Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Archive for October, 2015

The seven rays

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 31, 2015

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.

In Ancient Mesopotamian religion, Humbaba, also spelled Huwawa, and surnamed the Terrible, was a monstrous giant of immemorial age raised by Utu, the Sun. Humbaba was the guardian of the Cedar Forest, where the gods lived, by the will of the god Enlil, who “assigned [Humbaba] as a terror to human beings.”

Humbaba is first mentioned in Tablet II of the Epic of Gilgamesh: after Gilgamesh and Enkidu become friends following their initial fight, they set out on an adventure to the Cedar Forest beyond the seventh mountain range, to slay Humbaba (Huwawa): “Enkidu,” Gilgamesh vows, “since a man cannot pass beyond the final end of life, I want to set off into the mountains, to establish my renown there.”

Gilgamesh tricks the monster into giving away his seven “radiances” by offering his sisters as wife and concubine. When Humbaba’s guard is down, Gilgamesh punches him and captures the monster. Defeated, Humbaba appeals to a receptive Gilgamesh for mercy, but Enkidu convinces Gilgamesh to slay Humbaba. In a last effort, Humbaba tries to escape but is decapitated by Enkidu, or in some versions by both heroes together; his head is put in a leather sack, which is brought to Enlil, the god who set Humbaba as the forest’s guardian.

While Gilgamesh thus distracts and tricks this spirit of the cedar forest, the fifty unmarried young men he has brought on the adventure are felling cedar timber, stripping it of its branches and laying it “in many piles on the hillside,” ready to be taken away. Thus the adventure reveals itself in the context of a timber raid, bringing cedar wood to timberless Mesopotamia.

Enlil becomes enraged upon learning this and redistributes Humbaba’s seven splendors (or in some tablets “auras”). “He gave Humbaba’s first aura to the fields. He gave his second aura to the rivers. He gave his third aura to the reed-beds. He gave his fourth aura to the lions. He gave his fifth aura to the palace (one text has debt slaves). He gave his sixth aura to the forests (one text has the hills). He gave his seventh aura to Nungal.”

No vengeance was laid upon the heroes, though Enlil says, “He should have eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink! He should have been honored.” As his death approaches, and Gilgamesh is oppressed with his own mortality, the gods remind him of his great feats: “…having fetched cedar, the unique tree, from its mountains, having killed Humbaba in the forest…”

The iconography of the apotropaic severed head of Humbaba, with staring eyes, flowing beard and wild hair, is well documented from the First Babylonian Dynasty, continuing into Neo-Assyrian art and dying away during the Achaemenid rule.

The severed head of the monstrous Humbaba found a Greek parallel in the myth of Perseus and the similarly employed head of Medusa, which Perseus placed in his leather sack. Archaic Greek depictions of the gorgoneion render it bearded, which is an anomaly in the female Gorgon. Judith McKenzie detected Humbaba heads in a Nabatean tomb frieze at Petra.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Kur (Sumerian) or Ersetu (Akkadian) is the underworld from which there is no return. It was also called earth of no return, Kurnugia in Sumerian and Erset la tari in Akkadian. Kur is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal, a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta.

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

The Sumerian netherworld was a place for the bodies of the dead to exist after death. One passed through the seven gates on their journey through the portal to the netherworld leaving articles of clothing and adornment at each gate, not necessarily by choice as there was a guardian at each gate to extract a toll for one’s passage and to keep one from going the wrong way.

The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition. In Sumerian religion, the Underworld was conceived of as a dreary, dark place; a home to deceased heroes and ordinary people alike. While everyone suffered an eternity of poor conditions, certain behavior while alive, notably creating a family to provide offerings to the deceased, could alleviate conditions somewhat.

Inanna’s reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana. Gugalana was the Bull of Heaven in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. To further add to the confusion, Ereshkigal’s husband typically is the plague god, Nergal.

In this story, before leaving Inanna instructed her minister and servant, Ninshubur, to plead with the deities Enlil, Sin, and Enki to save her if anything went amiss. The attested laws of the underworld dictate that, with the exception of appointed messengers, those who enter it could never leave.

Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads upon her breast, the ‘pala dress’ (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod, a tool used to physically measure lengths and survey areas of various sizes. These garments are each representations of powerful mes she possesses. Perhaps Inanna’s garments, unsuitable for a funeral, along with Inanna’s haughty behavior, make Ereshkigal suspicious.

Following Ereshkigal’s instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks why, and is told ‘It is just the ways of the Underworld’. She obliges and passes through. Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, at each one removing a piece of clothing or jewelry she had been wearing at the start of her journey, thus stripping her of her power.

When she arrives in front of her sister, she is naked. “After she had crouched down and had her clothes removed, they were carried away. Then she made her sister Erec-ki-gala rise from her throne, and instead she sat on her throne. The Anna, the seven judges, rendered their decision against her. They looked at her – it was the look of death. They spoke to her – it was the speech of anger. They shouted at her – it was the shout of heavy guilt. The afflicted woman was turned into a corpse. And the corpse was hung on a hook.”

Ereshkigal’s hatred for Inanna could be referenced in a few other myths. Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld; she can’t leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can’t visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal, who had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

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Apzu and the creation

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 31, 2015

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.

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter, the Goddess Sea (Engur), is the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods.”

As the watery creative force Nammu was said to preexist Ea-Enki. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu.

Nammu 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.

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. Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

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”.

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 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/Ninmah/Ninhursag (the Earth).

Ninhursag had many epithets including shassuru or “womb goddess”, tabsut ili “midwife of the gods”, “mother of all children” and “mother of the gods”. As the wife and consort of Enki Ninhursag was referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife).

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”,[9] possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu.

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.

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.

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.

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

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Enki, the Water-Lord then “caused to flow the ‘water of the heart” and having fertilised his consort Ninhursag, also known as Ki or Earth.

After “Nine days being her nine months, the months of ‘womanhood’… like good butter, Nintu, the mother of the land, …like good butter, gave birth to Ninsar, (Lady Greenery)”. When Ninhursag left him, as Water-Lord he came upon Ninsar (Lady Greenery).

Not knowing her to be his daughter, and because she reminds him of his absent consort, Enki then seduces and has intercourse with her. Ninsar then gave birth to Ninkur (Lady Fruitfulness or Lady Pasture), and leaves Enki alone again.

A second time, Enki, in his loneliness finds and seduces Ninkur, and from the union Ninkur gave birth to Uttu (weaver or spider, the weaver of the web of life). Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. In an alternative tradition Ninkur was the mother (by Enki) of Nin-imma, the deification of the female sex organs.

A third time Enki succumbs to temptation, and attempts seduction of Uttu. 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.

Uttu 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, or forbidden flowers, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. She was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him.

In another version of this myth Ninhursag 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, despite warnings, consumes the other seven fruits.

Consuming his own semen he fall 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.

The last one, Ninti is also a pun on Lady Life (Sumerian Ti means rib and to live), a title of Ninhursag herself. She is the Sumerian goddess of life and her specific healing area was the rib. The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis. Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the Hurrian goddess Kheba, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”.

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

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil, known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow, 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.

According to the epic of Gilgamesh, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim, who is tasked by Enki (Ea) to abandon his worldly possessions and create a giant ship to be called The Preserver of Life, survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

In the epic, overcome with the death of his friend Enkidu, the hero Gilgamesh sets out on a series of journeys to search for his ancestor Utnapishtim (Xisouthros) who lives at the mouth of the rivers and has been given eternal life. Utnapishtim counsels Gilgamesh to abandon his search for immortality but tells him about a plant that can make him young again.

Gilgamesh obtains the plant from the bottom of the sea in Delmun (current day Bahrain) but a serpent steals it, and Gilgamesh returns home to the city of Uruk having abandoned hope of either immortality or renewed youth.

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.

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The theogony

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 30, 2015

Odin

Four gods, Thor, Baldr, Viðarr and Váli, are explicitly identified as sons of Odin in the Eddic poems, in the skaldic poems, in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum, and in the Gylfaginning section of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. But silence on the matter does not indicate that other gods whose parentage is not mentioned in these works might not also be sons of Odin.

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

It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war. The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Odin is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as the Roman god Mercury.

The first clear example of this occurs in the Roman historian Tacitus’s late 1st-century work Germania, where, writing about the religion of the Suebi (a confederation of Germanic peoples), he comments that “among the gods Mercury is the one they principally worship.

They regard it as a religious duty to offer to him, on fixed days, human as well as other sacrificial victims. Hercules and Mars they appease by animal offerings of the permitted kind” and adds that a portion of the Suebi also venerate “Isis”. In this instance, Tacitus refers to the god Odin as “Mercury”, Thor as “Hercules”, and Týr as “Mars”, and the identity of the “Isis” of the Suebi has been debated.

Enki

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). He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud, identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions.

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 was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system..

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”.

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.

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.

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.”

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter, the Goddess Sea (Engur), 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. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu.

Nammu 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 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.

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). Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

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

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.

Stars of Enki

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.

Capricornus is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “horned goat” or “goat horn”, and it is commonly represented in the form of a sea-goat: a mythical creature that is half goat, half fish. Capricornus is usually drawn as a goat with the tail of a fish.

Under its modern boundaries it is bordered by Aquila, Sagittarius, Microscopium, Piscis Austrinus, and Aquarius. The constellation is located in an area of sky called the Sea or the Water, consisting of many water-related, and few land-related, constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus. It is the smallest constellation in the zodiac. This may be because the Sun passed through this part of the sky during the rainy season.

Most of these constellations are named by Ptolemy: Aquarius the Water-bearer, Capricornus the Sea-goat, Cetus the Whale, Delphinus the Dolphin, Eridanus the Great River, Hydra the Water serpent, Pisces the Fishes, and Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish (not named by Ptolemy). Sometimes included are the ship Argo and Crater the Water Cup.

Some water-themed constellations are newer, so are not in this region. They include Hydrus, the lesser water snake; Volans, the flying fish; and Dorado, the swordfish.

The brightest star in Capricornus is δ Capricorni, also called Deneb Algedi. The traditional name ‘Deneb Algedi’ derives from the Arabic ðanab al-jady (“the tail of the goat”), referring to the fishlike tail of the celestial sea-goat Capricorn. According to astrology, Deneb Algedi’s representation of a flexible tail is reflected in its association with both good and bad fortune alike.

Alpha Capricorni (α Cap, α Capricorni) is an optical double star in the constellation Capricornus. It has the traditional names Algiedi, Al Giedi, Algedi or Giedi; however, Giedi is sometimes also associated with β Capricorni. The name Algedi is derived from the Arabic word al-jady (“the billy goat” or “kid”) and also refers to the entire constellation of Capricornus.

Despite its faintness, Capricornus has one of the oldest mythological associations, having been consistently represented as a hybrid of a goat and a fish since the Middle Bronze Age. First attested in depictions on a cylinder-seal from around the 21st century BC, it was explicitly recorded in the Babylonian star catalogues as MULSUḪUR.MAŠ “The Goat-Fish” before 1000 BC. The constellation was a symbol of the god Ea and in the Early Bronze Age marked the winter solstice, an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year.

Due to the precession of the equinoxes the December solstice no longer takes place while the sun is in the constellation Capricornus, as it did until 130 BCE, but the astrological sign called Capricorn begins with the solstice. The solstice now takes place when the Sun is in Sagittarius.

The sun’s most southerly position, which is attained at the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice, is now called the Tropic of Capricorn, a term which also applies to the line on the Earth at which the sun is directly overhead at noon on that solstice. The Sun is now in Capricorn from late January through mid-February.

In Greek mythology, the constellation is sometimes identified as Amalthea, the goat that suckled the infant Zeus after his mother, Rhea, saved him from being devoured by his father, Cronos.

The goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty. Capricornus is also sometimes identified as Pan, the god with a goat’s head, who saved himself from the monster Typhon by giving himself a fish’s tail and diving into a river.

The planet Neptune was discovered in Capricornus by German astronomer Johann Galle, near Deneb Algedi (δ Capricorni) on September 23, 1846, which is appropriate as Capricornus can be seen best from Europe at 4:00am in September.

Corona Australis or Corona Austrina is a constellation in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere. Its Latin name means “southern crown”, and it is the southern counterpart of Corona Borealis, a small constellation in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere, the northern crown.

The brightest stars of Corona Borealis form a semicircular arc. Its Latin name, inspired by its shape, means “northern crown”. In classical mythology Corona Borealis generally represented the crown given by the god Dionysus to the Cretan princess Ariadne and set by him in the heavens.

Other cultures likened the pattern to a circle of elders, an eagle’s nest, a bear’s den, or even a smokehole. Ptolemy also listed a southern counterpart, Corona Australis, with a similar pattern.

The Ancient Greeks saw Corona Australis as a wreath rather than a crown and associated it with Sagittarius or Centaurus. Other cultures have likened the pattern to a turtle, ostrich nest, a tent, or even a hut belonging to a rock hyrax.

Corona Australis may have been recorded by ancient Mesopotamians in the MUL.APIN, as a constellation called MA.GUR (“The Bark”). However, this constellation, adjacent to SUHUR.MASH (“The Goat-Fish”, modern Capricornus), may instead have been modern Epsilon Sagittarii, a binary star system in the southern zodiac constellation Sagittarius. As a part of the southern sky, MA.GUR was one of the fifteen “stars of Ea”.

In the 3rd century BC, the Greek didactic poet Aratus wrote of, but did not name the constellation, instead calling the two crowns Stephanoi. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy described the constellation in the 2nd century AD, though with the inclusion of Alpha Telescopii, since transferred to Telescopium.

Ascribing 13 stars to the constellation, he named it Stephanos notios (“Southern Wreath”), while other authors associated it with either Sagittarius (having fallen off his head) or Centaurus; with the former, it was called Corona Sagittarii. Similarly, the Romans called Corona Australis the “Golden Crown of Sagittarius”.

It was known as Parvum Coelum (“Canopy”, “Little Sky”) in the 5th century. The 18th-century French astronomer Jérôme Lalande gave it the names Sertum Australe (“Southern Garland”) and Orbiculus Capitis, while German poet and author Philippus Caesius called it Corolla (“Little Crown”) or Spira Australis (“Southern Coil”), and linked it with the Crown of Eternal Life from the New Testament.

Seventeenth-century celestial cartographer Julius Schiller linked it to the Diadem of Solomon. Sometimes, Corona Australis was not the wreath of Sagittarius but arrows held in his hand.

Corona Australis has been associated with the myth of Bacchus and Stimula. Jupiter had impregnated Stimula, causing Juno to become jealous. Juno convinced Stimula to ask Jupiter to appear in his full splendor, which the mortal woman could not handle, causing her to burn. After Bacchus, Stimula’s unborn child, became an adult and the god of wine, he honored his deceased mother by placing a wreath in the sky.

In Chinese astronomy, the stars of Corona Australis are located within the Black Tortoise of the North (Běi Fāng Xuán Wǔ). The constellation itself was known as ti’en pieh (“Heavenly Turtle”) and during the Western Zhou period, marked the beginning of winter.

However, precession over time has meant that the “Heavenly River” (Milky Way) became the more accurate marker to the ancient Chinese and hence supplanted the turtle in this role.

Arabic names for Corona Australis include Al Ķubbah “the Tortoise”, Al Ĥibā “the Tent” or Al Udḥā al Na’ām (“the Ostrich Nest”). It was later given the name Al Iklīl al Janūbiyyah, which the European authors Chilmead, Riccioli and Caesius transliterated as Alachil Elgenubi, Elkleil Elgenubi and Aladil Algenubi respectively.

Pegasus is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the winged horse Pegasus in Greek mythology. The Babylonian constellation IKU (field) had four stars of which three were later part of the Greek constellation Hippos (Pegasus).

Pegasus, in Greek mythology, was a winged horse with magical powers. One myth regarding his powers says that his hooves dug out a spring, Hippocrene, which blessed those who drank its water with the ability to write poetry.

Pegasus was the one who delivered Medusa’s head to Polydectes, after which he travelled to Mount Olympus in order to be the bearer of thunder and lightning for Zeus. Eventually, he became the horse to Bellerophon, who was asked to kill the Chimera and succeeded with the help of Athena and Pegasus.

Despite this success, after the death of his children, Bellerophon asked Pegasus to take him to Mount Olympus. Though Pegasus agreed, he plummeted back to Earth after Zeus either threw a thunderbolt at him or made Pegasus buck him off.

In ancient Persia, Pegasus was depicted by al-Sufi as a complete horse facing east, unlike most other uranographers, who had depicted Pegasus as half of a horse, rising out of the ocean.

In al-Sufi’s depiction, Pegasus’s head is made up of the stars of Lacerta the lizard. Its right foreleg is represented by β Peg and its left foreleg is represented by η Peg, μ Peg, and λ Peg; its hind legs are marked by 9 Peg. The back is represented by π Peg and μ Cyg, and the belly is represented by ι Peg and κ Peg.

In Chinese astronomy, the modern constellation of Pegasus lies in The Black Tortoise of the north, where the stars were classified in several separate asterisms of stars. Epsilon and Theta Pegasi are joined with Alpha Aquarii to form Wei (“rooftop”), with Theta forming the roof apex.

In Hindu astronomy, the Great Square of Pegasus contained the 26th and 27th lunar mansions. More specifically, it represented a bedstead that was a resting place for the Moon.

Winter solstice

Winter solstice occurs for the Northern Hemisphere in December and for the Southern Hemisphere in June. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied across cultures, but many have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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”. 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. 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. As a remainder from this Viking era, the Midsummer is still important in Scandinavia, and hence vividly celebrated.

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.

Enlil

Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nabu (in Biblical Hebrew Nebo) was worshipped by Babylonians as Marduk and Sarpanitum’s son and as Enki’s grandson. His consorts were Tashmetum and Nisaba. As the god of wisdom and writing, Nabu was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth. In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.

Nisaba reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nisaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain. The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nisaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes.

Traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nisaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Enki, and of Anu. Her spouse is Haya, who appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain, and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil.

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

Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nisaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. She is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgameš and is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nisaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

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

Spring triangle

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May. George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral.

The Great Diamond is an asterism. Astronomy popularizer Hans A. Rey called it the Virgin’s Diamond. It is composed of the stars Cor Caroli (in Canes Venatici), Denebola (the tail of Leo), Spica (the wheat of Virgo), and Arcturus (in Boötes). It is somewhat larger than the Big Dipper or Plough. The three southernmost stars are sometimes given their own asterism, the Spring Triangle.

Lying within the Great Diamond is the set of stars traditionally assigned to Coma Berenices. Many nearby galaxies, including galaxies within the Virgo Cluster, are located within this asterism, and some of these galaxies can easily be observed with amateur telescopes.

Coma Berenices is a traditional asterism that has since been defined as one of the 88 modern constellations. It is located near Arcturus, and the constellation Leo to which it formerly belonged, and contains the North Galactic Pole. Its name means “Berenice’s Hair” (in Greek, via Latin), and refers to the legend of Queen Berenice II of Egypt, who sacrificed her long hair.

The galactic coordinate system is a celestial coordinate system in spherical coordinates, with the Sun as its center, the primary direction aligned with the approximate center of the Milky Way galaxy, and the fundamental plane approximately in the galactic plane. It uses the right-handed convention, meaning that coordinates are positive toward the north and toward the east in the fundamental plane.

Arcturus

As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

In Arabic, Arcturus is one of two stars called al-simāk (“the uplifted one”); the other is Spica. Arcturus is specified as as-simāk ar-rāmiħ “the uplifted one of the lancer”. This has been variously romanized in the past, leading to obsolete variants such as Aramec and Azimech. Another Arabic name is Haris-el-sema, from ħāris al-samā’ (“the keeper of heaven”) and ħāris al-shamāl’ (“the keeper of north”).

The name of the star derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear” (ultimately from arktos, “bear” + ouros, “watcher, guardian”). It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. It is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation Boötes (of which it forms the left foot), which is next to the Greater and Lesser Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Boötes

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from bous “cow”). Several former constellations were formed from stars now included in Boötes.

In ancient Babylon the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear.

According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Another myth associated with Boötes by Hyginus is that of Icarius, who was schooled as a grape farmer and winemaker by Dionysus. Icarius made wine so strong that those who drank it appeared poisoned, which caused shepherds to avenge their supposedly poisoned friends by killing Icarius.

Maera, Icarius’s dog, brought his daughter Erigone to her father’s body, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide. Zeus then chose to honor all three by placing them in the sky as constellations: Icarius as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major or Canis Minor.

Following another reading, the constellation is identified with Arcas and also referred to as Arcas and Arcturus, son of Zeus and Callisto. Arcas was brought up by his maternal grandfather Lycaon, to whom one day Zeus went and had a meal.

To verify that the guest was really the king of the gods, Lycaon killed his grandson and prepared a meal made from his flesh. Zeus noticed and became very angry, transforming Lycaon into a wolf and gave back life to his son.

In the meantime Callisto had been transformed into a she-bear, by Zeus’s wife, Hera, who was angry at Zeus’s infidelity. This is corroborated by the Greek name for Boötes, Arctophylax, which means “Bear Watcher”.

Callisto in form of a bear was almost killed by her son who was out hunting. Zeus rescued her, taking her into the sky where she became Ursa Major, “the Great Bear”.

The name Arcturus (the constellation’s brightest star) comes from the Greek word meaning “guardian of the bear”. Sometimes Arcturus is depicted as leading the hunting dogs of nearby Canes Venatici and driving the bears of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

The stars of Boötes were incorporated into many different Chinese constellations. Arcturus was part of the most prominent of these, variously designated as the celestial king’s throne (Tian Wang) or the Blue Dragon’s horn (Daijiao); the name Daijiao, meaning “great horn”, is more common.

Arcturus was given such importance in Chinese celestial mythology because of its status marking the beginning of the lunar calendar, as well as its status as the brightest star in the northern night sky.

Two constellations flanked Daijiao, Yousheti to the right and Zuosheti to the left; they represented companions that orchestrated the seasons. Zuosheti was formed from modern Zeta, Omicron, and Pi Boötis, while Yousheti was formed from modern Eta, Tau, and Upsilon Boötis.

Dixi, the Emperor’s ceremonial banquet mat, was north of Arcturus, consisting of the stars 12, 11, and 9 Boötis. Another northern constellation was Qigong, the Seven Dukes, which was mostly across the Boötes-Hercules border. It included either Delta Boötis or Beta Boötis as its terminus.

The other Chinese constellations made up of the stars of Boötes existed in the modern constellation’s north; they are all representations of weapons. Tianqiang, the spear, was formed from Iota, Kappa, and Theta Boötis; Genghe, variously representing a lance or shield, was formed from Epsilon, Rho, and Sigma Boötis.

There were also two weapons made up of a singular star. Xuange, the halberd, was represented by Lambda Boötis, and Zhaoyao, either the sword or the spear, was represented by Gamma Boötis.

Two Chinese constellations have an uncertain placement in Boötes. Kangchi, the lake, was placed south of Arcturus, though its specific location is disputed. It may have been placed entirely in Boötes, on either side of the Boötes-Virgo border, or on either side of the Virgo-Libra border.

The constellation Zhouding, a bronze tripod-mounted container used for food, was sometimes cited as the stars 1, 2, and 6 Boötis. However, it has also been associated with three stars in Coma Berenices.

Shuba

Ninshubur (also known as Ninshubar, Nincubura or Ninšubur) was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. A goddess in her own right, her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods.

As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.

Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld.

Inanna 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.

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.

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

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. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

The land of Subartu or Armani-Subartu or Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria Subar is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most 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 (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer.

Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. It was a Proto-Armenian Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper.

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.

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.

First mentioned as the land of Armani by Sargon, king Naram-Sin boasted his victory and destruction of the city, he gives a detailed account of the siege and the capturing of the king in one of his inscriptions.

Armani was later mentioned amongst the cities that rebelled against Naram-Sin, during the middle Assyrian and Kassites periods, the land of Armani was mentioned as located eastern of the Tigris and King Shalmaneser III mentions his conquest of Halman.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

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”. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, and Arta etc.

Regulus

Regulus (α Leo, α Leonis, Alpha Leonis) is the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Rēgulus is Latin for “prince” or “little king”. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic meaning “the heart of the lion”. This phrase is sometimes approximated as Kabelaced and translates into Latin as Cor Leōnis. It is known in Chinese as the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. In Hindu astronomy, Regulus corresponds to the Nakshatra Magha (“the bountiful”).

Babylonians called it Sharru (“the King”), and it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation. In India it was known as Maghā (“the Mighty”), in Sogdiana Magh (“the Great”), in Persia Miyan (“the Centre”) and also as Venant, one of the four “royal stars” of the Persian monarchy.

Lugal

In MUL.APIN, Regulus is listed as LUGAL, meaning “the star that stands in the breast of the Lion:the King.”. Lugal is the Sumerian cuneiform sign for leader from the two signs, LÚ.GAL (“man, big”), and was one of several Sumerian titles that a ruler of a city-state could bear (alongside en and ensi, the exact difference being a subject of debate). The sign eventually became the predominant Sumerian term for a King in general. In the Sumerian language, lugal is used to mean an owner (e.g. of a boat or a field) or a head (of a unit such as a family).

The cuneiform sign LUGAL serves as a determinative in cuneiform texts (Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite), indicating that the following word is the name of a king. In Akkadian orthography, it may also be a syllabogram šàr, acrophonically based on the Akkadian for “king”, šarrum.

There are different theories regarding the meaning of the title lugal in 3rd millennium Sumer. Some scholars believe that a ruler of an individual city-state was usually called ensi, and a ruler that headed a confederacy or larger dominion composed of several cities, perhaps even the whole of Sumer, was a lugal.

The functions of such a lugal would include certain ceremonial and cultic activities, arbitration in border disputes, military defence against external enemies, and once the lugal has died, the eldest son must take over. Interestingly, the ensis of Lagash would sometimes refer to the city’s patron deity, Ningirsu, as their lugal (“master”).

All of the above is connected to the possibly priestly or sacral character of the titles ensi and especially en (the latter term continuing to designate priests in subsequent times). Other scholars consider ensi, en and lugal to have been merely three local designations for the sovereign, accepted respectively in the city-states of Lagash, Uruk and Ur (as well as most of the rest of Sumer), although the various terms may have expressed different aspects of the Mesopotamian concept of kingship.

A lugal at that time is assumed to have been “normally a young man of outstanding qualities from a rich landowning family.” Thorkild Jacobsen theorized that he was originally an (elected) war leader, as opposed to the (likewise elected) en, who dealt with internal issues.

Among the earliest rulers whose inscriptions describe them as lugals are Enmebaragesi and Mesilim at Kish, and Meskalamdug, Mesannepada and several of their successors at Ur. At least from the Third Dynasty of Ur onwards, only lugal was used to designate a contemporary sovereign in Sumerian.

Lugal is used extensively in the Amarna letters, for addressing the kings or pharaohs, and elsewhere in speaking about the various kings. One common address, in the introduction of many letters, from the vassals writing to the pharaoh was to use: Šàr-ri, (for šarrum); they used Lugal + ri = Šàr-ri, (i.e. Pharaoh, or King of, Ancient Egypt). (Ri (cuneiform) is one of the more commonly used hieroglyphs, in many cases for the use of the “r” ).

The cuneiform Ri sign, or Re, is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh; it is in the top 25 most used cuneiform signs (Buccellati, 1979) for ri, or re, but has other syllabic or alphabetic uses, as well as the sumerogram usage for RI (Epic of Gilgamesh).

The ri (cuneiform) sign has the following uses in the Epic of Gilgamesh: The specific usage numbers for the sign’s meaning in the Epic is as follows: dal-(4), re-(56), ri-(372), tal-(70), ṭal-(2), RI-(1).

In the Amarna letters, ri also has a special usage when coupled with the naming of the Pharaoh, as “LUGAL-Ri”. Lugal is the sumerogram translated in the Akkadian language to ‘King’, Sarru.

Thus in the Amarna letters, Lugal is used as a stand-alone, but sometimes supplemented with Ri, and specifically used as sumerogram SÀR (an equivalent sumerogram to mean LUGAL) to be combined with RI to make sarru for king. (‘The King’, as an appellation is sometimes created by adding ma (cuneiform), suffix to the end of a name (Lugal-ma.)

Leo

Leo is one of the constellations of the zodiac, lying between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east. Its name is Latin for lion, and to the ancient Greeks represented the Nemean Lion killed by the mythical Greek hero Heracles (known to the ancient Romans as Hercules) as one of his twelve labors.

Leo was one of the earliest recognized constellations, with archaeological evidence that the Mesopotamians had a similar constellation as early as 4000 BCE. The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jews, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”.

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Leo from August 10 to Sept 10. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Leo from July 23 to August 27, and in sidereal astrology, from August 16 to September 17.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was called UR.GU.LA, the “Great Lion”; the bright star Regulus was known as “the star that stands at the Lion’s breast.” Regulus also had distinctly regal associations, as it was known as the King Star.

Leo is commonly represented as if the sickle-shaped asterism of stars is the back of the Lion’s head. The sickle is marked by six stars: Epsilon Leonis, Mu Leonis, Zeta Leonis, Gamma Leonis, Eta Leonis, and Alpha Leonis. The lion’s tail is marked by Beta Leonis (Denebola) and the rest of his body is delineated by Delta Leonis and Theta Leonis.

H.A. Rey has suggested an alternative way to connect the stars, which graphically shows a lion walking. Yet there is an even more fascinating approach to the lion constellation image. In spring 2015 hobby astronomer evader from Germany discovered a stunning “realistic” lion image in the stars around the Leo constellation. For this purpose he used a computer generated skymap that shows more stars then are usually visible.

The Horse / Mare

This was discovered in the late winter of 2014, Leo high in the sky, spring approaching, by the Bavarian hobby astronomer and scientist Josef Krem from Germany, Munich, exploring the zodiac stars and other constellations cycling through the year upon similarity to Celtic coinage’s symbols, the horse being found very often.

Lengyel describes the horse on Celtic coinage meaningful as the dynamic symbol of human existence from procreation via life to death and resurrection (horse from dock in the east to muzzle showing west), ever repeating. Rhiannon or Epona is the corresponding horse goddess of fertility or even mother goddess, associated with both, sun and moon.

So the White Horse was possibly a place of seasonal celebrations more than 3000 years ago associated with the unknown Celtic zodiac sign of the horse. Due to the earth’s axial precession Regulus in the horse had its midnight culmination around winter solstice about 3400 years ago. Nowadays this position nearly is taken by the Winter Hexagon with the brightest star Sirius.

Terry Pratchett describes this Celtic art work in A Hat Full of Sky ingeniously by “Not what a horse looks like, but what a horse be …” A very different creative connection of Leo’s stars reveals an almost realistic horse, obviously a mare. Around the first century an artist of the Celtic tribe Uneller at Contentin Peninsula, created a coin showing a low prancing female horse most naturalistic, some mystic symbols added.

This coin is treasured in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (BnF), Cabinet des Medailles, there described officially as “Aigle sur une Jument” – Eagle on a Mare, but the riding bird also resembles much a raven, being the mediator between life and death closely connected to witchcraft.

Observing Leo in a moonless springtime night reveals a horse and a lion as well, after some contemplation. The lion is found with the Mesopotamian Inanna / Ishtar together with the owl, the horse belongs to Epona obviously conjoined with raven or eagle.

The Sickle

The lion’s mane and shoulders also form an asterism known as “the Sickle,” which to modern observers may resemble a backwards “question mark.” A sickle is a hand-held agricultural tool with a variously curved blade typically used for harvesting grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock (either freshly cut or dried as hay).

A great diversity of types is used across many cultures. Between the dawn of the Iron Age and present, hundreds of region-specific variants of this basic forage-cutting tool were forged of iron, later steel. Modern kitchen knives with serrated edges, as well as grain-harvesting machines use the same design principle as prehistoric sickles.

One noteworthy feature of sickles is that their edges have been made in two very distinct manners/patterns – smooth or serrated. While both can (albeit with a different technique) be used for cutting either green grass or mature cereals, it is the serrated sickle that still dominates the duty of harvesting grain – with other words the “reaping”.

The development of the sickle in Mesopotamia can be traced back to times that pre-date the Neolithic Era. Large quantities of sickle blades have been excavated in sites surrounding Israel that have been dated to the Epipaleolithic era (18000-8000 BC).

The sickle had a profound impact on the Agricultural Revolution by assisting in the transition to farming and crop based lifestyle. It is now accepted that the use of sickles led directly to the domestication of Near Eastern Wild grasses.

Research on domestication rates of wild cereals under primitive cultivation found that the use of the sickle in harvesting was critical to the people of early Mesopotamia. The relatively narrow growing season in the area and the critical role of grain in the late Neolithic Era promoted a larger investment in the design and manufacture of sickle over other tools.

Standardization to an extent was done on the measurements of the sickle so that replacement or repair could be more immediate. It was important that the grain be harvested at the appropriate time at one elevation so that the next elevation could be collected in the proper time. The sickle provided a more efficient option in collecting the grain and significantly sped up the developments of early agriculture.

The sickle remained common in the Bronze Age, both in the Ancient Near East and in Europe. Numerous sickles have been found deposited in hoards in the context of the European Urnfield culture (e.g. Frankleben hoard), suggesting a symbolic or religious significance attached to the artifact.

Humbaba

Some mythologists believe that in Sumeria, Leo represented the monster Humbaba, who was killed by Gilgamesh. Humbaba was the guardian of the Cedar Forest, where the gods lived, by the will of the god Enlil, who “assigned [Humbaba] as a terror to human beings.”

Humbaba, also spelled Huwawa, and surnamed the Terrible, was a monstrous giant of immemorial age raised by Utu, the Sun. The capital of Subartu was called Ubbumu. 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.

His face is that of a lion. When he looks at someone, it is the look of death. In various examples, his face is scribed in a single coiling line like that of the coiled entrails of men and beasts, from which omens might be read. A description from Georg Burckhardt translation of Gilgamesh says, “he had the paws of a lion and a body covered in thorny scales; his feet had the claws of a vulture, and on his head were the horns of a wild bull; his tail and phallus each ended in a snake’s head.”

Humbaba is first mentioned in Tablet II of the Epic of Gilgamesh: after Gilgamesh and Enkidu become friends following their initial fight, they set out on an adventure to the Cedar Forest beyond the seventh mountain range, to slay Humbaba (Huwawa): “Enkidu,” Gilgamesh vows, “since a man cannot pass beyond the final end of life, I want to set off into the mountains, to establish my renown there.”

Gilgamesh tricks the monster into giving away his seven “radiances” by offering his sisters as wife and concubine. When Humbaba’s guard is down, Gilgamesh punches him and captures the monster. Defeated, Humbaba appeals to a receptive Gilgamesh for mercy, but Enkidu convinces Gilgamesh to slay Humbaba.

In a last effort, Humbaba tries to escape but is decapitated by Enkidu, or in some versions by both heroes together; his head is put in a leather sack, which is brought to Enlil, the god who set Humbaba as the forest’s guardian.

Enlil becomes enraged upon learning this and redistributes Humbaba’s seven splendors (or in some tablets “auras”). “He gave Humbaba’s first aura to the fields. He gave his second aura to the rivers. He gave his third aura to the reed-beds. He gave his fourth aura to the lions. He gave his fifth aura to the palace (one text has debt slaves). He gave his sixth aura to the forests (one text has the hills). He gave his seventh aura to Nungal.”

Manungal (or simply Nungal) is a goddess of the underworld, worshipped by the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Akkadians. She is the consort of the god Birdu, a god of the underworld, who was syncretised with Nergal. Her title was the “Queen of the Ekur” where she held the “tablet of life” and carried out judgement on the wicked.

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla). In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

No vengeance was laid upon the heroes, though Enlil says, “He should have eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink! He should have been honored.”

While Gilgamesh thus distracts and tricks this spirit of the cedar forest, the fifty unmarried young men he has brought on the adventure are felling cedar timber, stripping it of its branches and laying it “in many piles on the hillside,” ready to be taken away. Thus the adventure reveals itself in the context of a timber raid, bringing cedar wood to timberless Mesopotamia.

As his death approaches, and Gilgamesh is oppressed with his own mortality, the gods remind him of his great feats: “…having fetched cedar, the unique tree, from its mountains, having killed Humbaba in the forest…”

The iconography of the apotropaic severed head of Humbaba, with staring eyes, flowing beard and wild hair, is well documented from the First Babylonian Dynasty, continuing into Neo-Assyrian art and dying away during the Achaemenid rule. The severed head of the monstrous Humbaba found a Greek parallel in the myth of Perseus and the similarly employed head of Medusa, which Perseus placed in his leather sack.

Archaic Greek depictions of the gorgoneion render it bearded, which is an anomaly in the female Gorgon. Judith McKenzie detected Humbaba heads in a Nabatean tomb frieze at Petra.

Early translators of the Epic assumed that the “Cedar Forest” refers to the Lebanon Cedars. Recent research has suggested Cedars grew along the Arabian littoral before the 5.9 kiloyear event and expansion of the Persian Gulf. They may also have grown along the Western foothills of the Zagros Mountains, which would be more appropriate for this tale.

Nemean Lion

In Greek mythology, Leo was identified as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) during the first of his twelve labours. The Nemean Lion would take women as hostages to its lair in a cave, luring warriors from nearby towns to save the damsel in distress, to their misfortune.

The Lion was impervious to any weaponry; thus, the warriors’ clubs, swords, and spears were rendered useless against it. Realizing that he must defeat the Lion with his bare hands, Hercules slipped into the Lion’s cave and engaged it at close quarters.

When the Lion pounced, Hercules caught it in midair, one hand grasping the Lion’s forelegs and the other its hind legs, and bent it backwards, breaking its back and freeing the trapped maidens. Zeus commemorated this labor by placing the Lion in the sky.

The Roman poet Ovid called it Herculeus Leo and Violentus Leo. Bacchi Sidus (star of Bacchus) was another of its titles, the god Bacchus always being identified with this animal. However, Manilius called it Jovis et Junonis Sidus (“Star of Jupiter and Juno”).

Spica

Spica (α Vir, α Virginis, Alpha Virginis) is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. The name Spica derives from Latin spīca virginis (“the virgin’s ear of [wheat] grain”). It was also anglicized as Virgin’s Spike. Johann Bayer cited the name Arista.

Another alternative name is Azimech, from Arabic al-simāk al-a‘zal (“the Undefended”) and Alarph (“the Grape Gatherer”). Sumbalet (Sombalet, Sembalet and variants) is from an Arabic sunbulah “corn ear”.

In his Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Cornelius Agrippa attributes its kabbalistic symbol to Hermes Trismegistus (“thrice-greatest Hermes”; Latin: Mercurius ter Maximus), the purported author of the Hermetic Corpus, a series of sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism.

Hermes Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. In Hellenistic Egypt, the Greeks recognised the congruence of their god Hermes with Thoth. Subsequently the two gods were worshipped as one in what had been the Temple of Thoth in Khemnu, which the Greeks called Hermopolis.

In Hindu astronomy, Spica corresponds to the Nakshatra Chitra. Nakshatra is the term for lunar mansion in Hindu astrology. A nakshatra is one of 27 (sometimes also 28) sectors along the ecliptic. Their names are related to the most prominent asterisms in the respective sectors.

The starting point for the nakshatras is the point on the ecliptic directly opposite to the star Spica called Chitrā in Sanskrit (other slightly different definitions exist). It is called Meshādi or the “start of Aries”.

First point (or cusp) of Aries and first point of Libra are names formerly used by astronomers and now used by navigators and astrologers. Navigational ephemeris tables record the geographic position of the First Point of Aries as the reference for position of navigational stars.

The vernal equinox is the first point (i.e. the start) of the sign of Aries. The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. The March equinox is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere.

The point where the horizon crosses the sun’s disk at the celestial equator northwards is called the first point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, the astrological signs of the tropical zodiac where these equinoxes are located no longer correspond with the actual constellations once ascribed to them.

The equinoxes are currently in the constellations of Pisces and Virgo. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius (some Archeoastronomers and Astrologers believe that will be the start of the approximate 2,150 years of “the Age of Aquarius”, while others think it may have already started, and varying calculations in between).

The northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865, passed into Pisces in the year −67, will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus in the year 4312. It passed along (but not into) a ‘corner’ of Cetus on 0°10′ distance in the year 1489.

In sidereal astrology (notably Hindu astrology), by contrast, the first point of Aries remains aligned with Ras Hammel “the head of the ram”, i.e. the Aries constellation.

The ecliptic is divided into each of the nakshatras eastwards starting from this point. The number of nakshatras reflects the number of days in a sidereal month (modern value: 27.32 days), the width of a nakshatra traversed by the Moon in about one day.

Each nakshatra is further subdivided into four quarters (or padas). These play a role in popular Hindu astrology, where each pada is associated with a syllable, conventionally chosen as the first syllable of the given name of a child born when the Moon was in the corresponding pada.

The nakshatras of traditional bhartiya astronomy are based on a list of 28 asterisms found in the Atharvaveda (AVŚ 19.7) and also in the Shatapatha Brahmana. The first astronomical text that lists them is the Vedanga Jyotisha.

In classical Hindu mythology (Mahabharata, Harivamsa), the creation of the nakshatras is attributed to Daksha. They are personified as daughters of the deity and as mythological wives of Chandra, the Moon god, or alternatively the daughters of Kashyapa, the brother of Daksha.

Each of the nakshatras is governed as ‘lord’ by one of the nine graha in the following sequence: Ketu (South Lunar Node), Shukra (Venus), Ravi or Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Rahu (North Lunar Node), Guru or Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shani (Saturn) and Budha (Mercury).

This cycle repeats itself three times to cover all 27 nakshatras. The lord of each nakshatra determines the planetary period known as the dasha, which is considered of major importance in forecasting the life path of the individual in Hindu astrology.

In Vedic Sanskrit, the term nákṣatra may refer to any heavenly body or to “the stars” collectively. The classical sense of “lunar mansion” is first found in the Atharvaveda, and becomes the primary meaning of the term in Classical Sanskrit.

In Chinese astronomy, the star is known as Jiao Xiu 1, i.e. the first star of the Jiao Xiu asterism, one of the eastern mansions of the Azure Dragon. The Azure Dragon is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. It represents the east and the spring season.

Virgo

Virgo is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica.

The bright Spica makes it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper/Plough to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve (“follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica”).

Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known as the autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces.) This point will pass into the neighbouring constellation of Leo around the year 2440.

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Virgo from September 17 to October 30. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Virgo from August 23 to September 22, and in sidereal astrology, from September 16 to October 15.

According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain.

Shala was an ancient Sumerian goddess of grain and the emotion of compassion. The symbols of grain and compassion combine to reflect the importance of agriculture in the mythology of Sumer, and the belief that an abundant harvest was an act of compassion from the Gods.

Traditions identify Shala as wife of the fertility god Dagon, or consort of the storm god Adad also called Ishkur. In ancient depictions, he carries a double-headed mace-scimitar embellished with lion heads.

Virgo is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat, one of which is marked by the bright star Spica. One star in this constellation, Spica, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility.

According to Gavin White the figure of Virgo corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Summer triangle

The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere’s celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.

These are the same stars recognized in the Chinese legend of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd, a story dating back some 2,600 years, celebrated in the Qixi Festival. The general tale is about a love story between Zhinü (the weaver girl, symbolizing Vega) and Niulang (the cowherd, symbolizing Altair). Their love was not allowed, thus they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolizing the Milky Way).

Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day. There are many variations of the story. The earliest-known reference to this famous myth dates back to over 2600 years ago, which was told in a poem from the Classic of Poetry.

The tale of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd has been celebrated in the Qixi Festival in China since the Han dynasty. The story is now counted as one of China’s Four Great Folktales, the others being the Legend of the White Snake (Baishezhuan), Lady Meng Jiang, and Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai.

In the mid- to late-20th century, before INS, GPS and other electronic/mechanical equipment took their places in military aircraft, US Air Force navigators referred to this asterism as the “Navigator’s Triangle”.

Near midnight, the Summer Triangle lies virtually overhead at mid-northern latitudes during the summer months, but can also be seen during spring in the early morning to the East. In the autumn the summer triangle is visible in the evening to the West well until November. From the southern hemisphere it appears upside down and low in the sky during the winter months.

Altair (α Aquilae, α Aql) is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila. The name Altair has been used since medieval times. It is an abbreviation of the Arabic phrase an-nasr aṭ-ṭā’ir (“the flying eagle”). The term Al Nesr Al Tair appeared in Al Achsasi al Mouakket’s catalogue, which was translated into Latin as Vultur Volans.

This name was applied by the Arabs to the asterism of α, β, and γ Aquilae and probably goes back to the ancient Babylonians and Sumerians, who called α Aquilae the eagle star. The spelling Atair has also been used. Medieval astrolabes of England and Western Europe depicted Altair and Vega as birds.

Vega (α Lyr, α Lyrae, Alpha Lyrae) is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. The name Wega (later Vega) comes from a loose transliteration of the Arabic word wāqi‘ meaning “falling” or “landing”, via the phrase an-nasr al-wāqi‘, “the falling eagle”.

The term “Al Nesr al Waki” appeared in the Al Achsasi al Mouakket star catalogue and was translated into Latin as Vultur Cadens, “the falling eagle/vulture”. The constellation was represented as a vulture in ancient Egypt, and as an eagle or vulture in ancient India.

Deneb (α Cyg, α Cygni, Alpha Cygni) is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, it is one of the vertices of the Summer Triangle and forms the ‘head’ of the Northern Cross, a prominent astronomical asterism in the northern hemisphere celestial sphere, corresponding closely with the constellation Cygnus The Swan.

The name Deneb is derived from dhaneb, the Arabic for “tail”, from the phrase Dhanab ad-Dajājah, or “tail of the hen”. Similar names were given to at least seven different stars.

In the Chinese love story of Qi Xi, Deneb marks the magpie bridge across the Milky Way, which allows the separated lovers Niu Lang (Altair) and Zhi Nü (Vega) to be reunited on one special night of the year in late summer. In other versions of the story Deneb is a fairy who acts as chaperone when the lovers meet.

The Winter Hexagon or Winter Circle/Oval

The Winter Hexagon or Winter Circle/Oval is an asterism appearing to be in the form of a hexagon with vertices at Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, Procyon, and Sirius. It is mostly upon the Northern Hemisphere’s celestial sphere. The stars in the hexagon are parts of six constellations. Counter-clockwise around the hexagon, starting with Rigel, these are Orion, Taurus, Auriga, Gemini, Canis Minor, and Canis Major.

On most locations on Earth (except the South Island of New Zealand and the south of Chile and Argentina and further south), this asterism is prominently in the sky from approximately December to March. In the tropics and southern hemisphere, this (then called “summer hexagon”) can be extended with the bright star Canopus in the south.

The Winter Triangle or The Great Southern Triangle

Smaller and more regularly shaped is the Winter Triangle (also known as the Great Southern Triangle), an approximately equilateral triangle that shares two vertices (Sirius and Procyon) with the larger asterism. The third vertex is Betelgeuse, which lies near the center of the hexagon.

These three stars are three of the ten brightest objects, as viewed from Earth, outside the Solar System. Betelgeuse is also particularly easy to locate, being a shoulder of Orion, which assists stargazers in finding the triangle.

Once the triangle is located, the larger hexagon may then be found. Several of the stars in the hexagon may also be found independently of one another by following various lines traced through various stars in Orion.

Astronomical Artifacts and Portraits, etc

Enlil/Haya-Ninlil/Nisaba, Saturn/Janus-Ops, Cronus-Rhea, Njord-Njörun

Urash/ Ki/ Antu – An

Ninlil – Enlil

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

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

Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river.

Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

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

In some contemporary concepts, Lilith is viewed as the embodiment of the Goddess, a designation that is thought to be shared with what these faiths believe to be her counterparts: Inanna, Ishtar, Asherah, Anath and Isis.

According to one view, Lilith was originally a Sumerian, Babylonian, or Hebrew mother goddess of childbirth, children, women, and sexuality who later became demonized due to the rise of patriarchy. Other modern views hold that Lilith is a dark moon goddess on par with the Hindu Kali.

Gingira (also Gingiri, Gurgiru, Egengir) is an Akkadian word for Goddess or female Creator, being the feminine of Dingir which means Creator. It can used to refer to Ishtar or any other Creator Goddess. In ancient Babylonia, each city had its own Gingira. Gingiri was worshipped at the port of Eridu, where she later became known as Davki or Davkina.

Ereshkigal – Nergal/ Gugalanna

In Mesopotamian mythology Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”), sometimes given as Ninkigal (lit: “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady 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. 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.

Unlike her consort Nergal, Ereškigal has a distinctly dual association with death. This is reminiscent of the contradictive nature of her sister Ištar, who simultaneously represents opposing aspects such as male and female; love and war. In Ereškigal’s case, she is the goddess of death but also associated with birth; regarded both as mother(-earth) and a virgin.

She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

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 Dumuzi in exchange for herself.

The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal as queen of the Netherworld cannot come up to attend. They invite her to send a messenger and she sends Namtar, her vizier. He is treated well by all but disrespected by Nergal. As a result of this, Nergal is banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess.

Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

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.

It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly. She is the mother of the goddess Nungal. Her son with Enlil was the god Namtar. With Gugalana her son was Ninazu.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU.AN.NA), a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Ninlil – Enlil

Ninurta

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. 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 Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. 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.[

A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod.

Nimrod, king of Shinar, was, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, the son of Cush, the great-grandson of Noah. The Bible states that he was “a mighty hunter before the Lord [and] …. began to be mighty in the earth”. Extra-biblical traditions associating him with the Tower of Babel led to his reputation as a king who was rebellious against God.

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 both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

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.

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. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

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.

Alcmene – Zeus

Heracles

Heracles (Ancient Greek: Hēraklēs, from Hēra, “Hera”, and kleos, “glory”), born Alcaeus (Alkaios) or Alcides (Alkeidēs), was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus.

He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters.

In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves.

The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.

His iconographic attributes are the lion skin and the club. These qualities did not prevent him from being regarded as a playful figure who used games to relax from his labors and played a great deal with children. By conquering dangerous archaic forces he is said to have “made the world safe for mankind” and to be its benefactor.

Many popular stories were told of his life, the most famous being The Twelve Labours of Heracles. Alexandrian poets of the Hellenistic age drew his mythology into a high poetic and tragic atmosphere. His figure, which initially drew on Near Eastern motifs such as the lion-fight, was known everywhere: his Etruscan equivalent was Hercle, a son of Tinia and Uni.

Heracles was the greatest of Hellenic chthonic heroes, but unlike other Greek heroes, no tomb was identified as his. Heracles was both hero and god, as Pindar says heroes theos; at the same festival sacrifice was made to him, first as a hero, with a chthonic libation, and then as a god, upon an altar: thus he embodies the closest Greek approach to a “demi-god”. The core of the story of Heracles has been identified by Walter Burkert as originating in Neolithic hunter culture and traditions of shamanistic crossings into the netherworld.

Heracles’ role as a culture hero, whose death could be a subject of mythic telling was accepted into the Olympian Pantheon during Classical times. It is also said that when Heracles died, he shed his mortal skin, which went down to the underworld, and he then went up to join the gods for being the greatest hero ever known.

Alcmene – Zeus

Hercules – Thor

Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures.

The Romans adapted the Greek hero’s iconography and myths for their literature and art under the name Hercules. In later Western art and literature and in popular culture, Hercules is more commonly used than Heracles as the name of the hero.

Hercules was a multifaceted figure with contradictory characteristics, which enabled later artists and writers to pick and choose how to represent him. This article provides an introduction to representations of Hercules in the later tradition.

He is known for his many adventures, which took him to the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world. One cycle of these adventures became canonical as the “Twelve Labours,” but the list has variations.

The Latin name Hercules was borrowed through Etruscan, where it is represented variously as Heracle, Hercle, and other forms. Hercules was a favorite subject for Etruscan art, and appears often on bronze mirrors. The Etruscan form Herceler derives from the Greek Heracles via syncope. A mild oath invoking Hercules (Hercule! or Mehercle!) was a common interjection in Classical Latin.

In the Roman era Hercules’ Club amulets appear from the 2nd to 3rd century, distributed over the empire (including Roman Britain, c.f. Cool 1986), mostly made of gold, shaped like wooden clubs. A specimen found in Köln-Nippes bears the inscription “DEO HER[culi]”, confirming the association with Hercules.

In the 5th to 7th centuries, during the Migration Period, the amulet is theorized to have rapidly spread from the Elbe Germanic area across Europe. These Germanic “Donar’s Clubs” were made from deer antler, bone or wood, more rarely also from bronze or precious metals.

They are found exclusively in female graves, apparently worn either as a belt pendant, or as an ear pendant. The amulet type is replaced by the Viking Age Thor’s hammer pendants in the course of the Christianization of Scandinavia from the 8th to 9th century.

Tacitus records a special affinity of the Germanic peoples for Hercules. In chapter 3 of his Germania, Tacitus states: “… they say that Hercules, too, once visited them; and when going into battle, they sang of him first of all heroes. They have also those songs of theirs, by the recital of this barditus as they call it, they rouse their courage, while from the note they augur the result of the approaching conflict. For, as their line shouts, they inspire or feel alarm.”

Some have taken this as Tacitus equating the Germanic Þunraz with Hercules by way of interpretatio romana. In Norse mythology, Thor (from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar (runic þonar ᚦᛟᚾᚨᚱ), stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Thor’s exploits, including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jörmungandr — and their foretold mutual deaths during the events of Ragnarök—are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Thor is frequently referred to in place names, the day of the week Thursday (“Thor’s day”; Old English Thunresdæg, Thunor’s day; German “Donnerstag” Donar’s day; Dutch “Donderdag”) bears his name, and names stemming from the pagan period containing his own continue to be used today.

The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday (with loss of -n-, first in northern dialects, from influence of Old Norse Þorsdagr) meaning “Thor’s Day”. Thunor, Donar (German, Donnerstag) and Thor are derived from the name of the Germanic god of thunder, Thunraz, equivalent to Jupiter in the interpretatio romana.

In most Romance languages, the day is named after the Roman god Jupiter, who was the god of sky and thunder. In Latin, the day was known as Iovis Dies, “Jupiter’s Day”. In Latin, the genitive or possessive case of Jupiter was Iovis/Jovis and thus in most Romance languages it became the word for Thursday: Italian giovedì, Spanish jueves, French jeudi, Sardinian jòvia, Catalan dijous, and Romanian joi. This is also reflected in the p-Celtic Welsh dydd Iau. The astrological and astronomical sign of the planet Jupiter is sometimes used to represent Thursday.

Since the Roman god Jupiter was identified with Thunor (Norse Thor in northern Europe), most Germanic languages name the day after this god: Torsdag in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, Hósdagur/Tórsdagur in Faroese, Donnerstag in German or Donderdag in Dutch.

Finnish and Northern Sami, both non-Germanic (Uralic) languages, uses the borrowing “Torstai” and “Duorastat”. In the extinct Polabian Slavic language, it was perundan, Perun being the Slavic equivalent of Thor.

There are a number of modern names imitating the naming of Thursday after an equivalent of “Jupiter” in local tradition. In most of the languages of India, the word for Thursday is Guruvar – var meaning day and guru being the style for Bṛhaspati, guru to the gods and regent of the planet Jupiter. In Thai, the word is Wan Pharuehatsabodi – referring to the Hindu deity Bṛhaspati, also associated with Jupiter.

Ninlil – Enlil

Nergal

The name Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia. Ordinarily Nergal pairs with his consort Laz. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta.

He is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the deity of the city of Cuth (Cuthah): “And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal” (2 Kings, 17:30). According to the rabbins, his emblem was a cock and Nergal means a “dunghill cock“, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

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 the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

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

Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

Aplu was a Hurrian deity of the plague — bringing it, or, if propitiated, protecting from it — and resembles Apollo Smintheus, “mouse-Apollo”. Aplu, it is suggested, comes from the Akkadian Aplu Enlil, meaning “the son of Enlil”, a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta and Nergal. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical. Hymns and votive and other inscriptions of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers frequently invoke him, but we do not learn of many temples to him outside of Cuthah.

Gaia – Uranus

Rhea – Cronus

Rhea, the Titaness daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus and sister and wife to Cronus, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age, was in early Greek traditions 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 or Opis (Latin: “Plenty”), a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin.

Terra – Caelus/Summanus

Ops – Saturn

Rhea was in Roman mythology identified with Ops, the concort of Saturn. 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. 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, “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.

According to interpretatio romana, which sought the equivalence of Roman to Greek deities, she was an equivalent to Demeter, one of the Twelve Olympians of Greek religion and mythology; this made Ceres one of Rome’s twelve Di Consentes, daughter of Saturn and Ops, sister of Jupiter, mother of Proserpina by Jupiter and sister of Juno, Vesta, Neptune and Dis.

Demeter – Zeus

In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles 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.

According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, Demeter’s greatest gifts to humankind were agriculture, particularly of cereals, and the Mysteries which give the initiate higher hopes in this life and the afterlife. These two gifts were intimately connected in Demeter’s myths and mystery cults.

In Homer’s Odyssey she is the blond-haired goddess who separates the chaff from the grain. In Hesiod, prayers to Zeus-Chthonios (chthonic Zeus) and Demeter help the crops grow full and strong. Demeter’s emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows among the barley.

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. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. 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.

According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, Demeter’s greatest gifts to humankind were agriculture, particularly of cereals, and the Mysteries which give the initiate higher hopes in this life and the afterlife. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres, a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.

These two gifts were intimately connected in Demeter’s myths and mystery cults. In Homer’s Odyssey she is the blond-haired goddess who separates the chaff from the grain. In Hesiod, prayers to Zeus-Chthonios (chthonic Zeus) and Demeter help the crops grow full and strong. Demeter’s emblem is the poppy, a bright red flower that grows among the barley.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, Demeter is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. At the marriage of Cadmus and Harmonia, Demeter lured Iasion away from the other revelers. They had intercourse in a ploughed furrow in Crete, and she gave birth to a son, Ploutos. Her daughter by Zeus was Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.

It is possible that Demeter appears in Linear A as da-ma-te on three documents, all three apparently dedicated in religious situations and all three bearing just the name (i-da-ma-te). It is unlikely that Demeter appears as da-ma-te in a Linear B (Mycenean Greek) inscription; the word da-ma-te, probably refers to “households”. On the other hand si-to-po-ti-ni-ja, “Potnia of the Grain”, is regarded to refer to her Bronze Age predecessor or to one of her epithets.

Demeter’s character as mother-goddess is identified in the second element of her name meter derived from Proto-Indo-European *méhtēr (mother). In antiquity, different explanations were already proffered for the first element of her name. It is possible that Da, a word which became Ge (Γῆ) in Attic, is the Doric form of De, “earth”, the old name of the chthonic earth-goddess, and that Demeter is “Mother-Earth”.

This root also appears in the Linear B inscription E-ne-si-da-o-ne, “earth-shaker”, as an aspect of the god Poseidon. However, the dā element in the name of Demeter, is not so simply equated with “earth” according to John Chadwick.

The element De- may be connected with Deo, a surname of Demeter probably derived from the Cretan word dea, Ionic zeia meaning “barley”, so that she is the Mother and the giver of food generally. Arcadian cult to Demeter links her to a male deity (Greek: Paredros), who accompanied the Great Goddess and has been interpreted as a possible substitution for Poseidon; Demeter may therefore be related to a Minoan Great Goddess (Cybele).

An alternative, Proto-Indo-European etymology comes through Potnia and Despoina; where Des- represents a derivative of PIE *dem (house, dome), and Demeter is “mother of the house” (from PIE *dems-méhtēr).

Ceres – Jupiter

Ceres is the only one of Rome’s many agricultural deities to be listed among the Dii Consentes, Rome’s equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, although Triptolemus was the god of farming whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.

According to interpretatio romana, which sought the equivalence of Roman to Greek deities, she was an equivalent to Demeter, one of the Twelve Olympians of Greek religion and mythology; this made Ceres one of Rome’s twelve Di Consentes, daughter of Saturn and Ops, sister of Jupiter, mother of Proserpina by Jupiter and sister of Juno, Vesta, Neptune and Dis.

The complex and multi-layered origins of the Aventine Triad and Ceres herself allowed multiple interpretations of their relationships; Cicero asserts Ceres as mother to both Liber and Libera, consistent with her role as a mothering deity. Varro’s more complex theology groups her functionally with Tellus, Terra, Venus (and thus Victoria) and with Libera as a female aspect of Liber. No native Roman myths of Ceres are known.

Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome’s so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as “the Greek rites of Ceres”.

Her seven-day April festival of Cerealia included the popular Ludi Ceriales (Ceres’ games). She was also honoured in the May lustratio of the fields at the Ambarvalia festival, at harvest-time, and during Roman marriages and funeral rites. It was organised by her plebeian aediles and included circus games (ludi circenses).

It opened with a horse-race in the Circus Maximus, whose starting point lay below and opposite to her Aventine Temple; the turning post at the far end of the Circus was sacred to Consus, a god of grain-storage. After the race, foxes were released into the Circus, their tails ablaze with lighted torches, perhaps to cleanse the growing crops and protect them from disease and vermin, or to add warmth and vitality to their growth. From c.175 BC, Cerealia included ludi scaenici (theatrical religious events) through April 12 to 18.

Ceres’ name derives from the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh-, meaning “to satiate, to feed”, which is also the root for Latin crescere “to grow” and through it, the English words create and increase. Roman etymologists thought ceres derived from the Latin verb gerere, “to bear, bring forth, produce”, because the goddess was linked to pastoral, agricultural and human fertility.

Ceres was credited with the discovery of spelt wheat (Latin far), the yoking of oxen and ploughing, the sowing, protection and nourishing of the young seed, and the gift of agriculture to humankind; before this, it was said, man had subsisted on acorns, and wandered without settlement or laws. She had the power to fertilise, multiply and fructify plant and animal seed, and her laws and rites protected all activities of the agricultural cycle.

This was almost certainly held before the annual sowing of grain. The divine portion of sacrifice was the entrails (exta) presented in an earthenware pot (olla). In a rural context, Cato the Elder describes the offer to Ceres of a porca praecidanea (a pig, offered before the sowing). Before the harvest, she was offered a propitiary grain sample (praemetium). Ovid tells that Ceres “is content with little, provided that her offerings are casta” (pure).

Persephone – Zeus

In Greek mythology, 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. 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.

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.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon and promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. Persephone is further said to have become by Zeus the mother of Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, usually in orphic tradition. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

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.

Proserpina

(Libera – Liber / Froyja – Freyr)

Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were based on those of Greek Persephone and her mother Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and agriculture. The Romans identified Proserpina with their native fertility goddess Libera, daughter of the grain and agriculture goddess Ceres and wife to Liber.

In 204 BC, a new “greek-style” cult to Ceres and Proserpina as “Mother and Maiden” was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Ceres’ Temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill.

The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome’s religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple’s older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seems to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.

Just as Persephone was thought to be a daughter of Demeter, Romans made Proserpina a daughter of Demeter’s Roman equivalent, Ceres. Like Persephone, Proserpina is associated with the underworld realm and its ruler; and along with her mother Ceres, with the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death and rebirth or renewal.

Her name is a Latinisation of “Persephone”, perhaps influenced by the Latin proserpere (“to emerge, to creep forth”), with respect to the growing of grain. Her core myths – her forcible abduction by the god of the Underworld, her mother’s search for her and her eventual but temporary restoration to the world above – are the subject of works in Roman and later art and literature.

In particular, Proserpina’s seizure by the god of the Underworld – usually described as the Rape of Proserpina, or of Persephone – has offered dramatic subject matter for Renaissance and later sculptors and painters.

Libera – Liber

Libera was a goddess of wine, fertility and freedom. She was the female equivalent of Liber (“the free one”), also known as Liber Pater (“The Free Father”), a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom, while her name is in the feminine form.

At some time during Rome’s Regal or very early Republican eras, she became paired up with Liber, the Roman god of wine, male fertility, and a guardian of plebeian freedoms.

She enters Roman history as Triadic cult companion to Ceres and Liber, in a temple established on the Aventine Hill ca. 493 BC. The location and context of this early cult mark her association with Rome’s commoner-citizens, or plebs; she might have been offered cult on March 17 as part of Liber’s festival, Liberalia, or at some time during the seven days of Cerealia (mid to late April); in the latter festival she would have been subordinate to Ceres. Otherwise, her relationship to her Aventine cult partners is uncertain.

With the institution of the ritus graecia cereris (Greek rites of Ceres) c.205 BC, Libera was officially identified with Ceres’ daughter Proserpina and acquired with her a Romanised form of Greek mystery rite and attendant mythology, based on Greek cults to Demeter and Persephone.

In the late Republican era, Cicero describes Liber and Libera as Ceres’ children. At around the same time, possibly in the context of popular or religious drama, Hyginus equates her with Greek Ariadne, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus: therefore her mythographic associations and identity seem far from straightforward.

The older and newer forms of her cult and rites, and their diverse associations, persisted well into the late Imperial era. St. Augustine (AD 354 – 430) observes that Libera is concerned with female fertility, as Liber is with male fertility.

Liber was a patron deity of Rome’s plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia (March 17) became associated with free speech and the rights attached to coming of age. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanised forms of the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus, whose mythology he came to share.

Before his official adoption as a Roman deity, Liber was companion to two different goddesses in two separate, archaic Italian fertility cults; Ceres, an agricultural and fertility goddess of Rome’s Hellenised neighbours, and Libera, who was Liber’s female equivalent. In ancient Lavinium, he was a phallic deity.

Latin liber means “free”, or the “free one”: when coupled with “pater”, it means “The Free Father”, who personifies freedom and champions its attendant rights, as opposed to dependent servitude.

The word ‘liber’ is also understood in regard of the concept libation, ritual offering of drink, which in Greek relates to ‘spondé’, literally related to English ‘to spend’. Roman writers of the late Republic and early Empire offer various etymological and poetic speculations based on this trope, to explain certain features of Liber’s cult.

Ares

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

The Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, “overwhelming, insatiable in battle, destructive, and man-slaughtering.”

His sons Fear (Phobos) and Terror (Deimos) and his lover, or sister, Discord (Enyo) accompanied him on his war chariot. In the Iliad, his father Zeus tells him that he is the god most hateful to him. An association with Ares endows places and objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized quality. His value as a war god is placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while Athena, often depicted in Greek art as holding Nike (Victory) in her hand, favored the triumphant Greeks.

Ares plays a relatively limited role in Greek mythology as represented in literary narratives, though his numerous love affairs and abundant offspring are often alluded to. When Ares does appear in myths, he typically faces humiliation. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was married to Hephaestus, god of craftsmanship. The most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband’s clever device.

The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people was given a more important and dignified place in ancient Roman religion as a guardian deity. During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule also recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares. Thus in the classical tradition of later Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures becomes virtually indistinguishable.

Mars

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

Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature.

Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom as a guardian of the Roman people had no Greek equivalent. Mars’ altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome.

Although the center of Mars’ worship was originally located outside the sacred boundary of Rome (pomerium), Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people.

In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.

Trivia

Trivia in Roman mythology was the goddess who “haunted crossroads, graveyards, and was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, she wandered about at night and was seen only by the barking of dogs who told of her approach.”

She was the equivalent of the Greek goddess Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, the three-way crossroads and the harvest moon. She was an underworld Titan-goddess who assisted Jove in the Titanomachy and was therefore able to keep her powers.

She was a friend of Ceres and helped her to find her daughter Proserpina. As a part of her role as an underworld goddess, she was known as the Queen of Ghosts. Although she helped Ceres to find her daughter, she was also known to steal young maidens to assist her in her powers. These women later became nymphs.

Her association for Romans of the first century BCE with Artemis was so thorough that Lucretius identifies the altar of the goddess at the sacrifice of Iphianassa (Iphigeneia) in Aulis as Triviai virginis aram.

Hecate – virgin

Hecate or Hekate is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, ghosts, necromancy, and sorcery. As a virgin goddess, she remained unmarried and had no regular consort, though some traditions named her as the mother of Scylla.

She closely parallels the Roman goddess Trivia, with whom she was identified in Rome. Before she became associated with Greek mythology, she had many similarities with Artemis (wilderness, and watching over wedding ceremonies).

Hesiod emphasizes that Hecate was an only child, the daughter of Perses and Asteria, a star-goddess who was the sister of Leto (the mother of Artemis and Apollo). Grandmother of the three cousins was Phoebe the ancient Titaness who personified the moon.

In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd-3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family.

Hecate may have originated among the Carians of Anatolia, where variants of her name are found as names given to children. William Berg observes, “Since children are not called after spooks, it is safe to assume that Carian theophoric names involving hekat- refer to a major deity free from the dark and unsavoury ties to the underworld and to witchcraft associated with the Hecate of classical Athens.”

In the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Hecate is called the “tender-hearted”, a euphemism perhaps intended to emphasize her concern with the disappearance of Persephone, when she assisted Demeter with her search for Persephone following her abduction by Hades, suggesting that Demeter should speak to the god of the sun, Helios.

Subsequently she became Persephone’s companion on her yearly journey to and from the realms of Hades; serving as a psychopomp. Because of this association, Hecate was one of the chief goddesses of the Eleusinian Mysteries, alongside Demeter and Persephone.

The figure of Hecate can often be associated with the figure of Isis in Egyptian myth. Lucius Apuleius (c. 123 — c. 170 CE) in his work The Golden Ass associates Hecate with Isis:

‘I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of heaven, the principal of the Gods celestial, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in divers manners, in variable customs and in many names, […] Some call me Juno, others Bellona of the Battles, and still others Hecate. Principally the Ethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Egyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustomed to worship me, do call me Queen Isis.[…]’

In the syncretism during Late Antiquity of Hellenistic and late Babylonian (“Chaldean”) elements, Hecate was identified with Ereshkigal, the underworld counterpart of Inanna in the Babylonian cosmography. In the Michigan magical papyrus (inv. 7), dated to the late 3rd or early 4th century CE, Hecate Ereschigal is invoked against fear of punishment in the afterlife.

Hecate was generally represented as three-formed, which probably has some connection with the appearance of the full moon, half moon, and new moon. Triple Hecate was the goddess of the moon with three forms: Selene the Moon in heaven, Artemis the Huntress on earth, and Persephone the Destroyer in the underworld.

Although associated with other moon goddesses such as Selene, she ruled over three kingdoms: the earth, the sea, and the sky. She had the power to create or hold back storms, which influenced her patronage of shepherds and sailors.

Dogs were sacred to Hecate and associated with roads, domestic spaces, purification, and spirits of the dead. They played a similar symbolic role in ancient China, where dogs were conceived as representative of the household sphere, and as protective spirits appropriate when transcending geographic and spatial boundaries. Dogs were also sacrificed to the road.

As Roel Sterckx observes, “The use of dog sacrifices at the gates and doors of the living and the dead as well as its use in travel sacrifices suggest that dogs were perceived as daemonic animals operating in the liminal or transitory realm between the domestic and the unknown, danger-stricken outside world”.

This can be compared to Pausanias’ report that in the Ionaian city of Colophon in Asia Minor a sacrifice of a black female puppy was made to Hecate as “the wayside goddess”, and Plutarch’s observation that in Boeotia dogs were killed in purificatory rites. Dogs, with puppies often mentioned, were offered to Hecate at crossroads, which were sacred to the goddess.

Heqet – Khnum

The etymology of the name Hecate (Ἑκάτη, Hekátē) is not known. To the Egyptians, the frog was a symbol of life and fertility, since millions of them were born after the annual inundation of the Nile, which brought fertility to the otherwise barren lands.

Consequently, in Egyptian mythology, there began to be a frog-goddess, who represented fertility, referred to by Egyptologists as Heqet (also Heqat, Hekit, Heket etc., more rarely Hegit, Heget etc.), written with the determinative frog.

The beginning of her cult dates to the early dynastic period at least. Her name was part of the names of some high-born Second Dynasty individuals buried at Helwan and was mentioned on a stela of Wepemnofret and in the Pyramid Texts. Early frog statuettes are often thought to be depictions of her.

Later, as a fertility goddess, associated explicitly with the last stages of the flooding of the Nile, and so with the germination of corn, she became associated with the final stages of childbirth. This association, which appears to have arisen during the Middle Kingdom, gained her the title She who hastens the birth.

Some claim that—even though no ancient Egyptian term for “midwife” is known for certain—midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and that her priestesses were trained in midwifery. Women often wore amulets of her during childbirth, which depicted Heqet as a frog, sitting in a lotus.

Heqet was considered the wife of Khnum, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter’s wheel. In the myth of Osiris developed, it was said that it was Heqet who breathed life into the new body of Horus at birth, as she was the goddess of the last moments of birth.

As the birth of Horus became more intimately associated with the resurrection of Osiris, so Heqet’s role became one more closely associated with resurrection. Eventually, this association led to her amulets gaining the phrase I am the resurrection in the Christian era along with cross and lamb symbolism.

Heqet was usually depicted as a frog, or a woman with a frog’s head, or more rarely as a frog on the end of a phallus to explicitly indicate her association with fertility. She was often referred to as the wife of Khnum, one of the earliest Egyptian deities, originally the god of the source of the Nile River.

Hel

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson.

In addition, she is mentioned in poems recorded in Heimskringla and Egils saga that date from the 9th and 10th centuries, respectively. An episode in the Latin work Gesta Danorum, written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus, is generally considered to refer to Hel, and Hel may appear on various Migration Period bracteates.

In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.

In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Kali – Shiva

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga. The name of Kali means black one and force of time; she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces.

Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her husband, the god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Worshipped throughout India but particularly South India, Bengal, and Assam, Kali is both geographically and culturally marginal.

Shiva

Shiva (“The Auspicious One”, “The Red One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is one of the Trinity 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”. The worship of Shiva is a pan-Hindu tradition, practiced widely across all of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

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.

Rudra

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 Aghora, Abhayankar (“extremely calm [sic] non 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.

Ishara

Ishara is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.

In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. Her cult was of considerable importance in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium, and by the end of the 3rd millennium, she had temples in Nippur, Sippar, Kish, Harbidum, Larsa, and Urum.

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

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

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

Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar. She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars).

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

Mitra

Mitra is a divinity of Indic culture, whose function changed with time. In the Mitanni inscription, Mitra is invoked as one of the protectors of treaties. The Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra means “(that which) causes [-tra] to bind [mi-]”, hence Sanskrit mitram, “covenant, contract, oath”, the protection of which is Mitra’s role in both the Rigveda and in the Mitanni treaty.

Indic Mitra is first attested in a 14th century BCE Mitanni inscription in which a Indo-Aryan king of Mitanni invokes the gods Mitra, Indra, Varuna, and the Nasatyas as guarantors of his sworn obligations.

Ishtar

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Ishtar was the goddess of love, war, fertility, and sexuality. She was the daughter of Anu. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil). Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”. Ishtar had many lovers; however, as Guirand notes,

“Woe to him whom Ishtar had honoured! The fickle goddess treated her passing lovers cruelly, and the unhappy wretches usually paid dearly for the favours heaped on them. Animals, enslaved by love, lost their native vigour: they fell into traps laid by men or were domesticated by them. ‘Thou has loved the lion, mighty in strength’, says the hero Gilgamesh to Ishtar, ‘and thou hast dug for him seven and seven pits! Thou hast loved the steed, proud in battle, and destined him for the halter, the goad and the whip.’

Even for the gods Ishtar’s love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and — if one is to believe Gilgamesh — this love caused the death of Tammuz.

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

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

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

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

Isis

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. She was first worshiped in Ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman empire and the greater Greco-Roman world.

Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers.

Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with king and kingship (although in some traditions Horus’s mother was Hathor). Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The name Isis means “Throne”. Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh’s power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided.

Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but her most important temples were at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta, and, beginning in the reign with Nectanebo I (380–362 BCE), on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him.

Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example, it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals.

The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

The star Sopdet (Sirius) is associated with Isis. The appearance of the star signified the advent of a New Year and Isis was likewise considered the goddess of rebirth and reincarnation, and as a protector of the dead. The Book of the Dead outlines a particular ritual that would protect the dead, enabling travel anywhere in the underworld, and most of the titles Isis holds signify her as the goddess of protection of the dead.

The Greek name version of Isis is surprisingly close to her original, Egyptian name spelling (namely Aset). Isis’ name was originally written with the signs of a throne seat (Gardiner sign Q1, pronounced “as” or “is”), a bread loaf (Gardiner sign X1, pronounced “t” or “tj”) and with an unpronounced determinative of a sitting woman.

A second version of the original was also written with the throne seat and the bread loaf, but ended with an egg symbol (Gardiner sign H8) which was normally read “set”, but here it was used as a determinative to promote the correct reading. The grammar, spelling and used signs of Isis’ name never changed during time in any way, making it easy to recognize her any time.

However, the symbolic and metaphoric meaning of Isis’ name remains unclear. The throne seat sign in her name might point to a functional role as a goddess of kingship, as the maternal protector of the ruling king. Thus, her name could mean “she of the kings’ throne”.

But all other Egyptian deities have names that point to clear cosmological or nature elemental roles (Râ = the sun; Ma’at = justice and world order), thus the name of Isis shouldn’t be connected to the king himself.

The throne seat symbol might alternatively point to a meaning as “throne-mother of the gods”, making her the highest and most powerful goddess before all other gods. This in turn would supply a very old existence of Isis, long before her first mentioning during the late Old Kingdom, but this hypothesis remains unproven.

A third possible meaning might be hidden in the egg-symbol that was also used in Isis’ name. The egg-symbol always represented motherhood, implying a maternal role of Isis. Her name could mean “mother goddess”, pointing to her later, mythological role as the mother of Horus. But this remains problematic, too: the initial mother-goddess of Horus was Hathor, not Isis.

The sacred image of Isis with the Horus Child in Rome often became a model for the Christian Mary carrying her child Jesus and many of the epithets of the Egyptian Mother of God came to be used for her.

Hathor

The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty, when her name appears in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on the statue of a priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.

When the cult of Ra rose to prominence, with its cult center at Heliopolis, Ra was identified with the similar deity, Horus. But Hathor had been paired with Ra in some regions, as the mother of the god. Since Isis was paired with Horus, and Horus was identified with Ra, Isis began to be merged with Hathor as Isis-Hathor.

By merging with Hathor, Isis became the mother of Horus, as well as his wife. Eventually the mother role displaced the role of spouse. Thus, the role of spouse to Isis was open and in the Heliopolis pantheon, Isis became the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus/Ra. This reconciliation of themes led to the evolution of the myth of Isis and Osiris.

In art, originally Isis was pictured as a woman wearing a long sheath dress and crowned with the hieroglyphic sign for a throne. Sometimes she is depicted as holding a lotus, or, as a sycamore tree. One pharaoh, Thutmose III, is depicted in his tomb as nursing from a sycamore tree that has a breast.

After she assimilated many of the roles of Hathor, Isis’s headdress was replaced with that of Hathor: the horns of a cow on her head, with the solar disk between them, and often with her original throne symbol atop the solar disk. Sometimes she also is represented as a cow, or with a cow’s head. She is often depicted with her young child, Horus (the pharaoh), with a crown, and a vulture. Occasionally she is represented as a kite flying above the body of Osiris or with the dead Osiris she works her magic to bring him back to life.

Most often Isis is seen holding an ankh (the sign for “life”) and a simple lotus staff, but in late images she is sometimes seen with the sacred sistrum rattle and the fertility-bearing menat necklace, items usually associated with Hathor. In The Book of Coming Forth By Day Isis is depicted standing on the prow of the Solar Barque with her arms outstretched.

Ninsun

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun or Ninsuna (“lady wild cow”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras.

Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Gula in the latter became a Babylonian goddess. She was originally named Nininsina, according to Pabilsag’s journey to Nibru. According to the ancient Babylonian text, Nininsina wedded Pabilsag near a riverbank. By Pabilsag she bore Damu, a god of vegetation and rebirth.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as a human queen who lives in Uruk with her son as king. Since the father of Gilgamesh was former king Lugalbanda, it stands to reason that Ninsun procreated with Lugalbanda to give birth.

Also in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is summoned by Gilgamesh and Enkidu to help pray to the god Utu to help the two on their journey to the Country of the Living to battle Humbaba.

Ninsun is called “Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”. In the Tello relief (the ancient Lagash, 2150 BC) her name is written with the cuneiform glyphs as: DINGIR.NIN.GUL where the glyph for GUL is the same for SUN. The meaning of SUN is attested as “cow”.

Ninmah – Ninhursag

In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”; from Sumerian NIN “lady”) was a mother goddess of the mountains. She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”), Nintu (“Lady of Birth”), Mamma or Mami (mother), Aruru, and Belet-Ili (“Mistress of the Gods”). She may have become Belet Ili when, at Enki’s suggestion, the gods slew one amongst themselves and used that god’s blood and flesh, mixed with clay, to create humankind.

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

Mami is a goddess in the Babylonian epic Atra-Hasis and in other creation legends. She was probably synonymous with Ninhursag. She was involved in the creation of humankind from clay and blood. As Nintu legends states she pinched off fourteen pieces of primordial clay which she formed into womb deities, seven on the left and seven on the right with a brick between them, who produced the first seven pairs of human embryos.

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.

She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

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

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).

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.

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

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.

Hursag

There is a clear association of Ziggurats with mountain houses. Mountain houses play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag.

ḪUR.SAG (“sacred mountain, foothill”) was a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) in Eridu. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

Esagila

The temple of Ninhursag, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty), literally: “house of the raised head”) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

The Ésagila was a temple dedicated to Marduk, the protector god of Babylon. In this temple was a little lake which was named Abzu by the Babylonian priests. This Abzu was a representation of Marduk’s father, Enki, who was god of the waters and lived in the Abzu that was the source of all the fresh waters.

It lay south of the ziggurat Etemenanki (Sumerian É.TEMEN.AN.KI “temple of the foundation of heaven and earth”), the name of a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk in the city of Babylon of the 6th century BCE Neo-Babylonian dynasty.

It is unclear exactly when Etemenanki was first built. It might have reigned in the 1400-900 BC, but reference to a ziqqurrat at Babylon in the Enûma Eliš is more solid evidence, however, for a Middle Assyrian piece of this poem survives to prove the long-held theory that it existed already in the second millennium BC.

Inanna

Inanna 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.

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.

Aratta

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. Aratta is 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.

Hannahannah/ Hebat/ Eva

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, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

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

Cybele

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.

This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests. 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.

Freyja/Frigg

Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and 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.

In the Poetic Edda poem Hyndluljóð, a figure by the name of Nanna is listed as the daughter of Nökkvi and as a relative of Óttar, also known as Óttar the Simple. This figure may or may not be the same Nanna as Baldr’s wife.

Óttar is a protégé of the goddess Freyja. He appeared in Hyndluljóð (the Lay of Hyndla), a poem in the Poetic Edda. In this tale, Óttar is said to be very pious to the goddesses. He built a shrine of stones, a hörgr, and on it made many offerings to Freyja. The goddess answered his prayers and went on a journey to help him find his pedigree.

Freyja disguised Óttar as her boar Hildisvini (the Battle-Swine) and brought him to the giantess Hyndla, a seeress. There, Freyja forced Hyndla to tell Óttar about his ancestors, as well as to give him a memory potion so that he would remember all he was told.

It has been theorized that the framework of the poem was created for the 12th-century poet to produce a list of mythical heroes’ names. The poem does not connect much to other poems in the Edda, and is often viewed as a semi-historical work. Viktor Rydberg theorized that Óttar is another spelling of the name Óðr.

Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member 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.’”

Frigg (Old Norse), Frija (Old High German), Frea (Langobardic), and Frige (Old English) is a goddess and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir. The name of the early English goddess is attested only in the name of the weekday, although frīg (strong feminine) as a common noun meaning “love” (in the singular) or “affections, embraces” (in the plural) is attested in poetry.

In nearly all sources Frigg is described as the wife of the god Odin. She dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge and wisdom, 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 children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr.

Due to numerous similarities, scholars have frequently connected Freyja with the goddess Frigg. Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples. Both Frigg and Freyja are attested in the name for Friday in many Germanic languages.

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, and is cognate with Old High German frîatac. Both weekday names are result of interpretatio germanica that occurred at or before the 3rd or 4th century CE, glossing the Latin weekday name dies Veneris ‘Day of Venus’.

It is 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 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 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.

Like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō. Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to lack of evidence.

Frigg is the most prominent female member of the Aesir faction of the Germanic gods, and often identified as the spouse of the chief god, Odin. Freya is the most prominent female member of the Vanir faction of the gods, is described as being adept at seid (magic), and is the wife of Ód.

In the pre-Christian period, the Orion constellation was called either Frigg’s distaff or Freyja’s distaff (Swedish Frejerock). Frigg is often associated with weaving, combining the aspects of a love goddess and a domestic goddess. In Sweden and some parts of Germany, the asterism of Orion’s Belt is known as her distaff or spindle.

The power of prophecy is attributed to Frigg, which seems more properly related to the seid (magic or divination) of Freyja. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names. Freyja’s husband Ód is often away on journeys, like Frigg’s husband Odin.

Gustav Neckel, writing in 1920, connects Freyja to the Phrygian goddess Cybele. According to Neckel, both goddesses can be interpreted as “fertility goddesses” and other potential resemblances have been noted. Some scholars have suggested that the image of Cybele subsequently influenced the iconography of Freyja, the lions drawing the former’s chariot becoming large cats.

Sophus Bugge and Hjalmar Falk saw a reflection of the Greek god Adonis in Óðr, Rudolf Much saw a reflection in the god Attis. In Babylonia, the god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god Dumuzid or Dumuzi, is the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

In Norse mythology, Hnoss (Old Norse “treasure”) is the daughter of Freyja and Óðr, and sister of Gersemi (Old Norse “treasure”). Ngeshtin-ana is a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. The sister of Dumuzi and consort of Ningisida, she is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inanna and Ereshkigal. Gethsemane (lit. “oil press”) is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Several plants were named after Freyja, such as Freyja’s tears and Freyja’s hair (Polygala vulgaris), but during the process of Christianization, the name of the goddess was replaced with that of the Virgin Mary.

Descent to the underworld

Scholars have theorized about Freyja’s connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE “Isis” of the Suebi.

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. Inanna was associated with the planet Venus. Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses.

Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar.

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

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

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr. Scholars have debated connections between Nanna and other similarly named deities from other cultures and the implications of the goddess’s attestations.

Accounts of Nanna vary greatly by source. 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, the son of the god Odin, 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).

Hermóðr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief.

After Baldr’s death Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished “to gain all of her love and favor” by riding the road to Hel. Whoever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr’s return to Asgard. Hermóðr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel. Hermóðr rode Odin’s horse Sleipnir for nine nights through deep and dark valleys to the Gjöll bridge covered with shining gold, the bridge being guarded by the maiden Móðguðr ‘Battle-frenzy’ or ‘Battle-tired’.

Upon coming to Hel’s gate, Hermóðr dismounted, tightened Sleipnir’s girth, mounted again, and spurred Sleipnir so that Sleipnir leapt entirely over the gate. So at last Hermóðr came to Hel’s hall and saw Baldr seated in the most honorable seat. Hermóðr begged Hel to release Baldr, citing the great weeping for Baldr among the Æsir. Thereupon Hel announced that Baldr would only be released if all things, dead and alive, wept for him.

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.

Ereshkigal’s hatred for Inanna could be referenced in a few other myths. Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld; she can not leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can not visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal.

The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition. Inanna’s reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana (“the Bull of Heaven”) in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The attested laws of the underworld dictate that, with the exception of appointed messengers, those who enter it could never leave.

Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads upon her breast, the ‘pala dress’ (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod. These garments are each representations of powerful mes she possesses. Perhaps Inanna’s garments, unsuitable for a funeral, along with Inanna’s haughty behavior, make Ereshkigal suspicious.

Following Ereshkigal’s instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks why, and is told ‘It is just the ways of the Underworld’. She obliges and passes through. Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, at each one removing a piece of clothing or jewelry she had been wearing at the start of her journey, thus stripping her of her power.

When she arrives in front of her sister, she is naked. “After she had crouched down and had her clothes removed, they were carried away. Then she made her sister Erec-ki-gala rise from her throne, and instead she sat on her throne. The Anna, the seven judges, rendered their decision against her. They looked at her – it was the look of death. They spoke to her – it was the speech of anger. They shouted at her – it was the shout of heavy guilt. The afflicted woman was turned into a corpse. And the corpse was hung on a hook.”

Despite Inanna’s fate, and in contrast to the other individuals who were properly mourning Inanna, Dumuzi was lavishly clothed and resting beneath a tree. Inanna, displeased, decrees that the demons shall take him, using language which echoes the speech Ereshkigal gave while condemning her. Dumuzi is then taken to the underworld.

In other recensions of the story, Dumuzi tries to escape his fate, and is capable of fleeing the demons for a time, as the deities intervene and disguise him in a variety of forms. He is eventually found. However, Dumuzi’s sister, out of love for him, begged to be allowed to take his place. It was then decreed that Dumuzi spent half the year in the underworld, and his sister take the other half.

Inanna, displaying her typically capricious behavior, mourns his time in the underworld. This she reveals in a haunting lament of his deathlike absence from her, for “[he] cannot answer . . . [he] cannot come/ to her calling . . . the young man has gone.” Her own powers, notably those connected with fertility, subsequently wane, to return in full when he returns from the netherworld each six months. This cycle then approximates the shift of seasons.

The etymology of the name of the goddess Nanna is debated. Some scholars have proposed that the name may derive from nanna, meaning “mother”. Scholar Jan de Vries connects the name Nanna to the root *nanþ-, leading to “the daring one”.

Scholar John Lindow theorizes that a common noun may have existed in Old Norse, nanna, that roughly meant “woman”. Scholar John McKinnell notes that the “mother” and *nanþ- derivations may not be distinct, commenting that nanna may have once meant “she who empowers”.

Venus/Vanir

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

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

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

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European New Year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

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

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

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek. The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

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

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The war god

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 29, 2015

Ninurta-Nergal-Ares-Mars-Hercules

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity.

In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity. 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 when he was called Ningirsu.

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

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.

Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles, who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology, Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. One cycle of these adventures became canonical as the “Twelve Labours,” but the list has variations.

In the Roman era Hercules’ Club amulets appear from the 2nd to 3rd century, distributed over the empire (including Roman Britain, c.f. Cool 1986), mostly made of gold, shaped like wooden clubs. A specimen found in Köln-Nippes bears the inscription “DEO HER[culi]”, confirming the association with Hercules.

The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Thor is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as either the Roman god Jupiter (also known as Jove) or the Greco-Roman god Hercules.

In the 5th to 7th centuries, during the Migration Period, the amulet is theorized to have rapidly spread from the Elbe Germanic area across Europe. These Germanic “Donar’s Clubs” were made from deer antler, bone or wood, more rarely also from bronze or precious metals.They are found exclusively in female graves, apparently worn either as a belt pendant, or as an ear pendant. The amulet type is replaced by the Viking Age Thor’s hammer pendants in the course of the Christianization of Scandinavia from the 8th to 9th century.

The first clear example of this occurs in the Roman historian Tacitus’s late first-century work Germania, where, writing about the religion of the Suebi (a confederation of Germanic peoples), he comments that “among the gods Mercury is the one they principally worship.

They regard it as a religious duty to offer to him, on fixed days, human as well as other sacrificial victims. Hercules and Mars they appease by animal offerings of the permitted kind” and adds that a portion of the Suebi also venerate “Isis”. In this instance, Tacitus refers to the god Odin as “Mercury”, Thor as “Hercules”, and the god Týr as “Mars”, and the identity of the Isis of the Suebi has been debated.

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

Anzû is a deity associated with cosmogeny. It 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. 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).

Anzû is represented as stripping the father of the gods of umsimi (which is usually translated “crown” but in this case, as it was on the seat of Bel, it refers to the “ideal creative organ”). Regarding this, Charles Penglase writes that “Ham is the Chaldean Anzû, and both are cursed for the same allegorically described crime,” which parallels the mutilation of Uranus by Cronus and of Set by Horus.

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.

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

Nergal 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 the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla). In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

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.

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

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

Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia.

His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the lightning bolt, Neptune the trident, and Saturn the scythe or sickle. A relic or fetish called the spear of Mars was kept in a sacrarium at the Regia, the former residence of the Kings of Rome.

The spear was said to move, tremble or vibrate at impending war or other danger to the state, as was reported to occur before the assassination of Julius Caesar. When Mars is pictured as a peace-bringer, his spear is wreathed with laurel or other vegetation, as on the Ara Pacis or a coin of Aemilianus.

Indra

Verethragna is an Avestan language neuter noun literally meaning “smiting of resistance”. Representing this concept is the divinity Verethragna, who is the hypostasis of “victory”, and “as a giver of victory Verethragna plainly enjoyed the greatest popularity of old”.

The neuter noun verethragna is related to Avestan verethra, ‘obstacle’ and verethragnan, ‘victorious’. In Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Verethragna became Warahran, from which Vahram, Vehram, Bahram, Behram and other variants derive. The once-followed theory that Verethragna had Indo-Iranian origins is no longer followed today.

The name and, to some extent, the deity has correspondences in Armenian Vahagn and Vram, Buddhist Sogdian Wshn, Manichaen Parthian Wryhrm, Kushan Bactrian Orlagno. While the figure of Verethragna is highly complex, parallels have also been drawn between it and (variously) Vedic Indra, Puranic Vishnu, Manichaean Adamas, Chaldean/Babylonian Nergal, Egyptian Horus, Hellenic Ares and Heracles.

Indra, also called Śakra (“the mighty-one”) frequently in the Vedas and in Buddhism (Pali: Sakka), is the leader of the Devas and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. With Varuna and Mitra he is one of the Ādityas, the chief gods of the Rigveda (besides Agni and others such as the Ashvins). He appears as the name of a daeva in Zoroastrianism (though ‘Indra’ can be used in a general sense for a leader, either of devatas or asuras), while his epithet Verethragna appears as a god of victory.

Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus Pita (“Sky Father”), the ancient sky god of Vedic pantheon, consort of Prithvi Mata “Earth Mother” and father of the chief deities of the Rigveda, Agni (Fire), Indra, and Ushas (Dawn), or of Aditi (“limitless”), who in the Vedas is mother of the gods (devamatar) and all twelve zodiacal spirits from whose cosmic matrix the heavenly bodies were born.

As celestial mother of every existing form and being, the synthesis of all things, she is associated with space (akasa) and with mystic speech (Vāc). She may be seen as a feminized form of Brahma and associated with the primal substance (mulaprakriti) in Vedanta.

She is mentioned nearly 80 times in the Rigveda: the verse “Daksha sprang from Aditi and Aditi from Daksha” is seen by Theosophists as a reference to “the eternal cyclic re-birth of the same divine Essence” and divine wisdom. In contrast, the Puranas, such as the Shiva Purana and the Bhagavata Purana, suggest that Aditi is wife of sage Kashyap and gave birth to the Adityas such as Indra, Surya, and also Vamana.

Aditi challenges the modern idea that the Vedic peoples were patriarchal. Aditi was regarded as both the sky goddess, and earth goddess, which is very rare for a prehistoric civilization. Most prehistoric civilizations venerated a dual principle, Sky Father and Earth Mother, which appears to be borrowed from the concept of Prithivi and Dyaus Pita. Aditi was attributed the status of first deity by the Vedic culture, although she is not the only one attributed this status in the Vedas. She is addressed, in the Rigveda as “Mighty”.

His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. He has many epithets, notably vṛṣan the mighty, and vṛtrahan, slayer of Vṛtra, Meghavahana “the one who rides the clouds” and Devapati or “Devaraj” “the lord of devas”.

He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata. He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice. He is associated with Vajrapani – the Chief Dharmapala or Defender and Protector of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha who embodies the power of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

He delights in drinking soma and his central feat is his heroic defeat of Vṛtrá, liberating the rivers, or alternatively, his smashing of the Vala cave, a stone enclosure where the Panis had imprisoned the cows that are habitually identified with Ushas, the dawn(s). He is the god of war, smashing the stone fortresses of the Dasyu, but he is also is invoked by combatants on both sides in the Battle of the Ten Kings.

On the other hand, he also commits many kinds of mischief (kilbiṣa) for which he is sometimes punished. In the Puranas, Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character at times, even as his reputation and role diminished in later Hinduism with the rise of the Trimurti.

Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus, or gods of intoxicating drinks such as Dionysus. The name of Indra (Indara) is also mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people who ruled northern Syria from ca.1500BC-1300BC.

Janda suggests that the Proto-Indo-European (or Graeco-Aryan) predecessor of Indra had the epithet *trigw-welumos or rather *trigw-t-welumos; “smasher of the enclosure” of Vritra, Vala) and diye-snūtyos “impeller of streams” (the liberated rivers, corresponding to Vedic apam ajas “agitator of the waters”), which resulted in the Greek gods Triptolemus and Dionysus.

Vedic Indra corresponds to Verethragna of the Zoroastrian Avesta as the noun verethragna- corresponds to Vedic vrtrahan-, which is predominantly an epithet of Indra. According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.

It was “a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements”, which borrowed “distinctive religious beliefs and practices” from the Bactria–Margiana Culture. At least 383 non-Indo-European words were borrowed from this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma. According to Anthony,

Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the adopted god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture. Indra was the subject of 250 hymns, a quarter of the Rig Veda. He was associated more than any other deity with Soma, a stimulant drug (perhaps derived from Ephedra) probably borrowed from the BMAC religion. His rise to prominence was a peculiar trait of the Old Indic speakers.

The word vrtra-/verethra- means “obstacle”. Thus, vrtrahan-/verethragna- is the “smiter of resistance”. Vritra as such does not appear in either the Avesta or books of Zoroastrian tradition. Since the name ‘Indra’ appears in Zoroastrian texts as that of a demon opposing Truth. Zoroastrian tradition has separated both aspects of Indra.

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The chief deity

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 29, 2015

Dingir

Dingir is a Sumerian 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 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 it’s original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

The sign in Sumerian cuneiform DIĜIR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general and by itself represents the Sumerian word diĝir (“god”) or the word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An, the earliest attested supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon, the supreme Sky Father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.

An

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. Anu was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.

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 Nammu, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu).

Anu was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and Overseer was the God Ilabrat. In Sumerian texts of the third millennium the goddess Uraš is his consort; later this position was taken by Ki, the personification of earth, and in Akkadian texts by Antu, whose name is probably derived from his own.

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; the Akkadian word šamû meaning “sky”, the syllables an and il, a preposition meaning “at” or “to”, and a determinative indicating that the following word is the name of a god.

In Assyrian cuneiform AN and DIĜIR could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum), a syllabogram for an, or the Akkadian nominal stem il-, meaning “god” or “goddess”, derived acrophonically from the Semitic ʾil-, the god Anum. In Hittite orthography and cuneiform, as adapted from the Old Assyrian, the syllabic value of the sign was an, but abandoned il.

Ensi

According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ēnu and ēntu that are also translated priest and priestess. For example, nin-dingir (lady divine) meant a priestess who received foodstuffs at the temple of Enki in the city of Eridu.

Tiara

A tiara (from Latin: tiara, from Ancient Greek: τιάρα) is a jeweled ornamental crown worn by women. They may be worn during formal occasions particularly if the dress code is White tie. Today the word tiara is often used interchangeably with the word diadem and to confuse matters further tiara is translated to a word similar to diadem in other languages. Both words come from head ornaments worn by ancient people, both men and women, to denote high status.

Ninti

Ninti, the Sumerian goddess of life, is one of the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib (Sumerian Ti means rib and to live). 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.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Hebat. 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.

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.

Ki

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

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

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

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

Gaia

In Greek mythology, Gaia, (GAY-ə or GAH-yə; from Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Γῆ Gē, Ge, “land” or “earth”) also spelled Gaea, was the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. In Mycenean Greek Ma-ka (trans. as Ma-ga, “Mother Gaia”) also contains the root ga-.

Gaia was the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe; the heavenly gods, the Titans, and the Giants were born to her. The gods reigning over their classical pantheon were born from her union with Uranus (the sky), while the sea-gods were born from her union with Pontus (the sea). Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.

Some modern sources, such as James Mellaart, Marija Gimbutas and Barbara Walker, claim that Gaia as Mother Earth is a later form of a pre-Indo-European Great Mother, venerated in Neolithic times. Her existence is a speculation, and controversial in the academic community. Some modern mythographers, including Karl Kerenyi, Carl A. P. Ruck and Danny Staples interpret the goddesses Demeter the “mother,” Persephone the “daughter” and Hecate the “crone,” as aspects of a former Great goddess identified by some as Rhea or as Gaia herself.

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

Hesiod’s Theogony tells how, after Chaos, the primeval void, “wide-bosomed” Gaia (Earth) arose to be the everlasting seat of the immortals who possess Olympus above, and the depths of Tartarus below (as some scholars interpret it).

He then tells that Gaia brought forth her equal Uranus (Heaven, Sky) to “cover her on every side” and to be the abode of the gods. Gaia also bore the hills (ourea), and Pontus (Sea), “without sweet union of love” (i.e., with no father) Afterwards with Uranus, she gave birth to the Titans, as Hesiod tells it:

She lay with Heaven and bore deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronus the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.

According to Hesiod, Gaia conceived further offspring with Uranus, first the giant one-eyed Cyclopes: Brontes (“Thunder”), Steropes (“Lightning”) and Arges (“Bright”); then the Hecatonchires: Cottus, Briareos and Gyges, each with a hundred arms and fifty heads.

As each of the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires were born, Uranus hid them in a secret place within Gaia, causing her great pain. So Gaia devised a plan. She created a grey flint (or adamantine) sickle. And Cronus used the sickle to castrate his father Uranus as he approached Gaia to have intercourse with her.

From Uranus’ spilled blood, Gaia produced the Erinyes, the Giants and the Meliae (ash-tree nymphs). From the testicles of Uranus in the sea came forth Aphrodite. By her son Pontus, Gaia bore the sea-deities Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia.

Because Cronus had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overthrown by one of his children, he swallowed each of the children born to him by his Titan sister Rhea. But when Rhea was pregnant with her youngest child, Zeus, she sought help from Gaia and Uranus. When Zeus was born, Rhea gave Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling-clothes in his place, which Cronus swallowed, and Gaia took the child into her care.

With the help of Gaia’s advice, Zeus defeated the Titans. But afterwards, Gaia, in union with Tartarus, bore the youngest of her sons Typhon, who would be the last challenge to the authority of Zeus.

According to Hyginus, Earth (Gaia), along with Heaven and Sea were the children of Aether and Day (Hemera). According to Apollodorus, Gaia and Tartarus were the parents of Echidna.

Zeus hid Elara, one of his lovers, from Hera by stowing her under the earth. His son by Elara, the giant Tityos, is therefore sometimes said to be a son of Gaia, the earth goddess.

Gaia is believed by some sources to be the original deity behind the Oracle at Delphi. Depending on the source, Gaia passed her powers on to Poseidon, Apollo, or Themis. Apollo is the best-known as the oracle power behind Delphi, long established by the time of Homer, having killed Gaia’s child Python there and usurped the chthonic power. Hera punished Apollo for this by sending him to King Admetus as a shepherd for nine years.

In classical art Gaia was represented in one of two ways. In Athenian vase painting she was shown as a matronly woman only half risen from the earth, often in the act of handing the baby Erichthonius (a future king of Athens) to Athena to foster. In mosaic representations, she appears as a woman reclining upon the earth surrounded by a host of Carpi, infant gods of the fruits of the earth.

Tellus

In January, Ceres was offered spelt wheat and a pregnant sow, along with the earth-goddess Tellus at the movable Feriae Sementivae. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Tellus or Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”) is a goddess of the earth. Although Tellus and Terra are hardly distinguishable during the Imperial era, Tellus was the name of the original earth goddess in the religious practices of the Republic or earlier.

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

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

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

The two words terra and tellus are thought to derive from the formulaic phrase tersa tellus, meaning “dry land”. The etymology of tellus is uncertain; it is perhaps related to Sanskrit talam, “plain ground”.

Her Greek counterpart is Gaea (Gē Mâtēr), and among the Etruscans she was Cel, the Etruscan goddess of the earth. In Etruscan mythology, Cel was the mother of the Giants.

A bronze mirror from the 5th century BC depicts a theomachy in which Celsclan, “son of Cel,” is a Giant attacked by Laran, the god of war. In Greek, “giant” comes from a word meaning “born from Gaia.”

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

The word tellus, telluris is also a Latin common noun for “land, territory; earth,” as is terra, “earth, ground”. In literary uses, particularly in poetry, it may be ambiguous as to whether the goddess, a personification, or the common noun is meant. This article preserves the usage of the ancient sources regarding Tellus or Terra.

Urash

Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun (“lady wild cow”) and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

Ninsun, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, called “Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”, is the daughter of Anu and Uras.

In the Tello relief (the ancient Lagash, 2150 BC) her name is written with the cuneiform glyphs as: DINGIR.NIN.GUL where the glyph for GUL is the same for SUN. The meaning of SUN is attested as “cow”.

Ninsun was originally named Nininsina, according to Pabilsag’s journey to Nibru. According to the ancient Babylonian text, Nininsina wedded Pabilsag near a riverbank. By Pabilsag she bore Damu, a god of vegetation.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

Uranus

Uranus (meaning “sky” or “heaven”) was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether or Aither, the personification of the upper air, as his father.

Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.

In the Olympian creation myth, as Hesiod tells it in the Theogony, Uranus came every night to cover the earth and mate with Gaia, but he hated the children she bore him. Hesiod named their first six sons and six daughters the Titans, the three one-hundred-handed giants the Hekatonkheires, and the one-eyed giants the Cyclopes.

Uranus imprisoned Gaia’s youngest children in Tartarus, deep within Earth, where they caused pain to Gaia. She shaped a great flint-bladed sickle and asked her sons to castrate Uranus. Only Cronus, youngest and most ambitious of the Titans, was willing: he ambushed his father and castrated him, casting the severed testicles into the sea.

For this fearful deed, Uranus called his sons Titanes Theoi, or “Straining Gods.” From the blood that spilled from Uranus onto the Earth came forth the Giants, the Erinyes (the avenging Furies), the Meliae (the ash-tree nymphs), and, according to some, the Telchines. From the genitals in the sea came forth Aphrodite.

After Uranus was deposed, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hekatonkheires and Cyclopes in Tartarus. Uranus and Gaia then prophesied that Cronus in turn was destined to be overthrown by his own son, and so the Titan attempted to avoid this fate by devouring his young. Zeus, through deception by his mother Rhea, avoided this fate.

After his castration, the Sky came no more to cover the Earth at night, but held to its place, and “the original begetting came to an end” (Kerényi). Uranus was scarcely regarded as anthropomorphic, aside from the genitalia in the castration myth. He was simply the sky, which was conceived by the ancients as an overarching dome or roof of bronze, held in place (or turned on an axis) by the Titan Atlas.

In formulaic expressions in the Homeric poems ouranos is sometimes an alternative to Olympus as the collective home of the gods; an obvious occurrence would be the moment in Iliad 1.495, when Thetis rises from the sea to plead with Zeus: “and early in the morning she rose up to greet Ouranos-and-Olympus and she found the son of Kronos …”

William Sale remarks that “… ‘Olympus’ is almost always used of [the home of the Olympian gods], but ouranos often refers to the natural sky above us without any suggestion that the gods, collectively live there”.

Sale concluded that the earlier seat of the gods was the actual Mount Olympus, from which the epic tradition by the time of Homer had transported them to the sky, ouranos. By the sixth century, when a “heavenly Aphrodite” (Urania) was to be distinguished from the “common Aphrodite of the people”, ouranos signifies purely the celestial sphere itself.

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

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

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

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

The identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu Váruṇa, based in part on a posited PIE root *-ŭer with a sense of “binding”—ancient king god Váruṇa binds the wicked, ancient king god Uranus binds the Cyclopes, whom had tormented him. The most probable etymology is from Proto-Greek *(F)orsanόj (worsanos) from a PIE root *ers “to moisten, to drip” (referring to the rain).

Aether

Aether or Aither was one of the primordial deities. Aether is the personification of the upper air. He embodies the pure upper air that the gods breathe, as opposed to the normal air (ἀήρ, aer) breathed by mortals.

In Hesiod’s Theogony, Aether (Light) was the son of Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night), and the brother of Hemera (Day). The Roman mythographer Hyginus says Aether was the son of Chaos and Caligo (Darkness).

Hyginus says further that the children of Aether and Day were Earth, Heaven, and Sea, while the children of Aether and Earth were “Grief, Deceit, Wrath, Lamentation, Falsehood, Oath, Vengeance, Intemperance, Altercation, Forgetfulness, Sloth, Fear, Pride, Incest, Combat, Ocean, Themis, Tartarus, Pontus; and the Titans, Briareus, Gyges, Steropes, Atlas, Hyperion, and Polus, Saturn, Ops, Moneta, Dione; and three Furies – namely, Alecto, Megaera, Tisiphone.”

Like Tartarus (TAR-tər-əs), the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans, and Erebus, (Greek: Ἔρεβος, “deep darkness, shadow”), Aether may have had shrines in ancient Greece, but he had no temples and it is unlikely that he had a cult.

Tartarus-Erebrus

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

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

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

As for the place, Hesiod asserts that a bronze anvil falling from heaven would fall nine days before it reached the earth. The anvil would take nine more days to fall from earth to Tartarus. In The Iliad (c. 700 BC), Zeus asserts that Tartarus is “as far beneath Hades as heaven is high above the earth.”

In Roman mythology, Tartarus is the place where sinners are sent. Virgil describes it in the Aeneid as a gigantic place, surrounded by the flaming river Phlegethon and triple walls to prevent sinners from escaping from it. It is guarded by a hydra with fifty black gaping jaws, which sits at a screeching gate protected by columns of solid adamantine, a substance akin to diamond – so hard that nothing will cut through it. Inside, there is a castle with wide walls, and a tall iron turret.

Tisiphone, one of the Erinyes who represents revenge, stands guard sleepless at the top of this turret lashing a whip. There is a pit inside which is said to extend down into the earth twice as far as the distance from the lands of the living to Olympus. At the bottom of this pit lie the Titans, the twin sons of Aloeus, and many other sinners. Still more sinners are contained inside Tartarus, with punishments similar to those of Greek myth.

Tartarus is only known in Hellenistic Jewish literature from the Greek text of 1 Enoch, dated to 400–200 BC. This states that God placed the archangel Uriel/ Auriel (“El/God is my light” (God is my light) “in charge of the world and of Tartarus”. Tartarus is generally understood to be the place where 200 fallen Watchers (angels) are imprisoned.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Kur (Sumerian) or Ersetu (Akkadian) is the underworld from which there is no return. It was also called earth of no return, Kurnugia in Sumerian and Erset la tari in Akkadian. Kur is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.

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

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

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

The underworld had various names, some of which were used for the earth and the surface of the earth as well. Sumerian names are: a.rá, arali, bùr, ganzer, idim, ki, kir5, kiši, kukku (darkness), kur, kur.gi, kunugi / kurnugia (earth of no return), lam / lamma, lamḫu, uraš2, urugal / erigal (grave / great city) and ZÉ.

Akkadian names are: ammatu, arali / arallû, bīt ddumuzi (house of Dumuzi), danninu, erṣetu, erṣetu la târi (earth of no return), ganzer / kanisurra, ḫaštu, irkalla, kiūru, kukkû (darkness), kurnugû (earth of no return), lammu, mātu šaplītu en qaqqaru.

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

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

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

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

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

Nyx

Nyx (“Night”) is the Greek goddess (or personification) of the night. A shadowy figure, Nyx stood at or near the beginning of creation, and mothered other personified deities such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death), with Erebus.

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

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

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

In several fragmentary poems attributed to Orpheus Nyx, rather than Chaos is the first principle from which all creation emerges. Nyx occupies a cave or adyton, in which she gives oracles. Cronus – who is chained within, asleep and drunk on honey – dreams and prophesies. Outside the cave, Adrasteia clashes cymbals and beats upon her tympanon, moving the entire universe in an ecstatic dance to the rhythm of Nyx’s chanting.

Phanes – the strange, monstrous, hermaphrodite Orphic demiurge – was the child or father of Nyx. Nyx is also the first principle in the opening chorus of Aristophanes’ The Birds, which may be Orphic in inspiration. Here she is also the mother of Eros.

Cronos

Aristophanes states that Aether was the son of Erebus. However, Damascius says that Aether, Erebus and Chaos were siblings, and the offspring of Chronos (Father Time), the personification of Time in pre-Socratic philosophy and later literature. The original meaning and etymology of the word chronos are uncertain.

According to Epiphanius, the world began as a cosmic egg, encircled by Time and Inevitability (most likely Chronos and Ananke) in serpent fashion. Together they constricted the egg, squeezing its matter with great force, until the world divided into two hemispheres.

After that, the atoms sorted themselves out. The lighter and finer ones floated above and became the Bright Air (Aether and/or Uranus) and the rarefied Wind (Chaos), while the heavier and dirtier atoms sank and became the Earth (Gaia) and the Ocean (Pontos and/or Oceanus).

The fifth Orphic hymn to Aether describes the substance as “the high-reigning, ever indestructible power of Zeus,” “the best element,” and “the life-spark of all creatures.”

Though attributed to the mythological poet Orpheus who lived before the time of Homer, the likely composition of the hymns in the 6th-4th centuries BCE make them contemporary with natural philosophers, such as Empedocles, who theorized the material forces of nature as identical with the gods and superior to the anthropomorphic divinities of Homeric religion.

Chronos is a god, who is serpentine shape in form, 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.

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.

He was depicted in Greco-Roman mosaics as a man turning the Zodiac Wheel. Chronos, however, might also be contrasted with the deity Aion as Eternal Time.

Chronos is usually portrayed through an old, wise man with a long, grey beard, similar to Father Time. Some of the current English words whose etymological root is khronos/chronos include chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, and chronicle.

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.

Caelus

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

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

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

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

According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether, one of the primordial deities, and Dies (“Day” or “Daylight”). Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury. With Trivia, Caelus was the father of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops, a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin.

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.

Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn. In one tradition, Caelus was the father with Tellus or Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”) of the Muses, the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science, and the arts, though was this probably a mere translation of Ouranos from a Greek source.

The Muses (perhaps from the o-grade of the Proto-Indo-European root *men- “think”) were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, song-lyrics, and myths that were related orally for centuries in these ancient cultures. They were later adopted by the Romans as a part of their pantheon. In current English usage, “muse” can refer in general to a person who inspires an artist, writer, or musician.

Pausanias records a tradition of two generations of Muses; the first are the daughters of Uranus and Gaia, the second of Zeus and Mnemosyne. In later tradition, four Muses were recognized: Thelxinoë, Aoedē, Arche, and Meletē, said to be daughters of Zeus and Plusia or of Uranus.

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

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

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

The divine spatial abstraction Caelum is a synonym for Olympus as a metaphorical heavenly abode of the divine, both identified with and distinguished from the mountain in ancient Greece named as the home of the gods.

Varro says that the Greeks call Caelum (or Caelus) “Olympus.” As a representation of space, Caelum is one of the components of the mundus, the “world” or cosmos, along with terra (earth), mare (sea), and aer (air).

In his work on the cosmological systems of antiquity, the Dutch Renaissance humanist Gerardus Vossius deals extensively with Caelus and his duality as both a god and a place that the other gods inhabit.

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

It is generally though not universally agreed that Caelus is depicted on the cuirass of the Augustus of Prima Porta, at the very top above the four horses of the Sun god’s quadriga.

He is a mature, bearded man who holds a cloak over his head so that it billows in the form of an arch, a conventional sign of deity (velificatio) that “recalls the vault of the firmament.” He is balanced and paired with the personification of Earth at the bottom of the cuirass.

These two figures have also been identified as Saturn and the Magna Mater, to represent the new Saturnian “Golden Age” of Augustan ideology. On an altar of the Lares now held by the Vatican, Caelus in his chariot appears along with Apollo-Sol above the figure of Augustus.

As Caelus Nocturnus, he was the god of the night-time, starry sky. In a passage from Plautus, Nocturnus is regarded as the opposite of Sol, the Sun god. Nocturnus appears in several inscriptions found in Dalmatia and Italy, in the company of other deities who are found also in the cosmological schema of Martianus Capella, based on the Etruscan tradition.

In the Etruscan discipline of divination, Caelus Nocturnus was placed in the sunless north opposite Sol to represent the polar extremities of the axis. This alignment was fundamental to the drawing of a templum (sacred space) for the practice of augury.

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

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

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

Florus has a rather odd passage describing the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem as housing a “sky” (caelum) under a golden vine, which has been taken as an uncomprehending attempt to grasp the presence of the Jewish god. A golden vine, perhaps the one mentioned, was sent by the Hasmonean king Aristobulus to Pompeius Magnus after his defeat of Jerusalem, and was later displayed in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

Summanus

Although Caelus is not known to have had a cult at Rome, not all scholars consider him a Greek import given a Latin name; he has been associated with Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder, as counterposed to Jupiter, the god of diurnal (daylight) thunder, as “purely Roman.” His precise nature was unclear even to Ovid.

The temple of Summanus was dedicated during the Pyrrhic War c. 278 BCE on June 20. It stood at the west of the Circus Maximus, perhaps on the slope of the Aventine. It seems the temple had been dedicated because the statue of the god which stood on the roof of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus had been struck by a lightningbolt.

Every June 20, the day before the summer solstice, round cakes called summanalia, made of flour, milk and honey and shaped as wheels, were offered to him as a token of propitiation: the wheel might be a solar symbol. Summanus also received a sacrifice of two black oxen or wethers. Dark animals were typically offered to chthonic deities.

Saint Augustine records that in earlier times Summanus had been more exalted than Jupiter, but with the construction of a temple that was more magnificent than that of Summanus, Jupiter became more honored.

Cicero recounts that the clay statue of the god which stood on the roof of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was struck by a lightningbolt: its head was nowhere to be seen. The haruspices announced that it had been hurled into the Tiber River, where indeed it was found on the very spot indicated by them. The temple of Summanus itself was struck by lightning in 197 BCE.

Pliny thought that he was of Etruscan origin, and one of the nine gods of thunder. Varro, however, lists Summanus among gods he considers of Sabine origin, to whom king Titus Tatius dedicated altars (arae) in consequence of a votum. Paulus Diaconus considers him a god of lightning.

Georges Dumézil has argued that Summanus would represent the uncanny, violent and awe-inspiring element of the gods of the first function, connected to heavenly sovereignty. The double aspect of heavenly sovereign power would be reflected in the dichotomy Varuna-Mitra in Vedic religion and in Rome in the dichotomy Summanus-Dius Fidius. The first gods of these pairs would incarnate the violent, nocturnal, mysterious aspect of sovereignty while the second ones would reflect its reassuring, daylight and legalistic aspect.

The name Summanus is thought to be from Summus Manium “the greatest of the Manes”, or sub-, “under” + manus, “hand”. According to Martianus Capella, Summanus is another name for Pluto as the “highest” (summus) of the Manes.

This identification is taken up by later writers such as Camões (“If in Summanus’ gloomy realm / Severest punishment you now endure …”) and Milton, in a simile to describe Satan visiting Rome: “Just so Summanus, wrapped in a smoking whirlwind of blue flame, falls upon people and cities”.

In ancient Roman religion, the Manes or Di Manes are chthonic deities sometimes thought to represent souls of deceased loved ones. They were associated with the Lares, Lemures, Genii, and Di Penates as deities (di) that pertained to domestic, local, and personal cult. They belonged broadly to the category of di inferi, “those who dwell below,” the undifferentiated collective of divine dead.

Lares (archaic Lases, singular Lar), were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion. Their origin is uncertain; they may have been hero-ancestors, guardians of the hearth, fields, boundaries or fruitfulness, or an amalgam of these.

A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings. The Assyrians typically prominently placed lamassu at the entrances of cities and palaces.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them.

In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the Lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.

Although “lamassu” had a different iconography and portrayal in Sumerian culture, the terms lamassu, alad, and shedu evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian empire. Female lamassus were called “apsasû”.

The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin which were depicted with different iconography. These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant “protective spirit”.

The lamassu is a celestial being from Mesopotamian mythology bearing a human head, bull’s body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and wings. It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art. The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, were placed as sentinels at the entrances. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with lamassu and the god Išum with shedu.

To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

In Hittite the Sumerian form LAMMA is used both a name for the so-called “Tutelary deity” identified in certain later texts with Inara and a title given to similar protective gods. In the Enûma Eliš they are both symbolized as the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations and as physical deities as well as was in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekial wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph, a symbolic arrangement of four differing elements, or the combination of four disparate elements in one unit. The term is derived from the Greek tetra, meaning four, and morph, shape.

Archaeological evidence exists showing that early man divided the four quarters of the horizon, or space, later a place of sacrifice, such as a temple, and attributed characteristics and spiritual qualities to each quarter. Alternatively the composite elements were carved into mythic creatures such as the Egyptian, Greek and Babylonian sphinxes of antiquity depicting bull-like bodies with birds-wings, lion’s paws and human faces. Such composite creatures are found in many mythologies.

In Christian art the tetramorph is the union of the symbols of the Four Evangelists, the four living Creatures derived from the Book of Ezekiel, into a single figure or, more commonly, a group of four figures. Each of the four Evangelists has a creature, usually shown with wings: St Matthew the man, St Mark the lion, St Luke the ox, and John the eagle.

In Christian art and iconography, Evangelist portraits are often accompanied by tetramorphs, or the symbols alone used to represent them. Evangelist portraits that depict them in their human forms are often accompanied by their symbolic creatures, and Christ in Majesty is often shown surrounded by the four symbols.

Laḫmu, Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu is a deity from Akkadian mythology that represents the zodiac, parent stars, or constellations. It is the name of a protective and beneficent deity, the first-born son of Abzu and Tiamat.

He and his sister Laḫamu are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon.

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

Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head. It is suggested that the pair were represented by the silt of the sea-bed, but more accurately are known to be the representations of the zodiac, parent-stars, or constellations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divinity

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

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

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

Deity

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

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

I. Scott Littleton’s Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology defined a deity as “a being with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness beyond the grounded preoccupations of ordinary life”.

Deities are depicted in a variety of forms, but are also frequently expressed as having human form. Some faiths and traditions consider it blasphemous to imagine or depict the deity as having any concrete form.

Deities are often thought to be immortal, and are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions comparable but usually superior to those of humans. A male deity is a god, while a female deity is a goddess.

Historically, natural phenomena whose causes were not well understood, such as lightning and catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods, were attributed to deities. They were thought to be able to work supernatural miracles and to be the authorities and controllers of various aspects of human life (such as birth or an afterlife).

Some deities were asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, the givers of human law and morality, the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, or designers of the Universe.

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

Deus

Deus is Latin for “god” or “deity”. Latin deus and dīvus “divine”, are descended from Proto-Indo-European *deiwos, “celestial” or “shining”, from the same root as *Dyēus, the reconstructed chief god of the Proto-Indo-European pantheon. Compare Greek Zeus (dzeus; Aeolic Greek deus) and Sanskrit deva.

Latin dies (“day”) is considered to have derived from the same PIE root that originated deus. This is to say that a celestial shining body, the Sun, gives material form to the words for “day” in the Romance Languages.

In Classical Latin, deus (feminine dea) was a general noun referring to a deity, while in technical usage a divus or diva was a figure who had become divine, such as a divinized emperor. In Late Latin, Deus came to be used mostly for the Christian God. It was inherited by the Romance languages in French Dieu, Spanish Dios, Portuguese and Galician Deus, Italian Dio, etc, and by the Celtic languages in Welsh Duw and Irish Dia. Latin deus consistently translates Greek θεός theos in both the Vetus Latina and Jerome’s Vulgate. In the Septuagint, Greek theos in turn renders Hebrew Elohim.

The word de-us is the root of Deity, and thereby of deism, pandeism, panendeism, and polydeism, ironically all of which are theories in which any divine figure is absent from intervening in human affairs. This curious circumstance originates from the use of the word “deism” in the 17th and 18th centuries as a contrast to the prevailing “theism”, belief in an actively intervening God:

The new religion of reason would be known as Deism. It had no time for the imaginative disciplines of mysticism and mythology. It turned its back on the myth of revelation and on such traditional “mysteries” as the Trinity, which had for so long held people in the thrall of superstition. Instead it declared allegiance to the impersonal “Deus”.

Followers of these theories, and occasionally followers of pantheism, may sometimes refer to God as “Deus” or “the Deus” to make clear that the entity being discussed is not a theistic “God”. Arthur C. Clarke picks up this usage in his novel 3001: The Final Odyssey. William Blake said of the Deists that they worship “the Deus of the Heathen, The God of This World, & the Goddess Nature, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Druid Dragon & hidden Harlot”.

In Cartesian philosophy, the phrase deus deceptor is sometimes used to discuss the possibility of an evil God that seeks to deceive us. This character is related to a skeptical argument as to how much we can really know if an evil demon were attempting to thwart our knowledge.

Another is the deus otiosus (“idle god”), a theological concept used to describe the belief in a creator god who largely retires from the world and is no longer involved in its daily operation. A similar concept is that of the deus absconditus (“hidden god”) of Thomas Aquinas. Both refer to a deity whose existence is not readily knowable by humans through either contemplation or examination of divine actions.

The concept of deus otiosus often suggests a god who has grown weary from involvement in this world and who has been replaced by younger, more active gods, whereas deus absconditus suggests a god whom humans are incapable of seeing, or who has consciously left this world to hide elsewhere.

Nobiscum deus (“God with us”) was a battle cry of the late Roman Empire and of the Byzantine Empire. The name Amadeus translates to “for love of God”. The genitive/dative dei occurs in such phrases as Roman Catholic organization Opus Dei (work of God), Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and Dei Gratia (By the Grace of God).

Diva

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

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

The male form divo exists in Italian and is usually reserved for the most prominent leading tenors, like Enrico Caruso and Beniamino Gigli. The Italian term divismo describes the star-making system in the film industry. In contemporary Italian, diva and divo simply denote much-admired celebrities, especially film actresses and actors, and can be translated as “(film) star”.

Diva can also refer to a woman with a reputation for being temperamental or difficult to please. In show business, having a “diva attitude” implies someone who is self-important or hard to work with.

Dyēus

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

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

According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Phter, literally “Sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god, but in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes, and his dominance over other gods, seem to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Later figures etymologically connected with Dyeus is in Greek mythology Zeus, in Roman mythology Jupiter (pronounced Iuppiter), and Dis Pater, in Historical Vedic religion Dyauṣ Pitār, and Dionysus, especially with the Thracians and Sabines.

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

Germanic Tīwaz (known as Týr in Old Norse), Latin Deus (originally used to address Jupiter, but later adopted as the name of the Christian god), Indo-Aryan deva: Vedic/Puranic deva, Buddhist deva, Iranic daeva, daiva, diw, etc., Baltic Dievas, Celtic e.g. Gaulish Dēuos, and Slavic div(-ese) (miracle) derive from the related *deiwos. Estonian Tharapita bears similarity to Dyaus Pita in name, although it has been interpreted as being related to the god Thor.

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

The deity’s original domain was over the daylit sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light. The solar deity Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”), the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun in Luwian, was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.

Helios is often referred to as the “eye of Zeus”, in Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye” and in Indo-Iranian tradition Surya/Hvare-khshaeta is similarly associated with Ahura Mazda. Even in roman tradition, Jupiter often is only associated with diurnal lightning at most, while Summanus is a deity responsible for nocturnal lightning or storms as a whole.

As an ordinary noun Dyēus’s name also likely means “the daytime sky”: In Sanskrit as div- (nominative singular dyāus with vrddhi), its singular means “the sky” and its plural means “days”. Its accusative form *dyēm became Latin diem “day”, which later gave rise to a new nominative diēs. The original nominative survives as diūs in a few fixed expressions.

Finnish taivas Estonian taevas, Livonian tōvaz etc. (from Proto-Finnic *taivas), meaning “heaven” or “sky,” are likely rooted in the Indo-European word. The neighboring Baltic Dievas or Germanic Tiwaz are possible sources, but the Indo-Iranian *daivas accords better in both form and meaning. Similar origin has been proposed for the word family represented by Finnish toivoa “to hope” (originally “to pray from gods”).

Deva

Deva means “heavenly, divine, anything of excellence”, and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. According to Douglas Harper, the etymological roots of Deva mean “a shining one,” from *div- “to shine,” and it is a cognate with Greek dios “divine” and Zeus, and Latin deus (Old Latin deivos). The word Deva is also a proper name or part of name in Indian culture, where it refers to “one who wishes to excel, overcome” or the “seeker of, master of or a best among-“.

Deva is masculine, and the related feminine equivalent is devi. Etymologically, the cognates of Devi are Latin dea and Greek thea. When capitalized, Devi or Mata refers to goddess as divine mother in Hinduism. Deva is also referred to as Devatā, while Devi as Devika.

In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Asuras. The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras.

In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful, but malevolent half-brothers referred to as the Asuras.

Devas along with Asuras, Yaksha (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.

Deva is a Sanskrit word found in Vedic literature of 2nd millennium BCE. Monier Williams translates it as “heavenly, divine, terrestrial things of high excellence, exalted, shining ones”. The concept also is used to refer to deity.

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

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

It is related to *Dyeus which while from the same root, may originally have referred to the “heavenly shining father”, and hence to “Father Sky”, the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The bode of the Devas is Dyuloka.

Daeva

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

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

Daeva, the Iranian language term, should not be confused with the devas of Indian religions. While the word for the Vedic spirits and the word for the Zoroastrian entities are etymologically related, their function and thematic development is altogether different.

The once-widespread notion that the radically different functions of Iranian daeva and Indic deva (and ahura versus asura) represented a prehistoric inversion of roles is no longer followed in 21st century academic discourse.

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

Old Avestan daēuua or daēva derives from Old Iranian *daiva, which in turn derives from Indo-Iranian *daivá- “god,” reflecting Proto-Indo-European *deiu̯ó with the same meaning. The Vedic Sanskrit cognate of Avestan daēuua is devá-, continuing in later Indo-Aryan languages as dev.

Dyauṣ Pitā

Dyauṣ Pitā, literally “Sky Father” is the ancient sky god of Vedic pantheon, consort of Prithvi Mata “Earth Mother” and father of the chief deities of the Rigveda, Agni (Fire), Indra, and Ushas (Dawn).

In the Rigveda, Dyaus Pita appears only in verses 1.89.4, 1.90.7, 1.164.33, 1.191.6 and 4.1.10, and only in RV 1.89.4 does Pitar Dyaus “Father Sky” appear alongside Mata Prithvi “Mother Earth”. He is thus a very marginal deity in Rigvedic mythology, but his intrinsic importance is visible from his being the father of the chief deities.

That Dyaus was seen as the father of Indra is known only from one verse, RV 4.17.4: “Thy Father Dyaus esteemed himself a hero: most noble was the work of Indra’s Maker / His who begat the strong bolt’s Lord who roareth, immovable like earth from her foundation.”

He is mainly considered in comparative philology as a last remnant of the chief god of Proto-Indo-European religion. The name Dyauṣ Pitā is exactly parallel to the Greek Zeus Pater etymologically and closely related to Latin Jupiter. Both Dyauṣ and Zeus reflect a Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus.

Based on this reconstruction, the widespread opinion in scholarship since the 19th century has been that Indra had replaced Dyaus as the chief god of the early Indo-Aryans. While Prthivi survives as a Hindu goddess after the end of the Vedic period, Dyaus Pita became almost unknown already in antiquity.

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

Dīs Pater

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Dīs Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dīs. This name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the City of Dis of The Divine Comedy.

Cicero in his De Natura Deorum derives the name of Dīs Pater from dives, suggesting a meaning of “father of riches”, directly corresponding to the name Pluto (from Greek Ploutōn meaning “wealthy”).

Many of Cicero’s etymological derivations are not to be taken seriously, and may indeed have been intended ironically. Nevertheless, this particular derivation of Cicero’s has been accepted by some authors, some even suggesting that Dīs Pater is a direct loan translation of Ploutōn. Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Phter).

Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth, gems and precious metals, was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

In 249 BC and 207 BC, the Roman Senate under Senator Lucius Catelli ordained special festivals to appease Dīs Pater and Proserpina. Every hundred years, a festival was celebrated in his name.

Dīs Pater was sometimes identified with the Sabine god Soranus. In southern Germany and the Balkans, Dīs Pater had a Celtic goddess, Aericura, as a consort. Dīs Pater was rarely associated with foreign deities in the shortened form of his name, Dis.

Dievas

Lithuanian Dievas, Latvian Dievs, Latgalian Dīvs, Prussian Deywis, Yotvingian Deivas was the supreme god in the Baltic mythology and one of the most important deities together with Perkūnas. Dievas is a direct successor of the Proto-Indo-European supreme god *Dyēus of the root *deiwo-. Its Proto-Baltic form was *Deivas. In recent Lithuanian, this word may refer to the deity of any kind (Pagan, Christian, fictional and the like).

In English, Dievas may be used as a word to describe the God (or, the supreme god) in the pre-Christian religion of Balts, where Dievas was understood to be the supreme being of the world. In Lithuanian and Latvian, it is also used to describe God as it is understood by major world religions today. Earlier *Deivas simply denoted the shining sunlit dome of the sky, as in other Indo-European mythologies. The celestial aspect is still apparent in phrases such as Saule noiet dievā, from Latvian folksongs. In Hinduism any deity is known as Deva, a result of shared Proto-Indo-European roots.

Zeus

Zeus (Modern Greek: Días) was the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus. His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter.

Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronos’s stomach. In most traditions, he is married to Hera, by whom he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe, and Hephaestus. At the oracle of Dodona, his consort was said to be Dione, by whom the Iliad states that he fathered Aphrodite. Zeus was also infamous for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses.

He was respected as an allfather who was chief of the gods and assigned the others to their roles: “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rises in his presence.” He was equated with many foreign weather gods, permitting Pausanias to observe “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak.

In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical “cloud-gatherer” (Greek: Nephelēgereta) also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.

Zeus is the Greek continuation of *Di̯ēus, the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also called *Dyeus phtēr (“Sky Father”). The god is known under this name in the Rigveda (Vedic Sanskrit Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), Latin (compare Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-phtēr), deriving from the root *dyeu- (“to shine”, and in its many derivatives, “sky, heaven, god”). Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology.

The earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek di-we and di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script. Plato, in his Cratylus, gives a folk etymology of Zeus meaning “cause of life always to all things,” because of puns between alternate titles of Zeus (Zen and Dia) with the Greek words for life and “because of.” This etymology, along with Plato’s entire method of deriving etymologies, is not supported by modern scholarship.

Jupiter

Jupiter, also Jove (Latin: Iuppiter, gen. Iovis, is the god of sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

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

The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt, frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins. As the sky-god, he was a divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depend. Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline Hill, where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus. In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. His sacred tree was the oak.

The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter.

In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter.

Tinia (also Tin, Tinh, Tins or Tina), the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart. He was the husband of Thalna, a divine figure usually regarded as a goddess of childbirth, or Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon, and the father of Hercle. Uni was identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology.

Týr

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

Ymir

In Norse mythology, Ymir, Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn is a primeval being born of primordial elemental poison and the ancestor of all jötnar. The gods Odin, Vili, and Vé fashioned the Earth (elsewhere personified as a goddess; Jörð) from his flesh, from his blood the ocean, from his bones the hills, from his hair the trees, from his brains the clouds, from his skull the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. In addition, one stanza relates that the dwarfs were given life by the gods from Ymir’s flesh and blood (or the Earth and sea).

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion. Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity.

By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, scholars have linked Ymir to Tuisto, the Proto-Germanic being attested by Tacitus in his 1st century AD work Germania and have identified Ymir as an echo of a primordial being reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European mythology. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

Purusha

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

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

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

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

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

Ziusudra

Ziusudra (also Zi-ud-sura and Zin-Suddu; Hellenized Xisuthros: “found long life” or “life of long days”) of Shuruppak is listed in the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the deluge. He is subsequently recorded as the hero of the Sumerian flood epic.

He is also mentioned in other ancient literature, including The Death of Gilgamesh and The Poem of Early Rulers, and a late version of The Instructions of Shuruppak refers to Ziusudra. Akkadian Atrahasis (“extremely wise”) and Utnapishtim (“he found life”), as well as biblical Noah (“rest”) are similar heroes of flood legends of the ancient Near East.

Although each version of the flood myth has distinctive story elements, there are numerous story elements that are common to two, three, or four versions. The earliest version of the flood myth is preserved fragmentarily in the Eridu Genesis, written in Sumerian cuneiform and dating to the 17th century BC, during the 1st Dynasty of Babylon when the language of writing and administration was still Sumerian. Strong parallels are notable with other Near Eastern flood legends, such as the biblical account of Noah.

Tuisto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bull of Heaven

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu. Inanna looked down from the city walls and Enkidu shook the haunches of the bull at her, threatening to do the same if he ever caught her. He is later killed for this impiety.

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

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere.

In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward. To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring.

When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.

A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.

Taurus was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox from about 3,200 BC. The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion.

The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.

“Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 B.C. … a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilised by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth.

Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.”

Taurus

Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is the second astrological sign in the present Zodiac which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. It spans the 30-60th degree of the zodiac, between 27.25 and 54.75 degree of celestial longitude. Under the tropic zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between April 20 and May 20 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Taurus from May 16 (approx.) to June 21.

People born between these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Taureans. The symbol of the bull is based on the Cretan Bull, the white bull that fathered the Minotaur and was killed by Theseus.

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Taurus was the second sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians —who knew it as the Bull of Heaven — because it was the sign through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it due to the procession of the equinox moved into the neighboring constellation Aries.

The Bull represents a strong-willed character with great perseverance and determination. In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor, the goddess of beauty, love, and happiness. Hathor represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus, the goddess of beauty.

The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

Kumarbi

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 Ullikummi, the Kingship of the God KAL, the Myth of the dragon Hedammu, and the Song of Silver.

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. 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. 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.

Alalu

Alalu was a primeval deity of the 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. Alalu fled to the underworld.

The name “Alalu” is a compound word made up of the definite article al and the 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.

Eridu

Eridu, also transliterated as Eridug, could mean “mighty place” or “guidance place”. In the Sumerian king list, Eridu is named as the city of the first kings. The king list continues: In Eridu, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who ruled before a great flood occurred, and shows how the center of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country.

Adapa, a man of Eridu, is depicted as an early culture hero. Identified with U-an, a half-human creature from the sea (Abgallu, from ab=water, gal=big, lu=man), he was considered to have brought civilization to the city during the time of King Alulim.

The myth Enki and Inanna seems to indicate events of an early period when political authority passed from Enki’s city of Eridu to Inanna’s city of Uruk. It 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.

In the myth of Inanna’s descent, Inanna, in order to console her grieving sister Ereshkigal, who is mourning the death of her husband Gugalana (gu, bull, gal, big, ana, sky/heaven), slain by Gilgamesh and Enkidu, sets out to visit her sister. She tells her servant Ninshubur (Lady Evening), a reference to Inanna’s role as the evening star, that if she does not return in three days, to get help from her father Anu, Enlil, king of the gods, or Enki.

When she does not return, Ninshubur approaches Anu only to be told that he understands that his daughter is strong and can take care of herself. Enlil tells Ninshubur he is much too busy running the cosmos. Enki immediately expresses concern and dispatches his Galla demons, Galaturra or Kurgarra, sexless beings created from the dirt from beneath the god’s finger-nails, to recover the young goddess. These beings may be the origin of the Greco-Roman Galli, androgynous beings of the third sex, who played an important part in early religious ritual.

Alu

In Akkadian and Sumerian mythology, Alû is a vengeful spirit of the Utukku that goes down to the underworld Kur. The demon has no mouth, lips or ears. It roams at night and terrifies people while they sleep, and possession by Alû results in unconsciousness and coma; in this manner it resembles creatures such as the mara, and incubus, which are invoked to explain sleep paralysis. In Akkadian and Sumerian mythology, it is associated with other demons like Gallu and Lilu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Alû is the celestial Bull.

Abgal

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 planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient’s body, and offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources as cures.

Abgal (cognate with the sumerian ab.gal, related to the akkadian apkallu, “ferryman”) is a pre-Islamic north Arabian god, known from the Palmyrian desert regions as a god of Bedouins and camel drivers.

A kind of early form of the merman, the Abgal is mentioned in Sumerian mythology. It is one of a number of spirits, originally servants of Enki, the god of wisdom. Like the centaurs of Greek mythology, who helped civilize humanity, the task of these beings was to teach the arts and sciences to humanity. They did this during the day while fasting only stopping to eat at night. Early carved reliefs show them men above the waist, fish below.

The Abgal (Sumerian) or Apkallu (Akkadian), are seven Sumerian sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea) to establish culture and give civilization to mankind. They served as priests of Enki and as advisors or sages to the earliest kings of Sumer before the flood. They are credited with giving mankind the Me (moral code), the crafts, and the arts. They were seen as fish-like men who emerged from the sweet water Abzu. They are commonly represented as having the lower torso of a fish, or dressed as a fish.

According to the myth, human beings were initially unaware of the benefits of culture and civilization. The god Enki sent from Dilmun, amphibious half-fish, half-human creatures, who emerged from the oceans to live with the early human beings and teach them the arts and other aspects of civilization such as writing, law, temple and city building and agriculture. These creatures are known as the Apkallu. The Apkallu remained with human beings after teaching them the ways of civilization, and served as advisors to the kings.

Adapa

Adapa, the first of the Mesopotamian seven sages, was a mythical figure who 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.

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 first of these, Adapa, also known as Uan, the name given as Oannes by Berossus, introduced the practice of the correct rites of religious observance as priest of the E’Apsu temple, at Eridu.

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. Adapa as a fisherman was iconographically portrayed as a fish-man composite.

Enki and later Ea were apparently depicted, sometimes, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep”, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters.

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.

Antu

Ki later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu or Antum, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An). Antu in Sumerian mythology is a goddess, possibly a female principle of the creator god An. Early iconography suggests a celestial sky goddess in the form of a cow whose udders produce rain and who becomes Antu in the Akkadian pantheon.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were 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 is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. She 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.

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.

Akitu

Akitu or Akitum (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”) was 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.

In the myth 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 (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, and is referenced in the Bible as “women weeping for Tammuz” even in the temple of the Hebrew God.

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. 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.

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.

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

Aries

Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, representing a ram’s horns.

In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic.

Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”. Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd.

By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.

During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.

Kingu

Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk.

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

Geshtu-E/ Ngeshtin-ana

Geshtu-E (also Geshtu, Gestu) is, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, a minor god of intelligence. Legend says that he was sacrificed by the great gods and his blood was used in the creation of mankind. Ngeshtin-ana, the daughter of Enki and Ninhursag, is a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”.

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

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Odin/Odr and Frigg/Freyja

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 29, 2015

Odin/Odr

In Germanic mythology, Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn) is a widely attested god. In Norse mythology, 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.

The Old Norse theonym Óðinn (popularly anglicized as Odin) and its cognates, including Old English Wōden, 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 wōd ‘mad’.

The adjective *wōđaz (or *wōđō) was further substantivized, leading to Old Norse óðr ‘mind, wit, soul, sense’, Old English ellen-wōd ‘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 wēdan ‘to be mad, furious’, Old Saxon wōdian ‘to rage’, and Old High German wuoten ‘to be insane, to rage’.

The weekday name Wednesday derives from Old English. 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 a Germanic interpretation of Latin Dies Mercurii (“Day of Mercury”).

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

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, is a figure associated with the major goddess Freyja. The Old Norse noun óðr may be the origin of the theonym Óðinn (Anglicized as Odin), and it means “mind”, “soul” or “spirit”.

A number of theories have been proposed about Óðr, and that he generally is somehow a hypostasis of the deity Odin due to their similarities. He is often theorized as somehow connected to Odin (Old Norse: Óðinn), the head of the Óðr Æsir in Norse mythology, by way of etymological similarities between the two names (Lindow states that the linguistic relationship is identical to that of Ullr and Ullin – often considered as variant names of a single god), and the fact that both are described as going on long journeys, though Lindow points out that Snorri is careful to keep them apart.

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).

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

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.

Odin has a particular relation to the figure of Loki, which some scholars have described as that of a trickster god, and the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr.

In mythology, and in the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphisation which exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge, and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and conventional behaviour.

Tricksters are archetypal characters who appear in the myths of many different cultures. Lewis Hyde describes the Trickster as a “boundary-crosser”. The Trickster crosses both physical and often breaks societal rules. Tricksters “…violate principles of social and natural order, playfully disrupting normal life and then re-establishing it on a new basis.”

All cultures have tales of the Trickster, a crafty creature who uses cunning to get food, steal precious possessions, or simply cause mischief. In some Greek myths Hermes plays the Trickster. He is the patron of thieves and the inventor of lying, a gift he passed on to Autolycus, who in turn passed it on to Odysseus. In Slavic folktales, the trickster and the culture hero are often combined. In The Trickster and the Paranormal, G.P. Hansen lists Mercury in Roman mythology.

Breaking the silence, Loki says that, thirsty, he had come to these halls from a long way away to ask the gods for a drink of “the famous mead.” Calling the gods arrogant, Loki asks why they are unable to speak and demands that they assign him a seat and a place for him at the feast, or tell him to leave.

The skaldic god Bragi is the first to respond to Loki by telling him that Loki will not have a seat and place assigned to him by the gods at the feast, for the gods know what men they should invite. Loki does not respond to Bragi directly, but instead directs his attention to Odin, and states: Do you remember, Odin, when in bygone days we mixed our blood together? You said you would never drink ale unless it was brought to both of us.

Odin then asks his silent son Víðarr to sit up, so that Loki (here referred to as the “wolf’s father”) may sit at the feast, and so that he may not speak words of blame to the gods in Ægir’s hall. Víðarr stands and pours a drink for Loki.

Frigg, a major goddess and Odin’s wife, says that what Loki and Odin did in the ancient past should not be spoken of in front of others, and that ancient matters should always remain hidden.

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.

Frigg/Freyja

Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and 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.

In the Poetic Edda poem Hyndluljóð, a figure by the name of Nanna is listed as the daughter of Nökkvi and as a relative of Óttar, also known as Óttar the Simple. This figure may or may not be the same Nanna as Baldr’s wife.

Óttar is a protégé of the goddess Freyja. He appeared in Hyndluljóð (the Lay of Hyndla), a poem in the Poetic Edda. In this tale, Óttar is said to be very pious to the goddesses. He built a shrine of stones, a hörgr, and on it made many offerings to Freyja. The goddess answered his prayers and went on a journey to help him find his pedigree.

Freyja disguised Óttar as her boar Hildisvini (the Battle-Swine) and brought him to the giantess Hyndla, a seeress. There, Freyja forced Hyndla to tell Óttar about his ancestors, as well as to give him a memory potion so that he would remember all he was told.

It has been theorized that the framework of the poem was created for the 12th-century poet to produce a list of mythical heroes’ names. The poem does not connect much to other poems in the Edda, and is often viewed as a semi-historical work. Viktor Rydberg theorized that Óttar is another spelling of the name Óðr.

Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member 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.'”

Frigg (Old Norse), Frija (Old High German), Frea (Langobardic), and Frige (Old English) is a goddess and dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir. The name of the early English goddess is attested only in the name of the weekday, although frīg (strong feminine) as a common noun meaning “love” (in the singular) or “affections, embraces” (in the plural) is attested in poetry.

In nearly all sources Frigg is described as the wife of the god Odin. She dwells in the wetland halls of Fensalir, is famous for her foreknowledge and wisdom, 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 children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr.

Due to numerous similarities, scholars have frequently connected Freyja with the goddess Frigg. Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples. Both Frigg and Freyja are attested in the name for Friday in many Germanic languages.

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, and is cognate with Old High German frîatac. Both weekday names are result of interpretatio germanica that occurred at or before the 3rd or 4th century CE, glossing the Latin weekday name dies Veneris ‘Day of Venus’.

It is 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 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 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.

Like the name of the group of gods to which Freyja belongs, the Vanir, the name Freyja is not attested outside of Scandinavia, as opposed to the name of the goddess Frigg, who is attested as a goddess common among the Germanic peoples, and whose name is reconstructed as Proto-Germanic *Frijjō. Similar proof for the existence of a common Germanic goddess from which Freyja descends does not exist, but scholars have commented that this may simply be due to lack of evidence.

Frigg is the most prominent female member of the Aesir faction of the Germanic gods, and often identified as the spouse of the chief god, Odin. Freya is the most prominent female member of the Vanir faction of the gods, is described as being adept at seid (magic), and is the wife of Ód.

In the pre-Christian period, the Orion constellation was called either Frigg’s distaff or Freyja’s distaff (Swedish Frejerock). Frigg is often associated with weaving, combining the aspects of a love goddess and a domestic goddess. In Sweden and some parts of Germany, the asterism of Orion’s Belt is known as her distaff or spindle.

The power of prophecy is attributed to Frigg, which seems more properly related to the seid (magic or divination) of Freyja. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names. Freyja’s husband Ód is often away on journeys, like Frigg’s husband Odin.

Gustav Neckel, writing in 1920, connects Freyja to the Phrygian goddess Cybele. According to Neckel, both goddesses can be interpreted as “fertility goddesses” and other potential resemblances have been noted. Some scholars have suggested that the image of Cybele subsequently influenced the iconography of Freyja, the lions drawing the former’s chariot becoming large cats.

Sophus Bugge and Hjalmar Falk saw a reflection of the Greek god Adonis in Óðr, Rudolf Much saw a reflection in the god Attis. In Babylonia, the god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god Dumuzid or Dumuzi, is the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

In Norse mythology, Hnoss (Old Norse “treasure”) is the daughter of Freyja and Óðr, and sister of Gersemi (Old Norse “treasure”). Ngeshtin-ana is a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. The sister of Dumuzi and consort of Ningisida, she is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inanna and Ereshkigal. Gethsemane (lit. “oil press”) is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Several plants were named after Freyja, such as Freyja’s tears and Freyja’s hair (Polygala vulgaris), but during the process of Christianization, the name of the goddess was replaced with that of the Virgin Mary.

Descent to the underworld

Scholars have theorized about Freyja’s connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE “Isis” of the Suebi.

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. Inanna was associated with the planet Venus. Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses.

Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar.

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

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

In Norse mythology, Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna is a goddess associated with the god Baldr. Scholars have debated connections between Nanna and other similarly named deities from other cultures and the implications of the goddess’s attestations.

Accounts of Nanna vary greatly by source. 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, the son of the god Odin, 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).

Hermóðr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief.

After Baldr’s death Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished “to gain all of her love and favor” by riding the road to Hel. Whoever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr’s return to Asgard. Hermóðr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel. Hermóðr rode Odin’s horse Sleipnir for nine nights through deep and dark valleys to the Gjöll bridge covered with shining gold, the bridge being guarded by the maiden Móðguðr ‘Battle-frenzy’ or ‘Battle-tired’.

Upon coming to Hel’s gate, Hermóðr dismounted, tightened Sleipnir’s girth, mounted again, and spurred Sleipnir so that Sleipnir leapt entirely over the gate. So at last Hermóðr came to Hel’s hall and saw Baldr seated in the most honorable seat. Hermóðr begged Hel to release Baldr, citing the great weeping for Baldr among the Æsir. Thereupon Hel announced that Baldr would only be released if all things, dead and alive, wept for him.

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.

Ereshkigal’s hatred for Inanna could be referenced in a few other myths. Ereshkigal, too, is bound by the laws of the underworld; she can not leave her kingdom of the underworld to join the other ‘living’ deities, and they can not visit her in the underworld, or else they can never return. Inanna symbolized erotic love and fertility, and contrasts with Ereshkigal.

The story of Inanna’s descent to the underworld is a relatively well-attested and reconstructed composition. Inanna’s reason for visiting the underworld is unclear. The reason she gives to the gatekeeper of the underworld is that she wants to attend the funeral rites of Ereshkigal’s husband, here said to be Gud-gal-ana (“the Bull of Heaven”) in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which was killed by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The attested laws of the underworld dictate that, with the exception of appointed messengers, those who enter it could never leave.

Inanna dresses elaborately for the visit, with a turban, a wig, a lapis lazuli necklace, beads upon her breast, the ‘pala dress’ (the ladyship garment), mascara, pectoral, a golden ring on her hand, and she held a lapis lazuli measuring rod. These garments are each representations of powerful mes she possesses. Perhaps Inanna’s garments, unsuitable for a funeral, along with Inanna’s haughty behavior, make Ereshkigal suspicious.

Following Ereshkigal’s instructions, the gatekeeper tells Inanna she may enter the first gate of the underworld, but she must hand over her lapis lazuli measuring rod. She asks why, and is told ‘It is just the ways of the Underworld’. She obliges and passes through. Inanna passes through a total of seven gates, at each one removing a piece of clothing or jewelry she had been wearing at the start of her journey, thus stripping her of her power.

When she arrives in front of her sister, she is naked. “After she had crouched down and had her clothes removed, they were carried away. Then she made her sister Erec-ki-gala rise from her throne, and instead she sat on her throne. The Anna, the seven judges, rendered their decision against her. They looked at her – it was the look of death. They spoke to her – it was the speech of anger. They shouted at her – it was the shout of heavy guilt. The afflicted woman was turned into a corpse. And the corpse was hung on a hook.”

Despite Inanna’s fate, and in contrast to the other individuals who were properly mourning Inanna, Dumuzi was lavishly clothed and resting beneath a tree. Inanna, displeased, decrees that the demons shall take him, using language which echoes the speech Ereshkigal gave while condemning her. Dumuzi is then taken to the underworld.

In other recensions of the story, Dumuzi tries to escape his fate, and is capable of fleeing the demons for a time, as the deities intervene and disguise him in a variety of forms. He is eventually found. However, Dumuzi’s sister, out of love for him, begged to be allowed to take his place. It was then decreed that Dumuzi spent half the year in the underworld, and his sister take the other half.

Inanna, displaying her typically capricious behavior, mourns his time in the underworld. This she reveals in a haunting lament of his deathlike absence from her, for “[he] cannot answer . . . [he] cannot come/ to her calling . . . the young man has gone.” Her own powers, notably those connected with fertility, subsequently wane, to return in full when he returns from the netherworld each six months. This cycle then approximates the shift of seasons.

The etymology of the name of the goddess Nanna is debated. Some scholars have proposed that the name may derive from nanna, meaning “mother”. Scholar Jan de Vries connects the name Nanna to the root *nanþ-, leading to “the daring one”.

Scholar John Lindow theorizes that a common noun may have existed in Old Norse, nanna, that roughly meant “woman”. Scholar John McKinnell notes that the “mother” and *nanþ- derivations may not be distinct, commenting that nanna may have once meant “she who empowers”.

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In the beginning was chaos – ma (mama)

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 29, 2015

Chaos

In Greek mythology, Chaos, the primeval void, was the first thing which existed. The Greek word “chaos” (χάος), a neuter noun, means “yawning” or “gap”, but what, if anything, were located on either side of this chasm is unclear. For the Roman poet Ovid Chaos was an unformed mass, where all the elements were jumbled up together in a “shapeless heap”.

According to Hesiod, “at first Chaos came to be” (or was) “but next” (possibly out of Chaos) came Gaia (GAY-ə or GAH-yə; a poetical form of Γῆ Gē, Ge, “land” or “earth”) also spelled Gaea, the personification of the Earth, Tartarus (TAR-tər-əs), the deep abyss that is used as a dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked and as the prison for the Titans, and Eros (“Desire”), the Greek god of love. Unambiguously born “from Chaos” was Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night).

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.

In Greek mythology the primordial deities are the first entities or beings that came into existence. These deities are a group of gods from which all others descend. They most notably include Uranus (Ouranos)-Father Sky and Gaia (Gaea)-Mother Earth, who preceded the Titans, who themselves preceded the Olympians.

Although generally believed to be the first gods produced from Chaos, some sources mention a pair of deities who were the parents of the group. These deities represent various elements of nature. Chaos has at times been considered, in place of Ananke, the female consort of Chronos.

The primordial gods are depicted as places or realms. A common example is Tartarus, who is depicted as the Underworld, Hell, and a bottomless abyss. His sibling, Erebus, is also depicted as a place of pitch-black darkness or a vast emptiness of space.

Their mother, Chaos, is depicted as an empty void. Other siblings that include Gaia are depicted as Mother Nature or the Earth. Pontus or Hydros are depicted as the oceans, lakes, and rivers. Chronos is depicted as time and of eternity.

In Classical Greek mythology, the Titans and Titanesses were members of the second order of divine beings, descending from the primordial deities and preceding the Olympian deities.

Based on Mount Othrys, the Titans most famously included the first twelve children of the primordial Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky). They were giant deities of incredible strength, who ruled during the legendary Golden Age, and also composed the first pantheon of Greek deities.

Among the first generation of twelve Titans, the females were Mnemosyne, Tethys, Theia, Phoebe, Rhea, and Themis and the males were Oceanus, Hyperion, Coeus, Cronus, Crius, and Iapetus.

The second generation of Titans consisted of Hyperion’s children Helios, Selene, and Eos; Coeus’ children Lelantos, Leto, and Asteria; Iapetus’ sons Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius; Oceanus’ daughter Metis; and Crius’ sons Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses.

As they had overthrown the primordial deities, the Titans were overthrown by younger gods, including many of their own children – the Olympians – in the Titanomachy (or “War of the Titans”). The Greeks may have borrowed this mytheme from the Ancient Near East.

Ma

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

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele. “The Great Mother” was a title given to Cybele in her Roman cult, though not exclusive to her. Some Roman literary sources accord the same title to Maia and other goddesses.

Nammu

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

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

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Tiamat

In Mesopotamian Religion Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She 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. She was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

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

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

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

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

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

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.

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

Harriet Crawford finds this “mixing of the waters” to be a natural feature of the middle Persian Gulf, where fresh waters from the Arabian aquifer mix and mingle with the salt waters of the sea.

This characteristic is especially true of the region of Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, and which is thought to be the site of Dilmun, the original site of the Sumerian creation beliefs. The difference in density of salt and fresh water drives a perceptible separation.

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

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu,(correctly) assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

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

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu, upset with the chaos they created, was planning to murder the younger deities; and so captured him, holding him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu.

This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death. These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

Tiamat possessed the Tablets of Destiny and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablets of Destiny, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. Robert Graves considered Tiamat’s death by Marduk as evidence of his hypothesis that a shift in power from a matriarchy controlling society to a patriarchy happened in the ancient past.

Grave’s ideas were later developed into the Great Goddess theory by Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone and others. The theory suggests Tiamat and other ancient monster figures were presented as former supreme deities of peaceful, woman-centered religions that were turned into monsters when violent. Their defeat at the hands of a male hero corresponded to the manner in which male-dominated religions overthrew ancient society. This theory is rejected by academia and modern authors such as Lotte Motz, Cynthia Eller and others.

Fragments of Chaldean History, Berossus: From Alexander Polyhistor: “Berossus, in the first book of his history of Babylonia, informs us that he lived in the age of Alexander the son of Philip. And he mentions that there were written accounts, preserved at Babylon with the greatest care, comprehending a period of above fifteen myriads of years: and that these writings contained histories of the heaven and of the sea; of the birth of mankind; and of the kings, and of the memorable actions which they had achieved.

He wrote of Omoroca: “There was a time in which there existed nothing but darkness and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of a two-fold principle. There appeared men, some of whom were furnished with two wings, others with four, and with two faces. They had one body but two heads: the one that of a man, the other of a woman: and likewise in their several organs both male and female.

Other human figures were to be seen with the legs and horns of goats: some had horses’ feet: while others united the hind quarters of a horse with the body of a man, resembling in shape the hippocentaurs. Bulls likewise were bred there with the heads of men; and dogs with fourfold bodies, terminated in their extremities with the tails of fishes: horses also with the heads of dogs: men too and other animals, with the heads and bodies of horses and the tails of fishes.

In short, there were creatures in which were combined the limbs of every species of animals. In addition to these, fishes, reptiles, serpents, with other monstrous animals, which assumed each other’s shape and countenance. Of all which were preserved delineations in the temple of Belus at Babylon.

The person, who presided over them, was a woman named Omoroca; which in the Chaldæan language is Thalatth; in Greek Thalassa, the sea; but which might equally be interpreted the Moon. All things being in this situation, Belus came, and cut the woman asunder: and of one half of her he formed the earth, and of the other half the heavens; and at the same time destroyed the animals within her.”

All this (he says) was an allegorical description of nature. For, the whole universe consisting of moisture, and animals being continually generated therein, the deity above-mentioned took off his own head: upon which the other gods mixed the blood, as it gushed out, with the earth; and from thence were formed men. On this account it is that they are rational, and partake of divine knowledge.

Chaoskampf

When Babylon became the principal city of southern Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god.

In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enûma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk’s birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics. Also included in this document are the fifty names of Marduk.

After six generations of gods, in the Babylonian “Enuma Elish”, in the seventh generation, (Akkadian “shapattu” or sabath), the younger Igigi gods, the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, go on strike and refuse their duties of keeping the creation working. Abzu God of fresh water, co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and the Gods gather in terror.

Enki promises to help and puts Abzu to sleep, confining him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, beneath his city of Eridu. But the universe is still threatened, as Tiamat, angry at the imprisonment of Abzu and at the prompting of her son and vizier Kingu, decides to take back the creation herself.

The gods gather again in terror and turn to Enki for help, but Enki who harnessed Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved. The gods then seek help elsewhere, and the patriarchal Enlil, their father, God of Nippur, promises to solve the problem if they make him King of the Gods. In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur.

After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat and constructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs, Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Tiamat possessed the Tablets of Destiny and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

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

Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities. The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities.

In Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god.

To prepare for battle, he makes a bow, fletches arrows, grabs a mace, throws lightning before him, fills his body with flame, makes a net to encircle Tiamat within it, gathers the four winds so that no part of her could escape, creates seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, and raises up his mightiest weapon, the rain-flood. Then he sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. In his lips he holds a spell and in one hand he grasps a herb to counter poison.

First, he challenges the leader of the Anunnaki gods, the dragon of the primordial sea Tiamat, to single combat and defeats her by trapping her with his net, blowing her up with his winds, and piercing her belly with an arrow.

Then, he proceeds to defeat Kingu, who Tiamat put in charge of the army and wore the Tablets of Destiny on his breast, and “wrested from him the Tablets of Destiny, wrongfully his” and assumed his new position. Under his reign humans were created to bear the burdens of life so the gods could be at leisure.

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

Maat

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

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE). Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

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

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

Maia

Maia, in ancient Greek religion, is one of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes. She is the daughter of Atlas and Pleione the Oceanid, and is the eldest of the seven Pleiades. They were born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia, and are sometimes called mountain nymphs. Because they were daughters of Atlas, they were also called the Atlantides.

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. After giving birth to the baby, Maia wrapped him in blankets and went to sleep. The rapidly maturing infant Hermes crawled away to Thessaly, where by night-fall of his first day he stole some of his half-brother Apollo’s cattle and invented the lyre from a tortoise shell. Maia refused to believe Apollo when he claimed Hermes was the thief and Zeus then sided with Apollo. Finally, Apollo exchanged the cattle for the lyre, which became one of his identifying attributes.

Maia also raised the infant Arcas, the child of Callisto with Zeus. Wronged by the love affair, Zeus’ wife Hera in a jealous rage had transformed Callisto into a bear. Arcas is the eponym of Arcadia, where Maia was born. The story of Callisto and Arcas, like that of the Pleiades, is an aition for a stellar formation, the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, the Great and Little Bear. Her name is related to maia, an honorific term for older women related to mētēr (“mother”). Maia also means “midwife” in Greek.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Maia embodied the concept of growth, as her name was thought to be related to the comparative adjective maius, maior, “larger, greater.” Originally, she may have been a homonym independent of the Greek Maia, whose myths she absorbed through the Hellenization of Latin literature and culture.

In an archaic Roman prayer, Maia appears as an attribute of Vulcan, in an invocational list of male deities paired with female abstractions representing some aspect of their functionality. She was explicitly identified with Earth (Terra, the Roman counterpart of Gaia) and the Good Goddess (Bona Dea) in at least one tradition.

Her identity became theologically intertwined also with the goddesses Fauna, Magna Mater (“Great Goddess”, referring to the Roman form of Cybele but also a cult title for Maia), Ops, Juno, and Carna, as discussed at some length by the late antiquarian writer Macrobius.

This treatment was probably influenced by the 1st-century BC scholar Varro, who tended to resolve a great number of goddesses into one original “Terra.” The association with Juno, whose Etruscan counterpart was Uni, is suggested again by the inscription Uni Mae on the Piacenza Liver.

The month of May (Latin Maius) was supposedly named for Maia, though ancient etymologists also connected it to the maiores, “ancestors,” again from the adjective maius, maior, meaning those who are “greater” in terms of generational precedence.

On the first day of May, the Lares Praestites were honored as protectors of the city, and the flamen of Vulcan sacrificed a pregnant sow to Maia, a customary offering to an earth goddess that reiterates the link between Vulcan and Maia in the archaic prayer formula.

In Roman myth, Mercury (Hermes), the son of Maia, was the father of the twin Lares, a genealogy that sheds light on the collocation of ceremonies on the May Kalends.

On May 15, the Ides, Mercury was honored as a patron of merchants and increaser of profit (through an etymological connection with merx, merces, “goods, merchandise”), another possible connection with Maia his mother as a goddess who promoted growth.

Mater (“Mother”) is an honorific that respects a goddess’s maternal authority and functions, and not necessarily “motherhood” per se. Early examples include Terra Mater (Mother Earth) and the Mater Larum (Mother of the Lares). Vesta, a goddess of chastity usually conceived of as a virgin, is honored as Mater. A goddess known as Stata Mater was a compital deity credited with preventing fires in the city.

From the middle Imperial era, the reigning Empress becomes Mater castrorum et senatus et patriae, the symbolic Mother of military camps, the senate, and the fatherland. The Gallic and Germanic cavalry (auxilia) of the Roman Imperial army regularly set up altars to the “Mothers of the Field” (Campestres, from campus, “field,” with the title Matres or Matronae).

Makara

Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal in the frontal part, in animal forms of an elephant, crocodile, stag, or deer, and in the hind part as an aquatic animal, in the form of a fish or seal tail. Sometimes, even a peacock tail is depicted.

Makara is the vahana (vehicle) of the Ganga – the goddess of river Ganges (Ganga) and the sea god Varuna. It is also the insignia of the love god Kamadeva. Kamadeva is also known as Makaradhvaja (one whose flag a makara is depicted). Makara is the astrological sign of Capricorn, one of the twelve symbols of the Zodiac. It is often portrayed protecting entryways to Hindu and Buddhist temples.

Makara symbolized in ornaments are also in popular use as wedding gifts for bridal decoration. The Hindu Preserver-god Vishnu is also shown wearing makara-shaped earrings called Makarakundalas. The Sun god Surya and the Mother Goddess Chandi are also sometimes described as being adorned with Makarakundalas.

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Behind the god Freyr

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 27, 2015

Freyr:

Freyr seems to share similiarities and connections with both the other deities among the Vanir (Venus), and then mostly with his twin sister Freyja, but also with Balder, the Germanic equvalent to the annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation gods and life-death-rebirth deities as the Sumerian god Tammuz, the Hittite god Telepinu and the Greek god Adonis, and husband of Nanna, who more than anything only seems to be a name of Freyja her self, who seems to be a doublet of Frigg.

Both Frigg, Freyja and Nanna seems to have similarities with the traditional mother goddess, which is also represented by the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Njord, his father, seems to have similarities with the Roman god Saturn and the Greek god Cronus, but also with the Sumerian god Enlil and his child Ninurta. But Freyr also seems to have similarities with other gods in other panthions. Here are some examples:

Khnum-Min

Since the annual flooding of the Nile brought with it silt and clay, and its water brought life to its surroundings, he was thought to be the creator of the bodies of human children, which he made at a potter’s wheel, from clay, and placed in their mothers’ wombs. He later was described as having moulded the other deities, and he had the titles Divine Potter and Lord of created things from himself.

Khnum has also been related to the deity Min, an ancient Egyptian god whose cult originated in predynastic times (4th millennium BCE). He was represented in many different forms, but was often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, “the maker of gods and men”.

One feature of Min worship was the wild prickly lettuce Lactuca virosa and Lactuca serriola of which is the domestic version Lactuca sativa (lettuce) which has aphrodisiac and opiate qualities and produce latex when cut, possibly identified with semen.

In Egyptian art, Min was depicted as being covered in shrouds, wearing a crown with feathers, and often holding his penis erect in his left hand and a flail (referring to his authority, or rather that of the Pharaohs) in his upward facing right hand.

Around his forehead, Min wears a red ribbon that trails to the ground, claimed by some to represent sexual energy. The symbols of Min were the white bull, a barbed arrow, and a bed of lettuce, that the Egyptians believed to be an aphrodisiac, as Egyptian lettuce was tall, straight, and released a milk-like substance when rubbed, characteristics superficially similar to the penis.

Enkimdu

Enkimdu is the Sumerian god of farming, in charge of canals and ditches, a task assigned to him by the water god Enki during his organization of the world. He is featured prominently in the myth “Inanna Prefers the Farmer,” in which both he and the god Dumuzi are attempting to win the hand of the goddess Inanna.

While Inanna is quite infatuated with the down-to-earth farmer, her brother Utu/Shamash attempts to convince her to marry Dumuzi instead. Both Dumuzi and Enkimdu face off in an argument over who will win Inanna. While Dumuzi is aggressive in his arguments, attempting to prove that he is far better, Enkimdu is more docile and peaceful, attempting to resolve the situation diplomatically.

The clay tablet on which the myth is written has been damaged over the passage of time, but from later myths such as “Dumuzi and Inanna” and “Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld,” it is clear that Inanna eventually selects Dumuzi as her spouse.

Proserpina

(Libera – Liber / Froyja – Freyr)

Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose cult, myths and mysteries were based on those of Greek Persephone and her mother Demeter, the Greek goddess of grain and agriculture. The Romans identified Proserpina with their native fertility goddess Libera, daughter of the grain and agriculture goddess Ceres and wife to Liber.

In 204 BC, a new “greek-style” cult to Ceres and Proserpina as “Mother and Maiden” was imported from southern Italy, along with Greek priestesses to serve it, and was installed in Ceres’ Temple on Rome’s Aventine Hill.

The new cult and its priesthood were actively promoted by Rome’s religious authorities as morally desirable for respectable Roman women, and may have partly subsumed the temple’s older, native cult to Ceres, Liber and Libera; but the new rites seems to have functioned alongside the old, rather than replaced them.

Just as Persephone was thought to be a daughter of Demeter, Romans made Proserpina a daughter of Demeter’s Roman equivalent, Ceres. Like Persephone, Proserpina is associated with the underworld realm and its ruler; and along with her mother Ceres, with the springtime growth of crops and the cycle of life, death and rebirth or renewal.

Her name is a Latinisation of “Persephone”, perhaps influenced by the Latin proserpere (“to emerge, to creep forth”), with respect to the growing of grain. Her core myths – her forcible abduction by the god of the Underworld, her mother’s search for her and her eventual but temporary restoration to the world above – are the subject of works in Roman and later art and literature.

In particular, Proserpina’s seizure by the god of the Underworld – usually described as the Rape of Proserpina, or of Persephone – has offered dramatic subject matter for Renaissance and later sculptors and painters.

Libera – Liber

Libera was a goddess of wine, fertility and freedom. She was the female equivalent of Liber (“the free one”), also known as Liber Pater (“The Free Father”), a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom, while her name is in the feminine form.

At some time during Rome’s Regal or very early Republican eras, she became paired up with Liber, the Roman god of wine, male fertility, and a guardian of plebeian freedoms. She enters Roman history as Triadic cult companion to Ceres and Liber, in a temple established on the Aventine Hill ca. 493 BC.

The location and context of this early cult mark her association with Rome’s commoner-citizens, or plebs; she might have been offered cult on March 17 as part of Liber’s festival, Liberalia, or at some time during the seven days of Cerealia (mid to late April); in the latter festival she would have been subordinate to Ceres. Otherwise, her relationship to her Aventine cult partners is uncertain.

With the institution of the ritus graecia cereris (Greek rites of Ceres) c.205 BC, Libera was officially identified with Ceres’ daughter Proserpina and acquired with her a Romanised form of Greek mystery rite and attendant mythology, based on Greek cults to Demeter and Persephone.

In the late Republican era, Cicero describes Liber and Libera as Ceres’ children. At around the same time, possibly in the context of popular or religious drama, Hyginus equates her with Greek Ariadne, as bride to Liber’s Greek equivalent, Dionysus: therefore her mythographic associations and identity seem far from straightforward.

The older and newer forms of her cult and rites, and their diverse associations, persisted well into the late Imperial era. St. Augustine (AD 354 – 430) observes that Libera is concerned with female fertility, as Liber is with male fertility.

Liber was a patron deity of Rome’s plebeians and was part of their Aventine Triad. His festival of Liberalia (March 17) became associated with free speech and the rights attached to coming of age. His cult and functions were increasingly associated with Romanised forms of the Greek Dionysus/Bacchus, whose mythology he came to share.

Before his official adoption as a Roman deity, Liber was companion to two different goddesses in two separate, archaic Italian fertility cults; Ceres, an agricultural and fertility goddess of Rome’s Hellenised neighbours, and Libera, who was Liber’s female equivalent. In ancient Lavinium, he was a phallic deity.

Latin liber means “free”, or the “free one”: when coupled with “pater”, it means “The Free Father”, who personifies freedom and champions its attendant rights, as opposed to dependent servitude. The word ‘liber’ is also understood in regard of the concept libation, ritual offering of drink, which in Greek relates to ‘spondé’, literally related to English ‘to spend’. Roman writers of the late Republic and early Empire offer various etymological and poetic speculations based on this trope, to explain certain features of Liber’s cult.

Dionysus

Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. Alcohol, especially wine, played an important role in Greek culture with Dionysus being an important reason for this life style.

His name, thought to be a theonym in Linear B tablets as di-wo-nu-so, shows that he may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks; other traces of the Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete.

His origins are uncertain, and his cults took many forms; some are described by ancient sources as Thracian, others as Greek. In some cults, he arrives from the east, as an Asiatic foreigner; in others, from Ethiopia in the South.

He is a god of epiphany, “the god that comes”, and his “foreignness” as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults. He is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, and is included in some lists of the twelve Olympians.

Dionysus was the last god to be accepted into Mt. Olympus. He was the youngest and the only one to have a mortal mother. His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. He is an example of a dying god.

The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male, bearded and robed. He holds a fennel staff, tipped with a pine-cone and known as a thyrsus. Later images show him as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or “man-womanish”.

In its fully developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession (thiasus) is made up of wild female followers (maenads) and bearded satyrs with erect penises. Some are armed with the thyrsus, some dance or play music. The god himself is drawn in a chariot, usually by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, and is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus.

This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the human followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. In his Thracian mysteries, he wears the bassaris or fox-skin, symbolizing a new life. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and thus symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods.

The bull, serpent, tiger, ivy, and wine are characteristic of Dionysian atmosphere. Dionysus is also strongly associated with satyrs, centaurs, and sileni. He is often shown riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers, and may also be recognized by the thyrsus he carries. Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his thyrsus linked him to Cybele.

He is also known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans, and the frenzy he induces, bakkheia. His thyrsus is sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey. It is a beneficent wand but also a weapon, and can be used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents.

He is also called Eleutherios (“the liberator”), whose wine, music and ecstatic dance frees his followers from self-conscious fear and care, and subverts the oppressive restraints of the powerful. Those who partake of his mysteries are possessed and empowered by the god himself. His cult is also a “cult of the souls”; his maenads feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead.

In Greek mythology, he is presented as a son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, thus semi-divine or heroic: and as son of Zeus and Persephone or Demeter, thus both fully divine, part-chthonic and possibly identical with Iacchus of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis.

The Cult of Dionysus is strongly associated with satyrs, centaurs, and sileni, and its characteristic symbols are the bull, the serpent, the ivy, and the wine. The Dionysia and Lenaia festivals in Athens were dedicated to Dionysus, as well as the Phallic processions. Initiates worshipped him in the Dionysian Mysteries, which were comparable to and linked with the Orphic Mysteries, and may have influenced Gnosticism. Orpheus was said to have invented the Mysteries of Dionysus.

The Cult of Dionysus traces back to at least Mycenaean Greece, since his name is found on Mycenean Linear B tablets as di-wo-nu-so. Dionysus is often shown riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, or in a chariot drawn by panthers, and may also be recognized by the thyrsus he carries. Besides the grapevine and its wild barren alter-ego, the toxic ivy plant, both sacred to him, the fig was also his symbol. The pinecone that tipped his thyrsus linked him to Cybele.

Pan

As the central deity of fertility and possibly orgiastic rites Min became identified by the Greeks with the god Pan, the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs.

His name originates within the Ancient Greek language, from the word paein, meaning “to pasture.” He has the hindquarters, legs, and horns of a goat, in the same manner as a faun or satyr.

With his homeland in rustic Arcadia, he is also recognized as the god of fields, groves, and wooded glens; because of this, Pan is connected to fertility and the season of spring. The ancient Greeks also considered Pan to be the god of theatrical criticism.

In Roman religion and myth, Pan’s counterpart was Faunus, a nature god who was the father of Bona Dea, sometimes identified as Fauna; he was also closely associated with Sylvanus, due to their similar relationships with woodlands. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Pan became a significant figure in the Romantic movement of Western Europe and also in the 20th-century Neopagan movement.

An area in the Golan Heights known as the Panion or Panium is associated with Pan. The city of Caesarea Philippi, the site of the Battle of Panium and the Banias natural spring, grotto or cave, and related shrines dedicated to Pan, may be found there.

In his earliest appearance in literature, Pindar’s Pythian Ode iii. 78, Pan is associated with a mother goddess, perhaps Rhea or Cybele; Pindar refers to virgins worshipping Cybele and Pan near the poet’s house in Boeotia.

The Roman Faunus, a god of Indo-European origin, was equated with Pan. However, accounts of Pan’s genealogy are so varied that it must lie buried deep in mythic time. Like other nature spirits, Pan appears to be older than the Olympians, if it is true that he gave Artemis her hunting dogs and taught the secret of prophecy to Apollo.

Pan might be multiplied as the Pans or the Paniskoi. Kerenyi (p. 174) notes from scholia that Aeschylus in Rhesus distinguished between two Pans, one the son of Zeus and twin of Arcas, and one a son of Cronus. “In the retinue of Dionysos, or in depictions of wild landscapes, there appeared not only a great Pan, but also little Pans, Paniskoi, who played the same part as the Satyrs”.

The worship of Pan began in Arcadia which was always the principal seat of his worship. Arcadia was a district of mountain people, culturally separated from other Greeks. Greek hunters used to scourge the statue of the god if they had been disappointed in the chase.

Being a rustic god, Pan was not worshipped in temples or other built edifices, but in natural settings, usually caves or grottoes such as the one on the north slope of the Acropolis of Athens. These are often referred to as the Cave of Pan.

Pan is famous for his sexual powers, and is often depicted with a phallus. Diogenes of Sinope, speaking in jest, related a myth of Pan learning masturbation from his father, Hermes, and teaching the habit to shepherds.

Pan’s greatest conquest was that of the moon goddess Selene. He accomplished this by wrapping himself in a sheepskin to hide his hairy black goat form, and drew her down from the sky into the forest where he seduced her.

The constellation Capricornus is traditionally depicted as a sea-goat, a goat with a fish’s tail (see “Goatlike” Aigaion called Briareos, one of the Hecatonchires). A myth reported as “Egyptian” in Hyginus’ Poetic Astronomy that would seem to be invented to justify a connection of Pan with Capricorn says that when Aegipan – that is Pan in his goat-god aspect – was attacked by the monster Typhon, he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.

According to the Greek historian Plutarch (in De defectu oraculorum, “The Obsolescence of Oracles”), Pan is the only Greek god (other than Asclepius) who actually dies. During the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 14–37), the news of Pan’s death came to one Thamus, a sailor on his way to Italy by way of the island of Paxi. A divine voice hailed him across the salt water, “Thamus, are you there? When you reach Palodes, take care to proclaim that the great god Pan is dead.” Which Thamus did, and the news was greeted from shore with groans and laments.

Christian apologists such as G. K. Chesterton repeated and amplified the significance of the “death” of Pan, suggesting that with the “death” of Pan came the advent of theology. To this effect, Chesterton once said, “It is said truly in a sense that Pan died because Christ was born. It is almost as true in another sense that men knew that Christ was born because Pan was already dead. A void was made by the vanishing world of the whole mythology of mankind, which would have asphyxiated like a vacuum if it had not been filled with theology.”

It was interpreted with concurrent meanings in all four modes of medieval exegesis: literally as historical fact, and allegorically as the death of the ancient order at the coming of the new. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Praeparatio Evangelica (book V) seems to have been the first Christian apologist to give Plutarch’s anecdote, which he identifies as his source, pseudo-historical standing, which Eusebius buttressed with many invented passing details that lent verisimilitude.

In more modern times, some have suggested a possible a naturalistic explanation for the myth. For example, Robert Graves (The Greek Myths) reported a suggestion that had been made by Salomon Reinach and expanded by James S. Van Teslaar that the hearers aboard the ship, including a supposed Egyptian, Thamus, apparently misheard Thamus Panmegas tethneke ‘the all-great Tammuz is dead’ for ‘Thamus, Great Pan is dead!’, Thamous, Pan ho megas tethneke. “In its true form the phrase would have probably carried no meaning to those on board who must have been unfamiliar with the worship of Tammuz which was a transplanted, and for those parts, therefore, an exotic custom.”

Certainly, when Pausanias toured Greece about a century after Plutarch, he found Pan’s shrines, sacred caves and sacred mountains still very much frequented. However, a naturalistic explanation might not be needed. For example, William Hansen has shown that the story is quite similar to a class of widely known tales known as Fairies Send a Message.

Pan’s goatish image recalls conventional faun-like depictions of Satan. Although Christian use of Plutarch’s story is of long standing, Ronald Hutton has argued that this specific association is modern and derives from Pan’s popularity in Victorian and Edwardian neopaganism. Medieval and early modern images of Satan tend, by contrast, to show generic semi-human monsters with horns, wings and clawed feet.

In 1933, the Egyptologist Margaret Murray published the book, The God of the Witches, in which she theorised that Pan was merely one form of a horned god who was worshipped across Europe by a witch-cult.

This theory influenced the Neopagan notion of the Horned God, as an archetype of male virility and sexuality. In Wicca, the archetype of the Horned God is highly important, as represented by such deities as the Celtic Cernunnos, Indian Pashupati, and Greek Pan.

European pastoral literary and iconographic tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and simplicity, untainted by the corruptions of civilization – a continuation of the Golden Age – set in an idealized Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them. This idealized and nostalgic vision of the simple life, however, was sometimes contested and even ridiculed, both in antiquity and later on.

Pushan

In 1924, Hermann Collitz suggested that Greek Pan and Indic Pushan might have a common Indo-European origin. Pushan is a Vedic solar deity and one of the twelve Adityas (Aditi’s sons). Aditi’s other eleven sons as narrated in Purana’s are Surya, Aryama, Tvashta, Savita, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra, Indra and Vishnu (in the form of Vamanadeva).

He is the god of meeting. Pushan was responsible for marriages, journeys, roads, and the feeding of cattle. He was a psychopomp, conducting souls to the other world. He protected travelers from bandits and wild beasts, and protected men from being exploited by other men. He was a supportive guide, a “good” god, leading his adherents towards rich pastures and wealth. He carried a golden lance, a symbol of activity.

Satyr

In Greek mythology, a satyr is one of a troop of ithyphallic male companions of Dionysus with horse-like (equine) features, including a horse-tail, horse-like ears, and sometimes a horse-like phallus because of permanent erection. Early artistic representations sometimes include horse-like legs, but in 6th-century BC black-figure pottery human legs are the most common.

In Roman Mythology there is a concept similar to satyrs, with goat-like features: the faun, being half-man, half-goat. Greek-speaking Romans often used the Greek term saturos when referring to the Latin faunus, and eventually syncretized the two. The female “Satyresses” were a late invention of poets — that roamed the woods and mountains. In myths they are often associated with pipe-playing.

Satyrs acquired their goat-like aspect through later Roman conflation with Faunus, a carefree Italic nature spirit of similar characteristics and identified with the Greek god Pan. Hence satyrs are most commonly described in Latin literature as having the upper half of a man and the lower half of a goat, with a goat’s tail in place of the Greek tradition of horse-tailed satyrs; therefore, satyrs became nearly identical with fauns. Mature satyrs are often depicted in Roman art with goat’s horns, while juveniles are often shown with bony nubs on their foreheads.

About Satyrs, Praxiteles gives a new interpretation on the subject of free and carefree life. Instead of an elf with pointed ears and repulsive goat hooves, we face a child of nature, pure, but tame and fearless and brutal instincts necessary to enable it to defend itself against threats, and survives even without the help of modern civilization.

Above all, the Satyr with flute has a small companion for him, shows the deep connection with nature, the soft whistle of the wind, the sound of gurgling water of the crystal spring, the birds singing, or perhaps the singing a melody of a human soul that feeds higher feelings.

Attic painted vases depict mature satyrs as being strongly built with flat noses, large pointed ears, long curly hair, and full beards, with wreaths of vine or ivy circling their balding heads. Satyrs often carry the thyrsus: the rod of Dionysus tipped with a pine cone.

As Dionysiac creatures they are lovers of wine and women, and they are ready for every physical pleasure. They roam to the music of pipes (auloi), cymbals, castanets, and bagpipes, and they love to chase maenads or bacchants (with whom they are obsessed, and whom they often pursue), or in later art, dance with the nymphs, and have a special form of dance called sikinnis. Because of their love of wine, they are often represented holding wine cups, and they appear often in the decorations on wine cups.

Silenus

The satyr’s chief was Silenus, a minor deity associated (like Hermes and Priapus) with fertility, and a companion and tutor to the wine god Dionysus. He is typically older than the satyrs of the Dionysian retinue (thiasos), and sometimes considerably older, in which case he may be referred to as a Papposilenus.

The plural sileni refers to the mythological figure as a type that is sometimes thought to be differentiated from a satyr by having the attributes of a horse rather than a goat, though usage of the two words is not consistent enough to permit a sharp distinction.

Fauns

The faun (Latin: faunus, Ancient Greek: phaunos) is a half human–half goat (from the head to the waist being human, but with the addition of goat horns) manifestation of forest and animal spirits that would help or hinder humans at whim. They are often associated with the satyrs of Greek mythology.

Romans believed fauns inspired fear in men traveling in lonely, remote or wild places. They were also capable of guiding humans in need, as in the fable of The Satyr and the Traveller, in the title of which Latin authors substituted the word Faunus.

Fauns and satyrs were originally quite different creatures: whereas fauns are half-man and half-goat, satyrs originally were depicted as stocky, hairy, ugly dwarfs or woodwoses with the ears and tails of horses or asses. Satyrs also were more woman-loving than fauns, and fauns were rather foolish where satyrs had more knowledge.

Ancient Roman mythological belief also included a god named Faunus often associated with enchanted woods and the Greek god Pan and a goddess named Fauna who were goat people.

Faunus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Faunus was the horned god of the forest, plains and fields; when he made cattle fertile he was called Inuus. He came to be equated in literature with the Greek god Pan.

Faunus was one of the oldest Roman deities, known as the di indigetes. According to the epic poet Virgil, he was a legendary king of the Latins who came with his people from Arcadia. His shade was consulted as a god of prophecy under the name of Fatuus, with oracles in the sacred grove of Tibur, around the well Albunea, and on the Aventine Hill in ancient Rome itself.

Marcus Terentius Varro asserted that the oracular responses were given in Saturnian verse. Faunus revealed the future in dreams and voices that were communicated to those who came to sleep in his precincts, lying on the fleeces of sacrificed lambs. W. Warde Fowler suggested that Faunus is identical with Favonius, one of the Roman wind gods (compare the Anemoi).

In fable Faunus appears as an old king of Latium, grandson of Saturnus, son of Picus, and father of Latinus by the nymph Marica (who was also sometimes Faunus’ mother). After his death he is raised to the position of a tutelary deity of the land, for his many services to agriculture and cattle-breeding.

A goddess of like attributes, called Fauna and Fatua, was associated in his worship. She was regarded as his daughter, wife, or sister. The female deity Bona Dea was often equated with Fauna.

As Pan was accompanied by the Paniskoi, or little Pans, so the existence of many Fauni was assumed besides the chief Faunus. Fauns are place-spirits (genii) of untamed woodland. Educated, Hellenizing Romans connected their fauns with the Greek satyrs, who were wild and orgiastic drunken followers of Dionysus, with a distinct origin.

With the increasing Hellenization of literate upper-class Roman culture in the 3rd and 2nd–centuries BC, the Romans tried to equate their own deities with one of the Greeks’, applying in reverse the Greeks’ own interpretatio graeca.

Faunus was naturally equated with the god Pan, who was a pastoral god of shepherds who was said to reside in Arcadia. Pan had always been depicted with horns and as such many depictions of Faunus also began to display this trait. However, the two deities were also considered separate by many, for instance, the epic poet Virgil, in his Aeneid, made mention of both Faunus and Pan independently.

Faunus is the Latin outcome of a PIE *dhau-no- meaning “the strangler” and denotes the wolf. According to D. Briquel it is likely that the Luceres, one of the three tribes of Rome, were Daunians from Ardea, as well as the characters of the Aeneis Mezentius, Messapus and Metabus, who show a Daunian origin.

Towards the late Bronze Age (11th-10th centuries BC) Illyrian populations from the eastern Adriatic arrived in Apulia. The Illyrians in Italy united with the pre-existing people and groups from the Aegean, probably from Crete, created the Iapygian civilization which consisted of three tribes: Peucetia, Messapi and the Dauni.

The Daunia is a historical and geographical region in Apulia, southern Italy, mostly coincident with modern Province of Foggia. Its inhabitants were called the Daunians by the ancient Greeks and were also known as the Daunii and the Apulians to the ancient Romans. In ancient times, together with Peucetia and Messapia it formed the Iapygia.

The ethnonym is connected to the name of the wolf, plausibly the totemic animal of this nation. The cult of the wolf was widespread in ancient Italy and was related to the Arcadian mystery cult. In fact daunos means wolf, according to ancient glosses, and is the correspondent of Greek taunos from an Indoeuropean root *dhau- to strangle, meaning literally strangler.

Among the Daunian towns one may mention Lucera (Leucaria) and among other nations the ethnonym of the Lucani (Loucanoi) and of that the Hirpini, from another word meaning wolf. The outcome of the Indoeuropean voiced aspirate dh is proper of the Illyrian languages and thus different from the corresponding Latin Faunus and Oscan which is not attested.

There are numerous testimonies among ancient authors (Pseudo-Scylax, Vergil, Festus, Servius) of a presence of the Daunians beyond the Apennines in Campania and Latium where some towns claimed Diomedian origins.

The most notable instance is Ardea, the centre of the Rutulians who were considered Daunians: Vergil writes that Turnus’ father was Daunus. Festus writes that a King Lucerus of Ardea fought along with Romulus against Tatius and this is the origin of the name of the Roman Luceres.

The Iapyges or Iapygians were an Indo-European people who inhabited the heel of Italy (modern Apulia) before being absorbed by the Romans. The Iapyges have unknown origins but could have been an Illyrian tribe.

They spoke the Messapian language since the Messapians themselves were the southernmost tribe of the Iapyges. Their other tribes included the Dauni and the Peucetii.

The name Iapyges is derived from Greek authors, who linked the tribe’s origin to Daedalus’s son Iapyx. They were called Apuli, Salentini (or Sallentini) and Calabri by Roman authors. Iapygians were akin to the Oenotrians, an ancient Italic people who lived in the territory of Basilicata and Northern Calabria.

The genetive forms, -aihi- and -ihi- corresponding to the Sanskrit -asya- and the Greek -oio- , appear to indicate that the dialect belongs to the Indo-Germanic family. Other indications, such as the use of the aspirated consonants and the avoiding of the letters m and t as terminal sounds, show that this Iapygian dialect was essentially different from Italian and corresponds in some respects to the Greek dialects.

The supposition of an especially close affinity between the Iapygian nation and the Hellenes finds further support in the frequent occurrence of the names of Greek divinities in the inscriptions and the surprising facility with which the people became Hellenized, presenting a striking contrast to the shyness in the respect of the other Italian Nations. Apulia, which in the time of Timaeus (400) was still described as a barbarous land, had in the sixth century become a province thoroughly Greek, although no direct colonization from Greece had taken place.

The character of the Iapygian people, little capable of resistance, easily merging into other nationalities, agrees well with the hypothesis, to which their geographical position adds probability, that they were the oldest immigrants or the historical autochthones of Italy.

I. Pasqualini agrees on the presence of a Daunian connection in the towns of Latium claiming a Diomedean descent. Moreover it would seem that there is a sizable presence of Daunians in Latium and Campania. Festus 106 L records a king Lucerus who helped Romulus against Titus Tatius.

Moreover Oscan epithet Leucesius and Lucetius should be interpreted as related to the Luceres. He also lists the Leucaria mother of Romos, Jupiter Lucetius, toponyms Leucasia /Leucaria near Paestum, the ethnonym Lucani. Though Briquel is apparently unaware that the etymology of both “Luceres”, Lucera, Leucaria, Lucani and Dauni is from a word meaning wolf and therefore different from that of Leucesius/ Lucetius, i.e. from IE from *luq (wolf), not from *leuk light: compare also Hirpini and Dauni.

Daunos according to Walde Hoffmann is from IE root *dhau to strangle, meaning the strangler, epithet of the wolf: cfr. Greek thaunos, thērion Hes., Phrygian dáos, lykos Hes., Latin F(f)aunus. According to Alessio Latins and Umbrians both did not name the wolf because of a religious taboo, thence their use of loanwords such as lupus in Latin (which is Sabine, instead of the expected *luquos) and the Umbrians hirpos (cfr. Hirpini) originally male goat instead of expected *lupos, whence also herpex for hirpex tool in the shape wolf teeth.

In Gaul, Faunus was identified with the Celtic Dusios. In the Gaulish language, Dusios was a divine being among the continental Celts who was identified with the god Pan of ancient Greek religion and with the gods Faunus, Inuus, Silvanus, and Incubus of ancient Roman religion. Like these deities, he might be seen as multiple in nature, and referred to in the plural (dusioi), most commonly in Latin as dusii.

Triptolemus

Triptolemus (lit. “threefold warrior”; also known as Buzyges), in Greek mythology always connected with Demeter of the Eleusinian Mysteries, might be accounted the son of King Celeus of Eleusis in Attica, or, according to the Pseudo-Apollodorus the son of Gaia and Oceanus—another way of saying he was “primordial man”.

Demeter teached Triptolemus the art of agriculture and, from him, the rest of Greece learned to plant and reap crops. He flew across the land on a winged chariot while Demeter and Persephone, once restored to her mother, cared for him, and helped him complete his mission of educating the whole of Greece in the art of agriculture. Triptolemus was equally associated with the bestowal of hope for the afterlife associated with the expansion of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

In the 5th-century bas-relief in the National Museum, Athens, which probably came from his temple, the boy Triptolemus stands between the Two Goddesses, Demeter and the Kore, and receives from Demeter the ear of grain (of gold, now lost).

Porphyry ascribes to Triptolemus three commandments for a simple, pious life: “Honor your parents”, “Honor the gods with fruits”—for the Greeks, “fruits” would include the grain—and “Spare the animals”.

Triptolemus is also depicted as a young man with a branch or diadem placed in his hair, usually sitting on his winged chariot, adorned with serpents. His attributes include a plate of grain, a pair of wheat or barley ears and a scepter.

It is suggested that the Proto-Indo-European (or Graeco-Aryan) predecessor of Indra had the epithet *trigw-welumos or rather *trigw-t-welumos (“smasher of the enclosure” of Vritra, Vala) and diye-snūtyos (“impeller of streams”, the liberated rivers, corresponding to Vedic apam ajas “agitator of the waters”), which resulted in the Greek gods Triptolemus and Dionysus.

Ceres is the only one of Rome’s many agricultural deities to be listed among the Dii Consentes, Rome’s equivalent to the Twelve Olympians of Greek mythology. The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, although Triptolemus was the god of farming whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.

Priapus

In Greek mythology, Priapus was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his oversized, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism, alluding to the god’s permanently engorged penis. He became a popular figure in Roman erotic art and Latin literature, and is the subject of the often humorously obscene collection of verse called the Priapeia.

Priapus was described as the son of Aphrodite by Dionysus, or the son of Dionysus and Chione, perhaps as the father or son of Hermes, and the son of Zeus or Pan, depending on the source.

According to legend, Hera cursed him with impotence, ugliness and foul-mindedness while he was still in Aphrodite’s womb, in revenge for the hero Paris having the temerity to judge Aphrodite more beautiful than Hera. The other gods refused to allow him to live on Mount Olympus and threw him down to Earth, leaving him on a hillside. He was eventually found by shepherds and was brought up by them.

Priapus joined Pan and the satyrs as a spirit of fertility and growth, though he was perennially frustrated by his impotence. In a ribald anecdote told by Ovid, he attempted to rape the goddess Hestia but was thwarted by an ass, whose braying caused him to lose his erection at the critical moment and woke Hestia.

The episode gave him a lasting hatred of asses and a willingness to see them destroyed in his honour. The emblem of his lustful nature was his permanent erection and his large penis. Another myth states that he pursued the nymph Lotis until the gods took pity on her and turned her into a lotus plant. The Athenians often conflated Priapus with Hermes, the god of boundaries, and depicted a hybrid deity with a winged helmet, sandals, and huge erection.

Priapus’ role as a patron god for merchant sailors in ancient Greece and Rome is that of a protector and navigational aide. Recent shipwreck evidence contains apotropaic items carried onboard by mariners in the forms of a terracotta phallus, wooden Priapus figure, and bronze sheath from a military ram. Coinciding with the use of wooden Priapic markers erected in areas of dangerous passage or particular landing areas for sailors, the function of Priapus is much more extensive than previously thought.

Although Priapus is commonly associated with the failed attempts of rape against the nymphs Lotis and Vesta in Ovid’s comedy Fasti and the rather flippant treatment of the deity in urban settings, Priapus’ protection traits can be traced back to the importance placed on the phallus in ancient times (particularly his association with fertility and garden protection).

In Greece, the phallus was thought of to has a mind of its own, animal-like, separate from the mind and control of the man. The phallus is also associated with “possession and territorial demarcation” in many cultures, attributing to Priapus’ other role as a navigational deity.

Freyr

Freyr or Frey is one of the most important gods of Norse religion. He was one of the most widely and passionately venerated divinities amongst the heathen Norse and other Germanic peoples. One Old Norse poem calls him “the foremost of the gods” and “hated by none.” He was the God of sun, rain, fertility, domestication, luck, wealth, and the patron of bountiful harvests. He is both a god of peace and a brave warrior.

Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and was pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”. The gods gave him Álfheimr, the realm of the Elves, as a teething present.

Celebration of the Norse New Year; a festival of 12 nights.  This is the most important of all the Norse holidays.  On the night of December 20, the god Ingvi Freyr rides over the earth on the back of his shining dwarf-made boar Gullinbursti (“Golden-Bristled”), bringing Light and Love back into the World.  In later years, after the influence of Christianity, the god Baldur, then Jesus, was reborn at this festival.

Freyr is the most prominent and most beautiful of the male members of the Vanir, and is called ‘God of the World’. After the merging of the Aesir and the Vanir, Freyr was called ‘Lord of the Aesir’. He possesses the ship Skíðblaðnir (“Assembled from Pieces of Thin Wood”) which always has a favorable breeze and can be folded together and carried in a pouch when it is not being used. He has the servants Skírnir, Byggvir, and Beyla.

He is presented as one of the Vanir, the son of Njord and Njord’s unnamed sister, and the twin brother of the goddess Freyja. He’s also an honorary member of the other tribe of Norse gods, the Aesir, having arrived in their fortress, Asgard, as a hostage at the closing of the Aesir-Vanir War.

His benevolence particularly manifested itself in sexual and ecological fertility, bountiful harvests, wealth, and peace, and he provided health and abundance often symbolized by his fylgja, and by his enormous, erect phallus. He was a frequent recipient of sacrifices at various occasions, such as the blessing of a wedding or the celebration of a harvest. During harvest festivals, the sacrifice traditionally took the form of his favored animal, the boar. On land, Freyr travels in a chariot drawn by boars.

The most extensive surviving Freyr myth relates Freyr’s falling in love with the female jötunn Gerðr (Old Norse “fenced-in”, “Enclosure” or “Field”). The couple is the founders of the Yngling dynasty and produced a son, Fjölnir (Old Norse: Fjolnir; lit. “Manyfold” or “Multiplier”) who rose to kinghood after Freyr’s passing and continued their line. Gerðr is commonly theorized to be a goddess associated with the earth.

Fjölnir is also another name for Odin, found in Grímnismál when the god revealed himself to Geirröd, and in Reginsmál when he was standing on a mountain addressing Sigurd and Regin. Snorri also mentions it as an Odinic name in Gylfaginning.

In chapter 19 of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Gerðr is listed among “rivals” of the goddess Frigg, a list of sexual partners of Frigg’s husband, Odin. Instead of Gerðr, the jötunn Gríðr (Old Norse “greed” or “greed, vehemence, violence, impetuosity”), mother of Odin’s son Víðarr according to the Prose Edda, was probably intended. One manuscript has Gríðr corrected to Gerðr.

Gríðr, aware of Loki’s plans to have Thor killed at the hands of the giant Geirröd, helped Thor by supplying him with a number of magical gifts which included a pair of iron gloves, and a staff known as Gríðarvölr. These items saved Thor’s life.

Scholar John Lindow comments that Gerðr’s name has been etymologically associated with the earth and enclosures and that the wedding of Gerðr and Freyr is commonly seen as “the divine coupling of sky and earth or at least fertility god and representative of the soil.” Lindow adds that, at the same time, the situation can be read as simply the gods getting what they want from the jötnar.

Hilda Ellis Davidson comments that Gerðr’s role in Skírnismál has parallels with the goddess Persephone from Greek mythology, “since it is made clear that if [Gerðr] remains below in the dark kingdom of the underworld there will be nothing to hope for but sterility and famine. She does not become the bride of the underworld, however; her bridal is to be in the upper world when she consents to meet Freyr at Barri.”

Frey “possessed a magic sword which fights on its own “if wise be he who wields it” and that “struck out at Jotuns of its own accord.” Gerd never wanted to marry Freyr and refused his proposals. She is an earth goddess, the personification of the fertile soil, and daughter of the giant Gymir. Freyr has a page named Skírnir, who requests that Freyr give him a horse and Freyr’s sword if he is going to convince Gerðr.

Freyr sent his messenger Skirnir to woo her, but he did not succeed in winning her over with the eleven golden apples and the ring Draupnir he had with him. Eventually Skirnir threatened to use Freyr’s sword, which would cover the earth in ice, and powerful magic which would doom Gerd’s life to misery and sadness. She finally agreed to meet Freyr in a wood, nine days hence, and later became his wife.

Although deprived of this weapon, Freyr defeats the jötunn Beli with an antler of an elk. However, lacking his sword, Freyr will be killed by the fire jötunn Surtr (Old Norse “black” or “the swarthy one”) during the events of Ragnarök.

Surtr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Surtr is foretold as being a major figure during the events of Ragnarök; carrying his bright sword, he will go to battle against the Æsir, he will do battle with the major god Freyr, and afterward the flames that he brings forth will engulf the Earth.

In a book from the Prose Edda additional information is given about Surtr, including that he is stationed guarding the frontier of the fiery realm Múspell, that he will lead “Múspell’s sons” to Ragnarök, and that he will defeat Freyr.

The etymology of “Muspelheim” is uncertain, but may come from Mund-spilli, “world-destroyers”, “wreck of the world”. Muspelheim is fire; and the land to the North, Niflheim, is ice. The two mixed and created water from the melting ice in Ginnungagap. The sun and the stars originate from Muspelheim.

The name Freyr is conjectured to derive from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”. *Fraujaz or *Frauwaz (Old High German frô for earlier frôjo, frouwo, Old Saxon frao, frōio, Gothic frauja, Old English frēa, Old Norse freyr), feminine *Frawjō (OHG frouwâ, later also frû, Old Saxon frūa, Old English frōwe, Goth. *fraujô, Old Norse freyja) is a Common Germanic honorific meaning “lord”, “lady”, especially of deities.

The epithet came to be taken as the proper name of two separate deities in Norse mythology, Freyr and Freyja. In both Old Norse and Old High German the female epithet became a female honorific “lady”, in German Frau further weakened to the standard address “Mrs.” and further to the normal word for “woman”, replacing earlier wîp (English wife) and qinô (English queen) “woman”.

Just like Norse Freyja is usually interpreted as a hypostasis of *Frijjō (Frigg), Norse Freyr is associated with Ingwaz (Yngvi) based on the Ynglingasaga which names Yngvi-Freyr as the ancestor of the kings of Sweden, reigning from Gamla Uppsala, which as Common Germanic *Ingwia-fraujaz would have designated the “lord of the Ingvaeones. Both Freyr and Freyja are represented zoomorphically by the pig: Freyr has Gullinbursti (“golden bristles”) while Freyjahas Hildisvíni has (“battle-pig”), and one of Freyja’s many names is Syr, i.e. “sow”.

Old Norse Yngvi, Old High German Inguin and Old English Ingwine all derived from the Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz and are names that relate to a theonym which appears to have been the older name for the god Freyr. Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz was the legendary ancestor of the Ingaevones, or more accurately Ingvaeones, and is also the reconstructed name of the Elder Futhark ŋ rune.

That his epithet *Fraujaz appears in Old Norse compounds Ingvifreyr and Ingunarfreyr, as well as in Old English fréa inguina, both of which mean ‘Lord of the Inguins’, i. e. the god Freyr, strongly indicates that the two deities are either the same or were syncretized at some very early period in the Germanic migration (or possibly before).

The Ingaevones or, as Pliny has it, apparently more accurately, Ingvaeones (“people of Yngvi”), as described in Tacitus’s Germania, written c. 98 CE, were a West Germanic cultural group living along the North Sea coast in the areas of Jutland, Holstein, Frisia and the Danish islands, where they had by the 1st century BCE become further differentiated to a foreigner’s eye into the Frisii, Saxons, Jutes and Angles. The postulated common group of closely related dialects of the Ingvaeones is called Ingvaeonic or North Sea Germanic.

Tacitus’ source categorized the Ingaevones near the ocean as one of the three tribal groups descended from the three sons of Mannus, son of Tuisto, progenitor of all the Germanic peoples, the other two being the Irminones and the Istaevones. According to the speculations of Rafael von Uslar, this threefold subdivision of the West Germanic tribes corresponds to archeological evidence from Late Antiquity.

Pliny ca 80 CE in his Natural History (IV.28) lists the Ingvaeones as one of the five Germanic races, the others being the Vandili (Vandals), the Istvaeones, the Hermiones and the Bastarnae, an ancient people who between 200 BC and 300 AD inhabited the region between the Carpathian mountains and the river Dnieper, to the north and east of ancient Dacia. The ethno-linguistic affiliation of the Bastarnae was probably Germanic, which is supported by ancient historians and modern archeology.

The Ingvaeones, who occupied a territory roughly equivalent to modern Denmark, Frisia and the Low Countries at the turn of the millennium, were mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural Histories as one of “five Germanic tribes”. Pliny asserts their descent from *Ingwaz, perhaps himself the son of *Mannus, the Proto-Germanic ‘first man’. Other names that retain the theonym are Inguiomerus or Ingemar and Yngling, the name of an old Scandinavian dynasty.

Ing, the legendary father of the Ingaevones/Ingvaeones derives his name from a posited proto-Germanic *Ingwaz, signifying “man” and “son of”, as Ing, Ingo, or Inguio, son of Mannus. This is also the name applied to the Viking era deity Freyr, known in Sweden as Yngvi-Freyr and mentioned as Yngvi-Freyr in Snorri Sturluson’s Ynglinga saga.

Jacob Grimm, in his Teutonic Mythology considers this Ing to have been originally identical to the obscure Scandinavian Yngvi, eponymous ancestor of the Swedish royal house of the Ynglinga, the “Inglings” or sons of Ing. An Ingui is also listed in the Anglo-Saxon royal house of Bernicia and was probably once seen as the progenitor of all Anglian kings.

Since the Ingaevones form the bulk of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Britain, they were speculated by Noah Webster to have given England its name. According to Grigsby on the continent “they formed part of the confederacy known as the ‘friends of Ing’ and in the new lands they migrated to in the 5th and 6th centuries. In time they would name these lands Angle-land, and it is tempting to speculate that the word Angle was derived from, or thought of as a pun on, the name of Ing.”

According to the Trojan genealogy of Nennius in the Historia Brittonum, Mannus becomes “Alanus” and Ing, his son, becomes Neugio. The three sons of Neugio are named Boganus, Vandalus, and Saxo—from whom came the peoples of the Bogari, the Vandals, and the Saxons and Thuringii.

In Scandinavian mythology, Yngvi, alternatively spelled Yngve, was the progenitor of the Yngling lineage, a legendary dynasty of Swedish kings, from whom also the earliest historical Norwegian kings claimed to be descended. Yngvi is a name of the god Freyr, perhaps Freyr’s true name, as freyr means ‘lord’ and has probably evolved from a common invocation of the god.

In the Íslendingabók (written in the early twelfth century by the Icelandic priest Ari Þorgilsson) Yngvi Tyrkja konungr ‘Yngvi king of Turkey’ appears as the father of Njörðr who in turn is the father of Yngvi-Freyr, ancestor of the Ynglings.

According to the Skjöldunga saga (a lost epic from 1180–1200, saved only partially in other sagas and later translation) Odin came from Asia and conquered Northern Europe. He gave Sweden to his son Yngvi and Denmark to his son Skjöldr. Since then the kings of Sweden were called Ynglings and those of Denmark Skjöldungs.

In the Gesta Danorum (late twelfth century, by Saxo Grammaticus) and in the Ynglinga saga (ca. 1225, by Snorri Sturluson), Freyr is euhemerized as a king of Sweden. In the Ynglinga saga, Yngvi-Freyr reigned in succession to his father Njörðr who had – in this variant – succeeded Odin. In the Historia Norwegiæ (written around 1211), in contrast, Ingui is the first king of Sweden, and the father of a certain Neorth, in his turn the father of Froyr.

In the introduction to his Edda (originally composed around 1220) Snorri Sturluson claimed again that Odin reigned in Sweden and relates: “Odin had with him one of his sons called Yngvi, who was king in Sweden after him; and those houses come from him that are named Ynglings.” Snorri here does not identify Yngvi and Freyr, although Freyr occasionally appears elsewhere as a son of Odin instead of a son of Njörðr.

In the Skáldskaparmál section of his Prose Edda Snorri brings in the ancient king Halfdan the Old who is the father of nine sons whose names are all words meaning ‘king’ or ‘lord’ in Old Norse, as well as of nine other sons who are the forefathers of various royal lineages, including “Yngvi, from whom the Ynglings are descended”.

But rather oddly Snorri immediately follows this with information on what should be four other personages who were not sons of Halfdan but who also fathered dynasties, and names the first of these again as “Yngvi, from whom the Ynglings are descended”. In the related account in the Ættartolur (‘Genealogies’) attached to Hversu Noregr byggdist, the name Skelfir appears instead of Yngvi in the list of Halfdan’s sons.

The Ynglinga Saga section of Snorri’s Heimskringla (around 1230) introduces a second Yngvi, son of Alrek, who is a descendant of Yngvi-Freyr and who shared the Swedish kingship with his brother Álf.

Istve

The Istvaeones, also called Istaevones, Istriaones, Istriones, Sthraones, and Thracones, were a Germanic tribal grouping in the 1st century AD. Their name was recorded by Tacitus and Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD. They categorized them as one of the nations of Germanic tribes descended from one of the sons of Mannus, a Germanic ancestor.

Jacob Grimm in the book Deutsche Mythologie argued that Iscaevones was the correct form, partly because it would connect the name to an ancestor figure in Norse mythology named Ask, and partly because in Nennius where the name Mannus is corrupted as Alanus, the ancestor of the Istaevones appears as Escio or Hisicion.

Irmin

The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones, were a group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia. Irminonic or Elbe Germanic is a conventional term grouping early West Germanic dialects ancestral to High German, which would include modern Standard German.

Jǫrmun, the Viking Age Norse form of the name Irmin, can be found in a number of places in the Poetic Edda as a by-name for Odin. Some aspects of the Irminones’ culture and beliefs may be inferred from their relationships with the Roman Empire, from Widukind’s confusion over whether Irmin was comparable to Mars or Hermes, and from Snorri Sturluson’s allusions, at the beginning of the Prose Edda, to Odin’s cult having appeared first in Germany, and then having spread up into the Ingvaeonic North.

A Germanic god Irmin, inferred from the name Irminsul and the tribal name Irminones, is sometimes presumed to have been the national god or demi-god of the Saxons. It has been suggested that Irmin was more probably an aspect or epithet of some other deity – most likely Wodan (Odin).

Irmin might also have been an epithet of the god Ziu (Tyr) in early Germanic times, only later transferred to Odin, as certain scholars subscribe to the idea that Odin replaced Tyr as the chief Germanic deity at the onset of the Migration Period. This was the favored view of early 20th century Nordicist writers, but it is not generally considered likely in modern times.

The Old Norse form of Irmin is Jörmunr, which just like Yggr was one of the names of Odin. Yggdrasil (“Yggr’s horse”) was the yew or ash tree from which Odin sacrificed him self, and which connected the nine worlds. Jakob Grimm connects the name Irmin with Old Norse terms like iörmungrund (“great ground”, i.e. the Earth) or iörmungandr (“great snake”, i.e. the Midgard serpent).

Irmin may be Old Saxon irmin “strong, whole”, maybe also “strong, tall, exalted” (Old High German ermen, Old Norse jǫrmun, Old English Eormen), from Proto-Germanic *erminaz, *ermenaz or *ermunaz, in personal names. The name comes from the Old High German irmin, meaning world. The anglicised form is Emma related to the Hebrew word for Mother – “EeMaH.”

Emma is a given female name. It is derived from the Germanic word ermen meaning whole or universal, and was originally a short form of Germanic names that began with ermen. Emma is also used as a diminutive of Emmeline, Amelia or any other name beginning with “em”. It was introduced to England by Emma of Normandy, who was the wife both of King Ethelred II (and by him the mother of Edward the Confessor) and later of King Canute. It was also borne by an 11th-century Austrian saint, who is sometimes called Hemma.

An Irminsul (Old Saxon, probably “great/mighty pillar” or “arising pillar”) was a kind of pillar which is attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxon people. The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air. The purpose of the Irminsuls and the implications thereof have been the subject of considerable scholarly discourse and speculation for hundreds of years.

Irminenschaft (or, Irminism, Irminenreligion) is a current of Ariosophy based on a Germanic deity Irmin which is supposedly reconstructed from literaric, linguistic and onomastic sources.

Among other sources the Prefix “Irmin” is well documented in the from Irminsul “great pillar that supports all”/”Columna Universalis Sustenans Omni”, as described in Einhards ‘Vita Karoli Magni’, and informed by Tacitus (~1st century) via a mentioned Germanic tribe name of Hermiones; the Old Saxon adjective irmin being synonymous to “great, strong”.

As such it may also have been an epithet of later deities like Ziu (Týr) or Wodan (Odin)). Purported evidence also stems from the occurrence of the word “Irmingot”, found in the Old High German “Hildebrandslied”.

An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. The relation of the literary references to an asherah and archaeological finds of Judaean pillar-figurines has engendered a literature of debate.

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Omega

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 26, 2015

On the origin of the Aryans

Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω; Greek Ωμέγα) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning ‘great’), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”).

Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ or of God in the Book of Revelation. This couple of letters are used as Christian symbols, and are often combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols.

In Sumerian mythology, Aruru is the sister of Enlil and one of seven great deities of Sumer. She is called Ninmah, Great Queen, and Ninhursaga, Queen of the Mountain. She is also called Mama or Mami (Mother) and Nintu, Lady of Birth. The Akkadians named her Belet-ili, Lady of the Gods, and she was worshipped throughout Mesopotamia.

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.

Nippur (Sumerian: Nibru, EN.LÍL.KI, “Enlil City”; Akkadian: Nibbur), one of the most ancient of Sumerian cities, was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the “Lord Wind,” ruler of the cosmos, subject to An alone.

Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow. He was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from βοῦς bous “cow”). The “ö” in the name is a diaeresis, not an umlaut, meaning that each ‘o’ is to be pronounced separately. It contains the fourth brightest star in the night sky, the orange-hued Arcturus.

In Mesopotamia the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear.

According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. From the northern hemisphere, an easy way to find Arcturus is to follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper or Plough. By continuing in this path, one can find Spica, “Arc to Arcturus, then spike to Spica”.

Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is Aries.svg (Unicode ♈), representing a ram’s horns.

Although Aries came to represent specifically the ram whose fleece became the Golden Fleece of Ancient Greek mythology, it has represented a ram since late Babylonian times. Before that, the stars of Aries formed a farmhand.

Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”. Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd. By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries.

The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

The line between Spica and Regulus nearly represents the ecliptic, the path of the sun and planets. Arcturus and Spica are found along an arcing path off the handle of the big dipper, while Regulus can also be found from the big dipper by pointing from down from the third and fourth dipper stars.

Rēgulus is Latin for ‘prince’ or ‘little king’. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic ‘the heart of the lion’. This phrase is sometimes approximated as Kabelaced and translates into Latin as Cor Leōnis.

It is known in Chinese as the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. In Hindu astronomy, Regulus corresponds to the Nakshatra Magha (“the bountiful”).

Babylonians called it Sharru (“the King”), and it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation. In MUL.APIN, Regulus is listed as LUGAL, meaning “the star that stands in the breast of the Lion: the King”.

In India it was known as Maghā (“the Mighty”), in Sogdiana Magh (“the Great”), in Persia Miyan (“the Centre”) and also as Venant, one of the four ‘royal stars’ of the Persian monarchy.

Regalia is Latin plurale tantum for the privileges and the insignia characteristic of a sovereign. The word stems from the Latin substantivation of the adjective regalis, “regal”, itself from Rex, “king”. It is sometimes used in the singular, regale.

Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in the alphabet, Aleph. The name aleph is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on a Egyptian hieroglyph.

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. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.

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. 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”. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), 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 name Armenia enters English via Latin, from Ancient Greek Ἀρμενία. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

This title Ar, Ari, Arya, or Aryan appears to have originally designated the Early Aryans as “The Ploghmen” from the Sumerian Ar, Ara, “plough”, which is now disclosed as the source of the Old English ear, “to plough, to ear the ground” and of “ar-able”, etc.

The Aryans are now seen to have been the traditional inventors of the plough and of the Agricultural Era of the World; and the sense of Ara or “the exalted ones” appears to have been used for this title when this gifted race became the rulers of the various aboriginal tribes-the Sumerian also gives the plough sign the meaning of “raise up, exalt” as the secondary meaning of ploughing as “the uplifting” of the earth.

Inanna 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.

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 products, 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 (ENSI), 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.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 (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), 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. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Aratta (Armenia) 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 as follows 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 Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively. Hayk (Armenian: Հայկ) or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Հայկ Նահապետ, Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. Armin is a given name or surname, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land.

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), known as Muṣaṣir in Assyian (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini or Artinis of Tushpa.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

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

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (“Invincible”), the principle form of the Goddess, also known as Devi and Shakti in Hinduism.

Shakti (from Sanskrit shak, “to be able”), also spelt as Sakthi or Shakthi, meaning “power” or “empowerment,” is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe.

Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism. As the mother she is known as Adi Parashakti, Adi Para Shakti, Adiparashakti or Adishakti.

On the earthly plane, Shakti most actively manifests through female embodiment and creativity/fertility, though it is also present in males in its potential, unmanifest form. Not only is Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force.

In Shaktism and Shaivism, Shakti is worshipped as the Supreme Being. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva and is identified as Tripura Sundari or Parvati.

Durga the mahashakti, the form and formless, is the root cause of creation, preservation and annihilation. According to legend, Durga (Parvati) Manifested herself for the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahisasura from Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lesser gods, who were otherwise powerless to overcome him.

She is pure Shakti (from Sanskrit shak, “to be able”), having manifested herself within the gods so that she may fulfil the tasks of the universe via them. At times of distress, such as the mahishasura episode, to protect the universe she manifests herself via the gods.

The name of Kali means black one and force of time; she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces.

Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess.

She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her husband, the god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Worshipped throughout India but particularly South India, Bengal, and Assam, Kali is both geographically and culturally marginal.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In 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 goddess Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna”. Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. 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.

Hel, also Hell, Old English hel, helle, “nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions, place of torment for the wicked after death,” from Proto-Germanic *haljo “the underworld”. Literally “concealed place” (compare Old Norse hellir “cave, cavern”), from PIE *kel- “to cover, conceal”. The English word may be in part from Old Norse mythological Hel (from Proto-Germanic *halija “one who covers up or hides something”).

Helheim is not the Hell of the Christian world, where the sins of man are punished. Instead it represents the nine different stages of the transition the soul goes through after death. It was here that the ancestors resided in village like settings. Seers and shamans would journey to these realms to consult with them.

Hella is often depicted as being one half beautiful woman and the other side a blue black rotting corpse.She is sometimes depicted with bones growing on the outside of her body. Her body was known as representing both sides of the spectrum. It is sometimes said that she was both black and white. She represents endings and beginnings. She teaches us that after death is the opportunity for rebirth, in anything in our lives. The ending of one thing becomes the beginning of another.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.”

The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’. The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”

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

Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa.

Portasar is the old name of what is now called Gobekle Tepe which is a direct translation of Armenian “Portasar” which means Mountain Navel. An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world.

Göbekli Tepe is situated on a flat and barren plateau, with buildings fanning in all directions. In the north, the plateau is connected to a neighbouring mountain range by a narrow promontory. In all other directions, the ridge descends steeply into slopes and steep cliffs. Archaeological finds come from the entire plateau.

The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE. The purpose of the structures is not yet clear. Excavator Klaus Schmidt believed that they are early neolithic sanctuaries.

The complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools. Many animal, even human, bones have also been identified in the fill.

The site was deliberately backfilled sometime after 8000 BCE: the buildings were buried under debris, mostly flint gravel, stone tools, and animal bones that must have been imported from elsewhere. Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.

Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi in the adyton (sacred part of the temple) near the Pythia (oracle). Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus.

In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. Omphalos Syndrome refers to the misguided belief that a place of geopolitical power and currency is the most important place in the world.

The omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus (from Latin “uterus”, plural uteri) or womb, a major female hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ of most mammals, including humans, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

The lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, Sanskrit: liṅgaṃ, meaning “mark”, “sign”, or “inference”) is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples. In traditional Indian society, the linga is rather seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of God, Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

The Sanskrit term, liṅgaṃ, has a number of definitions ranging from symbol to phallus, and more specifically, the “genital organ of Śiva worshipped in the form of a Phallus”.

In Shaivite Hindu temples, the lingam is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolising Shiva and is worshipped as a symbol of generative power. It is found at the centre of the temple often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped yoni, a representation of Shakti.

An egg shaped oval Lingam is also the closest representation of the formless aspect of the Divine. The shape of a Lingam is such that it can hold energy in harmony and balance for longest period of time.

Schmidt engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He assumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors, whereas he saw a fully articulated belief in gods only developing later in Mesopotamia, associated with extensive temples and palaces.

This corresponds well with an ancient Sumerian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna deities, very ancient gods without individual names.

Portasar was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt considered Göbekli Tepe a central location for a cult of the dead and that the carved animals are there to protect the dead. Though no tombs or graves have been found so far, Schmidt believed that they remain to be discovered in niches located behind the sacred circles’ walls.

Schmidt also interpreted it in connection with the initial stages of the Neolithic. It is one of several sites in the vicinity of Karaca Dağ, an area which geneticists suspect may have been the original source of at least some of our cultivated grains (see Einkorn). Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Karaca Dağ 20 miles (32 km) away from the site, suggesting that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.

Schmidt believed, as others do, that mobile groups in the area were compelled to cooperate with each other to protect early concentrations of wild cereals from wild animals (herds of gazelles and wild donkeys).

Wild cereals may have been used for sustenance more intensively than before and were perhaps deliberately cultivated. This would have led to early social organization of various groups in the area of Göbekli Tepe. Thus, according to Schmidt, the Neolithic did not begin on a small scale in the form of individual instances of garden cultivation, but developed rapidly in the form of “a large-scale social organization”

He identified this story as a primeval oriental myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic. It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings mainly ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

In both astrology and historical astronomy, the zodiac is a circle of twelve 30° divisions of celestial longitude that are centered upon the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year.

The paths of the Moon and visible planets also remain close to the ecliptic, within the belt of the zodiac, which extends 8-9° north or south of the ecliptic, as measured in celestial latitude. Because the divisions are regular, they do not correspond exactly to the twelve constellations after which they are named.

Historically, these twelve divisions are called signs. Essentially, the zodiac is a celestial coordinate system, or more specifically an ecliptic coordinate system, which takes the ecliptic as the origin of latitude, and the position of the Sun at vernal equinox as the origin of longitude.

The zodiac was in use by the Roman era, based on concepts inherited by Hellenistic astronomy from Babylonian astronomy of the Chaldean period (mid-1st millennium BC), which, in turn, derived from an earlier system of lists of stars along the ecliptic. The construction of the zodiac is described in Ptolemy’s vast 2nd century AD work, the Almagest.

The term zodiac derives from Latin zōdiacus, which in its turn comes from the Greek zōdiakos kyklos, meaning “circle of animals”, derived from zōdion, the diminutive of zōon “animal”. The name is motivated by the fact that half of the signs of the classical Greek zodiac are represented as animals (besides two mythological hybrids).

Although the zodiac remains the basis of the ecliptic coordinate system in use in astronomy besides the equatorial one, the term and the names of the twelve signs are today mostly associated with horoscopic astrology.

The term “zodiac” may also refer to the region of the celestial sphere encompassing the paths of the planets corresponding to the band of about eight arc degrees above and below the ecliptic.

The zodiac of a given planet is the band that contains the path of that particular body; e.g., the “zodiac of the Moon” is the band of five degrees above and below the ecliptic. By extension, the “zodiac of the comets” may refer to the band encompassing most short-period comets.

Babylonian astronomers at some stage during the early 1st millennium BC divided the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude to create the first known celestial coordinate system: a coordinate system that boasts some advantages over modern systems (such as the equatorial coordinate system).

The Babylonian calendar as it stood in the 7th century BC assigned each month to a sign, beginning with the position of the Sun at vernal equinox, which, at the time, was depicted as the Aries constellation (“Age of Aries”), for which reason the first sign is still called “Aries” even after the vernal equinox has moved away from the Aries constellation due to the slow precession of the Earth’s axis of rotation.

Because the division was made into equal arcs, 30° each, they constituted an ideal system of reference for making predictions about a planet’s longitude. Constellations were given the names of the signs and asterisms could be connected in a way that would resemble the sign’s name. Therefore, in spite of its conceptual origin, the Babylonian zodiac became sidereal.

In Babylonian astronomical diaries, a planet position was generally given with respect to a zodiacal sign alone, less often in specific degrees within a sign. When the degrees of longitude were given, they were expressed with reference to the 30° of the zodiacal sign, i.e., not with a reference to the continuous 360° ecliptic.

To the construction of their mathematical ephemerides, daily positions of a planet were not as important as the dates when the planet crossed from one zodiacal sign to the next.

Knowledge of the Babylonian zodiac is also reflected in the Hebrew Bible. E. W. Bullinger interpreted the creatures appearing in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull is Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle representing Scorpio.

Some authors have linked the twelve tribes of Israel with the twelve signs. Martin and others have argued that the arrangement of the tribes around the Tabernacle (reported in the Book of Numbers) corresponded to the order of the Zodiac, with Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan representing the middle signs of Leo, Aquarius, Taurus, and Scorpio, respectively.

Such connections were taken up by Thomas Mann, who in his novel Joseph and His Brothers attributes characteristics of a sign of the zodiac to each tribe in his rendition of the Blessing of Jacob.

A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Mesopotamian protective deity, often depicted as a celestial being from Mesopotamian mythology bearing a human head, bull’s or a lion’s body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and a bird’s wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity.

The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, were placed as sentinels at the entrances. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with lamassu and the god Išum with shedu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekial wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Each of the four Evangelists has a creature, usually shown with wings: St Matthew the man, St Mark the lion, St Luke the ox, and John the eagle.

In Christian art and iconography, Evangelist portraits are often accompanied by tetramorphs, or the symbols alone used to represent them. Evangelist portraits that depict them in their human forms are often accompanied by their symbolic creatures, and Christ in Majesty is often shown surrounded by the four symbols.

Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph, a symbolic arrangement of four differing elements, or the combination of four disparate elements in one unit. The term is derived from the Greek tetra, meaning four, and morph, shape.

Archaeological evidence exists showing that early man divided the four quarters of the horizon, or space, later a place of sacrifice, such as a temple, and attributed characteristics and spiritual qualities to each quarter. Alternatively the composite elements were carved into mythic creatures such as the Egyptian, Greek and Babylonian sphinxes of antiquity depicting bull-like bodies with birds-wings, lion’s paws and human faces. Such composite creatures are found in many mythologies.

The Babylonian star catalogs entered Greek astronomy in the 4th century BC, via Eudoxus of Cnidus. Babylonia or Chaldea in the Hellenistic world came to be so identified with astrology that “Chaldean wisdom” became among Greeks and Romans the synonym of divination through the planets and stars.

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. Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi.

Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

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. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.

Shubria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.

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

Hera is the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

Portrayed as majestic and solemn, often enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a high cylindrical crown worn by several of the Great Goddesses), Hera may bear a pomegranate in her hand, emblem of fertile blood and death and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy.

Scholar of Greek mythology Walter Burkert writes in Greek Religion, “Nevertheless, there are memories of an earlier aniconic representation, as a pillar in Argos and as a plank in Samos.”

Hera was known for her jealous and vengeful nature against Zeus’s lovers and offspring, but also against mortals who crossed her, such as Pelias. Paris also earned Hera’s hatred by choosing Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess.

The name of Hera admits a variety of mutually exclusive etymologies; one possibility is to connect it with Greek hōra, season, and to interpret it as ripe for marriage and according to Plato eratē, “beloved” as Zeus is said to have married her for love.

According to Plutarch, Hera was an allegorical name and an anagram of aēr (ἀήρ, “air”). So begins the section on Hera in Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion. In a note, he records other scholars’ arguments “for the meaning Mistress as a feminine to Heros, Master.”

John Chadwick, a decipherer of Linear B, remarks “her name may be connected with hērōs, hero, but that is no help, since it too is etymologically obscure.” A. J. van Windekens, offers “young cow, heifer”, which is consonant with Hera’s common epithet boōpis, “cow-eyed”.

R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin. Her name is attested in Mycenaean Greek written in the Linear B syllabic script as e-ra, appearing on tablets found in Pylos and Thebes.

A herma, commonly in English herm, is a sculpture with a head, and perhaps a torso, above a plain, usually squared lower section, on which male genitals may also be carved at the appropriate height. The form originated in Ancient Greece, and was adopted by the Romans, and revived at the Renaissance in the form of term figures and Atlantes.

In the earliest times Greek divinities were worshipped in the form of a heap of stones or a shapeless column of stone or wood. In many parts of Greece there were piles of stones by the sides of roads, especially at their crossings, and on the boundaries of lands.

The religious respect paid to such heaps of stones, especially at the meeting of roads, is shown by the custom of each passer-by throwing a stone on to the heap or anointing it with oil. Later there was the addition of a head and phallus to the column, which became quadrangular (the number 4 was sacred to Hermes).

Erbil, also known as Hewler, is located northwest of Baghdad. Human settlement at Erbil can be dated back to possibly 5000 BC, and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world. The earliest historical reference to the region dates to the Ur III dynasty of Sumer, when king Shulgi mentioned the city of Urbilum – the ancient name of modern-day Arbil

The name Erbil was mentioned in Sumerian holy writings of third millennium BC as Urbilum, Urbelum or Urbillum, Later, the Akkadians and Assyrians by a folk etymology rendered the name as arba’ū ilū to mean four gods. The city became a centre for the worship of the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ishtar which was also borrowed from Sumer god of innanna.

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.

Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

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

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.

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.

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 had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Ninti is one of the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body.

Her specific healing area was the rib (sumerian Ti means rib and to live). Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

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. Hebat during Aramaean times appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

Arura or aroura is a Homeric Greek word with original meaning “arable land”, derived from the verb ἀρόω (aroō), “plough”. The word was also used generally for earth, land and father-land and in plural to describe corn-lands and fields.

The term arura was also used to describe a measure of land in ancient Egypt (similar in manner to the acre), a square of 100 Egyptian cubits each way. This measures 2700m² or 2/3 of an acre. The oldest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek a-ro-u-ra, written in Linear B syllabic script, originally meant “plough”.

The Big Dipper (US) or Plough (UK) is an asterism (not a constellation) of seven stars recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures. These stars are the brightest of the formal constellation Ursa Major; six of them are second magnitude stars, while only Megrez (δ) is of third magnitude. The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star on Earth, can be located by extending an imaginary line from Merak (β) through Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation.

The Song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets from the last century of the 3rd millennium BC. The poem is composed of the frequent use of the word “al”, which means hoe.

The verb-forms and nouns also frequently start with, or contain the syllable “al” (or “ar”), suggesting the writer intended it for humour as a satirical school text or as a tongue-twister.

The song starts with a creation myth where Enlil separates heaven and earth in Duranki, the cosmic Nippur or ‘Garden of the Gods’. The concept of a Garden of the gods or a divine paradise might be of Sumerian origin. The concept of this home of the immortals was later handed down to the Babylonians who conquered Sumer.

The myth continues with a description of Enlil creating daylight with his hoe; he goes on to praise its construction and creation. Enlil’s mighty hoe is said to be made of gold, with the blade made of lapis lazuli and fastened by cord. It is inlaid with lapis lazuli and adorned with silver and gold.

Enlil makes civilized man, from a brick mould with his hoe – and the Annanuki start to praise him. Nisaba, Ninmena, and Nunamnir start organizing things. Enki praises the hoe; they start reproducing and Enlil makes numerous shining hoes, for everyone to begin work.

Enlil then founds the Ekur with his hoe whilst a “god-man” called Lord Nudimmud builds the Abzu in Eridug. Ekur is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

Various gods are then described establishing construction projects in other cities, such as Ninhursag in Kesh, and Inanna and Utu in Zabalam; Nisaba and E-ana also set about building. The useful construction and agricultural uses of the hoe are summarized, along with its capabilities for use as a weapon and for burying the dead.

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil.

Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. He 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. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.

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 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”.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. 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, celebrated the harvest and sowing, and ran from December 17–23. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice. 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 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.

In Greek mythology, Cronus 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, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus 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.

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr 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.

Astraea or Astrea (“star-maiden”), in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus and Eos. She was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement).

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age.

Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo. The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation.

Virgo is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin, and its symbol is ♍. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica. Virgo is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat, one of which is marked by the bright star Spica.

According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, this constellation was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain. One star in this constellation, Spica, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow. The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility.

According to Gavin White the figure of Virgo corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador. Astraea’s hoped-for return was referred to in a phrase from Virgil’s Eclogue IV: “Iam redit et virgo, redeunt Saturnia Regna” (Astraea returns, returns old Saturn’s reign).

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Enlil/Haya-Ninlil/Nisaba, Saturn/Janus-Ops, Cronus-Rhea, Njord-Njörun

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 22, 2015

Enlil – Ninlil

Enlil (nlin) (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Mesopotamian religion. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar. He was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud.

Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba, goddess of grain and writing, patron deity of the city Ereš). 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.

Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

Raped and ravaged by her husband Enlil, who impregnated her with water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.

Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river.

Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta.

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.

Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag, who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.

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

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

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

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

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

Ekur

Ekur (É.KUR, E2.KUR, E-kur) is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished. The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

A hymn to Nanna illustrates the close relationship between temples, houses and mountains. “In your house on high, in your beloved house, I will come to live, O Nanna, up above in your cedar perfumed mountain”. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.

The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

The physical structure of the Ekur included shrines and storehouses where foreigners brought offerings. These included the shrines of Enlil’s wife Ninlil (her chamber, the Gagisua is described as the place where they lived happily together) and their sons, Nanna and Ninurta along with the house of his vizier Nuska and mistress Suzianna.

Descriptions of these locations show the physical structures about the Ekur, these included an assembly hall, hut for ploughs, a lofty stairway up a foothill from a “house of darkness” considered by some to be a prison or chasm.

It also contained various gates such as the gate “where no grain was cut”, the “lofty gate”, “gate of peace” and “gate of judgement”, it also had drainage channels. Other locations such as a multi-story “giguna” among others which have proved unintelligible, even to modern scholars.

The Ekur was noted for inspiring fear, dread, terror and panic in people, especially amongst the evil and ignorant. Kramer suggested the Ekur complex may have included a primordial dungeon of the netherworld or “house of lament” where the damned were sent after judgement. Nungal is the Sumerian goddess who was given the title “Queen of the Ekur”.

The hymn Nungal in the Ekur describes the dark side of the complex with a house that “examines closely both the righteous and the wicked and does not allow the wicked to escape”. This house is described as having a “River of ordeal” which leads to the “mouth of catastrophe” through a lock and bolt.

Further descriptions of its structural components are given including foundations, doors, a fearsome gate, architrave, a buttressed structure called a “dubla” and a magnificent vault, all described with terrifying metaphors. The hymn also references a “house of life” where sinners are rehabilited and returned to their gods through the compassion of Nungal, who holds the “tablet of life”.

A hymn to Urninurta mentions the prominence of a tree in the courtyard of the Ekur, reminiscent of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden: “O, chosen cedar, adornment of the yard of Ekur, Urinurta, for thy shadow the country may feel awe!”. This is suggested by G. Windgren to reflect the concept of the tree as a mythical and ritual symbol of both king and god.

The destruction and fall of these various structures is remembered in various city laments, destroyed either in a great storm, flood or by variously Elamites, Subarians, Gutians and some other, as yet unidentified “Su-people”.

Enamtila

Enamtila (É.NAM.TI.LA, E-nam-ti-la) is a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”. It was a sanctuary dedicated to Enlil, likely to have been located within the Ekur at Nippur during the Akkadian Empire.

It also referred to various other temples including those to later versions of Enlil; Marduk and Bel as well as one to Ea. It was likely another name for Ehursag, a temple dedicated to Shulgi in Ur. A hymn to Nanna suggests the link “To Ehursag, the house of the king (we go), to the Enamtila of prince Shulgi we go!”

Another reference in the Inanna – Dunmuzi text translated by Samuel Noah Kramer references the king’s palace by this name and possibly makes references to the “sacred marriage”: “In the Enamtila, the house of the king, his wife dwelt with him in joy, in the Enamtila, the house of the king, Inanna dwelt with him in joy. Inanna, rejoicing in his house …”.

Nisaba and Haia

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

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

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

Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgameš. Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

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

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

In the god-list AN = dA-nu-um preserved on manuscripts of the first millennium he is mentioned together with dlugal-[ki-sá-a], a divinity associated with door-keepers. Already in the Ur III period Haya had received offerings together with offerings to the “gate”. This was presumably because of the location of one of his shrines.

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

While there is plenty of evidence to connect Haya with scribes, the evidence connecting him with grain is mainly restricted to etymological considerations, which are unreliable and suspect. There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to dha-ià.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. The god-list AN = Anu ša amēli (lines 97-98) designates him as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

Nabu and Marduk

She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu, the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as Marduk and Sarpanitum’s son and as Ea’s grandson. Nabu’s consorts were Tashmetum and Nissaba. As the god of wisdom and writing, Nabu was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.

Nabu was also worshipped as a god of fertility, a god of water, and a god of vegetation. He was also the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, which recorded the fate of mankind and allowed him to increase or diminish the length of human life. His symbols are the clay tablet and stylus.

Nabus wears a horned cap, and stands with his hands clasped, in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rides on a winged dragon known as Sirrush which originally belonged to his father Marduk. During the Babylonian New Year Festival, the cult statue of Nabu was transported from Borsippa to Babylon in order to commune with his father Marduk.

In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury. In the perfected system of astrology, the planet Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.

Marduk’s original character is obscure but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. His consort was the goddess Sarpanit. He was also regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu.

Marduk was depicted as a human, often with his symbol the snake-dragon which he had taken over from the god Tishpak. Another symbol that stood for Marduk was the spade. Babylonian texts talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods’] delight”.

But whatever special traits Marduk may have had were overshadowed by the political development through which the Euphrates valley passed and which led to people of the time imbuing him with traits belonging to gods who in an earlier period were recognized as the heads of the pantheon. There are particularly two gods—Ea and Enlil—whose powers and attributes pass over to Marduk.

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

His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology, 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.

The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. In Greek mythology Iris is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. She is also known as one of the goddesses of the sea and the sky. Iris links the gods to humanity. She travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other, and into the depths of the sea and the underworld.

In the case of Ea, the transfer proceeded pacifically and without effacing the older god. Marduk took over the identity of Asarluhi, the son of Ea and god of magic, so that Marduk was integrated in the pantheon of Eridu where both Ea and Asarluhi originally came from. Father Ea voluntarily recognized the superiority of the son and hands over to him the control of humanity.

This association of Marduk and Ea, while indicating primarily the passing of the supremacy once enjoyed by Eridu to Babylon as a religious and political centre, may also reflect an early dependence of Babylon upon Eridu, not necessarily of a political character but, in view of the spread of culture in the Euphrates valley from the south to the north, the recognition of Eridu as the older centre on the part of the younger one.

While the relationship between Ea and Marduk is marked by harmony and an amicable abdication on the part of the father in favour of his son, Marduk’s absorption of the power and prerogatives of Enlil of Nippur was at the expense of the latter’s prestige. Babylon became independent in the early 19th century BC, and was initially a small city state, overshadowed by older and more powerful Mesopotamian states such as Isin, Larsa and Assyria.

However, after Hammurabi forged an empire in the 18th century BC, turning Babylon into the dominant state in the south, the cult of Marduk eclipsed that of Enlil; although Nippur and the cult of Enlil enjoyed a period of renaissance during the over four centuries of Kassite control in Babylonia (c. 1595 BC–1157 BC), the definite and permanent triumph of Marduk over Enlil became felt within Babylonia.

The only serious rival to Marduk after ca. 1750 BC was the god Aššur (Ashur) (who had been the supreme deity in the northern Mesopotamian state of Assyria since the 25th century BC) which was the dominant power in the region between the 14th to the late 7th century BC. In the south, Marduk reigned supreme. He is normally referred to as Bel “Lord”, also bel rabim “great lord”, bêl bêlim “lord of lords”, ab-kal ilâni bêl terêti “leader of the gods”, aklu bêl terieti “the wise, lord of oracles”, muballit mîte “reviver of the dead”, etc.

Cronus

In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was considered to be 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, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus 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.

After dispatching Uranus, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes and set the dragon Campe to guard them. He and his sister Rhea took the throne of the world as king and queen. The period in which Cronus ruled was called the Golden Age, as the people of the time had no need for laws or rules; everyone did the right thing, and immorality was absent.

Rhea

Rhea, the Titaness daughter of the earth goddess Gaia and the sky god Uranus and sister and wife to Cronus, the bountiful monarch of the Golden Age, was in early Greek traditions 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 or Opis (Latin: “Plenty”), a fertility deity and earth-goddess of Sabine origin.

Ops

Rhea was in Roman mythology identified with Ops, the concort of Saturn. 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. 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, “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.

According to interpretatio romana, which sought the equivalence of Roman to Greek deities, she was an equivalent to Demeter, one of the Twelve Olympians of Greek religion and mythology; this made Ceres one of Rome’s twelve Di Consentes, daughter of Saturn and Ops, sister of Jupiter, mother of Proserpina by Jupiter and sister of Juno, Vesta, Neptune and Dis.

Saturn

Cronus was identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn. Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest in the Solar System, after Jupiter. It is a gas giant with an average radius about nine times that of Earth. Although only one-eighth the average density of Earth, with its larger volume Saturn is just over 95 times more massive. Saturn is named after the Roman god of agriculture, its astronomical symbol (♄) represents the god’s sickle.

Saturn is a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history. He 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. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. 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.

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.

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.

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn, 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.”

In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who was said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of innocence. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.

Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.

The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday. In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.

The renewal of light and the coming of the New Year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis 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.

Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice. 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.

It was customary for the Romans to represent divine figures as kings of Latium at the time of their legendary origins. Macrobius states explicitly that the Roman legend of Janus and Saturn is an affabulation, as the true meaning of religious beliefs cannot be openly expressed.

In the myth Saturn was the original and autochthonous ruler of the Capitolium, which had thus been called the Mons Saturnius in older times and on which once stood the town of Saturnia. He was sometimes regarded as the first king of Latium or even the whole of Italy.

At the same time, there was a tradition that Saturn had been an immigrant god, received by Janus after he was usurped by his son Jupiter and expelled from Greece. In Versnel’s view his contradictions—a foreigner with one of Rome’s oldest sanctuaries, and a god of liberation who is kept in fetters most of the year—indicate Saturn’s capacity for obliterating social distinctions.

The Golden Age of Saturn’s reign in Roman mythology differed from the Greek tradition. He arrived in Italy “dethroned and fugitive,” but brought agriculture and civilization for which things was rewarded by Janus with a share of the kingdom, becoming he himself king.

As the Augustan poet Vergil described it, “He gathered together the unruly race” of fauns and nymphs “scattered over mountain heights, and gave them laws … . Under his reign were the golden ages men tell of: in such perfect peace he ruled the nations.” He was considered the ancestor of the Latin nation as he fathered Picus, the first king of Latium, who married Janus’ daughter Canens and in his turn fathered Faunus.

Saturn was also said to have founded the five Saturnian towns of Latium: Aletrium (today Alatri), Anagnia (Anagni), Arpinum (Arpino), Atina and Ferentinum (Ferentino, also known as Antinum) all located in present day Ciociaria, province of Frosinone. All these towns are surrounded by cyclopical walls; their foundation is traditionally ascribed to the Pelasgians.

But Saturn also had a less benevolent aspect, as indicated by the blood shed in his honor during gladiatorial munera. His consort in archaic Roman tradition was Lua, sometimes called Lua Saturni (“Saturn’s Lua”) and identified with Lua Mater, “Mother Destruction,” a goddess in whose honor the weapons of enemies killed in war were burned, perhaps as expiation.

H.S. Versnel, however, proposed that Lua Saturni should not be identified with Lua Mater, but rather refers to “loosening”; she thus represents the liberating function of Saturn.

Janus

Contradictions of the ancient Roman calendar on the beginning of the new year: originally March was the first month and February the last one. January, the month of Janus, became the first afterwards and through several manipulations. The liminal character of Janus is though present in the association to the Saturnalia of December, reflecting the strict relationship between the two gods Janus and Saturn and the rather blurred distinction of their stories and symbols.

Leonhard Schmitz suggests that Janus was likely the most important god in the Roman archaic pantheon. He was often invoked together with Iuppiter (Jupiter). Numa in his regulation of the Roman calendar called the first month Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest divinity at the time.

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.

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 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. His name in Greek is Ἰανός (Ianós).

Diana

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

Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. She 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.

Inara

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. 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.

Telepinu

Telipinu (Cuneiform: Te(-e)-li-pí-nu(-ú), Hattic: Talipinu or Talapinu, “Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god or an embodiment of crops. He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology. His wife was the goddess Hatepuna, though he was also paired with Šepuru and Kašḫa at various cultic centres.

The Telipinu Myth is an ancient Hittite myth about Telipinu, whose disappearance causes all fertility to fail, both plant and animal. In order to stop the havoc and devastation, the gods seek Telipinu but fail to find him. Hannahannah, the mother goddess, sent a bee to find him; when the bee did, stinging Telipinu and smearing wax on him, the god grew angry and began to wreak destruction on the world. Finally, Kamrušepa, goddess of magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld.

Dagan

Dagan is mentioned occasionally in early Sumerian texts but becomes prominent only in later Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions as a powerful and warlike protector, sometimes equated with Enlil. Dagan’s wife was in some sources the goddess Shala (also named as wife of Adad and sometimes identified with Ninlil). In other texts, his wife is Ishara.

Dagon was originally an East Semitic Mesopotamian (Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian) fertility god who evolved into a major Northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain (as symbol of fertility) and fish and/or fishing (as symbol of multiplying). He was worshipped by the early Amorites and by the inhabitants of the cities of Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh, Syria) and Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria). He was also a major member, or perhaps head, of the pantheon of the Philistines.

The god Dagon first appears in extant records about 2500 BC in the Mari texts and in personal Amorite names in which the Mesopotamian gods Ilu (Ēl), Dagan, and Adad are especially common. In Ugarit around 1300 BC, Dagon had a large temple and was listed third in the pantheon following a father-god and Ēl, and preceding Baīl Ṣapān (that is the god Haddu or Hadad/Adad).

Joseph Fontenrose first demonstrated that, whatever their deep origins, at Ugarit Dagon was identified with El, explaining why Dagan, who had an important temple at Ugarit is so neglected in the Ras Shamra mythological texts, where Dagon is mentioned solely in passing as the father of the god Hadad, but Anat, El’s daughter, is Baal’s sister, and why no temple of El has appeared at Ugarit.

There are differences between the Ugaritic pantheon and that of Phoenicia centuries later: according to the third-hand Greek and Christian reports of Sanchuniathon, the Phoenician mythographer would have Dagon the brother of Ēl/Cronus and like him son of Sky/Uranus and Earth, but not truly Hadad’s father.

Hadad was begotten by “Sky” on a concubine before Sky was castrated by his son Ēl, whereupon the pregnant concubine was given to Dagon. Accordingly, Dagon in this version is Hadad’s half-brother and stepfather. The Byzantine Etymologicon Magnum says that Dagon was Cronus in Phoenicia. Otherwise, with the disappearance of Phoenician literary texts, Dagon has practically no surviving mythology.

Dagan is mentioned occasionally in early Sumerian texts but becomes prominent only in later Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions as a powerful and warlike protector, sometimes equated with Enlil. Dagan’s wife was in some sources the goddess Shala (also named as wife of Adad and sometimes identified with Ninlil). In other texts, his wife is Ishara. In the preface to his famous law code, King Hammurabi, the founder of the Babylonian empire, calls himself “the subduer of the settlements along the Euphrates with the help of Dagan, his creator”.

Kumarbi

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. 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.

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. 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.

Njörðr

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði (sometimes anglicized as Skadi, Skade, or Skathi), a jötunn and goddess associated with bowhunting, skiing, winter, and mountains, lives in NóatúnIn (Old Norse “ship-enclosure”), described in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning as located “in heaven”, and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

In all sources, Skaði is the daughter of the deceased Þjazi, and Skaði married the god Njörðr as part of the compensation provided by the gods for killing her father Þjazi. In Heimskringla, Skaði is described as having split up with Njörðr and as later having married the god Odin, and that the two produced many children together.

In the Prose Edda, Njörðr is introduced in chapter 23 of the book Gylfaginning. In this chapter, Njörðr is described by the enthroned figure of High as living in the heavens at Nóatún, but also as ruling over the movement of the winds, having the ability to calm both sea and fire, and that he is to be invoked in seafaring and fishing. High continues that Njörðr is very wealthy and prosperous, and that he can also grant wealth in land and valuables to those who request his aid.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.

The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”.

It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed.

However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings. The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun.

Njörun is a goddess attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and various kennings (including once in the Poetic Edda). Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

The possible etymological connection with Njǫrðr and Nerthus suggests that Njörun may be a preserved name for the sister-wife of Njörðr, who is highly unusual in the Old Norse context in being unnamed. As was noted by Albert Morey Sturtevant, Njǫrun and Gefjon are the only female names recorded in Old Norse texts that have the suffix -un.

In Norse mythology, Gefjon or Gefjun (with the alternate spelling Gefion) is a goddess associated with ploughing. The etymology of the name Gefjon has been a matter of dispute. In modern scholarship, the element Gef- in Gef-jon is generally theorized as related to the element Gef- in the name Gef-n.

The name Gefn is one of the numerous names for the goddess Freyja, and likely means “she who gives (prosperity or happiness).” The connection between the two names has resulted in etymological results of Gefjun meaning “the giving one.” The names Gefjun and Gefn are both related to the Matron groups the Alagabiae or Ollogabiae.

Albert Murey Sturtevant notes that “the only other feminine personal name which contains the suffix -un is Njǫr-un, recorded only in the þulur […], and among the kvenna heiti ókend. Whatever the stem syllable Njǫr- represents (perhaps *ner- as in *Ner-þuz>Njǫrðr), the addition of the n- and un-suffixes seems to furnish an exact parallel to Gef-n : Gefj-un (cf. Njǫr-n : Njǫr-un).”

Njörðr’s name appears in a word for sponge; Njarðarvöttr (Old Norse “Njörðr’s glove”). Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”

By means of their interaction with the peoples of the Roman Empire, the Teutonic peoples came to adopt the seven day week as their own.  In a similar fashion to the aforementioned interpretatio Romana, the days of the week, originally named after Roman deities, were renamed after the corresponding Teutonic gods in what could perhaps be called an interpretatio Teutonica.

It was from this Teutonic renaming that the names for the days of the week have come down to us in Modern English.  It is ultimately from this, and more directly from Anglo-Saxon custom, that we find the origin for the names we use today: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Given that Saturn was an early Roman god of the harvest, one would expect the seventh day of the Teutonic week to be named after a Teutonic god of the harvest such as Fréa (ON: Freyr), or his father in Norse myth, Njörðr, a god whose worship brought bounty and harvest from both the land and the sea.

This, however, is not the case. Of all the names for the days of the week, that of the seventh day was the only to remain unchanged when the Anglo-Saxon adopted the Roman seven day week.

Though the Norse themselves do not seem to have used the name Saturn, the Icelanders did preserve a Norse Heathen gloss for the Roman god Saturn in their translations of Medieval and Classical texts: Njörðr: Like the Roman Saturn, the Norse Njörðr is said to have married his sister, the goddess of the Earth, and, like Saturn, his worship brought about a bountiful harvest.

That there survives no Anglo-Saxon cognate for the Norse Njörðr is surprising, given how popular his worship was among their Norse cousins.  Yet, even more  surprising is the apparent absence of a clear Anglo-Saxon cognate for Nerthus, the Earth Mother, who was so prominently worshipped by the Angles just a few centuries before their settlement of England.

However, it is clear that her worship continued well into the Anglo-Saxon era as demonstrated in later Christianized charms, such as the 11th century Accer Bót, which preserves prayers to the Eorðan Modor, (“Mother of Earth”).

Thus, as Nerthus was indeed known to the Anglo-Saxons but only has a surviving cognate in Norse lore, then so may have been the case with the god who is believed to have been her brother and consort, known to us through Norse lore as Njörðr.

As Tiw was worshipped by the Frisian auxiliaries in pre-Anglo-Saxon Britain by the Roman name of Mars, it may very well be that Njörðr was known, by means of their own interpretatio Teutonica, to the Anglo-Saxon settlers of that very same land by the Roman name of Saturn.

If this is indeed the case, then the peculiar retention of Saturn’s name for the seventh day by the Anglo-Saxons, Frisians, Dutch, and Low Saxons, as well as the glaring absence of a Njörðr from what has thus far been reconstructed of the Anglo-Saxon “pantheon” are both explained.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is attested by Tacitus, the first century AD Roman historian, in his ethnographic work Germania.

In Germania, Tacitus records that the remote Suebi tribes were united by their veneration of the goddess at his time of writing and maintained a sacred grove on an (unspecified) island and that a holy cart rests there draped with cloth, which only a priest may touch.

The priests feel her presence by the cart, and, with deep reverence, attend her cart, which is drawn by heifers. Everywhere the goddess then deigns to visit, she is met with celebration, hospitality, and peace.

All iron objects are locked away, and no one will leave for war. When the goddess has had her fill she is returned to her temple by the priests. Tacitus adds that the goddess, the cart, and the cloth are then washed by slaves in a secluded lake. The slaves are then drowned.

The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity.

Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century.

This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.

In Germanic mythology, Frigg (Old Norse), Frija (Old High German), Frea (Langobardic), and Frige (Old English) is a goddess. In nearly all sources she is described as the wife of the god Odin. In Old High German and Old Norse sources, she is also connected with the goddess Fulla. The English weekday name Friday (etymologically Old English “Frīge’s day”) bears her name. Due to significant thematic overlap, scholars have proposed a particular connection to the goddess Freyja.

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 children of Frigg and Odin include the gleaming god Baldr.

The English weekday name Friday comes from Old English “Frīge’s Day” and is cognate with Old High German frîatac. Both weekday names are result of interpretatio germanica that occurred at or before the 3rd or 4th century CE, glossing the Latin weekday name dies Veneris ‘Day of Venus’.[6] Several place names in what are now Norway and Sweden refer to Frigg, although her name is altogether absent in recorded place names in Denmark.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha.

This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð (“earth”) (from Icelandic “earth” and Old Norse jǫrð, sometimes Anglicized as Jord or Jorth; also called Jarð, as in Old East Norse), a female jötunn.

Jörð is the common word for earth in Old Norse, as are the word’s descendants in the modern Scandinavian languages; Icelandic jörð, Faroese jørð, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian jord. It is cognate to English “earth” through Old English eorðe.

Jörð is the mother of Thor and the personification of the Earth. Fjörgyn and Hlóðyn are considered to be other names for Jörð. Some scholars refer to Jörð as a goddess. Jörð’s name appears in skaldic poetry both as a poetic term for the land and in kennings for Thor.

In Norse mythology, the feminine Fjörgyn (Old Norse “earth”) is described as the mother of the god Thor, son of Odin, and the masculine Fjörgynn is described as the father of the goddess Frigg, wife of Odin. Both names appear in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. A number of theories surround the names, and they have been the subject of scholarly discourse.

Rudolf Simek states that Fjörgyn may simply be another name for Jörð, whose name also means “earth,” since she does not appear listed in the Prose Edda as a unique goddess, but that the fact that she does not appear elsewhere in Skaldic poetry “as would be expected of a purely literary alternative to Jörð” may be notable.

Theories have been proposed that Fjörgyn may represent an extension of an earlier Proto-Indo-European thunder or rain god or goddess due to Indo-European linguistic connections between Norse Fjörgyn, the Hindu rain god Parjanya, the Lithuanian god Perkūnas, and the Slavic god Perun.

Writing on this topic in 1912, Raymond Wilson Chambers says “strange has been the history of this goddess Nerthus in modern times. Sixteenth century scholars found irresistible the temptation to emend the name of ‘Mother Earth’ into Herthum, which nineteenth century scholars further improved into Hertham, Ertham. For many years this false goddess drove out the rightful deity from the fortieth chapter of the Germania”.

Venus/Vanir

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

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

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

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European New Year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

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

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

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Erigone “early-born” in Greek. The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

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

http://ealdrice.org/trow-thew/deites-and-days

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