Who is the Virgin Mary?
Mary – name
Mary is the name of several New Testament characters, most importantly Mary the virgin mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. Due to the Virgin Mary this name has been very popular in the Christian world, though at certain times in some cultures it has been considered too holy for everyday use.
The word parthenogenesis comes from the Greek parthenos, ‘virgin’ more or less, and gignesthai, ‘to be born.’ It means, essentially, to be born of a virgin—that is, without the participation of a male. For a goddess to be ‘parthenogenetic’ thus means that she stands as a primordial creatrix, who requires no male partner to produce the cosmos, earth, life, matter and even other gods out of her own essence.
Plentiful evidence shows that in their earliest cults, before they were subsumed under patriarchal pantheons as the wives, sisters and daughters of male gods, various female deities of the ancient Mediterranean world were indeed considered self-generating, virgin creatrixes.
As it turns out, the Virgin Mary is, like Jesus Christ, a mythical character, founded upon older goddesses. Following on the heels of goddesses such as Aphrodite, Astarte, Cybele, Demeter, Hathor, Inanna, Ishtar and Isis, Mary is both virgin and mother, and, like many of them, she gives birth to a half-human, half-divine child, who dies and is reborn.
Regarding the Great Mother Goddess, upon whom Mary is based and whose names are legion, her most prominent characteristics show her to be a personification of the Earth, the mother of all living, ever bringing forth and ever a virgin.
In England the name Mary has been used since the 12th century, and it has been among the most common feminine names since the 16th century. The Latinized form Maria is also used in English as well as in several other languages. As a result of their similarity and syncretism, the Latin original name Maria and the Hebrew-derived Maria combined to form a single name.
Mary is the usual English form of Maria, the Latin form of the New Testament Greek names Mariam and Maria – the spellings are interchangeable – which were from Hebrew Miryam, a name borne by the sister of Moses in the Old Testament, or Maryam in Aramaic.
The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including “sea of bitterness”, “rebelliousness”, and “wished for child”. The meaning of the Semitic-rooted name is uncertain, but it may originally be an Egyptian name, probably derived from mry “beloved” or mr “love” (“eminent lady” or “beloved lady”).
Amour (“love”) comes from Old French amour, from Latin amorem (nominative amor) “love, affection, strong friendly feeling” (it could be used of sons or brothers, but especially of sexual love), from amare “to love” (Amy).
Amy is a fem. proper name, from Old French Amee, literally “beloved,” from fem. past participle of amer “to love,” from Latin amare, perhaps from PIE *am-a-, suffixed form of root *am-, a Latin and Celtic root forming various nursery words for “mother, aunt,” etc. (such as Latin amita “aunt”).
The origin of the Hebrew: Miryam is not clear. It may mean “wished-for child”, “bitter”, “rebellious” or “strong waters”. Alternatively, bearing in mind that many Levite names are Egyptian, it might be derived from an Egyptian word myr “beloved” or mr “love”.
Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. 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.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the sign is also used for the sumerogram AMA, for Akkadian language “ummu”, for “mother”. The cuneiform DAGAL sign, which is a capital letter (majuscule) sumerogram with the Akkadian language meaning of to be wide, or extensive; also “many”, Akkadian “rapāšu”, is a minor usage cuneiform sign used in the Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Ama-arhus (Arad-Ama-arhus, Amat-Ama-arhus) is an Akkadian fertility goddess. She is mentioned in texts as being amongst the pantheon at Uruk in Hellenistic times, but is also found as an earlier aspect of the deity Gula, a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta.
The more ancient use of “AMA”, AMA.GI, sign used in Ama-gi. The star-(inside AMA) is an older use of the sign for ‘god’, DINGIR determinative, equivalent to the later use of “An”, for DINGIR, as determinative.
It has been translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts. Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment.
The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi “return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”. Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer has identified it as the first known written reference to the concept of freedom.
A more convoluted Christian interpretation of the name’s variant form Maryam led to its translation as “drop of the sea” (“Stilla Maris” in Latin), and due to a copying error further to “star of the sea” or “Stella Maris”; alternatively, the same understanding might have been reached directly through association with ma’or, “star”.
Our Lady, Star of the Sea, a translation of the Latin title Stella Maris, is an ancient title for the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Under this title, the Virgin Mary is believed to intercede as a guide and protector of those who travel or seek their livelihoods on the sea.
The title was used to emphasize Mary’s role as a sign of hope and as a guiding star for Christians, especially gentiles, whom the Old Testament Israelites metaphorically referred to as the sea, meaning anyone beyond the “coasts”, or, that is to say, sociopolitical, and religious (Mosaic law), borders of Israelite territory.
Stella Maris “sea-star” is a name of α Ursae Minoris (Latin: “Smaller She-Bear”, contrasting with Ursa Major), or Polaris, the “guiding star” (also “lodestar”, “ship star”, “steering star”, etc.) because it has been used for celestial navigation at sea since antiquity. The name is applied to the Virgin Mary in Saint Jerome’s Latin translation of the Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea, although this is in fact a misnomer based on a transcription error.
Ursa Minor has traditionally been important for navigation, particularly by mariners, because of Polaris being the North Star. Polaris, designated Alpha Ursae Minoris (α Ursae Minoris, abbreviated Alpha UMi, α UMi), commonly the North Star or Pole Star, is the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor. It is very close to the north celestial pole, making it the current northern pole star.
Use of the name Polaris in English dates to the 17th century. It is an ellipsis for the Latin stella polaris “pole star”. Another Latin name is stella maris “sea-star”, which, from an early time, was also used as a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, popularized in the hymn Ave Maris Stella (8th century).
Mars – name
In the Roman Empire, the name was used as a feminine form of the Roman name Marius, thought to be derived from either the Roman war god Mars or from the Latin root mas or maris, meaning “male” (genitive maris). It may also derive from the Latin word mare meaning “sea”, the plural of which is maria. The name Marius was used by members of the Roman gens Maria.
Manus in Proto-Indoeuropean means person, and has been developd into Sanskrit manu, Albanian njeri, Avestan Manuščira, English mann/man, German man/Mann, Gothic manna, Old Norse maðr, Latin mas, Old Church Slavonic mǫžĭ, Russian muž, Macedonian maž, Lithuanian žmogus, Kamviri mânša, Polish maz, Czech muž, Slovak muž, and Pashto merrë.
In Latin, the nominative declensions of nouns tend to be truncated forms of the full roots—that’s why Latin nouns are often listed by their genitive declensions instead. In the case of Mars, the genitive is “Martis”—so derived forms usually include the “t”. That’s also where we get the martial in “martial arts”.
Martius or mensis Martius (“March)” was the first month of the ancient Roman year until possibly as late as 153 BC. After that time, it was the third month, following Februarius (February) and preceding Aprilis (April). Martius was one of the few Roman months named for a deity, Mars, who was regarded as an ancestor of the Roman people through his sons Romulus and Remus.
March marked a return to the active life of farming, military campaigning, and sailing. It was densely packed with religious observances dating from the earliest period of Roman history. Because of its original position as the first month, a number of festivals originally associated with the new year occurred in March.
The menologia rustica told farmers to expect 12 hours of daylight and 12 of night in March. The spring equinox was placed March 25. The tutelary deity of the month is Minerva, and the Sun was in Pisces. Farmers were instructed in this month to trellis vines, to prune, and to sow spring wheat.
Festivals for Mars as the month’s namesake deity date from the time of the kings and the early Republic. As a god of war, Mars was a guardian of agriculture and of the state, and was associated with the cycle of life and death. The season of Mars was felt to close in October, when most farming and military activities ceased, and the god has a second round of festivals clustered then.
The word Mārs (genitive Mārtis), which in Old Latin and poetic usage also appears as Māvors (Māvortis), is cognate with Oscan Māmers (Māmertos). The Old Latin form was believed to derive from an Italic *Māworts, but can also be explained as deriving from Maris, the name of an Etruscan child-god.
Scholars have varying views on whether the two gods are related, and if so how. Latin adjectives from the name of Mars are martius and martialis, from which derive English “martial” (as in “martial arts” or “martial law”) and personal names such as “Martin”.
In ancient Roman religion, the Mamuralia or Sacrum Mamurio (“Rite for Mamurius”) was a festival held March 14 or 15, named only in sources from late antiquity. According to Joannes Lydus, an old man wearing animal skins was beaten ritually with sticks.
The name is connected to Mamurius Veturius, who according to tradition was the craftsman who made the ritual shields (ancilia) that hung in the temple of Mars. Because the Roman calendar originally began in March, the Sacrum Mamurio is usually regarded as a ritual marking the transition from the old year to the new.
According to legend, Mamurius was commissioned by Numa, second king of Rome, to make eleven shields identical to the sacred ancile that fell from the heavens as a pledge of Rome’s destiny to rule the world. The ancile was one of the sacred guarantors of the Roman state (pignora imperii), and the replicas were intended to conceal the identity of the original and so prevent its theft; it was thus a kind of “public secret.”
The shields were under the care of Mars’ priests the Salii, who used them in their rituals. As payment, Mamurius requested that his name be preserved and remembered in the song sung by the Salii, the Carmen Saliare, as they executed movements with the shields and performed their armed dance.
Fragments of this archaic hymn survive, including the invocation of Mamurius. Several sources mention the invocation of the hymn and the story of the smith, but only Lydus describes the ritual as the beating of an old man.
The divine shield is supposed to have fallen from the sky on March 1, the first day of the month Martius, named after the god Mars. In the earliest Roman calendar, which the Romans believed to have been instituted by Romulus, the ten-month year began with Mars’ month, and the god himself was thus associated with the agricultural year and the cycle of life and death.
The number of ancilia corresponds to the twelve months in the reformed calendar attributed to Numa, and scholars often interpret the Mamuralia as originally a New Year festival, with various explanations as to how it was moved from the beginning of the month to the midpoint.
The Mamuralia is named as such only in calendars and sources dating from the 4th century of the Christian era and later. On the Calendar of Filocalus (354 AD), it is placed on March 14, but by Lydus on the Ides. The earliest extant calendars place an Equirria, one of the sacral chariot races in honor of Mars, on March 14.
The festival of Anna Perenna, an old Roman deity of the circle or “ring” of the year, as the name (per annum) clearly indicates, took place on the Ides. Macrobius understood her doubled name to mean “through the year” (perennis, English “perennial”).
Her festival fell on the Ides of March (March 15), which would have marked the first full moon in the year in the old lunar Roman calendar when March was reckoned as the first month of the year, and was held at the grove of the goddess at the first milestone on the Via Flaminia.
Franz Altheim, an authority on Roman religion, suggests that Anna Perenna was originally an Etruscan mother goddess, and that her relationship with Aeneas was developed to strengthen her association with Rome. Ovid adds that some equate Anna Perenna with the Moon, with Themis, with Io or with Amaltheia.
Jane Ellen Harrison regarded Anna Perenna as the female equivalent of Mamurius, representing the lunar year to his solar year. The Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, reflecting the lunar origin of the Roman calendar. On the earliest calendar, the Ides of March would have been the first full moon of the new year.
WiHrós in Proto-Indoeuropean means man, husband and warrior or hero, and has been developd into Sanskrit vīra, Avestan vīra, Latin vir, Umbrian viru, Lithuanian vyras, Latvian vīrs, Tocharian wir, German wer/Werewolf, Gothic wair, Old Norse verr, English wer/werewolf, Old Prussian wirs, Irish fer/fear, Welsh gwr, Gaulish uiro-, Albanian burrë, and Kurdish miro.
According to some, *wiHrós is derived from the verb *weyh (“to hunt”) (cf. Sanskrit véti, Lithuanian výti etc.), which would render the reconstruction as *wihrós, with *h at the place of otherwise unreconstructable laryngeal *H, and the original meaning of “hunter”.
Virgo (from Latin constellation name Virgo “the virgin”) is a zodiacal constellation, meaning “person born under the sign of Virgo”. Virgin (“unmarried or chaste woman noted for religious piety and having a position of reverence in the Church”).
It comes from Anglo-French and Old Frenchvirgine “virgin; Virgin Mary,” from Latin virginem (nominative virgo) “maiden, unwedded girl or woman,” also an adjective, “fresh, unused,” probably related to virga “young shoot,” via a notion of “young” (compare Greek talis “a marriageable girl,” cognate with Latin talea “rod, stick, bar”).
Virago (“man-like or heroic woman, woman of extraordinary stature, strength and courage”) comes from Latin virago “female warrior, heroine, amazon,” fromvir “man”. Ælfric (c. 1000), following Vulgate, used it in Gen. ii:23 as the name Adam gave to Eve (KJV = woman).
Virile (“characteristic of a man; marked by manly force,” from Middle French viril (14c.) and directly from Latin virilis “of a man, manly, worthy of a man”) comes from vir “a man, a hero,” from PIE *wi-ro- “man, freeman” (source also of Sanskrit virah, Avestan vira-, Lithuanian vyras, Old Irish fer, Welsh gwr, Gothic wair, Old English wer “man”).
Mitanni – Maryannu
Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform Mi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts, was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.
The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.
Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.
Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim, a region that is mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It is commonly identified with Nahrima mentioned in three tablets of the Amarna correspondence as a geographical description of the kingdom of Mitanni.
In Genesis, it is used somewhat interchangeably with the names Paddan Aram and Haran to denote the place where Abraham stayed briefly with his father Terah’s family after leaving Ur of the Chaldees, while en route to Canaan (Gen. 11:31), and the place to which later patriarchs obtained wives, rather than marry daughters of Canaan.
Paddan Aram refers to the part of Aram-Naharaim along the upper Euphrates, while Haran is mainly identified with the ancient Assyrian city of Harran on the Balikh River. According to one rabbinical Jewish tradition, the birthplace of Abraham (Ur) was also situated in Aram-Naharaim.
The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.
The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.
However, a Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.
The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence.
The Mitanni warriors were called marya, the term for warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)”. Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.
The he name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. It is suggested that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.
Tammuz – Inanna
Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.
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.
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.
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.
According to some scholars, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.
Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, 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.
Inanna was associated with the planet Venus. Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).
Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Cuneiform: E.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.
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. Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as Lugalbanda and Damuzi.
Ngeshtin-ana is a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. In sumerian mythology she is the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag. The sister of Dumuzi and consort of Ningisida, she is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inanna and Ereshkigal.
In her house he is changed into a gazelle before being caught and transported to the underworld. When Dumuzi died, Geshtinanna lamentated days and nights. After her death, she became the goddess of wine and cold seasons. She is a divine poet and interpreter of dreams.
The arrest of Jesus is a pivotal event recorded in the canonical gospels. The event ultimately leads, in the Gospel accounts, to Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus was arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane (lit. “oil press”), a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Gethsemane was the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, shortly after the Last Supper (during which Jesus gave his final sermon), and immediately after the kiss of Judas, which is traditionally said to have been an act of betrayal.
The arrest led immediately to his trial before the Sanhedrin, during which they condemned him to death. In Christian theology, the events from the Last Supper until the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are referred to as the Passion.
In the New Testament, all four Gospels conclude with an extended narrative of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. In each Gospel, these five events in the life of Jesus are treated with more intense detail than any other portion of that Gospel’s narrative. Scholars note that the reader receives an almost hour-by-hour account of what is happening.
Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal, as queen of the Netherworld, could not come up to attend. They invited her to send a messenger, and she sent her vizier Namtar (or Namtaru, or Namtara; meaning destiny or fate) in her place.
Namtar, a hellish minor deity in Mesopotamian mythology, god of death, and minister and messenger of An, Ereshkigal, and Nergal, was treated well by all, but for the exception of being disrespected by Nergal. As a result of this, Nergal was 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.
Namtar was the son of Enlil and Ereshkigal; he was born before his father raped the goddess Ninlil, and was married to the underworld goddess Hušbišag. He 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.
It is thought that the Assyrians and Babylonians took this belief from the Sumerians after conquering them. 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 the underworld Namtar curses Ishtar with 60 diseases, naming five of the head, feet, side, eyes, and heart, after she arrives in the underworld.
Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14.
Aries is the first fire sign in the zodiac, the other fire signs being Leo and Sagittarius. According to the Tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Arians or Ariens.
The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the fleece of the gold-hair[a] winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.
In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic. Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”.
Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk. Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power.
Tiamat placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk. Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.
Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.
The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.
The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd. By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.
In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.
During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.
Puruli was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna, who is married to a new king.
Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living” and “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 central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.
Purim, a Jewish holiday, falls at the full moon preceding the Passover, which was set by the full moon in Aries, which follows Pisces. The story of the birth of Christ is said to be a result of the spring equinox entering into the Pisces, as the “Savior of the World” appeared as the Fisher of Men. This parallels the entering into the Age of Pisces.
Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation. It spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13.
The symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, Typhon and Vishnu.
An astrological age is a time period in astrology that parallels major changes in the development of Earth’s inhabitants, particularly relating to culture, society and politics, and there are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs.
Astrological ages occur because of a phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, and one complete period of this precession is called a Great Year or Platonic Year of about 25,920 years. According to some tropical astrologers, the current astrological age is the Age of Pisces, while others maintain that it is the Age of Aquarius.
The age of Pisces began c. 1 AD and will end c. 2150 AD. With the story of the birth of Christ coinciding with this date, many Christian symbols for Christ use the astrological symbol for Pisces, the fishes. The figure Christ himself bears many of the temperaments and personality traits of a Pisces, and is thus considered an archetype of the Piscean.
Moreover, the twelve apostles were called the “fishers of men,” early Christians called themselves “little fishes,” and a code word for Jesus was the Greek word for fish, “Ikhthus.” With this, the start of the age, or the “Great Month of Pisces” is regarded as the beginning of the Christian religion. Saint Peter is recognized as the apostle of the Piscean sign.
Pisces has been called the “dying god,” where its sign opposite in the night sky is Virgo, or, the Virgin Mary. When Jesus was asked by his disciples where the next Passover would be, he replied to them: “Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water… follow him into the house where he entereth in” (Jesus, Luke 22:10.
This coincides with the changing of the ages, into the Age of Aquarius, as the personification of the constellation of Aquarius is a man carrying a pitcher of water.
A planet’s domicile is the zodiac sign over which it has rulership, and the rulers of Pisces, or those associated with Pisceans, are Jupiter, Neptune, and the moon. In esoteric astrology, Venus was considered the ruler of Pisces, and prior to the discovery of Neptune in 1846, Jupiter was said to rule Pisces primarily.
Neptune is mostly considered the secondary ruling planet of Pisces today because of the association with the Roman god of water and the sea, Neptune. The detriment, or the sign “opposite” to that which is deemed the ruling planet, is Mercury. Venus is exalted in Pisces, while Mercury also falled into Pisces.
A kouros (plural kouroi, meaning “youth, boy, especially of noble rank”) is the modern term given to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures which first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths.
The female sculptural counterpart of the kouros is the kore (“maiden”; plural korai), the name given to a type of free-standing ancient Greek sculpture of the Archaic period depicting female figures, always of a young age.
There are multiple theories on who they represent, and as to whether they represent mortals or deities. One theory is that they represent Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres.
The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.
In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the act of being carried off by Hades.
Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, Virgo is the second-largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra), and is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 23 and September 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Virgo from September 17 to October 17. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Virgos or Virgoans.
Its name is Latin for virgin. It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica. The bright Spica makes 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”).
Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known as the autumn equinox point) 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.
Virgo is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat, one of which is marked by the bright star Spica. The name Spica derives from Latin spīca virginis “the virgin’s ear of [wheat] grain”. It was also anglicized as Virgin’s Spike.
Johann Bayer cited the name Arista. Another alternative name is Azimech, from Arabic al-simāk al-a‘zal ‘the Undefended’, and Alarph, Arabic for ‘the Grape Gatherer’. Sumbalet (Sombalet, Sembalet and variants) is from an Arabic sunbulah “corn ear”.
Spica, along with Denebola or Regulus depending on the source and Arcturus, is part of the Spring Triangle asterism, and by extension, also of the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.
Most myths generally view Virgo as a virgin maiden with heavy association with wheat. 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, in Greek mythology 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, 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 Egyptian myths, when the constellation Virgo was in the sun was when the start of the wheat harvest again thus connecting Virgo to the wheat grain. She also has various connections with the India goddess Kanya, and even the Virgin Mary.
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. 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.
Apollo – Artemis
Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.
The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth.
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. He is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.
Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Leto’s primal nature may be deduced from the natures of her father and mother, who may have been Titans of the sun and moon.
Her Titan father is called “Coeus,” and though Herbert Jennings Rose considers his name and nature uncertain, he is in one Roman source given the name Polus, which may relate him to the sphere of heaven from pole to pole. The name of Leto’s mother, “Phoebe” (literally “pure, bright”), is identical to the epithet of her son Apollo, throughout Homer.
As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague.
In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon.
However, in Latin texts Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century. Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.
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.
Adonis, in Greek mythology, is a central figure in various mystery religions. There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs.
Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.
The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.
Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.
Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.
Attis – Dionysos – Jesus
Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Wine played an important role in Greek culture with the cult of Dionysus the main religious focus for unrestrained consumption.
His name, thought to be a theonym in Linear B tablets as di-wo-nu-so, shows that he may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks; other traces of the Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete.
His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South.
In Greek mythology, he is presented as a son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, thus semi-divine or heroic: and as son of Zeus and Persephone or Demeter, thus both fully divine, part-chthonic and possibly identical with Iacchus of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis.
Dionysus is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming increasingly important over time, and is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians. Dionysus was the last god to be accepted into Mt. Olympus. He was the youngest and the only one to have a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. Modern scholarship categorises him as a dying-and-rising god.
The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male, bearded and robed. He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. Later images show him as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or “man-womanish”.
In its fully developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession (thiasus) is made up of wild female followers (maenads) and bearded satyrs with erect penises. Some are armed with the thyrsus, some dance or play music.
The god himself is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the human followers of his Dionysian Mysteries.
In his Thracian mysteries, he wears the bassaris or fox-skin, symbolizing a new life. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and thus symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods.
Also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces, bakkheia. His thyrsus is sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey. It is a beneficent wand but also a weapon, and can be used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents.
Bacchus was the Roman god of agriculture and wine, copied from the Greek god Dionysus. He was the last god to join the twelve Olympians; Hestia gave up her seat for him. His plants were vines and twirling ivy. He often carried a pinecone-topped staff, and his followers were goat-footed Satyrs and Maenads, wild women who danced energetically during his festivals.
He is also called Eleutherios (“the liberator”), whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake of his mysteries are possessed and empowered by the god himself. His cult is also a “cult of the souls”; his maenads feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead.
Dionysus had a strange birth that evokes the difficulty in fitting him into the Olympian pantheon. His mother was a mortal woman, Semele, the daughter of king Cadmus of Thebes, and his father was Zeus, the king of the gods. Zeus’ wife, Hera, discovered the affair while Semele was pregnant.
Appearing as an old crone (in other stories a nurse), Hera befriended Semele, who confided in her that Zeus was the actual father of the baby in her womb. Hera pretended not to believe her, and planted seeds of doubt in Semele’s mind. Curious, Semele demanded of Zeus that he reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his godhood.
Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted and he agreed. Therefore, he came to her wreathed in bolts of lightning; mortals, however, could not look upon an undisguised god without dying, and she perished in the ensuing blaze. Zeus rescued the unborn Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh.
A few months later, Dionysus was born on Mount Pramnos in the island of Ikaria, where Zeus went to release the now-fully-grown baby from his thigh. In this version, Dionysus is born by two “mothers” (Semele and Zeus) before his birth, hence the epithet dimētōr (of two mothers) associated with his being “twice-born”.
In the Cretan version of the same story, which Diodorus Siculus follows, Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Persephone, the queen of the Greek underworld. Diodorus’ sources equivocally identified the mother as Demeter.
A jealous Hera again attempted to kill the child, this time by sending Titans to rip Dionysus to pieces after luring the baby with toys. It is said that he was mocked by the Titans who gave him a thyrsus (a fennel stalk) in place of his rightful sceptre.
Zeus turned the Titans into dust with his thunderbolts, but only after the Titans ate everything but the heart, which was saved, variously, by Athena, Rhea, or Demeter. Zeus used the heart to recreate him in his thigh, hence he was again “the twice-born”. Other versions claim that Zeus recreated him in the womb of Semele, or gave Semele the heart to eat to impregnate her.
The rebirth in both versions of the story is the primary reason why Dionysus was worshipped in mystery religions, as his death and rebirth were events of mystical reverence. This narrative was apparently used in several Greek and Roman cults, and variants of it are found in Callimachus and Nonnus, who refer to this Dionysus with the title Zagreus, and also in several fragmentary poems attributed to Orpheus.
The myth of the dismemberment of Dionysus by the Titans, is alluded to by Plato in his Phaedo in which Socrates claims that the initiations of the Dionysian Mysteries are similar to those of the philosophic path. Late Neo-Platonists such as Damascius explore the implications of this at length.
The dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus (genitive Dios). The earliest attested form of the name is Mycenaean Greek di-wo-nu-so, written in Linear B syllabic script, presumably for /Diwo(h)nūsoio/. This is attested on two tablets that had been found at Mycenaean Pylos and dated to the 12th or 13th century BC.
Later variants include Dionūsos and Diōnūsos in Boeotia; Dien(n)ūsos in Thessaly; Deonūsos and Deunūsos in Ionia; and Dinnūsos in Aeolia, besides other variants. A Dio- prefix is found in other names, such as that of the Dioscures, and may derive from Dios, the genitive of the name of Zeus.
The second element -nūsos is associated with Mount Nysa, the birthplace of the god in Greek mythology, where he was nursed by nymphs (the Nysiads), but according to Pherecydes of Syros, nũsa was an archaic word for “tree”.
The cult of Dionysus was closely associated with trees, specifically the fig tree, and some of his bynames exhibit this, such as Endendros “he in the tree” or Dendritēs, “he of the tree”.
Peters suggests the original meaning as “he who runs among the trees”, or that of a “runner in the woods”. Janda (2010) accepts the etymology but proposes the more cosmological interpretation of “he who impels the (world-)tree”.
This interpretation explains how Nysa could have been re-interpreted from a meaning of “tree” to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain.
Attis was the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology. His priests were eunuchs, the Galli, as explained by origin myths pertaining to Attis and castration. Attis was also a Phrygian god of vegetation, and in his self-mutilation, death, and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth, which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.
An Attis cult began around 1250 BC in Dindymon (today’s Murat Dağı of Gediz, Kütahya). He was originally a local semi-deity of Phrygia, associated with the great Phrygian trading city of Pessinos, which lay under the lee of Mount Agdistis. The mountain was personified as a daemon, whom foreigners associated with the Great Mother Cybele.
In the late 4th century BC, a cult of Attis became a feature of the Greek world. The story of his origins at Agdistis, recorded by the traveler Pausanias, have some distinctly non-Greek elements: Pausanias was told that the daemon Agdistis initially bore both male and female attributes. But the Olympian gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ and cast it away.
There grew up from it an almond-tree, and when its fruit was ripe, Nana, who was a daughter of the river-god Sangarius, picked an almond and laid it in her bosom. The almond disappeared, and she became pregnant. Nana abandoned the baby (Attis). The infant was tended by a he-goat. As Attis grew, his long-haired beauty was godlike, and Agdistis as Cybele then fell in love with him. But the foster parents of Attis sent him to Pessinos, where he was to wed the king’s daughter.
According to some versions the King of Pessinos was Midas. Just as the marriage-song was being sung, Agdistis/Cybele appeared in her transcendent power, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals. Attis’ father-in-law-to-be, the king who was giving his daughter in marriage, followed suit, prefiguring the self-castrating corybantes who devoted themselves to Cybele. But Agdistis repented and saw to it that the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay.
There is mythological parallels between Dionysus and the figure of the Christ in Christian theology. Among them the symbolism of wine and the importance it held in the mythology surrounding both Dionysus and Jesus Christ. Other elements, such as the celebration by a ritual meal of bread and wine, also have parallels.
Scholars of comparative mythology identify both Dionysus and Jesus with the dying-and-returning god mythological archetype. Another parallel can be seen in The Bacchae where Dionysus appears before King Pentheus on charges of claiming divinity which is compared to the New Testament scene of Jesus being interrogated by Pontius Pilate.
Dionysus is a god of epiphany (meaning “appearance of a god”), referring to the appearance of a deity to a human, “the god that comes”, and his “foreignness” as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults.
Theophany has been used as a term to refer to appearances of the gods in the ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions. While the Iliad is the earliest source for descriptions of theophanies in the Classical tradition/era (and they occur throughout Greek mythology), probably the earliest description of a theophany is in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
At Delphi the Theophania was an annual festival in spring celebrating the return of Apollo from his winter quarters in Hyperborea. The culmination of the festival was a display of an image of the gods, usually hidden in the sanctuary, to worshippers. Later Roman mystery religions often included similar brief displays of images to excited worshippers.
The appearance of Zeus to Semele is more than a mortal can stand and she is burned to death by the flames of his power.
The term theophany has acquired a specific usage for Christians and Jews with respect to the Bible: It refers to the manifestation of God to people; the sensible sign by which the presence of God is revealed. Only a small number of theophanies are found in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament.
The Bible states that God revealed himself to man. God speaks with Adam and Eve in Eden (Gen 3:9–19); with Cain (Gen 4:9–15); with Noah (Gen 6:13, Gen 7:1, Gen 8:15) and his sons (Gen 9:1-8); and with Abraham and his wife Sarah (Gen 18).
Epiphany (“Manifestation”, “striking appearance”) or Theophany (“Vision of God”), also known as Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ.
In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some Western Christian denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.
The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the Sunday after January 1. Eastern Churches following the Julian Calendar observe the Theophany feast on what for most countries is January 19 because of the 13-day difference today between that calendar and the generally used Gregorian calendar.
In many Western Christian Churches, the eve of the feast is celebrated as Twelfth Night. In medieval and Tudor England, the Twelfth Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve — now more commonly known as Halloween.
The Lord of Misrule symbolizes the world turning upside down. On this day the King and all those who were high would become the peasants and vice versa. At the beginning of the Twelfth Night festival, a cake that contained a bean was eaten. The person who found the bean would rule the feast. Midnight signaled the end of his rule and the world would return to normal. The common theme was that the normal order of things was reversed.
This Lord of Misrule tradition dates back to pre-Christian European festivals such as the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, in ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn, an agricultural deity who was said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of innocence, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December.
The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.
Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.
The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday.
In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun”, on 23 December.
The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, many of its customs were recast into or at least influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.
The Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday, the traditional start of the English agricultural year. While local practices may vary, Plough Monday is generally the first Monday after Twelfth Day (Epiphany), 6 January. References to Plough Monday date back to the late 15th century. The day before Plough Monday is sometimes referred to as Plough Sunday.
Telepinu – Hatepuna
Telipinu (Cuneiform: dTe(-e)-li-pí-nu(-ú), Hattic: Talipinu or Talapinu, “Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god or an embodiment of crops. He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology.
The Telipinu Myth is an ancient Hittite myth about Telipinu, whose disappearance causes all fertility to fail, both plant and animal. In order to stop the havoc and devastation, the gods seek Telipinu but fail to find him.
Hannahannah, the mother goddess, sent a bee to find him; when the bee did, stinging Telipinu and smearing wax on him, the god grew angry and began to wreak destruction on the world. Finally, Kamrušepa, goddess of magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld.
In other references it is a mortal priest who prays for all of Telipinu’s anger to be sent to bronze containers in the underworld, from which nothing escapes.
His wife was the goddess Hatepuna, though he was also paired with Šepuru and Kašḫa at various cultic centres. Her Name originates in Hattic ha, “sea”, and puna, “Child”. She is the daughter of the sea god and becomes the wife of Telipinu because of the rescue of Istanu. Tarhun and the sea god agree under the meditation of Hannahannah to a bride price.
Balder – Nanna
Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. Despite this his precise function is rather disputed. He is 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. According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Baldr’s wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.
Grimm took Forseti, “praeses”, to be the older form of the name, first postulating an unattested Old High German equivalent *forasizo (cf. modern German Vorsitzender “one who presides”), but later preferring a derivation from fors, a “whirling stream” or “cataract”, connected to the spring and the god’s veneration by seagoing peoples. However, in other Old Norse words, for example forboð, “forbidding, ban”, the prefix for- has a pejorative sense. So it is more plausible that Fosite is the older name and Forseti a folk etymology.
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.
Tyr – Hel
Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. 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. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it.
Tiw was equated with Mars, the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome, in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis. Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars.
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.
Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim. In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. She rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.
Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th-century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she 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.
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 Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *h₂ews-tro-.
The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *h₂wes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root.
Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *hewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.
The love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”). It has also been proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek.
The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.
The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).
The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.
Ushas, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Ushas is an exalted goddess in the Rig Veda but less prominent in post-Rigvedic texts. It is from PIE *h₂ausos-, cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora.
She is often spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns.” She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.
In one recent Hindu interpretation, Sri Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realisation. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys [Truth’s] beatitude.”
Ishara 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. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.
The etymology of Ishara is unknown. 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.
The more ancient use of “AMA” is AMA.GI. It has been translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts. Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment.
The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi “return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”. Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer has identified it as the first known written reference to the concept of freedom.
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). 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. The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus.
Haldi – Arubani
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, the Araratian (Urartian) weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, of Kumenu, and the sun god Shivini of Tushpa. Arubani is the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. She was also the wife of their supreme god, Khaldi.
Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi. He 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’.
Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the “head of family” or patriarch) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. The name of the patriarch, Hayk is not exactly homophonous with the name for “Armenia”, Hayk’. Hayk’ is the nominative plural in Classical Armenian of hay, the Armenian term for “Armenian.”
Mars – Venus
Mars 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.
Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature.
Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people.
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 importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.
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”). In the later Roman Empire, Nerine came to be identified with Minerva.
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Nerio was an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor. She was the partner of Mars in ancient cult practices, and was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva.
Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born with weapons from the head of Jupiter. After impregnating the titaness Metis, Jupiter recalled a prophecy that his own child would overthrow him. Fearing that their child would grow stronger than he and rule the Heavens in his place, Jupiter swallowed Metis whole.
By a process of folk etymology, the Romans could have linked her foreign name to the root men- in Latin words such as mens (“mind”), perhaps because one of her aspects as goddess pertained to the intellectual. The word mens is built from the Proto-Indo-European root *men- (“mind”) linked with memory as in Greek Mnemosyne and mnestis: memory, remembrance, recollection, manush in Sanskrit meaning mind.
The titaness forged weapons and armor for her child while within the father-god, and the constant pounding and ringing gave him a headache. To relieve the pain, Vulcan used a hammer to split Jupiter’s head and, from the cleft, Minerva emerged, whole, adult, and bearing her mother’s weapons and armor.
Menrva (also spelled Menerva) was an Etruscan goddess of war, art, wisdom, and health. She contributed much of her character to Roman Minerva. She was the Etruscan counterpart to Greek Athena. Like Athena, Minerva was born from the head of her father, Jupiter (Greek Zeus).
Her name is indigenous to Italy and might even be of Etruscan origin, stemming from an Italic moon goddess *Meneswā ‘She who measures’, the Etruscans adopted the inherited Old Latin name, *Menerwā, thereby calling her Menrva. This has been disputed, however.
Carl Becker noted that her name appears to contain the PIE root *men-, which he notes was linked in Greek primarily to memory words (cf. Greek “mnestis”: memory, remembrance, recollection), but which more generally referred to ‘mind’ in most Indo-European languages.
Metis (“wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”), in ancient Greek religion, was of the Titan generation and, like several primordial figures, an Oceanid, in the sense that Metis was born of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings. Metis was the first great spouse of Zeus, and also his cousin. Zeus is himself titled Mêtieta, “the wise counsellor,” in the Homeric poems.
By the era of Greek philosophy in the fifth century BC, Metis had become the mother of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted “magical cunning” and was as easily equated with the trickster powers of Prometheus as with the “royal metis” of Zeus. The Stoic commentators allegorised Metis as the embodiment of “prudence”, “wisdom” or “wise counsel”, in which form she was inherited by the Renaissance.
The Greek word metis (“wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”) meant a quality that combined wisdom and cunning. This quality was considered to be highly admirable in the Mycenean era, with the hero Odysseus being the embodiment of it. In the Classical era, it was regarded by Athenians as one of the notable characteristics of the Athenian character. Metis was the one who gave Zeus a potion to cause Cronus to vomit out Zeus’ siblings.
Metis was both a threat to Zeus and an indispensable aid. Zeus lay with Metis but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear extremely powerful children: the first, Athena and the second, a son more powerful than Zeus himself, who would eventually overthrow Zeus.
In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus tricked her into turning herself into a fly and promptly swallowed her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child. In time she began making a helmet and robe for her fetal daughter. The hammering as she made the helmet caused Zeus great pain, and Hephaestus either clove Zeus’s head with an axe, or hit it with a hammer at the river Triton, giving rise to Athena’s birth. Athena leaped from Zeus’s head, fully grown, armed, and armoured, and Zeus was none the worse for the experience.
The similarities between Zeus swallowing Metis and Cronus swallowing his children have been noted by several scholars. This also caused some controversy in regard to reproduction myths and the lack of a need for women as a means of reproduction.
Hesiod’s account is followed by Acusilaus and the Orphic tradition, which enthroned Metis side by side with Eros as primal cosmogenic forces. Plato makes Poros, or “creative ingenuity”, the child of Metis.
The Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures refer to the planet as the fire star, a name based on the ancient Chinese mythological cycle of Five elements. In ancient China, the advent of Mars was taken as a portent for “bane, grief, war and murder”.
Gugalanna/Nergal – Ereshkigal
The Hellenistic Greeks also called the planet Pyroeis, meaning “fiery”. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet Mars was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet.
Nergal was worshipped throughout Mesopotamia. 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.
Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.
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”.
Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld 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 the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. 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.
Ereshkigal (DEREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great 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, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.
Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.
In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (Sumerian GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU.AN.NA), a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
Taurus was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s March equinox from about 3200 BC. The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion. The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.
The goddess Ishtar refers to her 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 traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Dumuzi in exchange for herself.
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.
Ra/Osiris/Horus – Hathor/Isis
Mars was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”. The earliest recorded form of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship, and one of the most significant deities in ancient Egyptian religion.
Horus was worshipped from at least the late Predynastic period through to Greco-Roman times, as the patron deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt. He is the first known national god, specifically related to the king who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death.
In Egyptian hieroglyphs the name Osiris is written Wsjr, as the hieroglyphic writing does not restitute all the vowels, and Egyptologists transliterate the name variously as Asar, Yasar, Aser, Asaru, Ausar, Ausir, Wesir, Usir, Usire or Ausare.
Several proposals have been made for the etymology and meaning of the original name Wsjr. It is proposed as a derivation from wser signifying “the powerful”. Moreover, one of the oldest attestations of the god Osiris appears in the mastaba of the deceased Netjer-wser (God Almighty).
Osiris was usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.
Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb, though other sources state his father is the sun-god Ra, who had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun, and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.
In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”). He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the earth, and the underworld. He was associated with the falcon or hawk.
When in the New Kingdom the god Amun (written imn, pronounced Amana in ancient Egyptian, meaning something like “the hidden one” or “invisible”) rose to prominence he was fused with Ra as Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favor of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.
Amun-Ra held the position of transcendental, self-created creator deity “par excellence”, he was the champion of the poor or troubled and central to personal piety. His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him.
With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods. As the chief deity of the Egyptian Empire, Amun-Ra also came to be worshipped outside of Egypt, in Ancient Libya and Nubia, and as Zeus Ammon came to be identified with Zeus in Ancient Greece.
The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, had its center in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city. All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names. Alternatively man was created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra.”
In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty she was pacified by drinking beer mixed with red dye.
Osiris was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning “Foremost of the Westerners”, a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called “king of the living”: ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead “the living ones”.
Osiris was considered not only a merciful judge of the dead in the afterlife, but also the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River. He was described as the “Lord of love”, “He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful” and the “Lord of Silence”.
The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death – as Osiris rose from the dead they would, in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. By the New Kingdom all people, not just pharaohs, were believed to be associated with Osiris at death, if they incurred the costs of the assimilation rituals.
Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year. Osiris was widely worshipped as Lord of the Dead until the suppression of the Egyptian religion during the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) 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. She is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.
The name Isis means “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 a 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 a determinative to promote the correct reading. 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.
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. 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.
Isis was first worshiped in Ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman Empire and the greater Greco-Roman world. 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.
Isis married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor) with him. The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty, when her name appears in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on the statue of a priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.
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. 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 her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.
In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences.
Shiva, meaning “The Auspicious” is one of the three major deities of Hinduism. The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer. These three deities have been called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”.
Shiva is the chief within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta Tradition, and “the Destroyer”. Some authors associate the name with the Tamil word śivappu meaning “red”, noting that Shiva is linked to the Sun (śivan, “the Red one”, in Tamil) and that Rudra is also called Babhru (brown, or red) in the Rigveda.
Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is a Hindu goddess. The name Kali is derived from the Sanskrit “Kālá”, or time, she therefore represents Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. “Kali” also mean “the black one”, the feminine noun of the Sanskrit adjective Kālá.
Kali’s earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. She is worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu sects and Shākta Tantric beliefs additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation. Kali is the first of the 10 Mahavidyas, or manifestations of the Great Goddess, or ultimate reality.
Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva. “Kala” means time and “I” means cause. Shiva is the Kala and his wife Kali represents cause in a time and beyond time. Shiva is depicted as a corpse below Goddess Kali, it represents that Shiva is a corpse without Shakti. He remains inert. While Shiva is the static form, Mahakali or Shakti is the dynamic aspect without whom Shiva is powerless.
Apart from anthropomorphic images of Shiva, the worship of Shiva in the form of a lingam, is also important. These are depicted in various forms. One common form is the shape of a vertical rounded column. Shiva means auspiciousness, and lingam means a sign or a symbol, so the Shivalinga is regarded as a “symbol of the great God of the universe who is all-auspiciousness”.
The Lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, symbol or phallus) is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.
The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.
Shiva’s rise to a major position in the pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Rudra, Agni, Indra, Prajapati, Vayu, and others. The adjective śiva, is used as an attributive epithet for several Rigvedic deities, including Rudra. Rudra is called “The Archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva), and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra.
In the Rig Veda, Rudra is the father of the Maruts, but he is never associated with their warlike exploits as is Indra. The Maruts are storm deities and sons of Rudra and Prisni and attendants of Indra. They are very violent and aggressive, described as armed with golden weapons i.e. lightning and thunderbolts, as having iron teeth and roaring like lions, as residing in the north, as riding in golden chariots drawn by ruddy horses.
According to the Rig Veda, the ancient collection of sacred hymns, they wore golden helmets and breastplates, and used their axes to split the clouds so that rain could fall. They were widely regarded as clouds, capable to shaking mountains and destroying forests.
Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in Hindu scriptures. The two names are used synonymously. Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity.
The Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. Both are associated with mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare, transgression of established mores, the Aum sound, the Supreme Self.
Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, an Avestan language neuter noun literally meaning “smiting of resistance”, were transferred to the adopted god Indra.
Verethragna, who is the hypostasis of “victory”, and “as a giver of victory”, enjoyed the greatest popularity. In Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Verethragna became Warahran, from which Vahram, Vehram, Bahram, Behram and other variants derive. The name and, to some extent, the deity has correspondences in Armenian Vahagn and Vram, Buddhist Sogdian Wshn, Manichaen Parthian Wryhrm, Kushan Bactrian Orlagno.
While the figure of Verethragna is highly complex, parallels have also been drawn between it and (variously) Vedic Indra, Puranic Vishnu, Manichaean Adamas, Chaldean/Babylonian Nergal, Egyptian Horus, Hellenic Ares and Heracles.
Vahagn Vishapakagh (Vahagn the Dragon Reaper) or Vahakn was a god of fire and war. He was identified with the Greek deity Heracles. The priests of Vahévahian temple, who claimed Vahagn as their own ancestor, placed a statue of the Greek hero in their sanctuary. In the Armenian translation of the Bible, “Heracles, worshipped at Tyr” is renamed “Vahagn”.
All the gods, according to the Euhemerist belief, had been living men; Vahagn likewise, was introduced within the ranks of the Armenian kings, as a son of the Orontid Dynasty (or Yervanduni dynasty, 6th century B.C.), together with his brothers — Bab and Tiran.