Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Two naming traditions: Ar-menia/Khal-di: The etymological history of Armenia

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 26, 2014

Ereshkigal

PERSIA, Ararat (Urartu).

Khaldi

Two naming traditions: Ereshkigal/Uranus and Khaldi/Caelus

An/Ar/As

Arme-Shupri before that Hayasa-Azzi. Sumerians before that, Aratta older still.

Armenia – Armi – Armanum

The oldest known recorded name of Armenia is not the inscription in Behistun. Armi, was an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria. It was identified by some historians with the city of Aleppo.

Armi wasn’t mentioned after the destruction of Ebla. many theories were proposed for this destruction, Historian Michael C. Astour believes that the destruction of Ebla and Armi would have happened c. 2290 BC during the reign of Lugal-zage-si of Sumer, whose rule coincided with Sargon of Akkad first years.

King Naram-Sin of Akkad mentions that he conquered Armanum and Ib-la and captured the king of Armanum, the similarities between the names led historian Wayne Horowitz to identify Armanum with Armi.

If Armi was in fact Armanum mentioned by Naram-Sin then the event can be dated to c. 2240 BC, in all cases, its a confirmed fact that the whole of northern Syria including Ebla and Armi was under the domination of the Akkadian empire during the reign of Naram-Sin.

Mari (modern Tell Hariri, Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city located 11 kilometers north-west of Abu Kamal on the Euphrates river western bank, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria. It flourished as a trade center and hegemonic state between 2900 BC until 1759 BC.

As a purposely built city the existence of Mari was related to its position in the middle of the Euphrates trade routes, a position that made it an intermediate between Sumer in the south and the Levant in the west.

Aratta

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.

Aratta is in Sumerian literature described as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them, remote and difficult to reach, and the home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It was conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

Aratta in Sumerian, Uratri in Hurrian, Urartu/Ararat in Semitic and Armenia in Persian are references to the same kingdom, and the birth place of the Caucasian, Indo-European and Semitic languages.

It all started at Portasar (navel in Armenian)/Gobekli Tepe – the garden of Paradise/Eden/Ekur. From here people spread in all directions. With them they had agriculture, domesticated animals and knowledge about the stars and religion, the production of metals, wine, proto writing.

Urartu

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or are term used in modern historiography for the Proto-Armenian (Hurro-Urartian) speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC[19] by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

Urartian

Urartian, Vannic, and (in older literature) Chaldean (Khaldian, or Haldian) are conventional names for the language spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu that was located in the region of Lake Van, with its capital near the site of the modern town of Van, in the Armenian Highland, modern-day Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey.

It was probably spoken by the majority of the population around Lake Van and in the areas along the upper Zab valley, an approximately 400-kilometre (250 mi) long river flowing through Turkey and Iraq.

Urartian is closely related to Hurrian, a somewhat better documented language attested for an earlier, non-overlapping period, approximately from 2000 BCE to 1200 BCE (written by native speakers until about 1350 BCE). The two languages must have developed quite independently from approximately 2000 BCE onwards.

Although Urartian is not a direct continuation of any of the attested dialects of Hurrian, many of its features are best explained as innovative developments with respect to Hurrian as we know it from the preceding millennium. The closeness holds especially true of the so-called Old Hurrian dialect, known above all from Hurro-Hittite bilingual texts.

Hurrian

Hurrian is a conventional name for the language of the Hurrians (Khurrites), a people who entered northern Mesopotamia around 2300 BC and had mostly vanished by 1000 BC.

Hurrian was the language of the Mitanni kingdom in northern Mesopotamia, and was likely spoken at least initially in Hurrian settlements in Syria. It is generally believed that the speakers of this language originally came from the Armenian Highlands and spread over southeast Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

The earliest Hurrian text fragments consist of lists of names and places from the end of the third millennium BC. The first full texts date to the reign of king Tish-atal of Urkesh and were found on a stone tablet accompanying the Hurrian foundation pegs known as the “Urkish lions.”

Mitanni

In the 33rd year of his reign, while he was in the Armenian Highlands in 1446 BC, Thutmose III of Egypt, referred to the people of Ermenen (Armenians), and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Under the reign of Tuthmosis IV, friendly relations were established between the Egyptians and the Mitanni. The daughter of King Artatama was married to Tuthmosis IV.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

Nairi was the Assyrian name (Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Proto-Armenian (Hurrian-speaking) tribe in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey. The word is also used to describe the tribes who lived there, whose ethnic identity is uncertain.

During the Bronze Age collapse (13th to 12th centuries BC), the Nairi tribes were considered a force strong enough to contend with both Assyria and Hatti. The Battle of Nihriya, the culminating point of the hostilities between Hittites and Assyrians for control over the remnants of the former empire of Mitanni, took place there, circa 1230. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.

Subarians (Sumerians)

Some scholars, such as I. J. Gelb and E. A. Speiser, tried to equate Hurrians and “Subarians”. The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature.

The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit, and came to be known as the Hurrians or Subarians and their country was known as Subir, Subartu or Shubar.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians) among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar, which may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians.

Uraš and An (Uranus/Vasuki)

Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”), a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions.

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

She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun or Ninsuna (called “lady wild cow”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and the “Great Queen”) and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

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

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

Ninsun is the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras. Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Gula in the latter became a Babylonian goddess. Ninsun is also the sister of Nidaba.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s first wife. The pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War) also was apparently called Uras in later times.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal. Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan.

According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as an “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”. Ninurta and Nergal were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu, an underworld goddess modeled after the mesopotamic goddess Ereshkigal and worshipped by western Semitic peoples, including the Carthaginians, or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Arsay is a goddess of the underworld worshipped by the Canaanites. According to texts, she is the third daughter of Baal at Ugarit. She may equate with the goddess Allatum.

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

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu. She is similar to Anat, a major northwest Semitic goddess.

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

Ki – Kia

KI is the sign for “earth”. It is also read as GI, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor” or steath, and SUR7 (=KI.GAG). In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe.

As an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology, Ki was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure.

She later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An).

Gaia

In Greek mythology, Gaia; from a poetical form of Ancient Greek , meaning “land” or “earth”; also Gaea, or Ge, was the personification of the Earth, one of the Greek primordial deities.

The Greek word gaia is a collateral form of (gē, Doric ga and probably da) meaning Earth, a word of uncertain origin. R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin. In Mycenean Greek Ma-ka (trans. as Ma-ga, “Mother Gaia”) also contains the root ga-.

She was the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; the heavenly gods, the Titans, and the Giants were born to her.

The gods reigning over their classical pantheon were born from her union with Uranus (the sky), while the sea-gods were born from her union with Pontus (the sea). Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.

Some modern sources, such as James Mellaart, Marija Gimbutas and Barbara Walker, claim that Gaia as Mother Earth is a later form of a pre-Indo-European Great Mother, venerated in Neolithic times.

Some modern mythographers, including Karl Kerenyi, Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples interpret the goddesses Demeter the “mother,” Persephone the “daughter” and Hecate the “crone,” as aspects of a former Great goddess identified as Rhea or as Gaia herself.

In Crete, a goddess was worshiped as Potnia Theron (the “Mistress of the Animals”) or simply Potnia (“Mistress”), speculated as Rhea or Gaia; the title was later applied in Greek texts to Demeter, Artemis or Athena. The mother-goddess Cybele from Anatolia was partly identified by the Greeks with Gaia, but more so with Rhea and Demeter.

Ereshkigal

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “great lady under earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler.

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

It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly. Unlike her consort Nergal, Ereškigal has a distinctly dual association with death. This is reminiscent of the contradictive nature of her sister Inanna, who simultaneously represents opposing aspects such as male and female; love and war. In Ereškigal’s case, she is the goddess of death but also associated with birth; regarded both as mother(-earth) and a virgin.

Inanna, also known as Ina-nna and Ninana, is equal to Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia. Uni was identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology.

Ares

Ares (literally “battle”) is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.

The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people was given a more important and dignified place in ancient Roman religion as a guardian deity.

During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures becomes virtually indistinguishable.

The etymology of the name Ares is traditionally connected with the Greek word arē, the Ionic form of the Doric ara, “bane, ruin, curse, imprecation”. There may also be a connection with the Roman god of war Mars, via hypothetical Proto-Indo-European *M̥rēs; compare Ancient Greek marnamai, “I fight, I battle”.

Walter Burkert notes that “Ares is apparently an ancient abstract noun meaning throng of battle, war.” R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin of the name.

The adjectival epithet, Areios, was frequently appended to the names of other gods when they took on a warrior aspect or became involved in warfare: Zeus Areios, Athena Areia, even Aphrodite Areia. In the Iliad, the word ares is used as a common noun synonymous with “battle.”

Aries (♈) (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30º). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign between March 21 and April 19 each year.

The earliest attested form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek, a-re, written in the Linear B syllabic script. Inscriptions as early as Mycenaean times, and continuing into the Classical period, attest to Enyalios as another name for the god of war.

Enyo

Enyo was a goddess of war and destruction in Greek mythology, the companion and lover of the war god Ares. She is also identified as his sister, and daughter of Zeus and Hera, in a role closely resembling that of Eris (“Strife”), the Greek goddess of chaos, strife and discord; with Homer in particular representing the two as the same goddess.

Enyo is also accredited as the mother of the war god Enyalius, by Ares. However, the name Enyalius or Enyalios can also be used as a title for Ares himself. As goddess of war, Enyo is responsible for orchestrating the destruction of cities, often accompanying Ares into battle, and depicted “as supreme in war”.

During the fall of Troy, Enyo inflicted terror and bloodshed in the war, along with Eris (“Strife”), and Phobos (“Fear”) and Deimos (“Dread”), the two sons of Ares. She, Eris, and the two sons of Ares are depicted on Achilles’s shield.

The names of the Graeae (English translation: “old women”, “grey ones”, or “grey witches”; alternatively spelled Graiai), also called the Grey Sisters, three sisters who shared one eye and one tooth among them, in Hesiod were Deino (“Dread”), Pemphredo (“Alarm”) and Enyo.

At Thebes and Orchomenos, a festival called Homolôïa, which was celebrated in honour of Zeus, Demeter, Athena and Enyo, was said to have received the surname of Homoloïus from Homoloïs, a priestess of Enyo. A statue of Enyo, made by the sons of Praxiteles, stood in the temple of Ares at Athens.

Uranus

Uranus (Ancient Greek meaning “sky” or “heaven”) was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father. Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.

The most probable etymology is from the basic Proto-Greek form worsanos derived from the noun worso-, Sanskrit: varsa “rain”. The relative Proto-Indo-European language root is *ṷers- “to moisten, to drip” (Sanskrit: varsati “to rain”), which is connected with the Greek ουρόω (Latin: “urina”, English: “urine”, compare Sanskrit: var “water,” Avestan var “rain”, Lithuanian & Latvian jura “sea”, Old English wær “sea,” Old Norse ver “sea,” Old Norse ur “drizzling rain”) therefore Ouranos is the “rainmaker” or the “fertilizer”.

Another possible etymology is “the one standing high in order” (Sanskrit: vars-man: height, Lithuanian: virus: upper, highest seat). The identification with the Vedic Varuna, god of the sky and waters, is uncertain. It is also possible that the name is derived from the PIE root *wel “to cover, enclose” (Varuna, Veles) or *wer “to cover, shut”.

Most Greeks considered Uranus to be primordial, and gave him no parentage, believing him to have been born from Chaos, the primal form of the universe. However, in Theogony, Hesiod claims Uranus to be the offspring of Gaia, the earth goddess.

Alcman and Callimachus elaborate that Uranus was fathered by Aether, the god of heavenly light and the upper air. Under the influence of the philosophers, Cicero, in De Natura Deorum (“Concerning the Nature of the Gods”), claims that he was the offspring of the ancient gods Aether and Hemera, Air and Day. According to the Orphic Hymns, Uranus was the son of Nyx, the personification of night.

The Greek creation myth is similar to the Hurrian creation myth. In Hurrian religion Anu is the sky god. His son Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three deities, one of whom, Teshub, later deposed Kumarbis. In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu is the sky god and represented law and order.

It is possible that Uranus was originally an Indo-European god, to be identified with the Vedic Váruṇa, the supreme keeper of order who later became the god of oceans and rivers, as suggested by Georges Dumézil, following hints in Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).

Another of Dumézil’s theories is that the Iranian supreme God Ahura Mazda is a development of the Indo-Iranian *vouruna-*mitra. Therefore this divinity has also the qualities of Mitra, which is the god of the falling rain.

Uranus is connected with the night sky, and Váruṇa is the god of the sky and the celestial ocean, which is connected with the Milky Way. His daughter Lakshmi is said to have arisen from an ocean of milk, a myth similar to the myth of Aphrodite.

Váruṇa

Georges Dumézil made a cautious case for the identity of Uranus and Vedic Váruṇa, a god of the water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law of the underwater world, at the earliest Indo-European cultural level. Dumézil’s identification of mythic elements shared by the two figures, relying to a great extent on linguistic interpretation, but not positing a common origin, was taken up by Robert Graves and others.

The identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu Váruṇa, based in part on a posited PIE root *-ŭer with a sense of “binding”—ancient king god Váruṇa binds the wicked, ancient king god Uranus binds the Cyclopes – is widely rejected by those who find the most probable etymology is from Proto-Greek *(F)orsanόj (worsanos) from a PIE root *ers “to moisten, to drip” (referring to the rain).  In Hindu mythology, Varuna continued to be considered the god of all forms of the water element, particularly the oceans.

As chief of the Adityas, Varuna has aspects of a solar deity though, when opposed to Mitra (Vedic term for Surya), he is rather associated with the night, and Mitra with the daylight. As the most prominent Deva, however, he is mostly concerned with moral and societal affairs than being a deification of nature.

Together with Mitra–originally ‘agreement’ (between tribes) personified—being master of ṛtá, he is the supreme keeper of order and god of the law. The word ṛtá, order, is also translated as “season”.

Varuna and Mitra are the gods of the societal affairs including the oath, and are often twinned Mitra-Varuna (a dvandva compound). Varuna is also twinned with Indra in the Rigveda, as Indra-Varuna (when both cooperate at New Year in re-establishing order).

The Rigveda and Atharvaveda portrays Varuna as omniscient, catching liars in his snares. The stars are his thousand-eyed spies, watching every movement of men.

In post-Vedic texts Varuna became the god of oceans and rivers and keeper of the souls of the drowned. As such, Varuna is also a god of the dead, and can grant immortality. He is attended by the nagas. He is also one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the west.

Later art depicts Varuna as a lunar deity, as a yellow man wearing golden armor and holding a noose or lasso made from a snake. He rides the sea creature Makara.

Vasuki

When it comes to the astrological planets (as distinct from the astronomical) and the deities associated with them Caelus and Uranos, both meaning “sky”, are connected with Vasuki, a mythological snake king in Indian Puranas meaning “of divine being”, while Neptune and Poseidon, both meaning “God of the Sea”, are connected with Varuna, god of rain in Indian mythology; Varuna means “God of the sea.”

Vasuki (“of divine being”), a mythological snake king in Indian Puranas, is a naga, one of the King serpents of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Vasuki is a great king of the nagas and has a gem (Nagamani) on his head. Manasa, another naga, is his sister.Vasuki is Shiva’s (The destroyer) Snake.

Vasuki is known in Chinese and Japanese mythology as being one of the “eight Great Naga Kings” (Hachi Ryuu-ou), amongst Nanda (Nagaraja), Upananda, Sagara (Shakara), Takshaka, Balavan, Anavatapta and Utpala. Vasuki’s Naga priest is Tatig Naga.

Nāga is the Sanskrit and Pāli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake – specifically the king cobra, found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A female Nāga is a nāgī or nāgiṇī.

Nagaraja “King of the nāga” is a figure commonly appearing in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Hindu texts refer to three main deities by this title, Shesha, Takshaka, and Vasuki, the children of the rishi Kashyapa and of Kadru, who are the parents of all nāgas.

Shesha, also sometimes known as Ananta, is the eldest brother, was a devotee of Vishnu, and represents the friendly aspect of snakes, as they save food from rodents. Vishnu is always on continuous meditation (Yoganidra) with Ananta forming a bed for him, and this posture is called Ananta-Sayana.

Vasuki, the younger one, was a devotee of Shiva. Shiva always wears Vasuki is famous for coiling around the neck of Shiva. Shiva blessed Vasuki and wore him as an ornament. Vasuki is also mentioned and used as a tightening rope.

Takshaka represents the dangerous aspect of snakes, as they are feared by all due to their venom.

The most famous legend in Hinduism in which Vasuki took part was the incident of Samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk. In this legend, Vasuki allowed the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) to bind him to Mount Mandara and use him as their churning rope to extract the ambrosia of immortality from the ocean of milk.

In Buddhist mythology, Vasuki and the other Naga Kings appear in the audience for many of the Buddha’s sermons. The duties of the naga kings included leading the nagas in protecting and worshiping the Buddha, as well as in protecting other enlightened beings.

A Dragon King is a deity in Chinese mythology commonly regarded as the divine ruler of an ocean. They have the ability to shapeshift into human form and lives in an underwater crystal palace. They have their own royal court and command an army comprising various marine creatures.

Apart from presiding over aquatic life, a Dragon King can also manipulate the weather and bring rainfall. Dragon Kings are a recurring feature in classical Chinese literature. Detailed descriptions are given of the grandeur of their palaces.

They are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas. They can show themselves as water spouts (tornado or twister over water). In this capacity as the rulers of water and weather, the dragon is more anthropomorphic in form, often depicted as a humanoid, dressed in a king’s costume, but with a dragon head wearing a king’s headdress.

There are four major Dragon Kings, each ruling one of the Four Seas corresponding to one of the four cardinal directions: the East Sea (corresponding to the East China Sea), the South Sea (corresponding to the South China Sea), the West Sea (sometimes seen as the Qinghai Lake and beyond), and the North Sea (sometimes seen as Lake Baikal). They appear in the classical novels Fengshen Bang and Journey to the West.

Because of this association, they are seen as “in charge” of water-related weather phenomenon. In premodern times, many Chinese villages (especially those close to rivers and seas) had temples dedicated to their local “dragon king”.

In times of drought or flooding, it was customary for the local gentry and government officials to lead the community in offering sacrifices and conducting other religious rites to appease the dragon, either to ask for rain or a cessation thereof.

Cybele

The Romans identified Enyo with Bellona, and she also has similarities with the Anatolian goddess Ma, a local goddess at Comana and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary, dated to the 6th millennium BCE. This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests.

Cybele is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BCE.

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

Julian the Apostate gives an account of the spread of the orgiastic cult of Cybele in his Oratio 5. It spread from Anatolia to Greece and eventually to Rome in Republican times, and the cult of Attis, her reborn eunuch consort, accompanied her.

Galli

In Rome, the eunuch followers of Cybele were known as Galli. A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome.

In Rome, the head of the galli was known as the archigallus, at least from the period of Claudius on. A number of archaeological finds depict the archigallus wearing luxurious and extravagant costumes. The archigallus was always a Roman citizen chosen by the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, whose term of service lasted for life.

The first Galli arrived in Rome when the Senate officially adopted Cybele as a state goddess in 204 BC. Roman citizens were prohibited from becoming Galli, which meant that they were all orientals or slaves. Under Claudius, this ban was lifted. Eventually Domitian reaffirmed that Roman citizens were forbidden to practice eviratio (castration).

Stephanus Byzantinus said that the name came from King Gallus. Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD) says that the name is derived from the Gallus river in Phrygia. The name may be linked to the Gauls (Celtic tribes) of Galatia in Anatolia, who were known as Galli by the Romans. The word “Gallus” is also the Latin word for rooster.

While these efforts at “folk” etymologies were widespread in classical times, it has been suggested that gallu comes from the Sumerian Gal meaning “great” and Lu meaning “man”, humans or sexually ambivalent demons that freed Inanna from the underworld. They originally seem to have been consecrated to the god Enki.

Gala

The Gala (Akkadian: kalû) were priests of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, significant numbers of the personnel of both temples and palaces, the central institutions of Mesopotamian city states, individuals with neither male nor female gender identities.

These priests played the tympanum and were involved in bull sacrifice. Another category of Mesopotamian priests called assinnu, galatur, and kurgarru had a sacred function. These transgender or eunuch priests participated in liturgical rites, during which they were costumed and masked. They played music, sang, and danced, most often in ceremonies dedicated to the goddess Inanna.

Originally a specialist in singing lamentations, gala appear in temple records dating back from the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. According to an old Babylonian text, Enki created the gala specifically to sing “heart-soothing laments” for the goddess Inanna. Cuniform references indicate the gendered character of the role.

Lamentation and wailing originally may have been female professions, so that men who entered the role adopted its forms. Their hymns were sung in a Sumerian dialect known as eme-sal, possibly “fine tongue” or “high-pitched voice” and used to render the speech of female gods, and some gala took female names.

Two varieties (dialects or sociolects) of Sumerian are recorded. The standard variety is called eme-ĝir (ĝ pronounced [ŋ]). The other recorded variety is called eme-sal (EME.SAL, possibly “fine tongue” or “high-pitched voice”), though often translated as “women’s language”. Eme-sal is used exclusively by female characters in some literary texts.

The special features of eme-sal are mostly phonological (e.g. m is often used instead of ĝ as in me vs standard ĝe26, “I”), but words different from the standard language are also used (e.g. ga-ša-an vs standard nin, “lady”).

Homosexual proclivities are clearly implied by the Sumerian proverb that reads, “When the gala wiped off his anus [he said], ‘I must not arouse that which belongs to my mistress [i.e., Inanna]’ “. In fact, the word gala was written using the sign sequence UŠ.KU, the first sign having also the reading giš3 (“penis”), and the second one dur2 (“anus”), so perhaps there is some pun involved.

Moreover, gala is homophonous with gal4-la “vulva”. However, in spite of all their references of their effeminate character (especially in the Sumerian proverbs), many administrative texts mention gala priests who had children, wives, and large families. On the other hand, some gala priests were actually women.

Galatia

Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia (Ankara, Çorum, Yozgat Province) in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace (cf. Tylis), who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the “Gallia” of the East, Roman writers calling its inhabitants Galli (Gauls or Celts).

The Gauls were Celtic peoples inhabiting Gaul in the Iron Age and the Roman period (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 3rd century AD). Their Gaulish language forms the main branch of the Continental Celtic languages.

Enki

Enki, (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)), was a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.”

In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu, (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eridu; Akkadian: irîtu), an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq.

He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).

Hebat

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

Hebat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names. Kubaba (in the Weidner or Esagila Chronicle; Sumerian: Kug-Bau) is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history.

A king of Jerusalem mentioned in the Amarna letters was named Abdi-Heba, possibly meaning “Servant of Hebat”. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

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

Kummanni

According to ancient geographers, Comana was situated in Cappadocia. Another epithet for the city, found in inscriptions, is Hieropolis ‘sacred city’, owing to a famous temple of the Syrian Moon goddess Enyo or, in the local language: Ma (cf. Men, the moon goddess of Caria).

The Hittite toponym Kummanni, the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna, is considered likely to refer to Comana. Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El. Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Teshub. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia. Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.”

Attis was the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology. His priests were eunuchs, the Galli, as explained by origin myths pertaining to Attis and castration. Attis was also a Phrygian god of vegetation, and in his self-mutilation, death, and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth, which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.

Strabo and Julius Caesar visited it; the former enters into long details about its position in a deep valley on the Sarus (Seihoun) river. The temple and its fame in ancient times as the place where the rites of Ma-Enyo, a variety of the great west Asian mother-goddess, were celebrated with much solemnity.

The service was carried on in a sumptuous temple with great magnificence by many thousands of hieroduli (temple slaves). To defray expenses, large estates had been set apart, which yielded a more than royal revenue. The city, a mere apanage of the temple, was governed directly by the chief priest, who was always a member of the reigning Cappadocian family, and took rank next to the king.

The number of persons engaged in the service of the temple, even in Strabo’s time, was upwards of 6000, and among these, to judge by the names common on local tomb-stones, were many Persians.

Under the Romans the temple was reassigned to Bellona and Lycomedes established as high priest. Emperor Caracalla, made Comana a Roman colony, and the temple-city received honors from later emperors down to the official recognition of Christianity.

Ma

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. There seems to be some loss in records as to the transition, but the same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god.

Mamitu

In Mesopotamian mythology Mamitu was the goat-headed goddess of destiny, who decreed the fate of the new-borns. She was also worshipped as goddess of the oath, later a goddess of fate and a judge in the underworld, where she lives with the Anunnaku.

She is occasionally regarded as a consort of Nergal. In some passages, she is also known as a demon of irrevocable curses. Mamitu is supposedly related to the Babylonian god Anu.

Kur

In Sumerian mythology, Kur is considered the first ever dragon, and usually referred to the Zagros mountain to the east of Sumer. The cuneiform for “kur” was written ideographically with the cuneiform sign, a pictograph of a mountain. It can also mean “foreign land”.

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Although the word for earth was Ki, Kur came to also mean land, and Sumer itself, was called “Kur-gal” or “Great Land”. “Kur-gal” also means “Great Mountain” and is a metonym for both Nippur and Enlil who rules from that city. A second, popular meaning of Kur was “underworld”, or the world under the earth.

Ekur

Ekur, “mountain house” was the temple of Enlil at Nippur. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer. There is a clear association of Ziggurats with mountain houses.

Me

In Sumerian mythology, a me (Sumerian, conventionally pronounced or ñe [ŋɛ] or parşu (Akkadian, is one of the decrees of the gods foundational to those social institutions, religious practices, technologies, behaviors, mores, and human conditions that make civilization, as the Sumerians understood it, possible. They are fundamental to the Sumerian understanding of the relationship between humanity and the gods.

Not all the mes are admirable or desirable traits. Alongside functions like “heroship” and “victory” we also find “the destruction of cities”, “falsehood”, and “enmity”. The Sumerians apparently considered such evils and sins an inevitable part of humanity’s lot in life, divinely and inscrutably decreed, and not to be questioned.

Nu

Nu (“watery one”), also called Nun (“inert one”) is the deification of the primordial watery abyss in Egyptian mythology. In the Ogdoad cosmogony, the word nu means “abyss”.

The Ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated, representing the deepest mystery of their cosmogony.

In Ancient Egyptian creation accounts the original mound of land comes forth from the waters of the Nun. The Nun is the source of all that appears in a differentiated world, encompassing all aspects of divine and earthly existence.

Nu was shown usually as male but also had aspects that could be represented as female or male. Nunet (also spelt Naunet) is the female aspect, which is the name Nu with a female gender ending. The male aspect, Nun, is written with a male gender ending.

As with the primordial concepts of the Ogdoad, Nu’s male aspect was depicted as a frog, or a frog-headed man. In Ancient Egyptian art, Nun also appears as a bearded man, with blue-green skin, representing water. Naunet is represented as a snake or snake-headed woman.

Beginning with the Middle Kingdom Nun is described as “the Father of the Gods” and he is depicted on temple walls throughout the rest of Ancient Egyptian religious history.

Like the other Ogdoad deities, Nu did not have temples or any center of worship. Even so, Nu was sometimes represented by a sacred lake, or, as at Abydos, by an underground stream.

In the 12th Hour of the Book of Gates Nu is depicted with upraised arms holding a “solar bark” (or barque, a boat). The boat is occupied by eight deities, with the scarab deity Khepri standing in the middle surrounded by the seven other deities.

During the late period when Egypt became occupied the negative aspect of the Nun (chaos) became the dominant perception, reflecting the forces of disorder that were set loose in the country.

Anshar

In the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, Anshar (also spelled Anshur), which means “sky pivot” or “sky axle”, is a sky god. He is the husband of his sister Kishar. They might both represent heaven (an) and earth (ki). Both are the second generation of gods; their parents being the serpents Lahmu and Lahamu and grandparents Tiamat and Abzu. They, in turn, are the parents of Anu, another sky god.

If this name /Anšar/ is derived from */Anśar/, then it may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic /NṬR/ (“god”), since hieroglyphic Egyptian /Ṭ/ may be etymological */Ś/.

Atum

In the Ennead cosmogony Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god. Atum’s name is thought to be derived from the word tem which means to complete or finish. Thus he has been interpreted as being the ‘complete one’ and also the finisher of the world, which he returns to watery chaos at the end of the creative cycle.

As creator he was seen as the underlying substance of the world, the deities and all things being made of his flesh or alternatively being his ka.

Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king.

Tiamat

During the reign of Sargon II, Assyrians started to identify Anshar with their Assur in order to let him star in their version of Enuma Elish. In this mythology Anshar’s spouse was Ninlil. They do evil, unspeakable things. Then, Abzu decides to try to destroy them. They both hear of the plan and kill him first. Tiamat gets outraged and gives birth to 11 children. They then kill them both and then are outmatched by anyone.

Marduk (God of rain/thunder/lightning) kills Tiamat by wrapping a net around her and summoning the 4 winds to make her swell, then Marduk shoots an arrow into her and kills her. Half of her body is then divided to create the heavens and the Earth. He uses her tears to make rivers on Earth and take her blood to make humans.

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. It is argued for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is 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. Although there are no early precedents for it, some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. It is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon.

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

Robert Graves considered Tiamat’s death by Marduk as evidence of his hypothesis that a shift in power from a matriarchy controlling society to a patriarchy happened in the ancient past. Grave’s ideas were later developed into the Great Goddess theory by Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone and others.

The theory suggests Tiamat and other ancient monster figures were presented as former supreme deities of peaceful, woman-centered religions that were turned into monsters when violent.

Their defeat at the hands of a male hero corresponded to the manner in which male-dominated religions overthrew ancient society. This theory is rejected by academia and modern authors such as Lotte Motz, Cynthia Eller and others.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian Berossus’ first volume of universal history. It is thought that the name of Tiamat was dropped in secondary translations of the original religious texts (written in the East Semitic Akkadian language) because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word for “sea” for Tiamat, since the two names had become essentially the same due to association.

Namma

This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki, regarded as the father of Marduk. In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was 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.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

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.

Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Thalna

In Etruscan religion and myth, Thalna was a divine figure usually regarded as a goddess of childbirth. Determinate gender, however, is not necessarily a characteristic of Etruscan deities, and Thalna is also either depicted as male, or seems to be identified as a male figure because of the placement of names around a scene. Her other functions include friendship and prophecy. Her name may mean “growth, bloom.”

Thalassa – Tethys

In Greek mythology, Thalassa, “Sea”, is a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. With sea god Pontus, she was the mother of the nine Telchines and Halia.

According to a myth recounted by Hesiod, she gave birth to Aphrodite when Cronus cut the genitalia of Uranus that subsequently fell into the sea.

Thalassa is a personification of the sea itself; as told in Aesop’s Fables she appears as a woman rising up from the depths of the sea, as well in Roman-era mosaics. In these mosaics she is depicted with crab-claw-horns, wearing seaweed, and holding a ship’s oar.

Her counterpart is considered to be Amphitrite who is the wife of Poseidon. Her other counterpart can be considered to be the Greek titan Tethys.

In Greek mythology, Tethys, daughter of Uranus and Gaia was an archaic Titaness and aquatic sea goddess, invoked in classical Greek poetry, but not venerated in cult. Tethys was both sister and wife of Oceanus.

She was mother of the chief rivers of the world known to the Greeks, such as the Nile, the Alpheus, the Maeander, and about three thousand daughters called the Oceanids. Considered as an embodiment of the waters of the world she also may be seen as a counterpart of Thalassa, the embodiment of the sea.

Although these vestiges imply a strong role in earlier times, Tethys plays virtually no part in recorded Greek literary texts, or historical records of cults. Walter Burkert notes the presence of Tethys in the episode of Iliad XIV that the Ancients called the “Deception of Zeus”, where Hera, to mislead Zeus, says she wants to go to Oceanus, “origin of the gods” and Tethys “the mother”.

Burkert sees in the name a transformation of Akkadian tiamtu or tâmtu, “the sea,” which is recognizable in Tiamat. Alternatively, her name may simply mean “old woman”, derived from Ancient Greek “têthe”, meaning “grandmother”, and she is often portrayed as being extremely ancient.

Ymir

In Norse mythology, Ymir, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn is a primeval being born of primordial elemental poison and the ancestor of all jötnar.

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

Khaldi

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk), one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu).

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

His shrine was at Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin), in Akkadian Muṣaṣir (Exit of the Serpent/Snake). His wife was the goddess Arubani.

The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, the weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, and the solar god Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day) of Tushpa.

Kali

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death: Shiva.

Since Shiva is called Kāla— the eternal time — the name of Kālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in “time has come”). Hence, Kāli is the Goddess of Time and Change.

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). Kāla primarily means “time” but also means “black” in honor of being the first creation before light itself. Kālī means “the black one” and refers to her being the entity of “time” or “beyond time.”

Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman, “the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world”, which “cannot be exactly defined”. It has been described in Sanskrit as Sat-cit-ānanda (being-consciousness-bliss) and as the highest reality.

Brahman is conceived as Atman, personal, impersonal or Para Brahman, or in various combinations of these qualities depending on the philosophical school. According to Advaita, a liberated human being (jivanmukta) has realised Brahman as his or her own true self.

Sanskrit Brahman (an n-stem, nominative bráhmā) from a root bṛh- “to swell, expand, grow, enlarge” is a neutral noun to be distinguished from the masculine brahmán—denoting a person associated with Brahman, and from Brahmā, the creator God of the Hindu Trinity, the Trimurti. Brahman is thus a gender-neutral concept that implies greater impersonality than masculine or feminine conceptions of the deity. Brahman is referred to as the supreme self.

Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation of evil forces still has some influence. Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. Kālī is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing. Shiva lies in the path of Kali, whose foot on Shiva subdues her anger.

Kāli is strongly associated with Shiva, and Shaivas derive the masculine Kāla (an epithet of Shiva) to come from her feminine name. A nineteenth-century Sanskrit dictionary, the Shabdakalpadrum, states: “Shiva is Kāla, thus, his consort is Kāli” referring to Devi Parvathi being a manifestation of Devi MahaKali.

Other names include Kālarātri (“black night”), as described above, and Kālikā (“relating to time”). Coburn notes that the name Kālī can be used as a proper name, or as a description of color.

Kāli’s association with darkness stands in contrast to her consort, Shiva, who manifested after her in creation, and who symbolises the rest of creation after Time is created. In his supreme awareness of Maya, his body is covered by the white ashes of the cremation ground (Sanskrit: śmaśāna) where he meditates, and with which Kāli is also associated, as śmaśāna-kālī.

Ningishzida

In Mesopotamia, the use of these “serpent-necked lions” and other animals and animal hybrids are thought to be “manifestations of the chthonic aspect of the god of natural vitality, who is manifest in all life breaking forth from the earth”.

Ningishzida (Sumerian: nin-g̃iš-zid-da), a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld, appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head.

Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzidda’s journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal. Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens.

Ningishzida is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining (some say copulation) around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the staff of Moses by more than a millennium. One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff.

William Hayes Ward (1910) discovered that symbols similar to the classical caduceus sometimes appeared on Mesopotamian cylinder seals. He suggested the symbol originated sometime between 3000 and 4000 BCE, and that it might have been the source of the Greek caduceus.

A.L. Frothingham incorporated Dr. Ward’s research into his own work, published in 1916, in which he suggested that the prototype of Hermes was an “Oriental deity of Babylonian extraction” represented in his earliest form as a snake god. From this perspective, the caduceus was originally representative of Hermes himself, in his early form as the Underworld god Ningishzida, “messenger” of the “Earth Mother”.

The caduceus is mentioned in passing by Walter Burkert as “really the image of copulating snakes taken over from Ancient Near Eastern tradition”.

Lagash had a temple dedicated to Ningishzida, and Gudea, patesi of Lagash in the 21st century BC (short chronology), was one of his devotees. In the Louvre, there is a famous green steatite vase carved for king Gudea of Lagash, dedicated by its inscription: “To the god Ningiszida, his god Gudea, Ensi (governor) of Lagash, for the prolongation of his life, has dedicated this”. Ningishzida was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.

In some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means “Nin” would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians. His title is that of ‘Nin’, a feminine determinative and generally translated as ‘Lady’. Despite this Nin-ĝišzida is generally translated as ‘Lord of the Good Tree’ (which would be ‘En’).

In Sumerian mythology, Ningishzida appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Tammuz or Dumuzi (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” + Zi(d), “faithful, true”).

Tammuz was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. Locations associated in antiquity with the site of his death include both Harran and Byblos, among others.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. Tamuzi also is Dumuzid or Dumuzi.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year .

His wife is Azimua, one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki, and also Geshtinanna/Ngeshtin-ana, a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, while his sister is Amashilama.

Geshtinanna is the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag and the sister of Dumuzi. In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

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

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

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

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

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

Geshtinanna is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inanna and Ereshkigal. When Dumuzi died, Geshtinanna lamentated days and nights. In her house he is changed into a gazelle before being caught and transported to the underworld. After her death, she became the goddess of wine and cold seasons. She is a divine poet and interpreter of dreams.

A Sumerian tablet from Nippur reads: She can make the lament for you, my Dumuzid, the lament for you, the lament, the lamentation, reach the desert — she can make it reach the house Arali; she can make it reach Bad-tibira; she can make it reach Dul-šuba; she can make it reach the shepherding country, the sheepfold of Dumuzid “O Dumuzid of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully, “O you of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully. “Lad, husband, lord, sweet as the date, […] O Dumuzid!” she sobs, she sobs tearfully.

The Adapa myth refers to the serpent god Ningizzida as a male. In trying to figure why this was so Sumerologists draw a blank and simply consider that this was the case with other male Deities (generally conceived by En-lil within the Underworld) and so perhaps it meant little. However what the ‘Nin’ title indicates is the Underworld origins of such Deities, were the black Underworld is personified as Feminine, they emerge from below and hey presto they are Masculine.

The Underworld aspect of Nin-ĝišzida was serpentine, the roots of the good tree that he represented, the sign for tree root, ‘arina’, which consists of two crossed signs for serpent (MUŠ)this understood as a vast underground network and source of power, as in any forest were all is inter-connected at root level, a natural inter-net of sorts.

The cultic centre of Ningišzida was rural Gišbanda (also a chapel in é-anna at Uruk) meaning “Young Tree”,between Ur and Lagaš in southern Sumer, his father was Nin-azu son of Ereskigal [variant tradition, of Enlil/Ninlil] serpentine and born within the Underworld, spouse of Nin-girda a daughter of Enki, and thus Ningišzida had family connection across the Sumerian pantheon divide.

‘O primeval place, deep mountain founded in an artful fashion, shrine, terrifying place lying in a pasture, a dread whose lofty ways none can fathom, Ĝišbanda, neck-stock, meshed net, shackles of the great underworld from which none can escape, your exterior is raised up, prominent like a snare, your interior is where the sun rises, endowed with wide-spreading plenty. Your prince is the prince who stretches out his pure hand, the holy one of heaven, with luxuriant and abundant hair hanging at his back, Nin-ĝišzida.

Nin-ĝišzida was understood as having a child named Damu, in terms of family continuity Nin-azu would infer ‘ knowing the waters’, followed by ‘ of the Good Tree’, and Damu the child,” power in the sap that rises in trees and bushes in the spring.”, there is of course also sexual associations in all of this, were the serpent was a metaphor for a penis often.

The connectivity with En-Ki and the waters of the Abzu of great importance in the generation of the sacred tree, but also the connectivity to En-lil, Lord of the Wind, important in determining this generation as an act of the will, and the particular spiritual qualities of Nin-ĝišzida.

Lord with holy dignity, imbued with great savage awesomeness! My king, Ningiszida, imbued with great savage awesomeness! Hero, falcon preying on the gods, my king — dignified, with sparkling eyes, fully equipped with arrows and quiver, impetuous leopard, murderous, howling dragon.

It is such qualities that have given Nin-ĝišzida a particular reputation, however there is a marked difference between the serpentine Underworld associations of the roots and those of the firm and upright tree above ground, this as the staff of rule that when thrown to the ground is as a wriggling serpent, held above ground that of weighty, fair, upright and absolute judgement..Ningiszida, your mouth is that of a snake with a great tongue, a magician…anyone who went against could expect a bite from the vengeful serpent Goddess Nin-Ki, hence serpents associated with boundary stones and contracts.

It is such qualities that have given Nin-ĝišzida a particular reputation, however there is a marked difference between the serpentine Underworld associations of the roots and those of the firm and upright tree above ground, this as the staff of rule that when thrown to the ground is as a wriggling serpent, held above ground that of weighty, fair, upright and absolute judgement.

“Ningiszida, your mouth is that of a snake with a great tongue, a magician…”, anyone who went against could expect a bite from the vengeful serpent Goddess Nin-Ki, hence serpents associated with boundary stones and contracts.

“Shepherd, you understand how to keep a check on the black-headed. The sheep and lambs come to seek you out, and you understand how to wield the sceptre over the goats and kids, into the distant future. Ningiszida, you understand how to wield the sceptre, into the distant future.”

In such judgement he could be expected to be impartial. You should not say to Ningishzida: “Let me live!”, Sumerian Proverb.

These qualities are also strongly evidenced in the serpent cult of Ištar-ān which was located in the border region between Sumer and Elam, Ištar-ān as Venus-Morning star an epitaph of Nin-ĝišzida as seen in his descent into the Underworld narrative, were his sister asks to sail with him on the Dragon boat into the Underworld, were the skipper of the Dragon boat (Hydra constellation) is Nin-Sirsir, ‘the slithering one’; “My young man Damu, let me sail away with you, brother let me sail away with you. Ištar-ān of the bright visage, let me sail away with you,… Nin-ĝišzida , let me sail away with you.”

It can of course not be denied that Ninazu and Ningišzida are Sumerian gods, but the evidence suggests that their ophidian traits were developed under the influence of transtigridian religious ideas. In fact, as has been repeatedly shown, a religious interest in snakes in these regions goes back deep into prehistory and through the ages remains quite visible in the iconography of Elam and the Iranian mountains.

Ištaran is the god of Der in the Elamite borderland. Although his three main traits are that of a dying god, an arbitrator and judge, and a chthonic snake god, he is also related with the sky: he is Venus (Ištar-ān) and one of his names is An-gal/Anû rabû “Great An.” He appears with the lower body of a winding snake.

Ištar-ān had a most unfortunate end in his sacrificial aspect, in that he was taken to the Temple precinct of his sister Istar and had all of the blood beaten out of him to nourish the Underworld, whilst she watched and lamented.

The cult of Nin-ĝišzida then either derived from or assimilated that of Ištar-ān, but the relationship is interesting as to why the Sumerians needed two Gods of resurrection, and generally kept them seperate despite similarities.

In some ways Dumuzid is a victim of fate which he tries to avoid, his roots are not in the Underworld, as a son of En-ki he is an unwilling victim within the greater scheme of things, with Nin-ĝišzida it is simply his will and nature to emerge from the depths like a dragon…”When your great word comes to the earth, you are indeed a great mušhuššu.

Of course dragons emerging from the Underworld is something people naturally worry about, but Nin-ĝišzida in the context of Sumerian religion was understood as harnessing those mighty forces of nature toward generative purpose and countering evil aspects through establishment of order.

Hel

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

In Norse mythology, Hel (Old Norse Hel, “Hidden”, from the word hel, “to conceal”), also known as Hella, Holle or Hulda, is a giantess and goddess in Norse mythology who rules over Helheim, the underworld where the dead dwell, which was known as Niflheim, or Helheim, the Kingdom of the Dead. The name Hel, quite literally means “one that hides” or “one who covers up.”

Hel was the daughter of Loki and a giantess. Her siblings are the wolf Fenrir and the snake Jormungand. She was half alive, half dead. Half of her face is beautiful, reminiscent of her father, while the other half is ugly and difficult to look at like her mother. She is described as half white/half blue, or half living/half rotten.

The old Old Norse word Hel derives from Proto-Germanic *khalija/*haljō, which means “one who covers up or hides something”, which itself derives from Proto-Indo-European *kel-, meaning “conceal”.

The cognate in English is the word Hell which is from the Old English forms hel and helle. Related terms are Old Frisian, helle, German Hölle and Gothic halja. Other words more distantly related include hole, hollow, hall, helmet and cell, all from the aforementioned Indo-European root *kel-.

The word Hel is found in Norse words and phrases related to death such as Helför (“Hel-journey,” a funeral) and Helsótt (“Hel sickness,” a fatal illness). The Norwegian word “heilag/hellig” which means “sacred” is directly related etymologically to the name “Hel”, and the same goes for the English word “holy”.

Both Hel and Heimdallr are strongly connected to the rune Haglaz or Hagalaz (Hag-all-az) – literally: “Hail” or “Hailstone” – Esoteric: Crisis or Radical Change. Interesting enough to notice that “heil” is also a name of this rune when it has a protection aspect, as heil/heilag comes from Hel, and the word “heil” was also found in the “Heil og Sæl” (an old norse way to greet which means “to good health and happiness”).

The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the h-rune ᚺ, meaning “Hag-all-az” – Literally: “Hail” or “Hailstone”. In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, it is continued as hægl and in the Younger Futhark as ᚼ hagall. The corresponding Gothic letter is h, named hagl.

Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from sleet, though the two are often confused for one another It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Sleet falls generally in cold weather while hail growth is greatly inhibited at cold temperatures.

Hail shocks you with stinging hardness (confrontation) then it melts into water which creates germination of seeds (transformation). The ancients describe hail as a grain rather than as ice, thus creating a metaphor for a deeper truth of life. It contains the seed of all the other runic energies and this can be seen in its other form, a six-fold snowflake. Spiritual awakening often comes from times of deep crisis.

Cel

Cel was the Etruscan goddess of the earth. On the Etruscan calendar, the month of Celi (September) is likely named for her. Her Greek counterpart is Gaia and her Roman is Tellus.

In Etruscan mythology, Cel was the mother of the Giants. A bronze mirror from the 5th century BC depicts a theomachy in which Celsclan, “son of Cel,” is a Giant attacked by Laran, the god of war.

In Greek, “giant” comes from a word meaning “born from Gaia.” Another mirror depicts anguiped Giants in the company of a goddess, possibly Cel, whose lower body is formed of vegetation.

In a sanctuary near Lake Trasimeno were found five votive bronze statuettes, some male and some female, dedicated to her as Cel Ati, “Mother Cel.” The inscription on each reads mi celś atial celthi, “I [belong to, have been given] to Cel the mother, here [in this sanctuary].”

Tellus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Tellus or Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”) is a goddess of the earth. The two words terra and tellus are thought to derive from the formulaic phrase tersa tellus, meaning “dry land”. The etymology of tellus is uncertain; it is perhaps related to Sanskrit talam, “plain ground”.

She is regularly associated with Ceres, a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships, in rituals pertaining to the earth and agricultural fertility.

Although Tellus and Terra are hardly distinguishable during the Imperial era, Tellus was the name of the original earth goddess in the religious practices of the Republic or earlier.

The scholar Varro (1st century BC) lists Tellus as one of the di selecti, the twenty principal gods of Rome, and one of the twelve agricultural deities. She is regularly associated with Ceres in rituals pertaining to the earth and agricultural fertility.

The attributes of Tellus were the cornucopia, or bunches of flowers or fruit. She was typically depicted reclining. Her male complement was a sky god such as Caelus (Uranus) or a form of Jupiter. A male counterpart Tellumo or Tellurus is mentioned, though rarely.

Her Greek counterpart is Gaea (Gē Mâtēr), and among the Etruscans she was Cel. Michael Lipka has argued that the Terra Mater who appears during the reign of Augustus is a direct transferral of the Greek Ge Mater into Roman religious practice, while Tellus, whose temple was within Rome’s sacred boundary (pomerium), represents the original earth goddess cultivated by the state priests.

The word tellus, telluris is also a Latin common noun for “land, territory; earth,” as is terra, “earth, ground”. In literary uses, particularly in poetry, it may be ambiguous as to whether the goddess, a personification, or the common noun is meant.

Caelus

Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”).

The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.

The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus, who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks. Varro couples him with Terra (Earth) as pater and mater (father and mother), and says that they are “great deities” (dei magni) in the theology of the mysteries at Samothrace.

Caelus begins to appear regularly in Augustan art and in connection with the cult of Mithras during the Imperial era. Vitruvius includes him among celestial gods whose temple-buildings (aedes) should be built open to the sky. As a sky god, he became identified with Jupiter, as indicated by an inscription that reads Optimus Maximus Caelus Aeternus Iup<pi>ter.

According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether and Dies (“Day” or “Daylight”). Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury. With Trivia, Caelus was the father of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops.

Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn. In one tradition, Caelus was the father with Tellus of the Muses, though was this probably a mere translation of Ouranos from a Greek source.

Caelus substituted for Uranus in Latin versions of the myth of Saturn (Cronus) castrating his heavenly father, from whose severed genitals, cast upon the sea, the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) was born.

In his work On the Nature of the Gods, Cicero presents a Stoic allegory of the myth in which the castration signifies “that the highest heavenly aether, that seed-fire which generates all things, did not require the equivalent of human genitals to proceed in its generative work.”

For Macrobius, the severing marks off Chaos from fixed and measured Time (Saturn) as determined by the revolving Heavens (Caelum). The semina rerum (“seeds” of things that exist physically) come from Caelum and are the elements which create the world.

The divine spatial abstraction Caelum is a synonym for Olympus as a metaphorical heavenly abode of the divine, both identified with and distinguished from the mountain in ancient Greece named as the home of the gods. Varro says that the Greeks call Caelum (or Caelus) “Olympus.”

As a representation of space, Caelum is one of the components of the mundus, the “world” or cosmos, along with terra (earth), mare (sea), and aer (air). In his work on the cosmological systems of antiquity, the Dutch Renaissance humanist Gerardus Vossius deals extensively with Caelus and his duality as both a god and a place that the other gods inhabit.

The ante-Nicene Christian writer Lactantius routinely uses the Latin theonyms Caelus, Saturn, and Jupiter to refer to the three divine hypostases of the Neoplatonic school of Plotinus: the First God (Caelus), Intellect (Saturn), and Soul, son of the Intelligible (Jupiter).

As Caelus Nocturnus, he was the god of the night-time, starry sky. In a passage from Plautus, Nocturnus is regarded as the opposite of Sol, the Sun god. In the Etruscan discipline of divination, Caelus Nocturnus was placed in the sunless north opposite Sol to represent the polar extremities of the axis.

The name Caelus occurs in dedicatory inscriptions in connection to the cult of Mithras. The Mithraic deity Caelus is sometimes depicted allegorically as an eagle bending over the sphere of heaven marked with symbols of the planets or the zodiac.

In a Mithraic context he is associated with Cautes and can appear as Caelus Aeternus (“Eternal Sky”). A form of Ahura-Mazda is invoked in Latin as Caelus Aeternus Iupiter. The walls of some mithrea feature allegorical depictions of the cosmos with Oceanus and Caelus.

Some Roman writers used Caelus or Caelum as a way to express the monotheistic god of Judaism. Juvenal identifies the Jewish god with Caelus as the highest heaven (summum caelum), saying that Jews worship the numen of Caelus; Petronius uses similar language.

Florus has a rather odd passage describing the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem as housing a “sky” (caelum) under a golden vine, which has been taken as an uncomprehending attempt to grasp the presence of the Jewish god.

A golden vine, perhaps the one mentioned, was sent by the Hasmonean king Aristobulus to Pompeius Magnus after his defeat of Jerusalem, and was later displayed in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

Haya

In Sumerian mythology the god Haya is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts. His functions are two-fold: he appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain.

Haia is mentioned together with dlugal-[ki-sá-a], a divinity associated with door-keepers. Already in the Ur III period Haya had received offerings together with offerings to the “gate”. This was presumably because of the location of one of his shrines.

At least from the Old Babylonian period on he is known as the spouse of the grain-goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, who is also the patroness of the scribal art. From the same period we have a Sumerian hymn composed in his honour, which celebrates him in these capacities.

While there is plenty of evidence to connect Haya with scribes, the evidence connecting him with grain is mainly restricted to etymological considerations, which are unreliable and suspect.

There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. He is designated as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

Nidaba

Nidaba is the Sumerian goddess of grain and writing, and the patron deity of the city Ereš. Nidaba’s glory attracted her fall: her scribal functions were usurped by the god Nabu as he rose to power in the Old Babylonian period.

She reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nidaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain.

The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nidaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes. She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu.

Traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nidaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Enki, and of Anu. Nidaba’s spouse is Haya and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil.

Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsun, the mother of Gilgameš.

Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

In a debate between Nidaba and Grain, Nidaba is syncretised with Ereškigal as “Mistress of the Underworld”. Nidaba is also identified with the goddess of grain Ašnan, and with Nanibgal/Nidaba-ursag/Geme-Dukuga, the throne bearer of Ninlil and wife of Ennugi, throne bearer of Enlil.

Hayasa

A connection was made in Armenian historiography of the Soviet era, with Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa mentioned in Hittite inscriptions, a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms of Armenian Highlands, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa.

Hayastan

The native Armenian name for the country is Hayk’. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Hayastan, by addition of the Persian suffix -stan (place). The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief), the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

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