The Sun is the ruling planet of Leo and is exalted in Aries
Pluto is the ruling planet of Scorpio and is possibly exalted in Leo
Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio
Venus is the ruling planet of Taurus and Libra and is exalted in Pisces
The Moon is the ruling planet of Cancer and is exalted in Taurus
Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and is exalted in Libra
Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius.
For some astrologers Ceres is the ruling planet of Virgo
The zodiac is a celestial coordinate system, or more specifically an ecliptic coordinate system, which takes the ecliptic as the origin of latitude, and the position of the Sun at vernal equinox as the origin of longitude. It is the circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude employed by astrology and (formerly) astronomy.
It is centered upon the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. The paths of the Moon and visible planets also remain close to the ecliptic, within the belt of the zodiac, which extends 8-9° north or south of the ecliptic, as measured in celestial latitude. According to astrology, celestial phenomena relate to human activity on the principle of “as above, so below”, so that the signs are held to represent characteristic modes of expression.
The astrological signs are the twelve 30° sectors of the ecliptic, starting at the vernal equinox (one of the intersections of the ecliptic with the celestial equator), also known as the First Point of Aries. Because the divisions are regular, they do not correspond exactly to the boundaries of the twelve constellations after which they are named. The order of the astrological signs is Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.
Rulership is the connection between planet and correlated sign and house. Each sign is ruled by one and only one of the seven visible planets (note that in astrology, the Sun and Moon are termed The Lights, while the other bodies are called planets, which literally means wanderers, i.e. wandering stars as opposed to the fixed stars).
The traditional rulerships are as follows: Aries (Mars), Taurus (Venus), Gemini (Mercury), Cancer (Moon), Leo (Sun), Virgo (Mercury), Libra (Venus), Scorpio (Mars), Sagittarius (Jupiter), Capricorn (Saturn), Aquarius (Uranus), Pisces (Neptune).
In astrology, exaltation is one of the five essential dignities of a planet. Each of the seven traditional planets has its exaltation in one zodiac sign. The positions are: Sun: 19th degree of Aries (i.e., 18°00′ – 18°59′), Moon: 3rd degree of Taurus, Mercury: 15th degree of Virgo, Venus: 27th degree of Pisces, Mars: 28th degree of Capricorn, Jupiter: 5th degree of Cancer, and Saturn: 21st degree of Libra.
The twelve sector division of the ecliptic constitutes astrology’s primary frame of reference when considering the positions of celestial bodies, from a geocentric point of view, so that we may find, for instance, the Sun in 23° Aries (23° longitude), the Moon in 7° Scorpio (217° longitude), or Jupiter in 29° Pisces (359° longitude). Beyond the celestial bodies, other astrological points that are dependent on geographical location and time (namely, the Ascendant, the Midheaven, the Vertex and the houses’ cusps) are also referenced within this ecliptic coordinate system.
Various approaches to measuring and dividing the sky are currently used by differing systems of astrology, although the tradition of the Zodiac’s names and symbols remain consistent. Astrology measures from Equinox and Solstice points (points relating to equal, longest and shortest days of the tropical year), while Jyotiṣa or Vedic astrology measures along the equatorial plane (sidereal year).
Precession results in astrology’s zodiacal divisions not corresponding in the current era to the constellations that carry similar names, while Jyotiṣa measurements still correspond with the background constellations.
In Western and Asian astrology, the emphasis is on space, and the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets in the sky through each of the zodiac signs. In Chinese astrology, by contrast, the emphasis is on time, with the zodiac operating on cycles of years, months, and hours of the day. A common feature of all three traditions however, is the significance of the Ascendant — the zodiac sign that is rising (due to the rotation of the earth) on the eastern horizon at the moment of a person’s birth.
In astrology, a planet’s domicile (or less commonly house, not to be confused with the astrological house system) is the zodiac sign over which it has rulership. This is a separate concept from the houses of the horoscope.
A planetary ruler is given to each sign, over which the planet is said to have a more powerful influence when positioned therein. A planet is considered to be in domal dignity when it is positioned in the sign it rules. This is the strongest of the five essential dignities of a planet.
The assignments of the ruling planets appear to be based upon the Northern Hemisphere seasons, as the sun (Sol) and the moon, the principal bearers of light and heat, were awarded to Leo and Cancer, respectively, since the months the sun passed through these signs (in ancient times) were the warmest and had the longest days.
Conversely, Saturn, the most distant (and hence the “coldest”) of the planets known to ancients, was accorded the rulership of Aquarius and Capricorn, the signs opposite Leo and Cancer, respectively. Jupiter, being next farthest away, was given the signs on either side of Aquarius and Capricorn (Pisces and Sagittarius), and Mars, next in order, received the next two (Aries and Scorpio).
Since Mercury never appears more than one sign from the sun in either direction, it was deemed to rule the two signs on either side of Leo and Cancer (Virgo and Gemini), and since Venus can never be found more than two signs from the Sun, it obtained the rulership of Libra and Taurus.
The discovery of planets outside of the geocentric field of vision in modern times provided a dilemma for astrologers, which most eventually resolved by a general consensus declaring Uranus to be Aquarius’s ruling planet, while assigning Neptune to Pisces and later, Pluto was given to Scorpio.
Some modern authorities uses the concept of “night rulerships” to find room for the additional dignities. Uranus was designated the day ruler of Aquarius while Saturn was to be its night ruler. Similarly, Neptune was the day ruler of Pisces, leaving Jupiter as the night ruler, and Pluto was the day ruler of Scorpio with Mars as the night ruler.
This notion probably had its origin in the concept of astrological sect, but this was the only vestige of sect in the modern tradition. Unfortunately, no allowance was made for these modern suggestions in the complex traditional doctrine of essential dignities, but the idea was very popular.
The use of dual rulerships in a manner such as this was also be known as “co-rulership”. Some astrologers believed that the new co-rulers were primary rulers of the signs with which they were associated and might have been sole rulers of those signs, and if that was the case, two other planets, one linked to Libra or Taurus, and the other to Virgo or Gemini, may await discovery, thus eliminating the need for dual rulership of a sign altogether.
Although the status of Ceres is unknown at the moment in astrology, due to its new definition as a dwarf planet, it has been suggested as the ruler of Virgo or Taurus. For some modern astrologers it is the ruling planet of Virgo and co-ruler of the 6th house with Mercury, and for some others the ruling planet of Taurus and the 2nd house with Venus.The possibility exists that it isn’t involved with any sign, but in any event, it can almost definitely be attributed to the Earth element.
Psychologically-oriented astrologers often believe that Uranus is the ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius instead of Saturn; Neptune is the ruler or co-ruler of Pisces instead of Jupiter, and that Pluto is the ruler or co-ruler of Scorpio instead of Mars. Some astrologers believe that the planetoid Chiron may be the ruler of Virgo, while other group of modern astrologers claim that Ceres is the ruler of Taurus instead. Other astrologers, still, use the former planets Pallas, Vesta, Juno and Hygiea in their delineations and rulerships, for example Vesta to Taurus and Pallas to Virgo.
Debate continues between those who consider the newly discovered planets as rulers or co-rulers of certain signs and those that do not. Some astrologers do not even use the astrological signs at all (mostly Cosmobiologists and Uranian Astrologers/Hamburg School). Therefore, they do not take into account planetary rulerships and the essential dignities when interpreting an astrological chart.
Note that, if one starts from Leo and Cancer, the traditional planetary rulers are arrayed outward in the same order from the sun as they occur in the natural solar system. The Lights ruling Leo and Cancer, Mercury ruling Virgo and Gemini, Venus ruling Libra and Taurus, Mars ruling Scorpio and Aries, Jupiter ruling Sagittarius and Pisces, Saturn ruling Capricorn and Aquarius. The result is a symmetry of traditional rulerships across the 0° Leo/Aquarius axis. Note that modern rulerships, which attribute Pluto as ruler of Scorpio, break this symmetry.
Lord of the Constellations
An (from Sumerian An, meaning “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth. 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.
An was known as “The King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where he himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara.
His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat, who appears on the tablets of the legend of “Adapa and the food of life” which seems to explain the origin of death. Adapa, who has earned wisdom, but not eternal life, is a son of, and temple priest for Ea (Enki) in Eridu, and performs rituals with bread and water.
While Adapa is fishing in a calm sea, suddenly the South Wind rises up and overturns his boat, throwing him into the water. This reference to the ‘South Wind’ may refer to Ninlil, wife of Enlil, who was identified as goddess of the South Wind.
Adapa is enraged, and proceeds to break the ‘wings’ of the South Wind, so for seven days she can’t blow the freshness of the sea on the warm earth. Adapa is summoned before the court of Anu in the heavens, and his father Ea advises him not to eat or drink anything placed before him, because he fears that this will be the food and water of death.
Anu however, is impressed with Adapa and instead offers him the food and water of (eternal) life. However, Adapa follows the advice of Ea, and politely refuses to take any food or drink. According to the tablets, this food and water of life offered by Anu would have made Adapa and his descendants immortal.
Anu called his vizier Ilabrat messenger: Why has not the wind blowing south for seven days? Ilabrat his vizier replied: “My lord, Adapa, son of Ea, has broken the wings of the south wind.”
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.
The earliest texts make no reference to An’s origins. Later he is regarded as the son of Anšar and Kišar, as in the first millennium creation epic Enuma elish. In Sumerian texts of the third millennium the goddess Uraš is his consort; later this position was taken by Ki, the personification of earth, and in Akkadian texts by Antu, whose name is probably derived from his own.
An/Anu frequently receives the epithet “father of the gods,” and many deities are described as his children in one context or another. An/Anu is also the head of the Annunaki, and created the demons Lamaštu, Asag and the Sebettu. In the epic Erra and Išum, Anu gives the Sebettu to Erra as weapons with which to massacre humans when their noise becomes irritating to him.
Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR). Nammu was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods, in Babylonian mythology.
Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.
Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu, the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.
The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.
Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. She was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.
Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).
It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” (German for “struggle against chaos”), depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon, Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.
The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet.
Chaoskampf motifs in other mythologies linked directly or indirectly to the Tiamat myth include the Hittite Illuyanka myth, and in Greek tradition Apollo’s killing of the Python as a necessary action to take over the Delphic Oracle.
The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.
Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs.Vritra (Vedic), Fereydun vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others.
In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.
In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.
Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon. Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.
The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”.
Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon.
Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.
The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.
An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.
For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.
Enmešara (Nergal) and Tammuz
When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law, and Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states.
Enmesarra has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him. He was described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal, who over time developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.
In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.
Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.
Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.
Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such. He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god, Höðr. Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese), an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.
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).
Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries. In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars, the ruling planet of Aries and is exalted in Capricorn.
Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only 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. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.
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). 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.
Mars is the Roman god of war and bloodshed, whose symbol is a spear and shield. Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.
There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Scholarly theories have proposed that Hel may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.
Kali is worshipped by Hindus throughout India. Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.
In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.
The consort of Mars was Nerio or Nerine, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, “manly virtue” (from vir, “man”). A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Nerine were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva, born with weapons from the head of Jupiter.
Nerio probably originates as a divine personification of Mars’ power, as such abstractions in Latin are generally feminine. Her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as “marriages.”
Dīs Pater, commonly shortened to simply Dīs, which has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, like Hades the name of both a god of the underworld and the underworld as a place, becoming an underworld deity.
Pluto was also identified with the obscure Roman Orcus. The borrowed Greek name Pluto is sometimes used for the ruler of the dead in Latin literature, leading some mythology handbooks to assert misleadingly that Pluto was the Roman counterpart of Hades. Pluto (Pluton in French and German, Plutone in Italian) becomes the most common name for the classical ruler of the underworld in subsequent Western literature and other art forms.
Pluto was the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology. The earlier name for the god was Hades, which became more common as the name of the underworld itself. In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pluto represents a more positive concept of the god who presides over the afterlife. Ploutōn was frequently conflated with Ploutos, a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because as a chthonic god Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.
The name Ploutōn came into widespread usage with the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which Pluto was venerated as a stern ruler but the loving husband of Persephone. The couple received souls in the afterlife, and are invoked together in religious inscriptions. Hades by contrast had few temples and religious practices associated with him, and is portrayed as the dark and violent abductor of Persephone.
Pluto and Hades differ in character, but they are not distinct figures and share their two major myths. In Greek cosmogony, the god received the rule of the underworld in a three-way division of sovereignty over the world, with his brothers Zeus ruling the Sky and Poseidon the Sea. His central narrative is the abduction of Persephone to be his wife and the queen of his realm.
Plouton as the name of the ruler of the underworld first appears in Greek literature of the Classical period, in the works of the Athenian playwrights and of the philosopher Plato, who is the major Greek source on its significance. Under the name Pluto, the god appears in other myths in a secondary role, mostly as the possessor of a quest-object, and especially in the descent of Orpheus or other heroes to the underworld.
Pluto’s Roman equivalent is Dis Pater, whose name is most often taken to mean “Rich Father” and is perhaps a direct translation of Plouton. Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.
In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto / Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.
The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter. Tinia is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart.
It is often thought that Dīs Pater was also a Celtic god. This confusion arises from the second-hand citation of one of Julius Caesar’s comments in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars VI:18, where he says that the Gauls all claimed descent from Dīs Pater.
However, Caesar’s remark is a clear example of interpretatio Romana: what Caesar meant was that the Gauls all claimed descent from a Gaulish god that reminded him of the Roman Dīs Pater, that is, a chthonic deity associated with prosperity and fertility. Different possible candidates exist for this role in Celtic religion, such as Gaulish Sucellus, Irish Donn and Welsh Beli Mawr, among others.
Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn, meaning “wealthy”). Some even suggests that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter, Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter, believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies.
Part of a larger pantheon, Dyeus Phter was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.
Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).
Scorpio is one of the constellations and the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Its name is Latin for scorpion. It spans the 210–240th degree of the zodiac, between 207.25 and 234.75 degree of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area on average between October 24 and November 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Scorpius from approximately November 16 to December 15. Scorpio is one of the three zodiac water signs, the others being Cancer and Pisces.
It lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. In Greek mythology, the myths associated with Scorpio almost invariably also contain a reference to Orion. After Orion was killed, Artemis asked Zeus to put Orion up in the sky. So every winter Orion hunts in the sky, but every summer he flees as the constellation of the scorpion comes.
The Babylonians called this constellation MUL.GIR.TAB – the ‘Scorpion’, the signs can be literally read as ‘the (creature with) a burning sting’. In some old descriptions the constellation of Libra is treated as the Scorpion’s claws. Libra was known as the Claws of the Scorpion in Babylonian, Zibānītu (compare Arabic zubānā), and in Greek.
Scorpion Men are featured in several Akkadian language myths, including the Enûma Elish and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. The Scorpion Men are described to have the head, torso, and arms of a man and the body of a scorpion. They were first created by the Tiamat in order to wage war against the younger gods for the betrayal of her mate Apsu.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, they stand guard outside the gates of the sun god Shamash at the mountains of Mashu. These give entrance to Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash as he travels out each day, and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. They also warn travellers of the danger that lies beyond their post. Their heads touch the sky, their “terror is awesome” and their “glance is death”.
The Sun god
Shamash (Akkadian: Šamaš UD) was the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu. When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian, rather like the Graeco-Roman deities did. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. Akkadian šamaš “Sun” is cognate to Syriac: šemša, Hebrew: šemeš and Arabic: šams.
Shamash was historically associated with the planet Saturn. However, Ninurta, who was the son of Enlil, and the patron deity of the city of Nippur, was associated with the planet Saturn. In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.
Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur, which means “smasher of thousands”. Sumerian mythic sources describe it as an enchanted talking mace. However, apart from its ability to fly and communicate with its wielder, Sharur may also take the form of a winged lion, a common motif in Sumerian and Akkadian lore. It may represent an archetype for the later Shedu, a protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings.
Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn and is exalted in Libra. In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, leader of the titans, founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The glyph is shaped like a scythe, but it is known as the “crescent below the cross”, whereas Jupiter’s glyph is the “crescent above the cross”.
Shamash is frequently associated with the lion, both in mythology and artistic depictions. The lion’s mane and shoulders also form an asterism known as “the Sickle,” which to modern observers may resemble a backwards “question mark.” The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jews, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”.
Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion. 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.
In the ancient Canaanite religion, a “son of Baal Shamash”, is known for slaying a lion. Interestingly, this lion slayer was originally a lion. The same symbolism is observed in Ancient Egypt where in the temple of Dendera, Ahi the Great is called “the Lion of the Sun, and the lion who rises in the northern sky, the brilliant god who bears the sun”.
Leo is one of the constellations of the zodiac, lying between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east. Its name is Latin for lion, and to the ancient Greeks represented the Nemean Lion killed by the mythical Greek hero Heracles (known to the ancient Romans as Hercules) as the first of his twelve labours. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was called UR.GU.LA, the “Great Lion”; the bright star Regulus was known as “the star that stands at the Lion’s breast.” Regulus also had distinctly regal associations, as it was known as the King Star.
In a legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.
Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes”. There are many parallels with both Heracles / Hercules and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Tiamat and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.
Shamash was the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria. Just as the Sun disperses darkness, so Shamash brings wrong and injustice to light. Several centuries before Hammurabi, Ur-Engur of the Ur dynasty (c. 2600 BC) declared that he rendered decisions “according to the just laws of Shamash”, the embodiment of the idea of justice.
It was a logical consequence of this conception of the Sun-god that he was regarded also as the one who released the sufferer from the grasp of the demons. The sick man, therefore, appeals to Shamash as the god who can be depended upon to help those who are suffering unjustly. This aspect of the Sun-god is vividly brought out in the hymns addressed to him.
Both in early and in late inscriptions Shamash is designated as the “offspring of Nannar”; i.e. of the Moon-god, and since, in an enumeration of the pantheon, Sin generally takes precedence of Shamash, it is in relationship, presumably, to the Moon-god that the Sun-god appears as the dependent power.
Such a supposition would accord with the prominence acquired by the Moon in the calendar and in astrological calculations, as well as with the fact that the Moon-cult belongs to the nomadic and therefore earlier stage of civilization, whereas the Sun-god rises to full importance only after the agricultural stage has been reached.
The two chief centres of Sun-worship in Babylonia were Sippar, represented by the mounds at Abu Habba, and Larsa, represented by the modern Senkerah. At both places the chief sanctuary bore the name E-barra (or E-babbara) “the shining house”—a direct allusion to the brilliancy of the Sun-god.
According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica the Shamash cults at Sippar and Larsa so overshadowed local Sun-deities elsewhere as to lead to an absorption of the minor deities by the predominating one, in the systematized pantheon these minor Sun-gods become attendants that do his service.
Other Sun-deities such as Ninurta and Nergal, the patron deities of other important centers, retained their independent existences as certain phases of the Sun, with Ninurta becoming the Sun-god of the morning and spring time and Nergal the Sun-god of the noon and the summer solstice. In the wake of such syncretism Shamash was usually viewed as the Sun-god in general.
Together with Nannar–Sin and Ishtar, Shamash completes another triad by the side of Anu, Enlil and Ea. The three powers Sin, Shamash and Ishtar symbolized three great forces of nature: the Moon, the Sun, and the life-giving force of the earth, respectively.
At times instead of Ishtar we find Adad, the storm-god, associated with Sin and Shamash, and it may be that these two sets of triads represent the doctrines of two different schools of theological thought in Babylonia that were subsequently harmonized by the recognition of a group consisting of all four deities.
The Sun is the ruling planet of Leo and is exalted in Aries. In Greek mythology, the Sun was represented by the Titans Hyperion and Helios (Roman Sol, and later by Apollo, the god of light). Astrologically speaking, the Sun is usually thought to represent the conscious ego, the self and its expression, personal power, pride and authority, leadership qualities and the principles of creativity, spontaneity, health and vitality, the sum of which is named the “life force”.
The Sun is the star at the center of our solar system, around which the Earth and other planets revolve and provides us with heat and light. The arc that the Sun travels in every year, rising and setting in a slightly different place each day, is therefore in reality a reflection of the Earth’s own orbit around the Sun. This arc is larger the farther north or south from the equator latitude, giving a more extreme difference between day and night and between seasons during the year.
The Sun travels through the twelve signs of the zodiac on its annual journey, spending about a month in each. The Sun’s position on a person’s birthday therefore determines what is usually called his or her “sun” sign. However, the sun sign allotment varies between Western (sign change around 22-23 of every month) and Hindu astrology (sign change around 14-15 of every month) due the different systems of planetary calculations, following the tropical and sidereal definitions respectively.
In medicine, the Sun is associated with the heart, circulatory system, and the thymus. In Ayurveda, it rules over life-force (praan-shakti), governs bile temperament (pitta), stomach, bones and eyes. The Sun is associated with Sunday. Dante Alighieri associated the Sun with the liberal art of music. In Chinese astrology, the Sun represents Yang, the active, assertive masculine life principle.
The main solar deity of Mesopotamia was certainly male – Šamaš in Akkadian, and UTU in Sumerian. Evidence for this figure is abundant, and he performs normal sun-god/dess activities like witnessing and judging human activity, and maintaining life.
However, there are early personal names with a more feminine connotation, such asUmmi-Samas, (Šamaš is my mother), and Tulid-Shamash (Šamaš gave birth), which indicate that perhaps Šamaš had a female side. (In the same region, after all, the Canaanites and the Arabs both had sun-goddesses, Šapaš and Shams.)
Shapash, Shapsh, Shapshu or sometimes Shemesh was the Canaanite goddess of the sun, daughter of El and Asherah. She is known as “torch of the gods” and is considered an important deity in the Canaanite pantheon and among the Phoenicians.
The Akkadian sun god, Shamash, was the Mesopotamian male equivalent of the female Canaanite Shapash. She may also be related to a preeminent deity at Ebla named Shipish, and to Shams or Chems, a pre-Islamic Arabic sun deity worshipped at sunrise, noon, and sunset.
In the Epic of Baal, Shapash plays an important part in the plot, as she interacts with all of the main characters, and in the end she is favourable to Baal’s position as king. She announces that El supports Yam.
By delivering her verdict in the final struggle of Baal with Mot, she reveals her role as judge among the gods, and by her judgement against Mot, as saviour of humankind, two aspects, Brian B. Schmidt observes, that conform with what is known of Shamash’s function in Mesopotamia.
A goddess called A or Aya, described as a minor sun goddess, was Šamaš’ consort, in Akkadian mythology a mother goddess developed from the ancient Sumerian mother goddess Šherida, the goddess, giver and sustainer of light and life, the consort of Utu.
She was once a primary deity who had solar characteristics in her own righ, but in time assumed a subordinate role as consort to the sun god, Utu. Her name means simply lady or mistress. It is thought that she was a form of solar deity who became identified with the chief sun-god, and then was married to him.
One of her titles was dsud-aga – nur same “heavenly light”, and in Akkadian Aya meant simply “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. She must have been a popular deity, and an old one, with inscriptions dating back to pre-Sargonic times. She was important enough to be one of the treaty-deities of Hatti, and appears in god-lists from Ugarit.
She was mostly worshipped as an intercessor, since her husband was the gods of justice, just like Mary in the Christian tradition. A cylinder seal in the Freud Collection shows Šamaš, a king, and a woman in horned head-dress, who may well be Aya. She stands with upraised arms behind the king and is probably intervening on his behalf. In the epic of Gilgamesh, the hero’s mother blames Šamaš for his desire to go wandering, and asks Aya to intervene so that the god will protect her son.
She is, however, rarely mentioned in the inscriptions except in combination with Shamash. In Old Babylonian administrative documents from the vicinity of the city of Sippar, Aya appears also to share her husband Šamaš’s role in overseeing justice. Šamaš and Aya are the two deities “witnessing” transactions such as field or house rentals and temple loans.
None of this is to say that Serida is a sun-goddess, but she seems to have been a light-goddess like the Greek Theia, who was Hyperion’s wife and Helios’ mother. The voluptuous aspect would fit with other dawn-goddesses, such as Eos and Ushas.
The city of Arinna, a day’s march from Hattusa, was perhaps the major cult center of the Hittites, and certainly of their major sun goddess, known as UTU Arinna (“sun goddess of Arinna”). 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, a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. The goddess was also perceived to be a paramount chthonic or earth goddess. She becomes largely syncretised with the Hurrian mother goddess Hebat, known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.
The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. 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.”
Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup; cuneiform IM, read as Tarhunzas) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. Taru was the name of a similar Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures. In these two, Taru was known as Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta, names derived from the Anatolian root *tarh “to defeat, conquer”.
Teshub reappears in the post-Hurrian cultural successor kingdom of Urartu as Tesheba, one of their chief gods; in Urartian art he is depicted standing on a bull. He is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs. According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka.
The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi, identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El, bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, similarly to the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony.
Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu (Ararat). His shrine was at Ardini (Muṣaṣir). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa. Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion.
Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bows and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.
In her role as wife Aya was a goddess of sexuality and fertility, called kallatum (“young woman, daughter-in-law, bride”) and belet-ulsazu unat (“Mistress adorned with voluptuousness”). In Akkadian, the bride on her wedding day was called kallatu kutumtu (“the veiled bride”), perhaps, linguistically, related to the Hebrew kalah. Also, in Akkadian; she was called pussumtu, (“the veiled one”), which means the same as kallatu.
The birth of the first child, particularly if it is a boy, is of greatest importance for the woman. Hitherto called kallatu, “young bride,” she becomes assatu (“wife”), since the child is the true fulfillment of the marriage.
The unveiling of the bride … was a cardinal element of ancient wedding ceremonies, and it has even been suggested that the familiar Biblical use of the word ‘know’ to denote sexual relations referred originally to the bridegroom’s coming to know the features of his bride by lifting her veil before the consummation of the marriage. The Arab bridegroom, we are told, often sees his bride’s face for the first time on that occasion.
The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. In fact, she was worshiped as part of a separate-but-attached cult in Shamash’s e-babbar temples in Larsa and Sippar.
The veil and headscarf have political, sexual, religious, and social meanings that combine and overlap: the head covering can connote class affiliation, regional distinctions, or religious belief as well as signifying the status of femaleness.
The veil can be traced back all the way to early antiquity as both attribute of goddesses and a garment worn by ordinary mortal women. The earliest evidence comes from Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean region.
In ancient Greece as well, the veil was part of the attire worn by married women from the upper classes. Brides likewise wear a veil over their face as a sign of their modesty—a custom practiced by both the Jews and the Greeks and later adopted by the Romans.
In Hebrew the literal meaning of the word for bride (kallatu) is “the veiled one.” By lifting the bride’s veil the bridegroom symbolically exposes her pudenda, and by thus “knowing” her he symbolically performs the sexual act.
While the veil as an attribute of the goddess symbolizes her independence as well as the unavailability of what is sacred—the unmarried priestesses of the Roman goddess Vesta, for example, guarded an inner realm protected by curtains and hidden from the sight of mere mortals, where they performed their rituals unseen—in the secular sphere, a wife uses the veil to demonstrate her association with a man (her respectability) and thereby distinguish herself from the prostitute, who was forbidden from donning the veil under threat of severe punishment.
In Christianity, by contrast, the veil signals the renunciation of sexuality and reproduction, without however completely suppressing the other possible meanings. Finally, to cite one final paradox, the veil can mark the woman’s body as absent and mysterious, and it can symbolize that invisible “secret of virginity” hidden within the female body.
Many depictions of the Annunciation thus showed Mary busy spinning and weaving when the angel arrived to announce that, though a virgin, she would give birth to a son.13 Following the “discovery” of the maidenhead in the eleventh century, the veil came to symbolize the invisible hymen of the virgin.
The semantic richness of the veil is great, touching on political, religious, physical, and many other dimensions. It plays an important role in the encounter between Islam and western society, because it also has a long tradition in Christian society.
Of the three religions of the book, only the Christian faith ever required women to cover their heads when entering a house of God. This utterly divergent significance attributed to the veiling of the woman in the Christian faith can be explained by examining the differences between how the religions are structured.
Unlike the Jewish religion or Islam, Christian doctrine proclaims at its heart a message of unveiling, set down in the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation to John. The Greek word for revelation is apokalypsis, literally “unveiling,” which is composed of kalypta, referring to a sort of veil-like shawl, and the prefix apo (= away from, off). The Latin concept of revelatio also denotes a symbolic act of unveiling (velum = veil or curtain).
Both the Jewish and Islamic faiths assume a hidden God who must not be depicted—thus remaining veiled—and with whom the believer cannot come into direct contact: he must therefore veil himself when confronting Him. For this reason, when both Moses and Mohammed received the revealed Word, it was necessary for them to veil their heads.
In the Hebrew Bible it is said that on the Mountain of God, Moses “hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (2 Moses, 3:6), while in the case of Mohammed, tradition has it that, prior to his abduction, as he felt the approach of God, he called out: “Wrap me up.” In fact, in Islamic tradition Mohammed is also known as “the Veil Man” (dū l-himar).14 In two suras of the Koran he is explicitly addressed as “O Veiled One” (73:1) and “O Covered One” (74:1).
As a “religion of unveiling,” Christianity obeys a different logic. The notion of unveiling implies being able to see and comprehend the Truth of Christ, i.e. the secret of God, unconcealed, in the form of Christ, the “word made flesh,” in other words, the Son of God made visible.
By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu (“sacred marriage”), also known as Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“Holy marriage”), a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.
Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna (“house of heaven”) in Uruk was the greatest of these.
The temple housed Nadītu, 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 Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).
A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows. This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.
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.
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.
In Mesopotamian religion Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.
It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.
In Hinduism, Devadasi tradition (“servant of god”) is a religious tradition in which girls are “married” and dedicated to a deity (deva or devi) or to a Hindu temple and includes performance aspects such as those that take place in the temple as well as in the courtly and mujuvani [Telugu] or home context.
Originally, in addition to this and taking care of the temple and performing rituals, these women learned and practiced Sadir, Odissi and other classical Indian artistic traditions and enjoyed a high social status. Though traditionally, they carry out dances in the praise of lord, they also evolved into Sacred Marriage over time.
Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.
Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto (see Tacitus’ Germania) suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.
Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.
Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis. 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 to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.
Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only 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. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.
Libra is a constellation of the zodiac and it is the 7th astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 180–210th degree of the zodiac, between 180 and 207.25 degree of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox/ southern vernal equinox) September 23 and October 22, and under the sidereal zodiac the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 16 to November 17.
It is fairly faint, with no first magnitude stars, and lies between Virgo to the west and Scorpius to the east. Libra is one of the three zodiac air signs, the others being Gemini and Aquarius. Venus is the ruling planet of Taurus and Libra and is exalted in Pisces. In Roman mythology, Venus is the goddess of love and beauty, famous for the passions she could stir among the gods.
The constellation of Libra is sometimes seen as the Scales of Justice. The symbol of the scales is based on the Scales of Justice held by Themis, the Greek personification of divine law and custom. She became the inspiration for modern depictions of Lady Justice. This leads to an association with the constellation of Virgo, who has been identified with Astraea or Dike, the Goddess of Justice. It is the Goddess who judges the souls of men after their death by weighing them in her balance.
Libra was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL Zibanu (the “scales” or “balance”), or alternatively as the Claws of the Scorpion. The scales were held sacred to the sun god Shamash, who was also the patron of truth and justice. It was also seen as the Scorpion’s Claws in ancient Greece. Since these times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility. In Arabic zubānā means “scorpion’s claws”, and likely similarly in other Semitic languages: this resemblance of words may be why the Scorpion’s claws became the Scales.
It has also been suggested that the scales are an allusion to the fact that when the sun entered this part of the ecliptic at the autumnal equinox, the days and nights are equal. Libra’s status as the location of the equinox earned the equinox the name “First Point of Libra”, though this location ceased to coincide with the constellation in 730 because of the precession of the equinoxes.
Libra is a constellation not mentioned by Eudoxus or Aratus. Libra is mentioned by Manetho (3rd century BC.) and Geminus (1st century BC.), and included by Ptolemy in his 48 asterisms. It only became a constellation in ancient Rome, when it began to represent the scales held by Astraea, the goddess of justice, associated with Virgo.
According to the Romans in the First Century, Libra was a constellation they idolized. The moon was said to be in Libra when Rome was founded. Everything was balanced under this righteous sign. The Roman writer Manilius once said that Libra was the sign “in which the seasons are balanced”. Both the hours of the day and the hours of the night match each other. Thus why the Romans put so much trust in the “balanced sign”.
Going back to ancient Greek times, Libra the constellation between Virgo and Scorpio used to be over ruled by the constellation of Scorpio. They called the area the Latin word “chelae”, which translated to “the claws” which can help identify the individual stars that make up the full constellation of Libra, since it was so closely identified with the Scorpion constellation in the sky.
The sign of Libra is symbolized by the gryphon, a mythological creature with the head, wings and talons of an eagle and hind legs of a lion. The griffin is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle’s talons as its front feet.
Because the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle the king of birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. The griffin was also thought of as king of all creatures. In antiquity it was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.
Libra, the Scales of Balance and Final Judgment dates back to Egyptian afterlife rituals wherein a scale was allegedly used to weigh the souls of the dead. Anubis, the Greek name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head, weighs the heart of the deceased against the feather of Ma’at, goddess of truth and justice. Libra is also considered the goddess of balance and truth and corresponds with Ma’at, the goddess of the scales or balance.
Maat or Ma’at was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation.
The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (2375-2345 BC). Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth, as their attributes are similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, who is a lesser known deity.
After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.
Her ideological counterpart was Isfet or Asfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”), an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism.
Duat was the realm of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology. It was the realm of the deity Osiris and the residence of other gods and supernatural beings. The Duat was the region through which the sun god Ra traveled from west to east during the night, and where he battled Apep. It was also the place where people’s souls went after death for judgement, though that was not the full extent of the afterlife. Burial chambers formed touching-points between the mundane world and the Duat, and spirits could use tombs to travel back and forth from the Duat.
The weighing of the heart, pictured on papyrus in the Book of the Dead typically, or in tomb scenes, shows Anubis overseeing the weighing and the lioness Ammit seated awaiting the results so she could consume those who failed. The image would be the vertical heart on one flat surface of the balance scale and the vertical Shu-feather standing on the other balance scale surface. Other traditions hold that Anubis brought the soul before the posthumous Osiris who performed the weighing. While the heart was weighed the deceased recited the 42 Negative Confessions as the Assessors of Maat looked on.
Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts. Depicted as a protector of graves as early as the First Dynasty (3100–2890 BC), Anubis was also an embalmer. By the Middle Kingdom (2055–1650 BC) he was replaced by Osiris in his role as lord of the underworld. One of his prominent roles was as a god who ushered souls into the afterlife. He attended the weighing scale during the “Weighing of the Heart,” in which it was determined whether a soul would be allowed to enter the realm of the dead.
In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest and agriculture, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (θεσμός, thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; phoros: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.
Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.
Virgo is one of the constellations and the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica, making it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper/Plough to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve (“follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica”).
It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 22 and September 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Virgo from September 17 to October 17. The symbol of the maiden is based on Astraea. In Greek mythology, she was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign’s association with Earth.
According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain. One star in this constellation, Spica, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility.
According to Gavin White the figure of Virgo corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.
The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.
Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius. For some astrologers Ceres is the ruling planet of Virgo. Ceres, as the Goddess who has control over nature’s resources and cycles, may astrologically be considered the planet of the Environment.
In Roman mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods, noted for his speed and swiftness. Echoing this, the scorching, airless world Mercury circles the Sun on the fastest orbit of any planet. Mercury takes only 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending about 7.33 days in each sign of the zodiac. Mercury is so close to the Sun that only a brief period exists after the Sun has set where it can be seen with the naked eye, before following the Sun beyond the horizon.
In mythology, Ceres is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter, and is the goddess of agriculture. The goddess (and metaphorically the planet) is also associated with the reproductive issues of an adult woman, as well as pregnancy and other major transitions in a woman’s life, including the nine months of gestation time, family bonds and relationships.
Although a mother, Ceres is also the archetype of a virgin goddess. Ceres epitomizes independent women who are often unmarried (since, according to myth, Ceres is an unmarried goddess who chose to become a mother without a husband or partner.) While the moon represents our ideal of “motherhood”, Ceres would represent how our real and nature motherhood should be.
Some astrologers have focused on the theory that in time, all twelve signs of the zodiac will each have their own ruler, so that another two planets have yet to be discovered; namely the “true” rulers of Taurus and Virgo.
The First Point of Aries
The First Point of Aries (also known as the Cusp of Aries) is the location of the vernal equinox, and is named for the constellation of Aries. It is one of the two points on the celestial sphere at which the celestial equator meets the ecliptic plane, the other being the First Point of Libra, located exactly 180° from it. Over its year-long journey through the constellations, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the First Point of Aries, and from north to south at the First Point of Libra.
The First Point of Aries is considered to be the celestial “prime meridian” from which right ascensions are calculated. It is so called because, when Hipparchus defined it in 130 BCE, it was located in the western extreme of the constellation of Aries, near its border with Pisces and the star γ Arietis. Due to the Sun’s eastward movement across the sky throughout the year, this western end of Aries was the point at which the Sun entered the constellation, hence the name First Point of Aries.
Due to Earth’s axial precession, this point gradually moves westwards at a rate of about one degree every 72 years. This means that, since the time of Hipparchus, it has shifted across the sky by about 30°, and is currently located within Pisces, near its border with Aquarius. Currently, the closest major star to the First Point of Aries is λ Piscium, located at (23h 42m 03s, 01° 46′ 48″).
Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs of the tropical zodiac are likewise identically affected and thus also no longer correspond with the actual constellations once ascribed to them (with the Cusp of Libra now actually located within Virgo), and is the basis for the concept of astrological ages. In sidereal astrology (notably Hindu astrology), by contrast, the first point of Aries remains aligned with Ras Hammel “the head of the ram”, i.e. the Aries constellation.
Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces.) This point will pass into the neighbouring constellation of Leo around the year 2440.
Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deities, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. She is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.
In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.
Inanna / Ishtar
Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.” Inanna (Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna (“The House of Heaven”) temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre.
The deity of this fourth-millennium city 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.
One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets. Derivatives of *hewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Eos, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.
Ishara was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars). In the northeastern quadrant of the Taurus constellation lie the Pleiades, one of the best known open clusters, easily visible to the naked eye. The seven most prominent stars in this cluster are at least visual magnitude six, and so the cluster is also named the “Seven Sisters”.
The Babylonian star catalogues name the Pleiades MUL.MUL or “star of stars”, and they head the list of stars along the ecliptic, reflecting the fact that they were close to the point of vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. The Sebitti are a group of seven minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition. They are the children of the god Anu and follow the god Erra into battle. They are, in differing traditions, of good and evil influence.
Gibil in Sumerian mythology is the god of fire, variously of the son of An and Ki, An and Shala or of Ishkur and Shala. He later developed into the Akkadian god Gerra, the Babylonian and Akkadian god of fire. In some versions of the Enûma Eliš Gibil is said to maintain the sharp point of weapons, have broad wisdom, and that his mind is “so vast that all the gods, all of them, cannot fathom it”. Some versions state Gibil, as lord of the fire and the forge, also possesses wisdom of metallurgy.
The Ancient Egyptians may have used the names “Followers” and “Ennead”. In Hinduism, the Pleiades are known as Krittika and are associated with the war-god Kartikeya, also known as Murugan, Skanda and Subramaniyam, who derives his name from them. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the devas. The god is raised by the six Krittika sisters, also known as the Matrikas. Mangala is the name for Mars, the red planet, in Hindu texts. He is the god of war, celibate and sometimes linked to god Karttikeya (Skanda). He is born from Shiva’s sweat or blood drop.
Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU4.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.
The ruling planet of Libra is Venus. Its name is Latin for weighing scales, and its symbol is the omega shape. In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. 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.
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 BC. 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.