Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Odin and Tyr

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 12, 2015

Man

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person”) and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age. It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). The Slavic forms (Russian muzh “man, male” etc.) are derived from a suffixed stem *man-gyo-.

In Hindu mythology, Manu is the name of the traditional progenitor of humankind who survives a deluge and gives mankind laws. The hypothetically reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form *Manus may also have played a role in Proto-Indo-European religion based on this, if there is any connection with the figure of Mannus — reported by the Roman historian Tacitus in ca. AD 70 to be the name of a traditional ancestor of Germans and son of Tuisto; modern sources other than Tacitus have reinterpreted this as “first man”.

Mannus, according to the Roman writer Tacitus, was a figure in the creation myths of the Germanic tribes. Tacitus is the only source of these myths. Tacitus wrote that Mannus was the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones.

In discussing the German tribes Tacitus wrote: In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Istvaeones.

Some people, inasmuch as antiquity gives free rein to speculation, maintain that there were more sons born from the god and hence more tribal designations—Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii—and that those names are genuine and ancient (Germania, chapter 2).

Several authors consider the name Mannus in Tacitus’ work to stem from an Indo-European root. The names Mannus and Tuisto/Tuisco seem to have some relation to Proto-Germanic Mannaz, “man” and Tiwaz, “Tyr, the god”.

In the 19th century, F. Nork wrote that the names of the three sons of Mannus can be extrapolated as Ingui, Irmin, and Istaev or Iscio. A few scholars like Ralph T. H. Griffith have expressed a connection between Mannus and the names of other ancient founder-kings, such as Minos of Greek mythology, and Manu of Hindu tradition.

*Mannaz is the conventional name of the m-rune ᛗ of the Elder Futhark. It is derived from the reconstructed Common Germanic word for “man”, *mannaz. Younger Futhark ᛘ is maðr (“man”). It took up the shape of the algiz rune ᛉ, replacing Elder Futhark ᛗ. As its sound value and form in the Elder Futhark indicate, it is derived from the letter M in the Old Italic alphabets, ultimately from the Greek letter Mu (μ).

Mu is the 12th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 40. Mu was derived from the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for water, which had been simplified by the Phoenicians and named after their word for water, to become mem. Letters that arose from mu include the Roman M and the Cyrillic М.

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.

Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

The 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.

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 then advises that they create a servant of the gods, humankind, out of clay and blood. Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa.

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.

The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC. At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta.

In the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) the Mannaeans are called Minni. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz.

Minni is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat and Ashchenaz, probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannai. Armenia is interpreted by some as ḪARMinni, that is, “the mountainous region of the Minni”.

According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian, with no modern language connections.

According to the Archaeological Institute of America, 1964: The Mannaeans, a little known people related linguistically to the Urartians and the Hurrians of northern Mesopotamia, were settled on the southeastern shore of Lake Urmia and southward into the mountain area of Urmia.

Matiene was the name of a kingdom in northwestern Iran on the lands of the earlier kingdom of the Mannae. The land of Matiene was twice the size of Armenia and it was surrounded to the north by Armenia, to the east by Media, to the south by Susiana, and to the west by Assyria. Its chief city was Matiati around Lake Van. There seems to be another Matiane located in central Asia Minor.

The name Matiene is believed to be related to Mitanni which was founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing the Hurrian population. The name Matiene was applied also to the neighboring Lake Matianus (Lake Urmia) located immediately to the east of the Matieni people.

The Mannaeans who probably spoke a Hurro-Urartian language, were subdued by the Scytho-Kimmerians during the seventh and eighth centuries BC. Matiene was ultimately conquered by the Medes in about 609 BCE.

Matiene became a satrapy of the Median Empire until the Persian conquest, when alongside of the Saspires and Alaradians (remnants of Urartians) it became a part of the XVIII satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire.

The Median people are mentioned by that name in many ancient texts. According to the Histories of Herodotus; The Medes were called anciently by all people Aryans; but when Medea, the Colchian, came to them from Athens, they changed their name. Such is the account which they themselves give.

Mitanni (Mi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

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

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. 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.

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

Istanu-Tiwas

Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he 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.

Tyr-Tiwas

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.

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.

It is assumed that Tyr/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. His name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

Zisa or Cisa is a goddess in Germanic paganism, the best documented version of which is that of 10th and 11th century Norse religion. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

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

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.

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

Allusions to intersex are 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.

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.

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.

In 1498, a monk named Annio da Viterbo published fragments known as “Pseudo-Berossus”, now considered a forgery, claiming that Babylonian records had shown that Tuiscon or Tuisto, the fourth son of Noah, had been the first ruler of Scythia and Germany following the dispersion of peoples, with him being succeeded by his son Mannus as the second king.

Later historians (e.g. Johannes Aventinus) managed to furnish numerous further details, including the assertion by James Anderson that this Tuiscon was in fact none other than the biblical Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.

Ymir

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.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir, also known as Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn, 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.

Ymir is a primeval being born of primordial elemental poison and the ancestor of all jötnar. Ymir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material, in the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, and in the poetry of skalds.

Taken together, several stanzas from four poems collected in the Poetic Edda refer to Ymir as a primeval being who was born from venom that dripped from the icy rivers Élivágar and lived in the grassless void of Ginnungagap.

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

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

Scholars have debated as to what extent Snorri’s account of Ymir is an attempt to synthesize a coherent narrative for the purpose of the Prose Edda and to what extent Snorri drew from traditional material outside of the corpus that he cites.

Tvastr

In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Vedic Tvastar, the first-born creator of the universe. Tvaṣṭṛ is a solar deity in the Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. He is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god, Surya.

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, a solar deity in the Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. Tvastr is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god, Surya.

Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Surya or 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).

The Purusha Sukta refers to the Purusha as Tvastr, who is the visible form of creativity emerged from the navel of the invisible Vishvakarman (Sanskrit “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”). In the Yajurveda, Purusha Sukta and the tenth mandala of the Rigveda, his character and attributes are merged with the concept of Hiranyagharbha/Prajapathy or Brahma.

The term, also transliterated as Tvaṣṭr, nominative Tvaṣṭā, is the heavenly builder, the maker of divine implements, especially Indra’s Vajra, a Sanskrit word for a weapon which is used as a ritual object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force), and the guardian of Soma. Tvaṣṭṛ is sometimes associated or identified with similar deities, such as Savitṛ, Prajāpatī, Viśvakarman and Puṣan.

In Hinduism, Prajapati (prajā-pati)) “lord of people” is a group Hindu deity presiding over procreation and protection of life, and thereby a King of Kings (Rajanya or Rajan). Vedic commentators also identify him with the creator referred to in the Nasadiya Sukta.

Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned 65 times in the Ṛgveda and is the former of the bodies of men and animals,’ and invoked when desiring offspring, called garbha-pati or the lord of the womb. The term Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Mitanni treaty, which establishes him as a proto-Indo-Iranian divinity.

He is the father of Saranyu, who twice bears twins to Surya (RV 10.17.1), Yama and Yami, identified as the first humans to be born on Earth. He is also the father of Viśvarūpa or Triśiras, his three-headed son who was killed by Indra, and in revenge Tvaṣṭṛ created Vrtra (“the enveloper”), in the early Vedic religion a fearsome serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. Surprisingly he is also referred to as Indra’s father.

Trisiras was created by Tvashta to dethrone Indra. With one head, he ate; with another head, he observed his surroundings; with his last head, he read the Vedas. He grew so powerful that Indra became frightened of him, especially after Trisiras scorned the women Indra sent to seduce him. Indra killed him and Trisiras’ father, Tvashta, created Vritra to gain revenge.

In Hinduism, Vritra is identified as an Asura. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

Bhrgus

As per the Ṛgveda, Tvaṣṭr belongs to clan of the Bhṛgus. Bhrigu is considered as a Manasa Putra (mind-born-son) of Brahma. The adjectival form of the name, Bhargava, is used to refer to the descendants and the school of Bhrigu.

According to Manusmriti, Bhrigu was a compatriot of and lived during the time of Manu, the Hindu progenitor of humanity. Maharishi Bhrigu (Sanskrit: Bhṛgu) was one of the seven great sages, the Saptarshis, one of the many Prajapatis (the facilitators of Creation) created by Brahma (The God of Creation), the first compiler of predictive astrology, and also the author of Bhrigu Samhita, the astrological (Jyotish) classic.

Shukra

Similarly, as mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, Tvaṣṭr is Śukra’s son. Shukra (Sanskrit: “clear, pure” or “brightness, clearness”) is etymologically identical with Shukla “light”. It is the name of the son of Bhrigu, and preceptor of the Daityas, and the guru of the Asuras, identified with the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas. He presides over Friday.

He is of white complexion, middle-aged and of agreeable countenance. He is described variously as mounted on a camel, horse or crocodile. He holds a stick, beads and a lotus and sometimes a bow and arrow.

Ushanas is the name of a Vedic rishi with the patronymic Kāvya (descendant of Kavi, AVŚ 4.29.6), who was later identified as Ushanas Shukra. He is venerated as a seer in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna tells Arjun that among Kavis he is Ushanas.

As a noun Shukra is also the name of a Marutavaata, of a son of Vasishtha, of the third Manu, of one of the saptarshi under Manu Bhautya, of a son of Bhava, of a son of Havirdhana. Since he was the guru of Asuras, he was also called Asuracharya.

Manu

Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the name of the Vedic progenitor of humanity being the first human to appear in the world in an epoch after universal destruction, as a son of Surya, and make Manu the brother of Yama/Ymir.

According to the Puranas, 14 Manus appear in each kalpa (aeon), a Sanskrit word meaning an aeon, or a relatively long period of time (by human calculation) in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. The period of each Manu is called Manvantara.

Generally speaking, a kalpa is the period of time between the creation and recreation of a world or universe. The definition of a kalpa equaling 4.32 billion years is found in the Puranas—specifically Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana.

The current world is that of Vaivasvata, the seventh Manu of the aeon of the white boar (sveta varaha kalpa). Vaivasvata, also known as Sraddhadeva or Satyavrata, was the king of Dravida before the great flood. He was warned of the flood by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, and built a boat that carried his family and the seven sages to safety, helped by Matsya.

The earliest extant text that mentions this story is the Satapatha Brahmana (dated variously from 700 BCE to 300 BCE). The myth is repeated with variations in other texts, including the Mahabharata and the various Puranas. It is similar to other flood myths such as that of Gilgamesh and Noah.

Dravida is mentioned as one of the kingdoms in the southern part of present-day mainland India during the time of the Mahabharata. Sometimes the name Dravida was used to denote all the southern kingdoms (like the Chera, Pandya and Chola kingdoms) collectively and sometimes as a separate kingdom.

Viswamitra, a king in the Ikshwaku clan, attacked the cow of Vasistha. Then many armies emerged for the protection of that cow and they attacked the armies of Viswamitra. Cow symbolizes land, in ancient Indian scriptures. Thus this war was fought with the tribes allied with Vasista for their own land.

Saptarishis

Mahabharata links the origin of Dravidas with sage Vashishtha, one of the Saptarishis (seven great Rishis) in the seventh, i.e. the present Manvantara, or age of Manu. The Saptarishi (from saptarṣi, a Sanskrit dvigu meaning “seven sages”) are the seven rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and Hindu literature.

The Vedic Samhitas never enumerate these rishis by name, though later Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas and Upanisads do so. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the Vedic religion.

The earliest list of the Seven Rishis is given by Jaiminiya Brahmana 2.218-221: Vashista, Bharadvaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Visvamitra, and Agastya, followed by Brihadaranyaka Upanisad 2.2.6 with a slightly different list: Gautama and Bharadvāja, Viśvāmitra and Jamadagni, Vashiṣṭha and Kaśyapa, and Atri, Brighu. The late Gopatha Brāhmana 1.2.8 has Vashiṣṭa, Viśvāmitra, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvāja, Gungu, Agastya, Bhrighu and Kaśyapa.

In post-Vedic texts, different lists appear; some of these rishis were recognized as the ‘mind born sons’ (Sanskrit: manasa putra) of Brahma, the representation of the Supreme Being as Creator. Other representations are Mahesha or Shiva as the Destroyer and Vishnu as the Preserver.

Since these seven rishis were also among the primary eight rishis, who were considered to be the ancestors of the Gotras of Brahmins, the birth of these rishis was mythicized.

In some parts of India, people believe these are seven stars of the Big Dipper named “Vashista”, “Marichi”, “Pulastya”, “Pulaha”, “Atri”, “Angiras” and “Kratu”. There is another star slightly visible within it, known as “Arundhati”, who is the wife of vasistha. The seven Rishis in the next Manvantara will be Díptimat, Gálava, Parasurama, Kripa, Drauńi or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa.

Vashishtha

Vashista is a manasputra of God Brahma. He had in his possession the divine cow Kamadhenu and Nandini her child, who could grant anything to their owners. Arundhati is the name of the wife of Vashista. RigVeda 7:33 mentions Vashishtha rishi as son of MitraVaruṇa and Urvasi.

Vashistha, as one of 9 Prajapatis, is credited as the chief author of Mandala 7 of the Rigveda. Vashistha and his family are glorified in RV 7.33, extolling their role in the Battle of the Ten Kings, making him the only mortal besides Bhava to have a Rigvedic hymn dedicated to him. Another treatise attributed to him is “Vashistha Samhita” – a book on the Vedic system of electional astrology.

Mizar is known as Vashistha and Alcor is known as Arundhati in traditional Indian astronomy. The pair is considered to symbolise marriage (Vashistha and Arundhati were a married couple) and, in some Hindu communities, priests conducting a wedding ceremony allude to or point out the constellation as a symbol of the closeness marriage brings to a couple. Since Vasishta was married to Arundhati, he was also called Arundhati Natha, meaning the husband of Arundhati.

In the Vinaya Pitaka of the Mahavagga (I.245) section the Buddha pays respect to Vashistha by declaring that the Veda in its true form was declared to the Vedic rishis “Atthako, Vâmako, Vâmadevo, Vessâmitto, Yamataggi, Angiraso, Bhâradvâjo, Vâsettho, Kassapo, and Bhagu” and because that true Veda was altered by some priests he refused to pay homage to the altered version.

Vashishta is believed to have lived on the banks of Ganga in modern day Uttarakhand. The place was also the abode of sage Vyasa along with Pandavas, the five brothers of Mahabharata.

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.

There is a diversity of views within various schools of Hinduism about the definition, scope and nature of Purusa. According to various schools of Hinduism Purusa is what connects everything and everyone.

Viśwákarma

Viśwákarma (Sanskrit “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”) is personified omnipotence and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. He is the presiding deity of all artisans and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha.

Vishwakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Brahman) in the Rig Veda, from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvastar emerging from Vishwakarma. In the later puranic period this concept paved the way to the imagery of Padmanabha and Sadasiva.

In the Vedic period the term first appeared as an epithet of Indra, Surya, and Agni. In that time the later developed creator concept of Brahma might have been intertwined with the concept of Vastospati and Bṛhaspati, or Brahmanaspathi.

In the last phase of vedic period and during the growth of monotheism, this realistic God concept becoming more abstract and one can see Vishwakarma, the invisible creative power, emerged as the supreme god who was perceived as a hotar, the unborn, Aja, creator and name giver of all other gods who have lot of faces, eyes and feet on every side; and who helps Tvastr, the visible creative power of viswakarma, in producing all the Heavenly, Earthly and other Celestial realms and preserves them through the exercise of his arms and wings.

He sacrificed himself to himself for the evolution of this visible world, thus he is Purusha or Narayana His attributes like Vachaspathy connect him with Brahaspathi (the Guru of Gods). Again, Yajurveda pictured him as the Prajapati and in the Atharva veda he is mentioned as Pashupati.

Shwethashwatharopanishad described him as Rudrasiva, the one who is dwelling in all living forms. Na Bhoomir Na Jalam Chaiva Na Teejo Nacha Vaayavaha Na chakasam na chitthasha Na budhi khrana gocharam Nacha Brahmaa Na Vishnuscha Na Rudrascha Taarakaaha Sarvashoonya niralambam Swayambhu Viswakarmana.

According to the above hymn, from Moolastambha purana which is something similar to Nasadeeya suktha It/He was the one who created himself from thyself when there was no earth, water, light, air and akasha,and even the Thrimurthies Later in the post vedic and brahmanic period, the term Vishwakarma is appeared both as the Rsi and the Silpi. In yajurveda the term is seen as one of names of pancha risis. Though the term is an epithet of suryanarayana, one of the seven rays of Surya is also known as Viswakarma.

Bhuvana Vishwakarma (Atharva/Angirasa Gothra) is a vedic Rsi who was the author of Rg 10-81,82 suktha, (Prabasa Vishwakarma) was probably a silpi and the son of Prabhas, the eighth hermit of the legendary Astam vasu and Yogasiddha, sister of Brihaspati. He is said to have revealed the Sthapatya Veda / Vastu Shastra or fourth Upa-veda, and presides over the sixty-four mechanical arts.

In later puranas he is sometimes identified with vedic Tvastar. Silpi Vishwakarma is the designer of all the flying chariots of the gods, and all their weapons and divine attributes. Vishwakarma/Tvostar is also credited with creating the missiles used in the mythological era, including the Vajra, the sacred weapon of Lord Indra, from the bones of sage Dadhichi. He is regarded as the supreme worker, the very essence of excellence and quality in craftsmanship.

Saranya

Saranya (Saraṇyū) or Saraniya (also known as Saranya, Sanjna, Sangya, Randal) is the wife of Surya, (“the Supreme Light”), also known as Aditya, Bhanu or Ravi Vivasvana in Sanskrit, and in Avestan Vivanhant.

Surya is the chief solar deity in Hinduism and generally refers to the Sun. He is the chief of the Navagraha, the nine Indian Classical planets and important elements of Hindu astrology. He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body.

He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. Surya is regarded as the Supreme Deity by Saura sect and Smartas worship him as one of the five primary forms of God. The Sun god, Zun, worshipped by the Afghan Zunbil dynasty, is thought to be synonymous with Surya.

Saraṇyū is the female form of the adjective saraṇyú, meaning “quick, fleet, nimble”, used for rivers and wind in the Rigveda (compare also Sarayu). Etymologically, Saranyu may be related to Helen. In Rigveda 10.17, Saranyu is the daughter of Tvastar, and, like Helen, is abducted, and Vivasvat is given a replacement bride instead.

Saranya is the goddess of clouds in Hindu mythology, and is sometimes associated with Demeter, Greek goddess of agriculture, and Helen of Troy, also known as Helen of Sparta, in Greek mythology the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and was a sister of Castor, Pollux, and Clytemnestra.

Demeter

According to Max Müller and A. Kuhn, Demeter is the Western equivalent of the Sanskrit Saranyu, who, having turned herself into a mare, is pursued by Vivasvat, and becomes the mother of Revanta and the twin Asvins (the Indian Dioscuri).

Yama and Yami

Saranya is also the mother of Manu, and of the twins Yama or Yamarāja, a god of death, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic deities, and Yami, also known as Yamuna, a sacred river in Hinduism and the main tributary of the Ganges (Ganga), the holiest river of Hinduism. In the Vedas, Yamuna is known as Yami, while in later literature, she is called Kalindi.

Yama is belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”. He is the brother of Sraddhadeva Manu and of his older sister Yami.

In the Vedas, Yami is associated with her twin brother and partner Yama, the god of death. Later, she is associated with the god Krishna as one of Ashtabharya, his consort as well and plays an important role in his early life as a river. Bathing and drinking Yamuna’s waters is regarded to remove sin.

Gaia

According to Farnell, the meaning of the epithet is to be sought in the original conception of Erinys, which was akin to Ge, Gaia, (GAY-ə or GAH-yə; from Ancient Greek Γαῖα, a poetical form of Gē, Ge, “land” or “earth”; also spelled Gaea), in Greek mythology the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.

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

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, Nereus, Thaumas, Phorcys, Ceto, and Eurybia, were born from her union with Pontus (the sea).

Hesiod’s Theogony tells how, after Chaos, “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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Anu

Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was the earliest attested Sky Father. In Sumerian religion, he 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.

He 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.

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 (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu).

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.

Enlil

Enlil, also known as the god of weather, 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. Enlil separated heaven and earth, he moved the Anunnaki gods to the netherworld to be judges there.

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.

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi.

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.

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.

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 or Lamentation over the city of Ur, a Sumerian lament composed around the time of the fall of Ur to the Elamites and the end of the city’s third dynasty (c. 2000 BC).

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

Enamtila (É.NAM.TI.LA, E-nam-ti-la), a Sumerian term meaning “house of life” or possibly “house of creation”, 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”.

Enamtila 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 Sumerian term meaning “house of the mountains”, which was a temple dedicated to Shulgi in Ur.

A fire is reported to have broken out next to the Enamtila in a Babylonian astronomical diary dated to the third century BC. The Enamtila is also referred to as a palace of Ibbi-Sin at Ur in the Lament for Sumer and Ur, “Its king sat immobilised in his own palace. Ibbi-Suen was sitting in anguish in his own palace. In E-namtila, his place of delight, he wept bitterly. The flood dashing a hoe on the ground was levelling everything.”

Ehursag

Ehursag is commonly associated with a temple of Enlil at Ur in modern-day Iraq. He originally considered this to be a palace, a view that was later rejected in replace for a temple. The location of the royal palace at Ur remains unknown. No graves were discovered under the Ekursag during these excavations.

Bricks from the pavement bore the stamp of his successor, Shulgi and later ones of the Isin-Larsa period after Ur was destroyed by Elamites. Ehursag is also the name or epithet of Ninhursag’s temple at Hiza and has been suggested to have been an interchangeable word with Enamtila.

Shulgi of Ur was the second king of the “Sumerian Renaissance” in the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from 2029 BCE–1982 BCE (short chronology). His accomplishments include the completion of construction of the Great Ziggurat of 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 …”.

Ninhursag

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

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.

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

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

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.

Anunnaki

The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”. According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “…are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”

Their relation to the group of gods known as the Igigi is unclear – at times the names are used synonymously but in the Atra-Hasis flood myth the Igigi are the sixth generation of the gods who have to work for the Anunnaki, rebelling after 40 days and replaced by the creation of humans.

The Anunnaki appear in the Babylonian creation myth, Enuma Elish. In the late version magnifying Marduk, after the creation of mankind, Marduk divides the Anunnaki and assigns them to their proper stations, three hundred in heaven, three hundred on the earth. In gratitude, the Anunnaki, the “Great Gods”, built Esagila, the splendid: “They raised high the head of Esagila equaling Apsu. Having built a stage-tower as high as Apsu, they set up in it an abode for Marduk, Enlil, Ea.” Then they built their own shrines.

According to later Assyrian and Babylonian myth, the Anunnaki were the children of Anu and Ki, brother and sister gods, themselves the children of Anshar and Kishar (Skypivot and Earthpivot, the Celestial poles), who in turn were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu (“the muddy ones”).

Lahamu and Lahmu

Lahamu and Lahmu are names given to the gatekeepers of the Abzu (House of Far Waters) temple at Eridu, the site at which the creation was thought to have occurred. They were the children of Tiamat (Goddess of the Ocean) and Abzu (God of Fresh Water).

Lahamu (also Lakhamu, Lachos, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) was the first-born daughter of Tiamat and Abzu in Akkadian mythology. They are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon. who were in turn parents of the first gods.

Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash-usually with three strands- and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man.” In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”.

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. They 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.

Geshtu-(E)

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.

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, and its symbol is ♈, 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.

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 MUL.LÚ.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.

Aries was not fully accepted as a constellation until classical times. In Hellenistic astrology, the constellation of Aries is associated with the golden ram of Greek mythology that rescued Phrixos and Helle on orders from Hermes, taking him to the land of Colchis.

Phrixos and Helle were the son and daughter of King Athamas and his first wife Nephele. The king’s second wife, Ino, was jealous and wished to kill his children. To accomplish this, she induced a famine in Boeotia, then falsified a message from the Oracle of Delphi that said Phrixos must be sacrificed to end the famine.

Athamas was about to sacrifice his son atop Mount Laphystium when Aries, sent by Nephele, arrived. Helle fell off of Aries’s back in flight and drowned in the Dardanelles, also called the Hellespont in her honor. After arriving, Phrixos sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the Fleece to Aeëtes of Colchis, who rewarded him with an engagement to his daughter Chalciope.

Aeëtes hung its skin in a sacred place where it became known as the Golden Fleece and was guarded by a dragon. In a later myth, this Golden Fleece was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts.

Historically, Aries has been depicted as a crouched, wingless ram with its head turned towards Taurus. Ptolemy asserted in his Almagest that Hipparchus depicted Alpha Arietis as the ram’s muzzle, though Ptolemy did not include it in his constellation figure. Instead, it was listed as an “unformed star”, and denoted as “the star over the head”.

John Flamsteed, in his Atlas Coelestis, followed Ptolemy’s description by mapping it above the figure’s head. Flamsteed followed the general convention of maps by depicting Aries lying down.

Astrologically, Aries has been associated with the head and its humors. It was strongly associated with Mars, both the planet and the god. It was considered to govern Western Europe and Syria, and to indicate a strong temper in a person.

The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago.

Hipparchus defined it in 130 BC. as a point south of Gamma Arietis. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the First Point of Aries has since moved into Pisces and will move into Aquarius by around 2600 AD. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.

Pangu

Pangu (P’an-ku) is the first living being and the creator of all in some versions of Chinese mythology. Pangu is worshipped at a number of shrines in contemporary China, usually with Taoist symbols, such as the Bagua.

The Pangu myth appears to have been preceded in ancient Chinese literature by the existence of Shangdi or Taiyi. Other Chinese myths, such as those of Nuwa and the Jade Emperor, try to explain how people were created and do not necessarily explain the creation of the world. There are many variations of these myths.

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

Pangu is usually depicted as a primitive, hairy giant who has horns on his head and wears furs. Pangu began creating the world: he separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated, Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky.

With each day the sky grew ten feet (3 meters) higher, the Earth ten feet thicker, and Pangu ten feet taller. In some versions of the story, Pangu is aided in this task by the four most prominent beasts, namely the Turtle, the Qilin, the Phoenix, and the Dragon.

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

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

According to Buyei mythology, after Pangu became an expert in rice farming after creating the world, he married the daughter of the Dragon King, and their union gave rise to the Buyei people. This legend of creation is one of the main characteristics that distinguishes the Buyei from the Zhuang.

The daughter of the Dragon King and Pangu had a son named Xinheng. When Xinheng disrespected his mother, she returned to heaven and never came down, despite the repeated pleas of her husband and son. Pangu was forced to remarry and eventually died on the sixth day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar.

Xinheng’s stepmother treated him badly and almost killed him. When Xinheng threatened to destroy her rice harvest, she realized her mistake. She made peace with him, and they went on to pay their respects to Pangu annually on the sixth day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar. This day became an important traditional Buyei holiday for ancestral worship.

Three main views describe the origin of the Pangu myth. The first is that the story is indigenous and was developed or transmitted through time to Xu Zheng. Senior Scholar Wei Juxian states that the Pangu story is derived from stories during the Western Zhou Dynasty. He cites the story of Zhong and Li in the “Chuyu” section of the ancient classics Guoyu.

In it, King Zhao of Chu asked Guanshefu a question: “What did the ancient classic “Zhou Shu” mean by the sentence that Zhong and Li caused the heaven and earth to disconnect from each other?”

The “Zhou Shu” sentence he refers to is about an earlier person, Luu Xing, who converses with King Mu of Zhou. King Mu’s reign is much earlier and dates to about 1001 to 946 BC. In their conversation, they discuss a “disconnection” between heaven and earth.

Derk Bodde linked the myth to the ancestral mythologies of the Miao people and Yao people in southern China.

According to Professor Qin’s reconstruction of the true creation myth preceding the myth of Pangu a brother and his sister became the only survivors of the prehistoric Deluge by crouching in a gourd that floated on water. The two got married afterwards, and a mass of flesh in the shape of a whetstone was born. They chopped it and the pieces turned into large crowds of people, who began to reproduce again. The couple was named Pan and Gou in the Zhuang ethnic language, which stand for whetstone and gourd respectively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odin

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.

In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, Odin was known in Old English as Wōden, in Old Saxon as Wōden, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wodan, all stemming from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz.

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”). However, in Old High German, the name derived from Odin’s was replaced by a translation of Church Latin media hebdomas (‘middle of the week’) hence modern German Mittwoch.

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

In Old Norse texts, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear, Gungnir, and wearing a black or blue cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions— the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn, who bring him information from all over Midgard—and Odin rides the flying, eight-legged steed Sleipnir across the sky and into the underworld.

Odin is attested as having many sons, most famously the god Baldr with Frigg, and is known by hundreds of names. In these texts, Odin frequently seeks knowledge in some manner and in disguise (most famously by obtaining the Mead of Poetry), at times makes wagers with his wife Frigg over the outcome of exploits, and takes part in both the creation of the world by way of the slaying of the primordial being Ymir and the gift of life to the first two humans, Ask and Embla.

Odin has a particular association with Yule, and mankind’s knowledge of both the runes and poetry is also attributed to Odin. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht.

In later folklore, Odin appears as a leader of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession of the dead through the winter sky. In the surviving South Germanic and Anglo-Saxon pagan texts, Wóden/Wodan is also particularly associated with magic.

Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. Mortals getting in the path of or following the Hunt could be kidnapped and brought to the land of the dead.

The concept of the Wild Hunt was developed by the German folklorist Jacob Grimm, who first published it in his 1835 book Deutsche Mythologie. It was in this work that he popularised the term Wilde Jagd (“Wild Hunt”) for the phenomenon.

Grimm interpreted the Wild Hunt phenomenon as having pre-Christian origins, arguing that the male figure who appeared in it was a survival of folk beliefs about the god Wodan, who had “lost his sociable character, his near familiar features, and assumed the aspect of a dark and dreadful power… a spectre and a devil.”

Grimm believed that this male figure was sometimes replaced by a female counterpart, whom he referred to as Holda and Berchta. In his words, “not only Wuotan and other gods, but heathen goddesses too, may head the furious host: the wild hunter passes into the wood-wife, Wôden into frau Gaude.” He added his opinion that this female figure was Woden’s wife.

Discussing martial elements of the Wild Hunt, Grimm commented that “it marches as an army, it portends the outbreak of war.” He added that a number of figures that had been recorded as leading the hunt, such as “Wuotan, Huckelbernd, Berholt, bestriding their white war-horse, armed and spurred, appear still as supreme directors of the war for which they, so to speak, give licence to mankind.”

In Old Norse texts, Odin is given primacy over female beings associated with the battlefield—the valkyries—and himself oversees the afterlife location Valhalla, where he receives as einherjar, or chosen warriors, half of those who die in battle, while the other half are chosen by the goddess Freyja for her afterlife location, Fólkvangr.

Odin consults the disembodied, herb-embalmed head of the wise being Mímir for advice, and during the foretold events of Ragnarök, will lead the einherjar into battle before being consumed by the monstrous wolf Fenrir. Having snapped his fetters (which, incidentally, were made of nothing), Odin will be consumed by the wolf, and Fenrir’s two offspring will according to legend, devour the sun and moon.

On the other hand, however, the wolves Geri and Freki were the Norse god Odin’s faithful pets who were reputed to be”of good omen.” The wolf in the Scandinavian tradition as either representing the warrior or as a symbol of Odin.

Odin’s son Víðarr will avenge him by stabbing the wolf in the heart or rip his jaws asunder according to different accounts. After the world is burned and renewed, the surviving and returning gods will meet and recall Odin’s deeds and “ancient runes”.

Interpretatio Romana

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.

Scholars have noted, such as Anthony Birley, that Odin’s apparent identification with Mercury has little to do with Mercury’s classical role of being messenger of the gods, but appears to be due to Mercury’s role of psychopomp.

Other contemporary evidence may also have led to the equation of Odin with Mercury; Odin, like Mercury, may have at this time already been pictured with a staff and hat, may have been considered a trader god, and the two may have been seen as parallel in their roles as wandering deities. But their rankings in their respective religious spheres may have been very different.

Hermes

Hermes is an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, the son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia. He is the second youngest of the Olympian gods. Hermes is a god of transitions and boundaries.

He is quick and cunning, and moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as an emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He is the protector and patron of herdsmen, thieves, oratory and wit, literature and poetry, athletics and sports, invention and trade, roads, boundaries and travellers.

In some myths, he is a trickster and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or for the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster, the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, and winged cap. His main symbol is the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon, Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.

Mercury

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

He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and Greek οὖρος (by analogy of Arctūrus/Ἀρκτοῦρος), as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

In his earliest forms, he appears to have been related to the Etruscan deity Turms, both of which share characteristics with the Greek god Hermes. In Virgil’s Aeneid, Mercury reminds Aeneas of his mission to found the city of Rome. In Ovid’s Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.

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

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

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

This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta.

Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.

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

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

Sirius

The most commonly used proper name of this star comes from the Latin Sīrius, from the Ancient Greek Seirios, “glowing” or “scorcher”, although the Greek word itself may have been imported from elsewhere before the Archaic period, one authority suggesting a link with the Egyptian god Osiris.

The name’s earliest recorded use dates from the 7th century BC in Hesiod’s poetic work Works and Days. Sirius has over 50 other designations and names attached to it. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s essay Treatise on the Astrolabe, it bears the name Alhabor, and is depicted by a hound’s head. This name is widely used on medieval astrolabes from Western Europe.

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

It was classically depicted as Orion’s dog. The Ancient Greeks thought that Sirius’s emanations could affect dogs adversely, making them behave abnormally during the “dog days,” the hottest days of the summer.

The Romans knew these days as dies caniculares, and the star Sirius was called Canicula, “little dog.” The excessive panting of dogs in hot weather was thought to place them at risk of desiccation and disease. In extreme cases, a foaming dog might have rabies, which could infect and kill humans whom they had bitten. Homer, in the Iliad, describes the approach of Achilles toward Troy in these words.

In Sanskrit it is known as Mrgavyadha “deer hunter”, or Lubdhaka “hunter”. As Mrgavyadha, the star represents Rudra (Shiva). The star is referred as Makarajyoti in Malayalam and has religious significance to the pilgrim center Sabarimala. In Scandinavia, the star has been known as Lokabrenna (“burning done by Loki”, or “Loki’s torch”).

In Iranian mythology, especially in Persian mythology and in Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Persia, Sirius appears as Tishtrya, the Avestan language name of a Zoroastrian benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility, and is revered as the rain-maker divinity. As has been judged from the archaic context in which Tishtrya appears in the texts of the Avesta, the divinity/concept is almost certainly of Indo-Iranian origin.

Beside passages in the sacred texts of the Avesta, the Avestan language Tishtrya followed by the version Tir in Middle and New Persian is also depicted in the Persian epic Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. Due to the concept of the yazatas, powers which are “worthy of worship”, Tishtrya is a divinity of rain and fertility and an antagonist of apaosha, the demon of drought. In this struggle, Tishtrya is beautifully depicted as a white horse.

In a hymn of the Avesta (incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgement, in the Shahnameh), Tishtrya is involved in a cosmic struggle against the drought-bringing demon Apaosha.

According to the myth, in the form of a pure white horse the god did battle with the demon who, in contrast, had assumed the form of a terrifying black horse. Apaosa soon gained the upper hand over Tishtrya, who was weakened from the lack of sufficient prayers and sacrifices from humankind.

The yazata proceeded to call upon the Creator Ahura Mazda, who himself then intervened by offering a sacrifice to the overwhelmed god. Infused with the power brought by this sacrifice, Tishtrya was able to overcome Apaosa, and his rains were able to flow to the parched fields and pastures unabated by drought. This story serves to underscore the importance of votive offerings and sacrifice in religious tradition.

In the Zoroastrian religious calendar, the 13th day of the month and the 4th month of the year are dedicated to Tishtrya/Tir, and hence named after the entity. In the Iranian civil calendar, which inherits its month names from the Zoroastrian calendar, the 4th month is likewise named Tir.

During the Achaemenid period, Tishtrya was conflated with Semitic Nabu-*Tiri, and thus came to be associated with the Dog Star, Sirius. The Tiregan festival, previously associated with *Tiri (a reconstructed name), was likewise transferred to Tishtrya. During the Hellenic period, Tishtrya came to be associated with Pythian Apollo, patron of Delphi, and thus a divinity of oracles.

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