Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The meaning of Dyeus

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 1, 2015

Karyn Crisis, Mother Tiamat, 2008

Tiamat (ti.am.at)

Ma = Earth/Mother

Ab = Water-Sky/Father

In the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, Abzu is a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water.

The Enuma Elish begins:

“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 still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…”

An abode is a dwelling or residence.

In the Proto-Indo-European language, *mā́tēr (modern reconstruction: *méhtēr) meant “mother” and *pǝtḗr (modern reconstruction: *phtḗr) meant “father”, and átta meant “papa”, a nursery word for “father”.

Ab or Av (ʾĀḇ; from Akkadian abu), sometimes Aba or Abba, means “father” in most Semitic languages. Ab, from a theoretical, abstract form ʼabawun (triliteral ʼ-b-w) is Arabic for “father”. The dual is ʼabawāni or ʼabāni “two fathers” or “mother and father” (ʼābāʼi-ka meaning “thy parents”).

Apas is the Avestan language term for “the waters”, which—in its innumerable aggregate states—is represented by the Apas, the hypostases of the waters. The Avestan common noun āpas corresponds exactly to Vedic Sanskrit āpas, and both derive from the same proto-Indo-Iranian word, stem *ap- “water”.

In both Avestan and Vedic Sanskrit texts, the waters—whether as waves or drops, or collectively as streams, pools, rivers or wells—are represented by the Apas, the group of divinities of the waters. The identification of divinity with element is complete in both cultures. In the RigVeda the divinities are wholesome to drink, in the Avesta the divinities are good to bathe in.

As also in the Indian religious texts, the waters are considered a primordial element. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, the waters are the second creation, after that of the sky. Aside from Apas herself/themselves, no less than seven Zoroastrian divinities are identified with the waters: All three Ahuras (Mazda, Mithra, Apam Napat), two Amesha Spentas (Haurvatat, Armaiti) and two lesser Yazatas (Aredvi Sura Anahita and Ahurani).

Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god [Wurunkatte]. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.

In ancient Mesopotamia, Zababa was the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish (early patron of Sargon of Akkad), listed on the Sumerian King List as the second king of the 4th Dynasty of Kish. The king list also says Sargon of Akkad, a Semitic Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC, was a cup-bearer for Ur-Zababa before becoming ruler of Akkadian Empire.

Sabazios is the nomadic horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power.

The Thracian horseman is the name given to a recurring motif of a deity in the form of a horseman, in Paleo-Balkanic mythology. The motif typically features a caped horseman astride a steed, with a spear poised in his right hand.

He is often depicted as slaying a beast with a spear, though this feature is sometimes absent. The tradition is best illustrated in surviving artifacts from Thrace, Macedonia, Moesia, and Scythia Minor dating to the Roman era, and is often found depicted on funerary statues.

After Christianity was adopted, the motif of the Thracian horseman is believed to have continued in representations of Saint George slaying the dragon. In the 4th century, the reliefs were considered to be representations of St. George.

Ap (áp-) is the Vedic Sanskrit term for “water”, which in Classical Sanskrit only occurs in the plural, āpas (sometimes re-analysed as a thematic singular, āpa-), whence Hindi āp. The term is from PIE hxap “water”. The Indo-Iranian word also survives as the Persian word for water, āb, e.g. in Punjab (from panj-āb “five waters”).

Here, a similarity can be seen between the concept of ap (waters/river) and the Sumerian ab (ocean), which is a language that is widely believed to be a language isolate. In archaic ablauting contractions, the laryngeal of the PIE root remains visible in Vedic Sanskrit, e.g. pratīpa- “against the current”, from *proti-hxp-o-.

In the Rigveda, several hymns are dedicated to “the waters” (āpas): 7.49, 10.9, 10.30, 10.47. In the oldest of these, 7.49, the waters are connected with the drought of Indra. Agni, the god of fire, has a close association with water and is often referred to as Apām Napāt “offspring of the waters”. The female deity Apah is the presiding deity of Purva Ashadha (The former invincible one) asterism in Vedic astrology

In Hindu philosophy, the term refers to water as an element, one of the Panchamahabhuta, or “five great elements”. In Hinduism, it is also the name of the deva Varuna a personification of water, one of the Vasus in most later Puranic lists.

Apam Napat is an eminent figure of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. In the Rig Veda, Apām Napāt is the supreme god of creation. Apam Napat created all existential beings (Rig Veda 2.35.2). In Zoroastrianism, Apąm Napāt is a divinity of water, see also Burz.

Apām Napāt in Sanskrit and Apąm Napāt in Avestan mean “son of waters”. Sanskrit and Avestan napāt (“grandson”) are cognate to Latin nepōs and English nephew, but the name Apām Napāt has also been compared to Etruscan Nethuns and Celtic Nechtan and Roman Neptune.

In Greek mythology, Pontus (“Sea”) was an ancient, pre-Olympian sea-god, one of the Greek primordial deities. Pontus was Gaia’s son and, according to the Greek poet Hesiod, he was born without coupling. For Hesiod, Pontus seems little more than a personification of the sea, ho pontos, “the Road”, by which Hellenes signified the Mediterranean Sea.

With Gaia, he fathered Nereus (the Old Man of the Sea), Thaumas (the awe-striking “wonder” of the Sea, embodiment of the sea’s dangerous aspects), Phorcys and his sister-consort Ceto, and the “Strong Goddess” Eurybia. With the sea goddess Thalassa (whose own name simply means “sea” but is derived from a Pre-Greek root), he fathered the Telchines and all sea life.

In a Roman sculpture of the 2nd century AD, Pontus, rising from seaweed, grasps a rudder with his right hand and leans on the prow of a ship. He wears a mural crown, and accompanies Fortuna, whose draperies appear at the left, as twin patron deities of the Black Sea port of Tomis in Moesia.

In Greek mythology, Nereus was the eldest son of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth), who with Doris fathered the Nereids and Nerites, with whom Nereus lived in the Aegean Sea. Nereus was father to Thetis, one of the Nereids, who in turn was mother to the great Greek hero Achilles, and Amphitrite, who married Poseidon.

Nereus and Proteus (the “first”) seem to be two manifestations of the god of the sea who was supplanted by Poseidon when Zeus overthrew Cronus. Given Poseidon’s connection with horses as well as the sea, and the landlocked situation of the likely Indo-European homeland, Nobuo Komita has proposed that Poseidon was originally an aristocratic Indo-European horse-god who was then assimilated to Near Eastern aquatic deities when the basis of the Greek livelihood shifted from the land to the sea, or a god of fresh waters who was assigned a secondary role as god of the sea, where he overwhelmed the original Aegean sea deities such as Proteus and Nereus.

Conversely, Walter Burkert suggests that the Hellene cult worship of Poseidon as a horse god may be connected to the introduction of the horse and war-chariot from Anatolia to Greece around 1600 BC. In any case, the early importance of Poseidon can still be glimpsed in Homer’s Odyssey, where Poseidon rather than Zeus is the major mover of events.

In Greek mythology, Thalassa (“sea”) is a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. She and sea god Pontus was the parents 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, 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. 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.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer 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.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek Θάλαττα (thalatta) or Θάλασσα (thalassa), “sea”.

Neptune was the god of freshwater and the sea in Roman religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon, one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology.

The main domain of Poseidon is the ocean, and he is called the “God of the Sea”. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”. He is usually depicted as an older male with curly hair and beard.

Bronze Age Greece as a chief deity, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of Zeus and Hades. According to some folklore, he was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which was devoured by Cronos.

The earliest attested occurrence of the name, written in Linear B, is Po-se-da-o or Po-se-da-wo-ne, which correspond to Poseidaōn and Poseidawonos in Mycenean Greek; in Homeric Greek it appears as Poseidaōn; in Aeolic as Poteidaōn; and in Doric as Poteidan, Poteidaōn, and Poteidas. A common epithet of Poseidon is Γαιήοχος Gaiēochos, “Earth-shaker,” an epithet which is also identified in Linear B tablets. Another attested word, E-ne-si-da-o-ne, recalls his later epithets Ennosidas and Ennosigaios indicating the chthonic nature of Poseidon.

The origins of the name “Poseidon” are unclear. One theory breaks it down into an element meaning “husband” or “lord” (Greek πόσις (posis), from PIE *pótis) and another element meaning “earth” (δᾶ (da), Doric for γῆ (gē)), producing something like lord or spouse of Da, i.e. of the earth; this would link him with Demeter, “Earth-mother.” Walter Burkert finds that “the second element da- remains hopelessly ambiguous” and finds a “husband of Earth” reading “quite impossible to prove.”

Another theory interprets the second element as related to the word *δᾶϝον dâwon, “water”; this would make *Posei-dawōn into the master of waters. There is also the possibility that the word has Pre-Greek origin. Plato in his dialogue Cratylus gives two alternative etymologies: either the sea restrained Poseidon when walking as a “foot-bond”, or he “knew many things”.

In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto; the brothers presided over the realms of Heaven, the earthly world, and the Underworld. Salacia was his consort. Servius the grammarian also explicitly states Neptune is in charge of all the rivers, springs and waters. He also is the lord of horses because he worked with Athena to make the chariot.

Depictions of Neptune in Roman mosaics, especially those of North Africa, are influenced by Hellenistic conventions. Neptune was likely associated with fresh water springs before the sea. Like Poseidon, Neptune was worshipped by the Romans also as a god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester, a patron of horse-racing.

The etymology of Neptunus is unclear and disputed. The ancient grammarian Varro derived the name from nuptus i.e. covering (opertio), with a more or less explicit allusion to the nuptiae, marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Among modern scholars P. Kretschmer proposed a derivation from IE *neptu-, moist substance. Similarly R. Bloch supposed it might be an adjectival form in -no from *nuptu-, meaning “he who is moist”.

Dumézil though remarked words deriving root *nep- are not attested in IE languages other than Vedic and Avestan. He proposed an etymology that brings together Neptunus with Vedic and Avestan theonyms Apam Napat, Apam Napá and Old Irish theonym Nechtan, all meaning descendant of the waters.

By using the comparative approach the Indo-Iranian, Avestan and Irish figures would show common features with the Roman historicised legends about Neptune. Dumézil thence proposed to derive the nouns from IE root *nepot-, descendant, sister’s son.

More recently, in his lectures delivered on various occasions in the late years of the last century, German scholar H. Petersmann proposed an etymology from IE rootstem *nebh- related to clouds and fogs, plus suffix -tu denoting an abstract verbal noun, and adjectival suffix -no which refers to the domain of activity of a person or his prerogatives.

IE root *nebh-, having the original meaning of damp, wet, has given Sanskrit nábhah, Hittite nepis, Latin nubs, nebula, German nebel, Slavic nebo etc. The concept would be close to that expressed in the name of Greek god Όυράνος, derived from IE root *h2wórso-, to water, irrigate and *h2worsó-, the irrigator. This etymology would be more in accord with Varro’s.

A different etymology grounded in the legendary history of Latium and Etruria was proposed by Preller and Müller-Deeke: Etruscan Nethunus, Nethuns would be an adjectival form of toponym Nepe(t), Nepete (presently Nepi), town of the ager Faliscus near Falerii.

The district was traditionally connected to the cult of the god: Messapus and Halesus, the eponymous hero of Falerii, were believed to be his own sons. Messapus led the Falisci and others to war in the Aeneid. Nepi and Falerii have been famed since antiquity for the excellent quality of the water of their springs, scattered in meadows.

Messapus, a character in Virgil’s Aeneid, appears in Books VII and IX of the Latin epic poem. He was a famous tamer of horses and king of Etruria, known for being one “whom no one can fell by fire or steel” (Mandelbaum, VII.911-912); perhaps because he is a son of Neptune.

Nepet is considered a hydronymic toponym of preIndoeuropean origin widespread in Europe and from an appellative meaning damp wide valley plain, cognate with preGreek νάπη wooded valley.

In Etruscan mythology, Nethuns was the god of wells, later expanded to all water, including the sea. The name “Nethuns” is likely cognate with that of the Celtic god Nechtan, the master of the well from which all the rivers of the world flow out and flow back to, and the Persian and Vedic gods sharing the name Apam Napat, perhaps all based on the Proto-Indo-European word *népōts “nephew, grandson.” In this case, Etruscan may have borrowed the Umbrian name *Nehtuns, (Roman Neptune, who was originally a god of water).

Nethuns is mentioned on the Piacenza liver, a third-century BCE bronze model of a sheep’s liver used for the divinatory rites called haruspicy, as Neθ, an abbreviation for his full name. As a patron god his profile, wearing a ketos (sea monster) headdress, appears on a coin of Vetulonia, circa 215 – 211 BCE; he is accompanied by his trident between two dolphins.

In Irish mythology, Nechtan was the father and/or husband of Boann, eponymous goddess of the River Boyne. Elsewhere his wife is named as Elcmar. He may be Nuada under another name, or his cult may have been replaced by that of Nuada; others maintain that Nechtan may be another name for the Dagda. His inhabited the otherworldly Síd Nechtain, the mythological form of Carbury Hill.

The name Nechtan is perhaps cognate with that of the Romano-British god Nodens or the Roman god Neptunus, and the Persian and Vedic gods sharing the name Apam Napat. It may also be cognate to the Swedish mythological being Näcken, who dwells near wells and springs. The name could ultimately be derived from the Proto-Indo-European god Népot-, a name reconstructed as “close relative (of the waters).” An alternative etymology suggests that Nechtan means “to wash, to be clean, pure and white”

Nodens (Nudens, Nodons) is a Celtic deity associated with healing, the sea, hunting and dogs. He was worshipped in ancient Britain, most notably in a temple complex at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, and possibly also in Gaul. He is equated with the Roman gods Mars, Mercury, Neptune and Silvanus, and his name is cognate with that of the Irish mythological figure Nuada and the Welsh Nudd.

In Yasht 19 of the Avesta Apąm Napāt appears as the Creator of mankind. Here, there is an evident link between the glory of sovereignty (Khvarenah) and Apąm Napāt who protects Khvarenah as the royal glory of Iranian kings. Apām Napāt is sometimes, for example in Rigveda book 2 hymn 35 verse 2, described as the supreme creator deity who originates in the cosmic waters.

Apam Napat has a golden splendour and is said to be kindled by the cosmic waters. There is a conjecture that the word “naphtha” came (via Greek, where it meant any sort of petroleum) from the name “Apam Napat”.

AttaFather

Mama and papa

Ab (Semitic)

Maat

Depiction of the Christianized Chaoskampf: statue of Archangel Michael slaying Satan, represented as a dragon. Quis ut Deus? is inscribed on his shield.

Chaos refers to the formless or void state preceding the creation of the universe or cosmos in the Greek creation myths, or to the initial “gap” created by the original separation of heaven and earth.

Greek khaos means “emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss”, from the verb, “gape, be wide open, etc.”, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵheh2n, cognate to Old English geanian, “to gape”, whence English yawn. It may also mean space, the expanse of air, and the nether abyss, infinite darkness. Pherecydes of Syros (fl. 6th century BC) interpretes chaos as water, like something formless which can be differentiated.

In creation from chaos myth, initially there is nothing but a formless, shapeless expanse. In these stories the word “chaos” means “disorder”, and this formless expanse, which is also sometimes called a void or an abyss, contains the material with which the created world will be made.

Chaos may be described as having the consistency of vapor or water, dimensionless, and sometimes salty or muddy. These myths associate chaos with evil and oblivion, in contrast to “order” (cosmos) which is the good. The act of creation is the bringing of order from disorder, and in many of these cultures it is believed that at some point the forces preserving order and form will weaken and the world will once again be engulfed into the abyss.

The motif of Chaoskampf (German for “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos. Early work by German academics in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.”

Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others. This myth was ultimately transmitted into the religions of the Ancient Near East (most of which belong to the Afro-Asiatic language family) most likely initially through interaction with Hittite speaking peoples into Syria and the Fertile Crescent.

The myth was most likely then integrated into early Sumerian and Akkadian myths, such as the trials of Ninurta, before being disseminated into the rest of the Ancient Near East. Examples of the storm god vs. sea serpent trope in the Ancient Near East can be seen with Baʿal vs. Yam (Canaanite), Marduk vs. Tiamat (Babylonian), Ra vs. Apep (Egyptian Mythology), and Yahweh vs. Leviathan (Jewish) among others.

There is also evidence to suggest the possible transmission of this myth as far east as Japan and Shintoism as depicted in the story of Susanoo vs. Yamata no Orochi, most likely by way of Buddhist influence.

The Chaoskampf would eventually be inherited by descendants of these ancient religions, perhaps most notably by Christianity. Examples include the story of Saint George and the Dragon (most probably descended from the Slavic branch of Indo-European and stories such as Dobrynya Nikitich vs. Zmey Gorynych) as well as depictions of Christ and/or Saint Michael vs. the Devil (as seen in the Book of Revelation among other places and probably related to the Yahweh vs. Leviathan and later Gabriel vs. Rahab stories of Jewish mythology). More abstractly, some aspects of the narrative appear in the crucifixion story of Jesus found in the gospels.

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents both the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. She was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

She is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

According to some analyses there are two parts to the Tiamat myth, 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.

The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon. Chaoskampf motifs in other mythologies linked directly or indirectly to the Tiamat myth include the Hittite Illuyanka myth, and in Greek tradition Apollo’s killing of the Python as a necessary action to take over the Delphic Oracle.

In Greek mythology, Chaos, the primeval void, was the first thing which existed. According to Hesiod, “at first Chaos came to be” (or was) “but next” (possibly out of Chaos) came Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros. Unambiguously born “from Chaos” was Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).

The Greek word “chaos”, a neuter noun, means “yawning” or “gap”, but what, if anything, was located on either side of this chasm is unclear. For Hesiod, Chaos, like Tartarus, though personified enough to have born children, was also a place, far away, underground and “gloomy”, beyond which lived the Titans. And, like the earth, the ocean, and the upper air, It was also capable of being affected by Zeus’ thunderbolts. For the Roman poet Ovid Chaos was an unformed mass, where all the elements were jumbled up together in a “shapeless heap”.

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 Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk. The heavens and the earth are formed from her divided body.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer 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.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

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 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.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu, upset with the chaos they created, was planning to murder the younger deities; and so captured him, holding him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

Tiamat possessed the Tablets of Destiny 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.

Tiamat wanted to establish Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” as ruler and leader of all gods before she was slain by Marduk. Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army.

However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually slain by Marduk. Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

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

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 Tablets of Destiny, 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,” American Assyriologist E. A. Speiser remarked in 1942 adding “The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far.”

Without corroboration in surviving texts, 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 – has been 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 it to the 15th century BCE.

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.

In Norse mythology, Ymir, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn is a primeval being born of primordial elemental poison and the ancestor of all jötnar. By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to Tuisto, the Proto-Germanic being attested by Tacitus in his 1st century AD work Germania and have identified Ymir as an echo of a primordial being reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European mythology.

Taken together, several stanzas from four poems collected in the Poetic Edda refer to Ymir as a primeval being who was born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar and lived in the grassless void of Ginnungagap (“gaping abyss”, “yawning void”), the primordial void, mentioned in the Gylfaginning, the Eddaic text recording Norse cosmogony.

Ginnungagap appears as the primordial void in the Norse creation account, the Gylfaginning states: Ginnungagap, the Yawning Void … which faced toward the northern quarter, became filled with heaviness, and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts; but the southern part of the Yawning Void was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspellheim.

In the northern part of Ginnungagap lay the intense cold of Niflheim (“Mist Home”, the “Abode of Mist” or “Mist World”), one of the Nine Worlds, and the one which overlaps with the notions of Hel, and to the southern part lay the equally intense heat of Muspelheim, a realm of fire. The cosmogonic process began when the effulgence of the two met in the middle of Ginnungagap.

Muspelheim is fire; and the land to the North, Niflheim, is ice. The two mixed and created water from the melting ice in Ginnungagap. The sun and the stars originate from Muspelheim.

According to the Ragnarök prophecies in Snorri Sturluson’s Gylfaginning, the first part of his Prose Edda, the sons of Muspell will break the Bifröst bridge, signaling the end of times. The etymology of “Muspelheim” is uncertain, but may come from Mund-spilli, “world-destroyers”, “wreck of the world”.

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).

According to the Prose Edda, after Ymir was formed from the elemental drops, so too was Auðumbla, a primeval cow, whose milk Ymir fed from. The Prose Edda also states that three gods killed Ymir; the brothers Odin, Vili, and Vé, and details that, upon Ymir’s death, his blood caused an immense flood.

In the 1st century AD, Roman historian Tacitus writes in his ethnographic work Germania that the Germanic peoples sing songs about a primeval god who was born of the Earth named Tuisto, and that he was the progenitor of the Germanic peoples. Tuisto is the Latinized form of a Proto-Germanic theonym that is a matter of some debate. By way of historical linguistics some scholars have linked Tuisto to the Proto-Germanic theonym *Tiwaz, while other scholars have argued that the name refers to a “two-fold” or hermaphroditic being (compare Old Swedish tvistra, meaning “separate”). The latter etymology has led scholars to a connection to Ymir on both linguistic and mythical grounds.

By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to other primordial, sometimes hermaphroditic or twin beings in other Indo-European mythologies and have reconstructed elements of a Proto-Indo-European cosmological dissection. Citing Ymir as a prime example, scholars J. P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams comment that “the [Proto-Indo-European] cosmogonic myth is centered on the dismemberment of a divine being—either anthropomorphic or bovine—and the creation of the universe out of its various elements”.

Among surviving sources, Adams and Mallory summarize that “the most frequent correlations, or better, derivations, are the following: Flesh = Earth, Bone = Stone, Blood = Water (the sea, etc.), Eyes = Sun, Mind = Moon, Brain = Cloud, Head = Heaven, Breath = Wind”.

Further examples cited include the climactic ending of the Old Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge where a bull is dissected that makes up the Irish geography, and apparently Christianized forms of the myth found in the Old Russian Poem of the Dove King, the Frisian Frisian Code of Emsig, and Irish manuscript BM MS 4783, folio 7a.

Other examples given include Ovid’s 1st century BC to 1st century AD Latin Metamorphoses description of the god Atlas’s beard and hair becoming forests, his bones becoming stone, his hands mountain ridges, and so forth; the 9th century AD Middle Persian Škend Gumānīg Wizār, wherein the malevolent being Kūnī’s skin becomes the sky, from his flesh comes the earth, his bones the mountains, and from his hair comes plants; and the 10th century BC Old Indic Purusha sukta from the Rig Veda, which describes how the primeval man Purusha was dissected; from his eye comes the sun, from his mouth fire, from his breath wind, from his feet the earth, and so on.

The Cosmic Man is also an archetypical figure that appears in creation myths of a wide variety of cultures. Generally he is described as bestowing life upon all things, and is also frequently the physical basis of the world, such that after death parts of his body became physical parts of the universe. He also represents the oneness of human existence, or the universe.

For instance, in the Purusha sukta of the Rigveda, Purusha (Sanskrit puruṣa, “man,” or “Cosmic Man”) is sacrificed by the devas from the foundation of the world—his mind is the Moon, his eyes are the Sun, and his breath is the wind. He is described as having a thousand heads and a thousand feet.

Purusha is a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic man or it means Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle.

In early Vedas, Purusa meant a cosmic man whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. This was one of many creation theories discussed in the Vedas. The idea parallels Norse Ymir, with the myth’s origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.

In the Upanishads, the Purusa concept no longer meant a being or cosmic man. The meaning evolved to an abstract essence of Self, Spirit and the Universal Principle that is eternal, indestructible, without form and all pervasive.

The Purusa concept is explained with the concept of Prakrti in the Upanishads. The universe is envisioned, in these ancient Sanskrit texts, as a combination of perceivable material reality and non-perceivable, non-material laws and principles of nature.

Material reality, or Prakrti, is everything that has changed, can change and is subject to cause and effect. Purusa is the Universal principle that is unchanging, uncaused but is present everywhere and the reason why Prakrti changes, evolves all the time and why there is cause and effect. Purusa is what connects everything and everyone, according to various schools of Hinduism.

Adams and Mallory write that “In both cosmogonic myth and the foundation element of it, one of the central aspects is the notion of sacrifice (of a brother, giant, bovine, etc.). The relationship between sacrifice and cosmogony was not solely that of a primordial event but the entire act of sacrifice among the Indo-Europeans might be seen as a re-creation of the universe where elements were being continuously recycled. [ . . . ] Sacrifice thus represents a creative re-enactment of the initial cosmic dismemberment of a victim and it helps return the material stuff to the world”.

Adam Kadmon is a phrase in the religious writings of Kabbalah meaning “original man”. The oldest mainstream rabbinic source for the term Adam ha-Ḳadmoni is Numbers Rabbah x., where Biblical Adam is styled, not as usually Ha-Rishon (“the first”), but “Ha-Kadmoni” (“the original”).

In Kabbalah, Adam Kadmon (“above”) is the first of the comprehensive Five spiritual Worlds in creation, distinguished from Biblical Adam Ha-Rishon (“below”), who included within himself all future human souls before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. The spiritual realm of Adam Kadmon represents the sephirah (divine attribute) of Keter (“crown”), the specific divine will and plan for subsequent creation.

In the Lurianic systemisation of preceding Kabbalah, the anthropomorphic designation for Adam Kadmon describes its arrangement of the latent future sephirot in the harmonised configuration of man. However, Adam Kadmon itself is divine light without vessels, including all subsequent creation only in potential.

This exalted anthropomorphism denotes that man is both the theocentric purpose of future creation, and the anthropocentric embodiment of the divine manifestations on high. This mythopoetic cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis enables the “Adam soul” to embody all human souls: the collective Yechidah (“singular”) soul essence in Adam Kadmon, and the collective Neshamah (“soul”) revealed soul in the Biblical Adam Ha-Rishon in the Garden of Eden.

The Primeval Man (Protanthropos, Adam) occupies a prominent place in several Gnostic systems. According to Irenaeus the Aeon Autogenes emits the true and perfect Anthrôpos, also called Adamas; he has a helpmate, “Perfect Knowledge”, and receives an irresistible force, so that all things rest in him. Others say there is a blessed and incorruptible and endless light in the power of Bythos; this is the Father of all things who is invoked as the First Man, who, with his Ennoia, emits “the Son of Man”, or Euteranthrôpos.

According to Valentinus, Adam was created in the name of Anthrôpos and overawes the demons by the fear of the pre-existent man (tou proontos anthropou). In the Valentinian syzygies and in the Marcosian system we meet in the fourth (originally the third) place Anthrôpos and Ecclesia.

In the Pistis Sophia the Aeon Jeu is called the First Man, he is the overseer of the Light, messenger of the First Precept, and constitutes the forces of the Heimarmene. In the Books of Jeu this “great Man” is the King of the Light-treasure he is enthroned above all things and is the goal of all souls.

According to the Naassenes, the Protanthropos is the first element; the fundamental being before its differentiation into individuals. “The Son of Man” is the same being after it has been individualized into existing things and thus sunk into matter.

The Gnostic Anthrôpos, therefore, or Adamas, as it is sometimes called, is a cosmogonic element, pure mind as distinct from matter, mind conceived hypostatically as emanating from God and not yet darkened by contact with matter. This mind is considered as the reason of humanity, or humanity itself, as a personified idea, a category without corporeality, the human reason conceived as the World-Soul. The same idea, somewhat modified, occurs in Hermetic literature, especially the Poimandres.

The concept of Adam Kadmon might be related to the story of creation mentioned in the Sura 39 in the Quran, where a first stage of creation from One Spirit is mentioned and in the subsequent step man and woman are created from that one spirit. Interestingly this one spirit is referenced as feminine.

A portion of these Gnostic teachings, or what the church fathers maintain Mani received from Terebinthus, or, “Buddas” during the time of the Apostles, when combined with Persian and old Babylonian mythology, furnished Mani with his particular doctrine of the original man.

Around the late first century BC, Arius Didymus wrote in Concerning the Opinions of Plato: Ideas are certain patterns arranged class by class of the things which are by nature sensible, and that these are the sources of the different sciences and definitions. For besides all individual men there is a certain conception of man … uncreated and imperishable.

And in the same way as many impressions are made of one seal, and many images of one man, so from each single idea of the objects of sense a multitude of individual natures are formed, from the idea of man all men, and in like manner in the case of all other things in nature. Also the idea is an eternal essence, cause, and principle, making each thing to be of a character such as its own.

Pangu is the first living being and the creator of all in some versions of Chinese mythology. The first writer to record the myth of Pangu was Xu Zheng during the Three Kingdoms period. Recently his name was found in a tomb dated 194 AD.

In the beginning there was nothing in the universe except a formless chaos. This chaos coalesced into a cosmic egg for about 18,000 years. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang became balanced, and Pangu emerged (or woke up) from the egg.

Pangu is usually depicted as a primitive, hairy giant who has horns on his head and wears furs. Pangu began creating the world: he separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated, Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky. With each day the sky grew ten feet (3 meters) higher, the Earth ten feet thicker, and Pangu ten feet taller. In some versions of the story, Pangu is aided in this task by the four most prominent beasts, namely the Turtle, the Qilin, the Phoenix, and the Dragon.

After the 18,000 years had elapsed, Pangu died. His breath became the wind, mist and clouds; his voice, thunder; his left eye, the sun; his right eye, the moon; his head, the mountains and extremes of the world; his blood, rivers; his muscles, fertile land; his facial hair, the stars and Milky Way; his fur, bushes and forests; his bones, valuable minerals; his bone marrow, sacred diamonds; his sweat, rain; and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became animals.

The goddess Nüwa then used yellow clay to form humans. These humans were very smart since they were individually crafted. Nüwa then became tired of individually making every human, so she dipped a rope in mud and the blobs that fell from it became new humans. These new humans were not as smart as the original ones.

Three main views describe the origin of the Pangu myth. The first is that the story is indigenous and was developed or transmitted through time to Xu Zheng. Senior Scholar Wei Juxian states that the Pangu story is derived from stories during the Western Zhou Dynasty. He cites the story of Zhong and Li in the “Chuyu” section of the ancient classics Guoyu. In it, King Zhao of Chu asked Guanshefu a question: “What did the ancient classic “Zhou Shu” mean by the sentence that Zhong and Li caused the heaven and earth to disconnect from each other?” The “Zhou Shu” sentence he refers to is about an earlier person, Luu Xing, who converses with King Mu of Zhou. King Mu’s reign is much earlier and dates to about 1001 to 946 BC. In their conversation, they discuss a “disconnection” between heaven and earth. Derk Bodde linked the myth to the ancestral mythologies of the Miao people and Yao people in southern China.

This is Professor Qin’s reconstruction of the true creation myth preceding the myth of Pangu. Note that it is not actually a creation myth: A brother and his sister became the only survivors of the prehistoric Deluge by crouching in a gourd that floated on water. The two got married afterwards, and a mass of flesh in the shape of a whetstone was born. They chopped it and the pieces turned into large crowds of people, who began to reproduce again. The couple were named ‘Pan’ and ‘Gou’ in the Zhuang ethnic language, which stand for whetstone and gourd respectively.

Paul Carus writes this: P’an-Ku: The basic idea of the yih philosophy was so convincing that it almost obliterated the Taoist cosmology of P’an-Ku who is said to have chiseled the world out of the rocks of eternity. Though the legend is not held in high honor by the literati, it contains some features of interest which have not as yet been pointed out and deserve at least an incidental comment.

P’an-Ku is written in two ways: one means in literal translations, “basin ancient”, the other “basin solid”. Both are homophones, i.e., they are pronounced the same way; and the former may be preferred as the original and correct spelling. Obviously the name means “aboriginal abyss,” or in the terser German, Urgrund, and we have reason to believe it to be a translation of the Babylonian Tiamat, “the Deep.”

The Chinese legend tells us that P’an-Ku’s bones changed to rocks; his flesh to earth; his marrow, teeth and nails to metals; his hair to herbs and trees; his veins to rivers; his breath to wind; and his four limbs became pillars marking the four corners of the world, — which is a Chinese version not only of the Norse myth of the Giant Ymir, but also of the Babylonian story of Tiamat.

Illustrations of P’an-Ku represent him in the company of supernatural animals that symbolize old age or immortality, viz., the tortoise and the crane; sometimes also the dragon, the emblem of power, and the phoenix, the emblem of bliss.

When the earth had thus been shaped from the body of P’an-Ku, we are told that three great rivers successively governed the world: first the celestial, then the terrestrial, and finally the human sovereign. They were followed by Yung-Ch’eng and Sui-Jen (i.e., fire-man) the later being the Chinese Prometheus, who brought the fire down from heaven and taught man its various uses.

The Prometheus myth is not indigenous to Greece, where it received the artistically classical form under which it is best known to us. The name, which by an ingenious afterthought is explained as “the fore thinker,” is originally the Sanskrit pramantha and means “twirler” or “fire-stick,” being the rod of hard wood which produced fire by rapid rotation in a piece of soft wood.

We cannot deny that the myth must have been known also in Mesopotamia, the main center of civilization between India and Greece, and it becomes probable that the figure Sui-Jen has been derived from the same prototype as the Greek Prometheus.

The missionary and translator James Legge criticized Pangu: P’an-ku is spoken of by the common people as “the first man, who opened up heaven and earth.” It has been said to me in “pidgin” English that “he is all the same your Adam”; and in Taoist picture books I have seen him as a shaggy, dwarfish, Hercules, developing from a bear rather than an ape, and wielding an immense hammer and chisel with which he is breaking the chaotic rocks.

In Sumerian mythology, a me (Sumerian, conventionally pronounced) or ñe [ŋɛ] or parşu) 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.

The mes were originally collected by Enlil and then handed over to the guardianship of Enki who was to broker them out to the various Sumerian centers beginning with his own city of Eridu and continuing with Ur, Meluhha, and Dilmun. This is described in the poem, “Enki and the World Order” which also details how he parcels out responsibility for various crafts and natural phenomena to the lesser gods.

Here the mes of various places are extolled but are not themselves clearly specified, and they seem to be distinct from the individual responsibilities of each divinity as they are mentioned in conjunction with specific places rather than gods.

After a considerable amount of self-glorification on the part of Enki, his daughter Inanna comes before him with a complaint that she has been given short shrift on her divine spheres of influence. Enki does his best to placate her by pointing out those she does in fact possess.

There is no direct connection implied in the mythological cycle between this poem and that which is our main source of information on the mes, “Inanna and Enki: The Transfer of the Arts of Civilization from Eridu to Uruk”, but once again Inanna’s discontent is a theme. She is the tutelary deity of Uruk and desires to increase its influence and glory by bringing the mes to it from Eridu.

She travels to Enki’s Eridu shrine, the E-abzu, in her “boat of heaven”, and asks the mes from him after he is well into his cups (which is to say, drunk) whereupon he complies. After she departs with them, he comes to his senses and notices they are missing from their usual place, and on being informed what he did with them attempts to retrieve them. The attempt fails and Inanna triumphantly delivers them to Uruk.

We never learn what any of the mes look like, yet they are represented as physical objects of some sort. Not only are they stored in a prominent location in the E-abzu, but Inanna is able to display them to the people of Uruk after she arrives with them in her boat. Some of them are indeed physical objects such as musical instruments, but many are technologies like “basket weaving” or abstractions like “victory”. It is not made clear in the poem how such things can be stored, handled, or displayed.

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.

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. 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.

Ma was a local goddess at Ma (cf. Men, the moon goddess of Caria) or Ma-Enyo, a variety of the great west Asian nature-goddess worshiped in Kummanni (Hittite: Kummiya), the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna, and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele. Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup, the Hurrian god of sky and storm. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Turkish Kibele; 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. She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity.

In Phrygian art of the 8th century BCE, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings. 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.

Her name, and the development of religious practices associated with her, may have been influenced by Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

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

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat. Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses. In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece. They are called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology.

Uttu in Sumerian mythology is the goddess of weaving and clothing. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears seven new child/trees from Enki, the eighth being the Ti (Tree of “Life”, associated with the “Rib”). When Enki then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. She is a goddess in the pantheon.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth.

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. She 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.

The Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep’ was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

The Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna, his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is 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”.

Enki was considered a god of life and replenishment, and was often depicted with two streams of water flowing into his shoulders, one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him were trees symbolising the female and male aspects of nature, each holding the female and male aspects of the ‘Life Essence’, which he, as apparent alchemist of the gods, would masterfully mix to create several beings that would live upon the face of the earth.

He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.

Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water.

The Enuma Elish begins: 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 still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…

Ap (áp-) is the Vedic Sanskrit term for “water”, which in Classical Sanskrit only occurs in the plural, āpas (sometimes re-analysed as a thematic singular, āpa-), whence Hindi āp. The term is from PIE hxap “water”. The Indo-Iranian word also survives as the Persian word for water, āb, e.g. in Punjab (from panj-āb “five waters”).

Here, a similarity can be seen between the concept of ap (waters/river) and the Sumerian ab (ocean), which is a language that is widely believed to be a language isolate. In archaic ablauting contractions, the laryngeal of the PIE root remains visible in Vedic Sanskrit, e.g. pratīpa- “against the current”, from *proti-hxp-o-.

In the Rigveda, several hymns are dedicated to “the waters” (āpas): 7.49, 10.9, 10.30, 10.47. In the oldest of these, 7.49, the waters are connected with the drought of Indra. Agni, the god of fire, has a close association with water and is often referred to as Apām Napāt “offspring of the waters”. The female deity Apah is the presiding deity of Purva Ashadha (The former invincible one) asterism in Vedic astrology

In Hindu philosophy, the term refers to water as an element, one of the Panchamahabhuta, or “five great elements”. In Hinduism, it is also the name of the deva Varuna a personification of water, one of the Vasus in most later Puranic lists.

In religion, an abyss is a bottomless pit, or also a chasm that may lead to the underworld, the ocean floor or hell. The English word “abyss” derives from the abyssimus (superlative of abyssus) through French abisme (abîme in modern French), hence the poetic form “abysm”, with examples dating to 1616 and earlier to rhyme with “time”.

The Latin word is borrowed from the Greek abussos (also transliterated as abyssos), which is conventionally analyzed as deriving from the Greek element meaning “deep”, “bottom” with an alpha privative, hence “bottomless”.

In the Septuagint, or Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, the word represents both the original unfinished creation (Genesis 1:2) and the Hebrew tehom (“a surging water-deep”), which is used also in apocalyptic and kabbalistic literature and in the New Testament for hell; the place of punishment; in the Revised (not the Authorized) version of the Bible “abyss” is generally used for this idea.

Primarily in the Septuagint cosmography the word is applied both to the waters under the earth which originally covered it, and from which the springs and rivers are supplied and to the waters of the firmament which were regarded as closely connected with those below.

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus there is an abyss between the righteous dead and the wicked dead in Sheol. In the Book of Revelation, Abaddon is called “the angel of the abyss”.

Maat or Ma’at was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological counterpart was Isfet.

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE).

2Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth and their attributes are the similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing, who is a lesser known deity.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully. Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

In esoteric cosmology, a plane other than the physical plane is conceived as a subtle state of consciousness that transcends the known physical universe. The concept may be found in religious and esoteric teachings—e.g. Vedanta (Advaita Vedanta), Ayyavazhi, shamanism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Kashmir Shaivism, Sant Mat/Surat Shabd Yoga, Sufism, Druze, Kabbalah, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Rosicrucianism (Esoteric Christian), Eckankar, Ascended Master Teachings, etc.

These propound the idea of a whole series of subtle planes or worlds or dimensions which, from a center, interpenetrate themselves and the physical planet in which we live, the solar systems, and all the physical structures of the universe. This interpenetration of planes culminates in the universe itself as a physical structured, dynamic and evolutive expression emanated through a series of steadily denser stages, becoming progressively more material and embodied.

The emanation is conceived, according to esoteric teachings, to have been originated, at the dawn of the universe’s manifestation, in The Supreme Being Who sent out—from the unmanifested Absolute beyond comprehension—the dynamic force of creative energy, as sound-vibration (“the Word”), into the abyss of space. Alternatively, it states that this dynamic force is being sent forth, through the ages, framing all things that constitute and inhabit the universe.

The concept of planes of existence might be seen as deriving from shamanic and traditional mythological ideas of a vertical world-axis — for example a cosmic mountain, tree, or pole (such as Yggdrasil or Mount Meru) — or a philosophical conception of a Great Chain of Being, arranged metaphorically from God down to inanimate matter.

Meru, also called Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli), to which can be added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning “excellent Meru” or “wonderful Meru” and Mahameru i.e. “Great Meru”, is a sacred mountain with five peaks in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist cosmology and is considered to be the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes.

Many famous Hindu and similar Jain as well as Buddhist temples have been built as symbolic representations of this mountain. The highest point (the finial bud) on the pyatthat, a Burmese-style multi-tiered roof, represents Mount Meru.

However the original source of the word “plane” in this context is the late Neoplatonist Proclus, who refers to to platos, “breadth”, which was the equivalent of the 19th century theosophical use. An example is the phrase en to psychiko platei.

Directly equivalent concepts in Indian thought are lokas (Sanskrit: “world”), and bhuvanas. In Hindu cosmology, there are many lokas or worlds that are identified with both traditional cosmology and states of meditation.

The concept of Lokas was adopted by Theosophy, and can be found in the writings of Blavatsky. There is also reference to kamaloka (world of desires) as a sort of astral plane or temporary after-life state, according to the teachings of Blavatsky, Leadbeater, and Steiner.

The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) refer to “seven heavens” and “seven earths”, a concept that may be akin to the 14 planetary systems (lokas) of the Vedas.

Planes of existence may have been referred to by the use of the term corresponding to the word “egg” in English. For example, the Sanskrit term Brahmanda translates to “The Egg of Creation”. Certain Puranic accounts posit that the Brahmanda is the superset of a set of fractal smaller Eggs, as is seen in the assertion of the equivalence of the Brahmanda and the Pinda.

The ancient Norse mythology gave the name “Ginnungagap” to the primordial “Chaos,” which was bounded upon the northern side by the cold and foggy “Niflheim”—the land of mist and fog—and upon the south side by the fire “Muspelheim.” When heat and cold entered into space which was occupied by Chaos or Ginnungagap, they caused the crystallization of the visible universe.

In the medieval West and Middle East, one finds reference to four worlds (olam) in Kabbalah, or five in Sufism (where they are also called tanazzulat; “descents”), and also in Lurianic Kabbalah. In Kabbalah, each of the four or five worlds are themselves divided into ten sefirot, or else divided in other ways.

The alchemists of the Middle Ages proposed ideas about the constitution of the universe through a hermetic language full of esoteric words, phrases, and signs designed to cloak their meaning from those not initiated into the ways of alchemy.

In his “Physica” (1633), the Rosicrucian alchemist Jan Baptist van Helmont, wrote: “Ad huc spiritum incognitum Gas voco” q.e., “This hitherto unknown Spirit I call Gas.” Further on in the same work he says, “This vapor which I have called Gas is not far removed from the Chaos the ancients spoke of.” Later on, similar ideas would evolve around the idea of aether.

In the late 19th century, the metaphysical term “planes” was popularised by the theosophy of H.P. Blavatsky, who in The Secret Doctrine and other writings propounded a complex cosmology consisting of seven planes and subplanes, based on a synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas. From theosophy the term made its way to later esoteric systems such as that of Alice Bailey, who was very influential in shaping the worldview of the New Age movement.

The term is also found in some Eastern teachings that have some Western influence, such as the cosmology of Sri Aurobindo and some of the later Sant Mat, and also in some descriptions of Buddhist cosmology. The teachings of Surat Shabd Yoga also include several planes of the creation within both the macrocosm and microcosm, including the Bramanda egg contained within the Sach Khand egg. Max Theon used the word “States” (French Etat) rather than “Planes”, in his cosmic philosophy, but the meaning is the same. The planes in Theosophy were further systematized in the writings of C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant.

In the early 20th century, Max Heindel presented in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception a cosmology related to the scheme of evolution in general and the evolution of the solar system and the Earth in particular, according to the Rosicrucians. He establishes, through the conceptions presented, a bridge between modern science (currently starting research into the subtler plane of existence behind the physical, the etheric one) and religion, in order that this last one may be able to address man’s inner questions raised by scientific advancement.

The spiritual teacher Meher Baba proposed that there are six planes of consciousness that must be experienced before one can attain God-realization on the seventh plane: “Each definite stage of advancement represents a state of consciousness, and advancement from one state of consciousness to another proceeds side by side with crossing the inner planes. Thus six intermediate planes and states of consciousness have to be experienced before reaching the seventh plane which is the end of the journey and where there is final realisation of the God-state.”

Most cosmologists today believe that the universe exploded into being some 13.8 billion years ago in a ‘smeared-out singularity’ called the Big Bang, meaning that space itself came into being at the moment of the big bang and has expanded ever since, creating and carrying the galaxies with it.

However, in esoteric cosmology expansion refers to the emanation or unfolding of steadily denser planes or spheres from the spiritual summit, what Greek philosophy called The One, until the lowest and most material world is reached.

According to Rosicrucians, another difference is that there is no such thing as empty or void space: “The space is Spirit in its attenuated form; while matter is crystallized space or Spirit. Spirit in manifestation is dual, that which we see as Form is the negative manifestation of Spirit–crystallized and inert. The positive pole of Spirit manifests as Life, galvanizing the negative Form into action, but both Life and Form originated in Spirit, Space, Chaos! On the other hand, Chaos is not a state which has existed in the past and has now entirely disappeared. It is all around us at the present moment. Were it not that old forms–having outlived their usefulness–are constantly being resolved back into that Chaos, which is also as constantly giving birth to new forms, there could be no progress; the work of evolution would cease and stagnation would prevent the possibility of advancement.”

In occult teachings and as held by psychics and other esoteric authors there are seven planes of existence. Most occult and esoteric teachings are in agreement that seven planes of existence exist; however, many different occult and metaphysical schools label the planes of existence with different terminology.

Chaos (mythology)

Chaos (cosmogony)

Plane (esotericism)

The Supreme Being

Great Chain of Being

Creation myth

Big Bang

Creationism

Evolutionary origin of religions

Genesis creation narrative

Myth of origins

Origin-of-death myth

World egg

Amatsu-Mikaboshi

Azathoth

Brahman

Chaos magic

Cythraul

Creatio ex nihilo

Discordianism

Ginnungagap

Greek primordial gods

Hundun

Sabazios

Tiamat

Tohu wa bohu

Ymir

Chaos as a scientific term

Chaos in Cornelius Castoriadis’ thought

Void in Alain Badiou’s thought

How to Kill a Dragon

Dyeus Pita

Theism, in the field of comparative religion, is the belief that at least one deity exists. In popular parlance, the term theism often describes the classical conception of God that is found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, and Hinduism.

The term theism derives from the Greek theos meaning “god”. The term theism was first used by Ralph Cudworth (1617–88). In Cudworth’s definition, they are “strictly and properly called Theists, who affirm, that a perfectly conscious understanding being, or mind, existing of itself from eternity, was the cause of all other things”.

Atheism is rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism; i.e. the rejection of belief that there is even one deity. Rejection of the narrower sense of theism can take forms such as deism, pantheism, and polytheism. The claim that the existence of any deity is unknown or unknowable is agnosticism.

The positive assertion of knowledge, either of the existence of gods or the absence of gods, can also be attributed to some theists and some atheists. Put simply, theism and atheism deal with belief, and agnosticism deals with rational claims to asserting knowledge.

Theory is a contemplative and rational type of abstract or generalizing thinking, or the results of such thinking. Depending on the context, the results might for example include generalized explanations of how nature works. The word has its roots in ancient Greek, but in modern use it has taken on several different related meanings.

A theory is not the same as a hypothesis. A theory provides an explanatory framework for some observation and from the assumptions of the explanation follows a number of possible hypotheses that can be tested in order to provide support for, or challenge, the theory.

A theory can be normative (or prescriptive), meaning a postulation about what ought to be. It provides “goals, norms, and standards”. A theory can be a body of knowledge, which may or may not be associated with particular explanatory models. To theorize is to develop this body of knowledge.

Theoria is Greek for contemplation. It corresponds to the Latin word contemplatio, “looking at”, “gazing at”, “being aware of,” and it is an important term in theology.

The Greek theoria, from which the English word “theory” is derived, (and theatre) meant “contemplation, speculation, a looking at, things looked at”, from theorein “to consider, speculate, look at”, from theoros “spectator”, from thea “a view” + horan “to see”. It expressed the state of being a spectator. Both Greek θεωρία and Latin contemplatio primarily meant looking at things, whether with the eyes or with the mind.

Taking philosophical and theological traditions into consideration, the term was used by the ancient Greeks to refer to the act of experiencing or observing and then comprehending through consciousness, which is called the nous or “eye of the soul” (Matthew 6:22–34).

Nous, sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real.

The three commonly used philosophical terms are from Greek, νοῦς or νόος, and Latin intellectus and intelligentia respectively. To describe the activity of this faculty, apart from verbs based on “understanding”, the word “intellection” is sometimes used in philosophical contexts, and the Greek words noēsis and noein are sometimes also used. This activity is understood in a similar way, at least in some contexts, to the modern concept intuition.

In philosophy, common English translations include “understanding” and “mind”; or sometimes “thought” or “reason” (in the sense of that which reasons, not the activity of reasoning). It is also often described as something equivalent to perception except that it works within the mind (“the mind’s eye”). It has been suggested that the basic meaning is something like “awareness”. In colloquial British English, nous also denotes “good sense”, which is close to one everyday meaning it had in Ancient Greece.

This diagram shows the medieval understanding of spheres of the cosmos, derived from Aristotle, and as per the standard explanation by Ptolemy. It came to be understood that at least the outermost sphere (marked “Primũ Mobile”) has its own intellect, intelligence or nous – a cosmic equivalent to the human mind.

In Aristotle’s influential works, the term was carefully distinguished from sense perception, imagination and reason, although these terms are closely inter-related. The term was apparently already singled out by earlier philosophers such as Parmenides, whose works are largely lost. In post-Aristotelian discussions, the exact boundaries between perception, understanding of perception, and reasoning have not always agreed with the definitions of Aristotle, even though his terminology remains influential.

In the Aristotelian scheme, nous is the basic understanding or awareness which allows human beings to think rationally. For Aristotle, this was distinct from the processing of sensory perception, including the use of imagination and memory, which other animals can do. This therefore connects discussion of nous, to discussion of how the human mind sets definitions in a consistent and communicable way, and whether people must be born with some innate potential to understand the same universal categories the same logical ways.

Deriving from this it was also sometimes argued, especially in classical and medieval philosophy, that the individual nous must require help of a spiritual and divine type. By this type of account, it came to be argued that the human understanding (nous) somehow stems from this cosmic nous, which is however not just a recipient of order, but a creator of it.

Such explanations were influential in the development of medieval accounts of God, the immortality of the soul, and even the motions of the stars, in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, amongst both eclectic philosophers and authors representing all the major faiths of their times.

Insight into being and becoming (called noesis) through the intuitive truth called faith, in God (action through faith and love for God), leads to truth through our contemplative faculties.

This theory, or speculation, as action in faith and love for God, is then expressed famously as “Beauty shall Save the World”. This expression comes from a mystical or gnosiological perspective, rather than a scientific, philosophical or cultural one.

Christianity took up the use of both the Greek (theoria) and Latin (contemplatio, contemplation) terminology to describe various forms of prayer and the process of coming to know God. Eastern and Western traditions of Christianity grew apart as they incorporated the general notion of theoria into their respective teachings.

Several scholars have also demonstrated the similarities between the Greek idea of theoria and the Indian idea of darśana (darshan), a term meaning “auspicious sight” (in the sense of an instance of seeing or beholding and being seen or beheld at the same time; from a root dṛś “to see”), vision, apparition, or glimpse.

Darśana is most commonly used for theophany, “manifestation / visions of the divine” in Hindu worship, e.g. of a deity (especially in image form), or a very holy person or artifact. One could also “receive” darshana or a glimpse of the deity in the temple, or from a great saintly person, such as a great guru.

In the sense “to see with reverence and devotion,” the term translates to hierophany, and could refer either to a vision of the divine or to being in the presence of a highly revered person. In this sense it may assume a meaning closer to audience. “By doing darshan properly a devotee develops affection for God, and God develops affection for that devotee.”

Darshan is ultimately difficult to define, since it is an event in consciousness—an interaction in presence between devotee and God/guru; or between devotee and image or sculpture, which focuses and calls out the consciousness of the devotee. In either event, a heightening of consciousness or spirituality is the intended effect.

Theophany (from Ancient Greek theophaneia, meaning “appearance of a god”) refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being. This term has been used to refer to appearances of the gods in the ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions. While the Iliad is the earliest source for descriptions of theophanies in the Classical tradition (and they occur throughout Greek mythology), probably the earliest description of a theophany is in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The term theophany has acquired a specific usage for Christians and Jews with respect to the Bible: It refers to the manifestation of God to man; the sensible sign by which the presence of God is revealed. Only a small number of theophanies are found in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament.

A diagram is a two-dimensional geometric (can be three-dimensional also) symbolic representation of information according to some visualization technique. They have been used since ancient times but they became more prevalent during the Enlightenment. Sometimes, the technique uses a three-dimensional visualization which is then projected onto the two-dimensional surface. The word graph is sometimes used as a synonym for diagram.

In geometry, the diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints lie on the circle. It can also be defined as the longest chord of the circle. Both definitions are also valid for the diameter of a sphere. The word “diameter” is derived from Greek diametros, “diameter of a circle”, from dia-, “across, through” + metron, “measure”.

In physics and mathematics, the dimension of a mathematical space (or object) is informally defined as the minimum number of coordinates needed to specify any point within it. Thus a line has a dimension of one because only one coordinate is needed to specify a point on it – for example, the point at 5 on a number line.

A surface such as a plane or the surface of a cylinder or sphere has a dimension of two because two coordinates are needed to specify a point on it – for example, both a latitude and longitude are required to locate a point on the surface of a sphere. The inside of a cube, a cylinder or a sphere is three-dimensional because three coordinates are needed to locate a point within these spaces.

In classical mechanics, space and time are different categories and refer to absolute space and time. That conception of the world is a four-dimensional space but not the one that was found necessary to describe electromagnetism.

The four dimensions of spacetime consist of events that are not absolutely defined spatially and temporally, but rather are known relative to the motion of an observer. Minkowski space first approximates the universe without gravity; the pseudo-Riemannian manifolds of general relativity describe spacetime with matter and gravity. Ten dimensions are used to describe string theory, and the state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space.

The concept of dimension is not restricted to physical objects. High-dimensional spaces frequently occur in mathematics and the sciences. They may be parameter spaces or configuration spaces such as in Lagrangian or Hamiltonian mechanics; these are abstract spaces, independent of the physical space we live in.

In religious belief, a deity is a supernatural being, who may be thought of as holy, godly, or sacred. Some religions have one supreme deity, while others have multiple deities of various ranks. Scott Littleton’s Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology defined a deity as “a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life”.

Deities are depicted in a variety of forms, but are also frequently expressed as having human form. Some faiths and traditions consider it blasphemous to imagine or depict the deity as having any concrete form. Deities are often thought to be immortal, and are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions comparable but usually superior to those of humans. A male deity is a god, while a female deity is a goddess.

Historically, natural phenomena whose causes were not well understood, such as lightning and catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods, were attributed to deities. They were thought to be able to work supernatural miracles and to be the authorities and controllers of various aspects of human life (such as birth or an afterlife). Some deities were asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, the givers of human law and morality, the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, or designers of the Universe, instead of being a natural result of the laws of physics.

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.

In religious belief, a deity is a supernatural being, who may be thought of as holy, godly, or sacred. Some religions have one supreme deity, while others have multiple deities of various ranks.

The word “deity” derives from the Latin deus (“god”), which is related through a common Indo-European origin to Sanskrit deva (“god”), devi (“goddess”), divya (“transcendental”, “spiritual”). The root is related to words for “sky”, such as Latin dies (“day”), and the Sanskrit div, diu (“sky”, “day”, “shine”).

The word diary comes from the Latin diarium (“daily allowance,” from dies “day”). The word journal comes from the same root (diurnus “of the day”) through Old French jurnal (modern French for day is jour).

In religious terms, divinity or godhead is the state of things that come from a supernatural power or deity, such as a god, a supreme being, a creator god or a spirit, and are therefore regarded as sacred and holy. Such things are regarded as “divine” due to their transcendental origins, and/or because their attributes or qualities are superior or supreme relative to things of the Earth.

Divine things are regarded as eternal and based in truth, while material things are regarded as ephemeral and based in illusion. Such things that may qualify as “divine” are apparitions, visions, prophecies, miracles, and in some views also the soul, or more general things like resurrection, immortality, grace, and salvation. Otherwise what is or is not divine may be loosely defined, as it is used by different belief systems.

The root of the word “divine” is literally “godly” (from the Latin deus, cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek zeus, div in Persian and deva in Sanskrit), but the use varies significantly depending on which deity is being discussed. This article outlines the major distinctions in the conventional use of the terms.

Theism is the view that at least one deity exists. Some religions are monotheistic and assert the existence of a unique deity. In the English language, the common noun god is equivalent to deity, while the proper noun God (capitalized) references the unique deity of monotheism.

Pantheism considers the universe itself to be a deity. Dualism is the view that there are two deities: a deity of good who is opposed and thwarted by a deity of evil, of equal power. Manichaeism, Zoroastrianism, and Gnostic sects of Christianity are, or were, dualist.

Polytheism asserts the existence of several deities, who together form a pantheon. Monolatry is a type of polytheism in which the existence of multiple deities is recognized, but worship is given only to one. Henotheism is a form of polytheism in which only one deity is worshipped. Animism is the belief that spirits inhabit every existing thing, including plants, minerals, animals, and, including all the elements, air, water, earth, and fire. The anthropologist E. B. Tylor argued that religion originally took an animist form.

Adherents of polytheistic religions, such as certain schools of Hinduism, may regard all deities in the pantheon as manifestations, aspects, or multiple personalities of the single supreme deity, and the religions may be more akin to pantheism, monotheism, or henotheism than is initially apparent to an observer.

The many religions do not generally agree on which deities exist, although sometimes the pantheons may overlap, or be similar except for the names of the deities. It is frequently argued that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all worship the same monotheistic deity, although they differ in many important details. Comparative religion studies the similarities and contrasts in the views and practices of various religions.

Philosophy of religion discusses philosophical issues related to theories about deities. Anthropology of religion studies religious institutions in relation to other social institutions, the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures, and describes each religion as a cultural product, created by the human community that worships it.

Narratives about deities and their deeds are referred to as myths, the study of which is mythology. The word “myth” has an overtone of fiction, so religious people commonly (although not invariably) refrain from using this term in relation to the stories about deities which they themselves believe in.

In Christian theology, divinization (deification, making divine, or theosis) is the transforming effect of divine grace, the spirit of God, or the atonement of Christ. It literally means to become more divine, more like God, or take upon a divine nature.

According to Hierotheos Vlachos, divinization, also called theosis, “is the participation in the Uncreated grace of God” and “is identified and connected with the theoria (vision) of the Uncreated Light”. “Theoria is the vision of the glory of God. Theoria is identified with the vision of the uncreated Light, the uncreated energy of God, with the union of man with God, with man’s theosis.

This vision, by which faith is attained, is what saves: “Faith comes by hearing the Word and by experiencing theoria (the vision of God). We accept faith at first by hearing in order to be healed, and then we attain to faith by theoria, which saves man.” It is also one of the means by which Christians came to know the Trinity: “The disciples of Christ acquired the knowledge of the Triune God in theoria (vision of God) and by revelation.”

For many Church Fathers, theosis goes beyond simply restoring people to their state before the Fall of Adam and Eve, teaching that because Christ united the human and divine natures in Jesus’ person, it is now possible for someone to experience closer fellowship with God than Adam and Eve initially experienced in the Garden of Eden, and that people can become more like God than Adam and Eve were at that time. Some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic theologians go so far as to say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.

Polytheistic peoples of many cultures have postulated a Thunder God, the personification or source of the forces of thunder and lightning; a lightning god does not have a typical depiction, and will vary based on the culture.

In Indo-European cultures, the Thunder God is frequently known as the chief or king of the gods, e.g. Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology, and Perun in ancient Slavic religion; or a close relation thereof, e.g. Thor, son of Odin, in Norse mythology. This is also true of *Shango in Yorùbá religion and in the syncretic religions of the African Diaspora, such as Santería (Cuba, Puerto Rico, U.S. and Candomblé (Brazil).

In Greek mythology, The Elysian Fields, or the Elysian Plains, the final resting places of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous, evolved from a designation of a place or person struck by lightning, enelysion, enelysios. This could be a reference to Zeus, the god of lightning/Jupiter, so “lightning-struck” could be saying that the person was blessed (struck) by Zeus (/lightning/fortune).

Egyptologist Jan Assmann has also suggested that Greek Elysion may have instead been derived from the Egyptian term ialu (older iaru), meaning “reeds,” with specific reference to the “Reed fields” (Egyptian: sekhet iaru / ialu), a paradisiacal land of plenty where the dead hoped to spend eternity.

The sky has important religious significance. Most polytheistic religions have a deity associated with the sky. In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept of a sky god who is addressed as a “father”, often the father of a pantheon. The concept of “sky father” may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics. The concept is complementary to an “earth mother”.

“Sky Father” is a direct translation of the Vedic Dyaus Pita, etymologically identical to the Greek Zeus Pater. While there are numerous parallels adduced from outside of Indo-European mythology, the concept is far from universal (e.g. Egyptian mythology has a “Heavenly Mother”). Dia (Greek: “heavenly”, “divine” or “she who belongs to Zeus”), in ancient Greek religion and folklore, may refer to:

In late 19th century opinions on comparative religion, in a line of thinking that begins with Friedrich Engels and J. J. Bachofen, and which received major literary promotion in The Golden Bough by James G. Frazer, it was believed that worship of a sky father was characteristic of nomadic peoples, and that worship of an earth mother similarly characterised farming peoples.

This view was stylized as reflecting not only a conflict of nomadism vs. agriculturalism but of “patriarchy” vs. “matriarchy”, and has blossomed into a late ideological in certain currents of feminist spirituality and feminist archaeology in the 1970s.

It is important to note that in mythology, the daylit sky is typically distinct from the night-time heavens of the stars. Stith Thompson’s Motif-Index of Folk-Literature reflects this by separating the category of Sky-god (A210) from that of Star-god (A250), both within the chapter dedicated to “gods of the upper world” (although in some mythologies, the night sky is associated with the netherworld)

Masculine sky gods are often also king of the gods, taking the position of patriarch within a pantheon. Such gods are collectively categorised as Sky father deities. A polarity between sky and earth is often expressed by pairing a “Sky father” god with an Earth mother goddess (more rarely, a sky goddess and an earth god).

Many polytheistic mythologies make a clear distinction between the celestial realm (or upper world) and the chtonic realm or netherworld. In such cases, there may be a main pair of deities who rule the sky as husband and wife (for example, Zeus and Hera in ancient Greece), while a different pair of deities (e.g., Hades and Persephone) rule the chthonic realms.

When there was a main sky goddess, she often held the title of the “Queen of Heaven” or “Heavenly Mother”. Another notable example of a sky god and goddess was the ancient Semitic supreme god El, who was most likely paired with the sky goddess Asherah.

Deva is the Sanskrit word for deity. Its related feminine term is devi. Devas, in Hinduism, can be loosely described as any benevolent supernatural being. In Hinduism, Devas are also called Suras and are often mentioned in the same context as their half-brothers the Asuras. Devas are also the maintainers of the realms as ordained by the Trimurti. They are often warring with their equally powerful counterparts, the Asuras.

The Sanskrit deva- derives from Indo-Iranian *dev- which in turn descends from the Proto-Indo-European word, *deiwos, originally an adjective meaning “celestial” or “shining”, which is a (not synchronic Sanskrit) vrddhi derivative from the root *diw meaning “to shine”, especially as the day-lit sky. The feminine form of *deiwos is *deiwih2, which descends into Indic languages as devi, in that context meaning “female deity”.

Also deriving from *deiwos, and thus cognates of deva, are Lithuanian Dievas (Latvian Dievs, Prussian Deiwas), Germanic Tiwaz (seen in English “Tuesday”) and the related Old Norse Tivar (gods), and Latin deus “god” and divus “divine”, from which the English words “divine”, “deity”, French “dieu”, Portuguese “deus”, Spanish “dios” and Italian “dio”, also “Zeys/Ζεύς” – “Dias/Δίας”, the Greek father of the gods, are derived.

Related but distinct is the proper name *Dyeus which while from the same root may originally have referred to the “heavenly shining father”, and hence to “Father Sky”, the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The abode of the Devas is Dyuloka, a Sanskrit term for “heavenly abode”, first recorded in the Upanishads.

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

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

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

A deva in Buddhism is one of many different types of non-human beings who share the characteristics of being more powerful, longer-lived, and, in general, much happier than humans, although none of them are worthy of worship.

Synonyms in other languages include Khmer tep, or preah, Myanmar language nat, Tibetan lha, Mongolian tenger, Chinese tiān rén, Korean cheon, Japanese ten, Vietnamese thiên, Thai thep, thewa, thewada, etc. The concept of devas was adopted in Japan partly because of the similarity to the Shinto’s concept of kami.

Other words used in Buddhist texts to refer to similar supernatural beings are dēvatā (“deity”) and dēvaputra (“son of god”). It is unclear what the distinction between these terms is.

Daeva (daēuua, daāua, daēva) is an Avestan language term for a particular sort of supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics. In the Gathas, the oldest texts of the Zoroastrian canon, the daevas are “wrong gods” or “false gods” or “gods that are (to be) rejected”.

This meaning is – subject to interpretation – perhaps also evident in the Old Persian “daiva inscription” of the 5th century BCE. In the Younger Avesta, the daevas are noxious creatures that promote chaos and disorder. In later tradition and folklore, the dēws (Zoroastrian Middle Persian; New Persian divs) are personifications of every imaginable evil.

Daeva, the Iranian language term, should not be confused with the devas of Indian religions. While the word for the Vedic spirits and the word for the Zoroastrian entities are etymologically related, their function and thematic development is altogether different. The once-widespread notion that the radically different functions of Iranian daeva and Indic deva (and ahura versus asura) represented a prehistoric inversion of roles is no longer followed in 21st century academic discourse (see In comparison with Vedic usage for details).

Equivalents for Avestan daeva in Iranian languages include Pashto, Balochi, Kurdish dêw, Persian dīv/deev, all of which apply to demons, monsters, and other villainous creatures. The Iranian word was borrowed into Old Armenian as dew, Georgian as devi, and Urdu as deo, with the same negative associations in those languages. In English, the word appears as daeva, div, deev, and in the 18th century fantasy novels of William Thomas Beckford as dive.

Dyēus (also *Dyēus phter, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Mhter, “Earth Mother”.

This deity is not directly attested; rather scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as Greeks, Latins and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “Sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the 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, but in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes, and his dominance over other gods, seem to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).

The name Tuesday derives from the Old English “Tiwesdæg” and literally means “Tiw’s Day”. The Latin name dies Martis (“day of Mars”) is equivalent to the Greek. In most languages with Latin origins the day is named after Mars, the Ancient Greek Ares. Tuesday is associated with the planet Mars and shares that planet’s symbol, ♂. As Mars rules over Aries and Scorpio, these signs are also associated with Tuesday.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Tuesdays are dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam (known as Yaḥyā ibn Zakarīyā), the Bahá’í Faith, and Mandaeism.

John is described as having the unique practice of baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John.

John the Baptist is also mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism, although no direct evidence substantiates this.

According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself, and Jesus was the one whose coming John foretold. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus’ coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah.

In some Slavic languages the word Tuesday originated from Old Church Slavonic word въторъ meaning “the second” (Serbian: уторак (utorak)). Bulgarian and Russian “Вторник” (Vtornik) is derived from the Bulgarian and Russian adjective for ‘Second’ – “Втори” (Vtori) or “Второй” (Vtoroi)

In Japanese, the word Tuesday is ka youbi, meaning ‘fire day’ and is associated with kasei: Mars (the planet), literally meaning “fire star”. Similarly, in Korean the word Tuesday is hwa yo il, also meaning fire day.

In the Indo-Aryan languages Pali and Sanskrit, as well as in Thailand, the name of the day is taken from Angaraka (‘one who is red in colour’) a style (manner of address) for Mangal, the god of war, and for Mars, the red planet.

Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyeus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with Canaanite deities and Perkwunos.

The deity’s original domain was over the daylit sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light: Istanu (Tiyaz) is a solar deity, Helios is often referred to as the “eye of Zeus”, in Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye” and in Indo-Iranian tradition Surya/Hvare-khshaeta is similarly associated with Ahura Mazda. Even in roman tradition, Jupiter often is only associated with diurnal lightning at most, while Summanus is a deity responsible for nocturnal lightning or storms as a whole.

Jupiter or Jove, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-ph2tēr (“Sky Father”), deriving from the root *dyeu- (“to shine”, and in its many derivatives, “sky, heaven, god”), the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, was the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in myth. The earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek, di-we and di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script.

Dyauṣ Pitrā, literally “Sky Father” is the ancient sky god of Vedic pantheon, husband of Prithvi and father of Ushas (Dawn), Ratri (night) and the chief deities. He appear alongside Mata Prithvi “Mother Earth”. He is the father of the chief deities, and was seen as the father of Indra.

The name Dyauṣ Pitā is exactly parallel to the Greek Zeus Pater etymologically and closely related to Latin Ju Piter. Both Dyauṣ and Zeus reflect a Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus. Based on this reconstruction the widespread opinion in scholarship has been that Indra replaced Dyaus as the chief god of the early Indo-Aryans. While Prthivi survives as a Hindu goddess after the end of the Vedic period, Dyaus Pita became almost unknown already in antiquity.

The noun dyaús (when used without the pitā “father”) means “sky, heaven” and occurs frequently in the Rigveda, as a mythological entity, but not as a male deity: the sky in Vedic mythology was imagined as rising in three tiers, avama , madhyama, and uttama or tṛtīya (RV 5.60.6). In the Purusha Suktam (10.90.14), the sky is described to have been created from the head of the primaeval being, the Purusha.

He was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

Jupiter is usually thought to have originated as a sky god. His identifying implement is the thunderbolt, and his primary sacred animal is the eagle, which held precedence over other birds in the taking of auspices and became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army.

The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt, frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins. As the sky-god, he was a divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depend.

Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline (“Capitol Hill”), where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus. In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. His sacred tree was the oak.

The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld.

The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter. Tinia (also Tin, Tinh, Tins or Tina), the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus, is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart.

The Etruscans believed in Nine Great Gods, who had the power of hurling thunderbolts; they were called Novensiles by the Romans. Of thunderbolts there were eleven sorts, of which Tinia, as the supreme thunder-god, wielded three.

Tinia was also part of the powerful “trinity” that included Menrva and Uni and had temples in every city of Etruria. Tinia was sometimes represented as seated and with a beard or sometimes standing and beardless.

In terms of symbolism, Tinia has the thunderbolt and the rod of power, and is generally accompanied by the eagle and sometimes has a wreath of ivy round his head, in addition to the other insignia of Jove. He was the husband of Thalna or Uni and the father of Hercle.

Some of Tinia’s defining epithets are detailed on the Piacenza Liver, a bronze model of a liver used for haruspicy. Some of his epithets inscribed there include Tin Cilens, Tin Θuf and Tinś Θne.

Týr (Old Norse: Týr), literally meaning “god”, plural tívar “gods”, is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.

Tiwas derives from Proto-Indo-European *deiwós “celestial being, god” (cf. Welsh duw, Latin deus, Lithuanian diẽvas, Sanskrit dēvá, Avestan daēvō “demon”). And *deiwós is based in *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’.

Tiw is the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war and law. *Tîwaz derives from the Proto-Indo-European base *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’, whence comes also such words as “deity”.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it.

In the Elder Futhark, the oldest runic alphabet, the T-rune, named *Tiwaz after Tyr’s name in the Proto-Germanic language that was spoken at the time, is in the shape of an arrow pointed upward toward the heavens, which is clearly emblematic of the god’s associations with both war and the diurnal sky.

The Romans glossed *Tiwaz as “Mars” due to his military role, and a third century votive stone erected by a Germanic warrior in the Roman army features an inscription dedicated to a “Mars of the Þing” (the Germanic judicial/legislative assembly); surely this is addressed to Tyr.

Also through his association with Mars, Tyr lent his name to the modern English “Tuesday,” from Old English “day of Tiw” (Tiwesdæg), which was in turn based on the Latin Dies Martis. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

The earliest attestation for Týr’s continental counterpart occurs in Gothic tyz “the t-rune” in the 9th-century Codex Vindobonensis 795. The name is later attested in Old High German as Cyo in the A Wessobrunn prayer ms. of 814. The Negau helmet inscription (2nd century b.c.) may actually record the earliest form, teiva, but this interpretation is tentative.

Týr in origin was a generic noun meaning “god”, e.g. Hangatyr, literally, the “god of the hanged”, as one of Odin’s names, which was probably inherited from Tyr in his role as god of justice. The name continues on as Norwegian Tyr, Swedish Tyr, Danish Tyr, while it remains Týr in Modern Icelandic and Faroese.

The Lokasenna also mentions that Tyr lost one of his hands to the wolf Fenris. Indeed, Tyr’s one-handed-ness seems to be one of his defining attributes. The only full explanation of this handicap comes from the Prose Edda, which recounts how, when the gods endeavored to bind Fenrir for their own safety, the wolf refused to allow the suspiciously innocent-looking cord to be put around him unless one of the deities put his or her hand in his mouth as a pledge of good faith.

Only Tyr was brave and honorable enough to comply with the beast’s request, and, when Fenrir found himself unable to break free of his fetters, he accordingly helped himself to the god’s hand. The tale of the loss of his hand suggests that Tyr was appealed to not only in matters of war but also in matters involving law, justice, honor, oaths, and upholding traditional sources of authority.

Tacitus named the German Mars (believed to be Tyr) as the primary deity, along with the German Mercury (believed to be Odin), Hercules (believed to be Thor) and “Isis”. In Roman historian Tacitus’s first century CE book Germania, Tacitus describes the veneration of what he deems as an “Isis” of the Suebi.

In the text however, Hercules is the one to be mentioned the most often. Depending on translation, “Mercury” is stated to be the chiefly worshipped god but other translation does not provide any sort of hierchy among the gods. Tacitus states that “Mars” and “Hercules” receive animal sacrifices while “Mercury” receives human sacrifices.

In the Old English Rune Poem, the rune that is otherwise named for Tiw in the other rune poems (Abecedarium Nordmanicum, Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, Old Icelandic Rune Poem), is called tir, meaning “glory”. This rune was inscribed on more Anglo-Saxon cremation urns than any other symbol.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

Zisa is an etymological double of Tyr or Ziu according to 19th century scholar Jacob Grimm who suggests that Zisa may be the same figure as Tyr’s unnamed wife, mentioned by Loki in the 13th century Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna.

Grimm proposes a connection between Zisa and to the “Isis” of the Suebi attested by Tacitus in his 1st century CE work Germania based on the similarity of their names, if not their function.

Due to Tacitus’s usage of interpretatio romana elsewhere in the text, his admitted uncertainty, and his reasoning for referring to the veneration of an Egyptian goddess by the Suebi – a group of Germanic peoples – scholars have generally held that Tacitus’s identification is incorrect, and have debated what goddess Tacitus refers to.

The identity of “Isis” has been a matter of debate. In his translation of Germania, scholar J. B. Rives comments that while, in Tacitus’s time, the cult of Isis was widespread and is well attested in provinces on the border of Germania, Tacitus’s identification is problematic because the cult of Isis seems to have spread with Greco-Roman culture.

Rives comments that “most scholars believe that Tacitus has misidentified a native Germanic ritual that bore some resemblance to a well-known Isiac ritual that involved a ship […]”.

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Vedic Tvastar.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root tvai (“two”) and its derivative tvis (“twice”; “doubled”).

Allusions to intersex is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, is Tuisco (sometimes rendered Tuiscon). One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic tiwisko, and connects this with Proto-Germanic Tiwaz, yielded the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation implies that Tuisco is the son of the sky god (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.

Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

Jacob (2005) attempts to establish a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-) Vedic Indian mythology: as Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Vivaswān, is said to have been the grandfather of the twins Yama and Yami, so Jacob argues that the Germanic Tuisto (assuming a connection with Tvastr) must originally have been the grandfather of Ymir (cognate to Yama). Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the Vedic progenitor of mankind, as a son of Vivaswān, thus making him the brother of Yama/Ymir.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum’; see Autochthon (ancient Greece). These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

Tacitus’s report falls squarely within the ethnographic tradition of the classical world, which often fused anthropogony, ethnogony, and theogony together into a synthetic whole. The succession of father-son-three sons parallels occurs in both Germanic and non-Germanic Indo-European areas. The essential characteristics of the myth have been theorized as ultimately originating in Proto-Indo-European society around 2,000 BCE.

According to Rives (1999), the fact that the ancient Germanic peoples claimed descent from an earth-born god was used by Tacitus to support his contention that they were an indigenous population: the Latin word indigena was often used in the same sense as the Greek autochthonos, meaning literally ‘[born from] the earth itself’ (from chthōn “earth”).

Lindauer (1975) notes that, although this claim is to be judged as one made out of simple ignorance of the facts on the part of Tacitus, he was not entirely wrong, as he made the judgement based on a comparison with the relatively turbulent Mediterranean region of his day.

The sequence in which one god has a son, who has three famous sons, has a resemblance to how Búri has a son Borr who has three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé. The same tradition occurs with the Slavs and their expansion, in the legend of Lech, Čech and Rus.

“Taevaisa” (Taevas = sky, isa = father) is the word by which adherents in Estonia of the Maausk (faith of the land) and the Taara native beliefs refer to God. Although both branches of the original Estonian religion – which are largely just different ways of approaching what is in essence the same thing, to the extent that it remains extant – are pantheistic, heaven has a definite and important place in the ancient pre-Christian Estonian belief system.

All things are sacred for those of the faith of the land, but the idea of a sky father – among other “sacrednesses” – is something all Estonians are well aware of. In newer history, after the arrival of Christianity, the ideas of a sky father and “a father who art in heaven” have become somewhat conflated. One way or another, the phrase “taevaisa” remains in common use in Estonia.

A tiara (from Latin: tiara, from Ancient Greek: τιάρα) is a form of crown. There are two possible types of crown that this word can refer to. Traditionally, the word “tiara” refers to a high crown, often with the shape of a cylinder narrowed at its top, made of fabric or leather, and richly ornamented. It was used by the kings and emperors of some ancient peoples in Anatolia and Mesopotamia, notably the Hittites.

The Assyrians and the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization used to include a pair of bull horns as a decoration and symbol of authority and a circle of short feathers surrounding the tiara’s top. The Iranian tiara (Tarok) was more similar to a truncated cone, without the horns and feathers but more jewels, and a conic-shaped tip at its top.

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Papal tiara is a high cap surrounded by three crowns and bearing a globe surmounted by a cross worn by the Pope during certain ceremonies, being the symbol of his authority. Since Pope Paul VI set aside his tiara after the Second Vatican Council, the Papal Tiara has not been worn. Pope Benedict XVI even removed the tiara from his coat of arms, replacing it with a mitre (but with some symbolic reference to the symbolism of the tiara, still in use in the Holy See’s coat of arms).

A diadem is type of crown, specifically an ornamental headband worn by Eastern monarchs and others as a badge of royalty. The word derives from the Greek διάδημα diádēma, “band” or “fillet”, from διαδέω diadéō, “I bind round”, or “I fasten”.

The term originally referred to the embroidered white silk ribbon, ending in a knot and two fringed strips often draped over the shoulders that surrounded the head of the king to denote his authority. Such ribbons were also used to crown victorious athletes in important sports games in antiquity.

It was later applied to a metal crown, generally in a circular or “fillet” shape. For example, the crown worn by the kings of Anglo-Saxon England was a diadem, as was that of a baron later (in some countries surmounted by three globes).

The ancient Celts were believed to have used a thin, semioval gold plate called a mind (Old Irish) as a diadem. Some of the earliest examples of these types of crowns can be found in ancient Egypt, from the simple fabric type to the more elaborate metallic type, and in the Aegean world.

A diadem is also a jewelled ornament in the shape of a half crown, worn by women and placed over the forehead (in this sense, also called tiara). In some societies, it may be a wreath worn around the head. The ancient Persians wore a high and erect royal tiara encircled with a diadem. Hera, queen of the Greek gods, wore a golden crown called the diadem.

By extension, “diadem” can be used generally for an emblem of regal power or dignity. The head regalia worn by Roman Emperors, from the time of Diocletian onwards, is described as a diadem in the original sources. It was this object that the Foederatus general Odoacer returned to Emperor Zeno (the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire) after his expulsion of the usurper Romulus Augustus from Rome in 476 CE.

A diva is a celebrated female singer; a woman of outstanding talent in the world of opera, and by extension in theatre, cinema and popular music. The meaning of diva is closely related to that of prima donna.

The word entered the English language in the late 19th century. It is derived from the Italian noun diva, a female deity. The plural of the word in English is “divas”; in Italian, dive. The basic sense of the term is goddess, the feminine of the Latin word divus (Italian divo), someone deified after death, or Latin deus, a god.

The male form divo exists in Italian and is usually reserved for the most prominent leading tenors, like Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli. The Italian term divismo describes the star-making system in the film industry.

In contemporary Italian, diva and divo simply denote much-admired celebrities, especially film actresses and actors, and can be translated as “(film) star”. The Italian actress Lyda Borelli is considered the first cinematic diva, following her breakthrough role in Love Everlasting (1913).

The Devil (from Greek: diábolos = slanderer or accuser) is believed in many religions, myths and cultures to be a supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly, ranging from being an effective opposite force to the creator god, locked in an eons long struggle for human souls on what may seem even terms (to the point of dualistic ditheism/bitheism), to being a comical figure of fun or an abstract aspect of the individual human condition.

In mainstream Judaism there is no concept of a devil like in mainstream Christianity or Islam. Texts make no direct link between the serpent that tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden from Genesis and references to a Satan in the first book of Chronicles and in Job.

In Hebrew, the biblical word ha-satan means “the adversary” or the obstacle, or even “the prosecutor” (recognizing that God is viewed as the ultimate Judge). As much as the Devil exists in any form of Judaism, his role is as an adversary and an accuser which is assigned rather than assumed. For the Hasidim of the eighteenth century, ha-satan was Baal Davar.

In mainstream Christianity the Devil is known as Satan and sometimes as Lucifer, although it has been noted that the reference in Isaiah 14:12 to Lucifer, or the Son of the Morning, is a reference to the Babylonian king.

Some modern Christians consider the Devil to be an angel who, along with one-third of the angelic host (the demons) rebelled against God and has consequently been condemned to the Lake of Fire. He is described as hating all humanity (or more accurately creation), opposing God, spreading lies and wreaking havoc on the souls of mankind. Other Christians consider the devil in the Bible to refer figuratively to human sin and temptation and to any human system in opposition to God.

Satan is often identified as the serpent who convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Though this identification is not present in the Adam and Eve narrative, this interpretation goes back at least as far as the time of the writing of the book of Revelation, which specifically identifies Satan as being the serpent (Rev. 20:2).

In the Bible, the devil is identified with “the dragon” and “the old serpent” in the Book of Revelation 12:9, 20:2 have also been identified with Satan, as have “the prince of this world” in the Book of John 12:31, 14:30; “the prince of the power of the air” also called Meririm, and “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” in the Book of Ephesians 2:2; and “the god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4. He is also identified as the dragon in the Book of Revelation (e.g.), and the tempter of the Gospels (e.g.).

Beelzebub is originally the name of a Philistine god (more specifically a certain type of Baal, from Ba‘al Zebûb, lit. “Lord of Flies”) but is also used in the New Testament as a synonym for Satan. A corrupted version, “Belzeboub”, appears in The Divine Comedy.

In other, non-mainstream, Christian beliefs (e.g. the beliefs of the Christadelphians) the word “satan” in the Bible is not regarded as referring to a supernatural, personal being but to any ‘adversary’ and figuratively refers to human sin and temptation.

While mainstream Judaism contains no overt concept of a devil, Christianity and Islam have variously regarded the Devil as a rebellious fallen angel or jinni that tempts humans to sin, if not committing evil deeds himself. In these religions – particularly during periods of division or external threat – the Devil has assumed more of a dualistic status commonly associated with heretics, infidels, and other unbelievers. As such, the Devil is seen as an allegory that represents a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment.

In mainstream Islam and Christianity, God and the Devil are usually portrayed as fighting over the souls of humans. The Devil commands a force of evil spirits, commonly known as demons. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) describes the Adversary (ha-satan) as an angel who instigates tests upon humankind.

Many other religions have a trickster or tempter figure that is similar to the Devil. Modern conceptions of the Devil include the concept that it symbolizes humans’ own lower nature or sinfulness.

The Modern English word devil descends from the Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, that in turn represents an early Germanic borrowing of Latin diabolus. This in turn was borrowed from Ancient Greek diábolos, “slanderer”, from diabállein “to slander”: diá- “across, through” + bállein “to hurl”. In the New Testament, Satan occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside diábolos, referring to the same person or thing as Satan.

A demon, daemon (from Koine Greek daimonion), or fiend is a supernatural, often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology and folklore. The original Greek word daimon does not carry the negative connotation initially understood by implementation of the Koine daimonion, and later ascribed to any cognate words sharing the root.

In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an unclean spirit, a fallen angel, or a spirit of unknown type which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism.

In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology, a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.

The Ancient Greek word δαίμων daimōn denotes a spirit or divine power, much like the Latin genius or numen. Daimōn most likely came from the Greek verb daiesthai (to divide, distribute).

The Greek conception of a daimōns notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates. To distinguish the classical Greek concept from its later Christian interpretation, the former is anglicized as either daemon or daimon rather than demon.

The Greek terms do not have any connotations of evil or malevolence. In fact, εὐδαιμονία eudaimonia, (literally good-spiritedness) means happiness. By the early Roman Empire, cult statues were seen, by pagans and their Christian neighbors alike, as inhabited by the numinous presence of the gods:

“Like pagans, Christians still sensed and saw the gods and their power, and as something, they had to assume, lay behind it, by an easy traditional shift of opinion they turned these pagan daimones into malevolent ‘demons’, the troupe of Satan… Far into the Byzantine period Christians eyed their cities’ old pagan statuary as a seat of the demons’ presence. It was no longer beautiful, it was infested.”

The term had first acquired its negative connotations in the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which drew on the mythology of ancient Semitic religions. This was then inherited by the Koine text of the New Testament.

The Western medieval and neo-medieval conception of a demon derives seamlessly from the ambient popular culture of Late (Roman) Antiquity. The Hellenistic “daemon” eventually came to include many Semitic and Near Eastern gods as evaluated by Christianity.

The supposed existence of demons remains an important concept in many modern religions and occultist traditions. Demons are still feared largely due to their alleged power to possess living creatures. In the contemporary Western occultist tradition (perhaps epitomized by the work of Aleister Crowley), a demon (such as Choronzon, the Demon of the Abyss) is a useful metaphor for certain inner psychological processes (inner demons), though some may also regard it as an objectively real phenomenon.

Some scholars believe that large portions of the demonology of Judaism, a key influence on Christianity and Islam, originated from a later form of Zoroastrianism, and were transferred to Judaism during the Persian era.

Psychologist Wilhelm Wundt remarked that “among the activities attributed by myths all over the world to demons, the harmful predominate, so that in popular belief bad demons are clearly older than good ones.”Sigmund Freud developed this idea and claimed that the concept of demons was derived from the important relation of the living to the dead: “The fact that demons are always regarded as the spirits of those who have died recently shows better than anything the influence of mourning on the origin of the belief in demons.”

  1. Scott Peck, an American psychiatrist, wrote two books on the subject, People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil and Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption. Peck describes in some detail several cases involving his patients. In People of the Lie he provides identifying characteristics of an evil person, whom he classified as having a character disorder.

In Glimpses of the Devil Peck goes into significant detail describing how he became interested in exorcism in order to debunk the myth of possession by evil spirits – only to be convinced otherwise after encountering two cases which did not fit into any category known to psychology or psychiatry. Peck came to the conclusion that possession was a rare phenomenon related to evil, and that possessed people are not actually evil; rather, they are doing battle with the forces of evil.

Although Peck’s earlier work was met with widespread popular acceptance, his work on the topics of evil and possession has generated significant debate and derision. Much was made of his association with (and admiration for) the controversial Malachi Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and a former Jesuit, despite the fact that Peck consistently called Martin a liar and manipulator.

Richard Woods, a Roman Catholic priest and theologian, has claimed that Dr. Peck misdiagnosed patients based upon a lack of knowledge regarding dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder), and had apparently transgressed the boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients into accepting Christianity. Father Woods admitted that he has never witnessed a genuine case of demonic possession in all his years.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “In Chaldean mythology the seven evil deities were known as shedu, storm-demons, represented in ox-like form.” They were represented as winged bulls, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective jinn of royal palaces.

From Chaldea, the term shedu traveled to the Israelites. The writers of the Tanach applied the word as a dialogism to Canaanite deities.

There are indications that demons in popular Hebrew mythology were believed to come from the nether world. Various diseases and ailments were ascribed to them, particularly those affecting the brain and those of internal nature. Examples include the catalepsy, headache, epilepsy and nightmares. There also existed a demon of blindness, “Shabriri” (lit. “dazzling glare”) who rested on uncovered water at night and blinded those who drank from it.

Demons supposedly entered the body and caused the disease while overwhelming or “seizing” the victim. To cure such diseases, it was necessary to draw out the evil demons by certain incantations and talismanic performances, which the Essenes excelled at.

Josephus, who spoke of demons as “spirits of the wicked which enter into men that are alive and kill them”, but which could be driven out by a certain root, witnessed such a performance in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian and ascribed its origin to King Solomon.

In mythology, there were few defences against Babylonian demons. The mythical mace Sharur had the power to slay demons such as Asag, a legendary gallu or edimmu of hideous strength.

Pre-Islamic mythology did not differentiate between gods and demons. Jinn were considered divinities of inferior rank and had many human abilities, such as eating, drinking and procreating. While most jinn were considered peaceful and well-disposed towards humans, there also existed evil jinn who contrived to injure people.

Jinn, jann or djinn (singular: jinnī, djinni, or genie; Arabic: al-jinn, singular al-jinnī) are supernatural creatures in Islamic mythology as well as pre-Islamic Arabian mythology.

They are mentioned frequently in the Quran (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts and inhabit an unseen world called Djinnestan, another universe beyond the known universe.

The Quran says that the jinn are made of a smokeless and “scorching fire”, but are also physical in nature, being able to interact in a tactile manner with people and objects and likewise be acted upon. The jinn, humans, and angels make up the three known sapient creations of God. Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans and unlike angels.

The shaytan jinn are the analogue of demons in Christian tradition, but the jinn are not angels and the Quran draws a clear distinction between the two creations. The Quran states in surat Al-Kahf (The Cave), Ayah 50, that Iblis (Azazel) is one of the jinn.

Jinn is a noun of the collective number in the Persian language literally meaning “hidden from sight”, and it derives from the Arabic root j-n-n (pronounced: jann/ junn جَنّ / جُنّ) meaning “to hide” or “be hidden”. Other words derived from this root are majnūn ‘mad’ (literally, ‘one whose intellect is hidden’), junūn ‘madness’, and janīn ’embryo, fetus’ (‘hidden inside the womb’).

The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, meaning a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. English borrowed the French descendant of this word, génie; its earliest written attestation in English, in 1655, is a plural spelled “genyes”. The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights used génie as a translation of jinnī because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning. This use was also adopted in English and has since become dominant.

In Arabic, the word jinn is in the collective number, translated in English as plural (e.g., “several genies”); jinnī is in the singulative number, used to refer to one individual, which is translated by the singular in English (e.g., “one genie”). Therefore, the word jinn in English writing is treated as a plural.

Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate the worship of jinn, or at least their tributary status, hundreds of years before Islam. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi’el near Palmyra pays tribute to the “jinnaye”, the “good and rewarding gods”.

In classical Roman religion a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place. It was often depicted in religious iconography as a figure holding attributes such as a cornucopia, patera (libation bowl) or snake.

Many Roman altars found throughout the Western Roman Empire were dedicated to a particular genius loci. The Roman imperial cults of the Emperor and the imperial house developed in part in connections with the sacrifices made by neighborhood associations (vici) to the local genius.

These 265 local districts had their cult organised around the Lares Compitales (guardian spirits or lares of the crossroads), which the emperor Augustus transformed into Lares Augusti along with the Genius Augusti. The Emperor’s genius is then regarded as the genius loci of the Roman Empire as a whole.

Roman examples of these Genii can be found, for example, at the church of St. Giles, Tockenham, Wiltshire where the genius loci is depicted as a relief in the wall of a Norman church built of Roman material. This shows “a youthful and curly-haired Roman Genius worked in high relief, holding a cornucopia in his left hand and a patera in his right’, which previously has been “erroneously identified as Asclepius”.

The numinous spirits of places in Asia are still honored today in city pillar shrines, outdoor spirit houses and indoor household and business shrines. In contemporary usage, genius loci usually refers to a location’s distinctive atmosphere, or a “spirit of place”, rather than necessarily a guardian spirit. An example of contemporary usage might be along the lines of “Light reveals the genius loci of a place.”

The Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time. For example, the Zeitgeist of modernism typified and influenced architecture, art, and fashion during much of the 20th century.

The German word Zeitgeist is often attributed to the philosopher Georg Hegel, but he never actually used the word. In his works such as Lectures on the Philosophy of History, he uses the phrase der Geist seiner Zeit (the spirit of his time)—for example, “no man can surpass his own time, for the spirit of his time is also his own spirit.”

Other philosophers who were associated with such ideas include Herder and Spencer and Voltaire. The concept contrasts with the Great Man theory popularized by Thomas Carlyle, which sees history as the result of the actions of heroes and geniuses.

Hegel believed that art reflected, by its very nature, the culture of the time in which it is created. Culture and art are inextricable because an individual artist is a product of his or her time and therefore brings that culture to any given work of art. Furthermore, he believed that in the modern world it was impossible to produce classical art, which he believed represented a “free and ethical culture”, which depended more on the philosophy of art and theory of art, rather than a reflection of the social construct, or Zeitgeist in which a given artist lives.

In the analysis of the arts and culture, the concept of a “spirit of the age” or zeitgeist may be problematic as a tool for analysis of periods which are socially or culturally fragmented and diverse.

In Roman religion, the genius (plural genii) is the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Much like a guardian angel, the genius would follow each man from the hour of his birth until the day he died. For women it was the Juno spirit that would accompany each of them. The Greeks called their genii, daemons, and believed in them long before the Romans.

The rational powers and abilities of every human being were attributed to their soul, which was a genius. Each individual place had a genius (genius loci) and so did powerful objects, such as volcanoes. The concept extended to some specifics: the genius of the theatre, of vineyards, and of festivals, which made performances successful, grapes grow, and celebrations succeed, respectively. It was extremely important in the Roman mind to propitiate the appropriate genii for the major undertakings and events of their lives.

Etymologically genius (“household guardian spirit”) has the same derivation as nature from gēns (“tribe”, “people”) from the Indo-European root *gen-, “produce.” It is the indwelling nature of an object or class of objects or events that act with a perceived or hypothesized unity.

Philosophically the Romans did not find the paradox of the one being many confusing; like all other prodigies they attributed it to the inexplicable mystery of divinity. Multiple events could therefore be attributed to the same and different divinities and a person could be the same as and different from his genius. They were not distinct, as the later guardian angels, and yet the Genius Augusti was not exactly the same as Augustus either.

As a natural outcome of these beliefs, the pleasantness of a place, the strength of an oath, an ability of a person, were regarded as intrinsic to the object, and yet were all attributable to genius; hence all of the modern meanings of the word. This point of view is not attributable to any one civilization; its roots are lost in prehistory. The Etruscans had such beliefs at the beginning of history, but then so did the Greeks, the native Italics and many other peoples in the near and middle east.

“Dæmon” is the Latinized versions of the Greek (“godlike power, fate, god”). It is a word used to refer to the daemons of ancient Greek religion and mythology, as well as later Hellenistic religion and philosophy.

The word daemon is the Latin version of the first word (the originating word) daimōn, originating in the Greek language. Satanists have used the word demon to define a knowledge that has been banned by the Church.

Daemons are benevolent or benign nature spirits, beings of the same nature as both mortals and deities, similar to ghosts, chthonic heroes, spirit guides, forces of nature or the deities themselves.

Walter Burkert suggests that unlike the Christian use of demon in a strictly malignant sense, “[a] general belief in spirits is not expressed by the term daimon until the 5th century when a doctor asserts that neurotic women and girls can be driven to suicide by imaginary apparitions, ‘evil daimones’.

How far this is an expression of widespread popular superstition is not easy to judge… On the basis of Hesiod’s myth, however, what did gain currency was for great and powerful figures to be honoured after death as a daimon…”  Daimon is not so much a type of quasi-divine being, according to Burkert, but rather a non-personified “peculiar mode” of their activity.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, Phaëton becomes an incorporeal daimon or a divine spirit, but, for example, the ills released by Pandora are deadly deities, keres, not daimones. From Hesiod also, the people of the Golden Age were transformed into daimones by the will of Zeus, to serve mortals benevolently as their guardian spirits; “good beings who dispense riches…[nevertheless], they remain invisible, known only by their acts”.

The daimon of venerated heroes, were localized by the construction of shrines, so as not to restlessly wander, and were believed to confer protection and good fortune on those offering their respects.

Characterizations of the daemon as a dangerous, if not evil, lesser spirit were developed by Plato and his pupil Xenocrates, and later absorbed in Christian patristic writings along with Neo-Platonic elements.

In the Old Testament, evil spirits appear in the book of Judges and in Kings. In the Greek translation of the Septuagint, made for the Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, the Greek ángelos (“messenger”) translates the Hebrew word mal’ak, while daimon (or neuter daimonion) carries the meaning of a natural spirit that is less than divine (see supernatural) and translates the Hebrew words for idols, foreign deities, certain beasts, and natural evils. The use of daimōn in the New Testament’s original Greek text, caused the Greek word to be applied to the Judeo-Christian concept of an evil spirit by the early second century AD.

Homer’s use of the words theoí (“gods”) and daímones, suggests that while distinct, they are similar in kind. Later writers developed the distinction between the two. Plato, in Cratylus speculates that the word daimōn (“deity”) is synonymous to daēmōn (“knowing or wise”), however, it is more probably daiō (“to divide, to distribute destinies, to allot”).

The idea of the daimonic typically means quite a few things: from befitting a demon and fiendish, to motivated by a spiritual force or genius and inspired. As a psychological term, it has come to represent an elemental force which contains an irrepressible drive towards individuation. As a literary term, it can also mean the dynamic unrest that exists in us all that forces us into the unknown, leading to self-destruction and/or self-discovery.

The root of the word has a referent from daiomai, which is translated as something like to divide or to lacerate.

Marie-Louise von Franz delineated the term daiomai (see ref.), and indicates that its’ usage is specifically when someone perceived an occurrence which they attributed to the influence of a divine presence, amongst the examples provided by Franz, are from attributing to a daimon the occurrence of a horse becoming or being startled.

According to another source, the term is thought to have originated with the Greeks, by way of Latin—dæmon: “spirit”, derived from Greek—daimon (gen. daimonos): “lesser god, guiding spirit, tutelary deity”, a meaning which is attested to elsewhere.

For the Minoan (3000-1100 BC) and Mycenaean (1500-1100 BC), “daimons” were seen as attendants or servants to the deities, possessing spiritual power. Later, the term “daimon” was used by writers such as Homer (8th century BC), Hesiod, and Plato as a synonym for theos, or god. Some scholars, like van der Leeuw, suggest a distinction between the terms: whereas theos was the personification of a god (e.g. Zeus), daimon referred to something indeterminate, invisible, incorporeal, and unknown.

During the period in which Homer was alive, people believed ailments were both caused and cured by daimons. Heraclitus Of Ephesus, who was born about 540 B.C., wrote: ēthos anthropōi daimōn — Diels fragment 119 (in Agamben & Heller-Roazen 1999) which is translated as, the character (ēthos) of a human (anthropōi) is the daimōn, or sometimes the character of a person is Fate, and the variation An individuals character is their fate (idem “Man’s character is his fate”).

Aeschylus mentions the term Daimon in his play Agemmemnon, written during 458 B.C., and Socrates thought the daimones to be gods or the children of gods. The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Empedocles (5th century BC) later employed the term in describing the psyche or soul. Similarly, those such as Plutarch (1st century AD) suggested a view of the daimon as being an amorphous mental phenomenon, an occasion of mortals to come in contact with a great spiritual power. Plutarch wrote De genio Socratis.

The earliest pre-Christian conception of daimons or daimones also considered them ambiguous—not exclusively evil. But while daimons may have initially been seen as potentially good and evil, constructive and destructive, left to each man to relate to—the term eventually came to embody a purely evil connotation, with Xenocrates perhaps being one of the first to popularize this colloquial use.

In psychology, the daimonic refers to a natural human impulse within everyone to affirm, assert, perpetuate, and increase the self to its complete totality. If each Self undergoes a process of individuation, an involuntary and natural development towards individual maturity and harmony with collective human nature, then its driver is the daimonic, the force which seeks to overcome the obstacles to development, whatever the cost—both guide and guardian.

Rollo May writes that the daimonic is “any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person… The daimonic can be either creative or destructive, but it is normally both… The daimonic is obviously not an entity but refers to a fundamental, archetypal function of human experience — an existential reality”. The daimonic is seen as an essentially undifferentiated, impersonal, primal force of nature which arises from the ground of being rather than the self as such.

The demands of the daimonic force upon the individual can be unorthodox, frightening, and overwhelming. With its obligation to protect the complete maturation of the individual and the unification of opposing forces within the Self, the inner urge can come in the form of a sudden journey (either intentional or serendipitous), a psychological illness, or simply neurotic and off-center behavior.

Jung writes, “The daimon throws us down, makes us traitors to our ideals and cherished convictions — traitors to the selves we thought we were.” Ultimately, it is the will of man to achieve his humanity, but since parts of his humanity may be deemed unacceptable and disowned its demands is too often resisted. It is no wonder Yeats described it as that “other Will”. Confrontation with the daimonic can be considered similar to “shadow-work”.

The psychologist Rollo May conceives of the daimonic as a primal force of nature which contains both constructive and destructive potentialities, but ultimately seeks to promote totality of the self.

May introduced the daimonic to psychology as a concept designed to rival the terms ‘devil’ and ‘demonic’. He believed the term demonic to be unsatisfactory because of our tendency, rooted in Judeo-Christian mythology, to project power outside of the self and onto devils and demons.

The daimonic is also similar to Jung’s shadow, but is viewed as less differentiated. A pitfall of the Jungian doctrine of the shadow is the temptation to project evil onto this relatively autonomous ‘splinter personality’ and thus unnecessarily fragment the individual and obviate freedom and responsibility. Finally, by comparison to Freud’s death instinct (Thanatos), the daimonic is seen as less one-sided.

While similar to several other psychological terms, noteworthy differences exist. The daimonic is often improperly confused with the term demonic.

Dim may refer to a low level of lighting; lacking in brightness. Global dimming is the gradual reduction in the amount of global direct irradiance at the Earth’s surface. Global dimming is thought to have been caused by an increase in particulates such as sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere due to human action.

It has interfered with the hydrological cycle by reducing evaporation and may have reduced rainfall in some areas. Global dimming also creates a cooling effect that may have partially counteracted the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming. In basic terms, less sunlight is reaching the Earth because of visible air pollution, which is reflecting the light back into space.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Lamashtu (Akkadian La-maš-tu; Sumerian Dimme Dim3-me) was a female demon, monster, malevolent goddess or demigoddess who menaced women during childbirth and, if possible, kidnapped children while they were breastfeeding. She would gnaw on their bones and suck their blood, as well as being charged with a number of other evil deeds. She was a daughter of the Sky God Anu.

Lamashtu is depicted as a mythological hybrid, with a hairy body, a lioness’ head with donkey’s teeth and ears, long fingers and fingernails, and the feet of a bird with sharp talons. She is often shown standing or kneeling on a donkey, nursing a pig and a dog, and holding snakes. She thus bears some functions and resemblance to the Mesopotamian demon Lilith.

Lamashtu’s father was the Sky God Anu (Sumer An). Unlike many other usual demonic figures and depictions in Mesopotamian lore, Lamashtu was said to act in malevolence of her own accord, rather than at the gods’ instructions. Along with this her name was written together with the cuneiform determinative indicating deity. This means she was a goddess or a demigoddess in her own right.

She bore seven names and was described as seven witches in incantations. Her evil deeds included (but were not limited to): slaying children, unborns, and neonates; causing harm to mothers and expectant mothers; eating men and drinking their blood; disturbing sleep; bringing nightmares; killing foliage; infesting rivers and lakes; and being a bringer of disease, sickness, and death.

Pazuzu, a god or demon, was invoked to protect birthing mothers and infants against Lamashtu’s malevolence, usually on amulets and statues. Although Pazuzu was said to be bringer of famine and drought, he was also invoked against evil for protection, and against plague, but he was primarily and popularly invoked against his fierce, malicious rival Lamashtu.

An Akkadian incantation and ritual against Lamashtu is edited in Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments vol. 2 (1988). It is glossed as an “incantation to dispel lasting fever and Lamashtu”. The prescribed ritual involves a Lamashtu figurine. A sacrifice of bread must be placed before the figurine and water must be poured over it. A black dog must be made to carry the figurine. Then it is placed near the head of the sick child for three days, with the heart of a piglet placed in its mouth. The incantation must be recited three times a day, besides further food sacrifices. At dusk on the third day, the figurine is taken outdoors and buried near the wall.

In Babylonian mythology, the seven evil deities were known as shedu, or “storm-demons”. They were represented in winged bull form, derived from the colossal bulls used as protective genii of royal palaces, the name “shed” assumed also the meaning of a propitious genius in Babylonian magic literature.

It was from Chaldea that the name “shedu” came to the Israelites, and so the writers of the Tanach applied the word Shedim to certain Canaanite deities. They also spoke of “the destroyer” (Exodus xii. 23) as a Lord who will “strike down the Egyptians.”

In II Samuel xxiv; 16 and II Chronicles xxi. 15 the pestilence-dealing angel, that is spirit, called “the destroying angel” (compare “the angel of the Lord” in II Kings xix. 35; Isaiah xxxvii. 36).

A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted with a bull or lion’s body, eagle’s wings, and human’s head. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations.

Shedim is the Hebrew word for demons. The word shedim appears only twice (always plural) in the Tanakh, at Psalm 106:37 and Deuteronomy 32:17. It was possibly a loan-word from Akkadian in which the word sedu referred to a protective, benevolent spirit. Both times the term appears in the Tanakh, it deals with child or animal sacrifice to false gods that are called demons. The word may also derive from the “Sedim, Assyrian guard spirits” as referenced according to lore “Azael slept with Naamah and spawned Assyrian guard spirits known as sedim”.

The word demonology is from Greek daimōn, “divinity, divine power, god”; and -logia. Demonology is the systematic study of demons or beliefs about demons. It is the branch of theology relating to supernatural beings who are not gods. It deals both with benevolent beings that have no circle of worshippers or so limited a circle as to be below the rank of gods, and with malevolent beings of all kinds.

The original sense of “demon”, from the time of Homer onward, was a benevolent being, but in English the name now holds connotations of malevolence. (In order to keep the distinction, when referring to the word in its original Greek meaning English uses the spelling “Daemon” or “Daimon”.)

Demons, when regarded as spirits, may belong to either of the classes of spirits recognized by primitive animism; that is to say, they may be human, or non-human, separable souls, or discarnate spirits which have never inhabited a body. A sharp distinction is often drawn between these two classes, notably by the Melanesians, several African groups, and others; the Arab jinn, for example, are not reducible to modified human souls; at the same time these classes are frequently conceived as producing identical results, e.g. diseases.

Dīn (also anglicized as Deen) is an Arabic word which is commonly associated with Islam, but it is also used in Arab Christian worship. The term is sometimes translated as “religion”, but as used in the Qur’an, it refers both to the path along which righteous Muslims travel in order to comply with divine law, or Shari’a, and to the divine judgment or recompense to which all humanity must inevitably face without intercessors before God.

Thus, although secular Muslims would say that their practical interpretation of Dīn conforms to “religion” in the restricted sense of something that can be carried out in separation from other areas of life, both mainstream and reformist Muslim writers take the word to mean an all-encompassing way of life carried out under the auspices of God’s divine purpose as expressed in the Qur’an and hadith. As one notably progressive Muslim writer puts it, far from being a discrete aspect of life carried out in the mosque, “Islam is Dīn, a complete way of life”.

How the term Dīn came to be used in Islamic Arabia is uncertain, but its use in modern Persian may derive etymologically from the Zoroastrian concept of Daena, as it is called in the ancient Eastern Iranian Avestan language, which represents “insight” and “revelation”, and from this “conscience” and “religion”. Here, Daena is the Eternal Law, which was revealed to humanity through the Mathra-Spenta (“Holy Words”). Alternatively, the Hebrew term, transliterated as “dīn”, means either “law” or “judgement”.

In the Kabbalah of Judaism, the term can, alongside “Gevurah” (cognate to the Arabic “Jabaarah”), refer to “power”, and to “judgement”. It may be the root of the common Semitic word Madīnah (city), and of Madyan, a geographical place and a people mentioned in the Bible and in the Qur’an. Thus, Dīn does not simply mean “religion” or “faith”, but refers to “Governance”.

In Judaism, the word Dīn appears in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible), which occurs 24 times. It often means –to judge, or –execute judgment, and –to vindicate. The intransitive usage of the verb loosely means –to be obedient, submissive. The transitive verb usage denotes requite, compensate, rule, govern, obedience, abasement, recompense, requiter, governor.

Daena is a Zoroastrian concept representing insight and revelation, hence “conscience” or “religion.” Alternately, Daena is considered to be a divinity, counted among the yazatas.

Daena is a feminine noun which translates to “that which is seen or observed”. In Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to an Ancient Faith, Peter Clark suggests that the term might also be tied to the Avestan root “deh” or “di-” to gain understanding.

The Avestan language term – trisyllabic daēnā in Gathic Avestan and bisyllabic dēnā in Younger Avestan – continues into Middle Persian as dēn, which preserves the Avestan meanings.

The concept of Daena is mentioned in the Gathas, a series of seventeen hymns supposedly written by Zoroaster. Daena appears both in the Ahunavaiti Gatha[2] and in the Ushtavaiti Gatha, where it is written that Daena is somehow affiliated with the reward that the faithful will receive in the afterlife. However, references to Daena in the Gathas are brief, leaving much ambiguity on its nature.

Later Avestan writings, such as the Vendidad, describe the concept of Daena further. The Vendidad portrays Daena as something of a psychopomp, guiding good and pure souls over the Chinvat Bridge to the House of Song, Zoroastrian paradise, while the wicked are dragged to the House of Lies, a place of punishment. She is described as being finely dressed, and accompanied by dogs.

Maneckji Dhalla writes in Zoroastrian Theology that on the dawn of the fourth day after death “there appears then to the soul its own daena, or religious conscience in the shape of a damsel of unsurpassed beauty, the fairest of the fair in the world.”

Daena (din in modern Persian) is the eternal Law, whose order was revealed to humanity through the Mathra-Spenta (“Holy Words”). Daena has been used to mean religion, faith, law, even as a translation for the Hindu and Buddhist term Dharma, often interpreted as “duty” or social order, right conduct, or virtue. The metaphor of the ‘path’ of Daena is represented in Zoroastrianism by the muslin undershirt Sudra, the ‘Good/Holy Path’, and the 72-thread Kushti girdle, the “Pathfinder”.

In the Samkhya school of philosophy, tamas (Sanskrit: tamas “darkness”) is one of the three gunas (or qualities), the other two being rajas (passion and activity) and sattva (purity, goodness). Tamas is the template for inertia or resistance to action. It has also been translated from Sanskrit as “indifference”.

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. Tethys and Oceanus appear as a pair in Callimachus (Hymn 4.17) and in Apollonius (Argonautica 3.244). In Catullus 88, not even Tethys and Oceanus can wash away Gellius’ stain of incest: “o Gelli, quantum non ultima Tethys / nec genitor Nympharum abluit Oceanus.”

  1. J. Harrison points out the irony of Catullus’ allusion to the sibling couple in this context. 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 states that “Tethys is in no way an active figure in Greek mythology” but notes her presence 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.

In Greek mythology, Thalassa (“sea”) is a primordial sea goddess, daughter of Aether and Hemera. She and sea god Pontus were the parents 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 classical Freudian psychoanalytic theory, the death drive (German: Todestrieb) is the drive towards death, self-destruction and the return to the inorganic: “the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state”. It was originally proposed by Sigmund Freud in 1920 in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, where in his first published reference to the term he wrote of the “opposition between the ego or death instincts and the sexual or life instincts”.

In this work, Freud used the plural “death drives” (Todestriebe) much more frequently than in the singular. The death drive opposes Eros, the tendency toward survival, propagation, sex, and other creative, life-producing drives. The death drive is sometimes referred to as “Thanatos” in post-Freudian thought, complementing “Eros”, although this term was not used in Freud’s own work, being rather introduced by one of Freud’s followers, Wilhelm Stekel.

The Standard Edition of Freud’s works in English confuses two terms that are different in German, Instinkt (“instinct”) and Trieb (“drive”), often translating both as instinct. “This incorrect equating of instinct and Trieb has created serious misunderstandings”. Freud actually refers to the “death instinct” as a drive, a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an instinct) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.

The term is almost universally known in scholarly literature on Freud as the “death drive”, and Lacanian psychoanalysts often shorten it to simply “drive” (although Freud posited the existence of other drives as well).

Destrudo is a term introduced by Italian psychoanalyst Edoardo Weiss in 1935 to denote the energy of the death instinct, on the analogy of libido — and thus to cover the energy of the destructive impulse in Freudian psychology.

Destrudo is the opposite of libido — the urge to create, an energy that arises from the Eros (or “life”) drive — and is the urge to destroy arising from Thanatos (“death”), and thus an aspect of what Sigmund Freud termed “the aggressive instincts, whose aim is destruction”.

Weiss related aggression/destrudo to secondary narcissism, something generally only described in terms of the libido turning towards the self.

Whereas Freud himself never named the aggressive and destructive energy of the death drive (as he had done with the life drive, “libido”), the next generation of psychoanalysts vied to find suitable names for it. Paul Federn used the term mortido for the new energy source, and has generally been followed in that by other analytic writers. His disciple and collaborator Weiss, however, chose destrudo; and it was this term that was later taken up by Charles Brenner.

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents both the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one.

She is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. 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. 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 Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk. The heavens and the earth are formed from her divided body.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer 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. Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum.

Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”. 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 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.

Harriet Crawford finds this “mixing of the waters” to be a natural feature of the middle Persian Gulf, where fresh waters from the Arabian aquifer mix and mingle with the salt waters of the sea. This characteristic is especially true of the region of Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, and which is thought to be the site of Dilmun, the original site of the Sumerian creation beliefs. The difference in density of salt and fresh water drives a perceptible separation.

Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2. In the Enûma Elish her physical description includes a tail, a thigh, “lower parts” (which shake together), a belly, an udder, ribs, a neck, a head, a skull, eyes, nostrils, a mouth, and lips. She has insides (possibly “entrails”), a heart, arteries, and blood.

Tiamat is usually described as a sea serpent or dragon, however assyriologist Alexander Heidel disagreed with this identification and argued that “dragon form can not be imputed to Tiamat with certainty”. Other scholars have disregarded Heidel’s argument, Joseph Fontenrose in particular found it “not convincing” and concluded that “there is reason to believe that Tiamat was sometimes, not necessarily always, conceived as a dragoness”.

While the Enûma Elish does not specifically state that Tiamat is a dragon, only that she gave birth to dragons and serpents among a more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, other sources containing the same myth do refer to her as a dragon.

The depiction of Tiamat as a multi-headed dragon was popularized in the 1970s as a fixture of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game inspired by earlier sources associating Tiamat with later mythological characters, such as Lotan.

In the Ausarian drama we find that Ausar (Greek: Osiris) is chopped into 13 pieces by Set. Auset (Isis) collects all of his pieces save his phallus. Horus, son of Ausar and Auset sets out to avenge the death and dismemberment of his father by confronting Set.

Horus is victorious over Set and Ausar, being brought back from the dead becomes lord of the underworld. It is this drama that gives us the cosmic conflict between good and evil, evil being embodied by Set. This is not to say that Set was always seen as an evil character in Ancient Egyptian theology. There are many times in Ancient Egyptian history where conflicts between different “houses” lead to the depreciation of one god relative to another.

As in most polytheistic faiths, the characters involved differentiate themselves from the Western tradition of a devil in that all the gods are closely related. In this case, numerous historic texts suggest that Set is the Uncle or Brother of Horus and in the “defeat” of Set, we see another separation from the norm in the devouring/assimilation of Set into Horus with the result of Horus having depictions of both the falcon head and the (unknown animal) head of Set. This (like Buddhism) represents a dissolution of dichotomy.

In the Gathas, the oldest texts of the Zoroastrian Avesta, believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself, the poet does not mention a manifest adversary. Ahura Mazda’s Creation is “truth”, asha. The “lie” (druj) is manifest only as decay or chaos, not an entity.

Later, in Zurvanism (Zurvanite Zoroastrianism), Ahura Mazda and the principle of evil, Angra Mainyu, are the “twin” offspring of Zurvan, ‘Time’. No trace of Zurvanism exists after the 10th century.

Today, the Parsis of India largely accept the 19th century interpretation that Angra Mainyu is the ‘Destructive Emanation’ of Ahura Mazda. Instead of struggling against Mazda himself, Angra Mainyu battles Spenta Mainyu, Mazda’s ‘Creative Emanation.’

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Derivatives of *h₂ewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *h₂ews-tro-.

The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *h₂wes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-.

The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.

As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Ἠριγόνη Erigone “early-born” in Greek.

The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the New Year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

The worship of serpent deities is present in several old cultures, particularly in religion and mythology, where snakes were seen as entities of strength and renewal. The serpent, or snake, is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols.

The word is derived from Latin serpens, a crawling animal or snake. Snakes have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind and represent dual expression of good and evil.

Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The ouroboros is a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life.

In some Abrahamic traditions, the serpent represents sexual desire. According to some interpretations of the Midrash, the serpent represents sexual passion. In Hinduism, Kundalini is a coiled serpent, the residual power of pure desire.

In the Gospel of John 3:14–15, Jesus makes direct comparison between the raising up of the Son of Man and the act of Moses in raising up the serpent as a sign, using it as a symbol associated with salvation: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.

In other cultures snakes symbolized the umbilical cord, joining all humans to Mother Earth. The Great Goddess often had snakes as her familiars—sometimes twining around her sacred staff, as in ancient Crete—and they were worshiped as guardians of her mysteries of birth and regeneration.

In many myths the chthonic serpent (sometimes a pair) lives in or is coiled around a Tree of Life situated in a divine garden. In the Genesis story of the Torah and Biblical Old Testament, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is situated in the Garden of Eden together with the tree of life and the Serpent. In Greek mythology Ladon coiled around the tree in the garden of the Hesperides protecting the entheogenic golden apples.

Similarly Níðhöggr (Nidhogg Nagar) the dragon of Norse mythology eats from the roots of the Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Under yet another Tree (the Bodhi tree of Enlightenment), the Buddha sat in ecstatic meditation. When a storm arose, the mighty serpent king Mucalinda rose up from his place beneath the earth and enveloped the Buddha in seven coils for seven days, not to break his ecstatic state.

Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup; cuneiform IM) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. Taru is the Hattian form derived from Teshub. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta), although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- “to defeat, conquer”.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, similarly to the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna—a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu (CTH 348).

In Hittite mythology, Illuyanka was a serpentine dragon slain by Tarhunt (IM), the Hittite incarnation of the Hurrian god of sky and storm. It is known from Hittite cuneiform tablets found at Çorum-Boğazköy, the former Hittite capital Hattusa. The context is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli.

See also Etymology of eel. Illuyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, Proto-Indo-European *h₁illu- and *h₂eng(w)eh₂-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi. Also this dragon is known as Illujanka and Illuyankas.

The Hittite texts were introduced in 1930 by W. Porzig, who first made the comparison of Teshub’s battle with Illuyankas with the sky-god Zeus’ battle with serpent-like Typhon, told in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (I.6.3); the Hittite-Greek parallels found few adherents at the time, the Hittite myth of the castration of the god of heaven by Kumarbi, with its clearer parallels to Greek myth, not having yet been deciphered and edited.

The Baal Cycle is a Ugaritic cycle of stories about the Canaanite god Baal, also known as Hadad—the god of rain, storm and fertility. They are written in Ugaritic, a language written in a cuneiform alphabet, on a series of clay tablets found in the 1920s in the Tell of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), situated on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, a few kilometers north of the modern city of Latakia, far ahead of the now known coast. The stories include The Myth of Baal-Aliyan and The Death of Baal.

The death of Baal and the reign of Mot does not appear to be a seasonal myth. Rather, it represents “a special catastrophe of drought and infertility when the rain does not come in its season”.

To El and Anat, Baal’s death is unusual and strikes them with deep sorrow. “They both exclaim, “Baʿal is dead! What becomes of the people?/ Dagân’s son! What of the multitudes?” Also, they need a substitute for Baʿal.”

Tammuz (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

In 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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Lahmu, meaning parent star or constellation, is the name of a protective and beneficent deity, the first-born son of Abzu and Tiamat. He and his sister Laḫamu are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon.

Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash-usually with three strands- and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man.”

In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic.

In the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, Anshar (also spelled Anshur), which means “whole heaven”, is a primordial god. His consort is Kishar which means “Whole Earth”. They were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu and the grandchildren of Tiamat and Apsû. They, in turn, are the parents of Anu, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons.

Enlil (nlin), (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). The exact meaning of Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G) 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.

Enlil was a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. He is equated with El, Kumarbi, and Cronus.

The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

She lived in Dilmun with her family. Raped and ravaged by her husband Enlil, who impregnated her with water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him. Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death.

In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river. Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

In the sleeping quarters, in the flowered bed fragrant like a cedar forest, Enlil made love to his wife and took great pleasure in it. He sat her on his dais appropriate to the status of Enlil, and made the people pray to her. The lord whose statements are powerful also determined a fate for the Lady (Aruru), the woman of his favour; he gave her the name Nintur, the ‘Lady who gives birth’, the ‘Lady who spreads her knees’. (…) Proud woman, surpassing the mountains! You who always fulfil your desires—from now on, Sud, Enlil is the king and Ninlil is the queen. The goddess without name has a famous name now, ……

By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu). Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.

In one myth, Enlil gives advice to his son, the god Ninurta, advising him on a strategy to slay the demon Asag. This advice is relayed to Ninurta by way of Sharur, his enchanted talking mace, which had been sent by Ninurta to the realm of the gods to seek counsel from Enlil directly.

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was originally the home of Enki, later known by the Akkadians as Ea, who was considered to have founded the city. His temple was called E-Abzu, as Enki was believed to live in Abzu, an aquifer from which all life was believed to stem.

Eridu appears to be the earliest settlement in the region, founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq. Excavation has shown that the city was originally founded on a virgin sand-dune site with no previous occupation.

The Egyptologist David Rohl has conjectured that Eridu, to the south of Ur, was the original Babel and site of the Tower of Babel, rather than the later city of Babylon, for several reasons: The ziggurat ruins of Eridu are far larger and older than any others, and seem to best match the Biblical description of the unfinished Tower of Babel.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was the home of the Abzu temple of the god Enki, the Sumerian counterpart of the Akkadian water-god Ea. Like all the Sumerian and Babylonian gods, Enki/Ea began as a local god, who came to share, according to the later cosmology, with Anu and Enlil, the rule of the cosmos. His kingdom was the sweet waters that lay below earth (Sumerian ab=water; zu=far).

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.

The urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki’s temple, called House of the Aquifer (Cuneiform: E.ZU.AB; Sumerian: e-abzu; Akkadian: bītu apsû), which in later history was called House of the Waters (Cuneiform: E.LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: e-engur; Akkadian: bītu engurru). The name refers to Enki’s realm. The Temple of Enki, variously called the E-Abzu or the E-gur, was the first known to have been built in Southern Iraq.

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat, the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, representing both the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one, in Babylonian mythology.

Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In 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 Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk. The heavens and the earth are formed from her divided body.

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.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

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.

It is, however, as the third figure in the triad (the two other members of which were Anu and Enlil) that Ea acquires his permanent place in the pantheon. To him was assigned the control of the watery element, and in this capacity he becomes the shar apsi; i.e. king of the Apsu or “the deep”. The Apsu was figured as the abyss of water beneath the earth, and since the gathering place of the dead, known as Aralu, was situated near the confines of the Apsu, he was also designated as En-Ki; i.e. “lord of that which is below”, in contrast to Anu, who was the lord of the “above” or the heavens.

The consort of Ea, known as Ninhursag, Ki, Uriash Damkina, “lady of that which is below”, or Damgalnunna, “big lady of the waters”, originally was fully equal with Ea, but in more patriarchal Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian times plays a part merely in association with her lord. Generally, however, Enki seems to be a reflection of pre-patriarchal times, in which relations between the sexes were characterised by a situation of greater gender equality. In his character, he prefers persuasion to conflict, which he seeks to avoid if possible.

His consort Ninhursag had a nearby temple at Ubaid. The temple of Ninhursag at the summit was on a cleared oval similar to that at Khafajah. Khafajah lies on the Diyala River, a tributary of the Tigris. The site consists of four mounds, labeled A through D. The main one, Mound A, extends back as far as the Uruk period and contained an oval temple, a temple of the god Sin, not surely and a temple of Nintu.

The Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep’ was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above.

It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

Abzu is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water.

The Enuma Elish begins: 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 still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…

Enki was considered a god of life and replenishment, and was often depicted with two streams of water flowing into his shoulders, one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him were trees symbolising the female and male aspects of nature, each holding the female and male aspects of the ‘Life Essence’, which he, as apparent alchemist of the gods, would masterfully mix to create several beings that would live upon the face of the earth.

His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury, later associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk), in the Sumerian astrological system.

In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

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. Around the excavation of the 18 shrines found on the spot, thousands of carp bones were found, consumed possibly in feasts to the god.

The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology.

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water’”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag.

In 1964, a team of Italian archaeologists under the direction of Paolo Matthiae of the University of Rome La Sapienza performed a series of excavations of material from the third-millennium BCE city of Ebla. Much of the written material found in these digs was later translated by Giovanni Pettinato.

Among other conclusions, he found a tendency among the inhabitants of Ebla to replace the name of El, king of the gods of the Canaanite pantheon (found in names such as Mikael), with Ia.

Jean Bottero (1952) and others suggested that Ia in this case is a West Semitic (Canaanite) way of saying Ea, Enki’s Akkadian name, associating the Canaanite theonym Yahu, and ultimately Hebrew YHWH.

Some scholars remain skeptical of the theory while explaining how it might have been misinterpreted. Ia has also been compared by William Hallo with the Ugaritic Yamm (sea), (also called Judge Nahar, or Judge River) whose earlier name in at least one ancient source was Yaw, or Ya’a.

Canaanite religion was strongly influenced by their more powerful and populous neighbours, and shows clear influence of Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious practices. Like other people of the ancient Near East, Canaanite religious beliefs were polytheistic, with families typically focusing worship on ancestral household gods and goddesses while acknowledging the existence of other deities such as Baal and El. Kings also played an important religious role and in certain ceremonies, such as the sacred marriage of the New Year Festival may have been revered as gods.

According to the pantheon, known in Ugarit as ‘ilhm (=Elohim) or the children of El (cf. the Biblical “sons of God”), supposedly obtained by Philo of Byblos from Sanchuniathon of Berythus (Beirut) the creator was known as Elion (Biblical El Elyon = God most High), who was the father of the divinities, and in the Greek sources he was married to Beruth (Beirut = the city).

This marriage of the divinity with the city would seem to have Biblical parallels too with the stories of the link between Melkart and Tyre; Yahweh and Jerusalem; Tanit and Baal Hammon in Carthage. El Elyon is mentioned as ‘God Most High’ occurs in Genesis 14.18–19 as the God whose priest was Melchizedek king of Salem.

Philo further states that from the union of El Elyon and his consort were born Uranus and Ge, Greek names for the “Heaven” and the “Earth”. This closely parallels the opening verse of Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the Heavens (Shemayim) and the Earth (Eretz).” This also has parallels with the story of the Babylonian Anunaki (i.e. = “Heaven and Earth”; Shamayim and Eretz) too.

Elyon is an epithet of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible. ʾĒl ʿElyōn is usually rendered in English as “God Most High”, and similarly in the Septuagint as “God the highest”.

The critical scholar and Reform rabbi Abraham Geiger asserted that Elyōn was a word of late origin, dating it to the time of the Maccabees. However, its use in the Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria) tablets has proven it to be pre-Mosaic (Hertz 1936).

The term also has mundane uses, such as “upper” (where the ending in both roots is a locative, not superlative or comparative), “top”, or “uppermost”, referring simply to the position of objects (e.g. applied to a basket in Genesis 40.17 or to a chamber in Ezekiel 42.5).

In Eusebius’ account of Philo of Byblos (c. 64–141 CE) record of Sanchuniathon’s euhemeristic account of the Phoenician deities, Elioun, whom he calls Hypsistos ‘the highest’ and who is therefore possibly ʿElyōn, is quite separate from his Elus/Cronus who is the supreme god Ēl.

Sanchuniathon tells only: In their time is born a certain Elioun called “the Most High,” and a female named Beruth, and these dwelt in the neighbourhood of Byblos. And from them is born Epigeius or Autochthon, whom they afterwards called Sky; so that from him they named the element above us Sky because of the excellence of its beauty. And he has a sister born of the aforesaid parents, who was called Earth, and from her, he says, because of her beauty, they called the earth by the same name. And their father, the Most High, died in an encounter with wild beasts, and was deified, and his children offered to him libations and sacrifices.

According to Sanchuniathon it is from Sky and Earth that Ēl and various other deities are born, though ancient texts refer to Ēl as creator of heaven and earth. The Hittite theogony knows of a primal god named Alalu who fathered Sky (and possibly Earth) and who was overthrown by his son Sky, who was in turn overthrown by his son Kumarbi. A similar tradition seems to be at the basis of Sanchuniathon’s account.

As to Beruth who is here ʿElyōn’s wife, a relationship with Hebrew bərīt ‘covenant’ or with the city of Beirut have both been suggested. It has been suggested that the reference to ‘Ēl ʿElyōn maker of heaven and earth’ in Genesis 14:19 and 22 reflects the belief that ʿElyōn was progenitor of Ouranus and Gê, as suggested in Philo of Byblos’s account of Phoenician history.

Alalu or Alalus is god in Hurrian (Armenian) mythology. He is considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu. Anuʻs son Kumarbi also defeated his father, and his son Teshub defeated him, too. Alalu fled to the underworld. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic supreme deity Alu. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence.

He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos (Greek: “Most High” God), a term appearing in documents dated about 200 BC to about AD 400, referring to various groups mostly in Asia Minor (Cappadocia, Bithynia and Pontus) and on the South Russian coasts of what is today known as the Black Sea. In the Septuagint the word “hypsisto-” occurs more than fifty times as a title for Yahweh (the Tetragrammaton) or in direct relation to him.

Heavenly host (Hebrew: sabaoth, “armies”) refers to a large army (Luke 2:13) of good angels mentioned both in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, as well as other Jewish and Christian texts.

Several descriptions of angels in the Bible describe them in military terms, such as encampment (Genesis 32:1-2, command structure (Psalms 91:11-12; Matt.13:41; Rev.7:2), and combat (Jdg.5:20; Job 19:12; Rev.12:7). The heavenly host participate in the War in Heaven and, according to some interpretations, will battle Satan and Satan’s own army at the End of Days and be victorious.

In the Hebrew Bible, the name Yahweh and the title Elohim frequently occur with the word tzevaot or sabaoth (“hosts” or “armies”, Hebrew: as YHWH Elohe Tzevaot (“YHWH God of Hosts”), Elohe Tzevaot (“God of Hosts”), Adonai YHWH Tzevaot (“Lord YHWH of Hosts”) or, most frequently, YHWH Tzevaot (“YHWH of Hosts”). This name is traditionally transliterated in Latin as Sabaoth, a form that will be more familiar to many English readers, as it was used in the King James Version of the Bible.

The term “Lord of Hosts” is also used in the Bahá’í Faith as a title of God. Bahá’u’lláh, claiming to be the Manifestation of God, wrote tablets to many of the kings and rulers of the world inviting them to recognize Him as the Promised One of all ages and faiths, some of which were compiled and published in English as The Summons of the Lord of Hosts.

Yam was the Levantine god of the sea, popular in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. Yam, from the Canaanite word Yam meaning “Sea”, also written Yaw, is one name of the Ugaritic god of Rivers and Sea. Also titled Judge Nahar (“Judge River”), he is also one of the ‘ilhm (Elohim) or sons of El, the name given to the Levantine pantheon.

Others dispute the existence of the alternative names, claiming it is a mistranslation of a damaged tablet. Despite linguistic overlap, theologically this god is not a part of the later subregional monotheistic theology, but rather is part of a broader and archaic Levantine polytheism.

Yam is the deity of the primordial chaos and represents the power of the sea, untamed and raging; he is seen as ruling storms and the disasters they wreak. The gods cast out Yam from the heavenly mountain Sappan (modern Jebel Aqra; Sappan is cognate to Tsephon). The seven-headed dragon Lotan is associated closely with him and he is often described as the serpent. He is the Canaanite equivalent of the Sumerian Tiamat, the primordial mother goddess.

Of all the gods, despite being the champion of El, Yam holds special hostility against Baal Hadad, son of Dagon. Yam is a deity of the sea and his palace is in the abyss associated with the depths, or Biblical tehwom, of the oceans, not to be confused with the abode of Mot, the ruler of the netherworlds.

In Ugaritic texts, Yam’s special enemy Hadad is also known as the “king of heaven” and the “first born son” of El, whom ancient Greeks identified with their god Cronus, just as Baal was identified with Zeus, Yam with Poseidon and Mot with Hades.

Yam wished to become the Lord god in his place. In turns the two beings kill each other, yet Hadad is resurrected and Yam also returns. Some authors have suggested that these tales reflect the experience of seasonal cycles in the Levant.

Tehom, literally the Deep or Abyss (Greek Septuagint: ábyssos), refers to the Great Deep of the primordial waters of creation in the Bible. Tehom is a cognate of the Akkadian word tamtu and Ugaritic t-h-m which have similar meaning. As such it was equated with the earlier Sumerian Tiamat.

It is first mentioned in Genesis 1:2: And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (King James version).

It was from here that the waters of Noah’s flood had their origin and the place that God temporarily receded the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass over before destroying the pursuing Egyptian army, and the place that God will dry up for the righteous to walk on towards their redemption at the End of Days (Isaiah 11:15, context entire ch. 11).

In contrast to this, in another book from the Jewish Bible the drying of the Tehom will be a punishment to the wicked rather than a reward (Isaiah 19:5).

Gnostics used this text to propose that the original creator god, called the “Pléroma” or “Bythós” (from the Greek, meaning “Deep”) pre-existed Elohim, and gave rise to such later divinities and spirits by way of emanations, progressively more distant and removed from the original form.

Tehom is also the first of seven “Infernal Habitations” that correspond to the ten Qliphoth (literally “peels”) of Jewish Kabbalistic tradition.

Robert R. Stieglitz stated that Eblaitic texts demonstrate the equation of the goddess Beruth in the mythology of Sanchuniathon with Ugaritic thmt and Akkadian Tiâmat.

Baal-berith (“Baal of the Covenant”) and El-berith (“El of the Covenant”) are two gods, or one god, worshiped in Shechem, in ancient Israel. Berith probably appears also in Ugaritic texts (second millennium BCE) as brt, in connection with Baal, and perhaps as Beruth in Sanchuniathon’s work.

Judges (8:33, 9:4, and 9:46) is the only Biblical book that mentions Baal-berith and El-berith. It is not clear whether they are separate forms of the gods Ba’al and El or are actually one god. Scholars suppose that he or they may have been (a) fertility and vegetation god(s), based on Judges 9:27. Also unclear is what covenant or covenants are referred to by the name Berith. In Judges 9:28 some of the Shechemites are called “men of Hamor”; this is compared to “sons of Hamor”, which in the ancient Middle East referred to people who had entered into a covenant sealed by the sacrifice of a hamor, an ass.

‘Children/sons of Hamor’ itself appears in Genesis 33:19 and Joshua 24:32, in both of which, as in Judges 9:28, Hamor is called the father of Shechem. Genesis 34 features a man named Hamor who ruled in the area of Shechem (Gen. 33:18) and had a son named Shechem.

Rabbinic tradition equates Baal-berith with Beelzebub, the god of Philistine Ekron.

In his euhemeristic account of the Phoenician deities, Sanchuniathon says that a certain Elioun, called also “the Most High”, and a female named Beruth dwelt in the neighbourhood of Byblos, on the coast of present-day Lebanon. They had two children—a male called Epigeius/Autochthon/Sky and a daughter called Earth. Because of the latter pair’s beauty, the sky and the earth, respectively, were named after them.

According to Sanchuniathon it is from Sky and Earth that El and various other deities are born, though ancient texts refer to El as creator of heaven and earth. A relationship with Hebrew bərīt ‘covenant’ or with the city of Beirut has both been suggested for Beruth.

The Hittite theogony knows of a primal god named Alalu who fathered Sky (and possibly Earth) and who was overthrown by his son Sky, who was in turn overthrown by his (Sky’s) son Kumarbi. A similar tradition seems to be at the basis of Sanchuniathon’s account.

So far, none of the inscribed tablets found in 1929 in the Canaanite city of Ugarit (destroyed ca. 1200 BC) has revealed a cosmology. Any idea of one is often reconstructed from the much later Phoenician text by Philo of Byblos (c. 64–141 AD), after much Greek and Roman influence in the region.

According to the pantheon, known in Ugarit as ‘ilhm (=Elohim) or the children of El, supposedly obtained by Philo of Byblos from Sanchuniathon of Berythus (Beirut) the creator was known as Elion, who was the father of the divinities, and in the Greek sources he was married to Beruth (Beirut = the city).

This marriage of the divinity with the city would seem to have Biblical parallels too with the stories of the link between Melkart and Tyre; Chemosh and Moab; Tanit and Baal Hammon in Carthage.

From the union of El Elyon and his consort were born Uranus and Ge, Greek names for the “Heaven” and the “Earth”.

In Canaanite mythology there were twin mountains Targhizizi and Tharumagi which hold the firmament up above the earth-circling ocean, thereby bounding the earth. W. F. Albright, for example, says that El Shaddai is a derivation of a Semitic stem that appears in the Akkadian shadû (“mountain”) and shaddā`û or shaddû`a (“mountain-dweller”), one of the names of Amurru.

Philo of Byblos states that Atlas was one of the Elohim, which would clearly fit into the story of El Shaddai as “God of the Mountain(s).” Harriet Lutzky has presented evidence that Shaddai was an attribute of a Semitic goddess, linking the epithet with Hebrew šad “breast” as “the one of the Breast”.

The idea of two mountains being associated here as the breasts of the Earth fits into the Canaanite mythology quite well. The ideas of pairs of mountains seem to be quite common in Canaanite mythology (similar to Horeb and Sinai in the Bible). The late period of this cosmology makes it difficult to tell what influences (Roman, Greek, or Hebrew) may have informed Philo’s writings.

Baal-Berith was the god of the Canaanite city, who later came to be viewed as the demon Baalberith by Christian demonology. According to the Book of Judges, his temple was destroyed when Abimelech quelled the rising of his subjects.

The name denotes a form of Ba’al-worship prevailing in Israel, according to the Book of Judges, and particularly in Shechem. The term “Ba’al” is shown by the equivalent “El-berith” to mean “the God of the Covenant.” The ‘Covenant’ (Hebrew: Berith) to which this refers may refer to treaties such as one with the Canaanitic league of which Shechem was the head, or the covenant between Israel and the people of Shechem.

The term is considered by some to be too abstract to have been occasioned by a single set of conditions. Moreover, the temple of the god in Shechem implies a permanent establishment. Probably the name and the cult were widespread and ancient, though it is mentioned only in connection with the affairs of Shechem.

Baalberith was the chief secretary of Hell, head of its public archives, and the demon who tempted men to blasphemy and murder. When seated among the princes of Hell, he was usually seen as a pontiff. He tells things of the past, present and future with true answers; he can also turn all metals into gold, give dignities to men and confirm them.

He was also quite a voluble sort: according to the Admirable History written by Father Sebastien Michaelis in 1612, Baalberith once possessed a nun in Aix-en-Provence. In the process of the exorcism, Baalberith volunteered not only his own name and the names of all the other demons possessing her, but the names of the saints who would be most effective in opposing them.

Baal, also rendered Baʿal, is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning “master” or “lord” that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu.

“Baal” may refer to any god and even to human officials. In some texts it is used for Hadad, a god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture, and the lord of Heaven. Since only priests were allowed to utter his divine name, Hadad, Ba‛al was commonly used.

Prior to the discovery of the Ugaritic texts it was sometimes thought that there were various and quite-separate gods called Baal. However, it is now generally accepted that there was one great Canaanite storm-and-fertility deity Baal-Hadad, and local manifestations of this one god. Despite the tendency in the Hebrew Bible to avoid the use of the word as a proper name, it is now quite clear that by pre-Israelite times the term had become the usual name of the weather-god of Syria-Palestine.

Copias and his wife Baau (translated as Nyx ‘Night’) give birth to Aeon and Protogonus (“first-born”), who are mortal men; “and that when droughts occurred, they stretched out their hands to heaven towards the sun; for him alone (he says) they regarded as god the lord of heaven, calling him Beelsamen, which is in the Phoenician language ‘lord of heaven,’ and in Greek ‘Zeus.'” (Eusebius, I, x).

A race of Titan-like mountain beings arose, “sons of surpassing size and stature, whose names were applied to the mountains which they occupied… and they got their names, he says, from their mothers, as the women in those days had free intercourse with any whom they met.” Various descendants are listed, many of whom have allegorical names but are described in the quotations from Philo as mortals who first made particular discoveries or who established particular customs.

Thoth (from Egyptian ḏḥwty) was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat (also spelled Safkhet, Sesat, Seshet, Sesheta, and Seshata), the Ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing, and his wife was Ma’at.

Seshat (also spelled Safkhet, Sesat, Seshet, Sesheta, and Seshata) was the Ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. She was seen as a scribe and record keeper, and her name means she who scrivens (i.e. she who is the scribe), and is credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying. These are all professions that relied upon expertise in her skills. She is identified as Safekh-Aubi in some late texts.

When the cult of the moon deity, Thoth, became prominent and he became identified as a god of wisdom, the role of Seshat changed in the Egyptian pantheon when counterparts were created for most older deities. The lower ranks of her priestesses were displaced by the priests of Thoth. First, she was identified as his daughter, and later as his wife.

After the pairing with Thoth the emblem of Seshat was shown surmounted by a crescent moon, which, over time, degenerated into being shown as two horns arranged to form a crescent shape, but pointing downward (in an atypical fashion for Egyptian art). When the crescent moon symbol had degenerated into the horns, she sometimes was known as Safekh-Aubi, meaning she who wears the two horns. In a few images the horns resemble two cobras, as depicted in hieroglyphs, but facing each other with heads touching.

Sanchuniathon is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. These few fragments comprise the most extended literary source concerning Phoenician religion in either Greek or Latin: Phoenician sources, along with all of Phoenician literature, were lost with the parchment on which they were habitually written. He is also known as Sancuniates.

A philosophical creation story traced to “the cosmogony of Taautus, whom Philo explicitly identified with the Egyptian Thoth—”the first who thought of the invention of letters, and began the writing of records”—which begins with Erebus and Wind, between which Eros ‘Desire’ came to be.

From this was produced Môt which seems to be the Phoenician, Ge’ez, Hebrew, Arabic, and Ancient Egyptian word for ‘Death’ but which the account says may mean ‘mud’. In a mixed confusion, the germs of life appear, and intelligent animals called Zophasemin (explained probably correctly as ‘observers of heaven’) formed together as an egg, perhaps. The account is not clear. Then Môt burst forth into light and the heavens were created and the various elements found their stations.

Following the etymological line of Jacob Bryant one might also consider with regard to the meaning of Môt, that according to the Ancient Egyptians Ma’at was the personification of the fundamental order of the universe, without which all of creation would perish. She was also considered the wife of Thoth.

Copias and his wife Baau (translated as Nyx ‘Night’) give birth to Aeon and Protogonus (“first-born”), who are mortal men; “and that when droughts occurred, they stretched out their hands to heaven towards the sun; for him alone (he says) they regarded as god the lord of heaven, calling him Beelsamen, which is in the Phoenician language ‘lord of heaven,’ and in Greek ‘Zeus.'” (Eusebius, I, x).

A race of Titan-like mountain beings arose, “sons of surpassing size and stature, whose names were applied to the mountains which they occupied… and they got their names, he says, from their mothers, as the women in those days had free intercourse with any whom they met.” Various descendants are listed, many of whom have allegorical names but are described in the quotations from Philo as mortals who first made particular discoveries or who established particular customs.

As in the Greek and Hittite theogonies, Sanchuniathon’s Elus/Cronus overthrows his father Sky or Uranus and castrates him. However Zeus Demarûs, that is Hadad Ramman, purported son of Dagon but actually son of Uranus, eventually joins with Uranus and wages war against Cronus.

To El/Cronus is attributed the practice of circumcision. Twice we are told that El/Cronus sacrificed his own son. At some point peace is made and Zeus Adados (Hadad) and Astarte reign over the land with Cronus’ permission. An account of the events is written by the Cabeiri and by Asclepius, under Thoth’s direction.

Nyx (“Night”) – Roman (in Latin): Nox – is the Greek goddess (or personification) of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation, and was the mother of other personified deities such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death).

Her appearances are sparse in surviving mythology, but reveal her as a figure of such exceptional power and beauty, that she is feared by Zeus himself. She is found in the shadows of the world and only ever seen in glimpses.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, Nyx is born of Chaos. With Erebus (Darkness), Nyx gives birth to Aether (Brightness) and Hemera (Day). Later, on her own, Nyx gives birth to Moros (Doom, Destiny), Ker (Fate, Destruction, Death), Thanatos (Death), Hypnos (Sleep), the Oneiroi (Dreams), Momus (Blame), Oizys (Woe, Pain, Distress), the Hesperides (Evening, Sunset), the Moirai (Fates), the Keres, Nemesis (Indignation, Retribution), Apate (Deceit), Philotes (Friendship, Love), Geras (Old Age), and Eris (Strife).

In his description of Tartarus, Hesiod locates there the home of Nyx, and the homes of her children Hypnos and Thanatos. Hesiod says further that Hemera (Day), who is Nyx’s daughter, left Tartarus just as Nyx entered it; continuing cyclicly, when Hemera returned, Nyx left. This mirrors the portrayal of Ratri (night) in the Rigveda, where she works in close cooperation but also tension with her sister Ushas (dawn).

Nyx took on an even more important role in several fragmentary poems attributed to Orpheus. In them, Nyx, rather than Chaos, is the first principle from which all creation emerges.

In Greek mythology, Erebus, also Erebos (“deep darkness, shadow”), was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness; for instance, Hesiod’s Theogony identifies him as one of the first five beings in existence, born of Chaos.

Erebus features little in Greek mythological tradition and literature, but is said to have fathered several other deities with Nyx; depending on the source of the mythology, this union includes Aether, Hemera, the Hesperides, Hypnos, the Moirai, Geras, Styx, Charon, and Thanatos.

In Greek literature the name Erebus is also used of a region of the Greek underworld where the dead pass immediately after dying, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Tartarus.

The perceived meaning of Erebus is “darkness”; the first recorded instance of it was “place of darkness between earth and Hades”. Semitic forms such as Hebrew ˤerev (‘sunset, evening'( are sometimes cited as a source. However, an Indo-European origin for the name Ἔρεβος itself is possible from PIE *h1regʷ-es/os-, “darkness” “darkness” (cf. Sanskrit rájas, Gothic riqis, Old Norse røkkr).

According to the Greek oral poet Hesiod’s Theogony, Erebus is the offspring of Chaos, and brother to Nyx: “From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bore from union in love with Erebus.” Hesiod, Theogony (120–125).

In Greek mythology, Thanatos (“Death”, from “to die, be dying”) was the daemon personification of death. He was a minor figure in Greek mythology, often referred to, but rarely appearing in person.

His name is transliterated in Latin as Thanatus, but his equivalent in Roman mythology is Mors or Letus/Letum, and he is sometimes identified erroneously with Orcus (Orcus himself had a Greek equivalent in the form of Horkos, God of the Oath).

Maat or Ma’at (meaning “(world-) order” or “harmony”) was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological counterpart was Isfet.

Isfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”) is an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism.

According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, Isfet and Ma’at built a complementary and also paradoxical dualism: one could not exist without its counterpart. Isfet and Ma’at balanced each other. An Egyptian king (pharaoh) was appointed to “achieve” Ma’at, which means that he had to keep and protect justice and harmony by destroying Isfet.

In the eyes of the Egyptians the world was always ambiguous; the actions and judgments of a king were thought to simplify these principles in order to keep Ma’at by separating order from chaos or good from evil. Coffin Text 335a asserts the necessity of the dead being cleansed of Isfet in order to be reborn in the Duat.

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE).

Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth and their attributes are the similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, who is a lesser known deity.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

In Egyptian mythology, Duat (pronounced “do-aht”) (also Tuat and Tuaut or Akert, Amenthes, Amenti, or Neter-khertet) is the realm of the dead. The Duat is the realm of the god Osiris and the residence of other gods and supernatural beings. It is the region through which the sun god Ra travels from west to east during the night, and where he battled Apep.

It also was the place where people’s souls went after death for judgement, though that was not the full extent of the afterlife. Burial chambers formed touching-points between the mundane world and the Duat, and spirits could use tombs to travel back and forth from the Duat.

If the deceased successfully passed these unpleasant demons, he or she would reach the Weighing of the Heart. In this ritual, the heart of the deceased was weighed by Anubis, using a feather, representing Ma’at, the goddess of truth and justice. The heart would become out of balance because of failure to follow Ma’at and any hearts heavier or lighter than her feather were rejected and eaten by the Ammit, the Devourer of Souls. Those souls that passed the test would be allowed to travel toward the paradise of Aaru.

In spite of the unpleasant inhabitants of the Duat, this was no Hell to which souls were condemned; the nature of Duat is more complex than that. The grotesque spirits of the underworld were not evil, but under the control of the Gods.

The Duat was also a residence of gods themselves; as well as Osiris, Anubis, Thoth, Horus, Hathor and Ma’at all appear as a dead soul makes its way toward judgement. It was also in the underworld that the sun, Ra, travelled under the Earth from west to east and was transformed from its aged Atum form into Khepri, the new dawning Sun. Just as a dead person faced many challenges in the Duat, Ra faced attack in the underworld from the evil serpent Apep.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the fields of Aaru (Egyptian: iArw meaning “reeds”; altn. Yaaru, Iaru, Aalu), known also as Sekhet-Aaru or the Egyptian reed fields, are the heavenly paradise, where Osiris ruled after he became part of the Egyptian pantheon and displaced Anubis in the Ogdoad tradition. It has been described as the ka (a part of the soul) of the Nile Delta.

Only souls who weighed exactly the same as the feather of the goddess Ma’at were allowed to start a long and perilous journey to Aaru, where they would exist in pleasure for all eternity. The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul resided in the heart. Those whose heart did not match the weight of the feather of Ma’at due to their sins were excluded. They were said to suffer a second death when devoured by another being, Ammit, while still in Duat for judgment.

The souls who did qualify had to undergo a long journey and face many perils before reaching Aaru. Once they arrived, they had to enter through a series of gates. The exact number of gates varies according to sources, some say 15, some 21. They are however uniformly described as being guarded by evil demons armed with knives.

Aaru usually was placed in the east, where the Sun rises, and is described as eternal reed fields, very much like those of the earthly Nile delta: an ideal hunting and fishing ground, and hence, those deceased who, after judgment, were allowed to reside there, were often called the eternally living. More precisely, Aaru was envisaged as a series of islands, covered in “fields of rushes” (Sekhet Aaru), Aaru being the Egyptian word for rushes. The part where Osiris later dwelt was sometimes known as the “field of offerings”, Sekhet Hetepet in Egyptian.

In Babylonian mythology, Irkalla (also Ir-Kalla, Irkalia) is the underworld from which there is no return. It is also called Arali, Kigal, Gizal, and the lower world. Irkalla is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.

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

The Sumerian netherworld was a place for the bodies of the dead to exist after death. One passed through the seven gates on their journey through the portal to the netherworld leaving articles of clothing and adornment at each gate, not necessarily by choice as there was a guardian at each gate to extract a toll for one’s passage and to keep one from going the wrong way. The living spirits of the dead are only spoken of in connection with this netherworld when someone has been placed here before they are dead or wrongly killed and can be saved. The bodies of the dead decompose in this afterlife, as they would in the world above.

As the subterranean destination for all who die, Irkalla is similar to Sheol of the Hebrew Bible or Hades of classic Greek mythology. It is different from more hopeful versions of the afterlife, such as those envisioned by the contemporaneous Egyptians and the later in Platonic philosophy, Judaism, and Christianity.

However, Irkalla also differs from the Greek Tartarus and the Christian perspective of hell. Irkalla had no punishment or reward, being seen as a more dreary version of life above, with Erishkigal being seen as both warden and guardian of the dead rather than a sinister ruler like Satan or death gods of other religions.

Tartarus, in ancient Greek mythology, is the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans. As far below Hades as the earth is below the heavens, Tartarus is the place where, according to Plato in Gorgias (c. 400 BC), souls were judged after death and where the wicked received divine punishment. Like other primal entities (such as the Earth, Night and Time), Tartarus was also considered to be a primordial force or deity.

In Greek mythology, Tartarus is both a deity and a place in the underworld. In ancient Orphic sources and in the mystery schools, Tartarus is also the unbounded first-existing entity from which the Light and the cosmos are born.

In the Greek poet Hesiod’s Theogony, c. 700 BC, Tartarus was the third of the primordial deities, following after Chaos and Gaia (Earth), and preceding Eros.

Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering. In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

The Egyptian of ḏḥwty is not fully known, but may be reconstructed as *ḏiḥautī, based on the Ancient Greek borrowing Thōth or Theut and the fact that it evolved into Sahidic Coptic variously as Thoout, Thōth, Thoot, Thaut, as well as Bohairic Coptic Thōout. The final -y may even have been pronounced as a consonant, not a vowel.

However, many write “Djehuty”, inserting the letter ‘e’ automatically between consonants in Egyptian words, and writing ‘w’ as ‘u’, as a convention of convenience for English speakers, not the transliteration employed by Egyptologists.

According to Theodor Hopfner, Thoth’s Egyptian name written as ḏḥwty originated from ḏḥw, claimed to be the oldest known name for the ibis although normally written as hbj. The addition of -ty denotes that he possessed the attributes of the ibis. Hence his name means “He who is like the ibis”.

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