Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Sumerian Triad of Heaven

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 21, 2019

Engraving depicting four antropomorphic deities and two animals

List of Mesopotamian deities

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR) is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

Anu or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. He was the personification of the sky, the utmost power, the supreme God, the one who contains the entire universe. His name meant the One on High.

Anu was believed to be source of all legitimate power; he was the one who bestowed the right to rule upon gods and kings alike. Anu was the supreme source of authority among the gods, and among men, upon whom he conferred kingship. As heaven’s grand patriarch, he dispensed justice and controlled the laws known as the meh that governed the universe.

Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers. His primary role in the Sumerian pantheon was as an ancestor figure; the most powerful and important deities in the Sumerian pantheon were believed to be the offspring of Anu and his consort Ki.

These deities were known as the Anunnaki, which means “offspring of Anu”. Although it is sometimes unclear which deities were considered members of the Anunnaki, the group probably included the seven gods who decree: Anu, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna.

By the time of the earliest written records, Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning “Heavenly power”.

His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, whose name means “House of Heaven”, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

Although the temple was originally dedicated to Anu it was later transformed into the primary cult center of Inanna. After its dedication to Inanna, the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.

The Amorite god Amurru was sometimes equated with Anu. He is a western Semitic god originally sometimes called Ilu Amurru (DMAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.

Later, during the Seleucid Empire (213 BC — 63 BC), Anu was identified with Enmešara and Dumuzid (Tamuz). Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law.

Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

In ancient Hittite religion, Anu is a former ruler of the gods, who was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father’s genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub, who overthrew Kumarbi, avenged Anu’s mutilation, and became the new king of the gods. This story was the later basis for the castration of Ouranos in Hesiod’s Theogony.

Anu is identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco and, along with his sons Enlil and Enki (Ellil and Ea in Akkadian) he formed the highest divine triad personifying the three bands of constellations of the vault of the sky.

Together they constituted a triune conception of the divine, in which Anu represented a transcendental obscurity, Enlil the transcendent and Enki the immanent aspect of the divine. Though Anu was the supreme God, he was rarely worshipped, and, by the time that written records began, the most important cult was devoted to his son Enlil.

In astral theology, the three—Anu, Enlil and Enki—also personified the three bands of the sky, and the contained constellations, spinning around the ecliptic, respectively the middle, northern and southern sky.

These three deities together were the embodiment of all the fixed stars in the night sky. An was identified with all the stars of the equatorial sky, Enlil with those of the northern sky, and Enki with those of the southern sky.

Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field. The Babylonian constellation IKU (field) had four stars of which three were later part of the Greek constellation Hippos (Pegasus), a constellation in the northern sky, named after the winged horse Pegasus in Greek mythology.

His name means “Lord of the Earth” and his symbols are the fish and the goat, both representations of fertility. Capricorn is the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus, the horned goat. In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, negative sign, and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn.

It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from about December 22 to January 19 the following year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16.

In Vedic Astrology Capricorn was associated with the Crocodile but modern astrologers consider Capricorn as Sea goat. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians’ primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki, with the head and upper body of a goat and the lower body and tail of a fish.

Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab). Enki and later Ea were apparently depicted, sometimes, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep”, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters.

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 330° to 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area between February 19 and March 20. In Sidereal astrology, the Sun currently transits the constellation of Pisces from approximately March 12 to April 18. In classical interpretations, the symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea.

Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. Aquarius is one of the oldest of the recognized constellations along the zodiac. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river.

Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt astronomy, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation came to be represented simply as a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus. Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods.

It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age. In Old Babylonian astronomy, Enki, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase, was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium.

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the goddess Nintinugga, a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. Her epithets are “great healer of the land” and “great healer of the black-headed ones”, a “herb grower”, “the lady who makes the broken up whole again”, and “creates life in the land”, making her a vegetation/fertility goddess endowed with regenerative power.

She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba though it would seem that the two were originally independent. Later as Gula and in medical incantations, Bēlet or Balāti, also as the Azugallatu the “great healer”,same as her son Damu. Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug.

After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

The path of Enlil’s celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole, but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points. Enlil was associated with the constellation Boötes, a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere.

The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”).In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers.

Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg.

The ecliptic is the mean plane of the apparent path in the Earth’s sky that the Sun follows over the course of one year; it is the basis of the ecliptic coordinate system. This plane of reference is coplanar with Earth’s orbit around the Sun (and hence the Sun’s apparent path around Earth).

The ecliptic is not normally noticeable from Earth’s surface because the planet’s rotation carries the observer through the daily cycles of sunrise and sunset, which obscure the Sun’s apparent motion against the background of stars during the year. Most of the major bodies of the Solar System orbit the Sun in nearly the same plane. This is likely due to the way in which the Solar System formed from a protoplanetary disk.

Because the orbit of the Moon is inclined only about 5.145° to the ecliptic and the Sun is always very near the ecliptic, eclipses always occur on or near it. Because of the inclination of the Moon’s orbit, eclipses do not occur at every conjunction and opposition of the Sun and Moon, but only when the Moon is near an ascending or descending node at the same time it is at conjunction or opposition. The ecliptic is so named because the ancients noted that eclipses only occurred when the Moon crossed it.

The exact instants of equinoxes and solstices are the times when the apparent ecliptic longitude (including the effects of aberration and nutation) of the Sun is 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270°. Because of perturbations of Earth’s orbit and anomalies of the calendar, the dates of these are not fixed.

The poles of Earth’s orbit are referred to as the ecliptic poles. The ecliptic is the plane on which Earth orbits the Sun. The ecliptic poles are the two points where the ecliptic axis, the imaginary line perpendicular to the ecliptic, intersects the celestial sphere. The north orbital poles of the Solar System planets all lie within Draco.

The north and south celestial poles are the two imaginary points in the sky where the Earth’s axis of rotation, indefinitely extended, intersects the celestial sphere. The north and south celestial poles appear permanently directly overhead to an observer at the Earth’s North Pole and South Pole, respectively. As the Earth spins on its axis, the two celestial poles remain fixed in the sky, and all other points appear to rotate around them, completing one circuit per day (strictly, per sidereal day).

The celestial poles do not remain permanently fixed against the background of the stars. Because of a phenomenon known as the procession of the equinoxes, the poles trace out circles on the celestial sphere, with a period of about 25,700 years.

An astrological age is a time period in astrological theology which astrologers claim parallels major changes in the development of Earth’s inhabitants, particularly relating to culture, society, and politics.

There are twelve astrological ages corresponding to the twelve zodiacal signs in western astrology. Advocates believe that when one cycle of the twelve astrological ages is completed, another cycle of twelve ages begins. The length of one cycle of twelve ages is 25,860 years.

The most popular method of sub-dividing astrological ages is to divide each age equally into twelve sub-periods with the first sub-period Aries, followed by Taurus, Gemini, and so on, until the last sub-division, Pisces.

 

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The sun god / goddess – the connection with T(iwas) and Sh(iva) and the further development of the sun god into Mars / Venus

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 2, 2019

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR) is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

Anu or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. His primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion.

Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe”.

He is identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco and, along with his sons Enlil and Enki, constitutes the highest divine triad personifying the three bands of constellations of the vault of the sky.

By the time of the earliest written records, Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning “Heavenly power”.

His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, whose name means “House of Heaven”, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

Although the temple was originally dedicated to Anu it was later transformed into the primary cult center of Inanna. After its dedication to Inanna, the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.

The Amorite god Amurru was sometimes equated with Anu. Later, during the Seleucid Empire (213 BC — 63 BC), Anu was identified with Enmešara and Dumuzid (Tamuz).

Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal.

On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

In ancient Hittite religion, Anu is a former ruler of the gods, who was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father’s genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub.

Teshub overthrew Kumarbi, avenged Anu’s mutilation, and became the new king of the gods. This story was the later basis for the castration of Ouranos in Hesiod’s Theogony.

Utu, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth.

Alongside his sister Inanna, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice. Utu was believed to take an active role in human affairs, and was thought to aid those in distress.

He is the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. In Sumerian texts, Inanna and Utu are shown as extremely close; in fact, their relationship frequently borders on incestuous.

Inanna was an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center.

She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star.

Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur, which means “Queen of the East” in ancient Sumerian.

Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods. She later became the male deity Papsukkal, the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon.

Ninshubur was an important figure in ancient Sumerian mythology and she played an integral role in several myths involving her mistress, the goddess, Inanna.

Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz), the god of shepherds, is usually described as Inanna’s husband, but Inanna’s loyalty to him is questionable.

In the myth of her descent into the Underworld, she abandons Dumuzid and permits the galla demons to drag him down into the Underworld as her replacement.

However, in the later myth of The Return of Dumuzid Inanna paradoxically mourns over Dumuzid’s death and ultimately decrees that he will be allowed to return to Heaven to be with her for one half of the year.

The Sumerian hymn Inanna and Utu contains an etiological myth describing how Inanna became the goddess of sex.

At the beginning of the hymn, Inanna knows nothing of sex, so she begs her brother Utu to take her to Kur (the Sumerian Underworld), so that she may taste the fruit of a tree that grows there, which will reveal to her all the secrets of sex.

Utu complies and, in Kur, Inanna tastes the fruit and becomes knowledgeable. The hymn employs the same motif found in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag and in the later Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu 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.

Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and/or Aquarius. In classical Roman mythology, Mercury is the messenger of the gods, noted for his speed and swiftness.

Echoing this, the scorching, airless world Mercury circles the Sun on the fastest orbit of any planet. Mercury takes only 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending about 7.33 days in each sign of the zodiac.

Mercury is so close to the Sun that only a brief period exists after the Sun has set where it can be seen with the naked eye, before following the Sun beyond the horizon.

Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between about May 21 and June 21. Gemini is represented by the twins Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri.

When Castor died, because he was mortal, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.

Enkidu («Enki’s creation») is a central figure in the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was formed from clay and water by Aruru, the goddess of creation, to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance.

In the story he is a wild man, raised by animals and ignorant of human society. He embodies the wild or natural world. Though equal to Gilgamesh in strength and bearing, he acts in some ways as an antithesis to the cultured, urban-bred warrior-king.

Enkidu then becomes the king’s constant companion and deeply beloved friend, accompanying him on adventures until he is stricken with illness and dies.

The deep, tragic loss of Enkidu profoundly inspires in Gilgamesh a quest to escape death by obtaining godly immortality.

Geminus is the first epithet in Macrobius’s list. Although the etymology of the word is unclear, it is certainly related to his most typical character, that of having two faces or heads.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, starting with the Sumeric cultures, from the two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples.

Each of pillars mark the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices: the southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines).

Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.

Numa in his regulation of the Roman calendar called the first month Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest divinity at the time.

Isimud (also Isinu; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.

The gender of a sukkal always matches the gender of the deity it serves. Thus, Enki’s sukkal Isimud is male, but Ninshubur is female.

In the Sumerian myth of “Inanna and Enki,” Ninshubur is described as the one who rescues Inanna from the monsters that Enki has sent after her. In this myth, Ninshubur plays a similar role to Isimud, who acts as Enki’s messenger to Inanna.

The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’.

Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

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

Utu’s main personality characteristics are his kindness and generosity, but, like all other Mesopotamian deities, he was not above refusing a request which inconvenienced him.

Utu’s main symbol was the solar disc, a circle with four points in each of the cardinal directions and four wavy, diagonal lines emanating from the circle between each point. This symbol represented the light, warmth, and power of the sun.

The Sumerians believed that, as he rode through heaven, Utu saw everything that happened in the world. At night, Utu was believed to travel through the Underworld as he journeyed to the east in preparation for the sunrise.

One Sumerian literary work refers to Utu illuminating the Underworld and dispensing judgement there and Shamash Hymn 31 states that Utu serves as a judge of the dead in the Underworld alongside the malku, kusu, and the Anunnaki.

In the Hurro-Akkadian bilingual Weidner god list, Utu is equated with the Hurrian sun-god Šimigi. In the Ugaritic trilingual version of the Weidner god list, Šimigi and Utu are both equated with Lugalbanda (young/fierce king).

In the Sumerian King List, one of the early kings of Uruk is described as “the son of Utu” and Utu seems to have served as a special protector to several of that city’s later kings.

The authors of the Hebrew Bible generally attempt to portray the sun in a non-anthropomorphic manner, sometimes using it as a symbol of Yahweh’s power.

The Hebrew word for “sun”, šapaš or šemeš, is often substituted for euphemisms, such as the word or, meaning “light”.

These authors appear to have made a conscious effort to avoid implications of sun worship, even of a Yahwistic variety, at all costs. However, the Woman of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation, may directly allude to ancient Near Eastern sun goddesses.

Sherida was a goddess of beauty, fertility, and sexual love, possibly because light was seen as inherently beautiful, or because of the sun’s role in promoting agricultural fertility.

They were believed to have two offspring: the goddess Kittu, whose name means “Truth”, and the god Misharu, whose name means “Justice”.

As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god and the goddess Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities. Sherida took on the role of Utu’s consort.

By the time of the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1830 – c. 1531 BC), Sherida, and consequently Utu, was associated with nadītu, an order of cloistered women who devoted their lives to the gods.

When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Aya in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. She developed from Sherida, the consort of Utu.

The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth.

By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

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. She was associated with the underworld.

Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. From the Hurrian pantheon, Ishara entered the Hittite pantheon and had her main shrine in Kizzuwatna.

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.

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.

Ushas is a Vedic goddess of dawn in Hinduism. She repeatedly appears in the Rigvedic hymns where she is “consistently identified with dawn.

She reveal herself with the daily coming of light to the world, driving away oppressive darkness, chasing away evil demons, rousing all life, setting all things in motion, sending everyone off to do their duties.

She is the life of all living creatures, the impeller of action and breath, the foe of chaos and confusion, the auspicious arouser of cosmic and moral order called the Ṛta in Hinduism.

Vedic uṣás is derived from the word uṣá which means “dawn”. This word comes from Proto-Indo-Iranian *Hušā́s (“ušā” in Avestan), which in turn is from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éusōs (“dawn”), and is related to “ēṓs” in Greek and “aušrà” in Lithuanian.

Hausos (Proto-Indo-European: *h₂éwsōs) is the reconstructed name for the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn. The Dawn Goddess is hypothesised to have been one of the most important deities to the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

Her attributes have not only been mixed with those of solar goddesses in some later traditions, but have subsequently expanded and influenced female deities in other mythologies.

Asherah in ancient Semitic religion, is a mother goddess who appears in a number of ancient sources. She appears in Akkadian writings by the name of Ašratu(m), and in Hittite as Aserdu(s) or Asertu(s).

Asherah is generally considered identical with the Ugaritic goddess ʼAṯirat (Athirat). Athirat, called Ashiratum or Ashratum in Old Babylonian texts, was a West Semitic goddess, worshiped in Syria in the second millennium BC.

The different consonants in the Semitic languages; Athirat/Asherah, indicate the lack of any plausible etymological connection between the names.

However, hieroglyphic Egyptian /Ṭ/ may be etymological */Ś/. If this name /Anšar/ is derived from */Anśar/, then it may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic /NṬR/.

Shiva (or Siva) is one of the most important gods in the Hindu pantheon and, along with Brahma and Vishnu, is considered a member of the holy trinity (trimurti) of Hinduism.

A complex character, he may represent goodness, benevolence and serve as the Protector but he also has a darker side as the leader of evil spirits, ghosts and vampires and as the master of thieves, villains and beggars.

He is also associated with Time, and particularly as the destroyer of all things. Nevertheless, Shiva is also associated with creation. Shiva destroys the universe at the end of each cycle which then allows for a new Creation.

The t-rune ᛏ is named after Týr, and was identified with this god. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz or *Teiwaz. Tiwaz (Stem: Tiwad-) was the Luwian Sun-god. He was among the most important gods of the Luwians.

The name of the Proto-Anatolian Sun god can be reconstructed as *Diuod-, which derives from the Proto-Indo-European word *dei- «shine», «glow»). This name is cognate with the Greek Zeus, Latin Jupiter, and Norse Tyr.

While Tiwaz (and the related Palaic god Tiyaz) retained a promenant role in the pantheon, the Hittite cognate deity, Šiwat was largely eclipsed by the Sun goddess of Arinna, becoming a god of the day, especially the day of death.

In Luwian cuneiform of the Bronze Age, his name appears as Tiwad-. It can also be written with the Sumerogram dUTU («God-Sun»). In Hieroglyphic Luwian of the Iron Age, the name can be written as Tiwad- of with the ideogram (DEUS) SOL («God-Sun»).

Tiwaz was the descendant of the male Sun god of the Indo-European religion, Dyeus, who was superseded among the Hittites by the Hattian Sun goddess of Arinna.

Dyēus or Dyēus Phter (Proto-Indo-European: *dyḗws ph₂tḗr, also *Dyḗus Ph2tḗr or Dyēus Pətḗr, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been the chief deity in Proto-Indo-European mythology.

Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylit sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in Proto-Indo-European society.

This deity is not directly attested; rather, scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as the Greeks, Latins, and Indo-Aryans.

According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was known as Dyḗus Ph2tḗr, literally “sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeus Pater, Vedic Dyáuṣ Pitṛ́.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld. Dis was originally associated with fertile agricultural land and mineral wealth, and since those minerals came from underground, he was later equated with the chthonic deities Pluto (Hades) and Orcus.

Dīs Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dīs and this name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the City of Dis of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, which comprises Lower Hell.

In De Natura Deorum, Cicero derives the name of Dīs Pater from the Latin dives (“wealth, riches”), suggesting a meaning of “father of riches” (Pater is “father” in Latin), directly corresponding to the name Pluto, Pluto simply being how Plouton is spelled is Latin.

Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Ph₂ter or “Zeus-Pater”).

Pluto was the ruler of the underworld in classical mythology. The earlier name for the god was Hades, which became more common as the name of the underworld itself.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Pluto represents a more positive concept of the god who presides over the afterlife.

Ploutōn was frequently conflated with Ploutos (Plutus), a god of wealth, because mineral wealth was found underground, and because as a chthonic god Pluto ruled the deep earth that contained the seeds necessary for a bountiful harvest.

The name Ploutōn came into widespread usage with the Eleusinian Mysteries, in which Pluto was venerated as a stern ruler but the loving husband of Persephone.

The couple received souls in the afterlife, and are invoked together in religious inscriptions. Hades, by contrast, had few temples and religious practices associated with him, and he is portrayed as the dark and violent abductor of Persephone.

In Bronze Age texts, Tiwaz is often referred to as «Father» (cuneiform Luwian: tatis Tiwaz, lithuanian tėvas, ‘father’) and once as «Great Tiwaz» (cuneiform Luwian: urazza- dUTU-az), and invoked along with the «Father gods» (cuneiform Luwian: tatinzi maššaninzi).

His Bronze Age epithet, “Tiwaz of the Oath” (cuneiform Luwian: ḫirutalla- dUTU-az), indicates that he was an oath-god. The Luwian verb tiwadani- («to curse») is derived from Tiwaz’s name.

In the Hittite and Hurrian religions the Sun goddess of the Earth played an important role in the death cult and was understood to be the ruler of the world of the dead.

For the Luwians there is a Bronze Age source which refers to the «Sun god of the Earth»: «If he is alive, may Tiwaz release him, if he is dead, may the Sun god of the Earth release him».

The Sun goddess of the Earth was the Hittite goddess of the underworld. Her Hurrian equivalent was Allani and her Sumerian/Akkadian equivalent was Ereshkigal, both of which had a marked influence on the Hittite goddess from an early date.

The Sun god of Heaven was a Hittite solar deity. He was the second-most worshipped solar deity of the Hittites, after the Sun goddess of Arinna. The Sun god of Heaven was identified with the Hurrian solar deity, Šimige.

From the time of Suppiluliuma I (and probably earlier), the Sun god of Heaven played an important role as the foremost oath god in interstate treaties.

As a result of the influence of the Mesopotamian Sun god Šamaš, the Sun god of Heaven also gained an important role as the god of law, legality, and truth.

Shivini which is Utu in Sumeria, Shivini in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypt while the Armenians called him Artinis was a solar god in the mythology of the Armenian kingdom of Urartu. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas.

The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription.

Ar was the sun-god of the Armenians. The oldest cult worshiped an unfathomable higher power or intelligence called Ara, embodied as the sun (Arev); the ancient Armenians called themselves “children of the sun”.

Ra (Ancient Egyptian: r or rˤ; also rˤw; cuneiform: ri-a or ri-ia) or Re (Rēi) is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld.

By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. The consort of Mars was Nerio or Neriene, “Valor.” She represents the vital force (vis), power (potentia) and majesty (maiestas) of Mars.

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.

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.

Nergal is a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia. 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. 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.

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

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.

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 national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo is considered to be the most Greek of all gods.

In Germanic mythology, Týr (Old Norse), Tíw (Old English), and Ziu (Old High German) is a god. Stemming from the Proto-Germanic deity *Tīwaz and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European deity *Dyeus, little information about the god survives beyond Old Norse sources.

Due to the etymology of the god’s name and the shadowy presence of the god in the extant Germanic corpus, some scholars propose that Týr may have once held a more central place among the deities of early Germanic mythology.

Interpretatio romana, in which Romans interpret other gods as forms of their own, generally renders the god as Mars, the ancient Roman war god, and it is through that lens that most Latin references to the god occur.

Týr is the namesake of the Tiwaz rune, a letter of the runic alphabet corresponding to the Latin letter T. Outside of its application as a theonym, the Old Norse common noun týr means ‘(a) god’ (plural tívar). In turn, the theonym Týr may be understood to mean “the god”.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead.

It has been proposed 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.

Kali’s earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces. She is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of the Kulamārga, a category of tantric Saivism.

Over time, she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti.

Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation.

Kali is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. She is often regarded as the Shakti of Shiva, and is closely associated with him in various Puranas.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation.

She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first Chaoskampf in which Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In the second Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations.

In ancient Sumerian mythology, Ereshkigal is the queen of the Underworld. She is the older sister of the goddess, Inanna. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

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Når kundalinien reiser seg

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 1, 2019

Et mikrokosmos ligger gjemt inni hver og enkel av oss som er identisk med det makrokosmos som vi finner rundt oss. Mytologien omhandler på mange måter det altomfattende univers som befinner seg rundt oss, men handler samtidig om vår indre reise i oss selv.

Kundalini

Kundalini, som på sanskrit betyr «sammenrullet som en slange», er ifølge tantriske tradisjoner en urenergi som strømmer fra den nederste del av ryggsøylen, rotchakraen, til issen, eller kronechakraen.

En kroppslig energi som for de fleste er en ubevisst, instinktiv og libidinal kraft lokalisert nederst i ryggraden. Den blir forestilt enten som gudinnen Shakti, eller som en sovende slange tre og en halv gang omslynget korsbeinet.

Energien kan aktiveres spontant eller ved hjelp av spesielle yoga-teknikker. Når Kundalini-energien vekkes, f.eks. gjennom spirituelle øvelser, søker den å stige opp, delvis eller fullstendig, gjennom en trang energikanal i ryggsøylen.

Langs energikanalen ligger seks energipunkter, chakraene. Når kundalinikraften stiger opp aktiveres chakraenes forskjellige energier. Når kundalinienergien stiger helt opp til krone-chakraet på toppen av hodet har personen oppnådd spirituell opplysthet eller fullkommenhet (“unio mystica”), også kjent som nirvana, og man er fri fra karmaets hjul.

Karma

Karma, som på sanskrit betyr «gjerning», «handling», «utførelse», betegner filosofien rundt handling, gjerning og kausalitet i indiske religioner. Karma betyr gjerninger, og skapes av tankehandlinger, språkhandlinger eller kroppslige handlinger, men innebærer også konsekvensene av alle disse gjerningene.

Karma er innen visse religioner og åndelige lærer den virkning som handlinger har på ens nåværende og senere liv. De handlingene et menneske gjør i dette livet, vil være med å bestemme hvordan det skal gå i det neste. 

De handlingene et menneske gjør i dette livet vil være med å bestemme hvordan det skal gå i det neste liv. Tanken om at karma opprettholder liv er i Upanishadene kombinert med tanken om gjenfødelse og reinkarnasjon. 

Karma er etter hinduisk tro årsakene bak menneskets plass i livet. Alle handlinger – det være seg seg aktive handlinger, valgt passivitet eller tanker – setter fra seg karmiske spor i bevisstheten. Disse sporene vil påvirke alle dine fremtidige tanker og handlinger.

Alle kan bryte ut av dette mekaniske handlingsmønsteret. Man kan til en hver tid ta aktiv stilling i sine valg. Om man klarer å fullstendig bryte løs fra den karmiske mekanikken, når man det stadiet som i buddhismen kalles opplysning, Nirvana og Moksha i hinduismen. 

Det er først og fremst motivet bak handlingen og selve handlingen som er det viktige. Motivene bak alt vi gjør, skaper enten god eller dårlig karma. God karma er det samme som frigjøring fra karma. Frigjøring fra karma skaper et varmt og godt lys rundt et menneske. Den betydningen går igjen i vårt begrep om sjarm.

Ved å gjøre gode gjerninger, kan menneskets sjel – atman – bli ett med brahman (Gud). Krishna regnes som den store frelseren også i hinduismen, den ypperste personlighet som vil sørge for at alle til syvende og sist blir frelst, og som lærer alle mennesker – Pancas Khrishtaya – at alt er godt i Gud.

Buddhistisk karma skiller seg fra hinduistisk karma i det at resultatene av handlingene kommer med en gang, her og nå. Der man i hinduismen snakker om at handlingene (både gode og dårlige) regnes sammen etter ett liv før det avgjøres hva vedkommende skal gjenfødes til, kan man i buddhismen snakke om noe mer liknende en naturlov.

Nirvana

Nirvana er en ideell tilstand av ro, harmoni, fred, stabilitet eller glede; det som helt av seg selv er når uro, ufred, forvirring og lidelse opphører. I de indiske religionene betyr nirvāna bokstavelig talt å «dø ut» eller «slukke», og er høydepunktet for yogiens streben etter frigjøring.

Nirvana innebærer (i buddhismen) at innbilninger og forutinntatthet, grådighet, hat, lidelse, arroganse og misunnelse, som vil si de såkalte sinnsgiftene, det som binder og styrer menneskesinnet i vanemessige tanke- og handlingsmønstre, og som er den egentlige årsaken til lidelse, opphører.

Når sinnsgiftene opphører forsvinner samtidig årsakene til lidelse. Veien til å realisere denne frigjøringen, nirvana, heter den åttedelte vei. En som har oppnådd Nirvana i dette livet kan etter sin død velge å bryte ut av samsara og aldri mer bli gjenfødt, noe som kalles å gå inn i parinirvana.

Nirvana er allikevel ikke sammenlignbart med kristendommens begrep for «himmelen», som vil si et personlig evig liv etter ens fysiske død. Nirvana er derimot den virkeligheten som et menneske som har kvittet seg med sinnsgiftenes illusjoner befinner seg i, noe som er høyst mulig mens man lever.

Buddha omtalte denne endelige tilstanden kun med negasjoner: «Det uskapte», «det ubetingede», «det ufødte» og «det udødelige». Det ville være å misoppfatte nirvanas transcendente absolutte natur å tilskrive det affirmative begrensende egenskaper.

Moksha

Hinduisme og jainisme bruker ordet nirvana også for å beskrive en tilstand av moksha, også kjent som vimoksha, vimukti og mukti, som er et sentralt konsept i hinduistiske tradisjoner som refererer til ulike former for opplysning og frigjøring, til frihet fra saṃsāra, som vil si syklusen av død og gjenfødsel, frihet fra ignoranse, samt til selvrealisering og selvbevissthet.

Moksha blir referert til som det ypperste målet og kan bli oppnådd ved dharma, som vil si det å leve et dydig, riktig moralsk liv, eller rettferdighet og etiske verdier, artha, som vil si materiell velstand og inntektssikkerhet, samt kama, som vil si glede, sensualitet og følelsesmessig oppfyllelse. Sammen heter disse fire konseptene Puruṣārtha, eller det som er gjenstand for menneskelig søken, i hinduismen.

Puruṣartha er et sammensatt sanskritord bestående av ordet Purusha og Artha, hvorav førstnevnte betyr “menneske”, “sjel” så vel som “et universelt prinsipp om verdenssjelen” og det sistnevnte betyr “hensikt”, “gjenstand for begjær” og “mening”.  Purusartha betyr med andre ord “hensikten med mennesket” eller “gjenstand for menneskelig søken”.

I hinduismen omfatter læren om moksha også dem som har havnet i Helvetene. Hinduene tror at mennesker som begår papa (synd) må til helvete og gjennomgå en straff som står i forhold til syndene de har begått.

Individer som har gjennomgått sin straff blir gjenfødt slik deres karma tilsier. Ingen er perfekte og alle har minst én synd på sitt rulleblad. Hvis man har levd et noenlunde syndefritt liv vil man stige opp til Swarga (himmelen) etter et kort opphold i helvete.

Moksha er frigjøringen fra synd som fører til at en ikke lenger blir bundet til illusjonene som klenger seg til ens oppfattelsesapparat. Ordet betyr det samme som frelse innenfor kristendommen og er omtalt i flere hinduistiske, tantiske tekster foruten Bhagavad Gita.

Samsara

Syndsbegrepet i hinduismen (samt buddhismen og jainismen) er forbundet med samsara, også kalt «Livshjulet», som betyr å flyte eller strømme, men som oversettes med gjenfødelse, og fabrikasjonene som utgjør illusjonene i samsara, og karma.

Som universet ellers har denne sirkelen av gjenfødsler ingen begynnelse eller slutt. Hinduene tror at når man dør vandrer sjelen (atman) inn i nye vesener som fødes. Atman dør ikke. Denne sirkelen av tusener av gjenfødelser kaller hinduene samsara.

Det er alle hinduers mål å komme seg ut av samsara, inkarnasjonssyklusen eller reinkarnasjonen, og oppnå moksha. Dog lærer også hinduer om boddhisattva-prinsippet, som innebærer at de som har oppnådd frelsen blir igjen etter opplysningen eller lar seg gjenføde for å hjelpe andre i full kjærlighet.

Før en er frigjort fra forurensningene og forvirringen fortsetter en å gjøre ting som binder en til illusjonenes verden og handlingenes kjedereaksjoner. Dette skjer fordi en ikke erkjenner årsakssammenhengene. Derfor blir en gjenfødt i en av de seks eksistensene, hvorav den verste av disse er Helvete.

Shiva

Shiva, som betyr «lykkebringeren», er en av de høyeste guddommene i hinduismen. Som Nataraja, «dansens herre», frembringer og tilintetgjør han universet. Han regnes ofte som en del av Trimūrti, en guddommelig treenighet hvor Brahmā er skaperen, Vishnu er opprettholderen og Shiva er ødeleggeren.

Shiva er både en fruktbarhetsgud og en gud for askese. Han fremstilles som en yogi som sitter nedsunket i meditasjon, med langt hår og den nakne kroppen oversmurt med aske — et guddommelig forbilde for utøverne av yoga, slik de finnes i India. Gjennom hans hår renner den hellige elven Ganges ned på jorden.

Han framstilles gjerne som en asket som sitter på kremasjonsplassen ustelt, innsmurt med aske og omgitt av slanger. Som et motstykke til den asketiske siden ved hans person er han forbundet med seksualitet og fruktbarhet.

I kunst og mytologi fremstilles han som tronende på Kailasha-fjellet i Tibet, nord for Himalaya, sammen med sin hustru, gudinnen Parvati, som i rituell sammenheng kalles Shakti. Hans kultus knyttes også til gudinnene Kali og Durga. 

Hans symbol, linga, er en symbolsk fremstilling av kjønnsorganet og har form av en fallos. Lingam, som også kan identifiseres med hans stav, blir sagt å strekke seg fra det dypeste dyp til den øverste himmel.

Ifølge hinduisk tantra representerer guddommene Shiva og Shakti universets to grunnprinsipper, det mannlige og det kvinnelige. Symbolske framstillinger av det mannlige organ “lingam” og det kvinnelige “yoni” kan finnes overalt i India.

Tantra

Tantrisme er en betegnelse for en bred strømning innen hinduismen, deler av buddhismen og andre indiske og tibetanske religiøse og spirituelle tradisjoner, som oppsto på 400-tallet e.vt. og ble stadig mer dominerende, spesielt i ritualer og yoga.

Hinduisk tantrisme bygger på en litteratur utenfor den vediske, som vil si de eldste kjente hellige skrifter i India. De vediske skriftene representerer det eldste stadium av hinduisk religion. De er skrevet på vedisk, som er et indoarisk språk, den eldste kjente form av sanskrit.

Også buddhistisk tantrisme bygger på andre kilder enn de tidlige skolene, medregnet mahayana. Tantrismen gjennomstrømmer buddhismen i Nepal og Tibet. En egen tantrisk retning er shingon-skolen i Japan.

Tantra betegner en type mentale øvelser og ritualer som kan være svært spesifikke og detaljerte, og som utføres som del av åndelig eller religiøs praksis. Det er ikke en filosofi eller en religion i seg selv.

Typiske kjennetegn ved tantra er kompleks symbolbruk som må ses i en helt spesiell kontekst for at den skal gi mening, at hele eller deler av en øvelse holdes hemmelig for uinnvidde, og at korrekt utførelse av øvelsen krever veiledning fra en kvalifisert lærer.

Tantrismen vil fremfor alt være en praktisk metode til å oppnå overnaturlige evner (siddhi) og frelse (moksha). Den forutsetter at den makt som guddommene har, også finnes latent i mennesket og kan vekkes til live og utnyttes ved hjelp av ritualer, meditasjon og yoga-øvelser.

Viktig i tantrismen er tanken at det store kosmos gjenspeiles i mennesket. Tantrismen er derfor ikke asketisk og verdensfornektende, men gjør bruk av kroppen og menneskets lystfølelse. Også språkets fonemer gjenspeiler såvel guddommen som kosmos, og det blir derfor benyttet kraftladede formler (mantra) som blir resitert i forbindelse med ritualer og meditasjon.

I visse tantriske miljøer blir det lagt vekt på ukonvensjonell opptreden, og i ritualene blir flere av den ortodokse religionens moralbud systematisk brutt: det blir drukket alkohol og spist kjøtt, og i sammenheng med ritualene blir kasteskillene opphevet. I visse kretser blir det praktisert rituelt samleie. Læren blir alltid overlevert direkte fra mester (guru) til elev, og det har blitt lagt vekt på at den skal holdes hemmelig.

Ifølge hinduisk tantra representerer guddommene Shiva og Shakti universets to grunnprinsipper, det mannlige og det kvinnelige. Symbolske framstillinger av det mannlige organ “lingam” og det kvinnelige “yoni” kan finnes overalt i India.

Gudens shakti, «kraft», betraktes som kvinnelig og blir tilbedt som den store Gudinnen. «Kraften» finnes også i mennesket, slumrende nederst i ryggsøylen (ikonografisk fremstilles den som en oppkveilet slange, kundalini). Ved hjelp av yoga-øvelser kan den vekkes til live og gjennomstrømme hele kroppen.

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Armenia – from its origin to the battle of Manzikert

Posted by Fredsvenn on March 30, 2019

Armenia is a country in the highlands surrounding the mountains of Ararat with an ancient cultural heritage. Located in Western Asia on the Armenian Highlands, it is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran and Azerbaijan’s exclave of Nakhchivan to the south.

The Halaf culture is a prehistoric period which lasted between about 6100 BC and 5100 BC. The Halaf period was succeeded by the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period which comprised the late Halaf (c. 5400-5000 BC), and then by the Ubaid period.

The Halaf period is a continuous development out of the earlier Pottery Neolithic and is located primarily in south-eastern Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq, although Halaf-influenced material is found throughout Greater Mesopotamia.

The Hassuna culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia dating to 6000 BC. It is named after the type site of Tell Hassuna in Iraq. Other sites where Hassuna material has been found include Tell Shemshara.

The Shulaveri-Shomu culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. Archaeological surveys in 2010 and 2011 at the Areni-1 cave complex have resulted in the discovery of the world’s earliest known leather shoe, skirt, and wine-producing facility.

Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

The technology and typology of bone-based instruments are similar to those of the Near East Neolithic material culture. The similarities between the macrolithic tools and the use of ochre also bring Shulaveri-Shomu culture closer to the culture of Halaf. Pestles and mortars found in Shulaveri-Shomu sites and Late Neolithic layers of Tell Sabi Abyad in Syria are also similar to each other.

Previously, the Syrian plains were not considered as the homeland of Halaf culture, and the Halafians were seen either as hill people who descended from the nearby mountains of southeastern Anatolia, or herdsmen from northern Iraq.

However, those views changed with the recent archaeology conducted since 1986 by Peter Akkermans, which have produced new insights and perspectives about the rise of Halaf culture.

A formerly unknown transitional culture between the pre-Halaf Neolithic’s era and Halaf’s era was uncovered in the Balikh valley, at Tell Sabi Abyad (the Mound of the White Boy).

Currently, eleven occupational layers have been unearthed in Sabi Abyad. Levels from 11 to 7 are considered pre-Halaf; from 6 to 4, transitional; and from 3 to 1, early Halaf. No hiatus in occupation is observed except between levels 11 and 10.

The new archaeology demonstrated that Halaf culture was not sudden and was not the result of foreign people, but rather a continuous process of indigenous cultural changes in northern Syria, that spread to the other regions.

There is evidence of an early civilisation in Armenia in the Bronze Age and earlier, dating to about 4000 BC. Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî.

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC.

Urartu (Ararat) was established in 860 BC and by the 6th century BC it was replaced by the Satrapy of Armenia. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Akkadian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

A large cuneiform lapidary inscription found in Yerevan established that the modern capital of Armenia was founded in the summer of 782 BC by King Argishti I. The Kingdom of Armenia reached its height under Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC and became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the late 3rd or early 4th century AD. The official date of state adoption of Christianity is 301.

The ancient Armenian kingdom was split between the Byzantine and Sasanian Empires around the early 5th century. Under the Bagratuni dynasty, the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia was restored in the 9th century.

Declining due to the wars against the Byzantines, the kingdom fell in 1045 and Armenia was soon after invaded by the Seljuk Turks. The Battle of Manzikert was fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Empire on 26 August 1071 near Manzikert, theme of Iberia (modern Malazgirt in Muş Province, Turkey).

Although the Byzantine Empire had remained strong and powerful in the Middle Ages, it began to decline under the reign of the militarily incompetent Constantine IX and again under Constantine X.

About 1053 Constantine IX disbanded what the historian John Skylitzes calls the “Iberian Army”, which consisted of 50,000 men. By demobilizing these soldiers Constantine did catastrophic harm to the Empire’s eastern defenses.

Constantine made a truce with the Seljuks that lasted until 1064, but a large Seljuk army under Alp Arslan attacked the theme of Iberia and took Ani; after a siege of 25 days, they captured the city and slaughtered its population.

Muhammad bin Dawud Chaghri was the second Sultan of the Seljuk Empire and great-grandson of Seljuk, the eponymous founder of the dynasty. As Sultan, Alp Arslan greatly expanded Seljuk territory and consolidated power, defeating rivals to his south and northwest.

His victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 ushered in the Turkish settlement of Anatolia. For his military prowess and fighting skills he obtained the name Alp Arslan, which means “Heroic Lion” in Turkish.

Between 961 and 1045, it was the capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom that covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. At its height, Ani was one of the biggest cities in the world, and its population was probably on the order of 100,000.

Called the “City of 1001 Churches”, Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.

Ani is a widely recognized cultural, religious, and national heritage symbol for Armenians. According to Razmik Panossian, Ani is one of the most visible and ‘tangible’ symbols of past Armenian greatness and hence a source of pride.

The city took its name from the Armenian fortress-city and pagan center of Ani-Kamakh located in the region of Daranaghi in Upper Armenia. Ani was also the diminutive name of ancient Armenian goddess Anahit who was seen as the mother-protector of Armenia.

The fallout from Manzikert was disastrous for the Byzantines, resulting in civil conflicts and an economic crisis that severely weakened the Byzantine Empire’s ability to adequately defend its borders. This led to the mass movement of Turks into central Anatolia.

The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia, and allowed for the gradual Turkification of Anatolia.

It was the first time in history a Byzantine Emperor had become the prisoner of a Muslim commander. Many of the Turks, who had been, during the 11th century, travelling westward, saw the victory at Manzikert as an entrance to Asia Minor.

In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor and existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia during the late Byzantine Empire.

Extending inland from the southeastern coast of modern Turkey, Cilicia is due north and northeast of the island of Cyprus and corresponds to the modern region of Çukurova in Turkey.

The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, also known as the Cilician Armenia, Lesser Armenia, or New Armenia, was an independent principality formed during the High Middle Ages by Armenian refugees fleeing the Seljuq invasion of Armenia.

Located outside the Armenian Highland and distinct from the Armenian Kingdom of antiquity, it was centered in the Cilicia region northwest of the Gulf of Alexandretta.

The kingdom had its origins in the principality founded c. 1080 by the Rubenid dynasty, an alleged offshoot of the larger Bagratid family, which at various times had held the thrones of Armenia and Georgia. Their capital was originally at Tarsus, and later became Sis.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade in a sermon at the Council of Clermont. He encouraged military support for the Byzantine Empire and its Emperor, Alexios I, who needed reinforcements for his conflict with westward migrating Turks colonizing Anatolia.

One of Urban’s aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the Eastern Mediterranean holy sites that were under Muslim control but scholars disagree as to whether this was the primary motive for Urban or those who heeded his call.

Urban’s strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since the East–West Schism of 1054 and to establish himself as head of the unified Church.

The initial success of the Crusade established the first four Crusader states in the Eastern Mediterranean: the County of Edessa, the Principality of Antioch, the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli.

The enthusiastic response to Urban’s preaching from all classes in Western Europe established a precedent for other Crusades. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the Church.

Some were hoping for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or God’s forgiveness for all their sins. Others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, obtain glory and honour or to seek economic and political gain.

Cilicia was a strong ally of the European Crusaders, and saw itself as a bastion of Christendom in the East. It also served as a focus for Armenian nationalism and culture, since Armenia proper was under foreign occupation at the time.

Cilicia’s significance in Armenian history and statehood is also attested by the transfer of the seat of the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, spiritual leader of the Armenian people, to the region.

In 1198, with the crowning of Leo the Magnificent of the Rubenid dynasty, Cilician Armenia became a kingdom. In 1226, the crown was passed to rival Hethumids through Leo’s daughter Isabella’s second husband, Hethum I.

As the Mongols conquered vast regions of Central Asia and the Middle East, Hethum and succeeding Hethumid rulers sought to create an Armeno-Mongol alliance against common Muslim foes, most notably the Mamluks.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Crusader states and the Mongol Ilkhanate disintegrated, leaving the Armenian Kingdom without any regional allies.

After relentless attacks by the Mamluks in Egypt in the fourteenth century, the Cilician Armenia of the Lusignan dynasty, mired in an internal religious conflict, finally fell in 1375.

Leo V or Levon V (occasionally Levon VI; Levon V; 1342 – 29 November 1393), of the House of Lusignan, a royal house of French origin, was the last Latin king of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. He ruled from 1374 to 1375.

The House of Lusignan ruled at various times several principalities in Europe and the Levant, including the kingdoms of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Armenia, from the 12th through the 15th centuries during the Middle Ages. It also had great influence in England and France.

The last king of Cilicia, from the French Lusignan line, found it impossible to withstand the siege on the capital Sis by the Egyptian Mamelukes – a powerful sultanate of the time – less than a year after his own coronation.

He was kept in captivity in Cairo until 1382, when he was ransomed with the generosity of Spanish kings. He was given the title of Chief Magistrate of Madrid, Villareal, and Andujar.

Although nothing much came out of that “Señoria” (“Lordship”) over Madrid, in fact being somewhat controversial for the local population, there still exists a Calle León V de Armenia in the Spanish capital today.

The exiled King Leo spent much of the following years going from court to court in Western Europe. He tried to serve as a diplomat mediating between France and England, in the hopes of leading a drive to liberate Cilicia, without success. He died in 1393.

The remains of the last Armenian king were desecrated during the French Revolution four hundred years later, but his tomb was later relocated to the Basilica of St. Denis, alongside other members of French monarchy, where it rests to this day.

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Lagash, Nineveh and Nina

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 20, 2019

Goddess Nina

Lagash

Lagash (modern Al-Hiba) is an ancient city located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about 22 kilometres (14 mi) east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, Iraq. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East.

From inscriptions found at Girsu such as the Gudea cylinders, it appears that Lagash was an important Sumerian city in the late 3rd millennium BC. It was at that time ruled by independent kings, Ur-Nanshe (24th century BC) and his successors, who were engaged in contests with the Elamites on the east and the kings of Kienĝir and Kish on the north.

Some of the earlier works from before the Akkadian conquest are also extremely interesting, in particular Eanatum’s Stele of the Vultures and Entemena’s great silver vase ornamented with Ningirsu’s sacred animal Anzu: a lion-headed eagle with wings outspread, grasping a lion in each talon.

With the Akkadian conquest Lagash lost its independence, its ruler or ensi becoming a vassal of Sargon of Akkad and his successors; but Lagash continued to be a city of much importance and above all, a centre of artistic development.

After the collapse of Sargon’s state, Lagash again thrived under its independent kings (ensis), Ur-Baba and Gudea, and had extensive commercial communications with distant realms. According to one estimate, Lagash was the largest city in the world from c. 2075 to 2030 BC.

According to his own records, Gudea brought cedars from the Amanus and Lebanon mountains in Syria, diorite from eastern Arabia, copper and gold from central and southern Arabia, while his armies were engaged in battles with Elam on the east.

His was especially the era of artistic development. We even have a fairly good idea of what Gudea looked like, since he placed in temples throughout his city numerous statues or idols depicting himself with lifelike realism.

At the time of Gudea, the capital of Lagash was actually in Girsu. The kingdom covered an area of approximately 1,600 square kilometres (620 sq mi). It contained 17 larger cities, eight district capitals, and numerous villages (about 40 known by name).

Soon after the time of Gudea, Lagash was absorbed into the Ur III state as one of its prime provinces. There is some information about the area during the Old Babylonian period. After that it seems to have lost its importance; at least we know nothing more about it until the construction of the Seleucid fortress mentioned, when it seems to have become part of the Greek kingdom of Characene.

Girsu

Nearby Girsu at the site of modern Tell Telloh, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq, about 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Lagash, was the religious center of the Lagash state. Girsu was possibly inhabited in the Ubaid period (5300-4800 BC), but significant levels of activity began in the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC).

From inscriptions found at Girsu such as the Gudea cylinders, it appears that Lagash was an important Sumerian city in the late 3rd millennium BC. At the time of Gudea, during the Second Dynasty of Lagash, Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom and continued to be its religious center after political power had shifted to city of Lagash.

During the Ur III period, Girsu was a major administrative center for the empire. After the fall of Ur, Girsu declined in importance, but remained inhabited until approximately 200 BC.

It’s main temple was the E-Ninnu, dedicated to the god Ningirsu, also known as Ninurta, an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with farming, healing, hunting, law, scribes, and war who was first worshipped in early Sumer.

Ninurta was worshipped in Mesopotamia as early as the middle of the third millennium BC by the ancient Sumerians, and is one of the earliest attested deities in the region. His main cult center was the Eshumesha temple in the Sumerian city-state of Nippur, where he was worshipped as the god of agriculture and the son of the chief-god Enlil.

In the earliest records, he is a god of agriculture and healing, who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons. In later times, as Mesopotamia grew more militarized, he became a warrior deity, though he retained many of his earlier agricultural attributes. He continued to be seen as a healer and protector, and he was commonly invoked in spells to protect against demons, disease, and other dangers.

Though they may have originally been separate deities, in historical times, the god Ninĝirsu, who was worshipped in the Sumerian city-state of Girsu, was always identified as a local form of Ninurta. Ninĝirsu was honored by King Gudea of Lagash (ruled 2144–2124 BC), who rebuilt Ninĝirsu’s temple in Lagash. As the city-state of Girsu declined in importance, Ninĝirsu became increasingly known as “Ninurta”

Nina

The ancient site of Nina (modern Surghul) is around 10 km (6.2 mi) away and marks the southern limit of the state. The tell Surghul was inhabited from the period of Ubaid, around 5000 BC, until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

A Tello brick with the text: « For Nina (the goddess), Gudea, Lagash’s patési, do all that is right: In Nina, her beloved city, her temple Sirara, which rises higher than the others, he built» shows that Sirara is the name of the temple, while Nina is both the name of the goddess and of the town. However, specialists consider that the reading of the hieroglyphs is uncertain as regards the designation of the city, “Nigin” is prefer to “Nina”.

15 bricks and 11 cones covered with hieroglyphs were exhumed there. They advanced the knowledge of the places. Indeed, the writings commemorate, as was usual at this time, the construction of the temple Sirara for the goddess Nanshe (or Nina) by Gudea of Lagash.

Nanshe was the daughter of Enki (god of wisdom, magic and water) and the earth and mother goddess Ninhursag. According to tradition, Enki organized the universe and placed her in charge of fish and fishing.

Nanshe was also described as a divine soothsayer and dream interpreter. Although at times overshadowed by her sister Inanna (Akkadian: Ishtar), Nanshe was, nevertheless, important in her own geographic area, and many rulers of Lagash record that they were chosen by her.

She was a goddess of social justice, prophecy, fertility and fishing. Like her father, she was heavily associated with water. She held dominion over the Persian Gulf and all the animals within. Her seat of power was the Sirara temple, located in the city of Nina.

Nanshe has two major symbols, both of which are also seen in Christian folklore. The fish represents her original role as a water and fishing goddess. The pelican, said in folklore to rip open its own chest to feed its young, represents her role as a protector and caregiver.

Her consort was Haia, god of storerooms, and her vizier was Hendursag who was in charge of judging people’s deeds and transgressions. Her husband/consort was originally Nindara, Hendursag’s older brother, the local god of Lagash, known as a great warrior and the ‘tax collector of the sea,’ though the meaning of the epithet is unclear. However, she is most commonly associated with Haia.

Ninevhe

Nineveh (Akkadian: URUNI.NU.A Ninua) was an ancient Assyrian city of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. It is located on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and was the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Today it is a common name for the half of Mosul which lies on the eastern bank of the Tigris.

Nineveh was one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity. The area was settled as early as 6000 BC during the late Neolithic. The deep sounding at Nineveh uncovered layers now dated to early Hassuna culture period. By 3000 BC, the area had become an important religious center for the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar.

The original meaning of the name is unclear but may have referred to a patron goddess. The English placename Nineveh comes from Latin Ninive and Septuagint Greek Nineuḗ under influence of the Biblical Hebrew Nīnewēh, from the Akkadian Ninua (var. Ninâ) or Old Babylonian Ninuwā.

The cuneiform for Ninâ is a fish within a house (cf. Aramaic nuna, “fish”). This may have simply intended “Place of Fish” or may have indicated a goddess associated with fish or the Tigris, possibly originally of Hurrian origin. The city was later said to be devoted to “the goddess Ishtar of Nineveh” and Nina was one of the Sumerian and Assyrian names of that goddess.

Goddess Nina

A very ancient mother Goddess figure in Mesopotamia, Nina has many powers, including healing, herb magic, dream interpretation, magic and meditation, cooperation and helping civilization along when needed. Her symbols are lions, fish and serpents (Her sacred animals).

Nina is another name of the Goddess Inanna. Nina, in Assyro-Babylonian mythology, was the daughter of Ea, the god of water, wisdom and technical skill.  Nina is also the Goddess [of] Ninevah, the capital city of ancient Assyria.

Nowhere else is this more true than in the case of The Oldest One, Serpent Goddess of the Oracles, Mistress of Unfathomable Decrees, Interpreter of Dreams, Prophetess of Deities, Queen Nina, or, if you prefer, Nana, of the Sumerians. However, because Nin prefixes many goddesses’ names (some researchers have even translated nin to mean goddess.

The list of her other names doesn’t stop there: In the cities of Harran and Ur, they called her Ningal or Nikkal; in Nippur, Ninlil; and, at the shrine at Al Ubaid, she was Ninhursag. When spoken of in conjunction with Nammu and the myth of the formation of the people of the Earth, she was Ninmah.

The Goddess Nina has been described as She who assigned the destinies of lives while swimming as a fish, and it was also said that … the sacred sign that spelled Her name [was] the same as the sign of the City of Nineveh…

In her capacity as Comforter of Orphans, Caretaker of the Elderly and the Ill, Shelterer of the Homeless and Feeder of the Hungry, She was called Nanshe; on the plains of Khafajah, Ninti or Nintu; on the Isle of Dilmun, Nin Sikil.

When she provided: healing herbs, Ninkarrak, Gula or Bau; dream interpretation, Ninsun or Ninsunna; beer and wine for holy rites, Ninkasi, or, as She arose from the deep waters of the primordial sea, simply: Ama Gal Dingir, the Mother Great Goddess.

Closely related to Nina, too, is the Babylonian “Great Mother of the Sea”, Tiamat (although the epic, Enuma Elish appears to be the only piece of literature that survives containing any reference to a goddess specifically by that name).

The mermaid

The legends of the existence of aquatic creatures that are half-human and half-fish have their roots in the dim and distant past. The word mermaid is a compound of the Old English mere (sea), and maid (a girl or young woman). The male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry.

Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Depictions of entities with the tails of fish, but upper bodies of human beings appear in Mesopotamian artwork from the Old Babylonian Period onwards. These figures are usually mermen, but mermaids do occasionally appear.

The name for the mermaid figure may have been kuliltu, meaning “fish-woman”. Such figures were used in Neo-Assyrian art as protective figures and were shown in both monumental sculpture and in small, protective figurines.

Atargatis

The first known mermaid stories appeared in ancient Assyria c. 1000 BC, in which the goddess Atargatis or Ataratheh, the chief goddess of northern Syria in Classical antiquity and mother of Assyrian queen Semiramis, transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover.

The earliest representations of Atargatis showed her as a fish with a human head and arm, similar to the Babylonian god Enki. However, she loved a mortal (a shepherd) and unintentionally killed him. Ashamed, she jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish, but the waters would not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid.

She has been called “the great mistress of the North Syrian lands”. The Greeks recognized Atargatis under the name Derketo. Ctesias also used the name Derketo for her, and the Romans called her Dea Syria, or in one word Deasura.

Her chief sanctuary was at Hierapolis, modern Manbij, northeast of Aleppo, Syria. She is sometimes described as a mermaid-goddess, due to identification of her with a fish-bodied goddess at Ascalon. However, there is no evidence that Atargatis was worshipped at Ascalon, and all iconographic evidence shows her as anthropomorphic.

Her epithets included “Pure,” “Virgin,” “Savior,” and “Mother of the Gods”, and her iconography connected her particularly to Cybele, the Great Mother. Like her, Atargatis was often depicted riding or accompanied by a lion. Often she sat on a throne flanked by two sphinxes or two lions.

Primarily she was a goddess of fertility, but, as the baalat (“mistress”) of her city and people, she was also responsible for their protection and well-being. Her consort is usually Hadad. As Ataratheh, doves and fish were considered sacred to her: doves as an emblem of the Love-Goddess, and fish as symbolic of the fertility and life of the waters.

Her headdress was usually topped by a crescent moon and draped with a veil. In her hands she carried various objects: a plate or cup, a scepter or staff, and ears of grain, but most often she held a spindle and a mirror.

Sometimes doves or fish were near or actually on her. In some places Atargatis was associated with dolphins. At other places, the eight-pointed star emphasized her association with the planet Venus.

The name Atargatis derives from the Aramaic form ʿAtarʿatheh, which comes in several variants. It has also been proposed that the element -gatis may relate to the Greek gados “fish”. (For example, the Greek name for “sea monster” or “whale” is the cognate term ketos). So Atar-Gatis may simply mean “the fish-goddess Atar”.

The goddess Atargatis maintained a presence at the temple of Ascalon on the Mediterranean Coast, famous for its dove cotes and as a shrine of oracular prophesy. Whether Atargatis came ashore from the Mediterranean at Ascalon, or was born of the waters of the Tigris, is a matter for debate. That she bore a daughter who walked on two feet, Shammuramat, is not. Also, it is known that upon her altars, her priestesses and devotees sacrificed to her fish.

Atargatis is considered to be quite possibly connected to the early Sumerian images of Nina or Nammu because of her association with the city of Nineveh (on the Tigris River) and her primary image as a goddess of the sea — depicted with the tail of a fish.

The snake and the feminine principle

In the Sumerian goddesses’ family tree, we find Nammu, whose sign is identical to that used for ”the sea”. As a dragon she is linked with Tiamat. The Sumerian goddess Nidaba is symbolized as a serpent or woman with a serpent’s tail. The close association between the ancient “Mother Goddess” religion and the symbol of the fish is undeniable.

Throughout history the connection between the snake and the feminine principle has been profound and intimate. From east to west, serpents have always tempted, personified, accompanied, awakened, transformed, and empowered women and goddesses.

This accounts from Eve to the Serpent Lady of Ashtoreth and Kadesh. From Ishtar, the Babylonian Lady of Vision to the Serpent Goddess of Crete, from Kebhut, the goddess of freshness who played a part in Egyptian funerary ceremonies to the asp that transported Cleopatra to the afterlife, from Greece’s ancient Earth Mother Gaea to the Golden Age’s Queen, Hera, and her step-daughter Athena, goddess of wisdom.

A snake is one of the most versatile of all creatures. It can live in the ground or in a tree, in the desert or in the water, but it is primarily considered a chthonic creature, i.e. as pertaining to the earth and the spirits of the underworld.

This accounts for its association with the physical death of the body; however, because it periodically sheds its skin and emerges as if reborn, it is also seen as a symbol of transformation and the perpetual capacity for renewal.

Those goddesses that are described as having a connection to serpents include Lilith, known in the Epic of Gilgamesh as having lived within the huluppu tree, around which a serpent did entwine, Amo Usum Gal Ana, also known as “Great Mother Serpent of Heaven” and “Indunna’s Eye”, and Bealat, known in prayers that invoked her as “The Serpent Lady”.

Later, when invaders with a more patriarchal-centered society conquered the goddess-worshipping Middle East, she and her symbol were reduced to the respective roles of dupe and trickster (i.e., Eve and the Serpent) and “cast out”– eventually to be buried, completely, in the shifting sands of time…

This apostasy of the formerly matriarchal theology is well-illustrated in the legend of the mythical murder of Tiamat by Marduk. In that myth, the reptilian goddess is killed by the strong king and her body made into the heavens and the earth.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.

The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear. Anu later became replaced by the god Enlil and in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon by Marduk, the son of Ea.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon.

Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. “It has long been realized that the Marduk epic, for all its local coloring and probable elaboration by the Babylonian theologians, reflects in substance older Sumerian material,” The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far.

This surmise that the Babylonian version of the story is based upon a modified version of an older epic, in which Enlil, not Marduk, was the god who slew Tiamat, is more recently dismissed as “distinctly improbable”. In fact, Marduk has no precise Sumerian prototype.

It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed, was written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition.

The dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date to the 15th century BC.

Astarte

Atargatis is seen as a continuation of Bronze Age goddesses. These shared many traits with each other and may have been worshipped in conjunction or separately during 1500 years of cultural history.

In many cases Atargatis, ‘Ashtart, and other goddesses who once had independent cults and mythologies became fused to such an extent as to be indistinguishable. Not unnaturally she is identified with the Greek Aphrodite.

At Ugarit, cuneiform tablets attest the three great Canaanite goddesses: ʾAṭirat, described as a fecund “Lady Goddess of the Sea” and identified with Asherah, the war-like virgin goddess ʿAnat, and the goddess of love ʿAțtart, the namesake of the Phoenician goddess ʿAštart, called Astarte in Greek.

Some 58 miles south of Nineveh, evidence of a goddess named Asherah was found at a temple later renamed for Ishtar. The Imagery of Asherah, as suggested in the tablets of Ugarit, is reminiscent of the traditions of the traditions of Atargatis — as Asherah is called “the Goddess Who Walks the Sea”.

Linked with Atargatis by the location of her temple upon the Euphrates River, in the Syrian holy city of Hieropolis, was the goddess Ashtart, “The Ancient Serpent Lady”, and Astarte, who is depicted with snakes coiled about her neck.

Ashtart was said to have fallen from the sky into the water linked, herself, with the holy one of the sea (probably Nina) at the sacred lake of Heiropolis where her pilgrims bathed near to an altar stone [which] rose out of the center of the water, with fish glowing with golden lines swimming all about them.

Astarte is the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Astoreth (Northwest Semitic), a form of Ishtar (East Semitic), worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians.

She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.

Some ancient sources assert that in the territory of Sidon the temple of Astarte was sacred to Europa. According to an old Cretan story, Europa was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus, having transformed himself into a white bull, abducted, and carried to Crete.

Some scholars claim that the cult of the Minoan snake goddess who is identified with Ariadne (the “utterly pure”) was similar to the cult of Astarte. Her cult as Aphrodite was transmitted to Cythera and then to Greece.

Herodotus wrote that the religious community of Aphrodite originated in Phoenicia and came to Greeks from there. He also wrote about the world’s largest temple of Aphrodite, in one of the Phoenician cities.

Inanna

Inanna (Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna, however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (nin) and sky (an). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon.

This is supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the “Queen of Heaven” and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star.

Inanna appears in more myths than any other Sumerian deity. Many of her myths involve her taking over the domains of other deities. She was believed to have stolen the mes, which represented all positive and negative aspects of civilization, from Enki, the god of wisdom. She was also believed to have taken over the Eanna temple from An, the god of the sky. Alongside her twin brother Utu (later known as Shamash), Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice.

Inanna-Ishtar’s most famous myth is the story of her descent into and return from Kur, the ancient Sumerian Underworld, a myth in which she attempts to conquer the domain of her older sister Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld, but is instead deemed guilty of hubris by the seven judges of the Underworld and struck dead.

Three days later, Ninshubur pleads with all the gods to bring Inanna back, but all of them refuse her except Enki, who sends two sexless beings to rescue Inanna. They escort Inanna out of the Underworld, but the galla, the guardians of the Underworld, drag her husband Dumuzid down to the Underworld as her replacement. Dumuzid is eventually permitted to return to heaven for half the year while his sister Geshtinanna remains in the Underworld for the other half, resulting in the cycle of the seasons.

Inanna was worshipped in Sumer at least as early as the Uruk period (c. 4000 BC – c. 3100 BC), but she had little cult prior to the conquest of Sargon of Akkad. During the post-Sargonic era, she became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon, with temples across Mesopotamia.

The cult of Inanna-Ishtar, which may have been associated with a variety of sexual rites, including homosexual transvestite priests and sacred prostitution, was continued by the East Semitic-speaking people who succeeded the Sumerians in the region. She was especially beloved by the Assyrians, who elevated her to become the highest deity in their pantheon, ranking above their own national god Ashur.

Inanna-Ishtar is alluded to in the Hebrew Bible and she greatly influenced the Phoenician goddess Astarte, who later influenced the development of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Her cult continued to flourish until its gradual decline between the first and sixth centuries AD in the wake of Christianity, though it survived in parts of Upper Mesopotamia as late as the eighteenth century.

Nane

Nane was an Armenian pagan mother goddess. She was the goddess of war, wisdom, and motherhood, and the daughter of the supreme god Aramazd. Nane looked like a young beautiful woman in the clothing of a warrior, with spear and shield in hand, like the Greek Athena, with whom she identified in the Hellenic period. In Armenia and other countries, the name Nane continues to be used as a personal name. Her cult was closely associated with the cult of the goddess Anahit.

According to some authors, Nane was adopted from the Akkadian goddess Nanaya, from the Phrygian goddess Cybele, or was from Elamite origin. Nanaya (Sumerian NA.NA.A; also transcribed as Nanâ, Nanãy or Nanãya; in Greek: Nαναια or Νανα) is the canonical name for a goddess worshipped by the Sumerians and Akkadians, a deity who personified “voluptuousness and sensuality”. Her cult was large and was spread as far as Syria and Iran.

She later became syncretised with the Babylonian Tashmetum, an Akkadian goddess, the consort of the god Nabu. She is called upon to listen to prayers and to grant requests. Tashmetum and Nabu both shared a temple in the city of Borsippa, in which they were patron deities. Tashmetum’s name means “Lady who listens”. She is also known as Tashmit and Tashmetu, and she was known by the epithets “Lady of Hearing” and “Lady of Favor”.

Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit), and as the grandson of Ea (Enki). The etymology of his name is disputed. It could be derived from the root nb´ for “to call or announce”, meaning something like “He who has called”.

Nabu is accorded the office of patron of the scribes, taking over from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba, the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. In late Babylonian astrology, Nabu was connected with the planet Mercury. As the god of wisdom and writing, he was equated by the Greeks to either Apollo or Hermes, the latter identified by the Romans with their own god Mercury.

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

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

Sherida

Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process.

The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible. Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth.

The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows. This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.

Ishara

Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. She is identified as Ishwara in Sanskrit. Her cult was of considerable importance in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium, and by the end of the 3rd millennium, she had temples in Nippur, Sippar, Kish, Harbidum, Larsa, and Urum.

The word is attested as a loanword in the Assyrian Kültepe texts from the 19th century BC, and is as such the earliest attestation of a word of any Indo-European language.

The name is from a PIE root *shei “to bind (also magically)”, also in Greek himas “strap” and Old Norse / Old High German seil “rope”. Possibly also cognate is soul, and Welsh Gwen-hwyfar (Irish Find-abair, from Proto-Celtic *windo-seibaro- “white ghost”, from a meaning “enchanted” of the extended root *shei-bh-).

ishar (or eshar), oblique ishan-, the Hittite for “blood” is probably derived from the same root, maybe from a notion of “bond” between blood-relations (c.f. Sanskrit bandhu). The verb ishiya “to bind, fetter”, “to oblige” is directly cognate to Sanskrit syati or Russian shyot with similar meanings.

The Indo-European etymology of the theonym has been called into question, since the goddess appears from as early as the mid 3rd millennium as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla, and her name appears as an element in theophoric names in Mesopotamia in the later 3rd millennium (Akkad period), and into the first (Assyria), as in Tukulti-apil-esharra (i.e., Tiglath-Pileser).

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.

As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness. There was even a verb, isharis- “to be afflicted by the illness of Ishara”.

Ishara was also worshipped within the Hurrian pantheon. She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars).

Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium BC. She became a great goddess of the Hurrian population. She was worshipped with Teshub and Simegi at Alakh, and also at Ugarit, Emar and Chagar Bazar. While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick (Lebrun).

The Hurrian cult of Ishara as a love goddess also spread to Syria. “Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations (Biggs).

During the Ur III period she had a temple in Drehem and from the Old Babylonian time onwards, there were sanctuaries in Sippar, Larsa, and Harbidum. In Mari she seems to have been very popular and many women were called after her, but she is well attested in personal names in Babylonia generally up to the late Kassite period.

Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.”

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil).

Like Inanna, Ishtar was the daughter of An. Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”. Even for the gods Ishtar’s love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and — if one is to believe Gilgamesh — this love caused the death of Tammuz.

Her cult may have involved sacred prostitution, though this is debatable. Guirand referred to her holy city Uruk as the “town of the sacred courtesans” and to her as the “courtesan of the gods”.

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

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

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

Isis

Isis is part of the Ennead of Heliopolis, a family of nine gods descended from the creator god, Atum or Ra. She and her siblings—Osiris, Set, and Nephthys—are the last generation of the Ennead, born to Geb, god of the earth, and Nut, goddess of the sky.

The creator god, the world’s original ruler, passes down his authority through the male generations of the Ennead, so that Osiris becomes king. Isis, who is Osiris’s wife as well as his sister, is his queen.

Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE) as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, and produces and protects his heir, Horus.

She was believed to help the dead enter the afterlife as she had helped Osiris, and she was considered the divine mother of the pharaoh, who was likened to Horus. Her maternal aid was invoked in healing spells to benefit ordinary people.

Originally, she played a limited role in royal rituals and temple rites, although she was more prominent in funerary practices and magical texts. She was usually portrayed in art as a human woman wearing a throne-like hieroglyph on her head.

During the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BCE), as she took on traits that originally belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor’s headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow.

In the first millennium BCE, Osiris and Isis became the most widely worshipped of Egyptian deities, and Isis absorbed traits from many other goddesses. Isis is treated as the mother of Horus even in the earliest copies of the Pyramid Texts. Yet there are signs that Hathor was originally regarded as his mother, and other traditions make an elder form of Horus the son of Nut and a sibling of Isis and Osiris.

Isis may only have come to be Horus’s mother as the Osiris myth took shape during the Old Kingdom, but through her relationship with him she came to be seen as the epitome of maternal devotion. She helped to restore the souls of deceased humans to wholeness as she had done for Osiris.

Like other goddesses, such as Hathor, she also acted as a mother to the deceased, providing protection and nourishment. Thus, like Hathor, she sometimes took the form of Imentet, the goddess of the west, who welcomed the deceased soul into the afterlife as her child. But for much of Egyptian history, male deities like Osiris were believed to provide the regenerative powers, including sexual potency, that were crucial for rebirth. Isis was thought to merely assist by stimulating this power.

Ishtaran

Ištaran is a male deity associated with justice. This role can be inferred from his assertion of the borders of Umma and Lagaš, while Gudea (ca. 2144-2124 BCE), the ruler of Girsu, said of himself, “I justly decide the lawsuits of my city like Ištaran”. In the poems praising the Ur III king, Šulgi (2094-2047 BCE), his justice is “comparable to that of Ištaran”, and a song to Nergal praises the god thus: “Like Ištaran … you reach correct judgments”.

There is a suggestion of an ophidian nature of Ištaran. Depictions from the Akkadian period show a snake-like form, an element which may have later split off and become Nirah, Ištaran’s messenger, whose logogram was dMUŠ, or dMUŠ.TUR, ‘snake’ and ‘little snake’ respectively. Further, a Kurigalzu dated brick from Der shows a snake above the inscription, which mentions Dagan.

Ištaran is often equated with Anu rabû “Great Anu”, and in the Babylonian Chronicles relating to Esarhaddon (680-669 BCE) the usual writing for his name is replaced with AN.GAL. Both these factors place Ištaran high in the pantheon.

In the god list AN = Anum Ištaran is assigned a vizier Qudmu, a counsellor Rasu, a son Zizanu, and two ‘standing gods’ Turma and Itur-matiššu. While the god-list AN = Anum does not attest a spouse, Šarrat-Deri, “Queen of Der”, or Deritum, seems to be Ištaran’s wife at the time of Esarhaddon. Ištaran also had a minister, Nirah, “Little snake”, a minor male chthonic deity, who carried the title, “the radiant god, the son of the house of Der”.

Ištaran was the chief deity of Der, a Sumerian city-state at the site of modern Tell Aqar near al-Badra in Iraq’s Wasit Governorate, which is east of the Tigris River on the ancient border between Mesopotamia and Elam. Its name was possibly Durum.

In the Sumerian text The Temple Hymns, Ištaran’s temple is similarly said to be located in Der. In the Early Dynastic period (2900-2350 BCE) there may have been a cultic installation on the border between Umma and Lagaš because the border between these two regions was said to be fixed “in accordance with the command of Ištaran”.

Pisces

Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu 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.

Pisces (Ancient Greek: Ikhthyes) is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans 330° to 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area between February 19 and March 20. In Sidereal astrology, the Sun currently transits the constellation of Pisces from approximately March 12 to April 18.

Pisces is a dim constellation located next to Aquarius, and Aries. While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptical longitude 330° to 0, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius, due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided.

Pisces originates from some composition of the Babylonian constellations Šinunutu “the great swallow” in current western Pisces, and Anunitum the “Lady of the Heaven”, at the place of the northern fish. In the first-millennium BC texts known as the Astronomical Diaries, part of the constellation was also called DU.NU.NU (Rikis-nu.mi, “the fish cord or ribbon”).

Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish. In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope. The Romans adopted the Greek legend, with Venus and Cupid acting as the counterparts for Aphrodite and Eros. The knot of the rope is marked by Alpha Piscium (α Psc), also called Al-Rischa (“the cord” in Arabic).

In classical interpretations, the symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea. According to one Greek myth, Pisces represents the fish, sometimes represented by koi fish, into which Aphrodite (also considered Venus) and her son Eros (also considered Cupid) transformed in order to escape the monster Typhon. Typhon, the “father of all monsters,” had been sent by Gaia to attack the gods, which led Pan to warn the others before himself changing into a goat-fish and jumping into the Euphrates.

A similar myth, one in which the fish “Pisces” carry Aphrodite and her son out of danger, is resounded in Manilius’ five volume poetic work Astronomica: “Venus ow’d her safety to their Shape.” Another myth is that an egg fell into the Euphrates river. It was then rolled to the shore by fish. Doves sat on the egg until it hatched, out from which came Aphrodite. As a sign of gratitude towards the fish, Aphrodite put the fish into the night sky.

Because of these myths, the Pisces constellation was also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” “Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother. Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, Typhon, Vishnu and the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

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The ethnic groups of Japan

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 19, 2019

After suffering years of discrimination and forced assimilation, the Ainu people have finally been recognised as “indigenous” Japanese people, giving them the right to support for their communities and a boost to local economies.

The official number of the Ainu is 25,000, but unofficially is estimated at 200,000, as many Ainu have been completely assimilated into Japanese society and have no knowledge of their ancestry.

The Ainu have often been considered to descend from the Jōmon people, who lived in Japan from the Jōmon period (c. 14,000 to 300 BCE). One of their Yukar Upopo, or legends, tells that “[t]he Ainu lived in this place a hundred thousand years before the Children of the Sun came”.

Researchers suggests that the Ainu retain a certain degree of uniqueness in their genetic make-up, while having some affinities with other regional populations in Japan as well as with the Nivkhs of the Russian Far East.

Recent research suggests that the historical Ainu culture originated in a merger of the Okhotsk culture with the Satsumon, one of the ancient archaeological cultures that are considered to have derived from the Jōmon-period cultures of the Japanese archipelago.

The Okhotsk culture is an archaeological coastal fishing and hunter-gatherer culture of the lands surrounding the Sea of Okhotsk (600–1000 in Hokkaido, until 1500 or 1600 in the Kuril Islands): the Amur River basin, Sakhalin, northern Hokkaido, the Kuril Islands, and Kamchatka.

It appears to have spread outwards from the Amur River region, only to be partially absorbed or pushed back by the Satsumon culture spreading north from Japan, but nevertheless surviving, for example, in the Nivkh of Sakhalin and the Amur and in Itelmen of Kamchatka.

The historical Ainu people appear to have retained a strong element of the Okhotsk, but the Satsumon culture, and perhaps language, appears to have dominated the mix of people who contemporaneously became known as the Ainu. Fundamental Okhotsk elements remained, however, such as the bear cult.

Jōmon people is the generic name of people who lived in the Japanese archipelago during the Jōmon period. Today most Japanese historians believe that the Jomon were not a single homogeneous people but were at least two or three groups.

The Jōmon shared some physical characteristics, such as relatively abundant body hair and light skin, with Caucasians, but anthropological genetics shows them to derive from a separate genetic lineage from that of Europeans.

It is suggested that they belong to the Proto-Mongoloid type, similar to Native Americans. A research, analysing the autosomal DNA of several Jomon bones, suggest an origin of the Jomon people in Siberia or northeastern Central Asia near lake Baikal.

Mark J. Hudson posits that Japan was settled by a Paleo-Mongoloid population in the Pleistocene who became the Jōmon, and that their features can be seen in the Ainu and Ryukyuan people.

The Ryukyuan people are the indigenous peoples of the Ryukyu Islands between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan. Although unrecognized, Ryukyuans constitute the largest ethnolinguistic minority group in Japan.

They are not a recognized minority group in Japan, as Japanese authorities consider them just a subgroup of the Japanese people, akin to the Yamato people and Ainu.

Their languages make up the Ryukyuan languages, considered to be one of the two branches of the Japonic language family, the other being Japanese and its dialects.

Currently (2019) it is not known what language or languages were spoken during the Jomon period. Suggested languages are: The Ainu language, Japonic languages, Tungusic languages, Austronesian languages, Paleosiberian languages or unknown and today extinct languages.

It is thought that the haplogroups D1b and C1a1 were frequent in Jōmon people. Haplogroup D1b is found in about 38% and haplogroup C1a1 in about 10% of modern Japanese people.

Haplogroup D-M174 is common in modern Japanese, Tibetans, Pumi, Nakhi and Andamanese tribes. A medium distribution of haplogroup D is also found in Central Asia and other minority groups in southern China.

Haplogroup C1a1 is found in Jomon people, modern Japanese, Paleolithic and Neolithic Europe. It is suggested that it reached Japan via the Korean Peninsula via Altai Mountains from South-west Asia.

The culture of the Jomon people is known as “Jōmon culture”. They used stoneware and pottery, and lived in a pit dwelling. Some elements of modern Japanese culture may come from one or more of the Jomon groups.

The Jōmon pottery is a type of ancient earthenware pottery which was made during the Jōmon period in Japan. The term “Jōmon” means “rope-patterned” in Japanese, describing the patterns that are pressed into the clay.

Japanese are one of the largest ethnic groups in the world. Worldwide, approximately 129 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 125 million are residents of Japan.

Japanese people are a nation and an ethnic group that is native to Japan and makes up 98.5% of the total population of the country. The modern Japanese language includes native Japanese words and a large number of words derived from the Chinese language.

Currently, the most well-regarded theory is that present-day Japanese are descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon people and the immigrant Yayoi people. The Yayoi period is an Iron Age era in the history of Japan traditionally dated 300 BC–300 AD. Since the 1980s, scholars have argued that a period previously classified as a transition from the Jōmon period should be reclassified as Early Yayoi.

The period is named after the neighborhood of Tokyo where archaeologists first uncovered artifacts and features from that era. Distinguishing characteristics of the Yayoi period include the appearance of new Yayoi pottery styles and the start of an intensive rice agriculture in paddy fields.

A hierarchical social class structure dates from this period and has its origin in China. Techniques in metallurgy based on the use of bronze and iron were also introduced from China over Korea to Japan in this period.

The origin of Yayoi culture has long been debated. During the Yayoi period, cultural features from China and Korea arrived in this area at various times over several centuries, and later spread to the south and east. This was a period of mixture between immigrants and the indigenous population, and between new cultural influences and existing practices.

There are many similarities in the remains from the Yayoi and the Jiangsu, an eastern-central coastal province of China. During the earliest Chinese dynasties, the area that is now Jiangsu was far away from the center of Chinese civilization, which was in the northwest Henan; it was home of the Huai Yi, an ancient ethnic group.

During the Zhou dynasty more contact was made, and eventually the state of Wu (centered at Gusu, now Suzhou) appeared as a vassal to the Zhou dynasty in south Jiangsu, one of the many hundreds of states that existed across northern and central China at that time.

Near the end of the Spring and Autumn period, Wu became a great power under King Helu of Wu, and defeated in 484 BC the state of Qi, a major power in the north in modern-day Shandong province, and contest for the position of overlord over all states of China.

The state of Wu was subjugated in 473 BC by the state of Yue, another state that had emerged to the south in modern-day Zhejiang province. Yue was in turn subjugated by the powerful state of Chu from the west in 333 BC. Eventually the state of Qin swept away all the other states, and unified China in 221 BC.

The rulers of the State of Wu had the surname Ji, the same as the Zhou royal family. The Zhou dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty and preceded the Qin dynasty.

The military control of China by the royal house, surnamed Ji, lasted initially from 1046 until 771 BC for a period known as the Western Zhou and the political sphere of influence it created continued well into Eastern Zhou for another 500 years.

The Yayoi followed the Jōmon period and Yayoi culture flourished in a geographic area from southern Kyūshū to northern Honshū. Archaeological evidence supports the idea that during this time, an influx of farmers from the Asian continent to Japan absorbed or overwhelmed the native hunter-gatherer population.

According to Hanihara, modern Japanese lineages began with Jōmon people, who moved into the Japanese archipelago during Paleolithic times from their homeland in southeast Asia, followed by a second wave of immigration, from northeast Asia to Japan during the Yayoi period.

Following a population expansion in Neolithic times, these newcomers then found their way to the Japanese archipelago sometime during the Yayoi period.

As a result, admixture was common in the island regions of Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Honshū, but did not prevail in the outlying islands of Okinawa and Hokkaidō, and the Ryukyuan and Ainu people of Jōmon ancestry continued to dominate there.

Mark J. Hudson claims that the main ethnic image of Japanese people was biologically and linguistically formed from 400 BCE to 1,200 CE. Currently, the most well-regarded theory is that present-day Yamato Japanese are descendants of both the indigenous Jōmon people and the immigrant Yayoi people.

A 2017 study on ancient Jōmon aDNA from the Sanganji shell mound in Tōhoku estimated that the modern mainland (Yamato) Japanese inherited <20% of Jōmon peoples’ genomes. The population found to be closest to the Jōmon was the Ainu, followed by the Ryukyuans and then the mainland (Yamato) Japanese.

The Yamato people (also in older literature “Yamato race”) and Wajin (literally “Wa people”) are an East Asian ethnic group and nation native to the Japanese archipelago. The term came to be used around the late 19th century to distinguish the settlers of mainland Japan from minority ethnic groups who have settled the peripheral areas of Japan.

The ethnic groups include the Ainu, Ryukyuans, Nivkh, Oroks, as well as Koreans, Taiwanese, and Taiwanese aborigines who were incorporated into the Empire of Japan in the early 20th century.

People of Yamato Province incorporated native Japanese as well as Chinese and Korean migrants. Clan leaders also elevated their own belief system that featured ancestor worship into a national religion known as Shinto.

The name was applied to the Imperial House of Japan or “Yamato Court” that existed in Japan in the 4th century, and was originally the name of the region where the Yamato people first settled in Yamato Province (modern-day Nara Prefecture).

Generations of Japanese historians, linguists, and archeologists have debated whether the word is related to the earlier Yamatai. The Yamato clan set up Japan’s first and only dynasty.

Yamatai-koku or Yamato-koku (c. 1st century – c. 3rd century) is the Sino-Japanese name of an ancient country in Wa (Japan) during the late Yayoi period (c. BC 300 – c. 300 AD).

In the 6th century, the Yamato dynasty founded a state modeled on the Chinese states of Sui and Tang, the center of East Asian political influence at the time. As the Yamato influence expanded, their Old Japanese language became the common spoken language.

The earliest textual references to Japan are in Chinese classic texts. Wa (“Japan, Japanese”, from Chinese Wō or Wa) is the oldest recorded name of Japan.

Possibly the earliest record of Wō “Japan” occurs in the Shan Hai Jing “Classic of Mountains and Seas”. The textual dating of this collection of geographic and mythological legends is uncertain, but estimatas range from 300 BCE to 250 CE. Within the official Chinese dynastic Twenty-Four Histories, Japan is mentioned among the so-called Dongyi “Eastern Barbarians”.

The Chinese as well as Korean and Japanese scribes regularly wrote it in reference to Yamato (ancient Japanese nation) with the Chinese character until the 8th century, when the Japanese replaced it with “harmony, peace, balance.”

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On the origin of the olive

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 19, 2019

The olive, known by the botanical name Olea europaea, meaning “European olive”, is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae. It is found in the Mediterranean Basin from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia as far east as China, as well as the Canary Islands and Réunion.

The olive’s fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil; it is one of the core ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine.

The importance of olive manipulation has been well defined previously by Colin Renfrew (1972), suggesting that the rise of civilizations may have been made possible by the development of a polycultural triad of wheat, vineand olive in the Aegean Early Bronze Age.

Although the palynological evidence from Greece still seems debatable this far-reaching statement demonstrates the importance ascribed to olive exploitation. Fossil evidence indicates the olive tree had its origins some 20–40 million years ago in the Oligocene, in what is now corresponding to Italy and the eastern Mediterranean Basin.

The olive plant later was first cultivated some 7,000 years ago in Mediterranean regions. The edible olive seems to have coexisted with humans for about 5,000 to 6,000 years, going back to the early Bronze Age (3150 to 1200 BC).

Its origin can be traced to the Levant based on written tablets, olive pits, and wood fragments found in ancient tombs. As for the southern Levant, the period in which the manipulation of olives began is being reviewed.

It is evident that some type of olive oil production existed in many sites belonging to the Ghassulian Chalcolithic period. According to finds from several submerged sites along the Mediterranean coast, it seems that the use of olives for their oil started as early as the sixth millennium BC.

The ample remnants of olive found in archaeological contexts, together with other finds such as pottery vessels, oil lamps, and olive oil installations, indicate that the earliest widespread use of olives in Israel was noticed in the Early Bronze Age.

However, the archaeological data indicate that widespread use of olives in ancient Israel and adjacent regions should be dated not later than the Chalcolithic.

As for the domestication of olives, to date, it is still questioned whether the olives used in this very unripe industry were previously domesticated in earlier periods, such as what some authors called the Late Neolithic and others the Early Chalcolithic (sixth to fifth millennia BC).

It has been suggested that the domestication of olives occurred previously in the Chalcolithic. The palynological evidence indicates that the utilization of olives most probably began in the Chalcolithic period, when much higher olive pollen values are documented in several southern Levantine pollen spectra.

Some of these studies considered that the dramatic rise in Olea pollen reflected the spread of olive cultivation in the region, i.e. domestication of olives. However, this has been rejected by others.

According to new research the thin, small and bitter wild fruit first gave way to oil-rich, larger olives on the border between Turkey and Syria. From there the olive tree was brought into Palestine ca 4000 BC and spread to Mediterranean and North Africa.

The urban development of Canaan lagged considerably behind that of Egypt and Mesopotamia and that of Syria, where from 3,500 BCE a sizable city developed at Hamoukar.

Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria (Al Hasakah Governorate), near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The early settlement dates back to the 5th millennium BCE, and it existed simultaneously with the Ubaid and the early Uruk cultures.

It was a big centre of obsidian production. In the 3rd millennium, this was one of the largest cities of Northern Mesopotamia. It is now believed that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer.

The origins of urban settlements has generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged.

In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archaeologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.

It is evident that some type of olive oil production existed in many sites belonging to the Ghassulian Chalcolithic period. Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC).

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who had immigrated from the north and settled in the southern Levant – today’s Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete. It was Greece however, through Phoenician merchants, who brought it in the European Mediterranean area – Italy, France, Spain, Portugal- from where it spread to America and Australia.

The findings are based on the genetic analysis of nearly 1,900 samples from around the Mediterranean Sea. Olive Trees have been a part of everyday life in the area since the beginning of civilisation.

After that first cultivation, modern-day domesticated olives came mostly from three hotspots: the Near East (including Cyprus), the Aegean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. They were then gradually spread throughout the Mediterranean with the rise of civilization. The many resources that the olive tree has to offer cannot be understated. It is believed to have contributed to the rise and power of the ancient Greek and Roman empires.

As far back as 3000 BC, olives were grown commercially in Crete; they may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan civilization. Archaeological data and historical findings confirm that during the Minoan period (3000-1000 BC) olive cultivation and olive oil trading was widespread in Crete, which also accounts partly for the economic boom that occurred on the island during this period.

In the Palace of Knossos pottery (jars) and cisterns of stone for olive oil storage have been found, while at Phaistos one can see findings of an oil mill of that time.

In the Greek tradition, when a child is born, an olive tree is planted. The olive tree and the child will grow up together and when the child will become 6 years old, the olive tree will give its first fruit. It will grow with the family, survive through decades, and will still be there for all the coming generations to always remind us the continuity and the evolution of life.

They loved and deified the olive tree and attributed a religious and sacrosanct character to its origin, condemning to death anyone who destroyed an olive tree. Messengers would come to conclude peace carrying an olive branch, while the only award for the winners at the Olympic Games was a wreath from an olive branch.

Many Greek philosophers studied the medicinal properties of this sacred tree. Dioscorides, Diocles, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Hippocrates; the Hippocratic code features more than 60 olive treatments.

Olive oil has long been considered sacred. No fruit bearing tree in our land has been praised, painted, sung, as much as the olive tree. The olive branch was often a symbol of abundance, glory, and peace. Over the years, the olive has also been used to symbolize wisdom, fertility, power, and purity.

The olive tree’s powerful symbolism in many cultures and religions is rooted in history and tradition. It is referred to as the “blessed” tree and represents eternal life, wisdom, peace, hope and longevity and much more.

According to the Old Testament, when Noah released a dove to see if the floods had receded, it returned with an olive leaf in its beak. Genesis 8:11 in the King James Bible says, “And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.”

How far that dove must have flown to find an olive branch is beyond the scope of my knowledge and imagination. In 1974, Yasser Arafat, in a historic speech at the UN General Assembly said, “I come bearing an olive branch in one hand and a freedom fighter’s gun in the other. Do not let me drop the olive branch.” It was the first time that a non-state representative addressed the United Nations.

The leafy branches of the olive tree were ritually offered to deities and powerful figures as emblems of benediction and purification, and they were used to crown the victors of friendly games and bloody wars. Today, olive oil is still used in many religious ceremonies.

According to Greek mythology the olive tree was brought into being by the goddess Athena who won a contest with Poseidon god of the sea. The prize was the patronage of a great city and would be won by whoever presented the city with the best gift.

Poseidon struck the ground with his mighty trident and created a sea which although impressive, was too salty to drink. Athena, in less dramatic style knelt and planted something in the ground which grew into an olive tree. This turned out to be a much more useful gift. The tree produced not only food but oil for lighting, and wood for heat and building.

Athena won the contest and consequently the great city was named in her honour – Athens. Even today, an olive tree stands where this legendary contest took place, and it is said that all the olive trees in Athens are descended from the olive tree grown by Athena.

The olives produced are highly prized and a wreath made from its branches travels to the opening ceremony of each Olympic Games since the Athens games in 2004.

Olive trees can live for many years and carbon dating has revealed some to be over a thousand years old. The expected life of an olive tree is 300 to 600 years, yet there are olive trees more than 1,000 years old.

One of the oldest living olive trees in the world grows in Crete and is estimated to be more than 3000 years old. It has been growing and bearing fruit since Biblical times and has been declared a national monument.

The al Badawi olive tree in Bethlehem, which researchers peg to somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, is likely the oldest living olive tree in the world. Though the tree is exceedingly old, in this ancient region of the Middle East the practice of squeezing oil from olives is even older.

According to finds from several submerged sites along the Mediterra-nean coast, it seems that the use of olives for their oilstarted as early as the sixth millennium BC. According to new archaeological research, the people were producing olive oil in the region as far back as 8,000 years ago.

In a dig at the site of the Bronze Age town of Ein Zippori, just over a mile west of Nazareth, researchers unearthed shards of broken pottery containers. According to Live Science, chemical analyses of the pottery shards revealed the traces of ancient olive oil.

Of the nearly two dozen pottery containers found at the site, two dated to around 5,800 BC. The find pushes back, by several centuries, the onset of olive oil production. The find may mark the earliest known case of olive oil production in the Mediterranean basin.

Realizing the value of the olive oil, the Romans contributed to the spread of the olive tree throughout the territories of their empire. Trade grew even more and Roman ships were carrying large quantities of oil in areas where olive trees were not cultivated, or in areas where there was a lack of olive oil due to low production.

It was the period when new olive extraction techniques were developed and great progress was made in the dissemination of the olive-related knowledge. In Byzantine times the traditional olive cultivation centers were maintained, while the olive groves of the Christian monasteries accounted for a large part of the total production.

Olive oil distribution followed the ancient schemes: it was stored in special jars, loaded onto vessels and led to major urban centers or wherever there was an increase of demand.

The need for light (illumination of temples, palaces and houses), alongside other uses, created a rising demand, meaning the Empire was continuously deficient in olive oil. It is not surprising therefore that quite often the authorities would prohibit exports, even though the Byzantine Empire was the largest exporter of olive oil worldwide. The Spanish spread the olive tree to the American continent.

In the years of the Ottoman Empire a further rise of olive oil trade occurred and maritime transportation was developed, facilitating the sea routes from the Aegean Sea to Western Europe. In the era of the Ottoman occupation, not only did oil trade reinforce local economies, but also boosted soap production, which in turn created dynamic manufacturing units.

In oil producing regions such as Crete, consulates of European countries were gradually settled. In the 1800 century oil exports supply the European markets not only with an edible product, but also with the raw material for the production of soap.

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Was Eve created from one of Adam’s ribs or was it just one big misunderstanding?

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 19, 2019

According to the Bible’s creation account, after making the heavens and the earth, God created humankind. The Adam and Eve story in Genesis 2 states that God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground, and then Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs.

Genesis 2:21–24, NRSV: “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[a] and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

However, the cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos.

In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun.Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-god Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Dilmun was identified with Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, where the fresh waters of the Arabian aquifer mingle with the salt waters of the Persian Gulf.

This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations.

In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans, and Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

Atra-Hasis (“exceedingly wise”) is the protagonist of an 18th-century BC Akkadian epic recorded in various versions on clay tablets. The Atra-Hasis tablets include both a creation myth and a flood account, which is one of three surviving Babylonian deluge stories.

The name “Atra-Hasis” also appears on one of the Sumerian king lists as king of Shuruppak in the times before a flood. At the end of the Jemdet Nasr period (3100-2900 BC), there was an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak. Polychrome pottery from a destruction level below the flood deposit has been dated to the Jemdet Nasr period that immediately preceded the Early Dynastic I period.

Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Ninhursag takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body: Abu for the jaw, Nintul for the hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the limbs.

The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib; Sumerian Ti means rib and to live), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself. Ninti is the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib.

The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title later given to the Hurrian goddess Heba. The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khepat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh.

She is also a Queen of the deities. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele. Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land.

Ma was a local goddess at Comana in Cappadocia. Her name Ma means “Mother”, and she also had the epithets “Invincible” and “Bringer of Victory”. She has been compared to Cybele and Bellona. The ancient Greeks compared Ma to the goddess Enyo and Athena.

Ma has been interpreted as a mother goddess, but at the same time as a warrior goddess, as her name and epithets indicate both. She was associated with the transition of adulthood of both genders, and sacred prostitution was practiced during her biennial festivals.

The mother of all living is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam – not Enki – walks in the Garden of Paradise.

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Aker, the Egyptian Janus?

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 13, 2019

Relatert bilde

Cybele

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Janus

Aker.svg

Aker

Aker was an Ancient Egyptian earth and death deity. In several inscriptions, wall paintings and reliefs, Aker was connected to the horizon of the North and the West, forming a mythological bridge between the two horizons with his body.

Aker was first depicted as the torso of a recumbent lion with a widely opened mouth. Later, he was depicted as two recumbent lion torsos merged with each other and still looking away from each other.

From Middle Kingdom onwards Aker appears as a pair of twin lions, one named Duaj (meaning “yesterday”) and the other Sefer (meaning “tomorrow”). Aker was thus often titled “He who’s looking forward and behind”.

When depicted as a lion pair, a hieroglyphic sign for “horizon” (two merged mountains) and a sun disc was put between the lions; the lions were sitting back-on-back. In later times, Aker can also appear as two merged torsos of recumbent sphinxes with human heads.

Aker was first described as one of the earth gods guarding the “gate to the yonder site”. He protected the deceased king against the three demonic snakes Hemtet, Iqeru and Jagw. By “encircling” (i.e. interring) the deceased king, Aker sealed the deceased away from the poisonous breath of the snake demons.

Another earth deity, who joined and promoted Aker’s work, was Geb, the Egyptian god of the Earth. Thus, Aker was connected with Geb. Aker carries the nocturnal bark of Ra. During his journey, in which Aker is asked to hide the body of the dead Osiris beneath his womb, Aker is protected by the god Geb.

In the Heliopolitan Ennead (a group of nine gods created in the beginning by the one god Atum or Ra), Geb is the husband of Nut, the sky or visible daytime and nightly firmament, the son of the earlier primordial elements Tefnut (moisture) and Shu (’emptiness’), and the father to the four lesser gods of the system – Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys.

In this context, Geb was believed to have originally been engaged with Nut and had to be separated from her by Shu, god of the air. Consequently, in mythological depictions, Geb was shown as a man reclining, sometimes with his phallus still pointed towards Nut. Geb and Nut together formed the permanent boundary between the primeval waters and the newly created world.

In other spells and prayers, Aker is connected with Seth, a god of chaos, the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion, and even determined with the Seth animal. This is interesting, because Seth is described as a wind deity, not as an earth deity.

In the famous Coffin Texts of Middle Kingdom period, Aker replaces the god Kherty, becoming now the “ferryman of Ra in his nocturnal bark”. Aker protects the sun god during his nocturnal travelling through the underworld caverns.

In the famous Book of the Dead, Aker also “gives birth” to the god Khepri, the young, rising sun in shape of a scarab beetle who represents the rising or morning sun, and by extension, the creation and the renewal of life, after Aker has carried Khepri’s sarcophagus safely through the underworld caverns.

Khepri is derived from Egyptian language verb ḫpr, meaning “develop”, “come into being”, or “create”. The god was connected with the scarab beetle (ḫprr in Egyptian), because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky. Khepri was thus a solar deity.

Young dung beetles, having been laid as eggs within the dung ball, emerge from it fully formed. Therefore, Khepri also represented creation and rebirth, and he was specifically connected with the rising sun and the mythical creation of the world.

There was no cult devoted to Khepri, and he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra. Often, Khepri and another solar deity, Atum, were seen as aspects of Ra: Khepri was the morning sun, Ra was the midday sun, and Atum was the sun in the evening.

Certain sarcophagus texts from the tombs of Ramesses IV, Djedkhonsuiusankh and Pediamenopet describe how the sun god Ra travels through the underworld “like Apophis going through the belly of Aker after Apophis was cut by Seth”. In this case, Aker seems to be some kind of representation of the underworld itself.

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Rune Secrets

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 12, 2019

The study of the runes and their meaning is a study of personal development, spiritual growth and the spread of consciousness throughout human societies and into the universe. The Elder Futhark Runes are a complete system of magic, and the oldest form of western wisdom.

fehu uruz thurisaz ansuz raidho kenaz gebo wunjo
hagalaz nauthiz isa jera ihwaz perthro algiz sowilo
tiwaz berkano ehwaz mannaz laguz inguz dagaz othala

Elder Futhark – Rune Meanings

Younger Futhork – Rune Meanings

Northumbrian Runes – Rune Meanings

Armanen Runes – Rune Meanings

Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Rune Sets

Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Runes – Rune Meanings

Rune Secrets 

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