Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Archive for July, 2015

It is time to act!

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 31, 2015

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The development of monotheism

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 30, 2015

Surya is the chief of the Navagraha, the nine Indian Classical planets and important elements of Hindu astrology. He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body. He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. Surya is regarded as the Supreme Deity by Saura sect and Smartas worship him as one of the five primary forms of God. The sun god, Zun, worshipped by the Afghan Zunbil dynasty, is thought to be synonymous with Surya.

Surya is also known as “Mitra” (meaning friend) for his life nourishing properties. The Mitra form of ‘Surya’ had been worshiped mostly in Gujarat, where a clan of Suryawanshi kings was known as Mitrawanshi kshatriyas, also known by its derivative name “Maitrakas”. His Greek counterpart is Helios and his Egyptian counterpart is Ra.

Among other ideas, Zoroastrianism is the first monotheistic religion that emphasizes broad concepts such as the corresponding work of good and evil in the world, and the connection of humans to nature.

Mitra is the reconstructed Proto-Indo-Iranian name of an Indo-Iranian divinity from which the names and some characteristics of Rigvedic Mitrá and Avestan Mithra derive. The first extant record of Indo-Aryan Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. There Mitra appears together with four other Indo-Aryan divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform Mi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. Their sphere of influence is shown in Hurrian place names, personal names and the spread through Syria and the Levant of a distinct pottery type.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour. Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.

Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

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

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire ca. 1531 BC and until ca. 1155 BC (short chronology). They gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC (i.e. 1531 BC per the short chronology), and established a dynasty based in Dur-Kurigalzu.

The Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular, and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The horse, which the Kassites worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia at this time.

The Kassite language has not been classified. What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate (a stand-alone language unrelated to any other), although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor.

However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor.

The evidence from the Kassite-Akkadian vocabulary (pictured) discovered by Hormuzd Rassam and the Kassite-Akkadian name list is that the Kassites identified their gods with those of Mesopotamia, if these sources are sufficiently contemporary.

Mountain gods were a popular motif in Kassite art, on cylinder seals and, for example, the brickwork façade of the temple of Karaindaš, the “Eanna of Inanna.” The generic term for “god” in the Kassite language was mašḫu or bašḫu.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age.

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The origin of Odin

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 30, 2015

Sunrise at Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice

Hvor kommer Odin fra?

Planets/Mercury

What God Did Odin Worship?

The Mystery of Christmas – Son Worship or Sun Worship

Odin/Frigg (sky) – óðr/Freyja (earth) (Sumerian: An/Antu-Inanna)

Balder/Nanna (Sumerian: Tammuz/Inanna)

Šamaš (Sumerian Utu) is the god of the sun, who was associated with life, justice, divination and the netherworld).

Cronus (Enlil, Saturn, Odin) – The second sun

Odin – Sumerian UD (“sun”)

In Germanic mythology, Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn) is a widely attested god. In Old Norse sources, whence most surviving information about the god stems, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg.

In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, Odin was known in Old English as Wóden, in Old Saxon as Wōden, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wodan, all stemming from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz. He is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic peoples, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania, through the tribal expansions of the Migration Period and the Viking Age.

Odin continued into the modern period to be acknowledged in rural folklore in all Germanic regions. References to Odin appear in place names throughout regions historically inhabited by the ancient Germanic peoples, and the day of the week Wednesday bears his name in many Germanic languages, including English.

Odin has been a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies and numerous theories surround the god. Some of these focus on Odin’s particular relation to other figures, such as that Freyja’s husband Óðr appears to be something of an etymological doublet of the god, whereas the goddess Frigg, Odin’s wife, is in many ways similar to Freyja, and that Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki.

Other theories focus on Odin’s place in the historical record, a frequent question being whether Odin derives from Proto-Indo-European religion, or whether he developed later in Germanic society. In the modern period, Odin has inspired numerous works of poetry, music, and other forms of media. Together with other gods venerated by the ancient Germanic peoples, he is venerated in most forms of Germanic Neopaganism; some focus particularly on him.

Borr

Búri (or Buri) was the first god in Norse mythology. He is the father of Borr and grandfather of Odin, Vili and Ve. He was formed by the cow Auðumbla licking the salty ice of Ginnungagap. The only extant source of this myth is Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. The meaning of either Búri or Buri is not known. The first could be related to búr meaning “storage room” and the second could be related to burr meaning “son”. “Buri” may mean “producer”.

Burna-Buriaš II, rendered in cuneiform as Bur-na- or Bur-ra-Bu-ri-ia-aš in royal inscriptions and letters, and meaning servant of the Lord of the lands in the Kassite language, where Buriaš is a Kassite storm god possibly corresponding to the Greek Boreas (“North Wind” or “Devouring One”), the Greek god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter, was a king in the Kassite dynasty of Babylon, in a kingdom called Karduniaš at the time, ruling ca. 1359–1333 BC (short chronology).

An/Antu-Inanna

The purely theoretical character of An is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antu is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin (Inanna), whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. An resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven.

Star of the Sun

Saturn is not a conspicuous planet in the sky. Were it not for its sluggish movement, an unaided eye would hardly distinguish it from the surrounding stars. In many ancient sources Saturn is called “sun.” The usual name for Saturn in Chaldean astronomy was Alap-Shamas, meaning “Star of the Sun.” Diodorus of Sicily reported that the Chaldeans called Cronos (Saturn) by the name Helios, or the sun, and he explained that this was because Saturn was the most conspicuous of the planets; Hyginus also wrote that Saturn was called “Sol.”

In the Babylonian astrological texts the word Shamash (Sun) was used to designate Saturn: “We learn from the notes written by the astrologers that by the word ‘sun’ we must understand the ‘star of the sun,’ i.e., Saturn.” Ninib was the Babylonian name for Saturn: “Ninib in various places is said to shine like the sun.” He was known as UT-GAL-LU, the “great sun of storms.” The Greeks used to call Saturn Phaenon, “the shining one.”

Saturn is associated with a major religious festival in the Roman calendar, Saturnalia. Saturnalia celebrated the harvest and sowing, and ran from December 17–23. During Saturnalia, the social restrictions of Rome were relaxed. The figure of Saturn, kept during the year with its legs bound in wool, was released from its bindings for the period of the festival.

The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost “Golden Age” before the rule of Saturn was overthrown, not all of them desirable except as a temporary release from civilized constraint. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.

Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice.[38] The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

Rudra-Shiva

Rudra is a Rigvedic deity, associated with wind or storm, and the hunt. The name has been translated as “the roarer”. In the Rigveda, Rudra has been praised as the “mightiest of the mighty”. The Shri Rudram hymn from the Yajurveda is dedicated to Rudra, and is important in the Saivism sect.

The Hindu god Shiva shares several features with the Rudra: the theonym Shiva originated as an epithet of Rudra, the adjective shiva (“kind”) being used euphemistically of Rudra, who also carries the epithet ghora (“extremly [sic] terrifying”).

Usage of the epithet came to exceed the original theonym by the post-Vedic period (in the Sanskrit Epics), and the name Rudra has been taken as a synonym for the god Shiva and the two names are used interchangeably.

The etymology of the theonym Rudra is somewhat uncertain. It is usually derived from the root rud- which means “to cry, howl.” According to this etymology, the name Rudra has been translated as “the roarer”.

An alternative etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra as “the red one, the brilliant one” from a lost root rud-, “to be red” or “to be ruddy” or respectively, according to Grassman, “to shine”.

A Rigvedic verse “rukh draavayathi, iti rudraha” where ‘rukh’ means sorrow/misery, ‘draavayathi’ means to drive out or eliminate and ‘iti’ means that which or he who, implies ‘Rudra’ to be the eliminator of evil and usherer of peace.

Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means wild, i.e. of rudra nature, and translates the name Rudra as “the wild one” or “the fierce god”.

K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as “the terrible” in his glossary for the Shiva Sahasranama. The commentator Sayana suggests six possible derivations for rudra. However, another reference states that Sayana suggested ten derivations.

The adjective shivam in the sense of “propitious” or “kind” is applied to the name Rudra in RV 10.92.9. According to Gavin Flood, Shiva used as a name or title (Sanskrit śiva, “the kindly/auspicious one”) occurs only in the late Vedic Katha Aranyaka, whereas Axel Michaels asserts that Rudra was called Shiva for the first time in the Śvetāśvatara Upanishad.

Rudra is called “the archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva) and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages.

The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv- which means “to injure” or “to kill” and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as “One who can kill the forces of darkness”. The names Dhanvin (“bowman”) and Bāṇahasta (“archer”, literally “Armed with arrows in his hands”) also refer to archery.

In other contexts the word rudra can simply mean “the number eleven”. The word “rudraksha” (Sanskrit: rudrākşa = rudra and akşa “eye”), or “eye of Rudra”, is used as a name both for the berry of the Rudraksha tree, and a name for a string of the prayer beads made from those seeds.

Shiva (“The Auspicious One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is one of the main deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his musical instrument. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.

Shiva forms a Tantric couple with Shakti, the embodiment of energy, dynamism, and the motivating force behind all action and existence in the material universe. Shiva is her transcendent masculine aspect, providing the divine ground of all being.

Shakti manifests in several female deities. Sati and Parvati are the main consorts of Shiva. She is also referred to as Uma, Durga (Parvata), Kali and Chandika. Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti.

Kali is the manifestation of Shakti in her dreadful aspect. The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death, Shiva. Since Shiva is called Kāla, the eternal time, Kālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in “time has come”).

She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga. Time Kali comes from k, which means black, time, death, lord of death: Shiva. Since Shiva is called Kāla—the eternal time—the nālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in “time has come”). Hence, Kāli is the Goddess of Time, Change, Power and Destruction.

Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also revered as Bhavatārini (literally “redeemer of the universe”). Kālī is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing or dancing. Shiva is the masculine force, the power of peace, while Shakti translates to power, and is considered as the feminine force.

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

Some authors associate the name with the Tamil word śivappu meaning “red”, noting that Shiva is linked to the Sun (śivan, “the Red one”, in Tamil) and that Rudra is also called Babhru (brown, or red) in the Rigveda.

Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation of evil forces still has some influence. Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. Worshipped throughout India but particularly in Kashmir, South India, Bengal, and Assam, Kali is both geographically and culturally marginal.

In the Vaishnava tradition, these realities are portrayed as Vishnu and Laxmi, or Radha and Krishna. These are differences in formulation rather than a fundamental difference in the principles.

Both Shiva and Shakti have various forms. Shiva has forms like Yogi Raj (the common image of Himself meditating in the Himalayas), Rudra (a wrathful form) and Natarajar (Shiva’s dance are the Lasya – the gentle form of dance, associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava – the violent and dangerous dance, associated with the destruction of weary worldviews – weary perspectives and lifestyles).

Winter solstice (Enki, Saturn/Cronus, the east, sun, land)

Winter solstice is an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Winter solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere in December and for the Southern Hemisphere in June.

The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of its daily rotation mean that the two opposite points in the sky to which the Earth’s axis of rotation points change very slowly (making a complete circle approximately every 26,000 years).

As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the polar hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter, will, in half a year, face towards the Sun and experience summer. This is because the two hemispheres face opposite directions along Earth’s axis, and so as one polar hemisphere experiences winter, the other experiences summer.

More evident from high latitudes, a hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. The winter solstice itself lasts only a moment in time, so other terms are used for the day on which it occurs, such as “midwinter”, or the “shortest day”.

It is often considered the “extreme of winter” (Dongzhi in the Chinese calendar), although in meteorology winter in the Northern Hemisphere spans the entire period of December through February.

The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days. The earliest sunset and latest sunrise dates differ from winter solstice, however, and these depend on latitude, due to the variation in the solar day throughout the year caused by the Earth’s elliptical orbit.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but many cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

The solstice may have been a special moment of the annual cycle for some cultures even during neolithic times. Astronomical events were often used to guide activities such as the mating of animals, the sowing of crops and the monitoring of winter reserves of food.

Many cultural mythologies and traditions are derived from this. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites, such as Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland.

The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunrise (Newgrange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge).

It is significant that at Stonehenge the Great Trilithon was erected outwards from the centre of the monument, i.e. its smooth flat face was turned towards the midwinter Sun.

The winter solstice was immensely important because the people were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons. Starvation was common during the first months of the winter, January to April (northern hemisphere) or July to October (southern hemisphere), also known as “the famine months”.

In temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a plentiful supply of fresh meat was available.

The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but at the beginning of the pagan day, which in many cultures fell on the previous eve.

Because the event was seen as the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods have been common and, in cultures which used cyclic calendars based on the winter solstice, the “year as reborn” was celebrated with reference to life-death-rebirth deities or “new beginnings” such as Hogmanay’s redding, a New Year cleaning tradition. Also “reversal” is yet another frequent theme, as in Saturnalia’s slave and master reversals.

Sol Invictus

Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) was originally a Syrian god who was later adopted as the chief god of the Roman Empire under Emperor Aurelian. His holiday is traditionally celebrated on December 25, as are several gods associated with the winter solstice in many pagan traditions.

Sol was the solar deity in Ancient Roman religion. The Roman cult to Sol is continuous from the “earliest history” of the city until the institution of Christianity as the exclusive state religion. Scholars have sometimes regarded the traditional Sol and Sol Invictus as two separate deities, but the rejection of this view by S.E. Hijmans has found supporters.

The Latin sol for “Sun” is the continuation of the PIE heteroclitic *Sehul- / *Sh-en-, cognate to Germanic Sol, Sanskrit Surya, Greek Helios, Lithuanian Saulė. Also compare Latin solis to Etruscan usil.

Today, sol (or variations of it, such as Italian sole or French soleil) is still the main word for “sun” in Romance languages. Sol is used in contemporary English by astronomers and many science fiction authors as the proper name of the Sun to distinguish it from other stars which may have their own planetary systems.

It was long thought that Rome actually had two different, consecutive sun gods. The first, Sol Indiges, was thought to have been unimportant, disappearing altogether at an early period. Only in the late Roman Empire, scholars argued, did solar cult re-appear with the arrival in Rome of the Syrian Sol Invictus, perhaps under the influence of the Mithraic mysteries.

Sol Invictus played a prominent role in the Mithraic mysteries, and was equated with Mithras himself. The relation of the Mithraic Sol Invictus to the public cult of the deity with the same name is unclear and perhaps non-existent.

Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun”) was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 AD the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults.

Scholars disagree about whether the new deity was a refoundation of the ancient Latin cult of Sol, a revival of the cult of Elagabalus or Heliogabalus is a Syro-Roman sun god, or completely new.

The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine I. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.

The idea, particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, that the solstice date of 25 December for Christmas was selected because it was also the date of a Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birthday of the Unconquered Sun) is challenged by a different explanation considered academically to be “thoroughly viable”.

Both theories have supporters, with some claiming that the festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti was later syncretized with Christmas, and others saying that the Christian celebration may even predate the festival of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti.

There is some debate over the significance of the date December 21 for the cult of Sol. According to a single, late source, the Romans held a festival on December 21 of Dies Natalis Invicti, “the birthday of the unconquered one.” Most scholars assume Sol Invictus was meant, although our source for this festival does not state so explicitly.

December 25 was commonly indicated as the date of the winter solstice, with the first detectable lengthening of daylight hours. There were also festivals on other days in December, including the 11th (mentioned above), as well as August. When the festival on December 25 was instituted is not clear, which makes it hard to assess what impact (if any) it had on the establishment of Christmas.

Janus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus) is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus (Ianuarius), but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month.

In the oldest Roman calendar, which the Romans believed to have been instituted by their legendary founder Romulus, the first month was Martius (“Mars’ month”, March), and the calendar year had only ten months. Ianuarius and Februarius were supposed to have been added by Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, originally at the end of the year. It is unclear when the Romans reset the course of the year so that January and February came first.

Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

Janus had no flamen or specialized priest (sacerdos) assigned to him, but the King of the Sacred Rites (rex sacrorum) himself carried out his ceremonies. Janus had a ubiquitous presence in religious ceremonies throughout the year, and was ritually invoked at the beginning of each one, regardless of the main deity honored on any particular occasion.

The Winter solstice was thought to occur on December 25. January 1 was new year day: the day was consecrated to Janus since it was the first of the new year and of the month (kalends) of Janus: the feria had an augural character as Romans believed the beginning of anything was an omen for the whole. Thus on that day it was customary to exchange cheerful words of good wishes.

For the same reason everybody devoted a short time to his usual business, exchanged dates, figs and honey as a token of well wishing and made gifts of coins called strenae. Cakes made of spelt (far) and salt were offered to the god and burnt on the altar.

Ovid states that in most ancient times there were no animal sacrifices and gods were propitiated with offerings of spelt and pure salt. This libum was named ianual and it was probably correspondent to the summanal offered the day before the Summer solstice to god Summanus, which however was sweet being made with flour, honey and milk. Shortly afterwards, on January 9, on the feria of the Agonium of January the rex sacrorum offered the sacrifice of a ram to Janus.

Various Roman philosophers speculated on the nature of the sun, without arriving at any consensus. A typical example is Nigidius, a scholar of the first century BC. His works have not survived, but writing five centuries later, Macrobius reports that Nigidius argued that Sol was to be identified with Janus and that he had a counterpart, Jana, who was Moon. As such, they were to be regarded as the highest of the gods, receiving their sacrifices before all the others.

Such views appear to have been restricted to an erudite elite — no ancient source aside from Macrobius mentions the equation of Sol with Janus — and had no impact on the well-attested cult of Sol as independent deity.

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

A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, starting with the Sumerians, from the two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices: the southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.

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

Janus frequently symbolized change and transitions such as the progress of future to past, from one condition to another, from one vision to another, and young people’s growth to adulthood. He represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. From Ianus derived ianua (“door”), and hence the English word “janitor” (Latin, ianitor)

While the fundamental nature of Janus is debated, in most modern scholars’ view the god’s functions may be seen as being organized around a single principle: presiding over all beginnings and transitions, whether abstract or concrete, sacred or profane. Interpretations concerning the god’s fundamental nature either limit it to this general function or emphasize a concrete or particular aspect of it (identifying him with light the sun, the moon, time, movement, the year, doorways, bridges etc.) or else see in the god a sort of cosmological principle, interpreting him as a uranic deity.

Hence, Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as at marriages, deaths and other beginnings. He represented the middle ground between barbarism and civilization, rural and urban space, youth and adulthood. Having jurisdiction over beginnings Janus had an intrinsic association with omens and auspices.

Leonhard Schmitz suggests that he was likely the most important god in the Roman archaic pantheon. He was often invoked together with Iuppiter (Jupiter). In one of his works G. Dumézil has postulated the existence of a structural difference in level between the Indo-European gods of beginning and ending and the other gods who fall into a tripartite structure, reflecting the most ancient organization of society.

So in IE religions there is an introducer god (as Vedic Vâyu and Roman Janus) and a god of ending, a nurturer goddess and a genie of fire (as Vedic Saraswati and Agni, Avestic Armaiti, Anâitâ and Roman Vesta) who show a sort of mutual solidarity: the concept of ‘god of ending’ is defined in connexion to the human referential, i.e. the current situation of man in the universe, and not to endings as transitions, which are under the jurisdiction of the gods of beginning owing to the ambivalent nature of the concept.

Thus the god of beginning is not structurally reducible to a sovereign god, nor the goddess of ending to any of the three categories on to which the goddesses are distributed. There is though a greater degree of fuzziness concerning the function and role of goddesses, which may have formed a preexisting structure allowing the absorption of the local Mediterrenean mother goddesses, nurturers and protectresses.

As a consequence the position of the gods of beginning would not be the issue of a diachronic process of debasement undergone by a supreme uranic god, but rather a structural feature inherent to their theology. The fall of uranic primordial gods into the condition of deus otiosus is a well-known phenomenon in the history of religions.

Mircea Eliade gave a positive evaluation of Dumezil’s views and of the results in comparative research on Indoeuropean religions achieved in Tarpeia even though he himself in many of his works observed and discussed the phenomenon of the fall of uranic deities in numerous societies of ethnologic interest.

The figure of the IE initial god (Vâyu, Vayu, Mainyu, Janus) may open the sacrifice (Vâyu and Janus), preside over the start of the voyage of the soul after death (Iranian Vayu), “stand at the opening of the drama of the moral history of the world” (the Zoroastrian Mainyus). They may have a double moral connotation, perhaps due to the cosmic alternation of light and darkness, as is apparent in the case of Zoroastrianism.

In accord with his fundamental character of being the Beginner Janus was considered by Romans the first king of Latium, sometimes along with Camese. He would have received hospitably god Saturn, who, expelled from Heaven by Jupiter, arrived on a ship to the Janiculum. Janus would have also effected the miracle of turning the waters of the spring at the foot of the Viminal from cold to scorching hot in order to fend off the assault of the Sabines of king Titus Tatius, come to avenge the kidnapping of their daughters by the Romans.

His temple named Janus Geminus had to stand open in times of war. It was said to have been built by king Numa Pompilius, who kept it always shut during his reign as there were no wars. After him it was closed very few times, one after the end of the first Punic War, three times under Augustus and once by Nero. It is recorded that emperor Gordianus III opened the Janus Geminus.

Three etymologies were proposed by ancient erudites, each of them bearing implications about the nature of the god. The first one is based on the definition of Chaos given by Paul the Deacon: hiantem, hiare, be open, from which word Ianus would derive by loss of the initial aspirate. In this etymology the notion of Chaos would define the primordial nature of the god.

Another etymology proposed by Nigidius Figulus is related by Macrobius: Ianus would be Apollo and Diana Iana, by the addition of a D for the sake of euphony. This explanation has been accepted by A. B. Cook and J. G. Frazer. It supports all the assimilations of Janus to the bright sky, the sun and the moon. It supposes a former *Dianus, formed on *dia- < *dy-eð2 from Indo-European root *dey- shine represented in Latin by dies day, Diovis and Iuppiter. However the form Dianus postulated by Nigidius is not attested.

The interpretation of Janus as the god of beginnings and transitions is based on a third etymology indicated by Cicero, Ovid and Macrobius, which explains the name as Latin, deriving it from the verb ire (“to go”).

Modern scholars have conjectured that it derives from the Indo-European root meaning transitional movement (cf. Sanskrit “yana-” or Avestan “yah-“, likewise with Latin “i-” and Greek “ei-“.). Iānus would then be an action name expressing the idea of going, passing, formed on the root *yā- < *y-eð2- theme II of the root *ey- go from which eō, ειμι. Other modern scholars object to a Indo-European etymology either from Dianus or from root *yā-.

Haya

The ancient Greeks had no equivalent to Janus, whom the Romans claimed as distinctively their own. Modern scholars, however, have identified analogous figures in the pantheons of the Near East.

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

In some cases he was identified as father of the goddess 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. 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.

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.

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

There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related.

Attempts have also been made to connect the remote origins of Haia with those of the god Ea (Ebla Ḥayya), although there remain serious doubts concerning this hypothesis. How or whether both are related to a further western deity called Ḥayya is also unclear.

Juno

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome.

Her Greek equivalent was Hera. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni. As the patron goddess of Rome and the Roman Empire, Juno was called Regina (“Queen”) and, together with Jupiter and Minerva, was worshipped as a triad on the Capitol (Juno Capitolina) in Rome.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

The relationship between Janus and Juno is defined by the closeness of the notions of beginning and transition and the functions of conception and delivery, result of youth and vital force. The reader is referred to the above sections Cult epithets and Tigillum Sororium of this article and the corresponding section of article Juno.

Diana

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and childbirth, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy. Diana was worshipped in ancient Roman religion and is revered in Roman Neopaganism and Stregheria.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime).

On the Tablets of Pylos a theonym διϝια (diwia) is supposed as referring to a deity precursor of Artemis. Modern scholars mostly accept the identification.The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

The persona of Diana is complex and contains a number of archaic features. According to Georges Dumézil it falls into a particular subset of celestial gods, referred to in histories of religion as frame gods.

The Scandinavian god Heimdallr performs an analogous function: he is born first and will die last. He too gives origin to kingship and the first king, bestowing on him regal prerogatives. Diana, although a female deity, has exactly the same functions, preserving mankind through childbirth and royal succession.

Dumezil’s interpretation appears deliberately to ignore that of James G. Frazer, who links Diana with the male god Janus as a divine couple. This looks odd as Dumézil’s definition of the concept of frame god would fit well the figure of Janus. Frazer identifies the two with the supreme heavenly couple Jupiter-Juno and additionally ties in these figures to the overarching Indoeuropean religious complex.

Elagabus

Invictus (“Unconquered, Invincible”) was an epithet for several deities of classical Roman religion, including the supreme deity Jupiter, the war god Mars, Hercules, Apollo, and Silvanus. It had been in use from the 3rd century BC.

The first sun god consistently termed invictus was the provincial Syrian god Elagabalus. According to the Historia Augusta, the teenaged Severan heir adopted the name of his deity and brought his cult image from Emesa to Rome. Once installed as emperor, he neglected Rome’s traditional State deities and promoted his own as Rome’s most powerful deity. This ended with his murder in 222.

The Historia Augusta refers to the deity Elagabalus as “also called Jupiter and Sol” (fuit autem Heliogabali vel Iovis vel Solis). While this has been seen as an attempt to import the Syrian sun god to Rome, the Roman cult of Sol had existed in Rome in the earlier Republic.

Elagabalus was initially venerated at Emesa in Syria, called after a tent-dwelling tribe called the “Emesani” living in the area around the Orontes and south of the Apamea region. They were a Syriac tribe in the area and settled in Emesa—which derived its name from them.

Upon Pompey’s incorporation of the Seleucid state of Syria into the Roman Empire in 64 BCE, the royal family of Emesa, also known as the Emesani Dynasty or the Sempsigerami of Emesa, sometimes known as the Sampsiceramids, a ruling Roman client dynasty of priest-kings in Emesa, Syria Province (modern Homs, Syria). They can be viewed both as Arameans and Arabs.

Homs itself may have been founded by Seleucus I Nicator who established the Seleucid Empire upon the death of Alexander the Great, although the city did not emerge in the light of history until the 1st-century BCE.

The royal family of Emesa was confirmed in their rule as client kings of the Romans for aiding their troops in various wars. Their chief at the time, Sampsiceramus I, gained the status as King of Emesa, but their capital was at Arethusa, a city north of Emesa, also along the Orontes River.

At its greatest extent, the kingdom’s boundaries extended from the Bekaa Valley in the west to the border with Palmyra in the east, and from Yabrud in the south to al-Rastan (Arethusa) in the north. The kingdom of Sampsiceramus I, was the first of Rome’s Arab clients on the desert fringes.

Two varieties (dialects or sociolects) of Sumerian are recorded. The standard variety is called eme-ĝir or eme-gi (“native tongue”), while the other recorded variety is called eme-sal (EME.SAL, possibly “fine tongue” or “high-pitched voice”, though often translated as “women’s language”. The root sal can have several meanings.

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

Emesa was famous for the worship of the strong ancient pagan cult El-Gebal, also known as Elagabal. The city was renowned for El-Gebal’s place of worship the Temple of the Sun. El-Gebal was worshipped in the form of a conical black stone. El-Gebal was the Aramaic name for the Syrian Sun God and means God of the Mountain.

The name Elagabalus is the Latinised form of the Syriac Ilāh hag-Gabal, which derives from Ilāh “god” and gabal “mountain” (compare Arabic:‎ jabal), resulting in “the God of the Mountain” the Emesene manifestation of the deity. The cult of the deity spread to other parts of the Roman Empire in the second century.

The cult statue was brought to Rome by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who before his accession was the hereditary high priest at Emesa and is commonly called Elagabalus after the deity. The Syrian deity was assimilated with the Roman sun god known as Sol Invictus (“the Undefeated Sun”).

The god was favored by emperors after Aurelian and appeared on their coins until Constantine I. The last inscription referring to Sol Invictus dates to AD 387, and there were enough devotees in the 5th century that Augustine found it necessary to preach against them.

A temple called the Elagabalium was built on the east face of the Palatine Hill, to house the holy stone of the Emesa temple, a black conical meteorite.

Herodian writes of that stone: “This stone is worshipped as though it were sent from heaven; on it there are some small projecting pieces and markings that are pointed out, which the people would like to believe are a rough picture of the sun, because this is how they see them.”

Herodian also relates that Elagabalus forced senators to watch while he danced around his deity’s altar to the sound of drums and cymbals, and at each summer solstice celebrated a great festival, popular with the masses because of food distributions, during which he placed the holy stone on a chariot adorned with gold and jewels, which he paraded through the city:

”A six horse chariot carried the divinity, the horses huge and flawlessly white, with expensive gold fittings and rich ornaments. No one held the reins, and no one rode in the chariot; the vehicle was escorted as if the god himself were the charioteer. Elagabalus ran backward in front of the chariot, facing the god and holding the horses rein. He made the whole journey in this reverse fashion, looking up into the face of his god.”

The Emperor also tried to bring about a union of Roman and Syrian religion under the supremacy of his deity, which he placed even above Jupiter, and to which he assigned either Astarte, Minerva or Urania, or some combination of the three, as wife.

The most sacred relics from the Roman religion were transferred from their respective shrines to the Elagabalium, including “the emblem of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the Palladium, the shields of the Salii, and all that the Romans held sacred.” He reportedly also declared that Jews, Samaritans and Christians must transfer their rites to his temple so that it “might include the mysteries of every form of worship.”

After the Emperor was killed in 222, his religious edicts were reversed and the cult of Elagabalus returned to Emesa.

The black stone

The Black Stone (or Hajarul Aswad, Arabic: al-Ḥajar al-Aswad) is the eastern cornerstone of the Kaaba, the ancient stone building, located in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic which, according to Muslim tradition, dates back to the time of Adam and Eve.

The stone was venerated at the Kaaba in pre-Islamic pagan times. According to Islamic tradition, it was set intact into the Kaaba’s wall by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the year 605 A.D., five years before his first revelation. Since then it has been broken into a number of fragments and is now cemented into a silver frame in the side of the Kaaba.

Its physical appearance is that of a fragmented dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of pilgrims. Islamic tradition holds that it fell from the heaven as a guide for Adam and Eve to build an altar, although it has often been described as a meteorite, a hypothesis, which is now uncertain.

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba as a part of the tawaf ritual during the hajj and many try to stop and kiss the Black Stone, emulating the kiss that Islamic tradition records as it received from Muhammad.

The Black Stone was held in reverence well before the preaching of Islam by Muhammad. By the time of Muhammad, it was already associated with the Kaaba, a pre-Islamic shrine that was a sacred sanctuary and a site of pilgrimage of Nabateans who visited the shrine once a year to perform their pilgrimage. The Kaaba held 360 idols of the Meccan gods.

The Semitic cultures of the Middle East had a tradition of using unusual stones to mark places of worship, a phenomenon which is reflected in the Hebrew Bible as well as the Qur’an, although bowing to or kissing such sacred objects is repeatedly described in the Tenach as idolatrous and was the subject of prophetic rebuke.

Some writers remark on the apparent similarity of the Black Stone and its frame to the external female genitalia, and ascribe this to its earlier association with fertility rites of Arabia.

A “red stone” was associated with the deity of the south Arabian city of Ghaiman, and there was a “white stone” in the Kaaba of al-Abalat (near the city of Tabala, south of Mecca). Worship at that time period was often associated with stone reverence, mountains, special rock formations, or distinctive trees.

The Kaaba marked the location where the sacred world intersected with the profane (omphalo), and the embedded Black Stone was a further symbol of this as an object as a link between heaven and earth.

The meteoritic hypothesis is now viewed by geologists as doubtful. The British Natural History Museum suggests that it may be a pseudometeorite, in other words a terrestrial rock mistakenly attributed to a meteoritic origin.

Islamic tradition holds that the Black Stone fell from Heaven to show Adam and Eve where to build an altar, which became the first temple on Earth. Muslims believe that the stone was originally pure and dazzling white, but has since turned black because of the sins of the people who touches it.

According to a prophetic tradition, “Touching them both (the Black Stone and al-Rukn al-Yamani) is an expiation for sins.” Adam’s altar and the stone were said to have been lost during Noah’s Flood and forgotten. Ibrahim was said to have later found the Black Stone at the original site of Adam’s altar when the angel Jibrail revealed it to him. Ibrahim ordered his son Ismael — who is an ancestor of Muhammad — to build a new temple, the Kaaba, into which the Stone was to embedded.

A hadith records that, when the second Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab (580–644) came to kiss the Stone, he said in front of all assembled: “No doubt, I know that you are a stone and can neither harm anyone nor benefit anyone. Had I not seen Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] kissing you, I would not have kissed you.”

However, in the hadith collection Kanz al-Ummal, it is recorded that Ali responded to Umar, saying, “This stone (Hajar Aswad) can indeed benefit and harm…. Allah (swt) says in Quran that he created human beings from the progeny of Adam (as) and made them witness over themselves and asked them, ‘Am I not your creator?’ Upon this, all of them confirmed it. Thus Allah wrote this confirmation. And this stone has a pair of eyes, ears and a tongue and it opened its mouth upon the order of Allah (swt), who put that confirmation in it and ordered to witness it to all those worshippers who come for Hajj.”

Akitu

Herodian’s description strongly suggests that the Emesene cult was inspired by the Babylonian Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: EZEN Á.KI.TUM, akiti-šekinku, Á.KI.TI.ŠE.GUR.KU, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”), a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

The Babylonian Akitu festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual, yet the purpose of the festival remains a point of contention among both historians of religion and Assyriologists.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

Marduk in the myth enacted in the festival is preserved in the so-called Marduk Ordeal Text. In this myth, Marduk appears as a life-death-rebirth deity, reflecting the festival’s agrarian origin based on the cycle of sowing and harvesting.

Marduk is imprisoned in the underworld and rises again on the third day. The obvious parallel to the death and resurrection of Christ celebrated at Christian Easter has been noted at an early time, and elaborated in detail by Heinrich Zimmern in his 1918 editio princeps.

Tikva Frymer-Kensky noted that Pallis (1926) rejected some of the Christological parallels noted by Zimmern, but continued to stress that the death of Marduk, the lamentation over him, his subsequent restoration and the rejoicing over his resurrection is among the Near Eastern templates for the Christ myth.

Yet Frymer-Kensky goes on to say that further analaysis by von Soden shows that this text is not a tale of a dying and resurrecting god, but that it is a manifestly political text relating to the enmity between Assyria and Babylon.

The political themes don’t involve anyway that the mythical module of the resurrecting god would be meant as inexistent. This theme of a dying young (harvest/vegetable) God (common throughout the Middle east) is also reflected in the legends of Tammuz, and is referenced in the Bible as “women weeping for Tammuz” even in the temple of the Hebrew God.

The Babylonian festival traditionally starts on 21 Adar, the sixth month of the civil year and the twelfth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar, to 1 Nisannu, on the Assyrian calendar the first month and on the Hebrew calendar the first month of the ecclesiastical year and the seventh month (eighth, in leap year) of the civil year. In Akkadian nisānu, from Sumerian nisag “First fruits”.

The name of the month is Babylonian; in the Torah it is called the month of the Aviv, referring to the month in which barley was ripe. Assyrians refer to the month as the “month of happiness.” It is a spring month of 30 days. Nisan usually falls in March–April on the Gregorian calendar. In the Book of Esther in the Tanakh it is referred to as Nisan. “Nisan” is also the name for the month of April in Arabic.

The festival was also adopted in Iron Age Assyria, following the destruction of Babylon. King Sennacherib in 683 BC built an “Akitu house” outside the walls of Assur. Another “Akitu house” was built outside Nineveh.

The Akitu festival was continued throughout the Seleucid period and into the Roman Empire period. At the beginning of the 3rd century, it was still celebrated in Emessa, Syria, in honour of the god Elagabal. Roman Emperor Elagabalus (r. 218-222), who was of Syrian origin, even introduced the festival in Italy (Herodian, Roman History, 5.6).

Iranians traditionally celebrate 21 March as Noruz (“New Day”). Kha b-Nissan is the name of the spring festival among the Assyrians. The festival is celebrated on April 1, corresponding to the start of the Assyrian calendar.

The Akkadian name Akitu has been re-introduced in Assyrianism, falling on 1 Nisan of the “Assyrian calendar” introduced in the 1950s, corresponding to the 1 April of the Gregorian calendar.

The Festival of Seharane is continiously celebrated by Jews from Northern Iraq, Western Iran and Southeast Turkey in the last 2000 years, it is a direct descendant of Akitu which modified it to the day after Passover, it was created by converts from Ashurism to Judaism probably at the time of Kingdom of Adiabene, an ancient kingdom in Assyria with its capital at Arbela (Arba-ilu) in modern-day Arbil, Iraq.

Its rulers converted to Judaism from Ashurism in the 1st century. Queen Helena of Adiabene (known in Jewish sources as Heleni HaMalka) moved to Jerusalem where she built palaces for herself and her sons, Izates bar Monobaz and Monobaz II at the northern part of the city of David, south of the Temple Mount. According to the Talmud, both Helena and Monobaz donated large funds for the Temple of Jerusalem.

Babylonian calendar

The Babylonian calendar was a lunisolar calendar with years consisting of 12 lunar months, each beginning when a new crescent moon was first sighted low on the western horizon at sunset, plus an intercalary month inserted as needed by decree. The calendar is based on a Sumerian (Ur III) predecessor preserved in the Umma calendar of Shulgi (c. 21st century BC).

The year begins in spring, and is divided into reš šatti “beginning”, mišil šatti “middle”, and kīt šatti “end of the year”. The word for “month” was arḫu (status constructus araḫ). That the calendar originates in Babylonian, and not in later Assyrian times is shown by the fact that the chief deity of the Assyrians is assigned the surplus intercalary month.

During the 6th century BC Babylonian exile of the Hebrews, the Babylonian month names were adopted into the Hebrew calendar. The Assyrian calendar used in Iraq and the Levant also uses many of the same names for its months, such as Iyyar, Tammuz, Ab, Elul, Tishri, and Adar.

Until the 5th century BC the calendar was fully observational, but beginning about 499 BC the months began to be regulated by a lunisolar cycle of 19 years equaling 235 months. Although usually called the Metonic cycle after Meton of Athens (432 BC), Meton probably learned of the cycle from the Babylonians.

After no more than three isolated exceptions, by 380 BC the months of the calendar were regulated by the cycle without exception. In the cycle of 19 years, the month Adaru 2 was intercalated, except in the year that was number 17 in the cycle, when the month Ululu 2 was inserted.

During this period, the first day of each month (beginning at sunset) continued to be the day when a new crescent moon was first sighted—the calendar never used a specified number of days in any month.

Ninurta

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. In the inscriptions found at Lagash he appears under his name Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity.

He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

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

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau, a Babylonian goddess of healing, when he was called Ningirsu. The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.

There are a lot of parallels with the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

Ninurta appears in a double capacity in the epithets bestowed on him, and in the hymns and incantations addressed to him. On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.

He remained popular under the Assyrians: two kings of Assyria bore the name Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashurnasirpal II (883—859 BCE) built him a temple in the then capital city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud). In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal, a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”

Nergal evolved from a war god to a god of the underworld in a myth intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god. Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan.

Nippur (Sumerian: Nibru, often logographically recorded as EN.LÍL, “Enlil City;” Akkadian: Nibbur) was among the most ancient of Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the “Lord Wind,” ruler of the cosmos, subject to An alone. Nippur was located in modern Nuffar in Afak, Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq.

Nippur never enjoyed political hegemony in its own right, but its control was crucial, as it was considered capable of conferring the overall “kingship” on monarchs from other city-states. It was distinctively a sacred city, important from the possession of the famous shrine of Enlil.

According to the Tummal Chronicle, Enmebaragesi, an early ruler of Kish, was the first to build up this temple. His influence over Nippur has also been detected archaeologically. It also indicates that the practice was revived in Neo-Sumerian times by Ur-Nammu of Ur, and continued until Ibbi-Sin appointed Enmegalana high priest in Uruk (ca. 1950 BC).

Late in the 3rd millennium BC, Nippur was conquered and occupied by the Semitic rulers of Akkad, or Agade, and numerous votive objects of Sargon, Rimush, and Naram-Sin testify to the veneration in which they also held this sanctuary. The Weidner tablet (ABC 19) suggests that the Akkadian Empire fell as divine retribution, because of Sargon’s initiating the transfer of “holy city” status from Nippur to Babylon.

Girsu was a city of ancient Sumer, situated some 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Lagash. Because of the initial nasal velar ŋ, the transcription of Ĝirsu is usually spelled as Ngirsu. It was possibly inhabited in the Ubaid period (5300-4800 BC), but significant levels of activity began in the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC).

At the time of Gudea, during the Second Dynasty of Lagash, Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom and continued to be its religious center after political power had shifted to city of Lagash. During the Ur III period, Girsu was a major administrative center for the empire. After the fall of Ur, Girsu declined in importance, but remained inhabited until approximately 200 BC.

Saturn/Cronus

In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus. Cronus was usually depicted with a Harpe, Scythe or a Sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father.

In Athens, a festival called Kronia, an Athenian festival held in honor of Cronus (Greek Kronos) on the 12th day of Hekatombaion, the first month of the Attic calendar and roughly equivalent to the latter part of July and first part of August, was held in honour of Cronus. The festival was also celebrated in parts of Ionia, and in these places the month was known as Kronion after the festival.

The Kronia was a time for social restraints to be temporarily forgotten. Slaves were released from their duties, and participated in the festivities alongside the slave-owners. Slaves were “permitted to run riot through the city, shouting and making a noise.” It is usually regarded as a celebration of the harvest. Other than the Kronia, there is only limited evidence of religious devotion to Cronus.

The freedom from work and social egalitarianism enjoyed on the day represented the conditions of the mythical Golden Age, when Cronus still ruled the world. In the Golden Age, the earth had spontaneously supported human life, and since labor was unneeded, slavery had not existed: “it was a period of thorough harmony in which hierarchical, exploitative, and predatory relationships were nonexistent.”

Kronia was established to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn, a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history.

Saturn was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

His association with the “Saturnian” Golden Age eventually caused him to become the god of “time”, i.e., calendars, seasons, and harvests—not now confused with Chronos, the unrelated embodiment of time in general; nevertheless, among Hellenistic scholars in Alexandria and during the Renaissance, Cronus was conflated with the name of Chronos, the personification of “Father Time”, wielding the harvesting scythe.

The position of Saturn’s festival in the Roman calendar led to his association with concepts of time, especially the temporal transition of the New Year. In the Greek tradition, Cronus was often conflated with Chronus, “Time,” and his devouring of his children taken as an allegory for the passing of generations.

The Roman soil preserved the remembrance of a very remote time during which Saturn and Janus reigned on the site of the city before its foundation: the Capitol was named mons Saturnius. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.

The sickle or scythe of Father Time is a remnant of the agricultural implement of Cronus-Saturn, and his aged appearance represents the waning of the old year with the birth of the new, in antiquity sometimes embodied by Aion. In late antiquity, Saturn is syncretized with a number of deities, and begins to be depicted as winged, as is Kairos, “Timing, Right Time”.

Saturnalia was held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”

December 17 was the first day of the astrological sign Capricorn, the house of Saturn, the planet named for the god. Its proximity to the winter solstice (December 25 on the Julian calendar) was endowed with various meanings by both ancient and modern scholars: for instance, the widespread use of wax candles (cerei, singular cereus) may refer to “the returning power of the sun’s light after the solstice”.

Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects. The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday.

In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter was called the son of Saturn.

Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus. Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war.

According to Varro, Saturn’s name was derived from satu, “sowing.” Even though this etymology looks implausible on linguistic grounds (for the long quantity of the a in Sāturnus and also because of the epigraphically attested form Saeturnus) nevertheless it does reflect an original feature of the god.

A more probable etymology connects the name with Etruscan god Satre and placenames such as Satria, an ancient town of Latium, and Saturae palus, a marsh also in Latium. This root may be related to Latin phytonym satureia, a genus of aromatic plants of the family Lamiaceae, related to rosemary and thyme.

Another epithet of his that referred to his agricultural functions was Sterculius or Stercutus, Sterces from stercus, “manure.” Agriculture was important to Roman identity, and Saturn was a part of archaic Roman religion and ethnic identity. His name appears in the ancient hymn of the Salian priests, and his temple was the oldest known to have been recorded by the pontiffs.

While the Greeks considered Cronus a cruel and tempestuous force of chaos and disorder, believing the Olympian gods had brought an era of peace and order by seizing power from the crude and malicious Titans, the Romans took a more positive and innocuous view of the deity, by conflating their indigenous deity Saturn with Cronus.

Consequently, while the Greeks considered Cronus merely an intermediary stage between Uranus and Zeus, he was a larger aspect of Roman religion. The Saturnalia was a festival dedicated in his honour, and at least one temple to Saturn already existed in the archaic Roman Kingdom.

As a result of Cronus’ importance to the Romans, his Roman variant, Saturn, has had a large influence on Western culture. The seventh day of the Judaeo-Christian week is called in Latin Dies Saturni (“Day of Saturn”), which in turn was adapted and became the source of the English word Saturday. In astronomy, the planet Saturn is named after the Roman deity. It is the outermost of the Classical planets (those that are visible with the naked eye).

Unlike several Roman religious festivals which were particular to cult sites in the city, the prolonged seasonal celebration of Saturnalia at home could be held anywhere in the Empire.

Saturnalia continued as a secular celebration long after it was removed from the official calendar. As William Warde Fowler noted, Saturnalia “has left its traces and found its parallels in great numbers of medieval and modern customs, occurring about the time of the winter solstice.”

A number of scholars, including historian David Stephens from the University of Central Florida and Professor Parker-Ducharme from Tulane University, view aspects of the Saturnalia festival as the origin of some later Christmas customs, particularly the practice of gift giving.

In the Saturnalia of Macrobius, the proximity of the Saturnalia to the winter solstice leads to an exposition of solar monotheism, the belief that the Sun ultimately encompasses all divinities as one. Perceived relations among the Mithraic mysteries, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun”) on December 25, and the Christian Nativity as celebrated in December are a matter of long-standing and complex scholarly debate.

The Mishna and Talmud (Avodah Zara 8a) describe a pagan festival called Saturna which occurs eight days before the winter solstice. It is followed eight days after the solstice with a festival called Kalenda.

The Talmud ascribes the origins of this festival to Adam, who saw that the days were getting shorter and thought it was punishment for his sin. He was afraid that the world was returning to the chaos and emptiness that existed before creation. He sat and fasted for eight days. Once he saw that the days were getting longer again he realized that this was the natural cycle of the world, so made eight days of celebration. The Talmud states that this festival was later turned into a pagan festival.

The potential cruelty of Saturn was enhanced by his identification with Cronus, known for devouring his own children. He was thus used in translation when referring to gods from other cultures the Romans perceived as severe; he was equated with the Carthaginian god Ba’al Hammon, to whom children were sacrificed, and to Yahweh, whose Sabbath was first referred to as Saturni dies, “Saturn’s day,” in a poem by Tibullus, who wrote during the reign of Augustus; eventually this gave rise to the word “Saturday” in English.

The identification with Ba’al Hammon later gave rise to the African Saturn, a cult that enjoyed great popularity til the 4th century. It had a popular but also a mysteric character and required child sacrifices. It is also considered as inclining to monotheism.

In the ceremony of initiation the myste intrat sub iugum, ritual that Leglay compares to the Roman tigillum sororium. Even though their origin and theology are completely different the Italic and the African god are both sovereign and master over time and death, fact that has permitted their encounter. Moreover, here Saturn is not the real Italic god but his Greek counterpart Cronus.

Ops/Rhea

In Latin writings of the time, the singular nominative (Ops) is not used; only the form Opis is attested by classical authors. According to Festus (203:19), “Ops is said to be the wife of Saturn and the daughter of Caelus. By her they designated the earth, because the earth distributes all goods to the human genus” (Opis dicta est coniux Saturni per quam uolerunt terram significare, quia omnes opes humano generi terra tribuit).

The Latin word ops means “riches, goods, abundance, gifts, munificence, plenty”. The word is also related to opus, which means “work”, particularly in the sense of “working the earth, ploughing, sowing”. This activity was deemed sacred, and was often attended by religious rituals intended to obtain the good will of chthonic deities such as Ops and Consus. Ops is also related to the Sanskrit word ápnas (“goods, property”).

According to Roman tradition, the cult of Opis was instituted by Titus Tatius, one of the Sabine kings of Rome. Opis soon became the patroness of riches, abundance, and prosperity. Opis had a famous temple in the Capitolium.

Originally, a festival took place in Opis’ honor on August 10. Additionally, on December 19 (some say December 9), the Opalia was celebrated. On August 25, the Opiconsivia was held. Opiconsivia was another name used for Opis, indicating when the earth was sown. These festivals also included activities that were called Consualia, in honor of Consus, her consort.

Opis, when syncretized with Greek mythology, was not only the wife of Saturn, she was his sister and the daughter of Caelus. Her children were Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, Ceres, and Vesta. Opis also acquired queenly status and was reputed to be an eminent goddess. By public decree temples, priests, and sacrifices were accorded her.

The husband of Ops was Saturn, in Roman mythology, and in Greek mythology where she is identified as Rhea, her husband was Cronus, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age. Rhea was Cronus’s wife and sister. In her statues and coins, Opis is figured sitting down, as Chthonian deities normally are, and generally holds a scepter or a corn spike as her main attributes.

Rhea is the Titaness daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus, in Greek mythology and sister and wife to Cronus. In early traditions, she is known as “the mother of gods” and therefore is strongly associated with Gaia and Cybele, who have similar functions. The classical Greeks saw her as the mother of the Olympian goddesses and gods, but not as an Olympian goddess in her own right. The Romans identified her with Magna Mater (their form of Cybele), and the Goddess Ops.

Chronos

Chronos (“time”), also transliterated as Khronos or Latinized as Chronus, is the personification of Time in pre-Socratic philosophy and later literature. Chronos is usually portrayed through an old, wise man with a long, grey beard, similar to Father Time. He was depicted in Greco-Roman mosaics as a man turning the Zodiac Wheel.

Chronos is a god with the form as a serpentine, with three heads—those of a man, a bull, and a lion. He and his consort, serpentine Ananke (Inevitability), circled the primal world egg in their coils and split it apart to form the ordered universe of earth, sea and sky.

Some of the current English words whose etymological root is khronos/chronos include chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, and chronicle. Chronos, however, might also be contrasted with the deity Aion as Eternal Time. The original meaning and etymology of the word chronos are uncertain.

Chronos was confused with, or perhaps consciously identified with, due to the similarity in name, the Titan Cronus already in antiquity, the identification becoming more widespread during the Renaissance, giving rise to the allegory of “Father Time” wielding the harvesting scythe.

In the Orphic cosmogony, the unaging Chronos produced Aether and Chaos, and made a silvery egg in the divine Aether. It produced the hermaphroditic god Phanes, who gave birth to the first generation of gods and is the ultimate creator of the cosmos.

Pherecydes of Syros in his lost Heptamychos (the seven recesses), around 6th century BC, claimed that there were three eternal principles: Chronos, Zas (Zeus) and Chthonie (the chthonic). The semen of Chronos was placed in the recesses and produced the first generation of gods.

During antiquity, Chronos was occasionally interpreted as Cronus, according to Plutarch the Greeks believed that Cronus was an allegorical name for Chronos. In addition to the name, the story of Cronus eating his children was also interpreted as an allegory to a specific aspect of time held within Cronus’ sphere of influence.

As the theory went, Cronus represented the destructive ravages of time which consumed all things, a concept that was definitely illustrated when the Titan king devoured the Olympian gods — the past consuming the future, the older generation suppressing the next generation. During the Renaissance, the identification of Cronus and Chronos gave rise to “Father Time” wielding the harvesting scythe.

Satre

Satre or Satres was an Etruscan god who appears on the Liver of Piacenza, a bronze model used for haruspicy. He occupies the dark and negative northwest region, and seems to be a “frightening and dangerous god who hurls his lightning from his abode deep in the earth.” It is possible that Satre is also referred to with the word satrs in the Liber Linteus (“Linen Book,” IX.3), the Etruscan text preserved in Ptolemaic Egypt as mummy wrappings.

Satre is usually identified with the Roman god Saturn, who in a description by Martianus Capella holds a position similar to that of Satre on the liver. The name Satre may be only an Etruscan translation of Saturnus, or Saturnus may derive from the Etruscan; it is also possible that the two deities are unrelated. No image in Etruscan art has been identified as Satre: “this deity remains a riddle.”

Midsummer

Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist (Adapa, Summanus, the west, sun, water)

As a remainder from this Viking era, the Midsummer, also known as St John’s Day, or Litha, stemming from Bede’s De temporum ratione which provides Anglo-Saxon names for the months roughly corresponding to June and July as se Ærra Liþa and se Æfterra Liþa (the “early Litha month” and the “later Litha month”) with an intercalary month of Liþa appearing after se Æfterra Liþa on leap years.

The Midsummer is the period of time centred upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening, is still important in Scandinavia, and hence vividly celebrated.

Solstice celebrations still centered on the day of the astronomical summer solstice. The exact dates vary between different cultures. Some choose to hold the rite on June 21, even when this is not the longest day of the year, and some celebrate June 24, the day of the solstice in Roman times.

Although Midsummer is originally a pagan holiday, in Christianity it is associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which is observed on the same day, June 24, in the Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches.

This feast day is one of the very few saints’ days which commemorate the anniversary of the birth, rather than the death, of the saint being honored. It is six months before Christmas because Luke 1:26 and Luke 1.36 imply that John the Baptist was born six months earlier than Jesus, although the Bible does not say at which time of the year this happened.

The Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John’s Day begins the evening before, known as St John’s Eve, the eve of celebration before the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist.

In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec (Canada), the traditional Midsummer day, June 24, is a public holiday. So it was formerly also in Sweden and Finland, but in these countries it was, in the 1950s, moved to the Friday and Saturday between June 19 and June 26, respectively.

In Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, Midsummer’s Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. In Sweden the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been serious discussions to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. It may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.

Yaldā

Shab-e Chella(-ye bozorg) (“night of (the great) forty”‎) or Shab-e Yaldā (“Yalda night”) is an Iranian festival celebrated on the “longest and darkest night of the year,” that is, in the night of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice. Shab-e Chella was officially added to Iran’s List of National Treasures in a special ceremony in 2008.

Calendarically, this corresponds to the night of December 20/21 (±1) in the Gregorian calendar, and to the night between the last day of the ninth month (Azar) and the first day of the tenth month (Dae) of the Iranian civil calendar.

The longest and darkest night of the year is a time when friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life.

The poems of Divan-e-Hafez, which can be found in the bookcases of most Iranians families, are intermingled with peoples’ life and are read or recited during various occasions like this festival and at Nowruz (“[The] New Day”), the name of the Iranian New Year.

The longest and darkest night of the year marks “the night opening the initial forty-day period of the three-month winter”, from which the name Chella, “forty”, derives. There are all together three 40-day periods, one in summer, and two in winter. The two winter periods are known as the “great chella” period (1 Dae to 11 Bahman, 40 full days), followed/overlapped by the “small chella” period (10 Bahman to 30 Bahman, 20 days + 20 nights = 40 nights and days).

Shab-e Chella is the night opening the “big chella” period that is the night between the last day of autumn and the first day of winter. The other name of the festival, ‘Yaldā’, is a borrowing from Syriac and is “connected with Christianity”.

In the 1st-3rd centuries, significant numbers of Eastern Christians settled in Arsacid and Sassanid territories, where they had received protection from religious persecution.

Through them, Western Iranians (i.e. Parthians, Persians etc.) came in contact with Christian religious observances, including, it seems, Nestorian Christian Yalda, which in Syriac (a Middle Aramaic dialect) literally means “birth” but was also one of the Syriac words for Christmas, which—because it fell nine months after Annunciation—was celebrated on eve of the winter solstice.

Although it is not clear when and where the Syriac word was adopted into Persian, gradually ‘Shab-e Yalda’ and ‘Shab-e Cheleh’ became synonymous and the two are used interchangeably.

An association with the 40-day “chella” period is preserved amongst Iranian Azerbaijanis, who call it Chilla Gejasi, which means the beginning of the first 40 days of winter. The Iranian concept also survives in Kashmir, where Chillai Kalan designates the 40-day harshest winter period.

The names Shab-e Chelleh and Shab-e Yalda are from Islamic times. In pre-Islamic Zoroastrian tradition the longest and darkest night of the year was a particularly inauspicious day, and the practices of what is now known as “Shab-e Chelleh/Yalda” were originally customs intended to protect people from evil during that long night.

People were advised to stay awake most of the night, lest misfortune should befall them, and people would then gather in the safety of groups of friends and relatives, share the last remaining fruits from the summer, and find ways to pass the long night together in good company.

The next day (i.e. the first day of Dae month) was then a day of celebration, and (at least in the 10th century, as recorded by Al-Biruni), the festival of the first day of Dae month was known as Ḵorram-ruz (joyful day) or Navad-ruz (ninety days [left to Nowruz]).

Although the religious significance of the long dark night have been lost, the old traditions of staying up late in the company of friends and family have been retained in Iranian culture to the present day.

References to other older festivals held around the winter solstice are known from both Middle Persian texts as well as texts of the early Islamic period. In the 10th century, Al-Biruni mentions an Adar Jashan festival of fire celebrated on the intersection of Adar day (9th) of Adar month (9th), which is the last autumn month.

This was probably the same as the fire festival called Shahrevaragan (Shahrivar day of Shahrivar month), which marked the beginning of winter in Tokarestan. Sufism’s Chella, which is a 40-day period of retreat and fasting, is not related to winter solstice festival.

Food plays a central role in the present-day form of the celebrations. In most parts of Iran the extended family come together, and enjoy a fine dinner. A wide variety of fruits and sweetmeats specifically prepared or kept for this night are served.

Foods common to the celebration include watermelon, pomegranate, nuts, and dried fruit. These items and more are commonly placed on a korsi, which people sit around. In some areas it is custom that forty varieties of edibles should be served during the ceremony of the night of Chelleh.

Light-hearted superstitions run high on the night of Chelleh. These superstitions, however, are primarily associated with consumption. For instance, it is believed that consuming watermelons on the night of Chelleh will ensure the health and well-being of the individual during the months of summer by protecting him from falling victim to excessive heat or disease produced by hot humors.

In Khorasan, there is a belief that whoever eats carrots, pears, pomegranates, and green olives will be protected against the harmful bite of insects, especially scorpions. Eating garlic on this night protects one against pains in the joints. Placing one’s mouth near a donkey’s ear and whispering into its ear is certain to cure any ailment, while mixing camel fat and mare’s milk and burning them will protect from insects the place where the smoke from this concoction penetrates.

After dinner the older individuals entertain the others by telling them tales and anecdotes. Another favorite and prevalent pastime of the night of Chelleh is divination by the Dīvān of Hafez (fāl-e Hafez). It is believed that one should not divine by the Dīvān of Hafez more than three times, however, or the poet may get angry.

Activities common to the festival include staying up past midnight, conversation, eating, reading poems out loud, telling stories and jokes, smoking “Ghelyoon” (water pipe), and for some dancing. Prior to invention and prevalence of electricity, decorating and lighting the house and yard with candles was also part of the tradition, but few have continued this tradition.

Another tradition is giving dried fruits and nuts to family and friends, wrapped in tulle and tied with ribbon (similar to wedding and shower “party favors”). Prior to ban of alcohol, drinking wine was also part of the celebration. Despite the Islamic alcohol ban in Iran, many continue to include home-made and contraband alcoholic drinks in their celebrations.

Another custom performed in certain parts of Iran on the night of Chelleh involves young engaged couples. The men send an edible arrangement containing seven kinds of fruits and a variety of gifts to their fiancees on this night. In some areas, the girl and her family return the favor by sending gifts back for the young man.

Dey – Capricorn

Azar is the ninth month of the Iranian calendar. Azar has thirty days. It begins in November and ends in December by the Gregorian calendar. Azar is the third month of autumn, and is followed by Dey, the tenth month of the Iranian calendar, marking the start of winter. It has thirty days, beginning in December and ending in January of the Gregorian Calendar.The associated astrological sign in the tropical zodiac is Capricorn,

the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus. It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude. Capricorn is ruled by the planet Saturn.

Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 22 to January 20 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 14 to February 14.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, introvert sign, a power sign and one of the four cardinal signs. It is also tagged as the most ambitious starsign. Its symbol is based on the Sumerian primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish.

Modern astrological figure for Capricorn as a fish-tailed goat derives from the depictions of the Sumerian god of water Enki, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, who was associated with semen and amniotic fluid, and hence with fertility, and commonly represented as a half-goat, half-fish creature.

Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”),creation, crafts;magic;water,seawater and lakewater(a, aba, ab). The mountain goat part of the symbol depicts ambition, intelligence, curiosity but also steadiness, and ability to thrive in inhospitable environments while the fish represents passion, spirituality, intuition, connection with soul. Individuals born between December 22 to January 20 may be called Capricornian.

In India, the day when the Sun enters the sidereal zodiac sign of Capricorn is celebrated as the Makara Sankranti festival. It should be noted here that the Indian astronomical calendar is not based on the Western sidereal system but has a differential lag. Hence, the festival is celebrated on either of 14 or 15 january every year, when, as per the Indian astronomical calendar, the Sun enters the Capricorn sign.

Nowrus

Nowruz marks the first day of spring or Equinox and the beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. The moment the sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and families gather together to observe the rituals.

The term Nowruz is a Persian compound word and consists of now (Old Persian nava), which means “new”, descends from Proto-Indo-European *néṷos, has the following cognates: in Latin novus, German neu, Sanskrit náva, Russian novyj etc., and rūz, which means “day” in Modern Persian, as did Middle Persian lwc (pronounced rōz or rōj).

The original meaning of the word ruz, however, was “light”. The term is descended from Proto-Iranian *raučah- (compare Avestan raocah “light; day”), itself derived from Proto-Indo-European *leṷk-, and is related to Sanskrit rúci, Latin lux, Armenian loys, Russian luč and, in fact, English light.

Nowruz is celebrated by people from diverse ethnic communities and religious backgrounds for thousands of years. It is a secular holiday for most celebrants that is enjoyed by people of several different faiths, but remains a holy day for Zoroastrians.

It originated in Persia in one of the capitals of the Achaemenid empire in Persis (Fars) is celebrated by the cultural region that came under Iranian influence. It is partly rooted in the religious tradition of Zoroastrianism or even older in tradition of Mitraism because in Mitraism festivals had a deep linkage with the sun light.

The Persian festivals of Yalda (longest night) and Mehregan (autumnal equinox) and Tiregān (longest day), a midsummer Iranian festival, celebrated annually on Tir 13 (July 3, 4, or 5), also had an origination in the sun god Surya (“the Supreme Light”), also known as Aditya, Bhanu or Ravi Vivasvana in Sanskrit, and in Avestan Vivanhant, the chief solar deity in Hinduism, also generally referring to the Sun.

Zoroastrian practices were dominant for much of the history of ancient Persia (modern day Iran). Nowruz is believed to have been invented by Zoroaster himself, although there is no clear date of origin. Since the Achaemenid era the official year has begun with the New Day when the Sun leaves the zodiac of Pisces and enters the zodiacal sign of Aries, signifying the Spring Equinox. Nowruz is also a holy day for Sufi Muslims, Bektashis, Ismailis, Alawites, Alevis, Babis and adherents of the Bahá’í Faith.

The term Nowruz in writing first appeared in historical Persian records in the 2nd century AD, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids (c. 550–330 BCE), where kings from different nations under the Persian Empire used to bring gifts to the Emperor, also called King of Kings (Shahanshah), of Persia on Nowruz.

The significance of Nowruz in the Achaemenid Empire was such that the great Persian king Cambyses II’s appointment as the king of Babylon was legitimized only after his participation in the New Year festival (Nowruz).

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Iran was the only country that officially observed the ceremonies of Nowruz. When the Central Asian and Caucasus countries gained independence from the Soviets, they also declared Nowruz as a national holiday. The UN’s General Assembly in 2010 recognized the International Day of Nowruz, describing it as a spring festival of Persian origin which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.

During the meeting of The Inter-governmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage of the United Nations, held between 28 September – 2 October 2009, Nowrūz was officially registered on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Yule

The Yule (Jul) or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christianised reformulation resulting in the now better known Christmastide. In modern Germanic language-speaking areas and some other Northern European countries, Yule denotes the Christmas holiday season. Examples include Jul (Sweden), Jul (Denmark), Jul (Norway), Jól (Iceland and the Faroe Islands), Joulu (Finland), Joelfest (Friesian) and Jõulud (Estonia).

The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day “midwinter” (winter solstice) holiday called Yule (also called Jul, Julblot, jólablót, midvinterblot, julofferfest) beginning on December 25. The events of Yule are generally held to have centred on Midwinter (although specific dating is a matter of debate), and feasting, drinking, and sacrifice (blót) were involved.

Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendents of Yule customs. Scandinavians still call Yule “Jul”. The traditions of the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar (Sonargöltr) still reflected in the Christmas ham, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule customs, and customs which Simek takes as “indicat[ing] the significance of the feast in pre-Christian times.”

Scholar Rudolf Simek comments that the pagan Yule feast “had a pronounced religious character” and comments that “it is uncertain whether the Germanic Yule feast still had a function in the cult of the dead and in the veneration of the ancestors, a function which the mid-winter sacrifice certainly held for the West European Stone and Bronze Ages.”

The Yule particular God was Jólner, which is one of Odin’s many names. Among many others the long-bearded god Odin bears the names jólfaðr (Old Norse ‘Yule father’) and jólnir (Old Norse ‘the Yule one’). In plural (Old Norse jólnar; ‘the Yule ones’) may refer to the Norse gods in general.

Scholars have connected the month event and Yule time period to the Wild Hunt (a ghostly procession in the winter sky), the god Odin (who is attested in Germanic areas as leading the Wild Hunt and, as mentioned above, bears the name Jólnir), and increased supernatural activity, such as the aforementioned Wild Hunt and the increased activities of draugar—undead beings who walk the earth.

The earliest references to it are in the form of month names, where the Yule-tide period lasts somewhere around two months in length, falling along the end of the modern calendar year between what is now mid-November and early January.

The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule). Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht, an event focused on collective female beings attested by Bede as having occurred among the pagan Anglo-Saxons on what is now Christmas Eve.

Yule is attested early in the history of the Germanic peoples; from the 4th century Gothic language it appears in the month name fruma jiuleis, and, in the 8th century, the English historian Bede wrote that the Anglo-Saxon calendar included the months geola or giuli corresponding with either modern December or December and January.

The concept of Yule (Jul) occurs in a tribute poem to Harold Hårfager from about AD 900, where someone said “drinking Jul”. Julblot is the most solemn sacrifice feast. At the “julblotet”, sacrifices were given to the gods to earn blessing on the forthcoming germinating crops. Julblotet was eventually integrated into the Christian Christmas.

In English, the word “Yule” is often used in combination with the season “yuletide”, a usage first recorded in 900. It is believed that the celebration of this day was a worship of these peculiar days, interpreted as the reawakening of nature. The Yule (Jul) particular God was Jólner, which is one of Odin’s many names.

Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule. A number of Neopagans have introduced their own rites.

Yule is the modern English representation of the Old English words ġéol or ġéohol and ġéola or ġéoli, with the former indicating the 12-day festival of “Yule” (later: “Christmastide”) and the latter indicating the month of “Yule”, whereby ǽrra ġéola referred to the period before the Yule festival (December) and æftera ġéola referred to the period after Yule (January).

Both words are thought to be derived from Common Germanic *jeχʷla-, and are cognate with Gothic (fruma) jiuleis and Old Norse (Icelandic and Faroese) jól (Danish, Swedish and Norwegian jul) as well as ýlir, Estonian jõul(ud) and Finnish joulu.

The etymological pedigree of the word, however, remains uncertain, though numerous speculative attempts have been made to find Indo-European cognates outside the Germanic group, too. The noun Yuletide is first attested from around 1475.

The word is attested in an explicitly pre-Christian context primarily in Old Norse. In Old Norse poetry, the word is often employed as a synonym for ‘feast’, such as in the kenning hugins jól (Old Norse ‘Huginn’s Yule’ > ‘a raven’s feast’).

Modranicht

Modranicht (Old English “Night of the Mothers” or “Mothers’-night”), an event focused on collective female beings attested by the medieval English historian Bede in his 8th-century Latin work De temporum ratione as having occurred among the pagan Anglo-Saxons on what is now Christmas Eve where a sacrifice may have been made, has been seen as further evidence of a fertility event during the Yule period.

Scholars have proposed connections between the Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht and events attested among other Germanic peoples (specifically those involving the dísir, collective female beings, and Yule) and the Germanic Matres and Matrones, female beings attested by way of altar and votive inscriptions, nearly always appearing in trios.

Scholars have linked these Modra (“Mothers”) with the Germanic Matres (Latin “mothers”) and Matronae (Latin “matrons”). The Germanic matres have been connected with the later Germanic dísir, valkyries, and norns attested largely in 13th century sources.

The motif of triple goddesses was widespread in ancient Europe; compare the Fates (including Moirai, Parcae and Norns), the Furies, the Graces, the Hours and other such figures. 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.

Rudolf Simek says that Mōdraniht “as a Germanic sacrificial festival should be associated with the Matron cult of the West Germanic peoples on the one hand, and to the dísablót and the Disting already known from medieval Scandinavia on the other hand and is chronologically to be seen as a connecting link between these Germanic forms of cult.” Scholars have placed the event as a part of the Germanic winter period of Yule.

Regarding Bede’s attestation, scholar Philip A. Shaw (2011) comments that “the fact that Bede’s modranect can be to some extent confirmed by the Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to matrons does at least indicate that we should not be too quick to dismiss the other evidence he provides for Anglo-Saxon deities”.

Disablót

The Dísablót was the blót (sacrificial holiday) which was held in honour of the female spirits or deities called dísir (and the Valkyries), from pre-historic times until the Christianization of Scandinavia. Its purpose was to enhance the coming harvest. The Dísablót appears to have been held during Winter Nights, or at the vernal equinox. The celebration still lives on in the form of an annual fair called the Disting in Uppsala, Sweden.

In one version of Hervarar saga, there is a description of how the sacrifice was performed. Alfhildr, the daughter of king Alfr of Alfheim, was kidnapped by Starkad Aludreng, a legendary hero in Norse mythology, while she was reddening a horgr, a type altar or cult site, possibly consisting of a heap of stones, used in Norse paganism, as opposed to a roofed hall used as a temple (hof), with blood.

This suggests that the rite was performed by women, especially in light of what is generally believed to be their nearly exclusive role as priestesses of the pagan Germanic religion. However, according to the Ynglinga saga part of the Heimskringla, the king of Sweden performed the rites, which was in accordance with his role as high priest of the Temple at Uppsala.

Odin

The Old Norse theonym Óðinn (popularly anglicized as Odin) and its cognates, including Old English Wóden, Old Saxon Wōden, and Old High German Wuotan, derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz.

The masculine noun *wōđanaz developed from the Proto-Germanic adjective *wōđaz, related to Latin vātēs and Old Irish fáith, both meaning ‘seer, prophet’. Adjectives stemming from *wōđaz include Gothic woþs ‘possessed’, Old Norse óðr, ‘mad, frantic, furious’, and Old English wód ‘mad’.

The adjective *wōđaz (or *wōđō) was further substantivized, leading to Old Norse óðr ‘mind, wit, soul, sense’, Old English ellen-wód ‘zeal’, Middle Dutch woet ‘madness’, and Old High German wuot ‘thrill, violent agitation’.

Additionally the Old Norse noun æði ‘rage, fury’ and Old High German wuotī ‘madness’ derive from the feminine noun *wōđīn, from *wōđaz. The weak verb *wōđjanan, also derived from *wōđaz, gave rise to Old Norse æða ‘to rage’, Old English wédan ‘to be mad, furious’, Old Saxon wōdian ‘to rage’, and Old High German wuoten ‘to be insane, to rage’.

Over 170 names are recorded for the god Odin. These names are variously descriptive of attributes of the god, refer to myths involving him, or refer to religious practices associated with the god. This multitude of names makes Odin the god with the most names known among the Germanic peoples.

Ud

Arinna was the major cult center of the Hittite sun goddess, (thought to be Arinniti) known as UTU Arinna “sun goddess of Arinna”. Arinna was located near Hattusa, the Hittite capital. The name was also used as a substitute name for Arinniti.

The sun goddess of Arinna is the most important one of three important solar deities of the Hittite pantheon, besides UTU nepisas – “the sun of the sky” and UTU taknas – “the sun of the earth”. She was considered to be the chief deity in some source, in place of her husband. Her consort was the weather god, Teshub. The goddess was also perceived to be a paramount chthonic or earth goddess. She becomes largely syncretised with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and the twins Inanna and Ereshkigal. His center cult was located in the city of Larsa.

Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain. Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself.

He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”. Marduk is spelled AMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, “the calf of Utu” or “the young bull of the Sun”.

Mashu/Ararat

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span.

The corresponding location in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. Jeffrey H. Tigay suggests that in the Sumerian version, through its association with the sun god Utu, “(t)he Cedar Mountain is implicitely located in the east, whereas in the Akkadian versions, Gilgamesh’s destination (is) removed from the east” and “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon”.

One theory is that the only location suitable for being called a “cedar land” was the great forest covering Lebanon and western parts of Syria and, in consequence, “Mashu” is the whole of the parallel Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, with the narrow gap between these mountains constituting the tunnel.

The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains”, from the Babylonian for twins. The “twins”, in Semitic mythology, were also often seen as two mountains, one at the eastern edge of the world (in the lower Zagros), the other at the western edge of the world (in the Taurus), and one of these seem to have had an Iranian location.

Mashu, today, is a village in the Elburz mountains of Iran. Siduri, the Alewife, lived on the shore, associated with “the Waters of Death” that Gilgamesh had to cross to reach Utnapishtim, the far-away. Masis is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural ‘Masiq’ may refer to both peaks. The History of Armenia derives the name from a king Amasya, the great-grandson of the Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

Edin/Aten-Aton

Edin (É.DIN, E2.DIN, E-din) is a Sumerian term meaning “steppe” or “plain”. It is featured on the Gudea cylinders as the name of a watercourse from which plaster is taken to build a temple for Ningirsu.

Friedrich Delitzsch was the first amongst numerous scholars to suggest the Jewish and Christian term Eden, “garden of God”, traced back to this term. It has also been connected with the later Babylonian term “Edinu”.

Traditionally, the favoured derivation of the name “Eden” was from the Akkadian edinnu, derived from a Sumerian word meaning “plain” or “steppe”. Eden is now believed to be more closely related to an Aramaic root word meaning “fruitful, well-watered.” The Hebrew term is translated “pleasure” in Sarah’s secret saying in Genesis 18:12.

Aten

Principles of Aten’s religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten (Atenism), night is a time to fear. Work is done best when the sun, Aten, is present. The explanation to why Aten could not be fully represented was that the god has gone beyond creation.

Aten cares for every creature, and created a Nile river in the sky (rain) for the Syrians. Aten created all countries and people. The rays of the sun disk only hold out life to the royal family; everyone else receives life from Akhenaten and Nefertiti in exchange of loyalty for Aten.

When a good person dies, he/she continues to live in the City of Light for the dead in Akhetaten. The conditions are the same after death. Akhenaten judged whether someone should be granted an afterlife, and operated the scale of justice.

Wednesday

The weekday name Wednesday derives from the Old English name of the god: ‘Woden’s day’. Cognate terms are found in other Germanic languages, such as Old High German wōdnesdæg, Middle Low German wōdensdach (Dutch Woensdag), and Old Norse Óðinsdagr (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Onsdag).

All of these terms derive from Proto-Germanic *Wodensdag, itself Germanic interpretation of Latin Dies Mercurii (“Day of Mercury”). While other day names containing Germanic theonyms remained into Old High German, the name derived from Odin’s was replaced by a translation of Church Latin media hebdomas ‘middle of the week’ (modern German Mittwoch).

The name Wednesday continues Middle English Wednesdei. Old English still had wōdnesdæg, which would be continued as *Wodnesday (but Old Frisian has an attested wednesdei). By the early 13th century, the i-mutated form was introduced unetymologically.

The name is a calque of the Latin dies Mercurii “day of Mercury”, reflecting the fact that the Germanic god Woden (Wodanaz or Odin) during the Roman era was interpreted as “Germanic Mercury”.

The Latin name dates to the late 2nd or early 3rd century. It is a calque of Greek ἡμέρα Ἕρμου heméra Hérmou, a term first attested, together with the system of naming the seven weekdays after the seven classical planets, in the Anthologiarum by Vettius Valens (ca. AD 170).

The Latin name is reflected directly in the weekday name in Romance languages: Mércuris (Sardinian), mercredi (French), mercoledì (Italian), miércoles (Spanish), miercuri (Romanian), dimecres (Catalan), Marcuri or Mercuri (Corsican), dies Mercurii (Latin). The German name for the day, Mittwoch (literally: “mid-week”), replaced the former name Wodenstag (“Wodan’s day”) in the tenth century. The Dutch name for the day, woensdag has the same etymology as English Wednesday, it comes from Middle Dutch wodenesdag, woedensdag (“Wodan’s day”).

Most Slavic languages follow this pattern and use derivations of “the middle” (Bulgarian сряда sryada, Croatian srijeda, Czech středa, Macedonian среда sreda, Polish środa, Russian среда sredá, Serbian среда/sreda or cриједа/srijeda, Slovak streda, Slovene sreda, Ukrainian середа sereda).

The Finnish name is Keskiviikko (“middle of the week”), as is the Icelandic name: Miðvikudagur, and the Faroese name: Mikudagur (“Mid-week day”). Some dialects of Faroese have Ónsdagur, though, which shares etymology with Wednesday. Danish, Norwegian, Swedish Onsdag, (“Ons-dag” = Oden’s/Odin’s dag/day). In Welsh it is Dydd Mercher, meaning Mercury’s Day.

In Japanese, the word Wednesday is sui youbi, meaning ‘water day’ and is associated with suisei: Mercury (the planet), literally meaning “water star”. Similarly, in Korean the word Wednesday is su yo il, also meaning water day.

In most of the languages of India, the word for Wednesday is Budhavãra—vãra meaning day and Budh being the planet Mercury.

From Armenian chorekshabti, Georgian othshabati, and Tajik (Chorshanbiyev) languages the word literally means as “four (days) from Saturday”.

Portuguese uses the word quarta-feira, meaning “fourth day”, while in Greek the word is Tetarti meaning simply “fourth”. Similarly, Arabic أربعاء means “fourth”, Hebrew רביעי means “fourth”, and Persian چهارشنبه means “fourth day”. Yet the name for the day in Estonian kolmapäev, Lithuanian trečiadienis, and Latvian trešdiena means “third day” while in Mandarin Chinese xīngqīsān, means “day three”, as Sunday is unnumbered.

Water

Water comes from the Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watar (cognates: Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato “water”), from PIE *wod-or, from root *wed- (1) “water, wet” (cognates: Hittite watar, Sanskrit udrah, Greek hydor, Old Church Slavonic and Russian voda, Lithuanian vanduo, Old Prussian wundan, Gaelic uisge “water;” Latin unda “wave”).

Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah as well as Punjab and julep) was “animate,” referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).

The Old English wæterian means to “moisten, irrigate, supply water to; lead (cattle) to water;” from water (n.1). Meaning “to dilute” is attested from late 14c.; now usually as water down (1850). To make water “urinate” is recorded from early 15c.

Water (n.2) is to measure of quality of a diamond, c. 1600, from water (n.1), perhaps as a translation of Arabic ma’ “water,” which also is used in the sense “lustre, splendor.”

Ap

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”). 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.

Abzu

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 were 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 E2-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 Judaism’s mikvot, 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.

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…

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who latter murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with “venom instead of blood”, and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.

Mercur/Hermes

Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages/communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld.

He was considered the son of Maia, one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes, and Jupiter or Jove, the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in Ancient Roman religion and mythology.

Maia is the daughter of Atlas and Pleione the Oceanid, and is the eldest of the seven Pleiades. According to the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, Zeus in the dead of night secretly begot Hermes upon Maia, who avoided the company of the gods, in a cave of Cyllene.

His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and Greek as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

From the beginning, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes, wearing winged shoes (talaria) and a winged hat (petasos), and carrying the caduceus, a herald’s staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo’s gift to Hermes. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram or goat, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury’s legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise shell.

Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. Mercury was also considered a god of abundance and commercial success, particularly in Gaul, where he was said to have been particularly revered. He was also, like Hermes, the Romans’ psychopomp, leading newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Additionally, Ovid wrote that Mercury carried Morpheus’ dreams from the valley of Somnus to sleeping humans.

In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms, both of which share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome.

In Ovid’s Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.

Mercury has influenced the name of many things in a variety of scientific fields, such as the planet Mercury, and the element mercury. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury’s swift flights from place to place. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.

When they described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana.

Mercury in particular was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered; Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts.

This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta. Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.

Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan, by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples.

In Celtic areas, Mercury was sometimes portrayed with three heads or faces, and at Tongeren, Belgium, a statuette of Mercury with three phalli was found, with the extra two protruding from his head and replacing his nose; this was probably because the number 3 was considered magical, making such statues good luck and fertility charms. The Romans also made widespread use of small statues of Mercury, probably drawing from the ancient Greek tradition of hermae markers.

Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. He is second youngest of the Olympian gods. He is a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife.

He is protector and patron of herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade, roads, boundaries and protector of travellers. In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol is the herald’s staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce. It is also suggested that Hermes is cognate of the Vedic Sarama, a mythological being referred to as the dog of the gods, or Deva-shuni.

Sirius

Sirius is the brightest star (in fact, a star system) in the Earth’s night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star.

The most commonly used proper name of this star comes from the Latin Sīrius, from the Ancient Greek Seirios (“glowing” or “scorcher”), although the Greek word itself may have been imported from elsewhere before the Archaic period, one authority suggesting a link with the Egyptian god Osiris. The name’s earliest recorded use dates from the 7th century BC in Hesiod’s poetic work Works and Days.

Sirius is also known colloquially as the “Dog Star”, reflecting its prominence in its constellation, Canis Major (Greater Dog). The heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the “dog days” of summer for the ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians in the southern hemisphere it marked winter and was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

Sirius has over 50 other designations and names attached to it. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s essay Treatise on the Astrolabe, it bears the name Alhabor, and is depicted by a hound’s head. This name is widely used on medieval astrolabes from Western Europe.

In Sanskrit it is known as Mrgavyadha “deer hunter”, or Lubdhaka “hunter”. As Mrgavyadha, the star represents Rudra (Shiva). The star is referred as Makarajyoti in Malayalam and has religious significance to the pilgrim center Sabarimala.

In Scandinavia, the star has been known as Lokabrenna (“burning done by Loki”, or “Loki’s torch”). In the astrology of the Middle Ages, Sirius was a Behenian fixed star, associated with beryl and juniper. Its astrological symbol was listed by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.

Many cultures have historically attached special significance to Sirius, particularly in relation to dogs. Indeed, it is often colloquially called the “Dog Star” as the brightest star of Canis Major, the “Great Dog” constellation.

It was classically depicted as Orion’s dog. The Ancient Greeks thought that Sirius’s emanations could affect dogs adversely, making them behave abnormally during the “dog days,” the hottest days of the summer. The Romans knew these days as dies caniculares, and the star Sirius was called Canicula, “little dog.”

The excessive panting of dogs in hot weather was thought to place them at risk of desiccation and disease. In extreme cases, a foaming dog might have rabies, which could infect and kill humans whom they had bitten.

In Iranian mythology, especially in Persian mythology and in Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Persia, Sirius appears as Tishtrya and is revered as the rain-maker divinity (Tishtar of New Persian poetry).

Beside passages in the sacred texts of the Avesta, the Avestan language Tishtrya followed by the version Tir in Middle and New Persian is also depicted in the Persian epic Shahnameh of Ferdowsi.

Due to the concept of the yazatas, powers which are “worthy of worship”, Tishtrya is a divinity of rain and fertility and an antagonist of apaosha, the demon of drought. In this struggle, Tishtrya is beautifully depicted as a white horse.

In Chinese astronomy the star is known as the star of the “celestial wolf” (Chinese romanization: Tiānláng; Japanese romanization: Tenrō) in the Mansion of Jǐng, the well mansion.

Farther afield, many nations among the indigenous peoples of North America also associated Sirius with canines; the Seri and Tohono O’odham of the southwest note the star as a dog that follows mountain sheep, while the Blackfoot called it “Dog-face”. The Cherokee paired Sirius with Antares as a dog-star guardian of either end of the “Path of Souls”. The Pawnee of Nebraska had several associations; the Wolf (Skidi) tribe knew it as the “Wolf Star”, while other branches knew it as the “Coyote Star”. Further north, the Alaskan Inuit of the Bering Strait called it “Moon Dog”.

Several cultures also associated the star with a bow and arrows. The Ancient Chinese visualized a large bow and arrow across the southern sky, formed by the constellations of Puppis and Canis Major. In this, the arrow tip is pointed at the wolf Sirius. A similar association is depicted at the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, where the goddess Satet has drawn her arrow at Hathor (Sirius). Known as “Tir”, the star was portrayed as the arrow itself in later Persian culture.

Sirius is mentioned in Surah, An-Najm (“The Star”), of the Qur’an, where it is given the name aš-ši‘rā or ash-shira; the leader. The verse is: “That He is the Lord of Sirius (the Mighty Star).” (An-Najm:49) Ibn Kathir said in his commentary “Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, Qatada and Ibn Zayd said about Ash-Shi`ra that it is the bright star, named Mirzam Al-Jawza’ (Sirius), which a group of Arabs used to worship.” The alternate name Aschere, used by Johann Bayer, is derived from this.

In Theosophy, it is believed the Seven Stars of the Pleiades transmit the spiritual energy of the Seven Rays from the Galactic Logos to the Seven Stars of the Great Bear, then to Sirius. From there is it sent via the Sun to the god of Earth (Sanat Kumara), and finally through the seven Masters of the Seven Rays to the human race.

Enki

He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

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. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. 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 in the Sumerian astrological system.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

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 (the Earth).

Eridu/Nunki

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI (“the Mighty Place”); Sumerian: eridu; Akkadian: irîtu modern Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq).

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.

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.

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).

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. His consort Ninhursanga had a nearby temple at Ubaid.

During the Ur III period a ziggurat was built over the remains of previous temples by Ur-Nammu. Aside from Enmerkar of Uruk (as mentioned in the Aratta epics), several later historical Sumerian kings are said in inscriptions found here to have worked on or renewed the e-abzu temple, including Elili of Ur; Ur-Nammu, Shulgi and Amar-Sin of Ur-III, and Nur-Adad of Larsa.

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. Other scholars have discussed at length a number of additional correspondences between the names of “Babylon” and “Eridu”.

Historical tablets state that Sargon of Akkad (ca. 2300 BC) dug up the original “Babylon” and rebuilt it near Akkad, though some scholars suspect this may in fact refer to the much later Assyrian king Sargon II.

Ubaid

The Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BCE) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall and later by Leonard Woolley.

In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvial plain although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BCE when it is replaced by the Uruk period.

Ubaid 1, sometimes called Eridu (5300–4700 BCE), a phase limited to the extreme south of Iraq, on what was then the shores of the Persian Gulf. This phase, showing clear connection to the Samarra culture to the north, saw the establishment of the first permanent settlement south of the 5 inch rainfall isohyet. These people pioneered the growing of grains in the extreme conditions of aridity, thanks to the high water tables of Southern Iraq.

According to Gwendolyn Leick, Eridu was formed at the confluence of three separate ecosystems, supporting three distinct lifestyles, that came to an agreement about access to fresh water in a desert environment.

The oldest agrarian settlement seems to have been based upon intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture derived from the Samarra culture to the north, characterised by the building of canals, and mud-brick buildings.

The fisher-hunter cultures of the Arabian littoral were responsible for the extensive middens along the Arabian shoreline, and may have been the original Sumerians. They seem to have dwelt in reed huts.

The third culture that contributed to the building of Eridu was the nomadic Semitic pastoralists of herds of sheep and goats living in tents in semi-desert areas.

All three cultures seem implicated in the earliest levels of the city. The urban settlement was centered on an impressive temple complex built of mudbrick, within a small depression that allowed water to accumulate.

The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility.

Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.

It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group, this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists, dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.

The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BCE, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.

At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1000 years, the so-called “Dark Millennium”. This might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron.

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BCE. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.

Tell Leilan

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BC.

The Leyla-Tepe culture includes a settlement in the lower layer of the settlements Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I and Boyuk-Kesik II. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslan-tepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.).

An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets. It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.

In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.

The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles between the Kuban and Nalchik rivers, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”

Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe. This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning.

Considering that some attempt has been made to unite Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages, an earlier Caucasian pre-Urheimat is not out of the question. However, most linguists and archaeologists consider this hypothesis incorrect, and prefer the Eurasian steppes as the genuine IE Urheimat.8

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.

It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Russian linguists T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded – as per the Kurgan hypothesis – into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.

The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (sans Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. In this, it figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis, in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten, diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.

Robert Drews, commenting on the hypothesis, says that “most of the chronological and historical arguments seem fragile at best, and of those that I am able to judge, some are evidently wrong”.

However, he argues that it is far more powerful as a linguistic model, providing insights into the relationship between Indo-European and the Semitic and Kartvelian languages.

He continues to say “It is certain that the inhabitants of the forested areas of Armenia very early became accomplished woodworkers, and it now appears that in the second millennium they produced spoked-wheel vehicles that served as models as far away as China. And we have long known that from the second millennium onward, Armenia was important for the breeding of horses. It is thus not surprising to find that what clues we have suggest that chariot warfare was pioneered in eastern Anatolia. Finally, our picture of what the PIE speakers did, and when, owes much to the recently proposed hypothesis that the homeland of the PIE speakers was Armenia.”

I. Grepin, reviewing Gamkrelidze and Ivanov’s book, wrote that their model of linguistic relationships is “the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century.”

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage. Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.

Graeco-Aryan is invoked in particular in studies of comparative mythology, e.g. by West (1999) and Watkins (2001).

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC.

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.

The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present-day Syria.

Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), Northwestern Iran, the Northeastern Caucasus, and Eastern Turkey.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia, Iran, North Ossetia, and Turkey. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

In the earliest phase of the Kura-Araxes culture, metal was scarce, but the culture would later display “a precocious metallurgical development, which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, from the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets river systems in the north to Syria and Palestine in the south and Anatolia in the west.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans. Inhumation practices are mixed. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs.

This points to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population. Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory.

The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing greatly varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.

The Khabur or Khaboor River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water.

Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area. From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history.

Since the 1930s, numerous archaeological excavations and surveys have been carried out in the Khabur Valley, indicating that the region has been occupied since the Lower Palaeolithic period. Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri. The region of the Khabur River is also associated with the rise of the Kingdom of the Mitanni that flourished c.1500-1300 BC.

The region has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the early 2nd millennium BCE, called Khabur ware, a specific type of pottery named after the Khabur River region, in northeastern Syria, where large quantities of it were found by the archaeologist Max Mallowan at the site of Chagar Bazar.

The pottery’s distribution is not confined to the Khabur region, but spreads across northern Iraq and is also found at a few sites in Turkey and Iran. The Hurrians were masterful ceramists. Their pottery is commonly found in Mesopotamia and in the lands west of the Euphrates; it was highly valued in distant Egypt, by the time of the New Kingdom.

Archaeologists use the terms Khabur ware and Nuzi ware for two types of wheel-made pottery used by the Hurrians. Khabur ware is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots, while Nuzi ware have very distinctive forms, and are painted in brown or black.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

The name of the country of Ishuwa, which might have had a substantial Hurrian population, meant “horse-land”. Aśvaḥ is the Sanskrit word for a horse, one of the significant animals finding references in the Vedas as well as later Hindu scriptures. The corresponding Avestan term is aspa. The word is cognate to Latin equus, Greek ίππος (hippos), Germanic *ehwaz and Baltic *ašvā all from PIE *hek’wos.

The Trialeti culture, named after Trialeti region of Georgia, is attributed to the first part of the 2nd millennium BC. In the late 3rd millennium BC, settlements of the Kura-Araxes culture began to be replaced by early Trialeti culture sites.

The Trialeti culture was the second culture to appear in Georgia, after the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands from 6000 to 4000 BC.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. It predates the Kura-Araxes culture and surrounding areas, and had close relation with the middle Bronze Age culture called Trialeti culture (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC). Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes.

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

The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the highly developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, but also with cultures to the south, such as probably the Sumerians and their Akkadian conquerors.

The site at Trialeti was originally excavated in 1936–1940 in advance of a hydroelectric scheme, when forty-six barrows were uncovered. A further six barrows were uncovered in 1959–1962.

The Trialeti culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves. These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq. They also worked tin and arsenic.

This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery.

In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.

Nu/Nun

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

The Ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated, representing the deepest mystery of their cosmogony. In Ancient Egyptian creation accounts the original mound of land comes forth from the waters of the Nun.

The Nun is the source of all that appears in a differentiated world, encompassing all aspects of divine and earthly existence. In the Ennead cosmogony Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god.

Nu was shown usually as male but also had aspects that could be represented as female or male. Nunet (also spelt Naunet) is the female aspect, which is the name Nu with a female gender ending. The male aspect, Nun, is written with a male gender ending. As with the primordial concepts of the Ogdoad, Nu’s male aspect was depicted as a frog, or a frog-headed man. In Ancient Egyptian art, Nun also appears as a bearded man, with blue-green skin, representing water. Naunet is represented as a snake or snake-headed woman.

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

The Ogdoad includes along with Naunet and Nun, Amaunet and Amun, Hauhet and Heh, and Kauket with Kuk. Like the other Ogdoad deities, Nu did not have temples or any center of worship. Even so, Nu was sometimes represented by a sacred lake, or, as at Abydos, by an underground stream.

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

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

Uruk

Inanna (Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar; Neo-Assyrian: MUŠ) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

In his connections with Inanna, Enki shows other aspects of his non-Patriarchal nature. The myth Enki and Inanna tells the story of the young goddess of the É-anna temple of Uruk, who visits the senior god of Eridu, and is entertained by him in a feast.

The seductive god plies her with beer, and the young goddess maintains her virtue, whilst Enki proceeds to get drunk. In generosity he gives her all the gifts of his Me, the gifts of civilized life.

Next morning, with a hangover, he asks his servant Isimud for his Me, only to be informed that he has given them to Inanna. Upset at his actions, he sends Galla demons to recover them. Inanna escapes her pursuers and arrives safely back at the quay at Uruk. Enki realises that he has been tricked in his hubris and accepts a peace treaty forever with Uruk.

Politically, this myth would seem to indicate events of an early period when political authority passed from Enki’s city of Eridu to Inanna’s city of Uruk.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.

The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

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

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.

Inanna has a central role in the myth of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. A major theme in the narrative is the rivalry between the rulers of Aratta and Uruk for the heart of Inanna. Ultimately, this rivalry results in natural resources coming to Uruk and the invention of writing. The text describes a tension between the cities:

The lord of Aratta placed on his head the golden crown for Inana. But he did not please her like the lord of Kulaba (A district in Uruk). Aratta did not build for holy Inana (sic.; Alternate spelling of ‘Inanna’) — unlike the Shrine E-ana (Temple in Uruk for Inanna).

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is structured as a mirror image of Uruk, only Aratta has natural resources (i.e. gold, silver, lapis lazuli) that Uruk needs.

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

In the Sumerian epic entitled Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, in a speech of Enmerkar, an incantation is pronounced that has a mythical introduction. Kramer’s translation is as follows:

Once upon a time there was no snake, there was no scorpion,

There was no hyena, there was no lion,
There was no wild dog, no wolf,
There was no fear, no terror,
Man had no rival.

In those days, the lands of Subur (and) Hamazi,
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship,
Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,
The land Martu, resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison
To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].

(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,
The leader of the gods,
Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.

The term “Sumerian” is the common name given to the ancient non-Semitic inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Sumer, by the Semitic Akkadians. The Sumerians referred to themselves as ùĝ saĝ gíg-ga, phonetically uŋ saŋ giga, literally meaning “the black-headed people”, and to their land as ki-en-gi(-r) (‘place’ + ‘lords’ + ‘noble’), meaning “place of the noble lords”.

The Akkadian word Shumer may represent the geographical name in dialect, but the phonological development leading to the Akkadian term šumerû is uncertain. Hebrew Shinar, Egyptian Sngr, and Hittite Šanhar(a), all referring to southern Mesopotamia, could be western variants of Shumer.

Shinar (Septuagint Sennaar) is a biblical geographical locale of uncertain boundaries in Mesopotamia. The name may be a corruption of Hebrew Shene neharot (“two rivers”), Hebrew Shene arim (“two cities”), or Akkadian Shumeru.

The name Shinar occurs eight times in the Hebrew Bible, in which it refers to Babylonia. This location of Shinar is evident from its description as encompassing both Babel (Babylon) (in northern Babylonia) and Erech (Uruk) (in southern Babylonia).

In the Book of Genesis 10:10, the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom is said to have been “Babel [Babylon], and Erech [Uruk], and Akkad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”

Verse 11:2 states that Shinar enclosed the plain that became the site of the Tower of Babel after the Great Flood. After the Flood, the sons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, had stayed first in the highlands of Armenia, and then migrated to Shinar.

In Genesis 14:1,9, King Amraphel rules Shinar. Shinar is further mentioned in Joshua 7:21; Isaiah 11:11; Daniel 1:2; and Zechariah 5:11, as a general synonym for Babylonia.

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili) was an Iron Age kingdom centered on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region. This language appears in inscriptions.

Though there is no written evidence of any other language being spoken in this kingdom, it is argued on linguistic evidence that Proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date.

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands.

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital.

Armani-Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Arme-Shupria (Sumerian Su-bir/Subar/Šubur) was a Proto-Armenian Hurrian-speaking kingdom mentioned in Bronze Age literature, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. Shubria was part of the Urartu confederation.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Some scholars suggest that Subartu is an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris and westward, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east and/or north.

Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

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

Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves. Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu.

In a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib, its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions.

Armani was mentioned alongside Ibla in the geographical treaties of Sargon, this led some historians to identify Ibla with Syrian Ebla and Armani with Syrian Armi. Prof Michael C. Astour refuse to identify Armani with Armi as Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ibla he sacked (in c.2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Armani, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla.

Armani was attested in the treaties of Sargon in a section that mentions regions located in Assyria and Babylonia or territories adjacent to the East in contrast to the Syrian Ebla location in the west.

The later King Adad-Nirari I of Assyria also mentions Arman as being located east of the Tigris and on the border between Assyria and Babylon, historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Armani with Syrian Armi, place it (along with Akkadian Ibla) north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Hieros gamos

The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos. In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun.

Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

Dilmun was identified with Bahrein, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, where the fresh waters of the Arabian aquifer mingle with the salt waters of the Persian Gulf. This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki.

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land.

Enki, the Water-Lord, seduces and has intercourse different women – incest. He attempts seduction of Uttu (weaver or spider, the weaver of the web of life). Upset about Enki’s reputation, Uttu consults Ninhursag, who, upset at the promiscuous wayward nature of her spouse, advises Uttu to avoid the riverbanks, the places likely to be affected by flooding, the home of Enki.

In another version of this myth Ninhursag, his consort, takes Enki’s semen from Uttu’s womb and plants it in the earth where eight plants rapidly germinate. With his two-faced servant and steward Isimud, Enki, in the swampland, eats it despite warnings. And so, consuming his own semen, he falls pregnant (ill with swellings) in his jaw, his teeth, his mouth, his hip, his throat, his limbs, his side and his rib.

The gods are at a loss to know what to do, chagrinned they “sit in the dust”. As Enki lacks a womb with which to give birth, he seems to be dying with swellings. The fox then asks Enlil King of the Gods, “If i bring Ninhursag before thee, what shall be my reward?” Ninhursag’s sacred fox then fetches the goddess.

Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body. Abu for the Jaw, Nintul for the Hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the Limbs. The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself.

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

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah (חוה), who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.

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.

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.

Adapa

Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, who were sent by Ea, the wise god of Eridu, to bring the arts of civilisation to humankind. The word Abgallu, sage (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = man, Sumerian) survived into Nabatean times, around the 1st century, as apkallum, used to describe the profession of a certain kind of priest.

The sages are described in Mesopotamian literature as ‘pure parādu-fish, probably carp, whose bones are found associated with the earliest shrine, and still kept as a holy duty in the precincts of Near Eastern mosques and monasteries.

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 first of the Mesopotamian seven sages, Adapa, also known as Uan (Poseidon – Wanax), the name given as Oannes (Johannes) by Berossus, introduced the practice of the correct rites of religious observance as priest of the E’Apsu temple, at Eridu.

Adapa was a mortal man from a godly lineage, a son of Ea (Enki in Sumerian), the god of wisdom and of the ancient city of Eridu, who brought the arts of civilization to that city (from Dilmun, according to some versions). Adapa as a fisherman was iconographically portrayed as a fish-man composite.

Adapa unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story is first attested in the Kassite period (14th century BC), in fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna, and from Assur, of the late second millennium BC.

He broke the wings of Ninlil the South Wind, who had overturned his fishing boat, and was called to account before Anu. Ea, his patron god, warned him to apologize humbly for his actions, but not to partake of food or drink while he was in heaven, as it would be the food of death.

Anu, impressed by Adapa’s sincerity, offered instead the food of immortality, but Adapa heeded Ea’s advice, refused, and thus missed the chance for immortality that would have been his.

Vague parallels can be drawn to the story of Genesis, where Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by Yahweh, after they ate from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus gaining death.

Parallels are also apparent (to an even greater degree) with the story of Persephone visiting Hades, who was warned to take nothing from that kingdom. Stephanie Dalley writes “From Erra and Ishum we know that all the sages were banished … because they angered the gods, and went back to the Apsu, where Ea lived, and … the story … ended with Adapa’s banishment” p. 182.

Adapa is often identified as advisor to the mythical first (antediluvian) king of Eridu, Alulim, the first king of Eridu, and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”.

Deer had a central role in the ancient art, culture and mythology of the Hittites, the Ancient Egyptians, the Celts, the ancient Greeks, the Asians and several others. In Japanese Shintoism, the sika deer is believed to be a messenger to the gods. In China deer are associated with great medicinal significance, while spotted deer in particular are believed to accompany the god of longevity

Alalu is god in Hurrian 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.

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. He was also called Alalus.

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.

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El. Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. These texts notably include the myth of The Kingship in Heaven (also known as the Song of Kumarbi, or the “Hittite Theogony”.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible. The song relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods.

In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.

From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Khumban is the Elamite god of the sky. His sumerian equivalent is Anu. Several Elamite kings, mostly from the Neo-Elamite period, were named in honour of Khumban.

Comana was a city of Cappadocia and later Cataonia, frequently called Comana Chryse or Aurea, i.e. “the golden”, to distinguish it from Comana in Pontus. The Hittite toponym Kummanni, the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna, is considered likely to refer to Comana.

Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.” The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. 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.

It is thought that Hebat may have had a Southern Mesopotamian origin, being the deification of Kubaba, the founder and first ruler of the Third Dynasty of Kish. The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khebat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version.

In the Hurrian language Hepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

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

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”.

The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE.

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

William H. Shea suggests that Alulim was a contemporary of the biblical figure Adam, who may have been derived from Adapa of ancient Mesopotamian religion.

In addition to his advisory duties, he served as a priest and exorcist, and upon his death took his place among the Seven Sages or Apkallū. (Apkallu, “sage”, comes from Sumerian AB.GAL.LU (Ab=water, Gal=Great Lu=Man) a reference to Adapa, the first sage’s association with water.)

Oannes (Ὡάννης) was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BC to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man.

He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. Oannes and the Semitic god Dagon were considered identical.

The name “Oannes” was once conjectured to be derived from that of the ancient Babylonian god Ea, but it is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Assyrian texts attempt to connect the word to the Akkadian for a craftsman ummanu but this is merely a pun.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The stone gigant

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2015

Ullikummi

Atlas

In Hurrian mythology, Ullikummi is a giant stone monster, son of Kumarbi and the sea god’s daughter. Ullikummi’s older brother, Hedammu, is a sea monster and appropriately the son of the sea god’s daughter, Sertapsuruhi.

The narrative of Ullikummi is one episode, the best preserved and most complete, in an epic cycle of related “songs” about the god Kumarbi, who aimed to replace the weather god Teshub and destroy the city of Kummiya.

To this end Kumarbi fathered upon a rock cliff a genderless, deaf, blind, yet sentient pillar of volcanic rock, Ullikummi, which he hid in the netherworld and placed on the shoulder of Upelluri.

Upelluri, absorbed in his meditations, did not feel Ullikummi on his shoulder. Upelluri stands in the netherworld, holding the earth and sky on his shoulder like the Greek Atlas; a mere giant such as Ullikummi is barely noticeable, although Upelluri does feel a bit of pain in his shoulder once Ullikummi has grown up.

Ullikummi grew quickly until he reached the heavens. Ullikummi’s brother Teshub thundered and rained on Ullikummi, but it did not harm him. Teshub fled and abdicated the throne. The weather god and his vizier and brother, Tasmisu, are defeated in their first battle with Ullikummi, as Tasmisu relates to Teshub’s wife, Hebat; as a result Teshub is banished to a “little place,” probably meaning a grave.

Teshub asked Ea (Enki), who lives in the Apsu, underground source of earth’s waters, for help. Ea obtains the toothed cutting tool with which heaven and earth were cut apart shortly after creation; this tool will disable Ullikummi.

Ea visited Upelluri and cut off the feet of Ullikummi, toppling him. Ea cuts Ullikummi loose from Upelluri’s shoulder and then urges the weather god to fight again. The end of the story is broken away and scholars simply assume Ullikummi is finally defeated.

The Hittite counterpart was Ubelluris, a mountain god who carried the western edge of the sky on his shoulders.

The “song of Ullikummi” was recognized from its first rediscovery as a predecessor of Greek myths in Hesiod. Parallels to the Greek myth of Typhoeus, the ancient antagonist of the thunder-god Zeus, have been elucidated by Walter Burkert, Oriental and Greek Mythology, pp. 19–24, and Caucasian parallels in his “Von Ullikummi zum Kaukasus: Die Felsgeburt des Unholds”, Würzburger Jahrbücher N. F., 5 (1979) pp. 253–61.

In Arabian mythology Bahamut or Bahamoot is a vast fish acting as one of the layers that supports the earth. In some sources, Bahamut is described as having a head resembling a hippopotamus or elephant. Bahamut is described as so immense that a human cannot bear its sight; “[all] the seas of the world, placed in one of the fish’s nostrils, would be like a mustard seed laid in the desert.”

In Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings, Bahamut is “altered and magnified” from Behemoth, a beast mentioned in Job 40:15–24. Suggested identities range from a mythological creature to an elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros or buffalo.

In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who held up the sky. He is also the titan of astronomy and navigation. Although associated with various places, he became commonly identified with the Atlas Mountains in northwest Africa (Modern-day Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). The first part of the term Atlantic Ocean refers to “Sea of Atlas”, the term Atlantis refers to “island of Atlas”.

Atlas, and his brothers Menoetius, Prometheus and Epimetheus, were the sons of the Titan Iapetus and the Oceanid Asia or Clymene. In contexts where a Titan and a Titaness are assigned each of the seven planetary powers, Atlas is paired with Phoebe and governs the moon. Hyginus emphasises the primordial nature of Atlas by making him the son of Aether and Gaia.

Sources describe Atlas as the father, by different goddesses, of numerous children, mostly daughters. Some of these are assigned conflicting or overlapping identities or parentage in different sources.

Atlas and his brother Menoetius sided with the Titans in their war against the Olympians, the Titanomachy. When the Titans were defeated, many of them (including Menoetius) were confined to Tartarus, but Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up The Heavens on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace.

Thus, he was Atlas Telamon, “enduring Atlas,” and became a doublet of Coeus, the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve. According to the ancient poet Hesiod Atlas stood at the ends of the earth towards the west.

A common misconception today is that Atlas was forced to hold the Earth on his shoulders, but Classical art shows Atlas holding the celestial spheres, not a globe; the solidity of the marble globe born by the renowned Farnese Atlas may have aided the conflation, reinforced in the 16th century by the developing usage of atlas to describe a corpus of terrestrial maps.

Menoetius, who was killed by Zeus with a flash of lightning, means “doomed might”, deriving from the Ancient Greek words menos (“might, power”) and oitos (“doom, pain”). Hesiod described Menoetius as hubristic, meaning exceedingly prideful and impetuous to the very end. From what his name suggests along with Hesiod’s account, Menoetius was perhaps the Titan god of violent anger and rash action.

The etymology of the name Atlas is uncertain. Virgil took pleasure in translating etymologies of Greek names by combining them with adjectives that explained them: for Atlas his adjective is durus, “hard, enduring”, which suggested to George Doig that Virgil was aware of the Greek τλῆναι “to endure”.

Doig offers the further possibility that Virgil was aware of Strabo’s remark that the native North African name for this mountain was Douris. Since the Atlas mountains rise in the region inhabited by Berbers, it has been suggested that the name might be taken from one of the Berber, specifically ádrār ‘mountain’.

Traditionally historical linguists etymologize the Ancient Greek word Ἄτλας (genitive: Ἄτλαντος) as comprised from copulative α- and the Proto-Indo-European root *telh₂- ‘to uphold, support’ (whence also τλῆναι), and which was later reshaped to an nt-stem.

However, Robert Beekes argues that it cannot be expected that this ancient Titan carries an Indo-European name, and that we’re rather dealing with the word of Pre-Greek origin which often end in -ant.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Draco and Drakaina

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2015

Dragons

European dragons are legendary creatures in folklore and mythology among the overlapping cultures of Europe. Roman dragons evolved from serpentine Greek ones, combined with the dragons of the Near East, in the mix that characterized the hybrid Greek/Eastern Hellenistic culture. From Babylon, the muš-ḫuššu (formerly also read as sirrušu, sirrush) was a classic representation of a Near Eastern dragon.

In the Roman Empire, each military cohort had a particular identifying signum (military standard), after the Parthian and Dacian Wars of Trajan in the east, the Dacian Draco military standard entered the Legion with the Cohors Sarmatarum and Cohors Dacorum (Sarmatian and Dacian cohorts)—a large dragon fixed to the end of a lance, with large, gaping jaws of silver and with the rest of the body formed of colored silk. With the jaws facing into the wind, the silken body inflated and rippled, resembling a windsock.

In the modern period, the European dragon is typically depicted as a huge, fire-breathing, scaly, horned, lizard-like creature; the creature also has leathery, bat-like wings, four legs, and a long, muscular prehensile tail. Some depictions show dragons with feathered wings, crests, fiery manes, ivory spikes running down its spine, and various exotic decorations.

In folktales, dragon’s blood often contains magical properties. For example, in the opera Siegfried, dragon’s blood allows Siegfried to understand the language of the Forest Bird. The typical dragon protects a cavern or castle filled with gold and treasure and is often associated with a great hero who tries to slay it.

Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth. Possibly, the dragons of European and Mid-Eastern mythology stem from the cult of snakes found in religions throughout the world.

John’s Book of Revelation—Greek literature, not Roman—describes Satan as “a great dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns”. Much of John’s literary inspiration is late Hebrew and Greek, but John’s dragon is more likely to have come originally through the Near East.

Several vague incarnations of evil in the Old Testament were given the translation draco in Jerome’s Vulgate, to undergo changes in meaning and become broad embodiments of evil.

Draco – the constellation

Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin for dragon. Draco is circumpolar (that is, never setting) for many observers in the northern hemisphere. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. The north pole of the ecliptic is in Draco. Draco can be seen all year from northern latitudes.

Draco

In Greco- Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and tossed into the sky upon his defeat. The dragon was one of the Gigantes, who battled the Olympic gods for ten years. As Minerva threw the dragon, it became twisted on itself and froze at the cold North Celestial Pole before it could right itself.

Dragons play a great role in Greek mythology. Homer describes the dragons with wings and legs. In some mythology, Draco had one hundred magnificent heads, guarded the golden apple tree, and was put in the sky as a constellation for protecting the apples with valor. The constellation has been subject to many more myths, but ones that are obscure.

Ladon

Dragons in Greek mythology that may have inspired the constellation’s name include Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. Hercules killed Ladon during his 12 labors; he was tasked with stealing the golden apples. The constellation of Hercules is depicted near Draco.

The Garden of the Hesperides is Hera’s orchard in the west, where either a single apple tree or a grove grows, producing golden apples that grant immortality when eaten. The trees were planted from the fruited branches that Gaia gave to Hera as a wedding gift when Hera accepted Zeus.

The Hesperides were given the task of tending to the grove, but occasionally picked apples from it themselves. Not trusting them, Hera also placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon named Ladon as an additional safeguard. In the myth of the Judgement of Paris, it was from the Garden that Eris, Goddess of Discord, obtained the Apple of Discord, which led to the Trojan War.

In later years it was thought that the “golden apples” might have actually been oranges, a fruit unknown to Europe and the Mediterranean before the Middle Ages. Under this assumption, the Greek botanical name chosen for all citrus species was Hesperidoeidē ( “hesperidoids”) and even today the Greek word for the orange fruit is Portokali – after the country of Portugal in Iberia near where the Garden of the Hesperides grew.

Mother Camel

Traditional Arabic astronomy does not depict a dragon in modern-day Draco, which is called the Mother Camels. Instead, two hyenas, represented by Eta Draconis and Zeta Draconis are seen attacking a baby camel (a dim star near Beta Draconis), which is protected by four female camels, represented by Beta Draconis, Gamma Draconis, Nu Draconis, and Xi Draconis. The nomads who own the camels are camped nearby, represented by a cooking tripod composed of Upsilon, Tau, and Sigma Draconis.

Hydra

In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was an ancient serpent-like water monster with reptilian traits. It possessed many heads – the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint – and for each head cut off it grew two more. It had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as the second of his Twelve Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos, since Lerna was the site of the myth of the Danaids. Beneath the waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian.

The Hydra was one of the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (Theogony, 313), both of whom were noisome offspring of the earth goddess Gaia. Mythographers relate that the Lernaean Hydra and the crab were put into the sky after Heracles, represented in another constellation, slew them.

According to legend, if one of the Hydra’s heads was cut off, two more would grow in its place. However, Hercules burned out the roots of the heads he severed to prevent them from growing again, and thus overcame the hydra.

In an alternative version, Hera’s crab was at the site to bite his feet and bother him, hoping to cause his death. Hera set it in the Zodiac to follow the Lion. When the sun is in the sign of Cancer, the crab, the constellation Hydra has its head nearby.

The Greek constellation of Hydra is an adaptation of a Babylonian constellation: the MUL.APIN includes a “serpent” constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) that loosely corresponds to Hydra. It is one of two Babylonian “serpent” constellations (the other being the origin of the Greek Serpens), a mythological hybrid of serpent, lion and bird.

The shape of Hydra resembles a twisting snake, and features as such in some Greek myths. One myth associates it with a water snake that a crow served Apollo in a cup when it was sent to fetch water; Apollo saw through the fraud, and angrily cast the crow, cup, and snake, into the sky.

In Hindu Mythology the star that equivalents Hydra is Ashlesha. In Chinese astronomy, the stars that correspond to Hydra are located within the Vermilion Bird and the Azure Dragon. In Japanese culture, the stars are known as Nuriko.

Typhon

Sometimes, Draco is represented as the demon son of Gaia, Typhon, the most fearsome monster of Greek mythology. The last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, Typhon was, with his mate Echidna, the father of many famous monsters. The Greeks also frequently represented him as a storm-demon, especially in the version where he stole Zeus’s thunderbolts and wrecked the earth with storms (cf. Hesiod, Theogony; Nonnus, Dionysiaca).

Typhon may be derived from the Greek tuphō “to make smoke, fume, singe, burn slowly” from the Proto-Indo-European *dhuH-/*duh2-/*du̯eh2-, “smoke, steam”, by means of an enlargement *-bh-.

Typhon is the father of hot dangerous storm winds which issue forth from the stormy pit of Tartarus, according to Hesiod. Likewise, the rumblings of Typhon emitted from deepest Tartarus could be clearly heard within the underground torrent near Seleuceia, now in Turkey, until his presence was neutralized by the building of a Byzantine church nearby.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Typhon was the son of Gaia (Earth) and Tartarus: “when Zeus had driven the Titans from heaven, huge Earth bore her youngest child Typhoeus of the love of Tartarus, by the aid of golden Aphrodite”. Apollodorus adds that Gaia bore Typhon in anger at the gods for their destruction of her offspring the Giants.

Numerous other sources mention Typhon as being the offspring of Gaia, or simply “earth-born”, with no mention of Tartarus. However, according to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Typhon was the child of Hera alone. Hera angry at Zeus for having given birth to Athena by himself, prayed to Gaia to give her a son as strong as Zeus, then slapped the ground, and became pregnant. Hera gave the infant Typhon to the serpent Python to raise, and Typhon grew up to become a great bane to mortals.

Several sources locate Typhon’s birth and dwelling place in Cilicia, and in particular the region in the vicinity of the ancient Cilician coastal city of Corycus (modern Kızkalesi, Turkey). The poet Pindar calls Typhon ‘”Cilician”, and says that Typhon was born in Cilicia and nurtured in “the famous Cilician cave”, an apparent allusion to the Corycian cave. In Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, Typhon is called the “dweller of the Cilician caves”, and both Apollodorus and Nonnus have Typhon born in Cilicia.

It was in Cilicia that Zeus battled with the ancient monster and overcame him, in a more complicated story: It was not an easy battle, and Typhon temporarily overcame Zeus, cut the “sinews” from him and left him in the “leather sack”, the korukos that is the etymological origin of the korukion andron, the Korykian or Corycian Cave in which Zeus suffers temporary eclipse as if in the Land of the Dead.

Typhon attempts to destroy Zeus (perhaps at the will of Gaia, because of Zeus’s destruction of the Giants). Typhon overcomes Zeus in their first battle, and tears out Zeus’ sinews. However, Hermes recovers the sinews and restores them to Zeus. Typhon is finally defeated by Zeus, who traps him underneath Mount Etna.

Typhon started destroying cities and hurling mountains in a fit of rage. With the exception of Zeus, Dionysus, and Athena, the gods of Olympus fled from their home to Egypt, where they hid themselves by taking the forms of various animals.

When Athena accused Zeus of cowardice, he regained his courage and attacked the monster. The battle raged, ending when Zeus threw one hundred well aimed lightning bolts on top of Typhon, trapping him.

The inveterate enemy of the Olympian gods is described in detail by Hesiod as a vast grisly monster with a hundred serpent heads “with dark flickering tongues” flashing fire from their eyes and a din of voices and a hundred serpents for legs, a feature shared by many primal monsters of Greek myth that extend in serpentine or scaly coils from the waist down. The titanic struggle created earthquakes and tsunami.

Once conquered by Zeus’ thunderbolts, Typhon was either cast into Tartarus (Hesiod, Theogony), the common destiny of many such archaic adversaries, or confined beneath Mount Etna (Hesiod, Theogony; Pindar, Pythian Ode 1.19–20; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 370), where “his bed scratches and goads the whole length of his back stretched out against it”, or in other volcanic regions, where he is the cause of eruptions. Typhon is thus the chthonic figuration of volcanic forces, as Hephaestus (Roman Vulcan) is their “civilized” Olympian manifestation.

The b scholia to Iliad 2.783 preserving a possible Orphic tradition, has Typhon born from Cronus. Gaia angry at the destruction of the Giants, slanders Zeus to Hera. So Hera goes to Zeus’ father Cronus (who Zeus had overthrown) and Cronus gives Hera two eggs smeared with his own semen, telling her to bury them, and that from them would be born one who would overthrow Zeus. Hera, angry at Zeus, burries the eggs in Cilicia “under Arimon”, but when Typhon is born Hera, now reconciled with Zeus, informs him.

The region of Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia had many opportunities for coastal Hellenes’ connection with the Hittites to the north. From its first reappearance, the Hittite myth of Illuyankas has been seen as a prototype of the battle of Zeus and Typhon.

Walter Burkert and Calvert Watkins each note the close agreements. Watkins’ How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics (Oxford University Press) reconstructs in disciplined detail the flexible Indo-European poetic formula that underlies myth, epic and magical charm texts of the lashing and binding of Typhon.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell also makes parallels to the slaying of Leviathan by YHWH, about which YHWH boasts to Job. Comparisons can also be drawn with the Mesopotamian monster Tiamat and her slaying by Babylonian chief god Marduk. The similarities between the Greek myth and its earlier Mesopotamian counterpart do not seem to be merely accidental. A number of west Semitic (Ras Shamra) and Hittite sources appear to corroborate the theory of a genetic relationship between the two myths.

Drakaina

In Greek mythology, a drakaina is a female serpent or dragon, sometimes with human-like features. Examples of the Drakaina included Campe, Delphyne, Echidna and Sybaris. The drakaina was a monster generally slain only by gods or demigods. Zeus slew Delphyne and Campe, Apollo slew Python, and Argus Panoptes slew Echidna.

However, although the word “drakaina” is literally the feminine form of drakon (Ancient Greek for dragon or serpent), most drakainas had some features of a human woman. Lamia, Campe, Echidna, and many representations of Ceto, Scylla and Delphyne had the head and torso of a woman.

Though usually this monster is the serpent Python, the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent, in the oldest account of this story, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the god kills Drakiana, a female serpent or dragon, sometimes with human-like features, subsequently called Delphyne, who had been Typhon’s foster-mother.

Echidna

In Greek mythology, Echidna (“She-Viper”) was a monster, half-woman and half-snake, who lived alone in a cave. She was the mate of the most fearsome monster Typhon, and known primarily for being the mother of monsters, including other dragon-like creatures, and many of the more famous monsters in Greek myth were said to be her offspring.

Echidna’s family tree, varies by author. The oldest genealogy relating to Echidna, Hesiod’s Theogony (c. 8th – 7th century BC), is unclear at several points. According to Hesiod, Echidna was born to a “she” who was probably meant by Hesiod to be the sea goddess Ceto, making Echidna’s father (presumably) the sea god Phorcys, although the “she” might possibly refer instead to the naiad Callirhoe, which would make Chrysaor Echidna’s father. Pherecydes of Leros (5th century BC) has Echidna as the daughter of Phorkys, without naming a mother.

Other authors give Echidna other parents. According to Epimenides (as attributed by Pausanias), Echidna was the daughter of the Oceanid Styx (goddess of the river Styx) and one Peiras (otherwise unknown to Pausanias), while according to Apollodorus, Echidna was the daughter of Tartarus and Gaia. In one account, from the Orphic tradition, Echidna was the daughter of Phanes.

According to Hesiod, Echidna gave birth to Cerberus, Orthrus, the Chimera, the Nemean lion, the Sphinx and the Hydra (Other ancient authors, such as Hyginus, attribute even more monsters as children of Echidna such as the Caucasian eagle, the Crommyonian Sow, the Colchian dragon, the Harpies, Scylla, and Charybdis).

Although for Hesiod, Echidna was immortal and ageless, according to Apollodorus, Echidna continued to prey on the unfortunate “passers-by”, until she was finally killed, while she slept, by Argus Panoptes, the hundred-eyed giant who served Hera.

From the fifth century BC historian Herodotus, we learn of a creature who, though Herodotus does not name as Echidna, is called an echidna (“she-viper”) and resembles the Hesiodic Echidna in several respects. She was half woman half snake, lived in a cave, and was known as a mother figure, in this case, as the progentitor of the Scythians (rather than of monsters).

A possibly related creature to the Hesiodic Echidna is the “Viper” (Echidna) cast into an abyss in the apocryphal Acts of Philip, an unorthodox episodic apocryphal mid-to late fourth-century narrative, originally in fifteen separate acta, that gives an accounting of the miraculous acts performed by the Apostle Philip, with overtones of the heroic romance.

Called a “she dragon” (drakaina) and “the mother of the seprents”, this Echidna ruled over many other monstrous dragons and snakes, and lived in a gated temple, where she was worshipped by the people of that land. She, along with her temple and priests, was swallowed up by a hole in the ground that opened beneath her, as the result of Philip’s curse.

Echidna was perhaps associated with the monster killed by Apollo at Delphi. Though usually this monster is the serpent Python, in the oldest account of this story, the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the god kills a nameless she-serpent (drakiana), subsequently called Delphyne, who had been Typhon’s foster-mother.

Delphyne

Echidna and Delphyne, the name of the female dragon who was appointed by her mother, Gaia, to guard the oracle of Delphi, share several similarities. Both were half-maid and half-snake, and a plague to men. And both were intimately connected to Typhon, and associated with the Corycian cave. Python, slain by Apollo, and the earliest representations of Delphyne, are shown as simply gigantic serpents, similar to other Greek dragons.

Delphyne is sometimes called Python and may, in the stories, be replaced with or accompanied by a male dragon (either Python or Typhon). She is sometimes equated with Echidna, who was the consort of Typhon.

In one tale, Delphyne (here half maiden, half snake, like Echidna) guards the sinews of Zeus, which had been stolen by her mate Typhon. She was slain by Apollo. Apollo’s title Delphinius is, in some stories, interpreted as having come from his slaying of Delphyne (or from showing the Cretan colonists the way to Delphi whilst riding on a dolphin).

Python

In Greek mythology, Python (derived from the verb pythō, “to rot”) was the earth-dragon of Delphi, always represented in Greek sculpture and vase-paintings as a serpent. He presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult center for his mother, Gaia (“Earth”). Hellenes considered the site to be the center of the earth, represented by a stone, the omphalos or navel, which Python guarded.

The Homeric Hymn to Delphic Apollo recalled that the ancient name of this site had been Krisa, Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa. Others relate that it was named Pytho and that Pythia, the priestess serving as the oracle, was chosen from their ranks by a group of priestesses who officiated at the temple.

The priestess of the oracle at Delphi became known as the Pythia, after the place-name Pytho, which Greeks explained as named after the rotting of the slain serpent’s corpse in the strength of Hyperion (day) or Helios (the sun).

Python became the chthonic enemy of the later Olympian deity Apollo, who slew him and remade Python’s former home and the oracle, the most famous in Classical Greece, as his own. Changes such as these in ancient myths may reflect a profound change in the religious concepts of Hellenic culture. Some were gradual over time and others occurred abruptly following invasion.

There are various versions of Python’s birth and death at the hands of Apollo. In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, now thought to have been composed in 522 BCE during Classical times, a small detail is provided regarding Apollo’s combat with the serpent, in some sections identified as the deadly Drakaina, or her parent.

The version related by Hyginus holds that when Zeus lay with the goddess Leto, and she was to deliver Artemis and Apollo, Hera was jealous and sent Python to pursue Leto throughout the lands, so that she could not deliver wherever the sun shone.

Thus when Apollo was grown he wanted to avenge his mother’s plight and pursued Python, making his way straight for Mount Parnassus where the serpent dwelled, and chased it to the oracle of Gaia at Delphi; there he dared to penetrate the sacred precinct and kill it with his arrows beside the rock cleft where the priestess sat on her tripod.

Robert Graves, who habitually read into primitive myths a retelling of archaic political and social turmoil, saw in this the capturing by Hellenes of a pre-Hellenic shrine. “To placate local opinion at Delphi,” he wrote in The Greek Myths, “regular funeral games were instituted in honour of the dead hero Python, and her priestess was retained in office.”

The politics are conjectural, but the myth reports that Zeus ordered Apollo to purify himself for the sacrilege and instituted the Pythian Games, over which Apollo was to preside, as penance for his act.

Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos, and that it is a case of one god setting up his temple on the grave of another.

Karl Kerenyi points out that the older tales mentioned two dragons, who were perhaps intentionally conflated; the other was a female dragon (drakaina) named Delphyne in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, with whom dwelt a male serpent named Typhon: “The narrators seem to have confused the dragon of Delphi, Python, with Typhon or Typhoeus, the adversary of Zeus”.

The enemy dragoness “… actually became an Apollonian serpent, and Pythia, the priestess who gave oracles at Delphi, was named after him. Many pictures show the serpent Python living in amity with Apollo and guarding the Omphalos, the sacred navel-stone and mid-point of the earth, which stood in Apollo’s temple”.

This myth has been described as an allegory for the dispersal of the fogs and clouds of vapor which arise from ponds and marshes (Python) by the rays of the sun (the arrows of Apollo).

Delphi

Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis. “Python” is claimed by some to be the original name of the site in recognition of Python which Apollo defeated. Hellenes considered the site to be the center of the earth, represented by a stone, the omphalos or navel, which Python guarded.

In myths dating to the classical period of Ancient Greece (510-323 BC), the site of Delphi was believed to be determined by Zeus when he sought to find the centre of his “Grandmother Earth” (Ge, Gaea, or Gaia). He sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities, and the path of the eagles crossed over Delphi where the omphalos, or navel of Gaia was found.

Earlier myths include traditions that Pythia, or the Delphic oracle, already was the site of an important oracle in the pre-classical Greek world (as early as 1400 BC) and, rededicated from about 800 BCE, when it served as the major site during classical times for the worship of the god Apollo.

Apollo was said to have slain Python, “a dragon” who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth. Apollo’s sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, starting in 586 BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic (or stephanitic) games, precursors of the Modern Olympics.

The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown (stephanos) which was ceremonially cut from a tree by a boy who re-enacted the slaying of the Python. Delphi was set apart from the other games sites because it hosted the mousikos agon, musical competitions.

These Pythian Games rank second among the four stephanitic games chronologically and based on importance. These games, though, were different from the games at Olympia in that they were not of such vast importance to the city of Delphi as the games at Olympia were to the area surrounding Olympia.

Delphi would have been a renowned city whether or not it hosted these games; it had other attractions that led to it being labeled the “omphalos” (navel) of the earth, in other words, the center of the world.

In the inner hestia (“hearth”) of the Temple of Apollo, an eternal flame burned. After the battle of Plataea, the Greek cities extinguished their fires and brought new fire from the hearth of Greece, at Delphi; in the foundation stories of several Greek colonies, the founding colonists were first dedicated at Delphi.

Vritra

In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (Vṛtra “the enveloper”), is an Asura and also a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

According to the Rig Veda, Vritra kept the waters of the world captive until he was killed by Indra, who destroyed all the 99 fortresses of Vritra (although the fortresses are sometimes attributed to Sambara) before liberating the imprisoned rivers.

The combat began soon after Indra was born, and he had drunk a large volume of Soma at Tvashtri’s house to empower him before facing Vritra. Tvashtri fashioned the thunderbolt (Vajrayudha) for Indra, and Vishnu, when asked to do so by Indra, made space for the battle by taking the three great strides for which Vishnu became famous. Vritra broke Indra’s two jaws during the battle, but was then thrown down by Indra and, in falling, crushed the fortresses that had already been shattered.

For this feat, Indra became known as Vritrahan “slayer of Vritra” and also as “slayer of the first-born of dragons”. Vritra’s mother, Danu (who was also the mother of the Danava race of Asuras), was then attacked and defeated by Indra with his thunderbolt.

In one of the versions of the story, three Devas – Varuna, Soma and Agni, the god of fire, were coaxed by Indra into aiding him in the fight against Vritra whereas before they had been on the side of Vritra (who they called “Father”).

In one verse of a Rig-Vedic hymn eulogising Sarasvati, she is portrayed as the one who slayed Vritra. Mention of this occurs nowhere else. Hymn 18 of Mandala IV provides the most elaborate account of the Vedic version. The verses describe the events and circumstances leading up to the battle between Indra and Vritra, the battle itself, and the outcome of the battle.

Illuyanka

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. The myth is found in Catalogue des Textes Hittites 321, which gives two consecutive versions.

In the first version, the two gods fight and Illuyanka wins. Teshub then goes to the Hattian goddess Inaras for advice. Having promised her love to a mortal named Hupasiyas in return for his help, she devises a trap for the dragon. She goes to him with large quantities of food and drink, and entices him to drink his fill. Once drunk, the dragon is bound by Hupasiyas with a rope. Then the Sky God Teshub appears with the other gods and kills the dragon.

In the second version, after the two gods fight and Teshub loses, Illuyanka takes Teshub’s eyes and heart. To avenge himself upon the dragon, the Sky God Teshub marries the goddess Hebat, daughter of a mortal, named Arm. They have a son, Sarruma, who grows up and marries the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

The Sky God Teshub tells his son to ask for the return of Teshub’s eyes and heart as a wedding gift, and he does so. His eyes and heart restored, Teshub goes to face the dragon Illuyanka once more.

At the point of vanquishing the dragon, Sarruma finds out about the battle and realizes that he had been used for this purpose. He demands that his father take his life along with Illuyanka’s, and so Teshub kills them both with thundery rain and lightning.

This version is illustrated on a relief which was discovered at Malatya (dating from 1050-850 BC) and is on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey.

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.

Etymology

The Latin word draco, as in the constellation, Draco, comes directly from Greek drákōn, gazer. The word for dragon in Germanic mythology and its descendants is worm (Old English: wyrm, Old High German: wurm, Old Norse: ormr), meaning snake or serpent. In Old English, wyrm means “serpent”, and draca means “dragon”.

Illuyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, the illuy- part is cognate to the word illa, and the -anka part is cognate to angu, a word 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.

Since the words for “snake” (and similarly shaped animals) are often subject to taboo in many Indo-European (and non-Indo-European) languages, no unambiguous Proto-Indo-European form of the word for eel can be reconstructed. It may have been *ēl(l)-u-, *ēl(l)-o-, or something similar.

Finnish lohikäärme directly translated means “salmon-snake”, but the word lohi- was originally louhi- meaning crags or rocks, a “mountain snake”. The prefix lohi- in lohikäärme is also thought to derive from the ancient Norse word lógi, meaning “fire”, as in Finnish mythology there are also references to “tulikäärme” meaning fire-snake, or fire-serpent.

An eel is any fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and about 800 species. Most eels are predators. The term “eel” (originally referring to the European eel) is also used for some other similarly shaped fish, such as electric eels and spiny eels, but these are not members of the Anguilliformes order.

The Anguillidae are a family of fishes that contains the freshwater eels. The 19 species and six subspecies in this family are all in genus Anguilla. They are catadromous, meaning they spend their lives in freshwater rivers, lakes, or estuaries, and return to the ocean to spawn.

The English name “eel” descends from Old English ǽl, Common Germanic *ǣlaz. Also from the common Germanic are German Aal, Middle Dutch ael, Old High German âl, and Old Norse áll.

Katz (1998) identifies a number of Indo-European cognates, among them the second part of the Latin word for eels, anguilla, attested in its simplex form illa (in a glossary only), and the Greek word for “eel”, egkhelys (the second part of which is attested in Hesychius as elyes).

The first compound member, anguis (“snake”), is cognate to other Indo-European words for “snake” (compare Old Irish escung “eel”, Old High German unc “snake”, Lithuanian angìs, Greek ophis, okhis, Vedic Sanskrit áhi, Avestan aži, Armenian auj, iž, Old Church Slavonic *ǫžь, all from Proto-Indo-European *oguhis, ēguhis).

The word also appears in the Old English word for “hedgehog,” which is igil (meaning “snake eater”), and perhaps in the egi- of Old High German egidehsa “wall lizard”. According to this theory, the name Bellerophon, attested in a variant in Eustathius of Thessalonica, is also related, translating to “the slayer of the serpent” (ahihán).

On this theory, the word is an adjective form of an older word meaning “snake”, which is directly comparable to Hittite ellu-essar- “snake pit”. This myth likely came to Greece via Anatolia.

The daylight passage in the spring of elvers upstream along the Thames was at one time called “eel fare”. The word ‘elver’ is thought to be a corruption of “eel fare.”

Set

As noted by Herodotus, Typhon was traditionally identified with the Egyptian Set (also spelled Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty), a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion, who was also known to the Greeks as Typhon.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled Osiris’ corpse and resurrected him long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts. The death of Osiris and the battle between Horus and Set is a popular theme in Egyptian mythology.

As early as pre-dynastic Egypt, Set’s mascot or emblem was the Set animal; the Greeks and later classicists referred to this unidentified aardvark-like creature as the Typhonic beast. In the Orphic tradition, just as Set is responsible for the murder of Osiris, Typhon leads the Titans when they attack and kill Dionysus, who also became identified with the earlier Osiris.

Set is not, however, a god to be ignored or avoided; he has a positive role where he is employed by Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land.

Apep

Apep or Apophis was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”.

He appears in art as a giant serpent. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāpī, as it was written pp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Aphōph. Apep was first mentioned in the Eighth Dynasty.

As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Already on a Naqada I (ca. 4000 BC) C-ware bowl (now in Cairo) a snake was painted on the inside rim combined with other desert and aquatic animals as a possible enemy of a deity, possibly a solar deity, who is invisibly hunting in a big rowing vessel.

Also, comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. The etymology of his name (pp) is perhaps to be sought in some west-semitic language where a word root pp meaning ‘to slither’ existed. A verb root pp does at any rate not exist elsewhere in Ancient Egyptian. (It is not to be confused with the verb pı͗/pp: ‘to fly across the sky, to travel’).

Apep’s name much later came to be falsely connected etymologically in Egyptian with a different root meaning (he who was) spat out; the Romans referred to Apep by this translation of his name.

Apophis was a large golden snake known to be miles long. He was so large that he attempted to swallow the sun every day. Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint.

Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Since everyone can see that the sun is not attacked by a giant snake during the day, every day, storytellers said that Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night.

The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god overthrown by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.

The Coffin Texts imply that Apep used a magical gaze to overwhelm Ra and his entourage. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, including Set and possibly the Eye of Ra. Apep’s movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms. In some accounts, Ra himself defeats Apep in the form of a cat.

Ra was worshipped, and Apep worshipped against. Ra’s victory each night was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshippers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky.

In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Chaos, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep’s evil for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra.

The Egyptian priests had a detailed guide to fighting Apep, referred to as The Books of Overthrowing Apep (or the Book of Apophis, in Greek). The chapters described a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal.

In addition to stories about Ra’s winnings, this guide had instructions for making wax models, or small drawings, of the serpent, which would be spat on, mutilated and burnt, whilst reciting spells that would kill Apep. Fearing that even the image of Apep could give power to the demon any rendering would always include another deity to subdue the monster.

As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. The Book of the Dead does not frequently describe occasions when Ra defeated the chaos snake explicitly called Apep. Only BD Spells 7 and 39 can be explained as such.

Ninurta

Sea serpents feature prominently in the mythology of the Ancient Near East, attested as early as the 3rd millennium BCE in Sumerian iconography depicting the myth of the god Ninurta overcoming the seven-headed serpent. Its body was hung on the “shining cross-beam” of Ninurta’s chariot.

Anzu

Anzû, before misread as Zû (Sumerian: AN.ZUD, AN.IM.DUGUD.MUŠEN; cuneiform: An.Zud.Mušen, also known as Imdugud), is a lesser divinity or monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as son of Siris, the patron of beer who is conceived of as a demon, which is not necessarily evil. Anzû was seen as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately seen as a lion-headed eagle (like a reverse griffin).

Stephanie Dalley, in “Myths from Mesopotamia,” writes that “The Epic of Anzu’ is principally known in two versions: an Old Babylonian version of the early second millennium [BC], giving the hero as Ningursu; and “The Standard Babylonian” version, dating to the first millennium BC, which appears to be the most quoted version, with the hero as Ninurta. However, the Anzu character does appear more briefly in some other writings, as noted below.

Tiamat

It was relatively common for ancient near-eastern mythology to include a cosmic battle between a creator god and chaos god of the sea, usually in the form of a dragon or sea serpent. In this type of myth, the battle represented the creation of order out of chaos, as represented by the sea serpent. Often, the battle between deity and dragon pre-dated creation, as in the Babylonian myth of the god Marduk’s battle with the serpent goddess Tiamat. When she was defeated, Marduk used the body of Tiamat to create the heavens and the earth.

Mušḫuššu

The mušḫuššu (formerly also read as sirrušu, sirrush) is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. As depicted, it is a mythological hybrid: a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS, lit. “reddish snake” sometimes also translated as “fierce snake”. One author, possibly following others, translates it as “splendor serpent” (MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The reading sir-ruššu is due to a mistransliteration in early Assyriology).

The mušḫuššu is the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, the local god of Eshnunna.

The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as MUL.dMUŠ, “the serpent (with divine and star determinatives)”. It was depicted as a snake drawn out long with the forepaws of a lion, no hind-legs, with wings, and with a head comparable to the mušḫuššu dragon. This monstrous serpent may have inspired the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology and ultimately the modern Hydra constellation.

Bel and the Dragon, a deuterocanonical Biblical text, relates a story that Koldewey thought involved a mušḫuššu/sirrush. In a temple dedicated to Bel (Nebuchadnezzar’s god), priests had a “great dragon or serpent, which they of Babylon worshipped.”

Daniel, the protagonist of the Book of Daniel, was confronted with this creature by the priests in the apocryphal text. (see Additions to Daniel) They challenged him to match his invisible God against their living god. Eventually, Daniel poisoned the creature.

Yam

File:Destruction of Leviathan.png

In the Baʿal cycle of the Canaanite religion, Ba’al conquers Yam (meaning “sea”) in order to be enthroned as the leader of the Canaanite pantheon. 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 (Tiamat), of the oceans. This is 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.

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.

Leviathan

Mythologist Joseph Campbell also makes parallels to the slaying of Leviathan (“twisted, coiled”), a sea monster referenced in the Tanakh, or the Old Testament, by YHWH, about which YHWH boasts to Job. The word has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature.

Later Jewish sources describe Leviathan as a dragon who lives over the Sources of the Deep and who, along with the male land-monster Behemoth, will be served up to the righteous at the end of time.

When the Jewish midrash (explanations of the Tanakh) were being composed, it was held that God originally produced a male and a female leviathan, but lest in multiplying the species should destroy the world, he slew the female, reserving her flesh for the banquet that will be given to the righteous on the advent of the Messiah (B. B. 74b).

The Leviathan of the Middle Ages was used as an image of Satan, endangering both God’s creatures—by attempting to eat them—and God’s creation—by threatening it with upheaval in the waters of Chaos.

St. Thomas Aquinas described Leviathan as the demon of envy, first in punishing the corresponding sinners (Secunda Secundae Question 36). Peter Binsfeld likewise classified Leviathan as the demon of envy, as one of the seven Princes of Hell corresponding to the seven deadly sins.

Leviathan became associated with, and may originally have referred to, the visual motif of the Hellmouth, a monstrous animal into whose mouth the damned disappear at the Last Judgement, found in Anglo-Saxon art from about 800, and later all over Europe.

As early as 1894, scholars began to note the similarity of these earlier stories and the references to the sea serpent Leviathan’s battle with Yahweh found in the Tanakh. Isaiah 27:1 uses similar phrases to describe Leviathan (although in this case the name “Leviathan” may refer to an unnamed historical/political enemy of Israel rather than the original serpent-monster).

However, in Psalm 104, Leviathan is not described as harmful in any way, but simply as a creature of the ocean, part of God’s creation. It is possible that the authors of the Job 41:2–26, on the other hand, based the Leviathan on descriptions of Egyptian animal mythology where the crocodile is the enemy of the solar deity Horus (and is subdued either by Horus or by the Pharaoh).

This is in contrast to typical descriptions of the sea monster trope in terms of mythological combat. It is likely that authors of these later books had attempted to naturalize Leviathan as part of a process transforming understanding of it from a serpent god of chaos, to a demon, and finally to a non-supernatural animal.

In literature (e.g., Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick) it refers to great whales, and in Modern Hebrew, it simply means “whale”. It is described extensively in Job 41 and mentioned in Job 3:8, Amos 9:2, Psalm 74:13-24, Psalm 104:26 and Isaiah 27:1.

Lotan

In the Ugaritic texts, the dragon Lotan or Lawtan, or possibly another of Yam’s helpers, is given the epithets “wriggling serpent” and “mighty one with the seven heads”. He is the seven-headed sea serpent or dragon of Ugaritic myths. He is either a pet of the god Yamm or an aspect of Yamm himself; the cosmic ocean of myth is often known as a great stream.

In the Hebrew/Caananite analogue Lotan is also known as Yam (Sea) and the Leviathan. He represents the mass destruction of floods, oceans, and winter. He lives in a palace in the sea. He fights with Baal Hadad, who scatters him.

The beast

The beast (Greek: Thērion) refers to two beasts described in the Book of Revelation. The first beast comes from “out of the sea” and is given authority and power by the dragon. This first beast is initially mentioned in Revelation 11:7 as coming out of the abyss. His appearance is described in detail in Revelation 13:1-10, and some of the mystery behind his appearance is revealed in Revelation 17:7-18.

The second beast comes from “out of the earth” and directs all peoples of the earth to worship the first beast. The second beast is described in Revelation 13:11-18 and is also referred to as the false prophet.

The two beasts are aligned with the dragon in opposition to God. They persecute the “saints” and those who do “not worship the image of the beast [of the sea]” and influence the kings of the earth to gather for the battle of Armageddon. The two beasts are defeated by Christ and are thrown into the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation 19:18-20.

Saint George and the Dragon

The episode Saint George and the Dragon appended to the hagiography of Saint George was Eastern in origin, brought back with the Crusaders and retold with the courtly appurtenances belonging to the genre of Romance.

The earliest known depictions of the motif are from tenth- or eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia; previously, in the iconography of Eastern Orthodoxy, George had been depicted as a soldier since at least the seventh century. The earliest known surviving narrative of the dragon episode is an eleventh-century Georgian text.

The dragon motif was first combined with the already standardised Passio Georgii in Vincent of Beauvais’ encyclopedic Speculum Historiale, and then Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend (ca 1260) guaranteed its popularity in the later Middle Ages as a literary and pictorial subject. The legend gradually became part of the Christian traditions relating to Saint George and was used in many festivals thereafter.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The three zones of the ecliptic

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Latitude in Astrology

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.

An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.

The summing-up of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Enlil (and later Marduk), and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Enlil, and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.

Each of the three must have been regarded in his centre as the most important member in a larger or smaller group, so that their union in a triad marks also the combination of the three distinctive pantheons into a harmonious whole.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu).

The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antum (or as some scholars prefer to read, Anatum) is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Sumerian pantheon: An, Dingir, Nin/Eresh, Shar

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

An

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted. The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

The Hurrians found the small state (or states) of Urkesh & Nawar, based on the two cities of the same name in northern Mesopotamia. Nawar seems to fall under the control of the Akkadian empire for a period, with the city serving as an administrative centre. The names of five of the kings of Urkesh and Nawar are known for this period, but there are certainly others whose names have been lost. Uniquely, the people of Urkesh use the term ‘endan’ to refer to the early kings.

Dingir

Dingir (usually transliterated diĝir) is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.

The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.

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

The Sumerian sign DIĜIRoriginated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.

NIN

The Sumerian word NIN (from the Akkadian pronunciation of the sign EREŠ) was used to denote a queen or a priestess, and is often translated as “lady”. Other translations include “queen”, “mistress”, “proprietress”, and “lord”.

Many goddesses are called NIN, such as NIN.GAL (“great lady”), É.NIN.GAL (“lady of the great temple”), EREŠ.KI.GAL, and NIN.TI. The compound form NIN.DINGIR (“divine lady” or “lady of [a] god”), from the Akkadian entu, denotes a priestess.

NIN originated as a ligature of the cuneiform glyphs of MUNUS and TÚG; the NIN sign was written as MUNUS.TÚG in archaic cuneiform, notably in the Codex Hammurabi. The syllable nin, on the other hand, was written as MUNUS.KA in Assyrian cuneiform. MUNUS.KU = NIN means “sister”.

Ninsun (NIN.SÚN) is the mother of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The other personage using NIN is the god Ninurta (NIN.URTA). The other major usage is for the Akkadian word eninna (nin as in e-nin-na, but also other variants). Eninna is the adverb “now”, but it can also be used as a conjunction, or as a segue-form (a transition form).

Shar

Shar means shar-whole or entire. To Enki 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”. Inanna (Old Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre.

Kish (Sumerian: Kiš; transliteration: Kiŝ; cuneiform: Akkadian: kiššatu) was an ancient city of Sumer in Mesopotamia, considered to have been located near the modern Tell al-Uhaymir in the Babil Governorate of Iraq, some 12 km east of Babylon and 80 km south of Baghdad. The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings following the deluge, beginning with Jushur.

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.

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

The Germanic gods: Æs, Van and God

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Oppositions: Masculine/Feminine – Sky/Earth

Odin/Frigg (sky) – óðr/Freyja (earth) (Sumerian: An/Antu-Inanna)

Balder/Nanna (Sumerian: Tammuz/Inanna)

Šamaš (Sumerian Utu) is the god of the sun, who was associated with life, justice, divination and the netherworld).

Odin – Sumerian UD (“sun”)

Arinna was the major cult center of the Hittite sun goddess, (thought to be Arinniti) known as UTU Arinna “sun goddess of Arinna”. Arinna was located near Hattusa, the Hittite capital. The name was also used as a substitute name for Arinniti.

The sun goddess of Arinna is the most important one of three important solar deities of the Hittite pantheon, besides UTU nepisas – “the sun of the sky” and UTU taknas – “the sun of the earth”. She was considered to be the chief deity in some source, in place of her husband. Her consort was the weather god, Teshub. The goddess was also perceived to be a paramount chthonic or earth goddess. She becomes largely syncretised with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and the twins Inanna and Ereshkigal. His center cult was located in the city of Larsa.

Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain. Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself.

He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”. Marduk is spelled AMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, “the calf of Utu” or “the young bull of the Sun”.

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span.

The corresponding location in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. Jeffrey H. Tigay suggests that in the Sumerian version, through its association with the sun god Utu, “(t)he Cedar Mountain is implicitely located in the east, whereas in the Akkadian versions, Gilgamesh’s destination (is) removed from the east” and “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon”.

One theory is that the only location suitable for being called a “cedar land” was the great forest covering Lebanon and western parts of Syria and, in consequence, “Mashu” is the whole of the parallel Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, with the narrow gap between these mountains constituting the tunnel.

The word “Mashu” itself may translate as “two mountains”, from the Babylonian for twins. The “twins”, in Semitic mythology, were also often seen as two mountains, one at the eastern edge of the world (in the lower Zagros), the other at the western edge of the world (in the Taurus), and one of these seem to have had an Iranian location.

Mashu, today, is a village in the Elburz mountains of Iran. Siduri, the Alewife, lived on the shore, associated with “the Waters of Death” that Gilgamesh had to cross to reach Utnapishtim, the far-away. Masis is the Armenian name for the peak of Ararat, the plural ‘Masiq’ may refer to both peaks. The History of Armenia derives the name from a king Amasya, the great-grandson of the Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

Edin/Aten-Aton

Edin (É.DIN, E2.DIN, E-din) is a Sumerian term meaning “steppe” or “plain”. It is featured on the Gudea cylinders as the name of a watercourse from which plaster is taken to build a temple for Ningirsu.

Friedrich Delitzsch was the first amongst numerous scholars to suggest the Jewish and Christian term Eden, “garden of God”, traced back to this term. It has also been connected with the later Babylonian term “Edinu”.

Traditionally, the favoured derivation of the name “Eden” was from the Akkadian edinnu, derived from a Sumerian word meaning “plain” or “steppe”. Eden is now believed to be more closely related to an Aramaic root word meaning “fruitful, well-watered.” The Hebrew term is translated “pleasure” in Sarah’s secret saying in Genesis 18:12.

Principles of Aten’s religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten (Atenism), night is a time to fear. Work is done best when the sun, Aten, is present. The explanation to why Aten could not be fully represented was that the god has gone beyond creation.

Aten cares for every creature, and created a Nile river in the sky (rain) for the Syrians. Aten created all countries and people. The rays of the sun disk only hold out life to the royal family; everyone else receives life from Akhenaten and Nefertiti in exchange of loyalty for Aten.

When a good person dies, he/she continues to live in the City of Light for the dead in Akhetaten. The conditions are the same after death. Akhenaten judged whether someone should be granted an afterlife, and operated the scale of justice.

An/Antu-Inanna

The purely theoretical character of An is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made. His name becomes little more than a synonym for the heavens in general and even his title as king or father of the gods has little of the personal element in it.

A consort Antu is assigned to him, on the theory that every deity must have a female associate. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin (Inanna), whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. An resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven.

Inanna (Nanna), Tammuz (Balder), Ereshkigal (Hel)

Inanna (Akkadian: Ištar; Neo-Assyrian MUŠ) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. She was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia.

As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) temple in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice. In addition persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

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.

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.

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

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

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”.The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

She also is one of the Sumerian war deities: “She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.”

Inanna also was associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star as was the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite or Venus. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

In Inanna and Shukaletuda, in search of her attacker, Inanna makes several movements throughout the myth that correspond with the movements of Venus in the sky. An introductory hymn explains Inanna leaving the heavens and heading for Kur, what could be presumed to be, the mountains, replicating the rising and setting of Inanna to the West. Shukaletuda also is described as scanning the heavens in search of Inanna, possibly to the eastern and western horizons.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. The goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna/Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld.

She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

One of these myths is Inanna’s descent to the netherworld and her reception by her sister who presides over it; Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Tammuz, the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, in exchange for herself. The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god, who becomes her husband.

According to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld, represented in parallel Sumerian and Akkadian tablets, Ereshkigal is in mourning at the death of her consort, Gugalanna (The Wild Bull of Heaven Sumerian Gu = Bull, Gal = Great, An = Heaven). Inanna (Ishtar in the Akkadian texts) then set off for the netherworld, or Kur, which was ruled by her sister Ereshkigal.

She passed through seven gates and at each one was required to leave a garment or an ornament so that when she had passed through the seventh gate she was a simple woman, entirely naked. Despite warnings about her presumption, she did not turn back but dared to sit herself down on Ereshkigal’s throne. Immediately the Anunnaki of the underworld judged her, gazed at her with the eyes of death, and she became a corpse, hung up on a meathook.

Based on the incomplete texts as first found, it was assumed that Ishtar/Inanna’s descent into Kur occurred after the death of (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) rather than before and that her purpose was to rescue Tammuz/Dumuzid, but new texts uncovered in 1963 filled in the story in quite another fashion, showing that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release.

Inanna’s faithful servant attempted to get help from the other gods but only wise Enki/Ea responded. The details of Enki/Ea’s plan differ slightly in the two surviving accounts, but in the end, Inanna/Ishtar was resurrected.

However, a “conservation of souls” law required her to find a replacement for herself in Kur. She went from one god to another, but each one pleaded with her and she had not the heart to go through with it until she found Dumuzid/Tammuz richly dressed and on her throne.

Inanna/Ishtar immediately set her accompanying demons on Dumuzid/Tammuz. At this point the Akkadian text fails as Tammuz’ sister Belili, introduced for the first time, strips herself of her jewelry in mourning but claims that Tammuz and the dead will come back.

There is some confusion here. The name Belili occurs in one of the Sumerian texts also, but it is not the name of Dumuzid’s sister who is there named Geshtinana, a minor goddess, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, but is the name of an old woman whom another text calls Bilulu.

In any case, the Sumerian texts relate how Dumuzid fled to his sister Geshtinana who attempted to hide him but who could not in the end stand up to the demons. Dumuzid has two close calls until the demons finally catch up with him under the supposed protection of this old woman called Bilulu or Belili and then they take him. However Inanna repents.

Inanna seeks vengeance on Bilulu, on Bilulu’s murderous son G̃irg̃ire and on G̃irg̃ire’s consort Shirru “of the haunted desert, no-one’s child and no-one’s friend”. Inanna changes Bilulu into a waterskin and G̃irg̃ire into a protective god of the desert while Shirru is assigned to watch always that the proper rites are performed for protection against the hazards of the desert.

Finally, Inanna relents and changes her decree thereby restoring her husband Dumuzi to life; an arrangement is made by which Geshtinana will take Dumuzid’s place in Kur for six months of the year: “You (Dumuzi), half the year. Your sister (Geštinanna), half the year!”

It is theorized that the story of Inanna’s descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the netherworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god.

The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana . It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

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. The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), a Greek demi-god of beauty and desire who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Adonis has had multiple roles, and there has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. He is an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

His religion belonged to women: the dying of Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, about 600 BC, as revealed in a fragment of Sappho’s surviving poetry.

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

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.

Tammuz is the month of July in Iraqi Arabic and Levantine Arabic, and references to Tammuz appear in Arabic literature from the 9th to 11th centuries AD. In a translation of an ancient Nabataean text by Kuthami the Babylonian, Ibn Wahshiyya (c. 9th-10th century AD), adds information on his own efforts to ascertain the identity of Tammuz, and his discovery of the full details of the legend of Tammuz in another Nabataean book:

“How he summoned the king to worship the seven (planets) and the twelve (signs) and how the king put him to death several times in a cruel manner Tammuz coming to life again after each time, until at last he died; and behold! it was identical to the legend of St. George. ”

Ibn Wahshiyya also adds that Tammuz lived in Babylonia before the coming of the Chaldeans and belonged to an ancient Mesopotamian tribe called Ganbân. On rituals related to Tammuz in his time, he adds that the Sabaeans in Harran and Babylonia still lamented the loss of Tammuz every July, but that the origin of the worship had been lost.

Al-Nadim in his 10th century work Kitab al-Fehrest drawing from a work on Syriac calendar feast days, describes a Tâ’ûz festival that took place in the middle of the month of Tammuz. The same festival is mentioned in the 11th century by Ibn Athir as still taking place at the appointed time on the banks of the Tigris river.

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.

Other Sumerian texts showed that kings were to be married to Inanna in a sacred marriage, for example a hymn that describes the sacred marriage of King Iddid-Dagan (ca 1900 BCE). A number of pastoral poems and songs relate the love affair of Inanna and Dumuzid the shepherd. A text recovered in 1963 recounts “The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi” in terms that are tender and frankly erotic.

Today several versions of the Sumerian death of Dumuzi have been recovered, “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”, “Dumuzi’s dream” and “Dumuzi and the galla”, as well as a tablet separately recounting Dumuzi’s death, mourned by holy Inanna, and his noble sister Geštinanna, and even his dog and the lambs and kids in his fold; Dumuzi himself is weeping at the hard fate in store for him, after he had walked among men, and the cruel galla of the Underworld seize him.

Demeter (Inanna, Ceres, Nanna),

Persephone (Ereshkigal, Proserpina, Hel)

Poseidon (Enki, Neptune, Njord)

Cronus (Enlil, Saturn, Odin) – The second sun

In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, and is the queen of the underworld. . Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, usually in orphic tradition. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Demeter, is called Ceres.

Persephone was commonly worshipped along with Demeter and with the same mysteries. To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion. In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the act of being carried off by Hades.

The cult titles of Demeter include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; “phoros”: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society. Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death.

Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina.

Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld. The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Demeter and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon.

Poseidon is called the “God of the Sea”. His main domain is the ocean. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”. 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 island of Atlantis was the chosen domain of Poseidon.

The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Neptune was the god of freshwater and the sea in Roman religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon. 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.

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 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. 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: posis, from PIE *pótis) and another element meaning “earth” (da), Doric for (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 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”.

If surviving Linear B clay tablets can be trusted, the name po-se-da-wo-ne (“Poseidon”) occurs with greater frequency than does di-u-ja (“Zeus”). A feminine variant, po-se-de-ia, is also found, indicating a lost consort goddess, in effect a precursor of Amphitrite.

Poseidon carries frequently the title wa-na-ka ( wanax) in Linear B inscriptions, as king of the underworld. The chthonic nature of Poseidon-Wanax is also indicated by his title E-ne-si-da-o-ne in Mycenean Knossos and Pylos, a powerful attribute (earthquakes had accompanied the collapse of the Minoan palace-culture).

In the cave of Amnisos (Crete) Enesidaon is related with the cult of Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth. Tablets from Pylos record sacrificial goods destined for “the Two Queens and Poseidon” (“to the Two Queens and the King”: wa-na-soi, wa-na-ka-te). The “Two Queens” may be related with Demeter and Persephone, or their precursors, goddesses who were not associated with Poseidon in later periods.

The illuminating exception is the archaic and localised myth of the stallion Poseidon and mare Demeter at Phigalia in isolated and conservative Arcadia, noted by Pausanias (2nd century AD) as having fallen into desuetude; the violated Demeter was Demeter Erinys.

It is possible that Demeter appears as Da-ma-te in a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription (PN EN 609), however the interpretetion is still under dispute. In Linear B inscriptions found at Pylos, E-ne-si-da-o-ne is related with Poseidon, and Si-to Po-tini-ja is probably related with Demeter.

In the heavily sea-dependent Mycenaean culture, no connection between Poseidon and the sea has yet surfaced. Homer and Hesiod suggest that Poseidon became lord of the sea following the defeat of his father Kronos, when the world was divided by lot among his three sons; Zeus was given the sky, Hades the underworld, and Poseidon the sea, with the Earth and Mount Olympus belonging to all three.

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.

Kumarbi Cycle

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El. Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. These texts notably include the myth of The Kingship in Heaven (also known as the Song of Kumarbi, or the “Hittite Theogony”.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible. The song relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods.

In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.

From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Frigg/Freyja – Odin/Oðr

In Norse mythology, the northernmost branch of Germanic mythology and most extensively attested, Frigg is described as a goddess associated with foreknowledge and wisdom. Frigg is the wife of the major god Odin and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge, is associated with the goddesses Fulla, Lofn, Hlín, and Gná, and is ambiguously associated with the Earth, otherwise personified as an apparently separate entity, Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”).

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures. The same holds for Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German and vrijdag in Dutch.

The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris or “day of Venus” (a translation of Greek Aphrodites hemera) such as vendredi in French, venerdì in Italian, viernes in Spanish, divendres in Catalan, vennari in Corsican, and vineri in Romanian. This is also reflected in the p-Celtic Welsh language as dydd Gwener.

An exception is Portuguese, also a Romance language, which uses the word sexta-feira, meaning “sixth day of liturgical celebration”, derived from the Latin “feria sexta” used in religious texts where it was not allowed to consecrate days to pagan gods.

The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr instead, indicating a loan of the week-day names from Low German. The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day. The distinction between Freyja and Frigg in some Germanic mythologies is problematic.

Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”). The name Freyja is transparently “lady” and ultimately derives from Proto-Germanic *fraw(j)ōn. Freyja is cognate with, for example, Old Saxon frūa “lady, mistress” and Old High German frouwa (compare modern German Frau “lady”).

The theonym Freyja is thus considered to have been an epithet in origin, replacing a personal name that is now unattested. As a result, either the original name became entirely taboo or another process occurred in which the goddess is a duplicate or hypostasis of another known goddess

Freyja is believed to, along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), originally have been a member of the Vanir, one of the two clans of deity. Following the Æsir–Vanir War, in which Freyja and her kin clashed with the other deity group, the Æsir, a truce was called, with Freyja actually joining her former enemies.

Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr ( from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”), associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”, and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Freyja is associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and violent death. She is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

Freyja rules over her heavenly afterlife field Fólkvangr and there receives half of those that die in battle, whereas the other half go to the god Odin’s hall, Valhalla. Within Fólkvangr is her hall, Sessrúmnir. Freyja assists other deities by allowing them to use her feathered cloak, is invoked in matters of fertility and love, and is frequently sought after by powerful jötnar who wish to make her their wife.

Freyja’s name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.

Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr (Old Norse for the “Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager”, as a noun “mind, feeling” and also “song, poetry”; Orchard (1997) gives “the frenzied one”) or Óð, sometimes angliziced as Odr or Od, a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names.

The Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, both describe Óðr as Freyja’s husband and father of her daughter Hnoss. Heimskringla adds that the couple produced another daughter, Gersemi. A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, generally that he is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities.

The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit” (so used in stanza 18.1 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá). In addition, óðr can also mean “song”, “poetry” and “inspiration”, and it has connotations of “possession”.

It is derived from a Proto-Germanic *wōð- or *wōþ- and it is related to Gothic wôds (“raging”, “possessed”), Old High German wuot (“fury” “rage, to be insane”) and the Anglo-Saxon words wód (“fury”, “rabies”) and wóð (“song”, “cry”, “voice”, “poetry”, “eloquence”). Old Norse derivations include œði “strong excitation, possession”.

Ultimately these Germanic words are derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *wāt-, which meant “to blow (on), to fan (flames)”, fig. “to inspire”. The same root also appears in Latin vātēs (“seer”, “singer”), which is considered to be a Celtic loanword, compare to Irish fāith (“poet”, but originally “excited”, “inspired”). The root has also been said to appear in Sanskrit vāt- “to fan”.

The children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr, a god of light and purity. His home is Glitnir, its name, meaning “shining,” referring to its silver ceiling and golden pillars, which radiated light that could be seen from a great distance. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Baldr’s wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti, (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese) is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.

After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea. In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again. In an attempt to bring back Baldr from the dead, the god Hermóðr rides to Hel and, upon receiving the hope of resurrection from the being Hel, Nanna gives Hermóðr gifts to give to the goddess Frigg (a robe of linen), the goddess Fulla (a finger-ring), and others (unspecified).

An

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted. The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

Endan

The Hurrians found the small state (or states) of Urkesh & Nawar, based on the two cities of the same name in northern Mesopotamia. Nawar seems to fall under the control of the Akkadian empire for a period, with the city serving as an administrative centre. The names of five of the kings of Urkesh and Nawar are known for this period, but there are certainly others whose names have been lost. Uniquely, the people of Urkesh use the term ‘endan’ to refer to the early kings.

Æs, Van and God

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future. All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir.

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

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.

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

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *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.

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

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

In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon. After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Æsir.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), which is thought to derive from Proto-Germanic *ǥuđán, the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

The Proto-Germanic meaning of *ǥuđán and its etymology is uncertain. It is generally agreed that it derives from a Proto-Indo-European neuter passive perfect participle *ǵʰu-tó-m. This form within (late) Proto-Indo-European itself was possibly ambiguous, and thought to derive from a root *ǵʰeu̯- “to pour, libate” (Sanskrit huta, see hotṛ), or from a root *ǵʰau̯- (*ǵʰeu̯h2-) “to call, to invoke” (Sanskrit hūta). Sanskrit hutá = “having been sacrificed”, from the verb root hu = “sacrifice”, but a slight shift in translation gives the meaning “one to whom sacrifices are made.”

Depending on which possibility is preferred, the pre-Christian meaning of the Germanic term may either have been (in the “pouring” case) “libation” or “that which is libated upon, idol” — or, as Watkins opines in the light of Greek “poured earth” meaning “tumulus”, “the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound” — or (in the “invoke” case) “invocation, prayer” (compare the meanings of Sanskrit brahman) or “that which is invoked”.

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (gen. āsir) which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansis ~ ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. h₂n̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *h₂n̥suró)). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *h₂ens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr “Thor of the Aesir”, besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The feminine’s -ynja suffix is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside Old Norse.

The latinization of Danish Aslak as Ansleicus indicates that the nasalization in the first syllable persisted into the 9th century.

The cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names (e.g. Oscar, Osborne, Oswald) and some place names, and as the genitive plural ēsa (ēsa gescot and ylfa gescot, “the shots of anses and of elves”, jaculum divorum et geniorum).

In Old High German and Old Saxon the word is only attested in personal and place names, e.g. Ansebert, Anselm, Ansfrid, Vihans. Jordanes has anses for the gods of the Goths.

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs ᚩ takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”. The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”.

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ) and ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a).

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark Ansuz rune is ᚬ, called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ᛅ) and /o/ (also written ᚢ). The variant grapheme ᚯ becomes independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph, the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician ‘Ālep , Hebrew ‘Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap , Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, and Arabic Alif ا.

The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

“Sacred marriage” or “Chaoskampf”

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

The beginning

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation depicted as a woman. She represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. 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.

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 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, according to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah the son of An and Nammu, took over most of her functions. 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 principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. 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.

Hieros gamos

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. The notion of hieros gamos does not presuppose actual performance in ritual, but is also used in purely symbolic or mythological context, notably in alchemy and hence in Jungian psychology.

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).

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.

Enki was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). 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.

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.

He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. 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.

A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (“lady of the sacred mountain”), a mother goddess of the mountains, principally a fertility goddess, who represented the Earth.

Temple hymn sources identify Ninhursag as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by her milk. Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

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

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

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

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up.

Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

Ninti is the Sumerian goddess of life. Her specific healing area was the rib. Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

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.

In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna.

Inanna (Old Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant.

The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG2) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.

The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists. Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

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

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

The temple of Eanna (“house of heaven”) in Uruk was the greatest of these. The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

In addition, according to Leick 1994 persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples. The deity of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess.

The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year) ceremony, at the spring Equinox.

According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history (end of the third millennium) kings established their legitimacy by taking the place of Dumuzi in the temple for one night on the tenth day of the New Year festival.

Inanna is the goddess of love. In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh points out Inanna’s infamous ill-treatment of her lovers. Inanna also has a very complicated relationship with her lover, Dumuzi, in “Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld”.

She also is one of the Sumerian war deities: “She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals.” Battle itself is sometimes referred to as “the dance of Inanna.”

Consider her description in one hymn: “When the servants let the flocks loose, and when cattle and sheep are returned to cow-pen and sheepfold, then, my lady, like the nameless poor, you wear only a single garment. The pearls of a prostitute are placed around your neck, and you are likely to snatch a man from the tavern.” Inanna also was associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star as was the Greco-Roman goddess Aphrodite or Venus.

A Sacred Marriage to Inanna may have conferred legitimacy on a number of rulers of Uruk. Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as Lugalbanda and Damuzi.

In Greek mythology the classic instance is the wedding of Zeus and Hera celebrated at the Heraion of Samos, and doubtless its architectural and cultural predecessors. Some scholars would restrict the term to reenactments, but most accept its extension to real or simulated union in the promotion of fertility: such an ancient union of Demeter with Iasion, enacted in a thrice-plowed furrow, a primitive aspect of a sexually-active Demeter reported by Hesiod, is sited in Crete, origin of much early Greek myth.

In actual cultus, Walter Burkert found the Greek evidence “scanty and unclear”: “To what extent such a sacred marriage was not just a way of viewing nature, but an act expressed or hinted at in ritual is difficult to say” the best-known ritual example surviving in classical Greece is the hieros gamos enacted at the Anthesteria by the wife of the Archon basileus, the “Archon King” in Athens, originally therefore the queen of Athens, with Dionysus, presumably represented by his priest or the basileus himself, in the Boukoleion in the Agora.

The brief fertilizing mystical union engenders Dionysus, and doubled unions, of a god and of a mortal man on one night, result, through telegony, in the semi-divine nature of Greek heroes such as Theseus and Heracles among others.

In Tantric Buddhism of Nepal, Bhutan, India and Tibet, yab-yum is a ritual of the male deity in union with his female consort. The symbolism is associated with Anuttarayoga tantra where the male figure is usually linked to compassion (karuṇā) and skillful means (upāya-kauśalya), and the female partner to ‘insight’ (prajñā). Yab-yum is generally understood to represent the primordial (or mystical) union of wisdom and compassion.

Maithuna is a Sanskrit term used in Tantra most often translated as sexual union in a ritual context. It is the most important of the five makara and constitutes the main part of the Grand Ritual of Tantra variously known as Panchamakara, Panchatattva, and Tattva Chakra.

The symbolism of union and polarity is a central teaching in Tantric Buddhism, especially in Tibet. The union is realized by the practitioner as a mystical experience within one’s own body.

The hieros gamos is one of the themes that Carl Jung dealt with, in his book Symbols of Transformation. In the novel Hieros Gamos (Sacred Union) – A Confession (2013), author Lia Cacciari, inspired by Jung’s thematic exploration of the hieros gamos as an alchemical union of opposites, tells a story of feuding medieval siblings that culminates in an incestuous union.

Chaoskampf

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. Hesiod and the Pre-Socratics use the Greek term in the context of cosmogony. Hesiod’s “chaos” has been interpreted as a moving, formless mass from which the cosmos and the gods originated.

Greek khaos means “emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss”, from the verb meaning “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 Hesiod’s opinion the origin should be indefinite and indeterminate, and it represents disorder and darkness. Chaos has been linked with the term tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2 . The term may refer to a state of non-being prior to creation or to a formless state. In the Book of Genesis, the spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters, and the earliest state of the universe is like a “watery chaos”. The Septuagint makes no use of χάος in the context of creation, instead using the term for גיא, “chasm, cleft”, in Micha 1:6 and Zacharia 14:4.

Of the certain uses of the word chaos in Theogony, in the creation the word is referring to a “gaping void” which gives birth to the sky, but later the word is referring to the gap between the earth and the sky, after their separation.

A parallel can be found in the Genesis. In the beginning God creates the earth and the sky. The earth is “formless and void” (tohu wa-bohu), and later God divides the waters under the firmament from the waters over the firmament, and calls the firmament “heaven”.

Nevertheless, the term chaos has been adopted in religious studies as referring to the primordial state before creation, strictly combining two separate notions of primordial waters or a primordial darkness from which a new order emerges and a primordial state as a merging of opposites, such as heaven and earth, which must be separated by a creator deity in an act of cosmogony.

In both cases, chaos referring to a notion of a primordial state contains the cosmos in potentia but needs to be formed by a demiurge before the world can begin its existence.

This model of a primordial state of matter has been opposed by the Church Fathers from the 2nd century, who posited a creation ex nihilo by an omnipotent God. In modern biblical studies, the term chaos is commonly used in the context of the Torah and their cognate narratives in Ancient Near Eastern mythology more generally.

Parallels between the Hebrew Genesis and the Babylonian Enuma Elish were established by H. Gunkel in 1910. Besides Genesis, other books of the Old Testament, especially a number of Psalms, some passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah and the Book of Job are relevant. Use of chaos in the derived sense of “complete disorder or confusion” first appears in Elizabethan Early Modern English, originally implying satirical exaggeration.

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).

Some scholars argue that this extends to 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), but this is hotly contested, as is the even more controversial view that the narrative appears in the crucifixion story of Jesus found in the gospels, a view debated by scholars such as Walter Wink, who indicates that the gospel accounts of Christ’s death present the diametric opposite thematic viewpoint presented in the Chaoskampf myths.

In the Theogony of Hesiod, Chaos is a divine primordial condition, which is the origin of the gods, and all things. It seems that in Hesiod’s opinion, the origin should be indefinite and indeterminate, and it may represent infinite space, or formless matter.

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” were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).

For Hesiod and the early Greek Olympian myth (8th century BC), Chaos was the first of the primordial deities, followed by Gaia (Earth), Tartarus and Eros (Love). From Chaos came Erebus and Nyx.

Passages in Hesiod’s Theogony suggest that Chaos was located below Earth but above Tartarus. Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus.

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.

The notion of the temporal infinity was familiar to the Greek mind from remote antiquity in the religious conception of immortality. This idea of “the divine” as an origin influenced the first Greek philosophers.

The main object of the first efforts to explain the world remained the description of its growth, from a beginning. They believed that the world arose out from a primal unity, and that this substance was the permanent base of all its being.

It seems that Anaximander was influenced by the traditional popular conceptions and Hesiod’s thought, when he claims that the origin is apeiron (the unlimited), a divine and perpetual substance less definite than the common elements. Everything is generated from apeiron, and must return there according to necessity.

A popular conception of the nature of the world was that the earth below its surface stretches down indefinitely and has its roots on or above Tartarus, the lower part of the underworld. In a phrase of Xenophanes, “The upper limit of the earth borders on air, near our feet. The lower limit reaches down to the “apeiron” (i.e. the unlimited).

The sources and limits of the earth, the sea, the sky, Tartarus, and all things are located in a great windy-gap, which seems to be infinite, and is a later specification of “chaos”. Primal Chaos was sometimes said to be the true foundation of reality, particularly by philosophers such as Heraclitus.

For the Roman poet Ovid Chaos was an unformed mass, where all the elements were jumbled up together in a “shapeless heap”. Ovid (1st century BC), in his Metamorphoses, described Chaos as “a rude and undeveloped mass, that nothing made except a ponderous weight; and all discordant elements confused, were there congested in a shapeless heap.”

Fifth-century Orphic cosmogony had a “Womb of Darkness” in which the Wind lay a Cosmic Egg whence Eros was hatched, who set the universe in motion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

More than a quincidence?

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2015

Hijri/Hijra

The Hijri year (AH anno hegirae) is the year-numbering system (or Calendar era) used in the Islamic calendar. It commences from the first day of the year of the Hijra, or emigration of Muhammad and his followers to the city of Medina in 622 CE. In Arabic, AH is symbolized by the letter. The year CE 2015 corresponds to the Islamic years 1436 – 1437 AH.

The Hajj (Arabic: Ḥaǧǧ “pilgrimage”) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm.

The date of Hajj is determined by Islamic calendar, which is a lunar year. Every year, the events of Hajj take place in a five-day period, starting on 8 and ending on 12 Dhul-Hijjah, the twelfth and last month of the Islamic calendar.

Hijra is a term used in South Asia – in particular, in India – to refer to an individual who is transsexual or transgender. In other areas of India, transgender people are also known as Aravani, Aruvani or Jagappa.

In Pakistan, the hijras identify themselves as either female, male or third gender. The term more commonly advocated by social workers and transgender community members themselves is khwaaja sira and can identify the individual as a transsexual person, transgender person (khusras), cross-dresser (zenanas) or eunuch (narnbans).

Hijras have a recorded history in the Indian subcontinent from antiquity onwards as suggested by the Kama Sutra. This history features a number of well-known roles within subcontinental cultures, part gender-liminal, part spiritual and part survival.

Historians attribute Kamasutra to be composed between 400 BCE and 200 CE. John Keay says that the Kama Sutra is a compendium that was collected into its present form in the 2nd century CE.

“Kāma” which is one of the four goals of Hindu life, means desire including sexual desire the latter being the subject of the textbook, and “sūtra” literally means a thread or line that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual.

Contrary to popular perception, especially in the western world, Kama sutra is not exclusively a sex manual; it presents itself as a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life.

Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior in Sanskrit literature written by Vātsyāyana, the name of a Hindu philosopher in the Vedic tradition who is believed to have lived around 2nd century CE in India.

In South Asia, many hijras live in well-defined and organised all-hijra communities, led by a guru. These communities have sustained themselves over generations by “adopting” young boys who are rejected by, or flee, their family of origin. Many work as sex workers for survival.

The word “hijra” is an Urdu-Hindustani word derived from the Semitic Arabic root hjr in its sense of “leaving one’s tribe,” and has been borrowed into Hindi. The Indian usage has traditionally been translated into English as “eunuch” or “hermaphrodite,” where “the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition.”

However, in general hijras are born with typically male physiology, only a few having been born with male intersex variations. Some Hijras undergo an initiation rite into the hijra community called nirwaan, which refers to the removal of the penis, scrotum and testicles.

Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and Western non-government organizations (NGOs) have lobbied for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of “third sex” or “third gender,” as neither man nor woman.

Hijras have successfully gained this recognition in Bangladesh and are eligible for priority in education. In India, the Supreme Court in April 2014 recognised hijra and transgender people as a ‘third gender’ in law.

Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have all legally recognized the existence of a third gender, including on passports and other official documents.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: