Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Fredsvenn:


    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    http://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent
    ---
    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

    All the texts are published under Creative Common-license [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.no Navngivelse-DelPåSammeVilkår 3.0]

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    Sjur C. Papazian

    Sjur C. Papazian

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  • Transformasjon

  • Sumerian statues

  • Pendant from Mari (modern Tell Hariri, Syria)

  • Sørvest Asia – før og nå

    Den fruktbare halvmåne er en betegnelse på et gammelt fruktbart område nord, øst og vest for den arabiske ørken i Sørvest-Asia. Mesopotamia-dalen og Nil-dalen kommer inn under dette begrepet selv om det i fjellsonen rundt Mesopotamia en naturlig avgrensning i jordbrukshistorisk forstand.

    Som resultat av en rekke unike geografiske faktorer har Den fruktbare halvmåne en imponerende historie av tidlig menneskelig jordbruksaktivitet og kulturdanning. Foruten mange arkeologiske funnsteder med rester av skjeletter og kulturelle levninger så er området først og fremst kjent for dets funnsteder knyttet til jordbrukets opprinnelse og utvikling i den neolittiske tidsalder.

    Det var her, i de skogkledde fjellskråningene i randsonen av dette området, at jordbruket oppsto i et økologisk avgrenset miljø. Den vestlige sonen og områdene rundt øvre Eufrat ga vekst til de første kjente neolittiske jordbruks-samfunnene med små, runde hus, også referert til som førkeramisk neolittisk A, som dateres til like etter 10.000 f.vt. og omfatter steder som Jeriko, som er verdens eldste by.

    Under den påfølgende PPNB fra 9 000 f.vt. utviklet disse samfunnene seg til større landsbyer med dyrking og husdyrhold som viktigste levevei, med tett bebyggelse i to-etasjers, rektangulære hus. Mennesket inngikk nå i symbiose med korn- og husdyrartene, uten mulighet til å vende tilbake til jeger- og sankersamfunnet.

    Området vest og nord for slettelandet ved Eufrat og Tigris så også framveksten av tidlige komplekse samfunn i den langt senere bronsealderen (fra ca 4 000 f.vt.). Det er også tidlige bevis for skriftkultur og tidlige statsdannelser fra samme tid i dette nordlige steppeområdet, selv om de skriftlige statsdannelsene relativt raskt flyttet sitt tyngdepunkt ned i Mesopotamia-dalen og utviklet seg der. Området har derfor hos svært mange forfattere fått betegnelsen «sivilisasjonens vugge».

    Området har opplevd en rekke omveltninger, og nye stasdannelser. Nå sist da staten Tyrkia ble dannet i etterkant av ungtyrkernes folkemord på blant annet de pontiske grekere, armenere og assyrere under den første verdenskrig. Det antas at to tredeler til tre firedeler av alle armenere i regionen døde.

    Det er nå på tide at folkemordet mot de pontiske grekere, assyrere og armenere anerkjennes, at Israels okkupasjon, bosetting og vold palestinerne opphører, samt at de ulike minoritetene i området får leve sine livi fred - uten vold og trusler fra majoritetsbefolkninger eller fra Vesten, og da spesifikt USA.

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Armenian Dynasties, Kings, Queens and Patriachs

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 29, 2014

Armenian History

Armenian History

Armenian Dynasties, Kings, Queens and Patriachs

Armenian Dynasties, Kings, Queens and Patriachs

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Hara Berezaiti – The Watchtower

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Avestan and the Zoroastrians

In the Zoroastrian religion the word ahura is used for a good spirit and Ahura Mazda is the highest God of the Zoroastrians. This word is a perfect cognate with the Sanskrit word ashura, and it is a general word for ‘a god, any god.’ The Avestan speakers also have a form of the word with the intrusive -t- which is Atar, the word for the sacred fire of the Zoroastrians.

At the Spring Equinox, on the festival of Nov Ruz, which means ‘New Year’ the Zoroastrians keep a fire burning all night to help the Sun come up. This is one of the seven the major festivals known as Gahambars among the Zoroastrians. In many areas this spring fire festival is called Ashur and among the Zoroastrians, it is sacred to the Persian God Ahura Mazda. New Year’s Day or Ashur was a holiday in, for example, Morocco, according to the Golden Bough, which gives a description of the celebration (Vol. 10, p. 216-217).

In Moslem countries generally, Ashur is now celebrated on the 10th day of Moharram, the 1st month of the Islamic calendar. As Frazer puts it: “All strictly Mohammadean feasts being pinned to the moon, slide gradually with that luminary through the whole period of the earth’s revolution about the sun,” so Ashur falls in a different month every year.

In some Moslem countries it is celebrated twice, once at the spring equinox and again at the moveable Islamic New Year. In addition, the name for the annual celebration of Ashura has broadened to refer to any gathering, including a council of elders (which however excludes women in Moslem countries) in a number of languages.

Hara Berezaiti – The Watchtower

The cosmological qualities of the world river are alluded to in Yasht 5, but properly developed only in the Bundahishn, a Zoroastrian account of creation finished in the 11th or 12th century CE. In both texts, Aredvi Sura Anahita is not only a divinity, but also the source of the world river and the (name of the) world river itself. The cosmological legend runs as follows:

All the waters of the world created by Ahura Mazda originate from the source Aredvi Sura Anahita, the life-increasing, herd-increasing, fold-increasing, who makes prosperity for all countries. This source is at the top of the world mountain Hara Berezaiti, “High Hara”, around which the sky revolves and that is at the center of Airyanem Vaejah, the first of the lands created by Mazda.

The water, warm and clear, flows through a hundred thousand golden channels towards Mount Hugar, “the Lofty”, one of the daughter-peaks of Hara Berezaiti. On the summit of that mountain is Lake Urvis, “the Turmoil”, into which the waters flow, becoming quite purified and exiting through another golden channel.

Through that channel, which is at the height of a thousand men, one portion of the great spring Aredvi Sura Anahita drizzles in moisture upon the whole earth, where it dispels the dryness of the air and all the creatures of Mazda acquire health from it. Another portion runs down to Vourukasha, the great sea upon which the earth rests, and from which it flows to the seas and oceans of the world and purifies them.

In the Bundahishn, the two halves of the name “Ardwisur Anahid” are occasionally treated independently of one another, that is, with Ardwisur as the representative of waters, and Anahid identified with the planet Venus: The water of the all lakes and seas have their origin with Ardwisur (10.2, 10.5), and in contrast, in a section dealing with the creation of the stars and planets (5.4), the Bundahishn speaks of ‘Anahid i Abaxtari’, that is, the planet Venus. In yet other chapters, the text equates the two, as in “Ardwisur who is Anahid, the father and mother of the Waters” (3.17).

This legend of the river that descends from Mount Hara appears to have remained a part of living observance for many generations. A Greek inscription from Roman times found in Asia Minor reads “the great goddess Anaïtis of high Hara”. On Greek coins of the imperial epoch, she is spoken of as “Anaïtis of the sacred water.”

Harā Bərəzaitī, literally meaning “High Watchpost”, is the name given in the Avestan language to a legendary mountain around which the stars and planets revolve. Harā Bərəzaitī reflects Proto-Iranian *Harā Bṛzatī. Harā may be interpreted as “watch” or “guard”, from an Indo-European root *ser- “protect”. *Bṛzatī is the feminine form of the adjective *bṛzant- “high”, which is cognate with Celtic brigant- (as in the Brigantes) and with Germanic burgund- (as in the Burgundians). Hence ‘Harā Bərəzaitī’ “High Watchpost.”

The mountain has several secondary appellations, including Haraitī “the guarding one” (feminine), Taēra “peak” (Middle Persian Tērag) and Hukairya “of good deeds” (Middle Persian Hukar).

*Bṛzant- “high”, is the ancestor of modern Persian boland. The legendary mountain has given its name to two physical features of the world: In Middle Persian, Harā Bərəzaitī came to be identified with Harborz, Modern Persian Alborz, a range in northern Iran, which parallels the southern edge of the Caspian Sea; and Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus range, near the border of Russia and Georgia, as well a number of other high mountains throughout the Iranian Plateau, such as the Albarez (Jebal Barez in Kerman).

In the ancient Zoroastrian scriptures of the Avesta, Harā Bərəzaitī is the source of all mountains of the world, that is, all other mountains and ranges are but lateral projections that originate at High Hara. So, for instance, the mountains of the Hindu Kush (Avestan: ishkata; Middle Persian: kofgar) appear in Yasht 19.3 as one of the spurs of High Hara.

In Avestan cosmogony, High Harā is the geographic center of the universe, immediately surrounded by the steppes of the Airyanem Vaejah, the first of the seven lands created by Ahura Mazda. It is a polar mountain around which the stars revolve; it is also the mountain behind which the sun hides at night.

The pinnacle of High Hara is Mount Hukairya, “Of good activity” (Yasht 10.88), from which springs the source of all waters of the world. These waters rush down from the mountain as the mighty world river Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā, which in turn feed the great sea Vourukaša, upon which the world rests. As the source of this mighty river, and so connected to fertility, Mount Hukairya is “the verdant, which deserves all praise” (Yasht 5.96)

Harā is tall and luminous, free from darkness and the predations of the daēvas, the “false gods” that are later considered to be evil spirits. The sacred plant haoma grows on Harā. It is also the home of the yazata Mithra. It is the site in legend of sacrifices (yasnas) to the yazatas Mithra, Sraoša, Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā, Vayu, and Druvāspa, by sacrificers such as the divine priest Haoma (epitome of the sacred plant) and kings like Haošyaŋha and Yima.

In the Vendidad, High Hara is at one end of the Činvat bridge, the bridge of judgement that all souls must cross. The bridge then spans the lands of the daēvas, i.e. hell.

In Middle Persian, Harā Bərəzaitī appears as Harborz, attested in the Zend commentaries of the Sassanid epoch and in the Bundahishn, a Zoroastrian account of creation finished in the 11th or 12th century CE.

The cosmogonical legend of a river that descends from Mount Hara appears to have remained a part of living observance for many generations. A Greek inscription from Roman times found in Asia Minor reads ‘the great goddess Anaïtis of high Hara’.

In Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, where the mountain in Ērānvēj is named Alborz, Mount Hara is the place of refuge for Fereydun when he is sought for by the spies of Zahhāk. It is the dwelling-place of the Simorgh, where he brings up the infant Zāl. It is also the region where Kai Kobad dwells before being summoned to the throne of Iran by Rostam.

Zoroastrians may identify the range with the dwelling place of the Peshyotan, and the Zoroastrian Ilm-e-Kshnoom sect identify Mount Davamand as the home of the Saheb-e-Dilan (‘Masters of the Heart’).

In his epic Shahnameh, the poet Ferdowsi speaks of the mountains “as though they lay in India.” This could reflect older usage, for numerous high peaks were given the name and some even reflect it to this day, for example, Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains, and Mount Elbariz (Albariz, Jebal Barez) in the Kerman area above the Strait of Hormuz.

As recently as the 19th century, a peak in the northernmost range in the Hindu Kush system, just south of Balkh, was recorded as Mount Elburz in British army maps. All these names reflect the same Iranian language compound, and share an identification as the legendary mountain Harā Bərəzaitī of the Avesta.

Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay–Cherkessia of Russia, near the border with Georgia. Mt. Elbrus’s peak is the highest in the Caucasus Mountains and in Europe.

Arachosia

Airyanem Vaejah

Ab-Zohr

Anahita temple

Hara Berezaiti

Anahita

 

 

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Hinduism’s female principle

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Devi

God and gender in Hinduism

Indo-Aryan

In Hinduism, Durga represents the empowering and protective nature of motherhood. From her forehead sprang Kali, who defeated Durga’s enemy, Mahishasura. Kali (the feminine form of Kaal” i.e. “time”) is the primordial energy as power of Time, literally, the “creator or doer of time”—her first manifestation after time, she manifests as “space”, as Tara, from which point further creation of the material universe progresses.

The divine Mother, Devi Adi parashakti, manifests herself in various forms, representing the universal creative force. She becomes Mother Nature (Mula Prakriti), who gives birth to all life forms as plants, animals, and such from herself, and she sustains and nourishes them through her body, that is the earth with its animal life, vegetation, and minerals.

Ultimately she re-absorbs all life forms back into herself, or “devours” them to sustain herself as the power of death feeding on life to produce new life. She also gives rise to Maya (the illusory world) and to prakriti, the force that galvanizes the divine ground of existence into self-projection as the cosmos. The Earth itself is manifested by Adi parashakti. Hindu worship of the divine Mother can be traced back to pre-vedic, prehistoric India.

The form of Hinduism known as Shaktism is strongly associated with Samkhya, and Tantra Hindu philosophies and ultimately, is monist. The primordial feminine creative-preservative-destructive energy, Shakti, is considered to be the motive force behind all action and existence in the phenomenal cosmos.

The cosmos itself is purusha, the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality that is the Divine Ground of all being, the “world soul”. This masculine potential is actualized by feminine dynamism, embodied in multitudinous goddesses who are ultimately all manifestations of the One Great Mother.

Mother Maya or Shakti, herself, can free the individual from demons of ego, ignorance, and desire that bind the soul in maya (illusion). Practitioners of the Tantric tradition focus on Shakti to free themselves from the cycle of karma.

Devi or the divine feminine is an equal counterpart to the divine masculine, and hence manifests herself as the Trinity herself – the Creator (Durga or the Divine Mother), Preserver (Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati) and Destroyer (Mahishasura-Mardini, Kali and Smashanakali).

Tridevi

The Tridevi (English: three goddesses) is a concept in Hinduism conjoining the three consorts of the Trimurti (Great Trinity), that are personified by the forms of Hindu Goddesses: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati/Durga. They are the manifestations of the Adi Parashakti, i.e. (Divine Mother).

Saraswati the goddess of learning and arts, cultural fulfillment (consort of Brahmā the creator). She is the cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness, cosmic knowledge.

Lakshmi the goddess of wealth and fertility, material fulfillment (consort of Vishnu the maintainer or preserver). However, she does not mean mere material wealth like gold, cattle, etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, or greatness come under Lakshmi.

Parvati/ Mahakali (or in her demon-fighting aspect Durga) the goddess of power and love, spiritual fulfillment (consort of Śhiva the destroyer or transformer). She also depicts transformative power of Divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity.

In the Navratri (“nine nights”) festival, “the Goddess is worshipped in three forms. During the first three nights, Durga or Parvati is revered, then Lakshmi on the fourth, fifth and sixth nights, and finally Sarasvati until the ninth night.”

Typically, Shakti is associated with Shiva. Mother Shakti or Durga is the energy aspect of the Lord. Without Shakti, Shiva has no expression; and, without Shiva, Shakti has no existence. Shakti is identical with Shiva. Lord Shiva is only the Silent Witness. He is motionless, absolutely changeless. He enjoys the cosmic play and Shakti does everything.

Siva is omnipotent, impersonal, inactive. He is pure consciousness. Shakti is dynamic. The power, or active aspect, of the immanent God is Shakti. Shakti is the embodiment of power. She is the eternal consort of Lord Shiva.

There is no difference between Shiva and Shakti. Shakti or Durga is co-existent with Shiva. Just as you cannot separate heat from fire, so also you cannot separate Sakti from Shiva, the Generator of Shakti. Note that Shiva is not creator of Shakti but he only generates. Shiva is transcendent divinity and Shakti is the one who made him that. Siva and Sakti are one. Siva is always with Sakti. They are inseparable. Worship of Durga or Parvati or Kali is worship of Lord Siva. Worship of God Shiva is Worship of Goddess Shakti.

Shakti or Vimarsh is the power that is latent in pure consciousness, required to reach pure consciousness and essential to create, sustain and destroy. Energy can never be created and nor be destroyed, but changes from one form to another; likewise, Adi Parashakti took many incarnations to do different tasks. God is both male and female. But all different forms of energy or powers of God are with the trimurti in the form of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Mahakali.

That is to say, Non – dimensional God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (Mahasaraswati or Sound or knowledge), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (Mahalakshmi or Light or resources), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (Mahakali or Heat or Strength).

It also true that God can’t create, generate or destroy because God does not possess any attribute. So True Energy or Adi Shakti does everything on God’s behalf. Parabrahman Adi Parashakti herself creates three bubbles that are source and energy to be generated.

From, 1st Bubble which is expansion of same seed complete, arose Pratham Purush and Pratham Prakriti i.e. Narayana and Narayani (not to confuse with Goddess Lakshmi, Narayani here is identified as Goddess Parvati, the sister of Lord Vishnu).

Narayani is also known as Gowri Devi This time she was not evolved in sakaar swaroop. When Shiva worshipped Adi shakti, then Gowri Devi arose from the left half of Shiva in sakaar swaroop.

Since both (Narayna and Gowri) arose from same seed so they are considered to be cosmic brothers and sisters. Second Bubble is transformer and complete knowledge i.e. Shiva and Saraswati.

Shiva is evolved from the seed as “Pradhan Purush” and Goddess Saraswati was evolved in nirakaar swaroop and given birth to four Vedas. Her Sakaar swaroop took birth on the day of Vasant Panchami, when Brahma required complete knowledge.

Last Bubble was evolved from Narayana comprises Manifested form and Adi Shakti created Shri devi by herself i.e. Brahma and Lakshmi. Brahma was appeared as Father to create the universe and laxmi was appeared to provide him resources.

There are three eternal Siblings: Narayana (Pratham Purush or Unmanifested form of Brahman) and Gowri Devi/Durga (Shakti Swaroop of Adi shakti), Shiva (Pradhan Purush or Transcendent form of Brahman) and Saraswati (Gyan Swaroop of Adishakti) and Brahma (Param Pitamah or Manifested form of Brahman) and Laxmi (Shri swaroop of Adi shakti).

Vishnu sustains universe, thus requires complete resources to sustain. Likewise Brahma needs Complete Knowledge to create and Shankar also requires a complete source of power to lead change in beings from life to death, so requires Parvati/Gowri/Durga.

Saraswati

Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature. She is a part of the trinity of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in the creation, maintenance and destruction of the Universe. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the Jain religion of west and central India.

The Sarasvati River is an important river goddess in the Rigveda. The Sanskrit name means “having many pools”. She is also addressed as Sharada (the one who loves the autumn season), Veena pustaka dharani (the one holding books and a Veena), Vaakdevi, Vagdevi, Vani (all meaning “speech”), Varadhanayagi (the one bestowing boons).

Saraswati is strongly associated with flowing water in her role as a goddess of knowledge. She is depicted as a beautiful woman to embody the concept of knowledge as supremely alluring. She possesses four arms, and is usually shown wearing a spotless white sari and seated on a white lotus or riding a white swan.

Saraswati, the flowing one, is one of the most celebrated goddesses from the Vedic period through current times. She has been repeatedly mentioned in the Rig Veda, and has been identified with the Saraswati River.

Over a period of time, in later Hinduism, her connection with a river decreased considerably, and she is no longer a goddess who embodies sacrality of a river, but has acquired her independent history and attributes.

She is the goddess of speech and learning, and is the creator of Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas. She is the consort of Brahma, the creator and member of the Hindu Trinity. She is equally revered by Hindus, Jains and the Buddhists.

Her iconography depicts her association with art, science and culture, which is dramatically different from some other major goddesses who are identified with fertility, wealth, and battles. She is shown as having four arms, and the most common items held by her in her hands are a book, a vina (lute), a mala, and a water pot.

The book signified art, science and learning; the vina associates her with music and performing arts; and the prayer beads and water pot signify her association with religious rites. She is worshipped on the fifth day of the spring according to Hindu calendar, called the Basant Panchami.

Lakshmi

Shri, commonly known as Lakshmi and also called Shri Lakshmi, is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, love, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the wife of Vishnu. Also known as Mahalakshmi, she is said to bring good luck and is believed to protect her devotees from all kinds of misery and money-related sorrows. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments.

Lakshmi is called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or Gunas, and also because she is the source of strength even to Vishnu. When Vishnu incarnated on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi took incarnation as his consort. Sita (Rama’s wife), Radha (Krishna’s lover), Rukmini ( the principal wife and queen of Krishna) and Satyabama are considered forms of Lakshmi.

Lakshmi is worshipped daily in Hindu homes and commercial establishments as the goddess of wealth. She is also worshipped as the consort of Vishnu in many temples. The festivals of Diwali and Kojagiri Purnima are celebrated in her honour.

Both Lakshmi and Saraswati are forms of Durga or Shakti or Tridevi the eternal consort power of Parabrahman the Trimurti. By the help of the Supreme soul (Adi Purusha) to create the Supreme Power (Adi-shakti), three other shapes have been created from the Supreme Power.

She is seen in two forms, Bhudevi and Sridevi, both either side of Sri Venkateshwara or Vishnu. Bhudevi is the representation and totality of the material world or energy, called the aparam Prakriti, in which she is called Mother Earth. Sridevi is the spiritual world or energy, called the Prakriti. Most people are mistaken that they are separate beings although they are one, that is, Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the power of Vishnu.

Mahalakshmi’s presence is also found on Sri Venkateswara (at Tirumala) or Vishnu’s chest, at the heart. Lakshmi is the embodiment of love, from which devotion to God or Bhakti flows. It is through Love/Bhakti or Lakshmi that the atma or soul is able to reach God or Vishnu.

Lakshmi plays a special role as the mediator between her husband Vishnu and his worldly devotees. Lakshmi represents a more soothing, kind, warm and approachable mother figure who willingly intervenes in the lives of devotees. When asking Vishnu for grace or the forgiveness, the devotees often approach Him through the intermediary presence of Lakshmi. She is also the personification of the spiritual Fulfillment.

Also, she embodies the spiritual world, also known as Vaikunta, the abode of Lakshmi-Narayana or Vishnu, or what would be considered Heaven in Vaishnavism. She is also the divine qualities of God and the soul. Lakshmi is the embodiment of God’s superior spiritual feminine energy, Param Prakriti, which purifies, empowers and uplifts the individual. Hence, she is called the Goddess of Fortune. She is believed to be the mother of the universe.

Lakshmi, is one of the most popular and widely worshipped Devi in Hindu tradition since pre-Buddhist period. Her name is the basis for “Lady Luck (Lakshmi)” in the Christian West and her form of rising from water is depicted as Venus.

She has a considerable body of mythology and history. The earliest legend states that Shri is born as a result of austerities of Prajapati, and she represents ten qualities and objects, namely, food, royal power, universal sovereignty, knowledge, power, holy luster, kingdom, fortune, bounteousness, and beauty.

Shri appears in several Vedic hymns, and Shri is indicative of several positive attributes including beauty, glory, power, capability, and higher rank. In later Vedic literature, Shri signified the ruling power and the majesty of kings.

Shri-Sukt, a hymn appended to the Rig Veda, is a famous Vedic chant, extolling Shri, and presents a detailed account of her, both conceptually and visually. The hymn also associates her with lotus and elephant – an association, which has not changed in subsequent history.

By the late epic period (400 AD), Lakshmi became associated with Vishnu, and emerged as his wife or consort, and acquired – in addition to her earlier attributes – characteristics of a model wife. She is worshiped on Diwali, a new moon night, to symbolize that her presence is enough to dispel all the darkness from the hearts of her devotees.

Parvati

Parvati is known as the motherly form of Mother Goddess Gauri Jagadamba, Parvati is another form of Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Maha Devi or Durga, the Great Goddess.

Parvati is considered to be a complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga, with all other Goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations.

Parvati is nominally the second consort of Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction and rejuvenation. However, she is not different from Sati, being the reincarnation of Shiva’s first wife.

Parvati is the mother of the Gods Ganesha, Kartikeya, Ashoka Sundari. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu. She is also regarded as the daughter of King Himavan.

Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she is depicted having four, eight or ten arms, and is astride on a tiger or lion.

Generally considered a benevolent Goddess, Parvati also has wrathful incarnations, such as Durga, Kali, Tara, Chandi, and the Dasha Mahavidyas (ten great wisdoms), Tripur Sundari (Shodashi), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagla Mukhi, Matangi and Kamala, as well as benevolent forms like Katyayani, Maha Gauri, Kamalatmika, Bhuvaneshwari and Lalita.

Parvati is the daughter of the mountains (the Himalayas), and manifests the aspect of the goddess as the wife of Shiva. She is generally considered a benign goddess. She is one of the principal deities of Shaktism and sometimes considered the essence of Shakti herself, i.e. Adi-shakti.

She has been identified as a reincarnation of Dakshayani or Sati, Shiva’s first wife, who destroyed her by self-immolation because her father, Daksha, had insulted Shiva.

Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four arms, and riding a tiger or lion. She is also known by a number of other names, including Durga (Goddess Beyond reach)Ambika (mother), Gauri (golden), Shyama (dark complexioned), Bhavani (Mother of Universe) Bhairavi (awesome) and Kali (black-colored or Goddess of Time). She is also identified as Mahadevi.

In classical Hindu mythology, the raison d’être of Parvati, and before that of Sati, is to lure Shiva into marriage and thus into a wider circle of worldly affairs. With the plays of Kalidas (5th-6th centuries) and the Puranas (4th through the 13th centuries) the myths of Sati, Parvati and Shiva acquired comprehensive details.

Durga

Durga, meaning “the inaccessible” or “the invincible”, is the most popular incarnation of Devi and one of the main forms of the Goddess Shakti in the Hindu pantheon. Navadurga, which literally means nine Durgas, constitute the manifestation of Durga in nine different forms. Navadurga are famously worshipped during the Autumn Navaratri or the Nine days, initiating the devotees into a period of festivities according to Hindu calendar.

Durga is the original manifested form of Mother Adi-Parashakti. Durga is Adi-Parashakti herself. The Devi Gita, declares her to be the greatest Goddess. Thus, she is considered the supreme goddess and primary deity in Shaktism, occupying a place similar to Lord Krishna in Vaishnavism.

According to Skanda Purana, the goddess Parvati accounted the name “Durga” after she killed the demon Durgamaasura. Goddess Parvati is considered to be the complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti or Goddess Durga, with all other goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations.

Adi Parashakti or Mahadevi, the supreme power, is called Durga Shakti as per Devi-Mahatmya. Adi Parashakti or Devi Durga is a Hindu concept of the Ultimate Shakti or Mahashakti, the ultimate power inherent in all Creation.

This is especially prevalent in the Shakta denomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Devi in all her manifestations. She is Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in her mild form; Goddess Kali and Goddess Chandi in her wrathful form. Durga is also called Padmanabha-Sahodari and Narayani, the sister of Lord Vishnu.

Many texts, myths and rituals concerning goddesses subsume them all under one great female being, named generally as Mahadevi or Devi. Early Hindu traditions as reflected in the Vedas speak of discrete goddesses like Parvati and Lakshmi.

Later, there emerged a tendency to relate all goddesses to one ultimate goddess, the best example of such texts being the Devi Mahatamaya. Another important feature of Mahadevi mythology and theology is the insistence that assumes both benign and terrible aspects of Mahadevi.

According to Shaivism and Shaktism she is supreme, but to bring back lord Shiva in Sansar, she took birth as human form (Sati and Parvati) to marry Shiva. Durga gave birth to his first child called Kartikeya.

Durga is one of the most popular goddesses, and her creation takes place in the context of a cosmic crisis. The asuras were on the ascent, and they had become a threat to cosmic stability. The male gods were unable to contain and subdue them.

A number of male gods having failed to subdue the demons led by Mahishasura, assembled into a conclave and emitted their energies together which took the form of the warrior goddess, Durga, that is, the invincible.

Vedic literature does not have any particular goddess matching the concept of Durga though it has references to certain goddesses as slayers of demons. Taitriya-aranyaka mentions Durga, but not in a manner comparable to Durga of later Hinduism. Around the 4th century AD, images of Durga slaying Mahishasura begin to become common in many palaces in the Indian subcontinent.

The theology underlying Durga’s emergence and exploits are revealed in Devi Mahatmyam, the most famous text extolling her exploits, and is described: “Though she is eternal, the goddess becomes manifest over and over again to protect the world”. This makes her on par with various Avatars of Vishnu.

One of the most famous festivals associated with her is Durga Puja celebrated in the month of Ashvin (September–October), and is also called the Navaratri festival.

Devi

Devi, the Sanskrit root-word of Divine related to the masculine term Deva, is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents consciousness or discrimination, remains impotent and void. Goddess worship is an integral part of Hinduism.

Devi is, quintessentially, the core form of every Hindu Goddess. As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti, as she balances out the male aspect of the divine addressed Purusha.

Devi or Durga is the supreme Being in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, while in the Smartha tradition, she is one of the five primary forms of God. In other Hindu traditions of Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Devi embodies the active energy and power of male deities (Purushas), such as Vishnu in Vaishnavism or Shiva in Shaivism. Vishnu’s shakti counterpart is called Lakshmi, with Parvati being the female shakti of Shiva. As per Devi the Supreme power is called Durga or Shakti.

Shakti

The abstract power has been imagined by the Hindus as Durga Shakti. Shakti (from Sanskrit shak, “to be able”), meaning “Power” or “empowerment,” is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism.

Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism, also known as Adi Parashakti and recognized as Para Brahman or Parama Brahman (the Highest Brahman), a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the “attainment of the ultimate goal”. She is also known as Adyashakti Mahamaya, the name of ultimate Shapeless form of Divine supreme mother Goddess.

The Devi Bhagwata Mahapurana suggests that Adi Parashakti is the original creator, observer and destroyer of the whole universe. Today’s Scientist call her Supreme Intelligence or Sacred Energy, and she is known commonly around the world simply as God. It is she who created everything which exists in the Universe.

On the earthly plane, shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form. Not only is Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force. Shakti exists in a state of svātantrya, dependence on no one, being interdependent with the entire universe.

In Shaktism and Shaivism, Shakti is worshipped as the Supreme Being. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva and is identified as Mahadevi or Parvati. The Shakti goddess is also known as Amman (meaning ‘mother’) in south India, especially in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

There are many temples devoted to various incarnations of the Shakti goddess in most of the villages in South India. The rural people believe that Shakti is the protector of the village, the punisher of evil people, the curer of diseases, and the one who gives welfare to the village.

They celebrate Shakti Jataras with great interest once a year. Some examples of incarnations are Ganga Ma, Aarti, Kamakshi Ma, Kanakadurga Ma, Mahalakshmi Ma, Meenatchi ma, Manasa Ma, Mariamman, Yellamma, Poleramma, Gangamma and Perantalamma.

Devas and asuras

Devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were both mortal at one time, in Hinduism. Amrit, the divine nectar that grants immortality, could only be obtained by churning the Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk). The devas and asuras both sought immortality and decided to churn the Kshirsagar. The samudra manthan commenced with the devas on one side and the asuras on the other.

Vishnu incarnated as Kurma, the tortoise, and a mountain was placed on the tortoise as a churning pole. Vasuki, the great venom-spewing serpent, was wrapped around the mountain and used to churn the ocean. A host of divine celestial objects came up during the churning. Along with them emerged the goddess Lakshmi. In some versions she is said to be the daughter of Varuna, the sea god since she emerged from the sea.

In the Vishnu Purana, Garuda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana she is said to have been born as the daughter of the divine sage Bhrigu. In the Vishnu Purana, she was born to Bhrigu and his wife Khyaati and was named “Bhargavi”. According to the Vishnu Purana, once when the sage Durvasa was once traversing the earth he saw a celestial garland in the hands of a celestial maid and requested her to give it to him.

The nymph agreed and gave the garland to Durvasa who placing it on his head yielded to its influence and wandered about inebriated. While wandering he met Indra who was accompanied by the Devas and gave the garland to him. Indra then placed the garland on his elephant Airavata where it shined brightly and blinded Airavata who seized the garland with his trunk and threw it to the ground. Durvasa on seeing this becomes infuriated and curses the whole universe to be devoid of “Shri”.

The Devas unable to bear this told about the matter to Brahma and he instructed them to request Vishnu to help them solve this situation. Vishnu agreed and instructed them to seek the help of the Asuras and churn the Ksheera Sagara in order for the effect of Durvasa’s curse to be removed.

The Devas and the Asuras together churned the cosmic ocean. First to come out of the ocean was the divine cow Kamadhenu, then Varuni, then the tree Parijat, then the Apsaras, then Chandra (the moon), then Dhanvantari with Amrita (nectar of immortality) in his hand. Then Lakshmi appeared seated on a lotus and placed herself on the chest of Vishnu.

Matrikas

David Kinsley mentions the “shakti” of Lord Indra’s as Sachi (Indrani), meaning power. Indrani is part of a group of seven or eight mother goddesses called the Matrikas (“mother”), which include Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kumari, Varahi and Chamunda and/or Narasimhi, who are considered shaktis of major Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Skanda, Varaha/Yama and Devi and Narasimha respectively).

The Matrikas are always depicted together. Since they are usually depicted as a heptad, they are called Saptamatrika(s) (“seven mothers”). However, they may sometimes be eight (Ashtamatrika(s): ashtamātṝkāh, “eight mothers”). Whereas in South India, Saptamatrika worship is prevalent, the Ashtamatrika are venerated in Nepal.

The Matrikas assume paramount significance in the goddess-oriented sect of Hinduism, Tantrism. In Shaktism, they are “described as assisting the great Shakta Devi (goddess) in her fight with demons.” Some scholars consider them Shaiva goddesses. They are also connected with the worship of warrior god Skanda.

In most early references, the Matrikas are described as having inauspicious qualities and often described as dangerous. They come to play a protective role in later mythology, although some of their inauspicious and wild characteristics still persist in these accounts. Thus, they represent the prodigiously fecund aspect of nature as well as its destructive force aspect.

In the 6th century encyclopedia Brihat-Samhita, Varahamihira says that “Mothers are to be made with cognizance of (different major Hindu) gods corresponding to their names.” They are associated with these gods as their spouses or their energies (Shaktis). Originally believed to be a personification of the seven stars of the star cluster the Pleiades, they became quite popular by the seventh century and a standard feature of goddess temples from the ninth century onwards.

Kali

Kali is one of the most significant divinities, and many texts and contexts treat Kali as an independent deity, not directly associated with a male god. In case she is associated with a male god, it is invariably Shiva. In this aspect, she represents the omnipotent Shakti of Shiva. She holds both the creative and destructive power of time.

The earliest reference to Kali in Hindu tradition dates back to the 6th century, and locate her in the battle fields fighting asuras. Her temples are recommended to be built away from human habitations. Vana Bhatta’s 7th century drama Kadambari features a goddess named Chandi, an epithet of both Kali and Durga.

Kali’s most famous appearance in battle contexts are found in the text Devi Mahatmya when during the battle with asuras, Durga becomes angry. Her face turns pitch dark, and suddenly Kali springs forth from Durga’s forehead.

She is black, wears a garland of human heads, is clothed in a tiger skin, and wields a staff topped by a human skull. She destroys the asuras. Later, Durga seeks her assistance once more to annihilate Raktabija. Kali’s mythology recounts several such appearances, mostly in terrible aspects.

Mahavidyas

Mahavidyas, that is the supreme knowledge, revelations and manifestations, and refer to a group of the ten goddesses Kali, Tara, Chinnamasta, Bhuvanesvari, Bagla, Dhumavati, Kamla, Matangi, Sodasi, and Bhairavi.

They constitute an important aspect of Mahadevi theology, which emphasizes that the Devi has a tendency to manifest and display herself in a variety of forms and aspects. Mahavidyas find no mention in the earliest Hindu texts, but appeared relatively late in Hindu tradition. Seven of them represent creative forces embodied in Kali, and the remaining three embody her destructive nature and aspects. In the context of Hindu mythology, the origin of the ten Mahavidyas takes place in the story of Sati and Shiva.

Ushas

Ushas is the beautiful Goddess of dawn in the Rig Veda, and there are a number of hymns especially for her. It seems that later when the conflict developed between the priests who spoke Sanskrit and those who spoke Avestan, the Ashuras (a later form of the name) were demonized in the later Sanskrit literature (see the Pandemonium, below).

There is evidence of an alternative form with an intrusive -t- between -s- and -r-, in the name Atri (RV 2.85), which was the name of a fire demon. The Sanskrit speakers continued to worship fire and use fire in worship, as all Indo-Europeans did, but the old name was replaced with Agni, the God of fire in the Rig Vedas. Later still, Agni is effectively replaced by Ganesha, but each of these deities remains the first to receive offerings because fire was the medium through which food offerings were made to the Gods.

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The triple deity

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Terracotta relief of the Matres, from Bibracte, city of the Aedui in Gaul

Triple deity

A triple deity (sometimes referred to as threefold, tripled, triplicate, tripartite, triune or triadic, or as a trinity) is a deity associated with the number three. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. Carl Jung considered the arrangement of deities into triplets an archetype in the history of religion.

In religious iconography or mythological art, three separate beings may represent either a triad who always appear as a group (Greek Moirai, Charites, Erinnyes and the Norse Norns) or a single deity known from literary sources as having three aspects (Greek Hecate, Diana Nemorensis).

In the case of the Irish Brighid it is ambiguous whether a single being or more are represented. The Morrígan is known by at least three different names. Ériu, Fotla and Banba, the goddesses of Irish sovereignty, are three sisters.

Georges Dumézil proposed that ancient Indo-European society followed a tripartite model involving three classes – Priest, Warrior and Peasant. Triadic forms are characteristic of Indo-European conceptual structures.

The religious life of this society, according to Dumézil, included three main gods which represented each of these three classes. Dumézil understood this mythology as reflecting and validating social structures in its content: such a tripartite class system is found in ancient Indian, Iranian, Greek and Celtic texts.

In 1970 Dumézil proposed that some goddesses represented these three qualities as different aspects or epithets and identified examples in his interpretation of various deities including the Iranian Anāhitā, the Vedic Sarasvatī and the Roman Juno.

Petreska Vesna posits that myths including trinities of female mythical beings from Central and Eastern European cultures may be evidence for an Indo-European belief in trimutive female “spinners” of destiny.

But according to the linguist M. L. West, various female deities and mythological figures in Europe show the influence of pre-Indo-European goddess-worship, and triple female fate divinities, typically “spinners” of destiny, are attested all over Europe and in Bronze Age Anatolia.

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The Queen of Heaven

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Hesperus

Mother goddess

Queen of Heaven

Queen of heaven (antiquity)

Queen of Heaven

Mother of God

Coronation of the Virgin

Heavenly Mother

Sacred prostitution

Goddess Worship

Guan Yin

Aeusos, a Proto-Indo-European Goddess

Proto-Indo-European Goddesses

Nut (Egyptian sky goddess)

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Xi Wangmu, the Mother goddess

History of the Mother goddess

Ninhursag – The Mountain and Mother Goddess

Nane – the Armenian pagan mother goddess

Goddess Spirituality

The Norse Goddess Hel

The yoni of the Arabian goddess and 2001: A space odyssey

Goddesses and their dying-and-rising gods up through the history

All nations all faiths one prayer idle no more were all children of mother earth father sky

Goddess in Anatolia: Kubaba and Cybele

The yoni of the Arabian goddess

Sumerian Goddesses

Inanna – The Goddess of Sexual Love, Fertility, and Warfare

Hinduism’s female principle

The Queen of Heaven

Ereshkigal – “The great lady under earth”

 A mother goddess is a goddess who represents, or is a personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.

Many different goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another, and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole, along with the universe and everything in it. Others have represented the fertility of the earth.

Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Inanna, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied. In modern times, the title Queen of Heaven is used by Catholics and Orthodox Christians for Mary.

Dawn goddess

Aeusos or Ushas is a Goddess whose name is reconstructed to Proto-Indo-European as *Haéusos or *Haeus(os), and she is believed to have been the Goddess of dawn (p. 409, 410, 432, Oxford Introduction).

This Goddess is so important that her name has several applications. Certain specific Goddesses and Gods, usually the sun, the stars (especially the planet Venus), and hearth fires; a class of Gods (‘those that shine with a golden light’); and a general word for ‘a god, any god,’ all share this name.

These Goddesses are general to the Indo-Europeans, but because of the Pandemonium, as it is called, the Ashers were demonized in some language groups. Even with that effect, this Goddess has forms in all the Indo-European languages.

It is sometimes argued that these Goddesses were not important because they did not often have temples dedicated to them, however the Indo-Europeans knew that these names meant ‘sun’ and ‘hearth fire’ and they worshipped them directly, as the sun at dawn, and as the hearth fire at home.

The Indo-Europeans thought of fire as a little bit of the sun come down to earth, and they sometimes use the same name for both sun and fire. In countries that are very warm, the name is more often associated with the planet Venus, which is beautiful but doesn’t heat things up. Many cities had a communal hearth fire, which was thought of as the protector of the city and these were maintained at public expense.

In many countries this Goddess is celebrated with a festival in March, usually at the spring equinox, and usually accompanied by bonfires (Golden Bough, Volume 10). This is still celebrated today everywhere in northern countries; in English it is called Easter after her.

These Goddesses are often mentioned in literature and hymns and they have specific myths which relate to their obvious power to warm and comfort. It should also be noted that the Indo-Europeans deified the Sun under several other names, for example Surya, and Sol and their related forms.

Anatolia

Numerous female figurines from Neolithic Çatal Höyük in Anatolia have been interpreted as evidence of a mother-goddess cult, c.7500 BC. James Mellaart, who led excavation at the site in the 1960s, suggests that the figures represent a Great goddess, who headed the pantheon of an essentially matriarchal culture. A seated female figure, flanked by what Mellart describes as lionesses, was found in a grain-bin; she may have intended to protect the harvest and grain.

Reports of more recent excavations at Çatalhöyük conclude that overall, the site offers no unequivocal evidence of matriarchal culture or a dominant Great Goddess; the balance of male and female power appears to have been equal. The seated or enthroned goddess-like figure flanked by lionesses, has been suggested as a prototype Cybele, a leading deity and Mother Goddess of later Anatolian states.

Old Europe

James Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) and others (such as Jane Ellen Harrison, Robert Graves and Marija Gimbutas) advance the idea that goddess worship in ancient Europe and the Aegean was descended from Pre-Indo-European neolithic matriarchies.

Gimbutas argued that the thousands of female images from Old Europe (archaeology) represented a number of different groups of goddess symbolism, notably a “bird and snake” group associated with water, an “earth mother” group associated with birth, and a “stiff nude” group associated with death, as well as other groups.

Gimbutas maintained that the “earth mother” group continues the paleolithic figural tradition discussed above, and that traces of these figural traditions may be found in goddesses of the historical period.

According to Gimbutas’ Kurgan Hypothesis, Old European cultures were disrupted by expansion of Indo-European speakers from modern-day Ukraine and southern Russia.

In 1968 the archaeologist Peter Ucko proposed that the many images found in graves and archaeological sites of Neolithic cultures were toys. The graves he was describing dated from Predynastic Egypt and Neolithic Crete, and mostly, contained adults, however.

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture

From 5500 to 2750 BC the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture flourished in the region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and southwestern Ukraine, leaving behind ruins of settlements of as many as 15,000 residents who practiced agriculture and domesticated livestock. They also left behind many ceramic remains of pottery and clay figurines. Some of these figurines appear to represent the mother goddess (see images in this article).

Cybele

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess.

Cybele may have evolved from an Anatolian Mother Goddess of a type found at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region), where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE. This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests.

She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BCE. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BCE, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings.

In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Harvest-Mother goddess Demeter.

Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following. Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a transgender or eunuch mendicant priesthood. Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions.

In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). The Roman State adopted and developed a particular form of her cult after the Sibylline oracle recommended her conscription as a key religious component in Rome’s second war against Carthage.

Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome’s eventual hegemony over the Mediterranean world, Romanised forms of Cybele’s cults spread throughout the Roman Empire. The meaning and morality of her cults and priesthoods were topics of debate and dispute in Greek and Roman literature, and remain so in modern scholarship.

Zababa

Her name is probably connected with the Mesopotamian name Zababa (also Zamama), the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish (early patron of Sargon of Akkad) and Zababa-shuma-iddin (a 12th-century BCE Kassite king of Babylon).

Hannahannah

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), shortened in various places to Ana, is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

After Telepinu disappears, his father, the Storm-god Tarhunt (also called Teshub), complains to Hannahannah. She then sends him out to search for his son, and when he gives up, she dispatches a bee, charging it to find Telepinu. The bee does that, and then purifies and strengthens him by stinging his hands and feet and wiping his eyes and feet with wax.

She also recommends to the Storm-god that he should pay the Sea-god the bride-price for the Sea-god’s daughter, so she can wed Telipinu. After Inara consulted with Hannahannah, she gave her a man and land. Soon after, Inara is missing and when Hannahannah is informed thereof by the Storm-god’s bee, she apparently begins a search with the help of her female attendant.

Apparently like Demeter, Hannahanna disappears for a while in a fit of anger and while she is gone, cattle and sheep are stifled and mothers, both human and animal take no account of their children.

After her anger is banished to the Dark Earth, she returns rejoicing, and mothers care once again for their kin. Another means of banishing her anger was through burning brushwood and allowing the vapor to enter her body. Either in this or another text she appears to consult with the Sun god and the War god, but much of the text is missing.

Hebat

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khebat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version. In the Hurrian language Hepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh.

Hebat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names. A king of Jerusalem mentioned in the Amarna letters was named Abdi-Heba, possibly meaning “Servant of Hebat”. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

Anatolian Dialects (including Hittite)

As with the other Indo-Europeans deities, gender is not a fixed characteristic, and so this deity can be either male or female. In Hittite, it’s usually male. The form in Hittite, aššu means ‘lord, God’ and assara, a feminine form. Other forms of this deity in Hittite have an intrusive t between the s and the r(-s-t-r-), and so the forms Estan, Istanus, Istara are known from various Anatolian dialects (based on a reconstructed form *Haeust(e)ro (p. 294, 301, Mallory and Adams in Oxford Introduction, and also see the form *as-t-r, given on p. 702 and 780, Gamkrelidze and Ivanov).

It was once assumed that some of these forms had to have been borrowed into Indo-European languages from various languages of Mesopotamia and the Middle East, but linguists can now reconstruct cognate forms going back to a Proto-Indo-European origin.

Arinna

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. Arinna was the major cult center of the Hittite sun goddess, (thought to be Arinniti) known as dUTU URUArinna “sun goddess of Arinna”. Arinna was located near Hattusa, the Hittite capital. The name was also used as a substitute name for Arinniti.

The sun goddess of Arinna is the most important one of three important solar deities of the Hittite pantheon, besides UTU nepisas – “the sun of the sky” and UTU taknas – “the sun of the earth”.

She was considered to be the chief deity in some source, in place of her husband. Her consort was the weather god, Teshub; they and their children were all derived from the former Hattic pantheon. The goddess was also perceived to be a paramount chthonic or earth goddess.

A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

Kamrusepa

Kamrusepa is a Hittite goddess of healing, medicine, and magic. She is a mother of Aruna. She is involved in the Telepinu Myth, about the “missing” vegetation god.

According to Hittite Mythology, she enlisted the help of a human to perform a ritual to remove the anger of an angry god, Telepinu. She used the following ingredients during her ritual: ceder essence, sap, chaff, grain, sesame, figs, olives, grapes, ointment, malt, honey, cream and oil. Upon completion of the ritual she sacrificed 12 rams of the sun gods and directed Telepinu’s anger into the Underworld.

Anahit

Anahit was the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology. In early periods she was the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd. The name corresponds to Avestan Anahita (Aredvi Sura Anahita), a similar divine figure.

In Armenia, Anahit-worship was established in Erez, Armavir, Artashat and Ashtishat. A mountain in Sophene district was known as Anahit’s throne (Athor Anahta). The entire district of Erez, in the province of Akilisene (Ekeghiats), was called Anahtakan Gavar.

According to Plutarch, the temple of Erez was the wealthiest and the noblest in Armenia. During the expedition of Mark Antony in Armenia, the statue was broken to pieces by the Roman soldiers.

Pliny the Elder gives us the following story about it: The Emperor Augustus, being invited to dinner by one of his generals, asked him if it were true that the wreckers of Anahit’s statue had been punished by the wrathful goddess. No! answered the general, on the contrary, I have to‑day the good fortune of treating you with one part of the hip of that gold statue. The Armenians erected a new golden statue of Anahit in Erez, which was worshiped before the time of St. Gregory Illuminator.

The annual festivity of the month Navasard, held in honor of Anahit, was the occasion of great gatherings, attended with dance, music, recitals, competitions, etc. The sick went to the temples in pilgrimage, asking for recovery.

The symbol of ancient Armenian medicine was the head of the bronze gilded statue of the goddess Anahit. A mountain in Sophene district was known as Anahit’s throne (Athor Anahta). The entire district of Erez, in the province of Akilisene (Ekeghiats), was called Anahtakan Gavar.

According to Agathangelos, King Trdat extolls the: great Lady Anahit, the glory of our nation and vivifier . . .; mother of all chastity, and issue of the great and valiant Aramazd. The historian Berossus identifies Anahit with Aphrodite, while medieval Armenian scribes identify her with Artemis.

Though according to Strabo, Anahit’s worship included rituals of sacred prostitution, “there is absolutely no proof, however, that this sacred prostitution was characteristic of the Armenian Anahit throughout the country, especially as native Christian writers do not mention it, although they might have used it to great advantage their attacks upon old religion”.

Astghik

Astghik is a native Armenian name of a star Goddess, who has characteristics of the Goddesses associated with the planet Venus. This word shows the form with the intrusive -t-. In the earliest prehistoric period Astghig, commonly referred to as Asya, Astghik, or Astlik, had been worshipped as the Armenian pagan deity of fertility and love, later the skylight had been considered her personification, and she had been the wife or lover of Vahagn. In the later heathen period she became the goddess of love, maidenly beauty, and water sources and springs.

The Vartavar festival devoted to Astghik that had once been celebrated in mid July was transformed into the Christian holiday of the Transfiguration of Christ, and is still celebrated by the Armenians. As in pre-Christian times, on the day of this fest the people release doves and sprinkle water on each other with wishes of health and good luck.

With Aramazd, the father of all deities, the creator of heaven and earth, (the sun being worshiped as his personification) and Anahit that had been worshiped as Great Lady and Mother Deity (the moon being worshiped as her personification), she forms an astral trinity in the pantheon of Armenian heathen deities. In the period of Hellenistic influence, Astghik became similar to the Greek Aphrodite and the Mesopotamian Ishtar.

Her name is the diminutive of Armenian աստղ astġ, meaning “star”, which through Proto-Indo-European *h₂stḗr is cognate to Sanskrit stṛ, Avestan star, Pahlavi star, Persian sitara´, Pashto storai, Latin and Italian stella and astro, French astre, Spanish astro, German stern, English star, etc.

Her principal seat was in Ashtishat (Taron), located to the North from Mush, where her chamber was dedicated to the name of Vahagn, the personification of a sun-god, her lover or husband according to popular tales, and had been named “Vahagn’s bedroom”.

Other temples and places of worship of Astghik had been located in various towns and villages, such as the mountain of Palaty (to the South-West from Lake Van), in Artamet (12 km from Van), etc.

The unique monuments of prehistoric Armenia, “višap” vishaps (Arm. višap ‘serpent, dragon’) or “dragon stones”, spread in many provinces of historical Armenia – Gegharkunik, Aragatsotn, Javakhk, Tayk, etc., and are another manifastation of her worship.

Sumerian and Mesopotamian

Figurines of fertility goddesses, both individually sculpted and mass-produced, have been found at nearly all Near Eastern sites. |The earliest such figurines date back to the Neolithic era (7th and 6th millennia BCE) and they continue to be made throughout Near Eastern history. Very little is known about the goddess or her cult as so little concerning them was written down in ancient times.

Many modern scholars believe that many of the Sumerian goddesses known from later myths and hymns were originally local aspects of the indigenous mother goddess. Prominent among such goddesses were Ninhursaga, Ninmah, Damgalnunna, Ninmah, Nintu and Nammu. Many of these goddesses were married off to the gods in the Old Babylonian period, after which they became increasingly regarded as taking a mediating and intercessionary role.

Due to being mother of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is also regarded as a Mother Goddess in general Mesopotamian mythology. She is Asherah in Canaan and `Ashtart in Syria. The Sumerians wrote erotic poetry about their mother goddess Ninhursag.

Ninhursag

In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (Ninḫursag) or Ninkharsag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu. She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian).

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

Some of the names above were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned.

As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up.

Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe.

In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance.

The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Mami

Mami, also known as Belet-ili or Nintu, is a goddess in the Babylonian epic Atra-Hasis and in other creation legends. She was probably synonymous with Ninhursag. She was involved in the creation of humankind from clay and blood.

As Nintu legends states she pinched off fourteen pieces of primordial clay which she formed into womb deities, seven on the left and seven on the right with a brick between them, who produced the first seven pairs of human embryos.

She may have become Belet Ili (“Mistress of the Gods”) when, at Enki’s suggestion, the gods slew one amongst themselves and used that god’s blood and flesh, mixed with clay, to create humankind. Alternative forms of her name include Mama and Mammitum.

Inanna and Ereshkigal

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat. Anu had several consorts, the foremost being Ki (earth), Nammu, and Uras. By Ki he was the father of, among others, the Anunnaki gods. By Uras he was the father of Nin’insinna.

According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until An and Ki bore Enlil, god of the air, who cleaved heaven and earth in two. An and Ki were, in some texts, identified as brother and sister being the children of Anshar and Kishar. Ki later developed into the Akkadian goddess Antu (also known as “Keffen Anu”, “Kef”, and “Keffenk Anum”).

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Inanna/Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

Nanna (Sumerian: DŠEŠ.KI, DNANNA) is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn), the god of the moon in the Mesopotamian mythology. The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sin’s worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.

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

Together, Nanna and Ningal got the siblings Utu/Shamash (“Sun”), the rain god Ishkur, Inanna/Ishtar and Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld.

Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of warfare, love, fertility, sexuality, fertility, and her worship included sacred prostitution. While Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star”, Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year.

Inanna is never considered to have a permanent spouse, although Dumuzi, associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries, is her lover. Gugalanna (lit. “The Great Bull of Heaven” <Sumerian gu “bull”, gal “great”, an “heaven”, -a “of”), who represent the constellation known today as Taurus, was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, however, her husband typically is the plague god, Nergal, who is connected with the planet Mars.

Inanna

Inanna (Innin, Ennin, Ninnin, Ninni, Ninanna, Ninnar, Innina, Ennina, Irnina, Innini, Nana and Nin), the Sumerian goddess that later became known as Ishtar, is the Sumerian goddess of warfare, love, fertility, sexuality, fertility, and her worship included sacred prostitution.

She is also associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, regarded in astral traditions as the morning and evening star. She was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. It lies between Aquarius to the west and Aries to the east. The ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect within this constellation and in Virgo.

She is never considered to have a permanent spouse, although Dumuzi, associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries, is her lover. In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh points out Inanna’s infamous ill-treatment of her lovers. In the epic “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld” she is responsible for sending Dumuzi to the Underworld.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG2) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre.

She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. With wings and serpents adorning her shoulders we can see a trace of the ancient Neolithic Bird and Snake Goddess. The eight pointed star or a rosette is her symbol as well. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

She also is one of the Sumerian war deities: “She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.”

Inanna has a central role in the myth of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. A major theme in the narrative is the rivalry between the rulers of Aratta and Uruk for the heart of Inanna. Ultimately, this rivalry results in natural resources coming to Uruk and the invention of writing.

The text describes a tension between the cities: The lord of Aratta placed on his head the golden crown for Inana. But he did not please her like the lord of Kulaba (A district in Uruk). Aratta did not build for holy Inana (sic.; Alternate spelling of ‘Inanna’) — unlike the Shrine E-ana (Temple in Uruk for Inanna).

The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant.

The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted knots of reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.

In various traditions, her siblings include the sun god Utu, the rain god Ishkur, and Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld.

Ishtar

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Ishtar was the daughter of Ninurta. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil). Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”.

Even for the gods Ishtar’s love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and – if one is to believe Gilgamesh – this love caused the death of Tammuz. Her cult may have involved sacred prostitution, though this is debatable. Guirand referred to her holy city Uruk as the “town of the sacred courtesans” and to her as the “courtesan of the gods”.

Asher Gods in Semitic Countries

It has long been noticed that there are many correspondences between the Indo-European Gods and the Gods in the Afro-Asiatic language family (usually called Semitic languages: Egyptian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Hebrew and Arabic, to name a few). Especially noticeable are Goddesses like Asherah, and Isis and the Assyrian God Assur, “the supreme national God” of Assyria.

Other names appear to have the intrusive -t-, such asIshtar, Esther (who appears as a “Queen” in the Bible, i.e. the Book of Esther), Astarte and Ashtoreth. It was once thought that the Indo-European Gods must have been borrowed from the Semitic deities, but this doesn’t seem to be possible based on the evidence of historical linguistics (p. 772, Gamkrelidze and Ivanov). At present the exact relationship is unclear.

Asherah

Sarpanit

In Babylonian mythology, Sarpanit (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit) is a mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk.

Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.

Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant. She is also known as Erua. She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Beltis.

Tanit

Tanit was a Punic and Phoenician goddess, the chief deity of Carthage alongside her consort Ba`al Hammon. She was also adopted by the Berber people. Tanit is also called Tinnit and Tannou.

The name appears to have originated in Carthage, though it does not appear in local theophorous names. She was equivalent to the moon-goddess Astarte, and later worshipped in Roman Carthage in her Romanized form as Dea Caelestis, Juno Caelestis or simply Caelestis.

In today’s Tunisia it is customary to invoke “Oumek Tannou” (Mother Tannou) the years of drought to bring rain; just as we speak of “Baali” farming, for non-irrigated farming, to say that it only depends on god Ba`al Hammon.

The ancient Berber people of North Africa also adopted the Punic cult of Tanit. In Egyptian, her name means Land of Neith, Neith being a war goddess. Her symbol, found on many ancient stone carvings, appears as a trapezium (trapezoid) closed by a horizontal line at the top and surmounted in the middle by a circle: the horizontal arm is often terminated either by two short upright lines at right angles to it or by hooks.

Later, the trapezium is frequently replaced by an isosceles triangle. The symbol is interpreted by Hvidberg-Hansen as a woman raising her hands. Tanit is sometimes depicted with a lion’s head, showing her warrior quality.

Anat

Anat or Anath is a major northwest Semitic goddess. In the Ugaritic Ba‘al/Hadad cycle ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a virgin (btlt ‘nt) who is the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad. Ba‘al is usually called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as “daughter”. Either relationship is probably figurative.

‘Anat’s titles used again and again are “virgin ‘Anat” and “sister-in-law of the peoples” (or “progenitress of the peoples” or “sister-in-law, widow of the Li’mites”). Anat is sometimes called “Queen of Heaven”. Her iconography varies, but she is usually shown carrying one or more weapons.

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven.

Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.

It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit.

The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (meaning “the holy one”).

In a fragmentary passage from Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria ‘Anat appears as a fierce, wild and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy. “Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal”.

’Anat boasts that she has put an end to Yam the darling of El, to the seven-headed serpent, to Arsh the darling of the gods, to Atik ‘Quarrelsome’ the calf of El, to Ishat ‘Fire’ the bitch of the gods, and to Zabib ‘flame?’ the daughter of El.

Later, when Ba‘al is believed to be dead, she seeks after Ba‘al “like a cow for its calf” and finds his body (or supposed body) and buries it with great sacrifices and weeping.

‘Anat then finds Mot, Ba‘al Hadad’s supposed slayer and she seizes Mot, splits him with a sword, winnows him with a sieve, burns him with fire, grinds him with millstones and scatters the remnants to the birds.

Text CTA 10 tells how ‘Anat seeks after Ba‘al who is out hunting, finds him, and is told she will bear a steer to him. Following the birth she brings the new calf to Ba‘al on Mount Zephon.

But nowhere in these texts is ‘Anat explicitly Ba‘al Hadad’s consort. To judge from later traditions ‘Athtart (Astarte) is more likely to be Ba‘al Hadad’s consort. But of course northwest Semitic culture permitted more than one wife and liaisons outside marriage are normal for deities in all pantheons.

In the North Canaanite story of Aqhat, the protagonist Aqhat son of the judge Danel (Dn’il) is given a wonderful bow and arrows which was created for ‘Anat by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis but which was given to Danel for his infant son as a gift.

When Aqhat grew to be a young man, the goddess ‘Anat tried to buy the bow from Aqhat, offering even immortality, but Aqhat refused all offers, calling her a liar because old age and death are the lot of all men. He then added to this insult by asking ‘what would a woman do with a bow?’

Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, ‘Anat complained to El and threatened El himself if he did not allow her to take vengeance on Aqhat. El conceded. ‘Anat launched her attendant Yatpan in hawk form against Aqhat to knock the breath out of him and to steal the bow back.

Her plan succeeds, but Aqhat is killed instead of merely beaten and robbed. In her rage against Yatpan, (text is missing here) Yatpan runs away and the bow and arrows fall into the sea. All is lost.

‘Anat mourned for Aqhat and for the curse that this act would bring upon the land and for the loss of the bow. The focus of the story then turns to Paghat, the wise younger sister of Aqhat.

She sets off to avenge her brother’s death and to restore the land which has been devastated by drought as a direct result of the murder. The story is unfortunately incomplete. It breaks at an extremely dramatic moment when Paghat discovers that the mercenary whom she has hired to help her avenge the death is, in fact, Yatpan, her brother’s murderer.

The parallels between the story of ‘Anat and her revenge on Mot for the killing of her brother are obvious. In the end, the seasonal myth is played out on the human level.

Gibson (1978) thinks Rahmay (‘The Merciful’), co-wife of El with Athirat (Asherah), is also the goddess ‘Anat, but he fails to take into account the primary source documents. Most Ugaritic scholars point out that the dual names of deities in Ugaritic poetry are an essential part of the verse form, and that two names for the same deity are traditionally mentioned in parallel lines. In the same way, Athirat is called Elath (meaning “The Goddess”) in paired couplets. The poetic structure can also be seen in early Hebrew verse forms.

Anat first appears in Egypt in the 16th dynasty (the Hyksos period) along with other northwest Semitic deities. She was especially worshiped in her aspect of a war goddess, often paired with the goddess `Ashtart (Astarte). In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given in marriage to the god Set, who had been identified with the Semitic god Hadad.

During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan (Palestine) as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called “Bin-Ptah”, Daughter of Ptah. She is associated with Reshpu, (Canaanite: Resheph) in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith.

The name of Anat-her, a shadowy Egyptian ruler of this time, is evidently derived from “Anat”. In the New Kingdom Ramesses II made ‘Anat his personal guardian in battle and enlarged Anat’s temple in Pi-Ramesses. Ramesses named his daughter (whom he later married) Bint-Anat ‘Daughter of Anat’. His dog appears in a carving in Beit el Wali temple with the name “Anat-in-vigor” and one of his horses was named ‘Ana-herte ‘Anat-is-satisfied’.

The goddess ‘Anat is never mentioned in Hebrew scriptures as a goddess, though her name is apparently preserved in the city names Beth Anath and Anathoth, which seems to be a plural form of the name, perhaps a shortening of bêt ‘anātôt ‘House of the ‘Anats’, either a reference to many shrines of the goddess or a plural of intensification.

The ancient hero Shamgar son of ‘Anat is mentioned in Judges 3.31;5:6 which raises the idea that this hero may have been imagined as a demi-god, a mortal son of the goddess. But John Day (2000) notes that a number of Canaanites known from non-Biblical sources bore that title and theorizes that it was a military designation indicating a warrior under ‘Anat’s protection. Asenath “holy to Anath” was the wife of the Hebrew patriarch Joseph.

In Elephantine (modern Aswan) in Egypt, the 5th century Elephantine papyri make mention of a goddess called Anat-Yahu (Anat-Yahweh) worshiped in the temple to Yahweh originally built by Jewish refugees from the Babylonian conquest of Judah.

These suggest that “even in exile and beyond the worship of a female deity endured.” The texts were written by a group of Jews living at Elephantine near the Nubian border, whose religion has been described as “nearly identical to Iron Age II Judahite religion”.

The papyri describe the Jews as worshiping Anat-Yahu (or AnatYahu). Anat-Yahu is described as either the wife (or paredra, sacred consort) of Yahweh or as a hypostatized aspect of Yahweh.

In a Cyprian inscription (KAI. 42) the Greek goddess Athêna Sôteira Nikê is equated with ‘Anat (who is described in the inscription as the strength of life : l‘uzza hayim).

Anat is also presumably the goddess whom Sanchuniathon calls Athene, a daughter of El, mother unnamed, who with Hermes (that is Thoth) counselled El on the making of a sickle and a spear of iron, presumably to use against his father Uranus. However, in the Baal cycle, that rôle is assigned to Asherah/‘Elat and ‘Anat is there called the “Virgin.”

The goddess ‘Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with ‘Anat. ‘Atah was combined with ‘Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.

It has also been proposed that (Indo-)Iranian Anahita meaning ‘immaculate’ in Avestan (a ‘not’ + ahit ‘unclean’) is a variant of ‘Anat. It is however unlikely given that the Indo-Iranian roots of the term are related to the Semitic ones and although—through conflation—Aredvi Sura Anahita (so the full name) inherited much from Ishtar-Inanna, the two are considered historically distinct.

In the Book of Zohar, ‘Anat is numbered among the holiest of angelic powers under the name of Anathiel.

The name had not been used among Jews prior to the advent of Zionism, but is a common female name in contemporary Israel, though many Israelis—including many of the women so named themselves—are not aware of it being the name of an ancient goddess. This name is often used by Russia-originated Israelis as a translation of the Russian name “Anastasia”.

According to Abraham Vered, researcher of Israeli popular culture, the popularity of the name might also derive from an attempt to emulate the (etymologically unconnected) European name “Annette”.

Shahar and Shalim 

Shahar is the god of dawn in the Canaanite religion pantheon mentioned in inscriptions found in Ugarit  (Ras Shamra) in Syria. He is the twin brother and counterpart of Shalim (derived from the triconsonantal Semitic root S-L-M, and also romanized as Shalem, Salem, and Salim), son of El, and the god of dusk. Shalim is also mentioned separately in the Ugaritic god lists and forms of his name also appear in personal names, perhaps as a divine name or epithet.

Both are gods of the planet Venus, and were considered by some to be a twinned avatar of the god Attar (Aramaic; Athtar, South Arabia; Astar, Abyssinia; Ashtar, Moab; Ashtar(t), Canaan; Ishtar, Assyro-Babylonian), the god of the morning star in western Semitic mythology. In other Ugaritic texts, Shahar and Shalim are associated with the sun goddess Astarte.

William F. Albright identified Shalim as the god of dusk, and Shahar as god of the dawn. In the Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible, Shalim is also identified as the deity representing Venus or the “Evening Star,” and Shahar, the “Morning Star”.

A Ugaritic myth known as The Gracious and Most Beautiful Gods, describes Shalim and his brother Shahar as offspring of El through two women he meets at the seashore. They are both nursed by “The Lady”, likely Anat (Athirat or Asherah: Hebrew and Phoenician Anāt; Ugaritic ‘nt; Greek Anath; Egyptian Antit, Anit,Anti, or Anant), a major northwest Semitic goddess, and have appetites as large as “(one) lip to the earth and (one) lip to the heaven.”

In the Ugaritic Ba‘al/Hadad cycle ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a virgin (btlt ‘nt) who is the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad. Ba‘al is usually called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as “daughter”. Either relationship is probably figurative.

Another inscription is a sentence repeated three times in a para-mythological text, “Let me invoke the gracious gods, the voracious gods of ym.” Ym in most Semitic languages means “day,” and Shalim and Shahar, twin deities of the dusk and dawn, were conceived of as its beginning and end.

Many scholars believe that the name of Shalim is preserved in the name of the city Jerusalem. The god Shalim may have been associated with dusk and the evening star in the etymological senses of a ‘completion’ of the day, ‘sunset’ and ‘peace’.

As the markers of dawn and dusk, Shahar and Shalim also represented the temporal structure of the day. The name is a cognate of the Hebrew word Shahar, meaning dawn.

Isaiah 14:12-15 has been the origin of the belief that Satan was a fallen angel, who could also be referred to as Lucifer. It refers to the rise and disappearance of the morning star Venus in the phrase “O shining one, son of the dawn” (Helel ben Shahar, translated as Lucifer in the Vulgate).

This understanding of Isa. 14:12-15 seems to be the accepted interpretation in the New Testament, as well as among early Christians such as Origen, Eusebius, Tertullian, and Gregory the Great. It may be considered a Christian “remythologization” of Isa. 14, as the verse originally used Canaanite mythology to build its imagery of the hubris of a historical ruler, “the king of Babylon” in Isa. 14:4.

It’s likely that the role of Venus as the morning star was taken by Athtar, in this instance referred to as the son of Shahar. The reference to Shahar remains enigmatic to scholars, who have a wide range of theories on the mythological framework and sources for the passage in Isaiah.

Arabic

Allāt

Allatu (Allatum) is an underworld goddess modeled after the mesopotamic goddess Ereshkigal and worshipped by western Semitic peoples, including the Carthaginians. She also may be equate with the Canaanite goddess Arsay, according to texts the third daughter of Baal at Ugarit.

Allāt or al-Lāt was a Pre-Islamic Arabian goddess who was one of the three chief goddesses of Mecca. She is mentioned in the Qur’an (Sura 53:19), which indicates that pre-Islamic Arabs considered her as one of the daughters of Allah, along with Manāt and al-‘Uzzá.

The shrine and temple dedicated to al-Lat in Taif was demolished on the orders of Muhammad, during the Expedition of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, in the same year as the Battle of Tabuk (which occurred in October 630 AD).

The destruction of the idol was a demand by Muhammad before any reconciliation could take place with the tribes of Taif who were under siege. It is important to note that in Arabic “goddess” is ʾilāhah, and with the article, “the goddess” would be al-ʾilāhah rather than Allat or al-Lat.

Especially in older sources, Allat is an alternative name of the Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld, now usually known as Ereshkigal. She was reportedly also venerated in Carthage under the name Allatu.

The goddess occurs in early Safaitic graffiti (Safaitic han-‘Ilāt “the Goddess”). The Nabataeans of Petra and the people of Hatra also worshipped her, equating her with the Greek Athena and Tyche and the Roman Minerva.

She is frequently called “the Great Goddess” in Greek in multi-lingual inscriptions. According to Wellhausen, the Nabataeans believed al-Lāt was the mother of Hubal (and hence the mother-in-law of Manāt).

The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, considered her the equivalent of Aphrodite: The Assyrians call Aphrodite Mylitta, the Arabians Alilat, and the Persians Mithra. In addition that deity is associated with the Indian deity Mitra.

This passage is linguistically significant as the first clear attestation of an Arabic word, with the diagnostically Arabic article al-. The Persian and Indian deities were developed from the Proto-Indo-Iranian deity known as *Mitra. According to Herodotus, the ancient Arabians believed in only two gods:

They believe in no other gods except Dionysus and the Heavenly Aphrodite; and they say that they wear their hair as Dionysus does his, cutting it round the head and shaving the temples. They call Dionysus, Orotalt; and Aphrodite, Alilat.

In the Qur’an, she is mentioned along with al-‘Uzzá and Manāt in Sura 53:19–23. The tribe of ʿād of Iram of the Pillars is also mentioned in Sura 89:5–8, and archaeological evidence from Iram shows copious inscriptions devoted to her for the protection of a tribe by that name.

Al-lāt is also explicitly attested from early Islamic records discussing the pre-Islamic period. According to the Book of Idols (Kitāb al-ʾAṣnām) by Hishām ibn al-Kalbi, the pre-Islamic Arabs believed Al-lāt resided in the Kaʿbah and also had an idol inside the sanctuary:

Her custody was in the hands of the Banū Attāb ibn Mālik of the Thaqīf, who had built an edifice over her. The Quraysh, as well as all the Arabs, venerated al-Lāt. They also used to name their children after her, calling them Zayd al-Lāt and Taym al-Lāt. [...] Al-Lāt continued to be venerated until the Thaqīf embraced Islam, when the Apostle of God dispatched al-Mughīrah ibn-Shu‘bah, who destroyed her and burnt her temple to the ground.

Attar

Attar (Aramaic); Athtar (South Arabia); Astar (Abyssinia); Ashtar (Moab); Ashtar(t) (Canaan); Ishtar (Assyro-Babylonian) is the god of the morning star in western Semitic mythology.

In Canaanite legend, he attempts to usurp the throne of the dead god Baal Hadad but proves inadequate. In semi-arid regions of western Asia he was sometimes worshipped as a rain god. His female counterpart is the Phoenician Astarte. In more southerly regions he is probably known as Dhu-Samani.

Attar was worshipped in Southern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. A god of war, he was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle”. One of his symbols was the spear-point and the antelope was his sacred animal. He had power over Venus, the morning star, and was believed to provide humankind with water.

In ancient times, Arabia shared the gods of Mesopotamia, being so close to Babylon, except the genders and symbols of these deities were later swapped around. For instance, the sun god Shamash became the sun goddess Shams, and in southern Arabia Ishtar became the male storm god Athtar.

The Sabeans and other southern Arabians worshipped stars and planets, chief among whom were the sun (Shams), moon (Almaqah), and Athtar, the planet Venus. As head of the Southern Arabian pantheon, Athtar was a god of the thunderstorm, dispensing natural irrigation in the form of rain.

Athtar also represented fertility and water as essential to fertility. When representing water he stood not just for the act of raining itself, but rather for the useful flow of the water after the rain, in the wadi, the Arabian watercourse which is dry except in the rainy season.

Egypt

Mother goddesses are present in the earliest images discovered among the archaeological finds in Ancient Egypt. An association is drawn to the early goddesses of Egypt with animals seen as good mothers—the lioness, cow, hippopotamus, white vulture, cobra, scorpion, and cat—as well as, to the life-giving primordial waters, the sun, the night sky, and the earth herself.

Even through the transition to a paired pantheon of male deities matched or “married” to each goddess and during the male-deity-dominated pantheon that arose much later, the mother goddesses persisted into historical times (such as Hathor and Isis). Advice from the oracles associated with these goddesses guided the rulers of Egypt.

The Two Ladies, Wadjet and Nekhbet, remained patron deities of the rulers of Ancient Egypt throughout every dynasty, including that of Akhenaten (who often is described as having abandoned all but one solar deity), and they all bore their images on their crowns and included special names associated with these goddesses among their titles.

The image of Isis nursing her son was worshiped into the sixth century A.D. and has been resurrected by contemporary “cults” of an Earth Mother. That imagery may have been adopted by early Christians as well.

Isis

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from Egypt. Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor). Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided. Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but her most important temples were at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta, and, beginning in the reign with Nectanebo I (380–362 BCE), on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling the infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

Most Egyptian deities were first worshipped by very local cults, and they retained those local centres of worship even as their popularity spread, so that most major cities and towns in Egypt were known as the home of a particular deity. However, the origins of the cult of Isis are very uncertain. In fact, Egyptologists such as Maria Münster and Jan Assmann point to the lack of archaeological evidences for a goddess ‘Isis’ before the time of the late Old Kingdom of Egypt.

The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty. Her name appears for the first time in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on a statue of an priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.

Isis 

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. The greek name version of Isis is surprisingly close to her original, Egyptian name spelling (namely Aset).

The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. Her name was originally written with the signs of a throne seat (Gardiner sign Q1, pronounced “as” or “is”), a bread loaf (Gardiner sign X1, pronounced “t” or “tj”) and with an unpronounced determinative of an sitting woman.

A second version of the original was also written with the throne seat and the bread loaf, but ended with an egg symbol (Gardiner sign H8) which was normally read “set”, but here it was used as an determinative to promote the correct reading.

Interestingly, the grammar, spelling and used signs of Isis’ name never changed during time in any way, making it easy to recognize her any time.

She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers.

Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor). Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided. Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but her most important temples were at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta, and, beginning in the reign with Nectanebo I (380–362 BCE), on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him.

Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals.

The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling the infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

However, the symbolic and metaphoric meaning of Isis’ name remains unclear. The throne seat sign in her name might point to a functional role as a goddess of kingship, as the maternal protector of the ruling king. Thus, her name could mean “she of the kings’ throne”. But all other Egyptian deities have names that point to clear cosmological or nature elemental roles (Râ = the sun; Ma’at = justice and world order), thus the name of Isis shouldn’t be connected to the king himself.

The throne seat symbol might alternatively point to a meaning as “throne-mother of the gods”, making her the highest and most powerful goddess before all other gods. But this in turn would supply an very old existence of Isis, long before her first mentioning during the late Old Kingdom. But this remains unproven, as already mentioned.

A third possible meaning might be hidden in the egg-symbol that was also used in Isis’ name. The egg-symbol always represented motherhood, implying a maternal role of Isis. Her name could mean “mother goddess”, pointing to her later, mythological role as the mother of Horus. But this remains problematic, too: the initial mother-goddess of Horus was Hathor, not Isis.

Most Egyptian deities were first worshipped by very local cults, and they retained those local centres of worship even as their popularity spread, so that most major cities and towns in Egypt were known as the home of a particular deity.

However, the origins of the cult of Isis are very uncertain. In fact, Egyptologists such as Maria Münster and Jan Assman point to the lack of archaeological evidences for a goddess ‘Isis’ before the time of the late Old Kingdom of Egypt.

The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty. Her name appears first time in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on a statue of an priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.

Due to the association between knots and magical power, a symbol of Isis was the tiet or tyet (meaning welfare/life), also called the Knot of Isis,Buckle of Isis, or the Blood of Isis, which is shown to the right. In many respects the tyet resembles an ankh, except that its arms point downward, and when used as such, seems to represent the idea of eternal life or resurrection.

The meaning of Blood of Isis is more obscure, but the tyet often was used as a funerary amulet made of red wood, stone, or glass, so this may simply have been a description of the appearance of the materials used.

The star Sopdet (Sirius) is associated with Isis. The appearance of the star signified the advent of a new year and Isis was likewise considered the goddess of rebirth and reincarnation, and as a protector of the dead.

The Book of the Dead outlines a particular ritual that would protect the dead, enabling travel anywhere in the underworld, and most of the titles Isis holds signify her as the goddess of protection of the dead.

In art, originally Isis was pictured as a woman wearing a long sheath dress and crowned with the hieroglyphic sign for a throne. Sometimes she is depicted as holding a lotus, or, as a sycamore tree. One pharaoh, Thutmose III, is depicted in his tomb as nursing from a sycamore tree that had a breast.

After she assimilated many of the roles of Hathor, Isis’s headdress is replaced with that of Hathor: the horns of a cow on her head, with the solar disk between them, and often with her original throne symbol atop the solar disk. Sometimes she also is represented as a cow, or with a cow’s head.

She is often depicted with her young child, Horus (the pharaoh), with a crown, and a vulture. Occasionally she is represented as a kite flying above the body of Osiris or with the dead Osiris she works her magic to bring him back to life.

Most often Isis is seen holding an ankh, the sign for “life” and a simple lotus staff, but in late images she is sometimes seen with items usually associated with Hathor, the sacred sistrum rattle and the fertility-bearing menat necklace. In The Book of Coming Forth By Day Isis is depicted standing on the prow of the Solar Barque with her arms outstretched.

The sacred image of Isis with the Horus Child in Rome often became a model for the Christian Mary carrying her child Jesus and many of the epithets of the Egyptian Mother of God came to be used for her.

Hathor

Hathor (Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr, “mansion of Horus”) is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt.

Hathor was worshiped by Royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.

The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows.

Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace.

Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her.

The Ancient Egyptians viewed reality as multi-layered in which deities who merge for various reasons, while retaining divergent attributes and myths, were not seen as contradictory but complementary. In a complicated relationship Hathor is at times the mother, daughter and wife of Ra and, like Isis, is at times described as the mother of Horus, and associated with Bast.

The cult of Osiris promised eternal life to those deemed morally worthy. Originally the justified dead, male or female, became an Osiris but by early Roman times females became identified with Hathor and men with Osiris.

Bastet

Bastet was a goddess in ancient Egyptian religion, worshipped as early as the Second Dynasty (2890 BC). As Bast, she was the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt. Her name is also spelled Baast, Ubaste, and Baset.

The two uniting cultures had deities that shared similar roles and usually the same imagery. In Upper Egypt, Sekhmet was the parallel warrior lioness deity to Bast. Often similar deities merged into one with the unification, but that did not occur with these deities with such strong roots in their cultures. Instead, these goddesses began to diverge. During the Twenty-Second Dynasty (c. 945–715 BC), Bast had changed from a lioness warrior deity into a major protector deity represented as a cat. Bastet, the name associated with this later identity, is the name commonly used by scholars today to refer to this deity.

Sekhmet

In Egyptian mythology, Sekhmet or Sachmis; also spelled Sakhmet, Sekhet, or Sakhet, among other spellings) was originally the warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing for Upper Egypt, when the kingdom of Egypt was divided.

She is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.

Sekhmet also is a Solar deity, sometimes called the daughter of the sun god Ra and often associated with the goddesses Hathor and Bast. She bears the Solar disk and the uraeus which associates her with Wadjet and royalty.

Sekhmet’s name comes from the Ancient Egyptian word “sekhem” which means “power”. Sekhmet’s name suits her function and means “the (one who is) powerful”. She also was given titles such as the “(One) Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”. She also was seen as a special goddess for women, ruling over their menstruation cycle.

Wadjet

Wadjet (“green one”), known to the Greek world as Uto or Buto among other names, was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep (Buto), which became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet, House of Wadjet, and the Greeks called Buto (Desouk now), a city that was an important site in the Predynastic era of Ancient Egypt and the cultural developments of the Paleolithic.

She was said to be the patron and protector of Lower Egypt and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt with the “goddess” of Upper Egypt. The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. She was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth.

As the patron goddess, she was associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman or a snake—usually an Egyptian cobra, a venomous snake common to the region; sometimes she was depicted as a woman with two snake heads and, at other times, a snake with a woman’s head.

The Going Forth of Wadjet was celebrated on December 25 with chants and songs. An annual festival held in the city celebrated Wadjet on April 21. Other important dates for special worship of her were June 21, the Summer Solstice, and March 14. She also was assigned the fifth hour of the fifth day of the moon.

Eventually, Wadjet’s position as patron led to her being identified as the more powerful goddess Mut, whose cult had come to the fore in conjunction with rise of the cult of Amun, and eventually being absorbed into her as the Mut-Wadjet-Bast triad.

Wadjet was closely associated in the Egyptian pantheon with Bast, the fierce goddess depicted as a lioness warrior and protector, as the sun goddess whose eye later became the eye of Horus, the eye of Ra, and as the Lady of Flame.

The hieroglyph for her eye is shown below; sometimes two are shown in the sky of religious images. Per-Wadjet also contained a sanctuary of Horus, the child of the sun deity who would be interpreted to represent the pharaoh. Much later, Wadjet became associated with Isis as well as with many other deities.

In the relief shown to the right, which is on the wall of the Hatshepsut Temple at Luxor, there are two images of Wadjet: one of her as the uraeus sun disk with her head through an ankh and another where she precedes a Horus hawk wearing the double crown of united Egypt, representing the pharaoh whom she protects.

Mut

In art, Mut was pictured as a woman with the wings of a vulture, holding an ankh, wearing the united crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and a dress of bright red or blue, with the feather of the goddess Ma’at at her feet. Alternatively, as a result of her assimilations, Mut is sometimes depicted as a cobra, a cat, a cow, or as a lioness as well as the vulture.

Mut, which meant mother in the ancient Egyptian language, was an ancient Egyptian mother goddess with multiple aspects that changed over the thousands of years of the culture. Some of Mut’s many titles included World-Mother, Eye of Ra, Queen of the Goddesses, Lady of Heaven, Mother of the Gods, and She Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any.

Mut was a title of the primordial waters of the cosmos, Naunet, in the Ogdoad cosmogony during what is called the Old Kingdom, the third through sixth dynasties, dated between 2,686 to 2,134 BCE However, the distinction between motherhood and cosmic water later diversified and lead to the separation of these identities, and Mut gained aspects of a creator goddess, since she was the mother from which the cosmos emerged.

Alternative spellings are Maut and Mout. She was considered a primal deity, associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis. She also was depicted as a woman with the crowns of Egypt upon her head. The rulers of Egypt each supported her worship in their own way to emphasize their own authority and right to rule through an association with Mut.

The hieroglyph for Mut’s name, and for mother itself, was that of a vulture, which the Egyptians believed were very maternal creatures. Indeed, since Egyptian vultures have no significant differing markings between female and male of the species, being without sexual dimorphism, the Egyptians believed they were all females, who conceived their offspring by the wind herself, another parthenogenic concept.

Much later new myths held that since Mut had no parents, but was created from nothing; consequently, she could not have children and so adopted one instead.

Making up a complete triad of deities for the later pantheon of Thebes, it was said that Mut had adopted Menthu, god of war. This choice of completion for the triad should have proved popular, but because the isheru, the sacred lake outside Mut’s ancient temple in Karnak at Thebes, was the shape of a crescent moon, Khonsu, the moon god eventually replaced Menthu as Mut’s adopted son.

Lower and upper Egypt both already had patron deities–Wadjet and Nekhbet–respectively, indeed they also had lioness protector deities–Bast and Sekhmet–respectively. When Thebes rose to greater prominence, Mut absorbed these warrior goddesses as some of her aspects.

First, Mut became Mut-Wadjet-Bast, then Mut-Sekhmet-Bast (Wadjet having merged into Bast), then Mut also assimilated Menhit, who was also a lioness goddess, and her adopted son’s wife, becoming Mut-Sekhmet-Bast-Menhit, and finally becoming Mut-Nekhbet.

Later in ancient Egyptian mythology deities of the pantheon were identified as equal pairs, female and male counterparts, having the same functions. In the later Middle Kingdom, when Thebes grew in importance, its patron, Amun also became more significant, and so Amaunet, who had been his female counterpart, was replaced with a more substantial mother-goddess, namely Mut, who became his wife. In that phase, Mut and Amun had a son, Khonsu, another moon deity.

The authority of Thebes waned later and Amun was assimilated into Ra. Mut, the doting mother, was assimilated into Hathor, the cow-goddess and mother of Horus who had become identified as Ra’s wife.

Subsequently, when Ra assimilated Atum, the Ennead was absorbed as well, and so Mut-Hathor became identified as Isis (either as Isis-Hathor or Mut-Isis-Nekhbet), the most important of the females in the Ennead (the nine), and the patron of the queen.

The Ennead proved to be a much more successful identity and the compound triad of Mut, Hathor, and Isis, became known as Isis alone—a cult that endured into the 7th century A.D. and spread to Greece, Rome, and Britain.

Minoan

Snake Goddess indicates figurines of a woman holding a snake in each hand found during excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1600 BCE. These figurines were found only in house sanctuaries, where the snake appears as “the snake of the household”, and they are probably related with the Paleolithic tradition regarding women and domesticity. Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet.

The snake goddess’s Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts . Although Linear A is not yet deciphered, Palmer relates tentatively the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “mistress”.

While the statuette’s true function is somewhat unclear, her exposed and amplified breasts suggest that she is probably some sort of fertility figure. The figurines may illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women, however, it is also possible that bared breasts represented a sign of mourning. Homer gives a literary description of this kind of mourning, and this was also observed by Herodotus among Egyptian women.

The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically. A similar belief existed in the ancient Mesopotamians and Semites, and appears also in the Hindu mythology.

The Pelasgian myth of creation refers to snakes as the reborn dead. However, Nilsson noticed that in the Minoan religion the snake was the protector of the house, as it later appears also in Greek religion. Among the Greek Dionysiac cult it signified wisdom and was the symbol of fertility.

Barry Powell suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne (utterly pure or the very holy one), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs.

Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte (virgin daughter). She was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs. In a relative Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess who Zeus abducted and carried to Crete.

Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet but did not pursue this connection. Statuettes similar to the “snake goddess” identified as priest of Wadjud and magician were found in Egypt.

Both goddesses have a knot with a projecting looped cord between their breasts. Evans noticed that these are analogous to the sacral knot, a name given by him to a knot with a loop of fabric above and sometimes fringed ends hanging down below.

Numerous such symbols in ivory, faience, painted in frescoes or engraved in seals sometimes combined with the symbol of the double-edged axe or labrys which was the most important Minoan religious symbol.

Such symbols were found in Minoan and Mycenaean sites. It is believed that the sacral knot was the symbol of holiness on human figures or cult-objects. Its combination with the double-axe can be compared with the Egyptian ankh (eternal life), or with the tyet (welfare/life) a symbol of Isis (the knot of Isis).

Etruscan

Uni

Uni was the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia. Uni was identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology.

Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte. Livy states (Book V, Ab Urbe Condita) that Juno was an Etruscan goddess of the Veientes, who was ceremonially adopted into the Roman pantheon when Veii was sacked in 396BC. This seems to refer to Uni. She also appears on the Liver of Piacenza.

Among the pre-roman Latin tribes, the goddess was worshipped as Uni: a single trinity made up of the maiden Juventas, the mother Juno, and the wise Minerva. Later, the Etruscans and early Romans, as we have seen, substituted the chief god Jupiter for Juventas, creating another kind of trinity altogether.

With her husband Tinia and Menrva, she was part of a powerful trinity. In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle (Greek Heracles, Latin Hercules) by offering her breast milk to him.

 Thesan

In Etruscan mythology, Thesan was the Etruscan Goddess of the dawn, divination and childbirth (as well as a love-goddess) and was associated with the generation of life. She was identified with the Roman Aurora and Greek Eos.

She was depicted on several Etruscan mirror backs, bearing, like many other Etruscan Goddesses, a great pair of wings from her back, especially appropriate to a Sky-Goddess.

One meaning of her name is simply “Dawn”, and related words are thesi, meaning “illumination”, and thesviti, “clear or famous”. The other meaning of her name connects her with the ability to see the future, for thesan also means “divination”, as seen in the related Etruscan word thesanthei, “divining” or “brilliant”.

This relates to her function as a Dawn Goddess – for as the dawn illuminates what was previously dark, so divination throws light on the dark future and enables one to see what may happen. She was called by some as a childbirth goddess, as she was present at the beginning of the day, which finds its parallel in the beginning of a new baby’s life. Similarly, the Roman goddess of Light and Childbirth, Lucina, brought the infant into the light of the world.

Albina was an Etruscan goddess of the dawn and protector of ill-fated lovers. She was a white sow goddess similar to the Celtic Cerridwen regarded by many modern Pagans as the Celtic goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration.

Greek

In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, Cybele, the primordial deity Gaia, and Rhea were worshiped as Mother goddesses. In Mycenae the great goddess often was represented by a column.

Olympian goddesses of classical Greece with mother goddess attributes include Hera and Demeter. “The goddesses of Greek polytheism, so different and complementary, are nonetheless, consistently similar at an earlier stage, with one or the other simply becoming dominant in a sanctuary or city. Each is the Great Goddess presiding over a male society; each is depicted in her attire as Mistress of the Beasts, and Mistress of the Sacrifice, even Hera and Demeter”

The Minoan goddess represented in seals and other remains many of whose attributes were absorbed into Artemis, seems to have been a mother goddess type, for in some representations she suckles the animals that she holds.

The archaic local goddess worshiped at Ephesus, whose cult statue was adorned with necklaces and stomachers hung with rounded protuberances who was later also identified by Hellenes with Artemis, was probably also a mother goddess.

Éos

The Goddess Éos is very well known in Greek, where she is often mentioned in the Iliad as the ‘rosy-fingered dawn.’ An alternative form of this name with the intrusive -t- is found in the Greek Goddess Hestia, who is a Goddess of the hearth.

Hesperus and  Phosphorus (Eosphorus)

In Greek mythology, Hesperus (Ancient Greek: Hesperos) is the Evening Star, the planet Venus in the evening. He 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”), a name meaning “Light-Bringer”, the planet Venus in its morning appearance.

Hesperus’ Roman equivalent is Vesper (cf. “evening”, “supper”, “evening star”, “west”). Hesperus’ father was Cephalus, a mortal, while Phosphorus’ was the star god Astraios.

Hesperus is the personification of the “evening star”, the planet Venus in the evening. His name is sometimes conflated with the names for his brother, the personification of the planet as the “morning star” Eosphorus (Greek Ἐωσφόρος, “bearer of dawn”) or Phosphorus (Ancient Greek: “bearer of light”, often translated as “Lucifer” in Latin), since they are all personifications of the same planet Venus.

“Heosphoros” in the Greek Septuagint and “Lucifer” in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate were used to translate the Hebrew “Helel” (Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one), “son of Shahar (god) (Dawn)” in the Hebrew version of Isaiah 14:12.

When named thus by the ancient Greeks, it was thought that Eosphorus (Venus in the morning) and Hesperos (Venus in the evening) were two different celestial objects. The Greeks later accepted the Babylonian view that the two were the same, and the Babylonian identification of the planets with the Great Gods, and dedicated the “wandering star” (planet) to Aphrodite (Roman Venus), as the equivalent of Ishtar.

In the philosophy of language, “Hesperus is Phosphorus” is a famous sentence in relation to the semantics of proper names. Gottlob Frege used the terms “the evening star” (der Abendstern) and “the morning star” (der Morgenstern) to illustrate his distinction between sense and reference, and subsequent philosophers changed the example to “Hesperus is Phosphorus” so that it utilized proper names. Saul Kripke used the sentence to demonstrate that the knowledge of something necessary (in this case the identity of Hesperus and Phosphorus) could be empirical rather than knowable a priori.

Astarte

Astarte

Astarte (Ancient Greek: “Astártē”) is the Greek name of the Mesopotamian (i.e. Assyrian, Akkadian, Babylonian) Semitic goddess Ishtar known throughout the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean from the early Bronze Age to Classical times. It is one of a number of names associated with the chief goddess or female divinity of those peoples.

She is found as Ugaritic (ʻṯtrt, “ʻAṯtart” or “ʻAthtart”); in Phoenician as (ʻštrt, “Ashtart”); in Hebrew (Ashtoret, singular, or Ashtarot, plural); and appears originally in Akkadian as Ishtar, the grammatically masculine name of the goddess Ishtar; the form Astartu is used to describe her age. The name appears also in Etruscan as Uni-Astre (Pyrgi Tablets), Ishtar or Ashtart.

Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and astar within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified evening star.

Like Ishtar, the Greek Aphrodite and the Aramean Northwestern Semitic Astarte were love goddesses. Donald A. Mackenzie, an early popularizer of mythology, draws a parallel between the love goddess Aphrodite and her “dying god” lover Adonis on one hand, and the love goddess Ishtar and her “dying god” lover Tammuz on the other.

Some scholars have suggested that the myth of Adonis was derived in post-Homeric times by the Greeks indirectly from the Eastern Semites of Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia), via the Aramean and Canaanite Western Semites, the Semitic title ‘Adon’, meaning ‘lord’, having been mistaken for a proper name. This theory, however, cannot be accepted without qualifications.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.

Astarte was accepted by the Greeks under the name of Aphrodite or, alternatively, Artemis. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte’s greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite’s most common byname.

Other major centers of Astarte’s worship were the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Coins from Sidon portray a chariot in which a globe appears, presumably a stone representing Astarte. “She was often depicted on Sidonian coins as standing on the prow of a galley, leaning forward with right hand outstretched, being thus the original of all figureheads for sailing ships.”

In Sidon, she shared a temple with Eshmun. Coins from Beirut show Poseidon, Astarte, and Eshmun worshipped together. Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina.

A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.

Donald Harden in The Phoenicians discusses a statuette of Astarte from Tutugi (Galera) near Granada in Spain dating to the 7th or 6th century BC in which Astarte sits on a throne flanked by sphinxes holding a bowl beneath her pierced breasts. A hollow in the statue would have been filled with milk through the head and gentle heating would have melted wax plugging the holes in her breasts, producing an apparent miracle when the milk emerged.

The Aramean goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ʻAtarʻatah) may originally have been equated with Astarte, but the first element of the name Atargatis appears to be related to the Ugaritic form of Asherah’s name: Athirat.

Ariadne

Some scholars claim that the cult of the Minoan snake goddess who is identified with Ariadne (the “utterly pure” or “most holy”, Cretan Greek ari “most” and adnos “holy”), was similar to the cult of Astarte.

Her cult as Aphrodite was transmitted to Cythera and then to Greece. Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world’s largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities.

Ariadne, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, and his queen Pasiphaë, daughter of Helios. She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths, due to her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus.

Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations (either to Poseidon or to Athena, depending on the version of the myth); however, she would later help Theseus in overcoming the Minotaur and saving the would-be sacrificial victims.

In other stories, she became the bride of the god Dionysus, with the question of her background as being either a mortal or a goddess varying in those accounts.

Athena

In Greek religion and mythology, Athena or Athene, also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene, is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Minerva is the Roman goddess identified with Athena.

Athena is portrayed as a shrewd companion of heroes and is the patron goddess of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patroness of Athens. The Athenians founded the Parthenon on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens (Athena Parthenos), in her honour.

Veneration of Athena was so persistent that archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. In her role as a protector of the city (polis), many people throughout the Greek world worshiped Athena as Athena Polias (“Athena of the city”).

The city of Athens and the goddess Athena essentially bear the same name (Athena the Goddess, Athenai the city) while it is not known which of the two words is derived from the other.

Aphrodite

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, she was born when Cronus cut off Uranus’s genitals and threw them into the sea, and she arose from the sea foam (aphros). According to Homer’s Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. According to Plato (Symposium 180e), the two were entirely separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos.

Aphrodite is also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus) after the two cult sites, Cythera and Cyprus, which claimed to be her place of birth. Myrtle, doves, sparrows, horses, and swans were said to be sacred to her. The ancient Greeks identified her with the Ancient Egyptian goddess Hathor.

Juno

Long after the fall of Carthage, Tanit was still venerated in North Africa under the Latin name of Juno Caelestis, for her identification with the Roman goddess Juno (Latin: Iūno), an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state.

She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent was Hera. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni.

As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

Mater Matuta 

Mater Matuta was an indigenous Latin goddess, whom the Romans eventually made equivalent to the dawn goddess Aurora, and the Greek goddess Eos. Her cult is attested several places in Latium, her most famous temple was located at Satricum.

In Rome she had a temple on the north side of the Forum Boarium, allegedly built by Servius Tullius, destroyed in 506 B.C., and rebuilt by Marcus Furius Camillus in 396 BC., and she was also associated with the sea harbors and ports, where there were other temples to her.

At Rome her festival was the Matralia, celebrated on June 11 in her temple at the Forum Boarium. The festival was only for single women or women in their first marriage, who offered prayers for their nieces and nephews, and then drove a slave out of the temple.

Aurora

In Latin, Aurora is a dawn Goddess, although the Romans retain relatively little of the ancient mythology. An alternative form of this word with an intrusive -t- is found in the Latin Goddess Vesta, a Goddess of the hearth whose temple in Rome was considered necessary for the continuation of the city. The entire month of June is devoted to her festival, the Vestalia. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov also argue that the name of Mount Vesuvius is from the same basic root form.

In ancient Rome, fire was rekindled on March 1st, according to the Golden Bough, Vol. 10, p. 138. Roman Catholic churches continue the ritual of rekindling of fire, still set to Easter, which is a moveable holiday among Christians. All lights are extinguished, and a new fire is made in church with flint and steel or a burning glass. See also Golden Bough, Vol. 10, p. 120 for more about this tradition.

Hera

Hera is the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy.

Scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, “Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos.”

The name of Hera admits a variety of mutually exclusive etymologies; one possibility is to connect it with Greek hōra, season, and to interpret it as ripe for marriage and according to Plato eratē, “beloved” as Zeus is said to have married her for love. According to Plutarch, Hera was an allegorical name and an anagram of aēr (“air”). So begins the section on Hera in Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion.

In a note, he records other scholars’ arguments “for the meaning Mistress as a feminine to Heros, Master.” John Chadwick, a decipherer of Linear B, remarks “her name may be connected with hērōs, ἥρως, ‘hero’, but that is no help, since it too is etymologically obscure.”

J. van Windekens, offers “young cow, heifer”, which is consonant with Hera’s common epithet βοῶπις (boōpis, “cow-eyed”). R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin. Her name is attested in Mycenaean Greek written in the Linear B syllabic script as e-ra, appearing on tablets found in Pylos and Thebes.

Her archaic association was primarily with cattle, as a Cow Goddess, who was especially venerated in “cattle-rich” Euboea. On Cyprus, very early archaeological sites contain bull skulls that have been adapted for use as masks.

Her familiar Homeric epithet Boôpis, is always translated “cow-eyed”, for, like the Greeks of Classical times, its other natural translation “cow-faced”. In this respect, Hera bears some resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian deity Hathor, a maternal goddess associated with cattle.

Artemis (Antem)

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

Eileithyia

Eileithyia or Ilithyia was the Greek goddess of childbirth. According to some authors her name does not have an Indo-European etymology, which for R. F. Willets strengthens her link to Minoan culture.

“The links between Eileithyia, an earlier Minoan goddess, and a still earlier Neolithic prototype are, relatively, firm,” he wrote. “The continuity of her cult depends upon the unchanging concept of her function.

Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth; and the divine helper of women in labour has an obvious origin in the human midwife.” Additionally, for Willetts, Cretan dialect ‘Eleuthia’ would connect Eileithyia to Eleusis.

19th-century scholars suggested that the name is Greek, from the verb eleutho, to bring, the goddess thus being The Bringer. The variants “Eleuthia” (Cretan) and “Eleuthō” (used by Pindar) suggest a possible connection with “Eleutheria” (freedom), who is the Greek equivalent of the Roman goddess Libera (freedom), who is the daughter of Ceres. The earliest form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek e-re-u-ti-ja written in the Linear b syllabic script.

Rhea

Rhea is the Titaness daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus, in Greek mythology and sister and wife to Cronos. In early traditions, she is known as “the mother of gods” and therefore is strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, who have similar functions. The classical Greeks saw her as the mother of the Olympian goddesses and gods, but not as an Olympian goddess in her own right. The Romans identified her with Magna Mater (their form of Cybele), and the Goddess Ops.

Most ancient etymologists derived Rhea by metathesis from “ground”, but a tradition embodied in Plato and in Chrysippus connected the word with ῥέω (rheo), “flow”, “discharge”, which is what LSJ supports. Alternatively, the name Rhea may be connected with words for the pomegranate.

Roman

In ancient Roman religion, Tellus or Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”) was a goddess of the earth and agriculture. Her festivals and rituals often connected her to Ceres, goddess of grain, agriculture, fertility, and mothering.

Venus was regarded as a mother of the Roman people through her half-mortal son Aeneas, who led refugees from the Trojan War to settle in Italy. The family of Julius Caesar claimed to have descended from Venus. In this capacity she was given cult as Venus Genetrix (Venus the Begetter).

In the later Imperial era, she was included among the many manifestations of a syncretised Magna Dea (Great Goddess), who could be manifested as any goddess at the head of a pantheon, such as Juno or Minerva.

Venus

In ancient Roman religion, Tellus or Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”) was a goddess of the earth and agriculture. Her festivals and rituals often connected her to Ceres, goddess of grain, agriculture, fertility, and mothering.

The Ancient Greeks identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite, while in Roman mythology she corresponds to Venus, the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility and prosperity. In Roman mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

Venus embodies sex, love, beauty, enticement, seduction, and persuasive female charm among the community of immortal gods; in Latin orthography, her name is indistinguishable from the Latin noun venus (“sexual love” and “sexual desire”), from which it derives.

Venus was regarded as a mother of the Roman people through her half-mortal son Aeneas, who led refugees from the Trojan War to settle in Italy. The family of Julius Caesar claimed to have descended from Venus. In this capacity she was given cult as Venus Genetrix (Venus the Begetter).

In the later Imperial era, she was included among the many manifestations of a syncretised Magna Dea (Great Goddess), who could be manifested as any goddess at the head of a pantheon, such as Juno or Minerva.

Diana

In Roman mythology, Diana (lt. “heavenly” or “divine”) was the Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy.

Diana was worshipped in ancient Roman religion and is revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria. Dianic Wicca, a largely feminist form of the practice, is named for her. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses, Diana, Minerva and Vesta, who swore never to marry.

Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology, Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky.

It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).

On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym diwia is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification. The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

Celtic

The Irish goddess Anu, sometimes known as Danu, has an aspect as a mother goddess, judging from the Dá Chích Anann near Killarney, County Kerry. Irish literature names the last and most favored generation of deities as “the people of Danu” (Tuatha De Danann).

The Welsh have a similar figure called Dôn who is often equated with Danu and identified as a mother goddess. Sources for this character date from the Christian period, however, so she is referred to simply as a “mother of heroes” in the Mabinogion. The character’s (assumed) origins as a goddess are obscured.

The Celts of Gaul worshipped a goddess known as Dea Matrona (“divine mother goddess”) who was associated with the Marne River. Similar figures known as the Matres (Latin for “mothers”) are found on altars in Celtic as well as Germanic areas of Europe.

In Irish mythology, Anann (Anu, Ana, Anand) was a goddess. ‘Anann’ is identified as the personal name of the Morrígan in many MSS of Lebor Gabála Érenn. With Badb and Macha, she is sometimes part of a triple goddess or a triad of war goddesses. As such, she may be a Celtic personification of death, and is depicted as predicting death in battle.

As a goddess of cattle, she is responsible for culling the weak. She is therefore often referred to as “Gentle Annie”, in an effort to avoid offense, a tactic which is similar to referring to the fairies as “The Good People”.

Esus

The very early Gaulish God Esus is probably a God of hearths, though little is known about him, and much of that is contradictory. He is described as a God of hearths in one early Roman text which was a pep talk by a Roman commander intended to scare the troops right before a battle. Lucius also refers to him, but seems to have confused him with another God. There are also two sculptures in Paris with the name Esus carved on them; they show a man cutting down trees with an axe.

Iranian

Anahita

Anahita is the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian goddess and appears in complete and earlier form as Aredvi Sura Anahita (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā); the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of ‘the Waters’ (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom. She shares characteristics with Mat Zemlya (Damp Mother Earth) in Slavic mythology.

Aredvi Sura Anahita is Ardwisur Anahid or Nahid in Middle- and Modern Persian, Anahit or Anaheed in Armenian. An iconic shrine cult of Aredvi Sura Anahita, was – together with other shrine cults – “introduced apparently in the 4th century BCE and lasted until it was suppressed in the wake of an iconoclastic movement under the Sassanids.” The Greek and Roman historians of classical antiquity refer to her either as Anaïtis or identified her with one of the divinities from their own pantheons.

Only Arədvī (a word otherwise unknown, perhaps with an original meaning “moist”) is specific to the divinity. The words sūra and anāhīta are generic Avestan language adjectives, and respectively mean “mighty” and “pure” (or “immaculate”). Both adjectives also appear as epithets of other divinities or divine concepts such as Haoma and the Fravashis. Both adjectives are also attested in Vedic Sanskrit.

As a divinity of the waters (Abān), the yazata is of Indo-Iranian origin, according to Lommel related to Sanskrit Sarasvatī that, like its Proto-Iranian equivalent *Harahvatī, derives from Indo-Iranian *Saraswṇtī.

In its old Iranian form *Harahvatī, “her name was given to the region, rich in rivers, whose modern capital is Kandahar (Avestan Haraxvaitī, Old Persian Hara(h)uvati-, Greek Arachosia).”

“Like the Indian Saraswati, [Aredvi Sura Anahita] nurtures crops and herds; and is hailed both as a divinity and the mythical river that she personifies, ‘as great in bigness as all these waters which flow forth upon the earth’.”

In the (Middle-)Persian texts of the Sassanid and later eras, Arədvī Sūra Anāhīta appears as Ardwisur Anāhīd. There is no occurrence of Anāhīta in Old Avestan and her presence in Avesta is limited mainly to two instances.

In non-Avestan world, the oldest mention of her name is indeed in many Old Persian documents. Her popularity in Western Iran is significantly higher than Eastern Iran. The evidences suggest a western Iranian origin of Anāhīta.

At some point prior to the 4th century BCE, this yazata was conflated with (an analogue of) Semitic Ištar, likewise a divinity of “maiden” fertility and from whom Aredvi Sura Anahita then inherited additional features of a divinity of war and of the planet Venus or “Zohreh” in Arabic.

It was moreover the association with the planet Venus, “it seems, which led Herodotus to record that the Persis learnt ‘to sacrifice to “the heavenly goddess”‘ from the Assyrians and Arabians.”

Ishtar also “apparently” gave Aredvi Sura Anahita the epithet Banu, ‘the Lady’, a typically Mesopotamian construct that is not attested as an epithet for a divinity in Iran before the common era. It is completely unknown in the texts of the Avesta, but evident in Sassanid-era middle Persian inscriptions and in a middle Persian Zend translation of Yasna 68.13.

Also in Zoroastrian texts from the post-conquest epoch (651 CE onwards), the divinity is referred to as ‘Anahid the Lady’, ‘Ardwisur the Lady’ and ‘Ardwisur the Lady of the waters’.

Because the divinity is unattested in any old Western Iranian language, establishing characteristics prior to the introduction of Zoroastrianism in Western Iran (c. 5th century BCE) is very much in the realm of speculation.

According to Boyce, it is “probable” that there was once a Perso–Elamite divinity by the name of *Anahiti (as reconstructed from the Greek Anaitis). It is then likely (so Boyce) that it was this divinity that was an analogue of Ishtar, and that it is this divinity with which Aredvi Sura Anahita was conflated.

Boyce concludes that “the Achaemenids’ devotion to this goddess evidently survived their conversion to Zoroastrianism, and they appear to have used royal influence to have her adopted into the Zoroastrian pantheon.”

According to an alternate theory, Anahita was perhaps “a daeva of the early and pure Zoroastrian faith, incorporated into the Zoroastrian religion and its revised canon” during the reign of “Artaxerxes I, the Constantine of that faith.”

Germanic

In the first century BC, Tacitus recorded rites amongst the Germanic tribes focused on the goddess Nerthus, whom he calls Terra Mater, ‘Mother Earth’. Prominent in these rites was the procession of the goddess in a wheeled vehicle through the countryside. Among the seven or eight tribes said to worship her, Tacitus lists the Anglii and the Longobardi.

Among the later Anglo-Saxons, a Christianized charm known as Æcerbot survives from records from the tenth century. The charm involves a procession through the fields while calling upon the Christian God for a good harvest, that invokes ‘eorþan modor’ (Earth Mother) and ‘folde, fira modor,’ (Earth, mother of men).

In skaldic poetry, the kenning, “Odin’s wife”, is a common designation for the Earth. Bynames of the Earth in Icelandic poetry include Jörð, Fjörgyn, Hlóðyn, and Hlín. Hlín is used as a byname of both Jörð and Frigg. Fjörgynn (a masculine form of Fjörgyn) is said to be Frigg’s father, while the name Hlóðyn is most commonly linked to Frau Holle, as well as to a goddess, Hludana, whose name is found etched in several votive inscriptions from the Roman era.

Connections have been proposed between the figure of Nerthus and various figures (particularly figures counted amongst the Vanir) recorded in thirteenth century Icelandic records of Norse mythology, including Frigg.

Due to potential etymological connections, the Norse god Njörðr has been proposed as the consort of Nerthus. In the Poetic Edda poem, Lokasenna, Njörðr is said to have fathered his famous children by his own sister. This sister remains unnamed in surviving records.

Due to specific terms used to describe the figure of Grendel’s mother from the poem Beowulf, some scholars have proposed that the figure of Grendel’s mother, like the poem itself, may have derived from earlier traditions originating from Germanic paganism.

Nanna

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr. Accounts of Nanna vary greatly by source. In the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti. After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea.

In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again. In an attempt to bring back Baldr from the dead, the god Hermóðr rides to Hel and, upon receiving the hope of resurrection from the being Hel, Nanna gives Hermóðr gifts to give to the goddess Frigg (a robe of linen), the goddess Fulla (a finger-ring), and others (unspecified). Nanna is frequently mentioned in the poetry of skalds and a Nanna, who may or may not be the same figure, is mentioned once in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources.

An account provided by Saxo Grammaticus in his 12th century work Gesta Danorum records Nanna as a human female, the daughter of King Gevar, and the love interest of both the demi-god Baldr and the human Höðr. Spurred by their mutual attraction to Nanna, Baldr and Höðr repeatedly do battle. Nanna is only interested in Höðr and weds him, while Baldr wastes away from nightmares about Nanna.

The Setre Comb, a comb from the 6th or early 7th century featuring runic inscriptions, may reference the goddess. The etymology of the name Nanna is a subject of scholarly debate. Scholars have debated connections between Nanna and other similarly named deities from other cultures and the implications of the goddess’s attestations.

The etymology of the name of the goddess Nanna is debated. Some scholars have proposed that the name may derive from a babble word, nanna, meaning “mother”. Scholar Jan de Vries connects the name Nanna to the root *nanþ-, leading to “the daring one”.

Scholar John Lindow theorizes that a common noun may have existed in Old Norse, nanna, that roughly meant “woman”. Scholar John McKinnell notes that the “mother” and *nanþ- derivations may not be distinct, commenting that nanna may have once meant “she who empowers”.

Some scholars have attempted to link Old Norse Nanna with the Sumerian goddess Inanna, the goddess Nannar/Babylonian Ishtar, or the Phrygian goddess Nana, mother of the god Attis. Scholar Rudolf Simek opines that identification with Inanna, Nannar or Nana is “hardly likely” due to the large distances in time and location between the figures.

Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson says that while “the idea of a link with Sumerian Inanna , ‘Lady of Heaven’, was attractive to early scholars” the notion “seems unlikely.” On the other hand, when pointing at the fact that the Vedic (Indian) twin gods, the Ashwins, are evidently present in the Baltic region’s as the Ašvieniai, the argument of geographical distance does not prevail.

 Eostra

In Old Norse, the word ass (singular) and Aesir (plural), and in Old English, Ôs (singular), are general words for ‘a god, any god.’ This word is used for the dominant group of deities in the Scandinavian pantheon though this may be because of influence from Zoroastrian sources, one of the effects of the Pandemonium. Another form of this word gives us the common English word ‘star.’

The close correspondence between the Zoroastrian Gods and the Germanic Gods has long been recognized, and is referred to as the Aesir-Asura correspondence. There are other correspondences too, such as the eschatological nature of time (belief that the world will come to an end) which is seen in Zoroastrianism and in the “Gotterdammerung” in Norse mythology. These concepts are not general to the Indo-European Pagans who thought of time as being cyclical.

An alternative form of the name of this deity with intrusive -t- appears in Old English as Eostra, a Goddess mentioned by Bede, with Old Saxon Ostara and the modern English form Easter. She is associated with the warmth of spring, and the festival at the spring equinox.

Among the Germanic-speaking people, the Goddess Eostra, or Ostara was worshiped in early times with offerings and she continues to be remembered in the name of the holiday Easter (in German Ostern), and in the customs of fires on hill tops at the Spring Equinox and with giving presents of Easter eggs, which are said to have been laid by the Easter bunny.

Germanic – Aurvandil

The names Aurvandil or Earendel (Old Norse: Aurvandil; Old English: Ēarendel; Lombardic: Auriwandalo; Old High German: Orentil, Erentil; Medieval Latin: Horuuendillus) are cognate Germanic personal names, continuing a Proto-Germanic reconstructed compound *auzi-wandilaz “luminous wanderer”, in origin probably the name of a star or planet, potentially the morning star (Eosphoros).

As a Germanic name, Auriwandalo is attested as a historical Lombardic prince. A Latinized version, Horvandillus, is given as the name of the father of Amleth in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum. German Orentil (Erentil) is the hero of a medieval poem of the same name. He is son of a certain Eigel of Trier and has numerous adventures in the Holy Land.

The Old Norse variant appears in purely mythological context, linking the name to a star. The only known attestation of the Old English Earendel refers to a star exclusively.

The name is a compound whose first part goes back to *auzi- ‘dawn’, a combining form related to *austaz ‘east’, cognate with Ancient Greek ēṓs ‘dawn’, Sanskrituṣā́s, Latin aurōra, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éuso-s ‘dawn’. The second part comes from *wanđilaz, a derivative of *wanđaz (cf. Old Norse vandr‘difficult’, Old Saxon wand ‘fluctuating, variable’, English wander), from *wenđanan which gave in English wend.

Jacob Grimm (1835) emphasizes the great age of the tradition reflected in the mythological material surrounding this name, without being able to reconstruct the characteristics of the Common Germanic myth. Viktor Rydberg in his Teutonic Mythology also assumes Common Germanic age for the figure.

The Pandemonium

Pandemonium, meaning ‘all demons,’ was an expression which Jaan Puhvel used to describe the effect when the Sanskrit speakers and Avestan speakers demonized each other’s Gods. This mutual demonization occurred when Zarathustra demonized the Gods of the Sanskrit speakers, especially Indra and the Devas, while the Sanskrit-speaking priests of the Rig Veda demonized the Gods of the Zoroastrians, especially the Ashuras.

The effect was wider than just Sanskrit and Avestan: it is also noticeable in the Germanic languages where the Scandinavian pantheon comes out on the same side as the Zoroastrians. The reason and the exact timing for these effects are uncertain.

Slavic

Mat Zemlya and her handmaiden Mokosh are two major deities in Slavic mythology. They date back to the Primary Chronicle and working together they can give life and take it away. Mat Zemlya is Mother Earth, and Mokosh is the moisture that makes it fertile.

Iaro

The name Jarilo or Iaro looks very different but it is just another cognate word for a deity associated with warmth, in this case, a God of summer, Iaro being a word for summer in the Slavic languages. Iarovit is another old reference to this deity on what is described as an image with four faces: the four faces have names which represent the four seasons of the year.

Mokoš

Mokoš is a Slavic goddess mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, protector of women’s work and women’s destiny. She watches over spinning and weaving, shearing of sheep, and protects women in child birth. Mokosh is the handmaiden of Mat Zemlya.

Mokoš was the only female deity whose idol was erected by Vladimir the Great in his Kiev sanctuary along with statues of other major gods (Perun, Hors, Dažbog, Stribog and Simargl).

Mokosh means moisture. According to Max Vasmer, her name is derived from the same root as Slavic words mokry ‘wet’ and moknut(i) ‘get wet’. She may have originated in the northern Finno-Ugric tribes of the Vogul, who still have the divinity Moksha.

Mokoš was one of the most popular Slavic deities and the great Mother Goddess of East Slavs and Eastern Polans. She is a wanderer and a spinner. She has no consort.

As late as the 19th century, she was worshipped as a force of fertility and the ruler of death. Worshipers prayed to Mokosh-stones or breast-shaped boulders that held power over the land and its people.

In Eastern Europe and especially in modern day Russia, Mokosh is still popular as a powerful life giving force and protector of women. Villages are named after her. She shows up in embroidery, represented as a woman with uplifted hands and flanked by two plow horses. Sometimes she is shown with male sexual organs, as the deity in charge of male potency.

During Christianization of Kievan Rus’ there were warnings issued against worshipping Mokoš. She was replaced by the cult of the Virgin Mary and St. Paraskevia. The name of the latter can be translated as “Friday”, the day associated with females and female deities; in Slavic tradition, it was devoted to Mokoš. Probably because of associations with Mokoš, St. Paraskevia became one of the most popular and beloved saints in Russia.

Mat Zemlya

Mat Zemlya, also Matka Ziemia, and Mati Syra Zemlya (literally Damp Mother Earth), is the oldest deity in Slavic mythology, her identity later blended into that of Mokosh. She shares characteristics with Indo-Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita “Humid Mother of the Earth.”

In the early Middle Ages, Mati Syra Zemlya was one of the most important deities in the Slavic world. Oaths were made binding by touching the Earth and sins were confessed into a hole in the Earth before death.

She was worshipped in her natural form and was not given a human personage or likeness. Since the adoption of Christianity in all Slavic lands, she has been identified with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Māra

Māra is the highest-ranking goddess in Latvian mythology, Mother Earth, a feminine counterpart to Dievs (God). Alternative names: Māre, Mārīte (diminutive), Mārša, Māršava (Western Latvia). She may be thought as the alternate side of Dievs (like in Yin and Yang).

Other Latvian goddesses, sometimes all of them, are considered her assistants, or alternate aspects. Māra may have been also the same goddess as Lopu māte, Piena Māte (Mother of the Milk), Veļu Māte (mother of the souls/spirits), Zemes Māte (Mother of the Earth), and many other “mothers”, like of Wood, Water, Sea, Wind. Māra is also depicted in Latvian mythology as the goddess of good fortune.

She is the patroness of all feminine duties (children, cattle), patroness of all the economic activities (“God made the table, Māra made the bread”), even money and markets. Being the alternate side of Dievs, she takes a person’s body after their death while Dievs is taking the soul. She is the goddess of land, which is called Māras zeme (Māra’s land).

In western Latvia, and to a lesser degree in the rest of Latvia, she was strongly associated with Laima, and may have been considered the same deity. The festival Māras was held in her honor every August 15.

This is probably a result of Christian influence and identification of Māra with Mary, whose main festival (the Assumption) has fallen on the same date since early times. Opinions are divided over whether Māra is a pre-Christian deity, or originated as a reflection of the Christian Mary created by semi-Christian Livonian peasants.

Laima

Laima is a Baltic goddess of fate. She was associated with childbirth, marriage, and death; she was also the patron of pregnant women. Laima and her functions are identical to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

In the Latvian mythology, Laima and her sisters, Kārta and Dēkla, were a trinity of fate deities, similar to the Norse Norns or the Greek Moirai. Laima makes the final decision on individual’s fate and is considerably more popular.

While all three of them had similar functions, Laima is more related with mothers, Dēkla is in charge of children, and Kārta holds power over the adult’s life. In modern Dievturi these three goddesses are referred to as the three Laimas, indicating they are the same deity in three different aspects.

Birth rituals at the end of the 19th century included offerings of hen, sheep, towels or other woven materials to Laima. Only women could participate in the ritual, performed in a sauna (pirtis).

In the Lithuanian mythology, Laima (fate, destiny) is often confused with Laimė (good fortune) and Laumė (fairy). Other related deities include Dalia (fate) and Giltinė (The Reaper).

Laima was first mentioned in written sources as Laimelea by Wilhelm Martini in the Latin prologue to Lithuanian songs, collected by Daniel Klein and published in 1666. She was also mentioned by Matthäus Prätorius, Jacob Brodowski, Philipp Ruhig and others.

One of the most important duties of Laima is to prophesy (Lithuanian: lemti) how the life of a newborn will take place. Sometimes there was only one Laima, while in other cases three laimas would give often contradictory predictions. The final pronouncement would be irrevocable and not even Laima herself could change it.

While three fate goddesses have less support among academics, the concept is well-established in European religions (e.g. Greek Moirai). In the earlier historiography, the example of predestination by Laima was used to judge the Lithuanian religion as fatalistic. For example, in 1837 Manfred Tietz wrote that because Lithuanians believed in the determined fate, they were fearless warriors.

Algirdas Julien Greimas argued that such a view is superficial and that Laima did not determine the fate but only knew about it. In one Lithuanian version of the Great Flood myth, Laima participates in the birth of the humankind.

Laima was related to Gegutė (cuckoo), which Greimas considered a separate goddess while others see her as an incarnation of Laima. Gegutė was responsible for time and the succession of the seasons.

The number of her calls was believed to predict how long a person had left to live. In spring she would also determine how a person would spend the remainder of the year; for example, if a man had no money on him when he heard the cuckoo, he would be poor for the rest of the year. Laima’s sacred tree is the linden.

Baltic Languages

In Lithuanian Aušra means ‘dawn’ and this Goddess appears in folk tales. The Goddesses of the morning star, i.e. the planet Venus, also have related names; in Latvian Auseklis, and in Lithuanian Aušrine. These Goddesses appear in folk tales and in the dainas, sacred songs of the Lithuanians and Latvians.

Dalia

Dalia is the goddess of fate in the Lithuanian mythology. She is the giver and taker of goods and property. Dalia is often confused with and hard to distinguish from Laima, another goddess of fate. Sometimes Dalia is thought of as a different manifestation of Laima.

However, Laima is more involved in predicting the length of a person’s life while Dalia is more concerned with material wealth a person would earn during the lifetime – allotting a proper share (Lithuanian: dalis) to everyone.

According to myths, just as a father divides his estate among the children, so Dievas Senelis (manifestation of supreme god Dievas) allots each newborn with a proper share. Dalia is seen more as an enforcer of Dievas’ will rather than a decision maker. She can appear as a woman, lamb, dog, swan, or duck.

Albanian

In an Albanian folk tale, a name of the moon is Arap Ushas. Here Ushas, a name of the sun, is substituted for the name of the moon as often happens, possibly because of a taboo on names of the moon. However the fact that it appears at all in this form seems to show the very conservative nature of Albanian folklore, since it is difficult to see who they could have borrowed this word from, in a form corresponding to ancient Sanskrit.

Georgia

Ainina and Danina

The cult of Inanna may also have influenced the deities Ainina and Danina of the Caucasian Iberians mentioned by the medieval Georgian Chronicles. Ainina and Danina or Ainina and Danana are a pair of pre-Christian female deities worshipped in ancient Kartli—Iberia of the Classical sources—as claimed by the medieval Georgian chronicles. Beyond these later records no evidence is available for the existence of these cults.

According to the 11th-century History of the Kings and Patriarchs, part of the compiled Georgian Chronicles, the idols of Ainina and Danana were erected by Saurmag, the second king of Kartli, on the road to the royal city of Mtskheta.

The earlier, 7th-9th-century source Conversion of Kartli, reports Saurmag was responsible for establishing the cult of Ainina, while his son-in-law and successor Mirvan created the idol of Danina. The reigns of Saurmag and Mirvan are, retrospectively, placed in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.

Modern historians presume Ainina and Danina/Aynina and Danana are a corruption of the two names of one and the same deity, Danina/Danana being formed of the Georgian conjunctive particle da + Nana.

Nicholas Marr saw in the Georgian names the reflection of the Iranian Anahita and non-Iranian Nan-As, while Michael Tseretheli believed they were influenced by the Sumerian Inanna, a counterpart of the Akkadian Ishtar.

Armazi

Armazi was, according to the medieval Georgian chronicles, the supreme deity in a pre-Christian pantheon of ancient Georgians of Kartli (Iberia of the Classical sources).

Georgian literary tradition credits the first king of Kartli, Pharnavaz I of Iberia (assumed to have reigned c. 302-237 BC), with the raising of the idol Armazi – reputedly named after him – on a mountain at his capital, and the construction of a similarly named fortress.

The 9th/10th century hagiographic work Life of Nino describes the statue of Armazi as “a man of bronze standing; attached to his body was a golden suit of chain-armour, on his head a strong helmet; for eyes he had emeralds and beryls, in his hands he held a sabre glittering like lighting, and it turned in his hands.”

The same account asserts that its subject, a 4th-century female baptizer of Georgians Saint Nino, witnessed the celebration of a great feast of dedication for the idol, and as she began praying, by the grace of Jesus the idol was burnt by lightning.

Beyond the medieval Georgian annals, and the toponym Armazi which has survived to this day, we lack contemporary records about pagan Georgian pantheon. However, the word “Armazi” itself suggests a connection to the Iranian and/or Anatolian cultures.

Modern scholars are divided as to the origin of Armazi. It would appear to be connected to the Zoroastrian supreme god Ahura Mazdā (Middle Persian Ohrmazd, Armenian Aramazd) and contemporary archaeological evidence does suggest the penetration of Zoroastrianism in ancient Georgia.

On the other hand, the Georgian historian, Giorgi Melikishvili, has advanced a theory identifying Armazi as the local variant of Arma, the god of the moon in the Hittite mythology.

Academician Ivane Javakhishvili has earlier demonstrated that early Georgians venerated the moon as their chief deity, and this cult subsequently fused with the Christian St. George, which has been regarded as Georgia’s patron saint since the Middle Ages. Thus, Armazi might well have been a syncretic deity representing a combination of local Georgian, Iranian, and Anatolian elements.

Tibetan Buddhism

It’s not clear exactly what the relationship is, but a number of Goddesses in Tibetan Buddhism have the name Tara, based on a form having the intrusive -t- (between s and r) according to Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, see p. 702 and 780. Green Tara is the most famous and beloved of these Goddesses; others are White Tara and Red Tara. Green Tara is identified with the planet Venus, while the others are connected to other stars or planets.

Aurora

Eos

Ushas

Ostara

Hausos

Thesan

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Descent to the underworld

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Hermod pays respects to Hela

Orpheus in the underworld, Jan Brueghel the Elder 1594

Jacob van Swanenburgh “Aeneas and Sibilla in the Underworld” 1625 National Museum, Gdansk

Descent Into The Underworld

The descent to the underworld is a mytheme of comparative mythology found in a diverse number of religions from around the world, including Christianity. The hero or upper-world deity journeys to the underworld, or to the land of the dead and returns, often with a quest-object or a loved one, or with heightened knowledge.

The ability to enter the realm of the dead while still alive, and to return, is a proof of the classical hero’s exceptional status as more than mortal. A deity who returns from the underworld demonstrates eschatological themes such as the cyclical nature of time and existence, or the defeat of death and the possibility of immortality.

Katabasis, or catabasis, (from Greek “down” βαίνω “go”) is a descent of some type, such as moving downhill, or the sinking of the winds or sun, a military retreat, or a trip to the underworld or a trip from the interior of a country down to the coast. There exist multiple related meanings in poetry, rhetoric, and modern psychology.

One meaning of katabasis is the epic convention of the hero’s trip into the underworld. In Greek mythology, for example, Orpheus enters the underworld in order to bring Eurydice back to the world of the living.

Most katabases take place in a supernatural underworld, such as Hades or Hell — as in Nekyia, the 11th book of the Odyssey, which describes the descent of Odysseus to the underworld. However, katabasis can also refer to a journey through other dystopic areas, like those Odysseus encounters on his 10-year journey back from Troy to Ithaca.

Pilar Serrano allows the term katabasis to encompass brief or chronic stays in the underworld, including those of Lazarus and Castor and Pollux. In this case, however, the katabasis must be followed by an anabasis in order to be considered a true katabasis instead of a death.

Hermóðr the Brave (Old Norse “war-spirit”, anglicized as Hermod) is a figure in Norse mythology, the son of the god Odin. Hermóðr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief.

After the gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr’s death Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished “to gain all of her love and favor” by riding the road to Hel. Whoever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr’s return to Asgard. Hermóðr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel.

Hermóðr rode Odin’s horse Sleipnir for nine nights through deep and dark valleys to the Gjöll bridge covered with shining gold, the bridge being guarded by the maiden Móðguðr ‘Battle-frenzy’ or ‘Battle-tired’. Móðguðr told Hermóðr that Baldr had already crossed the bridge and that Hermóðr should ride downwards and northwards.

Upon coming to Hel’s gate, Hermóðr dismounted, tightened Sleipnir’s girth, mounted again, and spurred Sleipnir so that Sleipnir leapt entirely over the gate. So at last Hermóðr came to Hel’s hall and saw Baldr seated in the most honorable seat.

Hermóðr begged Hel to release Baldr, citing the great weeping for Baldr among the Æsir. Thereupon Hel announced that Baldr would only be released if all things, dead and alive, wept for him.

Baldr gave Hermóðr the ring Draupnir which had been burned with him on his pyre, to take back to Odin. Nanna gave a linen robe for Frigg along with other gifts and a finger-ring for Fulla. Thereupon Hermóðr returned with his message.

Hermóðr is called “son” of Odin in most manuscripts, while in the Codex Regius version – normally considered the best manuscript – Hermóðr is called sveinn Óðins ‘Odin’s boy’, which in the context is as likely to mean ‘Odin’s servant’. However Hermóðr in a later passage is called Baldr’s brother and also appears as son of Odin in a list of Odin’s sons.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Gugalanna (lit. “The Great Bull of Heaven” < Sumerian gu “bull”, gal “great”, an “heaven”, -a “of”) was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Inanna, from the heights of the city walls looked down, and Enkidu took the haunches of the bull shaking them at the goddess, threatening he would do the same to her if he could catch her too. For this impiety, Enkidu later dies.

Gugalanna was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead, a gloomy place devoid of light. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld.

Taurus was a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox from about 3,200 BCE. It marked the start of the agricultural year with the New Year Akitu festival (from á-ki-ti-še-gur10-ku5, = sowing of the barley), an important date in Mespotamian religion. The death of Gugalanna, represents the obscuring disappearance of this constellation as a result of the light of the sun, with whom Gilgamesh was identified.

In the time in which this myth was composed, the Akitu festival at the Spring Equinox, due to the Precession of the Equinoxes did not occur in Aries, but in Taurus. At this time of the year, Taurus would have disappeared as it was obscured by the sun.

“Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 B.C. … a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilised by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth.

Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.”

In the story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld, a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition, Inanna descends to the underworld with gifts to pass through the seven gates of the underworld.

In Sumerian religion, the Underworld was conceived of as a drear y, dark place; a home to deceased heroes and ordinary people alike. While everyone suffered an eternity of poor conditions, certain behavior while alive, notably creating a family to provide offerings to the deceased, could alleviate conditions somewhat.

Inanna’s reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana. Gugalana was the Bull of Heaven in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. To further add to the confusion, Ereshkigal’s husband typically is the plague god, Nergal.

In this story, before leaving Inanna instructed her minister and servant, Ninshubur, to plead with the deities Enlil, Sin, and Enki to save her if anything went amiss. The attested laws of the underworld dictate that, with the exception of appointed messengers, those who enter it could never leave.

Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads upon her breast, the ‘pala dress’ (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod.

These garments are each representations of powerful mes she possesses. Perhaps Inanna’s garments, unsuitable for a funeral, along with Inanna’s haughty behavior, make Ereshkigal suspicious.

Following Ereshkigal’s instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks why, and is told ‘It is just the ways of the Underworld’. She obliges and passes through. Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, at each one removing a piece of clothing or jewelry she had been wearing at the start of her journey, thus stripping her of her power.

When she arrives in front of her sister, she is naked. “After she had crouched down and had her clothes removed, they were carried away. Then she made her sister Erec-ki-gala rise from her throne, and instead she sat on her throne.

The Anna, the seven judges, rendered their decision against her. They looked at her – it was the look of death. They spoke to her – it was the speech of anger. They shouted at her – it was the shout of heavy guilt. The afflicted woman was turned into a corpse. And the corpse was hung on a hook.”

Ereshkigal’s hate for Inanna could be referenced in a few other myths. Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld she can’t leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can’t visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal.

Three days and three nights passed, and Ninshubur, following instructions, went to Enlil, Nanna, and Enki’s temples, and demanded they save Inanna. The first two deities refused, saying it was her own doing, but Enki was deeply troubled and agreed to help.

He created two asexual figures named gala-tura and the kur-jara from the dirt under the fingernails of the deities. He instructed them to appease Ereshkigal; and when asked what they wanted, they were to ask for Inanna’s corpse and sprinkle it with the food and water of life.

However, when they come before Ereshkigal, she is in agony like a woman giving birth, and she offers them what they want, including life-giving rivers of water and fields of grain, if they can relieve her; nonetheless they take only the corpse.

Things went as Enki said, and the gala-tura and the kur-jara were able to revive Inanna. Demons of Ereshkigal’s followed (or accompanied) Inanna out of the underworld, and insisted that she wasn’t free to go until someone took her place.

They first came upon Ninshubur and attempted to take her. Inanna refused, as Ninshubur was her loyal servant, who had rightly mourned her while she was in the underworld. They next came upon Cara, Inanna’s beautician, still in mourning. The demons said they would take him, but Inanna refused, as he too had mourned her. They next came upon Lulal, also in mourning. The demons offered to take him, but Inanna refused.

They next came upon Dumuzi, Inanna’s husband. Despite Inanna’s fate, and in contrast to the other individuals who were properly mourning Inanna, Dumuzi was lavishly clothed and resting beneath a tree. Inanna, displeased, decrees that the demons shall take him, using language which echoes the speech Ereshkigal gave while condemning her. Dumuzi is then taken to the underworld.

In other recensions of the story, Dumuzi tries to escape his fate, and is capable of fleeing the demons for a time, as the deities intervene and disguise him in a variety of forms. He is eventually found.

However, Dumuzi’s sister, out of love for him, begged to be allowed to take his place. It was then decreed that Dumuzi spent half the year in the underworld, and his sister take the other half. Inanna, displaying her typically capricious behavior, mourns his time in the underworld.

This she reveals in a haunting lament of his deathlike absence from her, for “[he] cannot answer . . . [he] cannot come/ to her calling . . . the young man has gone.”

Her own powers, notably those connected with fertility, subsequently wane, to return in full when he returns from the netherworld each six months. This cycle then approximates the shift of seasons.

Additionally, the myth may be described as a union of Inanna with her own “dark side”, her twin sister-self, Ereshkigal, as when she ascends it is with Ereshkigal’s powers, while Inanna is in the underworld it is Ereshkigal who apparently takes on fertility powers, and the poem ends with a line in praise, not of Inanna, but of Ereshkigal.

It is in many ways a praise-poem dedicated to the more negative aspects of Inanna’s domain, symbolic of an acceptance of the necessity of death to the continuance of life. It can also be interpreted as being about the psychological power of a descent into the unconscious, realizing one’s own strength through an episode of seeming powerlessness, and/or an acceptance of one’s own negative qualities, as is discussed by Joseph Campbell.

Another recent interpretation, by Clyde Hostetter,Star Trek to Hawa-i’i(San Luis Obispo, California: Diamond Press, 1991), p. 53) indicates that the myth is an allegorical report of related movements of the planets Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter; and those of the waxing crescent Moon in the Second Millennium, beginning with the Spring Equinox and concluding with a meteor shower near the end of one synodic period of Venus.

Joshua Mark argues that it is most likely that the moral of the Descent of Inanna was that there are always consequences for one’s actions. “The Descent of Inanna, then, about one of the gods behaving badly and other gods and mortals having to suffer for that behavior, would have given to an ancient listener the same basic understanding anyone today would take from an account of a tragic accident caused by someone’s negligence or poor judgment: that, sometimes, life is just not fair.”

Bad-tibira, “Wall of the Copper Worker(s)”, or “Fortress of the Smiths”, identified as modern Tell al-Madineh, between Ash Shatrah and Tell as-Senkereh (ancient Larsa) in southern Iraq, was an ancient Sumerian city, which appears among antediluvian cities in the Sumerian King List.

Its Akkadian name was Dûr-gurgurri. It was also called Pantibiblos by Greek authors such as Abydenus, Apollodorus of Athens and Berossus. This may reflect another version of the city’s name, Patibira, “Canal of the Smiths”.

According to the Sumerian King List, Bad-tibira was the second city to “exercise kingship” in Sumer before the flood, following Eridu. These kings were said to be En-men-lu-ana, En-men-gal-ana and Dumuzid the Shepherd (Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” + Zi(d), “faithful, true”).

“Dumuzid the Shepherd” is also the subject of a series of epic poems in Sumerian literature. However, in these tablets he is associated not with Bad-tibira but with Uruk, where a namesake, Dumuzid the Fisherman, was king sometime after the Flood, in between Lugalbanda “the Shepherd” and Gilgamesh.

Dumuzid (Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” + Zi(d), “faithful, true”) “the Fisherman”, originally from Kuara in Sumer, was the 3rd king in the 1st Dynasty of Uruk, and Gilgamesh’s predecessor, according to the Sumerian king list.

The king list also states that he singlehandedly captured Enmebaragesi, ruler of Kish, and it claims he ruled in Uruk for 100 years — far fewer than the 1200 years it ascribes his predecessor, Lugalbanda “the Shepherd”.

There may have been some confusion in the early Sumerian compositions between this figure and that of “Dumuzid the Shepherd”, whom they call the king of Uruk, and who appears as a deity (Tammuz) in later works. However, the Sumerian king list says that Dumuzid the Shepherd ruled before the flood, and in Bad-tibira, not Uruk.

The early Sumerian text Inanna’s descent to the netherworld mentions the city’s temple, E-mush-kalamma. In this tale, Inanna dissuades demons from the netherworld from taking Lulal, patron of Bad-tibira, who was living in squalor. They eventually take Dumuzid king of Uruk instead, who lived in palatial opulence.

This Dumuzid is called “the Shepherd”, but on the King List it is Dumuzid, the Fisherman, who reigns in Uruk, sometime after the flood, between Lugalbanda and Gilgamesh.

The “brotherhood text” in cuneiform inscriptions on cones plundered from the site in the 1930s records the friendship pact of Entemena, governor of Lagash, and Lugal-kinishedudu, governor of Uruk. It identifies Entemena as the builder of the temple E-mush to Inanna and Dumuzid, under his local epithet Lugal-E-mush.

Later poems and hymns of praise to Dumuzid the Shepherd indicate that he was later considered a deity, a precursor of the Babylonian god Tammuz. In Tablet 6 of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh rebuffs Ishtar (Inanna), reminding her that she had struck Tammuz (Dumuzid), “the lover of [her] youth”, decreeing that he should “keep weeping year after year”.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, William Wolfgang Hallo associates Dumuzid with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) An-Enlilda, and suggests an equivalence between Dumuzid and Enoch in the Sethite Genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5.

The Hurrians (Ḫu-ur-ri) were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian, and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians probably borrowed their word for ‘coppersmith’ (tabira, tibira) from proto-Hurrian. Hurrian tab-li means ‘copper founder’, while tab-iri means ‘the one who has cast (copper)’. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia.

The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

Gold was in short supply, and the Amarna letters inform us that it was acquired from Egypt. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

Descent to the underworld

Descent into the underworld

Goddesses and their dying-and-rising gods up through the history

Ereshkigal – “The great lady under earth”

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Inanna (life/spring) and Ereskigal (death/autumn)

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 27, 2014

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat. Anu had several consorts, the foremost being Ki (earth), Nammu, and Uras. By Ki he was the father of, among others, the Anunnaki gods. By Uras he was the father of Nin’insinna.

According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until An and Ki bore Enlil, god of the air, who cleaved heaven and earth in two. An and Ki were, in some texts, identified as brother and sister being the children of Anshar and Kishar. Ki later developed into the Akkadian goddess Antu (also known as “Keffen Anu”, “Kef”, and “Keffenk Anum”).

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Inanna/Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

Nanna (Sumerian: DŠEŠ.KI, DNANNA) is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn), the god of the moon in the Mesopotamian mythology. The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sin’s worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.

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

Together, Nanna and Ningal got the siblings Utu/Shamash (“Sun”), the rain god Ishkur, Inanna/Ishtar and Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld.

Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of warfare, love, fertility, sexuality, fertility, and her worship included sacred prostitution. While Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star”, Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year.

Inanna is never considered to have a permanent spouse, although Dumuzi, associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries, is her lover. Gugalanna (lit. “The Great Bull of Heaven” <Sumerian gu “bull”, gal “great”, an “heaven”, -a “of”), who represent the constellation known today as Taurus, was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, however, her husband typically is the plague god, Nergal, who is connected with the planet Mars.

Inanna – Ninana

In every ancient Mediterranean civilization, it was a goddess who transmitted to humans the gift of making music. In Sumer it was Inanna (Ninana); in Egypt, Hathor (Ashera); in Greece, the nine-fold goddess called the Muses, and so on.

Inanna (Innin, Ennin, Ninnin, Ninni, Ninanna, Ninnar, Innina, Ennina, Irnina, Innini, Nana and Nin), the Sumerian goddess that later became known as Ishtar, is the Sumerian goddess of warfare, love, fertility, sexuality, fertility, and her worship included sacred prostitution.

She is also associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, regarded in astral traditions as the morning and evening star. She was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. It lies between Aquarius to the west and Aries to the east. The ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect within this constellation and in Virgo.

She is never considered to have a permanent spouse, although Dumuzi, associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries, is her lover. In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh points out Inanna’s infamous ill-treatment of her lovers. In the epic “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld” she is responsible for sending Dumuzi to the Underworld.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG2) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre.

She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. With wings and serpents adorning her shoulders we can see a trace of the ancient Neolithic Bird and Snake Goddess. The eight pointed star or a rosette is her symbol as well. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

She also is one of the Sumerian war deities: “She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.”

Inanna has a central role in the myth of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. A major theme in the narrative is the rivalry between the rulers of Aratta and Uruk for the heart of Inanna. Ultimately, this rivalry results in natural resources coming to Uruk and the invention of writing.

The text describes a tension between the cities: The lord of Aratta placed on his head the golden crown for Inana. But he did not please her like the lord of Kulaba (A district in Uruk). Aratta did not build for holy Inana (sic.; Alternate spelling of ‘Inanna’) — unlike the Shrine E-ana (Temple in Uruk for Inanna).

The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant.

The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted knots of reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.

In various traditions, her siblings include the sun god Utu, the rain god Ishkur, and Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld.

Ereshkigal

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (DEREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “great lady under earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna/Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal, just like Hel in the Norse mythology, was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.

Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In Babylonian mythology, Irkalla (also Ir-Kalla, Irkalia) is the underworld from which there is no return. It is also called Arali, Kigal, Gizal, and the lower world. Irkalla is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.

Irkalla was originally another name for Ereshkigal, who ruled the underworld alone until Nergal was sent to the underworld and seduced Ereshkigal (in Babylonian mythology). Both the deity and the location were called Irkalla, much like how Hades in Greek mythology is both the name of the underworld and the god who ruled it.

Hades (from Ancient Greek Hāidēs; Doric Aidas) was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. Eventually, the god’s name came to designate the abode of the dead. In Greek mythology, Hades is the oldest male child of Cronus and Rhea considering the order of birth from the mother, or the youngest, considering the regurgitation by the father. Aita (also spelled Eita in Etruscan inscriptions) is the name of the Etruscan equivalent to the Greek Hades, the divine ruler of the underworld.

The aedes was the dwelling place of a god. It was thus a structure that housed the deity’s image, distinguished from the templum or sacred district. Aedes is one of several Latin words that can be translated as “shrine” or “temple”. For instance, the Temple of Vesta, as it is called in English, was in Latin an aedes. See also the diminutive aedicula, a small shrine.

The term “Hades” in Christian theology (and in New Testament Greek) is parallel to Hebrew sheol (“grave, dirt-pit”), and refers to the abode of the dead. The Christian concept of hell is more akin to and communicated by the Greek concept of Tartarus, a deep, gloomy part of Hades used as a dungeon of torment and suffering.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld.

She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

One of these myths is Inanna’s descent to the netherworld and her reception by her sister who presides over it; Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Dumuzi in exchange for herself.

She is the mother of the goddess Nungal, a goddess of the underworld. Her son with Enlil was the god Namtar (meaning destiny or fate), a hellish minor deity, the god of death, and minister and messenger of An, Ereshkigal, and Nergal. With Gugalana her son was Ninazu, a god of the underworld, and of healing, and the father of Ningiszida. Unlike his close relative Nergal, he was generally benevolent.

Allatu (Allatum) is an underworld goddess modeled after the mesopotamic goddess Ereshkigal and worshipped by western Semitic peoples, including the Carthaginians. She also may be equate with the Canaanite goddess Arsay, according to texts the third daughter of Baal at Ugarit.

Namtar

Namtar, the son of Enlil and Ereshkigal, was considered responsible for diseases and pests. It was said that he commanded sixty diseases in the form of demons that could penetrate different parts of the human body; offerings to him were made to prevent those illnesses.

To some they were the spirit of fate, and therefore of great importance. Apparently they executed the instructions given him concerning the fate of men, and could also have power over certain of the gods. In other writings they were regarded as the personification of death, much like the modern concept of the Grim Reaper.

In the story of Ishtar’s Descent to earth, acting as Ereshkigal’s ‘messenger’, Namtar curses Ishtar with 60 diseases, naming five of the head, feet, side, eyes, and heart, after she arrives to earth. He was married to the underworld goddess Hušbišag.

Nergal

The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal as queen of the Netherworld cannot come up to attend. They invite her to send a messenger and she sends Namtar, her vizier. He is treated well by all but disrespected by Nergal.

As a result of this, Nergal is banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

It is theorized that the story of Inanna’s descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the netherworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god.

The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.

The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. He is the son of Enlil and Ninlil.

Nergal is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the deity of the city of Cuth (Cuthah): “And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal” (2 Kings, 17:30). According to the rabbins, his emblem was a cock and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla). The conception formed of him as a god of the dead acted in making him feared rather than actively worshipped.

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Ordinarily Nergal pairs with his consort Laz. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling) — expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks either to the combative demigod Heracles (Latin Hercules) or to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars) — hence the current name of the planet.

In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu (Apollo), a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as an “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

Ereshkigal and Gugalana

Ereshkigal rules the underworld in some versions of the myths by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (lit. “The Great Bull of Heaven” < Sumerian gu “bull”, gal “great”, an “heaven”, -a “of”), a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Taurus was a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox from about 3,200 BCE. It marked the start of the agricultural year with the New Year Akitu festival (from á-ki-ti-še-gur10-ku5, = sowing of the barley), an important date in Mespotamian religion. The death of Gugalanna, represents the obscuring disappearance of this constellation as a result of the light of the sun, with whom Gilgamesh was identified.

In the time in which this myth was composed, the Akitu festival at the Spring Equinox, due to the Precession of the Equinoxes did not occur in Aries, but in Taurus. At this time of the year, Taurus would have disappeared as it was obscured by the sun.

“Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 BC., a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilized by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth.

Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.”

Utu

Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal (“Great Lady/Queen”), a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mytholog. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and the twins Inanna and Ereshkigal. His center cult is located in the city of Larsa.

Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. Marduk is spelled AMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, “the calf of Utu” or “the young bull of the Sun”.

It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset.

Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain.

Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself. He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”.

Ishkur

Adad in Akkadian and Ishkur in Sumerian and Hadad in Aramaic are the names of the storm-god in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon. All three are usually written by the logogram dIM. The Akkadian god Adad is cognate in name and functions with northwest Semitic god Hadad.

In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. Ramman was formerly incorrectly taken by many scholars to be an independent Babylonian god later identified with the Amorite god Hadad.

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead.

Also, the gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Ishkur inspector of the cosmos. In one litany Ishkur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of An, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

In other texts Adad/Ishkur is sometimes son of the moon god Nanna/Sin by Ningal and brother of Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar. He is also occasionally son of Enlil.

Adad/Ishkur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagan. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Ishkur and Shala.

Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub. Occasionally Adad/Ishkur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites.

Inanna and Ninshubur

Inanna’s personal assistant is Ninshubur, the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. A goddess in her own right, Ninshubur 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. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

Inanna and Nanna/Sin

In different traditions Inanna is the daughter of Anu or she is the daughter of the moon god Sin (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn) or Nanna (Sumerian: DŠEŠ.KI, DNANNA), the god of the moon in the Mesopotamian mythology of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with Semitic Sin. The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sin’s worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.

The original meaning of the name Nanna is unknown. The earliest spelling found in Ur and Uruk is DLAK-32.NA (where NA is to be understood as a phonetic complement). The name of Ur, spelled LAK-32.UNUGKI=URIM2KI, is itself derived from the theonym, and means “the abode (UNUG) of Nanna (LAK-32)”.

The pre-classical sign LAK-32 later collapses with ŠEŠ (the ideogram for “brother”), and the classical Sumerian spelling is DŠEŠ.KI, with the phonetic reading na-an-na. The technical term for the crescent moon could also refer to the deity, DU4.SAKAR. Later, the name is spelled logographically as DNANNA.

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 DNANNA-ar DSu’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 DEN.ZU, or simply with the numeral 30, DXXX.

He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means “lord of wisdom”. During the period (c.2600-2400 BC) that Ur exercised a large measure of supremacy over the Euphrates valley, Sin was naturally regarded as the head of the pantheon.

It is to this period that we must trace such designations of 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.

His wife was Ningal (“Great Lady”), who bore him Utu/Shamash (“Sun”) and Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus). 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.

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”.

Nanna’s chief sanctuary at Ur was named E-gish-shir-gal (“house of the great light”). 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.

Sin also had a sanctuary at the Assyrian city of Harran, named E-khul-khul (“house of joys”). 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.

Inanna and An

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions.

It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

He was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon and part of a triad including Enlil (god of the air) and Enki (god of water). In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively.

By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Enlil, and Enki (also known as Ea), Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods.

Anu is so prominently associated with the E-anna temple in the city of Uruk (biblical Erech) in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to be the original seat of the Anu cult. If this is correct, then the goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) of Uruk may at one time have been his consort.

Anu had several consorts, the foremost being Ki (earth), Nammu, and Uras. By Uras he was the father of Nin’insinna. A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera.

But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Inanna, or “Queen of Heaven”. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until An (sky) and Ki (earth) bore Enlil (time), god of the air, who cleaved heaven and earth in two.

An and Ki were, in some texts, identified as brother and sister being the children of Anshar and Kishar. Ki later developed into the Akkadian goddess Antu (also known as “Keffen Anu”, “Kef”, and “Keffenk Anum”).

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu).

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

Inanna and sacred marriage

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e2-anna; Cuneiform: E2.AN) temple in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice.

In addition, according to Leick (1994) persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples (gala).

Ancient cuneiform texts consisting of “Hymns to Inanna” have been cited as early examples of the archetype of a powerful, sexual female displaying dominating behaviors and forcing Gods and men into submission to her.

Archaeologist and historian Anne O Nomis notes that Inanna’s rituals included cross-dressing of cult personnel, and rituals “imbued with pain and ecstasy, bringing about initiation and journeys of altered consciousness; punishment, moaning, ecstasy, lament and song, participants exhausting themselves with weeping and grief.”

The deity of this fourth-millennium city of Uruk was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year) ceremony, at the spring Equinox.

According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history (end of the third millennium) kings established their legitimacy by taking the place of Dumuzi in the temple for one night on the tenth day of the New Year festival.

A Sacred Marriage to Inanna may have conferred legitimacy on a number of rulers of Uruk. Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as Lugalbanda and Dumuzi.

Inanna and the planet Venus

Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, which at that time was regarded as two stars, the “morning star” and the “evening star.” There are hymns to Inanna as her astral manifestation. It also is believed that in many myths about Inanna, including Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld and Inanna and Shukaletuda, her movements correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky.

Also, because of its positioning so close to Earth, Venus is not visible across the dome of the sky as most celestial bodies are; because its proximity to the sun renders it invisible during the day. Instead, Venus is visible only when it rises in the East before sunrise, or when it sets in the West after sunset.

Because the movements of Venus appear to be discontinuous (it disappears due to its proximity to the sun, for many days at a time, and then reappears on the other horizon), some cultures did not recognize Venus as single entity, but rather regarded the planet as two separate stars on each horizon as the morning and evening star.

The Mesopotamians, however, most likely understood that the planet was one entity. A cylinder seal from the Jemdet Nasr period expresses the knowledge that both morning and evening stars were the same celestial entity.

The discontinuous movements of Venus relate to both mythology as well as Inanna’s dual nature. Inanna is related like Venus to the principle of connectedness, but this has a dual nature and could seem unpredictable. Yet as both the goddess of love and war, with both masculine and feminine qualities, Inanna is poised to respond, and occasionally to respond with outbursts of temper.

Mesopotamian literature takes this one step further, explaining Inanna’s physical movements in mythology as corresponding to the astronomical movements of Venus in the sky.

Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld explains how Inanna is able to, unlike any other deity, descend into the netherworld and return to the heavens. The planet Venus appears to make a similar descent, setting in the West and then rising again in the East.

In Inanna and Shukaletuda, in search of her attacker, Inanna makes several movements throughout the myth that correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky. An introductory hymn explains Inanna leaving the heavens and heading for Kur, what could be presumed to be, the mountains, replicating the rising and setting of Inanna to the West. Shukaletuda also is described as scanning the heavens in search of Inanna, possibly to the eastern and western horizons.

Enheduanna

Enheduanna (2285–2250 BCE), also transliterated as Enheduana, En-hedu-ana or EnHeduAnna (“en” means high priest or high priestess, and “hedu” means adornment, so this name translates to “high priestess adornment of the god, An”), was an Akkadian princess as well as High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna (Sin) in the Sumerian city-state of Ur.

She was the first known holder of the title “En Priestess”, a role of great political importance that was often held by royal daughters. Enheduanna was an aunt of Akkadian king Narām-Sîn and was one of the earliest women in history whose name is known.

Regarded by literary and historical scholars as possibly the earliest known author and poet, Enheduanna served as the “High Priestess” during the third millennium BCE. She was appointed to the role by her father, King Sargon of Akkad. Her mother was Queen Tashlultum.

Enheduanna has left behind a corpus of literary works, definitively ascribed to her, that include several personal devotions to the goddess Inanna and a collection of hymns known as the “Sumerian Temple Hymns,” regarded as one of the first attempts at a systematic theology. In addition, scholars, such as Hallo and Van Dijk, suggest that certain texts not ascribed to her may also be her works.

Enheduanna was appointed to the role of High Priestess in what is considered to be a shrewd political move by Sargon to help cement power in the Sumerian south where the City of Ur was located.

She continued to hold office during the reign of Rimush, her brother. It was during the reign of Rimush that she was involved in some form of political turmoil, expelled, then eventually reinstated as high priestess.

Her composition ‘The Exaltation of Inanna’ or ‘nin me sar2-ra’ details her expulsion from Ur and eventual reinstatement (Franke 1995: 835). This correlates with ‘The Curse of Akkade’ in which Naram-Sin, under whom Enheduanna may have also served, is cursed and cast out by Enlil. After her death, Enheduanna continued to be remembered as an important figure, perhaps even attaining semi-divine status.

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I am from Kurdistan – Iraq, but I am not a Kurd and I am not an Arab, I am ASSYRIAN

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 26, 2014

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A mad, mad world

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 26, 2014

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Gods in Ast-ro-logy

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 25, 2014

New millennium astrological chart.

Location of the planets on 30 January 1980. The blue circle is Earth. The yellow lines represent the division of the 12 Zodiac signs, and each planet falls within one. For example, on 30 January 1980, Mercury and the Sun were in Aquarius, Venus was in Pisces, and Mars was in Virgo.

Location of the planets on 15 July 1980. Six months and 15 days later, all of the planets have continued along their orbits and the Zodiac signs changed. For someone born on 15 July 1980, Venus falls in Gemini, the Sun and Mercury are in Cancer, and Mars is in Libra.

Path taken by the point of vernal equinox along the ecliptic over the past 6000 years.

The Earth in its orbit around the Sun causes the Sun to appear on the celestial sphere moving over the ecliptic (red), which is tilted with respect to the equator (blue-white).

The order of the astrological signs is:

Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Planets:

SunMoon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Ceres

 

The following table shows the zodiac names in Latin, with their English translation and the individuals’ names. It also shows the element and quality associated with each sign. The starting and ending dates of the sun sign are approximate, as they may differ from one year to another (by a day or so), due to the fact that the earth’s orbit around the sun is not synchronous with earth’s rotation (one year does not comprehend a whole number of days). The exact date and time of sign entrance/exit must be obtained with appropriate software or with the help of an ephemeris.

Sun Sign Astrology

Portasar (Navel in Armenian) – Gobekli Tepe

The Birth of Religion

The World’s First Temple

Göbekli Tepe

We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion.

Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.

The division of the ecliptic into the zodiacal signs originates in Babylonian (“Chaldean”) astronomy during the first half of the 1st millennium BC, likely during Median/”Neo-Babylonian” times (7th century BC).

The classical zodiac is a modification of the MUL.APIN catalogue, which was compiled around 1000 BC. Some of the constellations can be traced even further back, to Bronze Age (Old Babylonian) sources, including Gemini “The Twins”, from MAŠ.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL “The Great Twins”, and Cancer “The Crab”, from AL.LUL “The Crayfish”, among others.

Babylonian astronomers at some stage during the early 1st millennium BC divided the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude to create the first known celestial coordinate system: a coordinate system that boasts some advantages over modern systems (such as the equatorial coordinate system).

The Babylonian calendar as it stood in the 7th century BC assigned each month to a sign, beginning with the position of the Sun at vernal equinox, which, at the time, was depicted as the Aries constellation (“Age of Aries”), for which reason the first sign is still called “Aries” even after the vernal equinox has moved away from the Aries constellation due to the slow precession of the Earth’s axis of rotation.

Because the division was made into equal arcs, 30º each, they constituted an ideal system of reference for making predictions about a planet’s longitude. However, Babylonian techniques of observational measurements were in a rudimentary stage of evolution and it is unclear whether they had techniques to define in a precise way the boundary lines between the zodiacal signs in the sky.

Thus, the need to use stars close to the ecliptic (±9º of latitude) as a set of observational reference points to help positioning a planet within this ecliptic coordinate system.

Constellations were given the names of the signs and asterisms could be connected in a way that would resemble the sign’s name. Therefore, in spite of its conceptual origin, the Babylonian zodiac became sidereal.

In Babylonian astronomical diaries, a planet position was generally given with respect to a zodiacal sign alone, less often in specific degrees within a sign. When the degrees of longitude were given, they were expressed with reference to the 30º of the zodiacal sign, i.e., not with a reference to the continuous 360º ecliptic.

To the construction of their mathematical ephemerides, daily positions of a planet were not as important as the dates when the planet crossed from one zodiacal sign to the next.

Knowledge of the Babylonian zodiac is also reflected in the Hebrew Bible. E. W. Bullinger interpreted the creatures appearing in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull is Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle representing Scorpio.

Some authors have linked the twelve tribes of Israel with the twelve signs. Martin and others have argued that the arrangement of the tribes around the Tabernacle (reported in the Book of Numbers) corresponded to the order of the Zodiac, with Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan representing the middle signs of Leo, Aquarius, Taurus, and Scorpio, respectively.

Such connections were taken up by Thomas Mann, who in his novel Joseph and His Brothers attributes characteristics of a sign of the zodiac to each tribe in his rendition of the Blessing of Jacob.

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