacrifice. He was courageous, fearless, the master tactician and a consummate diplomat. He allowed a wolf to bite off his right hand in order to bind the wolf’s chaotic force and thus protects warriors (both physical & spiritual), the disabled and the left-handed. Tiwaz also represents determination and male sexuality. It symbolizes new challenges and initiations into new understandings.

In the sphere of organized warfare, Tyr/Tiw had become relatively unimportant compared to Odin/Woden in both North and West Germanic by the close of the Migration Age. Traces of the god remain, however, in Tuesday (Old English tíwesdæg “Tiw’s day”; Old Frisian tîesdei, Old High German zîestag, Alemannic and Swabian dialect in south west Germany (today) Zieschdig/Zeischdig, Old Norse týsdagr), named after Tyr in both the North and the West Germanic languages (corresponding to Martis dies, dedicated to the Roman god of war and the father-god of Rome, Mars).

Tyr/Tiw is also to be found in the names of some plants: Old Norse Týsfiola (after the Latin Viola Martis), Týrhialm (Aconitum, one of the most poisonous plants in Europe whose helmet-like shape might suggest a warlike connection) and Týviðr, “Tý’s wood”, Tiveden may also be named after Tyr, or reflecting Tyr as a generic word for “god” (i.e., the forest of the gods).

In Norway the parish and municipality of Tysnes are named after the god. German Dienstag and Dutch dinsdag (Tuesday) might be derived from Mars Thingsus.

By way of historical linguistics some scholars have linked Tuisto to the Proto-Germanic theonym *Tiwaz, while other scholars have argued that the name refers to a “two-fold” or hermaphroditic being (compare Old Swedish tvistra, meaning “separate”). The latter etymology has led scholars to a connection to Ymir on both linguistic and mythical grounds.

Týr is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Ymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto, suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

Old Norse Týr, literally “god”, plural tívar “gods”, comes from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz (cf. Old English Tīw, Old High German Zīo), which continues Proto-Indo-European *deiwós “celestial being, god” (cf. Welsh duw, Latin deus, Lithuanian diẽvas, Sanskrit dēvá, Avestan daēvō “demon”). And *deiwós is based in *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’.

The earliest attestation for Týr’s continental counterpart occurs in Gothic tyz “the t-rune” in the 9th-century Codex Vindobonensis 795. The name is later attested in Old High German as Cyo in the A Wessobrunn prayer ms. of 814. The Negau helmet inscription (2nd century b.c.) may actually record the earliest form, teiva, but this interpretation is tentative.

Týr in origin was a generic noun meaning “god”, e.g. Hangatyr, literally, the “god of the hanged”, as one of Odin’s names, which was probably inherited from Tyr in his role as god of justice. The name continues on as Norwegian Ty, Swedish Tyr, Danish Tyr, while it remains Týr in Modern Icelandic and Faroese.

A gloss to the Wessobrunn prayer names the Alamanni Cyowari (worshipers of Cyo) and their capital Augsburg Ciesburc. The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

The name of Mars Thingsus (Thincsus) is found in an inscription on an 3rd-century altar from the Roman fort and settlement of Vercovicium at Housesteads in Northumberland, thought to have been erected by Frisian mercenaries stationed at Hadrian’s Wall. It is interpreted as “Mars of the Thing”.

Tacitus stated in his work Germania that when it comes to the capital punishment amongst the Germanic folk none could be flogged, imprisoned or executed, not even on order of the warlord, without the consent of the priest; who was himself required to render his judgement in accordance with the will of the god they believe inspires them to the field of battle.

Tacitus also named the German “Mars” as the primary deity, along with the German “Mercury” (believed to be Odin), Hercules (believed to be Thor) and “Isis”. In the text however, Hercules is the one to be mentioned the most often.

Depending on translation, “Mercury” is stated to be the chiefly worshipped god, but other translation does not provide any sort of hierchy among the gods. Tacitus states that “Mars” and “Hercules” receive animal sacrifices while “Mercury” receives human sacrifices.

In the Old English Rune Poem, the rune that is otherwise named for Tiw in the other rune poems (Abecedarium Nordmanicum, Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, Old Icelandic Rune Poem), is called tir, meaning “glory”. This rune was inscribed on more Anglo-Saxon cremation urns than any other symbol.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

An early depiction of Tyr is found on the IK 190 bracteate found near Trollhättan, Sweden. The figure is shown with long hair, holding a sceptre in his left hand, and with a wolf biting his right.

According to the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, at one stage the gods decided to shackle the Fenris wolf (Fenrir), but the beast broke every chain they put upon him. Eventually they had the dwarves make them a magical ribbon called Gleipnir.

It appeared to be only a silken ribbon but was made of six wondrous ingredients: the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, bear’s sinews (meaning nerves, sensibility), fish’s breath and bird’s spittle.

The creation of Gleipnir is said to be the reason why none of the above exist. Fenrir sensed the gods’ deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of them put his hand in the wolf’s mouth.

Tyr, known for his great wisdom and courage, agreed, and the other gods bound the wolf. After Fenrir had been bound by the gods, he struggled to try to break the rope. Fenrir could not break the ribbon and enraged, bit Tyr’s right hand off. When the gods saw that Fenrir was bound they all rejoiced, except Tyr. Fenrir will remain bound until the day of Ragnarök. As a result of this deed, Tyr is called the “Leavings of the Wolf”; which is to be understood as a poetic kenning for glory. During the battle at Ragnarök, Fenrir swallows Odin whole.

Tyr appears in the Eddic Poem Hymiskviða. According to the Prose version of Ragnarök, Tyr is destined to kill and be killed by Garm, the guard dog of Hel. However, in the two poetic versions of Ragnarök, he goes unmentioned; unless one believes that he is the “Mighty One”. In Lokasenna, Tyr is taunted with cuckoldry by Loki, maybe another hint that he had a consort or wife at one time.

In the Hymskvidha, Tyr’s father is named as the etin Hymir – the term “Hymir’s kin” was used a kenning for etinkind – while his mother goes unnamed, but is otherwise described in terms that befit a goddess. This myth also pairs Tyr with Thor, and draws a comparison between their strength via the lifting of Hymir’s cauldron. Thor proves the stronger, but other than Thor’s own son, Magni, Tyr is the only deity whose strength is ever questioned in comparison to the Thunderer’s.

The *Tiwaz rune is associated with Tyr. The t-rune ᛏ is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god; the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz. The rune is sometimes also referred to as *Teiwaz, or spelling variants.

Tiv or Tivr, the Etruscan moon god might be equal to Tyr.

Tir (Iran)

Tiri, Tir (Tishtrya), is assimilation from Babylonian Nabu, lord of scribe and of the planet Mercury into Avestan mythology. It means the swift one (Tond va chabok) and protects rain. In Persian-Islamic mythology Tir (Attarod in Arabic) is still the lord of scribe (Setareh Dabir).

Tishtrya (Tištrya, Tir in Middle- and Modern Persian) is the Avestan language name of an Zoroastrian benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility. As has been judged from the archaic context in which Tishtrya appears in the texts of the Avesta, the divinity/concept is almost certainly of Indo-Iranian origin.

In a hymn of the Avesta (incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgement, in the Shahnameh), Tishtrya is involved in a cosmic struggle against the drought-bringing demon Apaosha (Apaoša, Apauša), the Avestan language name of Zoroastrianism’s demon of drought. He is the epitomized antithesis of Tishtrya, divinity of the star Sirius and guardian of rainfall.

For many decades, the Avestan common noun apaosha- “drought” was thought to derive from either *apa-uša- “burning away” or *apa-vṛt(a)- “stemming the waters.” In the late 1960s, it was proposed that apaoša- was the antonym of an unattested derivative of *pauša- “thriving.” This explanation, which is also supported by Old Indic póṣa with the same meaning, is today well accepted. Avestan apaoša- thus originally meant “not thriving.”

In the mythology of Yasht 8.21-29, Tishtrya, as a mighty white horse with golden ears and golden tail, rushes towards the cosmic sea Vourukhasha. On his way, he is confronted by Apaosha as a horrible black horse with black ears and black tail. They battle for three days and nights until Apaosha drives Tishtrya, who was weakened from the lack of sufficient prayers and sacrifices from humankind, away.

Tishtrya then complains to Ahura Mazda that he was weakened because humankind did not give him his due of proper prayers and sacrifices. Ahura Mazda then himself offers sacrifice to Tishtrya, who now strengthened reengages Apaosha in battle at noon and conquers the demon of drought. Tishtrya then causes the rains to fall freely upon the earth and all is well again. The story serves to underscore the importance of votive offerings and sacrifice in religious tradition.

This legend has been interpreted to be a mythological conflation of a seasonal and astronomical event: The heliacal rising of Sirius (with which Tishtrya is associated) occurred in July, just before the hottest and driest time of the year. For the next few days, Sirius is visible at dawn as a flimmering star (doing battle with Apaosha).

In the torrid summer months, as Sirius becomes more directly visible, the light of the star appears to grow stronger (Tishtrya gathering strength) until it is steadily visible in the firmament (Apaosha vanquished). With the defeat of Apaosha, the rainy season begins (in late autumn).

A mythological explanation of the heliacal setting of Sirius is only alluded to in the Avesta: In Yasht 18.5-6, Apaosha is contrasted with the bringers of prosperity, that is, Tishtrya and his assistants Vata and Khwarrah. In these verses, the demon of drought is described as the “numbing frost.”

The description of the battle between Apaosha and Tishtrya is reproduced in the 9th-12th century texts of Zoroastrian tradition, where Apaosha now appears as Middle Persian Aposh (apōš), and Tishtrya is now Tishtar.

In the Bundahishn, a cosmological fable completed in the 12th century, the opposition is established during the creation: the second phase of the war between creation (with its guardians) and Angra Mainyu (MP→ Ahriman) is over control of the waters and of the rains.

In this war (Bundahishn 7.8-10, and Zadspram 6.9-11), Apaosha is assisted by Spenjagr, who is however defeated by a bolt of lightning. On the opposing front, Tishtrya is supported by Verethragna (→ Vahman), Haoma (→ Hom), Apam Napat (→ Burz), the hordes of the fravashis and by the Vayu (→ Weh).

During the Achaemenid period, Tishtrya was conflated with Semitic Nabu-*Tiri, and thus came to be associated with the Dog Star, Sirius. In the Bundahishn, Apaosha is identified with the planet Mercury, the astrological opposition to Sirius, being a product of the contact with Chaldea, and which may be a lingering trace of the Zurvanite doctrine that places stars in opposition to planets.

Dadistan-i Denig 93 reiterates Apaosha’s attempt to prevent rain. Upon being defeated by Tishtrya, Apaosha then attempts to make the rain cause damage (93.12). Dadistan i denig 93 provides a folk etymology of Aposh as Middle Persian ab osh “(having) the destruction of water.”

In the Zoroastrian religious calendar, the 13th day of the month and the 4th month of the year are dedicated to Tishtrya/Tir, and hence named after the entity. In the Iranian civil calendar, which inherits its month names from the Zoroastrian calendar, the 4th month is likewise named Tir.

During the Hellenic period, Tishtrya came to be associated with Pythian Apollo, patron of Delphi, and thus a divinity of oracles. Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology.

The Tiregan festival

The Tiregan festival, also known as Jashn-e Tiregân (The feast of Tiregan), which is still celebrated among Iranian Zoroastrians, Parsis of India and some Iranian Muslims in various parts of Iran, including Mazandaran and Arak provinces, is an ancient Iranian festival coinciding with the mid summer festivals previously associated with *Tiri (a reconstructed name), but was likewise transferred to Tishtrya.

The celebration is widely attested by historians such as Abu Saʿīd Gardēzī, Biruni and Al-Masudi, as well as European travellers to Iran during the Safavid era. This event is celebrated on the 13th day of the month of Tir, (the 4th month of the Persian calendar) which equates to the 2nd or 3 July in the Gregorian Calendar and refers to the archangel Tir (arrow) or Tishtar (lightning bolt) who appeared in the sky to generate thunder and lightning for much needed rain.

Legend says that Arash Kamangir Amoli (Arash the Archer‎), a heroic archer-figure of Iranian oral tradition and folklore, was a man chosen to settle a land dispute between the leaders of two lands, Iran and Turan, and the name Arash remains one of the most popular names among Iranians.

Arash was to loose his arrow on the 13th day of Tir and where the arrow landed, would lie the border between the two kingdoms. Turan – which had suffered from the lack of rain – and Iran rejoiced at the settlement of the borders, then rain poured onto the two countries and there was peace between them.

In Mazandaran, where Arash is supposed to have come from, and in Farahan people go to a river, play traditional music and splash water on each other. Amongst Zoroastrians, it is a celebration of both religious value as well as a joyous occasion. Another Iranian Muslim historian, Abu Sa’id Gardizi has given a similar description to Biruni. He notes however that the arrow of Arash fell in the area of Farghana and Tokharistan.

The basic story of the bowman runs as follows: In a war between the Iranians and Turanians over the “royal glory” (khwarrah), the General Afrasiab has surrounded the forces of the righteous Manuchehr, and the two sides agree to make peace. Both reach an agreement that whatever land falls within the range of a bow-shot shall be returned to the Manuchehr and the Iranians, and the rest should then fall to Afraisab and the Aniranians.

An angel (in al-Biruni it is ‘Esfandaramad’, i.e. the Amesha Spenta Spenta Armaiti, MP Spendarmad) instructs Manuchehr to construct a special bow and arrow, and Arash is asked to be the archer. Arash then fires the specially-prepared arrow at dawn, which then traveled a great distance (see below) before finally landing and so marking the future border between the Iranians and the Aniranians.

In Talebi and Balami, Arash is destroyed by the shot and disappears. In al-Tabari, he is exalted by the people, is appointed commander of the archers and lives out his life in great honor. The distance the arrow travels varies: in one it is thousand leagues (farsakhs), in another forty days walk.

In several, the arrow traveled from dawn to noon, in others from dawn until sunset. A few sources specify a particular date for the event. The Middle Persian Mah i Frawardin notes the 6th day of the 1st month (i.e. Khordad of Frawardin); later sources associate the event with the name-day festivities of Tiregan (13th of Tir) “presumably” provoked by the homonymity with the Yazata Tir or tir “arrow.”

The location from which Arash fired his arrow varies as well. In the Avesta (which does not mention places in Western Iran), it is ‘Airyo.khshaotha’, a not-further identified location in the Middle Clime. Islamic-era sources typically place the location of the shot somewhere just south of the Caspian Sea, variously in Tabaristan (Tabari, Talebi, Maqdesi, ibn al-Atir, Marashi); a mountain-top in Ruyan (al-Biruni, Gardizi), Amul fortress (Mojmal), Mount Damavand (Balami) or Sari (Gorgani).

The place the arrow landed is variously identified as ‘Mount Khvanvant’ in the Avesta (likewise an unknown location); a river in Balkh (Tabari, al-Atir); east of Balkh (Talebi); Bactria/Tokharistan (Maqdesi, Gardizi); the banks of the Oxus River (Balami) or Merv (Mojmal). According to al-Biruni, it hit a nut tree between “Fargana” and Tabaristan “in the furthest reaches of [Greater] Khorasan.”

Although several sources (e.g. al-Biruni) appear to have considered ‘Arash’ to be the origin of the name ‘Arshak’ (i.e. Arsaces), the name of the Parthian dynasty derives from a Parthian- or Eastern Iranian equivalent of ‘Ardashir’, i.e. ‘Artaxerxes’, specifically Artaxerxes II, who the Arsacids claimed to descend from. (Within the scheme of the mythologically-conflated genealogies of Iranian dynasts, the Arsacids also claimed to descend—via the other Arash—from Kai Kobad).

As is typical for names from oral tradition there are numerous variations of ‘Arash’. In the Avesta the name appears as ‘Erekhsha’ (Ǝrəxša) “of the swift arrow, having the swiftest arrow among the Iranians” (Yasht 8.6). This Avestan language form continues in Zoroastrian Middle Persian as ‘Erash’ (Bundahishn, Shahrastanha-i Eran, Zand-i Vahuman Yasht, Mah i Frawardin), from which the anglicized ‘Eruch’ derives.

New Persian and Arabic forms include ‘Erash’ and ‘Irash’ in al-Tabari and ibn al-Atir; Aarashshebatir in al-Tabari; ‘Arash’ in al-Talebi; ‘Aarash’ in Maqdesi, Balami, Mojmal, Marasi, al-Biruni, and in the Vis o Ramin of Gorgani. Names with a stock epithet representing the Avestan “swift arrow” include al-Tabari’s ‘Aarashshebatir’ and Mojmal’s ‘Arash-e Shewatir’. A surname form includes ‘Arash/Aarash kaman-gir’ “Arash, bow-expert.”

Siavash Kasraie, contemporary Iranian poet, wrote the long poem of Arash the Archer in 1959 .This epic narrative, based on ancient Persian myth, depicts Arash’s heroic sacrifice to liberate his country from foreign domination.

In 1977 Bahram Bayzai published Āraš. Neither a short story nor a play and in part a response to the formers’s Āraš-e kamāngīr, Beyzai’s Āraš was staged a number of times around the world, most notably in Annenberg Auditorium, Stanford University California in July 2013.

The celebration is experiencing resurgence amongst Iranians. Today, some Iranians celebrate this occasion with dancing, singing, reciting poetry and serving spinach soup and sholeh zard. It has also been observed that during this celebration children and adults rejoice by swimming in streams and splashing water on each other. The custom of tying rainbow-colored bands on their wrists, which are worn for ten days and then thrown into a stream, is also a way to rejoice for children.

Tiur (Armenia)

In Armenia it was the god Tir (Apollo), the god of literature, science and art, also an interpreter of dreams. Armenians are great believers in divination and fate. “Djagadakir”, “Writ on the forehead” is their explanation for almost any and all happening.

This is a remnant from ancient times when the god Tiur reigned supreme over the world of dreams. His temple was called “Yerezamuynk”, meaning “House of Dreams”, or “Abode, place of Dreams”. Each temple of his was a sprawling university where not only the interpretations of dreams were taught, but also the Arts, Music and the Sciences.

Tiur, being also the messenger god, was charged with carrying out the decrees of Armenia’s chief pagan deity, Aramazd, and indeed all the other gods, as he was the writer, and the decrees were written on the foreheads of each human.

The fate of each human was decreed at birth and written on the foreheads, hence the epitaph, “writ on the forehead” or “Djagadakir”. Of course only the gods could see and decipher the writing. Nevertheless, this implies the existence of an alphabet and the knowledge of writing. If people had no knowledge of writing, then they would not ascribe them to their gods in their myths.

It is conceivable, that the court scribes received their training and education at Tiur’s temples. Even during Christianity, Armenians credit the discovery of their modern alphabet by Saint Mesrop Mashtots to Devine intervention.

The Saintly priest, after some tribulation and despair, had a vision of the alphabet in his dream. No doubt dream he did of the various ancient symbols of cave art, which dotted the Armenian Highlands, to which many of the letters resemble. So why did he have that particular dream at that particular time?

The ancient Armenians also believed that each person was assigned a star at birth. That star could be lucky or unlucky, and so good fortune or ill would follow that individual throughout his or her lifetime. Perhaps that is where we get the phrase “thank your lucky stars” from.

Outside of Artaxata, the ancient capital of Armenia (on the Araxes), and close upon the road to Valarshapat (the winter capital), was the best known temple of Tiur. The place was called Erazamuyn (Greek oueironsos), which probably means “interpreter of dreams”. Tiur had also another temple in the sacred city of Armavir.

He was no less a personage than the scribe of Aramazd, which may mean that in the lofty abode of the gods, he kept record of the good and evil deeds of men for a future day of reckoning, or what is more probable on comparative grounds, he had charge of writing down the decrees ( hraman, Pers. firman) that were issued by Aramazd concerning the events of each human life.

These decrees were no doubt recorded not only on heavenly tablets but also on the forehead of every child of man that was born. The latter were commonly called the “writ on the forehead” which, according to present folklore, human eyes can descry but no one is able to decipher.

Besides these general and pre-natal decrees, the Armenians seem to have believed in an annual rendering of decrees, resembling the assembly of the Babylonian gods on the world-mountain during the Zagmuk (New Year) festival. They located this event on a spring night. As a witness of this we have only a universally observed practice.

In Christian Armenia that night came to be associated with Ascension Day. The people are surely reiterating an ancient tradition when they tell us that at an unknown and mystic hour of the night which precedes Ascension silence envelops all nature. Heaven comes nearer. All the springs and streams cease to flow. Then the flowers and shrubs, the hills and stones, begin to salute and address one another, and each one declares its specific virtue.

The King Serpent who lives in his own tail learns that night the language of the flowers. If anyone is aware of that hour, he can change everything into gold by dipping it into water and expressing his wish in the name of God. Some report also that the springs and rivers flow with gold, which can be secured only at the right moment.

On Ascension Day the people try to find out what kind of luck is awaiting them during the year, by means of books that tell fortune, or objects deposited on the previous day in a basin of water along with herbs and flowers. A veil covers these things which have been exposed to the gaze of the stars during the mystic night, and a young virgin draws them out one by one while verses divining the future are being recited.

Whether Tiur originally concerned himself with all these things or not he was the scribe of Aramazd. Being learned and skilful, he patronized and imparted both learning and skill. His temple, called the archive of the scribe of Aramazd, was also a temple of learning and skill, i.e. not only a special sanctuary where one might pray for these things and make vows, but also a school where they were to be taught.

Whatever else this vaunted learning and skill included, it must have had a special reference to the art of divination. It was a kind of Delphic oracle. This is indirectly attested by the fact that Tiur, who had nothing to do with light, was identified with Apollo in Hellenic times, as well as by the great fame for interpretation of dreams which Tiur’s temple enjoyed.

Here it was that the people and the grandees of the nation came to seek guidance in their undertakings and to submit their dreams for interpretation. The interpretation of dreams had long become a systematic science, which was handed down by a clan of priests or soothsayers to their pupils.

Tiur must have also been the patron of such arts as writing and eloquence, for on the margin of some old Armenian MSS. of the book of Acts (chap. xiv, v. 12), the name of Hermes, for whom Paul was once mistaken because of his eloquence, was explained as “the god Tiur”.

Besides all these it is more than probable that Tiur was the god who conducted the souls of the dead into the nether world. The very common Armenian imprecation, “May the writer carry him!” or “The writer for him!” as well as Tiur’s close resemblance to the Babylonian Nabu in many other respects, goes far to confirm this view.

Origin of Tir

In spite of his being identified with Apollo and Hermes, Tiur stands closer to the Babylonian Nabu than to either of these Greek deities. In fact, Hermes himself must have developed on the pattern of Nabu. The latter was a god of learning and of wisdom, and taught the art of writing. He knew–and so he could impart–the meaning of oracles and incantations. He inspired, and probably interpreted, dreams. In Babylonia Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.

But the name of Tiur is a proof that the he did not come directly from the South. In spite of the puzzling silence of the Avesta on this point, Iran knew a god by the name of Tir. One of the Persian months, as the old Cappadocian and Armenian calendars attest, was consecrated to this deity (perhaps also the thirteenth day of each month).

We find among the Iranians as well as among the Armenians, a host of theophorous names composed with “Tir” such as Tiribazes, Tiridates, Tiran, Tirikes, Tirotz, Tirith, etc., bearing unimpeachable witness to the god’s popularity. Tiro-naKathwa is found even in the Avesta as the name of a holy man. It is from Iran that Tir migrated in the wake of the Persian armies and civilization to Armenia, Cappadocia, and Scythia, where we find also Tir’s name as Teiro on Indo-Scythian coins of the first century of our era.

We have very good reasons to maintain that the description of the Armenian Tiur fits also the Iranian Tir, and that they both were identical with Nabu. As Nabu in Babylonia, so also Tir in Iran was the genius presiding over the planet Mercury and bore the title of Dabir, meaning “writer”.

But a more direct testimony can be cited bearing on the original identity of the Persian Tir with Nabu. The Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was greatly devoted to Nabu, his patron god. He built at the mouth of the Euphrates a city which he dedicated to him and called by a name containing the deity’s name, as a component part. This name was rendered in Greek by Berossus (or Abydenus?) as Teredon and Diridotis, “given to Mercury.”

The latter form, says Rawlinson, occurs as early as the time of Alexander. The arrow-like writing-wedge was the commonest symbol of Nabu, and could easily give rise to the Persian designation. That the arrow seems to have been the underlying idea of the Persian conception of Nabu is better attested by the fact that both Herodotus and Armenian history know the older form of Tiran, Tigranes, as a common name. Tigranes is, no doubt, derived from Tigris, Old Persian for “arrow.”

Mercury

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The Atlantides, Dodonides and Nysiades

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 29, 2014

The Pleiades

The Pleiades, companions of Artemis, were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas and the sea-nymph Pleione born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and are sometimes called mountain nymphs, oreads.

They are the sisters of Calypso, a nymph who lived on the island of Ogygia, where she detained Odysseus for several years, the Hesperides, nymphs said to be the daughters of Hesperus, the Evening Star, the planet Venus in the evening, and who tend a blissful garden in a far western corner of the world, Hyas, a notable archer who was killed by his intended prey, and the Hyades, sisters of Hyas who mourned his death with so much vehemence and dedication that they died of grief.

Hesperus is the son of the dawn goddess Eos (Roman Aurora) and is the half-brother of her other son, Phosphorus (also called Eosphorus; the “Morning Star”). Hesperus’ Roman equivalent is Vesper (cf. “evening”, “supper”, “evening star”, “west”). Hesperus’ father was Cephalus, a mortal, while Phosphorus’ was the star god Astraios, the Titan-god of the dusk.

The Hyades, a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain popularly called “the rainy ones”, but probably from Greek hys, i.e. “swine”, were daughters of Atlas (by either Pleione or Aethra, one of the Oceanides) and sisters of Hyas in most tellings, although one version gives their parents as Hyas and Boeotia.

The main myth concerning them is envisioned to account for their collective name and to provide an etiology for their weepy raininess: Hyas was killed in a hunting accident and the Hyades wept from their grief. They were changed into a cluster of stars, the Hyades, set in the head of Taurus. Their number varies from three in the earliest sources to fifteen in the late ones.

The Greeks believed that the heliacal rising and setting of the Hyades star cluster were always attended with rain, hence the association of the Hyades (sisters of Hyas) and the Hyades (daughters of ocean) with the constellation of the Hyades (rainy ones).

The Hyades are also thought to have been the tutors of Dionysus, in some tellings of the latter’s infancy, and as such are equated with the Nysiads, the nymphs who are also believed to have cared for Dionysus, as well as with other reputed nurses of the god — the Lamides, the Dodonides and the nymphs of Naxos. Some sources relate that they were subject to aging, but Dionysus, to express his gratitude for having raised him, asked Medea to restore their youth.

The Pleiades were nymphs in the train of Artemis, and because they were daughters of Atlas they were together with the seven Hyades called the Atlantides, Dodonides, or Nysiades, nursemaids and teachers to the infant Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology.

Dodona in Epirus in northwestern Greece, was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione, who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek god Zeus.

In Greek Mythology, the Nysiads or Nysiades were Okeanid nymphs of mythical Mount Nysa. Zeus entrusted the infant god Dionysus to their care, and the Nysiads raised him with the assistance of the old satyr-god Seilenos. When Dionysus was grown the Nysiads joined his company as the first of the Bakkhantes, the female followers of Dionysus.

In later tellings of Dionysus’s infancy, the Nysiades appear to be identified with the Hyades. The term might have been used for the Pleiades and the Hyades as Dionysus’s tutors altogether.

After Atlas was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders, Orion began to pursue all of the Pleiades, and Zeus transformed them first into doves, and then into stars to comfort their father. The constellation of Orion is said to still pursue them across the night sky.

One of the most memorable myths involving the Pleiades is the story of how these sisters literally became stars, their catasterism. According to some versions of the tale, all seven sisters committed suicide because they were so saddened by either the fate of their father, Atlas, or the loss of their siblings, the Hyades.

In turn Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods, immortalized the sisters by placing them in the sky. There these seven stars formed the star cluster known thereafter as the Pleiades.

The Pleiades would “flee mighty Orion and plunge into the misty deep” as they set in the West, which they would begin to do just before dawn during October–November, a good time of the year to lay up your ship after the fine summer weather and “remember to work the land”; in Mediterranean agriculture autumn is the time to plough and sow.

Although most accounts are uniform as to the number, names, and main myths concerning the Pleiades, the mythological information recorded by a scholiast on Theocritus’ Idylls with reference to Callimachus has nothing in common with the traditional version.

According to it, the Pleiades were daughters of an Amazonian queen; their names were Maia, Coccymo, Glaucia, Protis, Parthenia, Stonychia, and Lampado. They were credited with inventing ritual dances and nighttime festivals.

There is some debate as to the origin of the name Pleiades. Previously, it was accepted that the name is derived from the name of their mother, Pleione. However, the name Pleiades may derive from πλεῖν (to sail) because of their importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea.

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